Last night I finsihed Darksiders III and instead of whooping and feeling excited across the playthrough, as I did with its predecessors, I could only ask myself: What the hell happened? Continue reading Darksiders III – WTF Happened?
This is week three of the pilot season, where I show the first episode of a few Let’s Play series, you vote which one you like the most and I keep playing that game to the end. The second most voted for comes afterwards and the rest fade into oblivion.
So far we’ve had Ori and the Blind Forest and Hollow Knight, two wonderful Metroidvania games, the genre I’ve been obsessed with for the past few months. Now it’s time for a rogue-like on Early Access on steam, Dead Cells. Continue reading Pilot Season – Week 3 – Dead Cells
It’s week 2 of the Pilot Season, where I show the first episode of potential new Let’s Play series and you help me decide which one will go past the first episode into a full series on The Mental Attic’s YouTube Channel. Last week it was Ori and the Blind Forest, a lovely little metroidvania, so this week let’s finish getting the platformers out of the way, with the first episode for the game I’ve written and spoken about the most in the past few weeks, the Metroidvania Souls-like H0llow Knight. Hope you enjoy this fun little episode, where I use some pogo skills to get early access to a lovely little item that makes me more powerful when I’m close to biting the dust!
Next week it’s the Rogue-like Dead Cells, where I’ll try to put on a good show before I inevitably get my butt kicked in horrible ways! See you then and don’t forget to vote!
Lately I’ve been playing a slew of games. I got a Playstation Vita on the cheap side to play Ys: Memories of Celceta and Ys Seven. I got a New Nintendo 3DS to replace my old one (it’s an American 3DS and I’m living in Europe and it has some battery issues) and I’ve started a Bravely Second playthrough. Then there’s Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I had to restart and have been playing on TheLawfulGeek Stream.
But the one game that’s gotten most of my attention in the past few days, one that I continue to play at every given chance is the most amazing blend of genres: Hollow Knight. Continue reading Glorious Genre Blend – Hollow Knight
I recently finished Dark Souls III, clearing almost all bosses—with the exception of the Nameless King and Ancient Wyvern because I couldn’t care enough to track them down—and since finishing it, I’ve been thinking of the From Software games catalogue, figuring out what the best bosses are. Admittedly, I haven’t played Demons’ Souls so whatever list I come up with is incomplete.
But still, this is my list of the best bosses in the Dark Souls and Bloodborne series. These ranking take two major things into consideration: challenge and memorability, because if we’re truly honest, in Souls games and Bloodborne what we remember the most are the boss fights. The lore is great but boss fights are what people talk about, they’re the highlights and low points of any of their games.
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10 – Asylum Demon: The first Dark Souls boss is a surprise to say the least. The game teaches you the basics of gameplay inside the walls of the Undead Asylum, and even introduces you to a friendly NPC that gives you your first Estus Flasks. Then you open some doors, go inside and boom, there he is in all his fleshy glory. He’s a vicious enemy that is very easy once you figure him out, but a fantastic start to the game.
9 – Gwyn, Lord of Fire: Gwyn’s an easy boss fight, too easy for Dark Souls to be honest, but he’s still memorable for me because his boss design reflects the overall game theme and lore. In his prime, Gwyn was a powerhouse, but now, faded and hollowed and dying like his first flame, he’s so weak you can even parry him. He’s on his last legs, he’s “fading embers” made flesh.
8 – Soul of Cinder: The final boss in Dark Souls III is yet another callback to Dark Souls bosses, though in this case he’s also a reference to Dark Souls players, taking the appearance of a charred version of the poster-character from Dark Souls and using sorceries, pyromancy and even using Dark Wood Grain Ring-style movements. He’s fairly simple to kill and he’s yet another dude in armour with melee weapon at that point. But he’s the one reference in Dark Souls III I didn’t mind. You can even parry him in second phase, though I found it easier to just bait him.
7 – Queelag: Who can forget this beautiful thing? She has the body of a flaming spider and torso of a gorgeous naked girl. Queelag is the first boss in Dark Souls that forces you to react to several things at ones. The spider half has some attacks while the human does other things and there are also environmental dangers. Add to this that you might have gotten there battered and poisoned and you’ll see why she’s on the list. Also, her boss soul weapon was my favourite in all of Dark Souls and I never found anything like it in any of the sequels.
6 – Blood-Starved Beast: This howling monstrosity comes early—or late—in Bloodborne’s story, particularly because it’s entirely optional, only needed to unlock chalice dungeons. But if you do fight it, it’s a fight that punishingly teaches you how to wait for an opening and to create one if you need. The Blood-Starved beast is highly agile but then starts adding a vicious poison to its attack and by the end, it’s covered in the stuff, making the last 30% of its health a real race for survival.
5 – Abyss Watchers: This is my favourite boss fight in Dark Souls 3, particularly since it’s partially a rehash from the number 1 on this list. What makes it very cool is that when you first see the Abyss Watchers you think, “Oh no, not another council fight.” Council fights being those where you fight two or more enemies where killing one triggers more skills in the other(s). But no, you fight one major guy and the others come in and can even help you, as the Abyss Watchers tend to fight among each other. Phase two is strong, intense and gave me a powerful rush of endorphins when I nailed it!
4 – Orphan of Kos: Screw this guy, really. The boss most responsible for rage-quits in Bloodborne. The Orphan of Kos is the hardest boss in the game, but he’s not really a fun one, particularly because he’s extremely punishing and random. He doesn’t feel challenging like other fights, where you can figure out the flaws in your strategy, but instead you depend a lot on luck with him.
3 – The Fume Knight: Oh how I hated this guy in Dark Souls 2. He’s the toughest boss in the entire game and is so because he’s absolutely vicious. His first phase is manageable if you’re not very good at rolling, but the second one makes blocking impossible. It’s high on this list because it forced me to switch up my play style to match the boss encounter, instead of using my go-to turtling strategy.
2 – Ornstein and Smough: The Bash Bros of Dark Souls, Ornstein and Smough are the most memorable bosses in the entire Souls series, and a nice council fight. You can’t just focus on one of them, as they don’t ever stop attacking. And then when you’ve taken one of them out and you’re happy, then one powers the other for the doubly intense phase two. I remember shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Like a Daniel Bryan fan when I finally felled them!
1 – Lady Maria of the Astral Clock Tower: Hunter fights are the best in Bloodborne. They use the same rules as you do and it’s the closest PVE gets to PVP, which suits me just fine. Lady Maria also has some nice references in lore and her introduction video is awesome. But most importantly her fight is the fun kind of challenging. Her moves remain the same throughout the fight with just changes in how punishing they are. You can learn to overcome your mistakes and finally put her to rest. She is the best-designed and paced boss in all From Software’s games.
So, there’s my list. Do you agree? Or is there one I should’ve included and why the hell didn’t I? Let me know in the comments.
I hope we get a Demons’ Souls remaster at some point on PC or current or next gen consoles, as I really want to play all games in the Souls series.
I recently finished Dark Souls III. So where’s the review? Well, there’s not gonna be one. I realised my last article on the game summed up my feelings on it quite well. Dark Souls, beyond its lore, is very much a game that hinges on the memorability of its boss battles, on the design of these. It’s what we all remember after playing the game (that and some of the more annoying enemies and the beautiful landscapes), so my feelings on the rather samey boss design should tell you a lot. If you need a score, I give Dark Souls III a 3.5, it’s a good game but not as good as its predecessor. It has a lot more variety in NPCs, weapons and armour compared to Bloodborne for example, and the quality of the character stories are much more interesting, but it lacks something important. Continue reading Dark Souls III – Identity Crisis?
Before I even begin, let me state this: Dark Souls III is a good game. I’m still playing it. Also, this isn’t a review or a preview, just a little rant on my grievances with the game so far. I’ve yet to finish it, so these are first impressions.
I’ll say it again, Dark Souls III is a fun game, with the same depth and lore as its predecessors and keeping the same style of gameplay we’ve come to expect from From Software’s titles. But it has some annoying flaws in design, particularly boss design that drive me crazy.
Enemies in Dark Souls, and I mean the normal bunch and even the NPC invaders and humans spread around the environment, are a varied sort. You have your abominations, your giant monsters, the knights and everything in between. The Cathedral of the Deep has pretty much one of every kind within its walls.
But the boss design is pretty much a one-trick pony: humanoids in armour with melee weapons, particularly swords and spears. They’re all hyper-aggressive with long reaching sweeping attacks. Some of these are great, like Darth Pontiff, as I like to call him, with twin swords and Jedi-like moves, and the Abyss Watchers, which is most definitely my favourite boss in the game. But it is a common trend in the game, particularly in the main route. The optional bosses do present more variety, such as the Curse-Rotted Greatwood, the Old Demon King and Oceiros, the Consumed King (though this last one is a necessary kill or one of the endings). This tends to box all encounters, particularly if you’re melee, in a single strategy of rolling around avoiding damage, particularly because 95% of them deal damage that you can’t completely mitigate with a shield or have such strong moves that blocking them depletes your stamina. Right now, nearing end-game I’m rocking Yorm’s Greatshield and it’s the only thing that offers decent protection and lets me block effectively. Non-human bosses give you other strategies, make you think of positioning. The only way Dark Souls III makes you do that is with environmental complications like those Bed-of-Chaos-esque poison breathers in the Dragonslayer Armour fight, which is complete nonsense!
The Lords of Cinders themselves have some issues, except the Abyss Watchers, which are amazing. For example, Aldis’ fight is in one of the most memorable Dark Souls places but the boss itself is rather bland, with very little nuance or strategy to him, just roll through the attacks and swipe at him. Yorm the Giant is a gimmick boss that dies very quickly from the anti-boss weapon you find in his arena, otherwise he takes minimal damage like most giants. Even the Twin Princes lack some impact, as it’s a simple encounter with odds stacked against you…as they all are.
But perhaps my greatest issue with the bosses and which might have had an even bigger impact on how memorable they are is the lack of boss intros. Most bosses just start after you enter their arena, without the dramatic cutscene that introduces them to you and give you that first moment of awe, something that was frankly amazing in Dark Souls, the first one. I will forever remember the cutscene to the Gaping Dragon and that of Ornstein and Smough, they were great and told you exactly what you were in for before the boss even did anything to you.
Dark Souls III has the lore, the references to the original game—quite a few in fact, yet it doesn’t feel like a retread—but it lacks the dramatic impact of that game. It’s almost as if the developers knew that the audience would know things so they didn’t put time into the presentation, the introduction of elements, characters and most importantly, bosses.
My final issue with Dark Souls III before I go is that much like Dark Souls II, there are way too many greatswords, ultra greatswords and in big weapons in general, and not enough Straight Swords or fast single hand weapons. I know they love their bulky equipment, but it would’ve been great not to end with the Broadsword as my main weapon much like I did in Dark Souls II. Also, most weapon arts are rather bland.
But to not end this in a downer, I’ll say I loved the new way of handling Estus Flasks, the allotment and reinforcing. Truly love it, same with the weapon upgrade options. They kept the good but got rid of the clunky. I’m happy with that.
I’ll be playing more Dark Souls III in the coming weeks and maybe soon I’ll have a review for it. I just needed to get these off my chest. That way you can know what I’m grumbling to myself most of the time while playing!
Yesterday I spoke of the best things in Japanese Role-Playing Games aka JRPGs. I spoke of the scale, the length of the video games and how complex they are no matter their audience. But not everything about JRPGs is good and there are some common elements that annoy me to no end, so this time around I’m listing the five things I wish JRPGs stopped doing! Continue reading Top Five Bad Tropes in JRPGs
UPDATE: I went on a bit of a rant with the Powerless Power-Ups section and didn’t make my point very clear. I’ve now edited that.
I’ve been playing RPGs for a long time. I wouldn’t say I started playing this genre as a child, I really didn’t. I got seriously into RPGs with Final Fantasy VII when a friend loaned it to me—though that isn’t my favourite title in the series—and since then I’ve gone through dozens of titles in the genre in a variety of platforms, from the original NES to current gen systems. And my interest in RPGs goes beyond video game but also into tabletop. I play D&D and many other games—though not as many at the moment, sadly.
Role-playing Games, like any other genre have common elements between them. Some of these tropes are very good and even form the basis of the RPG genre in itself, but there are others that I wish I could forget and force others to do the same so we may never see them again in any video game.
This article is about the latter, the sins. Though as a disclaimer, I’ll say that this is my opinion only. They’re my beliefs. Continue reading Role Playing Grumbles – The Worst Tropes in RPGs
As a writer, my skills and personal style are constantly growing, always maturing and changing. Just on experience, what I write today is going to be better (sorta) that what I wrote yesterday (maybe). But sometimes you have to go back and analyse your articles and fiction to find out what was wrong there, what mistakes you made and what you can learn from them. So today, as part of my continuous growth as a writer and (amateur) journalist, I’ll talk about my worst articles. These were flawed pieces from the get-go, and had an immense impact on me. Continue reading Journalist Evolution – My Worst Articles