Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls

Released from this Mortal Shell, er coil

Mortal Shell by Cold Symmetry is one of the few soulslike games that I was cautiously hyped for when I saw the trailer for it.

I mean, look at it. It could BE a Dark Souls trailer, down to the many bosses reveal. By the way, I never watch trailers for FromSoft games because they give away so many bosses. I always wait until after I play the game to actually watch the trailers because I don’t want to spoil the surprise of bosses for me. I am on the far end of ‘don’t want to be spoiled’ when going into a FromSoft game, which isn’t easy in this day and age.

Anyway, I knew the basic premise of the game which was that you were a…zombie? A walking skeleton? Something in between? Unclear. What was clear was that you could put on different ‘shells’ of enemies you…found? Beat? Unclear. But it was a cool concept, and I was intrigued. The graphics were gorgeous and very Souls-y, and the atmosphere was properly epic and bleak.

When it came to closed beta, I was doubly intrigued. It was so popular, they opened the beta. I downloaded it from Epic and hopped in. Immediately, I was aware that I was in a soulslike. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, mind, especially one that was as high quality as this game. There was a cutscene much like the ones at the beginning of the you-know-what games, and then I was dumped in an area much like the tutorial area of Dark Souls III but with much harder enemies. The shell I had at this point was that of a knight, and my weapon was a big fuckoff sword. Were we about to get OG Dark Souls up in this bitch? Apparently so.

They do tell you what the different buttons do, but it’s a lot to take in. They’re different from the Souls buttons, and they add a wrinkle that the first time you press B (Xbox One controller), you dodge. The second time you press B, you roll. I don’t like not having a dedicated roll, but I have to admit it’s an interesting conceit. In addition, it makes you have to be much more deliberate about your movements, which has both positives and negatives. Yes, combat is deliberate in Souls games, but it feels…almost clunky in Mortal Shell–at least in the beginning.

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Recovering from not-platting…still

pestilent mist to the tree balls!
Cheesy fun on the way to the not-plat!

I’m feeling the urge. The urge to purge. Er, no, not that. The urge to play Dark Souls III again. It’s just a whisper, and I am not going to do it, but the fact that it’s in the back of my head less than a week after platting the game demonstrates how much I love the game. I’m relieved that I don’t completely hate the game any longer, but it’s still going to take some time before I want to dive back into it. I did break and buy Code Vein on sale at Steam, but I probably won’t be playing it any time soon, either. It’s very good–at least from what I’ve played in the demo (though I’ve seen on the internet that there’s plenty of jank and frustration–and the DLCs are trash), but it’s anime Souls. That’s not a knock–I just don’t know if I can deal with it right now. I’m still exhausted from not-platting, and I’ve been thinking about it lately. Dark Souls not-plat was tedious. Believe me, very much tedious. Very grindy, and it was mitigated because I could do it over several characters. That really helped do the upgrading to the fullest every kind of weapon–meaning, crystal, lightning, magic, etc. I have mentioned this before, but I’m so glad that the upgrading paths have streamlined over the sequels. Having different material for each upgrade path was a pain in the ass. I know it was even more convoluted in Demon’s Souls.

I will say that the ‘have one weapon of all kinds’ achievement in the third game was, in theory, better than it was in the first game. You just had to have one of each infusion–and you didn’t have to upgrade the weapons at all. I think it’s partly because upgrading is so much more expensive in the third game than in the first, but for whatever reason, it was a welcome change. The achievement being bugged was fucking irritating, though. I’m just lucky that I had several characters on my old laptop (and could still get the laptop to work) in NG+ many with a plethora of all the material needed to try and try again.

I have complex feelings about the not-plat of the third game. Still. I understand that they want to make it difficult to obtain the plats, and it makes perfect sense. However, the way a lot of games seem to go about it is to just make you grind for an insane amount of time. I suppose you could technically say that skill is involved because you have to kill many of the bosses twice for boss souls (and three times for *sob* Sif), and with the same character. That means going into NG++. Technically, you only need to kill Sif on NG+, but in order to get to the Giant Blacksmith to make the weapon (and that of Gwyn’s soul), you have to get to Anor Londo which is halfway through the game (if you go the normal way). So, you have to play half the game and kill one boss for the plat, which means killing all the non-optional bosses on the way.

In the third game, you have to make it to the last area save the final boss’s boss arena in order to get one of the rings you need. On NG++, I mean. So you pretty much have to play the game three times through on one character to get the rings achievement. It took me roughly two hours to get to the Giant Blacksmith in Anor Londo on NG++. It took me six or seven hours to beat the Nameless King in NG++. Not to beat him himself but to get through him as the final obstacle to the not-plat. The emotional toll that the DS III not-plat took on me made me question why the fuck I was doing it. The first game was tedious and boring  in many parts, but it never warped my brain the way the third game did.

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Some whine with my Dark Souls cheese

farming outfit nonsense.
Full farming regalia.

During my Dark Souls not-plat run, I tried some cheese late in the game to make it more interesting for me. I mentioned it in my last two posts about the end of the not-plat run, and I brought the same mentality into my current playthrough of DS III. Here’s a fun fact* about the third game: there is no cloud sync. There is one in the original, but not this game for whatever reason. That means that I can only play whatever characters I have created on this computer–which is one. I found this out the hard way when the game came out and I had finished it. Then, I went to visit Ian right around the time of the second DLC, and I was on a different computer than the one I had done the main game on. Imagine my surprise when I tried to find my character, and she wasn’t there. I had to start over and run through the whole game again in order to access the DLC. Maybe it was the first DLC. At any rate, it was frustrating.

My current character is on NG+ and when I picked up the game again, I was about to enter the Catacombs of Carthus. I was a strengthcaster per yooz with a heavy emphasis on casting. I had 30 in Int and 30 in Faith, and I had skimped on Vi….t? Vig? *frantically Googles* Vigor! They change all the stats from game to game so it’s not easy to remember which is in which game. Anyway, I skimped on Vigor, Endurance, and Vitality (see!), and I am trying to beef those up now. I usually neglect Vitality because I prefer to wear lighter armor and bump up my other stats. My one character on NG++++ (pauses) + (I think it’s NG+5) has Vit for days, but I’ll never be able to use her again, sadly.

I finally have my Vigor up to 28 and Endurance up to 30, and I’ll probably leave them once I get my Vigor up to 30. Faith is 35 so I can use Bountiful Sunlight with the Symbol of Avarice when I’m farming for…I’ll get to that in a minute. I would like to get it to 45 to use Soothing Sunlight, but I’m not sure I can justify 10 points in Faith just for that miracle. I do have it, however. I’m not doing a plat run, nor am I doing a not-plat run, but it’s nice to have in my back pocket just in case.

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Not-plat Dark Souls run DONE!

*Bonus Post*

moonlight greatsword is mine!
Gotcha, asshole!

In my last post, I wrote about my not-plat Dark Souls run, but I forgot to mention Seath. He of the Moonlight Greatsword tail that I needed for the not-plat. I fucking hate the Crystal Cave. Earlier in NG, I went to grab the Titanite Blue Slab that is nestled there. I have never gotten it before, so I fell off that particular invisible path several times. Fortunately, I have several characters pretty far in this game so I was able to do the upgraded weapons with more than one character. That meant that I could use the Titanite Blue Slab I already had on one character (there are two in the game) for one upgrade and the one I nabbed in the Crystal Cave on a different character for the other.

Anyway, tackling Seath’s tail was a bitch. Getting there was more stressful because….I don’t know why exactly. I couldn’t remember exactly where the invisible path was, and I fell more than once. It took me five or six times just to get to Seath, and one of those fucking clams came into the arena with me. I died and was fuming as I made the trek again. One the second time I made it into the arena, I tried the strat of letting him kill his own crystal (I did it myself the first time) so he would be stunned as I ran around to his backside. I did not have Power Within activated, and I breathed Great Combustion on his tail…but missed once. I think I hit him once, but it wasn’t enough. So, I had to do it the hard way of running around him, baiting out the laser attack, and getting one or two swipes (Furysword) or GC on his tail–making sure I aimed at the tip. The thing is, though, he lashes his tail around, which meant I missed more than I hit.

I had to keep an eye on his health, obviously, as I did not want to have to do him on NG++. Not only did I not want to have to do him on NG++, I did not want to have to get to that part of the game as I only had to reach Anor Londo and Cuddles (Giant Blacksmith) to transform two boss weapons. I had Seath’s health down half just by attacking the tail, and I was getting nervous. I was wearing pretty strong curse-resist armor and had a high magic-resist shield, and I wasn’t taking much damage at all. I wonder if he’s like the Four Kings in that he does more damage the further you are away from him. Just as I decided I would probably have to let him kill me and try again, his tail came off! A few agonizing seconds before Moonlight Greatsword flashed on the screen, and then his tail…just…stayed…there. For the rest of the fight. As you can see in the pic above. Which was kinda gross, tbh, but at least I didn’t have to harvest it for the MGS as I would have in Monster Hunter World.

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My Dark Souls not-plat run is almost done

staring into the abyss.
Got you, motherfucker!

I stand before the abyss, ready to take the plunge. No, wait. I’ve already done the Abyss as in the Four Kings on NG+ with my strength/faith gal, and it was fucking bullshit, I’ll tell ya. I don’t normally have trouble with the Four Kings because I just Pyro them in the face. New Londo (the area leading up to it) ain’t fun, but it’s not the worst, either. I normally can get through it on one or two tries. As for the Four Kings themselves, it’s usually a one and done in NG. I’ve even done it on NG+ before and not had an issue, but that’s with a character who had vit, end, and strength for DAYS. On this character, I was short all three (though I did bump up Endurance and finally have 40), and the ghosts were owning me. It took me four or five tries to get to the Four Kings, and then they wrecked me in one. I looked up tips (I ain’t too proud to beg), and then I followed the advice of using Power Within and Haveling it up. Mask of the Child for Stamina and the Crest Shield, then, and this is the important part, Great Combustion those assholes in the face.

I love me some Great Combustion, but I tend to view it as a last resort. It really is powerful as fuck, and I’ve been using it as a first option generously. I have two of them which is 16 uses in total. I also have two of the weaker ones, Combustion, and one Black Flame (the dark version) as well. But wait! We are not at that point in my narrative because there was so much other stuff I went through to get there. I stuck with my faith gal because in order to get one of the covenants, you needed to feed Gwyn’s soul to the Altar of Sunlight as a Sunbro AFTER offering ten Sunlight Medals. And, if you break the covenant as I did in the end of NG in order to save Solaire, then  you have to offer five more medals in order to get back into the covenant. Anyway, I did that, got the last miracle, and was able to check that achievement off my list.

Here’s a funny thing about me. I’m a completionist, even when I’m running through a game for the hundreth time. I still want to get every item and go to every  area even if I can skip it. I usually do Blighttown the normal way even when I have the Master Key just because. Also, Blighttown ain’t as bad as everyone says, especially on the PC. Anyway, on this NG+ non-plat run, I said fuck it. I was just going to go as fast as possible, making sure I did everything I needed to do along the way. I even went into Blighttown the back way and skipped the whole platforming mess. I made it to Biggie & Small in three or four hours, which is unheard of for me. I freaked out before fighting them, however, as I needed Ornstein’s soul. I never fight Super Ornstein because why would I? I had his soul on another character because a summon went for Smough first and I really had no choice. That character was in NG++, however, and didn’t have either Priscilla’s tail or Seath’s tail. I don’t care about tail cuts and have never done either. I also don’t kill Priscilla ever since the first time. Not because it traumatized me and made me think I was stuck in the Painted World of Ariamis forever (though it certainly did that), but because she’s cute and fluffy, and she’s not hurting anyone.

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Going to Mordor to find the one true game

Lucy Thorne, my nemesis, vanquished.

Since we last talked about games, I’ve quit playing Syndicate. Not out of hate or disgust, but I just stopped playing one day, and I haven’t picked it up since. I had way more fun with it than I thought I would, and since I got it for free, I got plenty of bang for my (zero) buck. I’m not mad at it, but it’s pretty much a disposable game–like the video game equivalent of the summer blockbuster popcorn movie. I have no desire to go back to it, even though I think Evie kicks all the asses. Jacob is back on my shit list, but I just treat him as an annoying younger brother–which, in my head canon, he totally is the younger of the two twins.

I’ve put in almost 40 hours into the game, and I’m…maybe 70% done with the story? I’ve cleared all but two of the boroughs and am about 90% done with the one borough. Plus, a whole new borough opened up that focuses around Jacob’s grandchild, Lydia Frye. Ok, I just looked up about Evie and Henry Green. Now I kinda want to finish the game just to get to the climax of that relationship. I’m strangely invested in the two of them hooking up, and I want to see it happen. But, knowing me, I wouldn’t be able to rush through the main storyline to get to it without being distracted by the other stuff. I really want to see it, though, so I may just grit my teeth and do it.

But! I’ve also been trying some other games, and I want to talk about them. Void Memory by Gustav (one dude, I think) is a 2D Castlevania Souls-like blah blah blah. I liked the look of it, and it has mostly positive reviews on Steam. It was on sale, so I bought it and gave it a test drive. I used a controller because I always used a controller for games like these*. There was an immediate problem of the prompts being shown for the k/m no matter that I was using a controller. In the menu, they showed the keyboard bindings, but not the controls. So, it was a fun game of ‘Which button do I press? Who knows?” as I figured out which buttons controlled which actions. I might have dealt with that except that the choice of buttons for the controller are really, really shitty. Attack is left trigger. LEFT FUCKING TRIGGER. That is not fucking acceptable. If you want to use your ranged weapon, it’s something like hold right trigger and then tap left trigger. I don’t remember because I wiped it from my mind as soon as I requested a refund, and there isn’t any buzz about it online.

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Video game randomness

Feeling scattered, so I thought I’d do a stream-of-consciousness post about what’s on my mind re: video games. How is this different than any other post you ask? First of all, rude. Secondly, it’s different because I’m announcing it ahead of time. Third point, normally I write about one general topic with many little side paths. In this post, they are all side paths. With that warning, let’s jump right in.

I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Tuesday? Why? I have no idea. Therefore, today is Wednesday in my world. That may explain why I forgot that Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! was released in Early Access yesterday. Now, Steam is down, and I cannot cook, serve, and be delicious! By the way, I love the way the developer, David Galindo also known as chubigans because it’s his Twitter handle) numbered the sequels. The original is Cook, Serve, Delicious!. The first sequel is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!. And this one is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!. It’s a little thing, but I think it’s fun. Well. The store page loaded and then the search page loaded. Then, the game page did not load. Apparently, Steam is down in the US and the UK.

Oh. Dark Souls thought. I’ve been ruminating about all the hate for casters I have several thoughts, but one that just suddenly occurred to me. Apparently, magic really was OP in Demon’s Souls–the one game I haven’t played. Not coincidentally, it has a mana bar, much like Dark Souls III does. That does make it easier to make casting overpowering because you can basically have as many spells as you want as long as you spec for it. In addition, in Demon’s Souls, the magicks don’t have level stats. Let me give you an example. In Dark Souls, White Dragon is a sorcery that needs 50 points of Intelligence to use. Pyromancy doesn’t require spell levels in the original game, but it takes 340,500 Souls to fully upgrade the Pyromancy Flame. That’s 55 levels. That’s a shit-ton of levels.

So my theory is that someone who played as a caster in the first game or saw someone play as a caster in the first game formed an opinion of casting that didn’t change throughout the games even though the mechanics of magicks have changed drastically from game to game. Also, I think it’s laziness in which someone just repeats what they see/hear in the videos/forums without really thinking about it. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes it more understandable.

Back to CSD3. Which I still can’t play because Steam is still down. The original was one of my favorite games of all times, It’s one of the few games I’ve 100%ed. Well, until they added new content. The same thing happened with Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I got True Platinum God before they changed the requirements. Then I couldn’t be stuffed with either to do what needed to be done to achieve it again.

Steam is back up, and I am installing CSD3 as I type. I won’t be able to play it until later, but it’ll be a treat when I’m done with everything I need to do. I’m tempted to play it now, but I know once I start, I won’t be able to stop for hours. I have my Sabre Form lesson in an hour, and I am not going to want to stop by then.


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Feeling icy about Iceborne

It’s not Fashion Borne, but it’ll have to do.

Ian and I have been  chatting about Iceborne. He’s loving it, and I’m….um….playing it. A little. Reluctantly. Back when I was playing the base game, he gave up on it much sooner than I did. Then at some point, he jumped back in and finished the storyline. We have very different ways of approaching games, and I think it was to his benefit in this case. He tends to play several games at once, even before he was in the industry, whereas I might dabble a bit, but I usually focused on one game at a time. This works well for me in FromSoft games, and even then, I find myself approaching burnout near the end of each game. For whatever reason, that goes away, and I play the games over and over. Well, to be more precise, the Souls games. I’m currently stalled on my most recent Sekiro playthrough because it takes so much out of me, and I have to be at my best to play it. I’m rarely at my best.

So, Ian is loving Iceborne whereas I’m trying to love it. He’s put about half to a third as much time into the base game as I have, and he recently completed the Banbaro set. He’s maining the Insect Glaive, which is one of my two backup weapons. Charge Blade is the other. One of my issues, I insisted on clinging to my gear from the base game, even though I had read that you should immediately make new gear in MR. I mean, it makes sense. I had to do it back when I made the jump from LR to HR. It was one of the things most discussed–don’t bother grinding out all the gear in LR because it’ll be useless in HR.

The thing, is, though, HR is many hours more than LR. By the time I was done with HR, I had fourteen Switch Axes all fully upgraded and dozens of loadouts. One for each monster. It’s not an economy  issue because I have over 2,000,000z and over a hundred and twenty-five thousand research points. I have mats for days, although my using the elder melder to make some of the rarer resources on the regular seriously cut into my Great Jagras mats. The point is that I can’t get over feeling as if I wasted my time in HR. I finally gave in and made MR armor and the basic bone swaxe. They already do more damage/have more defense than my fully-upgraded HR gear. Intellectually, I understand why this is the case, but emotionally, it’s a hit.

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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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I can’t accept the new me

One of my flaws is that I have a fairly rigid way of looking at myself. I tend to think of myself in terms of absolutes, which does not allow for any change. I’m grumpy, cynical, depressed, fat, and  introverted. That’s who I am. Taiji, video games, writing, and reading. That’s what I do. More specifically, blades, Souls, mysteries, and mysteries (respectively). It’s a weird tension because when I ignore what I know about myself, it doesn’t usually go well. Some small examples–going to see Pulp Fiction with a boyfriend (many years after it was released). It was his favorite movie, and he really wanted me to see it. I warned him that I was not going to like it. I knew I wouldn’t, but he was convinced that either I would like it or he would be ok with me not liking it.

Reader, I didn’t like it, and he wasn’t ok with it. Not only did I not like it, I fucking hated it. I loathed it with every pore of my being. I thought it was shallow, grotesque, and painfully hipster. I hated everything about it. When my boyfriend asked me what I thought about it afterwards, I made the mistake of telling him. Not in the terms above, but more as what I saw about it that was problematic. After I was done, there were several seconds of silence. Then he said he couldn’t be with someone with that kind of worldview and dumped me on the spot. He wanted to be ‘just friends’*, and we saw two other movies together. Both that he loved and insisted I’d love (we are both slow learners), and I hated both.

Here’s the weird thing about me. I don’t always know what I’ll like, but I know what I don’t like. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go. When I hate something, I hate it hard. If I hate something from the start, I do not change my mind. The biggest glaring exemption to this is Dark Souls, the original. I hated it as I was playing it, and now, it’s one of my favorite games of all time. You know what? That’s not entirely correct. When I first started playing it, I was instantly hooked even though I was so bad at it. That is unusual in and of itself because I normally refuse to do things I’m not good at. For some reason, however, I kept playing Dark Souls. I nearly quit once (Bell Gargs), quit for months once (Gaping Dragon), and came thisclose to quitting for good (Biggie & Small), but I overcame all those hurdles and felt like a goddess. Then, the second half, which I hated every minute. I was sick and tired by the end, but I made it through the whole game, including DLC. I remember saying in my brain once I was done, “I never have to play this game again.” Ah, how young and naive I was back then.

I actually held to it–until Dark Souls II was announced. For whatever reason, my lizard brain said I had to play that game. In order to prepare for it, I decided to play the first game again. Why? I don’t know. That’s how my brain works. Also, I wasn’t going to buy the second game on release, so I had time to play the first game at my leisure. Considering it took me nearly 150 hours to play it the first time, I needed as much time as I could to play it again. Playing it a second time made me a complete 180 on the game, and it’s now the game to which I compare every other game. I’ve played it probably a dozen times, and I’ve played the third one twice that.


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