Category Archives: Video Games

“Liar! Uncover the Truth: Sequel Chapter Four” Playthrough Thoughts

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—Ok, here we go again. At least we don’t get Kunio this time.

—Yuri is the best. I never get why she’s hanging around someone as lousy as Lady Sachi.

Lady Sachi on Keima’s turnaround, and the only time I’ve ever agreed with her.

—Man, what is the deal with putting your bffs that are all comatose drunk into cabs by themselves and hoping for the best? Particularly after one of you almost got abducted and raped that way?

—The landlord roping them into running the booth for free rent sounds implausible until I remember the time in school the ceiling of our rental house caved in, and the landlord got us to clean it all up for a month’s rent.

—MC is stone cold, making dates right in front of two guys who like her.

—Wow, harsh that MC picked up the special Nanyami doll even though she didn’t give a crap about it compared to everyone else.

—Oh nice of MC to totally lie to Itaru about Toya being a nutcase so she doesn’t have to be indebted to him for saving her…LIKE HE DID.

Itaru speaks for me.

—Basically MC can forgive and forget anything you’ve done to her unless your name rhymes with “bitaru.”

—GDI, I cant believe I screwed up the data hunt AGAIN.

—Ok, at this point, I might just go ahead and bag getting the early clear bonuses and just try to redo it the next time there’s a data hunt for me to botch.

Itaru’s expression at having the fortune teller glom onto him kills me.

—Well Joe is a nutcase, but at least the Nanyami doll went to someone who really appreciates it.

Or maybe he’d just think you have shockingly bad judgement LIKE THE REST OF US.

—Awesome that she’s now going around pulling cold hot dogs out of people’s hands so she can get the special love fortune.

—Oh Well, Kota was kind of grumpy anyway. I bet he’ll get a route someday.

—Ok, on to the specific routes. As usual, we’ll start with our least favorite and work up.

Oh honey, you are about eight short.

—Holy mackerel, she stole Sotaro’s breakfast! MC is like your nightmare roommate.

—Now she’s giving Sotaro’s breakfast to Keima and I just can’t anymore.

BUT HE…AND YOU…HUMAN TRAFFICKING…oh, forget it.

Oh good. Off to Germany with Keima and Lady Sachi. What could possibly go wrong.

—Ok, the fact that MC is letting this dude who probably stole her wallet front her money for gambling his so bad.

—The fact that he now wants her to sex off her debts to him is a surprise to only MC.

If there was any justice, MC’s first female slap would be now.

—Wow, I took so long with this, they actually started up another data hunt already.

—Ugh, can’t decide whether I like Joe or Toya least.

—Joe in whatever backwater village MC is from feels like it should turn out like Eva Gabor’s character in “Green Acres.”

—Well he acquitted himself like a normal person, but now he just seems like a totally different guy, since Joe’s always been marked by weirdly extravagant speech and actions.

—On to Toya. Maybe it’s just me, but if you JUST got frightened by a guy thinking that he was so mad he might let loose and beat you, maybe you don’t go along with it when he says he won’t let you go home and now you have to live with him.

—I always wonder if this is an actual Japanese thing or just a mechanism of fiction that people can decide to go stay at someone’s house or a hotel that same night with no preparation or anything.

—Like, I can’t stay somewhere overnight without about two hours of packing and a 30” duffel bag.

—Again, It seems like she went with him almost 30% because she really likes cake.

—I like that her big confession to him is “I love you…r cakes.”

—Wow, just read that getting the early clear data for both halves requires like 48 extra tickets, which I don’t have.

—Guess we’re letting this data hunt slide by as well.

—Back with Haruichi and his perpetual Yakuza girlfriend-threatening rivals.

—I feel like MC is, in the hysteria of the moment, overlooking the part where Haruichi said he had his henchmen investigate and report back on her living situation.

—Now he wants her to not go to work and just stay and sleep in his room for some indeterminate amount of time while he hunts down some threatening guys she hasn’t seen for herself yet, and now it’s sounding like HE’s kidnapped her.

—Asako has just told MC that she’s been living with the Mamiyas for forty years now, and I’m expecting her to say she was just staying until they hunted down their rivals too.

—Ok, I get that Haruichi is used to faction fighting within his own clan, but he seems pretty blasé about the fact that his MOM practically put a hit out on him.

—Ok Itaru. Try not to make me sad about MC’s treatment of you this time.

—Wow, she got all mad at him and I don’t even know why. Because the server dropped a glass? And he was nice about it?

—Maybe MC has been around so many of these nutbars, she forgot what a reasonable response was.

—Oh good. Now she got him maimed because she ran out into traffic upset for reasons unknown to either Itaru or me.

—Oh my God, he got amnesia, which is really the only way any of this can end happily for Itaru.

—If Yuri got divorced and then married Itaru, I would feel like they had a chance for a good life.

—Now I have no idea why she’s moping around so much. When she was all he thought about, she found him repulsive, and now that he doesn’t remember her, she’s bummed.

—Maybe make up your mind next time, MC.

—Notice that at no time does she tell him or anyone else that he got hit by the car because SHE darted in front of it like a dummy.

—No thank you or anything, plus she acts all sullen at him like it’s his fault he got brain damage saving her. He really is better off this way.

—Now she is so concerned about him, she’s letting Sotaro buy her cake, like she’s the one who got hit by a car.

DING DING DING DING
We have a wiiiiinner…

—Oh so now after she lied to him about him ever caring about her, he has decided to accept his memory loss and live a fruitful life. Clearly, she can’t tolerate that and is going to run after him like a banshee to ruin his life some more.

—Oh my God, she gave him ANOTHER concussion.

—Dude is going to die before she figures out what she wants.

—So it ends with her having beaten Itaru’s obsessive love for her (and probably a subdural hematoma) back into him again, so she can be happy wielding complete power over him while continuing to deny him the slightest signs of affection.

—In the life of MC, we call this “Tuesday.”

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Hakuoki Festival Edo Blossoms 2018

Attended the Hakuoki Festival last week—it was pretty fun, although a little weird to go to a festival about a game I haven’t played yet. (I was waiting until the second half came out!) It was taking place pretty close to where I live and had free parking tho, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

It was pretty fun! They had some games that ran the gamut from easy (Plinko) to hard (rubber band shooting) to impossible-for-me (game trivia.)

Besides that, there was a cosplay contest and photo ops with character stand ups that were auctioned off at the end.

Along with that, they provided respectable refreshments like crackers and cheese and hummus and cookies which was nice since their location wasn’t around any eating places. Merch was also available for purchase—I didn’t get any of the single character charms/pins/badges since I didn’t know their in-game specifics and didn’t want to be the person getting all the Hans merchandise during intermission for “Frozen.”

Voting for Best Boy was held (Saito won) and a Wall for people to draw cartoons or write messages was provided. People are both talented and relatable.

The thing I thought was the most entertaining was probably trying to collect all the different coasters you could win from the various games. It was tricky since, having not played the game yet, I couldn’t do the trivia and I proved to totes suck at rubber band guns, but people were super nice and traded/gave me some and I finally succeeded.

In all it was a fun day and certainly helped increase my anticipation for playing Hakuoki!

E3 and Gaming Sundries

So it turns out that occasionally you end up with enough time to either play games or write about games and not necessarily both.  Probably shouldn’t have picked time management as my dump stat, but oh well.

I did end up going to the first E3 that took paying customers, and wrote about it here:  http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2017/06/recap_e3_2017_1.html  Suffice to say, decreasing the number of attending companies while increasing the number of attending guests doesn’t necessarily make for a better experience.

I also got a chance to play parts of all the Kingdom Hearts games when they recently got released for the PS4, so if you wanted to find out what someone who knows nothing about Kingdom Hearts thought while playing them, you can take a look here:

http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2017/03/kingdom_hearts_hd_28_final_cha.html

http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2017/03/kingdom_hearts_hd_15_25_remix.html

Next week I’ll be heading to Anime Expo for the first time, to hopefully feed my growing Visual Novel addiction so photos from there forthcoming, but probably not from the “after dark” side of it…

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

So in the usual feast-or-famine way of things, “Mass Effect Andromeda” just came out, and “Mystic Messenger” is coming out with an April Fool’s DLC, and shortly “Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX Fight the Darkness” will be out, and sleep was for the weak anyway.

Before getting started on the behemoth that is the bulk of the whole Kingdom Hearts series, here’s an article I wrote recently for AllEars.Net about the last installment, “Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue” which I was forced to play before all the games in the series before it, because Square Enix released it for the PS4 out of order and they apparently hate me and continuity:

http://land.allears.net/blogs/lauragilbreath/2017/03/kingdom_hearts_hd_28_final_cha.html

As you can imagine, playing the end of an eight-game series before the rest of it resulted in not a little confusion, but we should be in better shape for the rest of it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put on some coffee…

 

 

Review: “Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book”

Images from DarkHorse.com
Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book

Illustrations by Pablo Churin, Juan Frigeri, Gabriel Guzman, Fernando Melek, and Facundo Percio.
Publication Date:  February 08, 2017                                             Price:  $14.99

I would have to admit that I have never had a complete understanding of the resurgence of coloring book popularity.  Are people actually coloring in the pictures?  Personally, I have a complex about making any kind of marks in my books, so the idea of taking some sharpies to every other page of a previously nice book sets my teeth on edge.

(The fact that from childhood I’ve had all the art talent of a Rhesus Monkey may also have had something to do with it.)

Fortunately, you don’t actually have to go all Picasso on the recent “Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book” to enjoy it.  The volume of 45 different line drawings is a fun look back down memory lane at characters spanning the length of the entire “Dragon Age” saga.  Each character gets a two-page spread of a color-able drawing and one of their memorable or distinctive quotes.

The pictures are, by and large, incredibly detailed and the poses are pretty characteristic of their subjects:  Mages are casting, warriors are fighting, Oghren is drinking, and Loghain is betraying everybody.  Even some of the lesser antagonists like Branka and the Lady of the Forest make it in, as well as DLC teammates Sebastian and Tallis.  More important characters may make several appearances, like Anders and Morrigan.

If there was one quibble I had with it, it would be that some of the depictions don’t really match with the mental image I have of the characters…but that’s probably just secondary to the difference in the mediums and their different resolutions, particularly  looking at Thedas denizens from 8-year-old DAO.

vs.

Whether you enjoy coloring or just like the idea of perusing it as more of a scrapbook, the “Dragon Age Adult Coloring Book” should help keep you occupied while waiting to see when/if the next in-universe comic/game will come out.

Review: “Amnesia: Memories”

So since there was a serendipitous overlap of a) me being wretchedly sick and b) #DatingSiMonth, I finally got motivated to finish off a game that’s been sitting in my queue for some time–Idea Factory’s “Amnesia:  Memories.”

The Setup:

In “Amnesia,” you play a protagonist who’s had the misfortune of colliding with a spirit named Orion, who is now stuck in you.  Even worse, Orion has managed to displace most of your memories (memories have mass?) so all you have left is your name and knowledge of activities of daily living.  Starting off in a limbo-like state, Orion tells you to choose one of four world (Heart, Spade, Club, or Diamond) states which in turn determines the storyline and romance you get.

Once you begin, Orion, in a nice display of paranoia, advises you against telling anyone you have amnesia unless you absolutely trust them, because it would otherwise only result in them either locking you away in a hospital where you’d slowly go insane from sharing your mind too long, or taking advantage of your lack of memories for their own personal gain.  The only way you can get back to normal is by having experiences that remind you of things–the influx of memories will have the effect of pushing out Orion and achieving separation.

Because the main person you end up interacting with is your romance interest (sometimes he starts off as your boyfriend, sometimes not,) there are generally three parameters you can track to see how well you’re accomplishing your charade of a relationship:  Affection, Trust, and Suspicion.  Ultimate failure at any one of the three generally leads to a Bad End, of which there are several per route.

[SPOILERS FOR PLOT CONTENT BELOW]

The Story:

Each of the four routes ends up representing a different genre:  Mystery, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy, and Horror, with an additional route only revealed after finishing all the others.  In general, the beginning of each one deals with the heroine trying to figure out the mechanics of her life–where she works and goes to school and what her relationships are.  Interestingly enough, although the player is free to choose to play the suits in any order, I found that playing them in the order listed actually made the most sense in terms of how they introduced these things.  For example:  In each world the heroine works at the same Maid Cafe.  In the Heart route, a significant amount of time is spent with one character introducing the concept to the heroine and training her beforehand in what she needs to do there.  In the Spade route, they show her having some problems and getting help at the workplace.  In the Club route, it just shows her mastering her work by getting the manual and reading it at home, and by the last two routes there’s hardly any mention of her learning anything about it–she seems as familiar with it as the player is, by that time.  There are also specific character relationships and pathologies that are revealed in both the Heart and Spade worlds that play important roles in the Diamond world.  The Club world is largely stand-alone.

The Characters:

The major character, and the one that’s around you almost all the time, is Orion.  I found Orion hilarious, in large part to the voice work by Hiromi Igarashi.  Although the dialogue is all in Japanese with English subtitles, Igarashi is so animated and Orion so histrionic that in a lot of instances you hardly need the translation to get his reaction.  Although sometimes of very little help and periodically a source of really bad advice, Orion is completely devoted to helping the player get back her memories, and is a fierce advocate for her in situations where he perceives she’s being treated unfairly.

Tell us what you really think, Orion.
Tell us what you really think, Orion.

The rest of the characters are pretty much the same in each storyline, although they change in their relationships to the heroine.  One might be a boyfriend in one world, then an advisor in the next.  Or a brother-figure in one world, and a boyfriend in another.  Or a creepy stalker in one world, and…a creepy stalker in a few of them, actually.

I love this expression on Orion.
I love this expression on Orion.

While I haven’t had too much experience with otome games and their various conventions, the boyfriends in this game appear to have a lot of common characteristics found in this genre.  Most of them have a touch of the tsundere about them, except for the ones that go full-blown yandere, which justifies the heroine’s mistrust of them until late in the game.  For those unprepared, I can imagine that this might completely turn them off on all of the guys as each one has moments where they are, at best, rude and hypercritical of the heroine, and at worst, kinda rapey.  Of the five, Ikkyu (Spade) and Kent (Club) come off the best as at least they are shown to each have a rationale for their behavior by the end.

Ending Thoughts:

[SUPER SPOILERS FOR THE DIAMOND END.  DON’T EVEN, IF YOU’RE GOING TO PLAY IT AND HAVEN’T FINISHED.]

So if I was going to rank the different stories, I would probably go Club, Spade, Heart, Joker, and Diamond.  This is largely based on both the appeal of the romantic interest and the ability of the story to hold up under the amount of repetition required to get all the endings.  I have a fair amount of gaming OCD where I need to get all the endings and in some instances, that was a pretty grueling process.

The Heart route probably had the most involved plotting, although it was hard for me to take it all in, given that it was the first one I played and I don’t think I had a clear idea on what the end goal was supposed to be.  My approach to these games is that I would play through once completely blind, and then go back with a walkthrough to get the specific endings I missed.  As a general rule, I almost always ended up with the Normal ending when I answered on my own–these tended to be a result of the heroine never evidencing a sufficient level of trust in their guy, causing a end where the couple separates, but has hope of reuniting in the future.  To me, the amount of support you had to show for the Good End towards guys who were often treating you pretty bad was fairly extreme, but maybe that’s why some of us were not naturally created to be otome heroines.

Orion speaks for me.
Orion speaks for me.

Kent’s story was most appealing to me, in part because at his worst he just seemed kind of stiff and unemotional as opposed to the full-blown psychosis some of the others demonstrated, but also because his route was relatively free of the unifying sub-plot that confusingly peeks into every world but is only explained in the last, secret route.

My least favorite world was Diamond–I found this one absolutely frustrating on a number of different levels.  In the first place, it was the last one (of the cardinal four) I played, so some of the parts that seemed like they were supposed to be big mysteries were pretty apparent from the beginning, if you were familiar with all the characters from the other routes.  In the second place, to get all the different endings in most of the others, you generally had to save and start from different points in the story, making different decisions or saying different things to move the story into a different direction.

In Diamond, literally the only difference between some of the routes was a couple of different choices close to the beginning, and then the rest of the game was identical, except for the ending.  This means you had to play through almost the same game like four different times to get all the endings.  Maybe this wouldn’t have been so bad except that you actually spend most of this world confined and totally passive (so passive that at one point Orion starts playing another video game just to pass the time) and…

Dude is a complete psychopath!  Almost from the beginning, it’s obvious that he’s lying to you, and it just progresses from there to basically putting you under house arrest, then drugging you, then locking you up in a dog cage.

Toma, no.
Toma, no.

For some reason, Orion constantly gives you the worst advice possible in this one, and you’re not even given any options that make sense half the time.  When you have access to your phone you don’t have the option to call for help, and when you get out, you’re never able to try to head anywhere but right back to where Toma is likely to catch you again.

The real finisher is the endings.  A bad ending is where Toma winds up keeping you in the cage as a sex slave for, I guess, the rest of your life, while you get brain damaged from having Orion in your head for too long.  This is despite the fact that at least one of your friends knows he’s keeping you in his place!  WTH, Shin?!

You saw he was keeping us there Shin! You didn't get curious when we never saw the light of day again?
You saw he was keeping us there Shin! You didn’t get curious when we never saw the light of day again?

The Normal end is where Toma actually tries to rape you, but you manage to escape and run out into the street in your underwear.  You get rescued, but Toma leaves town and you are sad for the rest of your life because you never see him again, and apparently Stockholm Syndrome is a thing.

So at this point, I figure the Good end must be totally different right?  WRONG, back in the cage again.  The only difference between the Good end and the Normal end is that this time, when Toma tries to rape you, he accidentally reads your diary where you wrote that you were in love with him, and suddenly everything is cool and you just start kissing?  The epilogue is that you wander off with him promising that you’ll stay with him forever, and he notes that you have the worst taste in men, and at least one of those two things is perfectly true.

Orion's face throughout most of Toma's route.
Orion’s face throughout most of Toma’s route.

The absolute kicker, however, is that when you get to the secret/Joker end, there is actually one part where Ukyo (your other psychotic future-telling boyfriend) warns you against oversharing with Toma.  If you ignore that and make friendly conversation with him…SURPRISE!  Back in the cage for the rest of your life again!  At this point, you’ve spent so much time in the cage, it’s like you lived it real time with the heroine.

Toma aside, however, I actually did like this game quite a bit.  The art was beautiful and just listening to the Japanese voice work made me crack up, even not understanding most of it.  I would play at least half of it again once the immediate knowledge of it dies off…just not the Diamond world.

Rating:  8/10

Star Wars: The Old Republic Live-ish Blog. Chapter 16 of Jedi Consular “Knights of the Fallen Empire”

Spoiler Thoughts:
Chapter XVI: The Battle of Odessen
  • “Someone’s slicing our communications?”  “Who?”  Are you not even paying attention?!
  • Ha ha. It’s been so long, I don’t remember who all the later additions are.
  • Oh wow, the game suddenly remembered we were supposed to be romancing Theron.
  • Theron likes you, but not enough to want to go meet Arcann with you.
  • This seems like everyone is coming around to say bye. We must be nearing the end.
  • Great. I’ve been playing the Imperial Agent for the last month and barely remember how Consular fights anymore.
  • What…Koth has an anti-SCORPIO button?  Why have we not used that before?
  • Man, you really have to get a lot closer to fight as a Jedi than an agent.
  • Well that was a lot of dying, but the Harry Potter magical shield of need really came in handy.
  • I’m not so sure I’d count Arcann out until I saw a body.
  • Senya…
  • Vaylin never gets a break.
  • How did Senya take so long to get here, she missed the whole fight?
  • Koth better not be right about you, Senya. I’ve already had one betrayal this story.
  • Oh hi Valkorian. Did you not hear when Arcann was mopping up the floor with me to get your attention?
  • Nice of you to show up now.
  • Wow, I really don’t get SCORPIO’s deal. Why couldn’t she have accomplished this working with us?
  • Why would she give up all the power once she had it?  So confused.
  • This quest with the TC-93 droid is hilarious. “TC = remembers Carina // Carina = obsessive + lonely + creepy”
  • These poor lonely women and their even poorer droids.
  • So I guess that’s the end of the “Fallen Empire” storyline.
  • On the whole, it was pretty entertaining and doable as a solo, which was my main concern when I started this whole thing.
  • The first nine chapters I thought were really engrossing, but then it seems kind of evident that the subsequent chapters didn’t get the same amount of funding or time and were kind of shallow.
  • The other thing that you notice is how all the class storyline missions were fully voiced and the worlds fully rendered, while most of the expansions your character was silent and transportation was handled as a “fade to black” and then reappearance at your destination.
  • Once I caught up with the chapters however, the game really weakened for me, since all the interchapter grinding involved the heroic flashpoints which I proved totally incapable of finishing.
  • At that point, there wasn’t really anything interesting for the whole month until the new chapter came out.
  • Additionally, the early entry into the chapters for the subscribers wasn’t a huge advantage, because a) the chapters started out totally buggy and needed patching to be easily playable, and b) the areas were so crowded initially, you could hardly find non-timed out objectives.
  • Like sometimes you’d have to just stand around in some enemy compound waiting for a Big Bad to respawn and then try not to accidentally poach someone else’s turn who had been waiting for it earlier.
  • The next segment will evidently deal with Vaylin, who was probably a much more interesting character than Arcann, anyway.
  • Unfortunately it also deals with SCORPIO who I think was one of the weaker characters–pretty one-note, and one of those who makes your character look like kind of an idiot for constantly helping them even when they flat out say they’ll betray you at the first opportunity.
  • All the new characters were pretty interesting, but after the first nine chapters they were mostly done talking at length to you.
  • The chance to romance either Theron, Lana, or Koth was nice, but having to lock it in with one of them right in front of the other two was a little awkward.
  • Plus it wasn’t like the other person ever mentioned it again until the very end, so it made virtually no difference.  I liked how Dragon Age Origins made it so the characters at least changed how they routinely addressed you by how much they liked you.
  • Although it’s not very supportive of the game, if all you’re interested in is the new stuff, I’d probably hold off subscribing until all the chapters are out, because I found the time between them kind of tedious.
  • Part of it could also have been the Jedi Consular itself, because after starting an Imperial Agent character, I found that storyline to be much more interesting.
  • Even though the basic class stories are free, if you suck at combat as I do, it’s a huge advantage to subscribe and be able to have unlimited medical probes.  Otherwise, you wind up constantly having to march all the way through a level every time you die in a boss fight.
  • Alright.  On to Imperial Agent.