Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: fromsoft

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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Revisiting old favorites…and knocking out new ones

I’m ready to take on the world.

My gaming is at a stall. While I continually want to find the hot new thing (for me), I keep going back to games I already enjoyed. Ian asked me on Twitter (a thread thing) for my four favorite games. I was going to cheat and count each Dark Souls as a separate game, but I didn’t. I said Dark Souls (series), Night in the Woods, Cook, Serve, Delicious (series), and Torchlight for nostalgia reasons. I didn’t include Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because it’s not exactly a favorite, though I’ve played it more than all the Souls games put together. Probably all the FromSoft games. But it’s not a favorite in the sense of I really enjoy playing it. It’s a habit more than anything. I’m not saying it’s not a good game–it’s a very good game. It’s just not a favorite.

I’ve been playing Dark Souls II. I installed the original thinking it was SotFS, and then I decided to try the original because I haven’t played it. I also installed SotFS because SSD with 2 Terrabytes, bitches! I can install ALL. THE. GAMES. *evil laugh* Anyhow, I have seen a Let’s Play of the original game, and I knew that it was somewhat different, but not that much different. Oh wait. I started SotFS first as a Cleric. I forgot how much I hated not having a ranged option. Especially in this game where there are so many mobs. It’s one of my gripes that they come in groups, and being able to spell them from a distance makes a difference.

I fired up Dark Souls II, vanilla addition, and went back to my roots–I started as a Sorcerer. For whatever reason, you cannot start as a Pyromancer, which still makes me very bitter. In addition, it’s hard to get the Pyro shit, and it confirms my belief that casters get shit on in the games. Anyway, my sorcerer cruised through the first bit, and I did not die until after fighting the first boss, and it was a stupid death. Then again, my first death in SotFS was also dumb because it was in the tutorial at the point where they teach jumping, and it’s a tricky over a gap jump. I’ve died there several times, much to my annoyance.

One of the problems with playing the original DS II is that there aren’t many people playing. I did find one summons, but that’s not much. In SotFS, on the other hand, there are plenty of people playing. Both as a plus and a minus. I was in Heide’s Tower of Flame, and I was able to summon two people to run through it with me. Unfortunately, I got invaded, and he vanquished both my summons. So, I jumped into the ocean in order to avoid being killed.

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FromSoft games on my mind

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

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

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

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

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


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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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The one true game of 2019

*Bonus Post*

I have written about how meh this year has been as far as gaming goes for me. There have been dozen of games that I’ve tried and stopped after an hour or less of play. There are some that I played more than an hour and actually liked the game, but then fell off it for one reason or another. In fact, I wrote about two of those games in my last post. I toyed with naming this award The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish (again) in homage to the category I used for the last two years (for Hollow Knight and Dead Cells, respectively), but, really, there is no need to name it anything other than The perennial FromSoft best game award. Or, The take my money, Miyazaki, award. I could drag this out for several more paragraphs, and you know I can do it, but it’s the worst-kept secret if you know anything about it–and me–so I’ll just blurt it out.

The one true game of 2019

My best game of the year–and The Game Awards agree with me–is Sekiro. It’s a FromSoft game. What a surprise!

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a brilliant game. I could end the post right here, but I won’t. I have written about the game countless times as I was playing it, and I’m currently doing a replay from the very start. Why? I mean, I do have an NG+ run in the bank (fighting Bird Daddy for the second time. One of my personal nightmares, and it only gets harder from this point on) and an NG run where I’m currently sat at the bonfire in front of the Guardian Ape. I started a new playthrough because I haven’t played it in several months, and it’s not a game you can go into rusty and expect to come out ahead. At least, I cannot as I’m firmly a scrub.

Funny side note: My niece’s husband is a big FromSoft fan, and we were talking about Sekiro at Christmas Eve dinner. We were also talking about nerd stuff along with my niece, and I said I didn’t consider myself a nerd. He looked at me weirdly and said, “Not even a Dark Souls nerd?” I laughed and said I wasn’t good enough to be a Dark Souls nerd. I think we’re using nerd in different ways. I think he and my niece mean it in the more popular nomenclature which is being a huge fan of something techie or sci-fi. I was using it ironically in that the more hardcore members of ‘the community’ disavow anyone who does not play the game in the exact same way they do. Of course, they don’t play it the same as each other, so that’s fun. I like to say that I am firmly mediocre at FromSoft games, and I stick by that. I also remain absurdly proud of myself for beating all the games without ever learning to parry.


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The close but no cigar game awards

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

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

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

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

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

Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*

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


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The Surge 2; the good, the bad, and the frustrating

So.  Let’s talk about The Surge 2. I’m still dealing with some shit physically, but I’ve been playing The Surge 2 on and off. More on than off, and I have feelings. So. Many. Feelings. I’m about halfway done with the game, which answers the question of whether I beat the first real boss or not. Who, by the way, is officially the third boss, but I refer to him as the first boss because the other two were tutorial bosses. In fact, in looking up the bosses for this article, I didn’t even remember the first boss at all. I mean, I had to fight him because I got out of the detention area, but when I saw his name, I was like, “What the fuck?” Even after reading about him and watching the video, I did not remember him. That’s how unmemorable he is, and I wouldn’t even call him a boss. We’ll get to that in a second.

Anyhoo, beating

*spoilers*

Little Johnny came down to sheer stubbornness on my part and something I mention often in playing Souls/Souls-like games: luck. There is always one or two moves by a boss that are troublesome for me.

Side Note: One thing I like about these games is how different people deal with different bosses. I’ve never had a problem with Gwyn, for example, and others took five hours to fight him. You’re supposed to parry him, and I’ve watched videos of people parrying him into oblivion. It’s a thing of beauty, and I really wish I could do it. More on that later as well.

I find in a good boss run, the boss doesn’t do the one move I hate that often. In the case of Little Johnny, it’s when he vomits the little spiders that shock you. He only did it once or twice in my successful run. Also, the stompy stompy bit. He didn’t do that much, either. I was pleased to be done with him and to be moving on with my life. Then, I encountered the area known as Gideon Rock, which was a microcosm of all I like and dislike about this game.

Let me just say flat out that gear is important in this game. In the original, I used the Liquidator set which was a light set with good resistance. Early on in this game, I wore the Scavenger set (Operator class) which was light, and the full set bonus was health regen on a finishing move. I will always take health regen over almost anything else. In Gideon’s Rock, I ran into an enemy that was way above my level. It’s called the GAIA Statue, and it’s a golden-plated statue that turns into a robotic enemy when you near it. When I first entered Gideon’s Rock, the statues had a red number–which meant they were waaaaay above me. I fought the first one right outside the hub for nearly an hour, and I didn’t manage to kill it once. I decided to run by it and continue on in the area.

I liked the new enemy type, Hunter, even if it frustrated me. They can go invisible, which they use to get next to you before trying to shank you. One thing I appreciate about The Surge 2 is that it has distinctive environments, which is so different than the drab industrial interiors of the original game. Gideon’s Rock is outdoors and very nature-based. I will say I had a chuckle at Metea Forest because it looked so much like a Souls‘ area, especially with the hunters, but that’s forgivable in my eyes.


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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 game that made me turn stop playing. 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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