Last game you finished, tell us about it

lackblogger

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Tyrants of the Moonsea (2019EE) a Neverwinter Nights premium module.

I absolutely loved playing this one. At the same time though, I'm not entirely sure it's better than Darkness Over Daggerford, even though it's the one I've enjoyed the most since Hordes of the Underdark.

It's a high level adventure, so maybe that's part of it. You start out at level 15 but you can import a lower level character if you wish. Judging by some of the dialogues, the game gives you the option to claim you were the hero of Daggerford, so, in a way, it's a sequel to Daggerford in the same way Hoards is to Shadows of Undrentide. Like those games, you can play it completely independently of all other entries and not have any issue or even notice the references.

Levelling is relatively slow and you wont really be delving into epic levels as combat doesn't reward you with much XP, the bulk of XP coming from quests. So you can kill a dragon and get, like, 256xp but when you tell someone you killed the dragon for them then you'll get 1000xp. Most regular encounters get 2-5xp per kill. So it's not really possible to grind levels and the focus is very much on completing quests in whichever way you choose to do that.

This isn't to say combat isn't front and centre though as there is lots and lots of really good combat here. Pretty much every fight provides a different kind of enemy with different challenges and the game does warn you from the outset in the game description that the module is best suited to a martial character. I'm sure an expert could run anything, but I was reloading battles quite regularly until I tipped the OP point about 2/3 of the way through.

And if you play your cards right you can get beautifully OP.

alEB77I.png


The companions are great and I didn't dislike any of them, with lots of variety and plenty of intrigue. It's not a game where you choose your companions so much as a game where the companions that are given to you all go on to be very main-plot-driven. They're not so much chatty companions as they are plot-interesting companions.

The plot itself is a good one but also one I can't divulge much about as it's one of those that slowly reveals itself. All you know from the outset is that there's a weird cult emerging that's summoning demons all across the realm, the realm in this case being the city-state region of the Moonsea. Because the game was originally a module, built in chapters, there are many points where you think "ah, this feels like the endgame", only for the game to go-on from that and double in size and scope. By the end it really feels like a full and massive game rather than a module. I think I spent about 50 or 60 hours on it.

The only drawback here is that for all it's size and scope, the more you travel, the more each location can feel a bit 'samey'. Not in any visual or encounter sense, but just in the format sense, in that each town map has an inn, a temple, a shop and maybe only one other point of interest, even if those places are radically different in each location. This is good from a comfort perspective but is the one area where Daggerford feels more like the better game overall, as it's environments never feel repetitive and also feel more content rich. Moonsea does feel like it's not entirely finished because of this as you'll get a huge map to explore, but most of it is cut-off from exploration aside from the inn, temple, shop and point/s of interest.

I don't know if this is going to be last premium module Beamdog release officially, but it also feels like a swansong to all the other modules and contains aspects from all the other games. There's pirating and ships, regular references to Daggerford, a tiny segway into horse riding, characters from the shadow realms, huge demon lords, and even an infinite dungeon of sorts, and just oodles of meta for those that have played all the other games.

In terms of Lore and general reading, the game has plenty of this but doesn't dump the stuff, rather it neatly and comfortably scatters itself around very nicely so that there's always an interesting tome, chat or item description to read at about the right point in the game where a nice reading break should be. As such I found myself reading pretty much every word in the game aside from the stock books that have appeared in previous games and barely ever skipped any dialogues and always pressed pause and had a good slow browse of every merchant's stock.

Moonsea also went the distance and hired lots of new voice actors, with there being plenty of fully voiced dialogues for main NPCs. Which adds a lot to the overall prestige.

From looking at forum posts from people that have got stuck or missed stuff, it's usually a case of them rushing something or skipping quests because they assumed they were rubbish quests, when, in reality, everything connects here, so there is some adventure game'ness about Moonsea that will be missed if one goes into it with a speed mindset.

The only real downside to the game is the crash to desktops, which happen quite frequently, mostly when clicking on area transitions. This is quite a common thing in NWN generally, but is particularly bad here, at least for me. However, it can be solved by simply following the routine of "save game before any area transition" as no saves were ever corrupted. Again, not rushing too much will mean you'll rarely lose much time or energy from reloads in this regard, if any.

The worst bug, that did happen a couple of times, was when my character got locked into a position by a combination of environment and companions. These are the equivalent of unexpected CTDs and can be a real bummer, especially if they happen right after killing a particularly difficult Lich. Oh well, just gonna have to kill it again!

The moment to moment gameplay is fantastic and the nature of the plot and companions all blends so well as to make this a really entrancing and addictive romp through the realms. It truly rekindles the best aspects of NWN 1 and reminded me of why I love NWN 1 so much. But maybe Daggerford feels like the better premium module in the afterglow? Maybe. I'd give Moonsea an 8.5/10, though it was a 9/10 at some points.
 
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lackblogger

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My overall ranking of all the NWN 1 games categorised as Premium in the EE game menu:

Tyrants of the Moonsea - Lovin' it
Darkness over Daggerford - Really good
Pirates of the Sword Coast - Very enjoyable
Infinite Dungeons - meh
Dark Dreams of Furiae - nope, bugs
Wyvern Crown of Cormyr - nope, bugs
 
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After 180 hours, I finally finished Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Quite a unique experience!

I liked the variety of quests, the story, the historical setting and the skill progression that isn't too easy and doesn't let you get too powerful at the end. The cutscenes are very well done too, though a little too invading for a while at the beginning of the game, which removes the control from the player way too often. Otherwise it leaves a lot of freedom to the player.

I wasn't bothered with the lack of choice for the character, but that may be a problem for someone who prefer to customize it.

I was sometimes annoyed by the lack of finishing in many areas; it can be very uneven in some regards. But nothing serious enough to ruin the overall experience.

What I disliked the most is the melee combat with K+M, which is simply impossible to master, let alone enjoy. Once I learned some master skills to block an attack and directly counter-attack, at least I could survive basic encounters, but attacking myself with any of the skills was simply not working because of this directional arrow. I think it would be very simple to fix but there never was a will to even try, from all the reports I've seen. Encounters with more than one opponent are almost a guaranteed defeat because of this and the lack of agility / ability to quickly focus on an opponent and they always position themselves around you, no matter their level.

Archery was much more rewarding and it's the slowest skill to increase, which I found appropriate (poor little bunnies).

I wasn't too fond of some micro-management features like having to wash and eat all the time. I think they should have done the same as lockpicking and make it automatic after a while, possibly with a general skill.

There's a good level of depth, with many activities, locations and lore to learn. At the beginning the player feels lost in all that, and after enough hours it's very satisfying to know one's way around the whole system. There's a real feeling of progression and accomplishment.
 
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Pladio

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I have tried this game twice and its not captured my attention. I'm now in my third try with just reaching the first area outside of the tutorial village and then I stopped. I need to give it a proper go...
 
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Redglyph

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I have tried this game twice and its not captured my attention. I'm now in my third try with just reaching the first area outside of the tutorial village and then I stopped. I need to give it a proper go...
You mean Talmberg? The story only develops after that part. For me it really started to open and become interesting once I got to Rattay, soon after. There are a few things to do before that, which were fine but still felt on rails and tutorial material (if that's what is bothering you).

IMO it's really worth giving it another chance until you get there. :)
 
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Redglyph

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Pentiment is a story-focused historical "light" RPG with a good amount of choices and consequences, presented as stylized 2D scrolling areas. The game is not very long: there are 9 chapters in 3 acts and it should take about 15-20 hours, but it is designed to be replayed... to some extent.

The presentation is not as gorgeous as 3D games like Kingdom Come: Deliverance (whose story happens 100 years earlier not far from Tassing, incidentally), and there are no spoken dialogues, but it's a very carefully crafted work. In any case, it was a pleasant format for me, even if I'm not used to that type of graphics. However, it could have been improved if the controls were better implemented; you can play with the mouse or the keyboard, but for some obscure reason you cannot play with both at the same time, and switching between them is awkward. You can play with a game controller, perhaps it's better, I haven't tried.

To help you, there is a journal, a map, a diary with all the people you encounter, and a glossary. There is still a little running around involved because the game doesn't hold your hand too much, thankfully, but you'll spend most of the time in dialogues, trying to solve a series of murders by discussing with people and trying to persuade them to help you. The atmosphere is reminiscent of The Name of the Rose, which was one source of inspiration for the game(*).

The plot is simple at first, you mainly play one character named Andreas, an artist illustrator who gets involved in a murder case and tries to resolve it. You get to choose a few background traits and skills that provide options in the dialogues (sometimes they translate into actions which steer the quest events).

So there isn't a large choice for your main character, not even his name and main profession, but this allows the game to offer many choices without too much complexity. Some choices are significant, but not to the point of changing the end of the game or the way the main story unfolds - not significantly anyway. But it's well done nevertheless, so I'll probably replay a few parts at some point.

I found a few bugs in the quests, like some exploration branches that were denied from me even though I was asked to pursue them, or significant dialogue lines in contradiction with what I just did. For example, I had to gather plants to save someone who was very sick, but the system wouldn't let me and this person died. Other players who had the same problem claimed that sometimes it worked, sometimes not, maybe depending on the timing. Talking of which...

Time is limited for the investigation, unfortunately, so you need to gather as much evidence as you can before you are forced to present your case. This is a bit tricky, because the way time passes is not entirely clear: some discussions will make the clock tick, others not. Not everyone is available all the time either, so you have to choose carefully what to do next.

At this point I must warn you that there is no real save system, or at least it is well hidden from the player(**). The progression is saved at some points during the game - quite frequently, you can see when it was last saved in the menu but you are not really meant to reload past games, only to continue. Some scenes can take up to 30-40 minutes, which doesn't make it any easier.

The dialogues are shown in different fonts, to represent the education level and a few other bits of information. For example, upset people "shout" words written with little splashes of ink all around, or some other words are emphasized by using a different colour. The drawing process is a bit slow, even with the fastest setting (I think that pressing 'E' makes it slightly faster), and there is no cutting/skipping dialogues or animations. So sometimes ... it's a bit tedious or annoying, frankly, like this long scene in an inn where the main character must listen to a song and speak to everyone before the story can continue, and it's only idle chit-chat. It's not too frequent, fortunately.

I mostly loved the dialogues though, and how the story unfolds, keeping the mystery hard to find. In fact, some of the murders are not really clarified: Andreas can steer the enquiry to some extent but the outcome is not entirely under his control, and like the Sherlock games, the player isn't even told the truth. There are multiple levels to the whole plot, the main line being revealed near the end, so the game doesn't leave the player entirely in the dark, but just enough to maybe justify another run. Though there will be entire parts of the game that are not really different when replaying it, and since it's not possible to skip anything, I'm not sure I will have the patience for a complete 2nd run, let alone a 3rd.

The main story tackles a few very interesting topics. The dominant theme is of course the religion upheaval, and the relationship between land lord, monastery, commons and peasants at that time. The theme of truth, what sacrifices could be justified to preserve it, and how facts are perceived and interpreted by different people is cleverly rendered too.


Is it worth it? I think that's the type of game that some will like and others will find boring. If you're interested in history, religion, detective games, and if you're not put off by the presentation, you may like this game because it has a rich narrative, a good story, and a fair share of C&C. If 3D graphics are a must, if you need an elaborated class system, freedom of character creation or voice-over dialogues, this may not be for you.

Either way I would advise to wait a little before buying the game. In my opinion it was not ready enough to be released; I'm also a little worried to see no response to any of the reported bugs in the forums, and that only one small patch has been released so far. I could contact the support by email though, and nothing was really blocking - mostly annoyances and a few broken quest parts.

(*) The start of the game shows a hint, can you find what it is?

(**) Tip regarding saved games: if you choose New Game in the main menu, you actually have the choice between a new game and reloading one of the 8 last save points. I've only seen this after I finished the game. I saw much more saved game files on the disk, so I think it's possible to hack it and retrieve older game points too - to restart from act 2 or 3, for example.
 
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danutz_plusplus

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A DS2 review with the main campaign finished but before finishing the expansions, since I'm taking a break and didn't want to forget some of things worth mentioning.

Late to the party for Dark Souls 2 also, and the general anthem I'd been hearing about it is general negativity from the community. So maybe it's because I went in with those sorts of expectations, but overall it's been a very solid and enjoyable playthrough for me. Plus it also had the benefit that I knew very little about it, compared to DS1, for which I saw plenty of footage from various areas, basically having a lot of the content spoiled for me.

There is the caveat that I have only finished the main campaign, and haven't started any of the 3 expansions. Which I hear are massive in size, probably close to the main campaign itself. But I'd been so immersed in FromSoft games lately, that I'm very close to being burned out. Though I would like to note down some remarks about it, so far, since I'm likely to forget some of the current context. And after this I do need to take a break before attempting the rest of the DS2 content. I guess too much of a good thing can be bad. Plus, the constant stress of these games surely can't be good for a long time. And it's been a pretty consistent emotional roller-coaster with this as, as was with DS1. I'll update this review after clearing the DLC content.

In terms of mechanics, I think I probably enjoyed the slight deviation in DS2 over DS1, or maybe it's just that it's the more recent experience. Overall combat is still as tight, responsive and rewarding as it was in DS1, but in part 2 they do expose more stats (ex, ADP) that you can control to make your character more to your liking. And I also particularly liked what they did with not allowing you to trigger attack swings when you don't have the stamina. In DS1 they used a sort of command queuing, so actions triggered when the character couldn't do them would queue up, and be performed on the next opportunity. This had the unfortunate effect of constantly having your character do something later than when you actually needed it. They seemed to have done away with this in DS2, and if you spam actions your character will not do anything. Which forces you to learn to pace your actions. And be attentive to your stamina bar.

World and level design is generally still good in this one, and while the level design is still solid, with plenty of stuff to explore, hidden areas and all that, the world design is significantly different to DS1. DS2's world is much more sprawling, and you very rarely return to previous areas. And as is probably well known by now, DS1 is much more interconnected and constantly winds down on itself, making exploration that much more intimate and meaningful. Plus, the first half of DS1 you play without the ability to teleport between bonfires, thus forcing you to learn the world that much more, and contend with the difficult areas a lot more. That is a feature that sadly probably wouldn't work as well in this one, but it's something I do miss none-the-less.

But even so, exploration and combat were still the best parts of this game. Making slow methodical progress in multiple directions and finding all the cleverly placed items throughout the world was still as fun as ever. And they're still as courageous as ever with level design, even hiding bonfires behind secret walls. Some of which I couldn't find on my own, had I not had a guide that I would consult after clearing an area to what I would call fully, and then still be surprised at the hidden stuff. Some of which you do wonder how exactly were found initially.

Generally, a lot of the positives and negatives of DS1 still apply, but I'm not sure I should rehash those any more.

In terms of negatives, the only other one I could mention is the fact that, the world being so spread out some of the areas do seem like they weren't given as much attention as others. And some do feel downright empty and hastily put together. Unless that was an intentional design decision.

I also did feel some unevenness in terms of balancing, but the game being as complex as it is and punishing as it is, you're not really sure if something is intentional or not. I'll do say that the Iron Keep and the Giant visions were the areas where I got pounded into the ground the most, even after feeling somewhat overpowered before and in-between those two areas. And I keep hearing the DLC areas have some of the most punishing content. So I have that to look forward to.

The last significant positive, but maybe with some negative accents, was the change in how respawns work in DS2. I was surprised to find this out, but all enemies that usually endlessly respawn in DS1 were changed to a maximum count of 10 respawns in DS2. I hear this was to curb endless grinding. I did make great use of this new mechanic in one or two areas where I just couldn't have a consistent run to the area boss fight (looking at you Smelter Demon in Iron Keep). So I just buckled down and cleared that path 10 times, both gaining a good chunk of souls and making my path easier. Besides giving you an ultimate solution for particularly difficult areas this also helped reinforce the fact that souls were ultimately a limited resource, and easily exploitable enemies could only be exploited for a limited amount.

All in all a pretty solid experience with DS2, with plenty of grief and trolling from the developer. I think I'll remember the ambush by turtle knights that I suffered in the narrow corridor in Iron Keep for a long time. Not only did it take me a while to get through it, but then ultimately when I thought I was done they pulled off another troll on me right at the end. That stung a lot and plenty of expletives were thrown around. Not to detract too much from the other sections that pulled their own punches. But ultimately, that's one of the flavors that these games have that no other manages to pull off. A very intimate relationship, even bordering on Stockholm syndrome, with the game and the developers trying every which-way to screw with you. Not always pleasant but you do remember it for a long time.

And as a score, I guess I could go with an 8.5/10 so far.
 
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Lolozaur

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A good game, in the end i enjoyed it but it starts very slowly in my opinion. The first act was very boring for me and wanted to quit the game but with Egypt and 2nd act, it expands nicely. I started as a male but read shortly after its really fun as a female and switched to that, and indeed was hilarious with all the sexist stuff. But as a woman you cant romance Cleopatra or marry Julia. The story is a bit meh at first but it gets interesting with time and part of that is how the main villain is written and everything related to him, they did a great job with that.

I did not liked the legion battles and the world map exploration was pretty dull, and you had to do the same thing over and over with your legion. It lacked some QOL things which are annoying after some time, and feels a bit clunky with the crafting and management part. The sieges were interesting and entertaining though but i fear to think how it was on insane difficulty, how many hours to finish them.
 
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danutz_plusplus

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Finished the first Dark Souls 2 expansion, Crown of the Sunken King.

Very solid, on the same level as the main campaign. Plenty of great exploration and puzzle solving. It even introduced some new mechanics, both in combat and puzzles. One very annoying and difficult boss fight, and the other were serviceable. Great fun was had, that's a definite!
 
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danutz_plusplus

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Finished the third and final Dark Souls 2 expansion, Crown of the Ivory King. It was indeed the most disappointing. I liked exploring the content and it was decent enough, but it either fell short to the other two. Or I'm just really tired of it.
It also had the easiest bosses out of all 3 expansions. Thank god for that. But even so, they managed to make it annoying. Fighting the giant feline was a real pain in the ass. She is so agile that she would constantly shred me to pieces. The only way I could beat her was with a summoned NPC, and me taking pot-shots with my bow, from a distance. She was very easy that way. But in melee, I don't think I had much of a chance. Unless I was again prepared to bash my head against the wall of difficulty.

The final boss was also annoying. Since they spring him after fighting his goons for a long time. And thank god I explored everything before the fight, and got those knights to help. They really made the fight more manageable. And I did that sort of unknowingly.
Anyway, decent enough expansion. I liked the idea of exploring the map, once with eveything frozen, and once more with everything thawed.
 
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Zogar Sag

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Asterigos: Curse of the Stars
To my own surprise this is another game I finished! I could call it action adventure, where you play as young girl Hilda in kinda ancient Greek looking world. Many reviews say Asterigos is Soulslike game, but I don't think so. Yes, there are some features copied from Dark Souls, like bonfire system, respawning enemies if you die, weapon upgrades, big boss fights. But really emphasis here is on the story. And the story is quite good, at least it kept me finish the game. It starts very traditional, when you are to track your father, but soon it slowly opens up and takes you into this new strange city, its politics, history and actual problems. From typical errand runner you become a local hero. Of course nothing extraordinary, but nevertheless the presentation of story is good. It has the right pace - there was a point when I thought the big surprise is awaiting me ahead, but unfortunately in the end story took safe traditional route. Too bad they didn't went that way.
On the negative side there is too mach of unnecessary text and lore, NPCs talk and talk even after you got what they want from you - I bet many players start skipping all unvoiced dialogs and avoid reading lore texts at half of the game. It is understandable that authors wanted to make everything clear and comprehensible, it is obvious they put a great effort in the world and story they created, but really it is a bit overdone here, it would be no harm if they cut half of it out.
Combat, which is most of what you do in game, besides talking with NPCs, reminded me more of Kingdoms of Amalur than Dark Souls. You have given set of weapons, which you can upgrade for better damage, and you can choose to use two of them at same time, like daggers and spear. Some weapons are more OP than others, especially staff, which turns into sniper gun. They all have their own special attacks and skills, which you can learn along the game. Some of those skills are also OP to the point when you become immune to damage while continue beating enemies. This turns boss fights into easy cheese, so no Dark Souls here.
I liked main character and especially her voice actress - must say voice acting in Asterigos are top notch! While Hilda is obviously a powerful girl, who can beat almost everyone and everything and there are other main characters women of power, I didn't felt like it was some of that modern diversity crap forced on players, it really felt right in place without any hidden "message" lurking behind every corner.
Another bad thing for me was that there wasn't enough armor or dress for such a game, especially when main character is a girl. As any other man I have soft spot for those bad ass sexy looking women, too bad you can get best looking armor only after you beat the game :-(

In conclusion I give Asterigos 9/10, being one of rare games I ever finished! It took me 56 hours to complete it, playing mostly few hours at evening for 3 weeks. I was afraid, as with many other games, there will be a point where I had no more will to load it up, but somehow story and combat kept me going. So if you like action adventure it is worth a try!
 
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Lolozaur

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Nice ride, a bit mindfucking as expected. Last episode i think dragged too much but overall very entertaining game and kept me very interested even though im not into this genre at all. Also had its share of touchy moments where sensitive persons might have shared a few tears; main thing i didnt liked was the voices of Chloe and Max, maybe they were changed in the remaster version, i played the original. Onto the sequel. :coffee:
 
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Lakorus

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Life is strange - I liked that one quite a bit, although one must be ready to accept the "teenage drama"-theme. The rewind-mechanic was used quite well, I think. The later episodes are quite rediculous in places, iirc; they felt rushed and incoherent in places. But I read that the development didn't go as smoothly as planned so that was probably due to that.
 
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Shagnak

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In conclusion I give Asterigos 9/10, being one of rare games I ever finished! It took me 56 hours to complete it, playing mostly few hours at evening for 3 weeks. I was afraid, as with many other games, there will be a point where I had no more will to load it up, but somehow story and combat kept me going. So if you like action adventure it is worth a try!
Nice - this is one of the games from the Steam Next-fest that I thought had potential.
 
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Lolozaur

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Life is Strange 2
Its longer than the first game but mostly because it has way more free roam small and diverse environments. Its kinda different as well, puts more accent on family relationship, brotherly bond and kids drama. Overall it was enjoyable to see their journey, all that building between the wolves but at some moments it gives the impression it drags with useless scenes. The ending i got was very touching and surprisingly very satisfying. Still i recommend it even if you are not a fan of this genre and you want to play a sensitive game.
LmOSAzc.jpg
 
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danutz_plusplus

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I gave the final Dark Souls 3 expansion about an hour, and it frustrated me to no end. They either really put in some really annoying new enemies, or I've just reached peak frustration, and I really need a break from it all. I feel I'm just rushing too much and getting stomped constantly. I've been playing through Dark Souls 1/2/3 for the past 1-2 months, clocking in at over 200h, and I really need a break. I don't want to ruin the second expansion for myself, by being constantly pissed off. Especially since I hear it's probably the most difficult Dark Souls content of all. So, I jotted down a review for everything I've done so far.

Dark Souls 3 is a great ending to the Dark Souls saga, continuing to provide great fun in terms of allowing for the exploration of a nicely designed world. It does feel like it needs to pull the nostalgia card in terms of referencing places and events from the previous Dark Souls games, so in those terms you could say it doesn't have that strong of an identity. But it also does quite a lot to present its own set-pieces, places and events that do enough to differentiate itself. It also does feel like an attempted apology from the slightly more radical departure that Dark Souls 2 did. But even so, it still does a little to reference back to that one. In terms of combat and player control it's definitely the most streamlined, reactive and robust out of them all, and you can definitely see the improvements of it coming out after Bloodborne.

This review is currently done after completing the whole of the base game and the first expansion, Ashes of Ariandel. I did attempt to start the Ringed City expansion, but being at such a burned-out state in terms of Dark Souls content (having played only these three games for over 200+ hours for the past month or so) and especially having reached what I feel is an all-time accumulation of stress and frustration, something that's absolutely to be expected with these games that do their very best to challenge you mentally; I feel I really need a significant break before embarking on what I hear is some of the most difficult of Dark Souls content to get through. While it's hard for me to imagine how it can get even harder than what I've been through so far, I really don't want to test that now. Especially since I love these games, because of their willingness to ask a lot out of you while also being mostly fair about that. But even so, it does take a lot out of you, and you have to be willing to dance to the beat of its drum. And so I don't want to ruin this experience for myself and not be in the proper state of mind to be able to tackle it. So I'm going to do a review of everything up to the start of the Ringed City, and will update the review much later, when I'll have the chance to get through all of that. It's interesting to note that I said something similar just after finishing the base Dark Souls 2 game, and before embarking on the 3 expansions of that one. But I guess the pull of these games has been much too strong to resist, and so I managed to push through and get through all of that and the almost whole of Dark Souls 3, when I initially thought I was done. I don't think I'll do a repeat of that performance, but you never know. These games truly are addicting and amazing to experience, that it's hard to stay away for too long.

Onto the review itself. On the world and level design I was surprised how they still manage to create spaces that are so fun to explore, and just like in the past, the game is full of hidden areas, some of them even significant in size. The developers still maintain the same courage in not watering down the experience, and trusting that either you'll find those hidden places yourself or take part in the communal experience of asking and sharing information between each other. As I did with the previous two titles, I very much enjoyed my journey through it all by first fully exploring a couple of closely knit areas, to the best of my ability, and then going over it all again alongside a youtube guide, to see what I missed. Thanks FightingCowboy for the amazingly detailed guides! It's been very gratifying this way, and also impressive to see how much thought went into it all.

In the midst of the whole game, Dark Souls 3 also does something pretty ingenious with one hidden location. Something that feels like a tear in the fabric of space-time. You get to witness a particular location in a different light, and that was especially impactful emotionally. A very cool and subtle twist on the developer's part. Loved it.

In terms of combat system and character progression, I initially was slightly put off by the change from the Dark Souls 2 mechanics and controls, which I had grown to really love, but you get used to it fast enough. Of course, from what I hear, most people didn't appreciate Dark Souls 2 as much as I have, so they likely had no such issue.

The encounters and combat set pieces have been fun, but they also come with the expected baggage of frustration when things do not go your way. Most of the time this is the result of just losing patience and not taking the proper amount of time to be thoughtful about how you respond in various situations. On the whole, I would grade most of the encounters, or at least the experience I had with the dual-wielding character build I decided early on, as probably the easiest of the whole of Dark Souls. With a few very noteworthy exceptions, that really pushed me to my very mental limits. From what I hear, I seem to also have had quite a bit of luck with some encounters, most notably the Dancer of the Boreal Valley. But I also had my very share of frustrations, probably culminating with the Nameless King, which I was shocked at how difficult it turned out to be. I think it easily rivaled the Fume Knight from Dark Souls 2. Another encounter which went smoothly, but only due to having a summonable NPC, was Sister Friede and Father Ariandel. I could honestly say I probably would not have been able to get through it without Gael, for whom I'm thankful, at least until I will have to face him at the end of the Ringed City expansion. I hear he's brutal, so thanking him might be premature.

Just as the previous Dark Souls (and other FromSoft) games, Dark Souls 3 again managed to tease out of me the maddening frustrations that we all, generally, keep bottled inside. It again managed to take me to dark places, of primal rage, of asking myself why am I doing this, putting myself through these situations. Only to come out the other end with some of the most visceral reactions that any games have managed to get out of me. I mean, there's honestly no other games where I'm trembling at the end of a successful encounter, after plenty of failed attempts, and second-guessing how did I finally get through that. It might sound like hyperbole, but there truly are very few safe but maddening experiences, like the ones FromSoft games put you through, that really take you places and where, at risk of sounding cliche, you can find out what you're made of. It is slight exaggeration on my part, but these really are very unique experiences, in a world of games that cater to your every whim and do not want to risk frustrating or challenging you. But in doing so, they also, at least most of them, never manage to leave an impression you'll never forget.

I hope to not take too much from diving back into the final expansion, but at this moment I also kind of dread going back. Having seen some of the encounters that await me, from the two demon princes, to Midir and Slave Knight Gael, I truly do not anticipate going back. At least not right now. But I trust that itch will come back. That feeling of the game taunting you, of playing at your pride, but also the exquisite levels that are just so much fun to explore, to slowly progress through, of find each and every hidden nook and crevice. Of surviving and mastering encounters. There's really very few experiences like that in gaming today, and we are so lucky that enough players have jumped on the FromSoft band-wagon. Hurray for Souls-games!

As far as a score, it would have to be very close in-between Dark Souls 1 and Dark Souls 2. I think, on the whole, I liked Dark Souls 2 slightly more. It is after all, the only game I actually played twice.
But Dark Souls 3 is still very solid, and I have great difficulty comparing it to Dark Souls 1. In terms of pure world design and being the first one there, Dark Souls 1 has to come out ahead. But in terms of polish and a smoother combat system and better designed encounters Dark Souls 3 is clearly ahead. So, to be fair, I would have to give it the same score as Dark Souls 1. A 9/10. With Dark Souls 2 slightly ahead with a 9.2/10.
 
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Lakorus

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Thank you for your detailed impressions. This kind of difficulty always is intriguing to me, but at the same time I know that I will never be able to beat this kind of game. I'm too much used to button-mashing, I guess, and don't have the patience to learning everything that one needs in order to be successful.
 
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danutz_plusplus

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Thank you for your detailed impressions. This kind of difficulty always is intriguing to me, but at the same time I know that I will never be able to beat this kind of game. I'm too much used to button-mashing, I guess, and don't have the patience to learning everything that one needs in order to be successful.
Yeah, I'm used to button mashing also, and it took quite a bit of re-learning not to button mash. Especially in stressful moments where I'm about to die.
But one you learn it, it's all the more rewarding. But to be honest, for some enemies I do tend to revert back to button mashing. If I have a fast enough weapon which I can use to stun an enemy, it helps to mash.
But most enemies can break that, or they have enough poise where you can't break their position, and you have to be ready to escalate out of that button mashing into timing your attacks and rolls.
But you need to have the patience for that. If you get mad and just rush, you usually end up dead.
 
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Lakorus

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Yeah, patience and concentration are the key, I guess. I recently finished Guacamelee 2 with a friend in couch - coop. It is a fun little platformer, which tends to be on the difficult side as well. Some passages are like buttons a-b, left-y, upper left, y, run three, steps, wait, upper right, y, a, right. You see it and know what to do, but actually performing that sequence, ideally under time pressure sometimes is maddening. But as you say, at the same time rewarding if you master a difficult section.
 
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Redglyph

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I've finished Cyberpunk 2077, after 106 hours. I'm probably the last to have played it but I'll share my impressions anyway.

I liked it a lot, I think its strong points are a good story that extends to several side quests, interesting characters, a good amount of choice, and a good setting. At first I wasn't convinced by the cyberpunk environment, I think coming from KCD may have something to do with it, but I quickly got to like it, or at least to find it convincing. Very busy world, with each district having its own identity too, and huge! Overall a very well-made world.

It's a hell of a noisy world too, it feel exciting and vibrant but I hate it at the same time; after a while I feel the need for some quiet and it's hard to get, even pausing the game gives an unnerving buzzing sound, ugh. And the music... I'm sure some like it, but it was mostly trash to me, though it fits the setting very well and I did like a few tracks.

100 hours is long for a run, that's because I've spent some time doing filler content to get more money and buy stuff - cyberware and ... a couple of vehicles that I preferred to the owned ones, I prefer to travel that way even if it takes more time. Also, I've tried different endings. I've tried to do as many side quests as I could, some of them proved to be surprisingly good. I'm actually wondering if the side stories aren't better than the main one, which is a good thing. Maybe not "better", but more memorable anyway.

The gameplay loop is good but not very original or varied; I was hoping more special missions, like maybe going under cover in a faction or corporation or winning enemies over, but it always boils down to going some place dangerous, getting something or infecting it with a virus, and getting out. Ah well, at least it's simple to understand.

The most disappointing feature was probably Johnny Silverhand. Maybe the hype raised my expectations too much, but I found Keanu Reeves' voice acting to be an all-time low (in my view he's never been a very good actor to start with), the worst being the few missions where his voice is mixed with a synthetic dubbing. And I didn't find his childish character very interesting either, it was pale in comparison with others. It gave me the same exact impression I first had when I saw him at the full reveal presentation: he doesn't seem convinced by the role himself, it feels forced.
 
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