The Den: July – December 2021

It’s that time again. Another year is over and now I shall arbitrarily rank what I think are the most above-average games of the year. But before that, let’s talk about what I’ve been playing since the last Den post.

Also, please remember that I work on this blog post over a period of several months, so if the writing seems a little disjointed or inconsistent between games, that’s probably why.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Despite the name, this is not a remake. Well it kind of is, but it’s also Nomura having a wank, slapping it on a game disc, and then Square Enix charging money for it.

It elaborates and spreads out more of the early part FFVII, building on more of the characterisation and adding various side quests to fill in the world details. Jessie gets quite a lot more attention which considering she’s a footnote-at-best in the original game, I’d say it’s a welcome change. Not sure what they did, but they really went overboard in trying to make Aerith extremely likeable. Which is probably so they can twist the knife they put in back when the original launched.

There’s a lot of weird changes story-wise, instead of doing side quests for the clothing store when trying to go to the Don’s house, you instead get a tournament arc. Hell House is the worst fucking fight in the game by the way. It’s a bit of a mixed bag in that regard, but it does take you to some new areas I suppose.

As previously mentioned, there’s a number of side quests you can do. Most of them aren’t really all that interesting, and frankly tends to slow the game down in places.

And now to my biggest problem in the game; the ATB system and the combat. Having to wait for an arbitrary bar to fill up so I can fucking heal is incredibly stupid, and then they double-down on the stupidity to make it so it fills up faster by attacking. Getting stun-locked is as common as breathing, and magic area-of-effect attacks have a much larger radius than your dodge, plus they track anyway, so dodging them doesn’t actually do anything. In short; I hate the combat of this game.

That last paragraph is really my defining feeling of this game; it plays terribly, and I hated playing it. Playing original FFVII was somehow less tedious than this game, and original FFVII is filled to the brim with unskippable multiple minute animations and constant random encounters.

I’m glad I got this on PS+, because I would not want to fork over money specifically to own it.

Resident Evil 6

I thought this would be a fun co-op game to play with my friend. But it really isn’t.

When we started it, we had to use the Steam Play Together feature with split-screen. However, the split-screen mode is pretty horrendous. Two tiny 16:9 windows, at awkward positions, that make it impossible to see much. Plus, I was forced to play with a gamepad so my friend could use the keyboard, which is a less than great expenice for a 3rd person shooter like this. And then to top it off, all of the resources in the split-screen mode are shared. Once I bought the game for my friend and we played online, we noticed that there were instanced pickups for ammo and such, making both our lives a bit better.

Only a bit though. Quite frankly I hate playing this damn game. Tons of QTEs, a lot of action oriented combat, but then a health system that’s very unforgiving and clunky to use. I can see why people dislike this game tremendously.

Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – Finishing The Game

The expansion pass went on sale for once, so I bought it and finally had an excuse to finish BOTW. I’ll basically right at end of the main story anyway. Before I did that though, I goofed about a bit to see if there was any interesting side content worth looking into.

There wasn’t.

So I moved on to the final boss, which was a pain because Zelda’s combat hasn’t improved at all in 20-odd years. But once it was over, that was it. No fanfare, and absolutely no reward. All that changes is that your last save gets a star on it and the game then tells you how much of the game is left to get 100% completion.

That’s basically my problem with BOTW. It’s not rewarding. The combat being trash, the crappy stamina system, and the boring world are not worth the time investment because ultimately the game makes absolutely no effort to give you any kind of worthwhile pay-off.

And I when I eventually got to the DLC, it involved a weapon that One-Hit-KO’s enemies but makes Link die in the one hit as well, but the combat is so bad that doing anything related to it seemed like a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Plus whatever rewards there would be serve no real purpose because I’m already done with the game.

Resident Evil 7

When your series becomes so shit that you need a hard-turn in gameplay direction to get people interested again, that can come with some very interesting problems. But, it’s also a blank slate to an extent.

RE7 is a good game that has some rough edges due to the nature of being different. Being an FPS with no jump button is definitely a sign of a lack of experience with the genre. That said, it’s probably for the best it isn’t there. However the control scheme in general is a bit awkward. Not a major issue though as the controls are completely remappable.

That’s pretty much where the complaints end.

This game is fucking terrifying. The visual degradation of the Baker house over the course of the game is an increasingly oppressive reminder of how bad things are getting. Jack hunting you down at every opportunity put me on edge for the first few hours of the game. You can see a lot of the same ideas reused in RE2 Remake and Village.

The gunplay could be better, but it’s not an action game, so it can be forgiven. But for what it is, I’d say the weapons have good impact most of the time. The shotgun is an especially close friend late into the game.

The less combat focused parts like the birthday cake puzzle make for a nice change of pace, and add much needed variety.

Overall, I liked this a fair amount. However, I think Village improves on the ideas.

Ys IX

After the shitshow that Ys VIII was in more ways than one, I didn’t have super high expectations for this. At least until the demo came out and we could also see that it wasn’t a trash fire like the last game, especially on PC.

Ys IX gets back to the normal system of having a town with money, instead of the material grind that VIII was. Actually, it goes further than that and lets you just out-right buy materials with both cash and gem stones that you get in the tower defence sections of the game. Seeing as that was my biggest complaint about VIII gameplay wise, I’m glad to see it removed.

The story is OK. I don’t really remember much of it as I’m writing this after a considerable amount of time has passed since I finished. It does do some interesting things with perspective as you play as different Adols in various places, and quests often see you enact things with one character and then you see the consequences with the other. The party characters aren’t terribly interesting, but when you have 8 of them, it’s probably difficult to properly flesh them out.

One benefit of having all those party members though is that you get a variety of different powers. One of the first characters you meet lets you climb building and walls, another one later lets you see through walls and highlight secrets. Once you add all the individual powers together, it adds to the verticality and exploration that was very limited in the previous games I played. It’s a welcome and comprehensive playset.

Just on the last point, the PC version is perfectly fine. Ran it at more than 100FPS in most places at the highest settings. Translation was dodgy in places, but that’s NISA for you. At any rate, it doesn’t require them taking another year to “Fix” the game. Although depending on your view of a game being functional, Ys VIII’s PC port took a lot more than a year for that. Thankfully, this isn’t that.

Ghost Of Tsushima – Iki Island Expansion

Ghost Of Tsushima was a pretty good video game, and then they decided to put an expansion out. It takes place on the island of Iki, which is a tad south of the main Tsushima island. The story revolves around a Mongol leader named “Eagle” who’s planning to invade the main island, using hallucinogenic drugs that cause paranoia among other things.

The story itself is fairly average, spends a lot of time doubling down on the main character’s father being more of a warlord than a samurai of honour. The side quests aren’t terribly interesting either. It doesn’t help that a lot of the storytelling around these events is told via the hallucinations the player will have to suffer through soon after arriving on the island. This is probably the worst aspect of the DLC as when suffering from these episodes, your resolve empties completely and leaves you every vulnerable. It’s especially bad during the last boss fight, which I am spoilering below.

The final boss fight for Eagle is ridiculous. The character is supposed to be this old woman, but for some reason she’s able to perform acrobatic moves with her spear, and you have to get really good at perfect counters to be all that effective at attacking her. Furthermore, at multiple times in the fight, the hallucinogenic episodes start kicking in and you’re unable to heal for large sections of the fight. It’s very annoying.

Exploration is still a highlight, still plenty of goodies to find and Easter Eggs. There’s new mini-games involving playing the flute for various animals, archery shooting, among other things. Something they added that relates to the multiplayer are statues relating to warriors from that mode. However, the puzzles relating to them give a reward of armour based on various PlayStation games like God Of War, Shadow Of The Colossus, and Bloodborne.

It’s a pretty good expansion for the price, and worth the playthrough.

No More Heroes 3

Where do I start with this game?

It’s a disappoint. No two ways about it. The boss fights themselves are pretty cool, but they’re extremely short. The regular fights get extremely tedious fairly quickly due to the repetitive combat and all the enemies being massive damage sponges.

The story is complete nonsensical bullshit, for better or worse. I didn’t find it particularly entertaining as a whole, despite one or two specific parts that were somewhat stand out. The main villain comes off as of stereotypical (minus the part where he’s an alien) douchebag. He become quite grating after a while.

And when I say a while, I mean a while. You’ll be doing a lot of grinding for money and WESN. There’s also a good amount of collectibles, including t-shirts. Besides the t-shirts though, the collectibles aren’t all that rewarding, giving out a fairly minimal amount of money and WESN. The job mini-games are mostly cheap indie-mobile tier in terms of quality. None of them are fun.

Exploring the cities isn’t worthwhile either, no real rewards. Half the maps are vast nothingness anyway. Especially Neo Brazil. There’s absolutely NOTHING worth a damn there. Just a building and some trees.

The whole game feels unfinished, like they cut a lot of it. It’s a massive bummer for me. But somehow not the most disappointing game.

Townscaper

I’ve talked about Townscaper on the blog before, but I’d like to reiterate that it’s a really fun little toolset.

Making towns, figuring out the tricks to do specific things like lighthouses or clothes lines between buildings. It’s a relaxing, cathartic experience. I do wish there was a bit more building variety though, or maybe biomes/weather.

Something I mentioned before, you can export these towns and use them in other things. Small problem though:

The textures are buggered.

There’s a somewhat complicated way to fix the texture problems when importing them into Unity, but I don’t really care all that much. I’d put this in the same pool as software like PicoCAD, although this is more fun with poke around with.

Resident Evil Village

This game is the reason I played RE7 to begin with. I wanted some context for the characters. Frankly, I think this game makes some significant improvements in terms of exploration, weapon variety, and enemy assortment.

The weapons in particular are much improved from the first game. Although the enemies are still bullet sponges for the most part. There’s a much better progression for weapons, such as starting with a fairly standard pistol, moving up to a M1911, and then eventually getting access to a burst fire pistol; which each one providing a bigger and bigger increase in power. RE7’s weapons are good, but you never feel like you’re getting significantly better guns over the course of the game, more like you were just getting a different version of the same gun.

For as much hype as Lady D got before the release of the game, her castle is actually only one of many sections in it. That said, her section is likely the most impactful for setting up the world and atmosphere, as well as putting the most amount of stress on the player. Her and her daughters frequently stalk you, and try and funnel you into certain areas, often the boss rooms. It’s quite effective at keeping you on edge. But there’s also the humour of seeing a giant woman crawl her way through a normal sized door.

The other bosses have their quirks, ending with Heisenberg who’s probably the highlight of the whole game. But I’ll let you find out for yourself.

Exploration is greatly improved. The map is improved further and details additional high value treasure. The likes of which usually involve parts of combinable valuables that you can sell for quite a lot of money. But there are weapons and weapon parts as well, which are very welcome.

Last thing they improved is the FPS controls and feel. It definitely feels less sluggish now and the shooting feels more precise. It’s not completely perfect, but it’s an improvement.

There’s more I can talk about between the puzzles and surprise enemy encounters, but frankly, you should just play the game.

Psychonauts 1 & 2

I started Psychonauts years ago, probably just a bit before the sequel was announced. Didn’t play a ton of it, just the first couple of worlds. Now the sequel is out, I decided to come back to it and finish it.

The dark humour still holds up in my opinion. Poking fun in a grim way at mental issues, and making collectables around various psychological terms, such as figments of imagination, emotion baggage, etc.

The platforming is rough. If you’re familiar of the more magnetic pull of platforming like Ratchet & Clank or InFAMOUS, it will be difficult to go back to this game. That said, it’s not too bad for 90% of the game. The real problems start during the last area of the game, the Meat Circus; where there’s a large amount of platforming, especially rail grinding. The latter being absolutely fucking broken. I fell to my death from those rails at least 20 times in a row before somehow barely clearing that section.

The ending is a massive cliffhanger, which probably explains why people wanted a sequel so badly. However, if you actually want a continuation to the ending, you have to play the VR game, which in turn has a cliffhanger. Which now brings me on to Psychonauts 2.

The sequel improves my biggest problem with the first game, the platforming. Not only is there a bit more stickiness to platforms, there’s a much better feel for the weight and movement overall. It makes dashing and jumping around levels of magnitude more enjoyable.

I’d say the game is easier than the original. Although I did turn off fall damage because I think it’s daft to have that in a platformer. But even with the extra enemy variety, they’re just not that aggressive. But I also don’t think any of that is a negative, most of the fun in the game comes from the platforming and puzzles.

The dialogue is enjoyable. Usually the characters provide decent context or backstory to things, some of which acts as foreshadowing to the main plot. It doesn’t do the thing where characters are constantly talking at you with remedial, unimportant bullshit. Although if you want to listen to bullshit, you can always instigate it yourself.

That said, there are a few annoying things with the dialogue. Mostly relating to puzzles and repeating lines; in some cases, both. Raz will sometimes chime in that basically reveals the solution to a puzzle, often when you’re not actually doing the puzzle and instead going around getting collectables.

By the way, there are a lot of collectables. And I got all of them. The figments, baggage, and cards are back; but now with items from side quests, “half-a-minds”, and trophies that increase your PSI level. Because every game needs a levelling system now.

At the start of the game it tries to make fun of itself, with characters taking the piss out of Raz for doing that pedestal animation he does when he gets a new power. But that animation is still in the game as is later on. So making fun of it doesn’t make too much sense if they’re just gonna go back to it later on anyway. At least make a new one or something.

Last point, the worlds you explore in people’s minds are just as, if not more creative than the first game. Which world has its own quirks and themes, sometimes even mechanics and perspectives. My favourite world was probably the library one from later in the game. That said, the early parts of the game have relatively small scale minds to navigate, with just the right amount of collectables. Then around the midpoint, the levels scale up dramatically and they become multi-tiered ordeals, with a boat load of collectables to-boot.

Not complaining mind, those bigger worlds came with a lot more ideas and mechanics than the ones before.

Great games, both of them. Rough edges from the first one aside.

Post Void

THIS FUCKING GAME MAKES MY EYEBALLS BLEED.

Seriously, turn off the visual distortion stuff, it’s a real eye sore. Otherwise, the game is really cool. Fast paced and fucked up.

Lost Judgment

The original Judgment (Or Judge Eyes, if you prefer) was an interesting take on the Yakuza (Ryu Ga Gotoku) style of game, and added its own ideas based on detective work such as trailing and investigation sequences. But it was flawed in the gameplay department, mostly overly relying on those previously mentioned gameplay sequences.

Lost Judgment improves that, and adds a Hell of lot more variety. Stealth sections, chases, skateboarding, dog searching, and more. And that’s just the main story. The side stories go even crazier with VF5 tournaments, motorcycle racing, boxing, skateboard races & stunt exhibitions, and more.

This variety comes at cost though. A lot of those side activities have side stories associated with them, and those are part of a larger side plot relating to the school. And this is on top of all the side quests in the game already. Now if you’re like me and do all the side stories before doing the main quest, you’re gonna find yourself making very tediously slow progression in the game.

Just to give you at idea, I started Chapter 4 of the game after playing it for 27 hours, which is already alarming; by the time I got to Chapter 5, that had shot up to 50-something hours. Chapter 4 basically contains most of the side story content. This wouldn’t necessarily be bad thing, but in this case, it slows down the main story pace to a crawl, and it hurts the story a lot. By the time I got back to main plot, I could barely remember what has happening.

Thankfully the characters are still pretty good, and they even add a bit more fan service around certain characters and the related gameplay (Like Saori-san).

The main villain (Or villains) aren’t terribly interesting. The whole plot of the game revolves around bullying and eventually blackmail, but the motivations behind those are pretty weak and very politically charged, and I mean that in the sense that it’s only being used to gain or maintain power and control. It dresses it up as some kind of moral argument, but it eventually falls apart. I also find it hard to give a damn about high schoolers.

I mentioned skateboarding. In the first game it was limited to a small 10-20 second sequence during a chase sequence following a quicktime event. Well this time, they actually let you use one to travel around. The bad news is that you can only use it on roads and specific areas. It’s certainly faster than running, but controlling it is far from perfect and getting thrown off of it whenever you bump into something or something, or riding a little too close to the pavement definitely gets annoying and I kinda wished it wasn’t so rigid.

The last thing I do need to talk about is the DLC. They put a whole fighting style behind a DLC paywall, despite that fighting style being in the game as part of a side activity. That’s very egregious. There’s still more DLC to come, so we’ll see if it’s worth the asking price.

Overall, I still liked the game, but I think it’s missing some charm the original had. Or maybe I’m just burnt out a bit from previous Yakuza entries.

Scarlet Nexus

My initial reception to Scarlet Nexus was originally very negative. I played the demo for it on PS4 and really didn’t like it. Mostly because of the camera, but also found the combat to not make much sense.

Fast forward to much later in the year, after the anime for it starting airing and I got interested in it because the story was going off the rails, I decided to buy it while it was at a steep discount. And I can happily report that they fixed the camera. Not sure why the camera in the demo was swimmy and followed the player in a weird delayed fashion, but the full game just has a normal camera.

As for the combat, well it was confusing at first still, but after a while you start understanding the weaknesses of enemies and how to correctly combo the SAS skills to do some serious damage them, especially once you get into the second half of the game where you get access to all of them. You become a really effective monster killer.

However, there are some difficulty spikes along the way and it mostly relates to human-on-human fights. Early in the game, those encounters are extremely frustrating. The enemies just mince you within seconds unless you spam health packs and desperately try to disable the side targets before going for the main one. That said, a little later in the game I started doing more of the side quests (Which are pretty crap) to get items, weapons, and experience; and after that I saw the difficulty lessen considerably. So I’m starting to think I was just under-levelled for those encounters.

But again, those side quests are pretty awful. Mostly amounting to killing enemies in very specific ways, often requiring particular attacks to be the last hits on them. The worst ones ask for item drops from enemies, but those drops have randomised rarity and if it doesn’t match the quest requirements it doesn’t count. And I love nothing more than quests around RNG drops.

The graphics and art style are a standout with this game. It’s got to be the best looking “anime” game I’ve played so far. It nails the art style and expressions exceptionally well. The animations are fairly high quality too. But I have to give special attention to the game’s soundtrack, which is just bloody excellent. Distinct, vibrant, and pulsating. Big highlight of the game for me.

My last point, I mentioned the anime; they hid secret messages inside the anime and then you go to a certain character in the game and give them those messages, and receive special items. I think that’s a pretty unique integration I’ve seen between a game and its TV show/anime/film/etc. I hope more games learn from this.

Definitely one of my favourites of the year, and certainly the one that won me over the most from my initial opinion. Arashi best girl.

Metroid Dread

I did not like this game.

This is my first Metroid game, and I absolutely hate it.

The EMMI areas suck. The EMMI suck. The QTE with the EMMI suck. The teleport system does not let you go wherever you want, which is annoying and limits your exploration options, especially after the game blocks you from backtracking.

Speaking of backtracking, you have to do a Hell of a lot of it and it’s extremely tedious.

The boss fights cause a massive difficult spike and most of them involve hitting your head against a wall trying to figure out their attack patterns, leading to a lot of trial & error. And a handful of them are just damage sponges that you have to pray you can kill them before they skin you.

And finally the controls are awful. Very sensitive too. Samus just hauls ass, and precision platforming is really infuriating. But my biggest annoyance is that I can’t use the right stick to shoot. If I want to shoot precisely, I need to force Samus to stop and aim. LET ME AIM WITH THE RIGHT STICK. IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY OTHER USE.

I never finished this. Eventually I hit a boss that was just a massive headache and decided that it just wasn’t worth finishing.

A Little Golf Journey

Golf games a small, distant memory in my mind. Back in the day (Christ I’m old now, aren’t I?) there was an abundance of PC golf games ranging from the simulation to the whacky mini-golf stuff. A Little Golf Journey is a bit more of the latter. It keeps its core mechanics at its chest, and then has the player figure out creative pathways through the levels to get in the ball in the hole in as little shots as possible. And then on top of that, it mutates those mechanics with elements like wind and Moon gravity.

There’s a wide and varied selection of worlds with a good selection of levels within, and plenty of secret levels on top.

It tries to write a story, but honestly it falls flat. The real drive of the game here is the gameplay, which is weirdly addicting. I often found myself playing it instead of doing other things or playing other games. It’s probably the reason Scarlet Nexus took so long to finish.

Other than the story, my other gripe is probably some of the imprecision with the controls. It requires some tricky mouse movement at times, often in a way that makes me think that the creators are more familiar with Macs and their weird mice than an actual PC.

Anyway, it’s a really fun game and I almost 100%’d it, there’s just one level I can’t get in the minimal amount of shots. Maybe I’ll try it again soon.

Deathloop

I can’t tell whether Deathloop is over-rated or completely forgettable. Folks raved about it for like a week and then never mentioned it again. And several others played it a bit and then just dropped it for something else. I’d say I’m a bit more in the middle about it.

Time loop are not something that I play particularly often, that aren’t that many of them either. But I think Deathloop does it fairly well. Once you get good enough at the game, a full loop really doesn’t take that much time at all, and it’s not a especially punishing game either. You’ll always get another chance, every single day.

The gunplay is fairly solid, most of the guns feel pretty good to use. If you buy the deluxe edition you get a pretty nice suppressed pistol that honestly makes the earlier parts of the game much easier. That said, some of the late game weapons with the right perks can be tremendously more effective.

The early game though is more difficult than you’d probably expect or want. Not necessarily a trial by fire, but frustrating in parts. Which is made doubly surprising considering how heavily the game spends its first two hours tutorialising everything. Even small items in the hub menu between levels get highlighted and explained in excessive detail. I can’t remember if there’s any option to skip it, but it’s a bloody lot. There’s quite a lot of things to read generally as well, which I’m not a fan of. Hiding the story behind a mountain of readable collectibles just makes it seem like they didn’t think through how the story and gameplay should meld.

But back to the previous point; once you start building an arsenal of weapons and powers though, the difficulty lessens a bit. Various secrets and side quests generally provide some decent gear or at least stuff you can infuse for the game’s currency. As for powers, the most useful one I found was probably Nexus. A power that lets you link up enemies and kill all of them with one shot. You can clear out whole areas with it if get the right perks.

As for the problems, well Julianna sucks. Fighting her early on can be a real dice roll as to whether or not she three-shots you to death. But even later on in the game, I could feel my eyes roll when the game was telling me she was invading. Everytime it happens, I have to stop what I’m doing, wait for her to appear, mince her, and then go find the jammer to unlock the level exits again. It just becomes a bother at that point.

By the time I played it, a lot of the technical issues had been fixed. I did get a stutter when I started playing, but it was due to having to update my graphics drives, which reset the refresh rates of my monitors. Once I set them back, that stutter was gone and I could play the game and reasonable frame rates.

My last problem with the game is just the story, dialogue, and ending. I just couldn’t give a shit about any of it. Besides most of it being collectable pieces of paper, the dialogue between Colt and Julianna could be replaced with TV static, and it would give the same effect. I just didn’t give a damn about anything they had to say. And the ending is just a “Pick-a-thon” much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

There you have it. Deathloop is a fun game with story that isn’t important.

The Pathless

This game came out last year on EGS, but finally came to Steam this year. Wasn’t sure what to expect with it, but ended up getting a Shadow Of The Colossus with more puzzles. Well, maybe not quite as good as SOTC, but similar vein.

It’s hard to put into words just how good the game feel is in this game. The act of shooting targets in some kind of weird rhythm while gaining great leaps of speed just feels great. Getting upgrades to jumps, speed, and bow speed make it even better.

The art style is pretty good, going for the more flat shaded look with minimal textures. Once you progress and open up the world, it certainly holds up. I actually quite like the sense of progression in the game, you’re always getting higher and higher towards the top where the “Big Bad” is. But then you look over the horizon to where you’ve been and see the vast world below you.

Negative points? It’s a bit easy perhaps. It’s not really possible to die or fail and the puzzles are fairly mindless. I think I only got stuck once or twice because it was difficult to see or read something.

But yeah, do check this out.

Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars

This game was originally going to be in the section below, because I didn’t think I’d be able to play that much of it before the year was out, but I ended up enjoying so much I figured I’d give it a dedicated section.

EVERYTHING is a card. The background tiles, the characters, the items, the menus, the opening and ending credits; EVERYTHING. If that wasn’t enough you can customise aspects of the game like the art used for cards, the backside art, the avatar used when navigating the word, and even the table you play on.

Another thing you can change is the soundtrack. You can replace the game’s OST with versions of song from Nier’s OST. That said, as cool as it is the hear those songs, the original soundtrack is really damn good on its own as well.

The combat is turn-based, with a gem system that accumulates after each at the start of each player action. You can use those gems to perform spells and greater attacks. It makes it easier to deal with than a mana system like other RPGs. I don’t have to worry about carrying around curatives to restore MP. You can only have 4 skills equipped at a time, but it’s not too big of a problem to switch those out when needed, and generally most of the skills with do just fine until you get blitzed by the final boss.

The highlight though is the story. The characters and interactions are just entertaining in general. Various towns in the game have their own unique way of doing things or interactions. For example, there’s a town where monsters and humans live together, but everywhere else, the monsters are hated. There’s also some story events that are quite funny, like a man stranded on an island waiting for somebody else to come and replace him.

Did I mention Yoko Taro and various other Nier devs is involved with this game? Well now you know. Do check it out, I really had fun with it.

Quick Comments About Other Games:

Shin Megami Tensei V

I’m still in the first area with this. I’m just finding the game to be a slog even in the opening areas and the did not grab me. I’ll probably jump in and out of this game over the next year.

Forza Horizon 5

Seeing as it was on Game Pass, I decided to play through most of this. Honestly, it’s the same as Horizon 4. The problems I had then still exist here. But now that added even more annoying and terrible dialogue that you can’t skip, and spends the whole game talking to you like you’re a 5 year old with brain damage. And the car handling model is still awful.

Crackdown 3

As silly as playing as Terry Crews is, I found the gunplay to be less than satisfactory. Particularly if you play on PC because you cannot turn off lock-on aiming. Anyway, the game-loop of taking over various areas of the city and fighting gangs gets tedious a bit quicker than you’d want, and the dialogue is irritating as Hell and never stops. I’ll probably play a bit more of it in the new year to see if there’s anything decent, but I have a feeling I’m gonna want my SSD space back.

Evo One

This is the first game I used XCloud for, and the only game I’ve completed using a streaming service. It’s got a pretty great core mechanic, and the game feel is pretty good. Even when you lose speed and have to regain it, it’s still fun.

Sable

I think Sable has a cool art style. I don’t like the stop-motion animation of the characters, considering that everything else animates at a a normal speed. Exploration is supposed to be the goal of the game, but I went miles and miles without finding anything interesting at all. I think the game lack any significant drive to keep me engaged with it.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I finally finished this game. The soundtrack is great. I still don’t like the parry system and would have preferred an actual block button.

Takagi-san VR

If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be Nishikata, and get completely dunked on by a middle school girl, this is probably the thing you want. But I’ll be honest, the mini-games aren’t that interesting and finishing both games only takes a couple of hours at the absolute most.

Project Lux

This is a game the guys that made the Spice & Wolf VR did previously. Not really much of a game, you just watch and talk to some genius girl about artificial brains, feeling, and basic psychology. Again, quite short. Probably didn’t need to be VR either.

Halo Infinite

What I wanted from Halo wasn’t an open world. That said, I haven’t gotten to far into the game. Mostly because I have the need to do everything I can before continuing with the main plot. But my understanding is that you can’t replay missions or levels without restarting the whole game, so if you miss something it’s gone. On a brighter note, the grappling hook is fun.

My Top 10 Games Of The Year

Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of

Tales Of Arise & ENDER LILIES: Quietus of the Knights

Between playing Tales Of Arise and Scarlet Nexus, I picked the latter. I do want to play Arise, but I’m waiting for a steep enough discount. As for Ender Lilies, I had another game confused with it, and missed out on some sales of it. I’ll try it someday.

Best HD Remaster/Remake

Nier Replicant Ver. 1.22474487139…

I never played the original Nier, and now I got to, and the improvements are much appreciated, and the new content is interesting.

Worst Game Of The Year

Metroid Dread

I don’t like this game. End of.

Honourable Mentions

Forza Horizon 5

So all the issues I have with Forza, there’s still some fun to be had driving 90s rally cars across open country.

And without further ado, the Top 10.

10. Deathloop

9. Record of Lodoss War-Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth-

8. It Takes Two

7. Ys IX

6. Lost Judgment

5. A Little Golf Journey

4. Voice Of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars

3. Scarlet Nexus

2. Psychonauts 2

1. Resident Evil VIII: Village

RE: Village and Psychonauts 2 were really close together for the top spot, but Village edges out by a bit because I enjoyed the puzzles and combat more. Psychonauts 2 is still really good though.

And now for the other Top 10 list.

My Top 10 Anime Of The Year

  1. SSSS.Dynazenon
  2. Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san
  3. Gokushufudou
  4. Evangelion 3.0 + 1.0
  5. Taishou Otome Otogibanashi
  6. Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu.
  7. Vlad Love
  8. Uramichi Oniisan
  9. Bishounen Tanteidan
  10. Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2

Looking back, the best anime of this year was a show about Japanese race horses turned into anime girls and reliving their old races in what is probably the most notable sports anime made in the past decade. And it’s really damn good.

It is interesting to watch characters not just lose, but to get injured, try and recover, and go through the turmoil that brings. Plus, the slight competitiveness between Teio and McQueen, along with other characters, adds a lot to the story.

Special Mentions:

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou & Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu

Worst Anime I Watched:

Yasuke & Subarashiki Kono Sekai The Animation (TWEWY)

And that’s 2021 over and done with. I’ve got plans for 2022, and I’ll be making a new blog post about that soon enough.

ADMAN

The Den: January – June 2021

Welcome back to my thoughts on video games and anime throughout the first half of 2021. Keep in mind that I write this post over a period of months, so aspects of it might not meld all that well together.

Persona 5 Strikers

I fucking hate this game.

Persona 5 was a great game, although it’s not my favourite Persona game. But hanging out with all the side characters and finding things to do was a blast.

Well you can forget about any of the side characters because you’re stuck with the main cast for this one. And the side activities revolve around resource gathering, fetch quests, and mini-bosses.

[HEE HO IN UNISON]

The musou gameplay isn’t the worst, but the magic use being extremely limited by SP and then having the bigger enemies be very spongy leads to a lot of SP item usage during boss fights. And I do mean a lot. Just simply attacking the bosses will lead to miniscule chip-damage that makes you wonder what’s the point of buying better weapons.

Another annoying thing is that there are checkpoints throughout the dungeons that you can use to save and return to the “Real world”. However, time does not pass when returning back to reality, and there’s nothing to do in the real world hubs other than to buy supplies anyway. So you go back into the dungeon soon after leaving it, sometimes immediately. This process is also the only way you restore HP & SP without using items. Why they couldn’t just have the checkpoints restore them instead of leaving the dungeon is beyond me.

The story is completely forgettable, but it basically doubles-down on the concept of adults being assholes and wanting to control people. But now there’s AI voice assistants involved and the overhanging association of the tech company that created it. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and hated the main cast of Persona 5, you won’t find anything being done or said even remotely interesting.

Even the novelty of going to different cities across Japan wears out its welcome once you realise just how boxed in you are and the lack of anything interesting to do.

At least the music is still banging.

Dead Or Alive 6

In my ponderous research of learning how to make a fighting game, I decided to install a few example games to take inspiration from. Of these, Dead Or Alive 5 & 6 ended up making their way on my PC. DoA 5 had a lot of technical issues and saving my game simply could not be done due to the fact the developers hardcoding the save file directory to be “My Documents”, which due to the setup of my machine meant that I would get an error everytime it attempted to save.

So this section is on DoA 6 instead. I see why people are upset with this game. The utter avalanche of DLC is extremely off-putting and also makes the base game seem extremely barebones. Especially considering that characters that were featured in DoA 5 like Nyotengu, Momiji, and Rachael are now DLC unlocks instead of just being in the game. The single player story might as well not exist, but nobody ever came to this game for a thought provoking narrative anyway.

The fighting system is still fairly solid, however the new attack moves that fill up a bar that basically give you easy counters and supers seems a bit excessive. I’m not really a fan of super meters and DoA didn’t really need them. I suppose it helps very casual players (People who are somehow worse than me) pull off flashy moves, but does make fights a lot easier now.

The new character Nico is extremely fun to play as, and I also quite like playing as Tamaki. In terms of how it affected my learning of how fighting games work… Well that’s for another blog post.

Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

There really isn’t anything significantly new about Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. It’s mostly refinement with some additional modes and the inclusion of boss battles in the single-player that lets you build teams with special abilities and such. It’s still a good game, but not really worth writing reams and reams about.

Vr Stuff

Played a few things in VR over the month, mostly demos.

Spider-Man Far From Home

I was kinda worried when starting this one about how much motion sickness it would give me. Weirdly though, the swinging wasn’t too bad, but the on-ground movement being locomotion based did make me feel ill. I also had the anti-motion-sickness settings turned all the way up.

Anyway, it’s super short experience. You swing around a city for a bit, then a boss appears, and then you waggle your shit around until it dies, because the tracking constantly goes to crap. I don’t really much care for it, but it is free.

Warplanes: WW1 Fighters Demo

Now this was the demo that made me hurl. I always find flight games to be the worst when it comes to my motion sickness with VR. Additionally, there weren’t any recalibration options, so my original stance of standing couldn’t be changed even after pausing and getting a chair to sit in.

From the gameplay perspective though, it pretty interesting. You’re flying a plane and manually aiming a machine gun in front of you, firing off flares from another gun you can pick up, and manually aiming bombs that you drop by hand. I like the idea of it, but unfortunately my motion-sickness put a pretty quick halt to playing it any further. I’ll check out the full game some other time perhaps.

Into The Radius

This is one of those VR games that has locomotion movement rather than teleporting, so I got real sick after playing it for a bit. I didn’t even get past the tutorial.

That said, there’s a lot of fiddly gun stuff in this. Ejecting mags to check on ammo count, storing things in specific pockets, manually adding attachments, etc. It would be cool if VR tracking was better than it currently is.

I might come back to this, and I was intending to before I published this post, unfortunately, other games got in the way.

Borderlands 2 VR

I tried to start this game and then it soft crashed after the opening cutscene. Again, I’ll need to come back to this one, but I don’t have high hopes.

Job Simulator

I was expecting this to be super short and underwhelming, but this is probably up there with Alyx in terms of fun VR experiences. It didn’t put any excessive wear on to me.

You get a bunch of levels about remedial jobs like office working, being a store clerk, car mechanic, etc. Of course these are extremely dumbed down and humorous versions of these. So you can throw trash into people’s cubicles in the office one, or fill a fuel tank with energy drink in the car mechanic one.

It’s more fun than you originally think it’s gonna be, which is great. And it didn’t make me want to throw up which is a plus.

Eleven Table Tennis

You would think table tennis would be VR’s “Pong”. A basic game that would easily help people to understand the potential of VR and get them comfortable in using it. Unfortunately it runs into the same problem a lot of melee weapon-based games do; a lack of tactile feedback.

In table tennis, the paddle essentially acts as an extension of oneself, but there’s still a weight to it and a certain way of holding it that making hitting the ball back and forth a comfortable experience. In VR, the paddle is now a relatively heavier controller, and you’re not holding in a similar way. Furthermore, with tracking being what it currently is, the amount of precision that you could use to finesse the ball is not really there, leading me to end up hitting it too hard or too softly. Sometimes the tracking would just fail on me and I don’t hit it at all.

That said, when I could get the rhythm down, it did eventually feel pretty good to play. But still not as good as the real thing.

So it’s not perfect. This game is also very expensive for what it is, even when bought at a discount. It’s very multiplayer focused, so if that’s your thing, I suppose you could get some fun out of it. There are a fair few options for practicing and various cosmetic options as well, if you like looking silly for other people you play against.

Sairento VR

Much like Into The Radius; this also has locomotion movement, and teleporting. At the same time. And melee combat, along with guns.

Again, I need more time with this one, but the locomotion movement and pseudo-parkour really did a number on me.

Borderlands 3

I gave my opinion on this game back in November, and I bought and finished this game since. And Christ is it a headache. I’m not even going to try and play the DLC.

Just don’t.

Forza Horizon 4: LEGO Champions

Cute.

Forza Horizon 4 came to Steam a little while ago, and after it was discounted I decided to grab it and the DLC. Although there was only one thing I wanted do with it and that was check out the LEGO island stuff.

Honestly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

The LEGO versions of cars are really cool and there’s a lot of the LEGO charm and humour that one should expect. But the island isn’t completely LEGO, there’s still a lot of real world materials and items, and the races are still done with real cars rather than the LEGO ones. That’s probably because there’s only half a dozen LEGO cars. The McLaren Senna, the Ferrari F40, and a Bugatti that’s a variant of the Veyron; to name a few.

There’s still some neat stuff, like pirate ships, a raceway, and a desert filled with crashed UFOs. And the LEGO specific events are still pretty fun.

Maybe they should make a LEGO Racer game proper. But with better handling because SimCade is still a terrible handling model.

It Takes Two

As someone who really enjoyed playing A Way Out with a friend, I had relatively high expectations for this one; and for the most part, it hit them.

It feels really good to play, very tight controls that compliment the variety of game mechanics that they throw at you. The mini-games can be hit and miss though, particularly when one of you has an advantage due to being on a keyboard. Surprised they managed to program a working chess game though.

I wish I could speak highly of the story though. Without spoiling to much, it seems like the two main characters would have been a lot happier with their lives if they never had a kid. And quite frankly the whole game makes them seem like fucking assholes to their child anyway. With some very dark humour to compliment that point.

Last note, there’s one easter egg that I very much enjoyed listening to. I won’t tell you what or where it is, but I’m sure you can imagine considering Josef Fares is involved with it.

GTA Online: Diamond Casino Heist, Doomsday Heists, and Cayo Perico

God, fuck this game.

Anyway, a friend of mine recently got his new PC set up (Minus a GPU, which I am currently letting him have an old GTX680) and he proposed to me that we should play GTA Online. I was curious about the new island they added so I agreed.

I’ll complain about GTAO in a minute, but let’s actually talk about Doomsday, Diamond Casino, and Cayo Perico. The Doomsday heist requires you to buy a facility for about $1 Million or so and then you get your usual setup missions, except it’s different this time. You get prep missions before the setup missions, and the prep missions can be done within the current online lobby, and other players can interfere with it. Another thing is that you don’t need all 4 players to do any of the missions, although you still need a minimum of 2 for the setup and heist missions.

The money is OK, but it does give you a price discount on multiple key vehicles, including a flying car. Although it’s difficulty in the last part is pretty damn harsh. I didn’t like it overall.

The Diamond Casino heist is similar, this time requiring the player to get an arcade. Prep is actually more important here as depending on how you scope out the casino you will gain access to additional approaches. This time there are only prep missions, but the heist still requires a minimum of two people. But the payout is considerably higher than the previous ones, although you are limited by time and the loot that you get, which changes each time you do the heist.

I enjoyed this heist, but it’s probably the most difficult to deal with. The stealth is bad, and the game is very inconsistent about whether or not it wants to knock out enemies when you punch them. But the approaches are probably the most interesting in the game.

And then there’s Cayo Perico. Which comparatively is fucking El Dorado. You can get so much damn money from this place and it’s a near literal cake walk.

So you buy a submarine, scope out the place, do some preps, and then go to the compound on the island and steal the target and a whole bunch of other stuff. But basically, if you scope out the drainage tunnel near the compound and then do the setups related to that approach; you can basically access everything on that island with ease. Do it with a friend, but you can get even more dosh.

THAT SAID.

GTAO STILL SUCKS.

Let’s say you play for about an hour. 15-20 minutes of that hour is spent in loading screens. Another 20 minutes is spent driving to the place you need to go because they always put it as far away from you as possible. And then the rest of that time is spent actually attempting to do the missions, until a hacker turns up in an invulnerable jet and kills you several times.

I can’t wait to uninstall this game again.

Nier Replicant Version 1.22…

Nier is one of those games where the less I say, the better.

Unfortunately, I went into the game after playing Nier Automata, so I knew about a couple of references, plus as friend of mine told me about several things in the game, albeit with certain details omitted.

That said, this isn’t your usual bog-standard remaster. There’s new weapons, new costumes, and new quests; plus an additional ending. The combat has also been considerably improved and is apparently a lot less clunky now, although I can’t vouch for that point because I never played the original Nier.

Additionally, they added the original Japanese voices. Which is probably the sole reason why I decided to wait for this remaster instead of playing the original (Although I still own a copy). That said, the English subtitles are based on the dub, so expect inaccuracies and Americanisms.

The PC port is also somewhat concerning. It does work better than the legendarily awful Automata port, and I didn’t have a crash during my whole time playing. But holy shit, if you’re gonna remaster a game, spend the time and make sure the game logic isn’t tied to frame-rate, especially if you have no plans on locking the FPS. So this game is very sporadic in terms of game speed.

That said, that’s kind of the only major complaint other than the performance. The game just doesn’t utilise resources properly. But it’s difficult for me to explain why, but I’m sure you can find videos on it.

Anyway, I enjoyed this a lot, even with the back-tracking. And now I need to play the Drakengard games.

Record Of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth

As far as Symphony Of The Night clones go, this one was pretty good. The game feel is fairly snappy and responsive. You become fairly overpowered pretty quickly, but despite that, the difficulty curve is still fairly wobbly. Bosses can jump between mildly annoying to a cake walk. It’s also pretty linear with it’s progression, not much in the way of exploring for optional bosses and such like you would see in SOTN.

The story seems to take place many years after Lodoss War as Deedlit is the only person still alive in the merry band of adventures, no doubt due to the fact she’s an elf and they live for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, my experience with the source material comes down to watching a handful of OVAs a few years back. I might watch the TV series at some point though.

I had fun with it, and I’m looking forward to playing Touhou Luna Nights, which came out before this and developed by the same guys.

Anime

Vlad Love

Mamoru Oshii’s new show. I was expecting vampires, ended up getting a homage to a bunch of movies that Oshii likes; Castlevania, Street Fighter, and Darkstalkers references; and a whole lot of weird shit.

It’s an interesting show. The OPs are excellent as well.

Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2

How the fuck does an anime about real world horses and real horse racing end up being one of the best sports anime ever made? I loved every damn episode of this. All the horses have their own weird quirks and jokes, the emotional moments work well, the overall story of Tokai Teio beating the odds despite multiple injuries; it just works.

Yasuke

Yasuke is an interesting bloke. He went from a slave to one of Nobunaga’s retainers, and was devoutly loyal to him to the end. So how does the anime portray him as? Well, something akin to that, but then they decided to set it after Nobunaga’s death, add in a whole bunch of magic and mechs, and then centre the whole thing on some annoying girl with DBZ power level magic.

It’s a fucking horrid anime. And the fact it barely talks about Yasuke as a person and his history is an insult to him. If you want to see a better representation of him, play Nioh. On the plus side, the anime has some decent animation and some pretty good music. The OP is quite good especially.

That’s it.

That should cover half a year’s worth of stuff. It’s not everything but it is the most important stuff that I actually feel like talking about. Next Den post will be in December or January.

ADMAN

The Den – November 2020 – January 2021 & Top 10s of 2020

Another year has passed, and Christ what a shitshow it was. No point in complaining about it, you already know. But in my personal case, a lot of plans of mine have been shelved into 2021 or 2022 now, including finding employment and visiting Japan for the first time.

Enough of that, let’s talk about video games for a bit and then get into why you’re really here.

Yakuza 7

Going from an action game to a turn-based RPG is a very rare turnaround to see these days, it’s usually the reverse. Yakuza 7 gives it a go and bring its own insane ideas to the table. The job system is hilarious and filled with careers such as Breakdancer, Chef, Musician, and Host. As you’d expect, the abilities these classes have are as over the top as ever.

It’s not completely perfect. It took nearly a month before SEGA patched in the ability to see what abilities enemies were weak to (A feature that was in the original Japanese release). Switching between targets doesn’t work as it should. And the encounter rate on street battles is so frequent that it can drive you insane at times.

The side stories and mini-games are abundant, including a port of VF5; which is the first time it’s ever been ported to PC.

FINALLY

The business mini-game is very tedious, but it does pay out quite nicely.

My last complaint is the difficulty, where it’s mostly easy until Chapter 12 and 14 where it decides to ram you through a wood chipper, bollocks first. The major boss fights in those chapters require you to really understand the best roles for those fights and use strategy accordingly. But every other part of the game, including the last few fights after those chapters require no such strategic planning.

But back to praise; Ichiban is an amazing protagonist. He’s a dumbass with a ton of passion, running into situations head-on, and looking at the world as if it was a video game. I’m serious about that last part, his love of Dragon Quest and other games is why the job system is the way it is and why enemies have dumb names.

He really drives the story. His troubled upbringing helps him relate to the other characters who likewise have had their own problems in their lives, and he really bonds with them over time. I quite liked Zhao whose personality is like a lesser crazy Majima but mixed with a love of games much like Ichiban and a love of cooking.

There’s a ton to this game, and if I really wanted to talk about it for hours I could, but you should probably just play it yourself.

You can watch my full playthrough on Twitch.

Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin

I’ve been wanting to play this game for a number of years now. It used to pop up a lot during indie discussions and I thought the sheer attention to detail in the rice farming was intriguing.

Well let’s start with the rice farming; it is alarmingly detailed. From the start of the farming process; you must manage the quality of the soil by applying fertiliser, plant each individual seed, maintain water levels throughout the whole process, including draining and filling back up again. While the plants grow, you should pull out any and weeds you see. Once they’re ready to harvest, you pull them out, put them on racks to dry. After the crops have dried out you move them into the shed and start stripping the rice off the crop. Then you pound the rice with some kind of mallet, and how much you pound it defines whether it’s brown rice all the way up to white rice. Then to start the process again you need to plow the field.

Now if that sounds a little too much for you, good news; you can skip all of it.

You may be wondering why I’m not praising the Hell out of it, and that’s to do with the combat. It reminds of me of Muramasa Rebirth in terms of 2D platformer combat. But unlike Muramasa, it’s nowhere as polished. Enemies frequently get stuck in walls, getting stun-locked to death can frequently happen, and you can’t block attacks, you can only parry them. The parrying part is the most troublesome part because the enemies attacks will always take animation priority over the player. So you’ll get into the rhythm of the combat, and then suddenly one enemy will throw a punch through your attack and stun-lock you.

Aerial combat and movement is also awkward, the scarf that acts like a grappling hook uses the left-analogue stick instead of the right stick, meaning you must always aim in the direction you’re walking in. It’s difficult to explain why it feels bad without playing it, but trust me, I really dislike this control choice.

I haven’t been super motivated to continue this game, the opaqueness of the game’s mechanics with a really steep combat difficulty curve makes it hard to sink my teeth into this game as much as I would like.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Not too much to say about this. Myself and a friend starting playing this for a laugh and to quell some curiosity into the matter.

Starting this game is extremely overwhelming. There’s a bunch of loot that you get for stating, there’s more currencies than a border exchange, tutorials out the arse, and somehow I’m still very confused about what PSE is. And then I run into players that look like this:

What?

The only thing I really understand is that I should feed my Mag. So I will.

Dark Souls III

Not a ton to say on this either other than I finally finished it with some help from a friend. Pretty good time, but I still think Sekiro is more my speed. I also greatly prefer the ease of initiating co-op in Nioh compared to From’s games.

What The Golf & Crumble

Although I have no problem with dumb physics-driven platformers or puzzle games, I also think that locking behind the more interesting aspects of your game behind doing levels in an efficient manner while dealing with random levels of chance from the physics engines; is a fucking idiotic design choice. Crumble is especially bad for this because small changes in trajectory can lead to wildly different paths. That, and the grappling mechanic can be very spotty.

What The Golf is a little better and mostly shows of the stupid and the funny in the main levels, and then elaborates and expands on the jokes in the challenge levels, most of which aren’t actually all that difficult. But objectives like “Race The Sheep” can be really hair pulling at times.

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die

I’ve never played a SWERY game before. Missed out on Deadly Premonition and the other weird things he’s made since. I decided to check this out because it was short. Takes place mostly in the past on a airline jet where the player character, with what could only be loosely described as a Boston accent, is trying to figure out how a passenger went missing.

It abruptly ends after 2 episodes, which is a shame because ends with a pretty dramatic cliffhanger. Maybe I’ll play SWERY’s other games at some point.

You can watch my playthrough on Twitch.

My Top 10 Games Of 2020

Honourable Mentions:

Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin

I liked the farming, but I still haven’t played enough of it to justify putting this on my list.

Fight Crab

I’ll be honest, this is not a good game, but it’s so fucking stupid I can’t help but love it. I mean it has crabs with rockets attached to their arms flailing around. It’s fucking hilarious.

Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of:

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

I played a bit of THPS1 in this. Kinda fell off it due to other games and various other things.

Ghostrunner

Played the demo for this and thought it was cool, but didn’t really have the cash to buy it when it came out. I’ll probably pick it up in the future sale.

Good Job

Another physics based puzzle game with super destructible environments. Looks super fun, but I had no dosh to spend on it.

Best HD Remaster/Remake

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2

Compared to the last remake, this is fucking amazing. It actually feels correct to how Tony Hawk should play and there’s no crappy physics glitches. And the visual upgrades are top notch and feel perfectly in-tone with the original. And the original soundtrack is there.

Worst Game I Played:

Star Wars Squardrons

I really wanted to like this game, but it was just so buggy when I played it. The controls are pretty awful too. The story is crap and uninteresting. To top it off, the VR mode made me really ill. I can’t really recommend it personally.

Worst Games I DIDN’T Play

Cyberpunk 2077

I don’t need to explain this one. You know a game’s bad when mainstream news channels are roasting it.

Panzer Dragoon Remake

My understanding is that this is complete crap in terms of looks, gameplay, and soundtrack. What an absolute disappointment.

10. Resident Evil 3

This isn’t as good as the Resident Evil 2 remake, and it’s nowhere near as scary either. However, I would say it’s better paced and I definitely enjoyed it. Having a lot more ammo and weapons to deal with problems while at the same putting up with Nemesis’ sections. That said, his sections are very on-rails, and not really the same kind of constant dread that Mr. X brought. But I wouldn’t say it’s a complaint, both work.

9. Sakura Wars

Being truthful here, this is less of a game and more of a visual novel/adventure game with occasional action game mech sections. It also got me into Koi Koi.

The girls are great even if the story doesn’t grab me at all. Their defined personalities and attachment to the player character is weirdly endearing. The theme tune is still kick ass though.

8. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Science fiction visual novel with time traveling and naked people in mechs fighting robot monsters in a tower defence mini-game. I enjoyed it, but I liked Odin Sphere and Muramasa a Hell of a lot more.

7. Persona 5: Royal

This is only on the list because the new content they added is a significant improvement to base Persona 5, and the new dungeon and characters are great. It also fixes some of the dumber moments and translation errors from the original, like Ryuji constantly screaming about how they’re the Phantom Thieves.

The new dungeon and boss fight is a highlight, and they at least tried to improve Mementos. Although, Mementos is still absolute shit.

6. SkaterXL

This is mostly on the list because I played a lot of it while it was in early access, and it finally released this year. It’s not Skate, but it does remind me of free skating around in Skate and making videos and stuff. I’m glad there’s a serious community around it making content for it though, it would be very barebones otherwise.

5. Ghost of Tsushima

Extremely pretty is one way to describe this game. I probably took more screenshots of this game that any other console game in the past couple of years. The combat styles are interesting, even if the feel of the combat itself is a tad too much like Assassin’s Creed.

But the sheer level of exploration and uniqueness of it’s waypoint system is probably the biggest highlight. I explored every damn inch of those islands, looking for new weapons, new gear, shrines, and fox dens. The exploration was extremely rewarding, more so than Breath Of The Wild.

I could also pet the foxes. Which is a massive bonus.

4. Half-Life Alyx

This looks familiar…

Easily the best VR game out there, but it terms of a Half-Life game, I’d probably put it above Episode 1.

The combat in this game is hectic and engaging on a personal level. The sheer combat high from having to physically take cover, manage my ammo, manage reloading, and constantly moving physically to avoid being killed; it’s unlikely anything I’ve had to deal with in a game.

Lunatic levels of interactivity and physics nonsense thanks to Valve’s signature attention to detail do not go underappreciated. I noticed the liquid shader on those bottles.

One thing I didn’t get to check out was the developer commentary, which got added the same day I finished the game. Will get back to it and check those out sometime this year.

3. DOOM Eternal

If Alyx was near the top of my list for visceral gameplay experiences, this is probably at the top. Holy shit I was genuinely exhausted playing this. Constant, relenting slaughter of demons, and a gameplay loop that is persistently keeping me on edge.

Several people have compared this game to a stylish action game akin to DMC, but honestly, I think this is way more vicious than that. Late into the game there’s a section where I had to run around in circles with 40HP or less, making pinpoint headshots to get ammo so I could maybe have enough shotgun shells to deal with the half a dozen enemies chasing me around, where staying still would equal death.

The unlockables and cheats were pretty cool too, and the computer where you can play DOOM just loads the old WADs, so in theory you could load other stuff through that.

2. Nioh 2

Oda Nobunaga did nothing wrong, those monks had it coming.

Nioh 2 is more or less a refinement of Nioh 1 with additional weapons and a story that focuses on the rise and fall of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi. Level design has been greatly improved, a few more options and side enemies that provide some nice risk/reward moments, plus a few levels where it’s actually more beneficial to take a side route to destroy or activate something that actually kills a bunch of the enemies in the level. Remember those crystals in Nioh 1 can were linked to enemies, and if you destroyed them, the enemies linked to it would die? Stuff like that.

I haven’t had a chance to check out the DLC, and I think I might just restart on PC honestly. But I’ve heard very good things.

1. Yakuza: Like a Dragon / Yakuza 7

I spent the first part of this post telling you about how much I love this game, there’s not really much more I can tell you. These games always find a way into my heart, and Ichiban is such a great character and the game just does so many things I love, and the story is probably the best it has been for a number of years. It’s tremendous.

My Top 10 Anime Of 2020

This year wasn’t great for anime to be honest, but the good stuff was at least really bloody good.

  1. No Guns Life 2nd Season
  2. Umayon
  3. Guraburu!
  4. Iwa Kakeru!: Sport Climbing Girls
  5. Great Pretender
  6. Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
  7. Ishuzoku Reviewers
  8. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai? Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
  9. Kakushigoto
  10. Nami yo Kiitekure

Nami yo Kiitekure really surprised me with how good it was. I couldn’t stop laughing at the amazing performance of the main character and her bloodlust towards her ex-boyfriend and numerous fuck-ups. Do give it a watch.

Special Mentions:

Episode 9 of ID:Invaded, Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai!

Worst Anime I Watched:

Nekopara

The Irishman

This was my Christmas movie of 2020. Scorsese’s crime movies are some of my favourite movies; Goodfellas and Wolf On Wall Street are amazing.

This movie both lives up to that expectation, but also says a lot about his previous works. The plot of the movie is about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, a person I must admit I didn’t know too much about outside the fact that he went missing, suspected to have been killed. The film spends most of its second-half talking about Jimmy Hoffa’s life as a union president from the perspective of Frank Sheeran, known as “The Irishman”.

I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I will say this; this movie is long. Really long. It clocks in at around 3 and a half hours. So if you want to watch it, dedicate an afternoon or so to it.

I didn’t like the last part of the movie that much. I would say it seems kinda rushed, but the suppose that might be a deliberate choice. But seeing the life of this characters advance over the course of the movie and everything related to that more than makes up for it. And this goes without saying, but De Niro and Pacino deliver their roles flawlessly.

That’s it. 2020 is over, hopefully 2021 is better.

ADMAN

The Den: April – November 2020

Well over half-way through the year Lockdown gives me a lot of free time, and putting off writing this post just makes it longer. Here’s the highlights of what I’ve been playing and some other thoughts. And I’ve changed the title formatting to reflect the fact that this blog post has been in the works for way too long.

DOOM Eternal

DOOM Eternal is a bit of a mixed bag. I think DOOM 2016 has better pacing and better story. But Eternal is a lot more visceral, the levels are large and really push you to your limits mentally. Furthermore, they’re chocked full of collectables, my favourite of which being floppy discs that unlock cheat codes, and unlock the original DOOM games on an in-game terminal.

I like the game, but it’s an exhausting game. Unfortunately, I don’t have much more to say about it.

You can watch my whole playthrough here.

Ghost Of Tsushima

To start, this game is really pretty. The strong art style, colouring, particle effects, and general attention to detail; make this one Hell of a game to look at.

I took way too many screenshots of this game. My respect to the art team.

Story-wise, I can’t say it really did much for me. The main character is OK, and all the other characters definitely have their moments; but I wouldn’t say it really stuck out. Jin’s uncle and his whole “Honourable Samurai” shtick, although makes sense, gets rather tiresome to listen to. The game also doesn’t really punish or reward you for doing less than honourable acts of warfare. Because of that, there’s no branching to the narrative like there is in the InFAMOUS games, which does limit the replayability a bit. The ending is a bit weak too.

Combat is nowhere near as good as something like Sekiro or Nioh. It’s a lot like the original Assassin’s Creed. No lock-on and very limited main weapon variety, but it does have throwable sub-weapons like kunai and sticky bombs. Additionally, you unlock stances that are effective against certain enemies. To be honest, it’s very annoying. Much like Sekiro, it’s very parry based; but with a lot less skill required. I would also say that Sekiro’s sub-weapons were a lot more varied and provided different approaches to certain fights, plus a lot of them were hidden.

But to end on a highlight, a lot of customisation and collectables for armour and sword skins. I appreciate that it’s not a bunch of bullshit microtransactions.

One more thing, very easy Platinum trophy.

You can watch my whole playthrough here. It’s a pretty long playthrough though.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

This game does not hold up, gameplay-wise. Story-wise, it’s still somewhat entertaining. It’s spends a lot of time having you running around the whole map for what is essentially busy work and and dumps all the tools you need to skip all that near the end.

But the reason I dislike a lot of it, is that it feels extremely self-indulgent in its time wasting. You can’t skip or speed through animations, random encounters suck ass, and the ATB system is still the worst possible battle system. The controls aren’t great either, but it is a PS1 game. The overworld map screen doesn’t list the actual town names, so I had to refer to a guide while playing it.

And just as one final point, while fighting the final boss; just before the last phase, the second phase did an attack that put my whole party on 1HP. This led to me spending a good 5 minutes just trying to revive all my party members while the last phase of the final boss did his ultimate attack, which was a 3 minute cutscene, over and over. Even after getting all the party members back to normal health, I think I still saw that attack animation at least half a dozen times.

Control: Ultimate Edition

This game has great premise, completely let down by most of the character writing and acting being terrible. Furthermore, a lot of the story is hidden behind a vast array of collectables.

Exploring the Bureau is actually fairly entertaining in its own right, provided of course that the constant enemy spawns that can gank you don’t get on your nerves. Or the terrible map screen. Or the Dark Souls style checkpointing.

That said, the game does contain some interesting visual elements and gameplay segments. The Ashtray Maze comes to mind.

Just to end on a highlight, Dr. Dariling and the janitor Ahti are the most interesting characters in the game. If there was a something I would seriously change about the story, it would be to focus it more on those two.

You can watch my full playthrough here.

War Remains: Dan Carlin Presents an Immersive Memory & Kokoka VR

These are a couple of short VR experiences based on the first and second World Wars respectively. War Remains has some great sound effects and Dan Carlin’s commentary is fairly novel, but there’s not really much to it content wise.

Kokoka offers something a bit more expansive and provides interviews with veterans and actual interactivity. However, it suffers badly from tracking problems and recentring the headset is impossible.

Binary Domain

This is a very underrated game from the developers of the Yakuza series. When you originally see it, you’d be forgiven for calling it a generic cover shooter.

Now it doesn’t have a ton of hidden depth or anything, but it does some neat things in regards to enemy AI and friendship with your teammates. Throw in some very entertaining set pieces and some pretty fun characterisation; it becomes a game worthy of someone’s time. It’s fairly cheap these days, so maybe give it a go.

Just don’t use the voice command stuff. It doesn’t work.

You can watch the full playthrough here.

Borderlands 3

I didn’t think it was possible to have worse writing than Borderlands 2, but here we are. This game really is the quintessential example of why having too much voice acting is just as bad, if not worse, than having too little. Characters just never shut up. There’s a part about 2 dozen hours in where you explore a ship that has an AI in it, and you go there with another AI. The whole fucking time, they argue like a divorced couple, and it’s as annoying as it sounds. Plus a fuck load of memes.

Another problem is that for a game centred around getting “sick loot”, you get fuck all. I think I only got a handful of rare guns that I never got rid off because the rest of the arsenal was just so uninteresting. I wouldn’t pick this up until it was really, really cheap.

Oculus Home & SteamVR with Oculus Quest

I’ve been borrowing my brother’s Oculus Quest on occasion to check out some VR stuff. I bought an Oculus Quest, used off eBay. Oculus Link is far from perfect, but it is a relatively simple process for the most part, although I can imagine some tech illiterate people having real issues getting it up and running (My brother nearly bricked his PC trying).

Oculus Link boots directly into Oculus Home, a little VR hub where you can live out your fantasies of being an interior decorator. One neat thing about it is that I can project windows from my desktop on to in-game displays. Unfortunately the low resolution of the Quest makes watching stuff like that a less than optimal viewing experience.

After booting into Oculus Home, I could then boot into Steam VR, where I could have much the same experience of “pimping my crib”.

The layering of having the base Quest OS below and Oculus Link/Home layer, which is again below the Steam VR layer; leads to some confusing moments of input issues. Not all games have Oculus specific controls, so I end up accidently pressing into Oculus Home or bring up the Steam VR menu because both centre buttons of the controllers bring up each. Fun.

And just as a last point, there’s not really much to play. And what games I do have, I would still be more comfortable playing on a normal display.

I really want to play Half-Life Alyx though, but I’m waiting for a sale. It went on sale while this post was being written and will come up later.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2

Finally, a good Tony Hawk game after God knows how long. That said, Holy Christ I am rusty as Hell with this game. Even setting up basic combos seems impossible to me.

I kinda hope they re-do Underground or make a new game in that vein. I much prefer not being under a time limit and having a bit more freedom tackling goals.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

Time travelling high schoolers who pilot mechs and fight giant robots in tower defence style missions. It’s mostly a VN, but the tower defence stuff can be pretty fun. Especially when you unlock Missile Rain and the framerate tanks.

I’m not gonna say too much about the story, but you should definitely give it a look.

Alan Wake

Alan Wake has been on my radar for several years now. I started it ages ago but recently decided to restart the playthrough. Finally getting past the opening sequence and seeing the rest of the game certainly clarifies why people like this game as much as they do.

But before I get to that, the combat sucks. Shining a light on people is one thing, but it also acts as an off-centre aiming reticule, which is terrible. You also end up in a lot of situations where you get stun-locked to death in close quarter situations. So now that the worst part of the game is dealt with; the story is interesting.

Wake often monologues about his life as a writer, his fears and mistakes he’s made, and how much he loves his wife. Seeing him react to the surrealism of the world to the point of almost normalising the events that unfold add to the weirdness of it all. The collectables are story pages that describe what is going on in the game as written from the perspective of Wake’s novels. Unfortunately I didn’t read too much of them, but it’s a neat idea.

Additionally there are TVs throughout the world that display episodes of the fictional show called “Night Springs”, which have some fairly fascinating stories. Really adds to the overall atmosphere, which this game is abundant in.

Finally, shit loads of product placement. Pretty funny, pretty dumb.

You can watch the full playthrough here.

428 Shibuya Scramble

Visual Novels are something I go to every once in a while because they tend to be longer than I usually like. 428 Shibuya Scramble has been in my backlog for quite a while, and I finally got around to it.

I love it. The stupidity and silliness on display, along with some of the most entertaining characters I’ve seen; it was an absolute joy to go through.

Now VNs aren’t known for being extremely interactive, but they can be very divergent. 428 takes that in a very interesting direction where you control multiple characters on a timeline, and the choices you make not only affect the character you’re playing as, but also the other character’s stories within that time frame. The goal is to line up all the choices correctly so that everyone can progress. But even with that, there are a few multiple endings.

My favourite characters are probably Yanagishita (Pictured below) and a taxi driver that is prominent in Minorikawa’s story. Their reactions and appearances are easily the most entertaining parts of the game.

Once you finish the main game, a couple of side stories unlock. One of which is a prequel for a character that gets referenced quite a bit, which in turn got an anime which acts as a sequel to 428.

Anyway, if you like VNs, check this out.

You can watch the full playthrough here.

MURDERED: Soul Suspect

This is one of those games that I end up enjoying even though it’s not particularly groundbreaking. When it originally game out, most people disregarded it. I can see why, it’s not terribly high budget.

That said; being a ghost, walking through walls, possessing cats, and causing electronics to go haywire; is genuinely inspired.

The story also had me second guessing a few times about who the real villain was, and it’s rare for a game to trip me up on that.

Do check it out if you have an afternoon or two to kill.

You can watch the full playthrough here.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

The Force Unleashed 1 was an OK game with a lot of interesting tech powering it. Furthermore, the story was fairly decent.

Force Unleashed 2 is hot garbage that should be avoided at all costs.

First of all, it starts off in 30FPS unless you patch it out.

The controls occasionally just shit themselves and barely function properly. The gameplay fairs a bit better when it works, but can also be largely repetitive. The boss fights are God awful though.

The story isn’t a saving grace from what I played of it. The voice acting is underwhelming, and the characters from the last game just come off as arseholes now.

Don’t play it. Just don’t.

Half-Life: Alyx

I’m not addicted to stims, I swear.

After 13 years, we finally have a new Half-Life game. Problem; it’s exclusive to VR. Thankfully in the process of writing this alarmingly long blog post, I was able to borrow and eventually purchase an Oculus Quest headset.

So how is the game? In short; the best VR game currently available, but not necessarily the best Half-Life game, and certainly not the second coming of Christ.

The game focuses a lot of the pseudo-horror elements from Half-Life; lots of dark, claustrophobic environments filled with Headcrabs and zombies. That’s fine, but it is a little draining at times as someone who really doesn’t like being in dark spaces filled with things trying to kill you. Once you get out into more open combat areas, I started having a bit more fun and played with the AI a bit more. The combine are a tiny bit more of a threat this time as they can flank you, use shields, and send out Manhacks. But VR allows for the use of a few more tactics such as shooting around cover or throwing random objects at them.

The additional interactivity as led to some weird meta-challenges that I made for myself, including carrying around a bucket full of health stims through a whole level, as pictured above.

Not to spoil too much of the game, I’ll just make a few final slightly more negative points; the start of the game is kinda slow. Getting your first few guns isn’t too bad, but it takes a few hours before you engage with the Combine in anyway, and in that time, you’re mostly fighting Headcrabs in less than comforting environments.

There’s only three guns in the game; a pistol, a one-handed shotgun, and an SMG. Each have their own upgrades (Including a grenade launcher), but it’s no crossbow. The lack of precision weapons isn’t completely surprising, but at the same time, several of the enemies require precise aiming. Mods may add some interesting solutions to that.

To be quite frank, I’ve had this game on my mind since I finished it. Doesn’t help that they added the developer commentary during my last couple of play sessions. So I will be coming back to this game at some point.

This sure looks familiar.

I do really wish the Quest had better tracking though.

You can watch my full playthrough here.

Other Games Played

Resident Evil 3 (Remake)

Not a horror game, not as good as RE2; but I had a good time playing it. It was well paced, even if short.

Halo 2 (MCC)

I know people really like the multiplayer for this, but the single player is pretty shit. But it is a better port than the Vista version.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine

I thought this game has campaign co-op, it did not. And the best part of the game is the beginning, because near the end of that game it starts dragging a whole lot and the combat feels monotonous.

And yes, I have played Yakuza 7 / Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Sakuna: Of Rice & Ruin; however, you’ll have to wait till the new year before I talk about them.

Anime

Uzaki-chan

That DEKAI sure is SUGOI. The anime is alright, the voice acting is pretty spot on. It does contain what seems to be an ad for the Tottori prefecture. Anime studios got to make money somewhere I guess.

Great Pretender

This is one of the best anime of the year. Globe-trotting con-men out-playing other scumbag con-men. The writing is great, the voice acting is great, the visuals are very abstract and interesting; check it out. It’s completely worth your time.

Kakushigoto

This one is about a manga author creating manga in secret from his young daughter so that she doesn’t become ruined from the degeneracy that he writes in his ecchi series and some indecent photos of himself that get published in the magazine. The original manga is created by Koji Kumeta, who made one of my other favourite manga turned anime; Sayonara, Zetsubou Sensei. I think the anime did an excellent job.

Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!

Another anime about making anime. But this time from the animators behind shows like Tatami Galaxy and Kaiba. This show definitely goes out of its way to show off the creator’s influences and obsessions. The small details are abundant, and there are more references than even I can understand (Although a lot of it is very old anime). A lot of love for the medium in this show.

Nami yo Kiitekure

Very underrated show this one. It focuses on a woman who’s ramblings make it on to one of Sapporo’s public radio shows, and after a short series of events, she becomes a late-night radio show host. This show is a Goddamn riot at times.

And We’re Done

This blog post took from October to December to write. A fair amount happened in that time, including a game jam, and my purchase of an Oculus Quest. But being the lazy git that I am, instead of re-writing the whole damn thing, I’ve just made strikeout edits. But to your benefit, you’ll still be able to read my original thoughts.

The next Den post will be in the new year with my Top 10s of the year. See you then.

ADMAN

The Den – 13/01/2020

I’m gonna have to get used to writing 2020 now.

It’s that time of year again. The time where I make my Top 10s of the previous year. But before we get to that, I want to chat about a couple of games and such.

Star Wars – Episode IX: Rise Of The Skywalker

OK, this isn’t a video game; but I do need to say something about this pile of trash movie. You won’t find spoilers here, just to get that out of the way.

Disney’s sequel trilogy is a complete mess of rushed out, homogenised, convoluted crap. It doesn’t really know where it’s going, it isn’t differentiating itself from the previous movies, and is trying hard to push it’s new badly written and unlikable characters, while still trying to pander to “the fans”.

Episode IX is more or less a melting pot of everything wrong with this series. It goes from place to place without any real reason, the character writing is insufferable, the new characters they add don’t really have anything to contribute to the story (Babu Frik is kind of entertaining though, so I’ll give them that), and the actual plot is just a blatant excuse to bring back old characters because they couldn’t write better ones.

It sucks. I wish I could go into more detail, but with every passing day my brain systematically tries to remove the memories of this god awful trilogy. I think I preferred the prequels.

Shenmue III

I want to talk about Shenmue for a bit. My opinions on this game are “mixed” to say the least.

It still does things I like. Having all the NPCs be individuals with a certain look, name, and schedules; is still a very welcome feature. It definitely brings a little bit of life into the towns. The variety and quantity of food stalls and shops is also something I enjoy, especially when the store owners disrespect each other in order to try and sell you their goods. Finally, the minigames and gambling are still somewhat enjoyable, even if the classic SEGA arcade games are nowhere to be found.

Getting on to what I don’t like, there’s a lot.

The voice acting is bad, even in Japanese. The characters often talk with long pauses inbetween sentences, and Ryo going “Souka” (“I see” for those playing in English) at damn near everything has progressed from a meme to just being downright annoying. Ryo himself still has little to no character of his own and it’s starting to wear thin. Shenhua isn’t much better, this should have been the time when the questions relating to her appearing in Ryo’s dreams and her actual importance to the overall plot should be explained; the but game doesn’t bother. Most interactions with her involve either stories of her growing up, asking Ryo about his life in Japan, or telling you about things within town that you likely already know about.

The character animation is stiff to say the least. The wonky wax-like character models don’t help either. It’s a very unappealing look. The world on the other hand has decent enough texture work and modelling though; all the houses, markets, shops, and various other things have a surprising level of detail to them.

The fighting system is both dumbed down and indisputably worse than the previous games. Shenmue I & II were made on a fighting game engine, therefore the timings for the combat and QTE sequences were extremely responsive, providing you knew the inputs for the moves. With III, moving to Unreal, an engine known for its input lag in fighting games; there is a significant delay in every single input. I’m talking at least a good second from input to on-screen action. It is dreadful. Thankfully, once you obtain the move “Tiger Thigh”, every fight in the game becomes a joke. All the fights are extremely similar too, no real diversity in terms of fighting styles during these sequences.

Did I mention the QTEs are trash? Because they’re fucking trash.

To top it off, this isn’t even the last game. There’s still more. And considering this game goes absolutely fucking nowhere in terms of plot, I sincerely hope the development team is planning on picking up the pace a little for IV.

As an original Kickstarter backer, I’m not particularly satisfied with what they’ve done, but I won’t say I’m unhappy either. If they actually bother fixing the shortcomings of not just this game, but the series as a whole, and relearn the improvements that made Shenmue II such a appreciably better game than the first; maybe it can be better.

Game Pass and Forza Horizon 4

I don’t have too much to say about this so far, I’ve only had it for a few days. But being able to access a few dozen PC games for £1 is pretty neat. As I don’t use my Xbox One much these days though, I don’t know if I’ll be renewing it, but we’ll see.

As for Forza Horizon 4, well it’s just more Horizon really. I still don’t really like Forza. Sim-Cade as a genre is not something I enjoy and the lack of options for making the cars be as arcade-like as possible is extremely limited. The options are limited to “Hard realism” or “Really loose, but still very sluggish realism”. It’s no Burnout Paradise.

Have this picture of a Ferrari Italia.

It is nice to be playing a game set in the Highlands though. Beautiful part of the UK.

Alright, we both know what you’re here for.

Top 10s of 2019

2019 hasn’t been super stand out year for either games or anime to be honest, but it wasn’t completely boring either. The prevalence Japanese games this year that were either of a relatively high budget or just generally stand out as compared to the run-of-the-mill trash that Western companies put out was rather alarming. The amount of Japan-made games I played this year is probably the highest it’s ever been.

My Top 10 Games of 2019

Before we begin, some additional categories.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Puyo Puyo Champions – It’s a fun, barebones Puyo Puyo game. I’m not very good at Puyo Puyo, but I still think this game is a blast.

Released Games I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of:

  • Onimusha Warlords – A remaster of the first Onimusha game. I actually got gifted this but never got around to it.
  • Jump King – Played a little bit of this. Reminds me of Super Meat Boy. In that I got so frustrated that I rage quit.
  • Death end re;Quest – Started this and originally thought of it as another “kusoge” Idea Factory game, but it started getting interesting. Unfortunately my PC broke and I haven’t gotten back to it yet.
  • Samurai Shodown (2019) – Still waiting on the PC release.
  • Super Mario Maker 2 – Held off on buying it because I heard it wasn’t that much different to the first game, and I didn’t play much of the first game to begin with and didn’t want to waste my money.
  • Control – Waiting on the Steam release.
  • Crystar – I was torn between getting this or Death end re;Quest. I think I chose poorly.
  • The Outer Worlds – I got this on Game Pass, and it only just finished installing as I’m writing this post. I’ll get to it soon I guess.

Best HD Remaster:

  • Metal Wolf Chaos XD – Finally, I can play this game. And you know what? It’s actually really fun.

Additional shoutouts to Catherine: Full Body and Blood: Fresh Supply.

Worst Game I Played:

  • Super Neptunia RPG – Speaking of Idea Factory “kusoge”. This game feels like shit to play, and it’s version of active time battle is stupidly slow and makes fights more drawn out than they need to be. Plus, if you buy the DLC, you become an overpowered God, which then makes the early fights stupidly easy and long.

There’s one more thing I need to say before getting to this year’s list. And it’s regarding last year’s ranking.

I very mistakenly put Dragon Quest XI at number 8 last year. Having played more of it since making that list, I must make a correction. It should be number 4.

And with all that out of the way, here is the numbered list.

10. One Finger Death Punch 2

A decently challenging and fun game, in a simple to understand package. Lots of hilarity to be had in it’s animations and special items.

9. Ion Fury

A real throwback to mid-to-late-90s FPS games. Even using the Build Engine for added authenticity. I’ve only played the first episode or so, but it’s fast paced action and harsh difficulty really has me hooked.

8. AI: The Somnium Files

I have my gripes with the localization work on this game, but the investigative sequences and character interactions are so endearing that it still made its way on to my list. Particularly the intros to the investigative scenes featuring Aiba, like this one.

It’s not perfect, but I had a good time with it.

7. Death Stranding

As someone who loves Euro Truck and American Truck Simulators; the idea of spending the whole time delivering things from one place to another doesn’t sound all to bad. And it’s not, that aspect of the game is actually alarmingly addicting for me. The black goo monsters known as BTs are both terrifying as well as annoying. Particularly later in the game where fighting them isn’t really necessary. The boss fights are rather lacking though, considering this is a Kojima game and the Metal Gear Solid series had some of the best boss fights ever.

The licensed soundtrack is fantastic though, providing you like Low Roar.

6. Devil May Cry 5

I’m gonna be honest here, I’ve only finished DMC2. I’ve played a lot of DMC1 and a bit of DMC3, haven’t played 4 yet. That other one isn’t related as far as I’m concerned. So coming into DMC5, I was expecting to have a more difficult time than I did. Now I wasn’t playing on the hardest difficulties or anything, but they’ve made substantial strides in demonstrating each character’s movesets. Due to that, I actually knew what I was doing moreso than the previous games I played. Dante is my favourite to play as though, the different styles and his character specific weapons are my preference.

V is pretty entertaining though.

5. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

I’m still playing this one. However it is very clear to me that this is a very special game. Not only is it a Kickstarter game that is actually good, but it actually takes what made the post-SOTN Castlevanias fun, and puts them all together in one game. The Shards are more or less Souls from the Sorrow games, the hub with all the NPCs is akin to Portrait of Ruin, and some of the larger boss fights remind me of Order of Ecclesia (Which I really want to play).

Throw in a ton of Easter Eggs, references, and real goofy fun to use items; it becomes clear how much effort went into this. There are some drawbacks; I don’t like how easy it is to get stunlocked, the hitboxes are a bit wonky, and I think the character and world art clash a bit; but the journey through has been so engrossing that I can overlook these shortcomings.

4. Resident Evil 2 (2019)

I once saw the original RE2 being played back in the late 90s. It fucking terrified me so much that I feared sleeping in the dark till I was a teenager.

Other than that traumatising experience, I’ve never played a Resident Evil game to any significant degree. I think I might have tried playing the demo to RE5, but that’s about it.

This game. This Goddamn game is expertly designed from start to finish. The placement of items, the atmosphere of each area, Mr. X chasing you round for half the game in a fashion that can only be described brutally intimidating; incredible.

And it’s one Hell of a cure for constipation.

3. Tetris 99

In 2018, I found myself enjoying the PC version of Puyo Puyo Tetris more than Tetris Effect. And in 2019, this game makes the precise point as to why. Competitive Tetris doesn’t get much purer than this. You VS 98 others. Good luck.

I was playing this every night for probably about 2-3 months before getting a win. I don’t play it as much now, but it’s my go-to Tetris game on Switch. Especially with the additional modes they added.

2. Judge Eyes/Judgment

Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios ends up on my list again with Judgment. Focusing on being a detective, it provides a slew of new gameplay experiences that gives some additional life to the now overused city of Kamurocho.

It might not have a ton of mini-games, but the inclusion of VF5 and Motor Raid more than make up for it.

Throw in the usual whacky sub stories, intriguing main plot, and probably the most favourable cast of characters this team has made; no self-respecting Yakuza fan could say no to this game.

That said, this series could probably do with going on a break for a bit.

1. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

This is my favourite From Software game, and my favourite game from last year.

I have never felt more intune with a game’s combat system more than this game. It takes the aspect of Dark Souls where you need to learn bosses attack patterns and movements and extrapolates that onto every enemy in the game with a core set of patterns.

Initially this starts off very difficult, but as you start to learn, obtain new moves and equipment, and move on to harder and harder fights; you almost gain an attachment to the character’s limbs, as if it’s an extension of you. After understanding the movesets of harder enemies, weaker enemies become such a cakewalk, that it resembles Samurai films where a character would defeat someone and then quip about how they aren’t worth the effort to fight.

By the time I got to end I had such an understanding of the game’s mechanics that fighting the very difficult late-game bosses almost put into a zen-like state of automation.

The boss fights on to themselves are a way and above that of the Souls games in my opinion. There’s just something a lot more intimate about them. Possibly because of the amount of man against man fights, as compared to large monsters. Genichiro Ashina is a noteworthy highlight.

Throw in the addition of more verticality to the level design, and absolutely stunning art direction that just flaunts Japanese artistry; it became very clear to me that this game is my jam.

And now for the anime list, which is just going to be a standard list because writing prose for all of them really isn’t worth it.

My Top 10 Anime Of 2019

Special Mentions:

  • Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai
  • Tejina-senpai
  • Nande Koko ni Sensei ga!?
  • Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

Worst Anime I Watched:

  • Egao no Daika
  • Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudoubu

Top 10:

  1. Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo
  2. Miru Tights
  3. Africa no Salaryman
  4. Sarazanmai
  5. Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san
  6. Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season
  7. Promare
  8. Dumbbell Nan Kilo Moteru?
  9. Joshikousei no Mudazukai
  10. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen

Before I head off, I want to talk about one more thing really quick.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

I got the Blu-Ray for this using my Christmas money, and I quite enjoyed it. That said, it also makes me think maybe Tarantino should do more movies that don’t have violence in them. I won’t spoil why, but let’s just say that the difference between the character focused scenes and what little violence there was; stood out more than some of his other movies.

It’s pretty damn good though. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio do a fantastic job as the main characters. And the movie’s visuals and soundtrack are top notch.

Right, well that was a long blog post. Till the next one.

ADMAN

The Den – 01/01/2019

And so, here are my Top 10 lists for 2018. As per usual, these are my own opinions. Not gospel.

My Top 10 Games of 2018:

10. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory
9. Dragon Quest XI
8. Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon
7. Tetris Effect
6. Detroit: Become Human
5. Valkyria Chronicles 4
4. God Of War (2018)
3. Soulcalibur VI
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
1. Yakuza 6

Honourable Mentions:

  • Monster Hunter World
  • Yakuza Kiwami 2

Released Games I Wanted To Play or Play More Of:

  • Monster Hunter World – Didn’t get very far.
  • Dragon Quest XI – Still playing it.
  • Taiko no Tatsujin – I don’t own it, but I want to play it.

Best HD Remaster/Remake:

  • Shenmue I & II HD
    (Burnout Paradise is still pretty fucking excellent though)

Worst Game I Played:

  • Ni No Kuni II

My Top 10 Anime of 2018

10. Harukana Receive
9. Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
8. Asobi Asobase & Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro
7. Back Street Girls
6. Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san
5. Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san
4. Uma Musume: Pretty Derby
3. Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori
2. Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa
1. 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season

Special Mentions:

  • Conception
  • Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet
  • Takunomi
  • Grand Blue

(I liked FranXX and SSSS.Gridman, but I didn’t feel like they should be on my list.)

There will be a regular blog post within the month, probably.

The Den – 01/01/2018

This is gonna be short.

My Top 10 Games of 2017:

  1. Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash
  2. Gravity Rush 2
  3. Tekken 7
  4. Super Mario Odyssey
  5. Puyo Puyo Tetris
  6. Everybody’s Golf
  7. Yakuza Zero
  8. Persona 5
  9. Nier: Automata
  10. Nioh

Honourable Mentions: Wipeout Omega Collection
Released Games I Wanted To Play or Play More Of: Disc Jam, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, RIME, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Everything
Most Hated: Wolfenstein II, Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

My Top 10 Anime Of The Year:

  1. Koe no Katachi
  2. Yoru wa Mijikashi Arukeyo Otome
  3. Tsurezure Children
  4. Owarimonogatari Season 2
  5. Saekano S2
  6. Gabriel Dropout
  7. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou
  8. New Game S2
  9. 3-gatsu no Lion
  10. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

Special Mentions: 18if, Akiba’s Trip, Shokugeki no Souma S3
Worst Anime: Long Riders!, ClassicaLoid, Hajimete no Gal, Koi to Uso

Expect a new post in the near future. And by that I mean morning.

The Den – 20/08/2017-28/08/2017

It’s been over a year and half since I last did this. I’m not going to talk about every game I’ve played since then. I’m also going to expand it beyond games and anime a bit.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered

The last time I played Valkyria Chronicles, I got myself stuck two missions before the end, fighting a tank boss. And biggest problem I was finding was that I had basically screwed myself. You see, when I played it on PS3 I didn’t know quite a few things, like; You can replay Skirmish missions, what a lot of the different characters potentials were, and the fact that the old guy at the cemetery is RNG based and has a 1-in-10 chance of actually giving you anything (More on that in a bit).

So when I started the remastered version, I decided to do some research and properly figure out the game’s mechanics. But also figure out how to play the game more efficiently so that I could take less time getting back to the point I was previously at. Unfortunately it’s made me hate the game more because I’ve started to rely to heavily on the RNG in it. Missing shots, taking more damage than I would like, and so on; would pretty much lead to me reloading my last save.

On the subject of RNG, I never that old git was on a RNG. So back when I looked up walkthroughs for the game, I would wonder how people got certain skills I didn’t have. Turns out you have to save at the start of every chapter and reload that save until he gives you what you want. It’s stupid as tedious.

The game is great still, but horribly balanced. It’s either too easy or bullshit hard. Worth a look into though.

Castlevania Aria of Sorrow / Dawn of Sorrow

So I played Dawn of Sorrow first. It’s a fantastic game, touchscreen gimmicks notwithstanding. The soul system is an interesting mechanic that lets the player mess around with various powers and gives them a variety with combat encounters. Although like anything that lets players build their own setup, there are a certain combination of souls that will be the most effective.

The movement, which is similar to Symphony Of The Night, continues to be extremely tight, although the platforming can be a little dodgy at times. The game also manages to stay surprisingly challenging all the way to the end, providing you don’t cheese the crap out of everything.

Speaking of cheesing, when I got the Claimh Solais, EVERYTHING DIED VERY QUICKLY AND IT WAS GREAT.

Aria of Sorrow by comparison is significantly easier. There were only two bosses that gave me even a bit of trouble (Death and Julius), and one gameplay section (The Trials). Even then, it’s probably easier than even SOTN is. Shorter too, I completed it in over 6 hours. The Soul system technically originated from this game, but frankly it’s used rather poorly. Also, locking out the true ending unless you grind for specific souls is pretty daft.

I started Circle Of The Moon, but found it rather unforgiving. It throws quite a lot at you considering it’s the beginning of the game and you can only use the whip. I’ll try to get back to it, but I might end up skipping it for Harmony of Dissonance.

UPDATE: I found COTM too slow, so I started Dissonance.

Owning a Gameboy Micro

This thing is freaking tiny!

So I bought one of these things so I could play those Castlevania games, and because the idea of a tiny portable game device seemed fun.

It’s better to hold than a 3DS at least, but it’s tiny size doesn’t really do much for me in terms of comfort. My fingers start to cramp and the sweat on my hands starts to cause my hands to burn (Fun Fact: Your hands are slightly acidic). Additionally, the tiny screen makes it really difficult for me to read.

Now you maybe wondering why I didn’t buy an SP. Two reasons.

  1. SP doesn’t solve the issue I have with the 3DS which is that it’s uncomfortable to hold.
  2. No headphone jack

As for specific problems with the one I bought, there’s only one. The screen plates (It came with two) are a bit scratched up, and I need to either replace them, or find someway of cleaning them.

Anyway, I think it’s neat, but it hurts my hands still.

DOOM I & II

After reading Masters Of DOOM (Which I highly recommend), I got a craving for DOOM. Unfortunately the DOSBox version kept giving me graphical errors, so I ended up switching to the Chocolate DOOM source port.

But anyway, DOOM is still one of the best damn video games ever Goddamn made. The Chocolate DOOM version pretty much retains everything and adds better mouse support, which is great. Also, the last few levels are real fucking hard. Shit like “The floor is lava, and you need to walk through it to go to teleporters to get some keys to open doors to use more teleporters over more lava, so you can activate the bridge that gets you to the exit”. Fun stuff.

But DOOM II. Holy shit. It’s like they took the difficulty of the last few missions of the first game, and then ramped it up to 11. It’s been a while since I played the game, and I must have been playing it on a easier difficulty before now, because there have been multiple times where I enter a room full of really bad things that have a really bad day. But man, the Super Shotgun is still the greatest damn thing.

BLOOD: One Unit Whole Blood

I haven’t played a ton of BLOOD, but it seems even more unforgiving than DOOM. I need to give this more time, it seems neat though.

Dunkirk

It’s a good movie, but not entirely historically accurate. Particularly the way the Spitfires manoeuvre. I won’t go into extreme detail, but Spitfires were often associated with large sweeping movements due to the way the fuel was fed into the engine, traditional manoeuvres would cause the engine to stall.

I haven’t done a ton of research to really rip the film apart, but overall, I thought it was worth a watch.

Anime Roundup

Alright, quickfire opinions.

Tsurezure Children

Heart Attacks: The Anime. It’s a really good romance anime and all the character interactions are so damn cute.

18if

Not the best anime, but it’s so weird that I can’t help but recommend it. Each episode has a wildly different story that focuses on different problems, and the art style sometimes drastically changes to represent a whole different perception of the world. Give it a look.

Koi To Uso

KANASHII KANASHII KANASHII, URESHII URESHII URESHII
The anime is OK, but I think it only makes me get increasingly more angry at government intervention into individual rights. Opening song is awesome though.

New Game

I didn’t think an anime about cute girls doing game development things would resonate with me as heavily as it has. And now the second season is out and really fleshing out more of the characters and really digging into the realities of game development. I wish it had more programming focus though.

GJ-bu

This has been on my list for a while, and man, it’s great. It’s a slice of life anime with great characters and a comforting atmosphere. It’ll probably engross anyone that watches it, and make them hate the fact that it ends.

OK, so this post ended up getting put on hold for a week, so if it comes off as half-rushed, that would be the reason. Sorry about that. It’ll be a while till the next one.

-ADMAN

10/1/2017 – Time To Talk About What’s Going On With My Projects

First off, it’s no longer 2016. Secondly, as always, my apologies for not posting more regularly.

My project, the one I’ve been working on since 2015, is cancelled. You can view what is was here. So, let me discuss exactly what happened with it.

Around July of 2015; I have the idea to make a game, and I figured a platformer would be easy enough. I still had some left over code from Global Game Jam of that year and figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to make something playable relatively quickly. In all fairness, that part went fine. I made something playable in about a day or two. The point after that is where the problems begin.

I figured I wanted to make something with an under-lying story. Told through thing you would find in the environment. Then I thought, maybe put important things like codes and stuff into those pieces of story documents. And then I thought, what if playing the game poorly means you can’t access the real ending of the game.

OK, getting a bit complicated, but I still built the foundations for these systems with relative ease, and they actually worked quite well at tracking how the player was doing in the game. For the record, I got up to 500 deaths while debugging.

But then I decided, I should put enemies in the game.
And make it a stealth game.
And add even more types of enemies.
And then have all the enemies swarm you if you alert one of them.
And so on.

Over about 5 months, working almost everyday, I managed to get one enemy type to actually get in and out of alert states and follow the player. Along with a bunch of other tweaks.

Around January, I decided to work on a side project, and that took about 4 months away from this project.

Once I got back to it, I felt somewhat unmotivated to continue, even though I had learnt some new techniques from that side project that I should of ideally implemented into my main project. I carried on regardless, and implemented a new, stationary enemy type. While doing so, I realised the why I was handling AI was wrong, and that I really should be doing some inheritance-based structure for my code to make things a bit easier. Which never got past the early implementation stage.

Then I just played video games because I was lacking the motivation to work on it entirely, and because I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. The sheer amount of work I had made for myself become far too daunting.

At some point in December, I decided to say “Screw it”, and play video games until the new year. Once the new year came, I looked at what was done, what needed to be done, and what the game was supposed to be; and considered it to no longer be viable to complete within the time frame I had set myself.

And so, here we are.

Overall, nothing significant was made. Frankly when you look it, it doesn’t seem like much. It was my first real Unity project though. But yeah, it looks like something other people would probably make in a couple weeks. As a learning experience, both from learning Unity and in general, I gained a lot of knowledge that will be invaluable for future projects.

Speaking of which; I have started a new project. This time, I decided to actually design what it is supposed to be from a gameplay standpoint, and will not add to it until the base design is implemented and it is absolutely necessary to expand upon it.

I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but I learnt something. Designing the game is something you should do before you start building. Doing things as you go will probably lead to feature creep, and then it’ll just become a nightmare to work on as you add more and more on. Going forward, I’m going to try and avoid that.

The rant on the Xbox One can wait a little longer.

And because everyone loves top-10 lists, here are my top-10 video games of 2016…

10. Senran Kagura Estival Versus
9. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
8. Zero Escape III: Zero Time Dilemma
7. Digimon Cyber Sleuth
6. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
5. Steins;Gate Zero
4. DOOM
3. Titanfall 2
2. The Last Guardian
1. Final Fantasy XV

Honourable Mentions: Hitman (2016), Trackmania Turbo, Amplitude
Released Games I Wanted To Play or Play More Of: Quadrilateral Cowboy, Redout, Dishonored 2, I Am Setsuna, Dark Souls III, Furi, House Of The Dying Sun

And my top-10 anime of 2016:

10. Lupin III Part IV
9. Keijo
8. Shokugeki No Souma S2
7. Fune wo Amu
6. Bungou Stray Dogs
5. Koyomimonogatari
4. Yuri On Ice
3. Uchuu Patrol Luluco
2. New Game!
1. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Special Mentions: Kimi no Na Wa, Sansha Sanyou, Sakamoto desu ga?

Pretty good year for both those things. Now to get back to work.

-Adam

ADMAN’s Den – 28/10/2013: “Hey, Video Games! And Anime! And Manga! And Stuff!”

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I am brilliant at keeping personal deadlines. Oddly enough, it has been exactly over 2 months since I last did this, and I have since decided to expand the subject matter.

Video Games:

Two months is a relatively long time, although it can pass quite quickly depending on what you’re doing. Especially when you got a ever-growing back-catalogue of games like I do.

Hey, ever wanted to play the video game equivalent of a pantomime? Well Puppeteer is probably for you. OK, marketing-esque speak aside; I am genuinely surprised by this game. It’s a solidly written (For the most part) platformer with a unique look and play-style. The gameplay is pretty standard, but the way it flows it quite different to how you would expect, partly due to the heavy use of the scissors as a mechanic. It leads to a far more organic way of moving through the environments and interesting transitions into different levels.

To explain, large chunks of levels are made out of paper, which is the most common material that scissors cut. Using that, you mash your way through the material which keeps you suspended in the air, or following a string path, and so on. It’s pretty cool early on. My only gripes with the game are that the writing dips to being annoying at times, it heavy use of QTEs (Especially on bosses), and that it becomes quite repetitive near the end of the game. Although a lot of the environments and boss fights are really different and interesting. If you have PlayStation Plus maybe wait for it to hit IGC, or get it cheap.

Virtue’s Last Reward does right was Bioshock Infinite did very wrong. If you haven’t played either or 999, skip this segment and start reading SMT: Devil Survivor.

<SPOILERS>

So anyway, VLR is one of the best games I have played on my Vita. Had I not played P4G, it probably would have taken first place. It’s a puzzle-adventure game at it’s core, with the story being delivered in a visual novel style. You play as a dude named Sigma who has been kidnapped and put into a sick game known as the Nonary Game. And you wake up in an elevator with a young girl named Phi. Upon escaping the first room, you meet the other contestants in this so called game. I won’t say who they are because that kinda spoils a few things, also you technically should play 999 first.

Apparently a figure known as Zero created this game as an experiment, and set down rules. It should be mentioned that each player has a bracelet (Just like in 999) that has a number on it. However, unlike 999, this number changes each round of the game. The player who reaches the number 9 on theirs can open the door and escape. Should their bracelet reach zero or they break a rule in the game, the player dies via an injection of a strong muscle relaxant from their bracelet.

Now let me get to why this game is significantly better than Infinite in terms of it’s idea. So the ending of Infinite tries to point out the idea of string theory, and references the divisions in the game as a point to this, however the choices never actually matter because it is a linear game. Well VLR isn’t like that at all. You make choices, very subtle ones at that, that can have dire consequences later on. The game presents a flow-chart with all of the possible outcomes and endings so that you can see how you affect things.

VLR goes really out of it’s way to point out to you why the choices here matter, certain people distrust others, different places can only be explored by going through a certain combination of rooms, and certain people will die or be saved based on that. Then to top it off, you travel into different versions of the same reality to gather information relating to particular puzzles or questions. The game even goes as far as to lock you out of story threads completely if you haven’t seen a particular set of endings yet.

Speaking of which, there’s over 20 endings to this game. There are a few repeats, but for the most part, they are all as crazy and weird as the next one. There’s one specific example where after talking to a character for a while, you end up following them out of a room, only to find them and every other player of the Nonary Game all dead in a room having each of them committing suicide using a scalpel, at which point you follow suit (There’s an explanation for this action).

999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is the earlier game in the series, with a lot of the same ideas, names of mechanics, and so on. Difference being the environment, which is an old cruise ship supposedly the sister ship of the Titanic. Unlike VLR which stuck to an underground base. Also, the way players are killed for breaking rules is far more violent. They outright explode from a bomb placed in their bodies. You get taste of that right early on. There’s not much else to say that can’t be said of VLR, other than the puzzles are more challenging and the main character is hallucinating half the time.

One thing both games do is explain a lot of philosophical, physiological, and scientific ideas that give a general basis upon which the fiction is set. Even though it is a very super-natural game, the theories and research it presents are very much real, and intrigues further research into ideas like Quantum Physics, psychotropics, mental disorders, and so on. Again, something Bioshock just made up for it’s own fiction and a lot of players moronically accepting it as something that actually existed in real-life, especially a lot of the political stuff, which it often got VERY, VERY WRONG.

Basically, if like adventure games, go fucking buy both of these games right fucking now. And leave a few screenshots I took:

Phi being Phi.

HELLA WACK, YO!

</SPOILERS>

In regards to SMT: Devil Survivor Overclocked, I’m still really early in it. About 5-6 hours into the story and still on the “First Day” of events. But my first impressions of the game are that is shows some interesting ideas. The auction house for demons on top of being able to fuse them being kinda cool. They last for about 5 seconds and you have to try and out-bid AI opponents to acquire new demons to mess around with. Other than that, the grid-based, turn-based gameplay is more or less what you would expect from an SMT game, but that’s perfectly fine as it still works perfectly.

The story is kind of interesting, although the characters you run into are not the best. It doesn’t help that the game only features English voice acting, with no option for the Japanese original. Luckily you can turn off voices completely, which has lead to me playing my 3DS completely muted. So yeah, it seems cool, but I find it hard to talk about off the top of my head. I should really start taking notes while playing games if I’m gonna talk about them in this fashion.

Rayman Legends is both very, very fucking awesome; and quite annoying at the same time. First off, I played the game on the Vita, which (At the time of writing) is missing a large chunk of levels from the game, and Ubisoft has yet to deliver on the patch. However, the levels that are there are really creative and fun. It is far more forgiving than Origins was and the controls have been significantly tightened, leading to a much more playable game than before. The problem is the touchscreen stuff they have added.

Put it this way, you’re in the beginning portion of a level, getting into your grove. Then the game puts a wall in your face and says “STOP PLAYING. IT’S MURFY TIME!”, then you start controlling a fairy as you interact with pieces of the level and watch an AI character navigate through these environments instead of you. On top of that, the AI for said character is very stiff, going along a very deliberate path. There is some good news, you can turn on multiplayer and have someone else do the Murfy stuff while you navigate the levels. But honestly, I would prefer it if none of that shit was present, it just seems annoying to me, I want go through these levels! I want to enjoy them and have the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge, not some narrow-thinking AI incapable of emotions.

Other than that, the end-world levels are absolutely amazing. The first one is exactly what they showed at E3 a few years ago, but later on they start playing versions of songs like “Black Betty” and “Eye Of The Tiger”, either as covers with the original instruments, or just go nuts and play the entirety of the song in a Mariachi band style. It is the most awesome shit. Of top of that, the levels practically turn into rhythm game, with enemies and obstacles popping up to the beat of the song. Definitely one of my favourite games of the year, albeit with some issues.

I already a fair amount about Muramasa: Rebirth already, but I figured I would give a small update. I start playing with the male character, and the game is still very much the same. Different bosses and story line, but it plays exactly the same. The swords are very similar also. And I am aware of there being lot more to this game now outside of the main story line.

Another Vanillaware game; Dragon’s Crown seems pretty interesting. I’m usually not a fan of brawlers, but this showing some promise for me. The use of RPG mechanics seems like a nice fit for once and actually adds new moves and options for combat. Another nice feature is the ability to have AI party members, so I don’t have to be alone when going through the game, a major help when not many people I know have the game.

Also, it’s a gorgeous looking game. You might have opinions on the character art, and that’s fine, I’ve seen way more fucked up shit in art galleries when it comes to representing humans; so the designs in that regard don’t faze me at all. But everything about the world from the background art, animations, lighting; it’s fantastic.

As for another game that is astoundingly pretty, but unfortunately lacks the same depth or fun; Remember Me has a really unique concept, the idea of going into people’s memories and changing them to alter their opinions of the world around them and even to manipulate their motivations. Neo-Paris is a stunningly beautiful environment, both the slums and the upper-class areas are well-detailed. The concept art in the game also opens up the ideas that the developer has, showing even larger parts of the city with huge landscapes and environments to climb around in.

The problem with the game is, it falls flat in terms of mechanics. It relies very heavily on combat, without giving a ton of variety in terms of enemy encounters, and when there are new enemies to fight, they are not very well designed, and combat scenes end up lasts way longer than they should because of certain enemies like the guys that hurt you whenever you strike a hit at them, or the invisible mutants. Not very fun in that regard.

The Memory Remix is a really cool idea though, and I personally wish they made more of them throughout the story of the game.

Shadow Warrior is both cheesy as Hell, and kinda dumb fun. I don’t even know why they give you guns, the sword is so awesome to use to cut dudes up into especially tiny pieces. Yeah, the level design could be better and there should be more enemy variety early on; but I still find it quite enjoyable. The amount of 90’s movie/song references is pretty great too.

Right, now let me tell you about ARMA III. It is both the most realistic military shooter a civilian can get their hands on, and the dumbest fucking fun you could ever have. Allow me to explain. You could have a well thought out plan to attack an enemy base, and capture it without alerting the enemy players… Or, you could get a tank, turn on direct comms, and then blare out NWA songs while steamrolling towards their front gate with the full intention of fucking their shit up. And that’s why I love this fucking game. Wasteland is a really fun game mode to play by the way, although it needs fixing at the moment.

Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon seem pretty great. I only played an hour though. Same with Tomb Raider. I’ll try and play more of both, I promise.

StreetPass. Now that is a thing. I honestly wasn’t too hot on the idea before I ended up back in England for Uni. But know that I have people to actually StreetPass with, I’ve come around to it. Don’t get me wrong, it is a dumb through-and-through, but it is very much engaging nonetheless. So much so that I spent money on those extra games that they made.

So what are my thoughts on the games? Puzzle-Swap is a no-brainer. Pass people, get pieces of an image. As for the StreetPass Quest, it’s more of a game, a very basic strategy game, but still more of a game than the Puzzle-Swap thing. You basically go room to room, clearing out enemies and getting hats.

Now the paid games is where it gets interesting. First off, I paid fucking money for a fucking gardening game… And I’m enjoying it! Growing plants, organizing my garden, selling the seeds I get; enthralling as Hell. Next up in the StreetPass Battle thing, where you build an army of Mii characters you collect. It sounds cool in concept, but in actual fact you spend more time building you damn army through just StreetPassing then logging in and ending your turn than you do actually fighting. Kind of a bummer in that regard.

Next couple of games are the StreetPass Mansion, which is a dungeon-crawler/puzzle-piece/timing-based combat game. It’s interesting and kinda deep in places, although if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing you can get killed very quick, which happened to me because I was too busy talking to people or watching something. It has a bunch of levelling up and weapon upgrading you can do if you’re into that. And the last one is a space-shooter where the Mii characters you have turn into a variety of weapons. It’s fun but kinda time consuming. To be fair, with all these games now, I barely have time to play other games on my 3DS because I’m too busy StreetPassing- OH GOD HELP ME!

I’m still playing Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 3 Portable. They’re not really worth talking about here because I’ve already talk about them to death. As with Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, it’s a novelised version of the original story. It’s not bad, but you already know what it’s about.

As for Battlefield 3, well fuck the console version of that game, it’s unplayable. The PC version might be superior in every way, shape, and form; but aspects of that game are still not great. I still think persistence in a multiplayer environment in relation to levels and content locks is a terrible idea that very much turns off late-joining players.

The Battlefield 4 Beta was unplayable for me due to the fact I didn’t really have a PC while it was out for the most part, and even when I did get my computer back, it still had horrible frame-rate issues.

I went into Syndicate with an the expectation that it was a game with a specific style and idea that failed to deliver appropriately. And it met that expectation perfectly. The world is extremely stylized, much like Remember Me, and the music is a highlight; with a powerful dubstep driven soundtrack. What is poor about the game is the fact that is fails to execute any of it’s coolest ideas in a fun way, often using a mechanic once and then never giving you a reason to use it ever again. Although my more pressuring issue with the game is just how much of a console port it is on the PC.

Getting to the point, the FOV is complete crap and will ruin the game unless one is to mod the files to increase the field. It truly is sickening while playing the game, especially with all that stylized camera use that Starbreeze is known for. That being said, this isn’t a disappointing game, as long as you go into it with the right expectations of knowing that it’s a very stylized, but still kind of generic shooter; there is some fun to be had with it.

I started playing and enjoying Saint’s Row 4, then I got to a point where it kept crashing on me and I got reverted to an old save and haven’t played it since. As for GTA V, well you’ve probably played it and enjoyed it. I liked it too. And it is not worth repeating why because you already know the answer.

3D Dot Game Heroes is fantastic game idea that I really wish got released on the Vita. It basically a love letter to Zelda. As a matter of fact, it pretty much is Zelda. Even down to some of the sound effects being the same. Anyway, I finished the first dungeon and worked my way through the rest of the world, it’s really fun and filled with references. You should play this.

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of Pokemon.. Actually I’m not a fan at all, but I still bought Pokemon Y after some very light persuasion from a couple of friends. Well, it’s exactly what I thought it was going to be, another Pokemon game. You collect, train, and fight with monsters. Yep. And you know what? It’s good, and I’m enjoying it. What more do you want from me? I’ve certainly taken my time with it, I’m 16 hours in and I’ve only just finished the second Gym Leader, now I’m just grinding up my main Pokemon into the level 40s.

Also, when I found an Evee, I lost my proverbial shit from just how adorable it was.

And finally on the games front, The Stanley Parable. Do not not not not not not (DO) play it.

3DS Impressions

So I’ve had a 3DS for four months now. My general impressions of the system are mixed. Put it this way;

  • Yeah, the 3D works, but it’s a pointless feature.
  • The sound and visuals are terrible for most games.
  • The console is quite uncomfortable to hold in my hands for long periods of time.
  • The system is more cute than it is functional.
  • The eShop is joke.
  • The friend system is the worst.
  • The touchscreen is poor.

But then there’s this:

  • StreetPass is a cool feature. Dumb, but cool.
  • It might be more cute than functional, but it’s kinda joyful in that regard.
  • Digital Releases of all 3DS games.
  • SD Card slot.
  • Dual-Screens are alright depending on how they’re used.
  • There may not be a ton of great games, but the ones there are, are of a fairly high quality.

Take from that what you will, I know I’m not going super in-detail like I did with the Vita, but that’s because I really don’t have a ton of time to write a lengthy comparison right now. I like the system, but the Vita still stole my heart in this regard. But I have plenty of room in my bag for both.

I promise to do a more in-detailed comparison of the two in the future.

Gaming On A Laptop

It sucks. Don’t do it. Ever.

OK, in all seriousness, if you have a good surface to place it on you’ll be set. And provided it’s powerful enough, it can probably get by. I just wasn’t having a good time with my laptop because I wanted to play stuff like BF4 and a few other high-end games, and couldn’t.

Anime:

Seeing as I’ve watched so much of this stuff this year, I’ll just give you the lists I’ve created.

Stuff I watched:

  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
  • Persona 4 The Animation
  • Persona: Trinity Soul
  • Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
  • Samurai Champloo
  • Kids Of The Slope
  • Attack On Titan
  • Watashi Ga Motenai No Wa Dou Kangaete Mo Omaera Ga Warui! (WataMote)
  • Black Lagoon
  • Eden Of The East
  • Ghost In The Shell
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • My Neighbour Totoro
  • The Girl Who Lept Through Time
  • Paprika
  • Perfect Blue
  • Summer Wars
  • Grave Of The Fireflies
  • Lupin III – Castle Of Cagliostro
  • Akria
  • Death Note
  • Valkyira Chronicles
  • Spirited Away
  • Voices A Of Distant Star
  • Nausicaa Valley Of The Wind
  • Ghost In The Shell: Arise (Pt 1)
  • Millennium Actress
  • 5cm Per Second

Planning To Watch:

Ghost In The Shell: Innocence

  • Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex
  • Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Serial Experiment Lain
  • Sword Of The Strangers
  • Shigurui
  • Hellsing Ultimate
  • Metropolis
  • Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
  • Nodame Cantabile
  • Darker than Black
  • Macross Plus
  • Laputa – Castle In The Sky
  • Porco Rosso
  • Whisper Of The Heart
  • Shinsekai Yori
  • Freedom
  • Persona 3: The Movie
  • Girl und Panzer
  • Mardock Scramble
  • Ghost In The Shell: Arise (Pt 2/3/4)
  • Kill La Kill
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
  • A Letter to Momo
  • The Place Promised in Our Early Days
  • From Up On Poppy Hill
  • Colorful
  • Gurren Lagann
  • JoJo’s Bizzare Adventures

Manga

Similar situation with the anime stuff. I could describe my feelings in more detail, but honestly, you could just check them out yourself.

  • Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack On Titan)
  • WataMote
  • Black Lagoon
  • Kids On The Slope
  • Cowboy Bebop

Attack On Titan and WataMote are the series that I am following at the moment. I purchased all the Black Lagoon volumes they’ve put out, and I’ll read them whenever I get back home.

Other Stuff:

Windows 8 Sucks

Yes, it’s the worst. It is an OS for people who clearly have no idea how computers work, but also fails to cater to the people who do know. It makes even the most basic customisations that you would usually be familiar with a complete hassle, and the “Metro” interface to totally pointless. I haven’t had a chance to update to 8.1 yet, but I doubt it fixes my issues.

There is one thing I like though, when you have dual-monitors (Much like I do), you can have a collection of single-monitor wallpapers, and you have both monitors shuffle through different pictures at the same time, instead of specifically creating dual-screen wallpapers like before because it used to just repeat the same image on both screens unless you went through the hassle of making them yourself.

PC Status

MY PC IS WORKING AGAIN. ALL IS GOOD.

Yeah, it was just transit damage, but I still didn’t have the tools to properly fix it, so I ended up paying someone to do it for me. They also gave it a damn good cleaning which was nice.

Anyway, this blog is finally written. Make sure to check out the latest MGCast, where we shoot the usual shit. I’m out! Later!

-ADMAN