Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: BOI:R

FromSoft games on my mind

While I’m not feeling my best (and in this case, have no idea what the hell is going on with me), I like to return to my comfort gaming. For me, there are a few games that reach that level. It’s not necessarily ‘easy’ games, either, as they are all games I struggled with when I first played them. But, they’re games I’ve played so much, I have a groove on when I get in the zone. I blame it all on Dark Souls being one of the first ‘hardcore’ games I’ve played. It broke me, remade me, then broke me again. I hated it with all my heart by the time I was done with it (having played the whole game plus DLC), and I was relieved to see the backside of it. Then, Dark Souls II was released, and, damn it, my interest was piqued. I wasn’t going to jump right in because I was cheap and never bought games full price. While I was gunning up for it to go on sale, I decided that the best way to prep for it was to play the first game again. Why? I don’t know. Time eases the pain or some such. I was and am a masochist. I don’t know what it is. I also don’t know why I finished the game the first time as I HATED it by the time I went to *spoiler, I guess, for a 9-year-old game* take on Gwyn, the final boss.

Honestly, I was done with the game after beating Biggie & Small. That took so much out of me, although for the longest time, it was the highlight of my gaming career. The fact that I died to them sixty to seventy times and then finally, finally, beat them on my own. I felt like a GOD, and you couldn’t say shit to me for, oh, three minutes. Until I probably promptly got killed in the next new area. That’s how these games work. With one hand, Miyazaki giveth, and with the other, he slaps you across the face repeatedly and as hard as he can.

You want to know what took the place of defeating Biggie & Small as my proudest gaming moment? Two things happened in Sekiro that tested my mettle and found me almost wanting. And by things, I mean bosses, of course, because those are the linchpins of the game. We can talk about the gorgeous environments and the interconnectivity all we want, but we all know that the pinnacle of the games is when you walk through the white fog and face that boss. Or don’t walk through the white fog in some cases, which is trollery at its finest.

Genichiro was the first boss to make me question why the fuck I was playing Sekiro and maybe I was out of my league. Ian likes to say that I get that way with every big boss in a Souls game, and he’s right, but there’s something different about Genichiro. You get a tease of him because he’s the tutorial boss against whom you are supposed to die. You *can* beat him, which I did in NG+, but that was when I had all my gear. The three times I’ve faced him in NG, well, let’s just say he got the best of me. I will say I did much better the second and third time than the first, but I still didn’t even manage to get one of his life pips.

Coming across him up on the Ashina Castle roof was epic, and it was the hard check that every FromSoft game has. It’s the boss that takes your measure and sees if you have what it takes to finish the rest of the game. Some games journalists say if you can take Genichiro, then you can take any of the bosses later in the game. I don’t think that’s true, but I’m truly mediocre at the game. I’m decent at Souls games by now, but Sekiro took everything I had to give and then some. I reached the third phase of Genichiro for the first time after being ecstatic thinking I beat him, and then he immediately grabbed me and killed me.


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Rambling thoughts about the state of my game

So, I’m have good news and bad news concerning my health. The good news is that all my flu symptoms are gone. The bad news is that my cough has settled in my chest. All things considered, I’ll take the trade off. It still means I’m exhausted, however, which means I stick to BoI:R and Dark Souls III these days. As I mentioned, I started another Sekiro playthrough, but I cannot play it when I’m not in top form. Whenever I watch someone else play it, I’m filled with passion to play it again. When I actually think about doing it, however, I just don’t have the will or the energy.

I can’t quit BoI:R. I’ve reached the point where I can do a run quite comfortably as long as I get some damage upgrades fairly quickly. By the way, let me ruminate on some of the most annoying things about the game. I was going to make a whole post of it, but that seems like too much of a bother. One of the worst runs in this game is one where I have a ton of health (say as Maggie), but no damage. I remember a run where I was on the Mom floor, and I had no damage upgrades, but a shit-ton of health and health regen. There was no way I was going to die, but it was taking me two or three tears to kill very basic enemies. If I don’t have at least four ticks of damage by this floor, it’s a bad run. I’ve actually ended runs prematurely because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to the Chest with no damage.

Speaking of the Chest, that’s another issue with the game. The ‘heavenly’ route (Cathedral and Chest) is way better than the ‘hell’ route (Sheol and Dark Room). I never go the latter except when it’s dictated by the Daily Run. Part of the reason is that you can get four new items on the Chest. What do you get on the Dark Room? Spiders and troll bombs, mostly. Speaking of troll bombs, I really hate them. I don’t mind that they exist. Ok, I do, but I accept it. What I hate is when I literally cannot outrun them because I’m too slow or the room is too small (and, yeah, I’ll get to that in a minute), it feels cheap.

That’s the thing about RNG–there’s a very thin line between fair and foul. I’ve said this in the past. I know that’s part of RNG, but I do think sometimes it’s the coding at fault. Yes, I know that’s my go-to when I’m displeased with something in a game, but at least I acknowledged it, right?


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The close but no cigar game awards

Last week, I wrote about my year in gaming–which, let’s face it, has mostly been meh. I mentioned two Souls-like games that I played quite a bit and enjoyed until I didn’t, a game that I enjoyed and finished that wasn’t a Souls-like, and a game from the past that I resurrected as my comfort game. Then, of course, there is the one true game of the year, which I’ll get to at the end. If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know what it is, but you’ll have to wait for it, anyway. Let me quickly give the other games (hopefully) amusingly named awards before tackling the big one.

Quick note: In reading my game awards posts from last year in order to write this one, I stumble across this:

I play the hell out of each game I play. I wring every ounce of content out of it, and then I squeeze it some more. I would rather play three games a year that I really like than a couple dozen that I’m meh about.

I still feel that way, and that’s why I’m a bit down about this year in gaming. When I was thinking back on the year, I couldn’t think of many games that gave me dozens of hours of engagement. I’m hoping that 2020 will be different, but I’m skeptical. This post is for the games that hit a spot to a certain extent, but aren’t the One True Game. I have a hunch I won’t get to the big one in this post, but hope springs eternal.

The game I can’t quit no matter how hard I try

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*

I played the shit out of this game when it first came out. I tried to play the original, but it felt ungainly, and I never got into it. That game was developed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. Edmund (and his wife) went with Nicalis for BoI:R and everything after. I was immediately hooked on BoI:R, much to my surprise, and I played an embarrassing number of hours. I also True Platinum Godded it before the requirements changed, and I’m only missing something on The Keeper, the worst character in the whole game. I forced myself to quit playing it and left it off for about a year. I did play again when Afterbirth+ came out, but then I didn’t. Then, for whatever reason, I  installed it on my laptop (the last one). Why? I don’t remember, but I think it’s because it’s small and I can play it with the keyboard and no mouse. I do the daily every day along with a free run (usually Eden), and it’s my comfort game at this point. When I can’t play a new game or feel up to a Souls game (which, while comforting, still takes more energy), I pull up BoI:R and escape for an hour. I’m going to give it up again soon, but until then, I’m enjoying all the weird synergies.


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The feeling of MEH

I’ve been *sigh* fighting health issues this week. Mostly migraine related, but also sinus-related. Plus, I just got my period today, which I was expecting, but it’s never welcomed. I shouldn’t complain about the last, really, because I’ve been very fortunate with my period over the years. In my heyday, I got it two to three times a year for three days at a time. Don’t worry, I asked my doctor about it, and she said as long as I got it twice a year, I was fine. And, since I didn’t want to have kids, it helped me attain that goal as well. When I had sex on a regular basis, I had my period more regularly (damn body working against me!), but when I went without, my period was all over the place. Wait. In addition, it was light whenever I had it, and I never had too many physical side  effects from it. The worst of it was that I was a bit bitchier than usual and my boobs were tender. MAYBE I got a weak cramp here and there, but that’s it. Nowadays, I barely even know I have it, and I’m pretty sure I’m perimenopausal if not menopausal.

Anyway! Vidya games. The reason I mentioned my health is because when I’m feeling miserable, I can’t play ‘hard’ games. I didn’t even feel up to DS‘ing some of the days, and that’s saying a lot. To be honest, it was because of something stupid. I play DS offline for most of the game because I am human/embered up most of the time (I got gud, y’all) most of the time, and I do not want to be invaded. I hate being invaded in these games. I hate it because I suck at PvP, and I have no desire to waste time fighting someone. In addition, anyone still PvP’ing so long after the games were released means that’s all they do in the games at this point. In other words, my chances of winning are slim to less than none. I will note, however, that I have a better chance when I’m strengthcasting than when I’m pure casting. Magic is shit in PvP given lag issues.

I like co-oping in bosses, though. For whatever reason, you can’t switch from online to offline in-game or even while the game is playing (at least in DS III). So, when I’m up to a boss, I have to quit the game, go offline in Steam, and then fire up the game again. Also, for some inexplicable reason, FromSoft decided not to have Cloud Sync for DS III, so I had to start new games every time I switched machines. First world problem, but what a strange decision. Anyway, the irritation of switching from offline to online has stopped me on occasion from playing because I just can’t be bothered. In addition, while the game is no longer difficult for me, it can be tedious at times. It’s still a slog, and while I can play it mostly on autopilot, that doesn’t mean that I can’t be taken off-guard from time to time.


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The Video Game Equivalent of Comfort Food

lorian's greatsword to the face!
You, sir, ain’t no Sif!!

When I’m sick, I mostly want to hunker down on my couch with my cat, Shadow (who is snoozing on my legs right now), sipping my honey ginger lemon tea, moaning inside my head about how terrible I feel. If I’m going to game, it’s going to be on my laptop as I don’t want to go to my desktop or sit up to play Bloodborne on my PS4. By the way, I think Bloodborne is a brilliant game, but there is a section at the end (plus the DLC) that I absolutely hate. LOATHE. It’s quite possibly my most-hated area of a Souls-like game ever, and that’s including Blighttown (which I actually didn’t hate that much), the original Izalith, and the invisible reindeer area of the snow DLC for DS II. It makes the last part of the game such a downer for me, but I really should just plow through it with my tank.

Anyway, I haven’t played Nioh for about a week. I still think it’s a great game, but it juuuuuust misses the mark for me. Whatever the *it* factor that Souls games have for me is missing from Nioh, and I can’t tell you why. The combat is fantastic, even though I don’t switch between stances during a fight. The weapons are great–I’m maining an axe with the odachi as a strong second. The stagger with the odachi is real, yo. The magic is interesting, but too diffuse. I’m mostly using regen jutsu, and while it’s helpful, it’s not flashy at all. The biggest problems with Nioh are one, the environments. Not only are most of them drab and dreary, they’re ugly. They look last gen, and it’s really disappointing. Plus, they’re repetitive within the environments, and I get lost very easily. There’s a mini-map, but it’s not helpful at all. In fact, I get less lost in Souls games, even though they’re more labyrinth-like and don’t have maps. At all. Related, the enemies are not varied at all. Granted, I’m only half-way through the game, but there the hollows on the one hand and demons on the other. The bosses have been half and half (though some are both), and I’m suffering a little sameness fatigue.

The other biggest problem is two-fold. One, you start with a set number of elixirs at the start of each mission, and you can pick up elixirs as you go, but you are capped off at eight. That’s not nearly enough, which is one reason I use regen health jutsu. I really think the Estus Flask system is nigh-on perfect. I liked the way it was done in the original Dark Souls the best. You started with five Estus at most bonfires, but you can kindle to ten (which is what Firelink Shrine starts as) with a humanity, and later on, you can kindle up to twenty. I hate farming for Elixirs, just as I hated farming for Blood Vials in Bloodborne, and it’s made worse by the other part I don’t like–the mission system. In BB, if I needed to farm Blood Vials, I’d run to the first area and kill all the scrubs until I had enough Blood Vials. Or, later in the game, I’d buy them and be done with it. In Nioh, you can’t buy Elixirs (as far as I know), and yes, you can make offerings and maybe get Elixirs in return, but it’s not enough. You can store infinite amounts, but I never manage to have more than fifty or so in storage. That sounds like a lot until you come up against a hard boss. Then, you can deplete your storage in a hurry, or rather I can, and I can’t just run to the first area and farm them up. Why? Because once you start a mission, you have to finish it or you have to do the whole thing all over again. I really hate that I can’t jump from mission to mission without negating the entire experience.

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