Monthly Archives: August 2023

Manga review Spy X Family

Starting with some randomness, a while back someone I followed on Twitter wrote that they’d been told they were saying Hunter X Hunter wrong. I commented that I was doing it wrong too, though I didn’t know what the right way was. But maybe a week later, I recalled that in Italian X is shorthand for per, or for. So a sticker written as 2 X 1 is saying it’s a two for one sale. Then I also remembered that X in Japanese is often used as a shorthand for versus. So, this week’s manga review is really called Spy Versus Family. And now you know.

Anywho, I put Spy X Family on my Manga+ favorites list based solely on the overwhelmingly positive reviews for the manga as well as the anime. The premise certainly sounds great, and it’s summed up several times in the opening chapters as, “The husband is a spy. The wife is an assassin. The child is a telepath.” Meaning husband and wife do not know each other’s secrets or secret lives, but the kid knows everything.

The longer premise is that a spy from Westalis code-named Twilight is given a mission to sneak into Ostania, which has a very shaky truce with Westalis. There, he must make up a fake family, enroll a fake child into an elite private school, and use that child to get close to a member of a known war hawk political faction to learn if they have any plans to ruin the truce. So, taking on the identity of Loid Forger (really on the nose with that surname, by the by), Twilight first adopts Anya, who is telepathic, and uses that power to look like the perfect candidate even though she’s too young and definitely not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. He then uses his contacts to find the “perfect wife,” Yor Briar, who is eager to play a wife because as an assassin she’s worried about her cover being blown if she remains single. Continue reading

Game review: Steam World Dig 2 for Steam

Before getting to the review, I should apologize for being so late in posting. The review was in Word, ready to go on Friday of last week, but I got distracted with Dark Souls II. I realized I’d never used a halberd or any polearms, so I figured I’d just dip in to see how they are. Long story short, I’m just about done with the base game boss fights up to King Vendrick, and now I’m debating doing all the DLCs or just going at Nashandra and her two guards to get that pre-DLC experience. But  let’s forget that and look at this week’s game.

I bought Steam World Dig 2 a little while after its initial release based solely on the fact that I’d loved the first game and wrongly assumed it would be more of the same. At the time, my hands weren’t in great shape, and just the tutorial boss was enough to bounce me right out of the game. But I’ve been doing pretty good health-wise, and I just finished a couple harder games, so I thought I’d give this a try again.

The thing is, I got pretty close to the end of the game before realizing I’d invested in the wrong skills, and I had to start over again. So this review is based on two different impressions of the game, the first where I didn’t know what I needed to do to progress, and the second where I knew and just did the thing like Zhu Li. Continue reading

Revisiting Vampire Survivors post-DLC

If you want to reread my original review of Vampire Survivors or you missed it the first time, click here.

I actually had another review to post this week, but as I managed to get ahead of schedule for once, I decided to get the second DLC for Vampire Survivors, Tides of the Foscari. I’d already bought Legacy of the Moonspell and was left feeling underwhelmed by the experience. It’s less that there’s only one new area to explore, and more that aside from Miang Moonspell, most of the new survivors proved to be difficult to get past their fragile stages. (If you can do it, they get better, really.) On top of that, making unique builds for them felt like a chore. Lastly, given that a third of the new area is mazes, the standard map that works fine for the base game becomes totally useless.

Going into the second DLC, I found a similar maze set up, but then I found a map that actually showed the area properly. I wondered, did they add a map to the other DLC? Yes. Then I thought maybe I was confused and they had always had maps. But no, I checked the patch history, and the game makers added in maps for both new areas. With maps, both stages are vastly improved, leading me to ask, why make me find a map at all? Why not just bake it into the stage and be less obtuse?

Before I go on, I should mention that I have at this point finished one hundred percent of the trophies for this game. Every area, character, DLC character, and secret character has been unlocked. So when I say I’ve thoroughly combed through the whole game, I mean it. Hell, I’ve even taken to doing single weapon challenge runs just to sort out which characters are really OP. (Hint, they’re Pugnala, Queen Sigma, and Cavallo, as well as DLC survivors Miang, Lumaire, and Sammy. Many others are good for a challenge run, but these beasts can be good to go within six minutes of starting a single weapon run.) Continue reading

Game review: Party Hard

It’s probably not going to be much of a surprise that immediately after playing the last game with a near total “kill everyone” mindset, I decided to get a game where the objective is to literally kill everyone. The main difference is, in Party Hard, your character is allowed to be seen by all their potential victims. They’re just more concerned with making the stabby bits stealthy.

I had tried to play the mobile version back when I was sampling Google Play Pass, but it kept throwing up a debug error menu that blocked the entire screen. Despite the PC version also being made in the Unity engine, it doesn’t have the same errors, and it was a whole lot more stable than Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, another Unity game with far worse performance. While there were a few glitches during my playthrough (more on those later), Party Hard was a mostly smooth gaming experience. Even better, despite its grim premise, it’s a mostly fun, if somewhat difficult game.

What makes one hard game fun for me, while another drove me nuts? I can’t offer a blanket explanation, but I think Party Hard succeeds because of the way every run is slightly randomized. The placement of items, traps, victims, and guards changes each time the killer fails to get the job done, so rather than try to look for a pattern, I just went with the flow and improvised until I found the right plan to “Kill them all!” Continue reading

Game review: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Let’s just get one thing out of the way first: I don’t really care much for stealth games. As a mechanic added to other games, it’s…mostly fine, though still quite badly implemented. Pick any example you like: Fallout, Skyrim, Far Cry, Horizon: Zero Dawn; they’re all the same. You shoot one dude in a camp, and all his buddies jump up to start searching for the killer…for 30 seconds. Then they all say something dumb like “Guess it was just the wind.” Yes, it was just the wind that put an arrow in your buddy’s skull.

Pure stealth takes away all other options and tells players, “No, you do it my way or you’ll die horribly over and over.” But it still falls back on the thirty second search and forget formula, so all it takes to win is buttloads of patience and save scrubbing.

But as I’ve mentioned before, our connection is slow due to technical difficulties and keeping me from the games I want to play and review. I saw Epic Games Store had a summer sale going on, and I figured why not get something out of my comfort zone? It had controller support, and a tactical stealth game certainly seemed like it had potential.

Enter this week’s hit piece, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, or as I prefer to call it, Bobble-head Assassins: Scrub Savers of the Shogun. Before I really get into the negativity, I will point out the things I thought were nice. Just know that it’s a real short list of likes before I dive right into a full-on hate rant. Continue reading