Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Dead Cells

A ton more Monster Hunter: World–and a little bit of Dead Cells

what could possibly go wrong?
I’m sure nothing bad will happen here.

I’ve played a shit-ton of Monster Hunter: World this week, but we’ll get to that in a second. Dead Cells was officially released on August 6th, and I reinstalled it to see if I could finally beat the goddamn boss at the end of the (Early Access) game. I’ve written several posts about it and why I quit playing it, even though it’s an excellent game. Before I talk about that, I have to address the regrettable controversy surrounding Dead Cells, one not of its own making, and one it does not deserve at all. An editor at IGN, Filip Miucin, plagiarized Boomstick Gaming’s review video for the game. When the news dropped, I was on the fence because the few things I saw weren’t that egregious. There are certain phrases that come up in every review about this game–rogue-like 2D Metroidvania platformer, for instance–and the notable things about the game are, well, noted in each review*. But, looking deeper into it, there’s no denying that Miucin copied Boomstick Gaming’s review, and IGN acted admirably by investigating and then firing him.

Miucin was a YouTuber before he became an editor at IGN, which, you know, maybe not the best of ideas, but so be it. After the debacle, he put out a video he labeled an apology, but was anything but. He said it was unintentional and that the other example provided was just click-bait for Jason Schreier (Kotaku writer). Miucin challenged the internet to find other examples of him plagiarizing, which is the last thing you want to do in his position. Turns out he plagiarized from Wiki, his own colleague at IGN, and his resume was a template stolen from LinkedIn. He’d been doing it for years, and he probably thought he could get away with it at IGN because he hadn’t been caught before.

Anyway, the point isn’t Miucin’s despicable behavior, but the fact that Motion Twin (the devs) doesn’t deserve this. They’ve put out an amazing game that has vastly exceeded expectations, and yet, forever, they will be linked to the Miucin debacle. In addition, Motion Twin has an egalitarian pay system. Everyone who works for the team gets the same pay. They all get the same bonuses. It’s a small team, which makes it even more amazing. The game is gorgeous and addictive, and I still can’t beat that damn boss.

My one biggest gripe is that it can take me up to an hour to make it to this boss. I can be as overpowered as hell, and the minute I step into the castle, it doesn’t matter. No matter how fat my health bar or how strong my weapons and skill, I get destroyed by this boss. I’ve met him twice since I reinstalled the game this time, and I lasted at most a minute the first time and maybe fifteen seconds the second. I cannot beat this boss no matter what load-out I have, and it’s mostly because I can’t practice against him often enough.

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When something I love doesn’t love me back

I recently tried out Dead Cells again because why not? I loved the game and put countless hours into it; I wanted to see if my waning enthusiasm could perk up. Plus, it was going to be released soon (it’s still in Early Access), so I thought maybe there was another update. There was. What have I noticed so far? One, the name of the bosses have changed. There are four that I know of, including the final one, and here are the name changes. Spoilers and all that. The Incomplete One is now The Concierge. The Watcher is now Conjoctivius. The Assassin is The Time Keeper, which makes sense given where she is. The Hand of the King is…wait. I think this one is actually the same. Don’t quite remember as I was too busy trying to not be killed by him. The Time Keeper is still easy as cake for me as long as I have ice weapons/grenades. Conjoctivius still sucks, but I killed her the one time I fought her (though I’m still not quite sure how as I was positive she killed me), and The Hand of the King still fucking sucks.

There’s another adorable gremlin guy who lets you modify your weapons for a set amount of gold. The leveling up the weapons system has changed so that instead of leveling up certain weapons, you level up each tier of weapon that applies across the board. These are good updates, and the fact that you have to spend souls, er, cells in order to attain the tier level upgrades means that cells actually matter again.

There are different room patterns and enemy placements (it’s RNG to a certain extent, but there are certain patterns you can recognize), which was frustrating. I went the vanilla path for a few times just to get my feet under me. When I veered from that, I got killed. I gotta say, one of my frustrations about the alternate paths is that they’re so fucking difficult. I know it’s because you get better shit on the alternate paths, but better shit doesn’t matter when you’re dead. I went to the Ossuary which is an alternate path for the third section, and it wrecked my ass. It feels so RNG-dependent. If I get ice grenades or an ice bow early on, then I can do the alternate path. If I don’t, then I can’t.

I noticed a new secret in the Ramparts that I won’t be able to figure out without looking it up (similar to the one in the Promenade of the Condemned), and instead of exciting me, I just heaved a sigh and shrugged my shoulders. I know I’m not going to figure it out, and more importantly, I don’t want to figure it out. Let me make the first (but not last) comparison to Dark Souls. When I find a secret in Souls, I’m hyped and excited. Even if I can’t figure it out (which I usually can’t), it’s still a thrill. Here, it feels like a burden. “Oh, great. One more thing I have to do. Swell.” I actually felt that way in DS III during the last DLC (and during all of the DLCs for DS II), and it’s become a sign to me of when the joy has been sapped out of a game, and I’ve lost my will to live.

I played half a dozen runs or so of Dead Cells, met The Hand of the King three times, and promptly died to him every time. I got him down to half one time, but that was it. I was doing no damage to him, and while he wasn’t quite as hard as in the previous build, I didn’t feel as if I wanted to take the time to learn him. I *think* I could, but I don’t want to. Again, it’s a mark of my engagement with the game that I don’t want to for reasons I’ve mentioned before. One, it takes an hour just to get to him. Two, his HP pool is ridiculous. Three, the castle is still ridiculous.

I uninstalled it again after a few runs because I just couldn’t be stuffed again. I’ll give it another look after it releases for real, but I have a hunch I won’t be spending too much time with it. It’s like Nuclear Throne in that while I really really want to love the game, it simply won’t allow me to. I’ve hit a hard wall, and I don’t want to struggle to scale it. I’ve talked before about walls so I won’t belabor the point. However, to briefly recap, there are different levels of walls. One is the ‘I just hit this hard thing’ wall. In Dark Souls, it’s the Asylum Demon for those of us who have never played a hardcore game or very few and sucked hard during a first playthrough. The first time you see the guy, you’re like, “Aw, hell no. What the fuck am I going to do against this monstrosity?” Especially as the first time you see him, you don’t have a real weapon. Once you figure him out, though, he’s cake. He’s big and lumbering and slow. He telegraphs his movements so even I can see them a mile away. Then, you can adhere to the age-old DS advice of SMACK DAT ASS, YO! These days, if the Asylum Demon even hits me, I’m embarrassed. Not saying he doesn’t, but it shouldn’t be happening. He did kill me once the first time I met him in NG+, which I still blush to admit. But, normally, he’s no harder than a regular enemy–just a few more hits than others take.


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My love/hate relationship with Dead Cells and other ‘hard’ games: Part two

 

my favorite npc!
My mutatation buddy is done for the day.

I wrote last week that I was coming up to the final wall with Dead Cells, and now I have hit it. I speculated it would be the Castle, and I was correct. More specifically, the final boss, The Hand of the King. He’s a pain in my ass, and I have not beaten him once. At my most OP, I had something like -75% damage taken, ice grenades (which, by the way, are pretty useless against him because of his fucking shield that he can pull out in a second), damage up the wazoo, a nice and fat health bar, etc., and…I got him down to a quarter maybe a fifth of his life left before he killed me. I don’t think I could have stacked myself any better, and I still couldn’t beat him. I tried a completely different load-out the next time I fought him (turret, damage boost, no ice), going all-damage, and got my ass handed to me.

It’s not fun to walk into the Throne Room and know I’m about to get my ass beat. Even walking through the Castle is a chore because of the hordes of enemies with beefy HP pools. Plus, you have to fight *spoilers* two out of three elite enemies in order to get the keys to go to the Throne Room, and every time they hit you, you get infected with some kind of poison. If you get hit five times, you instantly die. *sigh* I need my ice skills for the elites and other enemies of this area, but I have to hope that I can get something else from the shops for the final boss fight.

I’ve also reached the point where cells aren’t worth anything to me. I  know that the game changes radically once you beat the final boss (have gleaned that from the forums), and cells maybe aren’t as needed then. However, as I’ve stated, I have yet to beat the final boss, so I don’t have access to all this new content. There are a few blueprints I haven’t gotten yet, but they’re all dependent on being dropped at a very low rate (unless you use the Hunter’s Grenade, which guarantees you can extract the blueprint, but only after you fight the elite version, and it takes one skill slot), so grinding them is difficult. The ones I need are all in later dungeons, and there’s one dungeon in which losing a skill slot is unacceptable. My point about the cells is that I can play an entire run which is roughly an hour and not get anything for it. Part of the fun in a rogue-like is unlocking skills and getting new shit. Once that isn’t in play, the excitement factor zooms to zero.

Right before I uninstalled the game, I realized that the loop wasn’t fun any longer. I could breeze through the regular path to the first boss and one area beyond with no problems. I could go alternate paths and get better stuff, but then get my shit pushed in by the Watcher. Although, I’m getting much better at that boss. Then, I can go to the Graveyard, which I’ve only gone through a half dozen times, or to the Slumbering Sanctuary, which has a neat concept, but ultimately isn’t that interesting. I’ve mentioned before that I hate the Clock Tower, though with all ice skills, it’s much easier, and fuck the Forgotten Sepulchre.

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My love/hate relationship with Dead Cells and other ‘hard’ games: Part one

come. at. me. bro.
Cursed, but it was worth it for the ice bow!

I think I’m reaching the end of Dead Cells. Not because I hate it. Not because it’s a terrible game. But because I’m hitting the wall, and while I’ve hit walls before, this feels like the wall I cannot overcome without putting in way more hours into the game. Let me explain. I think most people are familiar with the concept of hitting the wall in which you just can’t get around an obstacle in front of you (be it physical or mental). In a video game, it’s usually a boss that you simply can’t beat. In a ‘hard’ game, it can be other things, such as level design, difficult enemies, or just simply dying over and over again for a variety of reasons.

Let’s take Dark Souls for example. And, yes, it’s my go-to when I want to talk about difficult games. It’s notorious for its difficult bosses, and I’m betting that the Bell Gargoyles were the first real gut check for most Souls players. Well, OK. Asylum Demon first. Then the Taurus Demon. But definitely the Bell Gargoyles! Hm. What was my point? Oh, yeah, this! The thing, though, is that many people didn’t even make it to the Bell Gargoyles for a variety of reasons. One of the things about the game is that after you beat the Asylum Demon (if you do), you’re taken to the Firelink Shrine. There are three paths you can take from there, and two of them are ridiculously hard. Now, some Souls fans will tell gush about how brilliant it is because the two paths are so hard, it points you in the right direction. Hard disagree from me. What’s the one thing you hear about Souls if you’re a gamer, even if you have no interest in it? That it’s fucking hard. FUCKING HARD. You just tried to beat a demon to death with your goddamn fists because you didn’t know you were supposed to run from him (so you can get your weapon and fight him properly later, and he’s still no joke in your first playthrough), so being attacked by ghosts you can’t kill* or skellies who can one-shot you doesn’t seem that outre.  Your idea of hard has already been busted, so especially without context (the third path being hard, but not insanely so), it’s easy to think you’re supposed to run through the area with the ghosts or the skellies and just deal with it.

The reason I’m saying this is that there are tons of legit reasons for people quitting Souls. I love the games, and I’ll recommend them ad nauseam, but I also realize they’re not for everyone. I had a friend who reached Firelink Shrine and saw a message in front of the Crestfallen Warrior to attack him, so she did. Which is a BAD idea. If you aggro an NPC in Dark Souls, they will be permanently aggro’ed unless you pay an exorbitant amount of money to get your sins absolved. I know this because I accidentally hit Andre while trying to talk to him (first time I used a controller, and the controls for Souls games are, at best, whimsical), and I had to pay something like fifteen-thousand souls to make him forget (it’s based on your level. 500 souls per level, so the higher level you are, the more you have to pay). I seriously considered starting the game again because Andre is essential, and that much money (souls) seemed exorbitant at the time. Anyway, my friend couldn’t use Firelink Shrine, which is your hub bonfire, because the Crestfallen Warrior was aggro’ed, and that made her quit. I completely understand that, and I do not blame her in the least.  Continue Reading

Dead Cells has its icy claws in me

a breath of respite!
Are we in Anor Londo?

About a year ago, I heard tell of an exciting Souls-like* game in Early Access called Dead Cells.  I watched a few Let’s Plays and Let’s Look Ats, and I was immediately intrigued. However, I am chary of Early Access, and I decided to wait.  Recently, it was on sale, and I was between games, so I snapped it up. I installed it, started it up, and I was hooked. The controls are intuitive (although, funny story. I went back to Dark Souls III to try a pure pyro strategy, well, close to a pure pyro, and I’ve been accidentally hitting NPCs because interact in RB in Dead Cells and A in Dark Souls III (on my Xbox One controller). Fortunately, you can hit NPCs once and not aggro them, but it’s pretty disconcerting), and soon, I was rolling, jabbing, and collecting my souls, er, cells, with the best of them.

So, speaking of souls, let’s talk about it being a Souls-like game. I’ve heard that quite a bit about Dead Cells, and I didn’t really see it when I first started playing. The more I played, though, I got the comparison. It’s funny to hear Lets Players talk about souls and Estus Flasks, and I agree it’s better to be deliberate in combat rather than just mashing buttons (though I panic-mash more often than I care to admit). However, I don’t think it’s so much that this game is Souls-like than it is that both are Metroidvanias. Sprawling levels to explore with locked off areas. Getting runes to acquire abilities to unlock said locked-off areas. In this case, permadeath, but with upgrades that you keep between runs.

When I start, I’m just a ball of goo that rolls across the floor until I reach an empty body. I inhabit the body, and then I’m ready to go. I start with a Rusty Sword, and I start wrecking fools. Or rather, they wreck me in the Prisoners’ Cells. There are random pickups on the ground, such as melee weapon (all kinds of swords), ranged weapons (bows, whips, etc.), shields, and skills (traps, grenades, meat grinder, etc.). There are also upgrades and gold balls you hit to break and scatter. There are secrets in the wall that are marked with a faint rune, and you hit them to open them. They usually contain some kind of gem (gold) or food (kebabs and chicken so far), which is a nice pick-me-up.

You can speed run through the area to try to make it to the timed door in the next area, but the time limit is really strict. To make the first timed door, you have to get there in under two minutes. I’ve done it a few times, but that means skipping most of the first area and not getting the upgrades. Behind the timed door is *spoilers* good loot such as one upgrade (strength, tactical, or skill, and each includes a health upgrade), several gems/gold/coins, a bunch of cells–oh! forgot to say that the cells are used for the permanent upgrades at the end of each level–and sometimes a blueprint for a new weapon/shield/skill. I don’t think it’s worth it, though, because you have to take the blueprint and cells to the end of the level in order to cash in on them, and I feel severely under-leveled if I don’t clear out the first area before proceeding. I’ve never made it to the other timed doors, and I don’t really care.

Let’s talk upgrading. After each level, you can talk to the Collector who’ll use your cells to make whatever you want (and if you have blueprints for it). When you first start the game, you don’t have any ability to heal. You can buy the Estus Flask from the collector for fairly cheap, and you get one gulp. Each upgrade is successively more expensive, and I’m up to three swigs. You have to spend all your souls–cells!–before moving onto the mutation guy, though I just found out that you can break that door down to save your cells. There’s a reason for doing this, which I’ll get to in a minute.

The adorable mutation guy lets you choose one mutation after each level. This can be as simple as more health, or as specific as an X amount of increase in damage for Y amount of seconds after killing an enemy. You can unlock more of these by spending your cells with the Collector. My favorite is Ygdar Orus Li Ox, which brings you back from death once, but you can only pick it up after the first level.  I guess it’s so you won’t choose it right before a boss fight, but so what if you do? It’s irritating that I have to carry it all the way through all the levels if I want it to actually help me during a boss fight.

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In sickness and health

I’m slowly getting better, but I’m fighting off an extraneous sickness. My ears aren’t as crusted over as they were before, but they’re still not clear, either. I’ve been sleeping a ton, which is never a good sign. I did go to taiji on Monday, and while I took it easy, I was pretty tired by the time I got home. It’s snowing, by the way. It started yesterday (Monday) while I was in class, and it’s still going. It’s not much snow, maybe two to four inches, but it’s making me happy.

I need to start cooking. I hate that, but it’s true. I’m starting to have more sensitivities past dairy/gluten, and buying pre-made food just isn’t cutting it any longer. I’ve been playing a shit-ton of a Metroidvania-style game called Dead Cells, and I’ll write a post on it later.

I’m sleeping a ton, which makes me worried that I’m actually getting sicker. I don’t sleep much when I’m healthy, so I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the meantime, my motivation to do much of anything, which isn’t high to begin with, and that’s an indication that I’m still not well yet.

Anyway, here’s Northernlion playing Dead Cells.