Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Dark Souls (Cards): Catacombs of the Abyss

A board game session from Dark Souls: The Card Game

Descending a hidden ladder within the cathedral, the team prepares to battle more undead with our herald switching to the more magical arts of the sorcerer class (mom), while the rest remain the same: assassin (wifey), warrior (DL) and cleric (me).

The path ahead has two branches, a shorter but tougher one or an easier but longer one. We decide to take the short (level II) path first and get absolutely wrecked by a giant skeleton and an Alonne knight that guard the pass with a few invisible enemies (can't attack them until the others are dead). It's a close victory but we still have to retreat to the bonfire afterwards.

For our second excursion we took the longer (level I + level I) route, and while our sorcerer got hammered by a bad combo involving a big hollow and a crystal lizard, we manage to push through to the chamber of High Lord Wolnir: a lich so massive, his main body doesn't move (and can't be hit). Instead its his two giant hands that we need to destroy while they slam, slap and claw us around. It is an incredibly close fight with DL clinching the win just before we are defeated (I used up all my heals)!


Wolnir is better designed in the card game than in the PC game.

A quick trip back to the bonfire earns our assassin the onion knight's Catarina Armor. She's not too happy with it as it looks ridiculous but quickly changes her tune when we proceed onwards (level II) and encounter the pyromaniac Xanathous King Jeremiah! The armor saves her from a lot of damage and her special backstab which only does one damage turns out to be fantastic against weak but heavily armored enemies.

We opt to return to the bonfire to recover before fighting through the same area again (level II, but no invader this time) and make it to the final boss of this area: the Abyss Watchers - the lead of whom does big damage. His two allies though? Not so much. We quickly decide to just ignore them since it would cost more cards to attack them than to just tank their hits.

The weaker ones vanish anyway once we reach phase two where the main Abyss Watcher consumes his allies to gain strength and start doing area attacks worth seven damage! I manage to use an acid spray scroll to weaken his armor and he is promptly brought down by everyone else in that same round, with the sorcerer blasting him away as the finishing move. Area cleared!

Monday, 30 August 2021

August 2021 Review: Lockdown 2 Month 2

Sounds like a level of GTFO!

The lock down continues for me and I'm really missing our regular board game sessions. The Dark Souls: Card game ones I'm posting now are the last we managed to play prior. PC game wise Ghost Recon Wild lands has taken a back seat on the Friday night co-op list for Strange Brigade which is both funny and cool. Basically we start with GTFO then switch game when Archer needs to leave (not everyone can play into the wee hours). Meanwhile my non-Fridays are filled with a random scattershot of games, movies or TV shows which no doubt I'll be posting about shortly. :P

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days:

The Banner Saga
GTFO: R5B1 - Smother (Normal)
GTFO: R5A1 - Floodways (Extreme)

The Banner Saga was a really fun thing to play through. You do need all three games though so that you can do the full story. No surprises that the GTFO play through / walk throughs are back to round out the top three.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Dark Souls (Cards): The Pontiff and his Dog

A board game session from Dark Souls: The Card Game

On a quest to stop the coming darkness, four adventurers arrived at the border of Irithyll City: a warrior (DL), herald (mom), assassin (wifey), and cleric (me). After a quick scout of the lesser patrolled areas (level I and I) to get some practice in they returned with their hard earned loot at the bonfire. DL was not happy as his weapons didn't make it to his hand during these and he basically served as the monster's punching bag.

The same again happened passing through the next (level I) area to reach our first boss: Vordt, the armored giant dog that breathes ice (additional damage if you walk around). It is an intense battle where everyone lands hits on the beast until finally it is brought down by the cleric (a rare thing since I barely ever attack). After recuperating at the bonfire, DL earns the wolf great sword which is finally a worthy weapon in his eyes.

The sword comes in handy as the team tries to reach the cathedral (via a level II path) and encounter Knight Slayer Tsorig. Using the blade and his special ability to hit an entire row, DL cleaves through the opposition and leads us to victory - earning the Knight Slayer Ring (ignore 1 point of enemy armor).

Since Tsorig hurt us bad in the fight, its back to the bonfire to recover and then back through the same (level II) path which is now guarded by silver knights and an old knight who has incredibly high armor. Too bad for him, he is weak to magic and the cleric uses his magic shield to eradicate the trouble some foe.


We needed to beat three of his clones!

Finally the party reaches the cathedral to face Pontiff Sulyvahn, a psycho dual sword wielder who summons clones of himself during combat. Despite this HP sponge gimmick, he proves to be an easier fight than his dog Vordt and the party quite easily defeats him with the assassin landing the killing blow, completing this zone.

GTFO: R5A2 - Recollect (Overload)

We're going backwards on the floor level today to complete a mission we've done many times now, only this time we're going after the OVERLOAD bulkhead which is short, sweet and deadly. For the most part, our entire run follows the normal version with a few differences, starting with the load out.

DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines
Archer: Heavy SMG/Sniper/Auto Sentry
Me: Auto Pistol/Combat Shotgun/Auto Sentry
Jim: DMR/Combat Shotgun/Auto Sentry

Note: We didn't go for Prisoner Efficiency, which means also doing the Extreme version (turn off the lights) on top of everything. We'll save that for when we need to unlock the E floor.

Tool Expenditure was as follows:
1 mine for the regular bulkhead class II cluster alarm
3 mines and two auto sentries on the long bridge for the class III cluster alarm

After opening the cargo room (Zone 20) is when most of the changes take place. It is important that in this entire segment, one person stays in the long bridge room to prevent the cocoon chamber from respawning. Also do not pick up the Hi-Sec cargo until everything is ready! This includes looting and sharing out the supply packs in Zone 20, again mining the long bridge and leaving one auto sentry there. Facing the Overload bulkhead (which is in the same room as the bridge), turn left and find some stairs up.

We put another auto sentry here facing the bulkhead, and a few low mines. Upstairs, at the over watch position looking at the Overload bulkhead the last auto sentry faced the stairs. Most importantly, Archer was carrying some fog repellers and Jim and I each had a c-foam grenade. Once set, DL and Archer took the over watch position while Jim collects the Hi-Sec cargo and just takes it out of Zone 20, then drops it to head to over watch.

This starts the endless "final chase" waves of 2-3 strikers and also unlocks the overload door which I open. Inside is one big room with random pillars and a single hard disk inside a cabinet we need to collect. Of course, it is guarded by a mother which auto-wakes as soon as the door opens. Mothers fart dense fog which makes it difficult to track them, and more worryingly can keep birthing 10-15 baby strikers every minute or so. While our team have snuck past one previously (for Archer, this was his first), we've never killed one before. This changes now. :)

Combat plan is simple: hold the over watch position until the first wave of babies is dealt with, then while Archer throws fog repellers from upstairs Jim and I charge in with C-foam and combat shotties. Of course, I miss my grenade throw. Luckily Jim doesn't and so with the mother frozen we can destroy all the bulbs on her back really quickly with the combat shotgun pair and finally put her down.

Then the snipers simply have to hold position while the shot gunners retrieve the hard disk. Afterwards, someone has to carry the cargo while everyone else covers and as a team head to the extraction point to hold and GTFO! FIRST MOTHER KILLED! YAY!

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Dark Souls: The Card Game

(and the Seekers of Humanity expansion)

Based on the computer game series of the same name, this deck builder sees up to four players cooperatively strive to defeat two bosses (per session) before their bonfire dies out. This bonfire dwindles each time the players use it to intentionally to claim their hard won loot, or each time the team is sent there automatically if one of their number dies.

Much like the original game, visiting the bonfire restores you but also returns enemies in the areas previously cleared. This isn't too bad, since there are only around five "rooms" per map, of which you'll likely only visit three at most - encounters that also feature minions from the game, and if you have the Seekers of Humanity expansion - the much deadlier invaders.

Combat is pretty simple once you get the hang of it, and your deck holds armor and shields to defend yourself against the enemies who always move first as well as weapons to strike back - each having multiple options of various stamina (also cards in your deck). Using these will eventually send them to your discard pile, as does taking damage - and outside a few select healing abilities you won't ever get your discarded cards back until you use the bonfire. Run out of cards? You died.

It's an interesting system but one where you get hands where there is nothing you can do during your turn. Is it as hard as the computer game? Nope. It also doesn't really have much lore/story to it on its own, so having someone familiar with the franchise helps. I still quite enjoy it though and give it three souls out of five.

Play through:
Chapter 1 - The Pontiff and his Dog
Chapter 2 - Catacombs of the Abyss

That's it for now until I can get out of lock down! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Incomplete Feels: Verdun Genshin Impact

Something's missing.

Verdun

This mainly PVP WW1 trench warfare shooter has people group up into squads of four (with 32 max on each side) to compete in either pure death match or to push forward the front line in matches across various maps. Note: there are some co-op vs AI modes but those feel tacked on. While weapon load outs can be unlocked with XP points, they are mainly fixed to the company and squad member you are playing so not everyone will not have the same gear even if they are on the same side.


Two people shooting one enemy? What a waste of ammo.

While it works well enough there is one glaring problem in it for me: Ammo. You spawn with ammo, and that's all you get. There is no method to get more, nor can you collect gear from fallen allies or enemies. This means at some point, you will be running up to the enemy to punch/melee them which is really annoying and also makes the game feel incomplete. Out of ammo? Just go die and respawn to start having fun again. Stupid design. Still worth a look if you are interested, but not one for my gaming group. I give it one and a half executions for desertion out of five. Yeah, don't run off the map.

Genshin Impact

Set on a fantasy world with incredibly cute slimes, you are tasked with finding your sibling who has been abducted by a god. The gorgeous world is currently at a decent size and great to explore, especially with your glider and the combat system which focuses on how elements interact with each other is really neat. Voice and music wise, it's also very good and the story is quite easy to get engrossed in.


"Hmm, something is missing though..."

Until you are forcibly pushed out to do "fillers". Yep, since story chapters have a mandatory "Adventure Rank" level you need to reach before unlocking expect to your main quest (in the prologue it's protecting a city from a dragon) to be interrupted by the likes of chores such as food delivery, obtaining a glider license and retrieving books that need to be returned to the library. Dailies and weeklies exist too, because we can't neglect everyone's favorite (sarcasm) "kill ten rats" quests. It's always surprises me to find MMO mechanics in single player games, that's just poor design. I grind enough in MMOs thank you.

To top that off, you also are basically stuck with your initial party unless you play the gambling gachapon stuff (recruit at random) AND on top of fillers between actual story, the edges of the world reek of being unfinished BECAUSE IT IS. That's a shame because it's such a nice game but these problems just suck the fun out of it. Worse: instead of devs releasing actual content, they just keep putting out more and more gachapon characters because that's easier. 

In it's current state, I don't recommend this to anyone as it's currently just a really pretty money toilet. If you still want to try it out, I hope you enjoy flushing.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Chernobyl 1986 (movie) and Blood Red Sky

Two disasters. Only one isn't boring...

Chernobyl 1986


Don't worry, I'll always be an indecisive idiot.

When flakey fireman Alexey reunites with his old flame Olga it feels like a midday drama come to true. The actors do a good job with what they are given but the plot simply plods along until for unexplained reasons the reactor explodes , and then the story becomes ultra interesting continues to plod along slowly. It almost feels like they were intentionally adding padding in some cases.

I for one always wondered why they didn't make a movie about the Chernobyl "dive team" and now I have my answer. At least the film is upfront about being fictional with the characters but it really feels second rate compared to the HBO Chernobyl series. Watch that one instead. I give this one and a half ropes out of five and wouldn't watch it again.

Blood Red Sky

Nadja (Peri Baumeister) does a great job of being a caring mother to her sometimes capable but more often annoying, headstrong kid. She also does a great job of being a self conscious vampire seeking treatment for her condition overseas. This involves a flight that unfortunately has hijackers involved. Queue the vamp on a plane shenanigans which prove to be highly entertaining.


Ready for some in-flight entertainment.

The plot moves along at a quick pace for this action flick and there is a decent body count and gore to go with it so yes, I very much enjoyed this one and can recommend it to other action / vampire fans. I give it three autopilots out of five and would watch it again.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Pine (PC Game) vs Valheim

All about heroic labor for explorer-crafters.

Pine

With their cliffs having become too unstable, it is up to you - a human from a small tribe, to find a new home on this island which you soon learn is shared by five other races who are also running around gathering, trading and warring with each other.  You too can be friends with them, but not all at the same time since helping one usually angers a few others.


Elephants never forget!

This Unity built game has a decent story, quite pretty to look at, and is fun to play due to the interactivity with the other races. There are also some hard puzzles to be found here, and while melee combat isn't so great (it's probably the weakest part of the game) there's plenty enough to do without it. Definitely for explorer crafters (in that order, more about exploring than crafting) I give it four sparkler traps out of five.

Insight: Do the two pouch quests ASAP.

Valheim

With his enemies gaining strength Odin sends the best warriors he can find to defeat them on their world and to make it entertaining he ensures they only arrive in rags and are suffering from severe amnesia. "Welcome to Valheim idiot!" is not really an exaggeration as even basic tasks like running and jumping need to be leveled up upon arrival.

This survival game takes place on a randomly generated world where you (and up to nine co-op buddies) must craft, hunt, and ultimately slay the five big bads wandering the world. While the graphics aren't the sharpest they are quite serviceable especially when you take into account that you can cut down every large tree you see and turn mountains into deep pits if you so desire.

 
Pants get in the way of fighting!

I beat the first boss solo with minimal grind, but even that was already pushing the limits of my patience. Would I recommend this to my Friday night co-op group to potentially spend the entire evening doing mundane stuff like chopping trees, mining minerals and hunting game? Definitely not, especially since it is lacking in the story and variety department. If your crew enjoys those activities then you should try it out. If your team is more action orientated or you don't have a team, I think you should just stay away from this one.

Insight: The bow is very strong. Go for that as your first goal once you've got a workbench.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Tenet

Where moving backward and forward in time collide.


If that sounds awkward, it's because it is.

Someone from the future is sending "inverted" tech back in time and its up to reluctant protagonist (John David Washington) to investigate and put a stop to these shenanigans. Visually, this is pretty cool and the actors are all great. The sound track is excellent though in some parts drowns out some conversation. Plot wise? This one is tough.

There are many excellent elements that lead to nice scenes but being able to grasp the guns that don't fire bullets - they catch them, is very strange. It is compounded exponentially when people, vehicles and at one point almost the entire world is going backwards. I found it really messy to keep track of, but was very entertained nonetheless. It's a nice movie, but try not to  get a headache watching it. I give it two and a half backward driven cars out of five. Also, I think I would like to watch it again now that I know what's going on.

Sunday, 22 August 2021

Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead

Where infinite time and infinite resources still make for difficult puzzles.

This falls definitely into the puzzle game category as the main gameplay is written in the title: constructing bridges. It plays much like "The Incredible Machine" where everything is paused while you build things and give your survivors simple commands (go right, climb up, etc) - then you hit play, watch the result, and usually head back to the build phase to improve your design until you win the challenge.


It's all about the triangles Daryl!

It is not easy. Even the simple "build a bridge from point A to point B" requires knowing how to construct supports to be able to take the weight of the bridge and whatever is traveling over it, be it survivors, vehicles or zombie hordes - complicated by the decision of what material to build your bridge with. The Walking Dead trappings are a nice touch with characters from the series showing up, each with some special ability but if your building skills aren't up to scratch, those won't save you.

Recommended to those who like puzzle and/or bridge building games I give it two cables out of five. If like me, you are a Walking Dead fan but are no good at puzzles, then skip this one.

Insight: Read the help section right away.

The Dark Crystal (1982)

World building puppetry.

A thousand years ago, the evil Skeksis conquered the world. Now, it is up to a boy from the Gelfling dying race to fulfill the prophecy to end their reign. Despite having a few plot holes, a narrator, and being able to hear the main character's thoughts, this is an absolute joy to watch. Yes the puppets and sets are cool, but the world building is fantastic.


The production team are masters of their craft.

There are parts where the hero is simply walking through the forest and the variety of flora and fauna Jim Henson's crew thought of are astounding to behold. I can easily recommend this fantasy adventure for everyone and would definitely watch it again. Four and a half fizzgigs out of five. If you want more, there is also the Age of Resistance which I've already reviewed previously.

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Banner Saga: After the End

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]


Looks like victory to me!

Emerging from the basement, the few survivors of Arberrang are greeted by the warm sunlight of a once again moving sun. After taking in the view, Rook nods to his compatriots to enact "the plan". Aleo stabs Bastion in the back, but the dagger is too weak to kill the dredge who smashes the bard into paste as retaliation. Rook and Petrus take it down while Ludin and Yrsa murder the remaining dredge scum in Rook's revenge plan.

At the same time, Hakon tries a similar surprise attack on Canary, but misses wide and gets a poisoned javelin in the back instead with Scathach and Ro'Ech double mule kicking him on either side of his head to make it explode in a shower of blood. Fasolt manages to club Ro'Ech to death and catch Canary in his big hands - promptly throwing her off the cliff face onto the jagged rocks below to see if she can fly. Scathach runs him through before old Ubin catches the last horse born unaware with a mighty axe swing, beheading him. Then comes the grisly task of turning them into supplies.

The remaining survivors: Ludin, Rook, Ubin, Yrsa, Zefr and Petrus are left to decide if they will try rebuild Arberrang or begin marching elsewhere to see if anyone else survived the end of the world.

Insight: Welp, that was my "try be an idiot and get everyone killed" run through of Banner Saga though in part three I did try to make more sensible decisions when it came to Arberrang's defence and doom timer. I really liked that bit though, and wish they had more of it early on.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Loki (Season 1)

Less mischievous and more timey wimey.

In these six episodes Loki (Tom Hiddleston) learns that escaping your fate is difficult when the Time Bureau keeps trying to correct it. While it has all the trappings of the Marvel Universe, especially in the budget department, the plot somehow entirely relies on very long strings of conversation where nothing happens. Their version of "show, don't tell" almost equates to a presenter with a slide projector. Yep, and this happens over and over. Of the regular cast only Owen Wilson seems to have the gift of making his scenes pop.


Became my favorite Loki in just 15 minutes.

Alas, this makes for an absolutely dull viewing experience putting this series well behind The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Wandavision. While there is one superb episode (#5) which might be my favorite across all those shows it simply is not enough to save it. All I can do is hope Season 2 is much better. Recommended only for Marvel or Tom Hiddleston fans, I give it two (and a half for episode five) "sharks" out of five.

Banner Saga: Saving the World

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Arberrang is on borrowed time as the darkness engulfs it. Fortunately Zefr and the plentiful court menders can put up a huge light shield to protect the town but they must be defended from direct assaults by the warped. Prince Ludin and his archer guard Yrsa volunteer to take charge of that while supported by Scathach, Ubin and Bastion to defeat waves of the scum. Despite doing really well they eventually have to fall back further and further to the inner keep as more and more menders are lost. Apparently not happy with the current death count, Canary also kills fellow horseborn Derdriu for centaur-girl reasons.

 
So it's our last-last stand then?

Eventually it is only the great hall still shielded as the warped continue their attacks, which the survivors - even the terrible fighters like Aleo, defend as long as they can - losing Tryggvi. After the third day, they need to enact Yrsa's plan of burning the roof and hiding in the fortified basement in hopes that someone will save them. Luckily they did manage to buy enough time for Iver and the Ravens to make it to the White Tower where Bolverk somehow awaits, but is absolutely steam rolled by Iver this time around as the one armed varl downs the ex-Raven leader mid-sentence.

The wounded giant serpent reappears at this point, offering Eyvind a deal: instead of dooming Juno to an eternity of imprisonment, he can kill her before going back into the new sun. It's price is to devour only half the world. Since Eyvind is seriously considering this, Iver doesn't take the chance and chops down the mender from the back. The witch Alfrun takes his place for the original plan which recreates the black sun, locking Juno, the serpent and the darkness away.

Unfortunately Alfrun is not as strong as Eyvind and is destroyed in the process - which also obliterates the White Tower and everyone nearby. Though they saved the world, she, Iver, Bersi, Oli, Sparr, Eirik and Valgard are disintegrated!

Insight: I managed to buy Arberrang 21 days and 21 hrs on the "doom clock" and only had 12-13 hours to spare at the end.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Jupiter's Legacy

Too many flash backs.

When a violent supervillain somehow escapes the super max and kills a few heroes it is up to the world's strongest champion, the Utopian (Josh Duhamel), and his team "the Union" to stop him. That sounds like a decent superhero show doesn't it? Especially since it's got a pretty decent budget behind it and some very good effects.


Needed a lot more of this.

Alas, that plot line takes a hard back seat for most of this one season show - favoring instead on focusing on the Utopian's past, when he wasn't yet a super and it is absolutely annoying. That's the big problem with this one. If it just stuck to the current story, even with the family drama, and only have 10% flash back (or just one condensed flash back episode) it would be fine. Oh well, I guess that's why it got cancelled. Do better next time writers. Since nothing is resolved in the one season, I recommend simply skipping this show entirely.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Banner Saga: The Light in the Dark

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Somewhere inside the darkness, Juno, Eyvind and Iver march back to Ridgehorn with remaining ravens Folka, Oli, Sparr, Dytch and Bersi using the magical light of the menders to protect them from being warped. They are not the only survivors as at the Strand they rescue remaining survivors Eirik, Valgard and the witch Alfrun (who also can cast light) from a warped attack. With nothing better to do the trio join the crew on their quest to save the world.

Not far behind is the enraged Bolverk, now possessed by Bellower, because absolutely zero people died in that tower collapse. Thanks to constant attacks from the warped, he manages to catch up to them at Ridgehorn itself and when Folka tries to get him to see reason, he chops her to pieces. Eyvind blasts Bolverk away with lightning and the remaining squad quickly enter the secret gate into inner earth: home of the dredge.


By gate I mean a giant hole that they jump down.

It is here Juno explains what's going on. After she was executed for mender crimes, Eyvind revived her with the power of the inner earth's black sun which cracked it open - releasing the great serpent and the expanding darkness. They just need to reach the altar at the White Tower where Eyvind will return the energy, trapping Juno, the darkness and the serpent in a new black sun for all eternity.

Alfrun whispers to Iver that she doesn't trust them to do what they say but without a better plan, they simply have to go along with it - and quickly too, if they want any of their friends at Arberrang to survive. Thus begins their charge through the warped darkness, and the start of the countdown timer till the end of the world.

Insight: I found Dytch's hide ability to often be a waste of time. Just hack away at enemy armor already so that his allies can kill them faster. The only exception is if its his starting move and/or if you are using him as an invisible block by staying hidden and standing in a position that enemies need to walk through. They can't walk through or attack him while hidden... awesome for prolonging fights. Lol.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Resident Evil, 0 and Infinite Darkness

Two games, one TV series.

Resident Evil 0

As Bravo Team's Rebecca Chambers, your job is to investigate a series of cannibalistic murders with your useless team who pretty much are eliminated by horrible creatures right near the start. Yes, there are zombies but somehow whatever reanimates them also can reanimate dogs and force other creatures to become way bigger than normal. Luckily, you do get a partner to help you because there are multiple puzzles that need two people but more importantly because you get six more inventory slots.

While the monsters are jump-scare level scary and the puzzles are fricking obscure at times, your main enemy will be your inventory space and the fixed camera angles. At least you can drop items but each room has an "item limit" which is laughable. Fortunately the map is very well designed once you get used to it, and shortcuts open back up to the starting areas meaning you'll always be able to go back. Worth a play if you like the series, but prepare to scratch your head a fair bit, especially at the start. I give it two herbs out of five.

Resident Evil


Since Bravo team went dark (due to the events of Resident Evil 0), Alpha team is sent in to find them and immediately gets attacked by zombie dogs who chase the survivors into a mansion filled with more locked doors, puzzles, and monsters. Playing as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield you need to do a full sweep of the place, and your old enemies of fixed camera angles and lack of inventory space will be back. This time, you can't just drop things anywhere either. You need to put them in a chest at the safe rooms.

 
Arachnophobia triggered!

While the contents of the chests are global (any chest, same contents) this still leads to a lot of back tracking, and this time that is more dangerous as the zombies don't just randomly come back - they WILL get back up if you don't randomly head shot them, or set them alight with limited fuel. Worse, if you down them only, there's a chance they come back as "crimsons" which can sprint. This really encourages just "dodging" them in the first place and seems like pretty good game design to me. Two and a half surprise spiders out of five.

Infinite Darkness


This four episode series has Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield investigating zombie outbreaks in some unexcpected locations (as usual). While the CGI is decent enough the script is a bit weak, or at best rushed but at least there are many decent action segments. Not really missing out if you skip this one, but fans of the franchise might still enjoy it. I only give it one and a half rats out of five and wouldn't watch it again. The plot armor on the heroes is just too thick at times.

Banner Saga: A Bed of Enemies

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Much like the old tower, the relationship between the refugees and Ludin's father, King Meinolf, is also collapsing as they found their new leader in governor Rugga - who manages to stab the old king with a poisoned dagger just before getting his allies to attack the walls, desperate to get away from the growing darkness. So many are slain in the conflict that with the King's dying breath, he allows everyone inside the walls. Rook makes sure Rugga isn't one of them, which gains the approval of royal guard Petrus. Nid has the opposite reaction, and takes the first boat out of there to continue fleeing with a number of other cowards. As for Ludin - he's happy to pass all the responsibility to Rook.


One of the best parts of the game.

After a few days of quelling riots, Fasolt (the unkillable) arrives with the dredge army hot on his heels, rallied around a new leader called Ruin who uses a massive black anchor grappling hook to tear at the outer walls of Arberrang. Fasolt and Hakon aren't keen on Oddlief's cowardly plan to weaken Ruin with explosives so that's exactly what Rook opts to do and it works. They then drive a wedge right through the attacking dredge and its old Ubin who finally brings Ruin down, causing the remaining dredge back off and basically weep for they too fear the oncoming darkness.

"Let them rot," Rook decides, but is quickly countered by the arrival of Zefr who somehow survived the tower collapse. The old mender explains that the darkness will warp them into fiercer foes if left out there, so Rook and Oddlief make the bold move of opening the gates and inviting them in - and seeing Oddlief carrying a baby dredge she had kidnapped from the battlefield just earlier encourages them to do so peacefully.

Rugga's loyalists are having none of it though, and are quick to spear Oddlief to death upon returning into the city - causing further rioting and panic. Eventually with the help of a massive dredge guard called Bastion, Rook and Petrus round up all these rebels and burn the lot of them alive as a lesson for the others. That's how good rulers do it.

Insight: At the start of Banner Saga 3, everyone's gained level so make sure to spend all those points when you can! Petrus is especially handy since once per combat he can summon another guardsman into battle! On the Raven's side, you might also get Eirik who can do similar by summoning a bear!

Saturday, 14 August 2021

Rambo: Last Blood

He doesn't actually drink coffee. Or eat.

Retired soldier John Rambo
(Sylvester Stallone) now mostly spends his days training horses, enabling his PTSD, and blaming himself for people he can't save. Thanks to the actions of a stupid teenager, he finds a new foe in a medium sized group of Mexican thugs whom he is quite happy to do very bad things to.


Still many HPs to go.

While the predictable plot moves at a good pace, almost all the action is loaded onto the tail end of this film and it is well worth the wait as people die in very horrible and entertaining ways. The rest of the movie? Eh, passable enough - but I'd probably just watch the last bit again. Still an ok film for action fans or Rambo fans.  I give it two and a half cartridge traps out of five.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Banner Saga: Flight of the Ravens

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Elsewhere, Bolverk and his crew of Ravens which include Folka the shield maiden, Sparr the old skald, Oli the axe thrower, Dytch the rogue and fellow varl Bersi who once served as Prince Ludin's bodyguard are on a secret job for Juno to dump a large box into the sea. Their road takes them through murdering refugees while out pacing dredge and eventually to the mining town of Bindal which is run by captain Gudmundr and menders Nikels and Zefr, where a large force of dredge finally catch up to them.

When Bolverk explains he's doing a job for Juno, Nikels and Zefr don't believe him as the mender council executed her months ago. Prying the box open they discover it contains the body of Bellower, and suddenly Zefr understands why the dredge have been pursuing them. To escape the dredge army at the wall everyone evacuates into the deep mine with Gudmundr sacrificing himself to seal the passage behind them to buy some time.

Not that it matters as there are dredge in here too, including the necromancer Eyeless who keeps reviving the fallen. Zefr explodes Nikels to escape from that, only for the team to run into warped dredge who absolutely wreck the party at every turn. When the survivors make it to the surface, they barely have time to look at the giant black dome in the distance as Bolverk calls for a death march to get past the swarming dredge and across the small human bridge of Old Ford which is guarded by Fasolt - who somehow survived the fall of Einartoft!?


So many spectators. They'd easily win if they all decided to charge.

Eyeless catches up to the Ravens here, and after a short battle on the bridge is brought down by Oli's axes, but not slain. With both sides too injured in the clash, a stalemate is formed giving Bolverk and Zefr the time to push on with Bellower's corpse while everyone else remains to hold the bridge. By chance, they run into Juno, Eyvind and Iver at an old tower and immediately attack, with Bolverk beating Iver down before Eyvind drops the entire structure on top of them all.

Insight: For a mender, Zefr's magic ability sucks as enemies can also benefit from walking over the tiles her boons randomly appear on. Best used as for her armor repair skills instead. Also somewhat worthless is Bolverk himself. Sure he has good multi-attacks but until he levels up and gets his "bear rage" on (which lets him counter) he's an easy target to beat down.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

State of Play

Little violence but thrilling nonetheless.


I heart you too, bro.

When Congressman Steve (Ben Affleck) is put on the hot seat, its up to grizzled reporter Cal (Russell Crowe) to help him clear his name and his reputation. There's very little in the way of violence in this flick, but the tight script and good cast do make it an interesting watch. As is the case with most thrillers, I can't really say more without giving the story away so all I can say is if you want something that will keep your attention or are a fan or Mr. Crowe of Mr. Affleck then this is one to watch. Three misdirections out of five, and yes - I'd probably watch it one more time.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Banner Saga: Split the Party

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Trapped between the dredge and a waterfall, Rook, Ludin, Hakon and Bolverk hold off the dredge while Eyvind and Juno construct a floating land bridge for them to flee across. While it works, the chasm is huge and the menders can only maintain part of the bridge at a time resulting in many - mainly the slow, injured, old or unlucky - falling to their deaths (no named characters though).

As a result, when they do get to solid ground once more - Bolverk decides to go his own way with his Ravens and much of the supplies. Mogun tries to stop him but is beheaded for his trouble and seeing this, his twin Hogun retires from axe swinging and returns to being mundane clansman. Rook lets them go and pushes on to Arberrang via the plains where they encounter a trio of injured horseborn (centaurs): Scathach, Ro'Ech and Derdriu. The menders heal them and the trio join Rook's "herd". Hakon doesn't like them which means they must be ok.


"Peekaboo!"

Out of nowhere a massive serpent suddenly appears and swallows Juno but Eyvind tears open its side with lightning to get her out, causing the snake to retreat. Since this monster yet poses a threat to the caravan, Juno, Eyvind and Iver depart to lure it away while urging Rook to make haste to the capital of Arberrang.

Before he can do so, governor Rugga attempts a coup against Rook but fails and gets all his allies killed while he himself runs off to safety. This fight gets the attention of another horseborn herd but luckily they only need to beat down a few of them before their leader, Canary, decides she wants to be part of Rook's herd too. There's not much he can do about it so they just push on until finally they reach the capital which already has scores of refugees outside the walls. Lucky for them, the returning Prince Ludin is the golden ticket which grants them all passage inside the city. Much like the people they lead, Rook and Oddlief celebrate this momentous occasion.

Insight: Horseborn are very fun - they move fast and can move again after a melee attack. Derdriu and Canary also have poisonous javelins which are handy against heavily armored foes. Scathach (the blue painted one) is the best of them mobility wise. As enemies, using spear wielders like Ludin and Trygvvi to bleed them is good since they can't help running around all over the place.

Army of the Dead don't Die

Two zombie movies, one is garbage.

Army of the Dead

When an accident sees Las Vegas becomes ground zero for a zombie contagion, the military somehow manage to seal it off and plan to nuke it "to make sure". Prior to that bomb going off, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) is tasked with assembling a crew to rob the vault beneath one of the casinos because human greed always surpasses common sense.


And one character was just added digitally post production.

This results in some pretty cool action scenes with a lot of gore and bullets, as well as the mandatory "characters making stupid decisions" trope. Still, it's better than I thought it would be and actually would recommend it to zombie / action fans. Just turn off your brain for the best enjoyment. :P I give it three cigars smoked next to fuel lines out of five.

The Dead Don't Die


Mostly focusing on a pair of cops (Adam Driver and Bill Murray) driving around a zombie apocalypse, this horror comedy falls very short on both fronts with nothing very scary and nothing very funny - and while it's fine that the little plot explains nothing the pacing is horrible. Absolutely horrible.

You can easily turn this on, go do something else for thirty minutes and come back and you still wouldn't have missed anything! An abundance of traversal scenes and worse, repeated scenes just plague this film worse than the zombies. Not recommended as there are better things you can do with your life. Want zombies? Watch Army of the Dead instead. You want something funny? Watch Danger 5 instead. There at least you'll enjoy it immediately or hate it from the get go but at least something is happening!

Sunday, 8 August 2021

GTFO: R5B1 - Smother (Normal)

Hopefully you've gotten used to scout bashing because you will need those skills here. This time we're looking for an HSU (vertical body bag), which is the hardest part outside the scouts since it's under time pressure. Our load outs this round were:

Archer: Heavy SMG/Sniper/Auto Sentry
Jim: DMR/Shotgun/Auto Sentry
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines
Me: Pistol/Hel Gun/Auto Sentry

From the drop you'll encounter a huge room that always has sleepers. Clear them out and get used to the room. There's a terminal in the Northwest on the top most gantry, and you'll want to find where the color key is (LIST KEY then QUERY) and what zone your HSU is in.

You'll need the key first, and that will either be to the North or West non-alarm security doors. The only thing of note here is that sometimes there are zero scouts, sometimes there are two. Handle them as you see fit - stealth always preferred. Afterwards, back to the huge room and unlock the East door with the key you found. Opening it will trigger a class IV alarm (big circle, little circles, big circle) so prep defenses against the zone you opened. If you opened both, expect enemies from both.

Past the East door there will be a single scout either in this room or the next, and you need to traverse both rooms to get to the next security door which is again non-alarmed. Beyond this is a large, tunnel type chamber which is home to spikey charger sleepers and two scouts (always). Clear it quietly if you can, then you have a choice of error alarm doors - either will start summoning fast waves of giant charger pairs. Pick the one that holds your HSU and setup a giant height mine and maybe a volunteer to handle the first wave while everyone else rushes in to find the terminal to PING the HSU.

This is the most annoying part of the level if you don't know the layout so to give you a leg up if you open zone 98 - run to the left staying on the ground level for a four or five seconds. Once you reach the lit area you should see the terminal against the left wall just after a small regular door. If you open zone 96 it's easier - run to the top of the staircase, open the big regular door then follow the right wall - the terminal is very close to the door you just opened.

Once you find the correct HSU (of course there are dozens of them so good luck) you will initiate a team scan. Hold position and once the scan completes the waves stop spawning. You still need to deal with any left overs though. Rejoice, for now you can head back to the extraction spot but first setup defenses again as the slow exfiltration scan triggers giant chargers again. If you heavily defend the right hallway (looking out at the first huge room) then the enemies shouldn't even get close to you as you GTFO!

Extra note: Hel weapons that pierce through enemies work very well against chargers, because unlike normal sleepers who run at you then sort of side step dance the spikey boys often rush you in columns.

Banner Saga: The Fleet of Boersgard

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Having waited for weeks to no avail, Rook finally orders the party to move on - much to Eyvind's disapproval. They eventually reach Boersgard city which is defended by Bolverk the broken-horn varl along with his "Raven" mercenaries who let them in after seeing what Rook's team can do to the dredge (besides, there's only twenty or so of them). Agreeing to flee onward to Arberrang, the Boersgard governor Rugga begins dismantling his own people's homes to build a fleet of ships to escape down river while the fighters are tasked with defending against the dredge, and rioting civilians.

Old Ubin shows up a few days later bringing news about the fall of Einartoft to an immortal giant dredge called Bellower, but he also brings the answer to that problem in the form of Eyvind's master and love interest, Juno - who has delayed from meeting him earlier as she was preparing a magic arrow to take down this cretin. Wanting to play hero, Alette volunteers to take this shot as "she is much better than her father".

Sure enough, Bellower and his dredge army follows close behind - giving no time for the "escape ship" plan to work. While the fighters hold back his army Alette takes the shot and misses, leading to Bellower crushing her to death and chopping off an arm from Iver while Rook retrieves the arrow and tags the monstrous dredge in the back. This weakens him enough for the twins, Hogun and Mogun, to chop him down. Seeing their leader fall, the remaining dredge flee buying enough time to turn the housing of Boersgard into the Boersgard fleet and everyone sets sail down the river.


That's taking twins a bit extreme.

During the voyage Eyvind uses his magic to save Iver's life, while Rook meets other thankful survivors like Aleo the poet and Tryggvi the crazy spear man. For days things seem to go their way, until the river ends in a waterfall and they are forced to dock right into another army of dredge!

Insight: The stupid magic arrow is a new ability you need to select. Would have been handy if there was a tool tip or something to clue me into that.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Major Grom: Plague Doctor

"No, wait... I'm cooler than Batman."

In this Russian action comedy, super cop Igor Grom (Tikhon Zhiznevsky) goes on a case to hunt down a supervillain. While the plot is pretty straight forward there are a few laughs, a number of good fight scenes and some excellent visual effects on the way making this a very entertaining movie for me.


It is a pretty cool suit.

It certainly doesn't take itself seriously as long as you don't expect too much from it, you will enjoy it too. My only negative is the run time is slightly long, but I only noticed that after I finished it! I give this three pyromaniacs out of five, and would certainly watch it again!

Thursday, 5 August 2021

Banner Saga: A Measure of Quality

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

The dredge threat extends to the other side of the continent, where Rook, a hunter, and his daughter Alette manage to raise an early alarm to get their small village of Skogr quickly evacuated away from the incoming horde. The caravan includes their old varl friend Iver, a young warrior named Egil, twin axemen Hogun and Mogun, Oddlief the Skogr chieftain's widow (he didn't make it) and Nid, Oddlief's apprentice archer.


Alette, you are a terrible hunter.

Like many other refugees they are denied shelter in the walled city of Frostvellr and so march on, picking up Iver's varl buddy Krumr and the rival warriors Onef and Ekkill as they pass. Since Ekkill looks like a psycho, Rook decides to keep him tied up just in case. Unwilling to get caught out in the open by the dredge forces, Krumr suggests going to the next safest place - the varl city of Einartoft which is protected by a massively long stone bridge to the East where they are allowed entry only thanks to Iver's reputation.

Here they meet the varl King Jorundr as well as the survivors from Hakon and Fasolt's caravans, including Eyvind - the mender Hakon rescued previously. To protect the city, Eyvind wants to destroy the bridge but King Jorundr has none of it - instead calling for a last stand from most of his people - including Fasolt, Ubin and Krumr. Apart from the humans, only varl that are injured, cowardly, and useless like Hakon are ordered to continue on with Rook to try reach Prince Ludin's home of Arberrang.

Upon reaching the lakeside town of Sigrholm, Eyvind asks that the team wait for the arrival of his master and so Rook obliges. As the town is full of thieves, supplies and people go missing daily until there are no more stores on the wagons and no more extra people outside the "hero roster". Onef decides to try take over at this point, killing Egil before being put down by Alette. Ekkill is pleased. Too pleased in fact, so Rook banishes him from the party. Rook knows it's not the number of people that matters. It's the quality.

Insight: Rook's mark prey ability is very handy if you position your allies well, but it also means he's probably moving last. Also it gets less good as your survivors level up.

The Purge (TV series)

Exploring further depravity.

Based off the movies, this two season series tells very different tales per season. So different that the entire cast roster changes between them! While season one is set almost entirely on purge night, it follows four different story threads that only really tie together towards the very end of it. When it does happen it's very cool, but until that point you are following some people that honestly you simply hope will just die every episode.


One of the funniest purgers.

Season two is much better, where again there are separate story threads but they quickly interact with each other early in the season. Surprisingly, this season starts at the end of a purge night then for the most part covers what happens in the year leading up to the next purge - covered by the final episodes. Less stupid people this time around gets it an extra thumbs up.

If you like action dramas then this might be for you (this series is even further from "horror" than the movies). If you really got into the purge movies, then this series is definitely for you. Two and a half god masks out of five.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Banner Saga: The Worst General

[Part of my Banner Saga play through]

Just because the sun has stopped in the sky doesn't mean people stop paying their taxes. It is for this reason the pair of varl (horned giants), old Ubin and Gunnulf, have come to Strand - and just in time to save the chieftain from "another" assassination attempt since his current bodyguards, Eirik and Valgard the turtle, are somewhat useless.

By chance, the allied fleet led by the varl Prince Vognir and the human Prince Ludin docks in town and since old Ubin is friends with Vognir's crew of Hakon and Mogr, he and Gunnulf soon join their caravan headed to the varl capital. Barely a day out of Strand and Ludin already needs saving from a random dredge (under earth dweller) stealing cattle. Since Hakon and Mogr are busy saving him, it is Prince Vognir who is killed by another dredge scout.

Hakon slaps Prince Ludin into unconsciousness and orders another varl, Fasolt, to take Ludin and his retinue to safety while keeping the majority of the varl army with himself to investigate the increasing numbers of dredge. While the early conflicts are easily won, once dredge numbers begin equaling that of the varl they start losing battle after battle thanks to Hakon's inept tactics, with Gunnulf among the fallen.


Should be an easy win... or not!

Seeking aid from the menders (spell casters) at Ridgehorn, they find the place already destroyed by the dredge but manage to save an unconscious mender they find in the tower. Pinned by dredge forces at this location, Mogr sacrifices himself by creating a diversion to let the rest of Hakon's party escape.

Insight: Mogr is a beast! Definitely the best of the starting varl.

The Banner Saga

While I've already reviewed the first two games, I only recently got the third (which is more of the same) - so I figured why not play it all again and do a story it? Spoilers ahead if you've not played them yet, otherwise sit back and enjoy my clunky play through of the entire saga! As always, I'm taking some creative license so your play through might not match mine, even if you pick the same choices. :)

Chapter 1 - The Worst General
Chapter 2 - A Measure of Quality
Chapter 3 - The Fleet of Boersgard
Chapter 4 - Split the Party
Chapter 5 - Flight of the Ravens
Chapter 6 - A Bed of Enemies
Chapter 7 - The Light in the Dark
Chapter 8 - Saving the World
Chapter 9 - After the End

This story has concluded! Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

The Purge (five movies)

Release the beast!

In the America of this universe, one night every year is a twelve hour window where any and all crime, including murder, is legal. This night is called "The Purge".

The Purge (2013)

James (Ethan Hawke) is a security specialist who sells high quality home barricades, specifically designed for Purge night. Alas for him, his kids are absolute morons when it comes to security which makes for a somewhat exciting evening with one good action sequence towards the end. Setting up the foundations of what "the purge" is, makes for an interesting story but I have to wonder just how big their house is that they can lose people in it. Also, way too many walking in the dark scenes with nothing happening. I'd still watch it again though. Two and a half robot dolls out of five.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

Instead of being stuck in a house the entire movie, this one mainly follows Leo (Frank Grillo) as a man on a mission during purge night but can't help himself in getting the side quests of helping people he runs into. A much bloodier and way more fun film that the first that shows just how depraved some of these participants are, how desperate others are to sell their lives to the purgers, and how the government likes to participate too. Definitely a step up from the first movie, I score it three and a half out of five. Definitely would watch this one again.


The best purger.

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

Leo (Frank Grillo) is back as the bodyguard to a senator who is trying to abolish the purge, and given her rising popularity she soon becomes the target of mercenaries during purge night. Somehow, they manage to make purgers even more demented this time around and having shop keepers who happen to be ace shots also seems plot devicey but hey - maybe they really just practice all day when not tending the store? Still a decent flick and I'd probably watch it again. Three Christmas lit cars out of five.

The First Purge (2018)


Exploring the first "experiment" that would later turn into the Purge, this prequel's protagonist is Dmitri (Y'lan Noel) - the top drug lord on Staten Island, which is the isolated area for this test run. People are actually paid to stay there, or more to participate for the duration and surprisingly there are very few murder-psychos running around. An ok movie, it suffers from a long lead up before the purge night begins, and again more idleness while people commit only minor offenses. Unlikely I'd watch this one again, I give it two sewer pervs out of five.

The Forever Purge (2021)

Mexican immigrants (played by Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta) are the main protagonists of this movie (so expect a fair bit of Spanish), as crazed Americans extend the purge beyond the time limit to cleanse the country of people who don't belong. Surprisingly, while there is a lot of gunfire in this movie, it seems much more tame this time around (except for one part with an obvious trap). That doesn't mean its not entertaining, but it does make the purge seem less dangerous than it should be. I give it two and a half archers out of five.

Monday, 2 August 2021

GTFO: R5A1 - Floodways (Extreme)

With our previous extreme mode win, we opted to try this one next with exactly the same load out from the last run as we didn't know what we'd be up against.

Jim: DMR/Shotgun/Sniper Sentry
Archer: Heavy SMG/Sniper/Auto Sentry
Me: SMG/Shotgun/Cfoam
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines

First off, you still need to do the regular objective so head East and "OVERRIDE_LOCKDOWN" at the mission terminal. On your way there you should encounter the bulkhead key so be sure to pick it up! As you return West towards the extraction point you will encounter the bulkhead control (query/ping it if you can't find it, its in a small room with two small balconies) and elect to unlock the extreme bulkhead nearby, which thankfully is just a normal open with no alarm. Expect single scouts in every zone here on in.

The extreme task is to retrieve six plant samples (that look like ammo pack sized cylindrical containers) so find a terminal and work out which zones you want to open. There will be three security doors to pick from which need power, and you will only have one cell at the start (behind each door is another) so make sure to power the right generator for the right door. We only needed to open two to get our plant quota but I'm sure all three doors are Class III S alarms = 3 big circles that need the full team standing on it for the % to increase. This is the main challenge and one we almost failed in but Jim saved the day!

Worth noting the spawn seems to get super heavy in those zones, but all you need is a door and a mine to clear most of them out (mine door, shoot into room and kill something, close door immediately after gunshot). Be careful of the awful ceiling sac respawns on your way out and then continue to the extract point. Hopefully you still have enough c-foam for the final scan! Victory here means we've now unlocked the C level, an even more horrific area to GTFO!

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Pillars of the Earth (PC Game)

"The most expensive part of building is the mistakes."

Based on the book of the same name (which also spawned a very cool mini-series) this point and click adventure follows the stories of multiple characters across many years during the times of the destruction and reconstruction of the Kingsbridge Cathedral. I found the art style and voice acting to be very good which only helped the already great plot. There are a number of QTE's that might turn off some people but for the most part they are easy too.


Sir Catface is a funny guy.

My main gripe is the "find the spot" aspect of the game. Especially in particular areas where you can see said spots, but cannot interact with them until you've unlocked the correct dialogue line which "officially" tells you to look for them, despite many other dialogue lines already hinting to keep an eye out for them. That aside, I found this to be a really fun game and do recommend it to those who enjoy point and click adventures. I give it three master builders out of five.

Insight: Double clicking lets you move faster.