Tunic Rocks, Give it a Chance!

Probably the only thing that I universally dislike about Dark Souls and the plethora of copycats that followed in its tracks is the difficulty level. And I don’t even dislike that they’re (generally) hard games, rather I have a problem with why they’re hard games. I don’t have great reaction speed, which is a problem because the combat in these games almost always revolves around nailing split-second timing to dodge enemy attacks. It gets even worse when enemies have several attacks with similar tells-most of which are only several frames long-and you have to guess which one it’s going to be and respond in kind.

It’s frustrating! I don’t like it and wish that action RPG developers would come up with a way to make the same combat system a little more player-friendly..

Oh, wait, that already exists, and it’s called The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. (Or Tears of the Kingdom, if you’d prefer.)

Anyway, a very long blog post about this exact thing is why I ignored Tunic for a very long time. But then my youngest brother played it and could not stop praising it, which made me wonder if maybe I’d made the wrong call. And then Tunic was offered up as one of PS+’s free games for May 2024, so I decided to give it a spin. Nothing to lose when something’s free, right?

Continue reading Tunic Rocks, Give it a Chance!

Crab Rave

So, I finished Another Crab’s Treasure, and it has changed my life.

When I wrote about it last week, I thought that I was nearing the end of the game. I was wrong. I was only about 2/3 of the way done, and that last third went hard. Remember how I kept bangin’ on about how Another Crab’s Treasure is such a silly, funny game? Yeah, that kinda goes away once you hit a certain event. In retrospect, there is a serious tone lurking under the surface from the very outset of the game, so it’s not complete tonal whiplash, but there’s definitely a major shift in tone for the last couple areas of the game.

Now, normally I would be slightly perturbed by a funny thing dramatically shifting into a serious thing. But what sets Another Crab’s Treasure apart is that it started to evoke feelings that I know (too) well, and I think it kind of goes without saying that that emotional resonance made it really work for me. Being able to relate to all the complex feelings that Kril has to sort through along his journey was sobering, to some degree. I’ve been to those dark places. Some of them I still see on a semi-regular basis. And while I’m sure that a wealth of fictitious characters have been written with similar arcs, this one hit me particularly hard.

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Feeling Crabby

2024 has been a good year for video games. Probably. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve kind of stopped paying attention to the scene and have just been playing games that interest me. And one of the things that interests me very much is crabs. You may not know this about me, but crabs are my second-favourite animal, right after turtles. I guess I have a thing about shells?

Anyway, I’ve been playing Another Crab’s Treasure very enthusiastically over the last couple of weeks. It’s an indie action/adventure game from developer Aggro Crab that plays a lot like Dark Souls and looks a lot like Spongebob Squarepants. In text, it might sound like there’s a pretty gnarly disconnect there, but it actually works out very well. To put the horse before the cart, I’ve got a very good feeling that Another Crab’s Treasure will be one of my favourite games of 2024.

It all starts with a short, fake documentary clip about how resilient and resourceful the creatures of the sea are, which then segues into the beginning of the game proper. It’s a great way to make sure that players know they’re about to be hit with very heavy-handed environmentalism themes. Not that I have any issue with that. While Another Crab’s Treasure takes every opportunity to suggest that humans dumping all their trash in the ocean is a bad thing, it’s never patronizing or condescending about it. In fact, it’s usually very good about using humour to help make its point.

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You know what’s a great feeling? Picking up a random video game that you’ve never heard of and proceeding to have an absolute blast with it. That is the one-sentence story of my experience with Steelrising, a 2022 action RPG that takes a lot of cues from From Software’s Dark Souls family of games. But there’s so much more that needs to be said about this game!

Right from the get-go, Steelrising establishes a very unique tone, being set in Paris during the French Revolution. Yeah, not a lot of video games have used that particular period of history as a backdrop. But it’s not all aristocrats and baguettes. Steelrising adds a little zazz (and video gamey-ness) to this setting by adding robots. So many robots. The clockwork contraptions make up all the enemies in the game, as well as your main character, Aegis.

Aegis is a lady-like robot that has the unusual ability to think and act of her own volition, unlike the mindless automats that have overrun Paris under the command of King Louis XVI. You’re given a handful of options to customize Aegis’s look (7 each of “skin” colours, hairstyles, and faces) and then get to pick from four starting classes. Which class you pick isn’t really important, it just defines your starting weapon and stat distribution. I picked the “bodyguard” class, which is built for defense and begins the game with a slow-ass hammer weapon.

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Top 10 of 2022: Runners Up

These get a separate post because the main article is long enough as-is, but I still felt like they deserved a little recognition!

Triangle Strategy (Square-Enix / Artdink, 2022)

This was probably the hardest finalist to cut. I’ve never been able to truly get into any tactical RPGs besides Final Fantasy Tactics, but Triangle Strategy came real close. The story is interesting, the choices you make carry a ton of weight (and there’s almost never a clear “correct” choice), and the battles are great fun. Despite all that, however, I got pulled away from it when I was only halfway though, and never felt compelled enough to pick it back up. I keep looking at the case and saying “I should really finish that”, but I have a feeling it’s just not going to happen.

Continue reading Top 10 of 2022: Runners Up

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2022

~ Game Over ~

New Super Mario World 2: Around the World (PC) – Completed to 100 percent, with many headaches along the way and some mild save-statery to smooth the especially rough parts. Generally speaking, a very good hack, though I cannot forgive the lack of the “beeooo-wip” sound effect when finishing a stage.

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge (Switch) – Second playthrough as Casey.

Linelight (PC) – A simple puzzle game that provided me a good few hours of fun, and an hour of two of abject frustration. Frustration at how bad I am at solving simple puzzles. A YouTube series is on the way.

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: July 2022

Tales From the Lands Between (Volume 1(?))

I don’t plan on writing extensively about my adventures in Elden Ring, like I did with (most of) my first Dark Souls playthrough. However, I may feel like it’s necessary to share a story here and there when something really interesting/funny happens in the game.

For example, something that happened while I playing last night:

There are lots of skeletons in Elden Ring. They’re a pretty common enemy, and I’ve fought an entire legion of them by this point. I didn’t think that they were going to be the enemy type that surprised me, but lo and behold, it happened!

Continue reading Tales From the Lands Between (Volume 1(?))

The Eldenest of Rings

I ignored Elden Ring when it launched a few months ago, in favour of a different crazy-hard action-RPG. While it was the most hype game on the internet for a while, I really wasn’t especially interested; I didn’t follow any of the pre-release news or marketing, and I haven’t played any of the Soulsborne games aside from Dark Souls.

And then I started watching a let’s play series. A few videos in, I started thinking to myself: “This game looks like a lot of fun. Why am I watching this instead of playing it myself?” And then I bought Elden Ring.

The answer to my question is, of course, “Because I’m terrible at these crazy-hard action-RPGs.”

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Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: June 2022

~ Game Over ~

Monster Hunter Rise (Switch) – Worked my way up through the post-game elder dragons to prep for the Sunbreak expansion that launches… today!

LumbearJack (PC) – A cute indie game where you play as a bear, reclaiming the forest by destroying anything unnatural. My favourite part was slapping all the humans you meet along the way. YouTube video here.

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge (Switch) – An exceptionally good throwback to the TMNT brawlers of the 90’s. Feels great, looks great, sounds great. I even recorded a playthrough for YouTube. 10/10 will play again.

~ Progress Notes ~

New Super Mario World 2: Around the World (PC) – World 14

Final Fantasy III (DS) – Cleared Goldor’s Manor

Elden Ring (PS5) – Exploring Leyndell, Royal Capital

Haunted Zombie School (Switch) – Stage 2

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: May 2022

~ Game Over ~

Evil Tonight (Switch) – A pretty darn good 2D survival horror game. Great pixel art, a unique story, and plenty of puzzles. I really liked this one, and am glad that I recorded my playthrough for YouTube.

Ys IX: Monstrum Nox (PS4) – While very similar in structure and gameplay to Lacrimosa of Dana, Monstrum Nox does a surprisingly good job of forging its own identity. I had a great time playing it, with my two complaints being that it’s a little too anime, and the trophies are basically copy-pasted from Ys IV and VIII. So, very minor issues!

Continue reading Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up: May 2022