Tips for Pillars of Eternity

It’s been great to see so many strong isometric RPGs come out in the last year or two, with more still to come. Pillars of Eternity was released at the end of March by Obsidian and it’s been great so far, and really brings up the nostalgia for games like Baldur’s Gate 2 or Planescape: Torment, while adding some cool new features and story.

Pillars of Eternity

Here are a few tips if you’re just getting started.

Combat

The real-time combat took a bit to get used to for me, here are some of the things I learned:

  • Micromanage the hell out of your party. Even on lower difficultly levels, you can’t usually just let everyone auto-attack and still win.
  • Combat can be over quickly, and your characters can be killed in a matter of seconds if you’re not careful. Be aggressive – use your abilities proactively, don’t save them for a time you think they may be more needed. If you’re up against a group of enemies, reducing their numbers quickly is key.
  • Use the custom formations to put your party members in good initial positions (heartier melee in the front, ranged and casters in the back).
  • Make sure your squishy ranged are actually equipped with ranged weapons (a quarterstaff will still have them running into melee range) so they stay in safe spots.
  • Buffs and crowd control are just as important as damage and healing. I particularly like abilities that knock down enemies, or the big AoE buffs from classes like Priests and Druids.
  • Read all your spells – some offensive spells will only hit enemies, but many have friendly fire as well.
  • Sometimes, you just aren’t strong enough to beat a particular enemy yet. Learned from experience – don’t try to take on Raedric at level 3.

Companions

Here’s the list of all 8 possible companions and where you can find them, so you don’t miss any:

  • Aloth (Wizard) – Gilded Vale
  • Eder (Warrior) – Gilded Vale
  • Durance (Priest) – Magran’s Fork
  • Kana (Chanter) – Caed Nua
  • Pallegina (Paladin) – Oondra’s Gift in Defiance Bay
  • Sagani (Ranger) – Woodend Plains
  • Hiravias (Druid) – Stormwall Gorge
  • Grieving Mother (Cipher) – Dyrfold Village

The pre-created companions will all add something to the story as well as have their own character quests.

  • There are 3 classes not represented by the pre-created characters – Barbarian, Monk, and Rogue – in case that impacts the creation of your own character.
  • You can also make your own companions from an Inn.
  • You’ll level up faster if you don’t have the party of 6, as each character will get more experience.

Items

  • Rope and Grappling Hook, Hammer & Chisel, and Lockpicks are very useful, especially at the start of the game. If you get a chance to buy or pick these up, do it. There are in-game events which will need them if your skill levels aren’t very high yet.
  • Always carry the max amount of Camping Supplies (4).

Crafting

  • You don’t need to worry about recipes in the game, they’ll open up as you reach the appropriate levels.
  • You can cook or do alchemy, to get foods and potions which will provide buffs. You can make scrolls, though I haven’t found those are needed much, or traps.
  • Enchanting has been the most useful type of crafting for me. If you get a good, named piece of equipment, enchant it to make it even better.
  • Don’t worry too much about saving materials for later, most things can be found again or bought easily.

Exploring

  • Make extensive use of the Tab button, which will highlight items you can pick up or interact with, and Scouting mode, which will reveal traps and hidden items.
  • If Scouting mode is too slow for your tastes, pair it with Double Speed.
  • The initial scrolling speed for the game is slow, it can be increased in the menu under Game.
  • Rest often. It doesn’t seem that rest can be interrupted by monsters.
  • Visit Caed Nua early, because it opens up some cool new stuff.
  • You can’t get to Twin Elms until Act 3, don’t drive yourself nuts trying to figure out how to get there.
  • It matters what exit you take from some screens. Exiting from the East won’t open up access to an area South of you.

That’s all for now! Let me know if you need more info, or if you have any tips for me.

Lore and the Codex – How to do it Better

I’ve been playing Pillars of Eternity since it came out last week. So far, it’s a great game in one of my favourite genres, and I’m enjoying both the gameplay and the story. As with most RPGs, it’s full of lore that’s just waiting to be discovered by the player and enrich the game world. But how much lore is too much lore? And why is it always delivered via walls of text in books, journals, or codex entries?

Last week there was an article on Paste.com about 5 narrative devices games should stop using. I’d like to throw in my 2 cents and say that overly long journal entries have got to go as well. I usually go into games with the intention of reading all the available lore, stories, and histories but it generally takes all of half an hour before I’m overwhelmed with text and start skimming. An hour or two later, I’m skipping them completely. And in-game libraries? Well those just instill me with feelings of guilt and malaise as I know I’m not going to sit around reading for half an hour. And there’s always a library in fantasy games.

Pillars of Eternity - library books

I started Dragon Age: Inquisition planning to read all the lore. But within a very short timeframe of being at Haven, I was quickly overloaded with codex entries. Probably 30 of them opened up after just a brief run through the area, and a look at the Dragon Age wiki shows there are 558 codex entries in the game. Even assuming a modest length of 250 words an entry, that’s almost 140,000 words of text. I just don’t have the inclination to read through all that. I want to play the game, not read a novel.

Unfortunately in DA:I, my aversion to codex entries meant I had no idea what the very end of the game meant. So I was basically punished for not wanting to read them all. Also I have to say that Bioware games, at least on console, have a poor UI for finding your unread codex entries, making me even less likely to want to track them down and read them.

I do think this is more of a problem in Action RPGs such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, or The Witcher. In a game like Pillars of Eternity or Torment, you know you’re going to be doing a lot of reading – they are text-heavy games. If you don’t want to read lines and lines of dialogue then that particular category of RPGs is probably not for you. But with ARPGs there’s a huge disconnect between running around shooting things or smashing them with a sword and standing, unmoving, reading page after page of stories, songs, and histories. A lot of these codex entries open up in the middle of a conversation or even a fight, making them awkward to get back to.

Obviously, I’m not against lore-rich worlds, or reading in general, but there has to be a better way. There are a few ways I think codex entries could be more accessible and interesting to players.

First – editing. Edit, edit, edit, cut, cut, cut. Let’s be real here – 558 codex entries in a single game is ridiculous. Focus on what’s most important or interesting. Once the number of entries has been brought down to a manageable size, also edit for length.

DAI loading page

DA:I showed codex entries on the loading pages. Great idea, terrible execution. Unless you have the longest loading screens ever, no one will be able to read through this when it’s presented. And each loading screen has 3 entries! Yes, put lore info on loading screens to give the player something to read, but limit the entry presented to 50, maybe 75 words. And make the text bigger.

Second – organize. Make a clear distinction between text information that may have an impact on your game – whether it’s a map that’s pointing you somewhere, an enemy’s weakness, or who the hell that guy at the end of the game is supposed to be – and the stuff that’s mostly just flavour. UIs can also be vastly improved by things like adding a ‘show unread entries’ button, customizable sorting, or flagging entries so you can easily reference them later.

Third – read to me and let me multitask. I don’t share a dislike of audio logs with the author of the Paste piece. If you can’t convey information to me in any other way, then please, read it to me. Diablo 3 does this well. When you pick up a journal the author pops up in a little window and reads it to you, leaving you free to go about your grindy business as you’re learning something about the world.

Mass Effect codex entriesIn Mass Effect, the codex entries are read aloud (good!) but you have to stay on the codex page in order to hear the whole thing (bad). If I could select an entry, or even a whole category, and have it read to me as I run around The Normandy or shoot Geth, I would be 99% more likely to experience those codex entries. I’m trying to save the galaxy here, I don’t have time to sit in the menu screens for an hour.

What do you think about lore told via codex entries and in-game books? Do you read them all? Is it too much, or do you appreciate having access to everything? Can it be done better?

Revisiting The X-Files – Squeeze

Do you have any idea what liver and onions go for on Reticulon?

The camera pans over a modest city skyline at dusk. A man walks out of a restaurant; the camera follows and slowly zooms in on him, occasionally cutting away to a storm drain across the street. As the man comes more into focus, the background colour bleeds away. A pair of yellow eyes are revealed within the storm drain, as the creepy-crawly music we’ll eventually hear a lot of ramps up. We follow the man into an office building, while the camera keeps cutting away to something unseen that seems to be stalking him. A screw on a small vent is shown being undone from the inside, as fingers squeeze out from under it. The man is suddenly and violently attacked by something inside his office. Pan back to the vent, which is being closed and screwed back in place by something unseen.

Ah, the first monster of the week episode. Now we’re in my wheelhouse. Though the mythology of The X-Files provides much of the backstory and driving force of the series, I’ve always enjoyed the standalone episodes, with their casts of odd and interesting characters, more. This is also the first episode written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, two of the more entertaining writers on the series.

After the opening credits, we get to see Scully having lunch with someone she used to work with at the FBI Academy. He manages to disparage her, Mulder, and their work all while asking for a favour. Smooth. The lack of point of entry in a rash of killings and liver extractions is stumping law enforcement and Agent Colton is determined to crack the case. With a little help from Scully, whom I’m sure he would give credit to, because he doesn’t seem like a self-serving jerk at all. Colton and Mulder get along about as well as expected, and Colton gets very salty when Mulder uncovers some actual evidence from the crime scene – elongated fingerprints from the vent. The fingerprints are common to crimes reaching back as far as 60 years, which also involved victims with missing livers. Looks like Mulder is proposing some spooky ideas again.

Scully presents a profile of the killer that, while it misses the killer’s true motivation, is pretty on the nose. She suggests they stake out past crime scenes because the killer is likely to return. Colton’s unit run with her plan, but not before snidely chuckling about her work on the x-files some more. They’re pretty hauty for a unit that didn’t have a single lead on the case before Scully got involved.

Mulder shows up unannounced to Scully’s stakeout location because she’s pretty much his only social connection at this point. I love Mulder, but he’s not a very FBI agent. Who sneaks around underground parking lots at night when they know armed agents are on a stakeout looking for a serial killer? Though Mulder insists Scully is wasting her time and that the killer will not come back here, they end up finding and detaining Eugene Victor Tooms, a member of animal control who was climbing around in the vents. At night. Without alerting security.

I savour it when Scully is right. One of the shortcomings of the whole series is that Scully almost never gets to be right about the big stuff. She’s this brilliant scientist, but whenever she states an informed scientific opinion like “No Mulder, it wasn’t aliens, they don’t exist” or “No Mulder, it’s impossible for this serial killer to be 100 years old” she usually ends up being proven wrong. In a show like The X-Files, the truth is stranger than fiction so the skeptic usually loses.

Doug Hutchison as Eugene Victor Tooms in Squeeze

Doug Hutchinson does a great job with this character. He’s so diminutive and soft spoken, but still manages to be quite terrifying.

After passing a lie detector test, with the exception of the questions Mulder added which would place him at the crime scenes from 60 years ago, Colton’s unit lets Tooms go. And of course he immediately goes and rips out someone else’s liver, getting into their house by squeezing down the chimney.

S&M decide they’re going to solve this case, Colton’s narrow minded ideas be damned. While tracking down info on the killer, they find a detective who had worked the murder cases in the 60s who shows them a picture of Tooms looking exactly the same as he does now. The agents travel to Tooms’ apartment (the shot of them entering the premises is the one used in the intro credits) where they find a nest made of newspaper and bile (ick) as well as trophies from previous victims. Mulder’s theory is that Tooms is a mutant who feeds on livers in order to keep himself alive and un-aging through the years. As they leave, a hidden Tooms lifts Scully’s necklace (which Mulder had awkwardly called attention to in a previous scene).  Looks like he’s found his next victim.

Here we get to see Scully’s apartment for the first time. All she wants is a nice, hot bath to ease away the tensions of the day but, no, she has to get attacked by a mutant, contortionist, liver eater. Mulder bursts in just in time to intervene, distracting Tooms from the overpowered Scully. She, in turn, saves Mulder from Tooms’ attack by handcuffing him to the faucet. Of course, everything we’ve seen from Tooms indicates he could squeeze out of those cuffs in the wink of an eye, but we’ll just ignore that. We’ll also ignore that the action scenes at this point in the series are really poorly done and a bit laughable.

Tooms is institutionalized and immediately goes about building a new nest. His intense gaze at the slot in his cell door indicates we may not have seen the last of him.

Revisiting The X-Files – Deep Throat

Daylight. The episode opens on a group of military police surrounding a house. They take down the door, spreading out through the house. Looks of shock appear on their faces as they find a man, shaking and covered in burns, huddled in a corner. He’s going to need a doctor.

Scully sits at a bar, wearing some terrible 90s eyeglasses and flipping through notes. Mulder appears and it almost looks like he’s going in for a kiss, which is a little weird. He stops short and offers to buy her a drink. Scully, ever the professional, refuses to drink at 2pm. Mulder goes on to tell her about a military pilot of experimental aircraft who had a psychotic breakdown, was taken in for hospitalization and hasn’t been heard from in 4 months. I love the sly amusement in Scully’s face and voice whenever she questions what Mulder is telling her. She clearly thinks he’s nuts.

The X-Files s01e02 Deep Throat - Mulder sees Deep Throat for the first time

This is the episode in which we first meet Deep Throat (kinda obvious from the title), the man who will become the agents’ contact and giver of sometimes reliable information, who warns Mulder off the case. This is the first episode that really opens up the X-Files mythology. Conspiracy is afoot and Mulder’s interest in this case gets rewarded by someone having his phone tapped.

No one wants to talk to anyone. That seems to be a theme of this episode. Military refuse to talk to Mulder and Scully about the missing pilot. Another pilot’s wife refuses to say anything about the military, and admonishes the wife of the missing pilot for bringing in outside forces. It’s the ‘ufo nuts’ who end up being the source of the best (and only) information, directing the agents to Ellens Air Force base.

This episode is full of UFOs, which Mulder thinks have been created by reverse-engineering alien technology. When nearing the air force base at night, Mulder and Scully see two points of light in the sky, moving in ways aircraft couldn’t possibly maneuver. They also find a couple stoners, one of which is a very young Seth Green, who end up providing more information than anyone.

Besides possible alien technology, this episode introduces the idea that the military is able to wipe people’s memories or re-wire their brains. The missing pilot comes home but his wife calls the agents for help, insisting that this man isn’t really her husband. He doesn’t know things he should know, and he doesn’t remember where he’s been for the last months. After this, the chilly reception the agents received from the military gets downright hostile, as men in black accost them, destroying photographs they had taken and telling them to gtfo.

The X-Files s01e02 Deep Throat - Scully holds Air Force security at gunpoint

Mulder doesn’t like being told what to do so he lies to Scully and runs off to explore the air base in secret. Good move, hot shot. He sees a UFO (not necessarily alien, but definitely unidentifiable) up close and then is immediately captured, strapped to a gurney, and injected with drugs, while Scully has to go rescue him. It’s actually a nice reversal of what tends to happen in future episodes. Scully gets captured a lot in the coming seasons. Scully lays the smack down (shut up, it’s the 90s) on airforce security personnel, holds him at gunpoint, and demands he bring her to the base to find Mulder. Before they can get into the base, Mulder is sent out, looking like a lost, drugged up puppy. He doesn’t remember anything.

You’d think being federal agents would afford Scully and Mulder some degree of safety or respect but this episode makes it clear that if they keep pursuing the alien / government conspiracy thing, they will never be safe. At least Mulder gets thrown a bone at the end when Deep Throat visits him and confirms that “they (aliens) have been here for a long, long time.”

Revisiting The X-Files – Pilot

With the recent announcement that Scully and Mulder will be returning for a 6 episode stint in the 10th season of the X-Files, it seems like a great time to  rewatch the series. The show has had an important place in my life, with it becoming somewhat of an obsession of mine at the end of grade school when it was first on. It spawned many all night watching marathons, inspired me to draw its stylized X on pretty much anything from school desks to my jeans with magic marker, caused me to dye my hair red for the first time, and may have influenced me into sneaking around industrial parks once or twice, in search of government conspiracies.

So grab a cup of coffee, maybe some sunflower seeds or a mushroom pizza, and let’s revisit The X-Files together.


The opening shot is dark. Fade into the lush British Colombia woods, a sight we’ll become quite familiar with over the next 5 seasons. A young woman scrambles through the forest, afraid. Running from something. The wind picks up and an unnaturally bright light appears over the horizon, framing the shape of a man approaching her. She looks up at him as the light overtakes the shot. The next morning the woman is found dead with two marks on her back and identified as one of the members of the class of ’89. It’s happening again.

Dana Scully with the Cigarette Smoking Man in the background

Cut to Washington and we see the first star of the show, Gillian Anderson as Agent Dana Scully, here to lay down some science and set hearts aflutter. I even love her in shoulder pads. Scully’s first scene tells us a lot. She’s eager, informed, well-spoken, proud. She’s not afraid to crack some jokes in front of her stuffed suit superiors, including CSM (Cigarette Smoking Man) who lurks silently on the sidelines, smoking as always. At her first meeting with David Duchovny’s Mulder the chemistry is instantaneous. Though I find the scripted dialogue of their first encounter a bit stilted, there’s a wonderful tension between the two actors which only approves throughout the episode. Once the nature of each of the agents is established – Scully is a skeptic, Mulder an enthusiastic believer in the paranormal – they’re off to the very plausible state of Oregon to investigate a death and possible alien abduction.

The actual story of this episode isn’t what most appeals to me. As is common with network television, the pilot is usually one of the weaker episodes of the series because it has to spend so much time setting up what’s to come. There’s unexplained phenomena, possible alien abduction, lost time, and hints of conspiracy at both local and very high levels.

Dana Scully and Fox Mulder talking in a motel room

The best thing about the episode is how quickly yet naturally it develops the relationship between Scully and Mulder that will drive the entire series. There’s a point midway through the episode where Scully goes to Mulder’s room, concerned that she has marks on her back similar to those found on the dead girl. Though the decision to show Scully in her bra during the pilot episode was gratuitous, it leads to a delightful moment between her and Mulder. After Scully’s brief moment of vulnerability and the trust she places in her new partner, Mulder offers some vulnerability of his own and opens up about why the x-files mean so much to him. When he was a child his younger sister was abducted, unassumingly by aliens and he’s been chasing the truth ever since. It’s a great way to both deliver some exposition and show how quickly the two agents begin to trust either other despite their different perspectives on the job at hand. It’s a great relationship, and one which will remain platonic for quite a while, much to the chagrin of shippers everywhere. Though honestly I was always more likely to ship Scully and Skinner. Or Scully and me. Or Mulder and me.

Once the case is wrapped up, the only physical evidence of abduction (or of anything) that remains is an implant of unknown origins found in the sinus cavity of one of the victims. The last shot shows CSM storing it among thousands of hidden evidence boxes deep within the Pentagon. Likely beside the Ark of the Covenant. It seems this conspiracy rabbit hole runs deep.

Under the Covers

I’ve been playing the remaster of Saints Row 4 on XBox One and thoroughly enjoying it. Besides engaging gameplay, zany antics, and ridiculously juvenile yet hilarious jokes, Saints Row boasts one of the best character creators I’ve seen in a game. When you create The Boss you have a ton of options. Aside from choosing your sex, you can choose your race and your skin colour. You can choose from multiple different voice actors with different accents to voice your character, and further customize the pitch of your voice. You can make your character appear young or old, and choose a body build that you like. Then there are a thousand different clothing options. And if you ever want to change things up, you can do so at any point in the game.

My character is what I’d like to look like in a video game. She has purple hair, some meat on her bones, and some major eyeliner and brow game. She’s voiced by the wonderful Laura Bailey who I wish I sounded like. But every time I load up the game, I’m greeted with this guy.

Saints Row 4 cover and loading screen art

Who the fuck is this guy?

He’s certainly not me. He’s not in my crew. I’ve never seen him in my game.

I love playing the game but every time I’m met with this image, which is also the art on the game box, there’s a moment of cognitive dissonance. The canon protagonist (at least in marketing materials) has nothing to do with my experience of playing the game. It seems so incongruous to offer up this great character creator that lets people create the kind of protagonist they want to play, but then show us a design that’s likely completely different anytime there’s a chance.

Saints Row is obviously not the only game that has done this.

Covers for Dragon Age 2, Fable 3, Sunset Overdrive all showing a white male main character

Dragon Age 2, Fable 3, and Sunset Overdrive also all portray the protagonist as a white male despite offering other options to the player.

The Mass Effect series boasts a decent character creator (though it’s not as robust as Saints Row’s), but all of the artwork around the first 2 games still features a default white male Shepard. Incidentally, he kind of looks like the guy from the Saints Row cover with a buzz cut.

Mass Effect 1 and 2 cover art

For Mass Effect 3 Bioware’s marketing department realized some people had recognized the superiority of Jennifer Hale’s Shepard (I refuse to use the term femShep, because she. is. Shepard.) In a puzzling move (or not so puzzling if you want to absolve yourself of all responsibility), Bioware put the decision on how she would look to a fan vote. Blue-eyed, blonde-haired, Caucasian Shepard won the popular vote in what could be boiled down to a beauty contest. Then there was a second vote to decide her hair colour. Yep, hard-ass, space Commander, first human Spectre Shepard had her skin colour, features, and hair style voted on by the public. Now that there was a canon design for both the male and female Shepard, Mass Effect 3 had a reversible box cover (of which maleShep was still the default).

Mass Effect 3 covers

I’m afraid that marketing departments just can’t win with me. Though I can (and have) flipped the cover of my Mass Effect 3 box for 360 to show the version of Shepard that’s closer to my own, it’s still not my Shepard. My Shepard is an N7 Marine and she sure as hell would never have a haircut that allowed bangs to obstruct her eyes. That’s really not safe for combat. While having an option for female box art is something, it still doesn’t take into account how people have created their own version of Shepard. Why does she have to be white? Why does she need to have delicate, conventionally attractive features? Why does she have a design that you can’t really even replicate in-game while box art maleShep and in-game maleShep can look pretty much identical? These are the great mysteries of the Mass Effect world.

I think the best way to market games that allow you to customize your character is to not show the protagonist in the artwork. It’s the only way to avoid that sense of dissonance and the feeling that if you’re not playing as scruffy white male #42, you’re not playing the character as it was designed. A number of games have done this, and I don’t think any have suffered from not putting a face on the box art.

Dragon Age Inquisition box art

The box art for Dragon Age: Inquisition has an enticing design that shows something of the story, without committing to a specific character design. This should work for most characters. Unless you play a dwarf, then you’re out of luck.

Dragon Age Origins box cover

Dragon Age: Origins has artwork that doesn’t give any indication of a canon Warden, while still being quite effective.

Fallout 3 and New Vegas box art

The newer Fallout games both feature heavily armored figures which don’t give away sex, race, or appearance, but tell you a lot about the game world. Though I’m sad to admit I always assumed the figure on the cover of New Vegas was male just because of lack of sculpted boob plate. But when I force that stereotype out of my head, it could really be a man or a woman.

Why spend so much time and effort giving players robust character customization only to default to the standard scruffy white male protagonist in all the marketing materials?

 

Too Much Time to Blog

It’s been a bit quiet here of late. The reason is that I’m currently out of a job. I tend to do most of my writing (and reading of other blogs) at work while I’m strapped to a computer and have downtime. When I’m at home I tend to avoid the computer outside of using it to play games. So I’m not particularly up on the news at the moment or inspired to write anything.

On the bright side, I’ve had a lot of time to play games and I’ve been making videos a bit more frequently. I’m still working on finding my voice and getting comfortable with editing and talking to a camera, but I think I’ve improved since my first one. Lately I’ve been doing recommendations for great short games that can be completed in a couple of hours and also replaying and reviewing my favorite games from a long, long time ago. If you’re into videos and haven’t already, please check them out. Subscribes, likes, comments, and constructive criticism are always appreciated.

Also, the first episode of the new Contains Moderate Peril podcast that I’m now a co-host on went up this week. I think it went well and will only get better as we all get more used to working together. On this episode we talked about cheating in video games, spoilers, celebrity voice acting, and dlc & microtransactions. I really enjoy that the podcast features voices from both sides of the Atlantic (and it also makes our voices all really easy to tell apart), and I had a lot of fun recording the first episode. You can grab the podcast from the CMP website, iTunes, or Stitcher.

In terms of what I’ve been playing, there’s a lot! I’m really into Saints Row IV right now. Sometimes I forget how great it is when I spend a lot of time on mini-games, then I do a loyalty or story quest and am reminded about what a ridiculously fun and funny game it is. Highlight so far (other than the killer opening) – singing Opposites Attract with Pierce.

I’ve also been replaying Mass Effect 3. Unfortunately I lost my save from a few months ago, so I had to load up my original game and I’ve been doing all the DLC for the first time. I finally did The Citadel which was a blatant and wonderful bit of fan service. Unfortunately, though I was looking forward to the Vega romance this DLC introduced, they did it in the most creepy and inappropriate way possible and made my Shepard feel like a sexual predator. So I’m just going to block that out of my memory of the DLC.

I played through Dungeons of Dredmor, an amusing dungeon crawler. It was fun for a bit though it got old pretty quickly. It’s a roguelike, which I’m really not into, but I was able to turn off permadeath so I at least got some enjoyment out of it.

I’ve been slowly making my way through Grim Fandango. I issued a challenge to myself a while back that I’d go through adventure games without walkthroughs. That went okay in the first year of the game, but I got stuck pretty soon after and had to give up on that challenge. Adventure games were always one of my favourite genres, by oh my god, the puzzle solutions are so stupid and out of left field. I think with most of my favourites I only still enjoy playing them now because I remember all the solutions so I never feel like an idiot, because playing Grim Fandango for the first time sure makes me feel dumb. I think the game has a lot of things going for it – the concept is great, the writing and characters are funny – but those puzzles. Also, for the remaster I really wish they had highlighted objects that could be picked up and hidden entrances to new screens a bit more.

Fantasia: Music Evolved is a rhythm game that uses the Kinect on the XBoxOne. I played this for the first time with KaleriSara, and a number of alcoholic beverages and it was hilarious. The game has you waving your arms around like a conductor to create and remix music, and though going through menus and such with the Kinect can be a bit janky, doing the songs is great fun. I’ve been slowly making my way through the single player game when I feel like doing some more active gaming.

I also played through Bionic Heart, which is a visual novel dating sim thing, and it was really not for me.

That’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll figure out a way to be more active here (or get a job) soon.