Was going to go for 100% completion but this one stage has been giving me its hands for over an hour and I was just sitting at the screen going "am I enjoying this challenge or should I just stop playing?"
Anyway other than that quandary I solved, Cloudbuilt is a deceptively competent 3D platformer. Deceptively, in that its initial difficulty gives you such a ridiculous sandbox to exploit to where the base mechanics aren't being tested but by the time you're jumping between challenge maps you're losing your MIND. This is not even mentioning the outright ridiculous amount of tech, of which I can pull off barely a third of. There's so much and it's so crazy to wrap your head around that when I say "barely a third of" I mean "I pulled off the technique but oh hey i'm falling to my death."
The aesthetic and music is also rather nice, although you're better off probably skipping the whole story. It has a cute late 00s edge to it but it doesn't go anywhere that's really worth considering. It's a complete gameplay master work and if you want to throw your head at comprehending all this movement and playing by the skin of your teeth on these scattered cloudscape structures then I absolutely recommend this.
All press is good press as they say, right?
I think the most entertainment you can get out of this one is the lparchive that keeps devolving into a more tired mentality, slowly losing sanity to the game's discombobulate mess that grasps at nostalgic straws. The game released in a very hacked together way, but the changes and patches didn't really reveal a charming core, instead something that feels almost insecure. It's dark in a 00s fanfiction edgy way, but not quite carrying that energy into some real heart or message. It's genuinely hollow, and even the worst pokemon game has a more earnest understanding of life, people, and childhood sentiments than this shit. Radioactive my ass this isotope is as inert as they come.
The series as a whole ends up meaning more to me as years go on. My feelings on it can be reflected honestly entirely by how I look at the first title. The personal journey started with me when I was 12 and had a heartful powerful time, then a late high school set of irony poisoning set my sentiments towards it back, followed by years of cynicism and a rampant fervor of 'kh is cringe' adoption. Remarkably similar to my Sonic adolescence really.
The rekindling to talk about it now is almost a petty one even, sparked from a very disgusting dismissive argumentation that sent me spiraling down a set of familiar dead end corridors. But I choose to talk so now with earnest love, because the silver lining is that I did find further re-evaluation, and another reason to love this game the way I do now.
I want to start on its most ethereal edge, that preteen mysticism and awkward conversation we had with others during that time. I think it's KH1's least praised talking point, the way these characters all act almost in their own worlds and open up to each other in stilted but earnest paths. I love it so much, and moreso even in terms of the subtle but absolutely present queer coding I keep thinking about. Initially the way Riku acts towards Sora is one I thought of as an embittered friend, giving a paopu fruit to Sora and sort of egging him on, and then growing detached when he finds Sora switches him out for other people. What I didn't realize until maybe even up to recently is how much that feeling is empowered when you take Riku's eyes as someone who had a childlike passion for Sora, wanting to personally share that paopu fruit with him (not even mentioning Kairi in the scene btw) and then seeing that love practically betrayed when it feels like Sora completely forgot about him. There's a clear obsession there, the way he practically tries to prove himself with his edge to Sora, fueling his isolation further and further and dropping into darkness when he finds himself walled off more by his actions. Sure it's maybe an overtly charitable read of a preteen relationship, but it's something that grows retrospectively stronger considering how more boys love and gay the series goes from here, with themes of identity, true emotions of the heart... further emphasis on how much Riku revolves around Sora.
On more tangible ground though there's still so much to appreciate, especially in regards to the series how this is really the only entry to embrace that early PS2 platformer fantasy, with worlds you go through really reflecting their unique vibes, levels less acting like combat justified corridors and really their own memorable extensions. It also highlights my only real incriminating issue, p much my personal beef with how much of a chore a lot of them are to navigate and do very standard aerial string combat in, to where I don't really have any recurring thoughts to replay because they die to this issue quickly. But the fact of the matter is KH1 feels so strongly alive and only propels Sora's fall into a twisted hero's journey in ways I so vividly recall with pinpoint accuracy to this day. Hollow Bastion is still one of the best handcrafted worlds I've ever seen and experienced and that will maybe never go away. The bosses are all just grand designs too, and while they're not all fun to fight they almost all are perfect creations that are so super cool and distinct.
I do want to end this looping back to that toxic verse that started this late night's boulder rolling though, I think there's some sort of propensity to reject this age's prepubescent thoughts and emotions. Some people look on the complex beast that KH ends up being from the outset, look upon the heavy darkness term usage in later entries, see the plot machinations for just the constructs alone and throw them out of the face of it. And I don't think they're entirely not valid, but I think the series more than finds a way to demonstrating what the Heart is, and life, because it's not a crazy thought to think that the only way to open up who we really are is going to be in a messy smorgasbord of dreamlike avenues. Tonight I seek to reclaim KH as the earnest preteen dive it really is, and the series as a whole for the threads we made upon that foundation.
Absolutely impossible to look at.
It's such an intricately designed puzzle game that's perfectly minimalist and strongly effective, but now every time I try to coalesce my thoughts on it it's through several veils of a culture storm that came in its wake, inspirations for good and a lot of bad, and just complete overexposure.
Truly one of the most revolutionary bits of art I can think of, as it has somehow become high end performance art in making twisted meme simulacras of itself. Pretty much the best of a 'post-mortem' I can make on it, because any attempt at a replay generates not a single emotion from my body. It's alright I guess.
I hope the next generations don't somehow "rediscover" this game, call me a boomer but I don't need anymore of this in my life.
Even if nobody got me, I know French Bread got me.
Day 1 impressions were so good, I got a hugeee amount of matches in with many of my friends as well as bigtime Melty player Alps, and I want to throw my quick opinion hat in! Played about 1/3 of the cast and the transition from OG Melty was smooth enough that I feel like I've already hit basic competency. So take this from the perspective of someone who has a good amount of experience with French Bread's output and managed to get a good amount of firsthand experience straight up with veterans and new players.
The biggest positive is it strongly keeps the straightforward nature of Melty Blood OG and keeps most of the fundamentals, although a lot of stuff was also simplified. Combo game is built around autocombos that do most of the dial-up you'd expect in the OG for you. The input detection and leniency on these is irritating and a bit counterproductive at first but it transitions seamlessly into a very strong tool to utilize and deviate from. In general buttons for every character's moveset are so strongly intuitive and fun to learn that it's exhilarating. And also it's just a personal bonus for me, because I love randomly picking up characters and getting to competency as quick as I can.
The big two additions though are moon gauge and the extreme prioritization on shielding. The former is fun, at least so far for me. It's not quite as strong as an MvC3 X-factor, giving crazy benefits with an instant normal cancel and an extra jump/dash but everything is reactable due to the freeze frame and general limitations to mixups. Basically, nothing as crazy as the OG Melty really, with the worst I've noticed so far being general dirty as fuck but manageable mixes. It's also just fun to use moon bar, keeping the intuitive small moveset you have while having nice enhanced versions that allow you to do a quick dash, overhead, or crouch kick, etc.. The shield game, however, is a bit.... insane. It kinda serves as a Soul Calibur VI Reversal Edge, if you hit a shield with a normal you're instantly in a rock paper scissors situation, where you can either a) keep shield up, b) do a counter attack (of which there are two options), c) teleports behind you. And on the opponents side you either shield back (in the right direction) and keep the chain going, invuln through it, or guard the mix. The chain can go on forever, which is exciting, but the issue more lies with how ABSURDLY strong shield-counter is. Getting hit by that instantly turns you into combo food, which means a lot of neutral ends up being shield baiting and shield-based meta due to how frame positive and easy it is to get out. Personally I'm a bit pessimistic about the outlook to this, but obviously it's too early to say. And also if you're bothered by that constant rps it can definitely be a deal breaker as it's a strong mainstay. If you're not using shield and playing along, you are most certainly not going to win games. Honestly may be the first game I know of where defensive options are actually too strong lol.
Everything else is mostly great to amazing really, with a kickass OST especially with the OP and menu music, good training and mission mode, and decent singleplayer. The rollback is great too although weird, and currently release date lobbies are sketchy as fuck for finding people that aren't friends, so until they fix that it's still a bit "you probably want to have people to play with", which sucks.
That being said, the highs I already hit with my go-to main Shiki with just nutty "no u" follow-ups, and the fact he gets a Nanaya install where he gets to do a stance-unblockable is insaneeeee. Already a top 5 fg contender for me, and definitely glad to see Melty back on the menu.
"When people encounter sorrow, they try to forget it, and pretend it never existed at all."
Dreams are, in a general sense, a kaleidoscope of our deeply set emotions, traumas, and discordant thoughts. Lunatea's Veil wants more than anything to present them as they are, walking and jumping through a melancholic journey that deeply wants you to stay and view the extremes and earnest feelings you have. And by the end, also understanding the ones you try to keep down the most. Experiencing past traumatic memories set in maze-like collections of mirrors, joys flamboyantly strung like circus minigames, sorrows stuck in a decrepit kingdom sectioned off from the world. It all paints a picture that's maybe too real, that often I paused just to reflect in a similar vein. I've had a very long weekend up to now where I've fallen to the heart the same way Klonoa does, and as a weird spin this brought me much comfort.
Understand, it's ok to cry, just as long as you never give up!
This review contains spoilers
I told myself I wouldn't write a review so this isn't one. I just found that I have way too much to talk about that I don't see many other people here talk about and I think it's just... sooo huge to think about and speculate.
I feel vindicated first of all because it cut to the chase heavily on that feeling of loneliness, isolation in a place you feel drifting on and not stuck to the ground or really, anything tangible. The dark world this time even offers a method of escapism, what with Kris's room showing a hollow reflection of that same gaudiness Asriel's side of their room had. Big Shot is the most explicitly hurtful hit to Kris but there's tons of hits to make the return to the town all the more damaging and harmful just watching more twisted ideas of characters you recognize fall into the same deterministic traps you expected in undertale while also watching what accounts for your 'family' look more fucked up and torn apart. And then the secret boss itself is a disgusting machination of Mettaton and it drives me insane how much he himself embodies the most brutal reflections of what Kris wants.
In some ways Deltarune already eclipses in its current strength alone Undertale with the introspection and hard hits of life, still hinging on the payoff ofc. But especially with the infamous 'genocide' route's ramifications, that push that while you may not have control over your life and feel a stuck cold path ahead of you, YOU CAN CONTROL THE LIVES OF OTHERS. This corrupted lashing out is given an even further metatextual lens and it just gets to such FUCKED up territory that the scariest part for me isn't whether it'll land the metatext but really... who else is going to be hurt next. These characters already feel so real to me that the idea of anyone more than the ones we have actively makes me shudder.
God i fucking love these games toby ruins me every time. I admit i was extremely anxious the night before release simply by what could be but my probably too much faith is so not misplaced. Thank you for the ride I look forward to the next one ;-;
This review contains spoilers
Discordant thoughts clamoring in my head, draping over an oppressive painting. Those are the only words to describe the feelings of me,, working with the work and attempting to understand the message. What I can only do now is do my best to put them into the right boxes, and for something this deeply abstract maybe that's a bad idea, because chipping away trying to make tangible thoughts from something that is indirectly getting me to tears is hard. But here they are nonetheless.
Personal attempts to cut off nails, skin, objects until what's left is something pure. Abandoning the remnants behind and not realizing what they meant for us, actions to escape reality that we justify in religious vessels. The ending hurt the hardest when I realized myself that othering was in some ways done to escape memory, yet for Ori that was considered pollution. The noise was erased when his projection upon what we know as Rem was murdered so he could escape that past and move to the future, yet there was something more human in keeping to that past, remembering the individuality even though pain came with it. And yet it was also the path that had the most 'alien' abstract feelings.
I don't know, it's hard for me to sit down and wrestle with the dichotomy of future vs. past on display. I had thoughts about the religious angle, because it's certainly a side of me i've deeply estranged, not wanting to wrestle with faith and what comes with it. Faith in ourselves is the main goal, that's the positive message I suppose, but I don't feel satisfied with that. I don't like being so unsure about my thoughts and maybe that is what was the most painful about this work. Being terrified that maybe my perspective is too small, that i'm toying with a world too complex and large for me to rationalize.
Maybe I wanted to sleep in the tub like Ori, forget it all, and move on. Just wanted to keep going keep going keep going towards some invisible semblance of the future. In a sense I get what these puzzles now serve for, "Rem" says it flat out that they're simple lessons and constructs but maybe I really do need that all spelt out for me, do I. Trial and error until I get it and then act like I've learned something.
The playing cards really get to me, I think it was about halfway through where I tried thinking more on what they're for. Like yes the celestials are "traumas" but what's probably more fucked up is how they inadvertently commercialized them in-universe into some 'other' collector's item that you get on multiple runs. There's poems that feel absent almost from the goal of not feeling those painful emotions again but then again that we rationalize it as some rng story we kind of metacontextually see it as a narrative and nothing more.
It's all enough to give me a headache, I can't deal with abstract stuff maybe. Trying to think further is just making me find messages I don't agree with, stuff I don't want to move on with. Nothing satisfying and making me feel worse like I'm putting up paintings of awful realizations and then not knowing where to go with any of them.
I want to throw these thoughts into the void and see if anyone responds to them with something that's more comforting and helps me get them together, for now.
In awe at this strong culmination of all the lessons, understandings, and ways Takumi has grown in his writing and directing. That was my first thought when going through the first two cases, a sort of magical expertise in having perfected a lot of the mechanics of mystery and characterization, as well as how the themes developed to the end. And while he still hasn't 'quite' found his footing on pacing all of those just as perfectly, the way each case gave a fresh introduction of stuff we've all seen before, alongside characters that went through familiar but stronger arcs vs. the rest of AA, was enough to just seal the heavy tears I had during the ending suite.
To an extent I don't even need the sequel really, I feel like there were so many wonderful character mysteries and characterization all interwoven together. That interrogation of justice, defense, and honesty by Naruhodo, to what the law really means, and then a complete breakdown of how a disgusting flawed system of 'justice' ends up becoming a weapon used by the people hurt by it to their own ends, even the most vengeful ones. The profuse personality emanating from Sholmes, who quickly jumped to the top of my husband list, to the earnest dialogue given by Iris and the defendants. I think the part that nails that feeling most is that when the jury was first put in the player's face I felt like it was irritating, but by the final case I was jumping at my seat to the next summation and interrogation because Takumi just pulls out every drawer from the cabinet to give each one heart!!!
I do still welcome what the sequel will bring for me, but I think even on its own, this is the best journey I've had with the series as a whole and I'll not soon forget it.
This review contains spoilers
Probably with too much praise, toby could've sang pretty much any song, written any poem, and I'd be right here to sit wide-eyed giving such. The first episode here pulls back from saying anything too deep as of yet, and I imagine like Undertale some of that won't really thread together until those final moments. However, with the second chapter on the rise tomorrow though, I wanted to at least throw my hat in.
We're placed in the heart of someone isolated, and the imagery of determination and love act more like a darker "other world" that is taught as lessons, before the final bits harken back to Undertale with familiar characters juxtaposed with unfamiliar backgrounds. The story runs through familiar themes of love and friendship with characters who, largely don't have reason to care at first. Of course, they come to terms with friendship but what I find more striking is that the stories of Susie and those around her are situated in lives firmly out of their control, and lives that feel depressed and incomplete. Susie is boxed in to being the bully, unable to really deal with life as a result other than to succumb to the role she's been dealt. The king is an extension of unhinged isolation, unable to live with being alone in the dark feeling this way and wanting some form of retribution, and Lancer just has to live under that before Susie comes in. And then there's you, the creepy kid and only human among a society of people drastically different than you, who seem to really care more about your brother in conversation than who you are. There's an angst and unsettling feeling in then seeing all these characters you've certainly met before in ways that practically live on without you. You could be removed from the equation and the world would move on, but not in a way that makes the world feel truly lived in and more that, you don't really matter. Or at least that's how I imagine Kris really feels, and is the point Deltarune wants to address. Having choice and impact on your life.
I imagine it's like moving into a new place you've been forced in, reality changing things too fast to where you're backed into one that feels so utterly lonely. Ralsei is trying to make you feel happy and loved but when you come home the reality sets back in again. And Kris has had enough of trying to feel anything anymore too, because when you get home with them they throw you into a cage as they wreck whatever pent up frustrations they have. Making friends is certainly a first step to trying to get out of that box, but life is complicated and so is overcoming demons that have you still thinking that there's nothing you can really do.
In some ways, I'm unsure if Deltarune actually is thinking what I am reading from it. "Control over your life" is definitely a huge explicitly said message but these feelings and thoughts could be easily estranged. It's a little scary, but I for one, am ready for what tomorrow will bring.
Immediately brought in by the lovely music and jazzy 30s storybook art, stayed for the whole unraveling puzzle after the immaculate dialogue and cast machinations. And honestly she's just like me yknow, just desperately wanting to be free and in the best case scenario, helping a lost soul who felt the same. Just so ~grand~ it brought a large smile to my face as I kept going from start to end at a rapid pace.
Feels like I'm walking out of the corner of a dark room, pulling open a forbidden tome. Any time this work is mentioned, whether by friends or strangers, I feel like I'm stepping on glass recommending or giving it any sort of positivity. It is inextricably bound to my personal baggage, the way I came across it, what it meant for me, and how it's pretty much front up a problematic work I cherish. The characters featured in this work are underage, you bet your ass there's adult content, and there's all manners of triggering topics. I'm sort of walking a mental tightrope thinking about what to say because I feel like there's hounds at the heels and, honestly, I find myself idealistically clashing whether to go through with detailing my thoughts at all because of that issue when I could just keep it locked up fully private. But I want to be true to myself as well as my thoughts on art, so before going on, if the latter sentences already have you on guard, that's fair enough. I'm not going to support the morality of this kind of work being a-ok in japan, the economic incentives of japan otaku, etc.. I just want to talk about how this work means a great deal to me.
I think before picking up Fruit of Grisaia, a lot of my thoughts on romance were pretty, i guess for lack of a better word very edgy/disgruntled. Extreme bachelor/bachelorette for life vibes. Not quite incel territory but the sort of mental justification of removing yourself from the equation and thinking in some way that makes you better. I'd read a couple works, Spice and Wolf for one although I didn't finish it. Anime kind of offers itself as kind of easy to fit yourself into when you're this subtype. It was maybe 5 years ago now then where I started reading Fruit of Grisaia off a friend's tacit recommendation.
What followed wasn't transformative exactly but my mentality changed as the story progressed. Grisaia initially offers comfort with the common route, as these polar extremes of character archtypes all mesh into one classroom and you laugh and slowly get to know their quirks and deeper personalities. The dialogue is pretty great, these characters are so excellently defined in their rapport and they have a multitude of different edges that make them feel more like people than softer rounder stereotypes, slowly removing itself from the idea of archtype altogether.
It's when each character's route comes in, that it starts fully exploring their traumas and slowly uncovering realizations on the ways we think after dealing with the extreme ends of our grief. Suddenly 'quirks' make a lot more sense, motivations that feel promptly niche for some people or weird become tangible, and kind of falling down a rabbit hole of grief spirals and guilt. Guilt for many things, blaming ourselves for our own issues, and wallowing in that despair underneath while still putting on performative smiles and seeking friendship to heal over the wound. That's the VN's main appeal, that continuous grieving and self criticism, and then after acknowledging them, learning to deal and move on with them. And that way Grisaia points towards moves me on to the next point that really span my world around.
Companionship. As a still pubescent mind that I have to reiterate kind of strove away from the romantics the ways Grisaia had me invested in these characters' union with a MC (who is a total asshole gamer dork) started to really change my ideas on what I wanted in life and what I was doing acting on my own. I fell deeply in love with the romantics, how these characters comforted each other and slowly ran through the checklist of genuinely well communicated relationships. So at one point I had to sit down while reading and look at myself. Was I afraid of being hurt? Was I afraid of opening up? Do I too have issues I have to come towards and deal with, that I'm feeling comfortable sticking under a facade of stern emotions?
The answers are complicated but the year after finishing Fruit I took what I felt were the mental lessons. A year later I'd gotten into a relationship for my now 3-years going SO. I started expanding outward, letting myself be more vulnerable, I discovered or more like acknowledged my queerness, got really into romantics, found solace in being the internet punching bag furry. I don't think Fruit was entirely alone in moving this boulder but it's because it's so heavily responsible that it's ironic I never thanked or called back to it going forward. Sometimes the way you grow up or find real lessons in empathy comes from the worst places you can think of, and thusly I have no unbiased way of really acknowledging this work without again putting my personal baggage on full display.
And of course, Fruit of Grisaia isn't really perfect at all. The way the traumas are brought up aren't dealt with with the most deft of hands, and a couple of its conclusions to move forward with these issues are very anime magical and not really giving the trauma or disorder the attention it really deserves. In some ways that's fine because Yuuji as MC is designed to have to find some way to magically give some solace or solution to these characters, and the best part is that at the least, Grisaia acknowledges that none of these are perfect solutions and all the characters of Grisaia have to still, live with that trauma, even to their final days. There's still a couple asterisk quite disgusting triggering scenes as well, and it's certainly above the 'peak kamige' genre in many many ways by one) not having the MC rape at all (wow what a concept), and two) having care and context for when these triggering scenes happen. But it's still colored in shades of an individualistic but remarkably partially otaku lens nonetheless.
Still, it's going to go down in my life as problematic media #1 or close for a good deal and I'll live with that. I obviously can't recommend this to most people in fear of them finding that the stack of cards that is my mental rationalization and experience with this might be even more deeply flawed than I already acknowledge, but I'm not going to fuck around saying it's anything but amazing to me.
Difficult to put synesthesia magic into the right words. All I'd be doing is describing pictures, attempting to make impressive in letters the evocative audiovisual experience. I can point to the threads that connect together into this technological celebration of culture, life, etc. I could point out that it's honestly a pretty solid attentive rail shooter in its own right (when I first played it baked I was so bad that it was honestly detrimental to the experience lol). My real only criticism is that it's deceptively harder than it looks to where sometimes there's just too much visual information on screen really!! Go play it! It's short!
This is probably my own fault, honestly, that I'm not particularly invested in the idea of being drip fed onion games/love de lic's titular bits and pieces through a shmup gamification. Not to say it isn't aware of its genre framework at all, it clearly encourages that destruction by locking those chapters behind score and your increasing finesse. And to be sure it makes interesting choices that all mellowly bleed off the screen, with such nicely matching music and enemies spawning to the swells of the music! But it's just so not for me, a limitation of my taste I suppose. I shrill up and detest most concepts of having to go through art that repeats on itself, so when I first started true mode and finished the first level again that was just the Same But Harder in a typical over-evolving shmup fashion without me being so particularly invested in the aesthetic beyond a subliminal note, I just kind of said no and closed the game. Sounds a bit hypocritical of me though when I think about it and I can't personally place the reason why, yet, but in examples like say ZeroRanger which literally loops i'm fine if not ecstatic over it! I think it has to do with a change in energy, or maybe I'm getting too old for picture book lighthearted destruction, or that well, I didn't think it getting Much Harder was even particularly that hard at all.
Maybe something that'll appreciate in time but I get the feeling that this is just a comfort food's rendition of what people like about love de lic style, and that I'll forget about it by the end of next week. That's probably too harsh and critical of me, and god this game really doesn't ask to be considered much so I feel like an asshole just saying it, but I'm just,,,, really not interested in this kind of direction!!! Arguably considerably sound to drip feed the appeal for its structure but it pains me that I can't think of anything other than "maybe black bird should've actually showed a more bold first step forward than ask me to play again to really play the true thing".