November scroll notice layout~
Killing Time at Lightspeed: Enhanced Edition
Stray Cat Crossing
Life Is Strange
Had few assassination targets not beaten from the last month: Everything, Lichtspeer, Zenith. Now they are dealt with and proper files provided, with photographies and documents etc. Also few new shorties got the heat… I decided to prepare documents while assassinations are still fresh in mind, so November scroll is already half-full. It can be read here (LINK to inner archive)
NOTE! Press ‘comments’(or this link) to open post as separate instance where screenshots could be grouped in 2x2 boxes instead of 1x4, for better visibility.
Unforgiving painful game, made in style :) It is pretty fun, including dying a lot, and throwing spears into enemies is a cute thing to do! Variety of weapons/skills allowed for pretty interesting explorative gameplay on new game plus till the very end: at first, after beating game on normal, didn't expect that I will go for NG+ mode but I wanted to try all the skills and managed to unlock them beating whole campaign on NG+ including replaying some of levels few times. Game has great replayability, it can never get boring ..but can get frustrating and irritating :]
Some things I specifically want to remark:
Surprisingly, this game reminded me NES and SEGA games of childhood, where to beat levels you had to remember what happens next, from where come new enemies, specific timings to use skills beforehand or hit fast enemies etc. Had not this feeling for years, and it was quite refreshing and great, despite I am not fan of such mechanics where you need to remember motoric actions/habits in your neural links to beat the game (and it is likely not useful for brain). I was not really able to remember much of these things anyway (only few most critical e.g. on boss fights), and tried to play the game by improvising in every situation. Thanks to diversity of skills this was fun!
Then, game forces to learn how exactly to kill certain types of enemies, and skills of destroying each are 'improving' in parallel. You realise that some enemies are extra difficult for yourself and choose build to help you to defeat them. It is not just throwing enough spears in direction of enemies: you see certain special enemy which can be killed by hitting it in specific spot (and for some enemies also in specific moment), and you throw a single spear to try exactly that... and considering that everything is moving and spears don't fly instantly, you have to switch targets all the time and control occasions when you didn't hit someone properly, and need to perform another shot. This is, when it becomes messy :3 It is a lot of things to control in the same time, and not damaging anyone 3 times in row (this includes hitting enemies in armour or shield) invokes stun which is just.. terrible :3
I got why protagonist left the Earth only playing it the second time. There are also pretty touching stories revolving around protagonists friends, in a trendy AI-futuristic key. Nothing of this was news to me considering my area of interests, but for someone it may be new. Anyway, story is tranquil, sometimes sad and sometimes happy, it was good. I was surprised that it was so.. realistic in how it felt. I really waited to know what happens next to some of the characters.
Narration itself was actually great. Perception of all the characters and story slightly changes whole time as more becomes known, and last act mechanics was somewhat unique although had few unnecessarily repetitive parts. I still would prefer any similar things as a film or picture/anime, not as PRGM or VN game @_@ I just don't understand why my interaction is needed here at all. Overall content and experiences were a bit too simple for my taste.
Game had some accidental links personally for me which in sense, made up for cons :)
I don’t have any screenshots since game was in small window without overlay, but there were enough visually worth things :o
Frankly speaking, Everything is not a game in classic meaning. It could be classified as a sandbox or even walking simulator, but this is not important. It is a pleasant experience, a gift. In the core of the game there are recorded (read by himself) lectures by [philosopher, writer and speaker Alan Watts (1915-1973)](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Watts), divided in many small bits, and accompanied by 'thoughts' - text phrases or citations trying to reinforce the experience in parallel. 'Walking' offers exploration through many scales of the world from plank units and bacteria to planetary systems and universes, is visually soft and pleasant; music is great and tendering ears. Model of the world created by David O'Reilly supports lectures in incredible harmony. Whole process is tranquil and quite rewarding, I loved it a lot.
Regarding lectures, for me personally there was not many new ideas, but I have to say they were put into words with a great elegance and brevity. I wish to recommend listening to lecture to everybody, but it is clear that for appreciating it, some initial philosophical interest is needed, to compare own views to ones of Watts or at least to understand what is he talking about in any own way.
I was surprised by how deeply and without major contradictions many of his views were corresponding to mine atm, considering that I never heard of him before. Moreover, I am not fan of reading works by any philosophers - part of my believes is that I need to grow own philosophy and purview as independently from others as possible and never become biased to any particular sources / associated to any groups/teachings, and for record, works I ever encountered were not so close. He looks at things from well generalized point of view, using a lot principles of homogeneity in processes of different scales, governed by unity in underlying principles of universe. What I really like about Watts, that he is actually a master of word and he puts ideas in fairly simple for further translation and understanding form.
I saw that he actually wrote a lot of books, and I don't know his other standings, but at least material picked for this game is quite general: it does not bring own teaching, dogmatic principles or advices, no. This is rather a material to shake up own thinking and perceiving process, approach to improve own ability to see things deeper.
What is really a game-killer - dialogues full of terrible distasteful puns. If from the beginning of the game player can be drastically disappointed by numerous obvious unfunny cliché jokes, in late game there appear jokes about whores, ex-partners in relationship, cocks, etc. I am angry in developer for letting me down. For making me skip through all this terrible crap. I saw comments about this game by others who said that game is funny and full of great jokes. No, god, no. This game is full of terrible jokes. You try to find gems among them - yes, maybe 5% are genuine, but this does not make up for others. Humour is very thin area, failed in numerous games, films, literature. I love humour, but in this game is was totally spoiled by dirt, silliness and sometimes rudeness - things I despise. I have to say that despite terrible dialogues, some global scenario twists were pretty funny. I shall not spoil them. My point is not that everything should be kind and clever, no, not necessarily. I love black humour too, by the way. This is beyond good and evil, just disrespect dev shows to player and themselves.
Game starts as a regular butterfly effect thing: protagonist finds herself able to rewind events back in time. But, what quickly becomes more important driver, game has a great charm. I don't know how close setting is to USA small town in year 2013, which was a bit interesting itself from game-touristic point of view, but it had feeling of a small quiet whirlpool, in depths of which demons lurk, provincial, far from unwanted eyes mysterious place having scent of [Twin Peaks](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin_Peaks) (to which it has more than numerous references). Neo-noir investigation story resembling e.g. such film as [Brick](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0393109/) and mechanics somewhat reminding Heavy Rain (but because of noir-ness). Neat, dovelike protagonist with her interest in arts and photography creates natural entourage full of visually beautiful scenes (with interactions of taking photos), which has brilliant synergy with rewinding-based plot line.
!!! SPOILER ALERT FOR NEXT PARAGRAPHS !!! DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED THE GAME !!! (I don't know how to get it working inside html paragraph)
At first Max tries to save her friend and to help everybody she can, using her new ability. Soon she starts to uncover terrible, hidden events happening behind the scenes of small town, much bigger than she and her companion. Trying to uncover the truth, messing with unknown powers, she finds herself in front of more and more hard decisions, relentlessly pulling strings from her inner self. She sees close ones hurt and dying over and over again, her unable to change course of history to right all wrongs. Player sees how she grows up, evolves, her true self becoming naked, revealed in a ferocious battle which, seemed at first to be a standing against one person, escalates into a war against the nature and inner self. It disturbs and gnaws the protagonist, throws into a storm of feelings and thoughts which are too big for a young girl and may be for any person, alienating her, destroying, leading to catastrophe.
I love how this game shows this storm, literally, as a grand element, power of nature, able to destroy whole past, in some sense, whole their world. She is returning from this battle changed forever.
I have chosen Chloe at first, for Max. My Max believed it was her destiny. But another ending, I would say, is the true ending. Life.. Storm is inside a little girl, only inside, as in any of us. Paths taken and not, craving for finding their calm. She made up for years of silence with her best friend, solved a huge terrible mystery. She matured. You grow, change inside; no one can see this instantly... and it doesn't matter. What matters is within you, no one can take away.
One thing is not to do pointless things when you understand yourself and world you are living in better. But another is, not doing some of important because you.. can't. Anymore, or at all. It may lurk inside, it may torture. Do you seek for agreement with them, let them torment you, accept help or get to some actions.. Oh :3
Note, achievements don't work in offline mode (they don't even pop up locally while playing, if you have been disconnected). Oh, whatever ;3
Music: Ulver @ Ulvsblakk
Four Last Things
The 39 Steps
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Find and press these (~.~) to know more!
Thank you! <3
After beating the game already quite a time ago, I have a mixed after-taste. This game is pretty beautiful, and pleasant tranquil moments can be enjoyed during walking through the island. But.. first of all, game doesn't have any detailed tutorial. This is part of the game's idea, but in the beginning it may create really a lot of frustration. Probably, authors expected players who don't figure out how to handle new types of puzzles just to skip them after some efforts?.. It didn't work well for me. I spent hours breaking 'codes' for puzzles, training areas for which were elsewhere, before knowing of training areas. I doubt devs wanted to create such levels of irritation I reached at some point. Whole idea, I would say, is spinning around perceiving new things with a clear mind and trying to understand the underlying nature and structure of phenomena - is in question new puzzle rule, plot or something belonging to environment. But then, all the puzzles despite numerous extra rules are, in the end, pretty similar (with exception of few really unique but 'easy' mechanics). Yes, puzzles were fine, I would say of fitting complexity for me to solve them with no hints and not reaching tiredness and frustration, but looking at whole process - yes it has become a bit tedious and very repetitive, especially in the cave of trials which is bonus area of a sort. I found myself walking from one rectangle to another, besides looking for environmental magical things and audio logs with unhealthy eagerness. I really should tell about environmental puzzles separately: they became much more interesting than normal puzzles quite quickly and were keeping a lot of attention during walking on detecting them. Yes, they are great. Solving them may seem like something almost magical, but on the other hand wish to find them pours out the tranquil feeling of 'walking simulator' between areas of interest and substitutes this experience with anxious search for round objects. Devs clearly understood this effect on player: in extra (hidden) ending, there is a video; as far as I see it, it is a signature marking that there is no sense in the game (except described above simulation of scientific cognition): 'looking from alternative point of view' which game offers is just finding a coordinate from where puzzle will work, an intellectual grin; and it is also admitting that.. too much is really too much, have fun of yourselves, dear players :) There is also one additional ending on youtube by devs, which only reinforces this conclusion, but it is better not to watch it before others.
This single game has so many beautiful backgrounds that a lot of even 'bigger' adventure games could envy. Some of these are so pleasant that we spend a decent amount of time only enjoying these views. Plot of the game brings the main character from London up to Scotland, oh green fields, small towns, cottages. Cunning villain upon heels! Atmosphere is great, creating immersion into Britain of 1915, and game is made with style. All the small details are done perfectly, and encyclopaedic meticulous approach to giving information and thoughts of character was adorable and somewhat British.
Also Finland was mentioned :3
Game is implemented in a really clever way. At first game shell is loaded, then for each mission, environment is loaded (may take few minutes on slow PC) but then loading during mission happens really quickly, and is limited rather by CPU/RAM. This enabled playing the game on Ultra on about 7-8+ y.o. PC with quite a great comfort! These devs, Mimimi studio, know what they are doing!
Meet your team! Know your enemies!
Enemies can be classified in 3 types: Usual Guards and Officers (investigate threats but can be lured to traps easily), Straw Hats (disciplined soldiers not leaving their posts), Samurai (investigate threats, are immune to most attacks due to armour, kill any character if engaged in combat with one exception)
Mugen (as Green Beret). Master samurai, the only one capable of fighting enemy samurai. And running with 2 bodies :3 Throwing huge rocks at enemies! Killing virtually infinite amount of non-samurai enemies if they are close enough in one stylish go! And luring peasants with sake bottle. Stunning samurai in combat with bare fists - easy! Through plot, Mugen is a quintessence of Japanese dream of samurai heroes in more than one sense.
Hayato (as Diver/Marine). Probably, Hayato performs the fastest close range kill amongst all the characters. And shurikenjitsu! Throwing shuriken and at the same time engaging in melee enables to get two enemies standing close without a problem, and throwing stones to distract enemies makes these things even easier. The only major flaw could be, that Hayato hauls bodies while standing. He does it very silently and quite quickly, though, and frankly speaking if he could do this while crouching, as other light characters, combined with superb attack skills it would be too powerful and tempting to solo with him. Shuriken has so long throwing range that some enemies with moving cone of view can be killed in front, running towards them when they turn head just for a second and engaging in throwing range. Marine in commandos was my main silent attacker too, being able to solo few enemies at once.
Yuki (as Thief). This Yuki is marvellous! Having bird reedpipe and a trap, she can lure enemies around corners and obstacles and get rid of few at once alone if carefully planned; and what can be done in team...! She can lure enemies for quite a long distances playing reed few times in a row. Adding up crouching while pulling bodies, she is a character who can practically solo missions and do it in extremely safe manner compared to Mugen or Hayato who can't move bodies, distantly observable by enemies. Yuki has probably the largest melee killing time, making 3 stabs with a small knife, but I didn't find this a big flaw. It is cute!
Aiko (as Spy). Elegant kunoichi with elegant skills. When disguised, she can divert enemies or groups of them (e.g. patrols), making disposing of big numbers of enemies a child play for team (plus brutally killing one of targets she speaks to, herself). I found myself many times purposefully not using disguise just not to make game too easy. Blinding powder reduces cone of visibility of enemies for some time, enabling again, to dispose of enemies literally in a plain sight. Combining both skills, she can approach enemies and destroy few of them in a row in a broad daylight. Powder is indeed one of the most elegant and complex skills which fits great to Aiko's persona and as a dual to skill of disguise. Only samurai can see through her play.
Takuma (as Sniper and Sapper). He is a superman. Engineer, chemist, weaponsmith, wiseman, sniper, ruler and hero of tanuki folk. Everything he can is almost a cheat, thus it is good that his ammunition is very limited. Sniping inconvenient foes from great distance? Easy. Destroying huge pack of enemies including samurai? Let him throw a grenade. He produced a small hand cannon for each of other characters, allowing them to injure/stun a samurai for a short amount of time to finish in close range. He has very warm replicas. And mission of his revenge was just hilarious :3
Kuma (as Seductress and Dog). Tanuki fatale! No true Japanese can refuse a savouring delight of watching tanuki singing and dancing in the moonlight, even if dead bodies were appearing in the area real recently. No one left the Kuma's performance disappointed. Yuki likes Kuma too :o In my game Kuma is totally a girl since I tried googling Japanese tanuki art pictures (Ug:C
Alarm system is implemented cleverly. May alarm occur, guards arrive and search the area. Some of them are remaining in area, thus punishing player for imprudent actions up to adding guard officers who will run all over the map and talk with all guards about importance of safety :3 Overall, system of enemy reaction is much more realistic and complex than it was e.g. in commandos and most existing games to day. E.g. if someone used to patrol the area and meet on a way with other guards, absence will be noticed and brief search will be initiated, bringing either threat or opportunity, and enemies may search buildings and bushes :)
Game is real time and with no pause. With pause it would be completely different game about party of hive-minded killer machines. Not bad either, just different and less realistic. Instead, game has a shadow mode: each character can be assigned a planned action and all 'saved' actions can be executed simultaneously. This is a great feature, providing a lot of epic fun moments when plan works and when it does not ;) Minus is, that one command is not enough. There can be implicitly encoded maximum of 3 actions as: 'run to enemy'(even if character is crouched), kill/stun enemy, and take the body, but after this is executed, there are character standing with bodies of enemies and they finish their sequences in different time, and sometimes it becomes really silly: while you assign to everyone where to move, someone can be noticed by patrolling guards. Adding where to drag body would be really nice. Another shortcoming is, that if the plan is to execute such action e.g. as jumping from a roof at enemy, it can be queued only when action is enabled at the moment, thus assigning actions to few characters and then execution may require waiting for patrol routine repeating up to few times if not acting really quick.
Game has system of walkthrough badges, offering to play level in many different styles (not to kill anyone, not to use specific skills, perform specific actions or take certain walkthrough routes, to kill only while disguised, not to pass through 'loud' areas as mud etc). It is quite refreshing and challenging, and really, without them I wouldn't attempt most of these hardmodes, would just let myself play efficiently with all available resources. Badges provide really diverse and full of fun gameplay, allowing player to learn new mechanics and tricks. In sense, allowing player to explore and learn more about own playing skill and preferred styles. Not many games reach that deep level of interaction with player. I would dare to say that badge system is implemented in quite ingenious way, adding replayability and interest in the perfect manner. Playing levels a few times never got boring.
Game has a normal mode and a hardmode. Complexity grows just perfectly: after finishing game on normal, I played whole game on hardmode and didn't notice the difference. I was pretty surprised to notice later, that normal mode is really much more forgiving and it became really easy! More to that, after finishing the whole game and learning mechanics, even playing on hard with extra badges mostly felt much easier than first walkthrough on normal. This was a great learning curve. Superb, bravo!
Then, game has a time challenge for every mission. I haven't yet beaten these challenges for most of missions, but walkthrough implies timing all the actions perfectly, avoiding every enemy which could be avoided and quickly and elegantly killing the rest. Time challenges are basically the only thing which I haven't yet unlocked in badges, and I plan to try them without looking at hints yet. Frankly speaking I don't like time challenges in any games; ..will see.
Making walkthrough for few badges at once and on hard is special kind of fun. I remember beating the Attack on Kanazawa mission on hard, killing all the enemies only with Hayato, not killing any officers, not using Takuma, and.. I didn't realise back then that Mugen could e.g. stun enemy samurai and let Hayato finish them. This would be so easy! And didn't use other characters' skills.. cleared whole thing with Hayato, was throwing bodies on top of samurai to stun them etc. And getting team together without killing officers was fun too :3
Game has a lot of interesting achievements and they don't correspond to badges. Some of them required to replay missions, but all of them were fun, unlocking some aspects of gameplay or walkthroughs or just incredible Easter eggs. 'Doing all not yet received achievements' totally was not a waste of time, unlike in too many games where I couldn't 'care fewer'.
Entourage of the game creates full immersion in medieval Japan of Edo period. Music is pleasing, graphics make accent on beauty of the nature and architecture as well as every small feature of the environment looks extremely detailed and made with love. They didn't save time on it!
Not only I love this game's genre mechanics which is improved over Commandos in all regards and a lot of new aspects are added, I love historically-based games generally and I like traditional Japanese theme too. Graphics was beautiful, music was great, gameplay fun. This game just hit so many my sweet spots I can't really list them!.. Plot reveals some dialogues which are not too numerous but tell stories of characters in pretty clever natural manner, making their personalities deep. When I think of Commandos, characters are just faces and specific weapons. Here, while skills are even more character-specific, I remember first who they are and what they were talking. Game has quite a touching plot, not going to spoil it. I only have to say that I like this studio. They are really clever.
Kage-sama: It is, as it should be.