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Stebloke

Greetings. I am Stebloke, and I am a bit strange. This website contains my blog, where you can read about the things I create, the games I play, and any other things I get involved in. I make this blog mostly because I like to look back on the things I do and feel nostalgic, but also because it really does help motivate me to keep doing things.

If you want to read about a specific subject, click the "Filters & Pages" button in the top right.

Stebloke's Website ©2008-2021

1st May 2021: Attack The Block

It's been quite a while since I last had a go at a good puzzle game, so to get the brain juices flowing again I have just played through the sequel to a game I played a few years back, in the shape of Q.U.B.E. 2.

Like its predecessor before it, this game sees you using special gloves to manipulate coloured blocks in your surroundings, using them to open up new paths and to make progress.

Now my memory is a bit sketchy, but I don't remember the last game having so many other environmental interactions as this one does. In this game, in addition to the coloured cubes, you also harness other powers such as wind, fire and magnetism. In addition, there are lots of other switches and turny wotsits that let you move or change things in the puzzles. This does make it feel quite different to the original game, which I'm pretty sure (not that I can remember very well) only let you use the cubes and the occasional ball.

The original game also had quite a clean, minimalist look, which to be honest, I preferred to the more natural environments found in this one.

It also seems like they put a bit more forethought into the story of the game, rather than tacking it on at the end like in the original. Still, it does seem like more of the same, with you playing as a character who wakes up with amnesia, before pushing out into the maze of puzzles to try and figure out what is going on.

All in all, I feel about this one very much like I felt about the first game, in that it's a pleasant enough puzzle game, that challenges but never seems too hard. And doesn't outstay its welcome. That's very important.

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Spin, you spinny thing

Spin, you spinny thing

Burning my way through a door

Burning my way through a door

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Just what am I doing?

Just what am I doing?

21st April 2021: Getting My Weeb On

Over the Christmas period I realised I was starting to build up a bit of a collection of quite anime-inspired games, so I gave a couple of them a go. The first one completely failed to convince me to keep playing it more than a few hours. But this game here, while failing to keep me interested back in January when I first tried it, did at least warrant a second look. Though it has been a bit of a slog, especially nearer the end of the game, I have now managed to complete the main story. So while there are other things I could work towards in the game, I'm going to consider it done so I can move onto other things.

This game is Trials Of Mana, a game that came out on the PS4 last year.

I didn't really know anything about this game before playing it other than knowing that it was a remake of an old JRPG from the early 90s. I didn't even read anything about it or the Mana series until I was well into the last half of the game. Turns out that this is a remake of the third game in the series, but luckily knowledge of those other games is not really required.

From what I can gather, they have been very respectful to the original when making this new version, something which, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. While fans of the original probably appreciate what has been done here, the sheer levels of early 90s Nintendo cheesiness are at sky high levels, and the story and dialogue are at times laughably bad. It really wouldn't surprise me to discover these things are direct from the original, as it seems no work has been done to improve or modernise them. Things are not helped at all by the fact that the new voice acting is also fairly lacklustre for the most part.

Compare this to the FF7 remake from last year. While quite a lot of effort was put into paying respect to the original story (at least for now - who knows what will happen in the future), the characters and their dialogue were dramatically improved, plus the voice acting was really good.

So forward I stepped into this franchise for the first time ever, picking the amazon Riesz as my main character, Angela the sorceress as companion number one, and the beastman Kevin as companion number two.

Wait. Did you just say Kevin? Kevin... the beastman?

Why yes.

Yes I did.

What's with these eyebrows?

What's with these eyebrows?

Merchants get their groove on<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Merchants get their groove on
(video)

I'm not distracted.<br />Honest.<br />Nothing distracting here.<br />What was I saying again?

I'm not distracted.
Honest.
Nothing distracting here.
What was I saying again?

Angela gets zappy

Angela gets zappy

Good job there's no fall damage in this game<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Good job there's no fall damage in this game
(video)

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim
(video)

As it turns out, the remarkably stupid name of one of the characters was far from the worst thing about my team. Riesz turned out to be an absolute bore, and as dumb as a bag of rocks to boot. Kevin was just as stupid as Riesz, with his only character trait being "me hungry". Angela was the most interesting of the trio, and the one I ended up preferring to control in battle, but even she was mainly just an irritating, entitled little princess who only seemed to get excited about going shopping.
Urgh. Not good.

The story was odd. An absolute multitude of different evil factions are all fighting against each other to claim something called the Sword of Mana, which will give the wielder insane power over the entire world, and you are obviously out to stop them. To do this, various magical elemental stones must be visited and activated, and their imprisoned monsters battled. I got a bit lost trying to keep up with who was who in all of the different factions. Each enemy force had leaders, and goons, and ultimate evils they were trying to raise, and I mostly just tuned out, preferring to run around twonking things.
I do give the game credit for having the enemy factions going against each other in the story, though. Indeed at one point, there is a large battle between three factions at the location of the mana sword, and its a shame we as the player don't actually get to see it.

So what is the actual gameplay like? Hmm. I'd say it was mostly pretty good and sometimes pretty bad. It's a third person combat game, which allows you to pause in order to use magic or items. So in this regard, it's quite like the FF7 remake, but more simple. And like that other game, there are similar things that annoyed me. For example, there is a delay in performing an action such as dodge if another animation is playing out. It's a problem with games that I keep rattling on about, but it's something that narks me. The other thing is that it's one of those games where the characters step forward, or sometimes even jump forward when they attack, meaning they can sometimes just step right passed their target and miss entirely.

The other main thing about the gameplay that annoyed me was only in certain locations. See, you often get indicators on the floor a second or two in advanced whenever an enemy is going to do a big attack, giving you the time needed to run or dodge out of it. However, I found that in sand or snow environments, these indicators were really hard to see, making battles here more difficult.

In truth, the main problem with the game was the slow load screens, of which there were many. So freaking many. This, as well as constantly re-visiting the same areas on the map, and constantly fighting the same enemies, made the game drag on for far too long. So while it was a perfectly fine game to play through, if it was shorter by a quarter or even a third, I'd have had a far better and more enjoyable time. As it was, I really had to knuckle down and wade through the last parts of the game.

Kevin gets scrappy<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Kevin gets scrappy
(video)

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Some fancy harpy hovering skills<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Some fancy harpy hovering skills
(video)

What the fook is this thing?

What the fook is this thing?

That's some bad breath there my dude

That's some bad breath there my dude

Angela goes for the big twonk

Angela goes for the big twonk

The other game I played, back in December, is about as JRPG as it can possibly get, in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. I saw this on sale on GOG a while back and thought it looked like it might be fun. Alas, it was not fun enough to keep me playing longer than a few hours.

The game has an interesting, tongue-in-cheek setting, which I found quite charming. The entire land is called Gamindustri, and each of the four countries or zones is named after one of four gaming consoles, such as Lastation and Leanbox. Each land has their own Goddess, who I think is supposed to protect their people from monsters and also promote their land so that their land can get more 'shares'. Shares of what I'm not sure. Maybe faith or something.
However, the Goddesses are more interested in fighting amongst themselves, and the game opens up with one of them, the main protagonist of the game named Purple Heart, being teamed up on by the other three and being defeated. Purple Heart falls down to Gamindustri suffering from amnesia. In her mortal guise of a young girl named Neptune, Purple Heart begins gathering a party to head out into the world, defeat monsters and figure out who she really is.

The game is split between somewhat typical turn-based RPG combat, and story sections that are presented in a visual novel style.

Would a Goddess who looks like this even take this comment as an insult?

Would a Goddess who looks like this even take this comment as an insult?

Neptune does not like big-heads apparently

Neptune does not like big-heads apparently

It's I <i>couldn't</i> care less. COULDN'T!! This shit always gets my goat.

It's I couldn't care less. COULDN'T!! This shit always gets my goat.

I can't mince my words here. While there were one or two things I liked about the game, it mostly just annoyed the fuck out of me. There were two primary issues. One being that the game barely explained anything, and often when it tried to explain something it was already too late. Case in point was when I was in a dungeon, and I saw a slightly different enemy icon on the minimap. Wondering what it was, I initiated combat, only for the enemy to one hit kill every single one of my characters. Then in the next dungeon the game finally explained that the different icon means "dangerous enemy". Thanks for the warning, game.

Mostly though the game does not explain anything, and I had to go on the internet to help figure things out. For starters, there's no explanation about what your character's stats do, at least in the first couple of hours of play. When the game does explain something, it will usually tell you that you can do something new, but won't properly tell you how to do it. It was annoying.

But the main problem without a doubt was the forced grinding. I just followed the main story, as most people I imagine would. And when my party was at about level 9, I came upon a boss fight against one of the other Goddesses, who absolutely fucking wrecked me. I assumed, as one would, at this early point in the game I would never be able to beat a Goddess, and thought it would be a scripted loss. But nope. I simply died and got the game over screen. Upon doing some research, I discovered people recommend a grind up to level 20 before tackling that boss. So with a big sigh, I set off into some dungeons, but only levelled up to lvl 12 before getting way too bored of that shit.

What an absolute joke of a requirement, to put that kind of grinding in a game so early on. Didn't help that most of the characters were also really irritating. Only IF of the main three characters was bearable (and what kind of name is IF??), though Neptune also became far less annoying when in her Purple Heart form. But other than that, all of the conversations made me roll my eyes so hard I could look back into my skull.

I promised I would not waste time on games I did not enjoy, so simply uninstalled it, never to be played again. Good riddance.

Boingee!

Boingee!

IF gets all choppy

IF gets all choppy

Yes, even more boob references

Yes, even more boob references

4th April 2021: My Balls Are On Fire

Up next in the completion list is the 2017 game Pyre, by the same people who made Bastion and Transistor. With those first two games, I had kind-of opposite experiences. I really liked Bastion at first, but it started to drag as I got further into it. And I really struggled to get into Transistor at first, but then started to enjoy it more once I'd unlocked more skills.

This game has been a different experience yet again. Though unfortunately, the experience was one of very little enjoyment from start to finish. I guess I really should have stopped playing it soon after the half way mark, as I was getting frustrated. But the end of the game did at least earn it a little bit of redemption, so I was at least a little glad I stuck with it.

So just what is the game, and why did I not get on with it very well?

The game is mostly delivered in two very different ways. The story sections are all in a visual novel style, with no voice acting and lots of text to read, and occasional choices to make that will have an effect on your characters stats or equipment.
The meat of the gameplay comes across like a fantasy version of basketball, where two teams of 3 players fight in out in real time, and try to throw or dunk a celestial orb into the opposing team's pyre, in order to reduce its flame to nothing and win the contest.

The massive amounts of text in the game quickly became boring, especially as a lot of the world's history and lore is delivered in the form of a book, with dozens of pages that you are expected to read. Let's just say I barely touched all that shit.

Synchronous banishment

Synchronous banishment

His name's Barker. 'Cause he's a dog. Get it?

His name's Barker. 'Cause he's a dog. Get it?

Jodariel goes for the big dunk

Jodariel goes for the big dunk

The competitions themselves, which are called "Rites", were also frustrating to play. Partly this was because I was using keyboard and mouse, which I chose so I could aim my attacks better. But this choice gave me some trouble seeing as my characters only then had 8 directions of movement with WASD.
All that I could deal with for the most part, but the main problem was that the enemy players just seemed to be more responsive somehow, like they could move faster, and jump better, and their auras would return faster. That kind of thing.

The story and characters were quite interesting, even though it did feel like it took forever for it to go anywhere and to get any pay off. But this feeds into the main double-edged sword of this game. See, when participating in the Rites, occasionally you will have the opportunity to free one of your characters from the exile you have all found yourselves in. Because I quite liked many of the characters, I wanted to free as many of them as possible. Problem is, when they are free, there is no longer any way to use them when competing in the Rites. And as all the characters have different skills, once my favourites were free, I was left with a bunch of players I didn't really like using all that much, making the Rites even more frustrating.

The little bit of redemption I mentioned earlier comes at the end of the game, where you are presented with information about all of the characters in the game, both on your team and on others, and learn what happened to them after all is said and done. I imagine the information here can be quite different depending on which players go free, and what other choices you make during the game, and this was the only time I was really into reading every last little word.

Concerning the characters, my fave was easily Jodariel, and I selfishly regret freeing her so early in the game. But I also really liked several other characters, including Ti'zo, Sir Gilman and Pamitha.

With so many games to play, it's unlikely I'll play Bastion or Transistor ever again, but at least there's a chance. This one however, has no chance at all. I mean, I'm glad it's done, but oof, I could have done without it.

Bertrude unleashes hell at our opponents

Bertrude unleashes hell at our opponents

Sir Gilman was fun

Sir Gilman was fun

Interception!

Interception!

One game I managed to get working after a bit of tweaking was Virtua Tennis. I played it for a couple of hours, and found it was ok, but it struggled to keep my attention when so many other games are vying for it.

It wasn't bad. I just found the player movement a little bit sluggish, and it seemed inconsistent when trying to place my shots. The main problem though was that progression seemed to be locked behind training sessions. I didn't mind playing the games, because at those times it was like the other (very few) tennis games I've tried in my life, being quite playable. However, the training sessions were frustrating and boring.

Still, I'm not saying I'll never come back to this, but it's highly unlikely, and definitely won't be anytime soon.

Come on, Tim!

Come on, Tim!

Giving Courier something to think about

Giving Courier something to think about

Looks like I'm checking for a bug on the floor

Looks like I'm checking for a bug on the floor

Trying a doubles match

Trying a doubles match

28th March 2021: My Mortal Weakness Rising

All done with another PS4 game, this time in the shape of Immortals: Fenyx Rising. This is a 3rd person action and exploration game set in a total cheesecake version of Greek mythology, where Typhon has stripped the Gods of their powers, meaning you have to step up to put things right.

It was strange at first to find that, even using a controller, there was a mouse pointer on the menu screen. Out of interest I plugged in a mouse and keyboard, and to my delight found out that this is one of those rare console games that support such inputs. However, I soon grew frustrated, as the mouse lag was so bad that it was making me feel sick. It must have been at least half a second between moving the mouse and seeing the action happen on screen. Totally vomit inducing.
With a sigh, back to the controller I went.

I enjoyed the game well enough for the most part. The combat is fast and fun, with lots of different types of attacks and item builds available. I also quite liked how fun and silly the game was, and with the exception of Hermes, who could be irritating, I also liked all of the characters.
However, I'm still not sure about the humour in the game. I mean, it wasn't really funny, even though it was trying hard to be. But it was fun that it was trying to be funny, if that makes sense?

The puzzles were a bit weird, though. I don't remember it ever seeming hard to solve the actual puzzles, but I do remember getting a bit annoyed with having to run around and find the pieces you needed to solve the puzzles, like a rock or a ball, for example. I don't like things that purposefully waste my time.

Twonking a bear

Twonking a bear

Getting ripped

Getting ripped

Meeting my boy Phosphor

Meeting my boy Phosphor

Fenyx plays with her balls

Fenyx plays with her balls

Mood of the day = purple

Mood of the day = purple

Fenyx gets ready to squeeze some New Year's juice

Fenyx gets ready to squeeze some New Year's juice

Very early on in the game, you gain a companion bird named Phosphor. This dude and I got on very well, and I based my entire combat strategy around him. I would use my stamina to constantly call Phosphor to attack. Whenever he attacked, he would also heal me. Then my gear was set to give me loads of stamina back every time I went in with the sword, which was also upgraded to do as much damage as I could afford. This strat worked a treat all through the game, so you can imagine my frustration when I went into the final fight against Typhon and found Phosphor was not available. It made the end fight a much longer slog as I had to constantly back off to use healing items, instead of just tanking and chopping my way through the threat like I had been doing up to that point.
Maybe if I'd created a more skill-centric build I would have been alright.

But then again, I would have needed actual skill for that tactic to work.

By far my biggest gripe with the game was the traversal. Sheesh. What an absolute ball ache it is to move around the world in this game. Until you've got more fast travel points open, getting from one place to another means a lot of foot slogging, or taming a slightly faster mount. The problem is there are always ravines or cliffs in the way to wherever you want to go. This sucks when climbing up the myriad of walls or rocks, or gliding just a short distance, drains your stamina in no time, especially early in the game. You have to constantly plan your routes to make sure there are enough stopping points to get your energy back. It fucking sucked.
And by far the worst place to get around in the game is the final zone in the north of the map. Even later in the game with more stamina and abilities, that area makes it as hard and as frustrating as possible to scale that mountain. I gave up trying on my own, and had to resort to a walkthrough. Felt like a right muppet.

But still, it's done, and I can move on to the next one.

Just going for a glide with my best bro

Just going for a glide with my best bro

Uh oh, the idiot found the photo mode

Uh oh, the idiot found the photo mode

Hit this thing so hard its arm came out the other side of its body

Hit this thing so hard its arm came out the other side of its body

Twonking a Cerberus

Twonking a Cerberus

Auditioning for the next Tron movie

Auditioning for the next Tron movie

Rumbling with two automatons<br /><span class='skye'>(video)</span>

Rumbling with two automatons
(video)

3rd March 2021: Being An Absolute Dick

At some point during summer last year, I watched someone on Youtube play a board game where you play as a detective, and have to go around a map of Los Angeles and solve a murder. I was very intrigued, but when I looked into it I found the game was Kickstarter only, and was seemingly not coming to retail in the UK at all. So I pretty much forgot about it.

Puttin' in some sleuthin' time

Puttin' in some sleuthin' time

Cut to early this year, and it popped into my brain again for some reason. Of course, I had forgotten what it was called, and all my searches brought up other detective games. Then as luck would have it, I was watching the Dice Tower's Top 100 games a little while back, and this game got mentioned. After another search for info, I found not only had the developers of the game gone back on their original decision not to release the game at retail, but that it was already available, though at quite some cost. Nevertheless, I quickly decided to put in an order before I regretted not taking the chance.

A few days later, the game arrived and my journey commenced. A journey I have now completed.

This game is called Detective: City Of Angels.

And now that I'm all done with my play through of the base game and its expansion, Bullets Over Hollywood, using the "sleuth" solo mode, I thought I'd share some thoughts about it, as well as reveal how well (or how badly) I performed as a 1940s dick.

Blood On The Pier
First up was the intro case. It took a little while to get into it, and I ran out of time, going all the way to the final guess marker. I was sure of two of the three solution "elements", but had to do a 50/50 guess between two suspects I could not choose between. Luckily I got it all right. It felt like a good start.
Murder At Sunset
In this one, I was onto the murderer right from the get go, and it was all about learning more information just to make sure I wasn't barking up the wrong tree. I'd got the wrong motive in my head for most of the game, until I learned something else with two days left, after which I quickly solved the case correctly.
Heist To Nowhere
This one was a bit different as you were looking for stolen money rather than a murderer. I somehow found the cash with 3 days left, though I felt I was stabbing in the dark with little idea of what had really happened other than vague assumptions.
Bloody Christmas
This was the first of the 3 medium cases in the core box, and the first one that I ran out of time and made an incorrect guess. I got it right with my second guess during the first overtime period, but never felt like I had all the facts.
The Last Embrace
I ran this one down to the final guess marker again, but this time had just about managed to piece enough info together to get it right with my first guess. Looking back, this was one of my favourite cases, as it at least gave some solid info to go on rather than leaving you to make wild assumptions.
Murder On All Hallows' Eve
I loved the reveals in this one, but it was the first case where I did not gain a single stress marker, and solved it quite easily with three days to go.
El Fantasma
In the first hard case, there was no need to find a weapon, but rather the location where the next crime would take place. It was hard to get any info at first, and it had me moving all over the board trying to uncover things. When my time ran out I only knew the location, but had no idea of suspect or motive. I literally guessed at the suspect based on what car I thought they would drive, and randomly guessed the motive. Somehow all three things ended up being right.
Detecting more stuff

Detecting more stuff

The Final Strikeout
My, how different this was from the first hard one, as this really wasn't hard at all. It just seemed very obvious who had done it and why, and I played just to convince myself I was right. I solved with 5 days left, and got it right. I mean, the suspect straight up admits what they did when you question them. Where was the "investigation" here?
The Black King
Now this was more like the difficulty I was expecting for hard. I started out great with all the new puzzles, but getting info out of the characters was like trying to get blood from a rock. This was the first one I failed to solve, even after using all 3 allowed guesses. I was disappointed (and a bit annoyed at myself) when I found out the answer, as on my first guess I'd only got the motive wrong, but being incorrect had turned me in other directions for my other guesses. Oh well.
Crimson Obsession
Unfortunately, I could not complete the first case of the expansion, because as soon as I started to play it, it seemed very familiar. Then I remembered this was the case I watched being played on Youtube months ago, and when I realised that I immediately remembered the solution. Oh well.
Christmas In July
I was assuming the correct answer for a large chunk of this game, but before I made my guess I checked how blank bullets work on the internet. That info turned me away from the solution, as blanks don't really work the way this case makes them out to. With my final guess in 2nd overtime, I went with my original assumption and it was right. I sighed hard with diappointment. Probably the shoddiest writing of all of them in this one.
The Masterpiece Of Madrid
I really liked the addition of the puzzles in this one, and I quickly had strong suspicions that turned out to be true. However, I first had to solve all the puzzles and gather all the clues, and just made it by the time I hit the final guess marker.
Requiem For A Gangster
I managed to scrounge enough info to make an educated guess at the first final guess marker, and managed to get it right. After this, I really wished I could have played as a detective in the full game mode.

Man, I loved the look and feel of this game, and think it's got some great ideas. However, the enjoyment I got out of it really did depend on the writing on a case to case basis. Some of them were really interesting, and made you feel like you were actually being a detective. Some of them were just downright janky.

I also think my experience was hampered a bit by playing it alone, and I'm hoping people I play it with in the future will enjoy it more with me playing as the Chisel.

My Detective adventure was not my only recent dabble into board gaming, as I've also found time to make and print my own version of Dead Last, which like the full version of Detective now awaits the time when lockdown is over.

Getting ready to ambush in Dead Last

Getting ready to ambush in Dead Last

We've also had a crack at some other "escape room" style games. First up was The Chair by Evadere. This was much like Clue Kingdom, being just a series of puzzles one after another, and not being very interesting. So after that, we returned to ClueHQ to play their Warp Core game, which again was much, much better. We were hampered a little during the play by Discord being an arse, and we failed by 3 minutes. Bum.
Still, I felt a lot more useful this time compared to when we did the train one.

Puzzling it out during The Chair

Puzzling it out during The Chair

Plotting the time for our escape

Plotting the time for our escape

Entering the warp core

Entering the warp core

What kind of console is this?

What kind of console is this?

Failing miserably this time

Failing miserably this time

My Epic Eldar army is now complete after I finally found an Avatar that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I had forgotten how much smaller the model was compared to the Chaos Greater Daemons, so I raised it up a little on its base using some card. To smooth the weird stepped look, I used some of the milliput I bought a couple of years ago. I didn't know this stuff had a shelf life, and the one stick had gone brown with all bits in it. Luckily, there was still usable stuff inside when I broke it open.
I guess I'll have to find some use for the rest of it before it's all completely useless. As luck would have it...

A wild Avatar is spotted

A wild Avatar is spotted

My new Epic rules ideas are continuing to form, and seem like they will allow us to play some really fun and simple games. Well, that's the way is feels to me, at least.

But in order to play some new games of Epic, I think I really need to get my 6mm terrain in order. I have long known this day would come, so have been stashing things in boxes in the loft for years. And the time has come to prepare some new battlefields for the little guys and gribblies.

There's so much stuff here, and so many ideas in my brain, that most of them will probably never get done. Not only will it be hard to find the time to build all this, but I also lack the space needed to store it all.

But I will definitely have a good go at making some new Epic terrain, as the vast majority of my terrain is geared for 28mm. And that doesn't seem fair to me.

All my terrain stuff

All my terrain stuff

Figuring out what I am going to build

Figuring out what I am going to build

In amongst all my bits boxes, I recently found the Warhound Titan my bro started to scratch build 12 years ago. He passed it on to me back then and the idea was that I would finish it. Maybe it's about time I got around to this enormous task...

An old Warhound needs some attention

An old Warhound needs some attention

11th February 2021: Lockdown Lowdown

It's been a long, frustrating time for fans of tabletop action such as I. This stupid fucking pandemic has meant that no dice chuckin', card shufflin', or miniature mayhem has been going on in nearly a year.
Blows. Blows hard.

And yet, one or two occasional things have happened to help me get a little fix here and there.

On the boardgaming front, there have been a few efforts to play some games over the internet. In addition, I've recently picked up a pretty cool game called Detective, which is a deduction game set in 1940s LA. I've been playing through it in solo mode, to varying degrees of success. Looking forward to when we can all get together again, where I will be taking the Chisel role and messing with everyone else while they try and solve the cases.

I approve of this election. But then again, I <i>am</i> Hitler.

I approve of this election. But then again, I am Hitler.

Getting wrecked by werewolves

Getting wrecked by werewolves

Trying Colt Express

Trying Colt Express

On the trail of some hoodlums in Detective

On the trail of some hoodlums in Detective

For something different, we have also tried a couple of online escape rooms. We did a few of these a couple of years back and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to diving into the web-based equivalents. Unfortunately, the first one, which was called Clue Kingdom, was very disappointing. Didn't really have an escape room feel at all, rather just a series of puzzles on consecutive web pages. I literally could have made it myself.

Thankfully, the one we tried a few weeks later was much better. Trapped On A Train by ClueHQ made it feel much more like an actual escape room, with 360o environments you can move between, and puzzles that all link to each other. Oh yeah, and a frickin countdown clock! What's the point of an escape room without one of those?
It was actually funny at the end, as the game claimed we had smashed it, whereas in reality we only had 22 seconds left. We cut it so close partly because of me, as just like in the first ever escape room I did in person, my usefulness tanked in the second half. Hopefully I'll do better when we inevitably go back and do their other room.

Figuring out a firefly puzzle

Figuring out a firefly puzzle

Let's talk to the Magic Tree

Let's talk to the Magic Tree

Trying to sort this lot out

Trying to sort this lot out

I don't think 22 seconds left is "Smashing it"

I don't think 22 seconds left is "Smashing it"

On the wargaming front, my efforts have died down a little since Christmas, and I need to get back into it pronto. I was supposed to be painting my epic Evil Sunz, but after making my own clan I just had to start painting them instead. I've done them all except the Grots which are mostly basecoated, with the Boarboyz to do after that. If only I could finish something before moving on to something else...

One would think I'd be tired of painting dark blue by now.<br />One would be correct.

One would think I'd be tired of painting dark blue by now.
One would be correct.

Been spending some more time in Gotham, and have managed to apprehend all the villains and collect all of Riddler's trophies in Arkham Knight. I'm still not sure why I really bother with all the trophies and crap in these games, as I didn't really get much out of it in Asylum or City, and didn't really get much out of it in this. But I just had to shut the annoying little shit up again.
Also, why did they make the Riddler kind-of the end boss in these games, as you spend way more time hunting him than dealing with any of the other members of Batman's Rogues Gallery?

With the main game out of the way I went through the six mini-games, called the Arkham Episodes, which I think had all been DLC when the game originally released. In the episodes, you play as other characters instead of Batman. Surprisingly, the one I enjoyed the most was the one where you play as Red Hood, one of my least favourite characters in this game. There was just something about his play style and no-nonsense attitude that made it that bit more gratifying than the others.

The least favourite episode I did was the last one, which happened to be Catwoman's. The entire series of Arkham games up to this point has rewarded a certain approach to fights, by being tactical and precise. But the end fight in this was incredibly frustrating, and in contrast punishes you for trying to fight in the "proper" way. I tried and tried a bunch of times, with absolutely no chance, until I settled for just spamming the attack button, which easily beat the fight on my very next attempt. I didn't feel either happy or skilful after that experience. Just relieved.

So now I'm all done with Arkham Knight, and therefore, the entire Arkham series. It's been a wild, mostly very enjoyable, ride.

This dude's having a bad day

This dude's having a bad day

Batman and Dollotron boogy on down

Batman and Dollotron boogy on down

Ouch

Ouch

No photographs please

No photographs please

Just helping a cop with his bad back

Just helping a cop with his bad back

Finally "mastering" this battle

Finally "mastering" this battle

10th January 2021: Adventures In Arkham

I've taken the chance to revisit one of my favourite game franchises after GOG released the Batman: Arkham series. This was pretty damn awesome as it had been a long time since I had played any of them, and I'd never played Arkham Knight at all.

I scooped up Knight, and also added City, as City was the best of the ones I had already played, and it also came with the stuff I had not played like the Harley DLC. I figured I could always fire up the old PS3 if I ever wanted to play Asylum or Origins again. Not that I would ever want to play Origins again, but whatever.

So it was into Arkham City first, to act as a refresher before tackling Knight.

Drop kick to the nards

Drop kick to the nards

Smell my feet

Smell my feet

Figure whippin' good

Figure whippin' good

I will catch you my friend

I will catch you my friend

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

I can scan all the dead bodies in this water but can't see a massive freaking shark?!?

Still my fave part of the game

Still my fave part of the game

There's no doubt about it. This is still an awesome game, even more than 8 years later. Though I must admit, it took a little longer to get into it than I would have thought. It was also a little harder in some of the fights. I'm chalking that all up to me being older and slower now. Sad but true. Though somewhat interestingly, the stealth missions were pretty much a breeze this time round. I can't explain that, because I've certainly not become more patient in my old age.

I spent my time fairly evenly between pushing through the story and doing all the bonus stuff. When I got to the end of the story, I first decided to fully wipe the map like I did back in 2012, but only worked my way through the western half of the map before deciding to move on. After all, this was only an appetiser before the main course.

I also tackled Harley's Revenge for the first time. In this, you play as Robin for most of it, as Batman has been captured by Harley. For such a small new mission, this thing had some serious sneaking around, and Robin doesn't come with all the tools to take out gun-toting creeps like Batman does. Yet it only took a couple of hours at most to punch my way through it, and unsurprisingly, it's more of the same. Can't whinge at that.

Tiger Knee! Well, she <i>is</i> Catwoman.

Tiger Knee! Well, she is Catwoman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he <i>is</i>... erm... Batman.

Tiger Uppercut! Well, he is... erm... Batman.

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

That's some fancy footwear you got there Catwoman

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Alright guys, let's hug this out

Robin leaps into battle

Robin leaps into battle

Putting Harley on her ass

Putting Harley on her ass

I never played Arkham Knight when it first released, as I didn't have a PS4, and on PC it was a buggy mess and Steam only. I guess I should have thought of the game when I finally bought a PS4 just over a year ago, but it slipped through my large mental gaps. Never mind. It was meant to be, it seems.

Before playing the game I assumed I would still get some performance and bug problems, considering the state of the game at launch, and the fact that my computer is nearly as old as the game, and was not exactly a powerhouse even back then. The performance wasn't too bad, even with the better graphics in this. The majority of the time I was running around as Batman I was able to keep a stable 60, and only a few times did it drop. Hell, even Arkham City did that at times on my machine. However, driving around in the Batmobile did cause a lot more stuttering, and it's pretty much convinced me I need a new computer some time this year. Urgh, Windows 10 at last. Not looking forward to that.

The game definitely still has its bugs though, that's for sure. I faced some doozies, such as when I went down an elevator, and when it got to the bottom I somehow clipped up and through the ceiling, trapping me in the elevator shaft. In another session, every time I entered combat, the enemies would not attack me, and the camera would constantly rubber-band to look in one particular direction as if fixated on something. But it's far improved from the shoddy state it launched in.

The gameplay, as Batman at least, was more of the same, just more refined and with even more options than before. Overall, I liked the combat a bit more than the other games, but found it harder. I just found there to be a little less time to react, and there were more enemy types to deal with. Though I loved, and greatly appreciated, the new fear takedowns, making it much faster to take out groups of gunmen, and making the stealth missions a little more bearable.

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Dude looks scared of getting punched

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Batman kicks the electricity out of this guy

Investigating a crime scene

Investigating a crime scene

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Batman hugs a Man-Bat

Making stuff blow up

Making stuff blow up

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Some of the stealth missions sucked as usual

Batman's mostly enjoyable gameplay was balanced out by something though, and if you've played the game you know what it is - simply the worst thing about this entire game, and that is the Batmobile. I would gladly take more bugs and stealth missions if it meant I could play this game without this stupid vehicle. Simply put, I hated it. I hated the way it controlled. I hated its combat sections. I hated how you had to use it for Riddler challenges. And most of all I hated how it felt like I was in the Batmobile for nearly as much time as I was running around as Batman.
I am so very glad I did not think of playing this game on console. On PC, at least I could quickly switch to mouse and keyboard for the Batmobile combat sections, so that I could aim straight, and then switch back to controller for the driving and Batman sections. So much more comfortable that way.

As of yet, I have not reached a full 100% completion like I did for Asylum and City. Don't get me wrong, I've put a lot of work into the side content, but it turns out this game is so freaking huge that it's taking forever. Some of the side content is also a bit of a drag, so I'm still not sure if I'll ever be fully motivated to get that full 100. But for now it's going to stay on my computer, and I'll dip in and out now and again in between playing other games. I think I owe it, and myself, a good try at least.

Speaking of the side content, some of the DLC missions were odd, and threw up some contradictions with the base game. For example, I used the hacking tool early on in the Mad Hatter's DLC mission, but it would not let me use it elsewhere until I unlocked it in the main story. In another instance, I'd already tackled Firefly in his DLC mission several times, but later on in the base game mission where Batman has to save a bunch of firemen, it came as a shock to everyone involved that Firefly was even around at all.

Overall though, barring the Batmobile sections, and a few crappy boss fights against the Arkham Knight, the game is pretty good. I wouldn't put it above City, which remains my favourite, but this still has a lot of good things going for it, like better graphics, slightly better combat, and much better Batman traversal. Well worth the play through I reckon.

Tiresome tank combat

Tiresome tank combat

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Look at this guy, just hanging around

Double team machine

Double team machine

I hated all this racing crap

I hated all this racing crap

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Well this went to hell in a handbasket

Kicking Joker in the face

Kicking Joker in the face

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