Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Hollow Knight

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

Games that stuck with me in 2017

I started a list of different games in 2017 that meant something to me one way or another. You can read the first part of the list here. I didn’t finish the list because it was getting long, so here are the rest of the games that stood out for me in 2017.

The best game that I wasn’t good enough to finish

Hollow Knight

I loved everything about this game from the minute my little bug-like creature starting smiting people with her trusty rusted nail. She was a big-eyed, rabbit-eared silent protagonist who was weary with the world, but she had a mission, and she was going to do it, damn it. I loved the gentle oppressive gloom that surrounded her, and I loved the gorgeous environments. I played through the second boss, and I loved the game with all my heart. However, there were two things that stopped me from continuing, and while one of them was tweakable (by the devs), one was not.

I suck at platforming. I hate it in the Souls games where it’s really awful, but I also hate it in games in which the platforming is the focus. I can jump from platform to platform if I concentrate hard enough, but I can’t do the jumps AND fight at the same time. In the beginning of the game, the platforming was low-key and manageable. When they started ramping it up, I was quickly out of my depth, and it was no longer enjoyable for me.

The other thing is that the currency received/prices of items ratio was way out of whack. Like Souls games, the XP you get is also the currency.  If you die, you lose it on the spot. If you die again before you make it back to your soul, you lose the souls forever (for example). In this game, you have to fight a shadow version of yourself to get your souls back, which is an added wrinkle. In addition, the amount of souls you get for killing enemies is a pittance compared to how much you have to pay for items is ridiculous. I remember I wanted to buy a key, and it was something like 900 souls. In a Souls game, that would mean killing one or two enemies (that aren’t the standard hollows), but in this game, you get 2 or 3 monies for killing each of the standard enemies. That’s a lot of souls to bank, and it took me a really long time to get that much. Then, the key didn’t even open up the lock I thought it would. How disappointing.

I love this game still. I just wish I could actually play it.

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Exploring Dirtmouth With My Trusty Rusty Nail

i am your savior?
The things I’ve seen.

Ed. Note: I am talking about the game, Hollow Knight, in this post. There will be spoilers, but no boss names. Be forewarned. 

As I wander through Dirtmouth, tattered cape flapping in the wind, and my nail strapped to my back, I marvel at the lush but bleak environments surrounding me. I don’t say a word as I jump about, hitting bugs with my nail as I do. When I hit them, I get more bug juice to fill my orb, which is the stuff life is made of, and it’s also what later fuels my spells. Hey, I’m a caster at heart, so anything that shoots from a distance and takes mana to use it is magic, even if it’s not called that in the game itself. Game? Did I not mention I was playing Hollow Knight, the game I bought for myself as my birthday present? I wrote in a prior post that I was considering three games for my birthday and that this is the one that least fits what I prefer to play. To put it bluntly, I don’t like platformers. I’m old with slower reflexes and bad eyesight. Platformers are about finesse and precision and quick reactions. It’s an understatement to say that we don’t get along. However, Hollow Knight caught my eye while it was in development because of the graphics and because it’s a Souls-inspired game. I put it on my wishlist and forgot about it, until I was thinking of what game I wanted to buy myself for my birthday.

Side note: One of the reasons I might have a bad impression of me and platformers is because the ones I’ve tried are notorious for their difficulty. Let me hasten to add that despite my affinity for Souls games, I’m not the type to get all macho and seek out the hardest games to conquer. That’s not my jam at all, and the first hardcore game I played and loved was Torchlight, which has a special place in my heart. I still have it installed on my computer, and I will probably never uninstall it, even though I could use the space. Anyway, I mention it as a way to show that I’m not a games snob, only seeking out the hardest games to play. That being said, the games I’ve been drawn to and obsessed over have been more difficult than not. Cook, Serve, Delicious is a surprisingly hard cooking sim, and I played it until I 100%’ed it. I cannot WAIT for the sequel, btw. It should be coming out later this year.

Another game I obsessed over, surprisingly so, was Nuclear Throne–a colorful, charming rogue-like game in which there are several different characters you can take through the wasteland dungeons. Each has a different ability, such as Fish can roll. Crystal (the most player-friendly player) hulks out into a bigger crystal during which she is invulnerable. Perhaps my favorite character is Robot, who can munch weapons for health or ammo. It’s interesting to have different skills like this for the characters because after playing one character, such as Crystal, I found myself needlessly munching weapons as Robot, thinking I’d be hulking out. I stopped playing once I realized that I had hit a hard wall and would never be able to access the newest content because it was for looping the game, which was something I rarely could do. I have no hard feelings, but I realized it just wasn’t for me any longer.

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