Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: dark souls

The Politics of Art

So, I love to write. A lot. Prolifically. Garrulous. It’s the equivalent to a chatterbox who cannot keep her mouth shut. I can’t keep my fingers from banging away at my keyboard, and I have many broken keyboards to prove it. In fact, this one (on my laptop) is on its last legs, and I should replace it pretty soon. The problem is, people are reading less and less. Rather, they’re reading less of actual longform pieces and novels. I’m old woman shaking my fist at the clouds, but I also acknowledge that it’s probably not going backwards any time soon.

What’s the new big thing? Videos. Streaming. It’s all the rage with the kids these days, an it’s something I’ve thought about doing myself. The problem is, first of all, I hate the way I look on camera. Now, of course, I could stream a game without face-cam, but from what I’ve seen, you get more views with the face-cam on, especially as a woman. Which, therein, is my second issue. The world of video games is still a man’s world with a very bro-y culture. I don’t watch streams on Twitch (except Ian’s! twitch.tv/eenbou) because the chats are fucking toxic. I don’t use that word lightly, but it’s sadly true. Anything over ten viewers, and it’s ‘fuckbois’, ‘faggot’, and ‘i’d fuck that ass’ all the damn time. There’s a streamer I did watch occasionally when he wasn’t too big yet, and I already felt not included by dint of being a woman in my forties. I watched a vod of a recent stream, and he’d changed from being low-key and lovable to low-key and ‘fuckbois’, and it really disappointed me. I’m not naming  him because it’s not him–it’s the ethos of chat. I’m stil working on my Theory of Dudes in which the more dudes you have in one place, the grosser the culture becomes.

Anyway, I watched a podcast with four female streamers, and they were emphatic about not being just boob jigglers, but one of them is known for that, and another is known for being bro-y in her chat. They were all young and conventionally pretty, which is another double standard for women who stream. Dudes can be any age, shape, size, or look, but the women have to be young, not fat, and hot. In addition, most of the female streamers are even bro-y-er than their male counterparts as a way to overcompensate. It’s the same with streamers girlfriends/wives. They put down women, make sexual innuendos, and are pretty jerky. They also feed into the stereotypes of the nagging wife, which is annoying as hell as well.


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His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan: Part Two

let's be samurai homies!
Lady Ginchiyo is a bad-ass!

I’ve been playing more Nioh, and I have plenty more to say about it. You can read my initial impressions here. I’m roughly half-way through the game, and the bloom has come somewhat off the rose. To briefly recap, Nioh is a game that has been called a mix between Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden, and Diablo. You can probably guess that I’m here for the Souls part, and I enjoyed Diablo III as well. This should hit my sweet spot nicely, and it does. Kind of. I’ll get to that in a bit.  Oh, also, there will be mild spoilers, but nothing huge. Just FYI. When we last left off, I was describing the Estus system. Er, Elixirs. You start off with a certain amount, three is the base, and for every five Kodama you find in a region, you get one more base Elixir that will replenish every time you visit your Shrine. I know I said in my Bloodborne posts that a combination of a set number of Blood Vials that replenish at each Lamp in addition to the ones you pick up as you romp through Yharnam would be ideal, and that’s pretty much what we have here. However, as much as I liked it in theory, it doesn’t quite work in execution if you’re as mediocre at the game as I am. Right now, I’m roughly ten levels above what is recommended for the missions, and it’s the minimal I need to feel comfortable. You can store up to 9999 Elixirs, but I haven’t been able to even reach a hundred extra. One thing in BB that I appreciated was that I could buy Blood Vials. Yes, they were expensive as hell by the end of the game, but I wasn’t spending my Souls, er, Blood Echoes, on anything else, so why not? You cannot buy Elixirs in this game (as far as I know), but you can make offerings to the shrine of equipment/items/weapons you don’t want, and you receive Souls, Amrita, in return. In addition, you may be blessed with a gift, often an Elixir.

By the way, I had a terrible thing happen once while I was making my offerings. I do it regularly, especially when I need a few thousand Amrita for my next level. Once, right before a boss, I was making my offerings as quickly as I could. I’ve gotten into a routine of clicking as fast as possible, clearing up as much of my inventory as I can. I like to keep my load to under half of what I’m allowed to carry 500 items, so under 250). One niggling irritation is that if you’re offered a gift, and you can’t carry any more of that item, it gets sent to your storage. That’s not the annoying part. The annoying part is that when you get a gift, you have to click on it. That’s bad enough, but if it’s being sent to storage, a message saying you can’t carry any more and do you want it sent to your storage will pop up, and you have to click on confirm. That’s two more clicks than should be necessary to accept a gift (it should just be automatic), and it’s especially annoying to have to confirm you want it sent to storage. Yes, it’s a small thing, but if I’m doing the process twenty to thirty times, it adds up. Anyway, you use the trigger buttons to go from one category to the next. Weapons, helmets, torso armor, etc. Apparently, I was holding it down plus hitting another button at the same time, so I ‘made an offering’ of all my weapons that weren’t equipped. Because I was doing it as quickly as I could, I said yes before I had realized what I’d done. I can’t tell you how upsetting that was. Not because I use the other weapons, but because some of them are given as rewards for missions. I actually had already done another sub-mission twice because I accidentally offered up the spear that I received as a reward. Now, I had four or five weapons that I could only get from redoing earlier missions. I didn’t really care otherwise because weapons drop like crazy, but I was still mad that this was a thing.

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His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan*: Part One

Many moons ago, I heard tell of this game called Nioh. It was described as a samurai Dark Souls, and I was intrigued, but cautious. Souls-like has become its own genre, and most of the entrees are, quite frankly, trash. The ones that aren’t only make me long to be playing Dark Souls.  It’s difficult to strike a balance between being Souls enough to satisfy that itch while being different enough to not be a clone. Any-hoo, it didn’t matter because Nioh was a PS4 exclusive, and I didn’t have a PS4 at that time. I kept hearing about it, though, especially after it was released. It was widely praised, being called the child of Onimusha and Dark Souls, a cross between Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden (which makes sense since the team that did Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja,  developed Nioh) with the loot drop of Diablo, and confirmed it was samurai Dark Souls. Most of the people who loved Souls adored Nioh as well, especially with the tweaks that recalibrated enemy toughness (too tough in the demo). When I bought my PS4, I thought about buying Nioh, but I’m cheap. I am simply not willing to spend $60 on a game, even though I would get plenty of bang for my bucks. I’ve poured hundreds of hours into all the Soulsborne games (if not thousands), so paying sixty bucks each would be reasonable. Side note: I am against pre-ordering, but FromSoft is one of my few exceptions, especially with Miyazaki at the helm. I am willing to buy anything he makes. JUST MAKE A NEW GAME ALREADY, MIYAZAKI!!

As I was romping my way through Bloodborne, the announcement that Nioh was coming to PC dropped, and I lost my shit. As much as I love BB (which is a great deal),  I do not love playing it on the PS4. I don’t hate it, but I’m a PC grrl at heart, and I firmly believe all games should be on the PC. In addition, if it’s on the PC, there’s a chance that it’ll go on sale sometime in the foreseeable future. This is simply not true on consoles. I bought BB two years after it was released, and I still had to pay $35 for the GOTY edition or whatever it was (it included the DLC). In contrast, I bought Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition (which also included the DLC) for under $10 a year or two after it was released on PC. With Nioh on the PC, I could reasonably expect it to go on sale in a year or two at which point I would snatch it up.

The astute among you will have observed that it’s not years since the game has been released on PC; in fact, it’s only been a few weeks. By the way, it was $50 with DLC on PC, so it’s already cheaper than it would be on the PS4. Ian bought it on release, and he was loving it. He streamed the first part, which I watched because I’ve seen up to boss two (three if you include the tutorial boss, which I don’t. More on him later), and it ticked all the boxes for me. I was looking forward to playing it one day, but I was going to wait until it was under twenty bucks. I don’t mind playing a game several years after it’s released, and I have hundreds of games in my pile of shame just mocking me for not touching them. However, after I beat BB and was wondering what my next game would be, Ian and I were talking about Nioh. Late into the night, he gifted it to me, and I was properly stoked to be samurai Geralt. This is another running joke with the game–the protagonist, William Adams, who is based on a real person, looks exactly like Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series. William is Irish and a pirate, but he might as well be Polish and a witcher; he looks that much like Geralt, minus the scars. I’m down with that as Geralt is one of my video game boos.


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Bloodborne: A Deeper Look

I’ve been playing Bloodborne for a week now. I wrote about my first impressions in this post here. Going in, I was concerned about a few things. I’d like to address how I feel about them now. One, the fact that I’ve seen so many playthroughs. I was worried it would ruin the game for me, but it hasn’t. I will admit it’s hard to go into a situation knowing what’s going to happen because I don’t get the wow factor, but I’ve still jumped a few times, and it’s much different actually playing the game than it is to watch a Let’s Play. One of the things about a Miyazaki game is that the worlds are densely woven, and it’s difficult to get a sense of what goes where and how everything connects. The best thing about a Miyazaki game is seeing a closed gate and knowing that at some point, you’ll be able to open it from the other side. There is one notable exception–a door that never opens. The theory in ‘the community’ is that it was a shortcut, but left unused because it would make the game too easy.

My other big concern was running without a shield. I’m such a turtle when it comes to Souls games, even when I’m a caster. I’m wedded to my shield, and you’ll pry it from my cold, dead fingers. Although, I’m now curious to try DS III as a dual wielder, but that’s neither here nor there. I had heard in one of the Let’s Plays I’ve watched for Bloodborne that the die-hard sword-and-board users were having a difficult time with Bloodborne, which concerned me. Was I going to be frustrated with being so open? I’m old, so my reflexes aren’t great. Would I be constantly taking hits? I’m roughly halfway through the game, and I’m not having a problem without having a shield. I’m dodging and quick-stepping with the best of them, and I’ll say that I’m actually more concerned with not being able to roll when I’m locked on than not having shield. The quick-step is amazing, but it’s frustrating to try to quick-step past a boss, only to get smacked.

Not having a shield, though, isn’t that big a deal because the combat is much quicker and more fluid. I love dashing around, feeling unweighted. I’m delighted that encumbrance is not a thing in this game. The armor isn’t that important except for the resistance stats, and I’m still repping the Yharnam Hunter Set, which is the coolest of all. I wore Henryk’s set for the Darkbeast Paarl fight because it has high bolt defense and because it’s so fly-looking, but then returned to the Yharnam Hunter Set. Fashion Borne is real, yo. I love Souls combat, obviously, but there’s something about Bloodborne’s combat that really sings. Because of the rally system, it encourages me to be aggressive. Still don’t want to get greedy, but being greedy means something different in this game, and the way to remedy it is attack again if possible rather than retreat.


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Exercise, Activity, and Mood

I have struggled all my life with depression. At times, it has been chronic and crippling, to the point where me brushing my teeth was a major accomplishment. Right now, I would say I have a low-grade enduring depression that flares up into serious depression from time to time. It’s my go-to when I’m under stress, and the difference is how alien the encompassing depression feels now as in comparison to how comfortable it was back when I was in the middle of it day-to-day-to-day.

I would love to say that I worked on my depression and that’s why I’ve gotten better. I would love to be able to give a list of things you can do to feel better. I would love nothing more, but I can’t because that’s not how I emerged from the suffocating embrace of depression. Sure, I did my due diligence by seeking out therapy and medication through therapy, then starting taiji which has helped a great deal, but it was an outcome, not the main intent, but nothing I did consciously to help my depression mattered as much as the indirect results of other behavior such as the aforementioned therapy and taiji.

However, I’ve been in and out of therapy for the past thirty years, and I’ve been practicing taiji for almost nine years. Neither are an easy or quick solution, and I didn’t go into taiji with the intention of easing my mental health issues. That’s just been a nice side bonus. I will say, however, it makes me more aware now how fragile my mental health balance is. I went through a period recently of deep depression, not as bad as it was before, but still pretty intense. I knew it wasn’t from within me, which made it almost worse. Rationally, I knew there was no reason I should be depressed, but I also knew I couldn’t talk myself out of it. It lasted a few weeks, and I just gritted my teeth and powered my way through it. I was terrified it would last forever, but it faded after two  or so weeks.

On Saturday, I had to get up early to pick up Ian from the airport. Without thinking, I checked my social media. Then, I remembered that it was my day not to be on social media, and I quit. I felt bad, but not too bad. I can’t tell you how much better I feel on the days when I stay offline. I don’t think it’s viable for day-to-day life, but it’s nice to get a break twice a week. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed while scrolling through my TL, thinking that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I mean, it is, but not more so than it has been in the past. There is a lot of shit in this world, and there always has been. Having it flash past my eyes on a continuous basis leaves me in a state of numb depression. It’s something I’ve railed about before–how overwhelming all the bad news can be. It’s easy to feel hopeless about the state of the world and think that there’s nothing you can do to alleviate the pain.


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In Defense of Dark Souls II

all my single ladies!
Me and the girls wrecking shit.

I’ve recently been playing Dark Souls II from scratch (both as a caster and as a melee character), and I have a few thoughts about it. It’s generally considered the bad child of the family–the one that drinks and does the drugs and is disrespectful to the entire family. Many people in the Souls community hate it, and while many people like it, there are few who think it’s as good as the first and very few who thinks it’s better. I’m in the camp of, “I think it’s a very good game, even if it’s not quite up to the original. It’s immensely fun to replay.” I’m also in the camp of, “It’s a really good game, but it’s not a great Dark Souls game.”

What do I love about Dark Souls the original? Sit back and let me count the ways. Also, let’s remember that I hated the original game by the time I was done with it, and I never wanted to touch it again. It’s only in preparation for playing DS II much later that I tried the original again and was blown away by it. I had enough distance on it to appreciate it, and I wasn’t as insistent that I beat every boss on my own*, so it was much more enjoyable. I will say as a point of pride that I’ve beaten every boss in Dark Souls solo, including all the DLC bosses. There are a few bosses I haven’t beaten solo in DS II because there are So. Many. Bosses., and the few that I haven’t beaten are early in the game (comparatively) when you’re relatively weak or in the DLCs. I’ve beaten every boss in the third game solo, except for a few in the DLCs.

Anyhoooooooo….what do I love about Dark Souls the original? Let me count the ways. Before I start, though, let me say that it being difficult isn’t one thing I loved about it. That’s the problem with many of the clones (including DS II); they think the difficulty is the end game, not part of the journey. What I do love about the difficulty is how good I feel when I beat the thing that I previously thought was unbeatable. Whether it’s a hard enemy or a really tough boss (looking at you, Nameless King), the exultation when they finally turn into white dust is indescribable.

What’s also good is finding a way to cheese a hard enemy/boss. There is a boss in Dark Souls II, King Vendrick, who is really…not hard, but sturdy. He has physical defenses that is berserker hard, and you have to get a bunch of giant souls (it makes sense in context) to make him easier. He’s so hard, you have to be able to do a certain amount of damage just to start the fight. I have a special fondness for him because he made me change the way I played the first time through (as a caster, of course). Here’s the thing. He hits like a Mack Truck. Even with my not-fragile melee character, he could kill me in two hits. With my caster, yeah, it was pretty much one and done. After dying to him many, many times the first time as a caster. So many times! I decided I had to get radical. I stripped off all my armor so I could have the lightest roll possible, and then I did the classic, “Stick to his left side and smack that ass!” This is what you do with large beasts, which he kinda was. Since I had my shitty Battle Axe as a weapon, it took forever to kill him. It was much easier with my melee character this time around, but it was still circle around the left side and smack that ass. Anyway, beating him melee as a caster while wearing no armor (since one hit killed me anyway, why wear armor?) is one of my fondest DS II memories.  Continue Reading

Salt and Sanctuary: A Bit Salty; A Bit Sweet, Part III

on my way to the blackest vault.
Going DOOOOOWN!

Ed Note: This is part three (and hopefully last) of my Salt and Sanctuary review. As you can tell, I have a lot to say about it. You can read part two here

I uninstalled Salt and Sanctuary last night. I didn’t want to play it any longer, but I found myself thinking, “I’ll just play a few minutes” only to look up and the sun is rising. I’m two-thirds of the way through my melee playthrough, so I feel I can comment on the differences between playing as a mage and playing as a tank. By the way, when I say tank, I mean still being able to fast/medium roll. I watched playthroughs of people clunking their way through the game, barely being able to roll or not rolling at all, and no thank you–especially as I still am not using a shield. I tried, but I still find it awkward. Also, it was useless against the boss I was having a shit-ton of trouble with–more on her in a bit–because she can drain your stamina in a blink. If you’re going to block, you can’t roll and dodge at the same time, and I couldn’t remember that in the heat of the battle.

My tank is leveled higher at this point than my caster was by the end of the game, and I still can’t wear my paladin armor without fat-rolling. I’m not happy about that, and it’s part of my dissatisfaction with the stats-leveling in general. As I mentioned before, you have to level everything up separately, and I’m sure that’s a common thing for a certain genre of games, but it’s horseshit. Light armor and heavy armor are separate tree branches, for example, which meant I couldn’t wear most of the light armor, even though I could wear some heavy armor. Currently, my tank character is rocking the Iron Butterfly VI and the Seawolf Cutlass VI. One is a  Class 3 Greataxe, and the other is a Class 3 Greatsword. Now, in Dark Souls, all I’d have to do is level up strength to probably thirty or forty, and I’d be able to wield both of these weapons*. In S&S, I have to level up each category separately up to the Class 3 in order to use them. And, it’s not just….

OK. Quick primer on the leveling up system. You have to use Black Pearls to level up your stats. You get a Black Pearl every time you level up in general, and you can find a few in the wild. If I want to level up swords, for example. I have to get to the Class 1 Swordfighter node from the nodes I had at the start of the game as a Paladin (spending Black Pearls on varying stats along the way), and then spend one Black Pearl on Class 1 Swordfighter. Then, you have to traverse up the branch again, buying other stats, until you reach Class 2 Swordfighter. You have to spend 2 Black Pearls for a Class 2 node, and so on up to 5 for Class 5. I had to do this with two different branches as I wanted to wield both greathammers/greataxes and greatswords. There are Gray Pearls that allow you to remove a skill, but not many. It’s hard to explain, and it’s confusing to use at the start. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I still didn’t like it. Souls games are known for their obtuse and unintuitive leveling systems, but I much prefer them to the Tree of Skill.

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Salt and Sanctuary: There’s a Lotta Salt in My Sanctuary, Part II

onion kniiiiiiight!
The Masterless Knight, one of my only friends.

Ed Note: This is part two of my review of Salt and Sanctuary, a game that wears it Dark Souls inspiration firmly on its sleeve. You can read part one here. There will be spoilers abound in this review, so be forewarned. Now, on with the show.

I just finished Salt and Sanctuary last night, and I have several things to say about it. Buckle in, boys and girls, it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride. I have a hard time talking about this game because my feelings on it are over the place. On the one hand, I’ve been obsessively playing this game, even starting a new game as a melee player (much more on that later), thinking about it even when I wasn’t playing it. That’s a sign of a game that has crawled up in your spine and made its home there. I finished the game in roughly forty-five hours, which is one-third the time it took me to finish the original Dark Souls plus DLC (don’t judge), and that’s with plenty of exploring and grinding. I probably could have finished it in thirty-five to forty hours if I really booked it through. This way, though, I feel as if I’ve seen most of what the game has to offer, though I’m aware of a few things I’ve missed.

However, about a half to two-thirds of the way through the game, I begin to hate it. It started to feel like a destructive relationship in which you’re totally in love with the other person, but you know they’re going to be the death of you. No, I’m not saying Salt and Sanctuary is going to kill me–let’s not take the analogy too far. You know what’s a better analogy? Having a big bucket of popcorn at a movie. At the beginning, I’m munching the popcorn and feeling pretty good about. Who doesn’t love theater popcorn with the mysterious butter-like syrup they pour over it? I’m munching through the previews, and the popcorn is delicious! I have handful after handful, and about halfway through the bucket, I start to feel slightly sick to your stomach. “I should put this down,” I think, but do I? Of course not. I paid good money for it, and who likes stale popcorn? Plus, some theaters now give free refills(!), so better keep on eating that popcorn. Three-fourths of the way through the bucket, I’m grim. I don’t even know what movie I’m watching any longer because my stomach is hurting, and all I can think about is that damn popcorn. I know I should just get up and throw the bucket away, but I’ll be damned if I let it best me. I am going to finish the bucket if it kills me, which it probably will. By the end of the movie, I’ve stuffed every kernel down my gullet, and I’m already regretting it. Once I’m done, I feel nothing other than remorse, shame, and bitterness at the popcorn for being there. Then, I go to the concession stand to get my free bucket just because I can. I never learn.

Again, it’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s pretty close to my feelings as I went through Salt and Sanctuary. I want to make it clear that the game is still a solid game, but the last third of it really made me sour on the experience in general. I also have to say that I went through a similar fatigue while playing Dark Souls, and it’s probably because when I play a game, I gobble it down as quickly as possible. It’s similar to when I watch a TV series; I binge-watch until I feel slightly ill. Anyway, in the last third, the game started becoming more focused on platforming, which is not the part of the game I enjoyed. I mentioned in my earlier post that the platforming feels oddly squishy, and that it’s hard to tell when you can safely jump and when you can’t. In addition, there are disappearing platforms, crumbling platforms, and platforms you can’t see until you’ve jumped a certain distance. What’s worse, there are combinations of all these, which nearly did me in.

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Salt and Sanctuary: A Love Letter to Dark Souls, Part I

shivering shore sanctuary
Firelink Shrine, anyone?

Salt and Sanctuary is a game that wears its Dark Souls-inspiration on its sleeve. It’s a 2D, side-scrolling, platform, Metroidvania-like Souls game, and I wrote about my first impressions in another post. Now that I’m roughly twenty-seven hours into the game and ten bosses down, I feel I can make a more informed commentary on the game than I could earlier. Be forewarned that I will be hearkening the hallowed name of the Souls franchise frequently and unapologetically throughout this piece because there’s no way I can talk about S&S without mentioning DS.

First of all, let’s get the graphics out of the way. They’ve been divisive in the Souls community (and let’s face it, that’s mostly who’s playing this game), with half the people loving it and half the people hating it. I’m on the loving it side, but I can understand why people are put off by the cartoonish look to it. It’s mostly the characters that people hate as the environments are absolutely gorgeous. The characters almost look anime with their round eyes and wide mouths (not to mention spiky hair if you choose), and I think they’re adorable. I can see how it’d be jarring, though, to have a cute, cuddly character traipsing through a dark world, slaughtering all she sees. I mean, right in the beginning, you’re on this ship. You’re talking to an NPC, and he suddenly gets murdered right in front of you by a man dropping on him and shoving his sword down into him. To then see the cute turtle-like face of your character with her eyes moving back and forth, yeah, it takes some getting used to. I, however, love the art style, so let’s move on.

I want to note that I complained about the controls in the last post I wrote, and then I realized I probably could change them. I mean, it’d be stupid not to let me, right? I went into the settings, and lo and behold, I could, indeed, change the controls. Now, B is roll as it should be, and all is right in my world again. RB is light attack; RT is strong attack, and I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

Side note: The B button on my old XBone controller is sticky, and I was telling my brother about it (as to why I bought a new one). He said he could fix it, but he also suggested I remap roll to another button. I reacted as if he said I should murder my first child*. That was unthinkable to me, which he found hilarious. A is not used very much in Souls games, so he said I should switch roll to A. OH HELL NO! Roll is B. It always has been, and it always will be. Amen.

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At Least I Know What I Don’t Like

it was made for my hands.
I love my Xbone controller so hard.

I’ve written before how since I’ve finished the Souls series* I’ve been struggling to find a game that I enjoy playing. I heard about this game called Unexplored, which has been described as a cross between Dark Souls and Binding of Isaac. I’ve played the shit out of both of these games/series, and I’ve always said I wanted to play a hybrid. It went on sale at Steam for nine bucks, so I snatched it up. It’s a really cute dungeon crawler in which you’re a one-eyed fluffy circle creature with a cape that has a weapon poking out in front and a side weapon you can throw. Before you enter the dungeon, you talk to this guy, and he gives you tips on the dungeons. You have to buy him beers (5 gold each), and the tips don’t seem that helpful yet.

It’s easy to see the Souls/Isaac influences from the very start. A little bit of Enter the Gungeon, too. The tutorial is straight out of Gungeon, but I didn’t even notice it was there until after I’d done a few failed runs. There will be many comparisons to Souls/Isaac because that’s what the game is clearly modeling itself after. Even with the tutorial, there isn’t much said before you jump into the game. I used keyboard/mouse, but there is gamepad support. However, according to the forums, it’s not intuitive, so I stuck to the keyboard/mouse with the typical WASD movement. I had to switch my keyboard from Dvorak to QWERTY, but I’m just glad I was able to do it. Some games consider this a problem. E is look, which is weird, and TAB is map. I’d prefer M for map, but that’s a little thing. I played on Normal, which was…weird. On the first floor in the first dungeon, I wandered around exploring everything. What I found was a lot of…nothing. I ran into maybe a half dozen enemies and a couple of puzzles, but that’s it. I went down to the next floor, and it was more of the same.

When I die, it’s a perma-death, and the next run is the heir of the first character. So, Mulan Rogue the first gives way to Mulan Rogue the second, etc. I don’t think you keep anything other than your gold for the next run. You start with different items, and I believe it’s procedurally-generated. You can right-click and see what they do, but true to rogues, some things need to be identified. Scrolls, potions, and rings are what I’ve found so far. Scrolls and potions are identified the second you use them (and, also true to rogues, some are positive and some are negative), but I had to wear the ring for five minutes before I knew what it did.

There are libraries with cryptic books, which you can take or copy to your journal. I chose to copy more often than not because there is a limited inventory, of which I am not fond. I hate limited inventories with a passion, and the one mod I used when I played Skyrim was the Convenient Horse mod, which allowed me to carry unlimited items. I do like finding the lore by reading books, which is similar to reading item descriptions in Souls games. I don’t mind finding things out in drips and drabs.

What I don’t like is persistent status effects with no antidote, pun intended. There was one level that had a gas atmosphere, and I couldn’t find a way to counter it. I had to go through it, but my health was dropping at an alarming rate. I lost all interest in the run. To make matters worse, when I was in the middle of a good run, the game started freezing on me, and I had to shut down the game. This happened again, and I lost any interest in playing it.

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