Author Archives: Zoe_E_W

Game review: Nioh for PC

Oh, my God, y’all. It’s taken me forever to get this review out even though I bought Nioh in freakin’ December of last year. I got well over a hundred and twenty hours into a first playthrough when the game broke my resolve to keep going, and I ended up beating all three Dark Souls games in the next two weeks. I never would have called any of that trilogy short before, but they’re practically minuscule compared to Nioh. That’s not a good thing.

I forced myself to start a second run, this time with a better idea of what kind of build I was aiming for, and another hundred and thirty-seven hours later, I reached the end credits. Does that mean I played everything? Nope, there’s still some end game missions I can’t do yet because they’re way above my current level, and there’s also several DLC additions I will eventually dig into as well. But at this point, I need a break from this game because it’s felt quite often like a job rather than something I do for fun.

You might think the problem is the game’s difficulty, but you’d be wrong. Aside from random cheap attacks (for instance, a monster appears from out of literal thin air and one-shots my character) I didn’t find most of the game to be too hard. Part of this has to do with my play style, in that I know there’s going to be ambushes, so I creep along with my guard up at every corner. I use my bow and rifle to snipe anything I see at a distance, and in general, I crawl at a snail’s pace to suss out the threats ahead of me long before they know I’m in their area. I’m sure it would be harder if I just ran at breakneck pace into every trap and ambush. But that’s not how I roll. I roll slowly, yo.

No, what I consider Nioh’s biggest flaw is the grind. For some of you, that’s actually a big draw, and if so, you do you. I’m okay with most games asking me to grind a bit to raise my level, but there’s four flavors of grind to this game, and all of them kinda suck. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

There comes a point in most evenings where my hands are too stiff to play games, or when my brain is a bit too far along the path to sleep for me to make snap decisions. It’s usually around this time that I swap from games to YouTube to watch cooking videos or something similar. I saw the trailers for Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories and felt that might be the perfect nightcap for a few nights. I was right, but now I’m curious to see everything set in this world.

The thing is, the Netflix series is actually part of a larger collection of movies, both theatrical releases and made-for-television, and a televisions series as well. All of them star Kaoru Kobayashi as the diner owner, known simply as Master to his patrons. This series was adapted from a manga written by Yaro Abe. I only recently learned all of this, and now I want very much to locate more of these stories because they’re so vivid and charming.

The premise of the series is simple enough. The Master runs a diner in Shinjuku from Midnight to 7 AM. Though The Master has a tiny menu, he has a policy of cooking whatever his patron request, provided he has the ingredients. Each episode features a different patron who requests a specific dish, which usually has some emotional significance to them. From that starting point, each episode blossoms and develops in ways that often defied my expectations. Continue reading

Game review: God Eater 3 for Steam

Oh my gosh, y’all. I don’t even know where to start gushing about this game. From the moment it first got announced, I was excited, but I said it needed to do two things to make me truly happy. One, it needed to get the story away from the Fenrir Far East branch and into some new territory; and two, it needed to fix the AI on companions so they weren’t such a problem in missions where the monsters got together in clusterfucks. (That’s a scientific term, by the by.) I am happy to report the team working on God Eater 3 did both of these things, and so much more.

When I first started the game, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the story, with my character’s crew being slaves viewed as subhumans, sent out to die by ungrateful masters. Taking place roughly ten years after the second game, the world has gone even farther down the drain, and in these desperate times, people began forcing orphans into the God Eater program. These new breeds of Adaptive God Eaters (AGEs) are viewed as more monster than human, and they are treated like disposable resources by the ports that imprison them.

Just a few missions into the main story, the crew is taken on by Hilda Enriquez, the owner of Port Chrysanthemum. Hilda is apparently one of the few port owners who feels like treating AGEs as people and equals, so she hires my character’s crew in a temporary capacity to help her deliver some precious cargo. The cargo turns out to be a humanoid Aragami, someone very much like Shio from the first game. At this point, I thought I knew what to expect from the story, and at every turn, I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive (Binge, actually): The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy marks the first show that hubby and I binged, though that wasn’t the initial plan. We put the first episode on and sat down for lunch, and it was so good we just went into the second, and then the third. After that we were both racing to press the button to move to the next episode. Aside from pauses for bathroom breaks or to grab snacks between episodes, we were hooked. When the final episode ended and we looked up and realized it was bed time, neither of us had any regrets.

The Umbrella Academy is basically Uncanny X-Men, if the writers had dropped the metaphors for prejudice and admitted that Professor X was a child endangering bastard. Reginald Hargreaves is one such bastard, ill-equipped to handle raising children. But on a certain date, all around the world, 43 women give birth to babies despite not being pregnant the day before. Hargreaves buys seven, takes them to his place, and begins training six of them to be super heroes.

In the “present day,” Hargreaves has kicked the bucket, and the remaining members of the disbanded Umbrella Academy gather for a funeral. Luther, or Spaceboy, or Number 1, is the last remaining person still feeling loyal to their estranged father, and he suspects that Hargreaves did not die of natural causes. He has a hard time convincing the others, who mainly want to get in, say a few words over the old man’s ashes, and get back on with their disastrous lives. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Dragons…

This is going to be a shorter post, less a review and more of a brief comparison between two versions of the same game. I got Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen for my PC to record a YouTube playthrough with a warrior build, and I’d gone about a third of the way through the main story when I felt an urge to play as an assassin instead. Instead of swapping vocations in the middle of my planned run, I went downstairs to fire up the Xbox360 version and start a new assassin build there. In theory, the games should be quite similar, given that they’re both the Dark Arisen version.

Certainly, the lighting is similar, but on the PC I had the option of installing a shader mod to get rid of the nasty banding in the sky that becomes more noticeable in the moments after sunset and before sunrise. Both versions have problems with objects and characters popping in and out of the game world, but the PC version has somewhat better draw distances. (But only somewhat, as it’s still entirely possible to have a crew of monsters appear right in front of my party suddenly, or to stop moving and then a second later have an obstacle appear from thin air.)

However, there are some pretty big differences that improve the game for the PC version, stuff that apparently never got added as a patch for the older edition. The HD graphics actually work on the PC, for instance, looking much sharper even when close up. On the Xbox360, even after installing the HD graphics pack, the game looked hideous unless I sat way far away from the screen. It was jarring because the NPCs and enemies were fantastically detailed, but the world looked worse than Skyrim, which for a few years was my graphical low bar for Xbox360 game graphics. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Penny Dreadful (Beware: MAJOR spoilers)

Before I begin, I want to apologize if this post is too long or rambly. Temperature shifts here in Pavia have rendered my brain somewhat useless, and I have trouble focusing. But we just finished watching this show, and if I don’t review it now I’ll forget all the finer points I feel need mentioning. But if you decide the review is too scattered or long for you to finish, I’m okay with that. In fact, for you, the early bailer, I will give you my final verdict now: 3 stars, a mixed bag of good, bad, and absolutely pathetic.

Let’s also get the spoiler warning out of the way because to unpack the hot mess that is Penny Dreadful, I’m going to have to spoil pretty much every story arc and character. I could in theory just write up a blurb of a review that spoiled nothing, but that blurb would leave you with the impression that I hated the show. The truth is that my feelings are more complicated, much like this series’ stretching attempts to make a grand unifying evil theory.

But I’ll be kind enough to put all the spoilers behind a page cut, so if you long to see this without knowing anything about it, bail out now. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Kingdom

I am sick to death of zombies, and have been for a few years now. In films they’re the laziest monster, laying around for years without reaching an expiration date, yet always seeming to last just long enough to catch their victims. (Seriously, you want me to believe that 20 years after the pandemic infection event, there’s still armies of fresh corpses waiting to snack on four people? Oy.) In video games, they’re a programmer’s dream come true, since they barely need any AI or pathing coded in. Just fill a map with a hundred copy-pasta enemies and clock out. Problem solved.

More to the point, zombies in any medium just don’t scare me any more, I think because I’m over the hill and looking at a real death more squarely in its hollow skull sockets. Besides, if there ever really was a zombie apocalypse, I’m in lousy shape and would likely die in the first five minutes. I’m okay with that, and I’m making my peace with death rather than whistling past the graveyards. It’s just that now, it takes more than an shambling corpse to scare me. (Side note: killer sharks still seem to work on me for some reason I can’t explain.)

So what would it take to convince me to watch yet another zombie show? Turns out, adding political intrigue during the late Joseon period in Korea. Give me a scheming handsome prince with muddled but mostly good intentions, an evil young queen and her equally evil daddy, and suddenly I’m hooked like a catfish to stink bait. Despite being the centerpiece to this story, for me the zombies fall by the wayside under the weight of fascinating characters and even more intriguing political machinations. Continue reading

Netflix Nosedive: Aggretsuko

Oh, man…am I glad I started Aggretsuko late, because now I know there’s a second season coming, and that eases the torment of this show ending way too soon for my liking. That alone should tell you I loved this series. I’d seen in a couple other reviews that it was very melancholy, but that wasn’t my experience with it. I laughed until I hurt during most episodes except for the last and the Christmas Special (Which I’ll also cover in this review.)

Also, I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can avoid spoilers for this one, so if you want to go into the show clean, just stop now.

Also, this is my first exposure to the cast, as I never saw the 100 one-minute episodes that originally set up the story. So any experts who note mistakes in my review, please, keep your snickering to respectable levels.

With that out of the way, Aggretsuko is a Sanrio show for adults. The main character is Retsuko, a red panda who works as an OL (office lady) for a big company. She’s part of the accounting department, and after five years working in the same dead end position, she’s a bundle of raw nerves that seek release through singing death metal. That’s the whole premise in a nutshell, and it’s what drew me in, the curiosity to see where that angle would go. Continue reading

Game review: Pac-Man 256 for Android

Endless runners aren’t really my thing. I did enjoy Jetpack Joyride for several months, but most of the games in the genre get stale for me in a week or two. Pac-Man 256 got stale around the two hour mark.

Bear in mind, Pac-Man was one of the first arcade games to show up at our skate rink and movie theater, and it was the first game we got for our Atari 2600. Alongside Dig-Dug and Galaga, I’ve got Pac-Man on my PS4 whenever I need a quick pellet munching fix. I owned the Tiger Electronics LCD version of Pac-Man. You see what I’m saying? I love Pac-Man, and I don’t like this endless runner version of it. Not at all.

My problems with this game can be traced to the procedural generation and the blind spots created by the way the maze appears from the top and right of the screen. I might be aiming for a specific path, only to see that way is now blocked by several ghosts, and I’m dead with no chance of course correction. Continue reading

Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

It’s been ages since I put out a book review, and it took me several months to work my way through The Fifth Season. I want to assure you right away, this was not because it was a bad book. Quite the opposite, really. I’ve just been having brain problems because of MS relapses, and there were days when I couldn’t retain anything I tried to read. This makes it hard to review something if I can’t remember it, so I usually put the book down on those days and wandered off to play Dark Souls.

Let us begin with where my interest in the series started because it wasn’t with me buying the first book. I bought it for my husband, who was about to go on another long distance flight for work, and I remembered N.K. Jemisin being a writer I followed on Twitter who writes fantasy, and hubby loves fantasy. So one book purchase later, I went back to work on my stuff and promptly forgot about it.

Then in mid August, the 2018 Hugo awards winners were announced, and here’s N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky winning Best Novel of the Year. So I do a bit of digging and see that all three books in the trilogy won a Hugo, and The Stone Sky also picked up a Nebula and a Locus award. That makes the whole series a bit more intriguing. I mean, sure, one book in a series wins, you’ve done good. But if the whole series wins year on year? Then you must have done something special to earn that kind of praise. So, is that the case? Continue reading