Underneath my yellow skin

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The one game to rule them all award

*BONUS POST*

I have written three posts granting awards for various games throughout the year. They are all deserving winners, and I appreciate every one of them for a variety of reasons. However, we now come to the one game that is nearest and dearest to my heart, and anyone who has read my blog with any consistency can probably guess which game it is. Or if not the actual game, at least the developer.

Whenever I am between games, I always return to my roots–Dark Souls. I recently finished another playthrough of DSII: SotFS in anticipation of the Prepare to Try boys* doing a full playthrough in February. I played as a strength caster, which is now my favorite way to play Souls games.  Nothing feels as good as a Greatsword +10 in hand and an array of powerful pyromancies/hexes/spells/miracles. There were still people playing, and I was able to summon humans for several bosses, even in the DLC. I love that the Souls community is alive and thriving, though not so much when I get invaded. I had one invader wag his finger at me when I used an Estus to heal, but if you fucking come into my world, I’m going to do whatever I can to come out alive.

The invader system is one reason I play offline until the bosses much of the time. I know it’s a beloved part of the games for many people, and so I accept that it will never change. Not to mention there will probably not be another Soulsborne game, but that’s besides the point. I hate PvP, and I know that anyone still doing it now must be really good at it because they’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve been invaded in the DLC area in NG+, and think about that. There’s someone camping out in the DLC in NG+ of a game that came out almost four years ago. Has it really been that long?

::double-checks::

It has, indeed. The base game came out over six years ago! I think it’s pretty cool that people are still playing (and, yes, I realize that I’m people and I’m still playing, but the fact that I could consistently summon people for certain bosses made me happy), and I’m finding it the same in my current Dark Souls III playthrough, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

One thing I love about Dark Souls games is how they push me out of my comfort zone. My preferred playstyle when I first started out was as much a caster (preferably pyro) as possible. Now, I like a blend of strength and casting, and I lean more on the former than the latter once I’m past the first playthrough. This time, on NG+, I decided to try something different with Vendrick. I had five Giant Souls, so he didn’t have any hyper-armor, which was a relief. By the way, the Ancient Dragon is so much easier than I anticipated. Granted, I summoned Bashful Ray and Vengarl, but I could easily do him again on my own.

Side note: I love that once I’ve soloed a boss, I don’t have any compunction about summoning for the boss the next time(s) I meet him/her/it. Jolly cooperation is fun, especially when everyone is in synch. There are a few bosses in SotFS, however, in which you cannot summon, which means having to go solo. Vendrick is one of them.


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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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