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Not particularly in good taste, but it's interesting. I understand why it exists and I guess that's enough.


Honestly part of the reason I even bought a PS5. This, Persona 5, and the fact that I wanted a 4k console sold me on the platform. And it was totally worth it. Sure, P5 is a perfect game in every regard but we're talking about HZD here. Story, gameplay, art direction and level design all get 10/10. The only low marks are character and dialogue. Our core cast are done well, but the steady stream of supporting players that Aloy meets are just nobodies. Real NPCs. You do a lot of talking, hoping to get some answers about what happened to the world. But these are mostly found in text logs and cutscenes. You do so much talking for no reason. And it's not fun like Mass Effect or The Witcher. Looking forward to the sequel which really seems to be taking advantage of this current generation's capability. But a little part of me wants this studio to fully commit to something new again. Because I'm sure whatever they do will be another hit.


First time I replayed this since middle school. The ROM I had ran very roughly, but what mattered managed to shine through: A dazzling sense of exploration with likable characters and really dark stakes as the game progresses. Boss battles feel epic, discoveries feel exciting, and the small character moments along the way make you want to uncover as much of this adventure as possible.

Doesn't run as smoothly as the PS1 version, but a rough port of something special is still worth a look IMO!


Blood

1997

While most FPS games that have you use whatever weapon you think is the most fun, Blood aims more strategically. Instead of a arsenal that builds up to stronger weapons, the arsenal is more specific. All against hit scanning cultist, the undead, giant spiders, and various other monsters. Ammo management definitely plays a major role when it comes to what weapon to use in a certain scenarios. The level design is unpredictable for those going in blind. Frosted covered horror film references and the cherry on top being a psychotic gun slinging protagonist. It's no wonder why Blood is considered a tough as nails classic in the genre.


I went into this expecting an old school throwback turn-based JRPG because I've never played Dragon Quest beforehand, but what I got was a deceptively simple yet incredibly polished and wonderfully charming game that starts knocking those expectations away throughout its lengthy playtime. It’s refreshing to play a JRPG that very sincerely sticks to its guns about its own tropes and tradition in a landscape where games have started to become a bit self-aware about them and loses out on some of that magic. It’s not really reinventing the wheel so much as it’s finding new things to do with that wheel and perfecting them. Like, the game design is pretty straightforward and simple by today’s standards but it manages to still feel really engaging and plays to its strength for that. The combat never feels too broken and finds a good general balance that makes boss fights and random encounters feel as fair as possible to the player while still offering a challenge. Except for the third act which is almost like a post-game, with bosses that really push you to strategize and experiment with your party members, but also feeling way more important to the overall story than you thought. It’s not quite as good as the first two acts, mostly because it felt lacking in narrative momentum due to its gameplay structure, but it redeems itself by revealing a bunch of story stuff that makes this feel that much essential to the entire experience.

You can also feel how much more fun Toriyama had with designing characters for this franchise than everything since Beerus and Whis in Dragon Ball rn


It always feels so good returning to Kamurocho.

The Yakuza series is quickly becoming one of my favourites. This game improves on everything from the first one. Its everything you want from a sequel.


This review contains spoilers

I hate ARG bullshit.
I hate its self-bemused nature.
I hate the exploitative and addictive nature of its "burn its own paper trail" conspiracy-bait nonsense that plays off the mind's desire to see patterns and solve questions.
I hate the sentient game character bullshit and frankly I'm quite tired of it.

I think this is the kind of game whose means are the same as its ends, like a conspiracy that exists to continue itself, rather than to communicate or express something of its own. I think compared to other games I've played that have this kind of conspiratorial atmosphere, Persona 2, Xenogears, and Metal Gear Solid 2 all use the conspiratorial mindset to comment on something really cool, and this one ended up feeling unsatisfying.

There is an argument to be made about it commenting on the nature of players' desire to uncover everything about a game, needlessly prying into a world that isn't theirs to the detriment of that world and themselves, although I think that idea was better explored in Undertale.

There's also the argument that the game is commenting on the strangeness of game development itself, this strange idea that inside your own computer projects that there can exist a single file or data that imparts something of great importance, that can completely change you or even the world. That slaving on it in isolation, answering question after question of your own designs could possibly create something out of nothing, something unbelievable, something so awesome or catastrophic...is it even worth the cost? The reprecussions to ourselves, the people we love?
But I believe this idea was better explored by The Hex, this developer's previous game, and by possibly the best game to address that idea, maybe the best game about games, the internet, and people's desires to reach outward to find themselves in our dreams of information, Hypnospace Outlaw.

The kinds of games this developer makes are equally cringy as they are scary, and somehow that cringeness doubles back and makes it even more scarier, in ways you didn't know were possible. The more you look at the things you dismiss for being silly, the scarier they become. Maybe I'm scared at the reasons I'm finding them scary, lol.

I think I'm also just tired of games being about games. Games need to branch out and express other kinds of experiences, industries, worldviews, cultures, lifestyles, etc. I don't want to play games about games no more :(

The card games were pretty fun tho


This review contains spoilers

“You're still happy now. Changing your lies to suit the listener, and getting by on slipping through the cracks. Building layer upon layer of convenient stories until nothing means anything to you anymore. You're happy all the time, because you don't even notice you're doing it. Think hard. Who are you really? You're not a victim, and you're not the silent majority. You're a perpetrator. And a petty hypocrite. The real world doesn't make you suffer. It's the other way around!”

You most likely have already heard just how much of a technical marvel this game is and yeah, that indeed is the case and many would probably agree that the gameplay is treated quite fairly at least when compared to the games of its time. Now where the game is not being treated fairly, I think, is its story-telling and even if I do not mind players not caring about narratives in video games, I will still try to appreciate it here, since I consider MGSV’s plot to be at least as good as the rest of the series and quite frankly I do not have much else to talk about.

That being said, this will be a mini-review and I won’t really be talking about a wide variety of things that can be discussed about it and won’t really bring many examples.

I think people mostly not click with Phantom Pain because it connects to the entire series in an overly subtle manner but otherwise has very grounded and small scale conflict and its not as expressive as the rest and also it requires from the player to take it into account that its moreso a prologue (you could overthinking as it coming back to the very first Metal Gear game to form an ouroboros from various angles) to the rest of the series and thus they should not be expecting a cathartic ending - which is also highlighted by how it fundamentally mirrors Sons of Liberty - but the way its using the entire series for its own good is what makes it the best

How well do MGS2 and MGSV contrast one another is already elaborated here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hV4wY2rjAWY and to put it shortly, we have two cases of identity crisis being born by the influences of the Snakes and how the reaction (or lack of thereof) by these people (re)shapes the MGS world. A spontaneous descent into ‘evil’. Many might have been disappointed by how said promised descent was not really directly focused in long-winded sequences and instead we have not even played as Big Boss as he was absent for the whole game, but that is exactly what makes it more natural and plausible to me. We did not have to witness the change in Big Boss, we only needed one big reality check to realize that he has always been one, come make the point sounds. As a result, we get a room to sense the noticeable (unless you are Venom) change in Big Boss after the events of Ground Zeroes as the ‘ideological clash’ - of what kind of a person everyone (by the most closest one, The Medic) thought Naked Snake was in the romanticized lenses and what kind of a person he actually turned out - is born between his current self and his present self, or rather what Venom (We) understood of him in Snake Eater and Peace Walker, Vices come from short-sightedness, after all…

… in 1984 Metal Gear universe is full of aimless proxy wars and impending apocalypse of information.

Everything is a lie to establish another lie.
Everything is a trap to establish another trap.
Everything is a gambit to establish another gambit.

And then we have ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes, the Diamond Dogs - on the surface, a group seeking to appease their loss and establish a place gathering people regardless of their age, ethnicity and gender (diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and a dog is a man’s) all while letting them learn to use their skills for good and leave whenever they please, as well as building separate territory to the ones not indulging in warmongership and educating them in civil manner.
Beneath the surface, we have good old manipulators, accomplices, puppets, rapists, war-criminals, victims, perpetrators, traitors, torturers and whatnot, all keeping the 'Outer Heaven' grounded to the existing reality.

Contrary to the RPG nerds' beliefs, MGSV's open-world is doing exactly what it should be doing - we are not getting a talking simulator full of lousily connected (if at all) side-quests detracting from the main plot, but the aspect exists with the sole reason to immerse as in the freedom of espionage. It may feel bland, sure, but it is 'an official' war-zone between people with a thick language barrier, all that is left to them is to kill and manipulate and be killed and manipulated. Not to mention how emptying the environment (to safety) is also a part of their job and that's a refresh thing about Phantom Pain's world, it is not about what quests you are taking and what is the extra context that characters are telling you about their lives, but what you yourself are doing and how are you doing it (the world having to adapt to your legendary status) every bit of task and mechanic further drives that point, with no unnecessary content to be found.

All in all, we get a game completely focused on (in)direct progression of its mechanics and narrative. Although, side-ops would have benefited if the locations had missions with different contexts instead of repeating the same thing over and over again, especially when, say, you are supposed to rescue someone in a certain location, they will always be at one fixed location.

What I appreciate a lot in MGSV is that it is up to the players to decide whether story content gets in their way or not. Or we can just get the minimal amount of information or just dig in the cassettes and interpret various things in various ways. We can take the name of the series as an example. Hell, we can take one letter from the name as an example - V - and take connections such as… it is not a proper number because the game is some sort of a spin-off… it being two lines mirroring one another… it represents peace or victory… or maybe it is Vendetta... or it could also be used by the villain to give a hint with double meaning as to where the bomb is located…

… there is a mission in MSGV where Venom Snake is being bit by venomous snake so funny and full of meaning he biting himself and generally Snakes and clones all die by other snakes' hands… and this is basically how MGSV manages to be a free resident of my mind, you can connect to one another as much as you like.

Sure there are a lot of questionable plot development and connections to the lore established in the previous installments… for example, how the final mission with Skull Face starts, our veteran Venom Snake almost announcing to Skull Face that he was indeed approaching him for the kill, in the open field, which seems very weird at first, but then we can look at the mask of the Third Child (who is in fact Psycho Mantis, but never gets named for exactly the lore reasons) and it becomes clear that he was manipulating Venom through his bloodlust, given the visible horn on him, the detail that keeps changing according to who the child is manipulating at the moment. So yeah, slowly and surely, thinking about such satisfying details and making sense out of the game is exactly what makes it age so well for me.

Basically, you could even skip all of these cutscenes and just play the missions, indulging in the mechanics as you please, the story won’t get in your way, aside from explaining some mechanics here and there. What’s more, gameplay itself plays a vital part in the development of at least one narrative point. You can see Automata’s Ending E being praised by anyone and anything and it is quite easy to do so, given how blatant and shoved down your throat it is (not to say that I do not like the ending), but barely anyone appreciates MGSV doing the same thing with its nuclear disarmament, but in much more subtle manner.

I know, I know… having to listen to cassettes is the gravest sin towards writing and all… but on one hand they are not really necessary and on the other hand, video games are not advanced enough (if they will ever be) to hold such high standards for them in this very medium, so I really do not see the reason to be so unforgivable and harsh towards MGSV.

Of course, there are other interesting mechanics… one of the memorable ones being how the soldiers you recruit learn to speak more and more languages, which then gets directly revealed as a theme, language’s power, that which was very well elaborated in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8EJyHh2xfM

"Your favorite song... Nicola, Bart — immigrants, wrongly executed... But their deaths served as a message to others: that ours is a society that murders the innocent. Do you, too, believe that your sacrifice will change the world?"

(says the guy who basically proudly delivered everything catastrophic that was about to happen in the MGS-verse before he himself - or should I say, got turned into a phantom pain to the world? Alright, sorry for the lame joke… and he is as much of a shadow to Big Boss as much Venom Snake is… foreshadowing, foreshadowing…)

what I love about Phantom Pain, aside of its relatable language power theme that serves as clear message in comparison to pure emotions that other series are trying to convey via vague resolutions that are not really saying anything, is that even if characters are doing questionable things in a harsh world, it's not a 'necessary evil' propaganda, but Venom Snake's squad is constantly improvising and questioning the missions they are provided to complete. Were they vaguely asked to kill and it turns out they were asked to kill children? They just record fake video and if it works it works, if it does not work then they won't care about the mission and when they take children back, they don't turn them into soldiers, but make separate space for them to get educated. it starts as a seemingly random band but it grows and shapes as an interesting system in itself

And then all of it crumbles… the final nail being put by Big Boss himself… making Venom realize that the point of no return has been crossed by not only himself, but his present environment too, and it's too late for him to fight for his own good, so he should do it for the next generation.

Well I love the whole cast - even Ocelot, who is seemingly ‘not himself’, but actually cleverly plays with the expectations once again and Huey who I find as a fantastic subversion to the expectations built by his son (in addition to the proofless and self-(un)aware bickering between Huey, Ocelot and Miller that makes the matter unreadable and unpredictable through the various possible outcomes) - but I will solely focus on Venom here. The shadow of Big Boss that still remained as the expendable shadow even after literally turning himself into the Big Boss himself. Or on meta level, us, the players, towards whom the Venom is looking as we break the mirror and there remains nothing to reflect on.

The way he was given the most freedom and agency out of the protagonists and at the same time he was the least person you would call 'free', the way he can bond with the system he built and various individuals and commit atrocities towards enemies and his own people alike, all with their own consequences and having psychological issues of his own on top of that, while also make poor choices both in how he judges people and how convincing he is - in just a single game - makes me appreciate him on quite a high level, as it is an achievement that none of the protagonists have achieved (and Sutherland nails it the way I do not see Hayter being able to do, for this particular character)

I also liked how it does not really feel like the game is making a 'twist' out of his identity and it is only a fault of main character's identity crisis/twisted perception and maybe player not giving much attention to A LOT of details telling you that he is not the real Snake (heard people already knew he was not Big Boss, from the original trailer alone... with very simple and natural details like what they are smoking and etc). But then again, all of the Snakes and 'clones' in general are very close, so I don't really care about their ranking. He kinda lacks catharsis and is probably the most brooding of them all in how silent he is, that downplays him a bit, but at least he is not pushing people away like you would expect from such an archetype and its also done with its own interesting purpose (as he is supposed to be the self-insert, in comparison to Raiden who was supposed to have his own life and it could not have been suppressed in favor of Snake's role machinations)

Venom might be ‘mute’, but he still an individual, making his own choices that can go against his surroundings, not being influenced by them, as seen in his judgment of releasing Huey and most definitely not using nuclear weapons in action, but just as a symbol, to completely negate Naked Snake in him. He is, of course, also capable of going with reasonable suggestions and change his mind, as seen by him changing his mind about the kids once Miller affirmed his stance to treat them well and put them outside the warfare. And, of course, he could be forced to commit things he does not want to commit or not commit just for the satisfaction’s sake, which can be seen in Skull Face’s final moments, Miller forcing his hand… and Miller himself is the one who respect Venom for not indulging in vengeance as his character progresses. After all, he has always been a medic and the role he is forced into is the complete anti-thesis to him.

See, everyone but Venom Snake desires revenge in the game. One might think that expressing the desire to vengeance is what would define someone and thus Venom Snake does not really have personality, but one thing is clear, that very specific desire is made universal in the game and not admitting to it can only be defined as the trait.

I love how Venom has memory problems and only retains romanticized view of Big Boss and then is trying to uphold it, thinking it's him and he feels more and more comfortable in it but at the same time feels guilty and pessimistic about his previous identity, self-unaware as he can’t even recollect in objective manner the most crucial event in his life, the one he feels guilty about. That he was unable to locate the bomb and got Paz killed. Or so he thinks, to not shift the blame to someone else, like Eli, but to himself. It was his fault. He should have been better… and that’s the transformation that occurs to Venom, he embraced his fate to weaponize in favor of the Boss’ wish.

Everything comes and culminates together in the final scene in front of the mirror. In the mirror. Which is in itself mirroring. It's his 'phantom self’ looking at what he has become on the one hand and despising, but another (something that is presented as ‘reflection’ to us, as the Phantom is reflecting on his life) probably is his gradual change looking at his 'phantom' self at every change and despising himself even more on top of that, as it is drifting further and further away.

I don’t feel like I have unpacked all of the scene myself, so bear with my rambling.

As the game starts by the view going into the tape and ends out of the tape too, the whole game is indeed what Venom was reflecting into.

That scene does not take place in one fixed time, but throughout the whole ‘Venom’s Life’ (you have heard of the life flashing in eyes before one is about to die). Blue color is about it happening in his gaslighted mind (the whole room is in blue and it is moreso when he is playing the second recording and we heard the noises, likely placed by Ocelot, who was also brainwashing even his own self), red is being influenced by emotions of vengeance (of the real Big Boss, that does not belong him so it is on the outside and not being accepted as part of Venom identity, he does not care about vengeance throughout the whole MGSV, but about himself. That is, up until the MGSV ends and MG1 starts) and then breaking the mirror (his face neither red nor blue, but moreso green/yellow, color of peace) seeing the general picture, sorta absorbing the blood, coming clean AND then starting uprising at Outer Heaven on his own from thereon to ruin the reputation of 'Big Boss' (lashing out, as that was the sole purpose that Big Boss reduced his life to) and maybe sacrifice himself to Solid Snake, to do with Solid what the Boss did to Big Boss and just like Skull Face leaving his phantom pain, he would leave one through Solid Snake... while OG Big Boss was doing MG1 plot to catch two birds by sending Solid Snake for them to kill Venom or/and die trying and freely continue the rest of his goals in Zanzibar.

Also, Venom is colorblind, so he mixes red and blue (as we see at the start of the game, blue bloodbath in the hospital) and that might symbolize his unawareness and confusion in the grand scheme of things as well. Red and Blue is also basically a subversion of Red Oni and Blue Oni tale that I need to research a bit, but the game was called Project Ogre initially (ogre = oni), the intent is present. Also how Ocelot is dressed yellow-ish, while having red scarf on the surface (probably symbolising how he does not really care about the revenge and is just there to help out OG Big Boss), to contrast Miller who is dressed yellow-ish on the surface but beneath its all red (and not forgiving OG Big Boss for what he did in MGSV, because revenge is important to him. Of course there were many other examples in the game (such as Huey’s judgment - between red and yellow) as the color symbolism is quite prevalent there.

Venom smiling after hearing how he too is a Big Boss would basically be something like 'you are telling me this now, huh' and then shifting the expression immediately, making his mind up about ruining Big Boss because his whole existence in basically Big Boss reputation at this point and by looking at the mirror, its him realizing what exactly going on and negating the attempts of brainwash and then breaking the mirror on his own, embracing what he is right now and making it unable for himself to reflect on himself ever again and stepping into the mist, being wiped not only from the history but from his mind as well (foil to Skull Face - who ironically dresses and acts as over-the-top American ideal chad while taking revenge on America... and like Venom, he understood the Boss' will (or lack of thereof) too... but when SF satisfied his personal desires despite failing at his goals, Venom achieved his goals, all of it to go in an exact opposite way as he would have wished) and that would at least give meaning to his and his fallen comrades forgotten lives, who would all have been already lost as the sacrifices to Big Boss’ grander plan.

There never was neither ‘You’ nor your idea of Big Boss. Nor did anyone have any proof of consent to do something so horrible, to rob someone of his life, to Venom Snake. That very idea of Big Boss has fled away in the mist with us. Venom Snake never needed the title of Big Boss to exist, but it is all to late now.

As one of the tapes goes: “It is just a dream. It is all a dream. I am in it, and you are in it too. I am the dreamer, but you are having my dream. Do you get it now? You do, don’t you? Peace Day never came … Our wishes do not come true. We just cling on to our dreams, our phantoms. Mine and yours.”

Naturally, there is room for the head-canon in this interpretation (considering we only had revealed the connection between Venom Snake and the final boss of MG1, but not the answers as to how it all could have happened) and they all would be connected to Miller purposely going to Solid Snake and training him for this exact plot development, as he wishes ever since it was revealed to him as to what Big Boss did (likely after he was rescued by Big Boss at the start of the game - which would explain why would he be opposing Ocelot’s (towards which we were naturally catering) decisions throughout the game… it has always been interesting as to why would he be presented as someone so bickering despite how everything he was advocating for was in the framework of rational decision-making, so we had a nice ‘little’ pay-off to that)

Implications towards this can be found once achieving the unachievable, getting rid of every single nuclear in the online gameplay of MGSV and we get Venom talking to ‘the phantom that the Boss has left behind’: “I haven’t forgotten what you told me Boss. We have no tomorrow, but there is still hope for the future. In our struggle to survive the present, we push the future further away. Will I see it in my lifetime? Probably not. Which means there is no time to waste. Some day the world will no longer need us, no need for the gun or the hand to pull the trigger. I have to drag out this demon inside me and build a better future. That’s what I…heh…what we will leave as our legacy. Another mission, right Boss?”

As well as Miller’s reaction to Big Boss’ doings: “No…Big Boss can go to hell. I’ll make the phantom and his sons stronger, to send him there. For that… I’ll keep playing my role.” - Venom is about to become the weapon that would attack the very thing he was meant to protect. He might not get any achievements of his own, no celebration whatsoever and not even leave behind small bits of himself in any shape or form as he will be nullified from history, but at least he will indirectly destroy Big Boss’ whole being. And the better future might come through Solid Snake guiding Raiden, what could and should have been the relationship between Big Boss and The Medic.


Danganronpa 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. Aka the only game in this series worth playing.


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