Category Archives: video game

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

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

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

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

This is not a review of Cross Code for PC

I hate turning this into a habit, but I have a choice of not writing about a game I can’t finish and moving on, or writing on my feelings up to the point that I stopped playing, and I’d really rather get new posts out for y’all, even if they’re incomplete opinion pieces on games I don’t want to force myself to continue playing.

This time the game is Cross Code, a somewhat nostalgic RPG/puzzle platformer that looks great, has a fantastic soundtrack, and an intriguing story premise. Unfortunately, it’s the puzzle portion of the game that’s dulled my interest in continuing. Where I stopped was a few hours after completing the second of four dungeons to acquire the game’s four elemental powers, ice, fire, shock, and wave. I can say that I rather enjoyed the combat, and some of the platforming sections. But the puzzles just drag on an on and on and on and on and…and if I haven’t made this abundantly clear, most overstay their welcome, pushing aside all other aspects of the game. Keep in mind, I’m someone who loves puzzle games like Portal and Portal 2. This is just too much puzzle for me.

From what I’ve been able to sort out from the story, Lea is a player in a unique VR RPG. Rather than log into a game server to play a virtual character, players log into a physical avatar who stays on a real island. Lea apparently had played this game before, but something happened to her that wiped her memory and left her in a coma. A scientist got desperate and decided to try logging her back into the game, and while Lea is still comatose in the real world, she’s got enough brain activity to play as her avatar. The other catch is, she can’t speak due to some kind of malfunction in her avatar, creating a charming reason for her “silent” protagonist shtick. Continue reading

This is not a review of Dark Souls: Daughters of Ash

Let me say that I really wanted to like this mod. I went and downloaded a fresh copy of the Prepare to Die edition of Dark Souls to play it, and the enthusiasm I’ve seen from some YouTubers certainly had me excited to try the mod out. I found the mod developer’s description particularly intriguing:

Dark Souls: Daughters of Ash is the original Dark Souls (2011), re-imagined and massively expanded. It’s my vision of what Dark Souls might have been if FromSoftware had been given an additional six months to develop content for the game.

But, this and several other quotes on the Nexus Mods page are either hubris or straight up lies. I want really badly to find something nice to say, like “there’s some interesting ideas here,” but even trying to use faint praise is hard because those good ideas are marred by bad execution. Continue reading

This is not a review for Wizard of Legend (on PC)

I’d like to apologize for my absence, but this time it’s not my fault. I’ve been sick, and am in fact still ill. All my plans and workouts fell flat as soon as the weather turned truly cold, and I had to drop a paying editing job in the middle of a week because I had an MS-related relapse. Right as I was recovering from that junk, I got a good old-fashioned cold, the kind that likes to stick around for two weeks and come in waves. It’s like every time I get up and say, “Oh, I might be better,” the cold shows up an hour later to go, “Psyche! Gotcha, bitch!”

While I don’t feel the need to apologize for being sick, I do want to say how sorry I am that I won’t be finishing Wizard of Legend. Every time I think to play it, I also think of a dozen other things I could do that would be better ways to spend my time. Like doing laundry, for instance. When a game is so tedious that I would prefer to do laundry instead, you know there’s a problem.

But, as I can’t finish it, this is not a review. I will cover what I liked about the parts I played, and then I’ll cover what I hated. (Hate is a strong word, but it totally applies in this instance, believe me.) But I will not give a score, so then it’s not a real, really real review.

What I liked can be summed up pretty fast, so first, let’s go over the story. In the modern era of the game’s world, your character is a young wizard visiting the museum of the Chaos Trials, where people admire all the many feats and spells of wizards of legend. It’s basically a tutorial area before an artifact sucks you back in time and into your very own Chaos Trial. You, yes YOU, are now being tested to become A WIZARD OF LEGEND! Wooohooo! Yaaay!

The premise is decent, the graphics are lovely, and the music is nice. Once you have enough funds to buy spells and find a mix that works for you, the visual flair of said spells can look quite spectacular as well. Aaaaand that’s everything I liked. *Deep breath* Continue reading

Game review: Magic: The Gathering: Arena (beta for PC)

I actually planned to do a different review this week for Wizard of Legend, but despite feeling like I’ve played it for ages, Steam swears I’ve only been at it 13 hours. So I figure I’ll give it a bit more time before breaking out the gas and matches to burn it to the ground. On the other hand, only being ten hours into the free to play Magic: The Gathering: Arena (A name with way too many colons for my liking), I already know enough to tell you what you need to know about this game. Really, it’s Magic, but in a digital form. If you’ve played Magic anytime in its entire history, you already know what this means, and have already decided if you’re going to go in on this or not. This, then, is the review for the people who somehow missed out on the game for the last 20-some-odd years.

Before I get into it, I should cover some history explaining why I was originally hesitant to play this and explain why I was kind of right to be wary. I got into Magic: The Gathering at the ground floor with the first generation of cards thanks to my roommate Andy. Andy gave me the “first free hit” that pushed me to start buying booster packs, and after a few weeks of trying to make monster decks of ridiculous sizes, I began to instead create smaller 40 card decks comprised of one or two mana colors and with lots of land and low cost spells and creatures. While most of my friends used mega-decks with high cost cards, I could pull up an army while they were still laying out land to pay for their first summons, and I destroyed them most of the time unless I just had a really bad shuffle.

But I reached the point where I was spending all my free money on booster decks. No, I reached the point where food and bills got shuffled to the side to pay for more cards, and recognizing I had an obsession bordering on addiction, I quit the game and gave away all my cards. Five years later, a random co-worker asked if I played Magic, and I said I used to, but couldn’t afford it. So he gave me a deck to play with, and before you can say obsessive compulsive disorder, I was looking at dwindling finances and a binder full of duplicate cards again. So yeah, even in a digital form, I worried that this game might once again bring out the worst in me. To a smaller extent, I can already feel that tug to spend some real cash to get crystals so I can buy booster packs faster. In this way, Magic can be dangerous even if it’s loads of fun. Continue reading

Game review: Mark of the Ninja Remastered for PS4

Mark of the Ninja dropped a newly remastered edition along with their debut on the Nintendo Switch, (a device I lusted after, but feel less attracted to now that the paid online features have been implemented) and I had vague memories of not liking it. But, my reason then for not liking it was the sales pitch that you could do a fully pacifist run and even get rewarded for it. But in reality, it’s only possible to do said pacifist run in New Game+, and so much of my review on that older version was griping about what I saw as a bait and switch ad. So I thought, “I know I have to kill everything on the first run anyway, so why not buy it again and see it through to the end?”

How does that old saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’m a complete dumbass who got what I deserved. Because of that, I shall temper my temper and avoid my usual rage filled f-bombing. I did it to myself, knowing what would happen. But I suffered through this, for you. In the words of Courage the Cowardly Dog: “The things I do for love!”

For those of you interested in only the hot take, that’s all folks! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time. Continue reading

My biggest problem with modern mobile games…

I got a Kindle Fire last year as part of my efforts to engage viewers on Twitch. The plan was, I’d have my tablet streaming the chat from my channel, so that way I could keep up with what folks were saying whether I was on the PC or my PS4. That plan didn’t work because the Android Twitch app was bugged and wouldn’t show people’s comments. So I’d finish a stream wondering why no one said anything, only to check the channel on my PC and see that folks did try to say hi, and since I didn’t respond, they didn’t bother saying anything else. (And on that note, for the love of God, Twitch fix your shit, PLEASE.)

But after moving to the country, where streaming isn’t possible, (seriously, on a bad day, even YouTube can hang if my husband and I dare to watch videos at the same time) I thought I’d use the tablet to play all the mobile games I’d been missing out on by owning a Windows Phone. (This is the last one. Microsoft gave up on their music service, the only reason I was loyal to them, so fuck them.)

Which leads me to the real meat of my gripe, which is a consistent problem I’ve seen is way too many mobile games. You might think I’m taking about microtransactions or “energy limits” to keep me from playing without sitting through a timer, but neither of those bug me. I don’t worry about microtransactions because I don’t have money to spare on random loot boxes with no guarantee of getting the item or character I want. The timers don’t bother me because I pretty much play solely in the bathroom, and right about the time the game is ready to hold my session hostage, I’m ready to shut it off and get back to work, or back to a game on my PC or console. (Granted, I’m old, so bathroom breaks can sometimes take a while to get everything moving out the back door. But I digress.)

No, the real problem for me is constant downloads. You see a game has a 100 MB install file, and you think that’s big. But then right after you install it, it’s got to download updates, and these can end up being around 300 MB or higher. No sweat, though, it’s all installed and patched so now…no, finish playing the tutorial level and here’s another 300 MB download. Five minutes into a game, it’s already nearing a gigabyte of space for a mobile game with static image cut scenes and “voice acting” like “Ah!” “Aargh!” and “Nani!?” Every time I load up the game, it has to download more, and more and more. No, even worse, I might play one level and instantly get another download, halting my session for several minutes. You thought loading screens on your console were bad because you had to stare at them for a minute? Try waiting ten minutes between levels, and then that one minute wait seems pretty mild in comparison. Continue reading