Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Overwatch Match Highlights 8 - 2 Bit Sym.

Ohmigosh, it's a Chance Overwatch vid with zero Tracer or Mercy action!

I was laughing my ass off when I did this to McCree - I never imagined it'd end up being the PotG.

Also, about the Genji...

Earlier that same evening, I was attacking Route 66 on Tracer.  I circled around to come up the left flank, where the enemy's Mercy was boosting and healing a Bastion.  That Mercy wrecked me with headshots in like a half second - it was incredible - so I gave her a lot of respect after that.  I took her solo just before we took the first checkpoint, and stuck her with a pulse bomb after the second - respectable!

Well this Mercy sends me a PSN message after the match, basically telling me what a cowardly, pathetic Tracer I am for attacking a Mercy.  Which is insane on a number of levels, and not the type of message I'm prepared to respond to - so I didn't - though come to think of it, it reminds me of a book about a dragon I had when I was a kid.
"Sticks and stones can't break my bones
For I am far too scaly
But ugly things said to me
Hurt my feelings daily
-some book I had when I was five
That's one bad Mercy.

It was the second hate message I've received thanks to Overwatch play, and it made me feel sad.

Anyway, point being, after the Genji in the video solo-Dragonblade'd me before I could set up my second TP, just going in to overtime, I had to send him a message to let him know that it was a gorgeous move, with a sticker of Ellie from The Last of Us giving a thumbs up.  He didn't reply, but I hope he knows it was meant honestly.  Take lemons, make lemonade.

Elsewhere, the community has had the time to run Doomfist through some testing paces and... turns out the hitbox on his Rocket Punch is... really somethin'.


Alien: Isolation is nine bucks on PS+ right now.

It's spectacular.  If you haven't played it, now's the time.

Undertale's PlayStation launch trailer.

And me without any PlayStation Funbucks to spend.  That'll teach me to support Ninja Theory!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Let's Do Some Math! 2017 Edition.

The Autumn Rush of Games is upon us, and though there's less spectacle on the horizon that your run-of-the-mill holiday season, it's still worth taking a moment to try to figure out everything I'm gonna' have to check out before year's end.

Let's see what we've got.

August 15th

Undertale - the ultrahit indie RPG.

$20.00 (estimate).

I gots ta have this on my Vita.  Undertale is one of those indies that was so huge I doubt there's any way it can actually live up to my expectations - it's supposed to be just the most beautifully funny, empathetic, original thing (with awesome music) - so either way, I gotta' try it.

August 22nd
Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court

Honestly, the single game I'm most looking forward to this season is the Crimson Court DLC for Darkest Dungeon landing on my Vita and PS4.  I invested a lot of time in the DLC on PC when it launched earlier this year, and I am hyped to have it on my handheld, thank you very much.

August 22nd

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - it's like Uncharted, except it stars a wise-cracking tomb raider who can handle themselves in a fight, as opposed to a wise-cracking treasure hunter who can handle themselves in a fight.


I like Chloe, but I love Nadine, and to be honest I've wanted to play an Uncharted game starring a lady since Elena came into her own in Among Thieves.

September 12th

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana - the return of the storied action-RPG series.


The Ys is a long-running action RPG series from Falcom, and it enjoys such positive word of mouth in gamer circles that I've tried out two of its up-ports in the past few years - I'm still curious about Ys Origins, to be honest - but none of them stuck.

Ys VIII, though, is the first new Ys game in eight years, so I'm hoping it will be modern enough to give me the smooth edges I need while still being a satisfying action-RPG - which are far too rare on Vita.  I'm down for that.

September 15th

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider - the end (?) of Arkane's excellent Thief-like series.


I loved Dishonored for giving me a current-gen riff on the structure, mechanics and feel of Thief: The Dark Project, and I loved its sequel - and probably would've finished it, if Overwatch hadn't happened.  My loyalty to the series is such that, yeah, I'm probably gonna' nab Billie Lurk Vs. The Outsider.

September 24th

Don't Stave Mega Pack - a physical release of 2014's Game of the Year.

$50.00?  I have no idea.

Don't Starve is one of my favorite games of all time.  Do I wish this physical release was on Vita?  Of course.  Will I buy it just to have a Klei game on my shelf?  The collector in me demands it.

October 3rd

Battle Chasers: Nightwar - a turn-based tactical RPG from ex-Vigil devs.

$ Already Paid For It. 

I Kickstarted Battle Chasers: Nightwar on the promise of a turn-based tactical RPG with lovely sprites from the creative director of the Darksiders series, Joe Madureira.  Joe Mad, it's worth noting, was a celebrated comic book artist before he got into the whole video games thing, and Battle Chasers was his cult hit comic series that died off too soon for its fans.

It's due out October 3rd, and I really hope I didn't miss a backerkit survey or something requesting my address!

Also there's a Switch port in the works...

October 17th

South Park: The Fractured But Whole - the long-awaited sequel to 2014's South Park: The Stick of Truth.


South Park: The Stick of Truth is the rare game that's just fun and entertaining and enjoyable the whole way through, made by celebrated indie RPG studio Obsidian.  The Fractured But Whole is not made by celebrated RPG studio Obsidian - it was entirely made by one of Ubisoft's many studios, but it was still written by South Park auteurs Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The last one was wonderful.  I really want this one to be as good.  South Park: The Fractured But Whole sits just behind Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court on this fall's hype list.

October 24th

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows - a groovy / adorable / creepy top-down horror/adventure.


Yomawari: Night Alone is one of the more unique games to come out in the past few years - a beautiful, hand-drawn top-down Japanese neighborhood, through which an adorable and seemingly-doomed wanders, helpless, as she is stalked by horrific traditional Japanese masters.  Think like... a weirdly cute Silent Hill.

I never finished it, but - unintuitive, obtuse puzzles aside - I loved it, so I'm gonna' have to check out the sequel.

October 27th

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus - a game of Nazis, and the rootin' tootin' shootin' thereof.


2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order from MachineGames really marked the beginning of Bethesda's return to exemplary first person shooters, between Dishonored and 2016's astounding DOOM.  The New Colossus is still in the hands of MachineGames, but it's using DOOM 2016's hot new engine, so we can expect...

  • excellent graphics and framerate,
  • a surprisingly well-handled, funny, dark narrative, 
  • lurid, pulpy, gory classic FPS violence. 
Oh yeah. 

November 7th

Horizon: Zero Dawn - The Frozen Wilds - DLC for this year's incredible open-world action-RPG.


Horizon: Zero Dawn currently remains my Game of the Year for 2017.  Don't listen to Old Man Chamberlain - he's wrong and it's incredible.  Its gameplay is fun and furious and tactical and deep, its world is stunning, its story is dazzlingly original sci-fi, its heroine is played by Ashly Burch and it is the most successfully socially-conscious triple-A game I've ever seen.

Oh and the graphics are fucking ridiculous.  This DLC could cost a hundred dollars, I don't care.  It's more Horizon and I want it NOW.

Okami HD (again)
$50.00 (estimation)

A pretty solid-sounding rumor broke today, in fact, that PS2 ultraclassic Okami is getting a new-gen re-release on PS4 and Xbox One - physically, no less!  Given that Okami is a masterpiece and one of my favorite games of all time, I have to buy this.  There are no other options. 

* * *

And that's everything I'm lookin' forward to for the remains of 2017.  At this point I'll usually total it up to see just how expensive this habit of mine is, but to be honest since Overwatch, I spend less than half what I used to.  Plus I really don't care!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Overwatch Clip Show 40 - My Type.

My Overwatch capture folder, once again, runneth over.  This can often lead to problems with capturing footage - there will be one or half-second stutters that really fuck up my shit - but this seems to have resolved itself with a recent firmware update or somethin'.  Either way, I was sitting on about 185GB of captures, going all the way back to the Lunar New Year event.

For this clip show, I confined myself to stuff captured since the Anniversary event.

While not my best, at the moment I feel like My Type is in the top three, alongside Believer and Lone Digger.  For some reason it thrills me less than those two, despite being the one I'm most uniformly pleased with, in terms of editing and matching the beats of the song up with events in the gameplay (Lone Digger's synch really falls apart on the last chorus, as I didn't have a Play of the Game worthy of a capper, there).

For My Type - the song is by indie band Saint Motel, who also nobly contributed to the Mercy vid Destroyer - I wasn't worried about epic PotGs like the opener or capper of Believer, or the midpoint of Lone Digger.  What was important to me was getting a pulse bomb kill, within a Play of the Game, detonating each time the word "type" is belted out in the chorus - which is nine times throughout the song.  The video contains eight Tracer PotGs - a new record! - simply because, once I got all nine PotGs in, I wasn't happy with how the last repetition of the line, which leads in to the end of the song, meshed with the final PotG (I dropped a pulse bomb on a Bastion, Torb and Torb turret at Volskaya B, then killed their Mercy).

So I scrapped that, because the final pulse bomb had to be... well, the one you see here - probably my favorite one all summer, but tragically not a Play of the Game.

Standard disclaimers: 
I play on PS4. 
Overwatch is my first multiplayer shooter. 
I'm not very good. 
I have so much fun.

Let's begin.

0:00 - 0:20 : Self-explanatory.  He should not have drawn that bow on me.  Our peace!  Shattered!

0:20 - 0:59 : A lovely start to a match on Oasis.  Pharahs like to think that they counter Tracers - and I'm told I'm a rare Tracer for actually taking advantage of the fact that I wield a hitscan weapon against them - but either way, abandoning Rein and taking the left flank was the right call, here.

Pharah goes down, and now I'm behind enemy lines, able to get the jump on both Junkrat and McCree, as McCree tries to escape our Mei - and then I'm in a prime spot to put down Zarya.

A lovely start.

0:59 - 1:24 : A lotta' nice melee kills, here.  Sombra thinks she's safe next to her hacked mega health pack, but it takes three seconds to respawn (I think).  My brother is calling me back to the point, so I zip over there and that is the best Mercy takedown I have ever done.  In terms of song-sync, I love that the Mercy melee kill lines up with the singer going "ooh", the McCree ult shutdown lines up with an "ahhh," the second Sombra melee kill lines up with another "ooh," the Tracer snipe lines up with an "ahhh" and the Soldier jump, again, goes with an "ooh."

This pleases me.

1:24 - 1:52 : The first chorus.

PotG 1: Sorry, big guy.  I'm frankly ashamed that it took two clips to get that Ana and, for the record, I immediately died when I dove on the Torb, who had set up a turret at their spawn (after I picked him a bit earlier).

PotG 2: We lost this attack on Eichenwald - that Mercy would just not die - but at least I scored a sick PotG by finishing off Orisa (Mercy ulted to save herself from me focusing her) and sticking my pulse bomb to D.Va's mech just as she ulted.  This insta-killed her as she popped out of her mech, along with Pharah.

PotG 3: Still on Eichenwald, I dive on their Ana as my team goes for the point, and finish her off as their Torb comes back from spawn.  Our Zarya ults just in time for me to drop a pulse bomb into it, and Torb walks right into the explosion but doesn't die - because this is a Total Mayhem game, and everyone has double health.  So then I finish him off.  Not too shabby.

1:52 - 2:12 : This is the same Oasis game that opened our show, and the same Pharah I picked first, there.  This time she tries to bail as soon as she can, but it's too late.  Meanwhile, McCree has been softening me up from behind, but my brother backs me up (!), shifting McCree's attention for long enough that I can finish him off.  Their Mercy flies in to help him, but finds herself alone with a corpse instead (I've done this a zillion times) - easy pickings.

Also, I love that "when there's lovin' in the air" coincides with the Pharah takedown, "don't fight it, just keep breathin'" goes with the McCree kill, "I can't help myself but stare," goes with Mercy and "double check for double meaning" lines up with not only all of the above, but the fact that a McCree pops out of Sym's teleporter the moment I stick her, resulting in a double.  Hah.

2:12 - 2:39 : The second chorus.

PotG 1: This was a really nice one.  Frankly, dueling a Lucio as Tracer can often be pretty iffy - if he can land his shots.  This one doesn't, and he goes down in time to be included in the PotG.  I was expecting the Mercy to be caught in the pulse bomb I stuck to Soldier, but it gets me a double with their Tracer, and I finish off the Mercy with a melee.  Delicious.  The Mercy kill was cut off in the PotG but, thankfully, so was my death at the hands of the Hanzo whose scatter arrow I jump over just before the Mercy kill.

PotG 2: Sticking my pulse bomb to Ana catches her and the Lucio, and that's generally enough to earn a Play of the Game in a Total Mayhem match (it's impossible to score kills in TM).

PotG 3: The PotG from the Snipers Are Delicious match highlights vid.  Tragically, I had to do a time bend to include the Hanzo melee kill and the Hog/Tracer kill I wanted to line up with "just my type."  You have no idea how much that pained me.

I found myself almost bothered that I had to include it, here (instead of, for example, the PotG I cut from the end), but I realized that I did have to include it.  I didn't understand why until I reflected on that particular PotG and the particular match it came from, and ended up producing... what you'll find at the bottom of this post. The short version is, I love this PotG because reasons.

2:39 - 3:02 : As usual, some of my best work is done before the point opens on a control map.  I dive their back line and slip past their Ana and Zen, buzzing them and dodging behind cover, keeping their attention off the allies they should be healing and the enemies they should be debuffing.  I'm not able to get much done until their Genji retreats back to them in search of heals, and I pick him.

Lucky thing I grabbed the health pack, or Zen's volley would've killed me.  I bail in a feint and rewind back behind the Ana, picking her in a beautiful single clip and melee, and then it's on to the Zen, who never even turns around.  The point is ours.

3:02 - 3:19 : This is the sequence I describe on the podcast this week.  I toss my pulse bomb into the choke, only to have it be deflected by their Genji.  It is, then, re-deflected by our Genji - it becomes his projectile - which takes out Reaper and McCree.

I pick the Mercy and go to bail out as their Genji ults, but Lucio sound barriers us and I zip back in in time to pick their Tracer, and lay down enough DPS into Doomfist as he lands his ult to get the pick.

And that's game.

3:19 - 4:00 : The third chorus.

PotG 1: A humble double on Ilios.  But it's a meaningful double when it's the Junkrat who's been causing you trouble all match.  I lay some damage into him and he blows me away with his concussion mine, but I rewind out of the damage as he retreats for the mega health pack.  Knowing he's going for the pack, I decide he's going to come straight back towards the point, and I slap him in the chest with the pulse bomb as he comes around the corner, before he can even get a grenade off.

Getting the Hanzo is just icing.

PotG 2: I'm trying (and failing) to get a bead on Doomfist on Ilios when our Lucio boops him off the edge of the world, and zip out to eat a bit of Junkrat spam.  A pulse bomb stuck to him takes out the Ana too, and I'm able to finish the Hog with the rest of my team.

PotG 3: ...is not a PotG, but you'll agree it's better than almost any other here.

I'm behind enemy lines on Hanamura, harrying their Mercy.  She dances back and forth at the choke, desperately healing her tanks and hoping to get their attention on me when she zips away (beautifully, at the line "I think it's time that we were leaving.")

I put a nice clip into her, reducing her to a melee's worth of damage as she slips behind cover, still healing her tanks as her self-heal kicks in.  My Zarya ults at the choke as I dive towards Mercy, and I snap my view around to toss a pulse bomb into the grav, instantly returning my attention to Mercy and finishing her before she can get the rez off.



4:00 - 4:27 : Dude, I was dancing with you, and you wanna' take a shot at me?

For the record, the Lucio remained peaceful, teabagging the dead Doomfist - which in hindsight, makes me feel a bit bad about killing him, too.

And that's our show!

Oh - wait.  The Orisa.  The Pacifist Orisa.

You may remember Match Highlights 6 - Snipers Are Delicious, which also provided the third PotG in our second chorus above.  I love that PotG because that was a very... charismatic match - and a big part of it is a story I never told - that of The Pacifist Orisa, and the Tracer who drove her to forsake her vow of nonviolence.

This is her story.

And that is our show. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chamberlain & Chance 84 : An Emotional Episode.

Wiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play

Chamberlain and Chance - An emotional episode

  • Chamberlain is pretty tepid on Prey
  • Alex tumbles down the rabbit hole of Torchlight 2!
  • Chance holds up Sundered like Rafiki does Simba in the opening scene of The Lion King! 
  • And how happy was Telltale Games with critical darling Tales From The Borderlands?
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider got a new gameplay trailer today.

Must... resist!  Too... many... games...!

Overwatch: Blizzard follows through on threatened Junkrat changes.

So naturally here's a picture of Widowmaker in a bikini.

Better than you thought it'd be, right?  Lovely.  Source.

Anyway, Lord Jeff (Praise Be Unto His Name) tossed out an update video today...

...but here's the short version: elimination deathmatch, team deathmatch and a new map for deathmatch (and maybe the 1v1 and 3v3 matches?) is coming... Widowmaker's home.
"Château Guillard is located near Annecy in southeastern France. For hundreds of years, it was the estate of the influential Guillard family, until it gradually fell into disrepair after the family's power waned in the decades after the Revolution. Recently, the château has found a new owner: the Talon agent Widowmaker, who has returned to her family's ancestral home."
That... is... awesome.  And I'll probably never play it.  It's up on the PTR right now, along with the new modes!  Also on the PTR are a lot of balance changes that Blizz had warned us were coming... which are generally pretty okay:

  • Concussion Mine
    • Junkrat can now hold two mines
  • RIP-Tire
    • Tire’s movement speed has been increased by 30%
    • There is no longer a time limit when wall climbing
Developer CommentsGiving the Junkrat the ability to store two concussion mines adds some much-needed flexibility and versatility to his kit, particularly when using the mines for mobility. RIP-Tire’s damage has always been very good, but it was often difficult to steer the tire into position before it was destroyed. Increasing its speed will allow players to effectively detonate the tire more often and decrease the amount of time that Junkrat is vulnerable while controlling it.

Chance says: 
As a Tracer main I don't feel Junkrat needs more burst damage, thankyouverymuch.

As a thinking person I agree that he could use more utility but fuck, so could Mercy, so could Tracer...

  • Fusion Driver
    • Projectile speed increased by 20%
  • Protective Barrier
    • Barrier size increase by 20%
    • Barrier shape has been changed to allow for more coverage from enemies that are below the barrier
Developer CommentsThe projectile speed increase helps Orisa’s consistency, especially at medium ranges (or further). Her barrier size has been increased to better protect her team, and the new shape makes the shield more effective when it’s used on slopes or on top of objects (such as a payload).

Chance says: 

  • Take a Breather
    • Can now be used while moving
    • Damage taken while healing has been reduced by 50%
Developer CommentsThese changes help Roadhog be much more aggressive when looking for hook targets or blocking for his team. The combination of these effects significantly increases Roadhog’s sustainability and survivability.

Chance says: 
This will definitely increase Hog's survivability.  It turns Take a Huff into the only actual damage-mitigation skill he's ever had, and there is (currently) nothing easier to land headshots on than a huffing Roadhog.  Tbh I wouldn't mind seeing him come back a bit, as I love sticking pulse bombs to that jelly. 

  • Grappling Hook
    • Cooldown has been reduced from 12 seconds to 8
  • Venom Mine
    • Affected targets are now visible through walls (to you as Widowmaker only)
Developer CommentsWidowmaker is extremely powerful in the right hands, but her abilities often felt a little weak. The Grappling Hook cooldown reduction means she is more likely to have it available when she needs to escape. Venom Mine is intended to be an early warning system, uncovering enemies that are attempting to flank her or her team. With this change, she can see enemies when they trigger the mine, even if they’re on the other side of a wall.

Chance says: 
The reduction to the cooldown of Grappling Hook is something Widowmaker players have been begging for basically since launch, though I fear increased survivability may push a hero who's already insanely scary in the hands of a skilled player a bit over the line - but given that D.Va and Winston have shorter cooldowns on Boost and Jet Pack, I'll... I'll allow it.  

...this time.  

The wallhack on Venom Mine I like less, simply because Hanzo has a similar but far more powerful  ability on a cooldown that offers utility to his entire team.  It's one thing to trip over a Venom Mine and think "oh shits, now Widow can see me."  It's quite another to think "oh shits they can all see me."

Finally, on a personal note...

I am fucking exhausted.  I haven't had a single good night's sleep all week, but there are two bright spots.  First of all, I'm pretty sure I wrote the best Tweet of my life today.

Second, I'm currently just thrilled and obsessed with the new Overwatch clip show I'm putting together.  Alex was right when he said it's nice to be excited about something.  Been a while.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Man, Bethesda's put out a ton of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus media.

Faux Nazi-American TV shows with some jaw-dropping game action at the end!

Here's twenty five minutes of gameplay, including the aftermath of The Milkshake Scene we've seen before.

Here's nine minutes worth of a boss fight.

And here's twenty minutes of the game's first level.

Man, the combat looks gorgeous.  It looks like they learned a lot of lessons from DOOM (2016) - but then, this is from Machine Games and id made DOOM... I wonder if it's the same engine?

Yes it is.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Overwatch's Summer Games are now live! ...sort of.

Seriously?  Just swimsuits, now?

Well, let it never be said that Blizzard doesn't know their audience.   Here's the trailer for this year's Summer Games:

...and here's the official page on Blizz's site.

Tracer got... a victory pose where she's holding up a gold medal.  Meh.  Mercy's skin was actually leaked first thing this morning, but it's a... weird one to be included with the Summer skins.  Remember Nike of Samothrace (it came up in Dragon's Crown discussion some years back)?

Well, that's what Mercy's new legendary is based on.

'Winged Victory'

How's it look in-game?  No idea.  The Summer Games have been live since about 12 noon my time.  When I booted it up at 5PM, it advised me that I was behind 3,000 other players to log in.

That's cool, I can wait.  So I did.

Then, when it finally went to log me in, it disconnected me, booted me back to the opening screen and prompted me to press X to log in.  I pressed X.

10,000 other players in front of me.  So I waited.

Then, when the queu was exhausted and it went to log me in, it disconnected me and booted me back to the opening screen and prompted me to press X to log in.  I pressed X.

20,000 other players in front of me.  I went away to write a blog post (this one, in fact!)

The big news is, naturally, Widowmaker in a bikini, with her hair down and these fabulous 70s-style shades in place of her usual headgear.

'Côte d'Azur'

But I think my favorite of the whole lineup is 'Grillmaster: 76':

Heheh.  "A Salt Rifle."

Junkrat finally got a new legendary and it's... pretty meh.


I work with a Junkrat main and he is not very impressed with this.  Elsewhere, Widowmaker isn't the only hero getting the swimsuit treatment.


The gun is fugly but the rest is pretty cool.  Observe Blizzard's continued loyalty to and enthusiasm for the leftmost male nip.

Sombra also got like a diving suit.  Not like high dive or something, but like snorkling.


Which is, y'know, not bad.  They had to keep the silhouette of her skirts, so that's cool.  Finally, you may recall that Reaper got a super-edgy BMX biker spray during last year's Summer Games?



He's got like a cape, that's pretty cool.    Hope I can... y'know, log in at some point...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Finally beat a real boss in Sundered last night.

That is to say, a boss that isn't a mini-boss - but a real, colossal, screen-filling This Is What (developer) Thunder Lotus Does boss.

This is just a miniboss.

I've gone into detail on why I love Sundered in posts and podcasts, and last night was spent mostly not pushing in to the new northeastern area, but nosing around the boundaries of the southern and western zones I'd already explored.  I killed a few minibosses - enough to earn a full Elder Shard, which is perhaps the most important consumable in the game.

You take an Elder Shard to an Abilities Shrine, my disembodied companion insists, to "corrupt" your abilities and make them stronger.  There is no advertised downside, but it just seemed... unwise.  To me.

Whatever has trapped me here and is keeping me alive surely has its own agenda, and binding condensed crystals of unimaginably ancient sentience to me seems like something that could come have unintended consequences.

I didn't corrupt my powers.  I took the Elder shard to the incinerator I'd found in the southern Valkyrie installations, despite the protests of the Thing that's been guiding me, and turned the machine on.

The Thing's name is The Shining Trapezohedron.  It seems to understand everything about this world and definitely sees some profit in having me clear this place out.  Maybe using the shards to corrupt my abilities is just a way to be stronger, and maybe it really will be impossible to leave this place without their gifts and maybe Shiny Trap really does just want to see me free and doesn't have some evil plan to unleash the powers of this place on the world above, but... is that really a risk I'm willing to take?

Newp.  I swapped in some perks that let me earn more XP from enemies and wandered around, scoring new perks, getting deeper into my skill trees and unlocking one that gave me +8 chance to crit and another that buffed my crit damage, and then I went back south again, to Dominion's room.

The mechanics were pretty easy to suss out - freeing each shard on Dominion's body will push him into a new phase of the fight, with much meaner attacks and a lot more little mobs coming after you - so the secret was just to lower the health of the shards to almost-destroyed before moving on to the next one and then obliterating them all in quick succession before Dominion's overwhelming offence can take me down.

You keep on telling me I'm not strong enough escape this place, Shiny Trap, and that I need the power you offer.  But I found myself wondering - as those black tentacles strapped Dominion to his chair and the eldrich power seized him and directed itself at me through him - if that's precisely as powerful as Shiny wants me to be.

Beating a full boss earns you a full Elder Shard, without the need to combine three pieces.

I took it straight to the incinerator.  Shiny is getting angrier and angrier, at me.

He's pretty scary when he's angry, but I'm starting to get the impression that I'm scarier.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Chamberlain and Chance 83: Different kinds of love.

Wiiiith out Alex this week :( but we still got that Chamberlain guy, and also me!  Chance!  Podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play

Chamberlain and Chance - Different kinds of love

  • Chamberlain has completed Pyre, and insists it's very good and he refuses to spoil it. 
  • Chamberlain has completed Horizon: Zero Dawn, and he spoils the fuck out of it. 
  • Chance has put some time into Sundered and has opinions
  • How far has Senran Kagura gone this time?
  • And is Chamberlain actually really good at doing voices? 
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Game Diary - Sundered.

Sundered's death animation.

Put simply, Sundered is a melee-centric platforming Metroidvania in the vein of Guacamelee, with Roguelite elements akin to Rogue Legacy.  It plays mostly like Guacamelee (without the grab mechanic), and its structure is a bit more Rogue Legacy

Just before Sundered launched, I told Chamberlain and Alex about an article Kotaku's Mike Fahey wrote, indicating that the game will basically make you want to put your controller through the wall.  
"The system has frustration baked right in. This often outweighs any sense of progress, especially in the first couple of hours. Making my way through the twisting passages to encounter a mini-boss gave me a sense of accomplishment. However, not being familiar with the boss’ mechanics, I quickly died and found myself right back at the game hub. Sure, I had points to spend on abilities, but I also had a long way to travel to get back to the boss, who would probably kill me a couple more times before I got it right.
 It makes my head hurt just thinking about it."-Mike Fahey, Kotaku-
In our email chain, I joked that Chamberlain should just wait for me to insist that it's really, really good despite - or perhaps even because of! - the frustrations Fahey suggests.  

Then, on Friday, I played Sundered.

And it was like... the punchline to a joke.  There are aspects, here, that I know Chamberlain will loathe.  Absolutely loathe.  The game has zero respect for the player's time, and I absolutely fucking love it. 

It reminds me of countless cherished titles, stretching back to my childhood.

There’s Metroid, obviously, with progress and shortcut and secrets hidden behind locks that only new skills and abilities will open – a door that will only open after a blast from a colossal cannon, or a ledge that’s simply impossible to reach without a double-jump – delicious. Its presentation brings to mind Aladdin for the Super Nintendo.  Its silky animation reminds me of Flashback: The Quest for Identity and (be still my beating heart) Klei's Mark of the Ninja.  It's just too gorgeous, and far too gorgeous in motion.

Eshe's idle animation.

The platforming reminds me of them, too.  It's a bit light, a bit floaty - not quite as sharp as Rogue Legacy - but it's comfortable and before long you're scampering through caverns, ping-pong wall jumping up vertical shafts and soaring out over bottomless pits with breezy confidence.

Speaking of Rogue Legacy, a huge aspect of Sundered's design can be traced to that particular modern classic.  In Rogue Legacy, you explore certain directions – down, right, left - from the starting hub, and somewhere out there past a procedurally-generated maze of rooms is a boss room for you to find.

In Sundered, there's a lot more down, left or right than a maze hiding a boss room.  There are bosses and minibosses and skill shrines and shortcuts you can’t get past without a particular skill, and the positions of those rooms never change.  They are connected by a simple network of large "blocks" which are similarly static - they never move - but what's inside those colossal blocks is a procedurally-generated maze of bespoke rooms, stitched together - so while you always need to go south and east to get to the power room, here, in order to get there you'll have to navigate a new (simple, breezy) maze every time.

I've highlighted the "blocks" green, here - entrances and exits to blocks also remain static - like the power rooms, ability shrine and shortcut rooms you see here, but the contents of a block and the route through it will be different every time.

This is where the game would lose Chamberlain.  You'll set out into the world,  zipping through a new maze from this block to that to the next, hoping to push just a little further into Sundered's world and maybe pick up this giant gun you've heard about, or a new attack or an air dash, and instead of earning that boon you'll... probably die.

You'll die because the game doesn't tell you what direction is a good direction to head.  It just says "there's a bunch of stuff out there!" and walks away (Rogueish).  So you launch yourself into this uncharted abyss and come across a bunch of enemies or a boss or miniboss that you couldn't possibly manage - and it may have taken you an hour of practicing in that region to make it that far, and discover that you really shouldn't have been wasting your time.

Every time you die, you're sent right back to the starting point with nothing to show for your efforts but some XP to spend on your skill tree (which only opens up further when you find new skills in the world). You’ve invested an hour, and you have no new abilities to open up new areas to explore. With enough time spent you can level up enough to brute-force your way through, I’d imagine, but that represents a lot of time, in Sundered.

The second reason you'll die is the swarm.

Different zones have different enemies, and the swarm reflects the area you're exploring.

Those mazes of hand-made rooms I mentioned above are not populated with enemies.  You're not going to fight This Enemy in This Particular Room because developer Thunder Lotus has designed a finely-tuned combat encounter for you, managing this foe’s skills while negotiating this particular geometry. Instead, all the rooms are actually empty, save for breakables and treasure chests.  Enemies show up... at random.

Early in a zone, you'll fight one or three easy-breezy foes.

Two or three blocks in, and you're fighting a dozen or more enemies - the same types as those you fought earlier, but bigger, with a different color palette and a more dangerous movelist (a’la Rogue Legacy, come to think of it).  Once you're past a certain point, a warning tone will sound - a great, ominous bonnnng in the western region, a sci-fi warning alarm in the south, that heralds the coming of a swarm.

The swarm doesn't have to navigate rooms like you do.  Flying enemies fly through walls and floors, snipers will fire off huge energy beams from five rooms away and if you run from them they'll just respawn somewhere else and keep shooting at you as you desperately try to stay alive against an army of dive-bombing spinny eye-things and giant ambulatory, electrified toes.

It comes randomly.  Well, there are some blocks that have a guaranteed swarm, but for the most part it's a surprise, and– if you’re in a room that doesn’t really lend itself to battling this many enemies at once – you’re free to continue forward or go back, drawing them into a space that will allow you to put your entire kit to use, and shear through them with flashy slaps of your dark power and blasts of light from your cannon. 

You’re also free to just run, but they’ll follow you.  They’ll follow you into a boss’s room, and continue to engage while the boss is smacking you around – so running is really only a viable tactic when your objective is a skill or perk just in the next block that you can grab before dying and reappearing in the hub. 

Dying is the closest Sundered gets to fast travel. 

These aspects – the new maze you need to navigate each time you die, the sheer size of the world and the distance you’ll have to go to reach the next uncharted path, the way it offers zero guidance on what objective your current toolset will permit you to successfully overcome, the way you can spend spend literal hours pushing towards an objective only to discover it’s impossible for you to accomplish it at the moment, the way death sends you right back to the center of the maze, the fact that a swarm that cannot be overcome could descend upon you at any time – combine to render Sundered as a genuine Time Thief.  Chamberlain will hate this game.  He’ll loathe it, for the above reasons. 

It’s not showing you something new and cool every time you play – it’s showing you the same mazerooms you’ve navigated a hundred times before, stitched together in a new way, and you’re exploring them because what’s at the end of all these blocks might be something useful to you.

So why do I love it?

Well, because there’s so much here that I love in games in general.  I'm going to start dropping some positives, here, and I'm not going to explain why they're positives.  You don't need it explained to you, I trust, that dashing and bouncing across platforms in a two-dimensional space is a joyously pleasurable thing - a thing to be coveted and sought out.  So what's Sundered got?

Haven't fought this dude yet.  Haven't fought any boss that's not a miniboss, yet. 

It's got the sumptuous, gorgeously-animated 2D visuals of classic Klei.  Well-animated hand-drawn 2D sprites (Vanillaware, Klei, Rayman Origins, Guacamelee) are some of my favorite things. 

It's got the snappy, quick, impactful 2D brawling of sharp brawlers.  Sharp, dodge-heavy 2D brawlers (Shank 2, Salt and Sanctuary, Guacamelee, Dragon’s Crown) are some of my favorite things.

It's got the comfy, springy platforming of classic 2D platformers.  Good 2D platformers (Guacamelee, Rayman Origins, Super Mario World) are some of my favorite things.

It's got the villainous, cruel and oh-so-satisfying challenge of Roguelikes and Roguelites.  Good Roguelikes (Don’t Starve, Darkest Dungeon, Rogue Legacy) are some of my favorite things.

It's got the sense of meaningful discovery, exploration and progression of Metroidvanias.  Good Metroidvanias (Guacamelee, Darksiders, Shadow Complex, Hyper Light Drifter) are some of my favorite things. 

It's got the satisfying, powerful-feeling wham that ends your base combo brings none other than God of War’s Plume of Prometheus to mind.  Game with awesome ‘wham’s (Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, Lollipop Chainsaw, Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction) are some of my favorite things. 

Sundered is a fucking Cobb salad with like, only my favorite things in it. 

And it’s a brutal, intentional Time Thief.  Why is that okay?

Don't Starve - one of the Roguelike genre's greatest luminaries, which has no respect for your time.

There’s a certain arrogance (or perhaps simply confidence) to any Roguelike, even if it’s a Roguelite a’la Rogue Legacy or The Swindle or Sundered in which you never technically lose progress.  That arrogance is founded on the assumption that the game is fun to play.  Even when you fail.  Even when your attempt comes to nothing. 

That it’s okay or even good to spend an hour running and jumping and getting in fights with pouring, flowing torrents of eldritch foes without actually getting meaningfully closer to the end of the game, because the point of the game – and of any and every game, really – is, in its simplest terms, to have fun. 

My factory-default setting is that fun things are fun, and remain fun after repetition.  Blastin’ a fool DPS who tries to get in my face on Mercy in Overwatch is never not-fun.  Drop-kicking a zombie in Dying Light is eternally fun.  Running and jumping and getting into melee brawls with eldritch horrors is fun, and it will remain fun tomorrow and the day after, and I can return to Sundered confident that I’m going to enjoy the act of playing it, regardless of the progress I may or may not achieve.  This is why my saved game inDragon’s Crown broke 200 hours, and Darkest Dungeon’s investment has likely surpassed 400. 

It’s like Monopoly.  Or chess. There is nothing new under the Sun to discover, in these games, and they are returned to, over and over, again and again, for years – not in search of an objective, but for the simple sake of the enjoyment of play.  I don't believe this really needs to be argued, but I put to you that - for example - having sex is fun, even (or arguably, especially) when the ostensible objective and destination of a bouncing baby is removed from the equation. 

enjoy playing.  It’s fun to play, and I don’t believe this is a controversial statement. 

Put simply, Sundered is a gorgeous, challenging, satisfying, enchanting melee-centric platforming Metroidvania, with some Roguelite elements.  And it’s a lotta’ fun. 

So, dear reader, if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to take a moment and check out Sundered