Review: Battleborn (#ThrowbackThursday)

Originally Posted on 6/9/16.  I miss Battleborn.  The DLC adventures were really fun!  The game is STILL playable, and in fact is Free to Play for the PVP Modes, and $30 for the full game (progress carries over) no idea how active it is though.

If you listen to the internet, this is a game that is not doing well. This is a game that many people say is dying on the PC Platform, and limping along on the consoles. This is a game that has a few issues, bugs, and glitches. This is a game that has been lambasted by other game journalists and review sites as being terrible. This is a game that has been compared, unfavorably, to Overwatch.

This is a game that I personally really enjoy. Continue reading “Review: Battleborn (#ThrowbackThursday)”

Review: Moon Hunters (#ThrowbackThursday)

Originally posted on 5/13/16 on Vox Ludicus.  My views on this game remain the same as they did back then.

I have been puzzling over how to approach this review for a few days now. On one hand, I think about how much I enjoyed the game early on, with its unique and colorful hand drawn art work and fascinating mythology. On the other hand, I think about how much I despise several of the classes and how horribly unbalanced and repetitive everything gets after about two hours of play, and I am torn. This is a divisive game, as divisive as I have ever seen or played. Anyway, let’s get right into the Four Pillars and break down the good, the bad, and the ugly. Continue reading “Review: Moon Hunters (#ThrowbackThursday)”

Rune Factory 4: A Review

Alright, time for my second ever 3DS Game review, and this time we are looking at the game Rune Factory 4, published by Marvelous AQL and developed by Neverland Co, released in 2013.This is an interesting title, and I was not sure what I expected when I picked it up on the EShop a few months ago.  I knew roughly that the Rune Factory games are built to be similar in style to the Harvest Moon games, being a town life simulator, and that they featured more emphasis on combat and story but that was really all I knew.  However, after playing it the best way I can describe this game after my 30+ hours of playtime is as follows: Stardew Valley meets Secret of Mana, with a Diabo styled loot system.

This is the last Rune Factory game to ever be released at the time of this review, and after playing it all I can say is I WANT MORE!  The game, however, is not without its quibbles, but let’s dive into the details of Rune Factory 4.

VISUALS

The game visually is a product of its time honestly.  They tried to go for a more “realistic yet chibi” art style for the in game sprites and character models and for the most part it works, although it can look pixelated at times in the worst way.  It reminds me of the late PS1 era games, things like Final Fantasy 9 and such.  The backgrounds are static images for the most part, and are wonderfully rendered and vibrant.  There are also plenty of environments to explore, from forests and plains to the city and even a haunted mansion.  Each one unique in design and flavor.

Forte (L) and Clorica (R) in their cute bathing suits!

One thing that stands out are the character portraits that appear during conversation.  These are wonderfully hand drawn anime styled portraits that animate slightly to show different expressions for the characters, to help convey emotion.  Each character is also unique in design, and you get to be able to tell each one apart very easily as you go on.  Ducle and Clorica are two of my favorites, but Venti is also a treat to chat with as well.

SOUND AND MUSIC

Let’s start with the sound effects first and foremost.  They are nothing special but do convey each action appropriately.  The sound of storms is actually really nice with thunder crashes and the patter of rain, and your footsteps and various environmental audio queues are a nice touch as well, such as splashes when fishing and the like.  Your character also makes little noises as you attack, adding weight to each strike.

The soundtrack however is something I really enjoy.  Each area has a distinct theme to it, and you begin to learn the themes as you play.  I would honestly listen to this soundtrack outside of the game as even the most bombastic tracks are still pretty chill and relaxing.

One thing however that I LOVE is that every single character in the game has voice acted audio clips.  Now we are not talking full on voice acting, but rather simple phrases.  Speaking to Clorica will usually net you a “Hello!” for example, and some scenes or sequences have additional voice acting, but it helps make the game feel alive as you play.

The City of Selphia is such a lovely place.

STORY AND SETTING

Let’s start by talking about how alive the town and world feels.  Like any good life simulator your game takes place over days in a season, each season lasting 30 days.  As you progress forward each day, new events take place that give you glimpses into the life and times around the city of Selphia.  Further, you have festivals that take place each season that gives some real meaning to the towns people and how they interact.  There is a ton of ambient dialog that changes depending on the time of day and season as well as plot progression, which makes the game feel alive in a way that other life sims don’t, at least from my experience.

There are, actually, 3 distinct storylines taking place in this game, divided into 3 distinct arcs.  Each one can take quite a while to complete, with twists and turns and dungeons to delve and locations and mysteries to solve.  Frankly, I have only finished Arc 1 of 3 at this time, which was a solid enjoyable storyline to play through involving going to strange temples and locations, and freeing Guardians from their entrapment.  Why were they trapped and why did I need to do this?  Well I cannot tell you without spoiling things so I won’t!  Arc 2 however starts with a neighboring country attacking the town, and from there you have to rush off to defeat the invaders and determine just why they attacked, going to even more locations in this world.

And the world map is incredibly dense.  At first it seems very small, but as play progresses you find more and more locations, new dungeons including several optional ones, and plenty of places to just explore loot and fight in.  Overall, I am still enjoying my time with the game, and I want to finish Arc 2 and move on to Arc 3.  Also each and every towns person you interact with has a unique personality, likes, dislikes, and more.  Every single one is also fleshed out with their own character events as well and at least 5 males and 5 females are romancable.

I can tell you that game opens up after choosing your gender, with you falling off an airship into the literal middle of town, meeting the towns Guardian Dragon Ventiswill (Venti!) and being mistaken for the kingdoms Prince.  It gets really silly from there, and then very sad, and emotional.  The story has gripped me in this game and has not let me go.  My only issue with progressing the story has to do with, well, how the game actually works.

GAMEPLAY

Let’s get this out of the way right now: This game is a GRIND.  Not a terrible grind, but it is a grind.  You will spend a lot of time either waiting for crops to grow, events to trigger, the right drops from enemies to drop, and of course stamina to refill.  The gameplay can roughly be divided into 2 distinct segments: the Life Sim and the Action RPG.

Harvest Time!

In the Lifesim portion you can do pretty much all the stuff you might expect from a game like Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. You can talk to villagers, give them gifts, attend various festivals, grow crops and take care of animals, improve your house, improve the town through the Orders system, go fishing, and craft a variety of things.  You can also open your own store later in the game, which is honestly a fun time.

Farming is incredibly in-depth for this game.  You start with 1 field and can upgrade to 3 fields total.  When using a field you have to pay attention to things like soil quality in order to grow the best crops, which is wild.  You gotta learn how to inspect quality, rotate crops, and make sure to let soil repair itself over time.  You can use fertilizer and even a compost heap to deal with soil quality as well.  Crops range from veggies and flowers, and even things called Dungeon Flowers, which grow (no joke) procedurally generated dungeons for you to explore and loot.  And from those dungeons you can get sword and shield flowers, which grow (you guessed it) swords and shields, and apparently some of the best kinds in the game.

There are also requests you can do for villagers, ranging from giving them items you found or crafted as well as things you have cooked to improve their friendship level with you and get rewards.  You can cook using the things you have grown or found in the wild in a variety of ways.  You can forge and improve both weapons and armor as well, and even new tools like new water cans, hoes, fishing rods, axes, and so on.  You can marry eligible bachelors or bachelorettes (sorry no same sex marriage though!) and so on. And how do you get the materials for all these activities outside of farming?

Why, you go out into the world to kill monsters, delve dungeons, and collect loot that’s how!  By going out into the wilds you can find various animals and monsters that you can kill or tame to collect loot and goodies.  Almost every monster can be tamed, even a bunch of the bosses, provided you have the right items to give them, just an fyi.  Combat is simple but fun.  You have a basic attack, a dodge, and eventually 4 special action buttons that you can use to bind spells and special attacks to.  You gain spells and special attacks as random drops from enemies, and as rewards from the requests you can do for villagers.  The world outside of the main town is fairly massive, and thankfully there is a fast travel system from save points you can use as you slowly explore, letting you easily farm locations for specific items (bosses respawn daily, so you can farm them as well).  Also, once you are friends with villagers, you can invite them to come with you or bring monsters you have tamed along.  Up to 2 Villagers or Monsters can join you on your adventures, and they will level up alongside you.

The Interface for your Inventory is a bit busy

All these activities, both the Life Sim and Action RPG stuff, are tied together using the Skill system.  There is a skill you can level up for almost every activity.  Sleeping?  We got a skill for that.  Bathing?  Got a skill.  Swords, Axes, Hammers, Fist Weapons, Spears, Magic Rods?  Got skills.  Leadership for when you got a party with you?  Yea we got a skill for that.  Crafting?  Skills for every KIND of crafting.  Farming?  Fishing?  Oh yea, we got that.  And every skill level increases your stats in some fashion or another.  Your skills also limit your ability to learn crafting recipes, which you learn by eating “Recipe Bread”.  You can buy that from the Chef in town.

Finally there is also the Orders system, which is a system used to enact “Orders” around town.  Since you are the Prince, you can “order” certain events to take place in town, things like new shop stocks, new shops, festivals, expanding your home, and so on.  You need Prince Points to do these, which you gain from talking to villagers as well as completing the Requests they hand you.  More orders become available as you progress in the storyline as well so do not be surprised if you run out.  Finally, no event or plot is on a timer, meaning you cannot miss town events or the storyline unless its specifically like a Festival, which will clearly be marked on your in game Calendar and the NPCs will mention it pretty regularly.

The biggest roadblock in this game however is that grind.  You will regularly hit walls where enemies are nearly impossible to get through without upgraded equipment, which means you will need to spend time in game hunting down materials and grinding levels for your skills in order to learn recipes so you can build new stuff to take them on.  You can also run into Requests that you cannot complete simply because you don’t have access to a location or object, and will either have to abandon the Request OR wait.  For example, you cannot get access to Dungeon Flowers till Act 2, and those take 18 days to grow…and I am still growing my first one so I can complete a request I got 3 hours into the game.  Be aware you will spend a lot of time just grinding out skills and levels to progress at times.

SQUAD

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall I absolutely adore this game, and I am nowhere near finishing it.  I know for a fact there is even more stuff to do and unlock both progression wise and optional simply by doing research on crafting stuff.  This game is well worth its purchase price of $40 on the Nintendo EShop and easily worth it if you can get it used on the cheap.  The sheer amount of time you can spend playing this game, nevermind the New Game Plus options (yes there are New Game Plus options) provide hours of entertainment for your money.

However, if you are not the kind of person who enjoys grinding, and setting your own goals, then this game is not for you.  You will need to be willing to sit down and say “Today I am going to work on getting some Large Milks to make Smoothies” or “I am going to take Clorica and my pet Goblin out to level them up” in order to really appreciate this game.  However for those of us who have a 3DS system and wish there was a Stardew Valley like game out there for it?  This is the one for you. It’s a wonderful title and I am hoping that a new one comes out eventually, as I would love to play more.

You can purchase Rune Factory 4 at the following Locations:

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

Review: Total War: Warhammer 1 (#ThrowbackThursday)

Editors Note: Originally posted on 5/29/16 on Vox Ludicus.  My views of this game remain largely intact.

I look upon the battlefield. The Greenskin horde, a full WAAAAGH in fact, was preparing their assault. I had already been driven back by Grimgor Ironhide, and now he had backup. But I was not going to give in. I would take as many grobi as I could with me as I went to the halls of my ancestors.

I arranged my Dawi on top of a nearby hill, Cannons in the center of a half circle, surrounded by Quarrlers, ready with axe should the enemy close. Around them my stoutest Longbeards, veterans of many engagements and very angry. And in the center stood my general, Ungrim Ironfist the Slayer King!

The Greenskin tide sweep up and after a long, protracted battle, they wiped out my forces and wounded Ungrim. But I gave an accounting of myself: I wounded Grimgor and the other generals, and wiped out over half the forces. Continue reading “Review: Total War: Warhammer 1 (#ThrowbackThursday)”

Pathology: The Champion Fighter – Simple. Effective. Brutal.

Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Pathology, and today I am bringing you what I would personally consider the easiest and most simplistic class and path combination in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, the Champion Fighter.  Now, make no mistake, while this class is simple and easy to play mechanically, they are still very VERY good at what they do.

What they do, by the way, is pick a target and murderize it.  They do this very well indeed.

Dragonborn Fighter by Perry Zielonka click the image to view his Artstation Page

The Champion Fighter is possibly the best new player class in the game. They have no spells, no real special abilities to remember outside of what every fighter gets, and are brutally effective in combat with their heavy armor, high hit points, and multiple attacks.  Put simply, if all you want to do is hit a thing till it stops moving in the most simple way possible, then be a Champion Fighter.

Normally I don’t bring up the base line class abilities in these articles, however for the Champion Fighter the base line fighter abilities all play a role in the path’s usage.  Fighters are proficient with all armor and shields, as well as simple and martial weapons.  You can wield a rapier in full plate, or a great sword in leather armor, it’s all the same to the Fighter.  Right at first level you gain a Fighting Style as well as Second Wind, both of which play a big part in how you play your Champion Fighter.

The Fighting Style gives you a bonus based on the sort of weapon you wield, while Second Wind grants you the ability, as a bonus action and once per short/long rest, to regain some hit points during a fight.  Both of these are staple abilities of all fighters, and the Champion is no different.  At level 3 you gain your Champion path as well.

Also at 2nd level you gain Action Surge, an amazingly powerful ability for a Fighter, and the reason many people take 2 levels of fighter as other classes.  This singular ability allows you, the Fighter, to take a single full additional action on your turn once per long or short rest.  At level 17 you can do this TWICE per long/short rest, but not on the same turn.  This is massive. This allows you, at level 20, to attack a full 8 times in a single turn on two different turns, for example.

Also, just as a note, the Fighter class gains a total of 7 Ability Score Increases as they level up.  This is a huge amount of power gain, an effective +14 Ability Points.  Also, by level 20 you will have the ability to make a total of 4 attacks when taking the Attack action, more than any other single class.  You also gain Indomitable which lets you reroll a failed saved once per long rest at level 11.

Now, as far as Champion specific abilities they are all very basic, no flash to em, but every single one of them increases your ability to punish the enemy and crush them under the heel of your boots.  First, you gain Improved Critical at levels 3 and 15.  At first, this increases your critical range to 19-20 (level 3), and then 18-20 (level 15).  Most only have a 5% chance on a D20 roll (a 20) to gain a critical strike, but the Champion eventually has a 15% chance to get a Critical.  This is a huge damage boost, especially over your 4 normal attacks or 8 Action Surged attacks.  You also gain another Fighting Style at level 10 to complement your first one, Remarkable Athlete which lets you add half your proficiency bonus to STR, DEX, and CON checks that you don’t have your Proficiency Bonus added to already (such as Untrained Acrobatics checks, for example).  Your capstone power as a Champion at level 18 is the ability Survivor, which causes you to regain 5 + Con Modifier HP per turn if you are at less than half HP and not at zero HP.  This means that taking a Champion down can be very difficult given they start with a d10 Hit Die.

Reading all that, you can again see the Champion is super simple mechanically.  You gain a bunch of attacks, only a few activated powers, and boosted critical chance.  In essence, as I said, the Champion is all about picking a single target and hitting them till they stop moving.

Now for this article what I am going to do is break down how I would build an Adventure League legal Champion Fighter, and what I would do at each level.  Normally I don’t do full character builds, but I wanted to give an example of how, despite the simplistic nature of the path, you can build something that is still fun to play and powerful feeling.  We will be using the Adventurer League stat array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) for this build.  As a note I am not including feats, as they are an optional rule and are up to your GM/DM as to whether or not they are allowed.

I would select either Half Orc, Human, or Dwarf as the race.  Their racial bonuses all work well here and all three races have a tendency to birth great fighters.  Half Orc in particular gives you +2 Strength and +1 Constitution, which fits very well for a offensive oriented fighter like the Champion.

So with a Half Orc as our race we are looking at the following for stats at level 1:

  • Str          16 (14 +2 for Race)
  • Con        16 (15 +1 for Race)
  • Dex        13
  • Int          10
  • Wis         12
  • Cha        8

Having a Wisdom bonus is a good idea as many of the spells that can lock a character down are Wisdom based.  Cha and Int are the least useful attributes for this class.  Given that you will be getting a total of 14 Ability Points as we level, you can easily get your Str and Con both to 20 (the maximums) and then still have 6 points left over to play with.

Now before we choose our Class skills I always like to select a background.  This is because our Background will automatically give us training in 2 skills along with some other perks.  For me, and this build, I would choose Soldier.  I like the idea of an ex-soldier turned mercenary who adventures because they are good at fighting, they didn’t like military life, and the money is a whole lot better as a mercenary.  Make them Chaotic Good, so they have some ethics on who they work for and how much they charge them.  As a soldier we get Athletics & Intimidation as trained skills, and then we get two more from the Fighter List.  Let’s take Survival and Perception.  We won’t be the best at these as they are Wisdom based, however it makes sense for an Ex-Soldier turned Merc to know how to spot danger and survival off the land and track.  You also get proficiency in Str and Con saves.

Now at 1st level we get our Second Wind ability and our first Fighting Style.  I see this character as a big bruiser type, using huge weapons, so I would take Great Weapon Fighting as my style here.  Great Weapon allows you to reroll 1’s and 2’s on your damage dice each time you roll damage, taking the new results when using any weapon with 2 hands.  This allows for much higher potential damage on average.

Since I can start my adventure with any Martial Weapon I want (And then either a spare weapon or shield) I can easily start with a Great Sword (Slashing Damage) and a Maul (Bludgeoning Damage) or Warhammer (Lighter, but still Bludgeoning and able to use both one handed AND two handed).  You want to cover damage types so you can deal with things like Skeletons and Zombies early on.  From here on leveling is pretty simple.  Let’s take a look at the levels in detail and how I would build from here.

  • Level 1:                 Great Weapon Fighting and Second Wind
  • Level 2:                 Action Surge
  • Level 3:                 Champion Path, gain Improved Critical (19-20 crit chance with all weapons)
  • Level 4:                 Ability Score Increase (+2 Str, now 18 Str for +4 to Hit / Damage)
  • Level 5:                 +1 Attacks (2) when using the Attack Action
  • Level 6:                 Ability Score Increase (+2 Str, now 20 Str so +5 to Hit / Damage
  • Level 7:                 Remarkable Athlete Champion Ability
  • Level 8:                 Ability Score Increase (+2 Con, now 18 Con, for more HP)
  • Level 9:                 Indomitable (1 use)
  • Level 10:              Second Fighting Style (Defense is good for a global +1 AC in Armor)
  • Level 11:              +1 Attacks (3) when using the Attack Action
  • Level 12:              Ability Score Increase (+2 Con, now 20 Con, for more HP)
  • Level 13:              Indomitable (2 use)
  • Level 14:              Ability Score Increase (+2 Wis, now 14 Wis, better Wis Saves / Skills)
  • Level 15:              Superior Critical from Champion (18-20 crit chance with all weapons)
  • Level 16:              Ability Score Increase (+2 Wis, now 16 Wis, better Wis Saves / Skills)
  • Level 17:              2 uses of Action Surge, 3 of Indomitable now
  • Level 18:              Survivor from Champion Path
  • Level 19:              Ability Score Increase (+2 Wis, now 18 Wis, better Wis Saves / Skills)
  • Level 20:              +1 Attacks (4) when using the Attack Action

So at level 20 you have 20 Strength, 20 Constitution, 18 Wisdom, 4 base attacks per round, 2 uses of Action Surge per short/long rest, and an 18-20 Critical Range, rerolling 1’s and 2’s on damage (once) with your big 2 handed weapons. To put this in math terms, you will have a total of +11 (+6 Prof Bonus +5 Str Mod) Base to hit with your weapons, and on a hit deal 2d6+5 damage (average on 2d6+5 is (7+5) 12 damage) per swing, assuming no critical hits, 4 times in a single round, which is 48 damage (per hit).  And you will most likely hit more often than not, as most enemies don’t have ACs higher than 24 or 25.  The CR 24 Ancient Red Dragon, for example, has a 22 AC.  This means you will hit nearly 50% of the time on each swing without any assistance.

In fact an Ancient Red Dragon has, on average, 546 HP.  If the Champion hits all 4 times in a single round with no critical hits they are doing on average 192 damage alone.  That’s with no help whatsoever.  That Dragon will not be having a good day after a few rounds with the Champion, never mind a full party behind them adding their own damage and support to the fight.

Found on Pintrest

Additionally, taking average HP Every level, you will have 224 HP at level 20 with an AC of around 19 without a shield wearing plate mail.  If you use a 1 hander and shield you are looking at a 21 AC, which is nothing to sneeze at defensively (if you take Defense Style as I would)

Equipment wise you will want is Plate Mail and a Great Sword / Great Axe / Maul and then a 1 handed weapon of some sort with a shield.  Magical if you can get them because that just makes everything better.  Make sure that you try to get a short rest in anytime you use your Action Surge as well, as that will make sure you can fully utilize your big move every fight possible.  Also you will want thrown weapons for ranged attacks, or a good bow.

Oh and if you are a Cleric (or Anyone with access to the spell Bless) and have a fighter of ANY type in your party?  Consider using Bless more often.  It adds 1d4 to EVERY Attack Roll and Save the targets make…including all 4 of the Fighters basic attacks.  This is quite the boost to a fighters accuracy and honestly might be better than Haste in most cases unless the Fighter needs the boost to movement speed (i.e. a Dwarf and their 20ft movement a round vs most everyone else’s 30ft)

Simple.  Effective.  Brutal.

And honestly, possibly the character I use in future one shots and even maybe the next Campaign I get to play in.  Already got a name for them too: Gunther, the Half Orc Soldier turned Merc with a heart of gold, and always willing to lend a hand, assuming the price is right.  Price is of course dictated by social standing.  Can’t charge peasants the same as a lord after all.  We have a sliding scale around here.

Let me know in the comments if you ever played a Champion Fighter!  If so, what was the build / setup and backstory?  Why did you choose the Champion, and would you ever play one again?

For more Pathology Articles and Class Breakdowns, just Check out this Tag!
As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

#ThrowbackThursday is coming to Terminally Nerdy

At least for a little while.  Starting in the coming weeks I am going to be posting my old reviews from back when I did game reviews for a site called Vox Ludicus.  The site has not been updated for over a year at this point, and I had a small falling out with the owners of it in how I did reviews.  It’s one of the reasons I got out of game reviews for a while.

However, at this point the site appears dead, and I want to keep an archive of the work I did.  This means that you all get to see some of my video game reviews from over two years ago!  I will be posting them as close as I can to the originals, with some notes at the top about each one and how I feel about them now.  These are basically a look into my past and are also gonna give me some more content for this site here.  I will also be removing the reviews from the original site, as once I post it here it won’t be going anywhere.

These will be going up on Thursdays until I run out (I think about 6-7 weeks total) so that way my normal Wednesday posts, when I do them, will not be impacted.  These posts are just going to be the text, as the rest of the data will sadly be lost in transit.

Hopefully you all enjoy the weird history of my life in writing.

State of the Nerd – 11/2018

Greetings gentle readers, to my first in what I hope to be a semi regularly column I am calling “State of the Nerd” where I talk about whats going on with me, my life, the site, the streams, and everything else. Basically a general overview of what I have been up to, and what I am planning. So lets dive right in!

STREAMING

As far as streaming goes I haven’t really done much since my Kingdoms of Amalur playthrough ended. I have not had the time, nor the energy really to get back on there. Currently I got two plans however for upcoming streams.

First is a full Mass Effect 1/2/3 trilogy playthrough with all DLC included in the game. I am going to play each game on stream, fully, with no mods, and then review them each after I finish them. My current plan is to play a Female Shepard, full Paragon (mostly), Adept, romancing no one in Game 1 and then Garrus in 2/3, with my team being and Engineer and Soldier with me (usually Garrus and Tali, best team ever). These will not be 100% runs but rather doing things as I see fit. Mostly cause I have zero urge to explore every planet in ME1 (oh god no), but beyond that I will be aiming to do every quest I come across, and all the DLC save maybe Pinnacle Station in ME1 (that has no bearing on the story FYI).

Second is my Pugmire Tabletop RPG Stream. This is going to be a once a month game, usually on a Saturday night, and feature me as the DM and my wife, Walking Virus, Saevrick, Musick Kombat, and Kraven Gaming as my players. Our Session Zero, which will be streamed, is currently schedule for 6pm EST on 11/24. It will be broadcast on my Twitch Channel so if you wanna watch and see how I run Session Zeros, and just what kind of Good Bois my players are going to be, you will want to follow me there and watch. At the end of the stream I will plan, with my players, the first actual session so that should be a trip.

Actually both things will be on my Twitch Channel.  Obviously.

TABLETOP RPG STUFF

Right now I still have a review to record and put up on Youtube for both the Pugmire rulebook as well as the Heralds: Lovecraft and Telsa Savage Setting book. I am hoping to work on these reviews this coming Sunday. Beyond that I have the Pugmire game (see above) and thats really it on the Tabletop front. I find that planning or doing stuff involving tabletop takes a lot of mental energy, and sadly these days I just don’t have a lot left after my work week. I am hoping one day that will change, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

VIDEO GAME STUFF

On the video game front, I just recently finished my review of Cyanide Studio’s new RPG Call of Cthulhu, which you can find right here. While I am going to be streaming the Mass Effect run, I am also playing games at home in an effort to de-stress and get some content out as well. I got a couple i am messing around with.

First, the mobile game Dragalia Lost which I wrote about here. I just finished the Wind Raid (got the Dragon Reward, and most of the event quests done) but I am still trying to see how much more in the rewards category I can get before I go back to doing the story missions. The event has been fun, and for the most part has worked well, being able to play with 3 other players and take on a giant boss with MMO styled mechanics is a lot of fun, and doesn’t usually take more then a couple of minutes per fight.

I am also playing World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth with my wife on the weekends, and on some nights when I feel up to it. Honestly though, this game has gotten stale already even a month and change after the expansion launch. Most of my issues stem from the Azerite Armor system, where each pieces has randomized traits, and sometimes really terrible ones. Its no fun getting a new head chest or shoulder piece and going “Well crap, the item level is better but the traits on it are horrible” or even worse, getting a piece you cannot use because your Necklace (the heart of azeroth) isnt “powered” enough yet. Combine that with just grind on top of grind on top of grind and the game has become a slog. I just got access to Warfronts though by hitting ilvl 320 on my Gnome Shadow Priest, and my wife seems to enjoy doing those on her Undead Hunter so perhaps that will liven things up for me. I need something that feels meaningful and lets me feel like I am improving my character, rather then playing the item lotto and hoping for the best.

Recently I picked up two games on sale on Steam: Yakuza Zero and Dot Hack GU Recode, and started playing both. Yakuza Zero is a ridiculous game that I am in love with, but I have not gotten too far in it, only Chapter 3 which is the start of Mejima’s storyline. This is the prequal game to the Yakuza series and shows just how Kiryu and Majima ended up where they are in Yakuza Kiwami. What I am liking about it is that while its an open world game, the world is not gigantic and filled with icons to visit and things to do. Its much more focused, which is nice for a guy like me. I ended up stopping with AC Odyssey despite how much I like it because every hour or so some new subsystem and activity opened up and I just got overwhelmed. Playing Call of Cthulhu was nice for that reason, it was a linear game, 8 hours long, and done. Yakuza Zero is MUCH longer (something like 16 chapters and I am on Chapter 3) but each chapter feels like a distinct entity with its own limited activities. Plus its just fun to run around in 80’s Japan and play Space Harrier in an Arcade.

Dot Hack GU Recode is a JRPG that I have had my eye on for a LONG time now, but its been $50 on steam and I just didn’t want to spend that. However, it went down over the weekend to $15 and I had the spare cash so I snatched it up. I am only 3 hours in, but I enjoy the basic gameplay of it, and I like the enhanced visuals. I did play the original Dot Hack GU Volume 1 on the PS2 back in the day, but never finished, and its just like I remember: Hasaeo is a bit of a dick, but the cast of characters who are surrounding him are enjoyable and its got some interesting systems to it. Expect a review of this one once I get through the entire 4 “Chapters” of the game (aka the 3 original games plus the new 4th mini game). I also like how it feels like a fake MMO, with me being able to read and reply to emails, get info off forums, and read about the world outside of the game from the “computer” menu. Its got a lot of charm. I am just hoping that I see some growth out of Haseo as the game goes on.

PATREON STUFF AND THE BLOG

I figured I might as well give a little update to how my Patreon is doing overall here. I have lost some patrons, gained some, had some lower their pledges, had some increase their pledges, and have thus far stayed pretty much the same for the last few months which is kind of sad I suppose. I was hoping for more growth but honestly I dont even know what I offer to people who are pledged now! I did manage to run a moderately successful Patreon Jackbox Game event, a private one in fact, which was a lot of fun.

While I may not be doing Patreon One Shots anytime soon, I will be doing more of these “game nights” or “fireside chat” type events just to interact with my Patrons more, at least once a month if I can swing it on a Sunday morning. Might even do things like a watch along for a movie or something privately, who knows. I might take some votes. I find that Patreon One Shots just take more planning and energy that I dont have right now, but game nights and things that require little prep on my part are MUCH easier.

Who knew that Tabletop Prep, even using the Lazy DM Method by Sly Flourish, can take so much energy out of someone? Oh wait, most DMs know that!

As far as the blog here, I just paid for my next year of hosting (Thanks Patrons for helping me cover that) and have been doing pretty ok. Most of my hits (At least half of the 200-300 I get a day) seem to come from the Divine Soul Sorcerer post from way back when, which makes me laugh. I had no idea so many people would search for that on Google but apparently I am one of the top results on that one. Everything else has been doing pretty ok. The CoC review has gotten nearly 100 views so I consider that a win given how rare my other posts get seen it seems. Even twitter rarely talks about the stuff I do on here.

So there is the state of the Nerd as of November 2018. Here is hoping things change in my life so I can get some of my old energy back and get to making more content like I used to. I feel really horrible and kind of a failure because of my lack of actually doing the things I used to be able to do. Which does not improve my mood. But what can you do? All we can really do anymore is push forward in our lives, and try to survive the trials put before us as best we can, and do all that we can to live and thrive.

Talk to you all later and remember to stay nerdy everyone.

Call of Cthulhu (2018 Video Game): A Review

Greetings gentle readers!  Today, thanks to publisher Focus Home, I am bringing you a review of the latest release from Cyanide Studio, the game “Call of Cthulhu”.  I did receive a promotional key for the purposes of this review, as a note.

This is described as a “Semi Open World Investigation RPG”, inspired by the works of HP Lovecraft (specifically the story Call of Cthulhu) and built using the Chaosium ‘Call of Cthulhu’ Tabletop RPG rules.  The main reason I wanted to play this game, despite not being a huge fan of traditional horror, is that I have read the collected works of Lovecraft and I own a copy of the 7th Edition CoC Quickstart rules, and wanted to see if this game was a good representation of both these things.

Does it capture the truly Eldritch horrors of HP Lovecraft?  Does it feel like a Tabletop campaign?  Or will it drive you to madness?  Let’s dive right into Call of Cthulhu.

VISUALS

Visually I am of two minds here.  Let’s get the bad right out of the way: The cinematic cutscenes in this game are rather rough around the edges, and remind me very much of older Playstation 3 / Xbox 360 era graphics.  The fog in particular, when used, really makes things muddy and while the cutscenes are not horrible, they are very much at odds with the actual in game visuals.

The Fog makes things Muddy but thankfully its rare.

The in game visuals, by the way, are wonderful and atmospheric and really capture the tone and feel of the game.  The village of Darkwater and the Hawkins house, two of the very first areas you visit, and dripping with age and a feeling of unease.  There is a green fog as well very gently laid over everything, which at first confused me as to why it was there.  Eventually you do learn what the Green fog is, sort of, and then it starts to make a bit more sense.  Thankfully the fog does not really obscure the areas you are going to explore at all, and the detail in the environments really stands out.

Lighting also plays a huge part of the game here, with areas of darkness and low light that just add to the mood and tension.  You have a lantern and a lighter, both which produce different amounts of light and feel appropriate to their size.

A welcoming place indeed

Character models are a little stiff at times with their animations.  While their faces are animated well enough, their movements during conversations can be a little…off.  Nothing really detracts from anything but you do start to notice the oddities here and there.  Especially with their hands.

Overall I am happy with the in game visual presentation, I just wish the Cinematics were a little more detailed and crisp.

AUDIO

While I would never go out of my way to listen to the soundtrack of the game outside of it, I will say that for the most part it again fits the mood of the game perfectly. Its tense, and droning, and at times downright frightening.  A few times the music can get a bit bombastic, during chase sequences and the like, but most of the time its muted and disturbing.  Further the general sound design is spot on, with moments of quiet at the right times to enhance the feelings of dread.

Voice acting however is excellent, and I loved every characters performance.  You could easily feel each characters emotions through their tone.  Edward, the main character, could be stoic and professional, and then later be near manic after seeing things that should never have been seen by man.  Characters slowly and clearly show their distress and breakdowns through their voices and I adore the overall voice work in this game.

I have no complaints about the sound and audio work this game involves, and it’s really one of the best parts of the game.

STORY AND WORLD

For this part, I am going to avoid spoilers as best as I can, and discuss the games story and then bring up how I feel it compares to Lovecraft’s work that inspired it.

The basis of this story is that of Edward Pierce, a solider turned detective who is haunted by nightmares that he cannot explain nor understand.  He has turned to both the bottle and sleeping pills in an effort to avoid these horrible visions.  When the game starts, he is hired by a man to prove that his deceased daughter, a lady named Sarah Hawkins, is not a murderer and did not start a fire that killed her, her husband, and her child.  The father is convinced his daughter was not the cause, because a painting that was delivered to him after her death.  A very disturbing painting.  The only clue that Edward has is the address from where the painting came from, a Darkwater Island Warehouse.  From there, Edward goes to the remote island of Darkwater in search of answers….and what he finds is not something for mortal minds.

Madness….takes it toll on you.

As its own standalone story, this game hits all the things I would want from a Lovecraft adaptation.  Madness, Psychological Horror, a strange obsession with the sea and the life within, and of course cults and creepy fishermen.  The games narrative is focused on Edward and the things he learns, and choice does play a part in this.  In fact, there are apparently 4 endings available to the game, of which I have seen 2 (I was able to go back and watch both unlocked endings I had access to) and these endings are based on both your Sanity and your choices that you make as you investigate the island.  I cannot go too much further into this without spoiling things so let’s just say as a standalone horror story its excellent in his execution with no real issues.  Although a few things felt like there were left unexplained, such as one character named Cat and how she factored into things.  I am still not sure of her purpose.

Now as far as using the original ‘Call of Cthulhu’ short story as inspiration, I feel again this game gets the tone and themes down.  A cult, madness, a ship, creatures from the deep, and horrors from beyond space and time all factor in both the original and this games version of events.  They even make sure to use the chant “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” which by the way sounds extremely creepy when chanting in a monotone voice.

GAMEPLAY

Finally let me break down how the game plays, and how it compares to the actual tabletop Call of Cthulhu rules that it’s based on.  Thankfully, the game is not super mechanically complex, and in fact is very similar to the old point and click style adventure games.

Movement is either your controller thumbsticks, or in my case, WASD.  Mouse to look around, CTRL to crouch and sneak, and E to interact.  Keys are rebindable, however there have been reports of bugs involving this and there supposedly will be a patch to correct this issue.  I didn’t try to rebind my keys at all as the defaults where fine.

As you explore the environments, you will talk to people using a Conversation Wheel styled interface.  Clicking to select responses.  Some responses will require ranks in a particular skill, and those skills are Investigation, Eloquence, Strength, Spot Hidden, Psychology, Medicine, or Occult.  You gain CP or Character Points at certain story events, and you can increase your chance of success in these skills using them.  Each CP is equal to 5% more chance of success.  However, Medicine and Occult can only be increased by finding items in the world that increase them such as creepy status for Occult  or Books on Medical Procedures for medicine.  By the end of the game I was able to get my Investigation to 100%, and every other skill other than Occult and Medicine to 70% so you get plenty of CP.  I did discover however that during the initial character creation in your office, that you CAN put points into both Occult and Medicine. You may want to consider doing this instead of the other skills as after this point as again you have to locate objects to increase their values.

Your Starting Skill Values before you gain any CP

As you explore you will also find intractable objects that you can use your skills on.  These are pretty straight forward such as looking at a corpse and making a medicine check to determine cause of death, or trying to break a lock with Investigation.  Each skill has a use, and I found at least once instance where I could use each skill in some manner or another.  Some responses are also locked behind your Sanity meter.  The more horrors and events you experience that are beyond mortal comprehension, the lower your Sanity gets, and the more open you become to…things.  Your sanity also effects how you view the world slightly, although I rarely noticed it.  Thankfully there is a section of the menu where you can view your current Sanity level AND see the events that affected it.  Interestingly enough, I ended the game with ZERO Sanity, but did not experience every event, which does lead me to believe there is more branching in the game then I experienced which is of course good for replayability.  And again, I also only witnessed 2 out of 4 possible endings.

There are also puzzles, usually of the “find object X and place it on thing Y” or Stealth variety.  Yes, there are stealth segments, and they are a bit of a pain at times.  One in particular (A puzzle Boss Fight involving Stealth), in the Sanders House, caused me to have to go online and find the solution as the game did not do a great job of explaining what my goal was.  Had I read the Journal a bit better I might have figured it out eventually, as the answer was TECHNICALLY there, but even then I would have had a trial and error sort of time.  Beyond that, most of the puzzles were perfectly fine and solvable.

Finally there are Crime Scene Reconstruction events.  These are triggered at specific moments, and your Investigation, Spot Hidden, and Psychology skills are used to help you piece together events that occurred in these locations.  This is how you unlock new dialog options with NPCs when you are questioning them, learn more about the events of what happened on the island, and slowly piece together what is going on.  Protip: Spot Hidden is a massive help in this game, you will want to keep that nice and high.

Creepy…..

I do have two issues with the game however.  One is that this game does not provide a way to manually save.  It uses autosaves and checkpoints only.  While I understand this is to prevent save scumming and avoiding choices, it’s annoying when you have to deal with something at home and have to stop playing, thus having to repeat sections.  I don’t mind only one save slot, and personally I would have liked to have seen a quicksave option, and then add in an autosave point for each choice / branch to prevent going back and avoiding them.  I really just dislike having to replay sections of the game, and this  also means that if you experience a bug you could brick your save and have to restart.  And speaking of bugs…

The second issue I had was actually a bug.  Starting around Chapter 9 (out of 14) my game, during conversations or investigations, would suddenly decide to no longer register my mouse clicks at random.  I could move the cursor all I wanted, but clicking on anything (choices in dialog, menus, ect) would not work.  The way I fixed it was by plugging in my USB Xbox 360 controller, using THAT to make a choice, and then the mouse would suddenly work again.  I was glad I had my controller in fact because one of these instances happened at the very start of a chapter, and no amount of restarting the game would fix it. I was 7 hours in at that time and this almost bricked my game.

I also had a very minor issue with skill feedback.  There is in fact an audio queue for when you succeed or fail a check, but it took me nearly 6 hours to catch it.  I would have preferred some text on screen telling me success or failure, but it was not a major deal breaker by any means.  Just an annoyance.

So how well does this represent the Call of Cthulhu Tabletop Rules?  Well, it actually represents them quite well!  You see, in the CoC tabletop game all skills are d100 based.  You roll a d100, try to get under your skill rating, and if you do you succeed.  This game uses those exact same basic rules, although with a much slimmer skill list (again, only 8 skills available).

Now below, you will find a video I recorded showing the basic gameplay (skill usage, conversation, ect) taken in Chapter 2 on Darkwater Island.  This is super early into the game, and I am going to avoid any story bits.   This video is without commentary as well and runs about 12 minutes, showing all the UI elements, how activating things work, and even has a cutscene included.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The best comparison I can give for those who need it, is that this game is very similar in style to Amnesia the Dark Descent.  There is no real combat, no real chase scenes, and only a few stealth sections.  Beyond that, it’s a lot of lore, dialog, exploration, and investigation.  Basically, it’s a Call of Cthulhu tabletop RPG session played between a GM and a single player, and that is awesome.

Truth be told, however, I am not sure how the price point feels to me.  At $30 I could easily recommend this to any horror fan or adventure game fan, but at $45 (On PC) I really can only suggest it to hardcore fans of these genres.  It looks to be $60 on Console and that’s…rough.  Also this game claims to be semi open world but that is honestly wrong in my opinion.  Semi Open World, to me, means hub areas with nonlinear gameplay, but this really is a very linear narrative game in style with only a few sections that are even remotely nonlinear (Darkwater Town and the Asylum) but everything else is very  straight forward.  Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines is a good example of Semi Open World with several hubs open to explore that branch off into instanced areas.

At the end of the day, Call of Cthulhu the game is an excellent adaptation of Lovecraft’s Mythos & the Chaosium Rules, and anyone who is in love with these two things should have an excellent time with this game.  I enjoyed my time with it quite a bit, which given my distaste for horror is saying something.  Oh, and there are almost no jump scares, like at all.  I think there are 2 sections that involve them, and they are very minor.

You can purchase Call of Cthulhu at the following locations, and it’s on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.  I played and reviewed the PC Version so keep that in mind:

Thanks again to Focus Home and Cyanide Studios for giving me a review copy of this game!

As always thanks for reading everyone and Stay Nerdy!  Make sure to follow me on TwitchYoutubeTwitter, and join my Steam Group and Steam Curator pages!  Pledge to my Patreon!  Spread the word on social media & help me get out there so I can bring even more content to the masses.  You do want more content yes?

How it all begins

Impressions: Dragalia Lost

As some of you know, or really most of you should know by now, is that I play games.  Lots of games.  All kind of games really.  And with Cellphones being as advanced now as they are, I even use that device to play games at times.

Ranzal is a big slab of beef, good character though.

While my phone is never on the cutting edge (Seriously, I got an LG Stylo 3 Plus) it’s still a surprisingly capable phone.  And one sort of game I am attracted to are, of course, Gacha games.  Good ol Gacha games, those Free to Play games that try their darnedest to get ya to open your wallet and spend cash on em.  Thankfully, the only ones that have grabbed my attention for any length of time have been Final Fantasy Brave Exivus (which I have stopped playing due to sheer Power Creep) and now Dragalia Lost.

Dragalia Lost is a game developed by Cygames (Creators of Shadowverse and Granblue Fantasy) and published by the big dogs themselves, Nintendo.  Its an Action RPG where you collect adventurers and dragons, and embark on quests to help a Prince save his kingdom.

Visually the game is actually really good looking.  It plays in a 3D Isometric view, fixed camera, with 3D Sprites done in a very Chibi style.  Attack animations and Dragon Transformations are accompanied by appropriate flash, and during story cut scenes each character is drawn in a very nice anime art style.  You start to learn characters by their appearance very quickly as each one looks unique compared to the others.  I love the art style of both the Adventurers, and the Dragons you get to encounter.

As far as gameplay goes, its an Action RPG.  You move during combat by dragging and holding, and attack by tapping.  Dodging is done by quickly swiping in a direction.  You take a team of 4 Adventurers on each mission and in general your objective is to reach the end and kill a boss creature.  Pretty standard for most action RPGs.  What sets the game apart from other mobile titles is Coop for me.  Every single mission and event can be played Solo, or you can join or setup a Coop room, where 3 other players can jump in and the team can go out and fight against whatever hordes of monsters stand in your path.  There are even Raid events, where each of 4 players brings an entire team of adventurers into a boss fight, and these feel very much like an MMO boss fight with mechanics to learn, attacks to dodge and fire to not stand in.  Its a lot of fun honestly.  Best part is most missions take around 2-4 minutes to complete, meaning you can easily get some bite sized gameplay action when you have time.

I do want to take a moment to talk about the audio as well.  This game has some stellar music, including a very catchy theme song and anime styled / jrpg style opening video.  I adore the music in this game.  Plus, this game has VOICE ACTING!  You see, story sequences are played out in a very JRPG styled cut scene, with portraits of the characters on screen with limited animation, and speech bubbles.  But the speech for a lot of it is voice acted and its done very well.  There is both Japanese and English voice acting in the game.  Thankfully the story is solid as well, telling the journey of Prince Euden and his attempt to save his Kingdom from a demonic invasion by finding and creating bonds with Dragons, ancient protectors of his land.  Its very much a JRPG storyline.

You do occasionally get disconnected in CoOp, but its still no big deal. This is the Hypnos Raid.

Now, like any Mobile / Gacha game, you will be doing Summons to get new Adventurers (characters), Wyrmprints (Armor), and Dragons.  This is where the game hopes to get ya to open your wallet, as you either need the premium currency or Wyrmrite to do summons.  The rates are clearly spelled out for your chances on 3*, 4*, or 5* items, and there is a pity timer on the 10+1 pulls.  The longer it takes for you to get a 5* anything, the better your chances become in the future.  It does appear to be a per banner thing though.  You do get both Story characters and Story Dragons, and drops from doing quests so you don’t really need to spend cash or even Wyrmrite on summons unless you want to.  In fact, all the story characters and dragons are 4* and are plenty enough to get ya through the content currently in game.  5* are admittedly more powerful though.  I find that I get enough Wyrmrite right now to summon, and the rewards for daily logins and events are good enough that I dont feel any urge to spend cash on the game at all.  I have yet to really run into anything I couldn’t do with my current squad either, which is nice.  I do expect 6* to be an eventuality, as right now the 5* Level Cap on Adventurers appears to be 80, and we all know that RPGs always go to 100.

Characters, by the way, are improved with Leveling, Wyrmprints, Weapons, and Dragons.  Wyrmprints are basically Armor and provide stat buffs, each character can use a specific weapon type, and Dragons provide a Dragon Transformation as well as stats.  Characters are also divided by Element (Fire, Wind, Water, Light, and Dark) which does matter.  Fire elementals take less Wind damage and Deal more damage to Wind Creatures.  Wind characters take less Water damage and deal more damage to Water creatures, and Water takes less from Fire and deals more to Fire.  Light and Dark counter each other, but ALWAYS in the players favor (IE You won’t take more damage as a Light character from Dark attacks, but you WILL deal more damage TO dark enemies).  Weapons and Dragons also have elements as well, and equipping a Dragon that matches the Element of a character gives a greater boost (IE A Fire Dragon on a Fire character will be better than a Water Dragon on a Fire Character).  There is an entire crafting system for weapons as well which I have barely gotten into, but it is definitely something you will spend time on if you get serious about the game.  Its very Monster Hunter like in that you start with a base weapon and then upgrade it into newer types.

Every Character has a Story to Unlock

Now that I got most of the technical stuff out of the way, I want to talk about one of my favorite parts of this game: The Adventurer and Dragon stories, and the Castle.  This game has a Castle building Minigame, where you build up and design your own Castle / Town.  The buildings you put down have a real benefit, whether its money generation (Gold for upgrades), Dragon Fruits (this is how you level up dragons) and boosts to each Adventurer by Elemental Type (there are 5 Elements).  You can place buildings in pretty much any spot available, and there are decorations you can add as well so you can spice the castle up quite a bit, and its fun to plan out how you want your home base to look.

Further, you can unlock stories for each Adventurer AND Dragon you have.  As you level up your characters “Mana Circles” (which are upgrade paths) you unlock their Stories, which tell you background about who they are, how they met the Prince, and their own goals and history.  I am a guy who loves learning about Characters and this is what really got me into the game.  Every single time I get a new character from a Summon I want to know why they joined Euden (the Prince) and what they are all about, and they are all different.  For the Dragons, you have to fill up their Friendship meter.  Each dragon will accept gifts each day, and give you gifts in return.  You get upgrade materials for this.  As the dragons bond gets increased, you unlock THEIR stories, and can learn about them and everything.  This is honestly my favorite part of this game.

Overall I am really enjoying this game a great deal, and I find it to be a very fair Mobile Gacha game overall, and its definitely quality.  I have encountered no bugs, personally, and while I dont have an urge to spend money on the game I might pick something up just to support the developers.  The gameplay is rock solid and fun, the characters are all interesting, and I am a sucker for Dragons.

Just look at my favorite dragon, the Halloween Event Silke!  She is adorable (and no longer available, because she was a Halloween only dragon.  I got her though!)  How can you not love such a cute character!

You can grab Dragalia online from the IOS and Android store, and if you are looking for a good mobile game its well worth your time.  Now excuse me, I gotta go beat up a Wind Raid Dragon!  (At the time of writing this, there is a Wind Dragon Raid event)

All images used in this post are screenshots of my own game and characters.