Category Archives: other peoples’ stuff

Game review: God Eater Resurrection for PS4 and PS Vita

Having sunk a little over 1,000 hours into all three Dark Souls games, (No, seriously, over 1,000, making it the longest I’ve played anything since Diablo II) I decided to trade them in at the game shop, and it turns out Horizon Zero Dawn still isn’t available for trade. On a whim I got God Eater Rage Burst 2 because I’d recently seen it praised on a gaming site. The game came with a lovely thank you letter from the director, a classy move somewhat similar to The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. BUT, this letter also included an invitation to download a remastered version of the first game and play it to get introduced to the world and characters. That’s double classy. As an added bonus, this is a cross-play AND a cross-save game, meaning the same save file can be shared between my PS4 and my Vita, which doesn’t get nearly enough love these days. (I don’t mention it anywhere in this review, but the PS Vita version plays just as superbly as the PS4 version. No shock, as this was made for the PSP, the other Sony portable that Sony gave up on. Le sigh, and I digress.)

So what could possibly go wrong? Well, there are some missteps here and there, and I’ll tell you now, this is not a game for the casual crowd. It starts off tough and only gets harder through its three story arcs, for reasons that I will explain a bit later. I’ll get to the problems in due time as well, but first, let me cover the story, the controls, and the various game elements. I should mention that while I’ve beaten all the story and free missions up to Difficulty level 13, there’s still a crap ton of extra missions and challenges available after the story is done. I’ve put in 162 hours, and this is for a free game to get me into the next game. Hot damn, that’s a lot of game, y’all.

Starting off, this is a very anime game. The characters are supposedly an elite military corp dedicated to saving the world from monsters, and yet their uniforms are pretty skimpy in the fabric department. Cry sexism if you like, but several of the dudes are showing off as much skin as the women, so to me it’s an absurd form of equality. Or something. Later on, I was able to unlock an outfit that actually looked like something a military officer might wear and used that most of the time. But I was playing a girl with blue hair and black cat ears, and one of my male companions wears a vest and shorts even in missions with ankle deep snow. There’s also a costume to unlock that will let you cosplay as a pink teddy bear with a giant frickin’ sword. This is not a game that’s taking itself too seriously, is what I’m saying. Continue reading


Game review: Shadowrun Returns for PC

I got Shadowrun Returns during a GOG sale in the fall and played some of it between my other games. To give context for this review, I played almost all the way to the end in short sessions before starting over for reasons I’ll get to in a bit and rolled up two other characters before playing the whole game in a single session. Then I sat on this review for a long time, debating whether or not I wanted to talk about the game at all. I do need to write more posts here, and I’ve been real bad about putting out new stuff. Still, I kinda feel bad having to shit on what was a passion project for someone who clearly loved the original role play game. Kinda. But with time to think it over, I keep coming back to all the things that really pissed me off and I’d want to share that with y’all. Maybe you’ll play it and won’t have the same feelings. Or maybe you’ll give it a pass and play something else instead. That’s really the better option, in my opinion.

So, here we go: Shadowrun Returns is a complete and utter disappointment to play, both from the perspective of a long-time video gamer and as a player of the original old school pencil and paper RPG. The biggest disappointment is how little it tries to do anything resembling role-play. Like many modern triple A games, it gives you a list of dialogue options to choose from, and with the exception of a word change or a sentence at most, every choice leads to the same result. On startup, the game offers player the choice of various “etiquette” training, and depending on which you choose, you may only get to use it ONCE in the whole playthrough. AND EVEN THEN the response you get by sweet talking will be a single changed sentence before you’re right back on the same railed story as every other player.

This could be the one thing that really rubs me the wrong way precisely because there’s no voice acting. It’s all text scripts. So what it comes down to is, someone cobbled together a husk of a role play favorite and sold that old nostalgia song and dance, but couldn’t be bothered to actually make a role play game. Fuck that. Fuck it in every available orifice, and when you run out of holes, make some new ones and fuck those, too. Continue reading


Book review: The Humans by Matt Haig

This is going to be a shorter review than is typical for me, mainly because I don’t have much to say about The Humans. I went into it with too high expectations based on my first read of Matt Haig’s work, The Radleys (which I loved), and by the blurbs littering the cover with gushing praise. And I should say that yes, I liked the story. But do I think it is “Wonderfully funny, gripping, and inventive”? No. Would I call it “Hilarious”? No. Would I describe it as “A laugh-and-cry book”? No. (I also wouldn’t call it that because ugh, hyphen abuse.) What I would call it is “Somewhat adequate.”

Putting it simply, The Humans is a retread of just about every “going native” story I’ve ever read or seen as a film. It’s the same as the many stories of tourists visiting another country and being bewildered by culture shock, only to eventually fall in love with the people (usually first with just one person) and coming to terms with their unusual habits. It’s Dances with Wolves, and Avatar, and any other number of examples across multiple genres.

The narrator for this book is an unnamed alien sent to Earth to erase evidence of a mathematical breakthrough that might somehow evolve the human race to the point of space travel. Why? Well because even if the claim is made many times that the whole race feels no emotions, they clearly fear the humans. I’m not even going to argue with their reasoning, because just look at what we’ve done with the internet and smartphones, and it’s clear that we do indeed have a problem with our technology advancing far too fast for us to catch up culturally and socially. So even if it seems illogical that the aliens who feel no emotions should fear humans, I can’t fault their desire to keep us constrained to one planet until we’ve had the chance to mature beyond our territorial pissing contest mentality. Continue reading


Game review: Dark Souls II: Sins of the First Scholar for PS4

I just finished Dark Souls II: Sins of the first Scholar last night, having gone through all of the DLCs and beaten every boss, no matter how huge of a pain in the ass they were. Most weren’t, and there were only a few bosses that had me swearing violent threats against whoever designed those encounters. But for the most part, the bosses aren’t bad, they’re just…easy? I think until I got to the very end of the game, 75 percent of the bosses I took down on my first attempt. Even for some of the two attempt runs, it was because I pressed the wrong button and could immediately acknowledge “my bad” before the ubiquitous YOU DIED had appeared on screen. Most of the time, the real challenge to any From Software game isn’t fighting the boss. It’s in finding a route to the boss through all the ambushes and “gotcha” traps. The enemies are dumb as always, so for this edition, someone decided to add more of them to artificially crank up the difficulty. But that doesn’t make it hard. It’s just cheap.

Before I go into niggling details about the good and bad, I need to address an issue. With every video I’ve seen of people playing other From Software games, there’s a constant rant going on about Dark Souls II not being “right,” and I want to put that argument to rest first. This is a Dark Souls game just like the first and third. It takes place in the same general continent, albeit with hundreds or possibly even thousands of years passing between each age of the curse reviving. The game still has the same love of narrow cliff ledges, illusory walls, random mimic chests…it’s Dark Souls, y’all. If you’ve played one, you know what to expect from the rest.

There are a few points that the naysayers make with the ring of truth to them, namely that the game has a lot of samey enemies and a lack of varied environments. This is true. You fight a lot of knights in armor, and there’s not as much variety to this world as there are in the first and third installments.

But put that aside because really, the places you go really do look lovely. Take Brightstone Cove Tseldora as an example. It’s an inhabited aquifer brimming with glowing flowers. The first time I arrived there, I just hung out by the bonfire, taking in the view. (Enjoy the silence, by the way. The rest of this area is pure bullshit troll tactics.) (EDIT: I’m in my second run through the game and now notice that the area is the second bonfire for Shrine of Amana. Sorry for the mix up, but to be fair it is a really big game world.) And even the many castles have a sense of wonder to them on my first playthrough. I might lose that later, after my tenth run to try out all the possible build and weapon combos, but I can say with my first run through all the pretty that this games looks much better than the first, and the first looked pretty good to me. Continue reading


Game review: Let It Die for PS4

Y’all, I want to apologize for this review taking so long, and for not being able to finish Let It Die. I have only nine floors left to reach the end, and yet the thought of playing even one more time fills me with a creeping boredom so intense, I was making up house chores to avoid playing. I have fallen asleep while playing despite having just had a nap. The grind is so dreadfully boring that I actually went back to play Bloodborne, a game I swore I wouldn’t start over because the grind was so dull. I just reached a point where I said to hubby, “If I’m going to be grinding for days on end against cookie cutter clones, I should at least get rewarded with unique boss fights every now and then.”

Before I go on, I want to say that the makers of Let It Die quite often patch the game both to fix problems and to add different events. This has also made reviewing it harder because a lot of what bugged me when I first installed the game was fixed only a couple days or weeks later. This might seem like a good thing, but even the patches create their own problems that I’ll get to later. But I bring this up because within a month of this review going up, it’s possible some of what I’ll criticize won’t be in the game anymore. If you pick it up later and want to comment, “Nuh-uh Zoe, that isn’t how it works,” I’ll rebut that it was how things were when I played, and the patched version you have fixed it.

But I’m relatively confident that the game’s biggest problems cannot be fixed, and that’s the monotonous grind combined with an overly repetitive design.

Oh, also, this is a very long review. Consider this a fair warning that you’re gonna be here a while to finish this post. Continue reading


My thoughts on the weapon durability game mechanic…

Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a lot of people raving about how good it is, and watching people play on live streams, it certainly does look fun. And yet, there’s a problem that even people who like it have called out, and that’s the introduction of weapon durability. The problem isn’t that it’s a part of the game, though. No, the real problem is the exaggerated fragility of the weapons.

I’ll have to wait quite some time before I can play BotW, but I have played a number of games recently where durability is a mechanic in them, and I think it’s a good idea if it’s done right. For instance, it’s mostly okay in Dark Souls III and the original game (I still haven’t played the second installment so I can’t say how it is, but it’s on my “want to play” list.) while it’s decidedly more frustrating in Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Let it Die.

In particular, Let it Die has constantly annoyed me with how fragile the weapons are, especially in the higher levels. I can carry a supply of four or five swords for one level and still not reach the next floor before I’ve used up my supply. This is a problem for many reasons. One is the high cost of the upgraded weapons, requiring a half a day of grinding for cash just to afford a decent supply. But even with cash on hand, the game blocks additional purchases of the same weapon type with a timer, so gathering my arsenal requires upwards of two hours sitting around and doing nothing. So imagine the “fun” of wasting a whole day to buy a weapon cache, only to have said cache be wiped out in twenty minutes. Continue reading


Pre-review: Nioh Last Chance Demo (PS4)

I’ve got this pre-review and a new game review coming in the near future, and this is possible because both games were free. I’m looking to publish a new book in the coming months, so that may help the financial crunch that’s keeping me strapped and gameless. (and bookless)(guh, being broke sucks)(I am incidentally attempting to go overboard with parentheses))

But so let me digress and talk about Nioh, which put out a last chance demo over the weekend. It is a demo and a beta, so there’s no guarantees that some of what I’ll talk about will be in the actual release. And in breaking with tradition, I’m going to give a verdict upfront. When the demo locked me out at 1:00 AM on Monday, my first question was “Would I buy this if this were the finished product?” The answer is yes, but I will probably wait a few months in the hopes of finding it at a discounted price. That’s more to do with me being broke and needing to be choosy about what one game I can buy in any month, and as Horizon Zero Dawn is also coming out in February, I would much rather get that first.

I played through the first mission twice and had two very different impressions of the game as a result of RNG. Given that the second playthrough was far more favorable and less negative, I kinda want to talk about it first. But some of those impressions won’t make sense if I take them out of order. So just be aware that while I’ll initially have a lot of bad things to bring up, eventually this review will get around to saying something nice to balance it all out. Continue reading


Extended re-re-review: Fallout 4…modded like a boss! (PS4)

It took FOREVER for Sony and Bethesda to get mod support on Fallout 4 on the PS4, at one point even looking like it would never come to pass. I was actually in a really long run on Dark Souls III when the update came out, and then I got Dark Souls, which also distracted me for a while before I could finally give this much desired feature a chance.

At first, I couldn’t get mods to work, but that wasn’t the fault of the mods themselves. For some odd reason, I started having lag in many indoor areas, lag so bad that I was seeing single digit frame rates and really bad instances of rubber banding. My character would literally take two steps forward and then one step back, and this was the case even after I deleted all mods and started a new game with the vanilla setup.

But after a few days of searching, I found a mod that cleaned up some extra debris, and that improvement in performance allowed me to start putting on other mods, some of which were for visual flair, like Simple Green. (Adding grass and leaves to the environment so it doesn’t look so barren and lifeless.) Another one I added allowed me to make any gun I wanted, just to see what I could get away with. (Funny story in that. I made a badass rifle before groaning in dismay because I had no ammo for it. I ended up having to craft a much less wicked .38 pipe pistol because that’s the more common ammo found in the early areas. Once I had some ammo to test my monster combat rifle, oh, baby, was it fun to use!)

I gave the mods a test run, completing one game on normal mode before I downloaded a mod that changed the time scale of the world to real time. Then I started a new game in survival mode to see if having a longer day/night cycle would address my problems with the constant prompts for food and water. Oh, and I also made a ring that gave me crazy amounts of XP for kills, making it much easier to level up and try out new perks that I’d previously left alone because I didn’t consider them essential. More on that in a bit. Continue reading


Game review: Dark Souls for Xbox360

I got a little amount of cash for Christmas, not enough for a proper new game, though. But as I’ve played something like 600 hours in Dark Souls III, I figured why not get the first game and see what’s changed? So I went to the local game shop, and as luck would have it, they had exactly one copy of the Prepare to Die edition in stock.

Before I get to the proper review, I want to address some complaints about the third installment. I see a lot of fans complain that Dark Souls III is totally different from the original game, and I gotta say, I’m not in agreement with that opinion. The third game is in many ways a refinement of all these ideas that started in the first. The menus and interface are more intuitive to use, the camera is less wonky, and the fast travel system is much, much better in the final installment. But almost everything else is quite similar. Many of the items and enemies found in the first game are in the third installment, and now having played the first game, and then gone back to play the third over again, I can see all the ways From Software is elbowing me in the ribs and going “Remember that? Wasn’t it great?”

And it can be great at times, when it isn’t being clunky or clumsy. The controls are so slow to react, and the dodge roll is pretty useless in most situations. I could hold the stick to the left, press the dodge roll four times, and go every direction EXCEPT to the left. I couldn’t reliably roll and execute a thrust attack because rather than thrust at the camera locked enemy, my character would instead attack thin air in whichever direction she was facing when she finished the roll. The camera lock is even more wonky than the later From Software games I’ve played, but I had to use it because attempting to fight without it often resulted in a gloriously clumsy dance where my character and the enemy both swung half a dozen times without either ever once connecting for a hit. Continue reading


Book review: The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue

The Boy Who Drew Monsters was my Halloween read, although I started it a day early. The first few chapters really sucked me in, but near the middle of the book it lost me, and reading the last chapters just dragged on and on because the story both loses momentum and does a terrible job of answering the questions its posed.

Jack Peter, or JP, or Jip, is an autistic boy who hasn’t left his house since almost drowning three years before the start of the book. Only that’s a lie the blurb tells, and he frequently leaves his house for trips to his therapist. Another lie the blurb tells is that he’s just recently started to draw monsters and they somehow come to life. Also not true.

Jack is a boy with extraordinary powers that he has always had, but no one noticed before, somehow. The circumstances of his near drowning are murky, but seem to be an attempted murder that backfired. His parents are friends with the parents of his best friend Nick, although I’m not sure how that can be when Tim had an affair with Nick’s mother, and everyone seems to know it even if it’s never explained when this all came out.

I guess that’s my real problem with the book. All the things I had questions about were glossed over, and the only question that did get answered in the end felt like a really, really stupid answer. I had so little interest in the story that it’s taken me this long just to write up a review.

I’m giving The Boy Who Drew Monsters 2 stars. If this is horror, it’s the kind of crappy PG-13 horror someone might make for a kid’s movie (assuming the one dull sex scene was edited out, that is). It’s never scary and wastes the potential it started out with. I can’t even think of anyone I’d recommend this to. There are better ways to waste time with. Navel gazing, for instance.