Tag Archives: Gaming

Avatar from Code Vein sitting and thinking

Hmm… What Are My Top 3 JRPG Games?

I am a bit late with scheduling posts. Just feeling a bit under the weather. Haven’t had much energy to write. I have been playing Tales of Arise off and on though, and I know that I am coming to an end. I have already spent 40 hours plus to know whether I like it or not and I am just unimpressed with the execution so far. I won’t deny though it has a good political statement. Unfortunately, it falls under my Pretty Face but No Character list of games. In other words, it just means that it’s all for show and not much substance. It’s kind of epically disappointing. Let the audience decide if it is an epic tale rather force-feed it to us. I don’t feel immersed in it and I am just waiting until the credits start rolling to give it a fair review. Not sure whether I will take the time to write a review for this game though. I did feel a little deceived by gaming critics for calling it a good game. The hypes always lead to disappointment. Perhaps, I am just not in the right mental state.

So to vent my disappointment with Tales of Arise, I am replacing my negative emotion with the more positive emotion I had with JRPG. So, I present you the list of my 3 top favorite JRPG games. I really had to think about this one since I enjoyed a lot of JRPGs. Unfortunately, Code Vein didn’t make it to my top 3, so if you clicked on this post because of my featured image, I apologize. In no particular order, I make my list:

  1. Suikoden III (PS2)

2 Trinity: Souls of Zill O’LL (PS3)

3) Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean ( Gamecube)

Honorable mention: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

The trailers can’t capture the scope of these epic games. It was hard trying to find a high-quality trailer because I know some people out there care so much about graphics. Graphics are great but it doesn’t make a game. That’s how I feel about Tales of Arise. If you haven’t played any of these JRPGs, I do recommend them. These are the games that made me fall in love with the genre. Hope you enjoy the list and the game trailers. In the future, I may elaborate on the games above, but for now, making a list will suffice. Until next time, see you!

A picture of a doll

Spirit Hunter: Death Mark Review (PS4)

I finished playing Death Mark (PS4 version), a visual novel game. I was pleasantly surprised by the game because I didn’t expect what I was expecting. No, this game did not give me the chills, did not mess with my mind, or give me a cheap haunted house thrill. Instead, the game left me pondering about Japan’s society as a whole. There were many mature themes posed in the game. It’s not a bad thing because it made me think.

There are 6 chapters total in the PS4 version (I don’t know about the vita version). The content of the game is decently proportioned (not a fan of playing long games due to having adult life’s responsibilities). The story flows well into each chapter. One thing I really enjoyed about the game is the characters’ illustrations. All of them are interesting, including the monster designs. And of course, the sound production most often goes unnoticed but it matters a lot in horror games. In the game, people just keep popping up in the mansion at night. The mansion resembled the mansion in Resident Evil. Unexpected visitors arrived at the mansion after obtaining a mysterious mark. To get rid of the mark they must defeat the spirit that gave it to them in the first place. Time is ticking. So there is some urgency in the game; your life and those around you are on the line.

Oddly, the gameplay reminded me of a guessing game. You have to read between the lines to answer the questions correctly. You can see honne tataemae taking effect in the game. If you don’t know what honne tataemae is, it means knowing how to read air. For instance, in Chapter 2, we find a suicidal man in the woods, on the verge of killing himself. The player is given a selection of choices to answer his questions. Given the situation, you don’t necessarily speak what you really think, which is very Japanese, although I heard that the idea of honne tataemae originated from China, but don’t quote me on that. Basically, you don’t speak your true thoughts around strangers. In this section of the game, I suppose lying to him is the better route–just so we can keep that harmony because the average American person would have responded in this way: “Yeah you got it rough. Your life sucks, man. You should chase after your dreams and not live for someone else, especially for a h0e.” And the suicidal man would reply: “Thanks man, for making me feel better. Now I want to go kill myself even more.” You get my point, I hope.

Due to the cultural context, I have found some of the choices sorts of irrelevant from time to time and wouldn’t say the gameplay is its biggest strength. After all, this is a visual novel (don’t worry visual novel fans, I am not discrediting it as a game). The game, however, is engaging enough to keep me “flipping the pages”. It’s the player’s duty to read the text in each chapter carefully. Reading the text in each chapter closely provides clues on how to defeat the boss. The gameplay style is definitely not for the adrenaline junkies who are used to relying on their reflexes to push buttons to get by. Instead, the game leans toward using detective skills, which oddly makes it a relaxing horror game to play. This is the type of game that would be fun to play with a group of female friends or with your significant other, or alone in the dark is okay too.

Overall, I enjoyed the game. My only gripe about this game is the portrayal of women. Then I can’t complain too much because the story is told from a male perspective and is intended for the male demographic. Patriarchal society likes to think frail women are not just physically weak, but also in mind and soul. So there’s a little bit of a sexism undertone–a mistrust toward women in the game. But that’s okay. I’ll just sit still like the evil doll I am and watch Satoru Mashita go through all the trouble for laughs and giggles. After all, this is Japan we are talking about. Nonetheless, it’s a good horror game.

 Note: Originally posted in 2019. Revised 4/11/2022.

Lorelai Review

It’s good karma to give back to the universe by writing reviews and why not write one for Lorelai, a game released back in 2019, developed by Harvester Games, published by Screen 7. So let me spread the news about this game!

Great indie horror games that deserve more attention

This game may not be flashy and sophisticated like those Triple AAA titles, but it sure has a lot of soul and depth than a lot of these pretty-face remake games (I am referring to Final Fantasy VII. Better not throw eggs at me now). I suppose saving time and energy by making remasters and remakes than coming up with something original is the wiser route to avoid commercial failure. Well, I am not entirely against the business practice. Look at the Shenmue series for instance. It’s one of my favorite games and in terms of grandness, this game blew my mind away. However, sadly, it was a commercial failure. Creating new things is quite risky even if it sounds like a good idea. But let’s get this straight, I am not comparing Lorelai to Shenmue. No way! My point is that I am quite sad that passionate video game creators often don’t get enough recognition even if they put all their heart and soul into making a video game. Clearly, the creator of Lorelai has the ability to make things interesting, but without advertisement–sometimes good things will never be known because if there is one thing this game has that other popular gaming titles don’t have is taking risks. Aren’t gamers a bit of a gambler themselves? It’s no fun to play it safe all the time (wow, I sound so dangerous).

Minor spoilers alert!

So, I will tell you why I like Lorelai and why you should play it too! One, Lorelai, the protagonist, is not a princess because we all know that princesses rarely do the saving in video games. She’s a fighter, which makes perfect sense since she is “a powerful unstoppable being”. Hey! Anything that endorses female empowerment is cool in my book because I like feeling strong.

Playing Horror Indie Game

Secondly, this game is funny! It tackles real life, mundane situations without sugarcoating the brutal truth about how “life is so fu*king hard” without being overly dark even though it’s a horror story. I must admit that the gore is it bit too much for my liking. I rather stare at pretty flowers, but I kept playing this game anyway because of the metaphors and the symbolism. Some of the scenes in this game kept me intrigued and curious because we all know that we don’t always need words to tell a story. For instance, I like how Lorelai’s father is referred to as a scummy pig. In one part, Lorelai has to put a pig’s head on her stepfather’s headless body and then electrocute him with a blow-dryer in the bathroom. I found that scene quite satisfying and a bit disturbing. I can only imagine how often her perverted stepfather walked in on her multiple times while she was taking a bath for Lorelai to wish him a painful death. It’s this type of visual cues that keep the game interesting. I wanted to see her get away from that pig as far as she can with her baby sister even if it was in a dream. The entire game felt like I was going through a surrealist painting.

Strong female protagonist in video game

In the game, Lorelai dies but comes back alive to kill the Queen of Maggots. Along the way she meets interesting people. My favorite chapter has to be Chapter 2 where Lorelai goes to work as a caregiver at a nursing home. It’s a sad but funny scene. My least favorite chapter is when Lorelai tries to break the chef’s spirit at the request of the Queen of Maggots. But there’s an option to save the character as well. I only did it to get the trophy. Why not? It’s achievable and plus I like to extract everything I can from a game.

Strong female lead in video game

Overall, I enjoyed this game. It’s like diving into a friend’s mind and having a personal conversation with someone who knows what it is like to struggle in life. Someone honest and not overly optimistic about living in the clouds (I have nothing against girls in mech suits like in Sakura Wars, it’s just a matter of taste). Someone who can pick herself up and laugh at reality and all of its ugliness because the world is filled with routines and uncertainties. Lorelai is that game. It’s horrifically funny while at the same time adventurous, uncomfortably depressing, but nonetheless charming. There’s plenty of humor mixed with horror and a bit of romance in this game. Just my cup of tea, and hope it would be yours as well.

A survival horror game

Remothered:Tormented Fathers Review

So, these past few days I have been playing some indie games, trying to give the smaller titles a chance to be recognized. Plus, I sort of got addicted to browsing games on Steam and added a few games to my Wish List. I will tell you what I find at a later time. For this post, I want to write a critical review on Remothered: Tormented Fathers, developed by Stormind Games, and published by Darril Arts, released in 2018. I enjoyed the game very much.

I bought this game a couple of years ago. It was one of the first games I bought on Steam but never got around to playing it. At the time, I recently had purchased a new laptop specifically for gaming and writing. Unfortunately, my laptop is not strong enough to run the game. The game crashes two times but I managed to beat it by quitting the game frequently for it to cool down. Oh, the experience was painful and it would have been better if I were to play it on PS4. I could have purchased a copy for the PS4 as I did with Tokyo Dark (you can find my review here). Instead, I stick with the PC version, risking my laptop blowing up in my face. I am just being dramatic. Actually, I have a high tolerance for minor nuisances. Rarely do I get mad if I have a bad user experience, but I can see how this can be a glaring problem for some people.

A Classy Survival Horror Game

But let me tell you. This game is pretty intense. It’s that scary because you are being chased by a barely-naked old man who is wearing nothing but a butcher apron. The most difficult part of the game is trying to explore without being seen. Play with headphones is recommended. The sound effects are on par and intense with the sound from the Silent Hill 2 game. Don’t think about lowering the volume because you would need to listen to the psychopath’s footsteps and his humming of Old MacDonald had a farm song, which ties into the story. It’s like a game of stealth and hides and seeks, which I really enjoy. Apparently, the little girl in me never dies. I like to hide and seek games horror style. I even found myself starting to sing along with the psychopath:

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a lamb
E-I-E-I-O
With a baa baa here
And a baa baa there
Here a baa, there a baa
Everywhere a baa baa
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Lyrics source: Musixmatch

If you enjoyed the Clock Tower series for the PlayStation, you will appreciate this game. The difference is you play as a strong, professional woman in her 30s by the name of Rosemary Reed, which I find the game to be refreshingly intelligent and classy for its kind. The balance between gameplay and story is sophisticated. It feels like a cinematic game but it’s not. A few cinematic cutscenes between the story and gameplay give me enough room to breathe without feeling overwhelmed. The story is full of suspense enough to keep me on my toes but unfortunately failed to captivate me. The plot is not very clear. I still have questions about who did what and what. Perhaps a second play-through would dispel my confusion. At times, the dialogues between characters tried to be too deep that they felt a bit staged rather than immersive. This resulted in a disconnection between me and the story. But honestly, I could care less what is happening because I grade survival horror games based on gameplay not story. If I want that experience, then I’ll just watch a horror flick as a passive observer. Still Remothered: Tormented Fathers is still a good game. The strongest point of the game is odd, its presentation. I felt like I was playing inside a film. Artistically, that’s a good thing.

Gamplay in Remothered Tormented fathers

I could drown myself inside the mansion for hours because the sound of high heels is quite soothing against the creaking floor. The lighting in this game is beautiful. There were certain shots in the game I really admire. Just look at how beautiful Dr. Reed is skipping into a nightmare in the picture below.

Classy Survival Horror Game

She is so dedicated to her job that she is willing to risk her life? She’s so brave and a tad bit crazy. But who am I to judge? I suppose I am just as crazy as she is to find her admirable. After all, I am playing a survival horror game here. Throughout the game, it was so difficult not to laugh nervously when the psychopath from the mansion kept mumbling in the background something along the line: “This place is not open to the public!” and “Are you working overtime?” Strangely, these little minor details make me appreciate the aesthetic of the game as an art piece in itself. For one, a professional eloquent woman like Dr. Reed is quite attractive. Female protagonists don’t always have to be young Barbie dolls like in Haunting Ground, a PS2 game developed by Capcom, to mesmerize the audiences. However, there were a few minor issues that were a bit of an eye sore—the protagonist’s facial animation which looked more theatrical than natural, and her internal dialogue: “This can’t be real”.  I often wonder why she was so persistent to trespass a private property in the first place only to find her desperately trying to get out of the mansion. Perhaps, I just didn’t find the plot convincing enough, or else I wouldn’t have had this question in the back of my mind. The game has potential in the story department and the pacing of the game could have been extended. So, it wouldn’t feel like the player rushed into a nightmare—only to want out as soon as possible.

Gameplay-wise, the game is pretty straightforward. The horror takes place in the mansion and if you follow a guide, you can beat the game in 1 or 2 hours. Running time is similar to that of a film. But quite frankly, I am not against it. It took me over 10 hours to complete the entire game because of trials and errors and obtaining all trophies. My only big complaint about the game is that the gaming mechanics can be quite frustrating sometimes. Do expect to die frequently. I rarely use any of the diversion items in the game, which are supposed to distract the psychopath. Perhaps, it’s my fault that I couldn’t read the in-game description correctly, but I just had no time to read or learn how it works when I am busy trying to run and hide from my pursuer! The entire structure of the game revolves around hiding and seek and some QTEs (quick time events) which can be frustrating for those who don’t have high reflexes. Some gamers are dissuaded from continuing the game when they keep seeing the Game Over screen as opposed to someone who sees it as a challenge. Luckily, this game doesn’t acknowledge the player’s failure, it just reloads from the last autosaved saving point. Finally, while hide and seek is the main gameplay concept, I find it a bit annoying that the enemy seems to appear from one place to the next conveniently. Players would naturally assume, it takes a certain amount of time to walk from point A to point B. Apparently, the enemy doesn’t follow the same physics rules; I don’t believe it’s the game’s intention to make the enemy a supernatural being either. There were times when I would hide in the closet, waiting for the area to be clear of the enemy, but it always seemed like the enemy was nearby no matter what floor I was on in the mansion. When it comes to technical aspects, it needs some work, however, for the most part, the game’s concept is great!

I remember now why the game started with Dr. Reed smoking. Smoke while you can because you are going to be underwater for quite some time until you get another break!

Dr. Reed smoking in survival horror game Redmothered: Tormented Fathers

Overall, the game is good. The concept is intelligent. As a survival horror game fan, I enjoyed it and wish I had a physical copy of the game to put beside my collection of horror games, which sadly, aren’t many. Finally, I will tell you why I enjoyed this game, after all I am a bit of a wordsmith: Dr. Felton, the psychopath in this game is pretty sick. He’s a sickle. Get it? A sicko. And to his question, “Is it really worth it to put yourself into this story? No, but I am grateful it’s only a video game and it was fun! Now, I will go back to singing Old MacDonald had a farm song and go to bed happily because I found myself a good survival horror game to play.

fishingformetaphors in survival horror game
Leanne from Resonance of Fate

Halsdoll’s Progress Report Card (Video Game & Book Backlogs)

Well, I finally got Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin out of my system. I beat it. It was fun exploring each stage and now I’m all shackled up and become one with the dark. I feel so accomplished–not really because I enjoyed the fairy-tale world atmosphere to part with it. It’s been a great companion for so long. On the bright side, I can start jumping into new games without feeling as if I have forgotten to do something important.

I beat DS2
I finally sit on a throne. It’s not all that comfortable….apparently.
I beat Ds2!!
Hurray!! I am the queen of darkness!

I’m also proud to say I finished Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. I felt as if I ran a Harry Potter Marathon. Two more books to go until I finish the main series. I tell myself I need a bit of a break from the series to process everything I read but found myself starting on the 6th book after just taking one day from reading. Surely, I will write down my thoughts in the upcoming future on the Order of Phoenix. So expect that. Just in case, new folks happen to land on my blog and who is also Harry Potter fan (hi, hello nice to meet you!), please check out my previous Harry Potter posts:

As for video game backlogs, I really am trying to give Sakura Wars a chance even though typically I am not into dating games. I am now on Chapter 3. Checking Howlongtobeat.com website helped me prioritize what games I want to tackle first even though I did say I tried not to make a list. And yet, with Elden Ring lurking around the corner (I’m writing this on the 24th, it comes out on the 25th), I feel as if a chunk of my time for games will be focused on Elden Ring. This means I will drop Sakura Wars for the time being. Yes, if there is such thing as game-hopping like bar-hopping, (not much of a drinker or a socializer unless it’s about video games) I’m trying to find my new favorite drink (I mean game) because I am going to need a lot of booze to escape from current events which it doesn’t seem to get any better by the day.

Playing Sakura Wars
Photoshoot with the girls from Sakura Wars
Playing Sakura Wars
I told you he is like a rooster….

Well, that is it for this weekly post. So important that I had to share when there are far more serious things out there. I know, but this blog helps me stay sane. Until next time. See you!

P.S.

I know I spend a lot of time with games and speed is not my biggest strength. Why do some games grade me on my performance? Ah…..I play to escape. Making adjustments to my report on Sakura Wars made me feel better. 

Playing Sakura Wars

Halsdoll’s New Year Rant: Harry Potter, Scarlet Nexus & DS2 Scholar of the First Sin

New Year and a new start are never the cases for me. I never wait around when I want to achieve a new goal. My New Year Resolution started in December after my fiancé gave me my birthday present. This year. I want to make more time for books. It doesn’t matter if it’s a children’s book as long it got some depth, which is how I got started with the adventure to Hogwarts. Me being the curious cat picked up the book and started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone despite being unimpressed with the movie’s adaptation many years ago. That experience was also my first introduction to the title. Now, I’m more than halfway on book 3, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I intend to finish the entire series because I’m addicted to J.K. Rowling’s imagination and writing style. It made me smile a lot that I couldn’t put the book down, which explains my long absence from this blog. Perhaps, I might write each summary for each book as a writing exercise since that is what has been occupying my thoughts. I’m just so impressed with how well organized J.K. Rowling’s mind is to create such a genuine and humorous but serious world mixed with humility. Somehow the movies failed to capture it, which is why I was never a fan of the Harry Potter franchise until now. I see why all of my good friends were obsessed with it.

When it comes to games, I find that playing game back-to-back can be quite a chore. Forcing myself to conquer my backlog is not fun. Since beating Tales of Xillia, I haven’t really been eager to jump into a new game and I thought I would play Tales of Vesperia, but I changed my mind. I played a little bit of Scarlet Nexus instead. The concept of the story and gameplay is promising but feels a little bit too hip and young for my taste. I’m not feeling the characters at the moment or maybe it’s the fact the English voice dub failed to capture the character’s personality. Just not a fan of hearing people read scripts in manga-style cutscenes. Well, I didn’t mind so much in Folklore but it just seems like a lazy tactic in storytelling. Despite all of that, it may possibly have a good story. It’s BANDAI NAMCO StudiosTose after all. I can see some cool things with this game but so far it tries too hard to be cool and deep. Well, I will put it aside. I may play it. Maybe in 7 years when I decided to turn into a teenager again.

SCARLET NEXUS

For now, I find myself going back to Dark Souls 2: Scholar of the First Sin. Yes, I finally beat all the bosses in the Sunken Crown King DLC. Apparently, this time around, I just needed to step back from the game to have a fresh mindset. So here is what I learn: When playing a difficult game which required some sort of quick reflex, you have to talk mean to your opponent. “Get your ass down here! “Is the magic phrase I used in defeating the Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon and with a little help from the NPCs. At this point, I just want to complete the DLC without caring how well I kill it. Thank goodness this game does not grade me on my performance.

Telling the dragon to get its ass down here
Sinh, the Slumbering Dragon

I suppose, you just have to be a little angry to play this sort of game at the same time be calm and collective. It’s all about balance and perhaps that is why I keep coming back to the soul games. I have two more DLCs to go: Crown of the Old Iron King, and Crown of the Ivory King. I’m not kidding when I said I keep coming back to this game which I bought it back in 2015. This will be the second time I play this game. I already played it on the PS3 version which honestly, I prefer than the PS4 version which included all three DLCs. I even have the PC version (wow I didn’t know I like the game that much!). I may go into details at a later time if I feel up for it. So far, I have already clocked in over 200 hours. Talking about great gameplay value. Why would I even bother with other games at this rate? I like to see games surpass the Dark Souls franchise. It’s unlikely. As I mentioned before, once you give your soul to the game, there’s no coming back. All other games will appear lacking or petty in comparison. Souls’ game is just that rewarding and addictingly fun. Or perhaps, I just have fallen under its spell. It’s like playing inside an adventurous book and who can ask for more, especially for folks like me who love books and games? It’s the greatest combo.

I stop to read in video games…ooooh if only school was this fun, I would have paid more attention in class once upon a time…

Well, that is it for now. I will leave you folks with a tip. Apparently, being a barrel literally doesn’t hurt if you are trying to reach to the next bonfire! Whatever it takes to stay alive. Until next time~

getting close to the bonfire

Tales of Xillia for the PS3 Review: ‘We All Just Want to Live’

May contain minor spoilers. This is a story-focused structure-like essay review with some criticisms. Maybe the longest review I have ever written for this blog. I suppose it’s a nice way to end the year.

If you are a do-gooder who cares a lot about living organisms (yes, that includes destructive human beings) and you enjoy reading science college textbooks, you’re going to love this game. First off, you probably took an introduction course to biology and came across the term symbiosis. If I were, to sum up, the entire story of Tales of Xillia (developed by Namco and released 2011), that is the structure of the story of which it involves. So, despite what some professional reviewers said about this game, it’s not just another generic JRPG story saving the world. In fact, I would even argue that there’s no saving the world in this game but rather protecting it. Tales of Xillia is about how life forms help each other to exist: humans and spirits coexisting and working in harmony or humans and advanced technology called spyrites coexisting and working in harmony. I think you get the gist. In this story, there’s no real main evil villain and there’s a lot of philosophical conversation that happens among the characters, on top of the added humor. Does that sound like your cup of tea? Hey, I could always play a feel-good game in this day and age. The skits among the characters got me laughing hard; apparently, I did not view all of them as there is a trophy for it called Obsessive Skit Viewer. It is awarded to Xillia’s most dedicated couch potatoes. Wow, what a lovely way to mock your audience. You should be happy that your game is being purchased and played or else you wouldn’t have a job. The joke is on you too! I digress. Whatever happens to the concept of symbiosis that the game was so focused on preaching?

Joke aside, I did spend enough time with the game to have the characters grow on me. What I like about the characters in this game is how imperfectly admirable they are. They got a lot of evolving to do which makes them a charming bunch. Yes, that includes Milla Maxwell who is a spirit that takes the form of a 20-year-old woman and who learns that there are limitations to being a human such as hunger and emotions; Jude Mathius an indecisive med-student who cares too much and lacks direction; Elize, an orphan child who suffers from verbalizing her thoughts and thus making friends, which is why she is accompanied by a “talking toy” named Teepo; Alvin, a lonely shady mercenary who changes sides like the unpredictable weather; Rowen, an old passive, self-conscious military tactician who fails to lead; and lastly, Lei, a childhood friend of Jude who lacks femininity and grace to attract a partner and start a family of her own. They are not the ideal heroes and heroines you see in most video games and that is exactly what I like about it. In fact, they are a bit on the “special” side. In other words, they are unevolved human beings. They are characters you can sympathize with and relate with. After all, as a human being, “There’s always room for improvement,” says Rowen, the character who is often referred to as grandpa by the other characters because of his age.

In contrast to the heroes and heroines, the “villains” aren’t all as evil as they appear. What separates them from the heroes and heroines is their outlook on life. And here I will mention again, where I came to the conclusion about the plot and how I refer to symbiosis. The “good” and the “bad” guy have the same mission and that is to protect what they hold dear to them. In fact, when life forms help each other for their benefits it’s called symbiosis. One does not have to kill the other in order to survive. They just co-exist and even strengthen one another. So, it’s no surprise that the villains seem a bit one-dimensional and stiff to my liking and even laughable and unrealistic. They could have been explored a bit more. At times, I felt as if they served a purpose only to give depth to the heroes and heroines by highlighting and contrasting their weaknesses. As absurd as it sounds, the heroes and heroines can learn some useful traits from the villains such as having a clear mission in life. They are “evil” for a reason because they stay true to their conviction. For this reason, the characters are not the game’s strongest strength rather it’s the concept of symbiosis and its humor that take the spotlight in the story.

But of course, the game has more to offer than its creative storytelling. The gameplay is flashy and fun! There are enough places to explore and gather materials to enhance shops. I found it quite addictive, just collecting materials and galds (video game currency). I like how I am rewarded for unlocking more items in each shop (foods, items, accessories, weapons, armor, etc.) so I can make characters stronger in battles because the game battle system is entertainingly fun. I could easily get sucked into grinding for materials to expand these shops which may reach level 99 or 100. The furthest I got with one of the shops is level 90. I stopped there since the story is the main reason, I played the game and I already clocked in 88 hours! So here I give my 2 cents on game design: I find it ironic how the male protagonist is an honor med student. I bet he doesn’t play video games during his break because he is too busy hitting the books. If you are going to preach to your audience (which is probably your typical 20-year-old college student), you got to learn how not to slap his or her face at it. Only hardcore trophy hunters would spend hours on this game. Yeah, in life you can’t please everyone. Perhaps, you should practice what you preach and take Milla Maxwell’s route: stick to a point. As for the boss fights, they were challenging but not too difficult. There’s some strategy involved for those who like to tinker and customize their characters. And for those who just want to experience the story, the player can always select the option to optimize their character skills automatically. The only effort from the player is to mash certain buttons while in battle. Yep, this game is for you button masher! Not so difficult to learn. In fact, the gameplay is quite generous. If you failed a boss fight, it opens the battle menu for players to re-strategize the characters. I found that extremely helpful and rewarding when I do finally defeat the boss. It’s a casual game that is manageable towards the end of the day. However, the downside to the gameplay is that on your second play-through, the enemy and boss encounters can get pretty easy and boring fast until you meet the final boss, which makes me question the game’s development and its consistency. The only reason I can think of is to play the game the second time around with less effort since most players might just want to experience the story in their chosen protagonist (you can either start off the game as Milla Maxwell or Jude Mathius), and view the cinematic cutscenes and collect some materials to max out the shops for trophy purpose. The game was meant to be played twice. Regardless, I didn’t think it flow well from a player’s perspective, especially if the story is the focal point of the game.

Overall, I really did enjoy my time with this bright-colored game and its colorful casts even though it’s not a perfect seamless game, but still quite impressionable and ambitious. The greatest thing I got out of this game is the reminder that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what is our life’s mission; whether it is to protect our family, support our loved ones, make friends or lead a country, etc., it’s important to stick to a mission and not waver. You can say that is a form of strength. At the end of it all, we fight because “We all just want to live,” I quoted Jude, the main male protagonist. From a gamer to another gamer, I highly recommend this game to any JRPG fan.

Ice Stages are the coolest in video games

My Video Game Shopping List: More JRPG Games

Looking back this year, all I played are RPG games, and going forward I will continue to play lengthy games that require big-time investment. There’s something addictive about it, especially when you started learning and appreciating the battle system of the game on top of great storytelling.

So far, I have put in 49 plus hours in Tales of Xillia. And just finished the game as Mila Maxwell. I have yet to play Jude Mathius’ route. Yes, you can select either one to complete the story. The replay value is great for gamers who want to get the most out of their money. I remember I only spent 20 dollars on the limited edition which came with an artbook and a soundtrack which is so cool because these days we don’t get an artbook or a video game instruction pamphlet anymore.

Like books, I do feel accomplished for beating a great game. And will probably look into other Tales games afterward. Its cinematic cut scenes are high quality and refreshing. I found myself sometimes just watching the opening trailer over and over before hitting the Continue button. Games like this reminded me of why I started hunting for quality games in the first place. Will give Tales of Xillia a proper review at a later time.

So here are three games in my shopping cart:

1) Sakura Wars

Videogame shopping list

Out of pure curiosity, I want to see what the hype is all about. A few random gamers on Twitter kept praising the game saying how it missed the radar. You know how fanatic gamers can get defensive about their games. It’s like religion. So, being the skeptic that I am, I want to play the game for myself. Then I can make the decision and write it on my blog because I’m a passionate gamer and I don’t have anything else better to do such as wasting time on social media! Oh wait, I think I am a hypocrite. I did hear about the game on Twitter where busy adult gamers randomly tweet video game stuff.

2) Neo: The World Ends With You

video game shopping list

My brother told me about this game and anything brother likes is most likely good. In fact, I used to go to him for video game recommendations and it never fails. So, this one is going on my backlog once I purchase it! Plus, according to an article, I read recently, it didn’t sell well. I’m all for advocating for niche games so they are definitely getting my business.

3) Tales of Arise

Well…no mystery here. I actually enjoy the Tales series and appreciate quality games so I know the chance of being disappointed is slim. Unless, the series becomes like Dynasty Warrior games, then I might get tired eventually. Right now, a good story and some pretty visual gameplay that are manageable are what I’m looking for. Games like Elder Ring can wait. I’m just not in the mood for another soul-like game. All thanks to the git gud fan base. I still have not completed Dark Souls II DLCs. It is a shame because I love Fromsoftware as a game developer. They produce some high-quality games for sure. But like any business, you got to cater to your customers to keep them coming back, and sometimes that’s not always good for developers and gaming enthusiasts.

Yes, I know it’s all PS4. I am not in rush to buy PS5 and I am a PlayStation fan. It’s really all about the innovation and the story for me more than the competitive play. It just happens that the PlayStation console wins my time.

Well, that’s it for now. I know I am a little late, and a little tardy as I normally post on Mondays. I am only human. Hope you found something interesting on this list!

Fun adventure Horror game

The Cat Lady PC Game Review (2012): Great Game to Play to Beat the Blues

Sometimes great games are not always pleasing to look at. The characters in this game have long limbs and are colorless and tend to look like a man even though it’s meant to be a woman. How do I know? The voice dub gives it away. Also, the background in this game is unflattering. Solid colors such as black and blue can be quite boring for someone who is used to pretty vibrant games. He or she may pass on it because it’s not cute enough. Well, I almost did!

This game is great and what is even more shocking is that I bought the game for $1.99 (on sale) and had a very good time with it! You can call Cat Lady, a point-n-click adventure game. It was developed by Harvester Games and published by Screen 7. What intrigued me to pick up this game? Well, it was the game description:

The Cat Lady follows Susan Ashworth, a lonely 40-year-old on the verge of suicide. She has no family, no friends, and no hope for a better future. One day she discovers that five strangers will come along and change everything.

Game description from Steam

Back in 2019 when I was browsing games, I was on the verge of becoming a Cat Lady myself or more like a homeless cat roaming the streets downtown, feeding off of dead mice found in the dumpster. Okay, I’m exaggerating; however, the city life did sort of affect my mood. Mental illness and homelessness are growing problems in Seattle that I thought I might go insane myself eventually. There were multiple times when walking in the city felt like walking into a horror game. It was not uncommon to watch the mentally ill yelling out in the streets to themselves or doing drugs out in the open. My last incident was when a homeless woman started following me to my apartment and yelled at me to get out of the country (I am Asian-American. I am used to it). So even before social isolation, I stayed indoor most of the time and I often wonder if was I to become a cat lady myself. It’s not so bad if you’re an introvert. I will rather be alone than participate in the chaos outside my door. So, The Cat Lady was purchased out of pure curiosity. Why is Sudan Ashworth suicidal?

For such a serious topic as suicide, I was pleasantly surprised that I found myself laughing more than being scared. This game is packed with dark humor. Yes, the game is depressing and the gore is a bit unnecessary for those who have a weak stomach like me, but I found that the adventure, the dialogues, and the pacing of the game make up for it. Plus, the soundtrack and the voice acting are great. It got that English vibe. Give this game a try if you enjoy dark humor. It’s a good friend to those who literally suffer from depression.

3 Admirable Female Video Game Characters (My List)

People admire the strength and expect to see it in video games but strength is typically associated with men. Well, we all know that women are great. It’s 2021, right? Then why are we still debating about gender roles? I don’t know, but I see a more and more strong female lead like Aloy from Horizon (2017) developed by Guerrilla Games in the media. She looks realistically fit for the role. She looks strong. Hurray, for female representation and to all the feminists!

Seriously though what is strength? Strong will? Defiance? Bold? Does inner strength count? I believe so. So, if you don’t have prominent features, that’s okay. Strength comes in different shapes and sizes.

Generally, I like female characters. A lot of them. Given the chance, I rather play as a female than a male because I think women are cool. The following characters I am about to list have more masculine traits than feminine but that’s because princesses don’t take action in video games, but princesses are cool too if they are given a voice (Sorry otome games don’t count because it’s not my cup of tea).

Here is my 3-list of cool girls!

Aya Brea from Parasite EVE

Aya Brea

One of my favorite female characters that many female gamers will mostly find agreeable is Aya Brea. Her fashion sense is quite simple: plain white t-shirt, leather jacket (she wears a jacket in the game) and jeans. There is an air of coolness to her. She holds a gun and she is not afraid to face danger. That’s how the game started when her date didn’t turn out well at the Opera show. It’s fun to explore and play a detective who doesn’t have a sport-illustrated body like Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. When I was a teen, I looked up to Aya Brea, thinking that’s the type of woman I want to be, the one who takes action and makes things happen. It gave a puny stick-figure teenage girl like myself a chance to daydream of becoming strong once upon a time. But definitely not with a gun–with a pen or a keyboard. That’s how I get my point across.

#2 Lucatiel of Mirrah from DARK SOULS II

Lucatiel of Mirrah

What’s so admirable about her? She is a very skilled fighter who eventually lost sight of why she wielded the sword. She came from an unprivileged social status and had to carve her way to make a name for herself just like all the nameless heroes (Dark Souls players) that walk into the fog in search of an answer. She is often seen alone. Well, most NPCs are alone in the Dark Souls universe and perhaps that’s why I like her. I can’t give enough respect to women who pick themselves up from the bottom and make a name for themselves. On top of that, I like loners because some of us just work better alone.

Last but not least!!!

#1 Xiuying Hong from SHENMUE II also known as Lishao Tao

Xiuying Hong

What do I like about her? A woman of few words who gets her point across through actions. She is not only strong physically but mentally. At age 26, (she reminds me more of a 40-year-old), she is in charge of the Man Mo Temple in Scarlet Hills. In the game, she serves as a guardian to Ryo Hazuki, the main character who is bent on avenging his father’s death. She taught him to slow down by making him catch leaves and carry books. The purpose is to distract him from thinking about his bloodthirsty revenge that would only turn him into a murderer himself which is to find Lan Di and kill him. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of thinking, which makes her the most admirable female video game character in my book.

Wise words from Shenmue II

Since I’m currently playing Tales of Xilla and I have been enjoying it, I would like to throw in an honorable mention: Milla Maxwell is now one of my admirable video game female characters.

Why do I like her? Not only is she beautiful, she firmly believes in protecting humans and spirits. Plus, she spends all her time studying humans and the world in her shrine so she can protect them. Now, that is a goddess and a character I admire. I love her godly determination.

Well, that pretty much sums up my 3-list post for the week. Until next time, I hope you enjoy this list.