ADMAN’s Den: January – June 2023

It’s that time a again, a full dive into most of the things I’ve been playing and watching in the past six months. And as a reminder, I write this over a period of months (Although in this one’s case about a week or so) and as such the language may be a little disjointed in places.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

Portable Ops is one of the few Metal Gear games I’ve never played. It takes place post-MGS3 and has the player explore bases in South America.

Let’s get this out the way, I don’t like this game. The controls are terrible, and don’t hold up at all. CQC is broken at times and grabbing enemies just outright breaks at times. By default the game runs at 20FPS, but you can mod it to be 60FPS.

The stamina system really limits your ability to explore levels, and is only restored with rations. It’s designed this way because it wants you to switch characters and place them throughout the level, which you need to do to effectively recruit people. Unlike PeaceWalker and MGSV, if you want to recruit people you need to knock them out and then drag them to a truck near the start of the level. And if that sounds tedious, it is. But there is a way around it, place your teammates at various points on the map and then drag the enemies to them and then there’s a Codec number you can call that will auto-collect them. It still sucks though.

But the thing that really gets my goat, is how uninspired the boss fights are. They’re all bullet spongy shooting fests with no puzzle to it at all. And they’re ruthless at doing damage to you. To make matters worse, you get thrown into levels thinking they’re gonna be a sneaking mission, but then you get thrown into a boss fight completely unprepared and with the wrong equipment.

Story-wise, it’s semi-interesting, but it’s also lacking the depth that something like PeaceWalker would go on to improve on. The amount of voiced dialogue is fairly minimal, but that’s not surprising considering it’s a PSP game.

I’m still getting through it, more or less forcing myself through it, but I’ll and finish it soon. I’m also streaming it, so keep an eye on the my Twitch channel.

Like A Dragon: Ishin (Kiwami)

Ishin has finally released in English. People are finally going to understand why it’s so good. Or they would if it weren’t for the problems.

You play as Sakamoto Ryouma, who is a fairly famous historical figure in Japan who was assassinated. In real history, he helped end the Edo period and bring in the Meiji Restoration turning Japan into a modern empire. Well following the events in this game, after the events in the beginning, he assumes the identity of Saito Hajime (Who was a real Shinsengumi member) and joins the Shinsengumi in order to find the culprit to the murder of his mentor.

The new visuals are nice for the most part, generally sharper. A lot of the characters have been replaced with characters from Zero and 7, which actually ends up spoiling a lot of stuff in the long run, but fun to see them nonetheless.

Getting to do a lot of the side quests for the first time is great, there’s a lot of ones I missed my first time through because of the language barrier, plus a bunch of side activities like the second home things that I never touched in my original playthrough. Plus I get some additional context for the stuff I did previously see.

The card system from the underground dungeon segment from the original has been greatly expanded upon and is now available in all battles. Although I like the powers, the whole game has been rebalanced around them, and now battles feature significantly more powerful enemies and are tougher overall as a result. Combat in general is not as great as the original Ishin. It’s much slower and input lag is prevalent, the latter byproduct of using Unreal Engine no doubt.

Other things they’ve changed is how much money you get from various activities and the value of items that you pawn. They’ve definitely taken off a couple of digits from a lot of items, especially the platinum plates that you win from the gambling mini-games. It means there’s a lot more grinding for cash now. One exploit, which is now patched, was that chicken races could be started without actually spending your money. I used that to earn a considerable amount of cash, but a day or two later the patch came in. But I got the sword upgrades I needed, so no big deal I suppose. Leveling is also slower, but it’s not that big of a problem as you can get items to boost that.

One last point on the visuals, some cutscenes have changed due to a difference in particle effects. If I say “Bathhouse scene” you’ll know what I’m talking about, and that specific scene is drastically worse than the original.

As negative as I might seem, I still like this game. I’m glad it finally came out in English and I’m glad I got to see all the content I missed. But it is a lesser version than the original PS4 version, and if you speak Japanese I would recommend getting that version instead. You can watch my full playthrough here.

I Expect You To Die

Been a while since I had a VR game on one of these posts. “I Expect You To Die” is an Escape Room style game where you play as a spy trying to thwart an international conspiracy. It’s very slapstick though, which is appropriate for VR. The opening song is fantastic too.

The puzzles are very entertaining, with multiple ways of solving them, and even some different escape routes for some of them. A favourite level of mine was the one where you’re in an underwater escape pod as various things start to break and you have to react quickly to seal broken windows or stop fires. Plus there’s a draw filled with grenades.

The puzzles definitely get harder as the game goes on, although I would chalk up a lot of the difficulty to the hints being more subtle.

I had a great time with this, I might play the next two when I can afford them. Also, I did stream this and you can watch the playthrough here.

Valkyrie Drive -BHIKKHUNI-

I wouldn’t normally talk about games like this on the blog because I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of degenerate, but there’s also not that many games to talk about.

It’s about girls with a virus that causes them to turn into weapons, and the best way of suppressing it is for them to beat the shit out of each other. It’s from the same people as Senran Kagura.

PLOT and BACKSTORY are represented well, all the girls are well equipped in that regard. But the actual plot is boring, and that’s mostly due to the characters. They’re just boring. You’ve got two sisters who are closer than anyone should be comfortable with, a stupidly powerful girl that the game hypes up a lot, a moody girl that doesn’t like anyone, a tryhard, a rival to the powerful girl, and finally a girl who just eats a lot and is 6 feet tall.

There’s nothing really special about any of them and their personalities don’t really develop at all. I’m trying to follow the story, but I feel like skipping the cutscenes more often than not because they’re long and visually uninteresting.

Combat is decent, but I’d say about half of the characters are not fun to play. Rinka and Viola play fairly well, but Mana is fucking awful. She uses a bow and her melee attacks are pathetic, but her ranged attacks are slow and do little damage. She is dreadful to play and I loathe the levels that require her.

But the general combat revolves around air juggling for the most part. You charge your jump to dash forward and then use a launch move to get them in the air and then charge jump again to chase after them in a way that stuns them, or press launch again to close the gap with a different combo.

Customisation is a pretty big thing in these types of games of course, lots of outfits you can have the girls wear. But it seems fairly limited here, with a lot of items likely being behind bonus modes. And if you want to use a character’s outfit on someone else, you have to do a mini-game to boost your bond with them, and then you can use it. The process is a bit tedious.

I’m gonna try and finish it, but it’s something I play when I have free time in the morning.

Lost Planet

I’ve always had a weird interest in the original Lost Planet. There’s just something about fighting giant monsters to gather a key resource that you need to live is just kinda interesting to me. I don’t really care about the plot, it’s something about the main character wanting to kill the monsters because they killed his dad or something, plus a bunch of other colonisation/terraforming related shenanigans.

But who cares about that shit, shooting giant monsters with mechs is pretty fun. I like how the game just lets you jump in and out of them at will and you can swap out the weapons they’re using. The only downside is that they don’t really last all that long, and for a couple of boss fights they’re required, but it needs up being more difficult than other fights.

You get a grappling hook too, but it’s not like Just Cause. You can’t just grapple everything and go anywhere. The levels are quite linear, so the amount of places they’ll let you grapple to is pretty minimal, but you can use it on enemies and dropkick them on arrival. So that’s neat.

The biggest gripe with the game are the checkpoints, and no, the little stations you mash a button for are not checkpoints. Not always anyway. The actual checkpoints are fairly far apart from each other, often more than 5 minutes apart. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the game’s habit of randomly killing you.

But I’ll end on a nice note, the performance is fantastic. I hit the max FPS of 120 pretty much constantly. The benchmark mode with the unlocked FPS would hit near enough 300 FPS. Good stuff, but it’s also a game from 2006, so probably not unexpected.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

Well this was a disappointment. Well, it’s not completely terrible, but there’s a lot I don’t like. But let’s get the biggest complaint out the way; the game is boring. Just fucking dull. The majority of the game is so by-the-book Ubisoft open world design that it’s painful. The map is full of icons and there’s a crap load of pointless collectables. And none of that stuff is even remotely scary or unnerving.

The best way for me to describe the game is that it’s a lesser Far Cry 3 with Yokai and Ghosts. But the combat is worse, much worse, and very repetitive. The level of combat variety you can expect is 3 different elemental powers and a few different ways of shooting them out your hand. But all the enemies are damage sponges, so expect to be fighting them a Hell of a lot.

The boss fights are a joke, extremely easy fights that usually rely on the single mechanic to defeat them. While I was playing I had a “Is that it?” reaction to a couple of them.

As for the story, everyone but the player gets spirited away in some fog and the bad guy kidnaps the main character’s sister. And I kinda stopped caring beyond that. I’m not sure what about made me stop giving a shit, but I honestly couldn’t give less of a damn if I tried.

Last thing I’ll complain about, the performance isn’t great. My PC is getting on in years admittedly, but even on the lowest of settings with FSR enabled, keeping the game above 60FPS is near impossible. Indoor environments notwithstanding, being out the city leads to a lot stuttering in and out of combat and general playability is pretty bad. The FoV also requires a mod to be changed.

But let’s talk about some of the good stuff to end on. There are some interesting segments, but they are short and not super in-depth. Most of them take place inside building and such, with a lot of non-Euclidean geometry and creepy imagery oozing from the walls.

There’s a reoccurring environment of a labyrinth city, where streets and stuff go off in all directions and you have to navigate it using the limited and pretty poor platforming mechanics. But visually it’s quite interesting.

Photo mode can be fun at least.

The second memorable section, which if I remember correctly is completely optional, is a section inside of a high school. You’re basically helping out the ghosts of an occult club solve a mystery of why crazy things are happening around a school. The dark corridors, echoing sounds, and the lack of escape routes really makes the section way scarier than anything else in the game.

To top it off, there’s a anatomical model that follows you around during a part of the section and you have to keep looking at it to stop it from chasing you. Probably the most interesting mechanic the game offers.

The bad news is that the whole section lasts for about an hour and there’s nothing else like it for the rest of the game.

Overall, disappointing and under-delivers on the idea that it could have been. I kinda wish I had played it on Game Pass instead of buying it. You can watch my full playthrough here.

Hi-Fi Rush

From one Tango Gameworks game to another, except this one is actually good and not disappointing in the slightest.

It’s a rhythm-based action game where you fight robots and bosses in-time to the music. And the key thing here is, everything is synced up to the music. Attacks, jumps, everything. That sounds like a pain in the arse, but they’ve taken a different approach with it. Your attacks are timed with the music, regardless of whether you are. But you are graded on whether or not you can keep the timing yourself. The timing windows are pretty damn big however, and on top of that there are a bunch of accessibility options if you need them. Although I didn’t.

The combat works very well, there’s a good amount of combos plus you can call in a teammate for some additional attacks. Plus you get a grappling hook, which is always nice as it lets you close the distance. The battle rankings are bit off at times, if you don’t rely on teammates to help perform special attacks or get really good at parrying, your rank will never really get above a B. It’s not a big deal however.

The boss fights are definitely a highlight, barring the first and last fights, they all focus on different mechanics or present themselves in a non-standard way. For one fight, you’re combating a giant animal mech, and then after damaging it enough, the pilot gets out and you can damage them normally, plus some additional bits like some laser dodging. Then another boss is just the two of you walking in a circle talking and a beat memorisation sequence pops up and you have to beat that correctly to continue the conversation.

I understood this reference.

If I was going to complain about the combat, I might give grief about some of the enemies. Especially the samurai type of enemies. Their attacks are instant and it’s hard to pay attention to when they’re going to attack while you’re surrounded by other enemies. Plus, their Sequence Attack is longest and most difficult of any enemy type in the game. That said, the bird type enemy is also a pain the backside because it relies heavily on getting your parries right.

For my last few points, the visuals and music. They’re both fantastic. Unfortunately due to the fact I was streaming the game, I had to play with Streamer Mode on, which removed all the licensed music. A shame, but the non-licensed music is still really damn good. The visuals are pretty much on-point. The characters are very expressive, and the cartoon look really pops on the screen with text-effects and various other VFX that does a substantial job selling the style.

Easily one of my favourite games of the year. You can watch my full playthrough here.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Imagine Nioh but in China. That’s the basic premise behind Wo Long, albeit with some streamlining.

Team Ninja of course doing some great work when it comes to the combat here. It’s snappy and mostly responsive. They’ve doubled-down on parrying, goes for a Sekiro-style reflect system. More or less every attack can be reflected away, staggering the enemy and buffing you, and once it reaches a certain point you can stagger them and deliver a critical hit.

It’s a good system for the most part, but the reflection timing is a bit whack, I often getting mistimed or it doesn’t work at all. On top of all that, each weapon has martial arts assigned to it, which is a special attack. The spirit animal system returns, but works very differently now. Some provide attacks and others produce an area of effect healing pool. An interesting change. The archery and magic mechanics are also present and work very similarly to Nioh.

The photo mode seems neat.

The loot, leveling, and other systems are much more streamlined compared to Nioh. I don’t mind it so much because there was a lot of shit to do Nioh, so trimming it back a bit so I can focus on the gameplay more than the menus is preferable to me. On that note, you no longer go back to a hub menu between missions now and just start the next mission immediately, but you can travel to and from side missions from the “bonfire” equivalents and it will remember your progress on the main mission when you come back. It’s a nice improvement, but it also means I need to remember to occasionally check for side missions.

Whereas the enemies in Nioh were based on Japanese mythology, Wo Long is of course based on Chinese mythology. Unfortunately, I’m nowhere as familiar with the monster types, but some of them are really grotesque. Stuff like multiple headed birds, mutated tigers, and so on.

My last point is on the morale system. Defeating enemies, finding flag points, and even doing parries on bosses special attacks all raise a morale meter. This meter determines how easy or difficult an enemy will be. What this means in real terms is, the more exploring you do of a level, the more damage you’ll do to the boss at the end of it. This can be a bit of a double-edged sword though, as it can make some bosses an absolute joke. You also have AI NPCs you can recruit to help in the levels which also greatly lessen the difficulty. However, I don’t mind this so much. It helps the pacing a lot.

My character.

I’m still quite early with the game, I’m struggling to find the time to sit down and play it. But considering I’m playing it through Game Pass, I really should get my time with it before it gets rotated out.

Planet Of Lana

Bit of a tailend entry here, I literally played it the week of me trying to finish and publish this post. It’s puzzle platformer much in the style of LIMBO and Inside. The player character’s village gets abducted by what seems to be alien robots, and the player’s goal is to get his village back. Along the way you meet a four-legged black blob with weird powers.

I didn’t take too many screenshots, but I can assure you it’s a very pretty game. It’s a mix of drawn art and 3D models, blended together really well. A lot of colour too, with a good consideration towards of the colour pallette. The animations of the enemy robots are also very well done. The sound design is quite strong too, with some excellent atmospheric sounds.

It’s a fairly short game, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of buying it. I got it off Game Pass alongside other stuff, so I’m less bothered. You can see my full playthrough here.

Other Stuff I Played:


Jet Set Radio with guns and also an arena shooter. The gameplay is pretty solid, pulling off tricks is fun and it flows well once you get the hang of it. But it might be a little fiddly at first. And the art style is great too.

GrimGrimoire: OnceMore

A remake of an early Vanillaware game. If you’re familiar with them, you should already know that you’re going to greeted by a very rich art style. That said, the gameplay was not what I was expecting. At its core, it’s a tower defence game with resource and unit management, but you play against AI that is also managing its own towers and resources. So it’s basically a MOBA without the hero characters. I’ll keep chipping at it, but I would have preferred this game on PC rather than PS4.

Henry Stickmin Collection

I saw gameplay of this game a while back when a bunch of VTubers were playing it and got curious. It harkens back to an era of Flash games that I haven’t thought about in years. It’s got some pretty good comedy, and a lot of memes from the 2000s up to more recent years. A lot of the fail states are hilarious, and some of the options that you think would be illogical end up being the right choice for the puzzle. It does have some severe technical problems though, it crashed an alarming amount of times for me, which is a shame. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it.

Midnight Fight Express

Moderately enjoyable brawler. Takes a lot from the Batman games in terms of combat, and a tiny bit of Yakuza. Lots of parrying, picking up and using weapons, etc. Standard stuff. I did change the control scheme because what it’s set to by default isn’t great. I did find the combat to be repetitive after a while. There’s a good amount of character customisation, but requires the player to complete challenges to get the best stuff, but you have to replay the levels to get information on what those challenges are.

The game generates .gifs for some of your more “Interesting moments” while playing, but it my experience, it mostly just records fuck ups or nothing particularly special.


I’m having a hard time calling this a “Boomer Shooter”. It doesn’t feel retro. Some weapons have Aim Down Sight mechanics, there’s mid-level checkpoints, plus a generally modern feel. It’s pixelated look is the only old looking thing about it. The gore is pretty good, you basically paint the walls red, which helps with navigation a lot. I say that because the levels are very similar looking and there’s a lack of colour contrast or even colour variation in general. My last point is on the weapons, they sound good, but I think their very plain. Not much creativity so far. You get a pistol, a couple of shotguns, a rocket launcher, and some kind of rail gun. They’re not bad, but it’s pretty standard. DOOM Eternal managed to provide some alternative versions of its arsenal, especially its Super-Shotgun having a grappling hook. There’s nothing like that here so far.

Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer

This is related to another game called Hypnospace Outlaw, which I haven’t played. This is another old-school styled shooter, similar to Duke3D. I’ll be honest, it’s trying to look like shit and it succeeds. But it is also just kind of shit. It’s a boring game. The weapons are creative at least. You get a shotgun that fires glass shards and a crossbow that throws cans of explosive sludge. I’m not gonna keep playing this.

Touhou Luna Nights

Another late entry on to this blog post. I should start by saying that I know nothing about the Touhou games and characters. My friend knows a bit about the series, so I generally chat to him about characters in this. Anyway, you play as a maid named Sakuya who has time stopping powers and it’s a Metroidvania type of game. The platforming isn’t easy, there’s a lot of stuff that can damage you and there are even flying enemies that refuse to die that can interfere with your platforming. Enemy variety is pretty good though. You don’t get any new main weapons, but you get a few abilities that use up MP. And finally the boss fights are very damn difficult, but my understanding is that’s pretty standard for a Touhou game.


I played this for research for one of my projects, but it has been on my backlog for quite a period of time. It’s similar to Trackmania where you’re a car on a track with checkpoints, but then it adds weird horror elements and a story into the mix. Well that, and a bunch of track hazards and a focus on doing acrobatics in a car. I had fun with it though, and got a good amount of ideas for the game I’m working on.

Anime Corner:

Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!

Quite a while ago now, the manga for this was reasonably popular. Then several hiatuses and the ending happened, and everyone more or less forgot about it; barring a handful of nutters demanding an anime for it. Well someone must have listened to them, because here we are. And you know what? It’s actually a pretty good adaptation. The animation has some dodgy bits here and there, but the characters are still fun and the voice acting is well done. Rie Takahashi does a good job as Tomo.

This is also a rare adaptation where it tells the whole story, and even improves the ending. In the manga it’s a very sudden single page affair, but here it pads it out a bit and improves both the context and the timing. Honestly, if you never read the manga for it originally, give it a shot. Hell, watch it even if you did, it’s a pretty good time. Misuzu is still great.

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a

Now this is a weird one. Automata was already a strange game with odd side stories and anecdotes. The anime doubles-down on that and adds even more, including adapting the manga chapters that are a prequel for A2 and explain her backstory. 2B looks excellent in 2D and it’s telling the story in a very interesting way. Unfortunately, only 7 episodes have aired and is currently on hiatus.

Kaminaki Sekai no Kamisama Katsudou

I don’t like Isekai… But, this show, really fucking interesting. Main character is the son of a cult leader and is sacrificed to the cult’s god. While he’s in a process of drowning, he asks to be reincarnated into a world where gods don’t exist. And so he does. The show has an interesting world, and some of the worst 3DCGI I’ve seen. But you know what? I don’t care. The show is absolutely hilarious, and it seems like the animators know it. They’ve got no budget and they don’t care. They’ll tell entire scenes in pixel art and still frames and it’ll get the point across just fine. I’d recommend giving it a look if you’re a fan of “So bad, it’s good” anime.

Other Things?


Jesus Christ, this movie is unnerving. It’s an extremely pessimistic view on Britain’s precautions and reaction to nuclear war, and shows the consequences thereof. Even for a movie from the 80s, the practical effects hold up quite well. My understanding is that Sheffield council gave them free-range to go to town on a street they were looking to demolish anyway. And they did. There’s images of destroyed houses, the whole street on fire, and so on. The make-up for people suffering from burns and radiation is also very well made. And that’s just from the nuke going off.

The rest of the film covers having to live life in a country basically sent back to the Victorian times, with little to no electricity, limited food, no fuel for cars or other machines, etc. That aspect, watching the world go to pot, makes me really uncomfortable. I ended up looking up an episode of a show called QED called “A Guide To Armageddon”, which is predecessor to this film and goes over the government’s nuclear war strategy and describes in detail why it’s in adequate. And now I want to see an even older film called “The War Game”, which is very similar to Threads, but was never aired on television back when it was originally made.

I cannot stop thinking about the things I saw in this film. Very few films have ever unsettled me like this.

Right, that’s it from me until December/January. GOTY is gonna be interesting this year, that’s for sure. And normal blog posts will resume soon.