Game diaries

The Witcher 3: Can you be late to a party that never ends?

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The tricky thing about top ten lists for videogames during any given year is that it’s difficult to play every game that comes out on any given year. It’s even more difficult to spend the time it takes to really get to know a game. And by difficult, I’m pretty sure I mean physically impossible. If I calculated how many hours it takes to suss out every game released in a year compared to how many hours are actually in a year, the math wouldn’t add up. Let’s see, 365 times 24 is, uh, six thousand something, which will get you through about one MMO, one Paradox game, four shooters, and about a hundred crappy iPad games. Congratulations, you’ve played 5% of the games that came out that year.

So while I did play The Witcher 3 last year, I didn’t get very far before moving on. I had other things to do. And besides, Nick Diamon did a fine job writing a review, so what did it matter if I played it? Hence its absence from my top ten list. I don’t doubt it was great. I played The Witcher 2 so I’m well aware of what CD Projekt Red can do. But it just wasn’t part of my 2015.

Fortunately, there’s no law that says you have to play a game the year it comes out. So as of today, I’m beginning my official playthrough of The Witcher 3, and I intend to go all the way to the end. Wait, does The Witcher 3 even end? How far did CD Projekt Red go with the new open-world conceit? I intend to find out at least once a day for the foreseeable future. In case you’ve already played it and you’re interested in following along someone experiencing the joy of discovery, I’ll be chronicling that discovery — and hopefully joy — here. Besides, I can’t think of a better way to commemorate this year’s E3 by ignoring it in favor of playing an old game.

Tomorrow: My Geralt. Let me show you him.

Metal Gear Solid V: let’s talk about the pair of heaving tits in the room

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I haven’t read anything about Metal Gear Solid V. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m almost done — well, “done”, if things play out like I think they’re going to play out — I still haven’t read anything about it. I prefer to just play it for the same reason that I prefer to see movies without having watched the trailer.

That was almost a mistake.

After the jump, saved by the patch notes. Continue reading →

Metal Gear Solid V: an important message

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TO: All Mother Base staff

FROM: Moist Caterpillar, chief of operations, Seychelles

CC: Quarter to Three

DATE: September 17, 2015…no, wait, I think it’s the 80s

SUBJECT: When the helicopter lands

When you hear the helicopter coming in, please congregate at the landing pad so Tom doesn’t have to run around a godawful labyrinthine tangle of catwalks and ladders to find you so you can salute him. If your morale isn’t improved by hearing Kajagoogoo’s Too Shy playing as the helicopter approaches, and if the only way you’re going to be happy is if you can salute him, then make your own way to meet him. He’s got better things to do. Like some hoo-ha about metal gears and I think nukes or something and also flipping around on his iDroid to set up dispatch missions and such. Anyway, all that other stuff is supposedly more important than learning the layout of an oil rig.

Also, please don’t stand at attention right at the shower entrance while he’s taking a shower. It’s kind of creepy.

Also, quit making such a big deal about the dog and the animals that have been saved, which are mostly gerbils.

Finally, he’d like to apologize for all the men he’s accidently judo thrown to the ground. The icon for hand-to-hand combat is exactly what an icon for returning a salute would look like.

Massive Chalice: the game diary entry three centuries in the making

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It’s been 300 years. I started with ten territories, but I’m down to five. One of them has the Standard where my kingdom trains children. The other four have keeps for my noble houses, including the caberjacks of House Wayne, the hunters of House Gaffney, and the alchemists of House Flink. The Flinks actually have two keeps. They’re just that good. Everyone else, everyplace else, has crumbled into the sea, devoured by the Cadence.

While my land holdings might seem dire, the more accurate picture of how I’m doing is my list of available heroes. I’ve got over thirty and most of them are level eight or nine without ever having seen battle. That’s just how powerful their parents and teachers have been.

So one of the hardest things about fighting the final battle is deciding which five heroes to bring. Actually, it’s not that hard. Three of my heroes have relics as weapons. A relic is incredibly powerful once it’s leveled up, and these relics are well and truly leveled up. You can bet they’re going into battle. Etlanta Flink with a thrower called Gatekeeper, Matt Gaffney with a crossbow called Division, and Margaret Gaffney with a crossbow called Honor. That’s an alchemist and two hunter classes. I round out the team with another alchemist named Mako Flink and my best caberjack, Yuloria Wayne, for tanking.

After the jump, I’ll spoil the finale of Massive Chalice, which you should play for yourself instead. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: where do I get these wonderful toys?

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On year 271, less than 30 years before the final battle, a random event arises. Someone calling herself the Commoner Queen has been riling up the people. I can meet with her, refuse to meet with her, or send one of my heroes to disappear her.

Although the results can vary for each choice, I feel like I’m hip to this trick by now. The good choice, the bad choice, and the choice that risks a hero. But Doublefine gets really, uh, playful with these random events. You should see what they do when you start throwing things into the chalice! They’re more than happy to allow bad results for good choices and good results for bad choices, so I’m going to risk a hero. Hopefully, this will avoid one of my territories being put one point of corruption closer to slipping into the sea. Besides, I have heroes to spare. I’m awash in Gaffney girls! So I chose the third option and send a Gaffney girl to deal with this Commoner Queen.

After the jump, yet another Sagewrights Guild sinks into the sea. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: the breathless caberjack

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As my game moves into its third and final century, I’ve suffered a couple of serious setbacks. I’ve lost two of my five keeps. When a keep is overrun and its territory falls into the sea, it takes with it the regent who presides there, his or her spouse, and all of their children. But you don’t just lose the territory and the heroes. You lose all the heroes they would have brought forth in later years. It is, quite literally, the end of the line for that family.

After the jump, let us tell sad stories of the deaths of keeps. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: it’s all in the numbers

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One of the things I love most about Massive Chalice is how the game mechanics are straightforward, above board, and logical. This could be a boardgame or a tabletop RPG combat system. With one boggling exception that was cleared up easily enough, Massive Chalice is a game that makes perfect sense.

After the jump, to hit chances for dummies Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: the fabulous Gaffney girls

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Ainfean Gaffney, a hunter in Massive Chalice, has never been in a battle. She would have been good at it. Being nimble, she has a dexterity bonus that’s extremely valuable to hunters. But when it comes time to found a noble house of hunters, I choose her as its regent, hoping she will pass down to her children the nimble trait. I marry her to Daniel Flink from my house of alchemists because Daniel is bountiful. Bountiful is a trait that increases the likelihood of having kids. They will provide me with a line of trickshots, which is the hunter subclass that results from marrying a hunter to an alchemist.

After the jump, Daniel’s trickshots hit their target, if you know what I mean. Continue reading →

Massive Chalice: children are the future and they’re vindictive little bastards

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This is my second game of Massive Chalice. I’ll be writing an update every 50 years or so up until the year 300 finale. In my first game, I got to the finale easily enough. But because I didn’t know what to expect, and because I was figuring out the bloodlines as I went, I failed spectacularly in the end. I’m convinced that’s how you’re meant to experience Massive Chalice: once to discover it, a second time to actually try to win it. The third and successive times are either for fun or at harder difficulty levels.

My plan this time is science. Just science. Science, which is also how you build buildings, was such a precious commodity in my first game. By the time I reached the 300 year time limit, I had so much cool stuff left unresearched, so many buildings still unbuilt, so much territory unused. Science is even how you recruit new blood when your old blood gets tired. Science does all these things. So my plan this time around is science.

After the jump, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids. Continue reading →

Bloodborne: let’s all raise a glass

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Bloodborne, much like the Souls games before it offers a new game plus mode which lets you play through the game again at increased difficulty. With the Souls games, playing through on new game plus and trying out different builds or self-imposed challenge runs gave the game some substantial staying power. Bloodborne adds a new mode that is designed to give players reasons to come back to the game long after they complete the story the first time through.

After the jump, where do we go from here? Continue reading →

Bloodborne: bad moon rising

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Up until this point Bloodborne has been a fairly straightforward monster hunting tale. Possible vampires and werewolves have fallen to our swords. We have banished witches and snakes from world of Yharnam. As we make our way from the Forbidden Woods where we killed the Shadow of Yharnam to the shores of a lake where a deserted observatory sits a remarkable shift in tone occurs. Suddenly we’ve gone from slaying werebeasts in cathedrals to exterminating mystical spiders trapped in a lake. Where did this come from? Why are we doing this? And who is that lady in white?

After the jump, is Bloodborne the best eldritch horror game ever made? Continue reading →

Bloodborne: into the woods

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People always say that a change in scenery can be therapeutic. After the frustration Vicar Amelia brought on, it was with some relief that I left the claustrophobic streets of Yharnam and move into the next major areas which revolve around dark, oppressive forests. The next two bosses were far more trivial than the areas that lead to their lairs, a welcome change for me. It was amongst the witches and tombstones of Hemwick Charnel Lane that I faced my first invader.

After the jump, snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes? Continue reading →

Bloodborne: so a vicar and a hunter walk into a cathedral…

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It was fifteen hours into Bloodborne that I hit my first wall. The Cleric Beast, Papa G (I love the communities nicknames for Father Gascoigne), and the Blood Starved Beast had all fallen one after another, each with some element of challenge, but nothing close to inducing a controller-breaking rage. But as I made my way up the steps of the Grand Cathedral and watched the cutscene for Vicar Amelia, I had no idea that my idyllic stroll through Yharnam was about to be rudely cut short.

After the jump, who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? Continue reading →

Bloodborne: bringing a broadsword to a gunfight

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The combat systems in the Dark Souls games have always been a point of contention. While I enjoyed much of the combat in Dark Souls, it was incredibly easy to find certain tools and cheese bosses or enemies to death. Self-proclaimed masochists would play the game with a two-handed weapon and no shields or other challenge builds in order to push them further and reduce the relative ease that certain weapons and armor provided. Dark Souls 2 brought positives to the combat system, but was plagued by lackluster hitboxes, overzealous latency correction, and the ability to circle strafe enemies to death.

After the jump, how does Bloodborne compare? Continue reading →