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Beating Games

Albatoss

Dreaming of better days
(She/her, they/them)
Thanks to the excellent Castlevania Anniversary Collection, I played through Kid Dracula for the first time. It's super adorable, and also actually kind of difficult, which I wasn't expecting! Level 7 in particular - which is entirely an auto-scroller besides the boss - is pretty brutal.

It's also actually pretty funny in places! My favorite bits were the entirety of stage 1 - a Castlevania parody level complete with a jaunty major-key remix of "Beginning" from CV3 - and the Lady Liberty segment in stage 5, which is a quiz show instead of a boss battle.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
Done with Life is Strange 2. I think I still need to process the ending. Well, endings, as I looked up the others on Youtube.

Great game, I loved the exploration of brotherly love, which isn't often chosen as a focus in media, especially not with this intensity. I was sceptical, how they would make the episodes different and interesting, but they did manage to find interesting things for each episode. The whole thing still feels a bit like it's set in crazy town, but I understand that horrible people like there exist. Good lord, you encounter a bunch of real assholes (but also some really great people).

The ending...I got the one where Sean decided to drive to Mexico, but Daniel didn't. Which felt awful, with them being separated. But then, I watched the others, and I think this one is still the one that gives both of them the best life. There is only one ending where Daniel and Sean can stay together, which makes them criminals and in constant danger of being killed by other gangs, which, no, I don't want them to live this live. The one, where Sean just gets shot by the police is even worth, because now Daniel is a criminal, but they aren't even together. In the other one, they at least have each other, and this strong, brotherly bond.

Then, there is the ending where Sean decides to sacrifice himself. Again, Daniel can lead a nice live with his grandparents, but the brothers are broken up, and Sean is completely broken, after getting out of prison. It's well done, but it's horrible to watch. Just, no, that is way too unfair for Sean, and just hurts. With the ending I got, at least both seem to be able to live a happy live, and at least stay in contact, if just by letter. Seems like the best deal for the two, I guess.

It's really gutsy of the game, to only offer these bittersweet endings. I expected there to be an actually happy one, but nope. There is always a trade-off, be it their morality, or each other. Like, I was really invested in getting them to a place where they can live in peace, and nearly did, if not for these racist fuckfaces. But then, if they got to Mexico that way, they would have become criminals anyway, like they do if they make it both in the ending where they do. Or maybe not, that was probably just due to Daniels morality being very low, so that he didn't mind hurting all these cops. So, maybe they could have led a regular live, that way.

I feel like this game did a better job of making your choices important. Not that they weren't in LiS 1, and maybe I just remember it wrong, but I feel like your choices always had more, just smaller consequences at the end of an episode. Episode 2 of the first game was an exception, but I think the other episodes turn out the same, no matter what you do during them. Here, it might make the end of episode 3 go off way better for everyone, I guess. Stuff like that. I dunno. In general, I really enjoyed my time with these two brothers. Don't really understand, why so many people are so frustrated with Daniel. I expected him to whine constantly, but he doesn't (except in episode 3, but that's an exception). He is actually pretty bareable, for the most part, especially considering the situation.


Well, I think that's all. Great game.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
Not a lot of discussion of Far Cry 6 out there, I'm guessing because the shit show that was 5 helped sour people on the series. 6 isn't revelatory but it did a lot less to annoy me and I thought they shook things up the most since 3. Enjoyed it.
 

Issun

Avarice
I'm interested because it's Far Cry with Giancarlo Esposito, but I have neither the time nor the money to invest right now when I need to conserve both for Elden Ring.

And 5 was mostly good. It shook the formula up a bit, and Joseph Seed was a great baddie. The endings were fucking trash though.
 

q 3

here to eat fish and erase the universe
(they/them)
Caligula Effect 2 is beaten, 100% including post-game dungeon and bosses. I really loved it. Probably one of my all-time favorite JRPGs. The battle system is a ton of fun, with a good variety of tools you can use to put together a strategy, and your characters look cool pulling it off. It's entirely turn-based, but positioning and timing of attacks is very flexible and makes a huge difference. And the difficulty can be adjusted up or down at any time, so it's great for starting off easy and increasing as needed. I went to the highest difficulty halfway through and found it a good challenge for both random mobs and superbosses alike.

I adore about half the main characters and like most of the rest. I wouldn't say it's better written than the best of Persona, but it is more consistently good with almost none of the ick. Most of the characters are adults and have adult concerns like being burnt out on work. They have honest disagreements about what the right course of action is, and air them without too much pettiness. It's not as queer as I'd like, but more than I expected and what's there is excellent.

It might be the least horny modern JRPG I've encountered? The character designs are all perfectly sensible while still being stylish (as long as you don't mind the aesthetic "everyone wears a variant on a school uniform and sometimes the uniform turns into a slightly eldritch battle garb").

Music is going to vary by tastes, but I think the OST is strong and even better than the first game's - leaning slightly less electronica and more rock, maybe. Though the final boss music sounds like a My Little Pony remix circa 2012. To me at least. In a good way? It's fitting in context at least.

Downsides: Although they've significantly improved sidequests from the first game, it's still not enough - too much backtracking for too little reward. The only truly worthwhile rewards are extra text message topics (you can use them with your party members who each have a unique response) but you get a lot of those anyway. The writing on the sidequests is noticeably worse than the main script and also weirdly heteronormative, like it was done by different staff. At least they're all optional!

A few of the characters are less sympathetic than the game seems to expect you to find them (a cop, an heir to some rich family, and that one male anime character who is always hitting on girls and erroneously thinks he's succeeding at it, he does get plenty of nuance later and while some of it is good some of it is not good).

The endings are both a bit underwhelming and would have benefited from more epilogue - particularly lacking is seeing the characters in the real world - but I can see how that would be tough to justify budgeting for. The story does wrap up satisfyingly enough at least.

All in all, Caligula 2 is a vast improvement on the first game in nearly every way. If you're interested, note that there's no need to have played the first game at all, it explains everything you need to know along the way (which isn't that much honestly, five years ago Hatsune Miku trapped a bunch of sad people in the Matrix and some of them kicked her butt showed her the error of her ways). Either way, I sincerely hope there will be a Caligula 3, or at least more games from Takuya Yamanaka.*

*Edit: Speaking of which, here's a great interview with him that gets at a lot of what I've liked in his games.
 
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Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
I started it this week too; so far it's amazing. Will probably say more when I'm done.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I just beat Darksiders, the dumber Zelda game in a world that is eternally 1998 thanks to Joe Madureira. Remember him? I tease it and it deserves it but it is a perfectly playable game with some decent enough puzzles borrowed from Zelda and Portal (it's just straight up Portal for a good section). It fights like a muso game with fewer enemies but there's some fun to the combat. Oh, Mark Hamill is doing a voice, which is always fun. But man, the designs are just... trying so hard and the main character's design is a nightmare of "more is more and let's put ten more things on top of more." The last boss was actually one of the easiest, though frankly by that point, I was happy to be done. Again, I'm harsh on it and it's aesthetics in particular but it's perfectly fine.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
Psychonauts 2 is one of the best games Tim Schafer has ever written. I wish that the platforming gameplay had improved more over the last 16 years.
 

Sarge

hardcore retro gamin'
I enjoyed Darksiders a lot, but yes, it's definitely very tryhard in the character design department. I enjoyed the followups, too, although they all change the formula a bit so it's not quite so "edgy Zelda".
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
We knew that Darksiders would be trying too hard to be edgy from the very moment that Famine and Pestilence were replaced with Angry and More Different Angry.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
We knew that Darksiders would be trying too hard to be edgy from the very moment that Famine and Pestilence were replaced with Angry and More Different Angry.
Yeah, right? Because when I learned the second game had a different lead, I was thinking "oh, down the line you could have some interesting play mechanics in starving or en-sickening people". Nope. Turns out the world will end in neither fire nor ice but in "BLLAAAARGH! GONNA HITCHA!"
 

Issun

Avarice
Finished a replay of Night in the Woods. My first time through a few years ago I just thought it was okay. The story didn't grab me, and I found Mae obnoxious. She still is, but I empathized with her more, and the whole game just clicked this time.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
I started playing Metroid Dread on Saturday, haven't posted in the thread because you guys sure post a lot about Metroid and it's sure a lot to read. Played a lot of it during the weekend and finished it tonight. Really tough game, but for me it was the best in the series after Super, which I'm not sure it's possible to surpass.
 
I beat Boyfriend Dungeon, it was inconsistent and short so Gamepass was perfect but I'm glad I played it and have some thoughts.

Two characters I have bad thoughts on, one of which you've probably heard about if you've heard of the game.

(this spoils the overall plot of the game FYI) The stalker character is what sparked a lot of discussion and it's definitely out of place in this world. However, the reason I found it so out of place is that the writing for the stalker is much, much better than the dialogue for other characters. While other characters are extremely predictable in their dialogue and you don't always feel like your choices changed what they say/do, the stalker is very attuned to you. It's well-written enough that it makes me pretty sure someone on the team has been stalked. But I will note that as someone who has been the target of this behaviour (both of my parents too), it did not make me panic or upset me, I was fine playing it. The issue is that it's so accurate and well-done it does not fit in with the tone of the overall game AT ALL. I absolutely understand why someone wouldn't want to play it and definitely think this should have been done differently. But I think the backlash on the studio is shitty, and it's especially shitty that people are harassing the voice actor over this!

But ultimately he didn't bother me much, the character that did was Sawyer. Nonbinary supposedly college student who is every "ditzy helpless clingy high school girl" trope in one character. "Oops, I tried to boil an egg and it didn't work!" "Oh, you have to use water to boil things, haha, silly me you're so smart for knowing that". It's awful and grating and the character felt very uncomfortably young to be dating due to how helpless they are. But what really made my skin crawl was their pestering to date you and ignoring your decisions. With the adult characters once you make the platonic/romantic decision (which is frustratingly unclear in the dialogue selections sometimes) the character respects that. But if you tell Sawyer you just want to be friends they continue to ask "oh is this a date? Oh is this a date?" over and over again. To me it was far more stalker-ish than the actual villain in the game. I ended up finishing their track out of curiousity if it gets better but it does not (in the final two stages of the relationship you help them cheat on a test and then beg their professor to bend the rules because Sawyer is dumb and missed a deadline, ick). I appreciate that if I didn't want to date them I could have completely ignored them, which I think is true for all characters.

But there were things I like and if you have Gamepass or see this for under $5 (maybe even under $10) I'd recommend it if you're okay with what I noted above, because there are some really fun things being done here and I did have a good time. Minimal spoilers below.

Isaac and Seven have my favourite character arcs and both deal with massive life changes in very different ways, they really were made to be unique characters. They both start out appearing to have it all, but as you get to know them you see the cracks and see completely different approaches and resolutions that feel true to the characters. I was dating both of them at the end of the game.

The remaining characters were all good and fun and really varied (everything from rogue art painting to running around town searching for a crow familiar), and of course the cat weapon friend is hilarious. I believe you can choose platonic relationships for everyone too which I like very much. And (with the exception of the character above) being platonic is just fine with everyone which is very refreshing, I'm also glad it doesn't affect the weapon abilities you unlock.

The combat is pretty fun, I do wish they had reassigned the weapons between characters as the later characters are non-swords and really mix things up and would have been great earlier in the game. The magic/items are fun and wacky and let you try some pretty different things, and you really, really benefit from becoming better friends/lovers with the weapons, some of the later abilities are crazy. And of course you can wear silly hats and outfits, most of which also grant perks.

There isn't a ton of voice acting but what is there is well done which is nice. And ProZD is this sexy sword dude who I can't talk about without giving away major spoilers but he's fun too:

 
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