Underneath my yellow skin

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His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan: Part Two

let's be samurai homies!
Lady Ginchiyo is a bad-ass!

I’ve been playing more Nioh, and I have plenty more to say about it. You can read my initial impressions here. I’m roughly half-way through the game, and the bloom has come somewhat off the rose. To briefly recap, Nioh is a game that has been called a mix between Dark Souls, Ninja Gaiden, and Diablo. You can probably guess that I’m here for the Souls part, and I enjoyed Diablo III as well. This should hit my sweet spot nicely, and it does. Kind of. I’ll get to that in a bit.  Oh, also, there will be mild spoilers, but nothing huge. Just FYI. When we last left off, I was describing the Estus system. Er, Elixirs. You start off with a certain amount, three is the base, and for every five Kodama you find in a region, you get one more base Elixir that will replenish every time you visit your Shrine. I know I said in my Bloodborne posts that a combination of a set number of Blood Vials that replenish at each Lamp in addition to the ones you pick up as you romp through Yharnam would be ideal, and that’s pretty much what we have here. However, as much as I liked it in theory, it doesn’t quite work in execution if you’re as mediocre at the game as I am. Right now, I’m roughly ten levels above what is recommended for the missions, and it’s the minimal I need to feel comfortable. You can store up to 9999 Elixirs, but I haven’t been able to even reach a hundred extra. One thing in BB that I appreciated was that I could buy Blood Vials. Yes, they were expensive as hell by the end of the game, but I wasn’t spending my Souls, er, Blood Echoes, on anything else, so why not? You cannot buy Elixirs in this game (as far as I know), but you can make offerings to the shrine of equipment/items/weapons you don’t want, and you receive Souls, Amrita, in return. In addition, you may be blessed with a gift, often an Elixir.

By the way, I had a terrible thing happen once while I was making my offerings. I do it regularly, especially when I need a few thousand Amrita for my next level. Once, right before a boss, I was making my offerings as quickly as I could. I’ve gotten into a routine of clicking as fast as possible, clearing up as much of my inventory as I can. I like to keep my load to under half of what I’m allowed to carry 500 items, so under 250). One niggling irritation is that if you’re offered a gift, and you can’t carry any more of that item, it gets sent to your storage. That’s not the annoying part. The annoying part is that when you get a gift, you have to click on it. That’s bad enough, but if it’s being sent to storage, a message saying you can’t carry any more and do you want it sent to your storage will pop up, and you have to click on confirm. That’s two more clicks than should be necessary to accept a gift (it should just be automatic), and it’s especially annoying to have to confirm you want it sent to storage. Yes, it’s a small thing, but if I’m doing the process twenty to thirty times, it adds up. Anyway, you use the trigger buttons to go from one category to the next. Weapons, helmets, torso armor, etc. Apparently, I was holding it down plus hitting another button at the same time, so I ‘made an offering’ of all my weapons that weren’t equipped. Because I was doing it as quickly as I could, I said yes before I had realized what I’d done. I can’t tell you how upsetting that was. Not because I use the other weapons, but because some of them are given as rewards for missions. I actually had already done another sub-mission twice because I accidentally offered up the spear that I received as a reward. Now, I had four or five weapons that I could only get from redoing earlier missions. I didn’t really care otherwise because weapons drop like crazy, but I was still mad that this was a thing.

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Focusing When Sick and Tired

One of the side effects of being sick is that my mental acuity isn’t where it normally is. Simple things take more energy, and I feel slow as molasses in the brain department. I went to the store today, and I had to put extra effort into interacting with people. It’s not my bailiwick to begin with, though I’m usually adept at it, but being sick makes it even harder. I can’t take for granted that my automatic responses will flow as easily as the normally do. Plus, just walking around exhausts me. When I came home, I grabbed my three drinks (including tea) and two snacks, and I brought them to the living room. I set down the pop, leaning over as I did, and poured some of the boiling tea onto the back of my left hand. This is the second time I’ve done this, and I know it’s partly because I’m sick. It’s also because I tend to be lazy and want to make as few trips as possible. I’ve hurt myself countless times before by overloading myself in an attempt to save time. My taiji teacher has a saying about a donkey and laziness that I don’t quite remember, but the bottom line is that it’s better to make multiple trips with lighter loads than one trip all bogged down. She is right. Hopefully, I will internalize that one day.

OT: Nioh. Ah, Nioh. I’m having complicated feels about the game, but I don’t want to get into that in this post. I just want to say as a pro tip that if you’re a scrub such as I am, weapons matter. I recently faced a boss that was whipping my ass, though she really shouldn’t have been. She wasn’t that hard, per se, but I do the worst against fast humans. Which she is. Sort of. Anyway, I kept tinkering with my load-out and my different magicks, and I was really frustrated because I felt I had her. I also thought she had a couple bullshit moves, but that’s par the course for these kinds of games.

Anyway. My axe wasn’t doing it. It was too slow. The dual swords/sword (both infused with fire, which I thought would be beneficial for this boss) didn’t do enough damage of stagger enough to be viable, and I watched my stock of elixirs steadily deplete. I decided to try my odachi because the strong attack staggers enemies, which seemed to be what I needed. It was a miracle. I used the appropriate magicks for defense, then I just chopped the boss into oblivion with six or seven hits. OK, I’m sure it took more than that, but it was really short. Moral of the story: I’m sticking with my axe/odachi/magicks combo for the rest of the game. Of course, I’ll swap out to other weapons  if I need to, but the axe/odachi duo is really my jam.

Here is a video of Jun’s Kitchen. He’s a Japanese man with some serious knife skills. In this video, he’s making sushi for his lucky cats. Enjoy!

His Name is Nioh and He Advances in Japan*: Part One

Many moons ago, I heard tell of this game called Nioh. It was described as a samurai Dark Souls, and I was intrigued, but cautious. Souls-like has become its own genre, and most of the entrees are, quite frankly, trash. The ones that aren’t only make me long to be playing Dark Souls.  It’s difficult to strike a balance between being Souls enough to satisfy that itch while being different enough to not be a clone. Any-hoo, it didn’t matter because Nioh was a PS4 exclusive, and I didn’t have a PS4 at that time. I kept hearing about it, though, especially after it was released. It was widely praised, being called the child of Onimusha and Dark Souls, a cross between Dark Souls and Ninja Gaiden (which makes sense since the team that did Ninja Gaiden, Team Ninja,  developed Nioh) with the loot drop of Diablo, and confirmed it was samurai Dark Souls. Most of the people who loved Souls adored Nioh as well, especially with the tweaks that recalibrated enemy toughness (too tough in the demo). When I bought my PS4, I thought about buying Nioh, but I’m cheap. I am simply not willing to spend $60 on a game, even though I would get plenty of bang for my bucks. I’ve poured hundreds of hours into all the Soulsborne games (if not thousands), so paying sixty bucks each would be reasonable. Side note: I am against pre-ordering, but FromSoft is one of my few exceptions, especially with Miyazaki at the helm. I am willing to buy anything he makes. JUST MAKE A NEW GAME ALREADY, MIYAZAKI!!

As I was romping my way through Bloodborne, the announcement that Nioh was coming to PC dropped, and I lost my shit. As much as I love BB (which is a great deal),  I do not love playing it on the PS4. I don’t hate it, but I’m a PC grrl at heart, and I firmly believe all games should be on the PC. In addition, if it’s on the PC, there’s a chance that it’ll go on sale sometime in the foreseeable future. This is simply not true on consoles. I bought BB two years after it was released, and I still had to pay $35 for the GOTY edition or whatever it was (it included the DLC). In contrast, I bought Dark Souls: Prepare to Die edition (which also included the DLC) for under $10 a year or two after it was released on PC. With Nioh on the PC, I could reasonably expect it to go on sale in a year or two at which point I would snatch it up.

The astute among you will have observed that it’s not years since the game has been released on PC; in fact, it’s only been a few weeks. By the way, it was $50 with DLC on PC, so it’s already cheaper than it would be on the PS4. Ian bought it on release, and he was loving it. He streamed the first part, which I watched because I’ve seen up to boss two (three if you include the tutorial boss, which I don’t. More on him later), and it ticked all the boxes for me. I was looking forward to playing it one day, but I was going to wait until it was under twenty bucks. I don’t mind playing a game several years after it’s released, and I have hundreds of games in my pile of shame just mocking me for not touching them. However, after I beat BB and was wondering what my next game would be, Ian and I were talking about Nioh. Late into the night, he gifted it to me, and I was properly stoked to be samurai Geralt. This is another running joke with the game–the protagonist, William Adams, who is based on a real person, looks exactly like Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher series. William is Irish and a pirate, but he might as well be Polish and a witcher; he looks that much like Geralt, minus the scars. I’m down with that as Geralt is one of my video game boos.


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Cook, Serve, (Even More) Delicious! 2!!

shaved taiwanese ice!
The food of my people will not be ignored!

Ian and I were talking last night about what our GOTY would be. I said Dark Souls III and Bloodborne, neither of which actually came out this year. That got me thinking about what other games I’ve played this year, and while I’ve tried several, the list of games I actually stuck with is depressingly short. I played The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ back when it was released, and it was OK, I guess, but I was underwhelmed with it. I loved, loved, loved The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth and have put in an ungodly amount of time into the game. Like, I’m embarrassed to tell you how many hours I’ve poured into Rebirth because it far exceeds the time I’ve put into any other game–and it’s not even close. I was mildly positive about The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth, but when BoI: A+ came out, I was done. It was pure fan service and geared towards the hardcore players who have Fucking Goddamn Real Platinum Godded BOI:R and were looking for another challenge.

One thing I both love and hate about indie games is that when they hit cult status, it becomes a very insular community. Take, for example, Nuclear Throne. It’s one of my favorite games of all times, and it’s a game I never play any longer. I put many, many hours into this game as well, but I only managed to beat The Throne a handful of times. I had it while it was in Early Access, and the devs, Vlambeer, kept adding to the game. They’re wonderful about keeping in touch with their community, and they really worked to incorporate suggestions from their community into the game. This is great! To a point. They started adding things on the loop, really cool things, and I sighed because it’s stuff I would never see. You loop once you beat The Throne, and as I said, I only managed to do it a handful of times. Once they started focusing on the looping part of the game, I quit playing. I knew I would be left out in the cold, and it was time to move on.

It’s the same with BOI:R. Once Edmund McMillen started listening exclusively to the hardcore players, he put the game out of reach for the general populace. Again, I think it’s fantastic that he’s so receptive to the Isaac community, but it means that people who aren’t beating MegaSatan every run aren’t going to be able to jump into the game. I think both Vlambeer and McMillen went too far in the direction of adding content for the sake of the elite players, and I’m not elite enough to enjoy the new content.

Another game I tried and really loved, but was ultimately too hard for me is Hollow Knight. I adored the haunting graphics and my adorable bunny-eared bug knight protagonist and her trusty rusty nail (as her sword). I loved the Souls-like atmosphere and exploring all the different environments. I loved everything about the game except–the platforming. Oh, the platforming. It started out OK, but then it became tedious, quickly followed by nope, can’t do this. It’s the main part of the game, so not being good at it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the game. And so, as much as I love the game, and I love it a great deal, I stopped playing it. I maintain it’s a terrific game, however.

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