Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Fun

Nioh 2 is growing on me?

I realized yesterday that leaving a mission in Nioh 2 (Team Ninja) is not as dire as I’ve always thought it was. I mean, the penalty is steep, yes, but not as bad as I had outlined in the last post. Yes, you have to go back to the beginning of the mission and yes you have to do the whole thing again. And, sure, you lose whatever souls you have (what is it called in this game? Amitra, I think), and, yes, it’s frustrating as heck. But! you don’t lose the stuff you collect, and you can do waht I did on the last sub-mission I was re-exploring. I reached enoughm to level up, did that, and then left the sub-mission.

Side note: It’s funny to watch people play these kinds of games. Everyone calls the things you accumulate souls, even though that is obviously not what it’s called in the Niohs. I will say that I don’t call the shrines bonfires because they are visually different. In Elden Ring, though, I sometimes call the sites of graces bonfires and the runes are absolutely souls more often than I care to admit.

I will say that in all the games I’ve played, I have not been a sword aficionado, which is sad to me since I love them so much in real life. I lean towards axes, probably in part because the Pyro starts with a Hand Axe in Dark Souls. I found a Battle Axe early on (after killing an enemy who had one, if I remember correctly) and mained it for the rest of the game.

Later, I did learn to enjoy the Zwei, but that is not like any sword I use in real life. That myght be part of it–none of the swords in the games I play are like the swords I use in real life. In general, though, I didn’t care for swords–which made me sad.

Then, I got a pair of dual corrupted swords in Nioh 2. Corrupted weapons/demon weapons are sentient with demon souls. I still don’t know if they are better for human or for yokai, but they’re loads of fun to use. The more you use them, the more sentient they become. By the way, I love that you get more skill points in the weapon you’re using the more experience you have with it.

The dual swords are fast and quick. They are called Weathered Fang & Bleached Twig, and mine are blue, which is second from the top in terms of rarest. It’s purple, blue, green, yellow, and white. I can do four or five fast hits without running out of ki. I am in love with them, and I’m happy that I have finally found swords that I like in a game. It might be because they are dual, which is my jam. Double sabers, i mean. My favorite form of all.

I’ve been doing past sub-missions just to get a hang of my new weapons. I tend to stick to one weapon (original game) or two (this game), and I know there is such a wide array of weapons in this game. It’s funny because I’m doing a sub-mission that is level 20, so not that far behind where I am now. It was a recent sub-mission I have done, and I’m moving through it much more easily this time. i want to try my new guardian spirit, which is the snake. It’s considered a feral guardian spirit, which is interesting.

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Swallowing my pride and moving on in Nioh 2

So, as a FromSoft fan, I played all the Dark Souls and Bloodborne with the mentaliy that I had to solo the bosses, otherwise, I’m not hard–and I’m not a real gamer. I did summon a few times, but only as a last straw. Then, I went back and beat all the bosses solo. Except for three bosses in the BB DLC and the gank runs in the DS II DLCs.

When I started Nioh the original, I had the same mentality. No summoning. It’s a crutch that only fake gamers needed. Except. Here’s the thing. I quit the game a third of the way through because I hit a boss that I found too grueling. I fought her for hours and then switched my weapons. I proceeded to beat her in thirty seconds, quit the game, and did not go back except for a brief moment.

I know you’re saying, “Minna, you beat the boss. You’re not making the point you think you’re making. But it’s part of the point. If I hadn’t spent hours against the boss, I would not have felt as infuriated that merely switching weapons did the job. I will say that my one big dislike of both games is that once you start a mission, you can’t quit out of it without losing all your XP, amitra, money, and any progress you made in the mission. So, you can’t dip out and go to an earlier mission to grind, which bugs me.

Anyway, Nioh 2 by Team Ninja was the game I was playing when I ended up in the hospital. The last message I sent to Ian was about the forge boss we had both just beaten. The second main story boss. It had been really difficult for me because I poured all my points into Omnyo Magicks, but you can’t actually use them until late into the second main mission. So, yes, I had some magicks available by the time I reached the boss, but not much. And I had no health or stamina.

I had heard that Omnyo Magicks were very powerful in this game, but then later found out that meant midway through the game. Of course. Which meant that I was highly under-tuned for the first two story mission and three or four sub-missions. Actually, I’m still underleveled now. My general marker for what level I should be is the suggested level +5 or +10, but that’s not easy to do in this game. I’m level 30, and the next batch of missions are suggested 35 or so.

I beat the forge boss the day before I ended up in the hospital. Or at least, that was when I messaged Ian about it. I died to that boss 100 times. Nioh 2 keeps track of your deaths. Ugh. I do not need that on my permanent record, thank you very much.

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Dark Souls III for life

Dark Souls III is the best From game.

Thank you for coming to my TEDTalk, and….

I’m just kidding. I don’t think it’s the best FromSoft game, I don’t think it’s even the second-best From game. It’s my favorite, though, which is vastly different. Elden Ring is second by a hair, and I don’t thnk that’s the best From game, either. I will say that I think it’s innovative and will redefine a genre (open world games) in a way DS III isn’t and won’t, but again, I’m talking favorites here.

It’s funny. Last night in Ian’s chat (he was playing Mon Hun Rise by CAPCOM), I mentioned that I tapped out at Iceborne, the DLC for MHW. I said that it was above my paygrade, meaning it was too hard for me. The person in the chat said that he thought MHW was too easy and Iceborne is when he really got interested. He (I’m assuming he, and I would bet money on it) said that I was the only person he knew who did not like Iceborne. Or maybe he meant Ian because Ian voiced similar feelings.

In the same chat, he said that he never finished Elden Ring because he was a squishy mage and everyone was mean to him. WHat I did not say, but could have, was exactly what he said to me. That I did not know anyone who could not finish Elden Ring (though it would not be true) and that it was easy compared to, say the DLC of DS III. I wouldn’t, of course, because that would be rude, But he thought nothing of laughing at me and saying he didn’t know anyone who didn’t like Iceborne.

I wasn’t mad at him, mind. I just marveled at how insular his thinking was. again, I know it’s human nature to use yourself as the metric of normality, but most people can nominally understand that other people may not feel theh same way they do. I will say, though, that the more you hew to the ‘norm’ (white cis het middle-class man), the less you have to think about how other people view things.

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FromSoft games are life

In the RKG Discord, there is a periodical debate about the best game in the oeuvre of FromSoft. It feels like Bloodborne gets the most love, followed by Sekiro. It’s funny because once I was talking about how I did not gel with the Sekiro gameplay and I think I said I would never go for the plat. This was probably after I got the BB plat. I said I had terrible reflexes, which made deflction nearly impossible to do consistently.

Someone said that it took time and that they didn’t have great reflexes, either (plus some disabilities I want to say?), but that they clicked with Sekiro. They were saying to give it some time and blah, blah, blah. I said, “Oh, I finished it”, and they were very surprised that I had the attitude I had even after beating the game.

I will say I take a perverse amount of pride in the fact that I bashed the game into submission. All you ever hear about the game is that you have to click with the  combat in order to beat the game. I did not take it as a challenge, but it turned out to be that in the end.

The game is fucking brutal. I think it’s the hardest of all the From games. The reason is because there is no give in the game. As I’ve mentioned before, you can make your character to be whatever you want in the other games, save Bloodborne. You want to be a fragile caster who stands at a distance and zaps everything with fire? You can do that! You want to bulk up and become massive so you can Hulk smash everything in sight? You can do that, too! You’re a tricksy rogue type who likes to sneak around and do backstabs? That is available to you as well.

In Bloodborne, there is a drastic reduction of availible builds, but at least they’re in the game. I did my best to cobble together a magic build, but it wasn’t easy. Yes, I could up my Arcane and use the Hunter Tools that mimicked magicks, but it wasn’t the same. It  was frustrating that I couldn’t use a shield, either. I simply do not have the reflexes to play without one. There is a mechanic in the game that you get health back if you attack quickly after getting hurt. That’s nice in theory, but for someone like me, that way leads certain death. Because if the enemy keeps attacking before you can get your health back, you die.

There’s a reason I had only finished the game once before the plat. I was able to cobble together a hunter that limped her way through the game, but it wasn’t enjoyable. And that’s the frustrating part. Not being able to convey properly just how frustrating the game was to people who did not have reflex issues. And, yes, this is part of having a disability. People without it can’t comprehend how much not having that thing can affect someone.

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But my pride, tho

I want the Sekiro plat/hundo chievo. There I said it. I won’t get it, but I want it. Here’s the thing. if I want to do it, then I have to do both endings at least once. Why? Because I did not think to save-scum. So I have to do each ending (good and bad, I mean) at least once. I have never done the Shura ending. And, I have to kill my nemesis–*SPOILERS* Owl (Father) again. I tried him for a few hours post-hospital, and I did not fair well. *UNSPOILERED* It was probably the biggest evidence of my even slower reflexes because I could not react to his combos. Not that I ever could, but it was even worse post-medical crisis.

I will admit, I cheesed him the one time I beat him, anyway. I baited out the one attack I knew I could deal with and then countered it and only it. It was slow and tedious, but it got the job done. There was one attack he did that I just could not get into my brain that I was reacting the wrong way. I would move to the right when it should have been the left every goddamn fucking time. Honestly, it was the cheese that was recommended in videos–and it’s pretty much the cheese for all the bosses in this game. Find the one attack you can reliably counter and bait it out.

So. If I want to get the plat, I have to do it on my first save. Which is already on NG+ and past the point where I can choose the bad ending. That means I have to do my nemesis on this playthrough and then do the Shura ending on NG++. Plus one more ending. Honestly, if I can actually manage to get to the point of choosing an ending, I will definitely try to save-scum. But I doubt I’ll get to that point, which is distressing me. There is no reason I should be upset about it. I mean, I have done all the things I need to do to get the plat except beat the bad ending bosses. I can grind to get the skill points with a lot of time. There’s no reason for me to be cranky about it or to think it means I’m lesser because I haven’t gotten it.

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Difficulty in FromSoft games

Two posts ago, I wrote about the Sekiro plat. It’s niggling at me because I have all the rest. And it bothers me that if I had planned it from the start, I could have it by doing the bad ending and grinding for XP to get the skills I needed. Here’s the thing about Sekiro. When you die, you do not have the chance to recover your lost stuff. You lose half your XP (which, by the way, I mistok as you losing it all. Meaning, if you get enough XP to gain a skill point, you ‘bank’ that skill point. You lose half your sen as well, but that never bothered me. Sen was eeasy to get, especially the further into the game you got. I was dripping with sen by the end of my NG+ run.

There’s something called Unseen Aid. If it kicks in, you don’t lose anything. You start with a 30% chance for it to tprock, and that goes down the more you die. Not because you die, necessarily, but because of the Dragon Rot. Once I realized that you could bank skill points, I felt better, but it was still annoying. When people talk about the plat, they mention two trophies that suck. One is the ‘do all the bosses on one save’ trophy (Man Without Equal) and one is the get all skills trophy. Because there is a skill that takes 9 points to get and by the end of the game, it takes forever to get one skill point, let alone nine.

I wanted to like Sekiro so much. I mean, I want to like every FromSoft game so much. But the fact that it was set in feudal Japan really piqued my interest. I was a bit worried about the system even before it came out, and it was with good reason.

One thing I love about the Dark Souls games and Elden Ring is that you can play them in a multiple variety of ways. You can be a caster or do melee. You can dual wield or go with a massive two–hander. You can use incantations/miracles or sorceries. You can tank everything or you can be a glass cannon. There are so many possibilities.

With Sekiro, there is only one way to play. You get one katana for the entire game and you can’t level up stats. I mean, you can, but not individually. You need four prayer beads in order to do an upgrade, and it spreads evenly among your stats. You can also boost yourself after you beat a strong foe (i.e., a proper boss), but it’s so limited.

When I played for the first time, I could not beat the mini-bosses. that mean I did not get prayer beads or gourd seeds, so I was severely under-leveled and had fewer health gourds than I needed.

When I made it to Madame Butterfly, I had one Gourd. One. Maybe two? At any rate, not enough. She kicked my ass so many times and in so many ways. I was contemplating giving up. I did not know she was optional at that time. I think I went away and game back and still could not beat her. I looked up cheese and used it to get her, and I feel just fine about it.

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Welcome to the (Boyfriend) Dungeon

One game I forgot I played in 2021 was Boyfriend Dungeon by Kitfox Games. It came out in late August and I played it in a couple of days. The dating sim was great and the fighting part was adequate. I never warmed up to the latter, but it was fine. I wrote a quick impression of it after I played an hour or so as well as a full review and critique after I finished the game. I gave it an award at the end of the year, and I considered it all said and done. I knew there was going to be DLC, and I was pretty sure a character I met in the original game was going to be in the DLC (and I was right).

I found out that it had come out with little fanfare on August 17, 2022–nearly a year after the original game had been released. To recap, thee was a controversy over the inital release because the marketing for the game (come to the ‘dunj’ and fight the mons with your weps, that you can also date!), which was perky and upbeat, did not gel with the very real and disturbing issue of (*spoiler*) stalking that is a mainstay of the game.

To be clear, the majority of the game is bright, colorful, sexy, and jovial in tone (though many of the characters are depressed and have issues). But there is one character who is a complete asshole–racist against weapons, obsessive, and just horrific in nature. I hated him. I wrote about how I refused to do any of his content. I still haven’t because I hate him so much. And he still showed up in the DLC and was the major asshole he had been in the main game.

It’s weird, though, because *MASSIVE SPOILER* he was the main antagonist of the vanilla game and, as I remember it, I defeated him (and the uber-weapon he created) at the end of it. So, having him in the DLC being his normal dickish self was weird. It made me wonder about the purported timeline of the game/DLC.

But, as I wrote before, I hate that the controversy pretty much tanked the game. I thought Kitfox Games dealt with it well, but there was no winning. People wanted the ability to block the stalking content, and there really is no way to do that as it’s integral to the story.

Being a minority sucks in part because you desperately crave representation. Then, when you get a little bit of it, you want more. For example. In the game, I chose they/them pronouns, but I would have preferred not to use any at all. In addition, I would have liked more body diversity as only one guy–Jonah, the Axe, was allowed to be chunky. The rest were all slim or just hard-bodied/fit.

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You don’t know what you know

I’ve been watching a Sekiro (FromSoft) playthrough and I am reminded of how people think their level of skill is normal. This is Nath from Playstation Access, and I was watching his plat run first, but then switched to when he was playing the first two hours (for the second time). In the plat run, he talks about finding the rhythm and he makes it look effortless as he whizzes through the game. He only needed two trophies with one of them being the ‘kill all bosses on one save’ one. Plus the all skills one. The former means you have to play it at least two times through (meaning NG+) and save-scum as there are four different endings and…well, ok. See, you need all four different endings as part of the plat. You need to do different things for the different endings, obviously.

One of the endings is the ‘bad’ ending and there are two unique bosses. I have not done this ending or fought these bosses.  This is called the Shura ending. The other three endings are variants of the good ending. This is not uncommon in FromSoft games, to have three or four different endings with one being the ‘bad’ ending, but this is the first time you have to fight different final bosses for the bad ending.

The first good ending is just go through the game and do the things and you can choose the vanilla good ending. For the second good ending, you have to fight my worst boss of the game and get an item from him, plus do the basic good ending last bit path. For the final good ending, you have to do all that plus a bunch more. If you are smart, you will set up everything for this ending, save, and scum the other endings. I  should have done (or at least tried. Save-scumming for Elden Ring didn’t work), but I didn’t even think about the plat at that point.

Oh, all of this is before fighting the BRUTAL final boss/es of the good ending. Who is the second or third hardest boss in the game. There is an optional boss who is just a pain in the behind. Here’s the thing. I took a peek at the trophy/achievement list and it’s brutal. You have to defeat all the bosses on the same save, which means at least two playthroughs on the same character. In my case, I would have to go to NG++ on my current save because I’m past the point of going to the bad ending in NG+. It’s really frustrating. If I could summon, I would be all over it. But because I cannot, it’s all on me. And I just cannot play the game enough to do what needs to be done.

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Just missing the mark

When I think about what games I like, it’s an interesting thought experiment. There are FromSoft games, which I adore. And yet, even within that group, there are the ones I really love (Dark Souls trilogy and Elden Ring) and those I love less (Bloodborne and Sekiro). But they are all on my top of my favorite games of all times. So much so that I have a FromSoft favorite games list and a non-FromSoft favorite games list.

Hm. I have not thought about how the bottom of the FromSoft list fares against the other list. I mean, Dark Souls III is the number one game over all and Elden Ring is number two. The top of the other list is Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall), Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus Games), and Cozy Grove (Spry Fox). I want to play Night in the Woods again, and I would not mind starting up a new boat in Spiritfarer.

Everything in me pushes Dark Souls and Dark Souls II (Scholar of the First Sin) at the top, too. So, it really is a split between those games and the two I like less–BB and Sekiro. Itt’s clear why. I could find ways to beat the other games–basically, bending them to my will. I could over-level by grinding, used all my favorite magicks (especially pyro and my beloved Hidden Body/Slumbering Dragoncrest Ring combo), use a ridiculous weapon like my also-beloved Lorian’s Greatsword, and summon if needed. Yes, you can summon in BB, but not in Sekiro. That’s just one of the reasons why the latter is the last on my list of favorite FromSoft games and why it’s the one plat (hundo chievo) I will not get–FromSoft plat, I mean.

Last night, I was watching Ian’s Dwarf Fortress stream and I mentioned Cult of the Lamb by Massive Monster. I was looknig forward to it so much. The trailer was wild and it looked like it should be up my alley. A roguelike that has life sim aspects, rooted in leading a cult? How could it be any more made for me?

It made me think of Hades which has both combat and life sim stuff. When I got my hands on it, I was so stoke to get stuck in. And..it was just off. There was very little explanation as to what you were supposed to do. I’m not one who needs a lengthy tutorial (I play From games, after all), but it was really confusing as to how to make your cult grow and, more importantly, how to stop your cult members from going apostate.

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More Elden Ring

As per an article written by Ian, Elden Ring is on sale for 30% off over at Steam. It’s the first time it’s been on sale, and it’s a great time to jump on in. Here is my post from yesterday.

Ian killed Radahn last night after two really close attempts (spread out among a half-dozen not-so-close tries). One time, he was one hit away from killing Radahn. His summons were doing work, and I literally shouted, “Don’t get greedy!” because he started galloping towards Radahn. And, just like it had to happen, Radahn killed him while basically having no health bar left. Ian said he wanted to get the last hit, which is understandable, but, no. You let your summons do the work. In this case, Blaidd. He is a beast, and he can heal himself. He’s literally and figuratively a beast.

Watching the fight with fresh eyes reminds me of how fucking incredible it is. As I said, he could one-shot me when I first met him, which was not fun at all. Any time I have to rely on my reflexes, it’s going to be a bad  time for me. I used a summon for the second time I did this. And the third, probably. I mean human summons–not just the NPC summons. Did I do it in the second playthrough? I can’t remember. I know I’ve done it at least one other time and it was on NG+ because I just finished Ranni’s questline.

Watching Ian react with incedulity and glee during the fight sparked my joy. He said that he never got frustrated with this fight, which was so unlike me. I didn’t tell him how I won this fight because I did not want to spoil it for him. I did mention that I didn’t see Radahn die and that I actually read a book during the second phase, though. That was hilarious, by the way. When he made himself a meteor and bombed the earth. Ian got insta-killed the first time, but laughed about it beacuse ‘of course he could make himself a meteor’.

The magicks that Radahn does are Gravity Magic, which makes sense. He learned how to do them in a desperate attempt to become immortal–so he could stay with his horse, Leonard, forever. This is not a joke, by the way. He loved his teeny tiny horse so much, he allowed himself to die so he could be with Leonard for all eternity. Starscourge Radahn, to give him his full title.

Ian was going to end at midnight his time,  but he had a bad case of ‘just one more run’. He kept going and kept saying it was the last time. I knew he was going until he got Radahn down. He had the sickness, and he was not going to stop.

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