Thursday 30 January 2020

January 2020 Review

Starting the year in pretty bad shape. On the plus side, that leaves plenty of room for improvement! The Epic Games store is going to be my main adversary in that though I think, since they're continuing to give out free games regularly over 2020. It does depend what the games are though - for example I think I'll skip their offering of "Farming Simulator 19" as I get enough farming simulation in MMOs! :P

    End 2020 with less weight (-1 kg from last month, running total: -1 kg)
    Make 1 web comic page (working on the story draft - again)
    Make new board game idea (dropping, too many board games to play atm)
    +hire landscapers for back yard
Borderlands 2 [gift] (done)
The Escapists [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
The Wolf Among Us [free from Epic Games] (done)
Postal 2 [free from GOG] (done)
How to Survive 2 (gift)
Undertale [gift] (done)
LISA: The Painful [gift] (done)
Rimworld [gift] (had enough)
Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain [gift]
Totally Acurate Battle Simulator [free from Epic Games] (done)
+FTL [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+Sundered: Eldritch Edition [free from Epic Games] (had enough)
+NWO: Infernal Descent (0/2) [free to play]
+Horace [free from Epic Games] (12GB for a platformer!? No thanks!)
+The Bridge [free from Epic Games] (had enough)

Board games:

Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (10/11)
London Dread Campaign (1/4)
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (0/13)
Love Letter
Black Orchestra
+Mice and Mystics: Heart of Glorm (0/11)


One Year Ago

I made a number of Absurd Game ideas, won Hellblade: Senuas Sacrifice, and asked you guys for help on what to do with an Anti-Vaxxer acquaintance.

Five Years Ago

I began my Creative Writing Experiment, played the masterpiece To the Moon, as well as a few of the Assassin's Creed game series.

Most Viewed Posts last Month
Madam Secretary
The Cursed: Cold Turkey
NWO: Ode to the Forgotten Adventurer
Cloak and Dagger

That's an unexpected listing, though Madam Secretary was definitely a popular show! The ratings are a bit weird though as I noticed my highest audience is from "Unknown region". I assume that means space! Hope all you aliens are enjoying my work! :P

Top Search Terms last Month
ac odyssey adrestia mods
how do i get my worshop to lv 2 neverwinter
more and better prime day coupos online

Proving that once again, people are mainly after services and info.

Sekiro: You're gonna die more than Twice - Boss Fight Tips (Part I)!

A continuation from my first set up tips (go LEFT), here are some early boss centric strategies to help you get through. Note: this is mostly in the order of when I beat them and will probably have most Sekiro vets rolling their eyes:

Headless / Shichimen Warrior / Anything that oozes Purple Terror clouds - Stay away or run past. Seriously. They use -cheats- deadly terror. Might come back to them later if they become mandatory.

Sword General 1 (optional) - this first mini boss after the tutorial is all on his lonesome and near a shrine. Sneak up from his LEFT for a back stab and then practice your fighting techniques that you learned from your training partner back at the Dilapidated Temple (go back and look for him if you haven't located him yet).

Chained Ogre - watch him get free then run away to a rooftop. When he gives up and slowly walks away, backstab him to complete 50% of the fight. The rest is dodging practice (remembering dodge forward is valid too). Worthwhile noting that jumping isn't useful in this fight.

Sword General 2 - comes with cronies but is much the same as the first sword general. Stealth kill all his goons first (using tall grass on the LEFT) then open with a backstab. It might be easier to start this from the Underbridge valley shrine. How to get there? Stealth/Run past their camp to the broken bridge and jump down to the LEFT.

Giant Snake - this is all about Tip #3 and Tip #4. Look around and advance quietly (often to the LEFT) if you can, but in the open run like the wind. You can treat this more as a QTE than a fight.

Shinobi Hunter in the Past - getting to this spear guy is just as annoying as fighting him. Once you've unlocked gate on the main road you can at least skip most of the mobs on the way. You'll still need to deal with two shield guys though so make sure you have the axe (found in the flaming village) at the ready. Use the long grass to then murder his buddies and then backstab him. Afterwards, I hope you've been practicing your Mikiri counters. :/

If you like, you can skip him for now by going LEFT over the river into the burning castle area, and eventually run into the Fat Drunkard.

Fat Drunkard in the Burning Courtyard - use the LEFT house to backstab all of his goons one at a time (two if lucky or you have the axe weapon), then run all the way back into the lake - ensuring not to enter via the middle until he loses aggro. Once he's alone, backstab him to complete 50% of the battle then lure him down the middle path to the lake and have the friendly NPC there take his aggro. Whack his back (carefully) until he dies. Done properly, the NPC ally will survive too!

I AM HORSE GUY - despite his size and all logic, you can actually parry  his attacks. Buy the fireworks tool to help out  (two merchants before him sell it, one on the hill next to the mom and son, the other near the gate to the chained ogre) - time it during his charge or his rest to startle the horse for free hits. Always grapple him when he turns too so that you're in his face.

Flaming Bull - is a good lesson in NOT locking on to the boss. And also, screw dodging. You can run faster than dodge. If you look at his arena, it is a small L shape and that corner is very handy, as are firecrackers (just like the horsey). Get him into a wall and get behind him to wail on him. If he starts to look at you firecracker his face and maneuver again.

More to come soon!

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Sekiro: You're gonna die more than Twice - Newbie Tips!

I know I'm late to the party with Sekiro, but as someone who is not really good I thought I'd put up some tips (PC) as to how to muddle through.

Tip #1 - turn off sticky keys.
You'll be pressing shift a lot.

Tip #2 - always go for backstabs if you can.
Especially on bosses and mini-bosses!

Tip #3 - scout quietly and slowly.
Rooftops are particularly useful. Once detected see tip #4 below.

Tip #4 - from what I've seen you run faster than anything else in the game.
Use this to your advantage, especially outside boss fights. You can dart past enemies for loot, to reach the next shrine or simply create opportunities for one on one fights (especially in urban spaces). Remember this in the burning village flashback.

Tip #5 - hold down block to regain posture.
They mention this in the training but it's easy to forget, especially once you get into the habit of tapping block to deflect!

Tip #6 - expect to grind a little.

Especially to not "lose" your progress to death. Making your in game character stronger always helps. Some good spots are from the Underbridge Valley going backwards (provided you dealt with the general there) all the way to the mom and son.

A better spot later on is the Poison Pool shrine. Grapple and stealth towards the two nearest gunners and backstab the one staring at the lake first, then the one seated (attack attack attack till he dies). Return to the shrine and rest. Rinse and repeat. Very monotonous though. Remember to use mibu balloons while doing this as they persist through shrine resting (though not travel or much else).

If that's too boring you can also slaughter the reviving Mibu villagers when you get there (they do stop after awhile) but later on there's a purple ninja near the Upper Castle Dojo who is another boring but useful grind.

Tip #7 - don't carry gold.
You lose half when you die, so invest it in items (coin pouches are best but really anything useful will do) before doing something dangerous - like boss fights! Same goes for EXP, but the only way to save that is to grind till you fill the bar.

Tip #8 - when in doubt, go LEFT.
Seems to work for me, but remember to explore the other way once you hit a roadblock.

Tip #9 - use the homeward idol
It saves time.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Way more than twice.

Made by the same people who made Dark Souls, this is almost just Dark Souls in Japan. In it you play as a ninja protecting a special kid with powers from people that want to abuse said powers. You are also terrible at this, as babysitting was not a quality or talent you have learned.

Instead you'll be spending most of the time exploring, killing and looting while learning skills and earning gear to do the same thing more efficiently. The environments are gorgeous, and the bosses are deadly. As a ninja, you'll need to evade and parry since armor isn't really their thing.

There's also a lot of fire.

Is it a hard game? Yes, and there is no difficulty option. Is it harder than Dark Souls? I'll say ... no. Especially not Dark Souls 3. Why? Many reasons:

1) You are faster than anything else in the game and can literally run or grapple past everything bar the mandatory bosses.

2) Bosses have two "health" gauges. One is life, one is posture. End either and you get a kill shot. Some have more in one than the other, so that comes with the learning.

3) It's strictly single player. There are no enemy players who will ever invade you. In the same token there are no mandatory bosses that you need allies to help with (I needed a lot of help with a few Dark Souls ones).

4) Dark Souls bosses have killed me more than the ones in Sekiro. Sister Friede in particular.

That's not really the question you should be asking though. What you should be asking is, "is it fun?" and the answer to that is hell yes! Highly recommended - I give it 4 artificial arms out of 5.

Monday 27 January 2020

The Cursed: A Previous Victory

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team catch up to the reverend and he reveals himself to be the demon Belhifet! He explains the whole Kuldahar threat was simply a ruse to weaken Easthaven as it is here that he needs to open the portal to hell (not sure why he needed to wait till -now- to do that, guess he's an idiot). Unwilling to let him do that the squad rushes him and his remaining cronies for one last epic combat!

Providing ranged support, Reise is suddenly squished into a mist of fine blood by an iron golem who then proceeds to kick Iholikan around, severely wounding the elf. Meanwhile Belhifet hacks Wylfdene to pieces and then quarters Cristiana before finally being put down by Farcol and Sofie. His defeat also powers down the iron golem, and the threat is finally over!

I needed... a bigger... army...

Belhifet, being a demon, rematerializes in Avernus - upset at the loss of his Northern gambit. All his hopes now ride with his servant in the South... Hephernan. As for the three survivors, they are now trapped in a frozen town with no where to go till spring. Fortunately there is plenty of food in the form of cyclops meat. All they have to do is wait.

Insight: Belhifet wisely opens with a dispel so pop a bless and haste as your opening moves.

Sunday 26 January 2020

The Cursed: Almost the Last Lieutenant

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The townsfolk of Kuldahar give the team a wide berth now that they've returned with Wylfdene in their number. They are glad the team doesn't stay long - just to rest and resupply before heading back to lower Dorn's deep to finish their mission.

Using the invisibility method proves most efficient as they find the last remaining mini-boss, an evil drow mage, and slaughter him without issue. With this, the stairs at the back of the temple are opened and the team faces off with the reverend - the main evil that wants to freeze the entire North.

With his disappointing cyclops army? Really?

They don't really wait to hear his monologue and instead attack as he summons a gang of monsters to his aid. Combat is cut short when they are all inexplicably teleported back to a frozen Easthaven though, now patrolled by Cyclopes. While the one eyed monsters are easily wiped out, their mirror-imaging lieutenant is a bit of a nuisance but Farcol works out the most logical way to defeat him:

Shoot all of him at the same time.

Insight: It sounds stupid but that is actually the solution to the mirror man. Using ranged attacks, everyone picks a different target and fires. Then it's up to the player to check the combat log to see which one didn't hit a "false" bad guy (lots of pausing). Once you know the real one, everyone focus fire and he'll drop pretty quick.

Saturday 25 January 2020

The Cursed: Superior Numbers

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Angry at the previous detour, the party agrees to hunt down the spirit dragon to teach it a lesson - "That humans are superior and always have been." They sail with the barbarians to its base in the Sea of Moving Ice and then using invisibility simply walk past all the defenders until they reach the bottom floor - a sahaugin throne room.

Here they fight a literal army of fish men and Marchon gets overwhelmed and impaled by a hundred spears. The remaining five fight manage to clear the place and find the spirit dragon nearby - in physical form!

He also has a tornado breath which is interesting to dodge.

Summons are used heavily to keep it and the respawning sahaugin busy while the team arrows the beast down. The same method is used to destroy its soul stone. Thankfully, by this time, the barbarians had cleared the way out for the survivors and are very grateful for the assist.

Wylfdene's spirit, now back in his own corpse, has his own reward for them: by joining the party to help them end the threat in Kuldahar!

Insight: The dragon fight is a marathon. Stay at a distance and dodge the tornados. Goblin arrows (bought at Lonelywood and the desert castle) really helped here once my casters ran out of summons. Basically each arrow fired also summons a friendly goblin to help you - right at the target. They are great distractions!

Thursday 23 January 2020

The Cursed: Luremoron

[Part of the Cursed story line]

A secret passage leads from the jelly well down into a massive cave system inhabited by demon summoning wolfweres. Stealthing doesn't work too well on the main floor so Cristiana and Reise summon up a small army of invisible stalkers and aerial servants to help them cleanse the place fully.

Luckily the lycanthropes had been working on a portal to escape the caves, so the team finishes it by collecting the required gems scattered around the lower caves of the area though Marchon almost dies to a dire bear of all things.

To be fair, the thing is massive.

Once the portal is repaired the team step through buffed and invisible - finding themselves right in the Luremaster's throne room. Ironically, the idiot also can't see invisible so with haste and first strike he is destroyed before he can summon any help. He leaves behind a magic ring that transports the party back to Lonelywood.

Insight: Invisibility is still handy when entering the sub-caves as all but one of them opens with an ambush. This way you get to position and strike first, preferably at the enemy casters.

The Cursed: Ghosting the Spirits

[Part of the Cursed story line]

While exploring the courtyard walls the team runs into the "Luremaster", the spirit boss of this place who has a penchant for riddles and tests. This eventually leads them down to a massive crypt, filled with undead and traps that warp party members to various locations alone. It is more irritating than it is dangerous, especially when its Cristiana that gets warped as her turn undead actually just destroys them outright now.

How the ability actually looks is open to interpretation.

Eventually they get inside the main keep, guarded by beholders and even more spirits. None of them can see invisible, except for the keep lord himself (interestingly, not the Luremaster) who is easily put down. They then waltz down to the dungeons which house numerous beasties. This time Iholikan solo stealths the place, stealing skull keys and using invis potions as required to let the team pass without combat.

Finally on the next floor waits the Luremaster, pissed at all the hiding the "heroes" are doing so he seals the gate behind them. He then floods the chamber with olive jellies. Luckily Reise's skull traps are very effective in clearing them out. Exasperated, the Luremaster just teleports away - hoping starvation will kill the team for him.

Insight: The revenants in the crypt are like trolls. You can down them with regular fighting but they need flame to be killed permanently.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

The Cursed: Chaos Court

[Part of the Cursed story line]

With Wyldfene's lies exposed, the barbarians begin fighting each other - basically the loyalist Wyrm tribe against all the others, including the six outsiders. Reise almost dies but once the Wyrmers are down the remaining barbarians call off the invasion and treat the adventurers as heroes - asking them to pursue the dragon spirit to the sea of moving ice and slay it there once and for all.

The team decide to think about it first and return to Lonelywood to sell loot - only to deal with an assassin (and a bunch of mercs taken out by the wizard innkeep). Unfortunately a halfling agent manages to kidnap them using his magic ring, taking them far away to a castle courtyard in the Aranaoch desert!

Invisibility is handy!

After an initial ambush from harpies and wyverns, Reise decides she's had enough of getting blindsided and so makes use of her new mass invisibility spell to quickly hide the party and scout the entire courtyard area avoiding more conflict.

Insight: Mass invisibility is not as good a singular invisibility. The duration is shorter and monsters can sometimes still "sense" you and follow you around. The only upside is that it's more convenient to cast.

Tuesday 21 January 2020

The Cursed: Gloomfrost Reflection

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The Gloomfrost happens to be the top of a really tall mountain and after the team deal with some polar bears, frost salamanders and yetis use hastened invisibility once more to reach the cave at the summit. This cave is mainly home to remorhaz and ice golems - none of which see the party run past.

Upon finding the seer and requesting for help, she simply gives them a plain mirror and tells them to show it to Wyldfene. Marchon is a bit pissed at this ("we traveled all this way for a mirror!?"), but fortunately the seer also teleports them back down the mountain afterwards.

Maybe it's one of these future tech mirrors?

As instructed, the six adventurers then return to the barbarian camp and are once more granted an audience with King Wyldfene, who is more interested in just executing them on the spot this time. However when shown his own reflection, the spirit dragon inhabiting Wyldfene goes berserk and flees - leaving the corpse of the barbarian leader to collapse in a heap.

Insight: There are traps on the second level of the Gloomfrost, but triggering them won't break invisibility so you can just alternate leads to tank the damage.

Monday 20 January 2020

The Cursed: Lonely Banished Wood

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Opting to deal with the barbarians first, the squad heads to Lonelywood where the girls explore the town, help out who they can and go shopping at the Temple of Waukeen while the guys hit the tavern and end up bedding the local whore.

The next day they make the trek to the massive barbarian camp whose normally warring tribes were now under the leadership of their great king Wyldfene - risen from the dead to reclaim their rightful lands. Wyldfene agrees to an audience with them, but they are unable to come to any sort of truce despite Wyldfene's shaman siding with the adventurers.

Ahh, the traditional form of barbarian negotiation...

Ultimately, the risen King banishes the lot of them via gate to Burial isle to "wait for death". While the shaman is happy to do this (for honor and all), the team is less so and use hastened invisibility to quickly scout the island. It is crawling with wights and spirits who are moaning that their great king is just being worn by something else like a meat sack.

When proof of this is brought back to the shaman, he is willing to break their exile (since he can cast gate too) but insists the team find the Gloomfrost seer to help in unmasking Wyldfene.

Insight: There is some really nice (and expensive) gear in Lonelywood. Be sure to browse all the shops properly for things you can use.

Sunday 19 January 2020

The Cursed: Sofie the Soft Hearted

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Adjacent to the temple is a mushroom garden easily cleared of more myconids which also provides access to a nearby stately home guarded by hidden, back stabbing thieves! While the hostile ones are dealt with violently, Sofie is hesitant to attack the friendlier ones who just seem to be working there. This includes their leader who willingly surrenders and strips down.

This turns out to be a mistake as the leader had activated a silent alarm which brings all his previously unslain hirelings to his rescue, leading to a massive battle in close quarters. Two of his bodyguards are particularly tough - one killing Naryu and the other slaying Farien in the fray.

The damage bonus is too high for Cristiana to heal!

Cristiana, Sofie, Farcol and Reise are victorious but barely survive the encounter and so quickly retreat back to Kuldahar to regroup with Marchon and Iholikan. Unfortunately the pair report that another threat is quickly coming from the north - an army of barbarians.

Insight: The hidden thieves make a bee-line for the people with the least hitpoints so keep your mage well back when exploring!

Saturday 18 January 2020

The Cursed: String Cutter

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Beyond the lava mines is an encampment of fire giants, who turn out to be just as stupid as their frost counterparts and let the team wander around freely. Unfortunately their elf chick leader isn't so gullible and orders an attack straight away, leading to a massive melee which eventually involves the many elementals lurking around nearby.

Somehow the squad is victorious and after resting up, Reise decides to turn everyone invisible for scouting the next area. Good thing too, as it is a temple filled with undead summoned by five mind controlled clerics of Ilmater. None of them see the party sneak past to destroy an evil icon at the very back which frees the clerics and insta-destroys the undead without a fight.

That's a lot of bone golems...

The clerics are ashamed of their actions, and inform the team that two more mini-bosses, lieutenants of "the master", need to be defeated before the stairs at the back will open to his lair. "Then we go hunting," confidently announced Sofie.

Insight: Invisibility is fantastic and like in the above example, can cut down game time and difficulty tremendously. Also worth noting that unless you talk, attack or get dispelled, it lasts for 24 hours. No need to rush, especially if your mage does all the talking (then s/he can recast it on themselves).

Thursday 16 January 2020

The Cursed: Big Bluff

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Inspired by the error made by the museum salamanders, Farcol manages to bluff the frost giant jarl into surrendering his authority and basically letting the team raid the frost giant camp unmolested. He wouldn't budge on giving up his slaves though, so a rescue operation commences - one that only goes side ways since another servant of Auril arrives with goons to hunt them down.

It is a tough fight and one that attracts the attention of the big guys... who turn out to be wimps. With this new knowledge, the team returns to the frost giant base and exterminates them all. They then follow the slaves out to a plateau with a path leading down the mountain to freedom - and a cavern leading to the next area of Dorn's Deep. They pick the latter.

Don't let their size intimidate you.

Now instead of frost salamanders they face their fire kindred (with a flame aura), as well as axe throwing suits of armor that never seem to miss! The party slogs it out along the edge of the area until they stumble upon salamander controlled lava mines. Despite being more plentiful here, the salamanders are much easier to handle without their axe guardians.

Insight: Ugh, those axe armors suck! Prepare for some serious micro management as you'll want to still kill the fire salamanders at range while switching to crushing weapons against the armor guardians. Slashing and piercing weapons don't work well against them.

The Cursed: Museum of Stupid

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Finding secret stairs down from the fort, the team soon find themselves in a massive mausoleum - home to another undead army, this time controlled by a lich. They aren't too tough, apart from the fact that the lich continually revives himself which sends Naryu into a pissing panic each time.

It takes a while before Farien finally finds the lich's phylactery and destroy it, ending the threat for good and unlocking the cavern ahead... which leads out to a glacier!? Once it is cleared of all the ice trolls and yetis, the team enter what seems to be a museum to find it occupied by frost salamanders and their slaves.

They don't look this cute.

Fortunately the salamanders mistake the team to be servants of the "master" and let them scout the place freely, making it easy to subsequently use summons and strategy to wipe them all out and free the captives. They say more of their number were taken to a cave just across a nearby rope bridge though, so the team head there and find it to be the home of a frost giant clan, the same ones that caused the avalanche at the start!

Insight: Frost salamanders have a damaging aura of cold, so try kill these from range as well.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

The Cursed: Severed Hand

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The aptly named tower is in the shape of a giant hand reaching skywards, but gone are its elven creators. Instead it is now home to an army of orcs who have also done a great job sealing up the haunted half of the tower. It doesn't matter much to the team however, as they end up cleaning out all the floors to gain the aid of the elven lich residing at the top of the middle finger.

Not subtle at all.

Upon finally gaining his assistance, the e-lich uses the scrying orb and recognizes the location where the "cold evil" is coming from - Dorn's deep, once a stronghold of the dwarves. He teleports the team there where they immediately run into Neo-Orog defenders guarding the cave entrance.

The inside isn't much to look at either, with ettins and myconids dominating the massive cavern. It isn't long till they find recognizable dwarven architecture however, in the form of a small fortress filled to the brim with neo-orogs and drow mercenaries. Reise and Cristiana make good use of summons and haste to wipe them all out.

Insight: The "palm" level of the tower is a safe zone for resting purposes, and it's not too hard to get up there if you just gun for the stairs up each time.

Tuesday 14 January 2020

The Cursed: Goddess of Snakes

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The team soon discover that the lizardmen are just minions to something deeper in the caves, and after fighting through legions of skeletons and their necromancer whom Olchyr wins a magic duel against, the team finds an out of place, friendly temple.

Naryu's snooping quickly reveals them to be Yuan-ti's though, and while Olchyr is killed in the mayhem, the team free another adventuring group comprised of Marchon, Iholikan Quinval, Reise Coppersky and Cristiana Knight who help them clear what turns out to be a large base of the snakemen - including their marilith "goddess" who hacks up Nessa in the final confrontation before being put down.

All the red areas are traps!

They find the scrying orb Arundel sent them to retrieve on the marilith, who is also not the "cold evil" given her entire mandate was to melt the ice for her followers. Upon returning to Kuldahar they find it under attack by Neo-Orogs (orogs taking performance enhancing drugs?) who are easily slain.

Unfortunately they got to Arundel who with his dying breath, instructs the team to take the orb to tower of the Severed Hand - and to the last person nearby who can use it. Iholikan and Marchon stay behind to guard the town while the remainder head back out to the mountains.

Insight: Blast skeletons are skeletons with IEDs strapped on. They explode upon death, so kill em from a far!

Monday 13 January 2020

The Cursed: Lizard People

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Arundel seems to believe the words of the spirit boss so he sends the party to retrieve a powerful scrying orb next, but they find that someone has already stolen it. The trail leads to a cave infested with lizardmen, trolls, spiders and beetles. The beetles in particular are nasty (they fart stinking cloud a lot) and so must be dealt with at range.

The lizard people have also been abducting a huge number of slaves for their king who puts up a mighty battle - reflecting Lucia's lightning bolt back at her and beheading Tharmun before Olchyr can finish him off with magic missiles. With Lucia near death, the freed slaves offer to take her to safety. An offer Sofie eventually agrees to.

The Lizard King is unimpressed at this turn of events.

One of the slaves, an elf named Naryu Virian offers to join to get vengeance for her capture. Olchyr also finds a strange painting that featured a "trapped woman". He manages to release her with his magic and in gratitude also joins. Her name is Nessa.

Insight: While there are no recruitable NPCs here like there are in Baldur's Gate, you can supplement your party by using the multi-player option. It just involves moving save files around.

Sunday 12 January 2020

The Cursed: Spirit of Auril

[Part of the Cursed story line]

The expedition is short lived as all but Sofie, Lucia, Olchyr, Farien, Farcol and Tharmun are buried by an avalanche caused by Frost Giants high up the mountains who were playing catch with some boulders. The team survives through goblin territory and finds their way to Kuldahar - a small town nestled underneath a giant, magic tree that radiates warmth.

Their leader, arch druid Arundel, says that the magical warmth is actually fading due to some unknown but approaching evil cold and persuades the squad to go investigate the Vale of Shadows - a canyon that is home to yetis and numerous tombs, unsurprisingly filled with undead which gives Lucia a chance to show off her turn undead abilities.

Eventually they find the "spirit boss" who claims he will tell them about the evil they seek if they first deal with a priestess of Auril looking to freeze his tomb. While that doesn't sound too bad, the Aurilite actually just wants to spread winter's touch everywhere - including to Kuldahar by killing the magic tree. The team dispose of her post haste.

She's pretty... pretty crazy!

In thanks, the spirit boss tells them what he knows about the encroaching evil - best summarized as follows: "It isn't me." (because that excuse works for awful smells as well)

Insight: The majority of the foes in this campaign are undead.

Saturday 11 January 2020

The Cursed: Cold Turkey

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Olchyr and Farcol finally located the warriors Tharmun and Farien, the last surviving servants of an old enemy, at the frosty town of Easthaven. After all this time it turns out they needn't have bothered as the warriors were far from the threats they once were, being reduced to killing vermin at the local inn for lodging and food which seemed to be very scarce in these parts.

It's a cold place...

Just then a pair of women entered the establishment, step sisters Lucia and Sofie who were looking for extra hands to help locate a missing supply wagon. Farien and Tharmun immediately volunteered, and when Lucia pointed out Olchyr and Farcol they too grudgingly accepted.

Reclaiming the stolen supplies and turkey meat from some nearby orc caves turned out to be a good team building exercise, earning them recognition upon returning to town. Winter was certainly settling in early this year though, so when invited to partake in a large foraging expedition they quickly agreed.

Insight: There's some decent XP in town that involves minimal fighting. Be sure to visit everyone!

Thursday 9 January 2020

Layers of Fear

An art project gone wrong.

In this Unity made, heavily railroaded walking simulator, you must explore a painter's creepy house in which you have almost no agency what so ever. You will literally have the rooms you walk through shift simply by turning around because apparently that's scary? At least there are jump scares to try keep you interested, and to be fair the house and interior decorations are very nice.

Unfortunately, they are also very interactive - in most cases pointlessly so, showcasing how little the designer knows about being player friendly. Want to open a door? Move the mouse cursor to the handle then drag it open. No, not click - and definitely not a single key press. That would be too passe. Same for opening drawers or pulling chains.

It's an impressive looking piece of shit.

The other problem is the save checkpoints are so far apart, you'll literally be pushing forward for the sake of doing so just to reach the next one, right past jump scares and even into the "enemies" who knock you out... and... then let you continue walking? It's been a long time since I played a game that was putting me to sleep and Layers of Fear did exactly that. Despite being pretty, it's boring, poorly designed, and only has worth being thrown into a dumpster fire. I give it half a can of paint out of 5. Don't bother playing it.

Also, because this game was so terrible I've opted to just skip Observer, another game made by these same developers, outright. No point in wasting my time in environments I don't enjoy and based on some reviews, Observer plays a lot like this one.

Insight: If you do play it and go into the basement, you'll need to ouija "Exit" to go back to the real game. Apparently that's a Halloween add on or something?

Wednesday 8 January 2020

Questions fom the Brink

Brinkofgaming has a question of the week thing and since he's accumulated a few I thought I'd cherry pick the ones I wanted to answer. :)

1. What is Your Biggest Non-Gaming Interest?

Boardga... uh.. music. Yes. Music. That's non-gaming. :P

2. Who is the Most Obnoxious Character in Gaming?

Without a question - Claptrap, the robot from Borderlands.

3. How Much of a Game Do You Usually Complete?

Usually the main story at least, unless I end up hating it. Extras if I really like it.

4. What is Your Favorite Video Game Boss Fight?

Baphomet in Neverwinter Online. Straight to the point, no adds and can be finished in seconds.

5. What Game Would You Like to See Remade?


6. How Many Games Do You Typically Play Concurrently?

Three at max, any more and I start losing player skill across the board.

7. What is Your Favorite Video Game Series?

Given I have so many of them: Assassin's Creed. More good ones that bad ones so far.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Costume Quest

When your sibling gets abducted by candy hoarding monsters, it is up to you and a few random people you run into to go to the rescue! While the monsters are scary (er, no they're not) you can fight them by manifesting the "real versions" of the costume you wear!

Battle mode activated!

This kids game is actually pretty simple, cute and surprisingly entertaining. Each costume (some of which you must build) has it's own functionality, and for the most part the turn based combat is quick and interactive enough to be fun - though it just comes to the edge of being repetitive. All the while you'll be collecting candy yourself to trade in for battle stamps which open up your options in combat. 2-ply toilet paper is fantastic! :P

Only the end bosses of the main game and DLC may defeat you the first time but as long as you gear up to be more durable rather than your usual "quick win" setup, you should be fine. While some exploration is annoying, it's mostly a fun game appropriate for kids or kids at heart - I give this one 3 candies out of 5.

Insight: Use the knight's shield to block anything falling from above - like water!

Monday 6 January 2020

NWO: An Ode to the Forgotten Adventurer

There once was a man who helped those new to the shores of Neverwinter reach the city, but since the retooling of the intro quests he has been removed with Makos taking the spotlight, possibly having gone back through history to change the timeline.

While Cryptic would prefer this person to be forgotten, we will never forget Private Wilbur Winfred Wally uh... Dave. For those who don't know, Private Dave "the Dude" was an amazing ally. He heroically fell to Valindra about 5 minutes into the intro quest and would much later return as one of her officers since he managed to woo the lich despite being dead.

"It is I... Dave the Dude!"

Everyone even remembers his favourite battle cry, "For the Nashers!" which he learned as a member of the Cult of the Dragon. It is a little known fact that he was a member of all the cults, and was a master of disguise, his favourite being a kenku as he mastered their "Cacaaaww!" cry, - even before being transformed into a tiefling when he equipped an unidentified item. As a result, all of Faerun (monsters and gods included) agreed to never have unidentified items ever again.

Wanting to lift his curse our favourite guy began studying magic under an alias starting with M. Marcos or Madros or something, and became a master of all the schools of magic. At one point he even became the Queen of the undead in Ebon Downs. Many look back fondly at fighting him in the Throne of Dave dungeon, which Cryptic has also removed, yet to no avail as it keeps coming back like some olden tales. Dave "the Dude" is now everywhere and everything. He is sometimes a five headed dragon, other times a charlatan named Elminster.

Dave's worst adversaries came in the form of Great Weapon Fighters though, and on more than one occasion he called them barbarians. Now everyone else calls them barbarians too! To train up against this threat, he's practiced their two handed ways and joined the recent Hell Pit event under his super secret alias "Wilfred". See Cryptic, you can never be rid of "the dude", because we know you work for him. The proof is with the Githyanki who still yell "For the Nashers!". I'm sure they learned it from Dave.

Nuclear Throne

Welcome to bullet hell.

Are you good at keeping track of many moving pixels on the screen? If so, you might be able to take your chosen mutant all the way to the Nuclear Throne! If not, this is going to be a great experience in pain! While the graphics are as simple as the objective of killing everything on each randomly generated map, doing so is no easy task given the number of enemies that spawn, and the number of bullets they shoot.

A fish with a gun!

The replayability factor comes in the form of playable characters, most of whom are unlocked as you advance, each bringing their own special power (and sometimes weakness) to the game. As you level up, these characters get extra mutations to help improve them. Alas dying loses everything, including any progress to the throne which means you must get there without a single death. Yep, this is a rogue-like!

Unfortunately this one is not for me, but if you are a fan of said genre you may want to check it out.

Insight: "Fish can roll." LOL. It's actually pretty useful in that it's a decent speed boost to evade bullets or melee opponents.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Madam Secretary

This uplifting series follows the mom of three Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni) during her time in the White House as the Secretary of State where she tackles issues that are often mirrored from actual events. Much like "The Crown" this series relies on its great writing and comedic banter as it has very few action scenes in its 6 season run.

She's easy on the eyes too. :P

It helps that Tea Leoni is backed by a great cast of actors, my favorites of whom are Tim Daly as Henry McCord, Elizabeth's husband, and Zeljko Ivanek as Russel Jackson the White House Chief of Staff. If you like or don't mind a show about politics, then this one is definitely worth a shot.

Saturday 4 January 2020


Listening to voices in your head gets you into trouble.

You must find your brother in this cyberpunk future and brutally kill the many enemies that get in your way. While you can carry a melee weapon and a ranged weapon, both of which you'll be swapping out regularly due to durability or ammo constraints, you are always armed with a trusty, up-gradable gun - the titular "Ruiner".  

Feels a bit like Diablo. In the future?

There are a whole set of skills you can upgrade too as you gain levels - which happens quite frequently in this short game. Make no mistake though, it is quite challenging! While the story is ok, the graphics and controls are really good. The only thing I didn't like is the somewhat epilepsy inducing "hack" slide shows.

Still, this is one I can recommend and give it 3 cats out of 5.

Insight: I heavily made use of the shield and the dash abilities. Pay attention in the dash tutorial as you'll notice you can slow down time when planning where to dash to. This is handy in a few fights, mainly against the melee bosses.

Friday 3 January 2020

Designated Survivor

Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), a low ranking member of cabinet, is suddenly promoted to be the President of the United States when everyone else is killed during a State of the Union address. The first season is great, where the people have little faith in this untested President who is simultaneously trying to restaff the White House, run a country and find the bad guys. The action plot usually headed up by agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q), who is surprisingly bad at driving and at following protocols.

You can taste the patriotism!

Still, the early success in the "action plot" is what generally cools this show down through the second and third season, turning more into a standard White House drama and while it was still good to watch Kiefer have some Jack Bauer moments, I feel it did ultimately lead to its cancellation.

The first season at least is definitely worth a watch, especially if you are a Kiefer Sutherland fan. After that your mileage may vary.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Liberate Hong Kong (Demo)

It's not liberating at all.

Inspired by the Hong Kong protests this Unity made game sees you don the black outfit and yellow hardhat of a protester facing off against a police line. The graphics are quite decent, and there are some nice info graphics that come up when you get close enough to them.

Hope you like reading, as there's not much else to do.

As a game though? Let's just say I hope the "full" version is better as this demo is terrible. You have a single road arena which isn't that big, and don't have much to do other than jog, pick up tear gas canisters  and duck to avoid getting shot, all of which will get boring after 5 minutes especially as the controls are a bit clunky. Apparently protestors can't walk while crouched?

Unfortunately this is not worth playing in its current state. If the map was expanded to a few city blocks and the player was given random objectives to do it might be better, but ultimately it's a game whose only win condition can be "survive for x amount of time" as it quite rightly captures that there's nothing you can really do against the police.

Insight: You can outrun the police mob, but just barely.

Now, because I really wanted to post something positive, here's a better use of those 5 minutes instead - watching this pretty talented busker illustrate a proper method of "non-violent" protest while under pressure.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Vixen (Animated)

A quest to find her birth parents leads Mari McCabe (voiced by Megalyn Echikunwoke) to finding her purpose in life, that of a totem powered vigilante called "Vixen".

While the art and animation is ok but obviously lower quality than the regular DC animated movies, the best part about it is how it integrates into the Arrowverse with characters from the live action Arrow and Flash shows doing the voices for their respective characters and subsequently characters from this cartoon appearing in Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

Well, isn't she quite perky?

There are some strange inconsistencies though, like Oliver and Mari being able to keep up with Barry "the fastest man alive" - but for the most part it's a decent but short watch (as each episode is just around 5 minutes).

Unfortunately I can only recommend this to Arrowverse or DC fans as it is very light on content. On the up side, its easy to try watch since it's super short.  Definitely not worth a second watch though. It gets 1.5 tarantulas out of 5 from me.