She/it transbian menace

Hey ho, I have a lot of thoughts on things. I mostly just post here for my own catharsis more than anything, and it's a cointoss whether my reviews will be meaningfully indepth or incensed kvetching.

Ratings are meaningless, I just let my gut click the mouse.
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Favorite Games

Death Stranding: Director's Cut
Death Stranding: Director's Cut
God Hand
God Hand
Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium
No More Heroes
No More Heroes
Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress


Total Games Played


Played in 2024


Games Backloggd

Recently Played See More

Crusader Kings III
Crusader Kings III

Apr 11

Honkai: Star Rail - Into the Yawning Chasm
Honkai: Star Rail - Into the Yawning Chasm

Apr 04

One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 - Character Pass 2
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 - Character Pass 2

Mar 29

Dragon's Dogma II
Dragon's Dogma II

Mar 27

Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name

Mar 23

Recently Reviewed See More

Crusader Kings 2 was shat out into the world about 12 years ago. By the time its successor came out it'd developed a reputation as a game that was barebones without any DLC but was a gripping and indepth time-abyss if you had most/all of it.

Crusader Kings 3 decides to iterate on its predecessor by being a game that's barebones without any DLC, and still barebones even with all the extortionately overpriced DLC.

It is an inevitability in first-party Paradox titles that the player will eventually stumble into a period of empty space where all they're doing is advancing time at 5x speed until some events pop up and let you do something. Even Stellaris, the game that most often has you actively doing things, tends to fall into it at some point.

CK3 is sadly the worst for it, in part due to numerous under-the-hood changes that at first seem beneficial but in reality seem drab. Paradox's approach this time round involves dissuading players from attempting to colour the map as in past games and instead focus on a small corner of the world - whether it be a kingdom or an Empire, they don't want you playing with adult colouring books this time.

Instead the focus this time is on roleplay and/or kingdom management, with hefty penalties to expansion and harsh limits on how much you as an individual can control directly before needing to shove things onto your vassals. The game, including its tutorials, not-so-subtly nudge you into grabbing hold of a title and clinging to it. New and reworked mechanics like culture/religion/councils/language and more with DLCs all add to this; the focus of this game is in finding a place and staying there.

Unfortunately this focus results in a lot of waiting, as almost all of the mechanics up above boil down to clicking a button and waiting for a scheme to resolve. The much-praised Tours & Tournaments and Royal Court DLCs are much the same despite their praise, simply offering you more buttons before the wait begins rather than just one. It's all rather at odds with the intent to make you more actively partake in your realm's management, because in practice it's all very passive.
Further dulling matters is that many events often boil down to very static, very predictable stat checks. Oh, someone's trying to murder your son - who is 9th in line to the throne and has more defects than limbs? It's just a passive intrigue and scheme power check. Duelling? Martial and Prowess stats.
Much of these additional stats like Prowess were added to make the game less binary, but given how they scale it's relatively easy to stack the deck in your favour unless you gimp yourself...

But even then, this game's biggest problem is that it's easy. Metagaming is no longer required to stack ridiculous bonuses in your court, especially given the relative prominence of random lowborn courtiers with insane stat spreads. CK3 tries its damndest to have consequences for this, but what use is a hit to your legitimacy when you can pump out children that're functionally immune to rebellion, assassination, or the perils of inbreeding?
The DLCs just make this worse, as most of them are nearly consequence-free. Tours & Tournaments is a series of easy resource/stat boosts for relatively low risk, Royal Court is the same and both of them make socializing so much easier. Northern Lords supercharges a lot of the northern factions, and-

You know, CK2 had a bit of a problem with Eurocentrism, to the point where most non-European factions needed a paid DLC to be playable. Even then, it was almost always the titular Crusader King nations/cultures that got all of the updates and boosts.

CK3 seemingly averts this by having everyone on the map be playable, but it doesn't take a genius to notice that the non-European factions feel distinctly undercooked. Muslims can't even observe Ramadan. As expected from a CK title, Paradox sell the fixes back to you via Fate of Iberia and Legacy of Persia, but even these feel half-hearted and empty compared to equivalent CK2 packs. Go even further East and it's like wading into unfinished content.

I think what really broke this game for me is the lack of impact anything has. The first time a council member blackmails you with your own incest/kinslaying, it seems like a grand obstacle to be surmounted, but oftentimes it's a total non-issue. In my most recent game, everyone and their mum tried to expose me for pulling a Habsburg on my bloodline, but the end result was a few minor opinion penalties that were easily swept away by holding a Grand Wedding. It feels a lot like playing a mod for CK2 that's perpetually in beta; wowed by all the options available until they fire and you realize that you've functionally just skipped a stone across bathwater.

...Also I realized halfway into my conquest of Britannia as the Irish that the devs had forced a Legitimacy mechanic on me and that I couldn't meaningfully engage with it without forking out money for the recent Legends Of The Dead pack. Hurray!

The best way to experience this game is to read people's (probably made up) campaign stories on Reddit, for much of this game's remaining appeal is in doing stupid shit like banging the pope, and for once that's attainable without touching the game.

It's been four years and CK3 still feels as hollow and unfulfilling as it did when it came out.

Just gonna use this entry to review all three packs contained within, both to save on space/time and because Backloggd still doesn't have the 6th DLC listed.

The Battle of Onigashima Pack is... Honestly? Probably the worst one.

Despite what the marketing said, and what OP knowledge might have you believe, the star of the show is my beautiful he/her transmasc husband Yamato. He's an incredibly strong Power type with high-damaging, high-range specials and an extra damage multiplier in FFB mode on top of the existing one.
Where he really shines is with his unique transformation, which turns him into a gorgeous wolf man with digitigrade legs- er, and also makes him a lightning-fast Speed type with crazy range and damage compared to other Speed types. The transformed specials stand out; despite being relatively boring to look at they hit like trucks and recharge scary fast. Overall, best character of the pack.

Onigashima Luffy is somewhat of a disappointment. His base form is a reskin of the post-timeskip Luffy that comes with the basgame - but with a coat. He can transform into Gear 5 which is... It's a fun transform, very strong, has some of Omega Force's most gorgeous animations, but as a transform it's very rigid and can't be customized. You can prolong it indefinitely by maintaining a combo, but as a Sky type it functionally only has one combo set which makes it a bore.

Hybrid Kaido is an odd character. The basegame Kaido was very obviously made years before Wano hit its peak and this DLC version is essentially a rebuild. He now has many of his late Wano moves which is great, but he's rather unwieldy as a Speed-type Giant, not to mention his air combos force him into his Dragon state and are equally unwieldy. Really, the real gripe I have with him is that he's just all around worse than the Kaido you can play as without buying DLC.

Anyway, onto the Film Red Pack which hilariously used to be the worst.

The reasoning for this is that Uta, the pack's flagship character, sucked. Like, god she sucked. She had worse damage than the other shitters like Chopper, Bege or Bartolomeo along with an underwhelming transformation, awful range and wimpy specials.
Mercifully we live in a world of patches and she was fixed when the next DLC came out.
Uta, nowadays, is one of the better Technique types - on par with Kin'emon and only second to Rayleigh. Her damage is exceptional for her typing and the various changes they've made to her effects, spawnable traps and specials mean she's now got enough power behind her to actually carry her through the harder stuff released in the other DLC pass.

As for Film Red Shanks, you can honestly just consult the Hybrid Kaido section because the same complaints apply. It seems as though he's made for people who can't get a handle on the original Shanks' gimmick (wherein finishing a light string with him empowers his next finisher), seeing as going FFB gives him haki empowerment for its duration. He also has that infuriating issue so many Speed types have wherein his attacks can overshoot his position, meaning followups will miss if you're attacking an armored enemy.

Fortunately the pack is worth it for one character: Koby. I was excited for him more than the other two because he's one of my favourite characters in the source material, but that excitement turned to apprehension when I found out he was a summon character like Bege or Cracker.
Good news, though, is that he's fantastic. I always wanted the Six Powers to get another rep besides Lucci and he delivers. He's fast, impactful and very fun to play - plus his summons don't feel intrusive. FFB just makes them even better, and his Film Red outfit has a button dedicated to a dramatic Yakuza-esque coat toss. Hey, he even comes with his non-movie outfit! Surprising.
Nothing fancy to say here, he's just *good.

Now onto the last pack, where much of the Sauce was saved: The Legend Dawn Pack is... Cheats! Hurray!

Gol D. Roger is as you'd expect from a character with so much in-story mythos as him. Kinda reminds me of my Xenoverse 2 modding days, where so many custom characters had obscene guard breaks and stamina drain on their normals. Though he's not a Giant type, he still shreds the armor gauge like crazy and possesses ludicrous range. His charge attacks can be... well, charged [Isn't it annoying that they're called that despite most characters not being able to charge them up?] but FFB removes the need to do this.
When I say "Legend Dawn is cheats", I mostly mean Roger. He's easily the second best character in the game, behind Whitebeard. Also his taunt lets you put his hat on which is ADORABLE.

Rayleigh is my personal favourite of the three, though. Once again he's one of my favs from the manga, for despite being a lesbian I am NOT immune to a fruity old man.
You know that thing annoying Shonen powerscalers do where they look at an old/injured/retired character and go "Yooooo imagine him in his prime though"? Yeah well Rayleigh in this game is that to a T.
He's a Technique type yes, but in function he plays like a Power type. His entire shtick as an old man is his obscenely powerful and refined use of haki, and his younger self in this game shows it off by doing what I can only describe as some Vergil-tier shit.
It's really telling that, while other characters with Conqueror's Haki have access to a special known only as "Conqueror's Haki", Rayleigh's is so fucking powerful that his special has its own name.

Garp, meanwhile, is something of a disappointment. He's a weird hybrid of his PW3 grappler moveset and a newer brawler moveset with some annoying mechanics. Namely, grapples bounce off of armored characters, and he has a sword buff mechanic like Shanks/FR Shanks/Oden/Mihawk/Smoothie but unlike those characters, it's given based on hit count - which is a problem for a character with low range and relatively few multi-hist.
Honestly, his real issue is that Power as a type is super crowded in terms of good characters, and compared to them he's far down the ladder. Don't get me wrong, he still clears half the roster, but when that half has characters like Tashigi/Bege/Chopper/Sanji/Bartolomeo in it, it's not much of an accomplishment.
Also this is petty but his younger look is kinda goofy, where's my GILF skin Koei.

To summarise: Do I like this pass more than the first one? Mostly yeah. Land of Wano (CP1's last pack) is my favourite of the DLCs, but the 2nd/3rd/4th place slots are occupied entirely by CP2. The rise in quality is just absurd, in part because these characters are less obviously cut from the base roster to be sold later.

I would say "here's to more DLC", but I think this game is finished. It's been a great run all things considered, so here's to a PW5 that hopefully BRINGS BACK KUMA WHY DID YOU CUT HIM YOU MANIACS-

[Writer was dragged off stage.]

Do you like music? Me too, man.

One of my favourite albums of all time is Devin Townsend’s legendary prog metal musical, Ziltoid the Omniscient. It came out on May 21st 2007 and it’s something of a marvel, being an album developed entirely by Devy himself. Instruments, recording, mixing, cuts, you name it, he did it. It’s really special to me, and I go back to it every other month. Clocking in at just under an hour - a rarity for prog albums - it has a peerless blend of chunky riffs, auditory storytelling, comedic timing and pacing. Before I gave up on tattoos (don’t have the skin for it - literally), I really wanted the Ziltoid logo on my upper arm.

7 years later, after much begging from fans and several other albums, Devin Townsend came back with Z², the sequel album. Boasting a fucking massive production posse, a much longer runtime and a whole other album packaged in, it’s… Fine. Despite everything being bigger and grander, it’s only a little better than the first album and lacks a lot of the zest which came from being a solo production. By no means a bad album, it’s upstaged by a solo project from 2007 in a lot of ways and for many people it revealed that the original album’s limitations might have bred a greater final product.

Dragon’s Dogma 1 came out in 2012 after a now-notoriously agonizing development process that resulted in a vast majority of their ideas being cut out to meet the deadline set by the suits and an ever-shrinking budget. Capcom really wanted DD1 to be the start of a big series, capitalising on the then-rising popularity of Western RPGs like Skyrim and The Witcher 2. Naturally, it was a flop and the ‘franchise’ was silently canned despite the game attaining cult classic status.

I have been playing DD1 for about 11~ years now. I own it on every single platform it was ever released on and on each of those platforms I have near-perfect saves with both the postgame and Bitterblack Isle cleared in their entirety. I’ve played that game so often that, if I were so inclined, I could do a full playthrough in my mind because I know the game world and quest flow off by heart. I have, and frequently do, give people directions around the world without any need to consult a map or a video or boot the game.

To potentially state the obvious: I am something of a Dragon’s Dogma megafan.

Among people like me, who’re so hungry for new morsels of DD content that we begrudgingly consumed (and loathed) the Netflix series, the hypothetical Original Version of DD1 has attained something of a mythological status. The idea of a ‘complete’ DD1 with Elf villages and beastmen and a whole other continent and the like is just so endlessly intoxicating to a group who’re already enamoured with the best-attempt game we already have.

Dragon’s Dogma 2, judging by the year of comments Hideaki Itsuno has been making about the game, is that mythical Original Version. Complete with Elves, Beastmen, other continents, and more! The prevailing sentiment among older fans was that, given a proper budget and all the technical prowess of the RE Engine and enough time, Itsuno would finally make a True Dragon’s Dogma successor!

Instead he… Kinda just made Dragon’s Dogma 1 again? But bigger, and naturally with the problems that come from increasing the scale and scope.

My first sight upon booting the game was the title screen which rather curiously calls the game “DRAGON’S DOGMA” without any numbers. This, sadly, turned out to be an omen.

I normally like to open with a game’s positives before I get into the issues, which is a problematic methodology to have with a game like this. I’m not going to get into it now, but a lot of what’s good about DD2 is also really really bad when viewed holistically.

On the combat front, it’s better than ever. It’s snappy and responsive and the addition of Vocation Actions (block for Fighters, dodge for Thieves, shoulder charge for Warriors, etc etc) adds a lot to the overall flow of combat. New core skills really help too; Sorcerer gets one to speed up cast timers in exchange for a huge stamina drain which I’m really fond of.
It is DD1’s combat, but better! Especially now that stagger is a mechanic and melee classes can now deal respectable damage without spamming either ‘the damage skill’ or mashing attack.

Vocations, too, have seen a tweak. Realizing just how redundant most of them became in DD1, hybrid vocations were binned and now everyone uses just one weapon - which might seem bad at first but everything is so much more fleshed out and roles more clearly defined. It’s easy to miss Assassin for a bit until you sink your teeth into Thief and realise it’s still there, baby.
Archer and Thief both benefit the most; no longer awkwardly fused to two other vocations they’re now allowed to shine and they’re honestly phenomenal. Warrior meanwhile has had a near-total rework into a more tanky DPS class (rather than the weird and seemingly unfinished mess it was in DD1) which comes with tasty charge attacks, a timing mechanic for faster hits and lots of juicy interactions with the game’s stagger mechanics.
And god, the unlockable vocations are a dream. Thief capitalises on the more gamey world design to allow some utterly amazing stuff with lures and traps, Mystic Spearhand is an intravascular injection of Devil May Cry into the game, Magick Archer is mostly untouched from DD1 and is still a blast, and Warfarer is a joy just for having a high skill ceiling compared to every other vocation - also it lets you wear basically anything which is great for the fashion obsessed.

Likewise, the world design is excellent. It’s very, very gamey; the entire thing is a series of ambush spots, winding paths, sharp turns to hide enemies, precarious ledges and unsubtle platforming spots. It is, somewhat ironically, a better fusion of FromSoft level design philosophy and open world design trends than FromSoft’s own attempts on that front.
Traversing it is a joy both because it’s beautiful and because there’s a decent amount of pacing to the environment that stops excessive amounts of holding forward + sprint. Not to mention the distribution of side stuff. I noticed more than a few places and distractions that were hidden on the way towards something, but clear as day while backtracking. That’s good world design right there.

Pawn AI might be the biggest improvement though; they’re not geniuses, but they’re no longer actively suicidal and grossly negligent. They use curatives, have defined priorities based on their (NOW IMMUTABLE, CONCRETE) inclination, are much less likely to use charge-up skills against an enemy that dances around constantly, and for enemies like Golems they’ll bother to target weak spots. Hurrah!

And, above all else, I need to admire Itsuno’s commitment to his vision for a bit. This is a decidedly old-school RPG, I’d honestly argue it has more in common with Wizardry and Ultima or whatever tickles your fancy. The Eternal Ferrystone is gone, even as a reward. You get oxcarts for diegetic ‘fast travel’, Ferrystones are lootable and Portcrystals are doled out sparingly to give you some fast travel points. Otherwise, you’re walking everywhere. Every bit of damage you take slightly reduces your max healable HP, meaning that even effortlessly stomping trash mobs on the overworld will gradually wear you down, necessitating resting at campfires - using consumable camp kits that’re at risk of being broken.

For the first few hours and much of the first reason, none of these were issues.

Which, in itself, became an issue.

Much of my earliest time in DD2 was defined by me saying just how much they kept from DD1! The encounter placement, the stuff tucked away, the way every NPC speaks in that weird faux-medieval theatrical cadence, the way quests unfold and silent tutorials are dotted around the land…

My later hours in DD2 were defined by me realizing that the game, in most respects, is just DD1 again but bigger.

Just like last time you start in a near-wilderness and go to an encampment where you get one diversionary quest and your main pawn. Soon after you make your way to a big city where 10-15 quests pop up in the first 15 minutes and then no more. After a lot of exploring, some of which involves a shrouded forest and a hidden village and some politicking at capital, you’re shunted off elsewhere because the plot demands it and fuckery is afoot.

The problems start to arise when one considers the scale of this game. I can forgive a lot of the above in DD1 because it’s a very compact experience. Like I said before, the world map was comparatively tiny.

DD2’s is huge, but the content density hasn’t changed at all, which makes the game feel like a ghost town? When you first arrive in Vernworth you get a lot of quests immediately, which might imply the game is a lot denser than its predecessor, but the ones that aren’t “go here, come back” are mere fetch quests that occasionally have a boss enemy at the end. Not a unique one, either, but ones you’ll likely have already found by exploring or even on the way there.
NPCs are… Basically the exact same, too? I wasn’t expecting in-depth CRPG-esque interactions with them, but nothing has changed from DD1. They dispense a quest and, when done, return to being random voices among the crowd of their home turf.

And the world itself… You know, the word ‘friction’ comes up a lot in discussions around this game and rightly so. It’s very obvious from the get-go that even the mere act of exploration is meant to induce friction. Enemies gradually wear you down on the world map, necessitating avoidance of some fights if you can help it due to finite resources, and the world is structured to make detours risky due to deliberately awful lines of sight.

The problem is that there still isn’t any friction because the game is comically easy.

Even before getting into the actual gameplay, camp sites are scattered around the world with reckless abandon which allows for nearly unlimited free healing and buffs so long as you have a camp kit & meat. Much of the hypothetical friction dissolves once this becomes apparent and it completely annihilates any feeling of being ‘lost in the wilderness’ that DD1 sometimes had.

All the changes and buffs to combat up above mean that the player and their pawns are more powerful than ever. There are plenty of panic buttons, fast-casting nukes, evasive options and counters alongside a relatively high amount of free gear.
But what’s really worse is the enhancement system. Each culture has its own smithing style: Vermundian is balanced, Battahli is Strength/Defense focused, and Elven is Magick/Magick Defense oriented. There are two others, or one if you discount dragonforging.
This seems cool on paper, but what it really does is cause a serious amount of stat bloat. Weapons only use one stat for damage, meaning it’s easy to just hop off to the appropriate merchant and get +100~ damage for a pittance of effort and money.
Money, too, is surprisingly commonplace. Simple expeditions into the wild or even A-B-C-A trips would see me coming home with full coffers, which in turn meant mass gear purchases and upgrades.

Together, nothing can pose a challenge. It’s trivial, with even a modest time investment, to reach 500~ or so in your offensive stat by the midgame and hell, compared to the first game it’s actually a smart idea to kit out your hired pawns rather than cycling them - money is just that commonplace.

A lot of these can be considered the developers ‘fixing’ perceived issues with the first game, especially when one considers that vocations now come with their own base stats to prevent accidental softlocks, but in ‘fixing’ these non-issues they’ve made the game a joke.

My first Drake kill wasn’t triumphant or cool. I rolled up to it and killed it in about 5 minutes. End of the Struggle - this franchise’s fantastic ‘YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!’ theme - barely got to peak before it dropped dead. I dread how they’d balance any DLC.

The enemy roster is near-entirely pulled from the first game and its expansion, with many of the ‘new’ enemies being simple reskins of existing enemies, meaning you’ll get tired of Harpy/Bandit/Saurian/Goblin variants that permeate the world. It was harrowing to get to the last region and find out that my ‘new’ threats were Saurians but red and Harpies but black.

As for boss and miniboss enemies… God they could’ve used some sub-variants or something. The Volcanic Island, this game’s final region, still throws Ogres/Minotaurs/Chimeras/Cyclopes at you. The relative lack of variety leads to the game and its exploration rapidly becoming exhausting, because it’s a gigantic swimming pool but the bag of tricks meant to fill it is the size of a teacup.
I praise Bitterblack Isle a lot despite it being a combat gauntlet because there is so much going on there, and so many enemies. Even its reskins add new layers to the fight - like my beloved Gorecyclops. DD2’s brand-new enemies are cool, and your first fight with them will usually be a treat, but after that they become rote. Speedbumps, not triumphs.

Dungeons are basically gone now, too. Nothing like the Everfall, Gran Soren’s Catacombs, the Greatwall, or the Mountain Waycastle. Just caves and mines, caves and mines, caves and mines… caves… mines… the odd ruin… Fuck. There’s so many. It’s like Skyrim but with worse design, somehow.

As I trudged through DD2’s main story, I found myself longing for the postgame. I’m really fond of The Everfall and Bitterblack Isle for being steep hurdles designed for more devoted players to test their builds and equipment on, but… There isn’t one? Postgame has some new boss fights but there’s no final dungeon experience or final exam. The world state change isn’t as intense as DD1’s either.

To speak on plot for a bit, I feel it occupies a really unfortunate place. If you’ve played DD1, you know what’s going on. There’s no real surprises here. If you haven’t played DD1, then you’ll be surprised to find a plot that’s underbaked and somewhat anticlimactic, driven more by excuses than anything of substance.

I think about Pookykun’s Baldur’s Gate 3 review a lot when it comes to RPGs, and doubly so while playing this game.

There are moments in this game that’re outright magical, immersive without peer. All of them are quiet moments with unsheated weapons: Traversing Battahli roads at sundown and seeing the vast temples of Bakbattahl pierce the skyline. Stumbling upon the Ancient Battleground and poking through wrecks from a cataclysmic event long before my time. Seeing the glimmer of a campfire stick out from the trees that dot Vermund’s many forests. Oceanside strolls through the Volcanic Island.
I'm especially fond of the road to the Arbor, which was the first time the game really wowed me and made me excited for the game ahead.

They are phenomenal, a testament to the team’s ability to craft a world, and… I hate them. I really hate them.

Because, without fail, they’re always pierced by another repetitive combat encounter. The 50th Chimera, the 10000th Goblin, the next of a million Harpies. Over and over, I am reminded that I do not exist in this world to explore it, I exist to kill everything in it as though I were American.
My quests are nothing of the sort, for they might as well be called bounty targets.
Other people will likely praise how reactive this game is, and its propensity for ‘randomness’. I would argue that, as all the ‘randomness’ is purely centred on killing, there isn’t actually much the game can do to surprise you - especially considering the enemy roster. It’s neat to see goblins and cyclopes invade a town the first time, but afterwards it’s just more free XP and a slight obstacle in the way of you spending 60k gold on new shoes.
There's an irony to be found in just how badly the world feels claustrophobic. There are always mooks around every corner, and you're never more than a minute away from a fight. Looking out into the distance from a vantage point betrays an endless hamster wheel of caves, mobs, chests and seeker tokens.

All of these complaints might seem quaint, and any DD oldheads in the audience might be wondering why I’m lambasting it for things the first game is guilty of.

The issue is twofold.

First, I try not to have expectations for games. I don’t fuck with trailers or press releases and avoid streams or whatever. It helps keep me grounded, and I think stops me from hating games based purely on them not meeting my hype - Metal Gear Solid V taught me that.

With DD2, I faltered. I was excited, and I lapped up everything about it. Articles, streams, trailers, you name it.

But I don’t really think the issue stems from the game not meeting my hype. Rather, I think it’s because the game was sold on a very specific vision, the one I mentioned up above: This was meant to be “DD but for real this time”, and in reality it’s just the first game but stretched far too thin.

Secondly, I don’t think every sequel has to be a grand, innovative experience. I play musous and Yakuza games after all. But I do expect there to be some iterative improvement, some signs that the developers have grown and improved at their craft. In simpler terms: Sequels should be a step forward, even if it’s a miniscule one.

DD2 is sort of an awkward step to the side. Could’ve came out ten years ago as a mission pack sequel and been lauded for it.

I don’t like to be prescriptive with my critique, I really don’t, but if this game was 1/4th the size and half the length I think I’d be a lot kinder to it. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed about 2/3rds of my time with it, but I can’t really recommend DD2 specifically because a lot of what I enjoyed is just stuff that DD1 not only did 12 years ago but does better.

In the end, Dragon’s Dogma 2 is Z². It’s by no means bad, and for many people this will likely radically alter their preferences for fantasy RPGs. Hell, I still think it’s amazing this game even got made, and a lot of what I think is bad or problematic still runs rings against most of its peers - this is the closest you’ll get to a modern Wizardry game.

But I look back to the past, to Dark Arisen sitting in my library, and I think about all the limits imposed on that game. All the rough edges, the flaws, the executive meddling and the cut content, and all I can think is…

Ziltoid was the better album.