Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: fromsoft

Hope is fading…like the First Flame

I hate video games. This, obviously, is hyperbole, but it’s starting to feel true. I tried Furi this week, and I couldn’t get past the tutorial boss. Before you tell me to git gud, n00b, hear me out. I knew going in that Furi was a hard game. It’s all boss fights, and each one is difficult in its own way. That’s all I knew going in. Oh, and that the protagonist is in jail and has to fight the jailer to get out. That’s all I knew firing it up, and I was prepared to have my shit pushed in time and time again. What I wasn’t prepared for was how fucking irritating the jailer/warden, whatever the fuck his name is. I’m going to call him FuckFace just because. No reason. Anyway, he talks waaaay too much. Maybe it’s because I play Dark Souls and Monster Hunter, but I’m not interested in someone flapping his lips at me as I’m trying to kill him. Yes, there was Micolash in Bloodborne, but he was fucking annoying as well. Not as annoying as The Jailer, though. He’s sneering and pompous an supercilious. And he won’t. stop. talking. He fancies himself a dom with me as his unwilling sub. He talks about killing me again and again and again. Blah, blah, blah.

I could tolerate that, barely, if it weren’t for the fact that he has eight phases. Yes, you read that right. Three of them are tutorial, and you heal to full after each one. But, so does he. Then, in the fourth phase, shit gets real. He starts attacking you with everything he’s got, and I died to him a few times. I also noticed myself doing damage, but then seeing he had full health. What? Oh, right. He has a fucking shield for each phase. So you have to kill the shield before doing actual damage to his health. You get three lives to do five phases (plus shields), and I just–no. I did not want. I set down the controller, uninstalled it, and sighed sadly.

The thing is, I think it’s a good game. I really do. I just think it’s above my pay grade, and I don’t want to put in the work it would take to get firmly mediocre at it. Plus, I hated listening to The Jailer being such a jackhole. In addition, there were two other things about this guy that made me turn off the game One, there are bullet-hell aspects to the game, which I do not enjoy. The other is that you have to learn to parry.

*SOUNDLESS SCREAM*
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I don’t think I actually like video games

I came to a realization a few weeks ago that I may not actually like video games. Hear me out. I’ve been playing ‘hardcore’ games for roughly seven years. The first one was Torchlight, which I absolutely loved. I loved the protagonist who looked Asian if you squinted. I really loved that she came back as a voiced NPC in the sequel, and her voice was low and husky like mine. I loved that I could have a pet whom I could name and feed fish. The game was very addictive, and I immediately had the ‘just one more level’ feeling about it.

Diablo III was right after that, and I really dug that as well. Then the Borderlands, original and sequel, which I played for hundreds of hours. Then, I played Dark Souls, and everything changed. I could no longer play hack ‘n slashes afterwards because the combat was empty and unsatisfying. Yes, I played Skyrim afterwards and enjoyed it*, but I was a caster (of course), so I didn’t have to do much of the melee combat.

In all this time, I played dozens of games that I didn’t like. At all. Some that I really wanted to like and should have been up my alley, such as Alan Wake, and others that I just didn’t like at all. Like Arkham whatever. I’m not sure which game, but I hated the combat. I gave it a fair shake–a few hours–but I just didn’t click with it at all. Others, I liked, but there was one aspect that I just couldn’t stand that made me fall off it, such as Sleeping Dogs, which I call Sleepy Dawgs for reasons that should be obvious. I really liked it, not in a small part because of the badass Asian male protagonist, but the driving suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. I can’t emphasize that enough. I didn’t love the combat as it’s similar to the Batman combat, but I could hack that. It was the driving that I haaaaaaaaaaated. I distinctly remember the incident that made me quit. I had to follow a wedding cake truck (long boring story) to get the cake back. After failing it twice, I was DONE. When I went back to try it again much later, I accidentally erased my saved game because United Front Games, the devs, made the inexplicable decision to put New Game at the top of the queue rather than Load Game like everyone else, and there are no saved files in the game–at least when I played. That was it for me. No way I was playing the game again, and I have not.


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What is ‘normal’ isn’t universal

run, run away.
Just looking at her makes me tired.

It’s wearing to always be the weird one. I have to get that out there before I start blathering about whatever is on my mind. Fair warning: I woke up feeling as if I was hit by a dump truck (not as bad as a Mack truck, but still), and I’m slightly dizzy and nauseated. So, I’m going to write until my brain gives out, which could be in five minutes or it could be in an hour.

One common wisdom people give about depression is to write about your feelings as a way of tracking them. It makes sense, but I refuse to do it. Why? Because I write a lot on a regular basis, and I don’t want to make it a chore, rather than something I enjoy doing. Telling myself that I have to jot down every feeling I feel is a sure way to make me not want to write. I do it, anyway, in these posts, so making myself journal seems excessive to me.

Another common wisdom to counter depression is to get some sun and to exercise. I’ve heard the latter so much, it’s embedded in my brain. My experience with exercise, however, begs to differ.

Side Note: I have SAD in the summer instead of winter, which is yet another way in which I am not normal. I love winter. I roll down the windows in my car until it’s zero degrees. I used to do it sub-zero, but I’m more sensitive to cold now that I’m an Old. My thermostat is set at 62º during the day and 60º during the night. I did not wear a coat all of last winter, but I also didn’t go out during the coldest days. I think we reached something like  -50º including the windchill, which is cold, even for me. I do appreciate the sun, but in small doses. I like it better than gloomy weather, but it has to be paired with cold.

Back to exercise. I’ve heard it all my life, and I’m sure you have, too. “Exercise drives away the depression!” Well, no. That’s not true. I found that it didn’t make my mood worse, but it didn’t help, either. No endorphin boost for me, except when I did dancing as exercise. Fast walking (and I used to do four miles a day) just made me actively angry, in part because I was getting hot and sweaty while doing it. I sweat. A lot. More than most people. I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s not fun to be bathing in it. Also, being in the heat makes me actively angry. Anything over seventy is not my happy place. I read about the office temperature wars, and I have to shake my head. Most people seem to think 70º to 75º is the comfort zone. In fact, women in general prefer a higher temp than men do. Me, I would cuss everybody out if I had to be that hot every day.

People who like it warmer complain that they have to cater to people who like colder temps, but it’s because at some point, we can’t take off any more clothing. One person on this temp war thread said their dad started a new job at a place where a woman kept the thermometer cranked to 85+º. Eighty-fucking-five. PLUS. The commenter said their dad almost fainted, and I would have fainted. The dad also kept his thermostat at 62º during the winter, so he’s my kind of people.

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End of Sekiro and I can’t play Return of the Obra Dinn

I’ve been romping through NG+ in Sekiro and not being fazed by much of anything. I two-shot Madame Butterfly and got Genichiro in half a dozen tries. The boss who gave me the hardest time was a mini-boss: Seven Ashina Spears–Shikibu Toshikatsu Yamauchi. It’s always the fucking spear guys that mess with my shit. I died to him seven or eight times, and I can’t imagine having to fight him for both Deathblows. By the way, it’s still one of my irritation about the game. Most of the mini-bosses can be stealth Deathblowed to start the fight, so why bother? In fact…I’ll get to that in a minute. No, I can talk about it now. The toughest boss until the very end game was the True Corrupted Monk. In my first playthrough, I cheesed by doing a stealth Deathblow for her first two pips, then just fought her normally for her third phase. I did that by intentionally dying any time I couldn’t pull off the first or second stealth Deathblow, so I ‘died’ to her more times than I actually count as deaths.

This time, I went in for the first stealth Deathblow, and I didn’t get the big red glowing dot. I let myself be killed so I could try it again. I figured I hadn’t lined it up correctly, so I tried it again. And again. I did it half a dozen times before fighting her first phase, then dying in the second phase. I tried it several more times, and I never got it. I mean, I’m not the greatest with spatial awareness, but it wasn’t *that* hard to get the first Deathblow. I finally looked it up, and it turns out they patched it out. Well then. Good to know. I had to fight the first phase the normal way and then try for the second Deathblow, hoping they didn’t patch that one out as well. I did that, and I got her on the first time I made it to the second phase (which did not have the stealth Deathblow patched out), and I moved on.

So, yeah. I was making it through the game at about a tenth of the time it took me on my first playthrough. I did some farming to get the skills I have yet to acquire, and I managed to get the one that costs 9 skill points which took me a goddamn long time. I would do it by going through an area and killing a boss, which at this point, took me tot maybe half a skill point, then I would go to Ashina Castle Antechamber and farm. Or Gun Fort. I would do this until I went past the next skill point and bank it, then I would go to the next area. I accrued a ton of sen in this manner as well, which was really pointless as I have nothing to spend it on except Spirit Emblems. I’ve ended up buying sugars and potions and such because I don’t want to lose the sen, but it’s just luxury at this point.

Side Note: I’ve mentioned that one tip I kept reading about how to survive in Sekiro was to buy coin purses to save your sen. They’re like consumable souls, and you buy them at a 10% markup. You don’t loses the purses upon death, so the rationale is that if you’re, say, going into a boss and know you’ll die a lot, better to have 90% of your sen than none of it. I understand that. I don’t disagree with that. My quibble is with the overemphasize on saving sen. In my first playthrough, I was never hurting for it. Never. If there was something that was a bit more expensive (such as Madame Butterfly’s Phantom Kunai for 3,000 sen, which is a ton at the point in the game when you can buy it), I’d grind for it. My early game grind spot, a stretch of the Hirata Estate, netted me 500 sen in 5 minutes (1,000 with the Mibu Balloon of Wealth), so it wasn’t a big deal.


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FromSoft games are the ideal

come at me, bro!
Super-Biggie is MUCH less intimidating with a +10 Zwei.

What do I want from a video game? It’s been on my mind for, well, ever since I became obsessed with FromSoft games, but especially after finishing Sekiro. To be fair, though, I go through this every time I finish a FromSoft game because I become so engrossed with them. Also because I get exhausted after FromSoft games and wonder why I give so much to them when they don’t care about me at all. Ok, that’s not fair. They give me a lot, otherwise I wouldn’t play them, right? But it’s a bit like an abusive relationship–right up to the point of beating the game.

I wrote this post about other games I like and what I like about them. I hadn’t even touched on the FromSoft games, which is the basis of my video game enjoyment. Everything I know and love is based on my time with the FromSoft games, and it’s one reason I have a hard time with most Souls-like games. The closer the game is to a Souls game, the more I just want to play Souls. It’s the question I have in the back of my head: Would I rather be playing Souls? To be fair, I ask that question in general, but it’s more pronounced when I play deliberate Souls-inspired games. If you are trying to make your game like Dark Souls, then I’m going to be judging it by that rubric. I’ll name-drop one Souls-like that I actually quite enjoyed, but had one thing that really bugged me. Salt & Sanctuary. It was almost a 2D Souls clone, and it made very clear that it wanted nothing more than to be Dark Souls. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing because they knew what they wanted, and they did it for the most part. The one thing that drove me crazy was that they changed the roll button. I think it was RT, and I tried it for half an hour or so before giving in and changing it to B. ROLL IS B, DAMN IT! It’s always B! I’m glad I could change it, but I heard that when it came out on the PS4, it wasn’t rebindable. I mean….I understand wanting to make your game distinguishable in some ways, but not by changing one of the building blocks of the Souls games.

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What I want when I game

I’m in between games right now. I haven’t played Sekiro in several days, and I haven’t really had the wherewithal to pick up something else. I’ve been dealing with a cold/sinus issues, and it’s really wiped me out. I end up playing solitaire because that’s about what my mind can deal with right now. It’s also what happens after I play a FromSoft game. I get so drained by it, I have no desire to try anything else. I will say, I’m watching footage of the closed alpha for Nioh 2, and it looks really dope. I bailed on the original game halfway through even though I thought it was a good game for two reasons. One, I hated that if you left a level, you had to start it over the next time you went back. My MO if I’m getting my ass kicked by a boss is to go farm up shit (like Elixirs, the healing drinks, which is another issue in itself. I hate farming for healing items or buying them). The easiest way to do that is to go back to an earlier area in order not to have to use heals to get through it. If I did that, though, then I’d have to do the whole level up to the boss I was currently fighting again. Doing that for the last boss I fought was not something I wanted to do at all. I ended up farming on that level using Onmyo Magic for free heals (hey, it’s been ages since I’ve played. That’s the best I can remember) and tapping out when I actually had to use a heal. It wasn’t optimal, but it did work. I resented not being able to choose to go back to an earlier level, though. I really, really, really hope they make that change for Nioh 2. I did notice that they simplified some of the names of the level ups. Onmyo to Magic, for instance. I don’t have an issue with this because while I’m a big fan of obscurity, I’m also a big fan of not wasting souls. Or amrita, as I think it’s called in Nioh. But! There is a rolling cat ball in the Nioh 2 closed alpha demo, so I’m in!

There are two games I have my eye on that are actually in my pile of shame. One is Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope. I have talked about this game before and I’ll talk more about it later because I will be mentioning Papers, Please, the seminal game by Pope. It’s one of my favorite games of all time, which is why I’ll talk about it later. The second game is Unavowed, which is an adventure mystery demon game. It sounds right up my alley, and I am desperately looking for an adventure mystery game I can sink my teeth into. I’ve tried several, and this is made by the highly-respected Wadjet Eye Games. They are revered in the genre, which is part of the problem. I hated the Blackwell series they did, and it’s one of the gold standards of the genre. I had to use a walkthrough to get past the first chapter of whichever game I tried. I think I tried two–I have almost all of them because hope springs eternal and they were cheap and I’m an idiot. My biggest gripe about adventure games is that their logic is not logical. They have certain events you need to do in a certain order, and it’s not intuitive at all. I mean, it probably seemed that way as they were dreaming them up, but in retrospect, they aren’t at all. Maybe if I’ve played a million of them, the logic will be immediately apparent, but it wasn’t as I was playing them. I resorted to using the walkthrough for the rest of the Blackwell game I played. I’m hoping against hope that they’ve upped their game concerning logic, but given how much people swoon over their games, I fear they consider it a feature and not a bug.


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I suck at Sekiro

father 'dying' in the background.
Everything is on fire.

I was watching the RKG producer stream (for producers and posh slugs, long story), and the discussion turned to Sekiro, of course. The boys got their start with Dark Souls, and they’ve done every FromSoft game* except Demon’s Souls and Sekiro. They’ll be doing a Sekiro playthrough later in the year, and I’m profoundly grateful they waited to do it because I wouldn’t have been able to watch it if they did it at release. I won’t watch anything about the game I’m playing, and it would have made me sad to have to delay my viewing. I know they took that into account when deciding upon the timing of the playthrough. Plus, they were still doing Scholar of the First Sin (DS II), and they plan on doing the remake of Resi 2 next. In addition, Daniel has to play through the game first because he’s the lore master and the one guiding Rory through the game. The lore side of it won’t be too hard as much of it is explicitly transferred in text or dialogue. There is some subtext, and if you’re going for the best ending, there’s a ton. In general, though, it’s the most accessible of the FromSoft games, lore-wise.

Anyway, in the chat, someone asked about the difficulty of Sekiro compared to the other games. I said for me, it was by far the most difficult. Someone else said for her, it was on par with Bloodborne (she’s only up to Genichiro, but she has beaten him). Someone else said it was the easiest game because you just needed to learn the moveset. That, of course, was a guy. Dudes tend to state their opinions as if they’re facts, regardless of what the opinion or the subject is. In fact, there was a study that showed dudes (especially white dudes) thought the most expert opinion in any subject was…themselves. I’m exaggerating slightly, but not much. It’s from being the center of attention all their lives and having everything catered to them. Look how many of them lose their shit when something isn’t focused on them. A Star Wars movie dares to have a woman or PoC character? It’s an outrage! It’s giving into the dreaded ‘diversity’ ‘identity politics’ as if having all white men isn’t an identity politics thing.

I will tear myself away from that rant with difficulty because I’ve done it many times before and it’s not worth getting into again. It’s also not really relevant to this post except that I wish I had a tenth of that confidence. I know I undervalue myself in many ways, but I really don’t think I’m overstating it when I say I suck at Sekiro. With over a hundred hours put into it, I suck much less than I did when I first started, but the game still goes against everything I find instinctual. In Dark Souls, I’m a turtler. I hide behind a shield, and I rarely let it down. I’m also a caster, so then I just stay out of range and hurl my fireballs/hexes. I’ve learned not to have my finger glued to the LB, but I still tend to keep my shield up more often than not. It’s one reason I had a hard time with Bloodborne. In addition, arcane is not viable until the very end game, so I really put myself at a disadvantage when I started out. I knew I would because I had heard the warnings about not doing an arcane build on your first try, but I’m stubborn. I am a caster through and through, and I’m going to play the games my way.

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Sekiro: starting anew

*BONUS POST*

Ed. Note: I’m going to Sekiro you until the end of time. Spoilers. I guess? Sure. Why not.

same song, second verse.
So we meet again, Genichiro.

I started a new playthrough of Sekiro because I can’t quit this game no matter how hard I try. I really want to play Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope because I absolutely loved Papers, Please, his first game. It’s a game about being a border agent in a Eastern European country called Arstotzka, which sounds about as thrilling as watching paint dry, I know. Instead, it’s a tense, engaging, and surprisingly touching game that I gobbled up as quickly as I could. I had to decide who got in and who didn’t based on increasingly nitpicky specifications, and I had to decide if I wanted to let people in who shouldn’t be let in and accrue strikes against me. In addition, I had to deal with my home life, which was bleak. It was a fantastic game (and my name was in it! Lucas Pope asked for names for the passports, and mine got in!), and I was looking forward to the followup game. Why haven’t I played it yet? Well, Sekiro, obviously, but also because I’m afraid it won’t live up to the first game even though it’s gotten rave reviews.

Back to Sekiro. I started another playthrough even though I said I wouldn’t. I was so sure I’d be done with the game after my first run, but apparently, I wasn’t. I zipped through the first area (though not literally because I didn’t have my grappling hook yet) and saved my lord without a death. It was easy this time, but I did die during my first playthrough of this area, I’m pretty sure. Once I got my sword, I cut them all up including the leader. It’s amusing that he’s a mini-boss because he’s so easy. No one remembers him, but he’s really there to show you the basics. He only gives you Pellets (or maybe even just one) when you kill him, which is nothing. Most of the other mini-bosses give you a Prayer Bead and sometimes even a Gourd Seed. I made it to Genichiro is no-time flat, and I faced him with determination. I knew I was going to die because let’s face it, I’m just not that good without all my shit, but I was curious to see if I could at least get in a few good licks before he took me down. In addition, I had maybe a fifth of my Vitality and no heals. I wasn’t gonna waste Pellets at this point! You know what? I did ok. I got him down to about a fourth left of his first health bar. Hey, considering that I got maybe one block on him before dying the first time I met him in this part of the game, I consider that a win.

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Sekiro: the pain has gone

*BONUS POST*

Ed. Note: I’ll be talking about the nitty-gritty details of the game and anything else on my brain. In other words, it’s all spoilers. 

It’s been a little over two weeks since I beat Sekiro, and I’m still obsessed with it. Now that I’m done with the game, I can watch anything about it that I want. I’ve watched a ton of shit about it, including the launch trailer. I refuse to watch FromSoft launch trailers before I play the game because they spoil so much. So many bosses and different areas of the game. Most of it is in the first half, but there was some late-game shit in it as well. Also, they really highlighted the fight with Genichiro atop the Ashina Castle, which is definitely a set piece in the game. I’m including the video below, and it really shows off how epic the fight is. Of course it looks better in the trailer than in the actual game, but not by much. I also have to laugh because at the end of the trailer, they show Wolf decapitating the Guardian Ape and leaving it with the Wolf being triumphant. What a massive troll! Well played, FromSoft. Well played.

As I said in my last post, I’m on NG+ just past Genichiro. Yes, I said I was going to put the controller down for good once I finished the game, but I had to see what NG+ was like, didn’t I? Then, I had to see how I’d fare against Madame Butterfly. Then, I was so close to Genichiro, I had to give him a go. That’s the excuse I gave myself, but the truth is, FromSoft games just suck me in no matter how much they piss me off or how shitty they make me feel about myself. It’s weird to look back to the first FromSoft game I played, Dark Souls, and how I had vowed I was done with it once I beat it. I’ve tried to figure out why I came back when I was Done with a capital D. I mean, I know the reason I went back was because the sequel came out, and I wanted to brush up by playing the original again before I attempted the sequel. In addition, since I would be playing it on PC, I decided to wait until Scholar of the First Sin came out rather than buy the original game. Ok, the real reason is because I’m cheap and I don’t like paying full price for a game. I will say that Sekiro is one of the few games I’ve paid full price for–and I pre-ordered it. I pretty much will play any Miyazaki game, even though I think they’re starting to be above my pay grade. I’ll expand more on that in a bit.

One thing about doing NG+ or another playthrough of the same game is that if I missed something on my first playthrough, I’m going to miss it again on subsequent playthroughs. I’m pretty thorough on my first playthrough, and I tend to go down the same beaten path every time after. I remember recently playing SotFS for the seventh or eighth time (or more), and I was in the Brightstone Cove Tseldora watching Pate and Creighton fight. Oh, spoilers for DSII, I guess. I think I chose to help Creighton that time (I alternate between them), and after we were done, I looked around the room and noticed a hallway I had never seen before. I was gobsmacked. I also saw another room in this area I hadn’t seen before while watching a YouTuber play this area. How cool is that? New rooms after I’d played the game so many times. I’m down with that. Or when I’m watching a YouTuber and they tackle a boss in a completely different way than I had. Or an area. I can always learn something new about the games, no matter how many times I play them.

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Sekiro: my final thoughts

Ed. Note: Spoilers. There will be some. 

I have more thoughts on Sekiro, obviously, and I am going to share them with you.  They probably won’t be my final thoughts, but who wants to click on a headline that says, “Read my maundering thoughts about this subject”? Also, my laptop is out of whack right now, so I’m typing this on my desktop. That means I don’t have any of my pictures available, so I’ll probably post videos from other people and be done with it. With that said, let’s get into it.

I’m halfway through NG+. I’m not, really, but that’s my inside joke with myself because for the longest time, I’ve thought of Genichiro as halfway through the game. Hell, I wrote about him as that in the last post, I think. He’s not, really, though. He’s more like a fourth of the way through, depending on the ending and when you fight him. He’s definitely first half, which makes him even more of a hard skill check. I just beat him in NG+, and he still enraged me. This time, however, it was his third form that tripped me up as I made it to the third phase (Genichiro, Way of Tomoe) every time, but that lightning strike fucked me up. I managed to redirect it twice, but more often, I just mistimed my jump or evaded it, and the former did massive Posture and Vitality damage. I got him down to two hits from death in my second try with no heals (did not use the powerful heals), and I got fucking greedy. I cussed him out, and I went again. I got him in six tries, which is less than a tenth of the number of attempts it took me in NG. I found it amusing that it was the third phase that gave me so much trouble when I had no problems with it the first time around. I think I fought him a dozen or so times in that phase in NG (so, roughly a sixth of the actual attempts), but it was because I was so pissed by that point, I went ham on him. Yes, I know that’s how the game is supposed to be played in general, but it’s not my style. I’m trying; I really am, but I’m still more apt to dodge than attack.

Side Note: I take a perverse amount of pride that I did not master the parry (deflect in this game) and was still able to beat it. It’s the same as the rest of the games. I haven’t mastered the parry in any of them, though I made myself proficient way after the fact in the original Dark Souls against the Silver Knights. Didn’t help me against the Black Knights, though. It was fun to get 90% of my parries, however, after whiffing so many times while I actually played the game. To be honest, I didn’t try to parry after fucking it up a dozen or so times. I know that parrying makes everything easier, but I just couldn’t get the timing down. It’s the same with Bloodborne. All the talk was about the visceral–and the parry needed in order to pull it off. The gun was so important, they said. You’ll want to use it to parry, they said. Ha! Little did they know to whom they were talking. Me, the anti-parry queen! Can’t get through Bloodborne without mastering the gun? Challenge accepted. I did not use the gun hardly at all as I played the game, but to be fair, I was running an arcane build. Which, by the way, do not do on your first playthrough. I knew it was going to be shit, but I’m fucking stubborn. The reason I mentioned an arcane build is because there is a spell, er, Hunter Tool, you can pick up mid-early game, Augur of Ebrietas, that can function as a parry. It’s reaching out tentacles to interrupt a gunshot, and then I could get in my visceral. In fact, few things in that game made me as happy as to yell, “Tentacles to the face!” as I used it.

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