dkirschner's GameLogBlogging the experience of gameplay Dungeon (PC) - Tue, 21 Nov 2017 17:05:27, I've sunk 15 or so hours into Darkest Dungeon and I think I'm good. It's getting really grindy and, as promised, is hard and punishing as hell. I'll describe: DD is a party-based roguelike with some strategy RPG elements. There's a hub town where you do normal things like upgrade buildings, purchase equipment upgrades, purchase trinkets, recruit heroes, and...wait this isn't normal...send characters to the tavern or the church to engage in stress-relief activities, send characters to get diseases cured, and look at the graveyard full of your dead characters. Oh no. Form a party and delve into one of the dungeons around your ancestral home. Dungeons can be short, medium, or long, and range in difficulty from level 1-6 (same range your characters can be...well no, they can be level 0 also). You explore from room to room, interacting with curios, avoiding traps, fighting enemies, managing your party members, and micro-managing your inventory to collect maximum treasures. Curios are very interesting, in that there can be all sorts of shit wrong with them that can harm you (e.g., they are cursed, trapped, diseased, etc.). You can use consumables, purchased in the "provisions" phase before actually going into the dungeon, to remove bad stuff on curios (like keys to unlock chests, holy water to purify cursed things), and you learn what these do by a process of trial and error. Once I figured out how to disarm all the curios, I was getting much better treasure and having fewer bad things happen to me. Now, party management is a huge deal in DD. This is not your typical game. Your characters have two main things for you to worry about: health and stress. Health is health, except that if you get to 0 health, you are at "death's door," and the next hit may kill you. If you heal while at 0 health, you are no longer at death's door; however any bleed effects or crits may be out of your control to trigger death. Stress is more interesting. This builds up over time as you take critical hits, as enemies use stress-inducing attacks, as your torch runs out, as you spend too much time in a battle or in the dungeon, and various other ways. If your stress reaches 100, the character makes a roll and either overcomes it or succumbs to it, usually the latter. When that happens, they develop an affliction. Maybe they will refuse healing, or they will randomly not want to act and skip their turn, or they will be paranoid and make your other characters more stressed out, etc. It's terrifying. If they continue to take stress, up to 200, they have a heart attack and die. Now, if you do manage to beat a dungeon (and you will; I didn't start having trouble really till the medium level 3 dungeons), you have to deal with your characters' accumulated stress, afflictions, and diseases and quirks (which they will randomly acquire at the end of even a successful dungeon). That's where the inn and church come in, so they can go pray or visit the brothel or whatever to feel better. This costs a dungeon cycle though, so you wind up with a big roster of characters (I was up to 16) of a variety of classes (maybe also 16 that I had, one of each that I'd seen). Oh, I didn't mention another important thing about combat in the dungeons. Your characters are in a horizontal line, and their positioning is crucial. Their abilities require them to be in specific positions in the formation (spots 1 [in the front] through 4 [in the back]), and their abilities affect enemies in particular positions also. Some abilities move enemies. So putting characters in good order is important. BUT, some enemy abilities will also move your characters. I almost had a party wipe one time because when the battle started my party was "surprised," which randomly jumbled their order, and I just got massacred. There is a lot of strategy to pretty much everything in DD, but a healthy dose of RNG too, which can be maddening / make you cry. When I lost my three level 4 characters to getting surprised and jumbled up, I couldn't believe it. But I pressed on. The game is about making the most out of terrible circumstances. As I press on though, I feel the entire game is on big terrible circumstance, and it stresses ME out so much to play it. I really like the game. I think it's well designed and is as difficult as it is meant to be. But I'm on the edge of my seat, and it's going to take me forever to progress. I wouldn't mind so much if there were more story, but as a roguelike dungeon crawler sort of game, there's not much. Grind characters that get harder and harder to grind. Then lose some of them and be heartbroken. Pick up the pieces and try again. Etc. I watched the final Darkest Dungeon levels on YouTube, and this poor YouTuber went into the first floor of the Darkest Dungeon (that's the name of the final dungeon) and just got beaten down with full level 6 characters. He lost them all. It was so painful to watch because I've been playing for 15 hours and have a handful of level 4 characters. This guy had his whole roster, like 20-something characters, at level 6. How long did that take?! Only to have his best ones wiped out. It was like 20 more episodes later in his YouTube channel that he finally beat the game (like 20 more hours of recorded content). And the bosses down there, no thanks! SO, glad I played, but glad to stop.Tue, 21 Nov 2017 17:05:27 CST Legend (PC) - Sat, 04 Nov 2017 15:09:07 I haven't played a game, aside from the odd Hearthstone match, in three months, literally since the fall semester began. Who am I? Seeing the light at the end of the semester-long tunnel, my body decided to become sick and so I took a few days off work last week. I mostly watched movies, which is another reason I haven't been playing games (learned I can rent DVDs from library + new Roku TV + free Hulu trial for 2 months means I've had more movies and TV than ever in my life, and I have indulged). But I'm working toward re-balancing media consumption. I'm also 7 books behind schedule to hit my goal of 30 for the year, which is more motivation for re-balancing. Anyway, while I was sick I booted up Steam and downloaded 3 months' worth of game updates. Then I decided to spend an evening playing something. I chose Endless Legend since I had played the tutorial back in August and another "Endless" game before that. The main reason I had bought Endless Legend is because I want to like 4x games, and this one seemed different enough from the typical Civilization games to warrant my attention. Great reviews always mentioned more of a formal narrative arc somewhat different depending on which of the diverse races you chose, and a narrative with quests and goals (aside from one of the victory conditions) is something I always found missing in Civilization games. So I played a game on Easy against the AI and lost. Then I played another against just one Easy AI and won. And I'd had enough of it because I guess it's still a pretty standard 4x game, just with sci-fi fantasy dressing. The faction-specific narratives provided nice flavor exploring the motivations of each faction for world domination and the characteristics of them and their leaders. But ultimately, yeah, you explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. Just with "Endless" resources (dust, gold, industry, etc.) instead of regular game resources. And I don't play enough 4x games to be able to describe other differences. It felt the same to me, and I was a little disappointed. The next one that's been on my list forever is Crusader Kings, which seems like it has a lot more politics in it and is more grand strategy. Maybe I'll like it better.Sat, 04 Nov 2017 15:09:07 CST's Your Daddy (PC) - Sun, 06 Aug 2017 20:07:01 so...I'd heard about this before, but some friends showed me another video about it and we decided it would be fun to play. Last Saturday, I paid $4.99 and downloaded Who's Your Daddy (no question mark in the title), a silly, stupid, buggy, funny, morbid two-player game. One player is the daddy and the other is the baby. The baby's job is to get into everything a baby shouldn't and kill itself; the daddy's job is to make the house safe and stop baby from dying. Baby can do things like take pills, drink bleach, burn alive in the oven, steal daddy's car and crash it, eat batteries, etc. Daddy can prevent these accidents from happening by putting pills and deadly things in high places, locking all the cabinets, locking the oven door, following baby around to fish it from the pool if baby crawls in, etc. And that's it. Pretty good fun for half an hour. There are some solo challenges to practice with each character and some achievements to unlock. You can also wear an assortment of hats and sunglasses. Yes, the baby can too.Sun, 06 Aug 2017 20:07:01 CST of the Endless (PC) - Sun, 06 Aug 2017 19:41:31, long time no updates. I haven't been playing much of anything for about a month. I am chilling in Montreal this week before a conference though, so I find myself playing some games instead of working on my conference presentation. I've officially retired Dungeon of the Endless, which a friend told me about at the tail end of this summer's Steam sale. Sounded cool, and I had some good times with it. Dungeon of the Endless is a roguelike tower defense game. Interesting merger of two genres that works well. There is some threadbare story and some "narratives" between characters that play out in small dialogue snippets on the elevator between floors. Your ship crash lands and you have to escape the dungeon...But there are some characters who are jailors and others who are prisoners and a couple other types...including Team Fortress 2 characters for some reason. None of that affects anything. You choose two characters to begin the game, and you start at floor 1, trying to work your way up to floor 13 (with the basic ship; you can unlock other ships that crash deeper into the planet, meaning you have to go up more floors to escape). You begin in a room with a crystal. This crystal is important. It generates a resource called "dust." With dust, you can power new rooms. So basically, open doors, acquire dust from doing so, power rooms. But it's infinitely more complicated. If you don't power a room, monsters might spawn there every time you open a door. Of course there isn't enough dust to go around. So you're going to have to build "towers," aka "major modules" that generate other resources and "minor modules" which are a variety of weapons, buffs, and debuffs. Major modules generate three other important resources: industry, science, and food. Industry is what you need to construct modules. Science lets you research new and upgraded modules. Food lets you level up your heroes and heal them in battle. So be smart when choosing among modules to build. These resources also let you buy things from merchants, who will sometimes appear and charge one of the three resources seemingly at random for their items. If you don't generate much industry, you'll have a hard time building modules. Not much science, and you won't be able to upgrade modules very well. Not much food, and your characters will be lower level, which means they'll have lesser stats and fewer perks. Always a tough call! So. How do you clear a floor? You need to find the power source for the crystal. It's hidden somewhere on the floor. Once you find that, you can carry it to the crystal and escape with whoever is in the room. I learned that the hard way one game where I escaped with no one but the hero carrying the crystal, and I lost all my party members. Terrible! As soon as you pick up the crystal power source, be warned that monsters will spawn from every unpowered room. So you need to power a path from the power source to the crystal and ideally power other rooms such that monsters don't catch you (you run slower with the power source) or don't make it to the crystal room. Enemies are all different. Some go straight for the crystal; some attack heroes; some attack modules. You'll be fine until floor 6 or so, then different enemy types appear and you can't just stand in a room and kill everything. You know what. I'm about halfway through describing all the systems in the game. If this sounds cool to you, pay a few bucks for it. I probably won't revisit it, and I never escaped, not even on Too Easy mode, but I had fun and found the game unique. Also I hope this was a decent primer on the "Endless" games, because I think I'm going to start Endless Legend next. Sun, 06 Aug 2017 19:41:31 CST Cat Lady (PC) - Sat, 01 Jul 2017 09:30:01 adventure horror game with great aesthetic. They accomplished a lot with the visuals and stock sound effects, and the score fits really well (even if the music doesn't fit my personal tastes). I didn't quite know what to expect when I began, but was pleased by how dark and depressing the game is. It tackles themes like suicide, murder, cancer, sexual violence, perversion, etc. You play as Susan Ashworth, a middle-aged single lady who commits suicide, after which she goes to some sort of purgatory where an old woman called the Queen of Maggots, who represents her depression, demands that she kill five "parasites" in exchange for immortality. Why she wants to be immortal I'm not sure, but I don't think she really had a choice in the matter. The immortality is necessary for her to kill the parasites because these are terrible people, all of whom commit some disturbing violence against her and/or other characters. When she wakes up from her purgatory, she's in a mental hospital and is told that her daughter saved her life, which is curious because she has no daughter. Enter Mitzi, who becomes her tenant and friend. Mitzi is part of a sort of overarching narrative of this guy called the Eye of Adam (also the final parasite) who is living in their apartment building. The Eye of Adam is like an online troll who encourages people to kill themselves on suicide forums. I just read the story a couple weeks ago of the woman being tried for causing her boyfriend's suicide by urging him on, and this reminded me of her. Disturbing for real. So that's the gist of the plot. Gameplay is super simple. You play with the four arrow keys and enter, so it's not a point-and-click style adventure game. They easily could have incorporated a mouse so you could navigate your inventory quicker, but the slower use of arrows to scroll actually fits the game's slow pace. When you're in front of an interactable object, it'll prompt you to push up, and give you options to examine, take, read, or whatever. If you push down, then it will scroll through items in your inventory. It's really simple. Out of either of those up/down modes, left and right walks. The puzzles make sense and follow normal human logic instead of convoluted adventure game logic. I only used a walkthrough one time, of which I am proud! As I said, the game is slow, and expect a good deal of dialogue, sometimes dialogue that goes on for way, way too long. Most of the voice acting is fine, some is downright bad, and the audio quality varies. It sucks listening to Susan and Mitzi because Mitzi's recordings are more tinny and clearly sound worse than Susan's. Whenever a character raises their voice, it's totally unconvincing, almost like they were trying to record this in a place where they weren't allowed to be loud. Anyway, the dialogue itself is usually pretty good, ranging from poignant to a bit silly. All in all, if you have the patience for a slow burning, macabre tale, this is a pretty good option.Sat, 01 Jul 2017 09:30:01 CST the 13th: The Game (PC) - Sun, 18 Jun 2017 21:16:35 this at launch and was reminded of why I don't buy games at launch. A bunch of friends and I played the beta and, although it was buggy as hell, we thought it could be excellent. It's still buggy as hell. Sometimes it's brilliant and sometimes it sucks. A very mixed bag. Friday the 13th is an asymmetrical multiplayer game like Evolve. One player is Jason and the others are camp counselors. Jason's job is to stalk and kill counselors; the counselors' job is to survive the 20-minute round, preferably by escaping in some way, but if you manage to hide for that long, good on you. Jason gains new abilities over time. I cannot for the life of me remember one of them. I was only Jason twice in the beta and haven't gotten to be Jason yet in the full release (which sucks), so I'm not well-versed in how to play him. He can sense counselors by their movements and sounds, including breathing. He's got like a super sense ability that heightens detection, he can phase walk, which is going invisible and super fast, he can teleport, and it's the last one I can never remember. Jason becomes really, really powerful, which makes sense. You'll have different experiences (and chances of survival) depending on how good the Jason is. If the Jason knows what he's doing, you're probably all going to die. If the Jason sucks, the match might be boring. A decent Jason is best because he remains unpredictable. As a counselor, you basically run through cabins looking for useful supplies. You have various ways of escaping: cars (requires a battery, gasoline, and keys), a boat (propeller, gasoline...keys? I was a passenger on an escape boat one time), you can call the police (must find fuse and repair fusebox, then find telephone), who arrive in 5 minutes and save you if you can reach them, and you can wait it out hiding. Ideally, the counselors work together to acquire necessary items to escape, but it's predictably difficult because not all players are alike. Also not all players have mics to talk, and no one types (if you even can). Also, in a brilliant move, you can only talk to counselors nearby (i.e., no one else can hear you) unless you find a walkie talkie, in which case anyone with a walkie talkie can communicate. You also have no map (just a local minimap) unless you find one. You also can carry weapons to stun and injure Jason, some first aid spray, and some other things. Counselors also have to manage stamina (how long they can run). Even your standard, regular running depletes stamina, let alone sprinting. So you will have to slow down and walk or sneak or hide sometimes, which can be terrifying. And you have to manage your fear level. If you're in the dark too long, if you see Jason, or if you see a dead body, your character starts to lose it. I'm not exactly sure what the consequences of this are other than your character screaming (Jason can hear you) and being difficult to control for a little bit. If you turn on your flashlight or go hide, you will calm down though. When Jason catches you, he has a ton of different kills he can do, including context kills (shoving you into a fireplace, tossing you through a window, etc.). You might be able to escape if you're lucky and/or quick and/or have a pocketknife. Watching Jason chase people around can be really entertaining. It's not uncommon that my favorite parts of the game are after I die and I'm spectating. Spectating is like watching a horror movie. I love it. So that's how the game goes down. Unfortunately it's buggy as hell. I played two games tonight before the game froze and I couldn't make it close so I had to restart the computer. It doesn't play audio through my TV for some unknown reason. Sometimes it sticks on a black screen when you launch the game. People who play more report server and matchmaking issues. There are a thousand issues with counselor death animations and collision detection and all sorts of stuff. I was playing a couple days ago and a counselor was using the phone to call the police when he just like...fell into the wall and looked like he died (I think he disconnected), but he was in the wall. And the phone he was using was floating in midair. The person disconnected, or whatever happened, right when Jason smashed through the door, and Jason was pacing around trying to get to the body, but couldn't. We Instagrammed the floating phone. It's a really simple game. When it's good, it's awesome. I've had some amazing matches and moments, like the time I learned I could re-start a crashed car. As I sped off in excitement, three other counselors came running out of the bushes yelling for me to stop. This one guy says "We can escape together!" So I stopped to let them all in as Jason materialized behind the car and grabbed one and killed her. The rest of us sped off. Jason teleported in front of us. I drove the car backward to an intersection and tore ass toward the exit. As I was almost there, Jason teleported in front of me again, but I lost control trying to go around him (he stops cars) and ran into a fence. He killed one of my passengers and the other two of us scattered. We were all laughing. It was great. But when it's mediocre, which unfortunately is at least half the time, it's pretty boring. You can wait in lobbies and get in a game and poke through drawers for 5 minutes, get killed, and then either sit there spectating for 15 more minutes (or until everyone escapes or is killed), or you can forfeit your XP (which you use to purchase new counselors and Jasons with different stats, equipment, and special kills) and go ahead to another game. Like, sometimes absolutely nothing of interest happens for half an hour at a time. Oh, also the majority of people with mics are annoying as shit, which makes it really hard to overcome the dull times unless you just mute everyone. I'll keep playing here and there probably, and they've released a couple patches, but there's a long way to go.Sun, 18 Jun 2017 21:16:35 CST Island (PC) - Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:28:11 Island is crazy. Remember how Eternal Darkness messed with your TV? And how Metal Gear (I forget which one[s]) messed with your Playstation? Pony Island messes with your computer. This meta game has so many surprises. Every 15 minutes I felt like I was laughing at something or going "Whoa, cool!" or even freaking out about something the game did. There's one trick in particular that it pulled that had me a bit frantic, but I can't say it because it'll be a huge spoiler. Gameplay-wise, it's a little bit of sidescroller and a little bit of puzzling, and I guess a bit of text adventure. Some of it has a nice challenge (coordinating your mouse clicking on the sidescroller part, and some of the puzzles are tricky). Thematically it is wild. I'll just say that Pony Island is more than a game and leave it there. Play it, but don't read about it!Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:28:11 CST Story (PC) - Thu, 15 Jun 2017 17:28:27 game that earns its praise. What do you do in Her Story? You watch video clips of interviews with Hannah Smith, whose husband Simon was murdered. You're a police detective, and you navigate clips in a database and just...piece together the story. You search through the clips using terms that might be important. So like "murder" and "Simon" and "Hannah" are probably some of the first. I have no clue how many videos there are (a hundred?) or how many search terms produce results (a hundred?). It's absolutely fascinating to watch the interviews. The acting is pretty good. I have no idea how the story pieces itself together given that you can search anything, but it worked for me. Do some players have the ending given sort of prematurely? I guess you wouldn't really understand clips from the last interview until you'd watch a lot though. I found over 75% of the videos on my own. Several times I watched a video that divulged crucial information, and I would be like OH MY GOD! Like videos about Hannah's bruise. There are a lot of little reveals and even subtle things that you pick up on. I think I figured out what happened and could re-tell the story. I'm going to go read up on it to see what other people say. Really worth playing for something different, and really cool way to present a narrative.Thu, 15 Jun 2017 17:28:27 CST Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (PC) - Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:08:07 is not what I expected! I thought I was getting the third game this week about heists. Well, it's sort of about a heist, but it's more Stanley Parable than Monaco or Payday. A confused narrator guides you through video game production. It had me laughing pretty good by the end. Play through twice to get a cassette tape player and listen to the tapes scattered around, especially if you like Rick and Morty. Whoever is doing the voices on the tapes is clearly a fan. Absolutely worth 30 minutes of your life, and it's free on Steam and probably from Crows Crows Crows's website. Wonder what else these people have made?Thu, 15 Jun 2017 14:08:07 CST Complex (PC) - Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:10:44, Shadow Complex was awesome! It's a neat kind of 2.5d metroid-vania. You only really move left/right/up/down, but enemies will sometimes be in the foreground and background and move back and forth. One of the two issues with the game is that it's hard to aim your gun and shoot enemies that aren't on your plane. It seems to choose which plane to aim at depending on whether or not an enemy is there, but it is finicky. The other issue is that there are bugs. It crashed on me three or four times. Sometimes the map doesn't auto-update with your objective, so you have no clue where to go until you restart the game. One time a trap door wouldn't open and I was running around for 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get out of this small maze I was in. I finally reloaded and when I ran over this one spot, a trap door opened and that was how you get out. It definitely never opened the first time, as I ran over that spot (and shot it, and threw grenades at it) a lot. The game isn't that difficult on normal. Boss battles weren't too bad, sometimes requiring a couple attempts. Regular enemies are generally only a challenge during set pieces, like one time you enter a room and four doors in the background open, revealing four minigun-toting soldiers. They spray at you as you scramble for cover (which keeps changing), and then little walker bombs start coming at you. That was a fun fight. It feels really good to shoot and melee kill enemies. There's good oomph to the combat, and it's fluid too. Enter a room, stealth kill the first enemy, get spotted by a camera, which activates turrets, shoot all those, toss a grenade into a group of soldiers, grapple onto a ledge to gain a height advantage, fire a missile at a missile launcher soldier, see a destructible vent, lob a grenade at it, jump down and assess the situation. I like that you have to think fast. It's got a silly story that I can't always tell if it's taking itself too seriously or poking fun at itself (both I think). At the end, it says it's supposed to be a companion to some Orson Scott Card story. Weird. Long story short, you and your girlfriend are going hiking and exploring some caves when she disappears. You find her being abducted and taken into some secret military compound (the titular Shadow Complex). You proceed to attempt to rescue her, acquiring new weapons and gadgets along the way, each of which (guns, grenades, foam, missiles, the blue thing) allow you to bypass different obstacles, thus further opening up the map. I won't spoil the ending, but you'll probably see it coming an hour into the game. The main character has a lot of cheesy one-liners, and he made me laugh too. He has a habit of shooting enemies in the head who are taunting him and expounding upon their evil plans. "And then we will destroy San Francisco [manifestation of Orson Scott Card's anti-gay conservative politics?] and then we will kill you and everyone you..." [BAM! Shot in the head]. It's funny every time. Despite some bugs, aiming issues, and over-the-top story, I 100% recommend this game if you enjoy a good metroid-vania platformer.Thu, 15 Jun 2017 13:10:44 CST