Sunrise: First Thoughts on Dying Light

Sunrise: First Thoughts on Dying Light

Dying Light is somehow my first zombie and horror game and so far I have been both blown away and underwhelmed.

Now let me give this the disclaimer that I am only about ten hours into the game and that involves a lot of running around for no reason. I have the worst sense of direction and purpose in open-world games, so I track up pointless hours more easily a hamster on an automated wheel.

For once, I am going to start with the negative since it is entirely subjective. I wanted to be scared. I know that was asking a lot since most zombie games rely on gore and jump scares, but with the promoted day-and-night cycle, I was expecting true fear. Instead I spend all of my time staying out of the dangerous nightwalkers’ way and wandering through hoards of their timid counterparts.

You want to know how I got the most scared? I was looting a house in the middle of town at high noon and opened the back door. I stood there trying to decide where to go when a bald zombie woman wondered by in a housedress. Then for no reason, I proceeded to jump out of my chair and hear my heartbeat in my ears for a solid minute.

So honestly, outside of the occasional irrational jump scare, it has yet to really get to me.

Like I said, that is probably the most subjective criticism you can ever give a game though, so everyone will have a different experience.

There is so much more than I love so far. Outside of the daytime/nighttime cycle, the parkour system is what most know about. Much like Mirror’s Edge, the main way of getting around is first-person platforming. Unlike Mirror’s Edge, you can run anywhere. While it is still awkward–it is hard to have pinpoint accuracy when you can’t ever be sure where you’re going to land–you can essentially brute force your way anywhere while still having the challenge. While there are still limits to your abilities (all of which I hope to exceed with the agility tree–here’s hoping), you can often get wherever you want with enough attempts.

Have any of you played it yet? How do you feel about first-person zombie games? Or zombies? Really, I have a lot to talk about with this game so buckle up your running shoes and get ready.

Now to do some more frolicking around the zombie zoo before I keel over. Stay tuned.

Procrastinating is Good for the Hearts

Procrastinating is Good for the Hearts

Let’s get straight to it–I’m ecstatic to finally talk about one of my favorite series today: Kingdom Hearts.

In what is hopefully a true preparation for the release of Kingdom Hearts III at some point in the future, Square Enix has been releasing HD ports of the Final Mix version of the Kingdom Hearts games for PS3. On top of remastering the two original PS2 games, they pack in one handheld title to play and the cutscenes for another. Last winter I spent more time with the PS3 version than I ever did with the first game—and there is good reason for that.

Back when I played Kingdom Hearts, both main games had already been released. This meant I felt no need to savor the first game. I never realized there were extra bosses or how fun synthesis is for someone who likes checklists. This made replaying the game feel like a brand new experience—except for Alice in Wonderland. Fuck Alice in Wonderland.

I think this is because unlike so many JRPGs–at least more modern ones–you are never beaten over the head with what the potential secrets are. I was able to assume this was how to obtain the Ultima keyblade and able to see that I could make potions, never imagining the wide variety of accessories and materials that came in between the two. It is the same way with the secret bosses. This was a game where I wanted to finish everything in the world on my first visit (a mindset I can’t fathom now). This means I never knew that talking to Wendy at the clock tower in Neverland or the magic carpet in Agrabah would take me to these long, difficult, and detailed boss battles. None of these were ones you could brute force. Each has a specific strategy you had to know to win and that still didn’t guarantee you victory. The only secret boss battles I even knew about were the ones at the Coliseum, and that’s probably because they list it out for you if you win the tournaments.

And the remake doesn’t change any of this. Instead, my friend and I wanted bear hug all the content this time around, so we looked everything up online. Even with PSN trophies, all the ones you get for beating secret bosses were hidden. This was just our chance to give the game the time and obsession it deserved back in high school.

The additions spice up the more mundane parts of the game, making sure there was something new for everyone, not just people like me who blitz through it. There are multiple new Heartless who resemble the secret bosses. All of them take a certain strategy to beat them. For example, there are these monkeys in Traverse Town that will become invincible if you do not kill each wave of them in a very short amount of time If they become impossible to hit, you better run for the exits; you’re doomed.

But the sneakiest trick this version pulls? These complicated Heartless now are the sole droppers of many synthesis items. This means that you not only have to pull off whatever Herculean feat once, but as many times as it takes to get the stones you need.

Seriously, I don’t even know how many times I went in with a kill or be killed mindset with those monkeys. Spoiler: I died a lot.

But these little tweaks to the main game made sure there was a surprise for anyone. These enemies don’t spawn every time in the same place. This means at some point a veteran player would have to get caught off guard. I mean, unless they imported this version from Japan ten years ago for which I have a lot of respect. I have no patience for that.

So no matter how much of a cash grab this release might have been, it did so many things right:

1. This game was old enough that fewer and fewer people had access to it. I also know that some older games–even those on the PS2–don’t look right on modern TVs. This was not a “Definitive Edition” of a game that is one or two years old. It was a chance for a new generation to have the same experience I did as a teenager.

2. It introduced content that was not originally localized here. This was a time a good five years or so before the extra enemies and items were sold as DLC. Square had to re-release the entire game even for its customers to experience it.

3. Most of all, even if most sleazy of all, it was a fan service that we wanted. I know I can’t speak for the world, but I do know that as an avid fan, this was the next best thing to a true console sequel. It had been so long since I saw it on the big screen that I was happy to get my hands on it.

So how do you feel? Over the last couple of months, you’ve heard my thoughts on remakes. How about you? Absolutely awesome and actually atrocious? Comment with your pros and cons.

And stay tuned!

Procrastinating is Good for the Heart

Procrastinating is Good for the Heart

Let’s get straight to it–I’m ecstatic to finally talk about one of my favorite series today: Kingdom Hearts.

In what is hopefully a true preparation for the release of Kingdom Hearts III at some point in the future, Square Enix has been releasing HD ports of the Final Mix version of the Kingdom Hearts games for PS3. On top of remastering the two original PS2 games, they pack in one handheld title to play and the cutscenes for another. Last winter I spent more time with the PS3 version than I ever did with the first game—and there is good reason for that.

Back when I played Kingdom Hearts, both main games had already been released. This meant I felt no need to savor the first game. I never realized all of the extra bosses or how fun synthesis can be for someone who likes checklists. This made replaying the game feel like a brand new experience—except for Alice in Wonderland. Fuck Alice in Wonderland.

I think this is because unlike so many JRPGs–at least more modern ones–you are never beaten over the head with what the potential secrets are. I was able to assume this was the way to obtain the Ultima keyblade and able to see that I could make potions, never imagining the wide variety of accessories and materials that came in between the two. It is the same way with the secret bosses. This was a game where I wanted to finish everything in the world on my first visit (a mindset I can’t fathom now). This means I never knew that talking to Wendy at the clock tower in Neverland or the magic carpet in Agrabah would take me to these long, difficult, and detailed boss battles. None of these were ones you could brute force. Each has a specific strategy you had to know to win and that still didn’t guarantee you victory. The only secret boss battles I even knew about were the ones at the Coliseum, and that’s probably because they list it out for you if you win the tournaments.

And the remake doesn’t change any of this. Instead, my friend and I wanted bear hug all of the content this time around, so we looked everything up online. Even with PSN trophies, all of the ones you get for beating secret bosses were hidden. This was just our chance to give the game the time and obsession it deserved back in high school.

What it did add was meant to spice up the more mundane parts of the game, making sure there was something new for everyone, not just people like me who blitz through it. There are multiple new Heartless who resemble the secret bosses. All of them take a certain strategy to be able to beat them. For example, there are these monkeys in Traverse Town that will become invincible if you do not kill each wave of them in a very short amount of time If they become impossible to hit, you better run for the exits; you’re doomed.

But the sneakiest trick this version pulls? These complicated Heartless now are the sole droppers of many synthesis items. This means that you not only have to pull off whatever Herculean feat once, but as many times as it takes to get the stones you need.

Seriously, I don’t even know how many times I went in with a kill or be killed mindset with those monkeys. Spoiler: I died a lot.

But these little tweaks to the main game made sure there was a surprise for anyone. These enemies don’t spawn every time in the same place. This means at some point a veteran player would have to get caught off guard. I mean, unless they imported this version from Japan ten years ago for which I have a lot of respect. I do not have the patience for that.

So no matter how much of a cash grab this release might have been, it did so many things right:

1. This game was old enough that fewer and fewer people had access to it. I also know that some older games–even those on the PS2–don’t look right on modern TVs. This was not a “Definitive Edition” of a game that is one or two years old. It was a chance for a new generation to have the same experience I did as a teenager.

2. It introduced content that was not originally localized here. This was a time a good five years or so before the extra enemies and items could have been sold as DLC. Square had to re-release the entire game even for its customers to experience it.

3. Most of all, even if most sleazy of all, it was a fan service that we wanted. I know I can’t speak for the world, but I do know that as an avid fan, this was the next best thing to a true console sequel. It had been so long since I saw it on the big screen that I was happy to get my hands on it.

So how do you feel? Over the last couple of months, you’ve heard my thoughts on remakes. How about you? Absolutely awesome and actually atrocious? Comment with your pros and cons.

And stay tuned!

Tsk, Tsk, Excuses, Excuses

Tsk, Tsk, Excuses, Excuses

Have any of you been keeping track of how many posts involve me explaining a long and unannounced break?

I would, but frankly, it’s embarrassing.

This might give a little more insight to some personal struggles–and one recent personal preference–I have been facing with little relevance to my normal content but please be patient. After I clear my conscience, I have my Kingdom Hearts post next in the queue.

Now let’s call it my Top 3 Reasons I Haven’t Been Posting Regularly:

3. Japan

Okay, maybe I’m not blaming a whole country, but their games have definitely been taking up all of time. First it was powering through Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc with intentions of following up with its sequel. I couldn’t even do that before I fell face first into Inaba and Persona 4 Golden. I got halfway through New Game Plus before Fantasy Life turned me into the person with the world’s most jobs and largest pockets for raw materials and fish. After getting burnt out right as I reached the last chapter of the main story, I started trying unlock all of my favorite characters in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call and wishing I could play through the Song of the Fayth. Mainly I have been doing everything in my power to stay camped out in bed with a handheld system permanently attached to me. Not really conducive to a PC gaming blog, now is it?

2. Sixty-Hour Work Week.

I mentioned in the past that I had recently gotten a new position. It was originally longer hours by five or ten hours by now I have found myself working until our nightly cap of ten o’clock multiple nights a week. This means I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and get home at close to 11 p.m. Add in the time it takes to be a human–eat, shower, sleep–and that leaves only enough time to breathe and complain. In my last job, I had a routine and a rhythm that let me alternate between playing and writing, letting me do this consistently–sometimes even working ahead. Now I have some serious retooling to do.

1. Health

I have alluded to health problems in the past, and they are a reoccurring theme in my life. I won’t rehash myself, but instead link to a post from my personal blog I haven’t updated since shortly after college graduation.

http://immediategradification.blogspot.com/2014/07/hospitalshome-and-why-you-should-join.html

My jump from a forty to sixty-hour work week coupled with the above, worsening back pain, and a prescription-worthy Vitamin D deficiency has made it hard to stay faithful to what I have considered a second job for months now. Pain management has always been a challenge, and this is a new one that I have fewer tools than ever to cope with. My job doesn’t know my struggles, and I can’t call it quits when the clock hits five anymore if I’m having a rough day. So now I use it as a blanket of reasons on all of you. Nothing makes me more angry at myself than using it that way, but I felt the need to explain. Let’s just call this another area of my life that is colored by my scars and shaved head.

So here is my new game plan (she says for the umpteenth time):

  • Do my best to stick to the original Tuesday-Thursday plan.
  • If I can’t, try to still post twice a week.
  • If I can’t can’t, continue with streaming plan. I have the software figured out and everything so that is a couple of mouse clicks away.

So please be patient…again.

Stay tuned.