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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Digital Chicken Soup.

I bought Final Fantasy XIII-2 (Jesus, look at that hyphenated number.) last December foolishly hoping it was ported. But it was an unoptimized mess brought to hideous second life. It was rough watching it constantly lurch back and forth between 60-30 fps and I dropped it like a stone.

Fast forward a year and a month and... well I'm having a rough go of it. FF's time traveling claptrap is actually soothing to me now. For lack of a more elegant phrase, I needed something both intense and inoffensive to devour my weekend's waking hours. Something new, without spending any more money. In other words, no reaching for the dusty ol' copy of Requiem for a Dream for Alex. No sir.

But it's a damn good game! The actors are actors dedicated but the script spouts the most laughable drivel I've heard in a looooooong time. But that's a good thing when you want to turn your brain off so hard it's practically meditation. It's also secretly a Pokemon game and I'm all for that at the moment.

 I finally realized in order to appreciate what Square Enix has been up to these past 7 years you have to be at least a little drunk.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Darkest Dungeon Review: Gambler's Ruin.

This is the first game I've ever reviewed that I didn't finish. I don't think I ever will. But I have played it, shall we say, enough?  I had to bum a ride from a friend the second day after I bought it and this was maybe the third week of it's early access. I hadn't really spoken to him in week or two and after stumbling into his car, bleary eyed and anxious, I barked "HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT DARKEST DUNGEON?!" He gave me the exact look I deserved.

I was completely enraptured. It's loops of bitterly difficult turn-based combat, worthwhile loot, town building; and the slow motion heart break of watching one wrong step gradually sending your favorite band of mercenaries into early graves made me manic. This game hurt me and had me begging for more.
I'll let the art speak for itself. And if you do experience the art actually speaking for itself, well... I'd light another torch.

There have been accusations that this game is too random, too cruel, and I'll get to my many caveats in a second. That specific charge is simply not true. Darkest Dungeon does not cheat. It demands perfection and that is not possible all of the time. Sometimes you try a buckshot method instead of a surgical strike, the game raps you hard on the knuckles. "Again!" It screams in an otherworldly screech without even moving it's lips. And you listen... for a while. But you will fall back on bad habits eventually and it will be none too pleased about it. The next time you put a toe over the line it will throw hours of progress into the proverbial hearth and force you to watch it all twist into ash.

You can't keep all your tin soldiers. Some will go mad, others will die too soon, and there are those who were just worthless from the start. This game is about learning your place in it's eldritch universe and that includes adapting to seemingly impossible odds. Once you realize you can always start over, often times with superior facilities, the heart of darkness is yours to reach.

Yeah, surprise motherf*&#ers!!!!!
But I do have serious misgivings. I watched this game grow over a year and I did not like everything I saw. Red Rook loves their fans... but they listened to their lunatic fringe a little too closely. They started adding features that had no business being outside of an "iron man mode" to name check another wonderful and notoriously difficult strategy game.

Enemies started leaving corpses. Barriers between you and the ranged enemies in the back of the row. Killing these freaks once was enough of a struggle and for a while the game forced me to kill them all twice! You can turn that off in the pause menu but it's on by default. Near the end they were designing the game for people that had been playing it for months already. They were all bored and wanted a harder mode. Instead of actually doing that, they catered to the reining champions and left those that were already struggling (this guy) in the dust. That was a huge mistake in my opinion. Especially with their stalwart "no easy mode" approach.

...but I digress.

Darkest Dungeon is a wild, wonderful, and original work of art, make no mistake. It's visual design is so evocative it barely needs to be animated. It's menagerie of eldritch horrors are so lovingly crafted they're hard to look at. Seriously, years down the line you'll hear people talking about how they walked in on their dad one night as a small child while he was fighting "the flesh." Kind of like the way we talk about Penny Wise the clown. Even if you never beat it (yo.), even if you barely tolerate turn based strategy, if you stick with it for at least a couple hours you will have had an experience worth your time and money.

Darkest Dungeon is truly unforgettable.

Just... look at it!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

You're goddamn right Kotaku. You're goddamn right.

I know, I know, boo! gawker empire, BOOOO! Look, journalism was a cut throat business before it became completely free, and thus, impossible to live off of. I'm not bitter about my degree choice at all!

But more to the point, Hot Fuzz is a masterpiece and my most favorite movie. It's reversible murder mystery notwithstanding; I'm still laughing at it and I will never, EVER, stop trying to get my girlfriend to watch it. If she doesn't at least... tolerate it, I may have to do some serious thinking about our future.

Happy Endless Day!

It's Amplitude's 5th birthday today, and they are just the bestest little studio I ever did see. Each of their 3 games have this fun little shared universe that comes together over a three day period (an Auriga day lasts three earth days *pushes glasses back up*) Each game has fun little extras you can only grab during that window.

I can't stop singing the praises of Endless Legend and Dungeon of the Endless. The first, a game so rich in originality both mechanically and artistically it's screaming close to a Civilization killer. The other a fun, sardonic, 16 bit, sci-fi dungeon crawler.  I love them both and I only want the best for this studio.

I've bought an expansion for EL I haven't really played, just out of a sense of duty. These guys are force to be reckoned with and with a new EL expansion on the way, I couldn't be happier for them. And Endless Space 2! Forgot about that...

Blow this up full screen. It's worth it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

I wasn't sure I was going to see Deadpool...

But these little one on one ads Ryan Reynolds has been doing are just too much. If nothing else, he truly, madly, and deeply believes in this movie/character. It's more than a little infectious.

See if you can find the crew laugh. I fuggin' LOVE crew laughs, they're like laugh tracks with a soul.