January to March 2017

It’s a fresh new year.

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of content I’d like to share this year and these posts seem like a natural fit. I’ve always enjoyed writing them and I feel like they present an accessible summary of recent events, which, in this case, is slightly more gaming content than I would have anticipated. But I’m not too concerned about that, either. It’s been nice as I’ve enjoyed many of the things I’ve been talking about. Which is more than I could say for some of the things which have inspired gaming content in the past.

There have been quite a few JRPGs in there, too.

We started the year with Good Tidings, which reflected on my seasonal activities and the various ways in which I was unable to resist the temptations of the Steam Winter Sale once more. Before long we were talking about my Yearly Consistency, too. Turns out I’m a little more rigid than I would have expected! I’ve been assured by medical professionals that it’s fine, though.

While there has been more gaming content than creative there were a few notable posts for the latter. Mutant Deathclaw led into Anatomical Fish which allowed me to pause and talk about a Momentary Regret, but before long we were back with more creative efforts in Happiness Hat. There were examples of Multiple Attempts next which was followed by Pug Life. In many ways this has been a period that was oddly focused on digital painting, but there have been some traditional efforts in there as well. While I would have preferred to have more creative content in this period, I’m not that upset about it, as I’ve been able to reflect on what I’d like to do next, which should hopefully mean even better creative content in the future.

Gaming content started strongly with the Diablo III 20th Anniversary Event. The Darkening of Tristram was a limited time event which presented myriad challenges to undertake and achievements to earn, including one which required an entirely new character. I decided to give the Witch Doctor a second slot in my roster and you can read about that build over in My Curse Upon You! Which, oddly enough, became one of the most powerful builds I’d managed to bring together. I’m not sure that’s to do with her pets, either.

The damage over time spells are pretty ridiculous in their own right.

We also saw the conclusion of the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster through both The Summoner’s Pilgrimage and Dressed for the Occasion. There was a brief return to the Hyperdimension Neptunia series, too. With the events surrounding the Journalists of Gamindustri and where there was Hope for Planeptune. Great JRPGs one and all!

I also explored the depths of a rather quirky and somewhat different ARPG in First Impressions of… Victor Vran. I took a break from writing posts about specific things for a moment to reminisce about the Smaller Parts of a Larger Whole. The conclusion to this period was Emotions are Prohibited, which looked at the intricately detailed and ridiculously enjoyable NieR: Automata that has continually surprised and impressed me. I’m still working through Route B, too. I’m nearly at Route C… there’s just so many side quests to do! There are also a number of weapons which could do with an upgrade. So I reckon I’ll be there for a while yet. Especially as I’m looking to complete all of the main endings.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Emotions Are Prohibited

For the most part.

NieR: Automata is an exhilarating experience which flawlessly blends intense action with a deeply emotional story to deliver a truly unique adventure. It also boasts a number of endings, various character perspectives, deep character development mechanics, and multiple weapons to collect. There’s a rather unique use of the New Game+ mechanic, too. Each main ending will open up a new Route, which allows you to experience different perspectives or entirely new portions of story with different characters.

Most of your progress will carry over, though.

So when you’re starting Route B (or beyond) you’ll have the same weapons, side quest completion, inventory, and general collection statistics. That said, there will be some weapons or side quests which are only available on these different Routes. But it’s well worth experiencing the collection of main endings to fully understand and appreciate the story.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the various side quests as they tend to explain more about the history of the world, the different characters, and even (at times) hint about some of the later story developments. It’s interesting as those story developments are often restricted to the main quests, but NieR: Automata continually rewards you for going out of your way to do as much as you can across the rapidly deteriorating world. It’s a pretty large world, too. There are quite a few things hidden throughout the locations you’ll visit. There are also a number of smaller endings you can experience by doing certain things in certain places. Which, again, is interesting, as often you would humorously suggest but never be able to actually do those things in other titles.

For those who aren’t really interested in the story and the side quests, the combat is incredibly satisfying and the range of weapons you can collect is diverse and enjoyable in its own way. Each weapon will perform differently both when they’re first obtained and when they’re fully upgraded. Often with the weapons gaining new, unique, and powerful abilities as a result of investing time and resources in them. There are also countless other customisations you can make to the characters to change how they perform in combat and even in the field.

It’s an extensive adventure in several ways.

There’s an absurd amount of attention to detail in the world, which truly shows that it was a labour of love and care as there are so many minor (seemingly insignificant) details that are intentionally highlighted. Alongside a rather mysterious and constantly evolving universe which is quite unlike any setting I’ve seen before. It really does have something for everyone.

I’ve immensely enjoyed my time with this title. It’s one of those rare occasions where everything comes together in the most satisfying way, where the combat is fluid and the controls are tight, where the world is interesting and intentionally kept mysterious, and where you will enjoy exploring the various locations because the soundtrack is incredibly good. There is so much to say about NieR: Automata but it’s one of those stories that’s best experienced as blindly as possible. However, I will say that this title has repeatedly surprised and impressed me and that it has exceeded any expectations I may have had regarding it. I highly recommend this title and can almost guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Have a nice week, all!


Smaller Parts of a Larger Whole

I’ve seen some large holes in my life.

If you follow me over on Twitter you may have noticed me talking about NieR: Automata recently. Which, by the way, if you don’t follow me over Twitter, maybe you should consider doing so. I’ve many an interesting Tweet for you to peruse. Like this poll– which may or may not have a deeper, higher, more existential meaning than at first glance. But don’t follow me on Twitter if you’re going to convince me to make purchases I know I ought not to. I made that mistake asking whether or not NieR: Automata was worth a release week purchase.

It’s hard to disagree when everyone is so helpful, friendly, and convincing.

But it did get me thinking about the variety of titles I’ve played over the years which are made up of many different elements. Like Mass Effect, where each individual element is not as strong as all of them combined. Where each facet is but one of the many reasons you love to return to the experience again and again. It’s an interesting design decision that I enjoy immensely.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was another of these. Which featured quite an interesting action orientated combat system with complex character development. It was an interesting system as you were never really tied down, it essentially gave you the ability to build any character that you could imagine and then be able to further strengthen their role in combat. It’s nice as it almost reminds me of an ARPG. But instead of using older, perhaps tired mechanics it opted for a different approach. One that may not have been to everyone’s taste- but at least attempted to blend together many mechanics. I find it keeps these titles fresh, too. You never feel as though you’re stagnating in repetitive actions.

I realise that this post might seem a little odd, as it has been a while since I’ve done something a little more analytical and a little less focused on a particular title I’m playing at the time. But it seemed like an interesting point to note. Especially given that there will likely be some content concerning NieR: Automata in the near future. Which is full of many different mechanics, alongside many different styles of play and combat. Mixing the frantic twitchy reactions of bullet hell with calculated third person JRPG combat.

Honestly, it’s a ridiculously enjoyable and incredibly fun time.

Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas are also great examples of where many different systems come together to create truly interesting and enjoyable experiences. I’ve always loved that particular levelling system, as it combines the option to unlock new abilities with a meaningful point investment system. Especially in Fallout: New Vegas where weapon requirements exist.

I do believe it’s the very nature of these titles that have kept me as interested in them as I have been. Some that I’ve played in the past have been so focused on one particular style, mechanic, or even gimmick that they quickly became uninteresting. I’d imagine it’s not easy to combine these different styles together, though. Which is probably the primary reason you don’t see more of an assortment of mechanics in a wider range of titles. Still, like most good things, it’s probably better that it’s less frequent than more. But I’m always interested in seeing what the next combinations will be and how they’ll change my overall experience. Not all changes are for the better after all. Some were better focusing on their developed systems.

Have a nice weekend, all!