Tag Archives: ps4

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.

Dark Souls 2 Scholar of the First Sin Rant: Crown of the Sunken King (Part II)

The boss fight in this DLC is shit. I said it and I’m not polite about it. In fact, the DLC is not mage friendly. I had to reallocate my stats to equip the right weapon to defeat Elana the Squalid Queen. Finally beat her after pulling a few hair strands from my head (don’t worry it will grow back. I hope!).

What was my tactic? Well, I farmed at Lair of the Imperfect bonfire for Petrified Dragon Bone to upgrade the Drakeblood Greatsword to +5. The beasts down there drop about 1700 souls. However, equipping Covetous Silver Serpent Ring will yield more souls. I used the extra souls to level up STR (strength) and DEX (dexterity). Summoned 2 NPCs for the boss fight. One died in the name of being a tank. Equipped gear with high dark magic defense. Regardless, no easy battle, and we did it! I mean me and my imaginary friends. But I sure feel like a noob in this area.

Was Squalid a fair fight? Can't Say
We did it!

My character is currently level 157. Yes, way too high (haven’t beat the game yet). Got side tracked tinkering things around. Then I realized I’m not making progress. I learned it’s not so much about strategy or timing at this level. The enemies just have high defense. There is a mob of them purposely gaining up on you and mind you better have high resistance to poison. This DLC is purposely hard for hard sake and I don’t really like it.

Trying to get to the Cave of the Dead Bosses Fight
Trying to get down to the boss fight

If you have played Dark Souls II on PS3 and did not purchase the DLC, I would just leave it as it is when the credits start rolling unless you are into the lore and playing for difficulty’s sake. I like to make progress and not get stalled and mainly play this game for artistic exploration. You know like opening an adventure book and reading it except my imagination is limited so I need real visuals to appreciate the fantasy. Dark Souls franchise hit the spot for me. Sadly, I am going to put this game aside even though I have two more DLCs to clear. But then…the ice levels are always my favorite in video games. I can’t just move on. Just look how cool it is. My inner child is beckoning me to come to play with her. So, I just can’t say GOODBYE!!!

Halsdoll Gaming Rant

Dark Souls II Rant: Crown of the Sunken King (DLC)

Where to start..so difficult. How many times have I died? Am I making progress? Yes. 3 weeks later! I finally reached 2 out of 3 boss fights within this DLC but have not beaten any of them. The stage design is what got me so addicted to Dark Souls franchise in the first place which came out 10 years ago (Sep. 22, 2011, and I am writing this post on the 23rd)! Wow just look at how time flies. Or maybe I’m just a big fan of nameless heroes/heroines who eventually come up on top through trial and error because the mysterious nobody always makes an interesting story: Let’s see how long I’m benevolent and fit to rule until I turn Hollow. The curse of want and wanting is pretty strong. Although I must say, it’s not the throne I’m after. I simply just like obtaining those hard-to-reach items.

I jump, I slip, I die for a useless torch…com’on! As the saying goes, curiosity killed the cat.

It’s a fair sadistic game, or is it? Blame the tagline Prepare to Die which attracted people to the game. No not me. I picked up the franchisebecause I love FromSoftware games!!! I told myself after beating Dark Souls back in 2011, I don’t want to invest any more of my time with the franchise. And then on Dark Soul II release day, I bought it in a flash. I simply couldn’t resist. Quality games matter and I know I wouldn’t be disappointed. The game was manageable and quiet to my liking as expected (yes I said quiet and not quite but I was, in fact, thinking both when I wrote the sentence. Dark Souls II ps3 version is quite melancholically quiet). Dark souls II Scholar of the First Sin, on the other hand, is an uphill battle on purpose. Not so cool, I think. But marketing sure brings in the doe. The DLC that comes with this version is difficult and the time invested in it might not be worth it. I spent enough time in it to want to set it aside, but I probably will be back to my abusive lover. I always come back. There are other games waiting in line to be played but not many are seamlessly fun in terms of stage design and boss fights which is why I stick around with this franchise and once you give your soul to the game there is no turning back (I sound so evil). I thought of reallocating my stats to be a pure muscle head (a.k.a. strength built) because the enemies in this stage have a high magic defense. Maybe a whack in the face with a hammer as big as my character will do. I have been relying a bit on backstabbing with the mace and have gotten pretty good at it, naturally. I mean so typical of a girl to play mage…actually, nope I just thought it was cool to play mage since I rarely play a mage in RPGs. Then again, it’s rare since the closes MMORPG games I’ve played were WKC (White Knight Chronicles) and DCUO (DC Universe Online). I played them briefly when I learned that socializing is just not my cup of tea unless we are dealing with serious business such as slaying the beast!

So far, this stage has been a painful exploration and now I must defeat Elana the Squalid Queen, who is prettily enchanting with her sparkly golden helpers. Can’t say it’s a fair fight from whose end? Well, you see player has the option to summon two NPCs but at the expense of the boss’s defense increases. I could just summon one NPC and it does some damage but regardless the boss fight is not easy. Two against one is never easy because I’m still pathetically weak. Maybe it’s time to take off the high heel shoes and wear combat boots instead (No…it has a high dark defense which is what I’m up against). Midway, I find myself dodging and rolling from getting attacked, and then, in the end, I grew tired and die.

Let’s just put this aside for now. Yakuza 0 deserves some attention. I feel like a beat em game at the moment. Maybe I just need a punching bag game that will allow me to win for a change. Then again, I just can’t focus on other games unless I beat this one! Oh, the woe of being cursed by a video game!

Halsdoll gaming rant

Dark Souls II Rant: Rings and the Test of Patience

The title to this post sounds as if I’m a nagging, impatient girlfriend who is expecting a ring on her finger but her boyfriend is too busy playing games. Well, I’m not talking about the relationship between two human beings. I’m talking about my relationship with Dark Souls II Scholar of the First Sin, the game I keep going back to unwind. It’s the perfect melancholic companion who’s a bit difficult to get through but very rewarding once you explore all its treacherous paths, including the hidden rooms behind the walls. They are the best because we know treasures lie ahead! As choppy as it feels compared to the first, it’s definitely not seamlessly integrated as Dark Souls in terms of the stage design, but the ambiance atmosphere is strangely therapeutic and I sort of prefer it over the first. It does wonder to the senses with its fairytale-like atmosphere. After all, don’t we girls just love fairytales?

I’m beginning to sound like an undead to call the soul’s universe an alluringly safe place to unwind. No wonder people called us DARK SOULS lovers machoistic. At the moment, I am currently hunting down and testing out rings because I want to be with my abusive lover (Dark Souls II) forever. No, I’m just being sarcastic. So far, Ring of Life Protection is my favorite because I like to remain in human form.

You can equip 4 rings, but would it have made more sense with 5. Weren’t we all born with 5 fingers?

Let me get you some backstory as to why I keep going back to my abusive lover, Dark Souls II. Not too long ago I defeated Dragon Quest XI, which is a big accomplishment for me considering that it takes me ages to play games I purchased on a whim. As I was working on clearing my backlog, I went back to Silver Case but got annoyed fast with its dark theme. Unlike Souls games, it’s hopelessly depressing with no warmth in sight. Plus, too much swearing doesn’t make characters appear tough; they just seem stupid. There was also a hint of misogyny which ruined the entire experience for me.

Halsdoll Playin
If I am going to be a piece of dead meat then I’m going to go to do it in the Souls universe not in Silver Case (thanks Nairdalex for the photo edit).

Now I have been playing Dark Souls II without caring too much about beating it in a timely matter so I can move on to the next game on my list. Despite what people say, it’s the perfect game for me to unwind. I like the quietness. Music in a video game is unnecessary. Listening to my character’s footsteps echoing in the hallway and the sound of crashing and clinking of my weapons sounds more relaxing, oddly. I can hear the wind so I think I feel the wind touching my skin. I hear the waves splashing onto the shore and that makes me feel calm. I just like exploring its universe in the comfort of my home.

Currently, as I am writing this post, I am at Huntsman’s Copse, preparing for a boss fight against the Executioner’s Chariot. Even though it’s optional, I still want to clear the area just for the sake of it. I walked the same path over and over multiple times by now and it feels less dangerous.

Annoying sadists crossing my path to the Executioner's Chariot
Annoying sadists preventing me from defeating its boss, the Executioner’s Chariot

I am progressively becoming better each time I enter the boss fight because of familiarity. I learned where to spot the annoying Necromancer black mages that keep spawning skeletons. Keep calm and focus and with a little luck, I won’t feel so overwhelmed by a mob of skeletons. Once I clear them away, the boss is not difficult at all. It is just the environment and the circumstance that is making it difficult. And that is what keeps me coming back to Dark Souls II. It’s hard but achievable.

P.S

I beat the Executioner Chariot! Persistence and patience on top of learning where enemies spawn and timing helped me defeat this optional boss! Now I can boast, I did it!

Tokyo Dark: Decent but Missed the Mark

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184111

Okay, I think I was rather harsh with my assessment of what I think about Tokyo Dark, an adventure point and click horror video game created by Cherrymochi. I deleted my old post which I titled Tokyo Dark: Too Political It Will Make the Old Fat Pervert Cry, pointing out how the game lacks depth. But I must say the game is not as bad as I make it out to be. It’s a decent game, but definitely not mind blowing.

What irks me about the game is the fact that Ayami Ito, the protagonist, is a “strong” weak woman. She is tough on the outside, but unstable in the inside. It’s no surprise that she has to take medicine to cope with her mental health, apart being possessed by a mysterious mask. She so desperately cannot live without her partner to the point she chases after him into the sewer. Strong woman? Sounds like a damsel to me. She cannot survive without a man. The game is sending the wrong message to young girls and women.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184139

Losing a love one is never easy. I get it. I too had to take anti-depressant pills when I loss not only my mom but a sister two years ago. With time though, you become emotionally stronger, not crazier as this game suggested. Mental illness is no laughing matter. Making a scary game based on mental illness is a touchy subject for me so that is why I am harsh with this game.

As I said before in my deleted post, the game is like a pretty face makeup Youtuber who makes a living looking pretty, but having no real depth. While playing the game, I forget I am playing a horror video game as the game focused so much on how hard it is to be a girl in a man’s world. We all know perverts love young girls, especially in maid outfit. But how do you expect to gain revenue if you disrespect your customers? Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see that the OLD FAT PERVERT got arrested in the game.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703180203

At the same time, perverts come in all shapes and sizes. The ones that young girls should be weary of is the seemingly nice guy who lures young girls into having sex with him, or what is worse is a woman who gained the trust of young girls and then turned them over to sex trade. Now that is a horror story in itself!

There are plenty of other horror games I enjoyed such as Nightcry and Cat Lady which have stronger message about not giving up in life. Tokyo Dark tried so hard that it missed the mark.

I’m not a mean person, so I will leave this post on a positive note: one thing the game got right is that in life, it’s better to laugh than to cry.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703183934

P.S

If you are a young woman reading this. Stay strong. Be strong. Know your worth. You don’t need men to save you. Only you can save yourself when it comes to your mental health.

I’m Not A Pervert! It’s the Developer’s Fault!

Even though, I have no intention of becoming a game designer or create my own games, I find it quite fascinating to learn about the thought process behind it.  The whole creativity process  is not so different from the way I approach to songwriting, which is something I do as a creative outlet.

Yesterday, my friend visited me and wanted to watch me play games so I picked Virtue’s Last Reward (PS4 version) of all the games because I find this game quite relaxing to play on a lazy evening.  As my friend and I were solving puzzles together, one particular part stood out to me: the pinned photo.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games_20180407171828

In this section,  I understand the importance of creativity in games.  In the Crew Quarters, there are four rooms, which contain four lockers. I have to find all the passwords in order to unlock the lockers.  In one of the rooms, I was given a coin, after entering the right set of numbers to a locker.  The coin is used to scratch off the woman’s clothes which reveal a different set of numbers to a password for a different locker in a different room. At that moment, I was thinking, indeed,  I’m playing a scratch lottery ticket.  As I was so focused on scratching off her clothes, my friend, (who is a prim and proper type of gal) looked at me and accused me of being a pervert.  In my mind, I was just trying to find all clues so we can progress in the game.  Even though, I am not a guy and can never understand what’s so appealing about half naked women, the experience was exciting as I was one step closer to solving the mystery underneath her clothes. To my surprise, the numbers were never underneath her clothes, they were located on her arms and legs!   It was then, I realized a great game is highly creative and has the ability to engage the player against his or her own will on a subconscious level.  I say this because I am not a gambler or a pervert, but I was lured and trapped into the developer’s craft.  And strangely, it put a smile on my face and made me laugh.

After completing this section in Virtue’s Last Reward,  I realized that authenticity is important to creativity, which is the intent to create and capture the audience. In some ways, I think developers should have more control over the medium and listen less to the consumers, but please be mindful.  Honestly, I  don’t think consumers know what they really want. They just want to play a good game.  Lastly, I want to make an argument that a game is a game, a medium to itself.  All the fancy stuff such as the art and music only enhance the overall experience and bring it to life.

P.S

[To my friend if you are reading this] Sorry this was supposed to be a secret between you and me that we found ourselves playing a pervy game, but it was a lot of fun solving the puzzle together.