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    Darkest Dungeon (PC)    by   dkirschner       (Nov 21st, 2017 at 17:05:27)

    Ok, 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.

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    Astro Boy: The Video Game (DS)    by   jp       (Nov 20th, 2017 at 07:18:47)

    There was an Astro Boy GBA game that I really enjoyed (made by Treasure, of all companies) and so I picked this one up just for fun (and for not a lot of money, which is a common theme with me).

    When I booted the game up I was surprised that the existing save files on the cart indicated that progress had only been made to the second stage of world 1. Wow, that doesn't seem like too far, I thought - maybe the game had previously been owned by a small child who just didn't like it?

    My mistake. And I only made it to the 3rd stage before calling it quits. It's been a while since I've played a game that had so many issues in terms of gameplay and controls. It felt old school in a bad way, so - an experience so clunky and awkward that it might have been given a pass 20 years ago because we didn't know any better. But today? (well, ten years ago I guess - the game is that old)

    The game alternates (AFAIK) between platforming sections and sidescrolling shooting sections. Both are a mess. In the platforming ones, you have to punch your way through enemies - button mask mostly, but there are some that fire little fire balls that damage you. You can't really dodge them. Jumping is also awkward because you can jump up, but you can't jump to move sideways unless you press another button and then Astro sort of fires his jets and goes sideways or a little bit. But, you can't control him, so getting the timing right to land on a moving platform is way more effort than it should be.

    When you kill an enemy they drop an orb, collect enough orbs and you can activate a special power. I only tried three of the powers: a shield which was useless 'cause I activated it at the wrong time, a health restore, and Astro's butt machineguns which were a waste because he didn't seem to fire at the enemies surrounding me.

    Ugh.

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    Egg Inc. (iPd)    by   jp       (Nov 14th, 2017 at 21:50:31)

    I've been playing this for a week(?) now - mostly because I've been on a loosely investigative (experiential?) exploration of idle/clicker games. I think this is my 4th in the last month or so.

    The premise is fun, you're selling eggs - so you tap to get chickens and then spend all the money researching better eggs and improvements that make your entire operation more efficient. But, it's a weird game on a few fronts...

    a. The "core" activity - tap to get more chickens, never gets better/automated in any significant way. At the beginning, it matters...but once you're past the thousands...all you get is a bonus multiplier (small, in the grand scheme of things) that only lasts while there are chickens coming out of the hatchery - which is less than 10-15 seconds.

    b. The core driver of the economy comes from watching ads (you can't choose to do it, you randomly get the opportunity every now and then), tapping on drones (that randomly appear and fly across the sky), and random gifts (that appear as delivered boxes). So, to make significant progress in the game you can't play it idly - you have to pay attention, with your phone on.

    c. Offline benefits are super slim - I was NEVER able to buy/improve anything from having not played and coming back to the game. So, you can't "let your economy" grow - because it doesn't. A few drones and a minute of paying attention will probably get more progress than 2 hrs offline.

    d. The progression curve felt quite smooth until slightly over halfway through. I hit a cliff HARD. (going from Tachyon to Graviton eggs). It's so bad I decided to quit as soon as I learned what the next egg was (Graviton).

    So, it's a weird idle game because it's not idle. You make progress via the action parts, really. It's also not really a clicker game - because the clicking quickly becomes meaningless. It does heavily favor the re-start (prestige) which is weird/interesting because the core loop ALSO has a re-start loop inside of it. Each time you upgrade your egg you have to start over. But when you prestige start-over you get special soul eggs that give you a nice multiplier for everything else.

    Overall, the game feels weirdly out of balance - I never had issues with having enough hatchery capacity (the main thing you build/upgrade) and neither did I have issues with the transportation (you also buy/upgrade trucks to carry eggs away). I suspect this might become more prominent later - but so far it seems to easy and, well, mostly meaningless.

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    1979 Revolution: Black Friday (Other)    by   641345340       (Nov 10th, 2017 at 01:11:46)

    I wanna talk about the interrogation in my final entry.
    This part is one of the most important part of the story because it predicts all the dramatic conflicts.
    I especially like the voice acting of Asadollah Lajevardi who is the warden. Players have to make choices throughout the whole process. Asadollah will beat and threat you. There is a real sense of danger in this part.
    The game would be a totally different experience without the interrogation part.

    This entry has been edited 3 times. It was last edited on Nov 10th, 2017 at 01:13:58.


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    Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (VITA)    by   edGarcia       (Nov 10th, 2017 at 00:52:10)

    Got pretty far in the game this time around, I have to say that some of the kills are pretty gorey. The neck braces that blow your head off and the one with the chair and the revolver is also pretty intense. The way Sigma coldly calculates his death is pretty cool. I like how the players of the game learn to SHIFT and take advantage of this power to make the best decisions where everyone survives.

    The ending was decent. The thought that the choice to swap positions with the players who won the coin toss was a cop out from the writers. I mean at the end of the game they are motivated, but the virus is still going to hit and kill most of humanity.... also why do the decisions of a few adults decide the fate of the world?

    Overall I liked the game the dialogue could've been better but I think that I need to play the first two games to properly understand the story.

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    Parasite Eve (PS)    by   Incognegro

    I thoroughly enjoyed the game. I feel that the story could have been tweaked a bit here and there, but overall it was pretty good.
    most recent entry:   Tuesday 29 March, 2011
    Parasite Eve is a Playstation game that was developed and published by Squaresoft, and was released in Japan (March 29, 1998) and North America (September 9, 1998). It is a sequel to a horror novel of the same name. How they choose to tell the story this time around is by constructing the game as a real time RPG that tried to utilize a survival horror feel.

    =Story=

    The overall story focuses on the premise that the capabilities of the mitochondria in the cells of all living organisms are actually limitless in their powers. One night Officer Aya Brea, the lead protagonist, went to an opera for a date. All seemed to be going well until the lead actress mutates into a grotesque shape of something only seen in imaginative minds. During this process, the people in the opera house begin to be set ablaze by this new threat that calls herself Eve. Coincidentally, Aya is the only person that is not affected. This incident, along with a few others, set New York City into a wide spread panic during the 6 days the game takes place. Itís up to Aya to stand up to this menace and save the world.

    =Gameplay=

    The game unravels itself as a real time RPG with slight realistic symbolisms. Aya is able to use typical weapons youíd normally expect to see a police officer with such as pistols, batons and occasionally a few weapons that may not be standard issue such as rifles, rocket launchers and grenade launchers. Every weapon, with the exception of the batons, has ammunition and do run the risk of depletion, but depending on which weapon the player decides to use, the chances of this happening are rather slim. In typical RPG fashion, as Aya progresses through the game and kills more enemies, she is able to level up and increase her stats such as: HP, Parasite Level (think MP), item capacity, etc...
    Unlike most typical RPGs, Ayaís strength doesnít really increase since she is reliant on her weapons. Due to this, there is also a weapon customization element to the game. There are items strewn about the game that can increase the weapons and armorsí effectiveness. Depending on how the player decides to upgrade their weapons will greatly affect Ayaís effectiveness in combat. Lastly, the game takes place in Manhattan Island and Aya is able to visit multiple locals at any time after she has visited them once. This is only seen in a grid setup with the locations names highlighted as sheís not able to literally roam through all of Manhattan.

    =Play Session 1=

    When I first booted the game up, I was actually surprised to see that the game was a real time RPG since I didnít recall too many RPGs during this time that was real time. Even though I knew about Parasite Eve, I didnít know too much about the elements of the game itself going into it. It took me a little while to get used to, but after going through the first batch of enemies I slowly felt like I was getting used to it. At this time I was pursuing Eve whom had fled from Aya to go underneath Carnegie Hall. This actual level of the game was not too long so it didnít take me too long to find her. Once I did, it only took a couple of shots to promptly end the mission.

    =Play Session 2=

    Day 5 was probably the longest of the days in the game and was undoubtedly pretty close to reaching the climax. This day had Aya going through multiple areas such as a warehouse, China Town, Museum of Natural History and the Statue of Liberty. For the sake of time, Iíll talk about the warehouse. By this point, the game had been relatively easy for me as I hadnít died up to this point. Even so, I wasnít getting bored with the game since I still found some fights to have been challenging in their own rights. When I stepped foot into the warehouse things seemed to be flowing similarly as the previous 4 days. The enemies difficult went up a bit, but it wasnít too much I couldnít handle.

    Not until I get close to the end do I reach my first choke point. I step upon a catwalk that would take me to the end of the level when Iím surrounded on both sides by these spider-like creatures. I had faced them throughout the warehouse, but due to the actual set up of the battle things were a bit more difficult. Like most RPGs, when hit in the back, players tend to take excessively more damage. This happened quite often since at least one of the enemies would always be positioned directly behind me. Not only did they have this advantage, but they had the ability to slow my characterís movement and attacking speed down which made it even harder to dodge them.

    Because of these natural advantages, they bested me roughly 5 to 7 times. After becoming frustrated, I eventually was able to overcome the situation by watching their movements closely and dodging their attacks at the right time. Once I overcame the obstacle I *thought* I was in the clear. This was a mistake. Shortly after this fight was the boss of the level. This was the only boss in the game that killed me more than 2 times (the other two being the last 2 bosses of the game). To be honest, itís not that the way to beat the boss was hard, it just wasnít as obvious as most of the others. It was a giant crab that had a habit of running away from the character. The attacks that it would do were best dodged when the character was positioned directly next to it, but initially it didnít seem that way do to their wide reach.

    Normally I wouldnít be too terribly frustrated about this, but because the closest save point at this point was directly before the spiders on the catwalk it probably shouldnít be said that I wasnít the least bit happy. It took me quite a few tries but eventually after I learned the tricks of the crab I found that either scenario wasnít too terribly challenging.

    =Overall=

    I actually rather enjoyed the game. It made me rather interested in the story overall even though, admittedly, there were some scenarios in the story that seemed rather unrealistic in terms of character reactions. For example, to help Aya escape a barrage of questions from a news reporter, her partner Daniel strikes the reporter while heís on camera. Granted, itís a game, but itís still a game that is based in a relatable scenario. Itís not the biggest issue, but things like this (and there are many) kind of break the immersion slightly. Regardless, it wasnít anything too big to keep me from continuing with the game long enough to beat it.

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