To be fair, that second stratum was not nearly as hard as the first; but what it lacked in difficulty, it made up for in sheer tediousness. It boasted tons of FOEs that respawned at the speed of light and had to be eliminated on a regular basis for unhindered roaming, damage floors, trash mobs hell-bent on poisoning me, hidden passageways, stealth sessions — in a word, the whole shebang of first-person dungeon crawler obnoxiousness. On top of that, I was really not fond of that stratum's look, with its dull and dark colour palette that contained way too much black for my retinas' liking. Are jungles really that dark? And if they are, do we really need game jungles to be realistic? I'd have preferred deep and lush shades of green rather than this depressing mix of black and khakies.
But all these annoyances pale in comparison to the second stratum's main irritant, which was none other than the bloody backtracking. I honestly don't think I've encountered a worse case of backtracking in any RPG ever. The whole stratum was a nasty case of two steps forward, three steps back: crawl a bit, retreat, save, crawl a bit further, kill some FOEs, retreat, save — rinse and repeat for a number of hours I'm glad I don't get to know. That number of hours was pretty indecent, if my lone ranger's progression is any indication: I gained 30 levels in that stratum alone, and I gained them solely through backtracking, with not a shred of dedicated level-grinding involved. I don't know if I should be happy or mortified, honestly.
Anyway, I'm standing on the very first squares of the third stratum, which is already promising a much more pleasant roaming by sheer virtue of its gorgeous crystalline blue colour palette. I think I'm going to take a one-day break from the game, because that cursed Primitive Jungle really drained me; but I'm already itching at the thought of exploring that splendid oceanic third stratum. I'll see you later with tidings of the Azure Rainforest, dear fellow gamers! Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
I'm just done replaying Code:Realize, folks. Now, why replay that game, a mere year after I wrote two unflattering posts about it? Well, I could tell you that I'm playing a super-grindy game these days and need a lighter game on the side to unwind, or I could tell you that I'm usually in the mood for VN in the winter; but the bottom line is that my gaming instinct wanted to revisit that game for some unfathomable reason — and where my gaming instinct tells me to go, I go.
Not only did I replay C:R, but I replayed every single route — and I'm glad I did, because it gave me a new appreciation of that game. To sum it up neatly: everything I said about C:R last year still stands, and yet I like that game nonetheless. I'm not sure why I like it, to be honest. I could try to come up with reasons, such as the lush SFX, the gorgeous colours, the characters' mannerisms, the whole atmosphere; but I'll rather leave it at that and simply enjoy the fact that C:R was not such a bad investment after all. I mean, nobody said love had to be rational, right? Having said that, I still have some criticism in store for C:R — because indeed, it's very much a case of tough love between me and that game. First, a quick route review (minor spoilers):
- Victor: Just as perfect as the first time. For me, Victor is Cardia's canon mate, and nothing will make me bulge. The clever way Victor figures out a solution to suppress Cardia's poison is deliciously satisfying, and the smooth way he saves her and London in the nick of time while slipping in a steamy moment is even more satisfying.
- Impey: Still nice, entertaining and very Jules Verne-ish. Still no chemistry between Impey and Cardia, but that cannot be helped.
- Saint-Germain: Now that I knew what to expect, that route felt a tad less weird. Still, events there are a bit too far-fetched for my taste. Why would anybody go as far as Saint-Germain does for the sake of a single person? And the whole "we'll shape our destiny ourselves" motto has been worn out by scores of JRPGs already and has no more lustre to offer.
- Van Helsing: Mr Iceberg's attitude was slightly less intolerable this time around — heck, I could even spot flashes of niceness towards Cardia here and there. Still, that route is by far the weakest when it comes to narrative content. You want me to swallow that Aleister manipulated events around Van Helsing for years just for the sake of traumatizing the latter, and that Van Helsing's feelings for Cardia allowed Aleister to add the final touch to his twisted oeuvre? I mean, Van Helsing doesn't manifest Hidden Strength in the other routes, so it's obviously Cardia's love that makes the difference; but why would psycho Aleister give up on his prey so easily in the other routes? On the other hand, why would he go that far in the first place? You're either too crazy or not crazy enough here, mate.
- Lupin: Just as unconvincing as before. The game tries its hardest to convey romance and to showcase the Frenchman as the perfect bachelor, but I just cannot feel l'amour there.
Now for the biggest bite, i.e. Cardia's overarching story. Oh boy, is there a lot to say about it. There are so many problematic things there that I don't know where to start. Well, maybe by saying that the biggest issue is not so much Cardia herself, but rather her father Isaac, whose decisions make absolutely no sense in the context of the story. (SPOILERS again!)
- Incoherency#1: Isaac abandoning Cardia in a remote mansion instead of locking her up in his headquarters. I know I mentioned this before, and I know I'm supposed to exert suspension of disbelief here; but I'm sorry, this premise is just too far-fetched to swallow. The story goes to painfully great lengths to establish that Cardia's Horologium is of paramount importance and holds the key to Isaac's entire masterplan; and yet you want me to believe that Isaac casually let Cardia frolic around in the boonies, free to attract unwanted attention and be abducted by any random madman wanting the Horologium for himself? Either that guy is a complete moron, or this a a very transparent plot device to allow the story to unfold the way it does — and I'd wager it's the latter indeed.
- Incoherency#2: Isaac recreating his children only to kill them off. On one hand, he claims upon dying that the only thing he wanted was to be one with his family again; yet on the other hand, he tells Cardia that he doesn't like her and that she's only a pale copy of his beloved daughter. So what does he want exactly? Did he clone his children hoping to recreate his happy family, only to realize that he couldn't love them after all? Now that would be fickle.
- Incoherency#3: Isaac turning himself into pure spirit and letting a clone of his son take care of his masterplan in his stead. How did he achieve that state in the first place? And why would he all of a sudden entrust the son he always despised with such a mammoth task? Given the story's fantastic nature, having Isaac being alive and well and planning to fuse his original physical body with Cardia's Horologium after using the pendant on it would have made just as much sense as doing these things as a big ball of something with Finis' help. I'm afraid we're privy to another plot device here: keeping Isaac as an ethereal presence makes him more threatening and unescapable, as well as more akin to the god he wants to become. Too bad it doesn't also make sense in the grand scheme of things, really.
- Incoherency#4: The slaughtering of Isaac's family and Isaac's subsequent madness. Sure, rural folk in C:R are routinely described as subhumans, always ready to harass and wrongly accuse innocent people; but killing the entire family of the doctor that served them for years just because they feel he might be responsible of the current famine is too much, even for them. Isaac's reaction to that event is no more believable — so your family has been murdered, and the first thing that comes to your mind is "I'll become a new god"? How about something less far-fetched, like "I'll torture and murder all them pigs that did that"? Once again, plot devices: a forced and overblown trigger to a no less forced and overblown change of character.
In a nutshell: Isaac is an half-baked villain, he makes no sense whatsoever as a character, and nearly all his decisions are mere plot devices that exist solely to further narrative developments. Too bad it's so painfully transparent. There are also a couple of minor non-Isaac-related plotholes that bothered me, such as:
- Cardia and Finis being twins: Really? Cardia looks at least five years older than Finis, if not more.
- Lupin rescuing Cardia just before Isaac is done absorbing all her poison: Sure, that's a neat narrative trick, and a no less neat way to let Cardia live as a normal person... That is, until you start thinking about it in earnest. Like, how on earth did Lupin know when the poison was about to run out? Sheer luck, obviously! And how did he know which amount would be necessary to let Cardia live a normal lifespan without emitting poison? Sheer luck again! Yeah, more like "shut up and suspend your disbelief, b*tch".
- Horologium tautology: Okay, so the Horologium needs to spend some time in a living being to reach its ultimate state. Regular humans couldn't survive the stone's poison, so Isaac created an Homunculus (i.e. Cardia) to bear it. Fine; but given that the Horologium is the very thing that keeps Cardia alive, how does she qualify as the living being that will allow the Horologium to mature? She wouldn't be alive if not for the stone, so she's not really a living being after all. Or can the Horologium feast on the very life it grants Cardia? This is all quite unclear, and it looks too much like a logical fallacy for comfort.
Geez, that's a lot of writing for a game I already played once! But when all is said and done, I like Code:Realize despite its flaws. I like it so much, in fact, that I firmly plan on purchasing the sequel that's slated for release in early 2018. Heck, I even have a wishlist for that sequel: I want a Delacroix route, because Delacroix is a sheep in wolf's clothing and seeing him getting all flustered at Cardia's wooing attempts would be hilarious. I also want an Aleister route, because every Otomate game needs a sir psycho sexy as a love interest; and I'd even like a Finis route for the sake of 'blooming-love-overcoming-deep-seated-hate', if not for the fact that Finis is Cardia's brother and is feasting on the flowers. Oh, and I also wanna see Victoria and Leonhardt tie the knot. Let's hope that the sequel will make some of these wishes come true! I'll see you later with more Code:Realize tidings, dear fellow gamers; as usual, thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
|The Death Row.|
Class of Heroes has the latter without the former, Demon Gaze has the former without the latter, but only EO has the whole package. The crystalline colours, the mellow soundtrack and the exquisite sound of crushed grass under my feet make me want to to roam endlessly; yet at the same time, every step feels like a step closer to a Game Over. I genuinely feared going deeper into the labyrinth during the early stages, and I swear I felt my throat tighten the very first time I lay my eyes on a FOE. This is a potent and striking mix, and I'm not going to forget my first impressions of that game any time soon — even though by now, Yggdrasil has lost a lot of its chilling power thanks to my dutiful grinding.
In a nutshell: I adore that game, and I'm gonna keep playing it for a long time. Brace yourself, second stratum, for here I come! I'll see you soon with a second progress report, dear fellow gamers; until then, thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
overpowered duo was darn tempting, but I was just dying to play *name hidden for suspense's sake* and that took precedence. So here comes my final opinion about the game, warts and all.
This is a PSP budget game, with the good and bad points of such games. I like the lo-fi charm of budget offerings from that console generation, so I was delighted and felt right at home. That lovely fuzziness! Those charming non-animated skits! Those nostalgia-inducing pixelated 2D sprites! Gimme more! What I didn't like so much, on the other hand, was how dark the game was — like, in every sense of the word. From the dull and murky colours to the gloomy story that spares the player no gruesome description of murder, torture and the like, PR did a serious number on my mood after a while. Also, the final boss — the one I fought, that is — is a nasty cheating b*tch. She had as much HP as Claude and Yuri at their max level together, she could teleport, cast spells and heal, she moved four times faster than my duo and, cherry on the cake, she had 25 minions as cannon fodder. How is that fair? It took me no less than four tries to beat her, and boy, did it felt vengefully good. I was initially planning to check the other two endings, but... After that laborious showdown, I really didn't feel like it. Those endings can wait until my next run of PR.
Underrated and Overleveled. And talking about the battlefield, it's downright silly to see the battles' winning and losing conditions contradict over and over what the narrative struggled to establish just seconds before. Even when the whole crew insists on sparing opponents, seizing enemy positions first and foremost or destroying a given contraption, battles always unfold the exact same way and can ALWAYS be won by slaughtering every living thing in sight and/or taking the enemy base. Take, for instance, that chapter where you're forced to fight brainwashed young orphans: the way the whole crew insists on sparing the kids' lives, you'd think that the ensuing battle would include a losing condition in case too many kids are killed — but NOPE! You can slaughter them all, and you'll win just the same, with hefty amounts of XP in your name! Also, battles that are titled "Destroy contraption X" or "Take position Y" usually don't even feature the objects in question, let alone the actual opportunity to destroy them! I swear, this became hilarious after a while.
- You only get to deploy two units at the beginning of each battle. To be able to deploy more, you have to take so-called unit and/or strategy points first, and then make sure that said points are not invaded by enemies. And it's not like there's hundreds of these points around, oh nooo: even if you take them all, you'll hardly manage to deploy more than three or four extra units. Better save yourself the hassle and make do with what the game gives you, o yes precious.
- You cannot leave your base unattended at all, lest foes make a beeline for it and take it in the blink of an eye. This means that you can only send a single unit to take unit/strategy points at the beginning of a battle, and that single unit will probably run into tons of enemies on the way. Much better to lounge around the base and take advantage of those sweet, sweet impact circles until the small fry is disposed of.
- The battlefield is too small to accommodate many units. We're talking about a single screen here with no scrolling involved, and it can get crowded really fast. Better to have just a few units and a clear view of what you're doing.
- The enemies are such pushovers that it's not worth over-strategizing. A bit of level-grinding, and you're set! Also, the weapon complementary thing is basically pointless: during my playthrough, I didn't run into a single battle where both of Claude's or Yuri's weapons were weak against their foe's ones. There's really not point in tinkering with units when it only takes two to tango all over enemies' bodies.
final thoughts about the game, dear fellow gamers. Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
last post. I now see those as innocuous fillers, necessary to build up relationships between characters and lighten up the atmosphere — although these moments irritated me more than anything. I'm just a tad disappointed that the writers resorted to the overused 'Super Mode' trope; I've read a couple too many shonens exploiting that stuff to not get completely blasé about it. Also, the story was sometimes a tad too morally twisted for straight-laced old me: on top of Nekone lusting for her bro, we have Atuy's dad loving his daughter in a a suspiciously intense way, and Woshis using his personal posse of young servant boys as models for the yaoi mangas he secretly draws. But hey, this is pretty standard anime fare after all; and I sure played plenty of Vita games that were much more hentai-ridden than that without batting an eyelid, so I guess I have no ground for complaining.
With that said, dear fellow gamers, I'll see you later for Mask of Truth — that is, when I'm done importing it, which may or may not happen soon. Until then, thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
So here I am, enjoying the ride while fervently hoping that UMoD won't pull a Steins;Gate on me by bastardizing its own narrative beyond repair. I've been playing for roughly 15 hours, and if internet lore about UMoD is to be believed, I still have a good number of playing hours ahead. See you soon with more Utawarerumono tidings, dear fellow gamers! Thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!
This was a very busy year as far as my playing was concerned, with more games and runs cleared than ever before. I've had a lot of free time this year as well as a ferocious drive to play games, i.e. the perfect combo; and since things are shaping up to be the same in the next months, you can expect a lot of posts and playthroughs in 2018 as well. The collecting front, on the other hand, has been a bit on the tepid side, with few games bought and a rather sloppy purchasing drive. I'm quite behind on my To-get-my-paws-on list, even neglecting to secure coveted Vita games despite promising myself to purchase such games day one to avoid missing on them. However, I'm confident my purchasing drive will come back before the Vita and 3DS are through; and since I'm not planning on missing on the ultimate releases for these two anyway, there will be a couple more gaming shopping sprees no matter what.
And talking about the Vita and 3DS ultimate releases... Eeeh, things are not looking too good on that front right now. The 3DS has a couple of appetizing games slated for release in early 2018, but there are no news of any games being planned beyond that; as for the Vita, 90% of the planned 2018 localizations are digital-only releases. Allow me to be totally unexcited about this, both as a collector worried about the future of the PSN and a buyer who wants the best value for money. That being said, I'd lie if I said I'm over-hyped about the 2018 Vita release schedule: apart from the lone RPG such as Rainbow Skies and Omega Labyrinth Z, there's nothing there that makes me jiggle with excitement. But I'll take what I can, and I'll take it gratefully. 2018 may see the end of both the 3DS and Vita, and I want to bid them farewell with as many game purchases as possible. Bring it on!
At that point, it's also safe to say that I will indeed purchase a Switch at some point. There are already a half-dozen games out there I'm coveting and just as many slated for release in 2018, which is more than enough games to justify a purchase — heck, I bought consoles for less games than that back in the days. While I don't think I'll buy the Switch itself in 2018, it's quite possible that I'll start stockpiling games, all the more so if 3DS and Vita releases trickle down to nothing in the second half of 2018. And with that, you have my gaming plans for 2018: lots of playing and blogging, as much collecting as possible and tons of gaming fun overall. I wish you a glorious gaming year, dear fellow gamers; and as usual, thanks for reading, and be my guest anytime!