Archive for December, 2011

Labyrinthine Goals

Hey guys, I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, and I am sorry about that. On the upside, thanks to these ridiculous Steam sales, I now have a nice backlog of games to work through, which should give me quite a bit to work with, even if we’re going to be talking about a much older game today. But first, a quick update as to whats going to be happening. First, I’m reinstating my goal of at least two posts a week, aiming for one Tuesday and one Thursday. That’s just the minimum, so more content could easily be put out in any given week, so look forward to that. Second is, sadly, a hiatus on the Dark Souls LP. I don’t feel comfortable putting up that quality of work, and you guys deserve better. I’ll be trying a few things to get it back up, but right now the videos are atrocious. The color distortion and quality of the video just don’t do the game justice, and make it hard to see what I’m doing (or picking up), which just isn’t right for a Let’s Play. I have more recorded content (Catacombs and Gravelord Covenant), and may put that up since it’s already sitting on my computer, but anything more is suspended until the recording quality improves. So, again, my apologies if you enjoyed that content, and hopefully it will be back and better than ever soon. Now then, with those out-of-the-way, let’s get started with a game I actually rather enjoy.

Labyrinth of Touhou is an indie game (based itself on the indie Touhou Project) dungeon crawler that has an utterly massive cast of recruit-able characters, some nice and witty writing, and an exceedingly fun, strategic combat system. unfortunately, it also has a lot of bad to go along with the good. We’ll be focusing on the bad, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. If you like the Touhou Project and dungeon crawlers, give this a go. It’s a lot of fun, despite the vitriol I’m about to start slinging.

As a minor complaints is that while the writing is really good, there really just isn’t enough of it. Characters often speak in the early levels to explain certain mechanics and event flags (while also usually shattering the fourth wall), but rarely talk in the later levels outside of encountering another character or moving to a new floor. Some events trigger conversations, but the game could use a little more dialog, especially since it’s gone out-of-the-way to create consistent characters that are actually fairly in-line with what the canon (little of it there is) portrays them as, and taking a few liberties elsewhere. Ordinarily I’d nitpick character traits or personalities, but I do enjoy how the game works. Now that my one true nitpick is done with, we’re moving on to the things that really boil my blood.
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Dark Souls Episode 2: Garden Variety

So after finals, I’ve finally gotten around to uploading this bloody thing. It took forever, but here you go. This time, and this is probably the only time, you’ll get to see what it’s like to be summoned into someone else’s world. Remember, you can’t use an Estus Flask if you happen to be a Phantom, so you will need to rely on other methods to heal yourself. Other items still work perfectly find though.

Sadly, I picked the worst time to be a phantom. Darkroot Garden is littered with loot for you to pick up, but players summoned into another world can’t see any of it. Probably to keep people from griefing one another, but it does make filming from someone else’s world a little difficult. That said, I like the Garden. It’s a nice little place that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, and branches off into some other nice places. You can go to join the Forest Hunter Covenant (or just use them as good soul farm), or go to fight Great Wolf Sif. Ultimately, we decided to go to Catacombs to show off the Gravelord Servant covenant and the Pinwheel boss. We’re also going to show a bloody ton of shortcuts and cheese to get through a confusing level, so pay attention.

As for the two bosses in the video, Hydra is probably the most boring. If you don’t have a magic build or a ton of arrows, you’re going to be stuck wadding back and forth in the water trying to smack his heads, and as you saw in the video, that gets progressively harder the more heads you cut off. You can mitigate this by getting the Rusty Iron Ring from Northern Undead Asylum, but neither of us are quite ready to go back there. Plus you aren’t allowed to summon in the Asylum, so it’d just be me.

As for Moonlight Moth Butterfly, I do apologize for how rediculously buggy the boss is for online play. It almost never syncs up between host and client, so you have instances where I’m standing still and it’s shooting off into the aether, but is still able to hit me. Other than it’s obvious bugs, this boss is 100% magic damage, which can be a death call to anyone without either high magic resist or high health to tank it. But, do you remember those broken wooden shields some of the classes started with? Yeah, those things have about 70% magic resist on them, and are extremely useful during this fight. Other than that, block it’s needle spam, and dodge the slow moving triple shot. I was almost 1-hit killed by that in my world, so it will be worth it to strip down if you’re in heavy armor to have better dodge rolls. Once you kill the moth butterfly it’s off to Andrei to hand over the Divine Ember. But where does that key go… I wonder.

Final note: Moonlight Butterfly has some of the best music in the game. Hauntingly beautiful, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a latter boss. Until next time!

A Real Look Into Skyrim

So, just to get this out-of-the-way, this is not a review. Trolls will be aggressively purged with napalm for neglecting that line. I’ve played about 9 hours into Skyrim and have absolutely no desire to continue playing. If you’d like to know why, and what I think Skyrim does well (yes, there is praise), then read on. If you want a pat on the back for buying Skyrim, you’ll have to look else where. Now, ready to get into it? Cool, so for starters, lets see what Skyrim does well. There are a couple of things I really enjoy and wish more devs do, but being nice isn’t as fun as being caustic, so let’s get that out-of-the-way.

First off, the world in Skyrim is incredible. This is what Open World design should be. The world feels vibrant and has multiple biomes with actual transitions. None of this stupid crap where you walk over a designated line and suddenly the entire world changes appearance, down to the point you can follow the texture changes on the ground. If you’ve ever played or seen someone play Burning Crusade, you know how stupid this can look and how jarring it can be. Skyrim’s world looks like a complete world without any obvious breaks, and has plenty of rivers, mountains, swamps, and forests to break up the landscape and make a living, breathing world. Graveyards and cavern/dungeon areas further add to the exploration aspects and give the player a desire to stay off the beaten path and explore for various rewards and loot. For Skyrim’s world design, I’ve got nothing but praise.

Seriously, this world is gorgeous.

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Church Vandalism

So it was finals week. Still not done, with another test tomorrow. But I’ve been quiet for way too long. Maybe I’ll get rilled up and angry enough to rant on about some other games Tuesday. Assuming I’m not stuck blowing my first day of break screwing around with the new champion in League of Legends. So it could be more Skyrim, now that I have some game time under my belt, or another RPG I’ve played and had sever issues with, Dragon Age: Origins. And trust me, that won’t be a pretty one to go through. So, how about something simple to cap off the week.

First true episode of our Dark Souls LP, staring myself and my good friend Telnia. Or Kaedia. She flips between the two frequently enough. Hopefully even without voice chat our antics will be clean enough to see, though you’ll have to wait until later on in the game to see us really start trolling one another. I think I actually covered almost everything in the Parish in the video, so instead of pointing out things I missed, let’s talk about the zone itself.

Personally, I think the Parish is extremely under-utilized. It’s extremely short and entirely skipable once you reach the shortcut, while almost all of the latter short-cuts require the player to back track slightly. So you don’t really get to explore and will almost never really come back unless you’re on route to Firelink from Andre’s. It could have served as a secondary hub, smaller but at least with some sanctity in the world to show the player that their actions are having a meaningful effect. Though I say that, even after all your deeds, the church remains haunted by the damned and the cursed, which puts a rather dour mood on the game,  which is consistent with the overall tone.

One thing I love about the Parish though, if the player is online, they may hear church bells in the background. That’s not random ambient noise, that’s another player ringing the Bell of Awakening in their world. If you’re going for Warrior of the Sun (“Sunbros”), you might find farming the boss here to be convient and profitable, no to mention so very, very satisfying when you help another player beat the area boss and then 30 seconds later hear church bells ringing. Such a touching moment in an otherwise dreary zone. Speaking of area bosses…

The first challenging fight you may run in to. If you are having trouble, Knight Solair’s symbol is always next to the door to lend a hand. Overall straight forward, the gargoyls only have two real attacks on land and two in the air. Once one reaches 50%, the second flies down. Both begin to spew flame under 50%, so watch out for that. If you’re able to dodge all the fire, it’s possible to get in quite a few free hits on the gargoyle currently casting. Just make sure o keep an eye on the other one. Next time we’ll hit up Darkroot Garden, and things will get more… interesting.

Bonus Knight


This should hopefully be the last of the lowish quality uploads. Finally got the connections, so the Parish should be looking a whole lot better. In related knews, I may or may not have forgotten to record my way across the bridge at the end of the Taurus video. It’s not a terribly far way, but you will run smack into a certain little Hellkyte. Just run to the burn spots, then run back and into the door until the fire passes. Book it to the middle of the bridge and then down the right side path. From here there are two hollows and three rats to the front between you and the start of the parish. To the left is a side path that goes to a ladder, which will take you to the first bonfire of the Burg. Going to the bonfire and then running back up the ladder to the bridge is a nice way to farm up 555 souls every time, making it the best early game farm spot. Grab a few levels (or heal!) and then head on over to explore the parish.

On the subject of the video today, it’s mostly just show and tell for a few things. But I do want to talk about the Black Knights in Dark Souls a little bit. Every Black Knight is a one-time enemy that will not respawn, and each has a chance of dropping whatever weapon they have. So far, I’ve lucked out incredibly and gotten both the Black Knight Sword and the Black Knight Greatsword. The Sword counts as a greatsword, and you can get a Claymore on Hellkyte’s bridge if you can up to the loot before melting. The Greatsword counts as an ultra greatsword, and you can pick up a Zweihander in the cemetery behind Firelink Shrine as the first bit of loot you come across. I’ll be using the Sword and Greatsword a bit, and both do much higher damage, but can only be upgraded 5 times and by the (at this point) very rare Twinkling Titanite. Claymores and Zweihanders can be upgraded like any other weapon along a variety of paths. So look into those if you are building strength.

On fighting the Knight itself, they are honestly a little disappointing once you have the rhythm down. Any time they lunge with the sword, they have a crippling weakness to backstabs. Sometimes they’ll launch into a three-hit combo, which can also be avoided by sticking close and walking into their shield, and then grabbing another free backstab. It can be time consuming, but it’s easily possible to kill these mini-bosses without taking any damage. Whenever you come across a strong and rare enemy, take a minute or two to watch it, study it’s movements and try to get a read on it. Once you know the pattern, there is nothing in this game you can not defeat. Likewise, if you’re having trouble blocking, don’t worry about holding your shield up all the time. Stamina regens faster when it’s down, so lowering your guard when it’s safe and then bringing it back up when an attack starts is a great way to get a little more stamina out.

Or if you’re feeling gutsy, you can parry the Knight to death. It’s possible, and it feels amazing. Starting Monday we’ll crash through the Parish, and get our first Bell of Awakening. Wonder what it’ll be waking up? Who can say.