Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Bonus Post

GOTY–the 2nd game above the rest

In a year that defied description, there were two games that stole my heart. I have written about both of them in length and I extolled the virtues of one of them in my previous post. The other co-GOTY is second because I’m doing it alphabetically and because, well, I’ll get to the second reason once I announce it.

The best game that still brings me to tears whenever I think about it

Spiritfarer

This game is one of those comes along once in several years and I have to give massive props to Thunder Lotus Games for creating it. Their tagline for the game is, “Spiritfarer is a cozy management game about dying.” While, yes, it is that in a nutshell, at its heart, it’s so much more.

I knew about this game before it was released. I was following it on Steam and when Ian let me know it was being released, I checked it out on Steam. Why did I have an eye on it? Quite bluntly, because of the graphics. The game is hand-drawn and saturated in rich, lush colors. The colorful cartoon characters as well. The palate is breathtaking and I loved the attention to details. There was a demo on Steam, which I downloaded. After the short demo, I fell in love and quickly bought the game.

There is so much about this game that I absolutely adored. Oh, before I go any further, I will be talking about the game as a whole so there will be spoilers. With that out of the way, let’s talk about what this game is and isn’t. There is no combat and there is very little in the way of action. There is no voice acting and all the conversations (and there are many) are done as text. So if reading in games isn’t your thing, then this isn’t the game for you.


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GOTY in a really strange year

*Bonus Post*

Ok. Yesterday I covered games that were ok but not great. I talked about not-platting Dark Souls and Dark Souls III. Now, it’s time to hand out my meaningless and silly awards, but be forewarned–there aren’t many of them this year. This has been a strange year (duh!) for games (oh) because on the surface, there have been a lot of games that have had people talking. Animal Crossing New Horizons (especially important at the beginning of the pandemic); AssCreed Valhalla (fuck Ubisoft. No, seriously. They should have gotten WAY more shit for covering up all the sexual abuse at their company), and; Cyberpunk 2077 (fuck CD Projekt Red as well for being liars about their game and about being ‘for the people’. Also, for all their blatant isms in the game). These are just three of the major games released this year and I have not played any of them. Then there were the social games like Fall Guys, Among Us, and Phasmaphobia, none of which I played, either. I did buy A Mungus, though. I’ve realized that I’m not going to get on the hype train for most games that other people like. There is one glaring exception to that which I’ll get to in a second.

Side Note: I don’t get why people find Phasmaphobia scary to watch. I get why it might be scary to play, but watching it does nothing to me. Then again, watching most scary games being played does nothing to me. Anyway. Whatever. Just a side note.

In the interest of full disclosure. There are three games I’ve flagged for my end-of-the-year awards. Two will be my co-GOTY while the third is an honorable runner up.


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I beat Hades; now the real game begins

*Bonus Post*

I beat Hades! Thanks for reading. Goodbye.

one big happy family!
Welcome home, Mom.

Just kidding. You didn’t think I’d let this achievement go without gushing about it, did you? Before I get into that, however, I wanted to touch on a few things I forgot to say in yesterday’s post. I have called myself sucky at the game. Then I read the chat for Aoife’s stream of it and realized that I needed to upgrade myself to mediocre. Why? Because while there were the people who clearly were really good at the game, there were also people who…weren’t. And not people who just played it once or twice, but people who played it regularly. Like the person who mourned that they couldn’t beat Theseus and Asterius no matter how hard they tried. At this point for me, I have to ready myself for it, but if I have a halfway decent build, I can get through it without losing a life. And, despite knowing that Aoife is correct in killing Asterius first, I still hammer away at Theseus because I just can’t fucking stand him.

Anyway! I beat the game and we need to talk about it. It was surprisingly emotional and I have many feelings about it. Consider the rest of this post spoilers because it’s all about the end game. Oh, and it was on the tenth escape that I got to see the end credits.

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The emotional side of Spiritfarer

*Bonus Post*

Ed Note: I will be discussing a specific incident in the game with a fair amount of detail. Needless to say, the whole post is basically one long spoiler. 

i wish i could make it all go away.
I feel your pain, Gwen.

I have nine hours into Spiritfarer, and I have finally done the titular job. Not after dragging my feet for a few more hours, mind you, but I really wanted to see what it was like more than I wanted to just meander around and I finally, reluctantly, did what I’d been putting off for hours.

Gwen is the first passenger I took on board, and I felt an instant affinity with her. She was a caustic, jaded deer who had seen some shit, let me tell you. She constantly smoked, and it was clear that she had a wall around her carefully crafted to keep everyone out. A few hours into the game, she requested that we go to the island where she used to live with her parents. She had told a few stories that indicated her father was an abusive jerk–emotionally, if not physically. She didn’t say anything about her mother until the very end, but it was enough for me to imprint her story over my own.

She mentioned she wanted to visit her home villa (on an island!) fairly early in the game. I, of course, ignored her and went about my merry business building up my boat and tending my crops. And cooking.

Side note: Because I tend to put off the main missions for as long as I can, I don’t get the necessary resources I need when the game wants me to get them. In this game, it doesn’t matter because the game doesn’t punish me for not progressing. Which I much appreciate. Around the five hour mark, however, I was itching to see the actual spritfaring mechanism so I reluctantly acquiesced to her request.

At her villa, she was contemplative and somber. It was clear that she was running from her demons, and I ached to help her however I could. I couldn’t, though, which made my heart hurt. We went back to the boat and soon after, she informed me that she needed some space. Um, ok. Don’t know how you’re going to get space on a boat, Gwen, but you do you. Later, she’s in her house, and I try to open the door. Usually, all the doors on the boat are open, but not this time. She’s locked the door, and I go away feeling worried about her.


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Released from this Mortal Shell, er coil

Mortal Shell by Cold Symmetry is one of the few soulslike games that I was cautiously hyped for when I saw the trailer for it.

I mean, look at it. It could BE a Dark Souls trailer, down to the many bosses reveal. By the way, I never watch trailers for FromSoft games because they give away so many bosses. I always wait until after I play the game to actually watch the trailers because I don’t want to spoil the surprise of bosses for me. I am on the far end of ‘don’t want to be spoiled’ when going into a FromSoft game, which isn’t easy in this day and age.

Anyway, I knew the basic premise of the game which was that you were a…zombie? A walking skeleton? Something in between? Unclear. What was clear was that you could put on different ‘shells’ of enemies you…found? Beat? Unclear. But it was a cool concept, and I was intrigued. The graphics were gorgeous and very Souls-y, and the atmosphere was properly epic and bleak.

When it came to closed beta, I was doubly intrigued. It was so popular, they opened the beta. I downloaded it from Epic and hopped in. Immediately, I was aware that I was in a soulslike. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, mind, especially one that was as high quality as this game. There was a cutscene much like the ones at the beginning of the you-know-what games, and then I was dumped in an area much like the tutorial area of Dark Souls III but with much harder enemies. The shell I had at this point was that of a knight, and my weapon was a big fuckoff sword. Were we about to get OG Dark Souls up in this bitch? Apparently so.

They do tell you what the different buttons do, but it’s a lot to take in. They’re different from the Souls buttons, and they add a wrinkle that the first time you press B (Xbox One controller), you dodge. The second time you press B, you roll. I don’t like not having a dedicated roll, but I have to admit it’s an interesting conceit. In addition, it makes you have to be much more deliberate about your movements, which has both positives and negatives. Yes, combat is deliberate in Souls games, but it feels…almost clunky in Mortal Shell–at least in the beginning.

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Dark Souls III plat is like giving birth

*Bonus Post*

hellraiser up in this bitch!
Delicious bow cheese!

Completing the Dark Souls plat made me feel relieved, but still wearied. I didn’t feel that much joy or accomplishment, and it was definitely muted. Yesterday (Thursday), I buckled down to plow through the rest of the plat requirements for DS III. I didn’t want to do it; I seriously thought about taking a break. But, I know myself. I know that if I stepped away, I would just obsess about it more until I did it. So. Four bosses. Four rings. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. I went after Oceiros with the help of Hawkwood, and it was no thing; he never is. Champion Gundyr, on the other hand….First of all, I’d like to note that I was playing offline because I did not want to deal with invasions–human or NPC. I can’t get a human summon for the life of me, but I have been invaded. There’s an NPC invasion in this area as well, and I simply did not want to deal with her.

I biffed it in my first attempt on Champion Gundyr, even with the Sword Master by my side.  I was too hesitant and allowed Champion Gundyr to dictate the fight, and he pushed my shit in over and over again. I was already irritated, and, let’s face it, that did not help. Fighting a boss while in a heightened emotion in a FromSoft game means certain death. This time, I resolved to be more deliberately forceful, and I got all up in Champion Gundyr’s face–By the way, Champion Gundyr is so goddamn aggressive, but I managed to get him solo with not too much difficulty the first time I met him. Being a caster is helpful with certain bosses, including this one. That’s what I did this time around, and it wasn’t hard at all once I settled the fuck down.

I stealthed my way through the Black Knights though I normally kill them because I just didn’t care about anything that didn’t help my run progress. I made it to the Dark Firelink Shrine and beelined it for Lothric’s throne. Behind it was the Life Ring +3, one of the four rings I needed. I briefly chatted with the Shrine Handmaid then warped myself back to ‘my’ Firelink Shrine. I set myself up for the next part of my run–which was Lothric Castle. It’s pretty big, and it can take some time to explore the whole castle. There are dragons with black slooge that breathe fire as you try to get into the castle, so you have to go the back way, and there’s oodles of other shit you can do as well. I ignored the other stuff and went straight to the level to open the front gate. I died to the scrubs in the castle twice because I was rushing and not doing the area as I normally would. Plus, I was getting more and more worried about the last thing I had to do, but I’ll get to that later.

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Not-plat Dark Souls run DONE!

*Bonus Post*

moonlight greatsword is mine!
Gotcha, asshole!

In my last post, I wrote about my not-plat Dark Souls run, but I forgot to mention Seath. He of the Moonlight Greatsword tail that I needed for the not-plat. I fucking hate the Crystal Cave. Earlier in NG, I went to grab the Titanite Blue Slab that is nestled there. I have never gotten it before, so I fell off that particular invisible path several times. Fortunately, I have several characters pretty far in this game so I was able to do the upgraded weapons with more than one character. That meant that I could use the Titanite Blue Slab I already had on one character (there are two in the game) for one upgrade and the one I nabbed in the Crystal Cave on a different character for the other.

Anyway, tackling Seath’s tail was a bitch. Getting there was more stressful because….I don’t know why exactly. I couldn’t remember exactly where the invisible path was, and I fell more than once. It took me five or six times just to get to Seath, and one of those fucking clams came into the arena with me. I died and was fuming as I made the trek again. One the second time I made it into the arena, I tried the strat of letting him kill his own crystal (I did it myself the first time) so he would be stunned as I ran around to his backside. I did not have Power Within activated, and I breathed Great Combustion on his tail…but missed once. I think I hit him once, but it wasn’t enough. So, I had to do it the hard way of running around him, baiting out the laser attack, and getting one or two swipes (Furysword) or GC on his tail–making sure I aimed at the tip. The thing is, though, he lashes his tail around, which meant I missed more than I hit.

I had to keep an eye on his health, obviously, as I did not want to have to do him on NG++. Not only did I not want to have to do him on NG++, I did not want to have to get to that part of the game as I only had to reach Anor Londo and Cuddles (Giant Blacksmith) to transform two boss weapons. I had Seath’s health down half just by attacking the tail, and I was getting nervous. I was wearing pretty strong curse-resist armor and had a high magic-resist shield, and I wasn’t taking much damage at all. I wonder if he’s like the Four Kings in that he does more damage the further you are away from him. Just as I decided I would probably have to let him kill me and try again, his tail came off! A few agonizing seconds before Moonlight Greatsword flashed on the screen, and then his tail…just…stayed…there. For the rest of the fight. As you can see in the pic above. Which was kinda gross, tbh, but at least I didn’t have to harvest it for the MGS as I would have in Monster Hunter World.

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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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Envying carefully-cultivated FOMO

*BONUS POST*

I am so done with floors.
Shadow putting himself in a timeout.

I am experiencing FOMO right now, and I know it’s 100% on me. I’m not even talking about FOMO as in seeing how great everyone’s lives are on Facebook and wishing mine were the same. On that topic, however, I’ve been thinking how easy it is to cultivate a FOMO kind of life online. If I wanted to, I could do it in this manner. Post pictures of my trip to Malta last year. Post pics to Binghamton from a few weeks ago. Talk about how I’m going to Philly in a few months to visit my other BFF. Talk about learning sword in taiji and knowing it to the point where I’m impatient with swordplay I see in popular culture. Talk about my friends and how fortunate I am to have them. Post pictures of my cat, Shadow, especially the one I posted here in which he put himself in a timeout. I will note that he opened the drawer himself and then hopped in it. I rarely take pics of him these days, but that one was so adorable, I had to snap it. Wouldn’t you be filled with jealousy if you saw this cute face peering out at you from a drawer as you were sitting on the toilet?

I would also mention how I was eating ice cream for lunch (dairy-free, gluten-free) just because. Haagen Daz Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle Non-Dairy, to be precise. Want to know something funny? I think the store brand dairy-free ice cream at Target is better than any of the branded ones I’ve tried. I don’t go to Target that often, however, so Haagen Dazs is good in a pinch. I can eat the same thing every day if I want (and often do), though I’m not sure others would envy that. I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to do anything, and I just bought a video game yesterday without having to negotiate it. Granted, it was a ten dollar video game (on sale), but still. All decisions are made by me and me alone. I work from home and have a flexible schedule, and all the work I do can be done anywhere as long as I have a computer and a Dvorak keyboard. I can go to bed whenever I want and get up whenever I want*, and in general, am free from normal society constraints.

The biggest way I could make people jealous is by flaunting my child-free state. I have posted many times that I am positively gleeful to be child-free. I like children in theory, and I like them in small doses, but I do not like children more than, say, two hours at a time. By children, I mean kids under six. Six to ten, maybe four hours. Ten to eighteen, a day. I’d up that incrementally until the ‘kid’ turns thirty upon which they become full adults. Is that ageist? Yes. I’ve felt that way since I was a kid, however. I’ve always liked older people, and I have a hard time relating to anyone under thirty. But. I could post pictures of me doing adult things whenever I want–and by adult, I mean going to see a movie I want to see that doesn’t have Legos in it–having a drink at three in the afternoon if I drank, etc. I know that the purpose of an online presence is make other people jealous, but I don’t see the point. And, yes, I know that’s not the actual point for many people, but for some, it absolutely is.

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