ADMAN’s Den: January – June 2024

Even with Game Pass, the amount of new games I’m playing is pretty low compared to previous years. But I’m keeping myself busy with my horrendous backlog.

As usual, I write this post over a period of time, please excuse any weird changes in writing style.

Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth

Another year, another Like A Dragon game. Although this is actually the third one I’ve played in the last 12 months, I think I could do with a break from the series for a bit. I do love these games, but Jesus Christ, Sega, let me breathe a bit.

Anyway, Ichiban and crew have found themselves in Hawaii after a whole bunch of nonsense involving VTubers, getting cancelled, Japan’s insane anti-Yakuza laws, and religious organisations. There they meet a slew of whacky characters, including Kiryu, who now joins the party and is also playable during the bits where you hang around Japan again.

I won’t prattle on about the story; quite frankly, it goes in some really stupid directions. Jumping the shark territory even. It’s definitely one of the weakest stories they’ve told. Which is a shame considering how good 7 (Yakuza: Like A Dragon) was. And Kiryu seems very out of character at times, but I suppose he’s getting old and getting tired of this shit.

Let’s talk about everything else the game has to offer.

Starting with the combat, they’ve added a positional element to it. You can now move the selected character during battle and line up your attacks in order to hit them into other enemies for maximum damage output. There’s also tag team special attacks you can do with your party members. And as a cherry on top, Kiryu can literally break the turn-based UI and just start wailing on people with real-time brawler combat. Plus, there’s a bunch of new jobs, and it’s much easier to swap around the skills, meaning there’s more reason to grind them all out and mix and match the skills.

It’s a huge improvement over the previous turn-based game. My only complaint is that it still doesn’t mark in the skill list which skills enemies are weak to, like Persona.

The usual side quest hell returns. Although, I must admit, it hasn’t been that interesting this time. A good chunk of it is spent on Kiryu reminiscing about things that happened in the previous games and catching up with people. Ichiban’s side of things repeats a lot of the stuff from his last game, including multiple encounters with a giant Roomba.

Sujimon are back, of course, but with a far more in-depth combat system, making it actually worth doing this time. Plus, there is a side story where you fight other Sujimon trainers around the Hawaii map.

There’s also Sujimon Snap, a Pokemon Snap rip-off where you hop on a tram and take pictures of degenerates doing silly things. I didn’t do it that often; it wasn’t that engaging.

The newest addition is Dondoko Island, which is yet another management game. This time you’re the owner of a small island holiday resort, starring these two children’s TV hosts.

Gachapin and Mukku

They’re being harassed by pirates who keep dumping trash everywhere, and one of your jobs is to clean that up. You then gather the materials from those, along with rocks, wood, fish, and insects, and then build new buildings that guests can visit.

It’s probably the most tedious and restrictive minigame they’ve made. The money you make is called Dondokobucks, and you can only convert about 6 million Dondokobucks into about $300,000. And that’s per day. So if you bank a crap tonne of fake money, you’ll have to spend multiple days to convert all of it. It’s a very boring process, and it seems to only exist to put the brakes on people trying to grind out cash. Believe me, you need money in this game.

As for the arcade games, well, there’s some new ones. SEGA BASS FISHING is the headliner for me personally. I do like a good fishing game. Other games include Spike Out, a third-person brawler, which I can’t say I like all that much, and Virtua Fighter 3tb. I didn’t play much VF this time around, unfortunately.


The loss of the Sega branding on the arcades still hurts me. It’s just not the same.

Well, to round off the minigame, there is, of course, karaoke. We now have a total party size of about 10, and each of them has at least 1 song; a lot of them have 2, and the two main characters have a few songs each as well. That’s a lot of music. My only complaint is the lack of “Pure Love In Kamurocho”. It even gets name-dropped while talking to Seonhee, which put my hopes up that maybe she’d do a duet with Kiryu. Alas, that is not the case. But there are still some great songs in there.

Plus, to top it all off, they finally added a music player to the game that you can listen to while walking around. Believe it or not, Zero actually did this first, but it was a Japan-only DLC. Alongside the fact that a lot of music was originally cut from that game when it came out in English.

That’s Infinite Wealth in a nutshell. I like it, but the series needs a kick up the arse a bit. Or at the very least, a long break.


Believe it or not, I’d never finished the original Half-Life. Hell, I never even played the original GoldSrc version. I played Half-Life: Source, the rebuild of it in the Source engine. But with the 20th anniversary of the game, Valve decided to update the original version of it, making it easier to run on modern systems, along with adding a whole bunch of fixes and features. This gave me an excuse to give the game another chance, and this time I finished it.

Despite some rough edges, it’s still fun overall. It’s definitely a lot harder than I remember, but I’ve also gotten very impatient with games these days; I tend to rush them. I’m not sure if that’s because I started streaming my playthroughs or not. Either way, there’s certainly a lot of things that instantly kill you. Which seems to be a common trend in older games. Player is doing something they shouldn’t? Murder them.

The amount of first-person platforming probably doesn’t help. It wouldn’t be worth complaining about if the character didn’t feel like they were on ice when moving. It makes those sections a lot more difficult than they need to be, and even pressing the walk button doesn’t really help that much. Plus, crouch jumping is mandatory in several places. Remember that shit? I don’t think it’s been a thing since the early Halo years.

And yes, Xen sucks. Jesus H. Christ, it is bloody terrible. The final boss is an utter pain.

And if you want to see this pain for yourself, you can watch my playthrough here.


Finally freed from the trash fire that is the Epic Games Store, I can finally play Sifu. A game where dying makes you older and weaker. It’s got some roguelike elements where you can upgrade your character during your run to get new attacks or better stats, and if you upgrade them enough during that one run, they become permanent and carry over to other runs.

Unfortunately, if you play on an easier difficulty like I did, you won’t ever get enough XP to unlock the permanent upgrades. But you won’t exactly need them either. Normal difficulty is an irritating experience. Healing isn’t much of an option, and your first time through a level is going to be long and harrowing. The idea is to have multiple playthroughs where you use items gained from previous runs to gain access to shortcuts. But I found it so frustrating that I knocked down the difficulty to easy with modifiers that heal you and age you down.

It greatly reduced the amount of time my playthrough took and was a better experience overall.

The combat itself is mostly fine. When you can land attacks and finishers, it looks satisfyingly brutal. But blocking is a coin flip as to whether or not it wants to work. A latter boss fight requires an understanding of parrying, and having it not work about a quarter of the time gets awfully frustrating. This is the Kuroki boss fight, by the way. A bloody terrible boss. They constantly use ranged attacks at you and fly around whenever you get in range to attack her. They’re an utter pain to fight if you don’t know what you’re doing on your first time through.

There’s two endings to the game; one of them you get normally, and the other one requires you to not kill the bosses but to spare them instead. The game gives no hint or explanation as to how you do that, so I had to look it up. But I got there in the end.

If you want to watch my playthrough, you can do so here.

Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

I haven’t gotten as much time with this game as I would have liked, so there will probably be a continuation of my thoughts in a future post.

But let me get to the point: this game is weird. It’s like a time capsule to a 2005 PS2 game, but with better graphics and better controls.

The main character, Jack, is obsessed with chaos. Sorry, let me write that correctly. CHAOS. His obsession with it leads to some of the funniest unintended hilarity in his dialogue. Whenever a character wants to have a monologue, he butts in and tells them to shut the hell up or get to the point. Whenever he meets someone, he demands to know where CHAOS is. It’s pretty great.

As for the gameplay, I would describe it as a Nioh-lite. It takes some of the combat ideas from Nioh and shoves them into Final Fantasy’s job system. Your characters can play as a mage, thief, samurai, and so on. It’s pretty neat. You also have allies with you most of the time, which helps draw attention away from bosses, making things a bit more manageable.

The combat itself works well, as should be expected from the Nioh developers. Level design is OK, with some light puzzles, some branching paths for hidden items, and so on.

My only gripe with it so far is that you don’t get more than 9 healing items, and resting at a checkpoint will only refill it to 5. This can make some of the bosses really difficult at times, especially later in the game.

I’ve still got a lot left to see, so watch this space.

Killer Is Dead

Grasshopper games, and Suda51 games in particular, can be an utter crapshoot in terms of whether or not the gameplay is going to be functional, let alone fun. Killer7 is janky but mostly functional; the No More Heroes games are arguably their best-playing games; and Travis Strikes Again is god-awful on every front. And Killer Is Dead is more on par with No More Heroes.

A basic combat system with combos, guard breaks, guards into parries, and perfect dodges. The last of which lets you wail on an enemy with a flurry of slashes. You have a robotic arm that can turn into a drill, among other tools, but I can’t remember if I used it much in combat at all. It’s fun for the most part; there’s a rough edge to it, but I finished the game without major issues in that regard.

The other part of the game is dates. The main character is a gigolo and goes on dates with multiple women who have their own personalities and tastes. You can get them gifts. And raising their affection high enough will reward you with a weapon.

Unfortunately, this is where the problems begin.

The game, by default, is limited to 30FPS. You can change some settings around to unlock it to 60Hz or higher, but it makes the game incredibly unstable. The UI is tied to FPS, so playing at 144Hz makes it several times more difficult to select menu items as they are sped up considerably.

On top of that, the game will crash a lot, whether you modify the framerate or not. But it is several orders of magnitude worse at higher framerates. Even to the point where the game would softlock in missions due to the script breaking or just outright crashes when starting or playing a level. For example, one of the dating missions would crash during the opening cutscene. And I ended up not bothering to play it until I had finished the main story and lowered the FPS back to 30.

As for the story, well, it’s a mess. Involving vampires, the undead, Moon people, and much more. If you’re the type of person who’s into Suda51’s specific brand of “weird shit”, you’ll probably enjoy it.

Here’s my playthrough of it.

I Expect You To Die 2

The original I Expect You To Die is a neat little puzzle room game. With a handful of different solutions and hidden gags to find, I enjoyed that quite a bit. The sequel is a bit disappointing.

One of the complaints I had with the original was that the puzzles could occasionally have some very obtuse solutions that, at face value, had no logical sense. And that’s something the sequel improves on. Generally speaking, you’ll look at an item, have a general sense of what it can do, and then spend a bit of time figuring out where the hell it is in the environment in which you use it.

But on the other side of the coin, it’s also easier because of it. Don’t get me wrong, the game is more than happy to kill you for screwing up, but generally speaking, I was screwing up less.

This means the levels are a lot shorter this time around. I often finished them in 10-15 minutes. They’re still fun levels despite that. Particularly the one where you’re managing the mechanics of a stage play.

My other complaint about the game is that it lacks subtitles, despite having them in the first game and also being present in the now-released third game. An oversight, perhaps? Either way, it’s a bit annoying seeing as my hearing continues to get worse and it’s becoming more and more difficult to hear people.

Overall, fun, but a bit lacking. You can watch my playthrough here.

Dragon’s Dogma 2

I love Dragon’s Dogma 1. It’s the most “11/10”, 7/10 game I’ve ever played. Which is to say that it is a very flawed game with some ideas that it absolutely nails. The combat and vocations specifically. Climbing monsters, setting them on fire, picking up and throwing things, it was really fun. It was a breath of fresh air for action RPGs for me. I had no interest in turn-based stuff at the time, and other action RPGs had combat as an afterthought. As you can probably guess, I really dislike Skyrim.

Now, 12 years later, Dragon’s Dogma finally has its sequel. Although there was an MMO at one point, but I’ll get back to that later.

Let’s start with my first impressions: the character creator is fairly in-depth, more expanded than Monster Hunter World, but in some ways a bit behind the original. Pawn personalities are directly linked to voices this time, and there’s a lot less variety. Same with the player character’s voice, although less of an issue as they never say anything.

As for physical customisation, it’s better in most ways, but still a bit too easy to make weird-looking creations. Although once you’ve packed on the armour, you don’t notice as much.

Once I got into the game, I very quickly noticed how badly it ran. And I upgraded my PC specifically for this game. I did lower the settings a lot, and that certainly helped a bit. But there’s a lot of stuttering, especially in towns. My understanding is that it’s mostly the AI that’s eating up the processing, and killing every NPC apparently greatly improves it.

It’s disappointing, but after a while and a few patches, it did somewhat improve. And overall, it didn’t detract from my willingness to continue.

And continue, I did. There is a lot of exploring to do. There are a good amount of nooks and crannies to find and plenty of chests filled with crap to eat your weight limit and bog you down. But it’s not just the open world that you can explore freely now; I can pretty much enter every interior in the game, in multiple towns. Which actually reminds me, there’s multiple towns now.

You still need to walk everywhere, but there are now things like oxcarts and overhead trolleys to help speed things up. Although they are still at the mercy of monster spawns, the trolley, in particular, has a habit of being preyed upon by the local griffin. Of course, if you want to avoid that altogether, you can still use Portcrystals placed throughout the world and Ferrystones to be instantly transported. That said, there is no Eternal Ferrystone like in Dark Arisen; they are consumable items again.

Escort quests are still a thing, unfortunately, but you can now pick up the subjects and use a Ferrystone to instantly teleport where you need to be. Although there are instances where you have to escort multiple characters and have to take the long way around.

Side quests overall are a lot more in-depth now. Often featuring cutscenes and even a few branching narratives. Hell, even once the game tells you the quest is over, you can often visit the characters again to get further details or even additional rewards. I was genuinely surprised by the effort put into them. The side quests from the first game were abundant and often pointless, again mostly padded out with side quests. So although there are fewer quests now, they are of much higher quality.

The main story has some interesting things in it, but kind of ends just as it starts to get semi-interesting. If you mainlined the story, you’d probably be disappointed by its length.

I mentioned monsters before. There are only a few new ones; most of the types from the first game return. Especially goblins. The rate at which monsters spawn is ridiculous. I can’t go 20 paces without encountering yet another group of goblins, and in some cases, ogres. It’s a slog, especially early on when you don’t have enough Portcrystals and Ferrystones to just teleport where you need to go. You do get some respite if you return to an area you’ve previously cleared out, but overall, it gets really tedious dealing with monsters constantly.

One of the complaints about the original game was that it only had a few dragons to fight on set spawns, with the exception of the post-game. This time around, there’s a lot more to fight. They still have set spawns, but there are many more of them. And you have to fight them this time, as the story requires it near the end of the game. They’re not particularly difficult to deal with if you have the right gear.

Watching monsters fighting each other is cool, but quite rare.

But you might want to avoid fighting them, as the developer’s had the wise idea to add a hidden mechanic to them: Dragonsplague. This shit can ruin your entire playthrough. It causes your pawn to misbehave and gives them a more sickly appearance, and then after a while, when you rest at an inn or your home, your pawn will go berserk and murder everyone in town. You can easily avoid this by killing your pawns by throwing them in water when you know they have it. The tricky thing is knowing when they have it. The game only tells you the first time one of your pawns catches it; if it happens again, you don’t get that warning. So you have to be vigilant around your pawns to see if they misbehave or start looking off.

To be fair, they did patch the game to make Dragonsplague happen less frequently but also increase the visual effect on the pawns. The glowing red eyes are usually a giveaway.

Getting on to the combat system in general, it’s much weightier than the original Dragon’s Dogma. I don’t know if I prefer it or not. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed the combat a lot. I’m just struggling to figure out which one I liked more in terms of feel.

What I am annoyed with are the vocations. Although they did add some new ones, the overall number of vocations hasn’t increased. And there are actually fewer hybrid vocations. Plus, the ones that are there offer significantly limited weapon usability and a lot fewer skills.

For example, there is no Ranger class now. You can’t equip a bow and daggers at the same time with multiple skills for each weapon. You can either be a thief or an archer, with one weapon each and 4 customisable skills. Compare that to the original, where something like Ranger would let you have two weapons and 8 skills.

That said, there is the Warfarer vocation, which lets you switch weapons on the fly and assign any skill from class to it as long as you have them unlocked. Plus, if you unlock every class and then switch to Warfarer, you will gain XP for all of those classes even if you don’t use them. I personally used it to have both a bow and daggers. Unfortunately, I can only use three additional skills alongside the required one to switch weapons. So the class is basically useless.

Dragon’s Dogma Online had 11 vocations with even wilder skill sets, like Alchemist, which lets you punch people with massive gold fists, and a crap load of monsters. Very little of that has made it into Dragon’s Dogma 2. And that’s ultimately what is disappointing me. The cutback in skills, hybrid classes, and considerably less crazy vocations than Dragon’s Dogma Online really let me down.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is good, but we did not go to the moon.

Ender Lilies

I went into this game with high expectations. People were falling over themselves, saying how good of a Metroidvania this was. Well, I played it. And I wanted to like it, but it just kept getting worse.

It’s a difficult game, probably not as challenging as Hollow Knight, which is also a game I didn’t like that everyone else seemingly does, but the issue is that unlike most Metroidvanias, you don’t really get any stronger. You’re a glass cannon pretty much the whole way through. This is hammered in by the fact that your primary attack is unupgradable even half a dozen hours into the game, even after obtaining various key items that unlock multiple pathways.

Combat kind of reminds me of Hollow Knight, but you do have more attacks. You take damage very inconsistently and have no invulnerability frames that I can remember, so you can get absolutely riddled very quickly. And you will, as most of the enemies have ranged attacks while most of the player attacks are melee-only. Plus, you can only use those abilities a specific number of times because they’re limited. You get more when you rest at a checkpoint.

Getting back to health, the amount of damage you take is extremely variable. One attack might hit you for maybe 1/8 of your health bar, and then the same attack might hit you for 3/4 of it. It’s really annoying, as enemies can rinse you while you’re just trying to explore.

I’ll step away from the negativity for a bit to say that the art is really picturesque. There are some really great-looking backgrounds and some really well-done visual effects. The music is also pretty good, but it can sometimes be ill-fitting for areas where there’s a lot of combat.

Back to the critique and on to my last point: The map screen is awful. The map is broken up into areas with interconnected lines. Each area is just a square, with no detail telling you what that area looks like or how it’s laid out. It’s a pretty useless map screen that makes backtracking an utter pain, as I have to try and remember the layout of these areas while also trying not to die.

Overall, I’m really frustrated with it. I am doing a playthrough of it, but I have no idea if I’ll ever finish the game at the time of writing this.

Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

This game got lampooned on release for its performance and technical issues, particularly the PC version. There was apparently a lot of stuttering and crashing occurring for players who played it during that window. It ended up getting a reputation for being one of the worst PC ports of last year.

Well, it’s finally on Game Pass, more than a year later, so how is it?

In short, I haven’t had any major issues. Most of the problems I’ve had have been visual-related. Things like sparks being overly bright, flickering textures, broken animations, and occasionally characters missing bits of their bodies. And the game has only crashed twice on me.

I can see right through these Jawas

Performance is adequate. Most of the time I’m getting above 60FPS, but I do see drops and stutters semi-frequently. Especially going into newer areas. That said, it certainly seems to have improved compared to the footage I was seeing on release.

Well that ain’t right.

Animations, and particularly platforming, have been the most concerning issues. There is a substantial amount of jank to the game. I often find that I can bully my way into new areas or places I’m not allowed to be in yet. And often, normal platforming stuff would just break because Cal would refuse to wall run or grab onto ledges. Sometimes my input would get eaten, Cal wouldn’t double jump, and I’d fall to my death. Thank goodness for the accessibility feature that removes fall damage.

Even with these issues, exploring is still an entertaining experience. Even the smallest planets end up feeling dense thanks to all the pathways and hidden items thrown about. The ability to fast travel to different checkpoints and animal mounts makes backtracking through previous areas much easier too. The map screen could still be better; it’s a bit of a pain to navigate. But on the plus side, they now highlight where all the collectables are after interacting with various computer panels throughout the game.

Combat has been iterated on with more combat stances. So along with the single, twin, and dual-bladed movesets, there’s now a heavy moveset and a Lightsabre & Blaster combo moveset. I quite like the latter of those two and use it with the dual-bladed sabre. There’s a whole bunch of new enemy types, including battle droids and many more monsters.

There’s a bunch of hidden bosses around as well, some of which are sometimes unfairly difficult. Plus, a bunch of challenge rooms where they take those enemies and throw multiple of them at you. Although, by the time I get to those challenges, I’ve had my fair share of those enemies and know all their attacks and tells.

The hub area the game has is a lot more lively than the Mantis, featuring a host of characters, many of whom give you side quests or sell you cosmetic items. The more NPCs you meet, the more filled it gets. There’s also a DJ that plays a whole playlist of original songs.

There are a few mini-games. There’s a garden on the roof where you can grow a vast array of plants. And there’s a “Holotactics” table where you pit enemy units against other units and see who wins. There’s a handful of rewards you receive if you win those fights, so it’s worth doing.

As for the story, it’s a bit barebones. You spend the whole game looking for items that help take you to a place called “Tanalorr”. A hidden dimension that supposedly would act as a haven for Jedi. And there’s little else going on besides that. I don’t care that much about the characters. The writing in modern video games is awful, and characters talk too much in them, and it’s no different here.

You basically go to a place to find a thing, then go to another planet, find another thing, go back to the previous planet to find something else on a different path, and rinse and repeat. I don’t really care; I’m more focused on the gameplay. I’ve been playing it while listening to podcasts anyway.

Bury me with my Gonk droid.

The only annoying thing that does bother me about the story is all of the activities the characters reference that happened between the previous game and this one. Events that, quite frankly, sound far more entertaining than what I spend most of my time in the game doing. Honestly, whatever the hell happened in the time gap would have made for a more interesting game.

I’m enjoying my time with it, bugs and all. And I’m almost done with it. Hopefully, the ending is better than the previous game. The ending kinda blows.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

After 8 years in development, Hellblade 2 came out. You probably didn’t even realise.

Anyway, it’s about 6 hours long. It’s slow as balls, mostly made up of walking sequences and cutscenes. When the combat does play into it, the segments last way longer than they need to. The combat is on par with the first game, but that’s not a particularly high bar. It’s still quite sluggish, and enemies take forever to kill unless you pop your slow-mo high damage mode.

The puzzles are somehow even more dumbed down than the first game, with the only real challenge being the lack of HUD. Even then, it’s virtually impossible to get stuck or lost.

At least the graphics are nice, but they’re insanely demanding. On my Ryzen 7 5800X3D and RTX 3060, I have to lower everything to the absolute minimum with DLSS just to maintain 60FPS. Unfortunately, the game is a hell of post-processing effects and letterboxing, which ruins the quality of the picture and makes it an eye sore to look at. But it still isn’t as bad as the first game.

It took me 6 hours to beat, and I can’t say I enjoyed the experience. It’s just really shallow. If you want to check it out, play it on Game Pass, or just watch my playthrough.

Return To Castle Wolfenstein

Due to being unable to progress further into the game Singularity and rage-quitting Ender Lilies, I decided to switch to this game instead.

Made by the same devs as Call Of Duty: United Offensive, albeit prior to that, Return To Castle Wolfenstein is a tough game to go back to.

First of all, you need to patch the game to support modern resolutions. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck playing it at 1024p at a 4:3 resolution. Other issues have more to do with the gameplay. Mandatory Stealth Sections are the biggest pain in the backside. There’s only 2 missions where stealth is required, but it’s a terrible experience. Enemies are overly sensitive to sound and also spot you from miles away. It doesn’t help that the first level of the two has very open areas that you can very easily get spotted in, and any alarm is an instant game over.

Furthermore, in that last level, if you get any kind of alert in the last area, you literally cannot finish the level because you need to keep the last guard alive, but if they’re alerted, the level end script cannot be activated. The second stealth level is a bit easier to deal with as there are more cover points and fewer open areas. Although there are still snipers and things to avoid, it is generally a better experience.

The next point is the gunplay itself. Damage and accuracy seem wildly inconsistent. The guns don’t have terribly tight groupings and often will not go where you’re shooting them. Enemies can be very bullet-spongy at times, particularly late into the game when you get the super soldiers. What’s more baffling is just how much more damage the enemies seem to do with the same guns you have. There’s a late-game weapon that shoots out arcs of lightning. In the player’s hands, it doesn’t kill opponents all that quickly. But when a super soldier uses it, your rear end is toast in record time. The FG42 is also a weird one. It does 10 points of health each hit, and considering the accuracy of enemies can vary wildly, you can sometimes enter a room and get instantly minced because there happened to be 2 or 3 guys in there with them, and their aim just happened to be set to God Tier mode.

On the subject of weapons, you don’t get a ton of variety early on. I spent most of the early levels with nothing but a MP40. To be fair, I didn’t need more than that, but it was disappointing. Once you get later in, you unlock things like flamethrowers, gatling guns, and the previously mentioned lightning weapon. Although only the gatling gun is even remotely effective at Nazi killing.

There’s also no shotgun in the PC version. Only the OG Xbox version has a shotgun in it. It is extremely disappointing considering id Software’s lineage.

Other than that, level design is OK. Some levels require a lot of backtracking to find the single items that you need to finish the level. There’s a good amount of secret and hidden rooms with goodies in them. There’s only a few levels that I really hated.

In conclusion, it’s tough to play these days, but it’s not completely awful. You can watch my playthrough here.

Other Stuff I Played:

Persona 3: Reload

For some inexplicable reason, they remade Persona 3. Specifically, they’re re-done to be more visually in line with something like Persona 5, especially the user interface. The menus and battle UI are very reminiscent of Persona 5. The music is still good; some of the new stuff is really good, but there are a few songs where I think the original is better. Plus, there are a few new battle mechanics and some new animations to go along with them. Unfortunately, I’m still very early into it (I haven’t even gotten to the first boss), so I don’t have much more to say other than that The Answer is a DLC episode. Which is a bit scummy.

Holo X Break

When I saw that the HoloCure devs were making a brawler, I thought it might be worth checking out. And although the visuals are on point, the gameplay is frustrating. It really isn’t a game you can play by yourself. The bosses are very difficult, and a lot of enemies use ranged attacks, which, if you’re soloing the game as a melee character, you’ll get really frustrated with it. I got to the last boss before giving up on it.

Warhammer 40K: Boltgun

Less of a DOOM clone and more of a Quake clone, possibly even taking ideas from Painkiller. It starts well but gets very tedious. Enemy variety isn’t great, the guns aren’t terribly fun to use, and then it removes your weapons every episode (Like DOOM, where episodes are multiple chapters). I tried to enjoy it, but got really bored with it.

Evil West

Cowboys hunting demons. It sounds like a great premise. And some of the visual designs are pretty cool. Unfortunately, the story fails to deliver on it, being pretty boring and quite frankly lacking some self-awareness or cheese. The gameplay is more God Hand than anything else, focusing heavily on melee combat but without tank controls. However, the controls are pretty messy, with a lot of directional button inputs and weird choices for inputs. That makes the combat a bit frustrating. One of the later bosses is especially crappy to try and fight, as it turns into a bullet hell while you try and slowly dodge all of it.

Manic Miners

I’ve been wanting to play Lego Rock Raiders again for years. And I’d given up all hope. And then one day, I stumbled across some discussion about it, and someone posted a link to something called “Manic Miners”. And guess what? It’s a full-blown remake of the game with a bunch of added features. And I’m loving it. It has some pacing issues (One of the tutorials took me nearly an hour before I really understood everything in it), and there isn’t quite as much automation as I’d like, requiring some more manual direction to units to do things over water or lava. But I’m sticking myself pretty deep into the campaign and really enjoying it.

Anime Corner:

Dungeon Meshi

This anime is really entertaining and surprisingly dark. It involves a party going into a dungeon to rescue one of their party members, but due to a lack of finances, they have to survive by eating the monsters in the dungeon. The elf character makes a lot of humorous faces. It’s the kind of anime that makes me think about how a game with similar mechanics would be, not just the food part, but also things like “Mana Sickness” and some other things later in the anime that I don’t want to spoil. There’s some things in here that I wish Dragon’s Dogma would steal, or maybe a new game with the ideas of both mashed up.

That’s everything. I wrote most of this post quite close to the June deadline; I’ve been quite busy as of late and put updating this post over time into the backburner. You might notice that there are a lot more videos associated with the games here. As part of my plans I made a while ago, I decided to start making more video content for the games I was playing, whether it be demos or the first parts of my playthroughs. It’s not really resulting in views in the way I’d hope, so I might change up the strategy a bit.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been playing. See you in January for the second half of the year and the usual Top 10 lists.


ADMAN’s Den: July – December 2023

Another year, another list of games I played. As always, I write this over a period of months; please forgive any inconsistencies in my writing style.

Only Up!

This gained some popularity as a stream game, and it was cheap, so I decided to give it a go to see if I could get even a small morsel of an increase to my average viewer count on Twitch. I tried Jump King back in the day, which is a very similar kind of game, but I really didn’t enjoy it. But this game seemed easier, and it was.

That said, it’s pretty fucking jank. The controls are messy, and the collision detection is spotty at best. The physics are very much tilted against you. There are a couple of points where the game will forcibly knock you off and force you down to the bottom of the map to start again. Thankfully, the devs added a lift that gets you back to the midpoint if that does happen.

Another thing that’s annoying is the voiceover, which is a bunch of nonsensical motivational messages. And you can’t disable them, as the sound options do absolutely nothing.

Reference to a better game.

It’s not that good of a game, and I kind of wish I hadn’t bothered with it.

Happy Game

Despite the title, this isn’t all that happy of a game. This is made by the same folks as Machinarium, which I didn’t play much of. But much like that game, it’s a point-and-click adventure type of thing with some pretty messed-up visuals and morbid puzzles to boot.

The game is about a kid having a series of nightmares around various objects and a pet, constantly trying to get back the items the dream is taking away from them. The one involving the dog was especially uncomfortable, and I went and petted my dog right after finishing the game.

The visual style kind of reminded me of the music video for “Welcome To The Machine” by Pink Floyd, although more bloody and gross.

It’s quite a short game; I think I finished it in under 2 hours. Worth playing? Kind of, but don’t spend too much on it.

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

Well, since the last time I talked about this game, I have finished it. And it’s a pretty good game despite the technical issues, and probably the sole reason I had Game Pass as long as I did this year.

But yeah, I kept playing it and made my way through some pretty average bosses and a couple of decent ones. The highlight of which was Lu Bu, whom I fought twice. He has a deceivingly normal fight that seems harder than it actually is. But if you bait out his special attacks, you can exploit him pretty consistently and eventually get him in a critical state where you can deliver a high-damage attack. His second fight is definitely easier than his first, although most of that is due to knowing what to expect from him. But don’t get me wrong; it still took me a few tries to get him.

The other bosses can be interesting, but very few stand out. The only other example I can think of besides the last two main mission bosses is a boss that has three phases. Two phases are on one health bar, and then after defeating it, it revives and spawns another health bar, and then spams you with charge attacks that you have to parry and get the boss in a vulnerable state to do heavy damage.

The very last main boss is pretty fun. It’s a one-on-one fight against a human enemy, which is actually fairly refreshing considering what the previous fights were up to that point. It’s not difficult either; it only took me two tries. After that fight, in the post-end game, there’s not really much at all. There are a handful of more difficult missions and the option for new game+ and I think there is an endless mode as well, but I can’t remember.

Either way, technical difficulties aside, I had fun with this. Nioh is still probably a better game overall, but the additional platforming and verticality are nice additions. I like the parry system, although some instances of it can come off as bullshit at times. And the Chinese short sword and associated moveset are really fun to use.

Don’t pass on it; it’s better than you think.

A Plague Tale: Requiem

The second game I’ve played to completion on XCloud. And with my improved Internet speed, it was a much better experience than the last time. I could actually see what I was doing instead of getting excessive amounts of macroblocking.

Anyway, Plague Tale: Requiem is very similar to the first game, but with some refinements. You still need to avoid rats, and there’s now even bloody more of them. The stealth stuff has been improved, and you can now avoid a lot of combat if you want, especially with new tools that get rats out of the way. The tar mechanic is quite effective.

They’ve doubled down on the rats acting more like a liquid simulation, which has led to some additional mechanics for how they work. Although these mechanics are frequently used only once. There’s a section where Hugo is able to shoot out geysers of rats from the ground at will to stop incoming enemies. Late into the game, there’s a section where the rats pulse out towards you like waves, and you have to take over so they go around you. The game is full of these one-and-done types of game mechanics, and most of them are well implemented.

A new weapon you get is a crossbow, and as you can imagine, it adds a few more mechanics to the game, like shooting rope or bait to lure the rats away. You don’t get a tonne of ammo for it, but it’s pretty neat.

I’m struggling to say too much about the game because I can’t remember much due to how much time has passed since I played it and when I started writing this post, but also because I don’t want to spoil the story. But I will say this: I think the ending is extremely underwhelming and abrupt. It very much soured my view of the whole game. You do all this work dealing with rats, puzzles, and stealth gameplay, and your reward is unfulfilling.

It’s pretty, at least, and looks pretty good via XCloud.

Chronicles Of Riddick

I’ve been meaning to play this Vin Diesel simulator for a while. Jokes aside, these games are considered cult classics. I’m a fan of this era of Starbreeze, being a big fan of the first The Darkness game. But this game is a bit mixed. Some highs, some interesting things, and then a good dash of bullshit thrown in.

The game is about Riddick, an extremely competent killer, going to a prison called Butcher Bay. This is a prequel to the movie Pitch Black, where the prison is mentioned in an off-hand comment. I actually didn’t watch the first two films until I was most of the way through Butcher Bay. There’s a lot of extra world-building that is quite interesting, but unfortunately gets put to the side in favour of everyone’s favourite baldy anti-hero.

But I digress. Riddick gets sent to prison. When in prison, you talk to the inmate and get side quests to do, including killing other inmates or getting specific items for them. Although The Darkness also does this, I wasn’t quite expecting it from Butcher Bay, considering how linear I was expecting it to be. There’s other optional stuff that’s worth doing too, and some of it can be missed as the game doesn’t always tell you that you can do it. There’s a bit early into the game where you break into the warden’s shower room. Here, you can change into one of their uniforms and go through the rest of the area without the guards bothering you. However, I didn’t know about this and proceeded to kill everything between there and the objective.

Stealth is a fairly major part of the game, but it’s kind of wonky. Enemies will often see you in the dark. Noise is a big factor as well, but it’s hard to tell how loud you’re actually being. Enemies’ sight ranges are pretty ridiculous as well. Especially once you get to the mines section, the stealth starts breaking down, and you’re turned into mince meat. And I died a lot. You get near bugger all health, and it melts away in a fraction of a second in most combat situations. For a while, I thought it was an issue with the unlocked frame rate, but it wasn’t. You just get rinsed on normal difficulty.

Still looks pretty good despite its age.

There is a section in the Dark Athena game that does have FPS-dependent physics, however. There’s a gravity chamber that will pull the player towards it if they don’t fight against it, but at a greater than 60Hz frame rate, the moment you enter the room, you’re flinged straight at the damn thing, killing you.

The game’s visuals still hold up for the most part. The environments look great, but the character models look a bit dodgy, and the animations can be a bit stiff.

Just to end on a high note, there’s some mech sections in the game that are pretty fun because it’s the only time where you’re able to obliterate enemies while negating most of their damage.

Good game, but a little rough these days.

Call Of Duty WWII

I played this as part of my WWII COD Marathon streams (Collection for this game here), with this being the last game of the marathon (I don’t own Vanguard yet) and the one previous being World At War. And the immediate difference between this game and that game is the order of magnitude improvement in the graphics. Holy shit, it looks good by comparison. To be fair, we are comparing an early-ish PS3 game to a late-PS4 game, and the changes in technology between the two games are pretty substantial, but playing them back-to-back was a bit jarring.

Playing through all the WWII CODs was a bit of a slog by the time I got to WWII. At some point, the repetitiveness of shooting Nazis (With some Italians, Japanese, and Socialist French thrown in for good measure) gets a bit tedious. WWII changes that formula by adding in some much-needed gameplay variety. Stealth sections, optional objectives, and changes to the pacing bring some much-needed diversification. In addition to this, allies have specific abilities that can assist you, whether it’s giving you health packs, ammo, or even artillery support. It’s a nice addition and kind of reminds me of kill streaks.

Generally, I found the gameplay to be a breath of fresh air compared to the other WWII games.

I also want to make a small note about the sound design. COD has always had some pretty good sound, but this game takes it a step further and really hammers in the audio detail. The bullets whizzing by, the sounds of metal hitting metal, lead hitting flesh, and the explosions all have much higher fidelity than the previous games I’ve played.

So what’s the bad part? Its inaccuracies.

There’s a lot of Russian guns in Normandy, and although the Germans did modify and use Russian weapons, there’s no evidence to support the idea that they made it that far west. There’s also a whole mission where you kill the guy running Paris alongside the French Resistance, but in reality, that dude surrendered without issue. Hill 400 is renamed completely, and you and your company go and take it. But in reality, The Big Red One battalion took that hill and was even covered in Call Of Duty 2. Some dude did a video on all the inaccuracies; I’d highly recommend searching it out if you’re interested.

The last negative point is just the story. It’s a bit shit. There’s a couple of dumb scenes that lead to characters getting killed, which didn’t really need to happen. Or rather, the setup for them is so bad you look at it and think, “If they had just used their head and done something a bit different, they could have lived easily”. There’s also some scenes regarding war crimes that are just far too short to be impactful.

Other than those negative points, I actually enjoyed my time with the game quite a bit. I was expecting it to be much worse based on what people had to say about it.

Bomb Rush Cyberfunk

I played Jet Set Radio Future some time ago and really enjoyed the aesthetic and music, but the gameplay is dated at best and clunky at worst. Very floaty jumping and getting speed were issues, and there were a lot of dumb platforming and combat sections. So when Bomb Rush Cyberfunk was announced, much like everyone else, I was stoked to play it. And after a number of years, it’s here. I played it, and I love it. It’s really damn good.

Imagine if Jet Set Radio made sweet love to the Tony Hawk series; this is the kind of game you’d get. You like skateboards and BMXs, along with the already existing stable of inline skates. Each has their own unique ability, which helps you get into specific places to get collectables.

But why do I say Tony Hawk? Well, besides the previously mentioned skateboards, the combo system is very reminiscent of those games. Pull off more tricks, get more combo multipliers, and get more points. Doing things like wall running and grinding into corners also increases the combo multiplier.

As a cherry on top of the movement option, you get a rocket boost back. Using it while doing tricks lets you do a special trick, which also has the bonus of renewing your combo timer while doing manuals and such. The entire suite of movement options is just perfectly tuned. It feels so good to play.

As for the minute-to-minute gameplay, you go from district to district facing off against rival crews, challenging their lines, and eventually having a face-off where the crew with the higher score wins. None of that is particularly difficult. The other side of the game is dealing with the ever-intensifying police force. Get a high enough heat level, and they will send freaking mechs at you.

The only three negatives I have with the game are: the combat is kind of blows; the police get really annoying later on when you’re trying to explore and do stuff; and once you finish the game and do all collectables, there is NOTHING to do but grind around. If they had nicked Skate’s Own The Spot feature or something or some kind of score competition between your friend group, that could help lengthen my playtime a bit.

And I really do want to play more of it. Since I finished it, it’s been on my mind since. Mostly the soundtrack, which I’ve been listening to almost every day since. It’s a damn good soundtrack.

The devs still update the game and have been adding a lot of quality-of-life improvements, and the modding scene is getting pretty wild. Custom maps are soon to be available too, so I might check in again once some good ones get made.


This is my first experience with this type of game. The genre seems to be referred to as “Auto Shooter Survival”. In other words, it’s something akin to “I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1” but instead of having direct control over when you attack, it does it automatically. You gain extra attacks and abilities the longer you survive and level up.

In case you’ve been living under rock, this game is a HoloLive fan game featuring VTubers and their greater “lore”. You play as the VTubers, and you fight against representations of each of their fanbases. Usually made of chibi versions of animals or objects. There’s a lot of references in there that someone more obsessed than me would likely appreciate. Especially a lot of weapons you get and the combination weapons you can craft from them.

The pixel art is really well done. The girls are very cute in their chibi forms, and the various enemies emote quite well in their simple animations. It’s got style.


However, once you get late into a stage, it becomes a complete clusterfuck of lights and colours. Not necessarily in a way that impacts gameplay. I never felt like it was getting in the way of me being able to see where I was going or what I was aiming for. But it’s certainly a little overwhelming.

When I started playing it, I did start to get a Tetris-Effect-like response from it. Seeing the play symbol pickups in my dreams, along with hearing the coin sounds. After a while, it stopped, but it was an interesting observation nonetheless.

The game is still in active development as of writing this, and I’m looking forward to more characters and weapons being added.


Gun is Neversoft’s answer to Red Dead Revolver. But unlike that game, this one is actually open-world. It’s a little rough by today’s standards. It required some file modifications to get working on my PC correctly. It only runs at 30FPS, which feels pretty bad, but it’s mostly consistent, at least framerate-wise. The controls are not great by default, but with a little tweaking, you can make it feel a little better.

What I found surprising was just how violent this game was. I’m not talking comical over-the-top stuff either. Yes, you can blow limbs off and that’s all good, but you can also find people in agony after a gunfight and finish them off. Or scalp them, which you can do to pretty much every enemy. You can’t sell the scalps or really do anything with them, but you can do it. You also see some throats get cut, which are surprisingly more detailed than you’d expect.

I suppose in this day and age, some people might look at this game and condemn its “racial stereotypes”. But I found that it was only skin deep; once you actually look at the characters and see how they act and do things, you realise it’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s hard to explain in detail, but it ends up making sense.

I wasn’t super compelled by the story, and most of the side quests were pretty bad. But it’s kind of fun for the time I had with it. It’s also another game I streamed and you can find the collection here.

Star Wars: Republic Commando

Over the years, I’ve heard nothing but good things about this game, about how underrated it is, and about how everyone who played it desperately wants a sequel. And I fail to understand why.

The game has an interesting point of view. You’re a 4-man squad of elite clone troopers during the clone wars. You get to see a bunch of different battles from the films from that perspective, but you also get some original missions that fill in a few gaps between the movies. It also introduces General Grievous, although I don’t know if this is his actual first introduction into the universe as the characters seem to know who he is already. But it’s the earliest piece of media I’ve seen him in. Anyway, it takes you to all these places, but the actual story is very bare bones. I think there were a bunch of logs and notes that I picked up during the game, but there’s no cutscenes at all. So there’s a lot of detail that’s lost on me.

As for the minute-to-minute gameplay, well, it’s a lot of shooting. And the gunplay is bad. Enemies are really bullet-spongy, especially the Super Battle Droids. The guns lack recoil and weight, so shooting them feels really awful. You also can’t gauge their power. Throw that in with enemies that do not go down easily, and you just feel like someone trying to take on a tank with a pea shooter.

The game difficulty is a bit all over the place too. There’s often parts where you’re just blasting through, mowing down everything in your path, and then one section will bring it to a screeching halt and kill you and your teammates over and over again. There’s a section late in the game on a bridge that I had to do over and over because I just kept getting minced by the Supers that spawned there. There’s little to no cover on the bridge, and my teammates kept getting killed.

Another aspect of the combat and level design is setting up tactical positions for your teammates. Sniping positions and turrets specifically. These sections would be a lot better if my teammates were more effective at eliminating the enemy and if it played more like a tower defence situation. As is, they’re often quite short, and I don’t think the idea was fully fleshed out.

To top it all off, the game is just very repetitive. It brings very little to the table besides shooting people in corridors, even in outside environments. There are definitely some ideas here, but they just aren’t fully realised. I suppose those shortcomings are due to the time constraints of getting this game out in line with the Clone Wars TV series and Episode III. I’m disappointed, but it is what it is.

You can watch my playthrough here.

Dusk Diver

I’ve had this one on my to-play list for quite some time now. I first saw it during the Indie Live Expo, where I thought the combat looked interesting. Well, now I’ve played it, and I can say I’m a bit disappointed with it. The combat is probably a highlight, but it’s still only decent at best. It’s not terribly deep, but it’s responsive enough. The real problem is that every combat section lasts for WAY too long. A typical video game encounter might have a dozen enemies or so, right? And a typical game wouldn’t spawn more. Here, it’s more than that and usually spawns about 2 or 3 more rounds of them. So each encounter ends up being a massive slog.

The enemy variety isn’t too bad, but some of the bigger ones end up having way too much health. The boss fights end up being a highlight, but at some point I just wanted to finish the game and be done with it.

Outside of the combat sections, you get a Yakuza-lite experience. You run around a borough of Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei; unfortunately, the name is too long for me to remember. Around the city are collectables and side quests. You actually need to collect the collectables, known as Shards, to be able to continue the story. Thankfully, the game offers you the option to talk to a dude, give him money, and then they’ll be highlighted on your map. Even without that, I never got blocked from progressing.

As for the side quests, they mostly involve running around town, talking to people, taking pictures of things, or having more fights with the usual bunch of monsters. A lot of it is fairly meaningless.

To top it off, the story is excruciatingly dull. Basically, you gain a bunch of magical powers, you control some small monsters that turn into humans, and they assist you in combat. And you spend the whole game trying to stop the world those dudes are from and your world from merging. That’s about it. It drags that plot out quite a bit.

I’m a bit disappointed with it. I have no idea if the sequel is better or not. If you want to watch my playthrough you can do so here.


Sprawl makes a great first impression but gets worse as it goes on. With the highlights being the movement mechanics and the environment art.

The game is set in a cyberpunk world where machines have taken over control of the central government. You play as an assassin. And you work your way through the level, murdering dudes and robots.

As I said, the movement mechanics are pretty good, taking a page out of Titanfall’s book with wallrunning, sliding, dashing, and more. The larger environments lend themselves well to those mechanics, with a lot of space and height to run around in. Unfortunately, the game also spends a lot of time in smaller environments like apartment buildings and sewers. Plus, there are several places where it’s just open-space arenas.

That said, when it works, it works. But Titanfall is still king. And I mentioned that the environments look great. Very worn and filthy, full of Chinese characters as you would expect from a cyberpunk theme, despite the fact that no one actually uses the language. The atmosphere is definitely on point when you’re running around urban areas. The industrial places are a bit too dull. Like I said, they’re more or less sewers.

But how’s the shooting? Decent. There are a lot of difficulty options, including how much damage you take and receive. I would personally recommend that you ramp up the player’s damage output to its maximum, as the enemies are bullet-spongy as fuck, to the point where it’s a detriment.

The difficulty is all over the place in general. I got through most of the game without issue, but in a few places I would just die repeatedly and quickly. I’m not sure if it’s due to bugs or if I just wasn’t paying attention to my health.

The weapon selection is pretty crap. Nothing is all that crazy; nothing really does the damage you’d expect. And the shotgun is terrible. It takes about 2 seconds to pump and is a complete piss-up in regards to how much damage it will do. Some enemies will get minced in one shot at point blank range, and then another enemy will tank 2 or 3 shots under the same scenario.

I’m a bit disappointed in it, but I did finish it. And you can watch the playthrough here.

Like A Dragon: Gaiden – The Man Who Erased His Name

Despite their best efforts, Kiryu is back again as the protagonist of a Yakuza- Wait sorry, Like a Dragon game. Although this time he’s called Joryu. Why? Well, play Yakuza 6, and you’ll find out why. But due to those events, he is unable to return to the orphanage and is now working for the Daijouji faction, doing odd jobs for them.

Anyway, this game runs somewhat in parallel to Yakuza: Like A Dragon / Like A Dragon 7 / Yakuza 7 (Jesus fucking Christ, this naming system somehow managed to get worse). And I’ll stop talking about the story because you really should just play these games already if you haven’t. The story is such a huge part of it that spoiling it would be a significant disservice.

So let’s talk about the side stuff and general gameplay.

Kiryu 14 seconds after being freed from the responsibilities of running an orphanage.

They brought back fighting styles, just two this time. You have the classic Dragon Of Dojima style, which I pretty much used exclusively as it does a lot more damage, and the Joryu style, which lets you use gadgets and is more focused on counters, grapples, and fast jabs.

Don’t get me wrong, Joryu style isn’t awful or anything; I just found the gadgets to be somewhat lacklustre in terms of power and a bit gimmicky. There are three gadgets to use: a grappling hook, which is probably the most effective, an explosive cigarette, and a swarm of drones.

Combat in Gaiden seems to call back to Yakuza 3 a bit, with a lot of enemies getting hyper-armour and blocking your attacks frequently. Compared to 6, where enemies got thrown around a lot from Kiryu’s punches, kicks, and getting walloped from a bicycle. Plus, Kiryu gets stunned and knocked down a lot more in Gaiden. You feel a lot less powerful over all. Furthermore, there are many more fights in general, which now take longer in general, which slows the pacing down. Considering the length of the main story, that’s probably intentional.

Kiryu on the town

Story progress is actually gated behind getting a certain rank on a casino boat (Long story, play the game), which unlocks new areas of the ship to progress the story. How do you get higher ranks? Akame’s Requests and Colosseum battles.

Akame’s Requests take the place of side stories from the previous game. There’s quite a few of them; some of them are simple, like giving a person a healing drink, and some are more complicated, involving getting pictures of certain monuments, finding rare materials, and, in one case, doing a series of quizzes. They can get really tedious, and some are downright a pain (Karaoke and Pool specifically). But, if you’re already familiar with the series’ side quest stuff, it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

The Colosseum battles are pretty dull. There’s some variation, but for the most part, you fight the same enemies over and over. There’s also team battles, where you use teammates that you get from various side quests, DLC, and recruiting. These fights are a bit different as your teammates use special abilities, plus you can play as other characters if you want. But I just found the whole thing to be a drag, notably near the end of the game where the Platinum fights require your teammates to be levelled up to be strong enough to stand a decent chance. And the way you level them? Either talk to a trainer and pay an obscene amount of money to train them, which can also fail, or do the lower-ranked fights over and over.

Do you like hurting other people?

In terms of other side stuff, karaoke is back, of course, but so is pool, which is surprising as I thought the Dragon Engine couldn’t support it. That said, considering how it behaves, I suspect they took the code from Zero and jammed it in there like some unholy blend. However, thanks to that, something else has returned. Pocket Circuit.

I spent an alarming amount of time playing Pocket Circuit, as is per tradition when I play these games. I’d wager it added about another 10 hours to my play time. There’s not much more I can really add to that because it’s not that much different from its previous incarnations. The surrounding characters around it aren’t really all that noteworthy either. But hell, I still did all of it.

And for the last thing, it comes with a demo for Infinite Wealth. It’s pretty rare for a game to come with a demo these days, let alone a demo for its own sequel. It’s not terribly long; you play a bit as Kiryu and then play as Ichiban for the rest. You can walk around town and collect trash, and then you continue the story and get a boss fight. There’s actually two experiences in the demo; what I just described is the story demo. There’s a “Hawaii” demo, which is just an exploration demo where you can do various side quests, whizz around on a Segway, and do a small handful of mini-games. One of those is karaoke, and the other one is a Pokemon Snap-esque thing where you take pictures of perverts from a tram car.

And don’t worry, I will rarely ever mention Pokemon on this blog.

Anyway, if you want to see my full playthrough of Like A Dragon: Gaiden, you can view the collection here. But I’ll warn you now, a lot of it was Pocket Circuit.

Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart has been in development for what seems like eons. Every once in a while, I’d see a bit of a tech demo of it, whether it be a weird shader, some really neat mechanical animation, or horrifying monsters. And in 2023, it finally did come out. Although I didn’t get a chance to play it until very late in the year.

The whacky art style is certainly retained in the released game. The mechanical animation is excellent, and the Soviet-era utopia art design is pretty interesting. The music is fantastic as well, especially the choices in licenced songs, which of course include a couple of songs from my favourite Russian band, Kino.

Now, I did stream the game, and it does come with a “streamer mode”. So why did I hear the licenced songs? Simple: The streamer mode doesn’t work. Weirdly, none of the songs got me muted on Twitch, but the music that plays when using the upgrade machines did.

As for the gameplay, it’s a very weird genre mishmash. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it takes its ideas from Bioshock, and in some ways it does. But there’s other influences, like Far Cry, thrown in. Let me explain.

You get a bunch of Bioshock-esque powers that you can upgrade, as well as a bunch of weird weaponry. But then you get outside, and suddenly there are a variety of other small housing areas you can visit and do stuff in. Much like Far Cry 3 onwards. You can even drive a shitty red Lada to each of the places while listening to the radio.

There is a point to going to these places; there’s a series of dungeon-like areas you can access that have a series of challenges or puzzles to face. As you progress through them, you find chests that contain upgrade parts for your weapons. Which you’re going to need, but I’ll get to that later. The dungeons can vary from OK to dreary. A couple of them have annoying boss fights in them, while others (If not all of them) have stupid puzzles involving magnets, valves, or both. They’re neither interesting nor difficult, so near the end of the game, I was really sick of them. Thankfully, there’s only about 8 of these places.

But getting back to the gunplay. In a word, it sucks. Particularly early on when they do near bugger-all in terms of damage. Enemies feel bullet-spongy as a result, and I spent most of my resources early on crafting ammo. The shotgun in particular, is disappointing. Often taking 4 or more shots at point blank range to kill a standard enemy, regardless of where you hit them. With upgrades, it does eventually become the 1-hit wonder you’d expect it to be at close range, but you’re basically at the end of the game at that point.

The bosses could be better. A lot of them aren’t actually difficult to deal with, but rather just eat all of your ammo. More often than not, I would have to reload a save before a fight, stock up on rocket launcher ammo, then go into the fight on slightly more even ground. However, none of them stood out that much.

The most interesting part of the game, which only comes up a couple of times, are the surrealist dream-like sequences where you’re platforming around a bizarre looking environment filled with odd architecture and clown versions of military equipment. These segments really remind me of some of those earlier tech demos, and that’s what I was expecting more from this game.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that the main character occasionally calls people “Crispy Critters”. This doesn’t mean much in English. But apparently the original Russian line is a bunch of nonsense that translates to “Fucking Pies!”. A friend who was watching my stream let me know about this, and now I’m trying to find a way of using it in my general vocabulary.

You can watch my playthrough here.

Gal Guardians

Originally called Grim Guardians, Gal Guardians is a Classicvania-style game featuring characters from the Gal Gun series. Which, admittedly, I haven’t played much off. And for once, I’m not lying for a joke; I really haven’t played much of the games. I played a bit of Gal Gun VR, and that was about it.

Anyway, you play as two characters, kind of like Portrait Of Ruin (A Castlevania game I still haven’t played), with two very different weapon sets and sub-weapon sets. Maya uses slashing attacks and magic; Shinobu uses a submachine gun. Yes, you read that correctly.

Shinobu & Maya

The art is pretty good, the player characters animate well, and there’s a lot of neat details. The enemies look pretty good too, although they’re fairly standard types. They would not look out of place in a Castlevania game. Then again, Castlevania has even crazier enemies, like maids and mirror monsters.

As for level design, well, like I said, it’s Classicvania. Mostly linear levels with a boss at the end. But there are branching paths like Rondo Of Blood, but most of these either lead to additional secrets or just loop back around. Once you get to the ending section, even more pathways open, and you can unlock even more stuff and find more students to rescue. And there is one alternative version of a boss. These additional pathways do make replaying the levels a bit more tolerable as they provide differences in level design, environments, and enemies.

The endings are worth noting, as there are three of them. One is a “Normal” ending, one is a “True” ending, and one is a very direct reference to Gal Gun. Getting the first of the three is easy; the second one requires you to find some machine parts; and the third requires you to find every student in the game.

Endings being gated behind collectables can be a mixed bag at times, but here it’s not too bad. At least compared to the endings in some of the Castlevania games, which require you to obtain some pretty arbitrary items hidden in some rooms and break some random wall somewhere.

Pretty good game, you should check it out. And if you want to see my playthrough, it’s here.

Other Stuff I Played:

Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae

I remembered people talking about this game some years ago and how good the combat was. And the combat is pretty decent; however, in every other respect, it’s awful. The camera is bad, it’s really repetitive, and the bosses have really cheap attacks. I played it for about an hour and never touched it again.

Metal Wolf Chaos

I could tell you in words how I feel about Metal Wolf Chaos, or you could watch me play the whole game in three videos.

But I think it’s fair to say, it’s a life changing experience.

Hi-Fi Rush Spectra Doors

There’s one last thing for me to do in Hi-Fi Rush, and it’s the Spectra Doors, a series of challenge rooms you can find throughout the game that are only accessible in New Game+. The first 8 aren’t too bad, but the following 8 that unlock after that are considerably more challenging. Unfortunately, to get the secret ending, I need to finish these, but as of the time of writing, I still haven’t done that.

Need For Speed: Unbound

I played this on Game Pass, first via XCloud, but then I downloaded it so I could play it at a higher framerate. Unfortunately, the improved frame rate doesn’t solve the problem of the cars handling like boats. It also doesn’t solve the problem of the God awful voice acting and shit music that plagues it. This is another game I played for a couple of hours and dropped. I’m not surprised it didn’t sell well.

Wild Arms 5

I’m quite early in this still, but the hex-based combat system seems pretty good. I started playing this on my phone on a day when my power was out. I’m playing an undubbed version, so I get all the Nana Mizuki goodness. Or I would if the game had more voiced lines. I still need to finish the other games in the series, but I will play more of this periodically over the next year.

Heavenly Sword

I remember enjoying this game back in the day, but I never finished it. So I decided to finally rectify that. The combat is mostly fine, but I had forgotten how broken the blocking mechanic was. It simply doesn’t work. Parrying does work, but I only started using it in the last fight to fling projectiles back at the boss.

The cutscenes are a lot fucking weirder than I remember. King Bohan is extremely horny, and the behaviour of the other characters is borderline nonsense at times. Plus, the cutscenes often feel very disjointed with what you’re doing in the gameplay at times.

Nariko is a pretty crap character. I think the games industry is bad at writing women now, but this character back then has all the same issues as female characters now. Overly arrogant, borderline delusional, and completely unable to listen to reason. Every other character is more or less exploited in favour of her deranged worldview. I don’t really want to go on a rant about this, so I’ll leave it at that.

Finally, emulate this game if you can, it runs terribly on PS3. And you can watch my playthrough here.


This one is still in “Early Access”, or, to be more specific, only Chapter 1 is available. Some people have compared this to Blood, which I can certainly understand given the movement mechanics both these games have and their love of throwing dynamite at people. The art style is pretty cool, quite dark, and retro-inspired. The guns are designed well but a bit wimpy to use, but you can upgrade them. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.


A game dedicated to rock climbing. The gameplay is pretty solid, and the controls work well enough. The rope-swinging stuff is really fun. I might try to emulate it for SandSurfer if I ever get to that point. It’s fairly linear, but there are some multiple paths and additional exploration to be had. It’s fairly short too; I got through most of it in a day. It’s pretty neat, and it’s on Game Pass. You can watch my playthrough here.

Kannagi Usagi

Imagine Sekiro, but with a bit clunkier of a combat system, as a boss rush game, and with anime girls. That’s Kannagi Usagi in a nutshell. For what it’s worth, it works quite well. The animations are stiffer than I’d like, and there’s no animation cancelling of any kind, but for what it’s offering, the execution is pretty decent. It is quite graphically demanding. I suspect that’s due to some advanced Unity features, high poly assets, and the fact that characters are VRM models. Which you really shouldn’t be using for characters in a game.

Did I mention it’s completely free? You can watch my playthrough here, here, and here.

Wild Hearts

Another game I haven’t played much of. It’s a Monster Hunter clone from Omega Force and Koei Tecmo that EA of all people published. It’s available on Game Pass, which is how I’m playing it. The combat is snappier than Monster Hunter, and the monster designs are a bit more grotesque. Unfortunately, it runs like absolute shit, even on the newer rig. I’ll play a bit more of it and see if I like it more or not.

My Top 10 Games Of The Year

It’s that time again. This year was better than last year for releases for me, but my top 10 might still surprise you. But before that, a bit of other stuff.

Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of

There were so many games I missed out on this year due to lack of finances, so I’ll just list them in bullet points.

  • Star Wars: Jedi Survivor
  • Street Fighter 6
  • Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon
  • Neptunia: Sisters VS Sisters
  • Hogwarts Legacy
  • Resident Evil 4 (Remake)
  • Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising

There’s also Ion Fury: Aftershock which I do own, but I haven’t played yet because I’m still working my way through the base game.

Worst I Played

I think Only Up is probably my least favourite game of the year. It’s not hard to see why; it’s a streamer bait game, one I fell for hook, line, and sinker for. It didn’t really bring new viewers to my channel, just spam bots. And it just sucks. It’s jank as fuck, and the reward for finishing it is non-existent. Fuck this game.

That said, worse games did come out this year, but I did not play them.

Right, now here is my Top 10:

  1. Planet Of Lana
  2. Kanngi Usagi
  3. Jusant
  4. Gal Guardians: Demon Purge
  5. HoloCure: Save The Fans
  6. Like A Dragon: Ishin Kiwami
  7. Like A Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
  8. Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
  9. Hi-Fi Rush
  10. Bomb Rush Cyberfunk

I actually managed to play 10 games I liked this year. 1 & 2 were very close for me. But Bomb Rush edges it out by a hair. The movement mechanics are just so good, the music is amazing, the style is great, and there’s so much potential for more. Hi-Fi Rush is excellent as well, and you should absolutely play it, but Goddamn, Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is good.

Anime Corner:

Suki na Ko ga Megane wo Wasureta

This anime is bad for my heart. The two main characters’ interactions are cripplingly adorable. The character animation is also very well done. The backgrounds are 3D, but they’re not completely awful to look at. The whole plot of it is that an eccentric girl forgets her glasses, and the boy sitting at the desk next to her starts realising how cute she is as she has to rely on him to help her do things with her poor eyesight and gets closer to her to share textbooks and so on. Bit of a slow-paced show, but worth watching.

Uchi no Kaisha no Chiisai Senpai no Hanashi

A typical office romcom, but the girl is a short but buxom woman who is a senpai to the male character. Kinda like Uzaki-chan, but with less teasing and bullying. Instead, various characters are pushing the two together romantically, and the interactions and scenarios are pretty good. They don’t get too pervy either, which helps on the believability side, even if you’re the type of person who prefers fanservice. Worth checking out.

Under Ninja

It’s probably the weirdest show about ninjas I’ve ever watched. It’s got international conspiracies: a pregnant woman in a rubber suit disguised as a strange old geezer, a 20-something-year-old bum pretending to be a high schooler, and a cat riding a motorcycle. That said, the manga seems way crazier and more vulgar, with a lot less censorship. Maybe the BDs will add more, but I suspect they won’t. So check out the manga instead.

My Top 10 Anime Of The Year

Special Mentions:

Oshi no Ko

But only the first episode, which is technically a prologue movie. It’s really well done, and I enjoyed the show overall, but that first episode is really stand out.

Under Ninja

I already talked about it above, but it’s weird and entertaining. But again, read the manga.

Bungou Stray Dogs 4th & 5th Series

This is quite a long-running series at this point. But the 4th and 5th series really turn the status quo on its head. The gang is now wanted as criminals against a force so insanely overpowered that it seems borderline impossible that they would overcome it. However, the way they handle that situation is why this is only in the special mentions section and not the top 10. But I still enjoyed it.

Worst Anime I Watched:

Keikenzumi na Kimi to, Keiken Zero na Ore ga, Otsukiai suru Hanashi

The guy’s a virgin; the girl isn’t a virgin. Drama ensues, and it made me want to slam my head against the wall with how terrible the character’s responses to these situations are. Don’t watch this; it’s a waste of time.

Top 10

  1. Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 3
  2. Uma Musume: Pretty Derby – Road to the Top
  3. Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story Season 2
  4. Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo
  5. Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!
  6. Kaminaki Sekai no Kamisama Katsudou
  7. Uchi no Kaisha no Chiisai Senpai no Hanashi
  8. Princess Principal: Crown Handler 3
  9. Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia
  10. Suki na Ko ga Megane wo Wasureta

I’m going to clarify something. If you check my MyAnimeList page, you’ll notice that the anime I ranked the highest for 2023 is Birdie Wing, and yes, I enjoyed it a lot. But the anime that has had the longest impact on my mind and that I still think about is Megane. Insomnia was also really good, but some of the drama was a bit daft at times. My tolerance for teenage angst is still quite low, even after all these years of wasting my time watching Japanese high school anime.

Pretty interesting year for anime; there was a lot of stuff not even in my top 10 that I would still strongly recommend, like Pluto, Nier Automata, Dekiru Neko wa Kyou mo Yuutsu, and more. Some might not like a lot of the shows that came out this year, but you can safely disregard their opinions as they are likely casual as fuck anyway.

And that’s it. Look forward to a slightly more normal blog post soon-ish about 7DFPS and my plans for the year.


ADMAN’s Den: January – June 2023

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

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like A Dragon: Ishin (Kiwami)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Expect You To Die

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

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

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

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

Valkyrie Drive -BHIKKHUNI-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Planet

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

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

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

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

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

Ghostwire: Tokyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo mode can be fun at least.

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

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

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

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

Hi-Fi Rush

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

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

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

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

I understood this reference.

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

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

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

Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty

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

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

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

The photo mode seems neat.

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

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

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

My character.

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

Planet Of Lana

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

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

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

Other Stuff I Played:


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

GrimGrimoire: OnceMore

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

Henry Stickmin Collection

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

Midnight Fight Express

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

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


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

Slayers X: Terminal Aftermath: Vengeance of the Slayer

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

Touhou Luna Nights

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


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

Anime Corner:

Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!

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

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

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a

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

Kaminaki Sekai no Kamisama Katsudou

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

Other Things?


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

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

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

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


The Den: July – December 2022

Another year goes by, and another post looks back at the latter half of it.

As per usual, I write this post over a period of months, it can affect the writing style or flow. Please forgive any inconsistencies.


Where does one start with Killer7? I restarted this for my Twitch streams and it’s a really interesting game in places. Let’s get the bad news out the way first, the gameplay is pretty crap and the controls are even worse. The hit boxes for shooting are pretty bad too, I often ended up missing shots I thought were dead-on and sometimes getting headshots despite aiming for the chest.

The game takes place is a few different places, sometimes an apartment building, sometimes a school, and even a small town. Nothing crazy, but the layouts and how you get around them are a bit bizarre. In one of the boss fights I was running circles around the boss in a series of interconnected ambulances.

Speaking of boss fights, they’re probably the highlight of the game. The first one is pretty normal, shoot bad guy in the weak point type of thing. Then later I’m fighting a woman in a schoolgirl outfit and anime girl head mask in an empty car park.

I don’t really know how to explain the story. You’re just gonna have to play it. I will say that I didn’t like either ending. Nothing is particularly well explained. Maybe that’s for the best.

I wouldn’t say I like Killer7, but I think people should play it. Much like Drakengard.

Phantasy Star Online 2 – New Genesis

I liked the original PSO2 but there was a lot of bullshit in it. Minerals, random crap in my inventory, difficulty scaling not actually making any damn sense and just killing you instantly despite being a higher level than what you’re fighting, no real exploration, and so on. But there was a charm to it.

New Genesis fixes somethings and keeps a lot of the bullshit. There’s more exploration now because I can actually explore the world and get all those minerals and fight the same enemies over and over. To be fair, I’m spending a lot less time in loading screens and more time playing. In base PSO2 I spent most time wondering around the hub doing random crap or playing in the casino. And the missions I did were mostly the EXP boosting ones you got from the dailies. I’m still doing dailies in this, but there’s more interesting things to do and I can get side quests done in the process.

I do not know what the story is about. I don’t give two shits about it. So that’s all I’m gonna say on that.

My character transferred just fine, although I made a lot of changes.

Gameplay wise, I’m playing a Ranger and the archer classes, I did have Gunner as a subclass but switched for variety sake; and it’s pretty boring. There’s a lot of the same enemies and the amount of attacks I have is very limited. I’m not sure if I’m understanding the systems poorly but I don’t unlock any new attacks or abilities from the class menu. Maybe I need to fuck around with the other classes and see if that changes anything.

The streamlining isn’t all bad though. I no longer need to go to a bunch of different parts of a hub to do different things and can instead do them from a menu or just a single NPC. There isn’t a casino yet though. I suspect it’s gone. But the item enhancement is much better. No more secret items you need to reveal or multiple version of the same item to upgrade stuff. But there’s still a limit.

Welcome to the paywall. Want to upgrade your gun more? You need this specific item that you can only get via recycling a crap load of other items, the login bonus, or by buying it. Want to change the colour of your outfit? You need a Colour Pass which you get from Scratch Tickets, login bonuses, or buying them. And so on. The most annoying one is storage though. New Genesis shares storage with the original, so if you have a bunch of crap in there from base PSO2 so you’re very limited with what you can throw in there. Unless you pay, of course.

Last point, which isn’t as true now as when I was making notes for this post, there’s a lot of grinding to be done. Story content is gated off unless you obtain a certain combat level, which is a number that represents your level, upgrades, weapon potential, etc. in a general way. Think Light Levels from Destiny. I ended spending a couple of weeks doing dailies and side missions to boost my level up to where it needed to be so I could get to the next story part. Upgrading your weapons and unlocking class skills boosts that number considerably, as I found out at the end of those couple of weeks. Since then though, I’ve become over-levelled doing repeats of daily quests that give you a crap load of EXP.

New Genesis is alright. I’ll probably stop playing it soon though, unless something happens that grabs me. As of 7th of January 2023, I have uninstalled the game.

Final Fantasy X

I’m still pretty early into this. I stream this game with my friend while we chat about it. The HD Remaster is a bit of a mess and requires a mod to work the way I want. So I have PlayStation button prompts and Japanese voice acting enabled, making the experience a bit more bearable. However, the visuals a bit of a mixed bag.

The backgrounds look pretty good, especially the pre-rendered ones, but the characters look weird. Like their eyes are popping out and their face is rigid. Another issue is that various FMV cutscenes break and get replaced with a green screen, which is a problem with the PC port that is unfixable.

The combat is OK, it’s normal turn based stuff, no bullshit ATB system. I’m not super into the story yet, like I said I’m pretty early. I do like Lulu and Rikku though, but maybe for the wrong reasons. Blizball is fucking terrible, just layers of complicated statistical bullshit for something that really didn’t need it. Just make a handball game, don’t add all this crap.

God speed, kid.

I think Yuna sucks. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Shadow Of The Colossus

I started playing this again when I was doing research for that action game idea I’ve mentioned on this blog previously. I wanted to get a good idea for how the character moves and interacts believably with the world and the giant enemies. There’s a lot of animation systems at play here and to properly explain everything I learnt would take a blog post of its own. I’ll probably do that once the side project reaches a good point.

Anyway, I kinda got addicted to playing again and wanted to Platinum it on PS3, which was the version I was playing. It was going fine up until I had to do all the hard mode time attacks. Basically, the physics are bugged on the PS3 version due to the slightly higher framerate and some other changes. So movement on the Colossi causes the main character even more than in the PS2 version. This makes a handful of Colossi significantly more difficult that they should be, and it’s very frustrating. I’m struggling with the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 15th colossi’s time attacks because I unable to get a good foothold to attack them with.

For the time being I’m playing other things, but I do intend on finishing those time attacks.

Splatoon 2 – Single Player

I liked Splatoon 1, but felt the single player portion was a bit lacking, but it wasn’t terrible. Splatoon 2 fares better in its offering content wise, but the quality of that content may vary depending on your tolerance for bullshit.

The single player works by having a bunch of different hubs with multiple levels and a boss. However, first time through each level you’re forced to use a different weapon. And this is where the problems begin. If there’s a particular weapon you hate using, you’re probably gonna have it force upon you for some really crap level.

The gunplay is fine, but the movement is slow and when using some weapons it’s slowed down even further. And then to top it off, there’s an alarming amount of platforming to do, especially if you’re weirdo like me that wants to find every collectable first time through. And if you suck at the platforming, even more bad news, you’re on a lives system. Die 3 times, and you have to start the level again.

The music is still good and there’s a lot of charm in the game. I did play the multiplayer a bit and even won a few matches. I did not play the expansion pack, not sure if I ever will.

Bayonetta 3

I would not call Bayonetta 3 disappointing. But I would say some of it’s ideas are really bad.

To start off with there’s multiple characters now, alongside Bayonetta there’s Jeanne and Viola. They both have their different playstyles, and in the case of Jeanne, a completely different genre for her levels. Bayonetta still plays pretty well, I can muscle memory the dodges most of the time but as I got further in it became more of a problem as I was rushing to just finish the damn thing and having timing issues due to the differences with Viola. But I’ll get to her in a minute.

There’s a good amount of exploration in this one, lots of branching paths leading to challenges, items, and so on. In one level there was a whole mini-dungeon hidden away. And all the collectables are stuff like music, models, things like that. Decent stuff.

A new thing they added, most likely nicked from Astral Chain, are monster companions during fights. They’re fully controllable and do quite a bit of damage, they add quite a bit to your combo. But much like Astral Chain, you’re completely vulnerable while controlling them and it’s awkward as Hell to use. The bigger problem is that they balanced the game around it, if you want high combos and high tier awards for each encounter, you have to use them. There’s also a fuck load of them, like 6 monsters or so. Each have different attacks and powers, so there’s a lot of experimentation to be had. Or you’ll just stick to a couple like I did.

Speaking too much stuff, there’s just as many different weapons to use and most of them are kinda awful. You get to preview them early in the game too, various challenges in the levels will often provide weapons that aren’t available at those points in the story on your first time through. Again, there’s too much and I ended up just sticking to the default weapons most of the time, although I did like whip.

Right, Viola. Absolute trash. The biggest problem in terms of gameplay with her are the major differences in controls and timings for dodges and Witchtime. The biggest control issue being that pressing block in time to parry causes Witchtime, and dodge doesn’t. For further annoyance, it’s on a different button. So my muscle memory for Bayonetta is useless. The dodging itself isn’t particularly effective either, mostly being more of a side step than an actual dodge. I’ll get back to the Witch Time problem in a moment. Her ultimate attack form thing plays a lot better than her base from at any rate.

Her personality is also a sticking point. She’s a bit of a whiny git, even in Japanese. She also does stupid things often to the point where I wonder if she’s taken one-too-many hits to the head.

Back to Witchtime, I’m not sure what they’ve done, but it seems very inconsistent. Often I would go into Witchtime and try and land an attack and half way through the animation it would just wear off. This is especially irritating during challenges that explicitly set that you can only cause damage during Witch Time. It’s not as bad with Bayonetta but with Viola it feels outright broken. There were challenges that were outright impossible because I simply couldn’t get Witch Time to work.

Last negative point, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Looking at other people talking about the game, it seems like I wasn’t the only one.

I like the game overall, and I think it’s better than 2, but Platinum need to stop adding gimmicks for gimmicks sake.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Trilogy (Original)

It has been a while since I last played a COD game, and two of these I already played. Now I only played the single player obviously, because the multiplayer is either dead or a Hell hole. The campaigns are still very fun although there’s a clear shift in scope between COD4 and MW2 & MW3.

Before I get into that though, one small note. A had a weird application duplication bug that would occur when I changed my settings in-game. It would cause the game to open multiple instances of itself on my desktop and I literally could not end the process because I would get stuck in each instance. The only way I could close them was my logging out and logging back on again which would close most applications. This happened in all three games. But my settings did save so I didn’t need to re-do it again and risk the same bug.

Call Of Duty 4 is my clear favourite of this trilogy, it’s still incredible and very chilling in places. “All Ghillied Up” is still a fantastic mission, the levels are surprisingly challenging even on the normal difficulty. One thing this game does that the other two didn’t was unlock cheat codes for collecting the intel laptops. The other two don’t give you anything for getting them other than an achievement.

Modern Warfare 2 is still entertaining, but I always felt it was a little too short. A lot of the levels go by at a breakneck pace. But looking at my highlights from when I streamed it, it apparently was about the same length as COD4. But the levels are way more bombastic and absurd than anything in the previous one, and that makes it a little less memorable in my view. Not to say that levels like the oil rig and prison aren’t cool as Hell. But it’s also an easier game overall.

Modern Warfare 3 is the one game in this trilogy that I hadn’t played until this point. Just from the opening alone, it sets a very different precedent. There’s no training mission, no tutorial about how to shoot your gun and throw grenades, just straight into the meat grinder. In terms of pacing it works well and certainly makes a statement in terms of story that “Shit is fucked” and World War 3 waits for no man.

In terms of levels, I’d say it’s about on-par with MW2, although there are a lot more gadgets and in-game cutscenes. On that first note, there’s a level where you pilot a small robot tank thing that’s got a whole array of weapons attached to it and just riddle any poor sod daft enough to be in-front of it. That’s a semi-new gameplay idea.

The story is alright, can be a bit hard to follow what the Hell the overall world situation is. You’re getting thrown about all over the place and playing multiple characters, some of which only for a single level. The ending is satisfying, although it is a QTE sequence, but everything up to that point is a full guns blazing experience.

Something did irk me while playing through it, and that’s just the current state of the world. Tensions are very high right now, and the strong WW3 themes in this stated to make me feel a little uncomfortable. But that feeling has eased a little bit as of late. I’d glad I finally finished trilogy off though.

ANNO: Mutationem

When I first saw this game, it was on Indie LIVE Expo. A little while later, a demo for it appeared during one of Steam’s Next Fests. Something about the demo intrigued me so I wish listed it and waited for a sale because I couldn’t afford anything. Once it was cheap enough, I picked it up. And my general opinion on it is that it good.

The art style is on point and it nails the cyberpunk look. The sprite animations look pretty good, although a lot of it seems to be using 2D bone animation rather than sprite sheet, but I think it works well. The outfit selection stuff is nice, it has a couple of gameplay related events too. But dressing up the main character as a maid or office lady is pretty great.


Combat is alright. You get handful of different weapons, I mostly used dual-blades because I prefer fast attacking weapons and the katana wasn’t doing it for me. There’s a ranged weapon and a greatsword too. It got a bit repetitive about mid-way through the game as you get stuck in this underground section for quite a while and I eventually just teleported out of there and did side quests for awhile just to stop myself getting burnt out. Crafting is a element of this game, but it doesn’t really factor in until much later as you can’t really get the money or materials easily till you get to a harbour town nearing the latter part of the game.

I can’t say I cared much for the story though. The main premise is that the main character has a illness that causes her to become violent and uncontrollable, and her brother is looking for something to cure her. He ends up going missing, so you spend the rest of the game trying to track him down. A lot of the details of the background lore and explanations about what the main character is suffering from is mostly told through text documents and things you find around the environment. I’m not really the type of person to read that stuff, so I mostly skimmed through it.

This looks familiar.

The game is full of stuff reminiscent of Evangelion is you’re into that. Lots of crosses and large underground labs and such. It made me roll my eyes a lot.

It’s a good game, I’d check it out if you got the time.

Other Stuff I Played:


Short little flight game. Like a light Ace Combat. Cute art style. The controls are fine, although the emulated performance isn’t great. The auto-targeting has no bias, so trying to target your actual objective can be a pain. And the actual mission objectives aren’t all that fun. A bit of a disappointment unfortunately.

GTA III & Vice City

I hadn’t finished either III or Vice City until this point, I kept losing my saves. The first issue I have is the game logic being tied to FPS, so I had to hard-limit to 60FPS via the drivers. I installed Silent Patch and the Widescreen Patch to make the game more playable.

The story was more disjointed in III than I remember. You meet a lot of characters and then they often die soon after and you meet some new ones. The driving isn’t good, I flipped my car so many damn times. A lot of the missions are escort quests, which suck. The AI are very aggressive, and by the end of the game I couldn’t drive through many of the streets without getting shot at. Despite my complaints, the game was OK. I’m glad I finished it.

As for Vice City, I installed the same mods again. I played the whole game without its soundtrack, which is a depressing experience, but necessary for streaming on Twitch. The cars feel better, plus there’s bikes. There’s a few more weapons to use. The story is better told and follows the characters in a more sensible way, I had a much better understanding of what I was doing and why. The story does feel a bit short though, or at least it would do if not for the last part of the game being a massive slog because of all the business missions. It’s a real kick to the pacing. Better than III, but San Andreas still reigns supreme.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

Another game I never finished. The game has a bunch of story choices and branches, but I honestly didn’t enjoy it at all. Once you get to the end those story choices sort of play out in a disjointed manner. There’s a lot of gadgets and different guns, but I just stuck to the “Old reliables” of AR-15 style rifles and regular grenades. There’s no real reason to use them, which I guess is a downside of selectable loadouts is that the levels can’t be balanced towards certain tools.

The RTS/Tactical missions you have to do on the side are really half-arsed. It’s just a horde mode with a bit of objective defense ones. But the story around it doesn’t make sense and there’s no real reward for doing it. I’m not sure why it’s there.

Other than that, pretty standard COD campaign otherwise. Still a good amount of fun set pieces and missions.


HYPER DEMON. That’s a title. It’s from the same guy that did Devil Daggers, so you should know what to expect. It’s a very similar game, including the replay system. It’s a pretty fun game, but I’m really bad at it. Also my eyeballs start burning while looking at it. It’s fucking cool though.

A replay I made as a test.

Anime Corner:

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

I haven’t played the game, but I enjoyed this. The soundtrack is good, especially the opening song. The aesthetics are on point with the game. The characters are fun bunch, the story around them is interesting enough to watch it play out. And a lot of characters die in some really fucked up and gruesome ways, which is always nice to see.

Lycoris Recoil

Do you like girls with guns doing anti-terrorist things? You’ll probably like this. I know I did. There hasn’t been much in the “Girls with Guns” genre in anime for a while, so this and Maid Wars was nice to see. The main two girls have a dun dynamic, Chisato is basically an S-tier murder robot who refuses to use lethal weapons and Takina is a shoot first, ask questions later type.

The episodes are fun, a good amount of action and slice of life. The actual plot though probably could have done a bit more or gotten a bit more focus at times. It is elevated by a pretty good villain though who plays off Chisato very well. It’s good watch, I hope they make more of it.

Akiba Maid Wars

Speaking of girls with guns, I was not expecting this show to be anywhere near as violent as this was. The first episode is an incredible ballet of gratuitous murder, featuring a cross-cut between a song performance at the maid cafe and a maid shooting dozens of maids in a shootout on the streets of Akiba. It is quite the sight. I know the maid cafe scene in Akiba during the 90s was competitive, but bloody Hell.

The plot overall is fairly typical of something who’d find in a Yakuza film. Extortion, protection money, rival gangs, etc. But it’s all maids, and animal themed maids at that. The characters dedication to the cafe themes make me question whether they have any humanity left. Great show.

Yojouhan Time Machine Blues / Tatami Time Machine Blues

As a fan of Tatami Galaxy is was nice seeing these characters again. As you can guess the plot this time involves a time machine. They find it in a closet and use it to go back in time an steal a remote for the air conditioning unit in the main character’s room. There’s a crapload of foreshadowing for the time travelling shenanigans they’ll undertake, including something involving a Kappa statue. It actually does a pretty good job and tying up the loose ends caused by the time travelling nonsense and looping back on itself. Great show, I hope it gets a Blu-Ray release so I can keep the physical collection going.

Chainsaw Man

Let’s get this out of the way, Chainsaw Man is not the second coming of Christ. That said, I did like it. Some of the animation sequences are very well done, especially some of the character animation. The gore and violence are as visceral as you would want it. Power is hilarious and easily the most fun character in the show. Makima is good as a character, but I’m not sure they got the right voice actor for her.

All the episodes have wildly different ending sequences and although I like the first few endings more than the later ones, they’re all pretty well done and visually interesting to look at. The ED about Power is especially well done.

I really hope they continue the show though, because I think it ends just as it was starting to get interesting.

Bocchi The Rock

Well this show became a hit out of nowhere. I went into it with the mindset of it being a discount K-On. It’s not. It’s a premium product that is vastly superior. Cloverworks really outdid themselves with this. The animation styles are completely insane, with a good amount of stop motion, non-standard art styles, and real world images superimposed in. Completely insane. The music is top notch, the album that released after the show has become a best seller and I’m still listening to the songs even weeks after.

Bocchi’s reactions and faces are a real highlight. My favourite reactions being her just fucking exploding and lying down in her bed staring at a room covered in the same photograph and just cackling. The other characters are great too, I really like Hiroi. An absolute drunken train wreck full of best girl energy.

It’s an absolute must watch.

My Top 10 Games Of The Year

Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative
Koumajou Remilia Scarlet Symphony
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

I wanted to play these, but couldn’t afford it. I did play the demo for Stranger of Paradise on PS4 though and had a pretty good time, but I wanted to play it on PC for better performance, unfortunately (As of time of writing) it’s still an Epic Games Store exclusive.

Worst Game Of The Year

Trek To Yomi

The art style could not save this one. The combat felt bad, it was really repetitive, and the story was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Thankfully I played it on Game Pass rather than buy it outright. Saved myself a bit of money.

And without further ado, the Top 8. Yes, 8. I didn’t play that many new games this year.

8. Forgive Me Father

7. Neptuna X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars



4. ANNO: Mutationem

3. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

2. Bayonetta 3

1. Windjammers 2

If I had more money to spend, I would have played more games. But to be honest, this year was kinda week. Windjammers 2 is a fantastic game, but should it really be my number one? Well for the time being, it is.

Let’s actually give it some credits. It’s classic Windjammers gameplay, snappy, responsive, super fun. It’s got rollback net code, bonus modes, some single player content, and it’s reasonably priced. It’s a damn fine game and I struggle to find fault with it.

Just to answer a question; Yes, I played Elden Ring. No, I did not enjoy it.

And now for the other Top 10 list.

My Top 10 Anime Of The Year

Special Mentions:

Spy x Family & Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de

Worst Anime I Watched:

Hoshi no Samidare

And now the top 10.

  1. Koukyuu no Karasu
  2. Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san
  3. Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story
  4. Chainsaw Man
  5. Kakegurui Twin
  6. Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru
  7. Lycoris Recoil
  8. Akiba Maid Sensou
  9. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic
  10. Bocchi the Rock!

I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Shit year for games, but a pretty good year for anime. And Bocchi The Rock is one Hell of a show. It’s the kinda show that you watch and then every other anime after just looks like a pile of crap. It’s 10/10. Easily. The characters are great, the animation is great, the music is great. And it was blast to watch and talk to other people about it and see it just absolutely set the anime community on fire.

Watch this show. It’s fantastic.

And that’s your lot. 2022 is over and 2023 is now in full swing. Sorry this post took until late-January to get done. It was longer than I thought and I started working on it much later than I should have. I will try harder next time.

Hopefully things will get better this year.


The Den: January – June 2022

It’s time for my thoughts on video games and anime that I’ve played through the first half of this year. Keep in mind that I work on this post over these months and sometimes it causes the flow of the text to be very inconsistent.

Days Gone

Stop me if you’ve heard this premise before. An open-world zombie apocalypse survival game with crafting elements. And you have a motorcycle. That’s Days Gone in a nutshell.

When I first saw this game I was skeptical about the zombie stuff. A giant horde is cool and all, but I wondered what else it had going for it. Once it started getting reviews though, it seemed like reviewers were really disinterested with it, but the actual player response was mostly positive. It’s that latter aspect that got me interested in playing this once the PC version came out.

After a good few hours of it though, I just found myself in a similar place to the reviewers. The protagonist is pretty boring and not interesting to listen to at all. The NPCs are worse, and are constantly yapping at you on the radio. One particular character runs a radio show called “Freedom Radio” or something to that effect, and spend the time complaining about how the American government are a bunch of incompetent ass-hats who sell out the American people at every opportunity. Even if he isn’t wrong, it’s the preachiest bullshit I’ve heard. Thankfully you can skip every piece of radio dialogue.

The main story itself is about the protag and his buddy living in this post-apocalyptic world, and reminiscing about the old days. Specifically thinking about his supposedly dead wife. I haven’t gotten too far with the story, the game is such a drag.

The resource and fuel management in the game is just the complete antithesis of things I enjoy doing in open world exploration games. It limits how far I can go, constantly makes me micromanage and stop constantly so I can go search for fuel or ammo. Some people might enjoy this, but I find the whole thing a pain. Plus the shooting controls aren’t great, so wasting ammo becomes more of a problem than I’d like.

I am not very far into the game, but I’ve completely lost interest in it. It’s just tedious and boring.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

I originally heard of this game when journalists were praising it from the rooftops, and quickly assumed that it was some dumb walking simulator. Some time later, and after subbing to Game Pass, I saw that this game was on the list and decided to give it a go.

Surprisingly, it isn’t a walking simulator. It’s actually third-person stealth action game with crafting elements and a lot of escort segments.

It’s set during the plague era in France where the church was killing anyone who was diseased, burning the bodies, and attracting rats. Anyway, you play some girl whose family is attacked because her younger brother has some kind of special blood. I won’t spoil what makes him special, but it affects gameplay late in the game.

Main girl’s weapon of choice is a slingshot, and the previously mentioned crafting elements improve that by speeding up the time between shots and providing more ammo. There’s a lot of killing with that thing anyway, along with some light puzzle solving.

But the thing this game is absolutely full of is rats. A lot of fucking rats. It’s as technically impressive as it is terrifying. I’m not really that scared of rats in real life, but the damn horde of them in this game is quite unsettling. The overall graphic presentation is fairly impressive, although the game is very linear, so it doesn’t need to make the same compromises that massive open-world games do and can probably hide its blemishes well.

Last point I’d like to make is that I played the game with the French voices instead of the English. I did look into the English ones and saw that everyone had a really shit accent, so I think I made the right choice. That said, some things in the game require you to pay attention to the dialogue, and if you miss those points you may find yourself wondering what it is the game wants you to do. Thankfully, in my playthrough this only happened a couple of times. So keep that in mind.

I hope the sequel expands on the ideas here.

Windjammers 2

The original Windjammers is a brilliant competitive game that is still really fun today. Windjammers 2 iterates on that and adds a couple more mechanics on top.

It’s still a 4 button game for the most part. It plays super well. They even have rollback netcode.

The only problem is that it basically requires friends. But if you have those and they’re willing to play, then you’ll have a great time. Me though, I need better convincing skills.


Having Nier Replicant and Automata, I decided that I should finally check out the games that spawned them. And so I played Drakengard.

Jesus Christ this game is rough. Even by the standards of the time, the combat is pretty dreadful and slow. There’s a lot of very rigid, deliberate animation that you can get thrown out of very easily when attacked and can get stunlocked pretty badly. The game isn’t difficult, but you can get caught up unless you know how to counter it properly.

It’s not all bad news though, the Dragon combat (Although I would call Angelus a Wyvern based on their anatomy) is actually alright. There’s still some roughness with the controls and precision of movement, but it’s definitely more playable than the ground combat. The lock-on fire attack helps considerably. Unfortunately, when playing on maps with ground and air combat, which are most of them; Dragon combat often gets curbed frequently as ranged enemies can get you thrown off after only a couple of hits from either magic or arrows. The magic enemies are especially irritable.

The combat isn’t the only thing that’s terrible. The soundtrack is ear-bleedingly bad and often contains tracks that sound like the music is skipping due to a disc error. It’s a real headache to listen to, but at the same time, it makes sense considering the concept of the game.

Drakengard is not a happy game. The characters experience constant suffering and pain, and all their efforts to stop the events of the game from happening are futile more often than not. The basic story is that Caim makes a pact with a dragon to gain more power and loses his voice in the process. His sister is a “Goddess” who acts as a seal to some kind of ancient magic that could destroy the world. It takes quite a while before it starts making any sense, and only starts to come together once you go through the multiple story branches. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well in any of the 5 endings.

Ending A is fairly standard and the most normal. Re-sealing the magic and continuing on the world. All the endings after that though are completely insane. Including an ending where time itself is frozen, and of course Ending E that leads into the events that creates Nier.

Before I continue, I’m going to make it obvious that I’m trying not to spoil specific events in the game.

But I’ll just say one more thing about the story: GIANT BABIES THAT EAT PEOPLE.

Now before you can get to the final chapter of the game, the player needs to collect every single weapon in the game. All 65 of them. And you have to do it on normal difficulty, so don’t even think about changing it. The problem with this, is that the prerequisites for obtaining these weapons are obtuse to say the least.

Most weapons require the player to go to a specific part of the part, or defeat a certain enemy. Several of them require the player to beat a mission with a certain amount of health or within a specific timeframe. But there are more bizarre requirements, like following a specific path through a level, or touching particular items in the level in a certain order, or the most annoying; waiting 5-20 minutes for a chest or enemy to spawn. And there’s no in-game hints about any of this, so you have to rely on a walkthrough to know what you’re doing.

In relation to Nier, the game doesn’t really answer my questions with the series. I understand where the magic comes from in Nier now, but I still don’t know who the Watchers are, or the origins of the supposed “Red Eye” disease. Are the Watchers the people behind all the “Beyond the plane of existence” nonsense in Automata? Is there any relation at all with that?

Anyway, Drakengard is a terrible that’s very interesting. Should you play it? Depends on your tolerance for bullshit I suppose.

Tales Of Arise

I fell off Tales Of Berseria really hard. I disliked the characters and found the story to be really boring. I didn’t get very far with it either. Tales Of Arise is an improvement in the sense that I stuck around to the end of it.

I like the characters a little more in this, specifically the main two; Shinnone and Alphen.

Shinnone is a tsundere-type character. She’s described in game as a Renan, which are people that originally come from the bigger of the two planets that the game is set on. She does have a strange quirk though; touching her will cause extreme pain to the person doing the touching. To be more exact, she extrudes thorns when touched.

Alphen spends most of the game without his memories and unable to feel pain. And until the first Renan lord boss, his face is completely covered with a mask. As a counter to Shinnone, he is completely unable to feel pain.

The dynamic between these two is probably what kept me interested in what was going on. Their interactions were generally the most enjoyable part of the story. I don’t really want to spend this whole part of the post describing the other characters, so I’ll just say I don’t like them that much. Especially Law, he sucks.

The real-time combat the game is has is pretty good. You can switch out the move sets to give greater control over your combos. And combos really are the name of the game here, as most enemies have a limit bar attached and if you attack them enough in a sequence, you can perform a Break move on them for massive damage. It becomes doubly necessary when you get later into the game and it starts throwing enemies at you that are clearly under-levelled for.

I spent a lot of time in the game underleveled and it was as tedious as it sounds. Fights took much longer to get through, and sometimes you would fall into areas or encounters that could wipe your party in a few hits.

As for the story, well I hope you like fantasy racism, because it’s a lot of that. And honestly, it’s a bit too peachy for its own good. Most of the arguments in this game amount to dumb squabbles about classism or why slavery is bad. I’ll spare you the details because quite frankly, I don’t really want to go on about it.

It does do the JRPG thing where you think you’re nearing the end of the game, only for the game to turn around and throw a couple dozen more hours of gameplay at you. To add to this, the game adds another anime sequence showcasing what’s coming up in the 2nd half of the game, and also replaces the anime opening that plays when you start the game with this new one. And the second half is considerably different to the first half visually, going more into the sci-fi that it teases you with earlier.

However, my problem with all of that is it just makes the game longer than I wanted it to be, and when I did finish it I was more glad it was over than being excited for anything to do with the end game, of which there are a handful of new quests and dungeons. Compared to something like Scarlet Nexus, where I’m looking forward to playing through Kasane’s campaign.

Good game, but a bit too long and preachy.

Taiko No Tatsujin: The Drum Master

This probably doesn’t need a full post on here, but I’m doing it anyway.

Taiko is one of the few rhythm games that I actually enjoy playing. There’s only two notes you need to hit, Don or Kan. Simple, right? Unfortunately not, the series is notorious for its difficulty and precision. Easy and Normal are fun enough, but once you get into Hard and Extreme, you basically need a drum controller to keep up.

There’s quite a few anime songs and video game tracks in there, and that’s kept my interest for the most part. The Namco originals are mostly great too. Playing the game daily and doing specific songs nets you some extra points for customisation items and additional songs, although it’s still very grindy.

That said, as much as I like the game, there are a number of technical issues. First of all, it drops inputs frequently. There’s a Unity wrapper working around the game, so that might be the culprit, but it could also be my keyboard. Or both.

The second, more troubling problem is the lack of high refresh-rate support. It’s locked to 60Hz. Playing a game at that speed on a 144Hz screen causes a lot of problems, most notably, blurry motion on screen. The notes can move so fast that it becomes near impossible to focus on them, and it causes eye strain on my part. I hope they add support for higher refresh rates in the future, but I’m not holding out hope here.

But to not end on a low note, here’s a picture of Don-chan as a food item.

Elden Ring

Oh Elden Ring, oh Elden Ring. What a pile of terrible ideas.

It reminds me of Dark Souls 2, in the worst way imaginable. It mostly aimless, (Yes, there is a main path through the game, but if you follow it exclusively, you will have a bad time) large swaths of land will emerge before you, but there’s often not as much to do there as you think. What content there is outside the mainline quests is often repetitive. Most of the underground dungeons even have the same visuals and enemies.

Once you get into the world a bit, there’s some interesting things out there. I found a tower with a mage at the top that I had to fight, I also found some dude boiling crabs in a pot. And then I found a dude that was a giant pot.

Combat is such a regression from Sekiro. Everything feels floatier and less in impactful. Also, enemies can attack you through walls, still. It’s been a problem since Demon’s Souls and they still haven’t bothered to fix it. Surely some raycasted prediction attached to the animation would fix that, no?

PC performance is terrible. It stutters like mad. Basically unplayable at times.

I only managed to put 15 hours into it as of the time I’m writing this, and I haven’t actually touched the game much since it came out. But I really haven’t enjoyed my time with it. I might keep it installed just to see if my friend wants to try the seamless co-op mod, maybe that would improve my view of things.

Wild Arms

I’ve yet to finish the game as of time of writing, so expect a follow up in the new year, hopefully finished.

I quite like the game though. It’s got a lot of quirkiness, Jack’s intro is especially fun with all the intro text playing over him running away from various things.

The battle system is simple but functional. Typical turn-based battles, each turn causes a power up for the characters which unlocks additional abilities for use, including a summon. Rudy is the only character that can use ARMs though, which are this game’s name for firearm type weapons. My gripes are that the animations and time between actions are really slow, and the random encounters happen a little too frequently.

The soundtrack has been pretty good so far, although I think their homages are little on the nose. Some of these themes sounds like downright plagiarism. They’re still pretty good though.

I have been using a walkthrough, albeit sparingly. A lot of the puzzles have their solutions revealed to you only if you talk to specific NPCs in specific towns, and sometimes only after getting specific items. But I also like making sure that I don’t miss anything major, which is something that can happen in old RPGs like this. That said, exploring would be more fun if the random encounters were less frequent.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

I’ll be quite frank, I’m sick to death of Marvel. Between the movies and all the nonsense that they’ve done to the comics; I cannot stand anything from that brand any more. So why did I play this? Well, everyone who played it kept praising it, and it was on Game Pass. So I figured it was worth at least looking at.

Think of it as a Mass Effect light, but without as much exploration and a much more linear story. There are choices to be made, but how big of an impact these choices have I don’t know. One of the early choices you make is whether or not you keep a Space Llama on board your ship. For the most part, the thing is a nuisance and the root cause of many issues for the characters, but late into the game, its shenanigans end up getting Starlord out of some tight spots.

Gameplay wise, it’s serviceable. It’s a 3rd Person Shooter with some AI direction mechanics. I’m not the biggest fan of it, much like I wasn’t a fan of it with Mass Effect. The weapon you use gets a handful of elemental effects, but with some enemies, they’ll often have a weakness that you can’t exploit because you don’t have the element unlocked yet. When that happens, those enemies essentially become bullet sponges and make the combat encounters much more tedious than they need to be.

I mentioned how this game doesn’t have a ton of exploration. Well to add to that, whenever you do go exploring, your teammates will often berate you saying how you’re wasting time or getting lost. It’s really annoying. That said if you do explore, you’ll be rewarded with materials for craft and even get new costumes for the characters.

Going back to the dialogue, I am getting rather sick of modern games feeling the need to have the characters constantly be talking. This game is no exception. The characters never shut up, and are often talking about extended universe stories that I have zero context for as I do not have even an ounce of knowledge of the source material. This complaint is more aimed towards modern games in general though. Talk less, say more.

To end of a good note with this game, the licensed soundtrack is pretty good. Although “We Built This City” should be removed from existence.

Drakengard 3

Drakengard 3 is a strange one. The first game was very dark. A lot of killing, monsters, betrayal, and even incestual undertones. And to complete that package a utterly horrendous soundtrack that makes you think the game’s audio is broken. But 3 is far more slapstick, especially early on.

Past the opening, one of the first scenes you’ll see is Zero’s dragon (It’s technically a Wyvern) companion rolling around in mud, and then pissing like a firehose. From there it gets weirder, and the 4th wall gets knocked down a few times in the process. It’s definite tonal shift.

It does improve some things from the first game though. The soundtrack is actually good now, it’s coherent and not a mess that sounds like your disc tray is broken. And includes remixes of some of the better songs from the first Drakengard as well as some songs from Nier.

The combat is the second improvement, although it’s still awful. Or rather, the only weapons you’d actually want to use are the light and medium swords and bracers. Spears take a lot of build up to use and are mostly piercing focused, and the chakrams are only really useful for distant enemies and occasionally groups of lesser enemies.

The performance is dreadful. Most of the game is 20FPS on PS3 if that. I think they were using a much earlier build of Unreal Engine 3 which exhibited many problems early on in the 7th gen. The art style isn’t great barring some of the character designs and the higher quality models used for the cutscenes.

Anyway, the story. Well Drakengard 3 is a prequel to Drakengard 1. Zero and her sisters are intoners. Their songs bring about magic. Zero is trying to stop them for reasons that are considered to be spoilers. However, after the first level, she loses one of her eyes and her arm, and they get replaced by a flower and prosthetic respectively. The flower is interesting though. If Zero is dealt a mortal wound (Albeit in the cutscene), the flower will grow and she’ll be rebirthed from it in a rather bloody manner.

The endings are certainly strange. They’re not good endings, but they feed into Drakengard 1 pretty well. Although they still don’t answer my previous questions about who The Watchers are. Although the Red Eye disease is somewhat explained as originating from the flower in Zero’s eye. This is also the very rare flower that blooms in Nier if you’re willing to put in all the work.

Speaking of work, getting the final ending requires getting all the weapons again. Thankfully this is a much less tedious process. Most of the levels have gold chests scattered about, some hidden, some less so. More often than not they just contain money, but a good amount have weapons in them. On top of that is Accord’s Requests. This is where the real tedium is.

Most of those missions are just battle arenas with massive waves of enemies trying to give you a hard time. The actual mission goals can vary though, sometimes you have to kill all the enemies in a set time, gather resources from chests, gather resources from killing enemies, and so on. But with the combat being as crap as it is, and these sequences usually having a time limit, frustration was a very prominent emotion during my time with them.

The final request was such a pain that I gave up on it in favour of finishing the game and upgrading all the weapons. Doing the latter rewarded me with an outfit for Zero that refills the Itoner gauge instantly and lets me go berserk on the enemies.

Weirdly, the game’s notorious ending isn’t as difficult as that last request. Don’t get me wrong though, it is hard, very hard; but not impossible. It took me about a week of continuous playing to get past the final part of the game, but I felt like I was making progress that whole time. The last request however just kept killing me in the same spot each time and often with the same cheap, undodgeable attack. Hell, even with the Infinite Itoner Gauge outfit, I get died to an attack in the last part of it.

The final thoughts on it; You should play it, but don’t be surprised if you hate everything about it.

Trek To Yomi

This game might end up being my most disappointing game of the year. The visual style and atmosphere are mostly spot-on. They’re going for that Kurosawa vibe, and it hits the mark fairly well.

Unfortunately, everything else about the game is dreadful. The story is about a man who starts off the game as a boy fighting to save his village from bandits, and watches his master get killed. Following a time skip, he’s now helping defend the village as an adult, and gets led out into an ambush that doubles up as a diversion to get troops out of the town so the bandits can attack easier. Just to add to it, there’s also a love interest involved.

An interesting idea the game tries is killing the player, and then having them spend a large chunk of the game in the afterlife. However, this idea is hampered by the sheer awfulness of the game and just a very underwhelming execution.

So what’s so bad about it? Well the controls for one thing. They’re very unresponsive. Even blocking is a toss up as it to whether or not it wants to work properly, and parrying only works half the time on top of that. The timing for it is also sporadic. It presents a large variety of combos and moves, but they’re so difficult to perform consistently that the basic Square, Square, Triangle combo is what I ended up using for most of my playthrough.

It’s very repetitive on top of that, there’s some enemy variation, but the whole game is just a slog and just keeps going on and on, even though in reality it’s about 4-5 hours long. Adding to that, the difficulty is all over the place. Most of the game is a cakewalk, but occasionally there are sequences that I had to replay over and over because I was getting killed very quickly. As I got towards the end, it got worse. Near the end of the game, I switched the difficulty down from normal to easy just because I was sick of the damn thing and wanted to move on.

And on a final note, there’s a bunch of collectables in the game, and they’re worthless crap. No real rewards for getting them. Glad I played it via Game Pass instead of paying for it outright.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

I haven’t played a Lego Star Wars game since the release of the Complete Saga on PS3. I love those original two games to bits, so I was looking forward to this.

The first problem comes with Rey being front and centre everytime you start the game. I hate Rey, she’s a terrible character and doesn’t need to exist. And that little intro in unskippable. After that though, you get into the episode selection and you’re presented with little dioramas of all the different movies, and that’s great. So that’s a good point.

I’ve been playing this game with my friend via Steam’s Remote Play Together feature. There’s no online co-op so local multiplayer is the only option. Unfortunately, that takes the form of vertical split-screen, and absolutely no option to change it. Performance also takes a hit during this mode, although performance overall is fairly underwhelming. I’ve had multiple glitches, soft-locks, and many crashes to desktops. It’s a pretty big stain on my experience.

Just one example of soft-locking.

That’s a shame, because the environments are quite large and filled with collectables and quests. Even better is that you can fudge your way through a lot of puzzles if you’re clever enough. There’s a collectible Brick in Episode II that’s floating above a part of the city and would usually require the player to use a savagener type character and finish the tutorial for that type of character (Which you only get in Episode VI and VII, which if you’re playing from Episode I is a VERY long way into the game) and use the glider. My friend and I came up with an alternative solution of stacking a bunch of boxes on top of each other and exploiting some of the janky collision boxes on parts of the environment, and then I force lifted my friend to the brick for him to collect it.

On the note of the scavenger classes, once we did unlock their potential, my friend and I back-tracked through all the previous stuff we’d done and mopped up all the missing collectables and quests that were now fully available to us. There’s quite a lot to go back to as well, plenty of new ships and characters to get.

Overall, I am enjoying it (Still haven’t finished it, on Episode VII) but the technical issues and problems are a pain. I think I prefer the charm of the originals, but it’s not bad.

Other Stuff I Played:

Ridge Racer Type 4

I’ve wanting to play this game for a while now purely for the soundtrack. The car handling is a little rough these days, but it’s still quite fun. But Goddamn if the soundtrack isn’t one of the best.

Ridge Racer 2 (PSP)

Another Ridge Racer game I wanted to play, but this time it was from my experience with a demo from when I originally got a PSP. I never got around to buying it back then, but I can play it now. And it still plays great and is absolutely filled with content and a really jam packed soundtrack selection.

Voice Of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden

I really enjoyed the first Voice Of Cards game, but I’m really struggling to get through this one. The story isn’t gripping me at all, and going back to the starting area after each chapter hurts the pacing a bit, because I don’t feel like I’m progressing as much. Exploring the areas is still rewarding, but getting money is tedious, and battles are varied in terms of difficulty. I’m near the end of it, but I’m lacking the motivation to finish it.

Baba Is You

Fun little puzzle game. It’s more difficult than you think, and scales up very quickly. Baba is cute though.

The Lab & Aperture Desk Job

A couple of small games from Valve. The Lab is a fun little VR toy box. Bunch of small games and experiences to check out. Unfortunately, the Robot Repair Station game causes the game to crash for me, so I never got to check that out.

Desk Job is supposed to be a thing to check out the capabilities of the Steam Deck, but you can play it on PC with a controller. It’s a pretty neat thing that explores the lore of a very iconic character of the Portal games. It’s pretty funny and worth checking out.

Pistol Whip

Ever wanted to be John Wick in VR with some banging tunes? Well this is pretty close. Also pretty tiring. I do like the customizability of the weapons and playstyles. There’s a good few mutators that let you make it more or less difficult. I turned off dodging obstacles personally just so I didn’t knacker myself at as much. That said, as much as I like it, don’t pay full price for it.

Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars

I actually finished this, but it’s not worth a long winded paragraph. It’s disappointing, and mostly mundane and uninteresting cutscenes. The gameplay isn’t bad conceptually, but gets repetitive quite quickly, and the difficulty spikes for no discernable reason at points. As a fan of Senran Kagura, I can’t recommend this. At the same time, I can only hope buying it renews some hope that we’ll get SK7 that was teased years ago. But I’m not holding my breath at this point.

Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising

Played through a good chunk of the opening, found it to be really damn boring. I hope it gets more fun later, but the first impression is bad. I played it on Game Pass, not sure if I’d buy it.


This was a birthday gift from a friend. It’s made by the same guys that made the Lodoss War Metroidvania. I got through the first 3 or so levels. I like it quite a bit, but I’m not great at Shmups. The lack of ability to freely shoot stuff behind you kinda sucks, and it’s something I’ve always hated about the genre. You can get a ship upgrade that fixes that, but said upgrades are tiered based on your performance. I’ll try and finish this one.

Vagrant Story

I started this on stream. It’s full of weird and very poorly explained systems, especially the additional attack timings that’s ask you to press the attack button again after attacking to perform an additional attack, but the timing for it is based on a on-screen prompt that appears for about a millisecond. The combat is some odd mix of real time and turn based, possibly even some weird ATB system under the hood. The cutscene direction is certainly punching above its weight, using a lot of close ups and advanced camera work, but because it’s a PS1 game, it all looks pixelated as fuck. I’ll get back to this once I’m through with Wild Arms.

Vermintide 2

Left 4 Dead, but Warhammer, but also Destiny-style loot and convoluted menus. I played a couple of levels of it with my friend and was turned off from it. There’s a whole lot of equipment leveling nonsense and microtransactions. I don’t want to deal with that kind of crap anymore.

Anime I Watched:

Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru

Perverted gyaru that wants to get into cosplay meets a dude that makes traditional Japanese dolls and then has him make outfits for her. And then there’s a buttload of romantic comedy shenanigans on top. It’s hard not to like Marin, she’s great. She ends up being cute without needing to be a generic moeblob. And then outfits, level her up a bit. Great show, enjoyed it greatly.

Shenmue The Animation

Surprisingly, not a terrible adaptation. It covers the first two games pretty well, although it does skip over or change a few things for the sake of pacing and not taking too much time on things. There’s also some extra scenes that give some much needed backstory to Ryo’s character. The fight scenes are decently animated as well. They did skip some moments from Shenmue II, particularly some events at the end of the game, but it can’t be helped due to time constraints.

Birdy Wing: Golf Girls’ Story

I was expecting a golf anime, instead I got a battle shounen crossed with a underground mafia ring, crazy characters, and a good amount of sexual tension. It’s getting a second season early next year and I’m wondering where the Hell it’s going to end up.

Spy X Family – Part 1

Much like everyone else, I watched and enjoyed this show. Drunk Yor is a miracle of the universe, and the dynamics of all the characters is fun to watch. I do think it focuses too much on Anya though, you don’t get to see Yor do her assassination jobs at all past the first episode. Loid’s stuff is fun, but only gets a few select episodes. I hope the second season addresses those issues.


Alright, that’s it. This took a little longer to finish writing due to various things. But it’s also one of the longest posts I’ve ever done as well. I’m looking to rename this style of blog post as well. “The Den” doesn’t really have a good ring to it any more. I’ll rethink it.

Anyway, the next time you see a post like this will be in the new year with my GOTY views and such. See you then.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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. Koukyuu no Karasu
  2. Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san
  3. Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story
  4. Chainsaw Man
  5. Kakegurui Twin
  6. Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru
  7. Lycoris Recoil
  8. Akiba Maid Sensou
  9. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic
  10. Bocchi the Rock!

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.


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.


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


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.



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.


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 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.


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.


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:


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.


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:


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.