Doki Doki Literature Club!: My Thoughts

First and foremost, I feel I have to mention that I’m not much of a visual novel guy.  It’s less of a preference issue, and more of an “I can’t read the fucking text 90% of the time” sort of issue.  If there’s a trendy visual novel making its rounds, I usually check YouTube for a Let’s Play.  Or I guess Let’s Read would be more accurate, since visual novels barely qualify as video games.If I had 20-20 vision, I’d probably be checking these things out myself, but as it stands, I lack that ability.

Another thing I feel I need to get out of the way is I fucking hate dating sims.  I’m no neoliberal social justice retard, proclaiming that the concept of the dating sim somehow demeans women by reducing them to mindless fuck toys or whatever, but I just don’t get any enjoyment out of it.  Dating sims just remind me of how lonely and/or miserable real life is.  They remind me that women are a lot harder to please in real life, and how horribly inaccurate these cartoon women are to the real thing.  They remind me of how I got ghosted yet again by someone I really liked recently, and how I fucking HATE IT when people ghost me.  It doesn’t make you a strong, empowered woman to just disappear off the planet and leave me hanging, it makes you a bitch.  Men don’t like bitches.  Well, MOST of us don’t.  The ones who DO like bitches are the male equivalent of women who like bad boys.  In any case, it thoroughly annoys me, and it annoys me even MORE when I know I’m paying $15 a month for a service to set us up, only for you to be an absolute bitch, and just disappear, and never return any of my texts, and…

I’m pretty sure I was talking about something else a minute ago.

Oh yeah, Doki Doki Literature Club!  I’m not shouting that, by the way: it actually does have an exclamation mark at the end of the title.

DDLC is a visual novel, and it’s a dating sim.  Two strikes right out the gate.  And yet, I soldiered through the videos.  Admittedly, my first viewing came from The Game Grumps, and every other line had something to do with potatoes, or one of the characters being a robot, etc.  It made that first couple of in-game days more bearable.  Then, out of nowhere, the first shocking moment happens in the game, and the entire mood of the VN takes a complete one-eighty.

I won’t give the twist away here.  Instead, I STRONGLY urge you to go to STEAM, and pick the VN up for yourself.  Seriously, don’t worry about the price tag.  It’s free to play, I’m told.

I will say this much, though.  When that shocking moment happens, DDLC takes a SERIOUS left turn in Albuquerque, and becomes the single most fucked up thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Believe me, when it comes to horror, I’m pretty jaded.  I plunged myself into the world of horror films when I became old enough to go to R-rated movies without an adult.  I already owned, and practically masterbated to the Resident Evil games (RE2 in particular).  I was even WRITING horror when I was a second-year-senior in high school.  To put it bluntly, I’ve seen just about everything, and it takes a lot to scare me.

I was fond of Five Nights at Freddy’s at one point, and even then, though I didn’t find it scary.  I found it intriguing, I found the story fascinating, and I found myself wanting more and more until somewhere around Sister Location.  But I never really found it scary.  Sure, the jump scare in every game takes you off guard and panics you, but The Spoony Experiment said it best: “That’s not scary, that’s startling.”

I feel horror has been a very misunderstood genre over the years.  People like Eli Roth took the horror genre, and transformed it into the torture porn fad popular throughout the 2000s.  Movies like the work of Eli Roth fail as horror because in all the movies of his I’ve seen, every character is an unlikeable douche that you actually WANT to see die.  This is not how horror works.  That moment when the character dies is supposed to be n absolute gutpunch, not a moment to sigh in relief and thank god that he’s dead.  You DON’T want to see that character die, and when that character does die, it’s a shock to the system.  When the obnoxious prick who won’t shut the fuck up dies, it’s a relief.  Or at least it doesn’t have as much impact as it should.

The horror scene in the 2010s thankfully departed from this concept…  Unfortunately, horror in the 2010s is either defined by Tom Six’s Human Centipede movies, or by Paranormal Activity and the countless amount of spooky ooky ghosty ghoully Ouija board horror.  The Human Centipede isn’t scary for the same reason Eli Roth movies aren’t scary: you don’t give a fuck about the humans stitched together into the human centipede.  Paranormal Activity isn’t scary…  Though that just might be more of an opinion based on my belief that Ouija boards are fucking stupid.

Doki Doki Literature Club! is effective horror.  I’m a jaded, cynical prick when it comes from horror, and that visual novel ruined my fucking weekend.  This is because DDLC introduces you to characters, and gets you invested in them.  They aren’t perfect people, you find out the further you get in, but you end up liking them, and you want good things to happen.  Which is why when the first real twist of the game ends up happening, it’s such a thorough dick kicking.  The fact everything goes completely off the rails from that point onward only adds to the unsettling feeling.

After the first twist, the VN starts glitching out, and nothing can be trusted.  The world of DDLC set up rules and established them very early on.  But after the first twist, everything is broken now.  All bets are off, and you have no guarantee that anybody is safe.  It leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering what is going to happen next.

This, my friends, is how horror should be!  I’m glad I watched those playthroughs, but that first time I sat through it…  I tell you what, man, DDLC was the kind of experience that left a dent in my soul.  It thoroughly ruined my weekend…  And I thank Dan Salvato for doing it.

Of the four girls in DDLC, I found that Yuri was my favorite.  And to my surprise, it seems like I’m in the majority for a change, but I digress.  Yuri is quiet, introverted, prone to losing herself in the fantasy world of whatever book she’s reading, not really much of a people person…  Basically, she’s ME.  Except I’m not a high school girl.  I’m also not a cutter.

Yeah, I’ve already given too much away with that one.

I strongly, STRONGLY urge you to pick up this visual novel, and read through it yourself.  You can get it off STEAM.  And like I said earlier, it’s absolutely free.  Download it for yourself, or hell, do what I did and watch someone else play through it.  If you’d rather go the latter route, I personally recommend Pro Jared’s playlist.

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The Sims 4 for PS4: My Thoughts

Holy fucking hell.  I seriously can’t believe I was waiting for this.

Look, I’m not a PC gamer.  A lot of the time, I end up getting computers that can’t run shit as far as PC games go.  I suppose STEAM has remedied that problem…  Or maybe Eternal doesn’t require a whole lot of processing power to run.  In any case, aside from Eternal, which I haven’t played since July, I generally don’t do PC gaming.

Meanwhile, there’s The Sims.  If I have literally ANY guilty pleasure in life, it’s probably The Sims.  This is hands down the single dumbest idea for a video game anybody has ever had.  And have you seen some of the shovelware on STEAM?  And yet, despite this, it’s been one of my all-time favorite things to play.

I tried playing it on PC back in the day, but found that it crashed regularly.  The console version for PS2, and the offshoot game known as The Sims: Busting Out, were games that saw some heavy rotation in my old PS2.  I tried playing The Sims 2 on the WII, but found it to be a serious ordeal.  Not necessarily because of the game itself, but because this was the point the WII was losing its novelty.

I came to the console version of The Sims 3 for PS3 way late in the game, but I ended up enjoying the shit out of it.  I thought lifespans would ruin the game, but honestly, it made it MORE interesting to see.  I put the game in around March, played it religiously, and when I finally came back to reality, I came to the revelation of “Holy shit, it’s July!”.

I’ve honestly heard the ultimate definition of mixed reviews for The Sims 4, and a lot of the negative reviews were about all the features from The Sims 3 that got cut out, and reintroduced as DLC.  SEMI-RELATED NOTE: fuck EA Games.  I anticipated the release of the console port, and it finally came out earlier this week.  And I legitimately can’t remember the last time something Sims related left me this disappointed.  Seriously, even Urbs: Sims in the City was novel for a while.  Before it got stupid.

The menus in this game are fucking horrible.  Microscopic text on eye bleeching backgrounds is nothing especially new for The Sims (this was a problem dating back to around The Sims 2 as memory serves), but man, it’s especially annoying here.

It’s made extremely worse the moment I discovered they expected you to use a fucking curser to navigate everything.  A curser.  On a fucking PS4!  Seriously, bro, what’s wrong with having a simple scrollable menu on the left, and my sim on the right?  It worked just fine in The Sims 3.

The interface of this game is the most atrocious part of this entire console port.  I suppose I should be a little happy they went with something other than bleech white for the create-a-sim screen, but having everything in icons, and having to use a FUCKING CURSER to click on things…  This probably works fine for PC, but on console, this is unacceptable.

The curser is made even worse by being uncooperative.  It goes from sluggish to streaking across the screen in nothing flat, and someone like me who operates on one faulty eye loses track of this thing WAY too easily.

You can technically click the touchpad on your controller, and go to using the D-pad or left analog stick to navigate menus…  Except that’s somehow MORE inefficient.  I literally NEEDED the broken fucking curser to do certain things.

The game provides tutorials if you ask for them.  Unfortunately, the text is so fucking tiny, and the tiny black text on bright white gives me headaches.  I’ve literally had more fun looking directly at the sun for an hour.  If the menu system wasn’t such a pain in the ass, this wouldn’t be a problem.  Believe me, I’ve often said “fuck the tutorial” and made it through games by figuring out where everything is.  Except here, the menus are fucking impossible to figure out.

I played this game for about forty minutes, and I’m so fucking annoyed with it that I’m debating whether or not I want to give it another go tomorrow night.  My sim is currently standing on the sidewalk, texting his buddies…  Or maybe he’s playing Flappybird?  He’s doing something on his cell phone like an idiot, because I have no fucking clue how to build his house.  And I can’t build his house because the interface is unintuitive and frustrating, I can’t read the tutorials, and thus far, all the YouTube videos I’ve consulted deal with the PC version.  Because fuck console gamers, I guess.

All and all, I consider this to be a major disappointment at best, and fifty bucks I’m never going to get back at worst.  I wish my PS4 was backward compadible with PS3, because then I could just plug in my copy of The Sims 3, and play that instead.  At least then it’d be fun.

I couldn’t tell you if The Sims 4 is any good or not.  It’s got all the fun stuff you’d expect from the past games, plus the ability to make vampires apparently, but I’ll never know, because this game is a fucking headache to deal with on PS4.  I guess stick with the PC version?

South Park: The Fractured But Whole: My Thoughts

It’s been a long time since I’ve managed to successfully play a game to completion.  By which I mean I finished the storyline, and not the obsessive compulsive “FIND FUCKING EVERYTHING!” way of gameplay Jirard The Completionist has apparently made a thing over on YouTube.

The last time I ever managed to start a game, and see it all the way to the end, Catherine was the hot new thing everybody was obsessed with.  Before realizing it was just a really pretty tower climber with anime graphics, getting bored, and moving on.  I liked Catherine, but trust me, if I reviewed that game here, we’d be here all night.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole (heheheheh) officially holds the distinction of being the first game in six years I’ve played from start to finish.  Even Killer is Dead couldn’t accomplish that, and Suda51 is pretty much my video game god in adulthood.

The funny thing, though, is I never finished The Stick of Truth: the game that came before this one.  I played it, I made some pretty decent progress…  But then I got beamed up onto The Visitors’ ship, and I distinctly remember that being the point where I decided I’d had enough.  I don’t know if it was a heavy reliance on point-and-shoot puzzles, or if the visitors puzzle was so frustrating that I got annoyed and moved on to…  Whatever I ended up moving on to (2014 is kind of a blur anymore).  I distinctly remember the fart controls in that game being way more complicated than they needed to be.  Oi, the things you think you’ll never say out loud.  And this is coming from a guy who once proudly owned a Sega Genesis game by the name of Boogerman.

Fortunately, I found that you don’t need to finish The Stick of Truth to understand what’s going on in The Fractured But Whole.  The parents appear to hate each other a lot more compared to the first game, but the storyline with the titular Stick of Truth is abandoned completely in favor of playing superheroes.

In all honesty, I never really liked the superhero characters in South Park.  Granted, the Coon and Friends trilogy wasn’t nearly as tedious and painful to sit through as the Imagination Land trilogy, but I just didn’t get into it.  The fact Mentberry Crunch ended up being the savior of mankind was great, and ended up saving the entire thing from being a chore, but honestly, I have little desire to sit through it again.

All that being said, somehow, the superhero characters work better as video game characters.  Maybe it’s because we’re seeing all this from their perspective, and from their perspective, the battles and the overall adventure is loads more epic.  Or maybe I just didn’t give the superhero characters their due the first time around.  Maybe I SHOULD watch that trilogy again.

The combat in Fractured But Whole is an improvement.  Rather than rip off Paper Mario, they decided to…  I want to say rip off Mega Man Battle Network, but I’ve heard others compare the combat to XCOM, and to a similar extent, Mario Rabbids Kingdom Battle.  The latter basically being both an XCOM ripoff, and being the ultimate crossover game that literally nobody asked for.  Seriously, when was the last time the rabbids were relevant?

In any case, combat is based around selecting an attack, and positioning yourself on a battle grid.  Sometimes, the only thing you can do is reposition your party, and other times, you can unload some serious whupass on some sixth graders.  There’s definitely some thought that goes into each battle, and I found it to be a major improvement.  If it ever got tedious, it had less to do with the combat itself, and more to do with the people I was fighting.

Another feature that becomes available in combat is the “microagression” mechanic.  Characters in this game have a lot to say, and if they drop a slur like “queer”, “sissy”, and “pussy”, you can declare microagression, gain a free hit, and negate their turn completely.  It’s amusing enough, although I have to question how I didn’t get a microagression opportunity when one character called me a “homo”, and yet it declared microagression when Butters declares “I’m a healer, not a fighter, although I can do both.”

The story…  Is South Park.  Much like the first game, it’s got some pretty generous amounts of fan service that only long-time fans of the show will really appreciate.  Not to mention they added in tidbits from the last couple of seasons that came after Stick of Truth.  IE, the song “Where My Country Gone” playing over the musack machine in some of the stores.

Once again, you play as a created character, but this time, you can decide what gender they are, what race they are, what religion they are, whether they’re cisgender or transgender…  I get the feeling this was Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s answer to the people griping about how you could only create boys in Stick of Truth.  That, or the addition of PC Principal to South Park canon warrented some PC humor, and this seemed like a good way of shoving it in.  I’ll believe either one, honestly.

Apparently, the game becomes more difficult if you decide to make your character black.  I don’t know HOW exactly, on the count I wussed out and played a white kid.  However, if playing as a cisgendered girl proved anything to me, it’s that it really doesn’t have any payoff what you pick.

My only real gripe with Fractured But Whole is that The cut scenes, near as I can tell, are unskippable.  Not great for when you’re stuck on a boss, and find yourself losing multiple times in a row.

You can turn down the difficulty, or turn it UP if you’re psychotic enough, at any point in the game.  I generally kept it on the standard difficulty…  Right up until I got to the second-to-last boss fight in the game where the superhero versions of you and your friends travel back in time, and fight the Stick of Truth versions of yourselves.  I’ll own up to pussing out after about ten tries with five different arrangements of party members.  Sue me.

And yeah, spoilers.  Whatever: everybody and their mom is putting up Let’s Plays of it on YouTube.

All and all, I enjoyed this game from start to finish.  It had its moments of frustrations, but it only ever felt unfair around the second-to-last boss fight.  And even then, they give you the option to puss out and lower the difficulty.  If anything was ever difficult before and after that, it was either my fault for not checking the objective right away, or because Mitch Conner is a cheating sack of crap.

I highly recommend you play this game.

 

Darkest Dungeon: Lovecraftian Dungeon Crawler, or Charater Meat Grinder?

It’s not often I get addicted to a video game that doesn’t have the words Mortal Kombat anywhere in the title these days, but this Christmas weekend, I think I found it.  It’s a little roguelike dungeon crawler known simply as Darkest Dungeon.

I first heard of it from Noah Antwiler himself, The Spoony One, when he decided to livestream it on his Livewire series.  Honestly, I’m at a bit of an impasse when it comes to Livewire.  I love Spoony, and while others complain the man is nearly dead silent during the stream most of the time, I almost appreciate it.  I do like guys like Markiplier and Jacksepticeye, but the constant chatter that goes nowhere and might be a sign of A.D.D. and high-pitched screams of [EMOTION] get a little old in a hurry.  It’s just too bad that there hasn’t been an actual review since May of last year.

I understand nothing lasts forever, and you can only do the same thing over and over before even YOU get tired of it and want to try something new.  I appreciate the effort, and I understand nobody starts out good at new things.  That being said, I miss the reviews.  Even when I don’t agree with everything being said, Spoony always made it entertaining.  Hell, even Livewire is fascinating in it’s own way.  My only real complaint about the series is that I rarely have the time and/or patience for a two or three hour long stream.

Also, in the case of the Darkest Dungeon stream, the audio went out of sink with the video around the 1/3 mark or so, and kind of ruined the overall experience, but that aside, I enjoyed the playthrough, and it inspired me to pick up the game and try it for myself.

All I got to say is this: it’s a well designed game, but it will piss you off beyond belief.  If absolutely nothing else, this game has reconnected me with my long dorment gamer rage.  I can’t remember the last time I’ve had this much fun while getting pissed off at something.  The main gimmick of Darkest Dungeon is the fact that, on top of exploring dungeons and fighting monsters, you also have to keep your “heroes” as mentally balanced as possible.  Once you’ve completed an adventure, you send your heroes to town to drink, gamble, pray, buy a prostitute, get whipped (which oddly enough has nothing to do with the prostitute)…  Or you can just stuff them in the sanitarium for a while, and remove certain afflictions.

If you’re good at the game, you’ll come back with broken heroes, but a lot of treasure, and the ability to afford all their stress relief as well as upgrade all your shit.  If you suck, or if you hit a roadblock  like I have, though, you’ll send four heroes in, and maybe one or two will survive long enough for you to abandone the quest halfway in, and need to relieve their stress.  Unfortunately, you don’t have enough money for ANYTHING, because you need to save what little you got from the dungeon on provisions for the next dungeon.  And before long, you find yourself in an endless loop, and realize five or six attempts in that your graveyard has about forty different dudes in it.

It’s at this point I stopped naming the characters.  I’m even going out of my way to avoid using one or two until I’m one-hundred percent certain I can beat the mission with them.  I got too attached to Dismal Dan the highway man and Hamburgers the jester.  In fact, there might be a story in that.

Relax, I’m going to finish the Gael trilogy LONG before I start on that one.

Anyway, the point I was getting at is that once you hit a roadblock like I have, the game becomes less of a fun little romp into Lovecraft esque story telling and surprisingly fun turn-based combat (two concepts I rarely associate with each other), and it becomes more of what I’ve heard D&D players call a “meat grinder campaign.”

Clearly this term came out before MMORPGs became popular, and the term GRINDING was associated with repetitive tasks designed specifically to boost your stats.  Meat grinder, in the context it was shared with me, tends to describe a campaign, tabletop or otherwise, that just shreds through your characters.  By the time it’s all said and done, everybody playing has gone through a bare minimum of five character sheets, and the characters who managed to survive the adventure and claim glory are barely alive enough to enjoy it.  D&D was never my game (my friends were more of a Shadow Run group), but believe me, I know what those are like.  In the case of D&D, I’ve heard stories.  I might even go as far as to say that, in a weird way, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is a bit of a meat grinder.

Darkest Dungeon is definitely a meat grinder, but honestly, it’s a FUN meat grinder.  That sounds weird when I read it back, but I’m keeping in mind that I’m a guy who enjoys feeding documents to his paper shredder.  So yeah, consider the source.

Seriously, though, this is one of those games where you will bitch, you will swear, and you will make the neighbors think a domestic disturbance might be taking place next door.  However, you might actually find it to be an entertaining experience despite all that.  A wise man once said: “There is no glory in a quest without peril.”

Darkest Dungeon is the kind of game that drives you insane with its gimmick, it’s randomly generated maps, its steap difficulty, and its unforgiving approach to dungeon crawlers.  It’s the kind of game that pisses you off, makes it personal in the process…  But somehow has me coming back for more.  Am I a masochist?  Nah.  If my experience in the dating game is anything to go by, I’m at that point where logically, I should give up and get used to marking that particular aspect of my life as a failure, but somehow, I’m stubborn enough to say “fuck that” and go back into the melee anyway, knowing full well it’s never going to work out, and will only drive me fucking crazy with every failure in the process.

Do I recommend Darkest Dungeon?  Sure, why not?  Give it a look over for yourself.

 

Is Scott Cauthon an Anarchist?

As I’ve said in a previous article, I’ve followed the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise for a while now.  And by follow the franchise, I mean I follow a couple YouTubers who more or less owe their fame and fortune to playing and over reacting (maybe) to the jump scares.  my shit eye sight is totally not up to the task of surviving ONE night at Freddy’s, let alone five.  It doesn’t help the cameras get fuzzier and glitchier with each installment, but I digress.  It’s been a fascinating ride that has only recently become a bit of a headache.

But the more I look back on FNAF, the more I find myself wondering out loud: is Scott Cauthon an anarchist?  It sounds a little far fetched, but hear me out.

Anarchism is the absence of any and all leadership.  Also known as “SHUT UP, MOM!  GOD!  STOP MAKING ME DO STUFF!  I can’t wait to move out of here.  I can do anything I want then.”

Oh yeah, I went there.  COME AND GET ME, RON PAUL!  But I digress.

Anarchy, simply put, means that there are no rules.  It perpetuates the belief that things are better when there’s no rules, no regulations, and no one telling you what to do.  It’s also been described as “The Purge year round”, but if you actually WATCH The Purge, it becomes very clear The Purge actually DOES have a rule or two in place.  REAL anarchy doesn’t even have limits on what caliber gun you can have, or who you can kill like The Purge does.

Scott Cauthon, among many other things, is famous for  his mini-games within the various FNAF games.

In FNAF2, you’re given short mini-games upon death that give you clear cut instructions: give the kids cake, give them gifts, “GO!  GO!  GO!”, etc.  You follow the rules, and what is your reward?  More jump scares.  Notice that jump scares in FNAF are your punishment.  They’re the games’ way of saying “Yall done fucked up, son.”  Except the only way to WIN the mini-games is to follow the instructions.  If you do what the game tells you, you get punished.  You can’t win.

In the case of FNAF3, and FNAF: Sister Location, you’re given mini-games that require you to go from the start to the goal.  Except if you actually follow the rules, and go from start to goal, you get nothing.  You get zilch, nada, goose egg, the big zero, an overdose of nothingness…  That last one might be a Tristania song, but all the same, you get squat.  Seems kind of pointless then, right?

But if you actually DON’T follow the rules, and DON’T go to the goal like an obedient little drone, you not only find alternate goals, but you actually get rewarded!  You get the good ending if instead of going from start to finish, you actually break the mini-game and go to the goal off screen.  If you ignore the goal altogether in the Sister Location mini-game, and instead bring the ice cream cone to the girl at the starting point, you get access to the restricted area.

Maybe I’m thinking a little too hard about this, but it seems to me that Scott Cauthon is encouraging, maybe even demanding that players stop playing by the rules, and intentionally go against everything they were taught to believe was right in order to get the good shit.  Don’t go to the OBVIOUS goal, because you end up with a whole bunch of nothing.  Instead, glitch the game, break the rules, give the authority that told you this is how you do it the finger, and find this goal over here, and you get everything your heart desires.  You get closure.  You get a good ending.  You get to see how your stupid soap opera with the vampire ends, and a new roommate!

The lesson I got from Scott Cauthon?  Well other than Chuck E. Cheese is fucking creepy at night, springlocks are a terrible idea, and purple people can’t be trusted, is fuck the rules.  The rules are a box, and you’ll eventually be buried in it.  Break the cycle, and overthrow the government!  Or at least don’t go for the obvious end with the big shiny sign reading “GOAL!”.  I’m pretty sure it’s one of those.

Agree?  Disagree?  Have no idea what I’m talking about?