Dark Souls II Rant: Rings and the Test of Patience

The title to this post sounds as if I’m a nagging, impatient girlfriend who is expecting a ring on her finger but her boyfriend is too busy playing games. Well, I’m not talking about the relationship between two human beings. I’m talking about my relationship with Dark Souls II Scholar of the First Sin, the game I keep going back to unwind. It’s the perfect melancholic companion whose a bit difficult to get through but very rewarding once you explore all its treacherous paths, including the hidden rooms behind the walls. They are the best because we know treasures lie ahead! As choppy as it feels compared to the first, it’s definitely not seamlessly integrated as Dark Souls in terms of the stage design, but the ambience atmosphere is strangely therapeutic and I sort of prefer it over the first. It does wonder to the senses with its fairy tale like atmosphere. After all, don’t we girls just love fairy tale?

I’m beginning to sound like an undead to call the soul’s universe an alluringly safe place to unwind. No wonder people called us DARK SOULS lovers machoistic. At the moment, I am currently hunting down and testing out rings because I want to be with my abusive lover (Dark Souls II) forever. No, I’m just being sarcastic. So far, Ring of Life Protection is my favorite because I like to remain in human form.

You can equip 4 rings, but would it have made more sense with 5. Weren’t we all born with 5 fingers?

Let me get you some backstory to why I keep going back to my abusive lover, Dark Souls II. Not too long ago I defeated Dragon Quest XI, which is a big accomplishment for me considering that it takes me ages to play games I purchased out of the whim. As I was working on clearing my backlog, I went back to Silver Case but got annoyed fast with its dark theme. Unlike Souls games, it’s hopelessly depressing with no warmth in sight. Plus, too much swearing doesn’t make characters appear tough; they just seem stupid. There was also a hint of misogyny which ruined the entire experience for me.

Halsdoll Playin
If I am going to be a piece of dead meat then I’m going to go to do it in the Souls universe not in Silver Case (thanks Nairdalex for the photo edit).

Now I have been playing Dark Souls II without caring too much about beating it in a timely matter so I can move on to the next game on my list. Despite what people say, it’s the perfect game for me to unwind. I like the quietness. Music in video game is unnecessary. Listening to my character’s footsteps echoing in the hallway and the sound of clashing and clinking of my weapons sounds more relaxing, oddly. I can hear the wind so I think I feel the wind touching my skin. I hear the waves splashing onto the shore and that makes me feel calm. I just like exploring its universe in the comfort of my home.

Currently as I am writing this post, I am at Huntsman’s Copse, preparing for a boss fight against the Executioner’s Chariot. Even though it’s optional, I still want to clear the area just for the sake of it. I walked the same path over and over multiple times by now that it feels less dangerous.

Annoying sadists crossing my path to the Executioner's Chariot
Annoying sadists preventing me from defeating its boss, the Executioner’s Chariot

I am progressively becoming better each time I enter the boss fight because of familiarity. I learned where to spot the annoying Necromancer black mages that keep spawning skeletons. Keep calm and focus and with a little luck I won’t feel so overwhelmed with a mob of skeletons. Once I clear them away, the boss is not difficult at all. It just the environment and the circumstance that is making it difficult. And that is what keeps me coming back to Dark Souls II. It’s hard, but achievable.

P.S

I beat the Executioner Chariot! Persistence and patience on top of learning where enemies spawn and timing helped me defeat this optional boss! Now I can boast, I did it!

Tokyo Dark: Decent but Missed the Mark

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184111

Okay, I think I was rather harsh with my assessment of what I think about Tokyo Dark, an adventure point and click horror video game created by Cherrymochi. I deleted my old post which I titled Tokyo Dark: Too Political It Will Make the Old Fat Pervert Cry, pointing out how the game lacks depth. But I must say the game is not as bad as I make it out to be. It’s a decent game, but definitely not mind blowing.

What irks me about the game is the fact that Ayami Ito, the protagonist, is a “strong” weak woman. She is tough on the outside, but unstable in the inside. It’s no surprise that she has to take medicine to cope with her mental health, apart being possessed by a mysterious mask. She so desperately cannot live without her partner to the point she chases after him into the sewer. Strong woman? Sounds like a damsel to me. She cannot survive without a man. The game is sending the wrong message to young girls and women.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184139

Losing a love one is never easy. I get it. I too had to take anti-depressant pills when I loss not only my mom but a sister two years ago. With time though, you become emotionally stronger, not crazier as this game suggested. Mental illness is no laughing matter. Making a scary game based on mental illness is a touchy subject for me so that is why I am harsh with this game.

As I said before in my deleted post, the game is like a pretty face makeup Youtuber who makes a living looking pretty, but having no real depth. While playing the game, I forget I am playing a horror video game as the game focused so much on how hard it is to be a girl in a man’s world. We all know perverts love young girls, especially in maid outfit. But how do you expect to gain revenue if you disrespect your customers? Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see that the OLD FAT PERVERT got arrested in the game.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703180203

At the same time, perverts come in all shapes and sizes. The ones that young girls should be weary of is the seemingly nice guy who lures young girls into having sex with him, or what is worse is a woman who gained the trust of young girls and then turned them over to sex trade. Now that is a horror story in itself!

There are plenty of other horror games I enjoyed such as Nightcry and Cat Lady which have stronger message about not giving up in life. Tokyo Dark tried so hard that it missed the mark.

I’m not a mean person, so I will leave this post on a positive note: one thing the game got right is that in life, it’s better to laugh than to cry.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703183934

P.S

If you are a young woman reading this. Stay strong. Be strong. Know your worth. You don’t need men to save you. Only you can save yourself when it comes to your mental health.

Death Mark Review (PS4)

Horror tales are not always scary but regretfully sorrowful. Death Mark depicts the dark side of reality and the sad truth for women and children living in a man’s world, particularly in a patriarchal society like Japan.

I finished playing Death Mark (PS4 version), a visual novel game. I was pleasantly surprised by the game because I didn’t expect what I was expecting. No, this game did not give me the chills, did not mess with my mind, or give me a cheap haunted house thrill. Instead, the game left me pondering about Japan’s society as a whole. There were many mature themes posed in the game.

There are 6 chapters total in the PS4 version (I don’t know about the vita version). The content of the game is decently proportioned (I hate playing long games). Story flows well into each chapters. One thing I really enjoyed about the game is the characters illustration. All of them are interesting, including the monster designs. In the game, people just keep popping up in the mansion at night. The mansion resembles the mansion in Resident Evil. Unexpected visitors arrive at the mansion after obtaining a mysterious mark. To get rid of the mark they must defeat the spirit that gave it to them in the first place. Time is ticking. So there is some urgency in the game; your life and those around you are on the line.

Oddly, the gameplay reminds me of a guessing game I had with the former boyfriend who is Japanese. Cultural differences was the downfall of the relationship. Let’s just say, I am used to speaking my mind as that’s what Americans are encouraged to do. One time we went out to eat and there was a fruit fly in my rice so I told the boyfriend, thinking we could get a new bowl of rice. He just took my rice bowl and gave me his. The right thing to do was to continue eating without letting him know, so I don’t offend him. They say a person with sense know how to read air. You can see honne tataemae taking effect in the game. For instance, in Chapter 2, we find a suicidal man in the woods, on the verge of killing himself. Player is given a selection of choices to answer his questions. Finding the right words to ease an emotionally unstable person is hard. What are you suppose to say to a stranger who wants to take his life? I just kept guessing. I guess, I just don’t have much common sense.

I have found some of the choices sort of irrelevant from time to time and wouldn’t say the gameplay is its biggest strength: after all, this is a visual novel. But then, again, I am relatively new to the genre, so I can’t critique much on the gameplay. The game is engaging enough to keep me “flipping the pages”. It’s the player duty to read the text in each chapter carefully. Reading the text in each chapter closely provides clues on how to defeat the boss. The gameplay style is definitely not intended for muscleheads who like to push buttons out of nervousness and expect to win. Now that is not a derogatory statement I just pointed out because I can be a bit of a musclehead myself. Having good reflexes don’t matter in this game. Instead, the game leans towards detective skills. This is the type of game would be fun to play with a group of female friends or with your significant other, or alone in the dark is okay too. It’s not that scary. Trust me. If I can do it, you can too.

Overall, I enjoyed the game. My only gripe about this game is the portrayal of women. The frail woman is not that weak. She is stronger than she really appears. But that’s okay, let the boys do their manly job. I’ll just sit and watch Satoru Mashita do all the work.

 Note: Revised 1/27/2021

I’m Not A Pervert! It’s the Developer’s Fault!

Even though, I have no intention of becoming a game designer or create my own games, I find it quite fascinating to learn about the thought process behind it.  The whole creativity process  is not so different from the way I approach to songwriting, which is something I do as a creative outlet.

Yesterday, my friend visited me and wanted to watch me play games so I picked Virtue’s Last Reward (PS4 version) of all the games because I find this game quite relaxing to play on a lazy evening.  As my friend and I were solving puzzles together, one particular part stood out to me: the pinned photo.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games_20180407171828

In this section,  I understand the importance of creativity in games.  In the Crew Quarters, there are four rooms, which contain four lockers. I have to find all the passwords in order to unlock the lockers.  In one of the rooms, I was given a coin, after entering the right set of numbers to a locker.  The coin is used to scratch off the woman’s clothes which reveal a different set of numbers to a password for a different locker in a different room. At that moment, I was thinking, indeed,  I’m playing a scratch lottery ticket.  As I was so focused on scratching off her clothes, my friend, (who is a prim and proper type of gal) looked at me and accused me of being a pervert.  In my mind, I was just trying to find all clues so we can progress in the game.  Even though, I am not a guy and can never understand what’s so appealing about half naked women, the experience was exciting as I was one step closer to solving the mystery underneath her clothes. To my surprise, the numbers were never underneath her clothes, they were located on her arms and legs!   It was then, I realized a great game is highly creative and has the ability to engage the player against his or her own will on a subconscious level.  I say this because I am not a gambler or a pervert, but I was lured and trapped into the developer’s craft.  And strangely, it put a smile on my face and made me laugh.

After completing this section in Virtue’s Last Reward,  I realized that authenticity is important to creativity, which is the intent to create and capture the audience. In some ways, I think developers should have more control over the medium and listen less to the consumers, but please be mindful.  Honestly, I  don’t think consumers know what they really want. They just want to play a good game.  Lastly, I want to make an argument that a game is a game, a medium to itself.  All the fancy stuff such as the art and music only enhance the overall experience and bring it to life.

P.S

[To my friend if you are reading this] Sorry this was supposed to be a secret between you and me that we found ourselves playing a pervy game, but it was a lot of fun solving the puzzle together.