Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: soulslike

Enotria: The Last Song–A Quick Look

Someone in the RKG Discord mentioned Enotria: The Last Song (Jyamma Games), a soulslike (dare I say a Souls clone?) that has a demo now on Steam. Apparently, a beefy demo (like eight hours long!). It’s set in an Italianesque world (with Italian folklore), which is an interesting change from the usual dreary medeival settings (and, don’t get me wrong, I love those dreary fantasy settings with all my heart). I decided to download the demo and give it a go. I’m impatiently waiting for Shadow of the Erdtree and thought this might tide me over.

Side note: I don’t know if I’m weird for this, but I don’t like hashing out the trailers too much before I actually play the content. In fact, I rarely even watch the story trailers (I did this time) because there is almost too much in them. Yes, it’s hard to tell what it actually means because it’s just FromSoft throwing so much stuff at you, but still. I like to go in as unspoiled as possible.

Anyway. They made the cardinal sin of changing the heal button. It’s on Y instead of X, which, just no. This is one of my pet peeves about these games. Don’t change the controls! That’s the one thing I’m hard-assed about when it comes to soulslikes. And the fact that it can’t be changed. X is for item use, but it is in From games, too (along with heal). I guess Jyamma Games wanted a dedicated heal button–then make it up on the D-pad like Bloodborne! As far as I can tell, there is no way to two-hand your weapon in this game manually.

Right away, I had issues with the camera. Something about the game was making me nauseous. It’s not first-person, but it had that feel to it. The person in the RKG Discord who is playing the game suggested fiddling with the camera. I did, but it’s very limited and has not really helped. It’s not exactly the same as the issue I have with first-person games, but it’s got that wobbling on a stick feel to it. Like found-footage games, but at a much slower pace. It’s hard to explain, but I feel like I’m bobbling and wobbling as I walk. As a result, I became nauseated and had a headache.

This was after about ten-to-fifteen minutes of playing the game. I fiddled with the camera and made it more manageable, but still not negated. I did play about another fifteen to twenty minutes, I think. It’s hard to tell because I was concentrating on not getting nauseauted.


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Tails of Iron–A Quick Look, part two

In yesterday’s post, I talked about the game, Tails of Iron (Odd Bug Studios), also known as Rat Souls. I played a few hours of it and really gave it the old college try. I mentioned what I liked about it (mainlyf the art design), and I have more to say about it. Really, it’s about soulslikes in general because I am already weary (not wary, but, I guess that, too) of the genre.

Let me take you back in time to when the first soulslike came out. That was the original Lords of the Fallen, developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by CI Games. The publisher is important in this case for reasons I’ll get to later.

Lords of the Fallen was so clunky. So clunky. It’s as if Deck13 saw only one thing as they played Dark Souls–combat is deliberate. Lords of the Fallen was nicknamed Clunky Souls, in fact. The magic was atrocious, and the melee was so unsatisfying. I played a few hours, twice, many years apart, and it did not get better with time.

There was supposed to be a sequel to the game, but that didn’t happen. It kept getting pushed back, and then Deck13 Interactive announced they were working on a different game altogether. It was called The Surge, and it became affectionately known as Junkyard Souls. Why? Because of the unique premise of cutting off your enemies’ limbs in order to strengthen yourself and get cool weapons. Your enemies are robots, by the way. I think they used to be human? I don’t quite remember.

Oh, I have to say, I’ve played it. I’ve finished it. Hey! This is the other one I finished, but did not remember before. And, controversially, it’s my favorite soulslike. I threw an RKG chat into a tizzy beacuse people were talking about the best soulslike. Most people agreed that Nioh was the best. I piped in and said that The Surge was my favorite, and, boy, did that upset people. How dare I say that The Surge was a better game than Nioh???

Except I never said that. I was very careful to say I liked it bettert than Nioh, even though I knew objectively it was not as good a game. That upset people even more! Which I thought was hilarious. I really did not do it on purpose, but, boy was it funny to watch people lose their shit. I just kept saying I had more fun with The Surge, and while they could not debate that, they still got indignant about it.


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Tails of Iron–A Quick Look

I quit playing Sekrilo (Another Crab’s Treasure) because I just was not having fun with it. I may go back to it at some point, but I may not. I have decided that the game will forever more be known as Sekrilo (the protag is Kril), and I shall not be moved from it.  Ian suggested I try Tails of Iron (Odd Bug Studio), also known as Rats Souls. I jokingly called it Witcher Souls because Doug Cockle, the voice of Geralt, is the narrator.

In case the name doesn’t make it clear, it’s a soulslike. It came out in…(Googles, blinks in astonishment) 2021?!? I thought it was pre-pandemic. Dang! Time means nothing these days. Ian also told me that a sequel was coming out ‘soon’. I checked out the trailer on Steam, and Doug Cockle is the narrator again. I will include the official lunch trailer for the first game below.

I had the first game in my pile of shame (backlog), so I installed it. It’s tiny and doesn’t take up much space. The first choice was which mode to play it in. Casual (for the story), Normal (how it’s meant to be played, which is nails hard), and then Hard which is for the hardcore players, I assume. The game warned me that the mode could not be changed. I chose normal and booted it up.

First the pros: the game has a great graphics style. It’s 2D, and is a grittier Salt and Sanctuary (Ska Studios). Oh, and you’re a rat. A small rat at that . It’s mentioned several time that you’re tiny, and your brothers are bigger than you. Especially your (literal) big brother, Denis. He’s the chosen one, except for whatever reason, you’re the one whho has to do all the fighting. Your name is Redgi, by the way. No idea why.

I like the parry in this game, but I think it’s because it’s very generous. You hold LT (shield) and then RT as your enemy does a yellow attack, and you automatically parry it. As long as you are facing in the right direction. Otherwise, you’re SOL. Oh, and you have to use the right stick to change directions while holdinng the shield. So the praise is for the parry itself, and not all the nonsense that goes with it.

In fact, the controls are….not great. The heal was on LB and the interaction was on X. INTERACTION ON X. That’s not a thing. That should NEVER be a thing! Not in a soulslike. Look. I know all these games want to put their own stamp on the genre, but there are a few things you don’t fuck with. The roll/dodge is one (and they got that right. It’s on B), and the heal is on X! When FromSoft themselves fucked with that (it’s up on the directional pad in Bloodborne), that was bad enough. But games that do it just for the hell of it? No.


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Another Crab’s Treasure–A Quick Look

Soulslikes is a category that has exploded in the last decade, for better and for worse. I love the Dark Souls trilorgy and Elden Ring, but I have not found many of the soulslikes to be anywhere near as good. Salt and Sanctuary (Ska Studios) was decent, and I actually finished it. But it was very slavish in its adherence to the Souls formula, I would almost call it a clone. I have tried so many of the other soulslikes, and there is not another than I enjoyed very much or finished. (Yes, I’ll get to that in a second, don’t you worry.) Many of them take the wrong lessons from the FromSoft games–including the fact that the game has to be hard as nails.

There have been things to like about most of them, but equally things to not like about them as well. Clunky combat, esoteric lore, no explanation about how to do anything, etc. Many of them are done by indie devs, so I’m a bit more forgiving because it’s usually a handful of people workin on the game. I don’t expect as much as I would from a AAA company, for example.

Before I really get into it, let me say I’m going to do a quick(ish) look at Another Crab’s Treasure by Aggro Crab. I played and finished their first game, Going Under, which is a delightful roguelike that centers on Jackie, a beleagured intern at a games dev company who finds out that the job is more than making copies and answering the phone.

The site is set upon a hellmouth of sorts that calls forth demons and such. Jackie has to go down (go under, as it were) to take care of the problem. It was clear from that game that the devs admired FromSoft, though it wasn’t explicitly stated or seen.

Remember I said that I hadn’t finished any other soulslike? I haven’t, but I have finished a sekirolite (which is what I’m terming games that are all about the parry/deflect rather than lump them into the soulslike category). That game would be Lies of P (Round8 Studio/NEOWIZ), and the combat definitely styled itself after Sekiro.

I did not enjoy that game’s combat. At all. Starting with the fourth boss of that game, I beat every boss in the same way. For the first health bar (and there was nearly always two. Which, ugh), I just whittled away until I got to the second stage. I used the spirit summon liberally and made sure I had the cube set to revive them as many times as possible.


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Lords of the Fallen–the bad and the ugly

Lords of the Fallen continue to test my patience. I mentioned in the last post a few of the positives that I found in the game. The ease with which you can summon is one of them. At the beginning of the next session, however, I was in the same boss room and about to go back to the bonfire and level up. I was immediately invaded and could not go up the lift to get back to the bonfire. I had to stay in the arena (wait, I was able to go up the ladder that leads to and from the lift to the arena), and I died. I did try to fight the invader, but I was pissed. You should not be able to be invaded when you’re in the boss arena of a boss you just beat. This, my friends, is bullshit.

I died. Twice. Fortunately, the boss run was fairly easy so I was able to get my souls. Er, vigor. But, once you beat a boss, you should not be able to be invaded. FromSoft established this in the first Dark Souls (probably in Demon’s Souls, to be honest), and this is a huge step backwards.

In the next area, there was a merchant that apologized for being such a wimp the last time we met. I gaped at him because I had no clue who he was. At all. And I had only been playing the game for a few days. Who was this guy acting like he knew me? I had no clue. And he had nothing I wanted to buy.

Another thing. I am using the same weapon I had been using from the start. The Pyric Cultist Staff. It’s a polearm, and it’s pretty damn good. But, one of the draws to a game like this is finding new equipment. I’ve found nothing. There is an umbral trainer in the hub world and more than one radiance trainer. But no pyro trainer.

I know who will eventually be one (I saw it online, but I had kind of figured it out ahead of time), but I’m four bosses down and there’s not hint how to get them back to the hub world. Which means I’ve been using my basic fireball as my only Pyro. Oh, there’s one that buffs my strength, but I want more actual Pyros. THis is probably another reason the Pyro is considered an advanced class.

Oh! In my post yesterday, I mentioned that Austin form Skill Up’s channel was frustrated because he could not find the item needed to respec as well as not being able to find the vendor who makes boss weapons. I said that the latter was the vendor you could only see if you were in the hub world in umbral–he also sells the item needed to respec.

Anyway, I went on my way after killing the third boss.

I have to say, I was watching a video on tips and tricks for this game as I was writing this. I have included it below. I had forgotten to get the remembrance (boss soul) from the fourth boss. I went back and got it. Then I played a bit more. And I LOATHE the current area I am in.


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Lords of the Fallen–a bit more positive

In my last post, I said I was done with Lords of the Fallen (HexWorks/CI Games). I wasn’t. This is like Lies of P in which I feel done with it, but I keep going. A funny note about the latter. My nibling messaged me asking if I’d heard of a game called Lies of P. Heh. I might have heard of it once upon a time! If it’s a soulslike, I would have heard of it. I may not have played it, but I definitely would have heard of it.

I decided to play a bit more of Lords of the Fallen yesterday. I was still frustrated with the clunky mechanics and the shit-ton of enemies thrown at me, especially when they were in mobs. Which was all the time. And this game is in love with having casters that you can’t reach from where you are blitzing you constantly with overpowered spells. In the section I was in, there was a radiance caster across the way  that I could not reach from the place I was. Then, there were two of the ‘hiding pushers’ who are, well, hiding and pushing. The caster was on the other side of two of those swinging platforms I mentioned yesterday, which are the bane of my existence.

I made my way to the next boss, and, I’ll be honest. I just could not be bothered.

*SPOILERS*

It was a rip-off Capra Demon except there wer up to three dog/wolves at a time. And the boss shot radiant arrows at me while her damn dogs were stunning me with their hits.

Side Note: It’s interesting to me that the first three bosses were women. I don’t know if that eans anything, but it’s highly unusual. It’s also funny that a video I watched for this boss kept calling her ‘him’. Her name literally has ‘Mistress’ in it. Rory from RKG did this with the female bosses in Dark Souls III, like Sister Friede. Again, it’s right in her name. In fact, he did it with Mama Finchy in Dark Souls II–who has Mama in her name. It shows how entrenched the patriarchy is in gaming. It’s changing, thankfully, but it’s still annoying.

I will say at least there is an elevator from a bonfire to this boss with very few enemies in between. Granted, one of them is one of the hidden pushing ones who can knock you down to a lower area that is crammed with enemies and which I have not explored yet, but still. Three enemies to run by and, a ladder to go down, and another elevator down–and I’m at the boss entrance.


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Lies of P: the final post (maybe)

*MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR END GAME*

I legit beat Lies of P (Neowiz Games/Round8 Studio yesterday. Before this, I had beaten the purported last boss, but then had to make a choice. With one choice, I would have ended the game. That involved giving something to Geppetto, and no way in hell I was doing that. Geppetto was a big ol’ jerk and the reason the whole world went to ruins. Just because he wanted to bring his son back to life. That’s not a spoiler, by the way. That’s the main gist of Pinocchio. It’s funny because when RKG did the demo of the game, Gav was explaining the story of Pinocchio. Geppetto’s s son died and he wishes so hard for him to come back to life. He’s a puppet maker and makes a boy puppet. A blue fairy brings the puppet to life and tells him that if he does good things, he can be a real boy.

I commented on the stream that the blue fairy was kind of a jerk, and Gav laughingly read it out loud. I stand by it, though. It’s cruel to bring the puppet to life and then make it go through all these trials before  maknig it a real boy. If she could have just made him a real boy in the first place (which he apparently could), then why make him jump through all these hoops to become one?

I know the answer. There would be no book is the real reason.  I get it, but it’s still a flimsy basis for a book. Then again, most premises are.

Back to the game! I was not going to give something to Geppetto. I hated him and was convinced he was the true last boss. Which he was not, but he might as well have been. No, the optional last boss is called The Nameless Puppet. And he fucking comes out of nowhere. Well, he comes out of a box that Geppetto is carrying and there are magical strings controlling him.

My theory was that he was actually Pinocchio or at least the one that Geppetto wants to make into his son. That was kind of shot down in the end cutscene, but I still can make it work.

Anyway. I tried so many of the cheese strats to beat this guy back when I was playing the game on the daily. The biggest cheese was to use Aegis as your Legion Arm. The first time it gets hit, it explodes and does damage. Then, someone found out that if you hold it down while tapping LB (block), that’s supposed to do the perfect block without actually having to do the perfect block. Or something. I watched someone do it, but you still have to be able to time it and have good stamina. I had neither.

I tried it and kept running out of arm juice (as Rory called it). I asked in the Discord, and people said you can’t do it the entire first phase. That’s when people were doing it. Then, doing the throwables in the second phase. Which, by the way, was the way I did all the bosses in the sceond phase from the fourth chapter on.


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Lies of P–final analysis

Before I start, I want to say that the whole post will be spoilers. So.

*SPOILERS*

I beat the final boss of Lies of P (Neowiz Games/Round8 Studio). Kind of. I beat the game. Kind of. I’m done with it. Maybe?

Does this all sound cryptic? Well, it should. It’s as cryptic as the game’s systems and their refusal to explain them.

I was in the RKG Discord (we have a thread for this game) and more than one person absolutely loves the game. More than one person bounced hard off it. And there were a few like me who didn’t know what they felt about it. One guy said he loved some parts of it, but then was so frustrated by other parts. I said I felt the same. I have so many issues with it, and yet, I couldn’t stop playing.

Starting with Chapter IV, I was done with it. Especially the boss fights. That was the first two-phaser, but it certainly wasn’t the last. There are eleven chapters in total, so that was in the first third of the  game.

Right around Chapter VIII, I started to feel numb as I played the game. I was grim as I went about it, not really enjoying–well, any aspect of it. I hated how haphazard the enemies were and how out of place so many seemed. They basically used the same enemies over and over again, barely bothering to switch up the design for other areas. They also did the mini-boss as a common enemy trope thing–actually, she was a real boss because you had to beat her to get to the next area. She was like Margo the Wet Nurse, but not nearly as interesting.

Also, basic enemies that can kill you in two hits in the last chapter of the game is bullshit. And one thing this game loooooooves is to put an enemy in a corner or somewhere so you can’t see them and then as you go to attack another enemy, the hidden enemy jumps out at you. In some cases, I literally could not pan the camera to where the hidden enemy was.

I really was hating the game from the eighth area on. That’s the Blighttown of this game, though that’s not saying much because almost every area starting with the eighth have some kind of status effect strewn all over. In this case, it’s corruption which…oh I don’t remmeber. Corrodes your weapon? Not sure. As I said in a past post (and here’s the last post I wrote about the game) , I gave up trying to remember which status effect did what. There was decay, corruption, disruption, overheat, shock, electric shock, and break. The only thing I knew for sure was that if the disruption meter filled completely, it was an insta-death. And guess which boss did disruption damage?

The one I fought today. By the way, he was nerfed in the patch. I cannot imagine fighting him before the patch bceause I barely beat him after the patch. They nerfed his health pool (both of them I think) and the damage certain attacks did. Which, my god. If that’s the case, I really hate to think what he was like before the patch.


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A quick(ish) look at Lies of P

Lies of P (Neowiz Games/Round8 Studio) released a few days ago, and I had mixed feelings about playing it. I played the demo and reviewed it. Here’s the most recent post I wrote about it. This was before I battled the final boss of the demo, who, was dramatically nerfed for the actual game. Someone in the RKG Discord jokingly said maybe I just got better, which, true, but not that much better. It took me over twenty tries to beat that boss in the demo with the aid of the NPC. I had to farm for more Star Fragments (the thing you use to summon the NPC). It’s funny, in the video I’m including, Zoe was complaining about having to farm for the Star Fragments–iwth which I agree. But she mentioned something about just being able to summon them in Elden Ring (or implied it) without needing any object to do it, which is true. But it’s the first From game that it has been that way. In the previous ones, you had to be human, which meant using whatever item you would use to summon humans. I do agree, though, that it’s tedious to have to grind for these items.

Anyway. The demo is the first two chapters of the game. It’s a meaty demo and it was pretty much the same in the actual game except for a few things. One, they supposedly improved the dodge–which was very sluggish in the demo. I couldn’t really tell, though, as dodging still got me smacked about more often than not. I suppose it’s a tad better and Ian said the combat felt better to him in the game than it had in the demo (he bounced of the demo early and hard).

Second difference is that they put a Stargazer (bonfire) in front of the first boss. This was odd because the run wasn’t that bad, especially if you unlock the shortcut. If you don’t, well ,then you’re probably not going to get to the boss, anyway. It’s not a big thing; it was just weird.

*SPOILERS*

The first boss, the Parade Master (who I always think of as the Puppet Master), was still hard as nails. I have played through the third chapter (to the start of the fourth), and it’s still the hardest boss I’ve faced. I’ve faced six bosses with big health bars across the bottom of the screen and a name, and this one took me seven or eight real tries to beat. The one that gave me so much trouble in the demo? He took me two tries in the actual game (also with the NPC helper). The big boss of the third chapter took me one go (with the NPC helper). There is no NPC helper for the Parade Master, which is an odd choice.

In fact, that’s one of my complaints about the game in general. They make several puzzling decisions. Such as shortcuts that don’t really make things easier. In From games, there’s a sense of wonder, awe, and relief when you get a shortcut or a new bonfire. In this game, it’s often a headscratcher. “Did I need a shortcut there? Not really, but I guess I’ll take one.”

The problem for me is that I can’t map this out in my brain. I don’t know if it’s me or the game. I could do it in From games from dying so much, but I haven’t had to do it since my medical crisis. At any rate, in the second chapter, I was hopelessly lost most of the time. It got to the point where if I figured out how to get somewhere, I went that way every time, regardless of if I opened a later shortcut or not.


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Lies of P and accessibility

In the last two posts, I’ve talked about Lies of P (Round8 Studio/Neowiz Games) and disability in gaming, respectively. The latter is because I’m playing the former, and it’s kicking my ass in the way Sekiro (FromSoft) did. I want to make it clear as I did the last time I wrote about the game. It’s a very good game. Like, really good. Well, I have complaints. Let’s go through those first because I get to the disability issue.

I have *spoilers* beatien the mini-boss and the second actual boss. I’m going to talk about that later, but let me say the second area really fucking annoyed me. One thing I dislike about Soulslikes is that they often take away the wrong lessons from From games.

Let me say this for the umpteenth time. The difficulty is not the point of the From games–or it shouldn’t be. For the most part, the difficulty is very much a secondary aspect of the games*, and it’s more about the discovery and the exploration.

This is not the same with Lies of P. There really is not much discovery. It’s gorgeous to look at, yes, but the environments are very restricted–and they’re oddly barren. In addition, I’m in the third area, and so far, all the enemies have been roughly the same. Now, to be fair, Bloodborne had the same villagers for the first area (and sub-areas). There were other enemise, too, though, including wolfmen, trolls, and wolf-wolves. In Lies of P, the puppets are different, but they look similar. And most of the garden-variety ones act pretty much the same. There are bigger puppets with different movesets, but they look the same as the other. And, of course, there are dogs. Apparently, there always have to be dogs in games like this.

I really don’t like the barren environments. I would prefer they didn’t look as nice, but had more of a lived-in feel to them. I get it. There has been a puppet uprising, and a war between humans and enemies. But, I really don’t like how lifeless the game feels. There’s you. There are the mobs of enemies. There are the NPCs. That’s it.

Speaking of mobs. Sigh. This is another thing that Iwish Soulslike would eschew because they don’t do it well–mobs need to be thoughtful. Not just a bunch of enemies thrown at you willy and, indeed, nilly. They have no stamina limit. They can just keep on attacking you. And, while you can hit them enough to stagger them, each individual hit does nothing to their poise.


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