#445: The Vein

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Though I’ve never played Code Vein before, I know a decent amount about it because of my friends who have played it a lot. Earlier today, the day that I’m writing this, my friends were still playing Code Vein into the morning when I woke up at 6:40am. They were doing their thing, playing the game and beating all the available levels and bosses in front of them, and I was just getting ready for work. It almost felt surreal to see them still online, still talking to each other for almost 14 hours straight. I felt exhausted after only one hour of talking at a time, because it gets exhausting not being within my own head space for awhile. I know that probably sounds a bit selfish, but what it really is is just that I am the kind of person who prefers total peace of mind. I try not to stir the pot or make things worse for anyone, but I also like being within my own head, if that makes sense.

But again, this post is about Code Vein, which seems to be a Dark Souls-like game that features action elements and companion-style combat. It’s like Monster Hunter if the palico was actually really useful and helpful, beyond just providing buffs and healing from time to time.

But really, it was great to listen to people talk about their game while I was driving to work. It felt totally normal to hear them and chat with them, and continue the conversation that had started before I went to bed. It felt completely natural to move from one right to the other. And it kept me busy during the drive, which is great because usually I’m just listening to music or something else to keep my brain occupied. It’s wonderful.

#413: The Hollow

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I’m currently listening to the soundtrack to Hollow Knight: Silksong, a sequel video game that’s set to come out sometime next year. It’s going to be a huge hit, as the first one was, and I’m really looking forward to its release even though I never beat the first one. Why, you might ask? Well, one of the reasons honestly is because of the soundtrack. It’s gorgeous, and the melodies could drift you off to sleep if you’re not careful while listening. They’re soothing and luring, like a bedtime ritual.

I might have already made a post about Hollow Knight before, now that I think about it. I guess it just has really left an impression on me in the short time I’ve spent playing it. It stays with you even though the game isn’t necessarily that long. It’s perfect in small doses, playing from time to time and dipping in and out as you find the inclination or motivation to play it. Games that allow you to do that without losing progress or anything like that are exceptional in their own ways. They’re worth playing by virtue of the fact that they’re replayable. Hollow Knight is certainly an example of this, and it’s a blast to play because of that.

One thing about Monster Hunter World that would take some getting used to is all the controls for each of the individual weapons over time. It would be difficult to get back into the game if I took an extended break from it, which is why I usually end up playing at least some Monster Hunter when I can. It’s a fun game no matter how you slice it, but it’s definitely the kind of game that’s difficult to pick up and put down without committing a sizable chunk of time to it.

#408: The Deathmatch, Part 2

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So, gonna continue talking about the deathmatch format for another blog post because I’m just so jazzed about it, I couldn’t fit everything into just one post. It’s just that interesting for me to write about! Hopefully it has the same effect reading it as it does writing it.

So, participating in deathmatch games is always high-stakes. Your deaths directly contribute to the enemy team winning the game, and even if you’re carrying the team on your back with your amazing kill streak and combo moves, it won’t matter one bit if the rest of your team is slacking off. Now, that is to say that playing in the deathmatch format gives you more leeway to carry than say in the objective-based format. You actually have the opportunity to contribute to the score that wins the game for you, instead of having to push the payload in one direction for awhile.

I’ve played deathmatch games for as long as I can remember. When I first played Halo 3, for example, I was hugely into Team Slayer, which was essentially the same thing as Team Deathmatch. It involves picking up weapons throughout the map and letting them dictate how well you do in that mode. I also played deathmatch games in Call of Duty, specifically the Modern Warfare series and the first two games of that.

Nowadays, I play deathmatch mostly in Overwatch. It’s a game mode that’s sometimes available in the arcade, if I get lucky and log in at around the right time of the day for it to be available. It’s not always an option, which sucks.

I also went back to Halo: Reach again recently and that has Team Slayer as well, so it feels like going back home in some ways. Like I’m reverting to an old past.

#407: The Deathmatch, Part 1

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This blog post is going to be about deathmatch as a game mode.

Whenever I’ve played first-person shooter games, I’ve always gravitated away from the objective-based formats and more towards deathmatch fights. Here’s the major difference: objective formats have you work as a team to push a payload, capture a point, or hold a certain amount of ground, whereas deathmatch formats deal with killing the other team a certain amount of times to reach the end goal of 30, 40, 50, etc. It’s more exciting, in my opinion, and it allows for more relaxed, quick gameplay when you’re just focused on fragging your opponents and not so much on whether or not the payload is being pushed correctly.

This isn’t to say that those formats and game modes aren’t fun; they have their uses too. I like when I’m queued with a specific team and we go into battle together, as it means we’ll actually focus on the objective rather than if there was someone random on the team who might not focus on it at all. That tends to happen more often than not, and it leads to frustrating games. In deathmatch, the objective is so obvious that everyone is naturally doing it anyway: killing the enemy team is easy, fun, and quick.

Now, there are different ways of playing deathmatch. There’s the team deathmatch format, which involves teams of four or six people working together to take down the enemy team’s score, or there’s free for all deathmatch, in which you have to do it all by yourself. I don’t know if I have one I prefer over the other, but I’ve definitely put more time into free for all, if I’m being honest. That’s because it’s available more often on Overwatch, but that’s besides the point. It’s also just very fun.

#386: The Kombat

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Mortal Kombat is a well-known fighting game series with over a dozen iterations over the years. It’s become known primarily for its gruesome, over-the-top and bloody finishers, fatalities, brutalities, and the like. It’s the type of game that’s not for the faint of heart. Some of the fatalities in this game are so gory that it’s completely beyond normalcy.

I love the game so far, though. It’s been a blast to run around and beat people up with flaming nunchucks and fireballs and icicle spears. The variety of weapons and tools of destruction in this game has been amazing. I remember showing this to Alex, my girlfriend, and assuming immediately that she would like it because of how grotesque and ridiculous the fighting looks in this game. Needless to say, she loved it from the first few videos I showed her, and she watched later that night as my friend Alex and I played more of Mortal Kombat 11.

As Alex and I played the game, it became evident that neither of us really knew how to play that well. We just started off by button mashing and using sporadic combos when they applied, but after awhile, things started to click a bit better. We spent time looking through the menus instead of blindly pressing buttons here and there. The game made sense, and all of its systems worked together finally. We ended up trading wins back and forth, and I started using Liu Kang more often. I’m becoming a fan.

Also, in case you were wondering, I titled this post “The Kombat” because in the game, almost all of the examples of the letter c are replaced with k for some reason. It’s a stylistic choice, but if you’re unfamiliar with the series and its idiosyncrasies, it might come as a bit of surprise.

#384: The Dice, Part 1

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After a crazy adventure into the world of Dungeons & Dragons this past Wednesday, a group of the students I play with asked me if they could borrow the dice we use so that they could play D&D over the weekend with each other. While I have no idea how that’s going to happen without a DM who’s familiar with the rules (these kids didn’t know about spell slots until our last meeting), I still believe in their creativity and imagination. These are kids who absolutely love imagining worlds in their heads, and they love playing games, and they love winning. Even though D&D isn’t the type of game that you can actually win, people will still try to win by rolling really high on the dice for each roll.

Since the Dungeons & Dragons club has begun, it’s consistently been one of the highlights of my work week. I’m able to channel my creative juices into some meaningful work, and I get the chance to interact with some of the students I teach in a less formal setting, where they are free to cast ridiculous spells and do ridiculous things.

As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog before, I’m not the kind of person who’s strict about the rules of D&D. It’s made me forget, sometimes, the appropriate thing to do when playing, but I fudge them a bit and it ends up working out fine. The real problem is when kids ask me a question about something I wish I knew but I don’t actually know too well. In those cases, I just have to give up and admit defeat. As a teacher, it’s always better to be honest than to pretend you know something, as kids see through dishonesty very easily. It’s just in their nature.

#382: The Review

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Here’s a question I’ve thought about but haven’t come to an answer yet. Should I review games more professionally? Like, as an actual game reviewer, rather than just talking about them briefly and then casting them aside in a blog post to be remembered possibly years later?

I’ve thought about this before, but it’s never really resonated the most with me. I think part of the reason for that is because of how toxic the community involving game reviews can be. It’s not like if I put out a score, everyone in the world is going to throw down and attack me, but it’s more like, scoring something naturally invites opposing viewpoints and criticism. I don’t know if I’m necessarily looking forward to that aspect of reviewing.

When I first started writing opinion articles for Quad News in college, I did so under the impression that not many people were reading them, if at all. When I finally got my first comment on a post, it was overwhelmingly negative and contested the ideas I was positing completely. I felt like I was being personally attacked by the comment, even though it wasn’t necessarily directed at me more than it was directed at what I was saying. There is, of course, a difference between all of these things. Opinion articles aren’t the same as video game reviews, but they all depend on the premise of writing about your personal experience. Your experience can’t be wrong, and it can be different from other people, but people like to argue and nitpick and contest things for the very sake of it. Diving into that kind of professional work might prove to be too much of a task for me, but I’m interested in exploring it regardless, as a way of branching out my writing even more.

#378: The Shield, Part 2

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Here I’ll be continuing my blog about the newest Pokemon game, Pokemon Shield. I didn’t buy the double pack or the Sword edition this time, as it felt appropriate to just stick with one for now. Also, if you haven’t read the previous blog post, you might want to, just so that this one makes more sense to you. I’ll be jumping right into it.

So, another great thing about the new games is the addition of gym battles taking place in stadiums. I feel like the battles are so much more triumphant and interesting now that they’re these huge spectacles, with chanting fans and blasting music all over the place. It definitely captures the sense of a huge battle going on, and I love the atmosphere that’s created by it. I definitely endorse this game so far as being a great purchase, and I can’t wait for Alex to get the chance to play it too. She’s currently in the middle of playing Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has been a blast too.

Another great thing about the new game is all the modern conveniences added to it. Exp share is automatic now, which I know some people aren’t a huge fan of, but I love the ability to just level without having to swap my Pokemon around in the middle of a battle. It saves so much time and effort now. There’s also the Pokemon Camp, which I haven’t explored that much of yet, but it’s been nice to just interact with my little Pokemon without having to be in the middle of a huge battle. It makes playing the game seem less like a chore and more like an adventure with all these options around. I definitely support this game now that I’ve played it myself and gotten caught in all the hype.

#377: The Shield, Part 1

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So, time to talk extensively about the new Pokemon game. I know I mentioned it a bit in the previous blog post, but it’s time I actually dive into why it’s meaningful to me and how great it’s been to experience it online.

Being the kind of person who’s put himself on the Internet recently, I know for a fact how widespread the controversy involving this game has been. Half of my timeline seems to hate it, while the other half seems to really be enjoying their time with it. So many people seem to be divided on this game, mostly because of the Dex cut and some of the graphical issues going on with it. However, I’ve still been having fun with the game in spite of those issues. It’s been a blast to experience Pokemon on the big screen, and with updated graphics. The graphics aren’t outstanding, but I don’t usually play Nintendo games for those anyway. I’m here for a good time, more than I am here to marvel at the graphical fidelity of it all. There are more important things for us to worry about, to be honest, like the Dex cut, which I’m still not super happy about in spite of all the good stuff in this game.

For example, I’ve really been enjoying the wild areas. I think they’re a brilliant new addition to the games, and the ability to catch tons of different types of Pokemon all over the place, with varying levels and abilities and moves, makes the wild areas so diverse and available for anything. I love that my Shedinja is able to tank all the hits from all the crazy high-leveled Pokemon, which allows me to power level my guys super quickly through whatever obstacles are in front of them.

#367: The Haunted

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Have you ever played a game called Luigi’s Mansion? It’s one of my favorite games of all time, and I think I’ve written about it before. Regardless, I’ll be writing about it again, and hopefully under a new title this time!

Luigi’s Mansion is one of those games where, regardless of how many times you play it, the gameplay never gets old. It’s a game whose gameplay is timeless and plays fluidly regardless of what year you’re playing the game in. The core of the game, sucking up ghosts into your super-powered vacuum and turning them into portraits at E Gadd’s lab, has stayed the same throughout all of its iterations. But the nature of the game has adapted over time, leading us to Luigi’s Mansion 3, which has really turned the series back to its roots more than before. Instead of it being about five different haunted places with individual levels and segments between each place, this new game returns to one big haunted place for you to explore and discover treasure inside. It’s truly capturing the feel of the original in a way that makes me pretty happy.

Luigi’s Mansion also has some personal history behind it, and I think I’ve mentioned this in the other blog post I did about the game. My friend Jimmy and I used to speed run through the game, and we took turns beating each other. I used to beat him more often than not, though, and I learned the ins and outs of the game quickly. It’s the kind of game that incentivizes multiple playthroughs because you earn a larger and more elaborate mansion at the end depending on how much money you collected and how rare the portraits are. Essentially, the game may be short, but you are expected to play it more than once to get the full experience. I kind of love that about games.