1531 reviews liked by KB0


my ps5 decided to delete my save file because echoes of the fallen didn't download properly somehow. so i had to replay the game bit by bit. honestly, i think i hated the worst parts of the game less this time around, in terms of the experience of actually engaging with the "content". but then the spectacle did not wow me at all like the first time, so overall a surprisingly worse experience. hate the story still, has no idea what it wants to be and fumbles due to mixed metaphors all over the place and cowardice in approaching conversations about race and prejudice. it is what it is. easily my least favourite game in the series, as enjoyable as the combat is (which, despite impeccable gamefeel is still substandard in mechanics on a casual engagement level - i understand there is "tech" but basic engagement with combat in this game is just MMO rotations) i come to this series for compelling melodrama, interesting characters and thoughtful and new approaches to sci-fi and fantasy fiction which this game just does not give me. "we have a god to kill" 🙄. even at its most "attack and dethrone god" moments in the series there's usually something texturally there beyond this sort of "indomitable spirit of humanity" trite shounen anime approach. there's just so much more to the fal'Cie or the Occuria or Yu Yevon in comparison to Ultima as far as their animation of the thematic material within their respective games. i shan't get started on the "politics". it has none (in the sense of in-fiction political mechanics, of course there's so much "politics" in creating art, even a work as empty as this one) it's just a weird aesthetic layer of terminology and maps that ultimately don't really matter. i don't expect the dlc to impress me very much, but i will be keeping an open mind.


ughhhh i didn't know DLC is region locked, i have a japanese disc copy of the game, but i bought the expansions on the european store. this is the second time mr yoshida naoki has cheated me out of my money after giving away FF14 starter edition a month before the expanded free trial

Um caleidoscĂłpio de sistemas clĂĄssicos extende o loop bĂĄsico de um rpg mundo aberto ao extremo, tensionando o que sĂŁo atos simples em outros jogos - viajar, carregar, lutar - ao ponto do desconforto. Assim, força os sensores de dopamina dos jogadores famintos em fast travel Ă  preencher as lacunas da experiĂȘncia com o mundano, fazendo com que pequenos momentos e repetiçÔes se exacerbem em tĂ©dio, tensĂŁo, e para alguns, um tipo de realização completa do senso de aventura. É um conjunto meio despregado de um monte de coisas que nĂŁo tem tanta coesĂŁo, mas cuja soma da obra cria uma experiĂȘncia de visĂŁo Ășnica. Eu sou o tipo de cabra que passa por isso e pensa: esse aqui ENTENDE.

O que Ă© Dragon’s Dogma pra mim?

Minha histĂłria com o tĂ­tulo Ă© longuĂ­ssima, sendo afetado pelo potencial aparente do primeiro jogo, lançado em meus influenciĂĄveis dezesseis anos de idade. Uma quebra do formulaico mundo aberto em troca de uma experiĂȘncia memorĂĄvel atravĂ©s da superação; um primeiro gosto com uma histĂłria surreal; uma amizade duradoura que floresceu ao redor do amor pelo jogo. Amo o que ele foi para mim, e me caĂ­a em melancolia ao pensar do que o jogo “poderia ser”. Afinal, se apenas nĂŁo tivesse sido apressado, terĂ­amos ido Ă  lua.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 vai à lua?

Um enorme maquinĂĄrio compĂ”e um cenĂĄrio que quando vislumbra a grandeza, Ă© inigualĂĄvel. Conflitado entre naturezas: histĂłrias e mecĂąnicas e personagens que prometem um mundo e vĂŁo a lugar algum, as vezes sem pĂ©, ou sem cabeça, ou atĂ© mesmo um torso. Tudo que nĂŁo envolve enfiar a espada na garganta de outra criatura vem de uma execução incompleta, rasgada em pedaços irreconhecĂ­veis. NĂŁo basta ser vago - o cerne de seu carisma estĂĄ nos sistemas, e fora deles Ă© um delĂ­rio febril. A narrativa sĂł Ă© inicialmente justificĂĄvel se vocĂȘ admite que seu personagem Ă© uma figura messiĂąnica que sabe de coisas que vocĂȘ nĂŁo sabe. Pontos enormes começam e terminam sem fanfarra, ou pior, começam e nem terminam, e a maioria das quests portam de uma execução tĂŁo blasĂ© e tosca que parece cĂŽmico. Em certos momentos, Ă© honestamente transcendente. Poucos jogos sĂŁo tĂŁo conceitualmente tĂ­picos e ao mesmo tempo alienĂ­genas como este.

E, quando a fadiga jĂĄ chegou ao borde do esgotamento, vamos Ă  lua. Ou ao menos, o mais prĂłximo que poderĂ­amos chegar dela. Quando Dragon’s Dogma vira Dragon’s Dogma II muito de sua visĂŁo se esclaresce, ainda que os erros do passado continuem grotescos. Suas fraquezas continuam aparentes, e nĂŁo hĂĄ muito um esforço em justificar-se. Pelo contrĂĄrio, o jogo te provoca - nĂŁo hĂĄ mais o que fazer, Arisen. NĂŁo Ă© isso que vocĂȘ queria? Pois era, sim, eu acho.

É uma promessa incompleta que nos permite, momentaneamente, espionar o por trás das cortinas.

E o que Ă© Dragon’s Dogma 2 pra mim?

Tudo Ă©, em pleno portuguĂȘs, uma bagunça. A promessa de maior e melhor nĂŁo se conclui - sistemas foram simplificados, a grandiosidade e o mistĂ©rio de muitos aspectos se perde, e pouco se ganhou. A trilha sonora foi de icĂŽnica pra um arroz com feijĂŁo patĂ©tico. NĂŁo sei dizer se estou decepcionado, pois certamente meus desejos carnais nĂŁo foram atendidos. Ainda assim, nĂŁo rechaço o que ganhei, pois o que resulta disso Ă© certamente memorĂĄvel, e Ă© na memĂłria que um jogo vive e floresce em jardins que vĂŁo muito alĂ©m do que a expectativa pode nos dar. E nesse ponto, Dragon’s Dogma 2 serĂĄ o que foi de mais divertido, cruel, patĂ©tico e eterno. NĂŁo Ă© do jeito que eu queria, mas fomos Ă  Lua.

O mundo se eu pudesse posicionar meu pawn pra me lançar onde eu quisesse.

This review contains spoilers

worked on me somewhat idk. in contrast to every other game with a friendship meter johnny-v's relationship is genuinely platonic, dynamic, explored & entertaining in a way i didn't think the studio behind "lezbooomancyyyy (scratches balls intensely)" was capable of. like sure the writers are prone to that type of cancelled after one season adult swim humor & tone deafness (love that for many players their first mission after the end of act 1 will be chauffeuring a guy whose dick exploded). but. 2012 cdprojKKKetred would've taken the premise here and spinned it for some red wheel kill blue wheel save bullshit ambiguity didacticism & instead through some miracle they let the tension between "one last job suicide run" heist movie and cyberpunk cop vignette build without any comment. which works wonders. the studio can write well when they aren't forcing "moral dilemmas" down ur throat every half-quest (an issue i had with phantom liberty's side content, but makes up for it telling a much tighter main narrative).

johnny is this game's motor because it lets him present his cruelty, his myopia, his rage, his wit, his ability to be boldly wrong not just about himself & others but also literally about how to solve quests in a way i havent seen done much in this space. johnny is the friendly snake that bites you and the game doesn't harass you for exercising any and every last option and boundary to get rid of him, or to take him as is and let him reach for undeserved but no less cathartic moments of repair as his quasi-stygian guide to the cyber afterlife. or to just tell him to quit being a pussy and thug that shit out. its a relationship with an actual history, an actual oscillation of closeness & distance that feels uniquely mapped to however you progress through the game. couldnt help but feel a little precious over it as the game heads to its conclusion.

in terms of gameplay i also think this shit is actually just no qualms good, like certainly up there in the ARPG shooter category simply because it has the boomer understanding (vomitting) that the assault rifle/SMG is the most boring class of weapon and that the explosiveness of a point blank shotgun blast or a 200m sniper headshot or a .44 caliber bullet taking someone's shoulder clean off is far superior.

but the buried lede: i must admit i didn't feel this positively throughout my whole playthrough. simply because the game is long, and in a "hey i spent a month and a half playing this game without realizing" type of way. even though i think the johnny stuff is really good the game has like a minnesota timberwolves issue where instead of going for an easy two with another v-johnny bit it'll try to hit a contested 30-foot jump from the top of the key. and its like why. was anything ever relating to river necessary. how the fuck could you make panam so hot in a "you gotta be born before the year 2000 to know what to do with her" typa way but also make her so snippy & boring. why does saul, a character with maybe a youtube ad worth of screentime, live rent fucking free in her head. its a big game in every sense of the word but i think the ape escape franchise has more named characters if they were to go rack for rack. "alexander-walker going for 3" levels of chaos when you get an unnamed side quest marker, could be something like that soon-to-be-famous Sinnerman questline or a 2011 CollegeHumor "LOL he has grenade on his nose LOL" ass misfire. spent 80 hours in total for like a 85% complete playthrough and maybe half of those were spent zoned out enjoying computer violence & not much else while jersery drill played in the background. step forward for sure for the polish but like gotdamn guys. just go for the layup sometimes.

I appreciate the kind of practical, real-world logic approach to the puzzles in this. If done well, that sort of thing can be engaging and rewarding, rather than dull. For the most part, that's true here, although there are some clunkers.

Genuinely tense right up until you understand how lame and easily killed the enemies are and then the whole illusion is broken - a problem that tons of games like this share but is particularly pronounced with this one.

This subgenre is a real mixed bag, and this early entry has both the good and the bad of it in roughly equal measure. But there is the spark of something kind of cool here. There are worse Lovecraft takes.

In keeping with the free-flowing, improvisational spirit of Final Fantasy VII, a series of semi-connected thoughts:

- Lots of people are hung up on the minigames for one reason or another, and they are worthy of discussion, though not about whether they belong here (of course they do) or if they're any good (most aren't), but how their purpose has shifted between the original and this iteration. In 1997, they were tonal interludes meant to show off what a strange, crazy planet we're fighting to protect, bursting with unexpected things to see and do. In 2024, they're blown up in length and number to serve as narrative delivery devices, neatly structured to grant further dimension to one or more of your party members while also conveniently padding out the playtime of your $70 luxury consumer purchase.

More than that, even, they're ways of delaying the inevitable. Rebirth isn't really a game about a doomed planet, but a doomed woman, and everyone with the faintest knowledge of FF7 is aware of this. No matter how many sprawling overworld maps or Gold Saucer diversions or matches of Queen's Blood you throw yourself into, you're still on a beeline toward tragedy. Consider Cloud and Aerith's last "date" and how they never get exactly what they want - the candy, the tchotchke, the photo. Our choices in this world, like any other video game world, are merely a dilation of time, a hopeless attempt to forestall the medium's great historical trauma, gamer 9/11.

This is all theoretically interesting, but also has the unfortunate effect of imbricating the story's emotional slam dunk with the grim maximalist demands of the AAA market. You get what you came for... after 100 hours of wildly quality-variable content, of course. Even the Fated Event itself is compromised by a ludicrous boss rush, your characters all barking out their combat sound bites as if nothing has happened, multiversal fanservice rearing its ugly head for no discernible reason. (I ask this with no malice in my heart: why do people care about Zack enough to justify how much screentime he gets here?) In many ways this is a very simple game, but in the one moment that truly called for simplicity, all of the dubious worldline hijinks Nomura planted in the first game got in the way.

- I did find myself moved by one scene toward the end where the game briefly puts you in the shoes of a sad, scared little girl. The original FF7 made remarkable use of modifying your control scheme to convey shifts in your characters' emotional states; in Rebirth they generally overdo or mishandle it, much like everything else, but it worked well here.

- The combat is generally quite enjoyable. It's comforting to know that SE can get an action RPG right after FF16. Even with one installment worth of practice, though, some characters still feel better thought-out than others. Aerith sucks and Barret is truly just sad - what if you wanted to play Bayonetta using nothing but the guns? I have a few other complaints, like how ancillary and easily interrupted magic is, your characters' irritating lack of poise, and some hitbox tracking that would make Miyazaki blush, but they are ultimately pretty minor.

- Morph and Steal are so useless, what gives?

- Guarding feels terrible. No feedback.

- I liked the (PROTORELIC QUEST SPOILERS) fight a lot. It demands careful and attentive play but also gives you lots of options.

- The music is good, of course, although what other possible outcome could there be when you throw an exhausted supergroup of Japanese composers at one of the most beloved OSTs of all time? Unfortunately, the music is also a key factor in one of the game's great failures: it is almost perpetually unable to modulate its atmosphere. This shit is LOUD, all the time. There are no opportunities whatsoever to just be in a moment and collect your thoughts or size up your environment. I knew I was in for disappointment early on when Cloud and Sephiroth rolled into Nibelheim for their ill-fated flashback mission and I heard the sorrowful strains of Anxious Heart... followed by 15 different NPCs barking at me... followed by me stepping on a stool and dragging it noisily along with my character model for 100 feet. The din is constant from start to finish, and if you don't agree, Chadley would like to have a word or fifty thousand with you.

- This is a more personal gripe, but I feel that this trilogy's total inability to establish a horror tone is one of its great betrayals of its predecessor. The writing was on the wall with the Shinra Building in Remake; while that whole dungeon was badly handled in general, there was no attempt whatsoever at conveying any unease or fear. This is likely a result of Sephiroth being overexposed from the jump in Remake so there's no mystery, no terrible legend lurking around the corner. The horror in the original worked partly because Sephiroth was so brutal in a way that the franchise had never grappled with, but also because the world was more recognizably our own and easier to project yourself on than that of any other Final Fantasy: urban, modern, diseased, desperate, doomed. The Midgar Zolom incident makes you feel small and mortal, and the Shinra Mansion like you're a mere human enmeshed in something hostile and supernatural, but in this game those two setpieces are so fucking stupid that they're not even worth talking about.

- I know that everyone is nutting over the dumb dog song but for me the standout is One, Two, SABO!, which plays, as far as I can tell, during exactly one optional combat. Aggressively joyous and exuberant to the point of menace... love it! Fucking Cactuars!

- In a perfect world, both this game and FF16 falling short of SE's sales expectations would tell the company that the AAA open-world model is just not an effective container for video game storytelling, or at least the type that Final Fantasy made its name on so many years ago. It is my unreasonable hope that they will course correct for Part 3 and bring us back to a more focused experience, but as ever, the gamers demand more. Who are the devs to deny them the constant creep toward bigger and better?

- I really enjoyed Remake, but after this installment the project has lost its shine for me. No more remakes!

- One exception: if SE had any sort of cojones left, they would follow up this time dilation game with a remake of time kompression game FF8, omitting/streamlining all of the side content and churning out the most decadent 10-hour banger of all time, though they don't and they won't.

B3313

2021

can something be obnoxiously juvenile but also a totally unique lightning-in-a-bottle experience at the same time? because that's B3313 to me. the internet iceberg meme/creepypasta origins of this ended up leading to the creation of something that is kind of unlike anything else in existence (even if it is heavily indebted to stuff like Yume Nikki), but it is also somewhat inherently limited by its origins.

it's sort of like if Mario's castle was reimagined as Constantine's Mansion in Thief: The Dark Project, mixed with Yume Nikki and various internet memes. in your endless hours wandering through the confusing labyrinth of the castle, there are isolated moments that are unique and brilliant. and then there others that are just sort of
 there. you’ll spend 15 minutes wandering through a bunch of fairly bland, indistinct rooms and corridors and then you’ll come upon something really haunting and memorable. and then, maybe, you'll be right back in the bland mazes. maybe you'll run into some creepy thing and crash the game. maybe creepy thing will be interesting and well executed, or maybe it'll just be obnoxious boilerplate creepypasta stuff.

these contradictions get more and more noticeable the further into it you are. some of the levels are really interesting/bizarre alternate universe takes that recontextualize the original Mario 64 and seem to offer greater commentary about the nature of how nostalgia shifts things into an alternate universe that is actually different from the source of the memory. "i like to remember things my own way. how i remembered them, not necessarily how they happened" says the deeply troubled Fred Madison in David Lynch's Lost Highway. but other times it feels like you wish you were spending more time in the new/more unique areas you occasionally stumble upon, and less in the 6th variation of old Mario 64 levels.

B3313 feels almost like a bigger AAA game to me in both the sheer scope of the project that's filled with a lot of internal contradictions, and in also how much it truly doesn't respect your time. that’s probably the nature of things of this size, and that a lot of people were involved contributing in what seems like a very tumultuous dev cycle after a certain point. but perhaps that explains a lot about the sometimes inconsistent/varied nature of the experience.

i will personally admit to not caring whatsoever about the personalized copy of Mario 64 meme or the numerous ways this hack borrows from different beta builds of Mario 64. i like Mario 64 a lot, but it is absolutely wild to me the way that game has been metabolized into the consciousness of videogame world. and so i do think the whole “this is a beta version of the game” thing and slavishly cobbling together any and every scrap of asset or idea that was cut from an early documented build of Mario 64 to put on this thing is a bit of a dead end artistically. most of the stuff Nintendo used in earlier builds just seemed like temp assets and doesn’t seem THAT interesting to me outside of that context. it's just not very interesting to those of us who are not 17 years old anymore and not still spooked by internet lore. it just feeds back into a lot of fan culture content machine around big franchises that just feels like this self replicating beast that never really goes anywhere and is always invariably beaten back into conformity by the big companies that are in control of these properties.

i am someone who loves strange and unique experiences. but to me, i want stuff that i guess attaches itself more to telling a specific kind of story through what it’s doing, and B3313 is a bit too much online meme-referencing for me to take that aspect of it very seriously at all. B3313 doesn’t have the narrative coherence of a MyHouse which i guess is the other big artsy creepypasta game mod of the moment. and it doesn’t have the artful direction of a Yume Nikki, which it is obviously cribbing the general kind of surreal abstract multidimensional wander maze thing from.

all of this is to say: why did i give it 4 stars and 30+ hours of my time, then? maybe it comes down to: there is an indelible, haunting Tower of Druaga-esque charm to all of it. the commitment to being cryptic and giving the player nothing and doing all these machinations behind the scenes in the game is kind of remystifying what has been lost in a lot of consumer-facing art in general. in games, with all the talk of FromSoft games or like the last couple Zeldas bringing back "old school" difficulties and design values, those are meticulously tested commercial products
 not community made romhacks. they simply can’t go anywhere near as far out there as something like this. and we in general are in a moment when so much art seems paralyzed and unwilling to take chances out of risk aversion from industries that have been strip-mined by the rich and powerful. something like B3313 stands in contrast to that - completely unwilling to compromise itself.

with B3313, oftentimes there really is nothing on the other side. but that emptiness starts to feel really intentional after a certain point. as a player, what's interesting in the feeling that you want the design to follow some kind of logic that you can eventually glean so that you can understand what the designers were getting at is that it feels almost like an intentional choice to have it consistently not do that. occasionally it does hint at a deeper language/design sensibility, but mostly it doesn’t. there are times when the “story” or the progression of stages seems to be developing into something more coherent, but then the rug is pulled out from under you. and that happens over and over. because it’s all rug pulls at the end of the day. the message of the design is: whatever happens, whatever journey you go through
 it’s all inevitably a way to throw you back into the maze. you’ll always be endlessly wandering the maze.

to me, that says something about Nintendo games in general - how you have these long journeys that (in the case of the newer Zelda especially) aggressively don’t respect your time and send you to all these interesting locations. and then it always just sorta ends, because there’s nothing really deeper at the core a lot of the time. it's escapist entertainment, often with some kind of crypto-conservative values and imagery in it. B3313 feels totally unafraid to unearth and make you fully experience that ugly side.

maybe a lot of our larger culture right now, especially obsessive lore-based fan culture, are just variations of that too. increasingly everything seems like it's hostile, broken down, and filled with different kind of rug pulls. the ground feels totally unstable and there is no “there” there a lot of the time, but we keep shoveling through hoping for new discoveries and hoping for it all to make sense. it’s like being in an abusive, codependent relationship. there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. it’s a disempowerment fantasy. and B3313 captures that feeling absolutely perfectly, in such a uniquely fleshed out way.

there are moments to B3313 that are genuinely unique and fun too, like some of the more creative creepypasta scenarios that i won’t spoil here. or like, occasional stages like the one when you have to climb some structures that are supposed to be some sort of bob-omb factory. you activate the “self-destruct” sequence when you enter which causes you to have to outrun rising lava until the top. and then you get to the top and there’s a little yellow bob-omb guy sitting in a little office and just complaining about how you destroyed the whole factory. it does make me wonder if there’s like some kind of commentary on the tropes of Mario games being attempted in small moments like that. like the fact that Mario is basically a cipher who everything resolves around, and none of these other characters have any agency.

of course, none of that is delved upon for very long. because invariably, you're going to get fed back into the maze. and so that's both the great strength and the great flaw of something like B3313. it doesn't try to offer a way out, it just tries to express what is there. and in doing so it captures a feeling perfectly, in a way that is inspiring. even as a memey internet romhack, it is absolutely something i would call an "art game". there are a lot of memorable areas and moments that really explores the latent strangeness and darkness of Nintendo games, and the latent surrealism of a lot ofearly 3D games in general. it’s also real testament to how far romhacking/modding community projects can really go artistically, along with MyHouse.wad. it could have an enormous impact on a lot of games stuff that comes further down the line. so it’s definitely something that demands more attention and respect outside the whole memey lore ecosystem a lot of this stuff usually occupies. it of course, comes from that however and will probably will do itself no favors in distinguishing itself from that.

i only hope in the future that people take the ambition and interesting ideas from this and run with it in a way that feels unafraid to make a larger statement about the world, and doesn't just do the cowardly thing of retreating with its tail between its legs back into insular internet memes and the online lore ecosystem fed by various content creators. whether or not you think B3313 subverts or further perpetuates that that i guess is up to you. but i still think we have a pretty far way to go.

itsuno has 5 billion dollars and a dream, and dreams are just like that, devoid of a clear beginning, middle and end. 5 billion dollars and a hidden ps3 game! the title screen’s change in the post-game is his final message: those who haven't understood by now will never understand

It's not that hard to make a bullet hell that puts you on the tightrope, much less a difficult one. It's enough to fill the screen of bullets with any excuse, the natural reaction will be to feel overwhelmed looking for the few safe spots at hand. What is hard to do is to achieve this level of creativity and elegance.

It is not only that DaiOuJou is the summit (or at least one of them) of a very specific style (danmaku) developed by a very specific circle (CAVE, starting from the impulse left by Toaplan and other descendants such as Raizing or Takumi) or a very specific person (Tsuneki Ikeda, who had been defining his style here for more than a decade since his beginnings in Toaplan), but it is a nonstop of ideas that, always maintaining a stylistic cohesion, keep each playthrough fresh because of its radical approach variations.

Something as simple, satisfying and seen afterwards as the sequence of giant enemies constantly canceling bullets when destroyed here is nothing more than a section of a level. Getting across between bullets, an easy method to achieve tension as seen in Mushihimesama Futari, a game a bit exceeding in this resource, achieves elegance by building on varied layers of bullet sweeps. A clear example is the wasp section of the fifth level. Not only stands out because of making the small enemies follow a very peculiar rail movement, or because of their alternative appearances covering the entire width of the game, or because of being protected by giant wasps that serve as a shield and as another layer of bullets to the obstacle course, but stands out because of the creativity and care of the whole. Because of having to rethink a new strategy when everything seemed under control.

The slightly superior Black Label version also enhances one of the greatest virtues of the original game that represents its philosophy very well: the hyper. A double-edged weapon that allows you to deal more damage and cover more screen in exchange of increasing the speed and cadence of enemy bullets, a mechanic that in this revision appears more frequently, encouraging to risk and improvise, the moments where the spirit of the style truly shines.

Of course, it could be criticized that the CAVE or Ikeda ideas are conservative, and even that they have given birth to descendants incapable of innovating making certain rules as unbreakable laws. However, to me it is not an accurate criticism. The fear, inexperience or ineptitude of some when it comes to achieving their own style or such a level of elegance is not the fault of the original inspiration, and the obsessive reiteration of an author or a circle on the same philosophy is far from the easily confused repetition for comfort and security. If anything, what is interesting about the style that culminates here, and that would attempt to reach the general public in later games, is giving everything for a genre lost in an arcade style that was already considered little more than a relic. Knowing that few were going to play and even fewer comprehend.

If what we want is the rare maturity in the medium of someone capable of working their style until it becomes unique, robust and unrecognizable from the influences that germinated it, like the style of Toaplan of which there is no trace left, DoDonPachi DaiOuJou is nothing but one of the clearest examples.

there's a moment in this where interacting with a heart gives you the prompt "this isn't yours to take". kinda real