Monday 31 January 2022

January 2022: You will be Okay

Now that I'm done with Deadfire I've been finishing off Neverwinter Online's Dragonbone Vale campaign and hammering away at Pathfinder: Kingmaker which is a really long game . Certainly feels like it anyway. I'm still going through the steam freebies and have a few more suggestions to post but that feels like it's running out of worthwhile content too. I mean I'm only searching for free, Non VR, English single player games that interest me.

I do question the stupid discovery queue though. Despite explicitly selecting to never see "coming soon" titles, they are still being displayed - possibly because I've just "killed" so many games already (put on the ignore/never show me again list - around 9500+ titles). The result of showing me something not available or "coming soon" is... I kill/ignore that title too - which means when it does become available I won't see it anymore. Good way to shoot yourself in the foot there Steam/developers. Oh well.

I'll finish up this post with some musics for you all, starting with Peter Hollens doing a Disney and Anime medley, Phoebe Bridger's version of "Friday, I'm in Love" and "You will be Okay" from Helluva Boss which is a really great song.

Most Viewed Posts in the last 30 days:
GTFO: R6C2 - Blind (Main)
Interactive Stories
GTFO: R6B1 - Hexahedrons (Main)

Proving once again that maps and walkthroughs seem to be the best types of posts. :P

Friday 28 January 2022

Neverwinter Online: Dragonbone Vale

Where Cryptic removes something else!

For those who have been doing the Echoes of Prophecy temporary "campaign" this is the culmination of your efforts! For those that didn't, well - Elminster needs you for a war against the Cult of the Dragon. Or is it just another battlefield in an ongoing conflict? Whatever. The Thayans and silly cultists are trying to raise dracoliches in what feels to be a shinier replacement for Dread Ring, except this time you can cosplay as Spiderman while treasure hunting! Don't worry though, the Dread Ring is still there (for now).

Magic grappling hooks for everyone!

What has been removed was the old enchantment system which went from rank 1 to 15 and needed absurd amounts of work / pay to get to the higher ranks. For those who don't play the game, each character is decked out with around 30 of these. Upon this modules release, congratulations! All those are now garbage! Well at least the ones from rank 1 - 9 which was the bulk of mine. If you have rank 10s and up you can trade them all in for points to get one or two of the NEW enchantments (at rank 1). Joy!?

I can just imagine the guys at Cryptic going "please work hard on ranking these ones up too (because its way more work / pay), we promise not to remove them in the future...", hiding the fingers crossed behind their backs. It boggles the mind why anyone gives these people money with all the shit they pull / remove but hey, as a free to player - I can just enjoy the ride!

Thursday 27 January 2022

Dexter and Dexter: New Blood

Everyone's favorite serial killer.

Mild mannered Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is an excellent blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Metro but also moonlights as a serial killer who takes out criminals that managed to evade the justice system, then chops them up and makes their bodies "vanish". Ok I lied. He is actually a serial killer that moonlights as law enforcement and somehow manages to stay under everyone's radar most of the time through 8 seasons, +1 with Dexter: New Blood which takes place after the first series. He is always fun to watch and each season brings a new nemesis.

Sometimes it gets messy.

Obviously as a crime drama, there is a bit on the drama side too as on top of all of this Dexter tries to balance family on top of everything else. It's a little annoying at times, but still works for the story. Great plot magics also take place from time to time that either see the usually meticulous Dexter goof up (to let bad guys continue in the story) or more often the law enforcement representatives miss obvious steps or procedures that surely would have caught on to crimes (to let both Dexter and the bad guys continue in the story). Still a very good show, but maybe not for those that dislike some gore (usually implied but sometimes visceral). Recommended!

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: The Loyal Crew

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Back at the ship the crew mutiny after learning what Gerrod's done. He, Iholikan, Ubin, Voghiln, Garrett and Fassina easily kill the many traitors who once were their allies then upgrade their ship and sail into the deadly sea, which apparently isn't so deadly at all with those upgrades. There they find an island guarded by a robot hydra whom they defeat, and further in find the giant statue of Caed Nua pummeling "the wheel".

Seeing this, Gerrod calls upon Wael and the monstrous tentacle creature appears - tearing the statue limb from limb until whatever god was inside there is gone. "Victory!" Gerrod screams, vindicated by the vengeance wrought upon the now worthless statue. With a nod, he and his team set sail back to more familiar shores - leaving Wael to terrorize the Deadfire archipelago and all the losers that reside in it as he sees fit.

That statue got owned.

That's really the problem with the whole place. There were no "good" people. Also, why set a high fantasy adventure in a janky pirate setting? Strange game design decisions for sure. Oh well. That's it for Pillars of Eternity 2! Not really recommended as its too different from its predecessor! :P

The Accountant and The Misfits

A couple of odd flicks.

The Accountant

Christian (Ben Affleck) is an autistic yet brilliant accountant who usually works for criminal organizations (they can't really go to any standard ones) to balance their books. The first third of this is exactly this, a slow job involving writing a lot of numbers that isn't very interesting to watch. Fortunately he also doubles as a killer / hitman because why not? Many people die in the process and this action film picks up nicely, but there are a few too many questionable logic bridges to get to that point. It's ok, but I'd not recommend it. Crazy to put that first third in an "action" film too.

The Misfits

Sums it up nicely.

In this heist / comedy, a team of criminals hire break out artist / conman / thief Richard Pace (Pierce Brosnan) to help them steal gold from a prison. There are a few funny moments nowhere near enough to save this from being a good or even mediocre film. Having near constant narration is a bad sign, explosions leave no logical damage, and a ten minute barf sequence doesn't really equate to comedy. My recommendation: Stay far away from this one.

Monday 24 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: Merchants Murdered

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Only the two merchant factions remain as viable allies, and since the Valian Trading Company seem like nicer folk (despite trading in slaves) - the team agree to help them sabotage the Royal Deadfire Company by blowing up their base in Neketaka. This goes pretty smoothly until Ludin is killed by an RDC firing squad. Everyone is brought in for questioning at the palace and Gerrod spills the beans on the Valian plot while somehow maintaining innocence and the ignorant queen believes him.

As such the VTC members are put under arrest while the remaining RDCs are left in shambles, scratching both of as potential allies to get through the deadly ocean. Knowing they now have to go it alone, the crew start hunting down the remaining items they need to upgrade their ship including one piece at an undead haven where Rook is killed by a fampyr trio.

Soon after their old ally, archmage Llengrath, pays them a visit while riding atop her dragon requesting help investigating another island. Sure enough, its full of tentacles and horrible things but these horrible things also fight each other. Gerrod makes the most of that as they explore deeper, eventually finding it is the mysterious beholder-type god Wael asleep down here. Despite Llengrath's warnings, Gerrod makes a deal with Wael - freedom in exchange for destroying the giant statue. Wael agrees - all they need to do is find the target and call for him.

All beholders have lazers!

The horrible, gigantic tentacle monster that's full of eyes is then set free into the ocean and Llengrath leaves angrily - knowing full well the chaos such a creature will cause.

The Witcher (Netflix) vs The Wheel of Time

Two pretty good fantasy series.

The Witcher (Netflix)

Henry Cavill stars as Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunting witcher in this high budget series that has some really good visuals, casting and world building. Pacing seems to be the main problem with is show as season 1 has numerous time skips per episode which thankfully is lessened in season 2, but still present. There are also episodes where things just move way too slowly and some where magic is incredibly OP (I guess mages are just lazy otherwise there's no need for witchers) and lastly, despite the title the show doesn't focus soley on Geralt which might be a problem for some as they take a more Game of Thrones approach at times. Still very good and recommended as I look forward to season 3.  

The Wheel of Time

Rosamund Pike stars as Moiraine, an Aes Sedai in search of the Dragon Reborn who is prophecied to be the one to either save or destroy the world. The budget is clearly not as high as the Witcher, but this fast paced tale gets its hooks in you quick and brings a more exciting story all up for season 1. Obvious problems here seem to tie in to political correctness where people in a remote village are cast super diversely where infact they should almost all be cousins by now sharing "the old blood" and most of the time girl power is the only way to save which I think is baked into the source material. Don't expect this (or the Witcher) to follow the books though. Still very entertaining and in my opinion, the superior of these two shows for now. Looking forward to season 2.

Moiraine wins.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: Risky Research

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Back at Neketaka from the iceberg, the team attend a meeting at the Royal Palace where it is guessed that the statue's target is somewhere within a section of ocean far too dangerous for any one ship to pass. Instead, they would need to gain favor with one of the factions OR upgrade a vessel to withstand the punishment. The Royalty themselves are already crossed off that list as they hate the squad for freeing the captive dragon their water benders were leeching power from, so Gerrod tries to appeal to the arch mages next by doing research retrieval for the local arch mage Arkemyr.

Doing this work sees the deaths of Yrsa who is impaled by a horned whale at sea, Zefr who is clobbered by staff wielding monk, Maia and Petrus killed by arch lich Concelhaut who had reconstructed himself from their last encounter. What makes it worse is that upon handing the research over, Arkemyr promptly refuses to help. At least his apprentice Fassina joins the team but that's not really the help Gerrod was hoping for.

Really hard to keep these dead.

The next faction are the constantly infighting pirates, but since they are naturally scum Gerrod hires the master thief Garrett to make them squabble even more. As they execute one of their own leaders the team kills all the remaining ones of the pirate's council throwing that entire organization into chaos - crossing another potential ally off the list. Phht. What sort of allies would these scum be anyway?

Friday 21 January 2022

Titanfall 2

Awesome single player. Servers can't connect for multiplayer.

In this first person shooter you play a parkouring "pilot", a soldier with special abilities - the best of which is you get a hulking robot buddy to help you absolutely wreck the opposition soldiers and their hulking robots. Easy controls, nice graphics and cool environments make this a joy to play, but it can get challenging in later levels where there are just so many bad guys!

Some awesome scenery too.

A good working method I use is pilot the robot to kill infantry and be on foot to fighting multiple enemy robots (they usually target your robot buddy). The story is quite enjoyable too, but after its done the game expects you to go into multiplayer mode which simply just didn't work for me. Recommended if you are looking for a quick and enjoyable shooter that you can finish in a day or so but stay away if you were expecting anything more.

Thursday 20 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: Death in the Afterlife

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Journeying in Rymrgand's land of the dead is a dangerous task, especially since his servants are still on duty to "make things stop existing". Farcol is the first to have his soul collected and soon after Esme and Sofie are exploded on a firey bridge (it's a strange afterlife). Maneha also gets abducted by more tentacles for eternity this time (what is it with her and tentacles) before the team finally confront the undying dragon.

Gerrod somehow convinces it to go fight Rymrgand for power and it loses badly. Since it brought its phylactery to the fight (to power up or something), Rymrgand destroys it - ending the dragon permanently. The god is not happy that he ended up doing their work and decides all of the team should stay forever. Combat ensues and Dijaam is disintegrated into the White Void while Vatnir and Arzang are both crushed under Rymrgand's hoofs.

It did not go well for the dragon.

Only Gerrod and Iholikan make it to the exit and seal the portal. To make up for their losses a number of end of worlders are recruited: Rook, Ubin, Ludin, Yrsa, Zefr, and Petrus. Gerrod's fellow arena buddy Voghiln is also here and is recruited once he sobers up.

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Hawkeye and What If...?

Marvel continues to go hard with TV shows.

Right after the multiverse lesson in Loki, What If...? (season 1) invites us to see a few of these diverse existences in an animated format. While the art and animation is generally good, the plot in each episode varies in quality. Thankfully despite seemingly being one shot instances they are all tied together in the end making for a decent series. As this one has been renewed, hopefully it just improves on its next go around.

Hawkeye (season 1) returns us to live action which sees Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) have his Christmas plans ruined by wannabe vigilante Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) whose entire life seems inspired by Clint. Surprisingly I enjoyed this more than the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which was my previous top Marvel TV show. Definitely recommended!

Tuesday 18 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: Aloth Abandoned

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having suffered many losses the team joins the galleon of their old frenemy Aloth (now a leaden key leader), and his team Barik, Esme, Dijaam and Pahtira who are also in need reinforcements and also out to fight against a god, just a different one. With an uneasy truce, they head out and on the very first stop over Maneha pushes Aloth into an undead filled bog and leaves him to die like the worthless traitor he is.

When you let players name islands...

They arrive at their destination, an iceberg than inexplicably keeps growing. It is also inhabited by a friendly doom cult, waiting die at the hands of a black dragon which the team slay, but somehow it just gets up again!? Vatnir, the leader of the cult, explains it might have something to do with their lord's temple deeper in the iceberg and follow him to investigate. Also joining the team are a few adventurers who just got stuck there: Sofie, Iholikan Quinval, and Farcol - long lost friend of Arzang and Gerrod.

Ferocious bears within manage to slay Barik and Konstanten while Pahtira's excellent trap disarming skills fail her in the end, leaving her impaled in midair on a spear trap. Beyond is a magic portal to an afterlife the dragon is somehow cheating by having its phylactery hidden within. What is dead may never die sory of thing. The god of this realm, Rymrgand, allows passage through the portal but only for the team to hunt down and destroy the phylactery, because every time the dragon returns - the iceberg grows a bit more. They agree.

Monday 17 January 2022

Venom - Let there be Carnage and No Time to Die

Two poorly written films.

Venom - Let there be Carnage

Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is back to being a downtrodden journalist who must also put up with his brain hungry symbiote, the titular Venom, who is both cool and funny. An incident while interviewing death row inmate Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) inadvertently creates the antagonist for the film but also creates a lot of questions that are never answered.

Why is it red? Bigger? Shoots stuff? Explain please.

With a plot that's not that great and CGI where it might as well be Spiderman vs Doc Ock, there aren't many redeeming qualities here to anyone but fans of the franchise. For me this was much worse than Venom's original outing, and I give it two chickens out of five. You won't miss anything if you skip this one.

No Time to Die

A retired James Bond (Daniel Craig) is lured back to saving the world against another crazy terrorist with another weapon of mass destruction. Hmm, other than Bond being retired now isn't that the plot in every other James Bond film? Anyway, there is some nice eye candy, mandatory chase sequences and some OK action sequences which Bond has less of a part in.

Does that sound super "Ho hum" to you? Because that's exactly what it is. There are no really memorable scenes save the very start and maybe the very end and it suffers from numerous scenes that could have been shortened or cut out but more importantly suffers from weak story telling, especially the "quest hook" segment of it. Not recommended.

Sunday 16 January 2022

GTFO: R6D1 - Nemesis (Main)

This time around we are starting the bottom most floor. Strap in for a long trek, and I hope you've practiced your red light / green light stealth as you are going to need it! "Captain" Archer led us again today, and our loadouts are a little different as per his requests:

Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
Me: Pistol/Sniper/Burst Sentry/Spear
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Bat
Jim: DMR/Shotgun/Bio Tracker/Hammer

The top center of this map isn't complete but it should be enough to plan by.

From the drop you are introduced to a pitch black and poison fog level, and this will be the case for awhile so make use of the Bio Tracker to help path your way North while lugging the matter projector until you reach and unlock non-alarm door to Z85. I'll call this room the central chamber. It is full of scum of all sizes that you must SNEAK PAST because THIS ROOM RESPAWNS. The only good news is you can drop the matter projector anywhere on the floor here and ignore it until the end. There's also a fog turbine here which we just ignored - just stay above the fog! You want to head East now into Z87 (no alarm) and continue sneaking to Z88 (no alarm but there are two scouts in here) and eventually the map will turn North to Z89 (no alarm, empty room) and Z90 no alarm checkpoint door. Ideally you haven't fired a shot before reaching here.

Z90 is a reactor room that contains lots of gear. Carefully move all the packs closer to your hold spot, which for us was upstairs, stacked on the right side when looking at the door we came through. The terminal is right below and during the four waves Archer went down to type in the code provided on screen. After wave 1 we deployed sentry turrets on each staircase to help with flyers and we threw c-foam grenades for waves three and four when Archer was downstairs scatter gunning hybrids. After the scan is done immediately return to the previous room and split the team on both staircases to flank a father / tank as it arrives. Like a mother, you need to destroy the bulbs on his back but he is far more aggressive and able to attack 360 degrees around him. Luckily you have the terrain advantage here so it shouldn't be too bad as he keeps changing his mind on who to attack.

Completing the reactor turns on all the lights (yay) and now its time to sneak all the way back West through the central chamber and to the Z91 checkpoint door. Parkour across the warehouse shelves where you can to avoid the fog as you continue West and past the Z94 door which needs a key. Note SKIP 91E which is to the South. Eventually you will reach the class VM alarm door to Z93. Shut and mine all the doors between you and the warehouse area and we put our turrets just outside the door closest to us which we also c-foam grenaded. Do the scan and win the fight, which isn't so bad if you prepared properly. After winning you'll find the Z93 door has transformed into a checkpoint scan - yay! Good thing too because you are now entering scout land.

For us, the very next room contained two scouts (Archer and I on bop duty) and the next room with the key had three scouts! Collect the key and escape back to Z94 which you walked past earlier. You'll see it as you walk back towards the warehouse section to the North. Main things in here are a disinfect station and a terminal to activate the air filtration which removes the fog altogether! Huzzah! Time to head back to the central chamber and this time, you need to clear it as quietly (ammo efficiently) as possible. Note: there are numerous stairs down which you can and should access now as part of the cleanse. Once done, mine all of the said staircases and the three doors in then go downstairs to find a class VI alarm Apex door! All of these are team scans so move together and keep everyone standing. Turrets are deployed per spot, then pick up deployed etc. I hope you saved your ammo because now is the time to use it. As Archer commands "All of it, don't hold anything back". And boy did we need it.

The alarm door also turns into a checkpoint scan once you are done which is great. Collect and use all the gear you find in the next room and drag the matter projector to the teleporter which then puts you on a very vertical cliff facing facility devoid of enemies. Before doing anything else, get ALL the gear and load up - moving useful medkits and ammo up to the very top floor where there are two lookout towers and a cave which DL reverse waterfall mined (place mines on the floor facing up). Archer and I parkoured up two rock things to put both turrets facing East, and we all took note of the tower that has a good roof - it's important. Once all set, head one floor down to the terminal to input the needlessly long command displayed then run back upstairs and begin the BOSS FIGHT.

An ugly giant kraken type thing will show up and it has two main attacks: Spit a wave of flyers (also does this when it gets injured) or a missile strike similar to the hybrids. If it missile strikes and targets you, you need to either get into the tower with the good roof or the cave. To win, you must find the cancerous growths that randomly spawn one at a time on it and shoot it until it explodes (FYI it takes 5 sniper shots to destroy one, hence I also brought a sniper rifle today).  If the flyer army gets too severe (and it will) run back and deal with them in the cave, remembering they cannot actually hit you if you strafe. After enough growths are popped the giant creature will drop back down out of view and you will be teleported back to the facility while a voice over plays.While it does so...


Fun note: If your team doesn't mind doing the entire thing blind and with 100% infection (health constantly dropping), when you first enter the central chamber you can just go downstairs and immediately do the class VI alarm Apex door in pitch black fog. From there you get a checkpoint and then teleport to the boss fight (lots of medkits if you make it here). Obviously you need to win quick or not get hit, then vacate ASAP. The youtube link here is of speed runners doing this very thing, completing the mission we took around 3 hours to complete in under 10 minutes. :P

Pillars of Eternity 2: Hell in Hasongo, Sayonara in Sayuka

[Part of the Cursed story line]

Having heard of statue sightings at the isle of Hasongo, the crew set sail there immediately to find the now destroyed fort overrun by nagas! Sagani and her pet Itumaak are bowed down by the snakes as others drown Grieving Mother. Tekehu also meets his end as he lures a large group into the powder storage and detonates it, turning all of them into soup. Both forces vacate the island with the team taking refuge at nearby Sayuka - another Royal Deadfire Company fort.

So many things go boom in this game.

However it isn't safe there either as local druids send an attack while the team is docked, and they lose Alias and Serafen to the wave of werebeasts before escaping to sea again. This time Ydwin leads them to a seemingly uninhabited island to recover, but in truth it is the lair of her ancient fampyr masters who drain Symm Haximus and Zahua dry before Gerrod and Arzang can put them all down. For her treachery, Arzang uses his magic to make Ydwin's head explode.

Luck seems to finally swing their way as they spot the giant statue upon exiting the cave and give chase to the land of fire giants and after sneaking past them Xoti manages to commune with it as it refuels with a massive adra crystal - learning it plans to destroy "the wheel", the very fabric of death and rebirth. Communication is cut short as the volcano they are standing in erupts, the lava melting Xoti into goo. Luckily the remaining survivors make it back to the ship for a quick evacuation back to Nekateka.

Friday 14 January 2022

Better Alternatives

Some games just don't cut the mustard.

While True (Learn) is a programming puzzle with a most boring interface watching cubes flow through a data stream. It almost feels like Automachef, just with all the food and joy stripped out. Learn Game Development, Unity Code Monkey is a better programming learning tool but you need to take notes as you play. Or you can go the other way with One Dreamer Prologue: A very cool and short adventure game that lets you play with some basic programming while experiencing a simple yet touching story. Both of those are free on Steam.

GodFall Challenger Edition is an action brawler with super nice graphics but a questionable fixed camera and some BS enemy spawning. Furthermore, right after the tutorial you are "boosted" to level 50 and tossed into the deep end as player content for some multiplayer grinding. A better free alternative is Warframe, which gives far greater variety in things to do.

That doesn't scream "please be our end game content" does it?

Lastly we'll reverse the formula a bit: Dark Souls is great and if you want a "Souls" game, just play or replay any of that series. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, made by the same company, is not a bad replacement but your character is far more agile and obviously has a more oriental setting. Nioh also has that oriental setting but uses the story to force an European hero on it (is that you Geralt?) and ends up being plain weird. The free Blood Spear and The Fallen on Steam certainly have the feel of a Souls game but understandably lacks the depth while Salt and Sanctuary feels like a 2D Dark Souls where you collect/lose salt instead but loses a lot by being a platformer.

Thursday 13 January 2022

Pillars of Eternity 2: Caed Nua Crushed

[Part of the Cursed story line]

By the time Arzang, Gerrod, Alias, Hort, Maneha, Mercy, Sagani, Symm, Zahua and Grieving Mother return from Defiance Bay they find their home of Caed Nua destroyed by the gigantic statue that it was built on top of! Hearing reports that said statue then simply "walked away" into the sea leads them to give chase on ship into the Deadfire Archipelago but lose it in a storm.

That's not how statues work as they lack flexibility but ok, its "magic"!

At Port Maje they learn from priestess Xoti that the god she worships has possessed that statue and so let her join the team. Also joining is a short and furry pirate named Serafen who tasks us with taking out a rival which both easy and humorous, involving an exploding harpsichord. He then directs the ship to Neketaka, the capital of these isles to restock, gain bearings and gain more crew including fampyr animancer Ydwin, masseur Konstanten, Royal Deadfire Company riflewoman Maia (sister of Kana Rua) and princely water shaper wereshark Tekehu.

Unfortunately they also lose Mercy and Hort to some random arsonists in the city. The pair are captured and burned alive.

Wednesday 12 January 2022

Full Versions - Worth it or Not?

A trio whose free samples got me interested.

The Plane Effect

This wordless puzzle game hooked me with its interesting concept and really stylish art. It was also on the cusp of something strange when the demo ended. In the full version, it goes full tilt into the strange territory but becomes really annoying in later areas. My particular peeve is the main character doesn't do stuff when you tell him to. For example he won't pick up a "plainly in view" pickaxe if you haven't first found and interacted where the pickaxe would be used. Stuff like that permeates the later levels and just really ruins the experience. Not recommended.

Family Man

This blocky graphic game is an excellent example of how to do an intro, and the premise of owing the mob hooked me in the demo. I'm happy to report the full game makes it even better, where you must balance your family's happiness, health and hunger with repaying the ever increasing daily debt to your black mailer. Doing dirty work for him and others also pays more money but lowers the state of your town while being good might lead to financial hardship. Very cool and one I recommend.


Toy Tinker Simulator

This relaxing and addictive game of disassembling, cleaning and repairing old toys was a surprise joy for me - so much so that I completed the entire 10 toys in the beta. The full product is more of the same which is great, except now they added GRIND. WTF dude. So to access the more complicated toys you need more money to buy the proper equipment to handle them, and to get more money you will be going over the same low level toys over and over. Sure this teddy bear is red, the next one is blue, the next one looks like a dog, etc. but since they all share the same process that you repeat over and over... shit, they just killed their own game by sucking the joy out of it. Not recommended.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Legends of Andor - Legend 4 - A Mine Full of Gems

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

With the castle secured for now, the heroes Rose the tracker, Joe the Guardian, DL the Warrior, Mom the archer and Juris the wizard answer the call of the dwarf king's greed to help him get (a value of 46) gold and gemstones out of the now monster filled mines (new map).

This map on the reverse of the board is used in only one mission? Crazy.

While the team is careful to use Rose's bird and a telescope to scout out the fog leading to the mine entrance, a forest fire injures them all (random card event) leaving each with 1 strength.

Juris manages to collect a full set of rune stones (granting him a powerful black dice) while Joe is the first to pick up a gem which activates the fire blasts in the underground cave (monsters eat gems when they move so you can't just leave them lying around). Luckily a shield is on hand to save him from the very first one!

He and Rose then work on breaking rubble to a dwarven storage room, and Rose ends up doing all the work (bad dicing). Inside is some handy gear and another bow that the team uses to ambush some monsters from range.

In this mission, going melee immediately triggers an alarm and even when attacking at range the target MUST die in the first round or the alarm goes off. Luckily Joe's ability makes it super easy to snipe them down.

While Joe grabs more gems and goes out to deliver them (getting singed in the process) Mom, Rose and Juris then decide to enter the secret sea (of Cthulhu apparently) and each suffer willpower damage before they can move on to the treasure chamber guarded by a troll, whom they surpisingly kill very easily (first troll killed)! :P

Meanwhile DL who has skulked around the far side for awhile now intentionally triggers the alarm (we need the gold) and begins slaying creatures that are trying to escape. Mom and Rose arrive to assist while Juris backtracks through the secret sea to clear out a cave in blocking the route back.

With it clear, Joe uses an eagle to pickup all the loot from the team inside and deposits it on the cart space... winning the mission just in time! Which is odd because his last few turns prior were... pass, pass, pass (each of which still eats an hour).

Monday 10 January 2022

GTFO: R6C2 - Blind (Main)

I hope you enjoyed the poison fog in R6B2 because here it is MUCH WORSE! This time we need to lug three cells to power generators that actually increase the level of infectious fog to the point of not being able to see. The general rule here is to keep all the cells together and drop them near security doors. Our load out is the same as before:

Jim: Bullpup/Shotgun/C-Foam/Hammer
Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Bat
Me: Pistol/Shotgun/Burst Sentry/Spear

First stop is the non-alarm door to Z117 which is just a supply room but also holds the fog repellers you need to live through the next section. It is guarded by giants and wall cancers aka "spitters". Get too close and these spit, giving you infection. You can temporarily stun them by shining your light on them, but remember your light wakes up sleepers. Now is also a good time to talk about stealth killing giants, which can be done if they are far enough away from anything else. As a team, get into range and call out which limb you are going for. The idea is to break limbs (legs, arm, head) before going for chest shots as each limb break causes a stagger and buys more time for a follow up attack.

At a terminal, you might want to query where those generators are to help you find them as you advance through the next bits.

Once you are loaded up with fog repellers go into non-alarm door Z118 and from this point on expect both poison fog in the lower sections and scouts with near zero visibility. Spear killing is handy. Use some parkour to stay out of the fog by going over boxes and onto bridges and ramps that lead to nowhere while you head East. After a large "hill" you'll need to do a class IV alarm to Z119 with circles in the fog and soon you should find a fog turbine which will keep the fog away provided someone holds it. Move together, and now be on the look out for c-foam grenades which you want to save till later.

Map continues to the right (pic below).

Down some stairs to the South is a blood door to Z121 so set a mine and single turret at the bottom then trigger and come up to the top of the staircase to fight the wave which will include hybrids. Archer's 2 shot scatter gun is super effective flanking the top of the stairs and in that zone is the first generator. If you head directly North you'll find a class III cluster alarm door to Z120. Shut all three doors to this zone and focus defenses on the small South West one (but still mine the big South one too). This will be annoying in the fog but in that zone is a terminal you can type RESTART VENTILATION SYSTEM to give you a reprieve from the fog. Also it's a small room with more supplies.

Once geared up its time to push on Eastwards through regular scan Z122 which again contains spitting cancers on top of the usual sleepers/scout. Clear the zone and setup for an absolutely BS class V scan to Z123. Plug in cell #2 into the nearby generator to power the door and summon the fog. Turrets and fighting well in these lousy conditions is all you can do and should you survive the door also turns into a CHECKPOINT SCAN. YAY! (don't hold anything while it saves, just eat the infection)
Z123 has sleeping babies which are basically harder to hit strikers and gives a hint of what's coming up. Murder them all and clear the bulkhead control room (the bulkhead key is in this same zone somewhere). Then we did the optional blood door to the North, fighting hybrids again. Inside is a smallish zone with supplies and a disinfect station (huzzah, we can use med kits again) and then unlock the MAIN mission at the bulkhead controls.

The remainder of the "main" mission is past the Mother's room to the South East.

Head back to the first room you saw baby sleepers and take the stairs up to find the non-alarmed bulkhead door. For this we had DL hold the fog turbine while the rest of us had c-foam grenades ready. As soon as the door opens, walk in boldly and c-foam the MOTHER in this room. Once paralyzed, the shotguns and scatter gun made quick work of her destroying the tumors on her back. This is the safest way to fight a mother. This creature doesn't actually attack, instead it either farts blinding poison gas and flees or births a clutch of babies. Don't let it do either.

Another regular non-alarm scan and a generator powered (cell #3) blood door will be in your way, as well as a heavy presence of scouts. Spear guy, expect to take some infection. Also helps that DL's sniping skills can cover any that I goof (needed one)! Survive that and you get a fast and free extract to GTFO! Huzzah!

Sunday 9 January 2022

GTFO: R6B2 - Contaminant (Main)

Due to the holidays it's been awhile since we've managed to play GTFO together, but that didn't stop Archer from racking up hours of experience on his own to the point of leading the team (he joined late though haha)! Good job buddy. :) This time around we are looking for an HSU cocoon thing to scan and this level introduces infectious fog. The longer you stay in, the more infection you have and any health OVER your total infection slowly bleeds away. It's yucky! Fog repellers are your best friend here. Our load out this time is as follows:

Jim: Bullpup/Shotgun/C-Foam/Hammer
Archer: Carbine/Scatter Gun/Burst Sentry/Hammer
DL: DMR/Sniper/Mines/Bat
Me: Pistol/Shotgun/Burst Sentry/Spear

Of the security scans in your immediate area the one you want to do first is the door to Z59 with a class IV alarm. If you close both doors into the room AND close the large double door leading from the drop point into the hallway, the enemies will only attack the small door. With Jim on cfoam duty this makes the scan easy. A mine and turret help end the wave once we let them in. Continue clearing East, being mindful of the fog. The class III alarm door to Z60 is actually sitting in the fog itself so you need to use a fog repeller just to start it up. If both doors to this room are closed all the enemies will only come from the upstairs one, so prep as required.

Z60 is full of fog so just repeller walk - you are looking for boxes or cabinets that contain the key card. Once you have it get out of there and head back to the start. If you need more supplies you can open the non-alarm Z58 door just to the left of the drop point, but it does have giant guards so only steal what is easy. Once done you need to hit the blood door to the North. We mined it and also mined the double door leading to the drop point (one person triggers the door and retreats all the way, shutting the second door behind them. This deals with most of the blood door spawn but we still needed to put down a pair of hybrids who are best fought from behind cover. When they shoot it is beautiful. And painful. :P

Archer joined us at this point and after loading up with fog repellers we continue on to door Z62 which is a checkpoint door and non-alarm door Z63. Both these zones have safe upstairs areas with poison fog downstairs. Use fog repellers to cross safely. After clearing Z63 (probably by shooting into the air to get the sleepers in the fog to come up) set up turrets and mines at the door in. Opening the class IV door to Z65 is next and the scan circles WILL take you into the fog. While we did the scans, Archer returned to the door to buy us time. Somewhere in that warehouse zone is the bulkhead key. Again the upper levels are safe while the lower ones are not.

Find the key and bail back to Z63 and plug in the bulkhead key. We are only doing the MAIN mission here so that's what we picked. This powers the class IV alarm door to Z64 and again, circles will appear in the fog. Expect more CQC this time as enemies now have two doors to spawn from so odds of fighting a wave in the fog are high but shotguns help. The HSU is somewhere in Z64, along with a disinfect station (yay) and a scout (shit). Once you are ready, team scan the HSU - which serves as a checkpoint and an error alarm which means infinite waves will start coming for you.

Luckily these are only waves of four and there is a decent delay between them so make your way to the now visible extraction scan and don't rush too much especially since you can close and foam doors behind you. There's another scan blocking your way forward as well as a blood door in the fog. There's a truck right in front of it you can stand on to avoid being poisoned though, but be diligent enough to set a mine and turrets (I put mine the other way to hit chasers) before opening. That is your last obstacle before getting to the extract circle to GTFO!

Free Jumble

A small mismatched group of free Steam games that may interest some.

Starting off with a different one - 100 Hidden Frogs. I've seen a lot of this "100 Hidden" series but this is the first I've seen that is totally free. All you need to do is click on each of the 100 frogs which colors them in, provided you can find them in the nice art piece they hide in. Obviously not very replayable, but if you like it there are loads of others all for a very low amount of cash.

For those who like their games "dark" in theme, you might try the point and click The Supper where you run a sea side tavern. It's a short game that's not too difficult. If you prefer a first person experience I recommend Ginko where you are armed with a magic needle and thread. It's all fun and games until the monster appears, then it becomes awesome. I quite like that it also doesn't cheat like Slenderman. It actually chases you and you must outrun and outwit it.

Last are a pair of simulation games with unfortunate titles. Accident - The Pilot is a well rendered first person game in which you take the role of a first responder to an accident scene, and there are two in this demo. Good graphics, good controls, and while it won't beat a real class it's still a good lesson especially for anyone without first responder training. Makes me want to try the full version, but also not because it feels bad when you screw up and fail to save people. :(

The clock is ticking.

Barn Finders - The Pilot is much more lighthearted. Proving that one man's garbage is another man's treasure, this first person simulator has you retrieving materials from various locations and taking them back to your shop to clean, repair and sell. Surprisingly cool, and does a great job getting me interested in the full game.

Saturday 8 January 2022

Legends of Andor - Legend 3 - Darkness Descends

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

The Prince has somehow learned that these attacks are stemming from an evil wizard, and tasks the heroes Juris the Wizard, DL the Warrior, Joe the Guardian and Mom the archer to end his evil plan.

Also joining them today is Rose the tracker, who comes with three extra items she can use once per day at the cost of having less will power and overall strength than the others: a bird that can flip "hidden" tokens, a dagger to reroll combat dice, and a horn to let everyone roll their full combat dice in one battle she takes part in.

Before they can stop the plan they each must complete a random fate assigned to them... all while defending the castle!

First off is DL who manages to snag two rune stones and drop them off at the dwarf mine. He also has a painful duel with a gor that leaves him with 1 strength!

Mathematically, that's a bad idea.

Next is Mom who manages to get a herb and a witch brew (the witch found by Juris this time) and deliver it to the castle which the Prince also helps defend for a bit - but he is taken off the board early.

Rose's task of escorting a farmer all the way out to dragon mountain is the third fate completed, with a lot of help from Juris and Joe who clear skrals and gors from the Northern bridge loop.

Finally Juris and Joe each have to kill gors in the forest, with one being super powered. It doesn't matter as DL arrives to help and both are thrashed. This reveals the evil wizard's greatest creation... an ensorcelled gor who matches the strength value of anyone fighting it!

The extra part of "if it gets to the castle, insta-game over" didn't really matter as the heroes already had all available castle shields taken by trolls whom they simply avoided.

Luckily, the ensorcelled gor isn't really a problem as Mom, DL and Juris massacre it with spare witches brew that they brought along. Another close win and another mission done!

Thursday 6 January 2022

Interactive Stories

Should be classified as games.

It's been a while since I finished Telltale's The Walking Dead, set in the same universe as the popular zombie show and it's many spin-offs which follows suit in that it's more about the people instead of the zombies. While the art is always good and improves throughout each game in the series most of the player input relies on timed dialogue responses and QTE button mashing. Also while your choices can change the story a little bit, don't expect to be able to deviate from the main plot points as it doesn't go crazily branching out like in the Witcher 2. My main gripe was that there were so many loose ends at the end of the story.

The Walking Dead season 2 fixes that with much fewer loose ends by the time you see the credits but is a bit odd in that most life or death decisions of the group fall upon a little kid. Walking Dead: A New Frontier again fixes that and for me, has the strongest story of all of them while Walking Dead: The Final Season adds a low key combat system but feels shorter and not as refined as the previous installment. Still good, but the ending especially felt a bit forced. I'd still recommend all of them, especially if you are a Walking Dead fan anyway.

Memorable characters are a plus.

Also in the Interactive Story category is Bloodshore which focuses on a Battle Royale type game taking place on an island. Instead of art, this title makes use of live action decent enough to be a B grade movie. Like the above games you can't escape the main plot points but your choices do affect the story and the ending. I also quite liked the tracker which shows your stats that change based on your decisions and actually affect if your chosen actions succeed or not. Pretty cool and one I'd recommend if you don't have any Telltale games to play anymore.

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Legends of Andor - Legend 2 - Long Live the King

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

Having delivered the letter to the elves, they dispatch two new heroes to assist (using the Hero Expansion pack to make the game go up to 5-6 players):

Rose the sorceress who has a water spirit at her command (she can spend 1 hour to move it four spaces and it can help anyone in battle by letting them use the big water spirit dice) and...

Joe the ultimate crossbow wielding ninja "guardian" of awesomeness who can attack at range and weakens lesser enemies in battle (but gets less dice than the ranger).

The other heroes DL (the warrior), Mom (the archer), and Juris (now playing the wizard) are also on hand when word arrives that the king has been poisoned! The heroes must find the witch in the fog to find out how to cure him - while defending the castle from incoming gors and skrals.

DL immediately gets a helmet (which allows for critical hits somehow) and leads the defense while Joe who starts in the Great Forest scouts out the fog - finding super useful things like MORE gors and a Skral fortress!

It is Mom who eventually finds the witch, right beside the castle too, who tells of a rare herb to the South that can cure the king. While she's there she also loads up on Witch's brew potion with all the gold she, Juris and the NPC Prince (temporary +4 to combat boon) have collected during the intense battles at the castle.

Rose has also "strengthened" the castle by bringing in farmers at this point: super useful because when the fast moving wardraks arrive (strong dog type things that move really fast) the heroes just opt to let the castle take the hit.

Meanwhile DL and Joe go for the rare herb carried by a lowly Gor (and Joe gets to shoot something finally) which Joe then sprints back to the castle. DL and the others (minus Joe) then convene on the Skral Fort, encouraged by Juris to stay on mission, and using all the witches brew and water spirit absolutely smash it, even with it's Black Herald protector (enemy in the Hero Expansion pack who gives +4 to select final bosses).

The Black Herald looks a lot like this guy...

Just in time too, for by the next sunrise the game would have been lost!

Funny Freebies and Free Stories

A double whammy of free games on Steam.

I love RPG maker games that have little to zero combat and instead focus on story and a lot of meaningful choices, and that's exactly what The Ghost Cage is. You have just moved into a haunted house and need to deal with the cute ghost in whatever manner you see fit. If you prefer some light combat in your RPGs then you might instead try Unsung Kingdom where you play a band of time travelers sent back to save a great king. The story moves at a good pace, weapons dictate abilities, areas are small enough to be meaningful, and combat is quick which is helpful since there is a tiny bit of grind required especially towards the end. Still a good game. Last up for the "story" segment of this post is The Colossus is Coming - a first person interactive experience that takes place in a very small playing area where you have to find and listen to five cassette tapes. It's very different.

Now if "story" is not your thing and you just want to have a laugh, you might want to try Laserboy, a funny action game where you have been implanted with an eye that fires a powerful beam every six or so seconds. This beam is strong enough to destroy items, kill people and push you back and if you his a wall you bounce in the opposite direction. The main objective in each level is to reach the exit with the LEAST amount of damage. I didn't expect much from this but it turned out to be pretty fun! The same can be said for There is no Game, a brilliant little experience that tries its best to convince itself it isn't a game. Needs a bit more thinking though, and if you like having to think then Clay Game might be for you - it's a hilarious 3D puzzler with a pretty unique look that involves some minor platforming but a LOT of thinking, especially towards the end. I quite enjoyed it.

The harder puzzles of Clay Game definitely warrant this.

There you have it, I hope there's something in here that you enjoy too!

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Legends of Andor - Legend 1 - The Heroes Arrive

[A board game session from The Legends of Andor]

Four heroes decide to investigate the evil that has begun to stir in the land of Andor...

From the Southern hills - DL the warrior (who gains bonus will power when drinking from wells, which directly impacts how many combat dice you get).

Rose the wizard from the North (who only gets one combat dice regardless of her will power, but can flip any hero dice in combat to the opposite side so a rolled 1 can become a 6).

Mom the archer from the Great Eastern forest who starts with a bow meaning she can participate in battles from one space away, but must roll combat dice one at a time and stop when she likes the roll (push your luck).

And Joe the short and cranky dwarf from the distant hole mine, who is basically a worse "warrior" (his ability is he can spend gold at the distant dwarf mine to gain base strength at a 1:1 ratio, instead of 2:1 everyone else gets. But if he shops anywhere else, he also gets the 2:1 ratio? Lol).

The first day is an easy tutorial where DL visits a well and a merchant, Rose and Mom explore some fog near the river, and Joe just trudges along to the castle where everyone eventually meets up.

The map is pretty big and occupies most of the table.

Day two is far more exiting, as gors (red frog men with claws?) suddenly emerge nearby along with a single skral (red lizard guy, stronger than Gors) whom the heroes must prevent from reaching the castle!

It soon becomes clear not to waste time trying to fight any of these alone and in some cases to not fight at all as each foe killed moves the time track nearer to the end (and we lose if we don't accomplish the mission by then).

Around this time, the King decides to actually tell us what the mission is: to deliver a missive to the elves in the giant tree of the Great Eastern forest - but without it ever stepping into a space with a monster ( insta-loss if that happens). DL volunteers as more gors and skrals appear - destroying the shortcut rope bridge he was hoping to use.

Ultimately while the others defend the castle, DL burns lots of will power to side step the enemies - taking cover in the dwarf mine before scooting around the far end of the river to deliver the letter to the elves for a close victory!

Not sure why all the other monsters just decide to shrug their shoulders and walk away at that point, but that seems to happen a lot in this game. :P

Monday 3 January 2022

Free Action

Feel like dishing out some pain but are on a budget? Here are a few free action games on Steam that could cure that itch for you, starting with Roller Riot which is an excellent two button brawler much like One Finger Death Punch, but with better art. I quite like this one and still regularly hop in for five minute sessions!

If you prefer to blast your way through bad guys instead then Perdition might interest you - its a pretty cool little first person shooter where you must fight alien invaders. Should the blocky graphics there turn you off you might instead want to try the Russian made over the shoulder shooter Orange Cast which sports fantastic visuals as you Uber soldier your way through everything. There are some flaws in the English translation though.

My last recommendation is a super addictive, casual on the rails shooter called Cover Fire. While there is a cash shop presence, "energy" usage and grind I really liked this well made game so much that I've racked up more than 12 hours on it, without spending a cent. Highly recommended!

Sniping from a helicopter to a moving boat is... challenging.

Saturday 1 January 2022

EXIT: The Game - The Pharaoh's Tomb

Difficult almost to the point of being unfair.

The "EXIT" series are all escape room type scenarios where you get some basic instructions, a deck of riddle cards, a deck of answer cards, a deck of hint cards, and a decoder disc that tells you what answer card to look at. Most of which have a huge red X to indicate you are wrong. LOL.

Pretty close to being "pain in a box".

Most importantly, you are not supposed to look at anything you haven't been given "access" to yet as to not spoil the game. Other than that, you are free to fold, cut, burn and do whatever you want to the game components as EVERYTHING will only be used once. That's right. Play through once and toss it in the bin.

Unless you love observation and logic, you'd best stay away from this as it is hard. We had more than the recommended number of people (1-4) and we still took over three hours AND used around six hints before we could finish the game.