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  1. Platinum #350 - Genshin Impact (part 2) It's me, hi. My browser's the problem. Alright, where were we...? Oh, right. Hi, Koko. A lot of things to discuss here. Along the right, you can see her current artifact pieces, with their main stat on the left (again, this only applies to the bottom three pieces) and sub-stats on the right. I'm not sure how you determine how many rolls I got in each sub-stat, but you can see every piece is already maxed out at level 20. You can also see the symbol used for each stat in the center column to show you her overall stats. (The website doesn't even bother to show Kokomi's CRIT Rate because why would you?) You can see my sands, goblet, and circlet all have HP% as their main stat, while the flower and feather have sub rolls of 11.1% and 19.8%, respectively, into HP%. There's also a flat HP sub-stat (the water droplet without the percentage symbol), which gives her an additional boost to her maximum health. All of this results in my Kokomi having 42k HP, at the max level of 90. Is that good? It's probably OK. You can see her weapon (which is only 3-stars, but is actually her best in slot) has a main stat too. That's another thing you should consider when building your characters -- although you're free to swap weapons and artifacts between characters whenever you want. I say all of this not because I expect it to make sense, but just so you can get a feel for how complicated it can get to build the "perfect" character. And even if I play for another five years and get the best possible rolls into every piece, this STILL wouldn't be the "perfect" Kokomi because there are certain situations and group compositions where a different weapon or artifact set might be better for her. This is the best build I have when I pair her with Ganyu, but I could easily start farming another set if I wanted her to be my main DPS (and actually, you know, do damage). Next, I want to draw your attention to Kokomi's thighs. Right next to them (you sicko), you see three symbols, which refer to her normal attack (top), skill (middle), and burst (bottom). These are collectively referred to as "talents". You can see they ALSO have levels associated with them. Getting a talent to level 6 usually isn't too difficult. If you want to go beyond that, it usually takes a lot of (in-game) currency and having to farm rare materials, such as weekly drops from bosses. Getting a talent to level 10 (called "crowning") requires a Crown of Insight, which is an extremely rare item that's usually only given away during limited time events. You can see I triple crowned Kokomi. This probably wasn't the best thing to do -- at least in regard to her normal attack, because it's less important than the other two -- but it's OK to spoil your favorite characters. You definitely won't have the resources to level everybody. "But her burst is at level 13..." you say. Her C3 raises her burst by three levels. If I get her to C5, the same thing applies to her skill. (You can see her unlocked constellations on the far left.) The only other character that I'm pretty happy with is Yun Jin, and that's in part because she can wear the other artifact set that comes from the Ocean-Hued Clam domain. That means I can give her all the garbage that Kokomi doesn't want to wear. Now, I want to point out that NONE of this is necessary to playing the game, enjoying the game, or platinuming the game. I have an entire spreadsheet that I use for tracking all of my characters, their current levels and artifact pieces, and where I want to take them. This is purely because I enjoy the game and find this to be a good use of my time. I don't want to scare anybody off from playing this game just because it seems overly complicated. It IS a lot to take in -- hell, I'm still learning new things and I've been playing every day for over a year -- but it's one of those games that's actually fun to learn. If Persona 5 killed gaming for me in 2020 because it was so damn good, then Genshin resurrected it in 2022 and shoved a fuckin' stake through its heart. Is there anything else I want to discuss...? Have I mentioned sound yet? OK, the overall soundtrack is great. The English VAs are...pretty good. It's really hit or miss for me. You'll get some characters who sound amazing (e.g. Yae Miko, Itto, Venti, Mona) and others who are so earsplittingly awful that I question why they even exist (I'm mostly thinking of Xinyan, who is completely out of place in this game, but some people hate Paimon too). If I had one complaint, though, it's the damn idle voices. I don't understand why this was a design decision and why there haven't been riots in the streets regarding it. When you put your controller down -- for only fifteen seconds, mind you -- your damn character will start monologuing. These aren't short monologues either. Some of them will recite an entire story, and there are often only two or three lines they choose from. You're going to hear the same lines over and over and over and over... "ReSpEcT mUsT bE gIvEn To ThE wiLl Of EvErY cReAtUrE. EaCh FiSh In ThE oCeAn SwImS iN iTs OwN dIrEcTiOn." - Kokomi, probably My ears bleed because of this. It's not even dialogue all the time either. Kokomi hums. Ganyu moans. Yun Jin breaks out fuckin' opera. Scares the shit out of my cat. I do not understand why there's no way to turn this off, without also turning off the story-based dialogue. I want to hear the characters, but not repeating the same lines all the time. For some reason, it doesn't bother me as much during combat, even though they're also only rotating between two or three lines per attack. Maybe because there's so much going on that I don't notice it. But when I just want to lower my controller and enjoy the sights for a bit, I wish I didn't have to hear Yoimiya talk about how cute goldfish are. That was my biggest complaint in the beginning of the game and it's my biggest complaint now. The resin fine. The predatory fine. Just give me the option to mute idle voices, Hoyoverse -- I'm begging you. (Artifact loadouts would be nice too.) Alright, I'm getting off-track. This is usually when I wrap up my reviews. Overall, what are my thoughts on the game? It's one of the best experiences I've had in my life. I'm at 883 hours of playtime and the game is still fresh to me. New content is constantly being added, I have several new characters I want to get up to par with the rest of my team, and I'm still looking to 36-star the Spiral Abyss for the first time. (Fortunately, this isn't required for the platinum or 100%.) The story, which I barely touched on, is actually pretty interesting too. I don't pay attention to every side quest and line of dialogue, but I try to make it a habit to listen to anything that is voiced over. And I actually am legitimately excited to see where they go with the story because this game is at its best when you get to see the characters you use on a regular basis interact with each other in new ways. Now, I will say that there are some things that might be off-putting to newer players. One of the biggest problems with starting the game today is that you won't be able to access the newer areas until probably a few weeks into the game. This limits what you can do and where you can go, but it also limits what resources you have access to. If you just started the game and got -- say, Nilou or Nahida like I did -- you wouldn't even be able to ascend them to level 20 because the materials they need only drop in Sumeru, which you probably can't access until you do a number of story quests. I had the same issue with an Inazuma character. The other thing that's a little weird, from a narrative perspective, is that you could "unlock" a character through the gacha system that you haven't met yet in the story. For example, I got Ganyu before she was introduced, so I was "using" her for several days before I came across her in the story, where she acted like it was our first time meeting. You kinda have to treat your "party" as non-canon, as the story generally assumes you're only traveling around as either Aether or Lumine. This becomes really apparent when you talk to the NPC version of the character you're controlling... Anyway... Game is certainly worth the free-to-play price tag. It's up to you if you want to spend any money. I don't regret it because I feel it increased my enjoyment, but I recognize that it could be a dangerous thing for some players and I think everyone should play responsibly. Like I said: Welkin or BP, if you must, but don't waste your money on genesis crystals. Alright, posting this before I break the internet again... EDIT: I want to thank @Mesopithecus for teaching me the ropes of this game, @Briste for stealing all my luck on a level that is borderline criminal, and @Jens for playing the game for like two weeks and then never coming back because Hu Tao's song scarred him for life.
  2. Platinum #350 - Genshin Impact Yeah, it's OK. ... ...What? You want more? Alright, fine. I guess I have a few things to say about this game. You might want to grab a drink for this one. So, Genshin Impact... What is it? About a year ago, I had no idea. I've heard the term "gacha" before, but I didn't know what it meant or how it applied to video games. I've said this before, but I blame this entirely on @realm722. Specifically, this post, which you'll notice came only two weeks before my first trophy. Not only was this the first time I even heard about the game, but I wondered what could possess a man to spend what I assume is at least an hour discussing all his reasons for not playing a video game. Normally, if somebody doesn't want to play something... they just don't. I don't write you guys a dissertation every time I decide to skip an Ubisoft game. No, there had to be something more to Genshin. What could make a game so divisive? Looking it up online, it looked like a fun game. Couldn't really tell what it was about, but it looked like something I might enjoy. "I'm going to show him," I thought to myself. "I'm going to play this game and have fun." What did I have to lose? It's not like I can get to 100% completion on this account. Worst case scenario, it just joins Indivisible and That Other @#$% Game as unfinished stains in what I hope is becoming an ever-increasing library of games. First, I want to talk about what kind of game Genshin is. It's an adventure game. I've heard it compared to Breath of the Wild before, and I think that's a fair comparison. The biggest difference is that you don't play as a single character. At the time of writing this, there are 57 playable characters in Genshin. Some of these are unlocked through the story or events, but most of them have to be unlocked via the wish system, which we'll get to later. At the start of the game, you're tasked with choosing between a boy (default name Aether) or a girl (default name Lumine). They're twins, and the basic plot of the game is that you're trying to rescue your sibling. I chose Aether and this ended up being the right choice because 90% of the cast is female. Surprise, surprise. Shortly after you start the game, Amber joins your team, followed by Kaeya and Lisa. This gives you a party of four. You'll play through most of the game with four characters on your team. You can switch them out whenever you're not in battle or in a dungeon (called "domains"). Each character is mapped to a button on the directional pad of your controller. You can only control one at a time, but it's very quick and easy to swap between them. Early on, I thought the only reason to swap between characters was if one was getting low on health or if another character was a better match-up for the enemies I was fighting. This is actually not how the game is intended to be played. What you actually want to do in battle is constantly rotate between characters. This is because characters have skills that have cooldowns (which recharge even when they're not "on field"), but also because they can complement each other. In fact, this is where the majority of your DPS is going to come from. This requires further discussion. Each character has an element (called "visions") and a weapon type. The current visions in the game are Anemo, Hydro, Pyro, Electro, Cryo, Geo, and, most recently, Dendro. Weapon types are sword, greatsword, polearm, bow, and catalyst. Amber is a Pyro bow-user, Kaeya is a Cryo sword-user, and Lisa is an Electro catalyst-user. So, if you're fighting an ice slime, you might think it's a good idea to swap to Amber because you know from Pokemon that ice beats fire. This is true. When you apply Pyro to something that has the "Cryo" status, you do Melt damage. But you can also use Kaeya to apply Cryo to non-Cryo enemies and then swap to Amber to trigger Melt. Or you could combine Amber and Lisa's attacks to do Overload damage (Electro + Pyro). This is the bulk of the combat and where most of the strategy comes into play. If you want to maximize your damage, you need to plan out your rotations, because not every attack applies a status and some attacks will actually siphon away some damage. (For example, if you're relying on Melt because your Kaeya is built better than your Lisa, then you want to make sure you're swapping to Kaeya after Amber but before Lisa because otherwise the Overload from Lisa will remove Pyro from the enemy.) Of course, with seven elements across 57 characters (and more being added all the time), you can imagine how complicated this can get. Every character has an attack, a charged attack, a skill, and a burst, regardless of their vision or weapon type. I'll use Ganyu as an example because she's one of the earliest and best characters I got. Ganyu a Cryo bow-user. If you press the attack button, she'll fire an arrow. Probably a useful thing for a bow-user. Auto attacking, as it's called, usually hits the nearest enemy, but not always. If you tap the attack button repeatedly, she'll perform a combo. Most characters have a four or five hit combo. If you hold the attack button, you'll go into aim mode. This is an over-the-shoulder view, but it allows you to control where your shot lands. It's also why bow characters are the most fun to use in the game, and pretty useful for hitting flying enemies. More importantly for Ganyu, however, is charging an attack allows her to fire a Frostflake Arrow, which explodes upon impact and does area-of-effect damage. This is what makes Ganyu one of the best characters in the game. She essentially drops a nuke every two seconds. The downside is she's very fragile. In Ganyu's case, she has a skill that supports this. When you activate her skill (which has a cooldown, unlike the normal attack), she dashes backwards and drops an Ice Lotus, which serves as both a taunt and a time bomb. This synergies very well with her Frostflake Arrow because now all your enemies are gathered in one place and you've put some distance between you and them. Finally, her burst (Celestial Shower) causes shards of ice to rain down on the field for a brief period of time. There's...uh, some mathematical formula that determines whether each shard falls randomly or targets a particular enemy, but the important thing to keep in mind is that the effect persists even if you switch to a different character. Not all skills and bursts are like that, but you can see how of all her abilities complement each other (and the other possible characters you might have on your team). Similarly, you might be able to imagine how some characters might not synergize with others. Since Ganyu wants space between her and her enemies, she might not work well with characters who prefer to fight in melee range. You also have to keep visions in mind, as not every element has a reaction with every other element. (Geo, for example, has no reactions except with itself.) Thus, there are some characters who work really well with Ganyu, and others not so much. This applies to every character. I can't even begin to imagine how much work went into designing and balancing each character. Of course, there are some characters that are inherently better than others. The developers will occasionally tweak things, but this is a game that is constantly adding new content, so some characters have gotten better or worse over time. Typically, it seems the newer content favors the newer characters. I want to discuss a second character now: my girl, Kokomi. She's not the "best" support for Ganyu, but she's another character I got early on and she's quickly become my favorite, even though she was heavily ridiculed at release. Kokomi as a Hydro catalyst-user. Catalysts in this game do elemental attacks, while normal attacks do neutral damage. That's probably something I should've mentioned earlier. Only Ganyu's charged attack, skill, and burst do Cryo damage. With catalyst users, basically every attack is doing elemental damage, which can be a good thing, but it's obviously a bit problematic when the enemy you're fighting is immune to that element. Kokomi's charged attack is nothing special. It just does more damage than a basic attack. Her skill, however, plops a jellyfish down on the field, which applies "Wet" to all nearby enemies and heals all nearby allies. Her burst allows her to do more damage, heal party members when she attacks, and increases her resistance to interruption. (It also lets her walk on water for some reason.) Unlike Ganyu, however, her burst goes away when you swap to a different character. The gears in your head should now be turning. How can we use Ganyu and Kokomi to support each other? Well, if you can apply the Wet status to an enemy and then hit them with a Cryo attack, you'll freeze them in place. That could be useful. You could also use Ganyu to attack and then switch to Kokomi when her burst is up. The game has an indicator for this. There is a cooldown for bursts, but they also require energy, which are given in the form of particles -- usually from performing a skill of that element. Their are some characters who specialize in particle generation. Diona, for example, is a Cryo bow-user (like Ganyu) who has a skill that generates energy and provides a temporary shield to whoever is the active character. So, you could swap to Diona, use her skill, swap to Ganyu to collect the energy, use Ganyu's burst, and then drop down Kokomi's jellyfish to constantly apply freeze to a large group of enemies. Throw in another character -- say, Venti, who has a burst that gathers all small enemies in one place -- and you can see how a full party can complement each other. The team I've just described is close to the original "Morgana" team (just swap Kokomi for Mona), which was widely considered to be one of the best teams (or "meta") early on. These days, there are more characters and likely better teams, as the developers are always looking for ways to nerf older characters. (Venti's burst, for example, doesn't do much to bosses or larger enemies, which have become a lot more prominent in the game.) Similarly, Kokomi was ridiculed early on because healing wasn't considered necessary in the game, but then they began adding enemies that can eat through shields, making my girl much more valuable. (Also, there's this whole thing where her chance to crit is literally -100%, but who cares? You're using Kokomi because she's awesome, not because you want to see big numbers.) My best advice if you're just beginning the game is just to ignore the meta. I wasted way too much time being worried about "tier" lists and which characters were worth investing in. The truth is that every character in this game is viable and the game isn't nearly hard enough to need to rely on the meta. That said, I probably should get into the wish system. This is where the game loses a lot of people -- both because of how confusing it is and its predatory nature. To make things simple, I'm just going to say that every character in this game is either a 4-star or 5-star character. Generally, 5-star characters are better, but they're also harder to get. In order to get characters, you usually need to wish on either the "standard" banner (which is always available but only has six possible 5-stars) or a limited banner (only one or two are active at a time, usually lasting three weeks, and it might be several months or even years before they come around again). In order to wish on a banner, you need to use a fate, which are one type of currency in the game. They're also fairly hard to come by once you clear most of the content. Early on, it's not a big deal, but after you've been playing for a few months... Anyway, the key thing to know is the gacha system hates you. The odds are stacked so unbelievably against you that you might as well drop your pants and bend over backwards now because you're not getting what you want. Your odds of getting a 5-star character are about 0.6% with each wish. There's a soft pity at 75 wishes and a guarantee to get a 5-star on your 90th wish if you're extremely unlucky. Even then, you're only have a 50/50 chance to get the limited character on the banner. You could lose the 50/50 and get a standard banner character or weapon instead. (Once you lose, you're guaranteed to get the character on the banner with the next 5-star pull, but that means you could literally spend 180 wishes just to get your waifu.) So, what do you do? My suggestion is you accept the ass-beating the game gives you. I wanted Xiao as my first 5-star. I lost the 50/50 and then got Ganyu with the next round of banners, which is when Hoyoverse lost their minds and allowed Ganyu and Zhongli (easily two of the best characters in the game at the time) to share a banner. This ended up being a godsend for two reasons. First, I would've gotten severe motion sickness with Xiao (his burst is disgusting), but second, Ganyu is amazing. How amazing? So amazing that I got her twice. Oh, right. I need to talk about constellations. OK, so every character has six constellations. You can think of them as permanent upgrades to that character that you unlock when you obtain a character more than once. When you unlock a character for the first time, they're at constellation zero or "C0"), which means you can use them, but you don't have any constellations. If you get that character again, you can unlock their first constellation (or C1), followed by C2, C3, and all the way up to C6. For 4-star characters, which you'll get approximately every nine or 10 wishes on any banner, it's not hard to unlock constellations. You'll probably get most of the 4-star characters just by playing through the game and using the gacha system naturally. Getting multiple 5-star characters is much harder, though. I was lucky to get Ganyu to C1 (she came on 14 pity the first time) and just as lucky a few weeks later to get Kokomi to C1 (at 17 pity). In fact, Koko had a rerun banner a few weeks ago and I got her TWICE again (at a ridiculous 4 pity the second time), meaning she's at C3 for me. That's ridiculously good for a 5-star who "can't crit." I'm still not as lucky as @Briste, who I'm pretty sure worships Satan. Last I counted, he had 11 more 5-stars than me. I have C3 Kokomi, C1 Ganyu, C1 Jean (another one of my favorites), C1 Diluc, C0 Keqing, C0 Kazuha, C0 Venti, C0 Mona, C0 Yoimiya, C0 Nilou, and C0 Nahida. I also have three 5-star weapons. (Too lazy to explain the weapon banner, but it's a thing that exists too. Don't waste your money.) Jean, Mona, Diluc, and Mona are all "standard" characters, which means I either got them on the standard banner or by losing the 50/50. Somehow, I've avoided Qiqi, who is notorious for ruining people's luck. Annnd we might as well talk money while we're at it. Real world money. I heard you don't have to spend money to win at this game. That's definitely true. It would make things easier (or at the very least shorter), but this is primarily a single player experience, where more money would just mean wishes, which would presumably translate to better characters/weapons or more powerful constellations/refinements (if you get multiple copies of the same weapon, you can upgrade them, similar to characters). As a free-to-play player, though, you'll still get wishes -- just at a much slower rate. To tell you the truth, I had this review planned out from the moment I started the game. I wanted to boast about all of my achievements and then end the review by saying, "...and I didn't spend a single cent!" Yeah, that didn't happen. I've spent over $200. Now, in my defense, I certainly feel I got my money's worth. I didn't break out my wallet for the first three months and I certainly wouldn't have if I wasn't having a good time. I've found there are only two things worth spending money on: Blessing of the Welkin and the Battle Pass (BP). For the Welkin, you get 90 primogems per day for 30 days, but you have to log on each day to claim them. (You also get 300 genesis crystals, which can be converted to primos at a 1:1 ratio or used to buy cosmetic items.) If you also do your dailies, you get an additional 60 primos per day, which translates to about one wish per day (not including whatever you get from events, quests, or exploration). The BP has several nice rewards that you can unlock through natural gameplay, but it takes a while to earn them too. In both cases, it's probably not worth it unless you plan to play the game daily. (You'll need about 20 minutes per day to do your dailies and spend your resin, which we'll talk about in a bit.) It's $5 per month for Welkin. BP is $10 per month. Together, that's about the cost of an MMO subscription. If you play this game like an MMO (that is, every day), that's not a terrible deal. What IS a terrible deal is buying wishes directly. Let's do the math. It's about $2 per wish, if you buy genesis crystals and convert them directly into primogems. We're just going to round here. Let's say you have the worst possible luck, go to hard pity, lose the 50/50, and then have to go to hard pity a second time to get the 5-star character you want. That's 180 wishes, or $360 for a single copy of a character. What if you want C1? Double that. C2? Add $360 more. You want a C6 character? You're looking at potentially spending over TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Granted, that's if you have astronomically low luck, but there's no way in hell that any character in this game is worth that. Even if you get lucky a few times and win a 50/50 here and there or get an early 5-star, you're probably still looking at several hundred dollars. I still haven't discussed what you do in the game. It's actually very similar to an MMO, except that you're playing by yourself. (There is co-op, but it's very limited. I only ever do it for weekly boss fights, and even that I could do solo if I wanted.) You mostly run around the overworld and complete quests or explore for hidden treasures or puzzles. The overworld is HUGE and new content and regions and events are being added all the time. I'm amazed at how much there is to explore, honestly. It's so big that they sometimes have to remove large sections of the game or only make them available for a limited amount of time. There are also very few loading screens, outside of using the fast travel system. I'm not even sure how they managed that, considering this entire game can be be played on mobile devices. I haven't gotten to talk about graphics yet, but they're fuckin' gorgeous. This is what sold me on the game instantly. You could go anywhere in the game, angle the camera however you want, and you would have a picture that you could post to your social media account. Don't believe me? Let's look at some screenshots I've taken. Jean blows dandelion seeds over Qingce Village in Liyue. Hoyoverse is so damn impressed with themselves that there are actual events that require taking photos like this. Kokomi finishes reading those bitch ass arguments saying she's a bad character. Silly churl, billy churl, silly billy hilichurl. Woooooo. Ganyu faces the true final boss in Genshin Impact. Genshin is a technical masterpiece. I don't think I'll ever get sick of looking at the environments in this game. Those first four pictures, I believe, are from the four current main regions of the game (Liyue, Inazuma, Sumeru, and Mondstadt, respectively). When I first started playing a year ago, Inazuma was new. Sumeru wasn't even released until a few months ago. There are more regions coming in the future, and there are several "mini" regions that already exist (my favorite being Dragonspine, which is a snow-covered mountain). Exploring these regions is particularly fun because you have a glider that you can use any time you're in the air. It runs off your stamina bar, which is the same bar you use for running, swimming, and climbing walls. It's just so liberating to jump off a cliff and slowly hover to your destination. It's also very easy to forget you're not playing Genshin when you start up a different game and try jumping off a cliff... When you've heard me criticize the movement controls in other action RPGs this year, this is why. Now, there's a controversy in this game regarding the actual amount of content it allows you to play at any one time. In theory, there IS a full game here. You could start it today, play for several hours every day for a month, and not run out of things to do. I've been playing for a year and I STILL haven't unfinished quests. But there are a finite amount of quests, and a lot of the content you're going to want to complete at the "end-game" (if you even want to call it that) is time-gated. This is because of the resin system. You get about 1 resin every 8 real world minutes. You max out at 160 resin. That takes roughly 22 hours. If you want to do a domain, that costs resin. If you want to kill a boss, that costs resin. If you want to farm ley lines for money or experience books (the main way you level up your characters), that costs resin too. You could argue this is done primarily to keep you coming back every day, but you could also be a glass half-full person and say it's a way to ensure that players don't get burned out. I'm somewhere in between on this. On one hand, I would like to farm domains over and over because it's the best way to get better artifacts (gear) for your characters, but I also appreciate the fact that I can use up all my resin and then go do something else while I wait for it to recharge. In a weird sort of way, I've always kinda liked the idea that I'm accomplishing something in a game by not playing it. I should probably talk about artifacts too. So, you know how I said every character has a weapon? Well, they can also equip five armor pieces: a flower, feather, sands, goblet, and circlet. Each artifact is part of a set and equipping multiple artifacts of the same set can give that character a bonus. For example, my Ganyu uses the Blizzard Strayer artifact set. Wearing two pieces of this set gives her 15% to Cryo damage. Wearing four pieces gives her a higher CRIT Rate. You don't get any bonuses by having a five piece set (currently anyway), so you could have an "off" piece, which means a random artifact from a different set. "Why would you want a random artifact from a different set?" you ask. That's because Hoyoverse hates you. You see, just like everything else in this game, artifacts come down to luck. Every artifact (except flower and feather, but I'm trying to keep this simple) has a random main stat and four random sub-stats. Each artifact can also be leveled up to level 20, with every four levels giving a random boost to one of the sub-stats. Thus, a "perfect" artifact would be the ideal main stat for the character you want to equip it on, the ideal sub-stats for that character, and the ideal rolls into each sub-stat. This can vary widely from character to character. Ganyu, for example, wants CRIT Damage. CRIT Rate is nice too. Kokomi, on the other hand, starts out with a -100% chance to crit. Unless you pour a TON of time into getting just the right pieces, she's never going to crit, which means CRIT Damage is useless on her. HP%, however, is fantastic, because many of her abilities scale off her health. Thus, when I'm farming artifacts for Koko, I'm looking for HP% as the main stat and something like Energy Recharge for the sub-stat. Of course, even if I get that, all the rolls could go into a different sub-stat, and there's currently no way to "reset" or "re-roll" a piece. So, what do you do? Well, the nice thing is you don't have to worry about artifacts in the early game. They don't really play a role (ha) until later on, and only because of the Spiral Abyss. This is honestly the only reason this game has a 7/10 difficulty, and even that is a bit of an exaggeration. The game gets considerably easier once you get a few characters to max level and farm a few good artifacts. In fact, you really only need to focus on leveling eight characters in the game, as the current Spiral Abyss requires you to swap between two full teams. If you're interested in getting the platinum as quickly as possible, it's probably a good idea to only invest in the characters you plan to use in the Spiral Abyss. If you're just playing for fun or don't care about the Spiral Abyss (it does provide a good amount of primos and resets twice a month), then it doesn't matter who you use. It's actually extremely time-consuming to fully "max out" a character. I already talked about constellations and weapons. Most 5-star characters have a "signature" weapon, which means it's their best in slot, but other 5-star or 4-star weapons might work fine too. Both characters and weapons can be leveled up using various materials, which you usually have to farm for. That obviously takes time (although it's not always tied to domains... sometimes you just need to run around and pick flowers or fight basic enemies that respawn every real world day). Getting good artifacts, obviously, takes time too. I'd say I only have two characters that I'm happy with regarding their current artifact pieces. Let's take a look at one of them, using this nifty tracking website I found. (End of post 1. Making this a two-parter since my browser literally just crashed and I lost about an hour's worth of typing.)
  3. Orange you glad I snuck one more in?
  4. Were you expecting a triple platinum week? Let's see what $2.99 on the PS store gets you. Platinum #349 - Marsupilami: Hoobadventure In Marsupilami: Hobo's Adventure, you play as Marsupilami -- you know, this guy -- who is apparently pretty big in other parts of the world. You guys will have to let me know if you've heard of him. I faintly remember him from something (maybe an early 90's cartoon?), but I think this is his first time making a video game appearance. Kinda surprisingly, honestly. Anyway, he's a...uh, creature...with a very long tail that he uses to whack enemies and lasso objects. He can also roll into a ball and run like Sonic. If you don't want to play as him, you also have the option to play as his friends...uh, Mrs. Marsupilami and...Knuckles. I don't know. I didn't watch the show. And the game doesn't give them names. In fact, the game doesn't give you much in the way of a story either. Marsupilami is enjoying a day at the beach when he comes across a sarcophagus. He decides it's a good idea to poke it, which unleashes an ancient evil upon the world. There's no dialogue or even plot beyond that intro cutscene (and the final cutscene, which is even worse somehow). I'm cool with it because Donkey Kong County -- likely the game that inspired this and so many other 2D platformers -- has its entire story based around DK's banana hoard getting robbed. It's not like I expect BioWare-levels of exposition. As long as the gameplay is tight, I don't care what you do with the plot. And this game actually has pretty decent controls. They're simplistic. You can jump, attack (only on the ground), roll, and bounce off enemies and some platforms. In mid-air, your attack becomes a lasso, which allows you to swing from or latch onto certain objects. You can make some clutch saves with that. The most advanced move is a roll into a jump, which allows you to gain extra distance (similar to Diddy's cartwheel off a ledge). By rolling, you gain extra speed, but you have to keep tapping the button. All of these movements feel natural and the game is surprisingly forgiving -- both with its timing and checkpoint system -- so I have no complaints here. There are three worlds (four with the free DLC that just released). Each has several levels and its own theme. In each level, you can collect berries to level up. 100 berries gets you one level, and they occasionally come in bunches of five. There are also five feathers to collect in each level, as well as one bonus area. Most of them are easy to find. I don't think you'll need a guide. For the feathers, you don't collect them as soon as you touch them... There's like a small timer, where I guess the game expects you not to die or the feather doesn't count. I never struggled with this. Most of the feathers are in perfectly safe places, with the only difficulty sometimes being how to reach them. For the bonus areas, you just need to jump through several (literal) hoops. You have a very generous timer to do this. The only challenge is not taking damage, which ends the bonus stage, but not every stage has objects that can hurt you and you're free to try again right away. Oh, I forgot to mention that Marsupilami has a health bar. You can take up to three hits before dying. There are also hearts scattered throughout every level, so you can sometimes power your way through certain sections. I'm not sure what happens if you get a game over. I'm guessing the developers just come out of the screen and laugh at you. Realistically, you're probably going to max out at 99 lives by the end of the second world. I died a lot (sometimes on purpose because it refills your health at the last checkpoint), but the levels are so full of berries and extra lives that you're almost always going to come out net positive. What else do I want to say...? Um, you'll need to play through every level at least twice for the platinum. Once for the collectibles and then a second time for the time trial. (You might have to do a third if you miss any collectibles.) The time trials are extremely easy because you're not required to get the gold time, even though you'll probably get several of them without trying. In fact, I don't think I failed a single time trial. You can even die in the stage several times and complete it within the time limit. If it's not obvious by now, this is baby's first platformer, and I'm perfectly OK with that. DKC is a hard game. I'm glad they make easier platformers because I don't think kids today would have the patience for something like that. I know I wouldn't if I was born 30 years later and you provided me with today's catalog of games. If there's one thing I wish this game had borrowed from DKC, though, it's the soundtrack. The music in this game is horrendous. It's catchy for the first level or so, but then you realize how short the loop is and it's grating on your ears. I opted to play Taylor Swift's new album over it, which tells you all you need to know. Fortunately, the graphics are nice. They went for a more modern style, so all the worlds are bright and the colors really pop out. I would definitely put this over something like the modern Bubsy games (and DEFINITELY over the older ones), but I prefer the more pixelated graphics of Kaze, which I played earlier this year. I think that was a better game overall, even if it was a lot more challenging. This was a fun experience, though. It's a short game, with each world only taking a couple of hours to play through, and the only hard(ish) level is the last one, which comes out of nowhere. And hey, it got me within a platinum of my next milestone. I think we all know what that one is going to be.
  5. Orange you glad I didn't wait until the last minute to get this one in? Wait, I already made that joke...
  6. Still the most memorable moment of that show. (Followed closely by the Charmander episode...) I feel a lot of the game goes unappreciated. Even without the difficulty sliders, there's a lot of background dialogue, side quests, combat skills, and gear upgrades that you can more or less ignore. I don't know if a more streamlined experience would help or hinder the game. I am glad I went back to it, though, because that could've easily been one of those games I never touch again (pre-trophy hunting days). Were you hoping for a double plat week? Platinum #348 - Chicory Chicory (chik-uh-ree). Noun. A composite plant, Cichorium intybus, having bright-blue flower heads and toothed oblong leaves, cultivated as a salad plant and for its root, which is used roasted and ground as a substitute for or additive to coffee. (Source: In this game, you play as Chi...actually, no. Chicory is a side character. You actually get to name your character, but it's disguised as a "What's your favorite food?" question. Well, since "a Snickers Blizzard from Dairy Queen" was too many characters (and probably trademarked), I went with Burrito. Turns out every character in this game is named after a food, and just about every "region" is named after a meal (e.g. Dinners, Luncheon, Brekkie, Dessert Mountain... Grub Cavern...which is full of grubs...). I'm not sure how you're supposed to play this game without getting hungry. Anyway, the basic plot is that Chicory is "the wielder," which means she carries around a giant paintbrush and colors in the world. You're essentially a nobody, working as her janitor. One day, all of the color disappears from the world and you "borrow" her paintbrush to set things right. This leads to the paintbrush accepting you as its new master and you have to try to stop the evil that's overtaken the land. Along the way, you meet some colorful (ha) characters that are both adorable and sweet. It's actually disgusting how cute this game is at times. It reminds me of Ni no Kuni, just in the sense that the characters and plot are so sickeningly wholesome that I have to insert some bits of snark here and there to maintain my sanity. ...Fortunately, this game allows that. You see, while this game is a puzzle platformer at heart, the main gimmick is that you can manipulate your surroundings with the paintbrush. Everything is black and white and it's up to you to color in as much or as little as you want. I'm actually surprised the game is able to handle this because it actually saves your color choices, even if you leave the screen or reload the game. (OK, it does crash occasionally, but this really only happened to me when my controller died and I had to switch to a different one. It has a good auto-save feature, though, so it never set me back far.) You can change the size and color of your brush, as well as use some style brushes you unlock later in the game (e.g. heart, square, wavy line, etc.). As you play through the game, you also unlock new abilities that make it easier to travel around the world, such as being able to jump or swim in your paint. Like CrossCode, there are ten chapters in this game, but they're thankfully much shorter. Most chapters will only take about an hour. The world isn't very big, but your movement abilities early on are limited, so there's a lot of backtracking. There are no enemies to fight, but there are a few bosses (who are very easy and can be made even easier in the Options menu). The majority of the game involves puzzle-solving, fetch quests, and collectibles. You probably already know how I feel about those last two, but this game goes WAY overboard with the amount of garbage you have to find. There are over 100 outfits, 223 decor items, 130 literal pieces of trash (hey, you are a janitor), and 40 kittens to find. Some of these are out in the open, others are well-hidden, and some can only be obtained after you unlock certain abilities. I wouldn't hate this if it was easy to track what items you're missing, but the most you get is an NPC telling you approximately how many items you still need to find in each region. Now, it's pretty obvious that you're probably going to fill the screen with curse words and phallic objects the first time you play, but I have to admit that I started to feel bad for the NPCs in this world. They're all so cheerful and most of them are very excited to see the work you create, even though it's next to impossible to make anything decent with the tools you're given. The cursor is just too slow. But, just to give you an example of what you might expect, you'll go into a café and the owner will ask you to create a new dish, which they will then advertise on their door. I tried really hard to draw a severed pig's head, but all of my pictures came out looking like a ball of slime. I imagine this aspect of the game would be much better to play on PC. But even if we put the poor brush controls aside, I have to admit that I didn't find the puzzles all that engaging. Or creative. For all its potential, there are very few things your brush can actually do. It can make flowers shrink or grow. It can make bubbles pop. It can...occasionally guide creatures in a certain direction. It can light up dark areas. But if you're thinking color or size matters, it really doesn't. You never once have to change the color on your brush. There's so much that could've been done in a game like this if color choice mattered. Maybe instead of having access to all of the colors at the start of the game, you could unlock them one at a time, and each color could interact with the world in a different way. That might be a better way to handle these Metroidvania-like elements. Or maybe you have to use creative problem-solving. Let's say you need to create orange, but you only have access to red river and a yellow river. In your head, you're a smart person and you know red and yellow can be combined to create orange, so you go searching for a way to get those two rivers to meet. I think that's a huge missed opportunity with this game. Similarly, it feels the size of your brush could've had a bigger impact on gameplay. Why do you need a smaller brush? There are a few puzzles where precise movements are a thing, but it's so rare that I'm pretty sure you could go through the whole game using the largest size brush. I think it might've been neat if my first instinct on every screen wasn't, "OK, let's fill this up as quickly as I can so I can move on to the next screen." Maybe you could have an area where coloring outside the lines would cause you to fail. Or maybe you could limit how much paint you could use at one time, so you'd either have to conserve your resources or make clever use of the paint you have. I dunno. It's not a good thing when *I* start coming up with ways a game can be better. That usually means I'm bored. Of course, I don't want to make it seem like this is a bad game. It's decent. It's just not all that challenging and most of it feels like busy work, which is basically what a coloring book is. OK, they got me there. The most OP item in this entire game is the paint bucket tool. Once you have this, the game is basically won because you can fill in most of the screen with a single click, and you can get it very early on. (I think I got it in Chapter 2 or 3.) Without that, your thumbs are really going to hate you. This is a hard game to recommend, despite getting it for free. It means well. It doesn't offend me. I met an NPC I didn't like, so I wrote "LOSER" across the screen and had an arrow pointing to him. Later on, I felt so bad that I crossed that out and wrote "AWESOME" instead. Maybe I'm too quick to judge and this is actually a very good game. I don't know. These reviews have me questioning all my life choices now. Have I become too cynical? I feel like younger me would actually really like this game. You know what? It's good. It doesn't make me want to break my controller. It doesn't make me fly my spaceship into the sun. It doesn't make me play through the game six times just to get a different ending. It just says, "Here's a world. Do with it what you will." I can appreciate that. If my mind wanders while I'm playing, maybe that's not a bad thing. If I can make my own fun, maybe that's not either.
  7. Pink takes the lead! I mean, it already had it... (And yes, I know there's orange in there.)
  8. Platinum #347 - CrossCode It's rare for me to go almost six months without earning a trophy on a game that I'm actively playing. You probably thought this was going to share the same fate as That Which Must Not Be Named. And yet, on the two year anniversary of that fateful day, I finally completed it. So, what was the problem? Was the game too long, too hard, or did I just simply not enjoy myself? Well... Believe it or not, it was a little bit of all of those. Let's discuss. CrossCode is a futuristic action RPG set in a fictional MMORPG. If that seems a bit fourth wall-breaking, it kinda is. You play as Lea, who awakens in the game with no memory of who she is and being completely unable to speak. You may think the "silent protagonist with amnesia" schtick has been done before, but this may be the first time I've seen it explained away with in-game reasons. Having played through the whole story now, I can assure you that this game does not have a problem with lazy writing. Unfortunately, because this game is so heavily story-driven, I don't want to say much more about the plot. What I will say is that Lea makes friends with other players in the game-within-the-game, and it's their interactions that really drive the story. So, to avoid Inception-levels of confusion here, let's just separate out CrossCode (the game) from CrossWorlds (the game-within-the-game). In CrossWorlds (the MMO), players can select various classes to be and travel throughout the world, completing quests, forming parties with other players, and raiding dungeons. This might make you think you can change your character or your class, but you cannot, because you are playing CrossCode (the game). You play as Lea and she is a Spheromancer, which means you'll be a Spheromancer the whole time, regardless of the fact that the developers apparently made other classes for the NPCs (who are actually in-game PCs in the game-within-the-game). Are you confused yet? Good. I think that's what the developers intended. The developers of CrossCode, I mean. Not the developers of CrossWorlds, who also play an important role in the story. Anyway, uh... The game -- the one you are playing -- has ten chapters. Your basic goal is to unlock the four elements and then save the world or something. The four elements are, of course, heat, cold, shock (?!), and wave (?!?!). Each of these is mapped to a separate gamepad button. For example, once you're unlocked heat, you can press Up on the gamepad to infuse Lea with the heat element. This applies heat to all of her attacks. This is necessary for two reasons: (1) attacking enemies that are weak to that element, and (2) solving puzzles that involve that element. Heat and cold are opposites -- so are shock and wave for some reason -- so figuring out which element you should be using at any point in time is often just a matching game. I guess I should talk about combat first. Lea has a melee attack, ranged attack, dodge, and shield. Each element also has its own skill tree and various stronger attacks you can perform by building up "SP". I'll be honest -- because you can adjust the difficulty sliders without affecting the trophies, I didn't really feel the need to learn the combat system or grind for gear or higher levels. That doesn't mean combat was easy, but I never found myself getting overly frustrated. There are some battles that you're scripted to lose or that losing still allows you to continue the story. The problem with the combat system is Overload. If Lea attacks too much while being infused with any element, she'll go into Overload, which prevents her from using any elemental attacks for several seconds. Your options are to allow this to happen and wait, or stop attacking and...wait. This makes some battles take significantly longer than they should. You're often only given a small window to attack your opponent, so it's not uncommon to use an elemental attack to weaken an enemy or break their shield, only to go into Overload and have to rely on weaker neutral attacks while you wait for your abilities to return. Puzzles are also a big part of gameplay. I'd say they're very Zelda-like, with most dungeons introducing a new gimmick and then gradually increasing in complexity. They usually involve using your elements in some way. For example, you can freeze bubbles with your cold attacks, but you can also turn them into steam with your heat attacks. You're generally just trying to move blocks or flip switches so that you can advance further into the dungeon. Fortunately, I think most puzzles are confined to a single room, so they're not TOO confusing, but I found it very difficult at times to figure out where I was supposed to go or which puzzles I had already solved. That's actually the main reason I stopped playing back in May. I was in a dungeon and I didn't know how to solve a puzzle or if the puzzle even could be solved with the abilities I had at the time. I also thought the story was overly complicated. I stopped playing about halfway through it. I had planned to get back into this game, finish it (which is basically all you have to do for the platinum), and give it a mediocre review...and then I got to Chapter 7. I take it all back. This was a wonderful experience. I still think there's too much filler, the game is about 10 hours longer than it should be, and the devs really needed to chill down with some of the puzzles, but I felt emotions in this game that I don't normally feel. Lea is a great protagonist and probably my favorite character in any game I've played this year. "But wait, Cass," I hear you argue. "She's silent. How can that be done in an interesting and emotional way?" To that, I say, "Remember Bye Bye Butterfree?" Or, if that's too far removed from the world of video games, what about Super Mario RPG? Mario had no dialogue in that entire game (per usual for his character), and yet he was more expressive than some protagonists who never shut up. Besides, Lea isn't completely mute. She learns to say a few words, such as "Hi," "Bye," and her name. You'd be surprised by what you can do with that. Her facial expressions are also great. It's not hard to know what Lea is thinking or feeling at any point in the story. For the most part, I'd say the story takes itself seriously, but this is also used for comedic effect. There's also at least one boss fight that I thought was extremely cool -- but, again, I can't say more for spoiler reasons. So...begrudgingly, I must admit that I was wrong, that this is a really good game, and I probably shouldn't have let it go for so long. I'm going to give it a recommendation and say it's probably a GOTY contender from me. Sorry, Lea. I was dumb.
  9. Yeah, the game isn't easy. The level of your units is capped by your "union level", which only increases at specific points in the story. You're also at a significant disadvantage because of the permadeath system. Since most maps only require you to defeat the enemy leader to win, I'm finding it easier to just rush the boss and hope I can beat him before losing any units. Never played the original, so I don't know what the best tactics are, but I'm finding charm and petrify are OP. Being able to roll back to previous turns helps too. I'm assuming I'm near the end of the game, but I don't know.
  10. Orange you glad this one isn't a stretch?
  11. Platinum #346 - Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe I mean, you had to know I was going to play it... Alright, so the AVGN video game is actually 2.5 games in one, if you're going to count the Tower of Torment as a separate (albeit much shorter) game. However, there isn't a huge difference between the games... In the first game, there are three unlockable characters you can play as. In the second game (and the Tower of Torment), you can only play as the Nerd, but there are permanent upgrades you can find that enhance his abilities. He also has a wall jump in the second game, which can make going back to the first game seem kinda limiting... I definitely died a few times thinking I could jump off a wall. Anyway, I'm going to assume you all know who AVGN is, since this is the internet. I'm also probably going to assume you're pretty cool, since you're reading this thread, so you already know that I've been watching him for years now and definitely use him as inspiration for some of my angrier reviews. Strangely enough, this isn't going to be one of them. Yes, the game is "Nintendo hard," but you can play everything on Easy, which drastically reduces the difficulty. Since that's what I did, I can't say how much harder the game would be without it, but it's still not a cake walk. There are lots of enemies, projectiles, hazards, bottomless pits, and death blocks/lasers, which kill the Nerd in one hit. You die, die, die, die, DIE! (the trophy for dying 100 times) is right. I died over 100 times in the first game and 200 times in the second. That said, the levels and the games are rather short. Both games took me under 3 hours, and the Tower of Torment only took 31 minutes. Most levels can be beaten in only a few minutes, and there are lots of checkpoints along the way. If you take your time, you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Most of the level design is there to punish you for rushing. You'll get basically every trophy in the game simply by playing through every level and finding all of the collectibles. Most of the collectibles are easy to find, but some are well-hidden, and others can only be found once you have the right character or upgrade. I don't want to spoil what those characters or upgrades are, but my suggestion is just to play through each level blindly first, and then go back for the collectibles. You'll need to master every level anyway for Totally Perfect Nerd, which is the real platinum breaker here. That trophy requires beating every level and boss in the game without dying. You'll probably get a few of these without even trying, but some stages are downright dickish, which I guess is the point of the game... It's really the insta-death obstacles that you have to watch out for. I'm going to agree with the guide on this one. I'd say about a 4/10 in difficulty. The game does get a bit easier once you've collected the "N-E-R-D" cartridges in every stage, as that unlocks a skin that gives you a permanent upgrade to your weapon across all games. Doesn't make the platforming any easier, but every little bit helps... One of the more fun games I've played this year, so I'll recommend it -- particularly if you're into AVGN or old school games.
  12. Technically finished 13 (14) games, but not Doom Eternal, so I'll let you decide whether that counts as a complete list or not. The Wild at Heart Erica Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - The Hinokami Chronicles Demon's Souls (PS5) Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker's Memory The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 Young Souls Cult of the Lamb Creaks Greak: Memories of Azur Outer Wilds Xenon Valkyrie+ Othercide As for as how they fit the Halloween theme... Other Wilds has aliens, Xenon Valkyrie+ has aliens, and Othercide has...I dunno, maybe they're aliens. They definitely wanted me dead. If I was going to recommend any of these games, I'd say #1, #3-5, and #8-11. #12-14 were OK, but I have major reservations about recommending them, and #2 is barely a game. #6 and #7 were too long and repetitive to be fun. Thanks for the event!
  13. Besides YouTube? I use this website: You can type in a game or genre and find similar games. For example, if I type in XCOM and then filter by console (PS4), Othercide is the 11th result. I've already done the 1st result (XCOM), 2nd (Mutant Year Zero), and 4th (Valkyria Chronicles 4). It's not perfect -- you'll often get games that are radically different than the one you're searching for -- but it's a good starting place. Generally, I'm looking for tactical RPGs, farming sims, Metroidvanias, etc. Sometimes people suggest games for me in this thread. Will probably be less of a wait. November is all about cleaning up my backlog. And yes, that means every game I can finish. You know the one of which I speak.
  14. It was actually a decently fun game. There's just a (now well-known) cheat code that lets you bypass any difficulty the game could offer -- which would be pretty sizable, since your character can only take a few hits and it's one of those games where dying once puts you back at the very beginning. I did a few runs without it, but I didn't want to stress myself out more than was necessary. Now, as promised... (and not too late after Halloween!) Platinum #345 - Othercide You better believe I plan to play every XCOM-inspired game out there. This was one I kept seeing on sale for under $10 -- and it has a pretty unique art style -- so I finally decided to take the plunge. Is this game worthy of comparison to that legendary title, or should it be sent to...the other side? I'm not going to try to explain the story. I'm not sure there is one. There's a female figure called "Mother" that you play in the tutorial (she's the red one in the platinum image), and all of her children are her daughters. Those daughters are your "units" during the campaign. You begin the game with only a few, but you can germinate more (ew) or sacrifice one daughter to make another stronger. Unlike XCOM, you get to choose the class for each daughter. Class options are Blademaster (melee), Soulslinger (ranged), and Shieldbearer (tank), with Scythedancer being an unlockable class about midway through the game. Similar to XCOM, you get to choose from one of two possible skills every few levels, allowing for some decent customization. There is no base-building in this game. Instead, the game is broken up into five "eras". Each era is seven days long, and each day gives you the option of doing one or more battles. You have to attempt at least one battle in order to advance to the next day. On day 4, I believe, you have the option of challenging that era's boss. On day 7, that battle is forced upon you. If you defeat the boss, you advance to the next era (meaning you miss out on valuable experience and loot if you choose to do the fight early). Any character you use in battle becomes exhausted and won't recover until the next day, so you're kinda limited by your roster size. I rarely had more than 10-12 daughters -- and even that might be excessive. Most battles limit you to 3-4 daughters. Yes, there is permadeath, but you can earn tokens to bring a daughter back to life. They're just fairly rare and you lose any items you had equipped on the unit when she died or was sacrificed. ("Items" in this case are "Memories" that increase the ability of a skill in some way. They're the only way to increase a character's power other than leveling up, which you do by using that character in battle.) Here's the kicker. The game expects you to fail. Your odds of beating the game on your first attempt are about the same as the Lions winning the Super Bowl this year. This is because the game has "Remembrances" (you gotta love the terminology here), which have to be unlocked by playing through the game but can only be used on subsequent playthroughs. For example, there's a Remembrance for increasing all your daughters HP. Want it? You need to reach a certain point in the game to unlock it, have enough "shards" to buy it (you earn 25 shards per battle), and then you need to game over. This puts you back at the very beginning of the game, but now you're much more powerful than the previous attempt. If this seems similar to a rogue-like, that's because it kinda is. The further you get on each attempt, the easier all the future ones will be. (I should point out there are two difficulties in the game: Nightmare and Dream. I picked the easier one and found the combat to be fairly challenging early on.) I'd say you can probably expect to get to a boss, defeat it, and then die in the next era. Come back a second time, beat the first two bosses, and then die in the third era, etc. If you do the math, that means you should probably expect to beat the whole game in around four or five playthroughs. I did it in four, but only because you can quit out of the game in mid-battle to try again from the the start of the battle. The final boss is bullshit and I would've easily lost my first time. Now, combat is essentially turn-based. It's a little more complicated than that, but you essentially move your units around the map, choosing to attack or "burst" when you can. (You use AP to move your characters and attack. If you use more than 50% of your AP, you enter "burst" mode, which means you can perform a lot more actions at the cost of delaying your next turn. Don't worry. It's actually very easy to wrap your head around once you've done a few battles.) There's an OK enemy variety. You can somewhat manipulate the AI. It seems most of them only have one or two attacks. You also have some "reaction" skills. For example, the Blademaster has an ability to attack any enemy within melee range if another one of your units attacks that enemy. She can do this at the cost of a portion of her health and it lasts until her next turn. There are a lot of intricate systems here and it probably sounds like the developers did their best to create a balanced game, but it's fundamentally broken. There's no point in using a Shieldbearer or Scythedancer. All you need are a bunch of Soulslingers. They have one skill that lets you interrupt any enemy within range performing an attack (meaning you negate their attack AND do damage) and another skill that lets them follow up any attack on any enemy with one of their own. These skills can trigger each other. That means if you have two Soulslingers in range and an enemy attacks, the first Soulslinger will interrupt the attack, which will trigger the second Soulslinger's reaction shot, which will trigger the first Soulslinger's reaction shot. (It'd be hilarious if they kept going like that, but they don't. Still, you can imagine the damage you can do with three or four Soulslingers.) You probably also want a Blademaster, who have the reaction skill I mentioned earlier, plus they can zip around the map with Sidestep. And while I normally like finding exploits in a game and abusing them, that's...honestly, the entire game. Every battle, I used one Blademaster and the rest Soulslingers. There are different types of battles, such as "Hunt" or "Survive", but the formula is pretty much the same: set up your Soulslingers and watch the enemy AI be unable to do anything. Would the game be more fun if you varied your strategy? Maybe. The bosses definitely ramp up the difficulty. I don't know how you would do some of them without exploits. I almost feel like some boss fights were designed with that exploit in mind. You'll get enemies that have armor, and the fastest way to remove their armor is by attaching an armor reduction memory to a reaction shot, so you're getting off multiple hits before they can move again... And with the bosses, they do so much damage that you need to burn through HP quickly... I dunno. There isn't enough variation in the rest of the game to make alternative strategies seem appealing. On a positive note, I liked the heavy metal soundtrack. There are some killer vocals that kick in during the climax of major fights. The color scheme is neat, with almost everything in the game being monochrome, except for a heavy use of red. Character models are a bit lacking. There are a few customization options for your daughters, but I didn't play around with them much. I just never found myself building a bond with my units, since they're more or less fodder. You can revive your old units on subsequent playthroughs, but they basically all look the same. I even went with the default names (which are all generic religious terms, like Miracle, Hope, and Grace). The rest of the audio is pretty good too, I guess. I wouldn't say the game is narrated exactly, but the Mother character will talk to you and say inspirational (?) things, which reminds me of Darkest Dungeon. I'm going to say it's OK. It's not a masterpiece, but it's also not a 100+ hour game. You're looking at maybe 20-30 hours, and each playthrough will be significantly faster than the one before (even though they'll hopefully be longer because you'll be able to get a bit further). For difficulty, I'd say maybe a 4/10, but only for the first playthrough -- or until you abuse the exploit, if you want to call it that. I'd put this one above Phantom Doctrine, but nowhere near the series both of these titles were clearly imitating. Maybe it's the lack of a kill cam.
  15. I was trying to 100% games long before trophies were a thing, and I imagine I'd keep doing it if they ever took trophies away. I just think of them as little bonuses for doing something I already enjoy.