Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Ashen

The state of my game in 2019

Normally, this is the time of the year when I start handing out game awards with goofy names. The criteria is not what I consider the best games of the year, but games that I liked the best. I very rarely play the games on the best of the year lists, especially in the year they are released, so I don’t have much to contribute to that conversation. The one exception, of course, are FromSoft games, and I promise I will get to that later–but probably not in this post. A few weeks ago, I started thinking about the games I played this year, and I realized that there weren’t many that really stood out for me. More to the point, there weren’t that many that I actually finished.

I tend to play one ‘big’ game at a time (big in terms of amount of things to do, not necessarily Triple A or story-wise or whatnot). Ian and I like to joke that he has an ADD approach to gaming whereas I have an OCD approach. However, I’ve been thinking lately that I am more ADD than OCD than I previously thought. Yes, I can focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else, but that’s the hyperfocus part of ADD. Anyway, this year, I played Sekiro at the end of March/all of April when it was released. I played it obsessively. I thought about it when I wasn’t playing it. I dreamed about it. It was in my blood, and I didn’t have room to think about anything else. We shall,  of course, get to that later.

One of my enduring quests is to find a mystery game that I can really sink my teeth into.  There are plenty of mystery games out there, but, unfortunately, most of them are…not great. I’ve written at length about my disappointment with them before (and the point-and-click genre in general), so I’m not going to rehash those points. I’ll just say that my experiences this year with the genre cemented my belief that those games are not for me. I tried Unavowed and Thimbleweed earlier in the year, and while the former held promise (the latter irritated me from the beginning), it inevitably fell into the trap that so many point-and-clicks do–namely, making me do elaborately nonsensical things to accomplish a quest AND showing me things I knew I would need later, but did not allow me to pick up the first time I saw them. This is the year I’ve given up on point-and-clicks, and I’m a bit sad about it.

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The problem with Souls-like games

badass blacksmith, but a bit broken.
My buddy, Andre! Er, Bataran.

So, there’s a little game called Ashen that was exclusive to the Epic Store for a year and just was released on Steam earlier this week. I had my eye on it when it was first released, and then I noticed it was on Steam. I snapped it up and eagerly dove in. It’s a Souls-like, and I read a bit about it but not much as my thing is to go in as fresh as I can with the games. That doesn’t last long as an hour later, I’m madly Googling shit. Unfortunately, in the case of Ashen, not many people have played, but we’ll get to that in a little bit. I was immediately taken by the graphics as it felt very paper-craft/cut-out to me. It had a charm to it, and the little bit of reviews I read were mostly positive. I knew there were AI companions, and I was on the fence about that going in. Still on the fence now, but I’ll get to that later as well.

Jumping in, there was very little character creation, but I made her look as Asian as possible. I wasn’t able to name her, unfortunately, but then I just jumped in. The buttons were mostly the same, but there were a few that made me raise my eyebrow. One was putting jump on Y. Um, no. That’s not where the jump goes. I tried to put it on A, but that was was for interaction, and I was sternly informed that they could not be on the same button. I swapped the two, which isn’t ideal, but A has to be jump. Just as B is roll. This is life. This is how it  is. And it can never be changed.

The rest of the controls are similar enough, but we’ll come back to the jump in a bit. I  know I keep saying this, but I’m trying to do this in an orderly fashion, which is not like me at all.

In the beginning, I have some rubbish weapon and some rubbish clothing and a rubbish shield. The enemies aren’t very memorable, and the spear-chucking woman quickly gets irritating. Also, spear-throwing is…um…problematic. That’s your projectile in this game, and you have to aim it. It’s not enough to lock on it and throw. You have to manually aim to throw the spear, which when you’re running around and fighting enemies in general is not doable for me.

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