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.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! by David Galindo (chubigans) just got the last update (still in Early Access! I’m curious to see if there will be anything new added before it’s officially released), and it’s a corker. It’s a cooking competition called Iron Cook Speedway (how droll. It’s a common theme of the games), and it’s done in an arena? I think? But simulates the road? Or it’s really the road. Anyway, the cool thing is that Northerlion and his wife, Kate, are in the last update! They are the commentators of the cooking competition, and it was really cool to read that they were in it.
They play Chuck and Gretta, and it’s really delightful. Probably because I’ve watched NL on and off for years, and I love that his avatar looks so much like him with a goofy hat. Kate’s avatar is relly cute, too, and it incorporates that she normally colors her hair different colors (in the game it’s light blue). The repetition of their lines gets a bit samesy, but it’s a small niggle.
A bigger niggle, however, is that the difficulty is ramped up to a hundo in the final update. Look, I get it. It’s the culmination of the whole game, and the whole game is predicated on being difficult. Lots to do at a frantic pace, and you can’t really let up your concentration too much unless you’re doing old days again (as I’ve done for comfort).
One of the new things introduced in this sequel was the food truck attacks. I’ll be completely honest with you–I fucking hate them. As soon as I could buy the upgrades to stop the attacks, I turned them on and never looked back. I did try one day without them on after I finished the rest of the content, but I quickly turned them back on because it was harshing my mellow. I understand why they were included, and I think they were good in concept. I’m sure there are people who like them, and I did like working towards earning enough to get the upgrades one by one to block the attacks.
However. In practice, they drained much of my enjoyment because the way I play, I try to get into a groove with each day, and they didn’t allow me to do that. Yes, I know that’s the whole point, but it felt…like filler. I know it’s the second sequel and I know there’s pressure to keep it fresh.
Side note: I have always maintained that one of the reasons Dark Souls II (you didn’t really think I’d not mention Souls in this post, did you?) was reviled so much was because it was in a Catch-22 situation. Dark Souls was so original (if you hadn’t played Demon’s Souls), there was no way to make a sequel that could capture the same sense of discovery and surprise as the original, but if they deviated too far from the first game, well, then people would be pissed about that as well.
What I’m saying is that I don’t blame a developer for including something new. They have to do it, and one thing I loved about DS II was that it had fast travel from the start. It’s one reason I played it more than the original game. In Dark Souls III, they switched from having specific number of casts for magicks to having mana (Ashen Estus Flask). I was skeptical about it at first because it meant less of the regular Estus for me, but once I played enough, I was able to see the brilliance in it. There were 15 Estus Flasks total, and if you were a pure melee character, you could have 15 regular Estus*.
I fiddled with it throughout the game, and I discovered that the primo ratio for me was 2:1 regular estus to ashen estus. So, in the end, I had 10:5. I changed it up for the boss fights, but that served me well.
Back to CSD 3. Once I had the food truck attack gimmick under control, I enjoyed the game much more. And that’s exactly what it feels like to me–a gimmick. I mean, it makes sense in the game world, but it feels as if it was just tacked on. Or as if chubigans had the idea in his head first and was determined to shove it in no matter what.
Again, I get it. It’s new and fresh and different. It certainly makes a chaotic game even more chaotic. But I hated actually playing with it on. This brings me to the newest and last update. The food truck attacks can’t be blocked. It doesn’t matter how many upgrades you have–and I have them all–you have to deal with the food truck attacks during every. goddamn. day. Not just one, either. There are at least two (except for the days that had three stops) during each day and sometimes three. Maybe four? I don’t remember I haven’t done the endurance days yet (eight stops per day), but I would surmise there might be five or six.
I hate it. I really hate it.
Side note II: I have to comment about my way of playing these games. I only allow for gold days, which means no mistakes. Why? Because I know that I’ll want to do that in the end, anyway, so why not just do it the first time around? I have written more than once that I do not like that gold days are predicated on perfection. That is neither here nor there, however, as it’s been that way for all three games. I have managed to get all perfect days for the first two games, and I got all the achievements in the first game (before the massive update). I got almost all the achievements in the second game except for a few of the stress day ones. And, I’ve gotten all the achievements in the current game prior to this update.
As to the last point, though, I had many theoretical tears while trying to get the last few. These achievements were getting a gold on certain days with ridiculous requirements. There have been plenty others of these, but I was able to figure out how to get them done.
Here’s the thing. These achievements are not skills, really, they are about finding ways to cheese the achievement as best as possible. There are a few ways of doing this. One is having as few prep stations as possible. Seven is the lowest, and keeping a handle on that is the best way to deal with any day. The problem is that you get -1 on the required points list for every extra prep station. My personal M.O. is to only use auto-serve dishes (ones that don’t take more than one step) because then I can just push them out without thinking about it.
There are a few days where none of the dishes are auto-serve, and that’s frantic as fuck. I hate, hate, hate those days. I also hate random food days because I don’t get to choose. I will say that the random food days in this current update were easy-peasy because there were no points requirements, so I just used all 0-point dishes, which meant all were auto-serve. Did I feel guilty about it? Hell to the fuck no, but it underlines that it’s more about gaming the system than getting good at the game.
I’ve noticed before that the games I love are ones that tend to ramp up in difficulty the longer they’re around. I have a ceiling for my skills, and I can feel when I’m bumping up against the ceiling. I felt in the DLCs of DS II and the DLCs of DS III. I felt it hard in Sekiro. it’s the Keeper in Isaac (the MegaSatan fight), and it’s this update in CSD 3. Like I said, it started nudging me at the end of the last achievements, and now, it’s swirling around me completely. I’ve managed to finish half the stops (A-E, I think. Each letter represents an area, and there are different days within each letter), and I’m not looking forward to the other half.
This is for the hardcore fans, and while I understand why and appreciate it, it means that it pushes the game beyond me. Yes, I finished DS II, III, and Sekiro. I have not finished the Keeper (and this is beyond the True Platinum, which I have), and I’m not sure I’m going to finish this last part or the achievements related. Could I do it? Probably. Do I want to put in the incredible amount of work TOO do it? Not sure. We’ll have to see if I continue to play or not.
*Focus Points is the official name of the mana in the game, FP for short. In addition to being the marker of mana, it’s also what you need for your weapon arts.**
**Weapon arts is another new thing introduced in the third game, and it’s wonderful. Don’t want to talk about it in this post, however, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll just leave this here.
I beat those four goddamn days in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! The ones I was moaning about in last week’s post. Two of them turned out to be not so difficult once I fiddled and cheesed in a different way than I normally would. The last two, however, gave me much agita. I’ve talked before about how there’s a thin line between ‘hard, but fair’ and flat-out ridiculous. Because I’m a FromSoft fan (and we’ll get to them more later), I know all about difficult. That’s pretty much all many people want to talk about when discussing their games. To me, it’s the least-interesting aspect of the games. Yes, they’re difficult. And what? Funnily, I was watching Dan Tack from Game Informer talk about them, and he’s probably one of the biggest FromSoft fans in the business. He even thinks Dark Souls II is a brilliant game. He has stated more than once that he doesn’t enjoy talking about the difficulty of the games, and he leans firmly in the ‘hard, but fair’ camp. Anyway, they were talking about the difficulty (because you have to when it comes to FromSoft games), and Tack mentioned that he felt the last boss of Sekiro was ridiculous. Later, Andrew Reiner asked him if he thought it was too much. He hemmed and hawed, but in the end, he said it was.
That was the first time I’d ever heard him say anything in any FromSoft game was too much. I happened to agree with him, but that wouldn’t be the only boss in that game I thought was OTT. Interestingly enough, it was also his least-favorite FromSoft game while Bloodborne is his favorite. He said it was because you’re restricted in how you can play the game, which is true. There is no RPG element; you play as a set character; you have the same katana throughout the game. No new armor, either. You’re Sekiro, and you’ll like it. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like the game as much, either, but I feel Bloodborne is similar. Yes, there are different ways you can play, but it’s still more limited than in the Souls series.
I’m in a rut game-wise, and I’m not sure what to do about it. It’s partly because I’m still dealing with sinus/migraine issues, and it’s partly because…well, I’m not sure. Yes, I do know. I’m still burned out from the DS III not-plat run, so I haven’t played a DS game since. Well, I briefly played DS Remastered to make sure Steam wasn’t shitting the bed, and I’ve looked at SotFS on my desktop and installed it on my old laptop to gird my loins for, sigh, not-platting it, but other than that, nothing. I will, say, however, I bought Dark Souls III on steep sale (with the DLC) for the PS4 with the intention of making a character who can help Krupa on his plat run. I bought it during the first stream, in fact. However, I have yet to fire it up because I fucking hate playing on the PS4. I have to sit in a special seat, and my remote is busted so I have to use the TV buttons. In addition, I simply don’t like the DualShock 4 as much as I do my Xboner controller, and I constantly worry about it running out of power.
I may try to get to it today, but we’ll see. I would love to help Krupa, but there were tons of summon signs in the first stream. I actually am probably more useful in the chat, but it’s hard to tell him where to go and what to do. When he did the DS plat, he had already played the game several times at that point, and we joined him at the end of NG. This time, he started a new character and had not played since it came out. The last time he saw the game was when he guided Rory through it. So, he needed much more direction. We were trying to tell him how to get the Sage Ring because it’s shortens casting time, and if I were to give a full description, it would be something like, go to the bonfire by the big crab. Face the swamp and find the small underwater room to the left. Go in, be aware of the crazed guy with the cross on his back to the right. It’s in the far right-handed corner. That’s a lot to relay. I finally ended up telling him it’s by the big crab, which made him laugh. But other people were giving more specific directions without mentioning the general area, so I thought that might help. What it boils down to is that we shout directions at him, and then he Googles it. It works fairly well, and it’s going to be a fun time with so many Dark Souls III aficionados in the chat.
Oh! And, he chose to be a Pyromancer, so I can really be annoying this time! I was pyro all the time during the DS plat run, and I’m going to be even worse this time. He tried pyro on Iudex and didn’t get it off at first. I told him to walk backwards as he’s casting. More to the point, wait for the enemy to do his combo, then cast as you’re walking backwards (but you can’t be too far from him). It works a treat. Watching him, I had forgotten how slow the cast is at first, though, because I’m so used to it by now. Some people were telling him to up his dex in order to have a higher cast speed, but I was against it because I prefer to bump up the strength and just muscle through.
I’m still dealing with some sinus issues even as I’m getting better every day. One of the side effects of being sick is that I just can’t play anything too intense. I don’t even mean intense in the way of Dark Souls intense. I just mean anything that I have to engage a lot in, which actually doesn’t include Dark Souls. Which, by the way, I still haven’t played since the twin not-plat runs. I was worried this would happen, and it makes me sad because I could do with some comfort Soulsing night now. Instead, I’ve played Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!!, which sounds like a contradiction to the no-intensity thing, I know. But, however, there are ways to make the game more or less intense, and I’m doing it as easily as possible. There was a recent update with a new area, which was a little more stressful. However, once I finished that (one of the new achievements was really frustrating because I couldn’t figure out how to actually do it. Once I read about it in the forums, however, actually doing it was simple, and it was worth it. It was so funny), I went back to cruising through each day as easily as possible.
I’ve also gone back to my roots and playing Hidden Object games. It’s mindless especially when I play ones I’ve played a million times before, and it’s something about the repetitiveness that soothes me. I still find comfort in the games, but I can acknowledge that most of the games are just lazy reskins of previous games. Most companies just crank out a game per series a year with the smallest tweaks to the story. I’m all about fantasy settings and the paranormal, but if I have to play one more game where my husband/wife/daughter/son/other relative is snatched away by some shadowy figure that may or may not be aliens, and then you have to go to some mysterious world in order to save them, I may just scream.
In addition, they still do the thing where you can’t mess with any of your options before the opening cutscene, which means I will skip it rather than mute it every time. I play with the sound off for casual games because that’s just the way I do, and all the intro scenes are the same, anyway. I saw a remake/remaster of a HOG for the first time, and I laughed my ass off because it was so clearly a cash grab.
My gaming is at a stall. While I continually want to find the hot new thing (for me), I keep going back to games I already enjoyed. Ian asked me on Twitter (a thread thing) for my four favorite games. I was going to cheat and count each Dark Souls as a separate game, but I didn’t. I said Dark Souls (series), Night in the Woods, Cook, Serve, Delicious (series), and Torchlight for nostalgia reasons. I didn’t include Binding of Isaac: Rebirth because it’s not exactly a favorite, though I’ve played it more than all the Souls games put together. Probably all the FromSoft games. But it’s not a favorite in the sense of I really enjoy playing it. It’s a habit more than anything. I’m not saying it’s not a good game–it’s a very good game. It’s just not a favorite.
I’ve been playing Dark Souls II. I installed the original thinking it was SotFS, and then I decided to try the original because I haven’t played it. I also installed SotFS because SSD with 2 Terrabytes, bitches! I can install ALL. THE. GAMES. *evil laugh* Anyhow, I have seen a Let’s Play of the original game, and I knew that it was somewhat different, but not that much different. Oh wait. I started SotFS first as a Cleric. I forgot how much I hated not having a ranged option. Especially in this game where there are so many mobs. It’s one of my gripes that they come in groups, and being able to spell them from a distance makes a difference.
I fired up Dark Souls II, vanilla addition, and went back to my roots–I started as a Sorcerer. For whatever reason, you cannot start as a Pyromancer, which still makes me very bitter. In addition, it’s hard to get the Pyro shit, and it confirms my belief that casters get shit on in the games. Anyway, my sorcerer cruised through the first bit, and I did not die until after fighting the first boss, and it was a stupid death. Then again, my first death in SotFS was also dumb because it was in the tutorial at the point where they teach jumping, and it’s a tricky over a gap jump. I’ve died there several times, much to my annoyance.
One of the problems with playing the original DS II is that there aren’t many people playing. I did find one summons, but that’s not much. In SotFS, on the other hand, there are plenty of people playing. Both as a plus and a minus. I was in Heide’s Tower of Flame, and I was able to summon two people to run through it with me. Unfortunately, I got invaded, and he vanquished both my summons. So, I jumped into the ocean in order to avoid being killed.
One of my fondest gaming memories is 100%ing the original Cook, Serve, Delicious!* even though I don’t care about achievements at all. I’ve explained before that my OCD traits mean that I went for perfect days no matter what in the first game and gold medals in the second. It’s carried over into the third game, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, which is what this post is about. It’s the third in the series, all done by one guy, David Galindo, also known by his Twitter name, chubigans. The game is in Early Access, but it’s already polished and very playable.
I’ve been playing it for a week, and I just can’t put it down. In the beginning, I played one or two days at a time because that was all I could handle. As I got back in the groove of the frantic keyboard pounding, I found myself chanting the letters over and over. For example, cannoli. I use it a lot because it’s a 4-point dish (out of 5), and I did it plenty of times in the last game. In the holding sta–
Ok. Let me back up. The last game introduced the idea of Holding Stations at the top of the screen where you can prep dishes ahead of time so they’re ready to go when customers arrive. You make them in bulk, so it saves on having to make them individually. Some of them require additional steps when the customer comes. Take, for example, hamburgers (another 4-point dish). You cook the meat (M) ahead of time in the Holding Station, then when the customer comes, you have to doctor the burger to their taste. It’s not uncommon to hear me chant, “M, M, B, C, S, R,” and sometimes I’ll add a, “SEND” at the end of it. I don’t think I could play this game in front of other people because it would be really disturbing to them. Not disturbing as in horrifying, but as in literally disturbing.
When I first tried the Holding Stations in the last game, I was against it because it was just one more thing to have to deal with. Now, however, I don’t know how I ever lived without them. It’s a godsend to be able to fill five or six orders at once rather than each individually, and then just have to fill it out once when they’re all gone.
Feeling scattered, so I thought I’d do a stream-of-consciousness post about what’s on my mind re: video games. How is this different than any other post you ask? First of all, rude. Secondly, it’s different because I’m announcing it ahead of time. Third point, normally I write about one general topic with many little side paths. In this post, they are all side paths. With that warning, let’s jump right in.
I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Tuesday? Why? I have no idea. Therefore, today is Wednesday in my world. That may explain why I forgot that Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! was released in Early Access yesterday. Now, Steam is down, and I cannot cook, serve, and be delicious! By the way, I love the way the developer, David Galindo also known as chubigans because it’s his Twitter handle) numbered the sequels. The original is Cook, Serve, Delicious!. The first sequel is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!. And this one is Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!. It’s a little thing, but I think it’s fun. Well. The store page loaded and then the search page loaded. Then, the game page did not load. Apparently, Steam is down in the US and the UK.
Oh. Dark Souls thought. I’ve been ruminating about all the hate for casters I have several thoughts, but one that just suddenly occurred to me. Apparently, magic really was OP in Demon’s Souls–the one game I haven’t played. Not coincidentally, it has a mana bar, much like Dark Souls III does. That does make it easier to make casting overpowering because you can basically have as many spells as you want as long as you spec for it. In addition, in Demon’s Souls, the magicks don’t have level stats. Let me give you an example. In Dark Souls, White Dragon is a sorcery that needs 50 points of Intelligence to use. Pyromancy doesn’t require spell levels in the original game, but it takes 340,500 Souls to fully upgrade the Pyromancy Flame. That’s 55 levels. That’s a shit-ton of levels.
So my theory is that someone who played as a caster in the first game or saw someone play as a caster in the first game formed an opinion of casting that didn’t change throughout the games even though the mechanics of magicks have changed drastically from game to game. Also, I think it’s laziness in which someone just repeats what they see/hear in the videos/forums without really thinking about it. It doesn’t make it right, but it makes it more understandable.
Back to CSD3. Which I still can’t play because Steam is still down. The original was one of my favorite games of all times, It’s one of the few games I’ve 100%ed. Well, until they added new content. The same thing happened with Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. I got True Platinum God before they changed the requirements. Then I couldn’t be stuffed with either to do what needed to be done to achieve it again.
Steam is back up, and I am installing CSD3 as I type. I won’t be able to play it until later, but it’ll be a treat when I’m done with everything I need to do. I’m tempted to play it now, but I know once I start, I won’t be able to stop for hours. I have my Sabre Form lesson in an hour, and I am not going to want to stop by then.
In my search for the One True Game, I’ve accidentally stumbled upon a game that while I know it’s not the One True Game, it’s pretty damn addictive. It’s called Streets of Rogue, and it’s made by one man, Matt Dabrowski. I repeat, it’s made by one man. That’s pretty incredible given how polished and in-depth the game is. In some ways. I’ll get to that in one minute. I was intrigued by the description of it as Nuclear Throne/Enter the Gungeon meets Deus Ex because I adore the former (especially NT) and did not gel with the latter. It’s a top-down twin-stick rogue-like (or maybe an actual rogue! Who knows these days?) city sim and a half-dozen other genres. I’m saying this with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek because that’s the tone of the game in general. Very madcap and campy and a load of fun.
Let’s start at the beginning. You’re thrown into Home Base where you meet the Resistance Leader. He gives you a speech about the mayor and how terrible the latter is. The mayor’s so bad, he banned chicken nuggets after one negative incident with them, so chicken nuggets become the currency of the game. The graphics are pixelated and cute, which can be off-putting for some people, but I find it adorable. There is customization, but very rudimentary. A few different hairstyles and colors, but it makes a world of difference that I can make my cute little avatar a woman. And look vaguely Asian.
There are seven starting characters and nineteen characters you can unlock. That’s twenty-six characters in total. Each of them have special abilities and perks as well as negatives in some cases such as the Zombies and Shapeshifters. I will say that the tutorial is not great. You’re given the basics, but each character is not explained well. I’ve had to look at the wikis more often than I care to admit, which can be frustrating in the middle of a run. Oh! Each character has a Big Quest that you try to fulfill throughout the game. The Soldier, for example, has the Big Quest of disabling all the generators on each floor. Here’s the thing. In looking that up to make sure I got it right, I learned that by completing the Big Quest, you’re granted a Super Special Ability that you can use on a new run if you choose the Super Special Abilities mutator before the run. In this case, it’s free ammo reload at the Ammo Dispenser and the Loadout-O-Matic. I did not know this because the game does not tell you this.
It seems as if I’m beating the tutorial drum a lot lately, but it’s important. I understand that there are wikis and such, but one, they take time to be written, and they are not necessarily accurate. I also understand that for one dude, it’s easier to crowd-source to the community than to do it himself. I also blame FromSoft a bit for this or rather the rabid Souls fans because they have set the standard for a truly incisive community. Blame is not the right word, more like attribute it to. When I played Dark Souls III in real time (as opposed to several years later), it was really hard because the wikis were so sparse! Anyway, now that Streets of Rogue has been out for almost a month, the wikis are more fleshed out. I still can’t find all the answers to my questions, but 90% is better than 40%.