Nioh 2 Complete (Review)

Source: Review Copy (Which meant I had the DLC of ye original Nioh 2, and still died a whole bunch)
Price: £49.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Play with a controller. Make sure you get a comfortable right stick setting. Prepare to die a whole bunch learning this. This is your primary warning for Nioh 2, as it is unforgiving of mistakes.

I learned this… A lot. A lot a lot.

Meet your first exam. It’s a real killer.

So yes, Nioh 2 is an action RPG with slowish levelling, more requiring skill with equipment and your abilities than anything else (although what you can equip is limited by your stats, and you should definitely keep this considered), fixed attack animations (don’t be hammering on the attack keys), combat with a fair amount of depth, such as which stances to use, tactics, using your demon abilities well… You’ll get an exam on these real early on, along with the exam on “There are enemies you definitely shouldn’t fight unless you’re super skilled”, and the lessons will be painful.

Getting to your stuff you dropped when you died is not going to be easy if you died in a particularly nasty spot, and… Look, it’s a tough game with a steep early learning curve. Play the tutorials. Experiment. Be prepared to die a lot, or less if you’re already experienced in this. There’s a fair amount of timing to it, such as recovering your ki (stamina) by pulsing it at the right moment after a combo, which also serves the purpose of purifying an area, an important facet of fights with demons, because they can power up or use them.

I think I see why I’m being dunked on so mercilessly… I chose to play a nerd.

Aesthetically, it’s gorgeous. Lovely music, characters and monsters that really pop, taken from Japanese mythology and history alike, great sounds, and a clear UX. It’s good here. Writing wise, it’s stylish, and an early touch of the ghosts of your parents commenting on your character creation is… Okay, I teared up a little at hearing the character’s mother, who’d died messily not even thirty seconds earlier, say how we’ve grown so fondly.

But yes, it is tough as heck, and if that’s a turnoff, don’t bother, even with toning the difficulty down, mastering the systems I pretty much a must.

Beyond this, though, there’s… Not a lot for me to say. It’s good, and it has a lot of the stuff you’d expect from an RPG, with several different weapon types (I went edge, with a kusarigama and a switchblade, aka “It’s a scythe that turns into a bat’leth, deal with it, yokai.”), and… I enjoy it. Even if I die, and am going to die, time and time and time again.

This intro story shares a little with the story of the Red Oni and Blue Oni, but… I honestly just wanted an excuse to post a screenshot of a buff horny man with a big stick.

So, yes, if you’re either good at this sort of thing, want to struggle to play a cool game using Japanese mythology and history to tell a dramatic tale in a world of demons… This one’s good for you.

The Mad Welshman defends quick weapons to the death. Multiple deaths. Many, many deaths.

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Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy (Review)

Source: Review Copy
Price: £49.99 (digital deluxe £59.99, Season Pass (argh) £36.99)
Where To Get It: Steam

Ah, we’re back to the Atelier series, and so soon! So yes, as a quick refresher, the Atelier series is a JRPG series about cute alchemists doing cute alchemist things, meeting people, getting ingredients, beating up monsters, synthesising new things, and, after a relatively slow burn, saving the world. It’s usually pretty good stuff.

Doing this this early was a mistake. But a fun one.

Now, the other thing about the Atelier series is that it changes the formula up somewhat nearly every time. So, while time limits on the overall story still appear to not be here (yay!), the combat system is different from Lydie & Suelle, the alchemy system is different, maps are different… And I like most of these changes. One, in particular, I’m not a huge fan of.

There is a world map with shortcuts. There is a minimap both in the main city portion and the various biomes you encounter. You know what isn’t there? A minimap inside buildings. There is a fast travel menu in the city from the world map, but honestly, that feels a bit backasswards from the way Lydie and Suelle did it. I sorta get it overall, there are people who will have quests for you, so you need to be running through the city to meet them (and, as usual, alchemical ingredients can be found in town), but…

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear…

Look, I get lost easily. And, to rub a little salt in, there is… A colourblindness issue with the door type objectives. Specifically, it’s difficult to tell what is a door you need to go through for the objective, and what… Is not. There’s a small difference in shade. That’s it.

Not cool.

Otherwise, though, Atelier Ryza’s second installment has a lot of cool stuff, the grind remains as mellow and, honestly, low key as ever, and the characters remain charming and interesting, from the folks you meet around town (oh, Ryza, why do you keep getting in trouble like this, huh?), to the main characters themselves. It looks damn pretty, the story is a little higher stakes from the beginning (as the ruins information rapidly makes it clear that yes, things are afoot in ye ancient ruins), the soundtrack remains as chill as seems to be the case (until it needs to be otherwise, and it’s alright at that too)…

Hrm… Yes. I see… Interesting… And other noises of academic interest fitting for the moment…

So, what about them lost legends, huh? Well, that’s one of the more interesting additions. Effectively, you’re piecing together the story of ancient ruins, with the help of a magic mcguffin and deduction, in order to learn more about the situation you’re in, and about the fairy wot hatched from an egg you got given at the beginning of the game. Called Fii. Who goes Fiii!

Shush, they’re extremely cute, I will hear no bad words against them. It’s honestly not a bad system, though, because it encourages exploration of the ruins themselves, and filling in blanks.

Gripes about the map aside, I can’t really think of any critique that would significantly improve the game. What little quality of life it lacks, is easily fixed, and the rest just… Works. It’s a solid game about cute alchemists doing cute alchemist things, befriending many, crafting stuff incessantly for various reasons, whaling on monsters for various reasons, with a relatively chill difficulty curve, and an equally chill lack of pressure. You take it at your own pace, and, so long as you don’t mind a fair bit of repetition in your routine, then yeah, this is a solid JRPG to play.

I really can’t complain when I can make a beatstick specifically for early enemies.

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Hades (Going Back)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £19.49 (£7.19 soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Supergiant do it again. They keep doing it. I’m enjoying a game about a rebellious young adult, Zagreus, son of Hades, snarking and battling his way from his home at the lowest depths of Hades, trying to escape, in essence, a shitty family situation.

He’s right. I have no urge to consensually bully Dusa, who is cute.

Its aesthetics are gorgeous (God, so many fucking hunks!) Its progression feels natural, to the point where I knew where I was going, knew what I was doing, and was fine with dying over and over again, because I knew my grind would be rewarded. Its characters, even the grumpy and overbearing dad Hades, charmed me.

And thus, one of those times I hate is upon me, because I can’t say anything bad, so I’m struggling with what the hell else to say.

Okay, so, Hades is an action roguelike, in which, as noted, Zagreus, son of Hades, is attempting to escape, with the aid of his step-mother Nyx, the Olympian Gods, and a few other notable figures, including the most relaxed and friendly incarnation of Sisyphus I’ve ever seen. You start with one weapon, a sword, make your way as far as you can, get your ass beaten down, and come back for more, wading out of the pool of blood that forms the entryway to Zagreus’ home as he bitterly snarks or swears payback.

For the reason that it’s ever so cheesable, I love the spear. But every weapon is, honestly, appealing in this game.

He will escape. Because he cannot die, so he keeps trying, because he knows he can do it. And, as he does, he gets more powerful. He befriends various people, like Dusa, the disembodied medusa head maid of Hades’ abode (She’s so cute!), or Dionysus, who reminds me so damn much of Zaphod Beeblebrox that I find myself smiling. A chill dude, I like him.

Anyway, yes, the progression is natural, the sound design great, the VA good…

Look, I can’t keep saying nice things, so I will end with this: If you like action roguelikes, then yes, this is a good one to pick. It’s easy on beginners, it’s accessible (alas, never perfectly, for it is twitchy, but still), and, as mentioned, the grind feels less like a grind, and more like a natural state of affairs.

It’s criminal how hunky, laid back, and smooth talking he is. CRIMINAL, I TELL YOU!

It’s good stuff.

Call me, Dionysus, we had a fun time! xoxo

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Slasher’s Keep (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £10.99
Where To Get It: Steam
Other Reviews: Early Access

Content Warning: There are insects in this game, including spiders.

So here I am, trying to escape from perhaps the most Midlands dungeon keep of all time. I forgot how to beat the first floor boss, and so, surrounded by zombies and the technically invincible boss, I die ignobly.

No, really, this is just embarassing

So, here I am, trying to escape again. Dunno how I survived, but this time, I’m more prepared. This time, I bop the boss with my loot bag into spikes, killing them instantly, make my way upstairs… And then I try to make a flying leap to murder a bug, overshoot, and plummet to my death.

And now, I am trying to escape from perhaps the most Midlands dungeon, consistently getting to floor 5, and my only woes in life are the healer orcs, who heal enemies faster than I can smash them in the face.

That might be something to look at, balance wise. And skulls and flies remain aggravating enemies where, without a wand, you’re playing the waiting game (which sucks)

See that little box over in the corner? That’s how you know it’s a well made dungeon: EMPLOYEES CAN TURN OFF THE SODDING TRAPS. And so can you…

But otherwise, I’m having a whale of a time, in a first person roguelike with a silly sense of humour, some cool enemies, and an incremental system where, so long as individual runs go well, my trajectory is upward and outward. And, due to levelling also gaining you the ability to permanently copy (and improve) skills that previously belonged to your kit? Yes, I’m becoming quite the monster, and look forward to eventually finding out what our amazon’s deal is. Or one of the other characters.

So yes, random loot, several item slots, potions, wands, edible maggots, and moleman shopkeepers from Yorkshire are all part of this experience. Along with 2d drawings, in eight different directions, in a 3d low poly dungeon with painted textures, a cartoony look, some fun, silly voice acting, and fittingly off kilter music. This is extremely my jam. Especially with its very British sense of humour, your jailor “back in a bit” forever.

I make this ensemble look good. And anybody who disagrees can get walloped with my loot bag.

It just feels good, from the swinging of the sword and a quick parry system (remember, parry the weapon, not the enemy holding it), to the joy of smacking a zombie or nastier beast into spikes, killing them instantly, to the occasional comedy. It’s honestly not a bad beginner’s first person roguelike, as your general upward progression is noticable. But it has things for other fans of the genre too, so… Yes, definitely recommended, guv’nor!

The Mad Welshman used to live in West Yorkshire. Maybe he should go back there, and go down t’dungeon for a nice bitter…

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What The Golf? (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £15.49
Where To Get It: Steam

I dislike Golf. I don’t get it. I don’t like it. I don’t like many of the people who play it, because it is the sport of the bourgeoisie, and honestly? Fuck those guys. But I have realised I hate What The Golf, a game that is only tangenitally about golf, in that you have a power and direction to your swing, and environmental bullshit in the way… More.

It made me. Play. Flappy Golf. Unforgivable.

Not because it’s a bad game. It really, really isn’t. Not because I don’t like its sense of humour, its playfulness. Nope. It’s because it made me race that fucking sheep. It made me play Flappy Golf. At some point, it might make me play Golf Doom, and I will die a lot (unlike in Doom), and I’ll get irritable.

And so, the rant is over, and we get to what’s fun about this. In short, it’s a combination of the aforementioned humour and playfulness (the Not-Mario level, for example, has “What The Golf” being sung to the tune of our well beloved plumber’s 1-1 theme), a solid, low poly aesthetic with real charm to it, and surprising you at almost every turn with whatever zany thing you’re going to do with the basic mechanic of “Hold the mouse away from the direction you want to go, further away = stronger.”

One of the really fun touches are the silly “HOLE IN ONE” type messages on completion. I love these.

The aforementioned flappy golf is one of the annoying ones, but one that made me laugh was the one where the pointer was the thing that got thrown around. Or maybe that couch launching ragdoll one. Those are two good early examples.

Design wise, it’s pretty accessible. Clear colour differences, level objectives are pretty clear, the aesthetics are pretty good… My only major gripe is that the difficulty, especially with the crown levels, is highly variable, even early on, and that it’s not made clear that playing a level multiple times (three times, each a variation) can be done.

Ah yes, the institute of Golf Science. All sorts of strange golfing experiments, probably to work out why the hell golf is actually popular. Like, at all…

So yes, What the Golf? has its flaws, but is overall a good game, sometimes fast paced and twitch, sometimes calm, and often funny… But I still find myself grinding my teeth, even as I acknowledge it’s a good game.

The Mad Welshman well remembers a friend from his youth who got some use out of golf. He used to collect discarded golf balls, break ’em open, and sell the rubber bands. Good pocket money, really.

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