Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Stronk chonk is bonking

my strength character with no clothes and a big hammer
Chonking and bonking! Nekkid.

I’m still exhausted from the flu shot, but I don’t want to talk about that. I’m bored with being exhausted, so let’s talk about Elden Ring (FromSoft) instead. I’ve been doing a strength run which I have never done before. I’ve done strengthcaster builds before, but not a pure strength build. To be completely honest, I I did put three tiny levels into faith. Very tiny. Barely bumped it. But it allows me to use Poison Mist and Flame Cleanse Me. The former is a great way to kill bosses v-e-r-y slowly. The latter is for curing Poison or Scarlet Rot. That is very necessary in the game. Yes, you can craft bolluses that do the same thing, but why when you only need 12 faith to use the incantation?

To put it in perspective, I have 45 in Vigor. That’s nearly 3 times the amount I had in my first playthrough up to this point. Last night, I went up against


Radahn, Starscourge Radahn, to be more precise. Let me set the scene for you. The first time I fought him, I had 18 Vigor. That is not good. This is about a third of the way through the game, and you should have about 30 health at the minimum. Health is vigor. I know this. This is the way you play these games. You can do whatever you want with your levels, but you really should have plenty of vigor. With only 18 Vigor, Radahn could one-shot me with his opening arrows. It was, shall we say, not fun. 

Let me back up and say that at the beginning of this fight, you have to traverse across the sands in order to even get to him. It’s very long. Very long. Using my shield can block it, but that takes up all my energy. Stamina. Which I also didn’t level up. Look. There are eight stats. Vigor, endurance, mind, strength, dexterity, intelligence, faith, and arcane. Because I wanted to use all the spells and incantations, I needed to level up Mind (how much FP/mana/blue bar I had), Intelligence (sorceries), Faith (incantations), and Arcane (ah, not exactly sure what this does, but Google tells me finding items, so luck. But you need it for some incantations, too). That doesn’t leave much for anything else.

I always skimp on Vigor and Endurance in these games. Always. If I had all the levels in the world, of course I would up Vigor. But I don’t. And in Elden Ring, you can get flasks back by beating groups of enemies, so Vigor is not as important. At least, that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it. It served me fairly well in my first playthrough, but, yeah. 18 Vigor was skimpy, even for me. I managed to limp along with that tiny tiny health bar for over a hundred hours by patching together techniques. Mostly, zapping from afar.

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Done with soulslikes

It’s been interesting to follow the discussion about soulslikes and the inevitable comparisons between Lies of P (which is getting DLC and is developed/published by Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio) and Lords of the Fallen (CI Games/HexWork, and which I have stopped playing). It’s interesting to me because the level of the discourse is one I cannot reach. I cannot ‘git gud’ at the games because it’s beyond my ability. I’m not being dow on myself; I’m being honest. I know that I have issues with my abilities in several areas.

I know this is the nature of having disabilities (or being a minority in any way), by the way. People without them simply cannot understand how far from the norm I am. This is why I wish there was  a soulslike that was made for people with bad reflexes, no depth perception or periphery, and just no innate sense of (non-dancing) rhythm.

I wrote in my post yesterday that I gave both games a 6. That is much lower than Lies of P received (pretty much 10s across the board. Or 9s), but the rough average of what Lords of the Fallen got. Not 6s across the board, but 4s and 8s and all the other numbers.

I have to say that if you can parry, you’ll probably  love Lies of P. If you can’t parry, then you’re going to be SOL. There were people in the RKG Discord who waltzed through the game because they could parry. If you can’t, then you’re going to spend hours on each boss.

Speaking of bosses, by the way, in Lies of P, from the fourth boss on, every boss had two phases. Whether it was half a health bar each or an actual whole health bar each,  you knew that when you got to a boss, it was going to be grueling–unnecessarily so. I included a video below by Elbethium that compares the two games. I don’t necessarily agree with all his points, but he does bring up unnecessary difficulty (which he had in terms of the Lies of P bosses before as well, I think).

Oh, the reason he brings it up in this video is because the devs of Lords of the Fallen made the baffling choice to only have one vestige seed in NG+. Vestiges are the bonfires and vestige seeds are portable ones (you can plant them in seed beds dotted across the map). A great idea that was less than great in execution. The baffling decision to make NG+ and beyond diffiicult by only having one seed for the whole game is, well, baffling. The devs quickly realized that (from all the negative feedback) and changed it so that they were taking away vestiges in chunks (for each additional NG+) rather than making it one vestige seed from the start.

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Final verdict on Lies of P versus Lords of the Fallen

I think I’m done with Lords of the Fallen (HexWorks, CI Games). You’ll notice I did not say I had finished the game because I haven’t. I don’t think I’m even halfway done. It’s just that when I think about playing the game, I become lethargic and unhappy. Like, I ‘should’ play the game, but I…just don’t want to. At all.

I watched a video from a guy doing a deep dive into the game (which I have included below), and he hit on many of my frustrations wit hthe game. And the fact that it at least tries to be something different. I believe he even mentions that in contrast to Lies of P, this game stretches itself. It swung for the bleachers and while it whiffed, it at least tried.

It’s interesting. While I was playing Lies of P, I was bemoaning to myself how slavish it was to the FromSoft formula. For each section and boss, I could point out a similar or exact same thing in a From game. Most people call Lies of P the Puppet Bloodborne, but to me, it’s more Puppet Sekiro. You can only play the game one way, really. You need to have your deflects on point or you’re in for a really bad time.

As I have said many times, I do not have good reflexes. I never had. They have only gotten worse since my medical crisis. I want to tell people who are good at these games to imagine if they pressed the button and then their character reacted a full second later. That’s basically my reflexes. I literally cannot ‘git gud’ no matter how hard I try. Let me put it this way. I could not finish Stray because of the QTEs. Stray! It’s a cozy little game about a stray cat by BlueTwelve Studio. It was highly anticipated and highly praised. I believe it even won indie game of the year last year.

It’s a great game about being a cat and trynig to get back to your cat friends. There are elements of a dystopian world, and it’s just amazing. And they ruined it by having these sections when you have to escape the zerg rush. No, that’s not what it’s called, but it’s close enough. Zurks. They are zurks. And they rush in groups. As they attack you, you have to click whatever button it is rapidly to shake them off. I literally could not click the button fast enough. I failed the QTEs several times each, which was really frustratitng. The game was not supposed to be hard in the sense of challenging gameplay.

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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.


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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Lords of the Fallen: done before it really began

I think I’m done with Lords of the Fallen (Hexworks/CI Games). The last time I played was day before yesterday, and the last hour or so was me running from checkpoint to checkpoint. Here’s my last post on the game. I did take some time to try to learn the asshole enemy–oh, excuse me. I need to be more specific than that. The enemy that is basically a low-rent Let Me Solo Her with a maced colander as a helmet. He uses that helmet to hit you, and if he catches me unaware, he can one shot me.

Just to be clear, I have similar health at this point of this game that I did in the first hundred hours of Elden Ring. I know they are very different games, but an enemy at this point should not be able to one-shot me. Actually, enemies in general should not be able to one-shot me, the player. That’s just bad design, but it’s become the norm in these kinds of games. Which is to the genre’s detriment, in my opinion.

Anyway, there is one of these enemies near a bonfire. One who is shielded in the umbral. It’s easy to soulflay his shield, so I decided to use him as a way to get this enemy down. Readers, it failed. He would run at me and head-but me into the near by elevator hole (I have to find the way to get it operational further in the level). This guy takes many many hits to kill. And they love to put one of him patrolling the ladder you need to get to in order to go up or down. I’ve made him fall to his death before, which is great, but in general, I just bait him to run one way before running in the other direction.

I have to say. The mobs in this game are out of control. It’s gotten to the point whereI have run through entire sections of area because there are just too many enemies. I hate running through an area in games like this beacuse I want to explore. But I do not want to be killed over and over again just because I’m overwhelmed.

In the current area I’m in, there was a ladder going down. I started going and then just fell off and died because I had to be in the umbral realm in order to be able to climb all the way down. There was no indicator of this before I started climbing. I mean, maybe there was a visual clue–I think there are supposed to be butterflies/moths when you can use the umbral lamp, but I was running for my life. I didn’t have time to stop andscan with the lamp. Also, it’s so ‘gotcha’. We’re gonna put this ladder here that you’ll run to in order to escape a zillion enemies but you’re going to plunge to your death!

Yeah, thanks. I hate it.

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Lords of the Fallen: a quick look

Many moons ago, there was a game called Lords of the Fallen. It was developed by Deck13 Interactive and published by CI Games. It was one of the first if not the first soulslike, and it was slavish in how close it adhered to Dark Souls. In both a good and a bad way. There were a few things they added, such as a clock to how long you had to retrieve your souls. I don’t remember if it meant that you just didn’t get them if the time ran out or if they gave you less and less infinitely, but it was not a welcome addition to the formula.

The one thing that they took from Dark Souls was that the combat was weighty. Which it is. But Deck13 took that to mean it should be s-l-o-w. So slow. So agonizingly slow. The game has been nicknamed Clunky Souls, and it’s definitely that. I played the first two hours twice as two different characters, and it just did not click with

By the way, I must say that the takeaway from the games that the bosses need to be insanely difficult is so not my favorite thing. I don’t play these games because of the bosses. I play because of the exploration and the level design, the stories, and just the delight of existing in a Miyazaki world.

The bosses are cool in design, but, honestly, at this point, I do not want to spend days on one boss. I just don’t. And that brings us to this Lords of the Fallen, which was not made by Deck13. They were going to make the sequel, but it never happened. I don’t remember why. they ended up making The Surge (and the sequel), which is affectionately known as Junkyard Souls. In a nutshell, you’re attacking robot/human hybrids. You can specify the limb you want to attack and then get that limb’s armor. Maybe you can get weapons, tooo? I don’t remember, but it’s so cool. And while it was janky as hell, it was fun. Lots of fun. Until the final boss, but let’s not talk about that.

This Lords of the Fallen is not a remake nor a sequel. It’s just set in the same universe but many years in the future as I understand it. After CI Games passed on Deck13, another studio was involved in the sequel. That fell through as well, and then years later, HexWorks was given this game.

Now it’s out. Unlike Lies of P which received nearly universal praise, Lords of the Fallen‘s reviews are all over the map. On Metacritic, they range from 40 to 100. The numbers were similar on OpenCritic. I thought the numbers were severely inflated for Lies of P (which is Lies of Pi in my brain). I started at a 7 out of 10 with that game and then it steadily decreased as I played. By the end, it had dropped a whole number. If you can perfect block, the number will probably be higher. If you can’t, then I would strongly suggest not playing that game.

As for this one, I would hesitantly put it as a 7 out of 10 after playing several hours and beating the first boss–who, by the way, is ridiculously difficult for a first boss. Obviously, if you can parry,

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Lies of P: the final post (maybe)


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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Welcome to MY world

I’m frustrated. I’ve been a minority all my life in several ways, the most obvious one being race. I’m Asian. I live in a state that is predominately white. It’s gotten more diverse over time, but it’s still pretty damn white. So me being Asian is a very defining feature. I’m fine with that now, but it fucked with my head when I was in my twenties.

Before that, I didn’t fully realize that I was different. I mean, I only knew my life so it was, as the kids say, what it was. I didn’t understand that my parents were very exclusionary in that they only wanted to be with Taiwanese people, eat Taiwanese food, and do Taiwanese things. Rather, that’s my father and my mother went along. She was more flexible in that she did not hate America and Americans the way my father did.

I just wanted to be American. I didn’t want to be the  weirdo who ate stinky food and dressed funny. I didn’t want to be the kid who knew nothing about pop culture. I rarely went to other kids’ houses and I never invited them to mine. In other words, I was very isolated as a child. We went to a Taiwanese church, and that was where most of our socialization happened.

We celebrated Taiwanese holidays such as Mid-autumn Festival and lunar New Year by eating a ton of food and watching a bunch of skits/singing performances (by us, the attendees). Nothing ever started on time because that was part of our DNA. If it was supposed to start at six, we did not arrive until six-thirty at the very earliest. And then it would start around seven-fifteen.

I would bring a book with me and read in a corner until the festivities began. Then, my mother or father scolded me for that because I was, what, ignoring the people who weren’t even interested in me?

Anyway. It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized I was Asian, which was very different than the other people around me. That’s when I got really angry about racism, and it nearly consumed me. I was so angry that no one had told me about racism when I was a kid or a teen. That was back in the days of the fucking ‘melting pot’ theory, though, that really meant that people of color had to ‘melt’ into the dominant culture. It was never the other way around. That didn’t come until later. At least lip service to DEI, if not actual practice.

When I had a job as an admin assistant for the director of the Diversity Division in the Department of Community Corrections, man, that was a terrible job for so many reasons. A big one was job creep. I was very good at being an admin assistant in many ways, but it was clear that I could do more. My boss was not good at her job–or she was just burnt out. I did not blame her because the county didn’t give a shit about diversity–it was just a box they were ticking off.

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Not quite disability and frustration because of it

One of the things that frustrates me in the RKG Discord is how people keep saying that the From games aren’t hard. This has become the new mantra: The games aren’t hard; you just have to be thoughtful when you play them.

I want to say right up front that this may be true for some people. There are people who are naturally good at these games. There is one guy in the Discord who rarely dies to a boss. He’s also nineteen or twenty with lightning-fast reflexes. I think he died to the Guardian Ape 8 times in Sekiro and that may be the most times he died to a From boss. When I was doing the plat for Bloodborne, he decided to do the DLC once and for all. The game came out when he was 12 and he could not get past Ludwig, the first boss in the DLC.

He chose the Hunter Axe in honor of me chasing the plat. He was taking notes of how and when he died as he went. They were really funny because they were like ‘guy with big head knocked me off the staircase’. Accurate and hilarious. He one-shot all the bosses in the DLC except the last one–which he two-shot. All in all, he died something like fourteen times in a brutal DLC. I probably died that many times to the first boss–or would have if I hadn’t summoned Valter (NPC) to help me out.

It was cool that he used the Hunter Axe in honor of my plat run, but it was also a bit deflating that he did it so easily with a weapon he’d never used before. And the fact that he decimated the DLC was mind-blowing to me. It turns out, though, that this was just par the fourse for him. He was a legend in the Discord for how easily he romped through all the previous games.

There are a couple other people in the Discord who are nearly as good as him at these games. Then, there are those who are very good, but not god tier. Then there are those who are decent at the games. Then, several rungs down, there is me.

I am terrible at the games. Ian and I have had this argument many times. He thinks the games are made for people like me–because I have to work to beat them. I disagree. I say that I am not the target demo because most people in my position would have given up long before I did. I don’t know why I kept going when it was so damn hard every step of the way. Probably because I’m a stubborn bitch and contrary to boot.

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