What games are you playing 2: The revenge


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@chronodekar @Jimbobob5536 Good to hear. I'm assuming the main game finishes up moderately quickly, assuming no sudden third-party giant space aliens or something. 5 Realms, Lenegis, Rena, seems like the natural plot progression.

Tales of Arise

32 hours in. Finished the fourth realm. My party was at level 30 after the boss battle. Some big reveals finally happening near the end.

I was expecting Alphen to either be a Dahnan with some freak mods or a Renan, and I was true on the first count. I totally expected the mysterious swordsman to be one of the lords, and wasn't wrong at all on that. Just that I wasn't sure if Dorahim would recognise other lords on sight or not, which he apparently doesn't. Shionne doesn't seem to have some super-mysterious tragic past, and is just in it to cure her curse, but who knows, I might get another curveball thrown in the future.

My whole comment about EXP in the previous post holds. I don't remember the Tales of series games having EXP gains scaling down with levels. The first few areas travelling through the mountains, the fights give several hundred EXP each, but by the time I get to the ship at the end of the realm, some of the fights with two knights give 99 EXP. I never checked to see if I would still get several hundred EXP in the earlier areas, but at least it feels like EXP gains keep tapering off.

I got the artifact to double the amount of Artes I can use in battle right after finishing the third realm. Technically, I could always use every Arte I wanted, but I'd have to open the menu and shuffle them out in battle. Having 6 Artes instead of 3 (and 6 Aerial) to use per character on the fly is a lot more convenient. While I still don't use the other party members manually too often, outside of sometimes playing Rinwell, it's certainly made trying Rinwell and Shionne more convenient.

I went through and did the Arena challenges for each party member for the Novice challenge, since I was at least guaranteed a free ability power-up for each person with a Title, and potentially one or two good new abilities. I was overpowered by a few levels once I got through to the challenges, so didn't have any issues with the time challenge...outside of Dorahim, who seems to deal so little damage that it was an issue. I had to learn to herd enough enemies together to hit with area damage instead of just cutting up one monster at a time.

I also started doing some fishing intermittently. I have 5 species of fish caught, which I don't think is a lot so far, but better than waiting until near the end of the game and then trying to do everything all at once.


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If you go into the higher level arena challenges, get used to using Demon Fang with Alphen.

A lot.
It was the first (and only) arte that I got to 9999 uses.


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Tales of Arise

After a long break because of too many OT shifts, back to the game. I finished the 5th realm. It was a little interesting losing some of my special abilities for a while, but also annoying. It felt like it went by a lot quicker, too. Probably because the plot stops the party from travelling to any of the previous realms during this part of the game.

It's a little interesting just how very finely tuned the money balance is in this game. While I haven't particularly been hurting for money the whole time, I also haven't really broken free either and built up a large stash. Fishing would get me some more money too, but that would also be a slow grind. Once I get back to being able to go to the previous areas, I know I can at least participate in the arena challenges for some more money if I so was inclined.
Been playing Hogwarts Legacy for the last couple of days. Honestly, the Dark Arts Arena is totally broken. You can use it to easily grind out some of the Combat Challenges, as well as get some easy level ups.


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Tales of Arise

I finished the rest of the content that is on Dana. That is, returning to the rest of the realm, and getting through the Wedge and Berg Volcano. At current point, I've just landed on Lenegis for the next section of the game. I've also tackled most of the sidequests that have opened up since. The handful that I have not cleared are the ones where the enemies or bosses reach into the level 60s, which is obviously too powerful for my party at this point in the game. Somehow, even the sidequests I did do seemed really time-intensive, even when they feel short in retrospect. I am playing the PS4 edition, and there are some noticeable loading times. I wonder how the PS5 edition, or playing the PS4 edition on PS5, compare for loading times?

In the meantime, I've also been doing arena matches. I've stockpiled a good number of the defensive medical herbs. After getting some of the better armor and weapon upgrades possible following Berg Volcano, I challenged the offensive medical herbs arena as well, and was able to clear it as well. The herbs won't add a huge amount to my stats, but since I'm expecting this game will have its own optional superbosses, every last bit of a stat boost will be a big help. As for the character challenges, I've done Alphen and Rinwell's advanced (level 40) challenges. I'll pick away at the remaining character challenges as I gain some more levels and better equipment.

Currently at 221/320 skits.

Level 42, and 52 hours in. I won't bother with counting the time again from now on, because I'm going to leave the game running while I do other things to have the counter tick down for doing more arena matches for the Medical Herbs.


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Tales of Arise

I completed the main game.

For most of the game, I mained Alphen. I still do, to some extent. However, once I got to Lenegis, I actually face shadow element Zeugles, so Rinwell is coming in even more handy than normal with her large assortment of light-element spells. I think I ran a very aggressive playstyle of getting in close lots and abusing Thunder Field a huge amount, leading to Rinwell dying lots and requiring Resurrection or Life Bottles, but it worked. Too many zeugles and bosses that are complete damage sponges in this game, but Thunder Field zaps a lot of them in short order with its multiple strikes in a very short time period. Even the final boss of the Lenegis went down in short order, since it shares an HP pool, and I was able to line up two out of three sections at a time in a Thunder Field.

I finally got the Trophy for 30 recipes while going through Lenegis. Since I had the party very close to level 50 (48 I think?), and had another set of weapon and armor upgrades, I went through and started doing the Advanced arena rounds as well for each character. After, I went through the final set of dungeons.

Ending spoilers: Since Alphen presumably doesn't have a last name, or if he did have one he doesn't remember it, I wonder if he takes Shionne's last name instead XD

The final boss surprisingly wasn't that bad. The first two stages were shadow element, so I was able to get away with the above strategy of just abusing the ever-holy heck out of Rinwell's Thunder Field, along with a little bit of Shooting Star / Photon Flash / Thunder Orbs for when I needed to keep my distance to heal up. I think I may have had to use a couple of Life Bottles, but that was about it? Very different from earlier in the game where it felt like I was going through Life Bottles and Gels like crazy. All my equipment and skills are starting to catch up and make it easier, along with just the natural habits for dodging and counterattacks. Well. It's the extremely rare game I've played that is able to keep its balance very level throughout an entire long slog, and the only two I can think of off the top of my head are two indie RPGs, surprisingly enough. Tales of Arise definitely does a better job than others that are broken open by mid-game.

Not all of the enemies in the last area were shadow element, but enough of them were that I was able to do the above with running Rinwell. I think I was level 58 when I cleared the game?

After that, I went to do some of the sidequests now that my party was well-leveled. I cleared the three remaining lights-from-the-Wedge dungeons, and a couple of other odds and ends like the uninhabited island. Since I had access to both the Fogwhirl Lime Cavern and the Uninhabited Island, I was also able to catch up on most of the remaining fishing I had left. Following those two, there were just a couple of boss fish I had to grab. The Silver Marlin was indeed the toughest boss fish for me to grab, but not strictly from the fish itself. Rather, I got unlucky and went to the fishing spot when the time-of-day was close to sunset, so the reel controls were genuinely obscured by the in-game graphic of the sun's glare, which slowed my reaction time down.

Oh yeah, so I think I did some of the sidequests in a little bad order. I did the ridge sidequest first out of the several Wedge subquests, and I think that boss was the hardest of the remaining three (and by level, it actually IS the highest-leveled). I actually wiped the first time, and nearly wiped the second time, as well. To be fair, I also had eaten a Sushi meal for an extra-large EXP boost, instead of something to increase my Defence or Attack.

To completely Platinum the game, I got some more sidequests to tackle.


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Tales of Arise

I've finally finished all post-game content in the game. That involved catching up on basically all the remaining sidequests, as well as going through the Ultimate arena challenges. Since my party members levelled up significantly after going through the Tales of homage areas, I got to a point where I was decently overlevelled for them.

The homage to the other Tales of areas was neat. I've only played Tales of the Abyss and Symphonia from those that were being paid homage to, so I was a little disappointed no actual characters from those two games. I remember the forest from Symphonia, but while I recall a snowy mountain area from Abyss, nothing about the story of the area relative to the level in this game. Definitely some hard-hitting bosses, though.

In all honesty, I completely forgot the Devil Arms were a thing in the Tales series. I remembered once I got my first one for Dohalim, though. Most of them were weaker than the best weapon I had for the character already, with the exception of Rinwell. That is, of course, until I got to Alphen's, which the developers obviously had to put at the end. That one basically doubled my attack, from 1500 to well over 3000. I was able to abuse the arena by putting characters through their individual novice challenges on auto-battle to make the Devil Arms stronger.

The boss rush was definitely something. I made it through the five individual bosses relatively easily, but once I started getting two at a time thrown at me, that was when it started to get overwhelming. Fortunately, I had not touched any of my Elixirs, Omega Elixirs, or Gold Gels even once through the entire game. So now was the time to use them. Definitely a good way to finally conclude the game.

Oh yes. I splurged a little bit on the SAO crossover DLC. Even on sale, it was still atrociously expensive ($11 USD) for what you get, which is couple of costumes and swords, and two bonus fights. But it was definitely worth it to beat up Kirito and Asuna.

As for the game overall, it was definitely worth it. A lot darker than the other Tales games I've played, though still with a reasonably happy ending. The graphical quality is obviously going to be higher considering the last games I've played were PS2/GCN era, but it's also stylistically different. Not significantly different from the gameplay videos I've seen of Bersaria and Zestiria, but a little less of that anime-esque dynamic. I'm still not used to a Tales game where nothing is missable either, lol.


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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Adventures

I've had this sitting around for close to a year. Given how much I love the series, time to finally get through it.

I played the first case. Something that strikes me is how the experience for this must be very different for Japanese and for English audiences. The original JP releases of the Ace Attorney games were unabashedly set in Japan. Then when the games got localised, the localisation was able to pass it off as being west-coast U.S. for a while, expecting they might only have to localise the first game. Then the series took off, and their efforts got more and more absurd as each subsequent game had more blatantly Japanese elements. There's a famous Awkward Zombies strip about it.


So for Japanese players, this doesn't really 'reset' much, outside of that it takes place a full hundred years earlier, right near the turn of the 20th century. But for us English players, it does. Now, our protagonists and their homeland are unabashedly Japanese, and the localisation doesn't have its hands tied anymore with that.

As for the first case, I enjoyed it, but damn, it felt rather long and exhausting. It's been a while since the first case of a game was a breather introduction. There were some new mechanics being thrown in, but still the same Ace Attorney fun with picking out contradictions and presenting evidence to the contrary. I know the premise of the game, so I was assuming this will be the only court case in Japan, and the rest will take place in Britain.

Then I did the second case. If I'm going to be honest, I was a little disappointed. There was no court trial in here. I realise this is more of a side-game rather than a main-series game, but still always a little bit underwhelming when I don't get to participate in a trial. There's the logic and deduction dance or whatever the official name is, and it gets some snazzy 3D animation. Well. The remainder of the game I assume takes place in Great Britain, so there should be a trial for each of those, given we had one in the first case.

It is kind of interesting how the case actually takes two bait-and-switches, though I kind of skipped over the second bait-and-switch because by that point I had already deduced the true order of events.

Herlock Sholmes is a pretty interesting character. He's just imperfect and crazy enough to be a good springboard for Ryunosuke and Susato to play off of. I expect he'll be big in each remaining case for the rest of the game.


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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Adventures

Finished the game. Case-by-case thoughts for cases 3-5 in this spoiler section. Both because of spoilers and also a big text dump.

Case 3:

After complaining about not getting a trial in the previous case, the third case delivered that, and then some. The conclusion of this case isn't a series first, given the events of 3-1, but it's still nice to get some convention-breaking trials. I assume as a result that the next case will be more of a return to norm, though.

Some interesting and powerful characters in this case. Lord Chief Justice Stronghart truly has some overwhelming charisma. The judge is competent. Barok von Zeiks reminds me rather a little bit of Edgeworth. Arrogant and moderately condescending, but rarely taken aback, and collected and calm with few personality quirks. McGilded is pretty much flat-out said to have done the deed, but gets away with it, and his personality comes out in layers throughout the case.

For the second case in a row, we get a cute girl. Three trials in a row, if I count Susato as appearing in the first case.

The jurors system is rather interesting. I know Justice for All toyed around with it as a plot point in its final case, but it didn't actually implement it as a full-fledged game mechanic. Ace Attorney has never quite followed real-world court mechanics, even for Japan, so it's fun to get some quirky things like the literal black-and-white flames on the scales of justice, or squaring the jurors off against each other to contradict their reasoning for voting guilty.

I assume this case is going to be an eye-opener to our lovely protagonists, that while Great Britain is truly a magical place in comparison to Japanland, it still has a rotten, festering, dark underbelly. Of course, given the game's synopsis, Ryunosuke will probably be playing a role in overturning a lot of this corruption, whether it be merely independent cases or some grand conspiracy.

Case 4:

Well. That was a return to form for some of the Ace Attorney's wackier cases, with extremely unlikely circumstances, bumbling interlopers making the case an order of magnitude more complicated, wacky personalities, and a cast of characters who'll probably have little impact outside this case barring the odd cameo or two. The only weird thing is that this is taking place in case 4, instead of case 3, which is the usual for most of the games (but not all of them, given 6-4). Of course, given the story set-up, it kind of has to be in case 4 instead of case 3 this time around.

I pretty much clued in to the final twists of the case as soon as the picture of the fourth book was shown, so it was a little torturous waiting for all the characters to catch up, then showing the evidence to prove things.

Make this the fourth trial in a row with a cute girl. Patricia Beate is absolutely adorable. Her and Roly Beate make a really cute couple, even if as mentioned above they'll probably never appear again outside of an odd cameo or two (although, given there's a second game in this setting, I guess Roly could show up again as a beat officer testifying to something). It also really hits home how this is still late 19th-century Britain when that's what he can buy her for an anniversary gift.

Also, this might be the first case in the series where there is no dead body? I know there was at least one case that started off as a theft and then turned into a murder case, but this is the first one that seems to genuinely not have been a murder case.

There were several mentions of gas lines and gas fixtures and poor ventilation, so I was honestly expecting it to be a plot point in this case that Natsume's night terrors and paranoia was a result of a gas leak in his room. Then that just...never got brought up, at all.

Case 5:

No new cute girl in this trial. :cry:

I kind of wish this was a trial case split up over two days, instead of just one. These one-day trial cases seem to be getting exhaustively long, with very little to break it up in the way of the investigations portions. Again, I realise this is 19th century Japan and Britain instead of 21st-century Japanifornia, but damn. It just went on, and on, and on, and on. I don't think there's more than one or two 3-day trials in the entire series (both in the first game), and the remaining games all max out at 2-day trials, but this is definitely one that could have used that.

Having Iris as your co-counsel definitely felt a little unusual. I don't believe young Pearl was ever a co-counsel, so this would make Iris by far the youngest co-counsel in the series at 10, unless Luke somehow ever ended up a co-counsel in the Layton crossover which I haven't played. Was Rayfa ever a co-counsel, for that matter? These are games that it's been years since I've played.

Having Susato tamper with the crime scene to help catch the murderer in an unknowable lie was interesting. I actually did notice the lack of the peephole in the picture early on, but had to file it away for quite some time.

After some further play, Lord Barok von Zeiks strikes me as being wishy-washy on the Edgeworth references. He's competent with very few personality quirks (his whole thing with breaking wine glasses and bottles aside), is quick to point out flaws in the defense's logic, and has a very strong physical resemblance. Him and Ryunosuke even develop a twisted sort of friendly rapport once he seems to realise every case Ryunosuke defends is always going to go through multiple twists and turns. But on the flipside, there's very little linking him to the protagonist, and he's definitely more condescending than Edgeworth was. He also loses his cool much less frequently than Edgeworth.

Doing an unofficial series reboot by moving back a century and change helps to flesh out an entirely new set of characters, instead of just piecemeal adding new protagonists. Ryunosuke definitely got his 2-4 moment a lot earlier than Phoenix Wright did.

The innovations in this game for the trial system definitely help keep the series as a whole reasonably fresh, between multiple witnesses at a time and calling out co-witnesses while pressing one, as well as the jury system and summation examination. The 3D object examination gets a little fancier, too. In turn, though, I feel like there was way too much of me having to press the witness on almost every single testimony. Very few times that I could just object right early in a testimony, which definitely adds to the length of the trials.

Anyways, I think I will leave the sequel for a couple of weeks. I try to break up long, text-dense visual novels like this with something more action-y in between so I don't burn out, so I'll go play something else for a bit.


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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Resolve

Case-by-case thoughts for cases 1-3, reposted from elsewhere.

Case 1 of Reprise.

Well, this was a breath of fresh air. For the first time in a while, the first case of an AA game where it's not ridiculously long and winding around and around, and the trial is relatively short. There wasn't anything counterintuitive at all. When the pen was first introduced though, I was kind of expecting it had been used to pierce the victim's throat so she could breathe. But it doesn't quite work that way with her injury.

Susato crossdressing as a male university student/lawyer is just so cute. I definitely have to agree with the in-game commentary of her crossdressing appearance being incredibly handsome and dashing. In turn, Rei is a cute girl. 1-5 broke the string of a cute girl every case, but she gets to start a new string. I think I have my priorities straight?

I notice that GAAC 1&2 seem to have been developed as being basically two of a pair. The original trilogy of AA games and even 4-6 have a lot of interlinks in-between them, with plot points in some re-using characters or events from previous games, and occasionally re-contextualising previous occurrences. However, GAAC 1&2 are reading explicitly as being back-to-back, with multiple events at the end of GAAC deliberately left wide open for a sequel to answer, and GAAC2 promising just that thus far. Kazuma's other objective in Britain appears to be something given to him by the government?

Prosecutor Auchi going on about the eternal rivalry between his family and the Naruhodo clan amuses me. In the JP version of the main games, their descendants all are still in Japan. But in the localisation, it would mean their rivalry was so enduring it even carried over the seas to Japanifornia and family name changes. Auchi cutting off his topknot with a haiku is just perfect.

Rei and Susato's joint takedown was pretty funny. The Judge's sling technique is even better. I think the normal Judge was really awesome once or twice, but this Judge has got the moves!

Oh yeah. Something that annoys me in the UI. The Ace Attorney games really need to have a much higher speed setting. I notice the original trilogy re-releases come with a higher speed setting enabled, and I wish every game was that way. In GAAC, even when replaying testimonies, or accidentally investigating something twice in a row, I can't speed up the dialogue.

Case 2. Finally, a two-day trial again. After how much of a slog case 5 in the first game was, it's nice to be able to break up a trial in half, even if this one would have been a lot shorter overall than Adventures 5 if it was just a single day trial.

It's mildly funny that in a set of games that can finally make the protagonists unabashedly Japanese for the English localisation, now we get a sort of Uno circumstances, and get a case that is unabashedly British, with multiple references to the Bard's plays. Gregson completing a verse at one point is absolutely perfect. If anything, I wish they had gone even more over-the-top with it, like making use of Shakespeare for the murder mystery itself. Possibly something that would make the twists or final evidence easier to guess ahead of time for somebody who already knows her or his Shakespeare.

While playing through case 1 of Reprise, I mentioned how much Adventures and Reprise truly seem to be two games in one, and this case shows that. There were some bits that were set up in 1-4, including a brief cameo appearance of Shamspeare. While the meat of the story could have been thought out through after developing Adventures, the broad outlines definitely must have been sketched through and finalised even while developing Adventures.

Also funny is my mention of the gas lines when playing through case 4 of the first game. I kept expecting them to be a major plot point then, with them being the cause of Natsume's night terrors, but it just never got brought up then. It really comes into play in a major way in this case, finally. I was expecting it to have been the (attempted) murder weapon here, but it wasn't. Though it was the murder weapon for the background case-within-a-case, at least.

Speaking of the above, it's starting to feel just a little old-hat that this is the third case in the two games thus far to use poison as the attempted murder weapon. I genuinely hope it isn't used again in any of the remaining three cases.

The little bit at the end that doesn't really reveal anything, but forces me to make a guess...I'm assuming the B stands for 'Baskerville'?

But really, the secret must be that Susato has mind-reading powers, since she directly responds to Ryunosuke's internal thoughts multiple times in this case lol. Assuming she's an ancestor of the Fey, it would even somewhat fit!

Case 3.

This seems to be really classic Ace Attorney. I feel like this case just really works very well, because it's got that pure, distilled, pull-back-the-layers-from-an-onion plot that a lot of the best AA cases have (and by pure coincidence, Ryunosuke makes a comment about onions if you observe the Russian architecture visible on one of the exhibition area backgrounds), along with a complete Rube Goldberg contraption of a murder scene. There's still a few too many lucky coincidences for my liking, but that's truthfully always been the case for the series.

Given how deep into the past the backstory for the case is digging, and how significantly linked many of the cases have been thus far to each other, it's a no-brainer to expect the case of ten years ago will be setting up for the endgame in the last two cases.

Gina Lestrade getting her return really rounds out the case, especially as an inspector herself. I enjoyed her character (and her accent!) thus far, so don't mind her presence at all. Enoch Drebber makes for a very interesting antagonist, and I like his vaguely clockwork/steampunk theme going on. Madame Tusspells is a bit of an intriguing character as well, and has got that cute witch dynamic going on, but I'm guessing she'll be confined to this case...mostly, since she's still tied in to the backstory case.

Barok von Zeiks continues to be a lot like Edgeworth, what with the tragic backstory of the death of a family member cementing his place as a prosecutor (though he was one already, whereas Edgeworth flipped from dreaming of being a defense attorney to becoming a prosecutor), and the case coming back to relevance many years later.

On the topic of Edgeworth, Zeiks is also one who'll duel with the defense in wits, until the case hits a tipping point where the evidence

Speaking of other character analogues to previous AA games...Mael Stronghart is beginning to feel a heck of a lot more like a Damon Gant analogue. Extreme fastidiousness, a character with more political and legal power doing some machinations to concentrate even more power, a fanatical dedication to reform, an extreme hatred of criminals, and doing some shady things like assigning Kazuma to Zeiks with no explanation.


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The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles: Resolve

Cases 4-5, and with that, the duology.

Case 4 completed.

Well, 'completed' in the sense that the game moves on to a new chapter. I recall this happened in Dual Destinies, where one of the trials was abridged and got wrapped up and shuffled into the next case, though I don't remember which set, precisely. Case 5 of Justice for All had 2 trials, which also made it a ridiculously long case. So that's what's going to happen here, presumably. It's actually getting to be an exciting endgame, now.

Though, speaking of exciting...I've b****ed about it before, but the one quality of life improvement these games needed is faster dialogue options. It's...just...so...slow...reading...anything...in...this...game...and practically the only text that you can speed up is the dialogue from the jury during summation examination. Anything else, like going over witness testimony again, or getting duplicate text from presenting evidence or examining the same thing over again, doesn't speed up. It really robs some of the fun of the game, imo.

It occurs to me that thus far, through the entire story of both games, there hasn't even been a sniff of spirit channeling wackiness. I'm actually relatively happy with that. It's useful to have a couple of games that doesn't need to rely on a lot of supernatural phenomena to parlay the twists in some of the cases (albeit, I think it was practically non-existent in games 4 and 5, too).

van Zeiks continuing the Edgeworth expy with getting framed for a crime and being hauled into court for a case that the protagonist has to defend him for. No doubt in case 5, he'll be acquitted of direct charges of murder, only to then get brought up on charges for being the mastermind behind the Reaper.

As soon as Mikotoba's writing was revealed to be one-and-the-same with the collection of case files, I instantly was expecting him to be Iris' real father. To the writing's credit, it doesn't decide to delay this reveal, and instantly has Susato call her old man out on this, though the circumstances behind everything will no doubt be revealed in case 5.

Hmm, as for other theories...Gregson and Asa Shinn are thought to be part of a conspiracy going around and extrajudicially killing criminals. I'm thinking that some of the murders of the Professor's were actually part of this conspiracy, and they re-appropriated Barok's cases to make use of the urban legend of the Reaper to continue their conspiratorial killings. Klint may have been a part of this conspiracy, only to get caught out and killed by Genshin, who was in turn framed. The members of the conspiracy may not have been completely consistent, given the Professor killings were all nobility, albeit ones stated to be scum, while the Reaper killings were all of notorious criminals.

Case 5

I won't go a huge amount into this specific case. Instead, some more retrospective for the two games as a whole. My theory from the end of my previous post was pretty much spot-on. Well, given how many hints the game was dropping at that point, it was too obvious. Ditto with Stronghart being a lot like Gant. I am amused that it turns out Iris isn't actually Susato's half-sister, though.

So overall, I definitely enjoyed both games. After how much the main series has had to consistently change things up to avoid getting stale, a change in both time and setting enormously shakes things up. The intrigue of a Japanese defense attorney in a Victorian England court at the turn of the 19th century is certainly fascinating. Plus, bringing in Sherlock Holmes and exploiting it hard for a lot of mythology gags, even if a lot of them would have passed me by, is also interesting. There's something to say that there's no videotape, fingerprinting, or ballistic markings either as a result. Some of Iris' and Sholmes' inventions broadly tread that line, but otherwise it's good.

The biggest flaw to me? It has to be the meandering amount of text. Each game could have easily cut out several lines of content through some more conciseness in both the investigations and the trials. Plus, like I've complained about multiple lines, the accursed text speed. The Ace Attorney Trilogy re-release gives the player fast text from the get-go, and it was a godsend when I played the first game again.

Given how much these games are two-in-one, it's kind of nice playing them back-to-back, instead of having to wait like in their original release if they had been localised. Both for the wait, and that I would've forgotten a lot of details by the time I played the second game.

Things that I'm disappointed didn't really take a bigger part of the narrative were the Great Exhibition and Crystal Tower. There was some hype built up in the first game, but in the end, it only was of moderate relevance in the third case of this game, and then exit stage left. Also, the lack of a real Professor Moriarty expy. Yes, there is a character in the story's background named the Professor, but it doesn't really count.

One random theory I had going into the fourth and fifth cases that didn't really pan out. I was expecting the events of the entire two games to have been Sholmes suspecting Stronghart from way back then of having been corrupt, and piecing together crucial evidence over the course of all ten cases to deliver to Ryunosuke to finally take down Stronghart. Possibly they would have had some prior run-ins and history between the two. This would have made Stronghart a lot more viable Moriarty counterpart. The most that really ends up happening is Sholmes deducing some things in the year prior, and then having witnesses, evidence, and inventions lined up along with royal intervention in the endgame to seal Stronghart's career.

Also, yes, the hologram is total bull.

I also realized that I consistently was getting Barok van Zieks' name incorrect.


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Star Ocean: The Divine Force

I blame Costco for purchasing this game. A couple of weeks ago, when I was in one of their stores, I saw a wonderful sale on an xbox controller (~ $40 CAD). That was just too good to pass up. After arriving home, I realized that I did not have any games setup on my PC to actually use the gamepad. So it sat there for a week or so, until a STEAM sale came up.

And Star Ocean: Divine Force was discounted to ... ~ $50 . At the time, based off reviews, I felt it too high a price for the game. I have not finished the game, but according to a walkthrough, I'm at the last dungeon area. My verdict? I paid too much for it.

In a nutshell this is an A-class title trying to sell at AAA-class prices. In comparison, Tales of Arise was on sale during the same period too for about $30 or $35. I played that on my PS4 and will easily recommend it for fans of the genre. i.e. if you had a choice of what action JRPG you wanted to buy and had to pick between Divine Force and Tales of Arise, I say grab Arise.

But what if you already played Tales of Arise, bought a new gamepad and wanted something new to play? At it's current prices, I have a hard time recommending Divine Force.

To be fair, a lot of my saltiness is due to the price. If they were selling it for $30 (AFTER taxes), I would not be this upset.

Onto the game now,

If you check video reviews on youtube about the game, a common theme you come across is that the game has a bad interface. Sadly, this is true. Even a couple of weeks/months after release, the UI of the game is just bizzare. Even playing on my PC, I find some of the text too small to read.

The tutorials in-game are ... lacking. They explain some things, but I can't quite figure out what might be a good way to maximize my teams capabilities. Or even what order to upgrade them in.

On the good side, the game is not difficult. At least on "normal", that I play on. At best, I've had only 1 or 2 frustrating boss fights and even then, I beat them after trying for a second or third time.

The map design is just too broad. Like, there is a flying mechanic to let you zoom around the map. Sadly, waypoints are spread out so much that you *must* use the flying contraption (called DUMA in-game) to get around. When I use the word "waypoints", I refer to interesting points on the map, like NPCs, shops, fetch-quest items, collectables ... etc.

I really wish the team behind this game hired a UI designer. There are a lot of interesting mechanics in the game - individual skill trees, DUMA upgrades, crafting, cooking ... etc. My problem is that on paper they sound nice and fun to play. Actual implementation feels like an Alpha product.

In all honestly, this runs like an unpolished game. The most sad part is that with that polish, I think this would really be worth a AAA price!



Well-Known Member
I bought TDF on sale recently. See how it goes when I get to it in 5 years.

Anyways. The last few weeks, in-between and after some of Ace Attorney, I've been playing Samurai Warriors 5. Got the Platinum trophy after about 100 hours.


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Set up Bluestacks and have been playing Path to Nowhere lately- I wanted to pick Girls' Frontline back up (because of my recent fic) but Bluestacks and GFL DO NOT like one another. So, instead- Crime mommy.

. . . why no, I don't know why I am the way I am either.


Well-Known Member

This game come out in early 2020, so I'm essentially playing it almost 3 years since it first released. It got some traction at the time for cute demon girls and the protagonist being obsessed with his demon girl harem. So of course I'm getting to it 3 years later instead of right then and there. Since I had waited, there was a second episode to the game that wasn't with the original Helltaker release, the Examtaker chapter. I played both.

And wow. The puzzle sections definitely got to be brain busters, especially later on in the segment. The puzzles are basically 'move square blocks around in a specific order to get to a certain point', though you need to get to two points in each level, not one. The first point to get to a key, and the second point to meet the level's demon girl. There's a lot of trial-and-error as I come up with new ideas on how to get through each level. Usually I work backwards, trying to figure out how the last few blocks need to be pushed to get to the girl, then try to move forward in fewer and fewer moves.

The Examtaker has puzzles too, but it also throws in laser beams that you need to push blocks around to block off said laser beams. The last puzzle segment has some split-second movements to avoid getting zapped by said laser beams. Fortunately, in both chapters, restarting a puzzle is very quick, with only a couple of seconds of delay. It would have been a lot less fun if the reset took ten or fifteen seconds each time.

Both the Helltaker and Examtaker chapter have an action sequence near the end. The movements are the same as the puzzles, but now you have to dodge lasers and spikes from the respective bosses, and use the kicking/punching motion to deal damage when the bosses' weak points are exposed. The difficulty can be very grueling until you get the timing down and can read the cues.

This was a short game, about 1.75 hours from start to finish to get everything. That includes the second part of the game, the Examtaker story. I would say time spent was about 80% on the puzzle sections, and 20% on the action sections.


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Impostor Factory

The third full entry in the sort-of series starting with To The Moon. Not counting A Bird Story or the interquels as full entries. Given it's been 9 years since I've played TTM and 3 years for Finding Paradise, I'm actually surprised I remembered most of the plot beats with those games.

If you've played either of those games, Impostor Factory is much the same. It uses some futuristic sci-fi technology of a deep dive into a person's memories, and uses the framing device of an unreliable narrator and some emotional events to drive the plot forward. All backed up by pixel-art in an RPG maker format. Of course, unlike when To the Moon was first released, this style of game has been done a thousand times before in indies, so it's no longer groundbreaking and even comes off obnoxious at times.

What's interesting is it makes a hard break from the main protagonists of the first two games, so they only have bit roles overall, while bringing two entirely new characters in to be the protagonists. The start of the game is actually in my opinion the most interesting part, where it has a recursive time-loop murder mystery. Then it gets sidetracked for nearly two hours while putting the question of the time-loop off to the side, which is where it falls flat hard in my opinion. There's a strong reference to Finding Paradise in here, as well.

As for things I was predicting while playing through. I picked up pretty soon that the machine demonstration was likely a prototype for memory interfaces like the devices they used in TTM and FP. After that, that the whole mansion sequence was in somebody's memory-scape, though I was expecting it to be somebody was dying and that Neil and Eva would show up near the end, having had to finagle and solve a huge mess together. That went in a different direction than I was expecting, anyways. I was not expecting Faye to show up, either, though I had completely forgotten her and Neil had made a deal to work together in FP.


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The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd

After nearly a year since I finished SC, finally getting back into the franchise with the 3rd. After this, I have most of the newer games for console in physical format (CS 1-4 for PS4, Zero for Switch, need to still pick up Azure, maybe for PS4 since Switch copies are already sold out), so I'll migrate away from Steam to PS4 and Switch for those.

Currently completed up to chapter 2. I was surprised, since I did the prologue and chapter 2 in only about 8.5 hours. Of course, the framing device of this game is a lot different than FC/SC were, so it's not too surprising that there are shorter chapters.

As with the first two games, I did my research going in to know exactly what needed to be done to not miss anything. I am currently doing a Normal run. I'm not certain if I'll bother going for all Steam Achievements. If I did, I would have to do a NG+ after finishing, and play Nightmare. But I'm pretty sure I carry over levels and equipment, so it should make the first 75% of a Nightmare run reasonably easy. I'm also surprised at how much more slack the chest messages achievement gets, too. I think there's an excess of 40 chests in the game over how many you need to check, but Grancel Port also counts for double because the chest messages change after it turns dark out, so there might be an excess of 100 depending on how many areas in the game are like that?

The new turn bonuses in battle are nice. Vanish seems a little tricky to use since it sometimes ends up giving the enemy a turn earlier than it would otherwise. Death is useful for me, not so much useful when it's used against me, so I have to be super-careful not to let an enemy get a turn with Death. It's the inverse with Guard, though in that case I can usually use a Arts instead. The two-turn bonus is also very nice to get.

As for the main characters, there's a hell of a lot worse characters I could be forced to have in the lead than Kevin Graham. Grail Sphere at 200 CP gives everyone complete invulnerability to two hits, and using Ries' Holy Blessing helps to get his CP back up. The SC save data carryover bonus for the Lunar and Solar Seal help on that front, too. Plus, he gets an AT Delay Craft Art too, just like Joshua did, which I abused strongly in both FC and SC. I'll tinker and figure out some good set-ups, since it's looking like this is going to end up almost like a Final Fantasy VI scenario, where I'll have a slew of characters but only allowed 4 to a party.

With the scenario set-up being more fragmented here, I really have to stay on top of my orbment set-ups. I cleared the boss fight of chapter 2 with mostly level 1 orbments, even though I had tons of quartz to spare from killing some Shining Pom. So probably starting from chapter 3, I'll clear all my orbments and start over again, making sure to set up some of the nastier Time/Space/Mirage spells too. Since the end of chapter 2 all but flat-out says I'm getting Kloe next, it means I'll have a really good spellcaster to take around, too.

Tita best girl, as usual. She is my go-to for going Wampa Stompa on Shining Poms. It's a shame that I struggle to actually get those Shining Pom encounters, though. I swear it was like a 1-in-25 encounter rate. Had to keep fleeing battle, reloading (to keep 0 encounters fled on my stats), and then try again. I know it was this way in SC, but I feel like the chance of getting them in a randomly-spawning mob was a lot higher than that.

Through the three TitS games thus far, I've been playing entirely on controller. Josette's mini-game was the very first time I've switched over to mouse and keyboard, because it's much, much easier and quicker to do that way with mouse aiming.

Oh yeah, voice acting. I can't remember, did FC/SC have any voice acting, outside of I think Gilbert's 'attacks' in SC? I know there was the patch to add JP voices in, which I never bothered with.

Finished up to and including chapter 4. I'm at 17 hours so far, with 3 moon doors, 4 star doors, and 1 sun door. Maybe add another 20 minutes from constantly reloading to try and get some Shining Pom encounters.

So yeah, it's definitely an interesting format. It's not quite episodic, but the doors scattered about make it seem that way with the side-stories, particularly the longer Moon door ones. I finally got best girl Estelle back. Well, best girl in everything except being able to demolish Shining Poms in one hit. That's what Tita can easily lay claim to being best girl for. Maybe that's Kevin's and Ries' true strength, being around to be CP mules to get Tita's CP back up for another round of hunting Shining Pom. Though Anelace still has that fun quirkiness, too.

Previously, I had mentioned having to try different characters. Chapter 3 pulled through with that, hah, forcing me to split the 8 characters I had so far into two separate parties of 4 and use all of them. Fortunately, I was able to split my equipment and Orbments again to make it through. Now that I have yet another large batch of characters, I'm expecting I'll be forced into a similar scenario soon, possibly with three parties (or even four? I've lost track of how many party members I have now). Definitely getting shades of Final Fantasy VI with several dungeons that you have two parties running around, and the final dungeon with three. I am getting just a MASSIVE amount of quartz at this point, even before fighting Shining Pom, so I should be able to easily create a lot of level 3 and level 4 Orbments here and upgrade slots as required. Not to mention converting them to Mira for the upkeep required for everyone's equipment.

Admittedly, although I cruised through most of chapter 3 and 4, I suddenly wiped to the boss of chapter 4 a couple of times. What did the trick for me was to stop using Kevin's Grail Sphere at the start, since the two side monsters were doing an all-area attack each and rending it null, and using his Sphere of Loa right away, killing both those monsters. Then the boss fell shortly after.

I tried doing the Star door arena fights at the start of chapter 4. I was able to clear the first two fights, but got wiped on the last one. It doesn't help that the mechs seemed to resist literally every status ailment I tried on them, and AT delay too. Well, several level-ups and a couple of rounds of new equipment later, I'll probably be able to mop the floor with them in chapter 5.

I'm at about 270 battles fought so far, with none fled (thanks to lots of reloading when trying to farm Shining Pom). So I should be able to easily get that 300 battles item no problem.

Music still rocking hard. A lot better than the first game, which seemed to be really blah at times.

I'd have to pull up an accessories list and compare, but I feel like their are a lot more overpowered accessories in this game than FC and SC. I have a lot of accessories that boost strength or arts by a large amount, like +200 or +300 each. While carrying Tita and Kloe as my two tagalongs in chapter 3, I got Tita up to 1900 strength, and Kloe a very similar amount for Arts. Kloe especially was really powerful with arts, getting 6000+ with a spell when everybody else was getting ~2500 with an identical art. It could just be because the game's been keeping the level scaling and stats progression continuing to go up like SC did from FC, starting at just under level 100 and already closing in on 115, that it needs to give me accessories that grant +200 or +300 in a stat instead of +20 or +50. Each new weapon or armor set gives me +100STR/DEF over the last weapon or armor, too.


Well-Known Member
The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd

Finished chapter 6. At about 32 hours of playtime. Funny enough, my Steam timer shows only 31 hours, and that was with leaving the game minimised for bits here and there. I'm guessing the Turbo mode function is counted in real time now. In addition to the chapter count, I'm at 5 Moon Doors, 11 Star Doors, and all 5 Sun Doors complete (outside of the extra arena runs). I did get Mirannaire Maniac mode completed, which took a few attempts, but there's only a limited pool of questions, so getting a few repeats helped me out.

Enemies start to get really tanky starting about level 5, and level 6 kicks it up some. I'm not too worried about Mira now for armor and weapons, thanks to farming Shining Pom, but it is a struggle. Haze/Yin-Yang FTW, because getting preemptive attacks on nearly everything is a godsend currently. Accessories are still the big struggle, because I only have so many really useful accessories that boost my stats to go around. Also finished up both the chest messages and the books Steam achievements.

Given the mini-episodic format of the game, it's neat getting to battle some characters that the party would never be able to fight in real life. Philip for one, and of course, Cassius Bright being the big one. A shame I didn't bring Estelle into that fight, because at least from a narrative sense it would have fit. Schwarzritter being Loewe wasn't a surprise, considering his sprite and appearance were nearly identical to when he was using a mask to go undercover as Second Lieutenant Lorenz in FC.

Estelle's fishing mini-game was very hit-and-miss with the RNG. When doing the third duel at 15 rounds, I caught fish my first 11 attempts in a row. Then I used my 3 Sea Bass to try and catch bigger fish, only to then miss 3 times in a row, and on the 15th round, the guild leader overtook me. Not very fun. Fortunately, the second go-around, I actually managed to net 4 Sea Bass and get 4 big fish off of that, ending up around 1250 points with a very solid lead over my opponent. One piece of advice I've found that is actually legit is to tap the reel button after the three sets of ellipses over Estelle's head go by. Don't button mash, or else the exclamation mark will never appear. But if you tap in an uneven pace, you're likely to get reel the first instant possible, which seems to be just a touch before when the visual and audio cue actually appear/sound. The first few playthroughs, I wasn't doing this, and I missed a lot of fish. But my success rate drastically improved after doing so.

I made the comment before that the game is kind of like Final Fantasy VI, in the sheer size of the party. 16 members I ended up with. I know there are some games that have a lot more, like Chrono Cross and Suikoden, but usually a large amount of the party members there are complete garbage. There are some clear winners in the bunch here, but at least they're mostly well-differentiated. Keeping them all leveled up is a little bit of a pain. So far, I've been using Deathblow 2 Quartzes because they're cheap and the Shining Pom encounters in the Erbe Scenic Route only has one Pom, which makes it quicker than trying to get my CP back up between encounters. I've been fleeing and reloading my game thus far, but once I get the Mirror quartz, I'll skip the reloading part.

Finished the game. I was just a little over 47 hours on the in-game timer, but my Steam timer was at 44 hours, and I can probably subtract 1 or 2 hours from that. Turbo Mode is indeed a godsend. I had considered doing a NG+ on Nightmare, but I would have to sit through 20 hours of cutscenes again with no skip functionality. I suppose I could set up a controller function to auto-press and play cutscenes while I walk away for twenty minutes at a time, but eh. I leveled my party up well beyond what I really needed to in the final dungeon out of consideration that I may eventually do that, so my weakest members were level 142, and the strongest were 145.

All Moon, Star, and Sun doors completed.

I was able to do the Nightmare Arena round. A little annoying that Kloe's Kaempfer only works on the first round bosses, and nobody after that. Same with ailments. I went with an Anelace-Richard-Tita-Kloe set-up (Anelace to get the Jinu sword upgrade), usually starting each round by buffing everybody up and then going to town with S-Craft before grinding out a victory, and getting my CP up for the next fight. I had Kloe with Auto-CP recovery accessories to use Sanctus Nova on demand. I had Joshua as my support to get a little more speed in battles. The final round with Cassius and Loewe was actually not too bad. Sometimes Loewe would interrupt my arts for buffs, but usually I'd be able to get them all off, and sometimes have to use recipe items instead for buffs. However, I got to this final round, and then had my game softlock on me twice thanks to what is an apparently known glitch for Cassius' Armor Rend getting knockback damage from the Mirror Quartz. The third time around, I just cheesed the battle by attacking Cassius first with S-Crafts, dumping Zelram Capsules onto Richard, and then using Sakura Morning Moon on Cassius over and over so he never got the chance to use Armor Rend. Not ideal, but I don't want to keep having to work around a goddamn softlock.

I also did a run through the Abyss. As long and recursive as the dungeon was, it at least gave me enough time to build up CP between each boss fight. They had nothing on a team with full CP at the start of each battle. I did a second run thereafter because it turns out it's a lot better spot for leveling than Erbe Forest, even if the Poms in the Abyss don't give up much EXP. Really, it's no surprise that the final dungeon has to be a point of no return, because the enemies there give off so much more experience it would have made the above Nightmare Arena vastly easier with higher levels.

It's funny that I should make my Final Fantasy VI comment, because just like that game, I had to split my party into several groups to get to the final dungeon. Well, it wasn't quite as ambitious, because my separate parties didn't have to trigger switches for the other parties to keep moving on, but there are four groups instead of three here!

The final boss was...surprisingly very easy. I fortunately had a very nearly perfect set-up going in. The final boss hits really hard, but it doesn't attack very often. I had Kevin with two auto-CP accessories, so I was able to use a fully-boosted Grail Sphere every four or five turns of his to get party immunity to two attacks. I had Kloe as well casting Earth Wall in the second phase when it starts to attack a little more frequently. The first phase of the fight also has the boss move so slowly that I was able to get Clock Up EX on everybody, La Forte for Attack up, and Kloe's S-Craft for Defense up (not that I needed Defense up, because I never actually got damaged once). About the only change I might have made is to set Grail Sphere as the S-Break so I could automatically use it once Kevin hits 200 CP and not lose a turn. Unless the boss had a big jump in speed in Nightmare, this strategy should still hold up. Or because it's the final boss, just dump Zeram Powder and Capsules on him if the boss moves too frequently for auto-CP to keep up.

For the final boss, it occurs to me I forgot about Ries' Holy Blessing while fighting it. So unless the boss moves ridiculously quick in Nightmare, I could have auto-CP accessories on both her and Kevin, have Ries dedicated to giving Kevin CP, use Grail Sphere as an S-Break, and Kevin and the other two party members attack, and never once actually take any damage.

Anyways, I enjoyed the game still, like I did the previous two Trails games. This one obviously has more focus on character development rather than a straightforward epic journey like the first two games does, and makes for a fitting sendoff for the saga. Compared to the first two games, there's definitely a lot better music. I recall making the comment while playing through FC that it had a surprisingly blah soundtrack. A lot of the newer cutscene music and dungeon tracks are really good here in turn, and they might have trimmed some of the more blah stuff. Some extremely gorgeous visuals, at least within the framework of this series, with impressive S-Craft from both party members and enemy bosses.

I was expecting there would be more voice acting, but I guess it's 99% S-Crafts and Gilbert. I think there's more voice acted lines than SC, at least, because while I recall Anelace having voice acting in SC, there's multiple characters I don't seem to recall that being the case for? The voice acting isn't bad, per se, but there are some character voices that they sound absolutely nothing like I would have expected. Richard and Olivert, for one. Also, hah, Renne literally meows as one of her victory lines.

It'll probably be most of the rest of 2023 before I get back to the series, this time on Switch or PS4 depending on which game is next up in the recommended playing order.



Well-Known Member
Finally finished Xenoblade Saga 2 took me almost 100 hours(kept on being sidetracked by Sidequests and being lost a lot). It's a really good game definitely proven from the the last one. The story was good, I love the characters and the character design too. The story got surprisingly dark in the last few chapters not that the whole game was Sunshines and Roses but it got dark. Though there were a few things I didn't like. Combat was a bit tedious by the end I just had lower the difficulty and had Auto Battle on. The gotcha mechanic on getting blades I just give up on it find it really frustrating. I think they leave a bit too much character development in "Hearts to Hearts" and I wish they integrated a bit more into the main storyline. Like the last game, I wish there was a bit of an epilogue where I can interact with the characters one last time. Again the love triangle subplot never really went anywhere or had any conclusion just like the last game.

Right now I'm playing the expansion pack. After I finish that, I'm going to take a bit of a break and then play the third game.


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Root Letter: Last Answer

Another VN I'm playing. My rule with these sorts of games is to do a blind run going in. Some VNs are indeed a straight-forward run with little difference affected by the choices made, so I don't bother needing to look up any information afterwards. Other games split into routes, or have vastly different endings based on the choices made. Root Letter is one of the latter that has different routes. The routes split off fairly late, in chapters 9 and 10 out of a 10 chapter game. My first run was 9 hours, with the first 8 chapters being about 1 hour each, and the last 2 chapters combined being just over an hour.

The basic premise of the game is the protagonist has a penpal he wrote letters to in high school, before she suddenly stopped returning letters to him. 15 years later, he reminiscences over them, only to find an extra letter with no address postmarked where she confesses to having murdered somebody as a high school girl. So the protagonist takes a vacation, and decamps to the western Japanese city of Matsue, where his penpal lived. There, he searches for hints about his former penpal's whereabouts, and determines the identity of her 7 best friends that she only referred to by nicknames in her letter. What genre the plot is supposed to be is fairly fluid, shifting from mundane real-life to supernatural to sci-fi to horror thriller and back to a toss-up between a realistic thriller and supernatural.

Matsue is actually a real city in Japan, and so some of the areas the protagonist gets to visit are based off of real life landmarks. They don't play pivotal roles, but it's still neat to get to see some of the cultural stuff, like the feudalistic castle, and the Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum.

As for the gameplay. It follows the stereotypical 'detective' VN format of going around to different locations in Matsue each day, checking the scenery, talking to people, and presenting evidence to loosen people's tongues and get them to cough up new information. Except unlike Ace Attorney or many of the other investigation games like that, you're mostly railroaded here. There might be 20 different locations I can go to by the endgame, but 95% of the time the protagonist is very clear on where to go next, with no chance for going to three or four different places at the same time to investigate different leads. Each chapter of chapters 2-8 involves the character determining the true identity of one of his penpal's former classmates going off their old nickname. A little difficult feat, given they're all 32-33 by this time.

I have the Last Answer version of this game, which is...uh. So anime series and movies sometimes get live-action adaptations, most notoriously by Netflix. The game was originally released with a generic bright picturesque backgrounds and character art. Then I guess the producers decided to do a shot-for-shot identical remake of the game, except using live-action background and actors. So Last Answer allows me to play both the original drawn graphics version and the live-action version. Weird flex to do a live-action remake, but OK. I'll probably try out the live-action for at least one run.

Finished the game. There are five routes in total, but as mentioned in my previous post, they only vary in the last couple of chapters. Fortunately, the user interface is very friendly, in that I can skip basically the first 8 chapters after a first playthrough and get to the parts that are actually different. The routes are determined by the responses the protagonist made to his letter penpal at the start of each chapter.

After clearing all five routes, there's an epilogue available for each route. I think this is exclusive to the Last Answer version of the game? Adding up the endings and epilogues, I'd wager the game is about 15 hours in length. The final two chapters for each route varies between about 1-1.5 hours, and the epilogues are each generally 15-20 minutes. That's in addition to the 8 hours for the common route. I've mentioned before the strange fluidity of the genre of the story. The true ending makes the understanding of the plot fully grounded in reality, but some of the other endings go straight-up into supernatural horror or sci-fi.

I did try the live-action mode once. It's...alright? Actually, it's kind of ugly in parts. Most of the backgrounds are decent, but it looks like they took pictures for the actors against a greenscreen or white backdrop, and then just copied and pasted them into backgrounds. It's very obvious, and just not aesthetically pleasing.

Doing a little bit of research, it looks like this game was actually made partially in collaboration with the city of Matsue, so it's really a disguised ad ;). Wonder what they thought of the government plot route.


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Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore

When the original TMS was announced, I was interested. But then I kind of missed out on a lot of video games for several years, and the Wii U got discontinued. So time to play Encore, which now that the Wii U shop is shut down for good, is the only way I'm going to get the extra DLC content without having to resort to flying the skull-and-crossbones. Thus far, I've finished up to the end of chapter 1 and intermission, with Touma and Tiki's first side-stories each cleared up. Level 16 for the party at the start of chapter 2.

I can definitely see where they've melded Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei together. SMT's relative battle system, learning and equipping skills, numerical stats system, and follow-ups on scoring elemental weaknesses (though through automatic second and third attacks through the Sessions, instead of an extra move of your choice). Persona's random spawning enemies and trawling through the dungeons, with special enemies intermittently showing up. And Fire Emblem's weapons triangle, and the luck-of-the-draw increase of stats with leveling up, along with its repository of weapon types for everybody's equipment. I did see Tiki got a class-up system message at one point, so I'm assuming I'll get Fire Emblem's class-ups at some point, too.

So far though, I see it more as FE x Persona rather than FE x SMT. Yeah, I know Persona was a subfranchise of SMT, but it's taken off so much now that I really regard it as its own franchise, and the whole urban fantasy vibes are far more Persona-inspired than main SMT. Then similar vibes with performance artists vs P5's Phantom Thieves. Between the characters, the battle system, and the dungeons, it honestly feels like a trial run for a lot of things that Atlus did in Persona 5.

Out of the Mirages so far, I recognise Chrom, Tharja, and Tiki. I think Caede is from Path of Radiance, but it's been over 15 years since I've played it so don't remember. Cain, I couldn't tell you at all.

I've been playing Normal, and so far the level of balance has been reasonable (I've opted not to bother with the training Idolasphere area unless I really do need it in the future). I have nearly gotten my teeth kicked in with some of the Savage enemies, since they come in large groups and tank a lot of damage. For the Shibuya area Idolasphere, once I got Horseslaying onto Touma, I was able to far more easily get through the Savage encounters. However, the sheer endless flow of enemies is a nuisiance. I felt a little overpowered for the boss at the end of the chapter, which was probably because the spawn right of enemies is ridiculous. I do realise Touma has Estoma, so I might use that in the future. For now, I just ran with it and did a lot of battles, but I may cut back on that later.

The Shibuya Idolasphere was definitely a cool dungeon design. In retrospect, it's not really that big a dungeon, but it certainly felt a lot larger than it was due to each floor being a confined space that slowly opens up as you break down more walls and manipulate the dress sleeves to get up to the next floor. Well, that, and the high encounter rate.

Assuming that they didn't just end her character arc because now she's rescued her sister, I'm definitely getting main character vibes from Tsubasa. Which would make this yet another game where a girl is nominally the protagonist, but for marketing reasons or whatever they have a male as the player lead, like FFXII, Bioshock Infinite, and to a lesser degree FFX. Tsubasa is definitely a fun character, anyways. I love just how ridiculously exaggerated a lot of her reactions are, like when she has her mouth hanging open in shock, or stuttering hard in response to somebody's crazy actions. Even her text messages, with the occasional 'AAAAAAAAAAA'.

Tsubasa's in-game human model shows her with blue hair, but her level-up portrait and the box art shows her with brown hair. Getting vibes of some of the early SNES era games, where character art was sometimes drawn with entirely different colouring from in-game sprites, like Terra in FFVI. Or Link, except I guess he was actually supposed to have pink hair in ALttP??? Also, a lot of the characters occasionally show up with heterochromia, though it's two different shades of blue or brown instead of two outright different eye colours. But a few scenes later, normal.

I am also disappointed there is no English voice acting.

Finished chapter 3 and the intermission after that. Itsuki is at level 36, and the rest of the party 1 or 2 levels behind him. Just shy of 24 hours, with every request that I'm aware of that I've spotted completed. I've done both EX stories and just about every side story possible, with the exception of two side stories that I haven't gotten the Stage Rank up sufficiently (one for Mamori and one for Tsubasa), and Kiria's side story that has a recommended level requirement of level 42. Yeah, I'll hold off on that for a little bit.

I'm definitely impressed with the vibes that the different dungeons areas have. Both the Shibuya Idolasphere (the real Shibuya Idolasphere, actually. I referred to the 106 previously as the Shibuya Idolasphere, because I hadn't realised there would be a second one that would be the streets of Shibuya proper) and the TV station Idolasphere have some cool visuals going on. I kind of feel like the Shibuya one was too much like the 106, in the sense that the areas are actually small, but are made to feel larger because you travel over the same spot two or three times, just dovetailing around cameras in different directions. The whole koi pond and traditional building exterior to the TV station was cool, although of course the indoors area was a lot more austere. It also occurs to me I've played a ton of games in the last few years where the Shibuya scramble is a setpiece.

Hmm. Character development-wise, I feel like the story really does focus on the girls. Itsuki continues to keep a Vaan-like role, where he's the protagonist but is the observer to the real main character (of course, he's a lot closer to Tsubasa than Vaan ever was to Ashe). Tsubasa and Kiria seem to get the lion's share of development with their side stories and the EX story, while Touma's seem more impersonal. That could be a side-effect of having to shoe-in romantic crushes for the girls; even though the Itsuki x Tsubasa ending is totally obvious, Kiria still has to have have affection, I guess. No idea if that'll continue to be the case, and where Mamori will fall on that spectrum. Speaking of Mamori, I wasn't really sure if she was supposed to be a child, or an adult who was really short and skinny, until she finally got mentioned to be a child actress. Barry has the most metal form ever with his skeleton get-up and giant skull shoulder guard.

Tsubasa is such a good girl. She makes sure to bow to everyone after giving out freebies. Then in her next side story, she decides to chase after a cat to help level up her performance, only to get distracted by a crepes shop, then decides to use a crepe to lure out the kitty, only to attract a raccoon. She is such a ditz and I love it.

Tsubasa shows a surprising amount of skin, both in her Mirage outfit and a lot of her stage costumes, including doing a TV ad in a bikini, and her very short schoolgirl skirt. I mean, yeah, idol and everything, but it does contrast with her often-shy personality (she literally does admit to having social anxiety at one point). At least when Kiria shows off her panty line, she's got the cool persona to go with it (haha make the ice queen the Bufu user, I get it!).

The outfits are cool. Depending on when the Joker outfit for Itsuki was added (was it DLC for the Wii U release, or only in the Switch release?), this could be his Joker's first appearance on a Nintendo console.

So, as far as the gameplay, wow. It spiked. I was getting my butt kicked multiple times in chapters 2 and 3. I even wiped a few times to some of the side stories and request mobs. I don't recall losing to the main story bosses, but I'm definitely hitting ruts where it feels like every turn I'm using a Revival Bead or Curry to revive somebody, and this is with using -kaja and -unda skills to buff my stats and decrease the enemy stats. With the amount of yen I'm getting from drops, I'm basically being pushed to grab items from the Hee-Ho Mart and use the Attack/Magic Mirrors, magic stones, and stats buffing stones.

I've evolved my skills set-up to actually reflect the possible use of items. I've ditched Patra and Posomudi because poison and charm-healing items are just so cheap and ubiquitous. I'll probably get rid of the -kaja skills because I can use the stones instead (but keep Tarunda and so on, because the stones are only for buffing my party, not for debuffing the enemies). This will free up slots for my party members, and means anybody can use those skills. Since I'm only in mid-game, I only have light element magic-all attacks like Maragi and Mazan, and not medium magic-all like Maragion or Mabufula, so those will go if I have something better, too.

With the passive skills, I'm ditching the stats-up boosts in favour of anything else. I was able to recruit the one Mirage for the Arena that trades Incenses for Detritus. My expectation is with Incenses, I'll be able to offset any stats boost I would've gotten from Strength Up or Resist Up, but increased stats can't offset losing some of the other passives like Null Charm and so on.

I was also surprised that the party only has 3 active members. In all honesty, I was expecting to be able to have 4 active members, especially since I've run into Mirage encounters that have had 4 enemies, and I think a couple of the boss battles start out with 5. Most SMT games have 4 party members, after all. SMT 3 + 4 have 4 (haven't played 5 yet), and the Persona games have 4 as well, including even Strikers. Digital Devil Saga uses 3 party members, and is the only one I'm aware of off-hand to have a party size of 3. Some of the other niche SMT games might have 3. Same with having 6 skills. I'm used to 8 skills, but to be fair to that again, many of the passive skills here are what would have counted as normal skills in Persona or SMT (Resist Ice, Null Sleep, etc). The one other weird thing I've found is waiting until mid-game to give me an axe user. Since the weapons are following the FE format of the weapon triangle + bows + staffs, I would have expected to get an axe user earlier on. Instead, we get two spear users in Tsubasa and Touma, and don't get an axe user until 20 hours in.

I can see now that I'm going to get a lot of extra Sessions in battle now thanks to other people's Radiant Skills with Open Audition and whatever Tiki/Maiko have. Used to be I could only get 2 extra attacks, and now I'll start getting 6, and presumably 7 if Barry gets one too. So it may start to balance out? A lot of RPGs seem to struggle with keeping a late-game balance, so here's to hoping this game does.

Other comments. The side-stories and requests really need to acknowledge that cell phones exist. A few of them that I have to run around because nobody thinks to say 'Hey just read your damn phone messages'. I mean, there needs to be something to do anyways for the missions, but it feels like a lazy narrative to just constantly ignore messaging everybody. Also. As some of the girls gain fame in the entertainment world during the story, there's the nice touch of having posters and advertisements of them appear in the decals and billboards throughout Shibuya and the office and so on. But somebody on the game staff was being cheeky. There is at least one case of a profile wrap being done where there's something interesting right at the girl's chest, in this case the vending machine in the office where the receptacle is where Tsubasa's breasts are. I'm decently sure I've seen at least one other case, though I can't recall.


Well-Known Member
So I finally finished Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna - The Golden Country. It took me a bit over 20 hours to finish. I played off and on for the last few months. The reason why it took me so long is I just couldn't get into the game. Not that it was a bad game it's quite good but I think it was a combination of a bit of a burnout from playing the last game and I found the story really depressing because I know the fates of all these characters. I would recommend playing this game first before you play Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

The ending was a bit weird it felt like they were setting up for a second DLC story that never got made.

Right now I'm debating if I should jump into Xenoblade Chronicles 3 or I should wait until the end of the year when the final DLC story is released. I still have Zelda to finish, playing a bit of Boulder Gate 3 and Starfield is coming out in 10 days. A lot of stuff on my plate.


Lurking upon the deep
Well i can say Starfield may not be as buggy as previous bethesda games, its still a bethesda game and the game is unoptimized as hell still right out the gate.


Well-Known Member
Tokyo Mirage Sessions FE Encore

I cleared up to chapter 4 and the intermission, and then am early into chapter 5. I did almost every Side Story there is possible available.

The boss of chapter 4 kicked my butt three times before I finally got it on the fourth time. Interestingly, what finally worked was using Itsuki's one special technique to give everybody two turns that round, then getting enough Lance attacks and Sessions off on Tsurugi to take him down before he ever actually got the chance to act. Dropping the boss fight to only one enemy made it vastly easier from there out instead of trying to corral both of them.

I can't say I really liked the dungeon for chapter 4. It was a little of a chore navigating through it, especially since my month-and-a-half break was literally right in the middle of the LCD panels room, so I was lost for where I had to go again.

Oh yeah. I got Tsubasa's Sexy Dance technique, and that seems to have broken the game open for me, or at least made the Savage Mirage battles ten times easier. I go into battle with Savages that have up to 4 enemies, and when she uses her Sexy Dance, at the very worst, only two of them get Charmed. At best, all four of them get charmed. The status effect does wear off, but typically it takes a couple of turns before any of them can act, by which time they're either all dead or down to one or two Mirages at low health. Once I realised just how powerful her Sexy Dance is, I also made sure to boost Tsubasa's speed with some Speed Incense so she usually gets to move before any of the Mirages do in battle. Finally, I'll be reforging the weapon that gives Sexy Dance, since I think a +1 and +2 would boost the technique's chance of charming instead of reducing EP cost.

I've been currently running a party with her and Itsuki and whatever other party member I need to beef up at the time to go through the Savage mirage dungeon, grinding out Detritus to trade for Incense. It took me a while to get the trader Mirage (Nieg?) available again, since I had to go fight a party of level 48 Mirages to do so. But now Incense trading is once more open, I can boost my party stats well above what the levels should be. Which I guess makes the game easier, but damn if the game isn't surprisingly difficult at times.

Since I have a limited amount of Command Skills, I've prioritised overwriting skills that can be easily replaced by items, which are pretty cheap to buy for how much yen I pull in from Session skills. Diarama and Media get tossed out for healing, since I can grab Energy Drinks and First Aid Kits. Stat-boosting skills like Rakaja and Tarukaja also get eliminated, since items can replace those too (but not Tarunda or Rakunda, since I can't buy items that drop the enemy's stats). The same goes for the Passive skills. Since I'm using a lot of Incense, I just ditch the stat boost passives for literally anything else.

When doing Eleonora's class change, I went with the Sniper, since her other class change would tilt towards electric spells. However, I always have to have Itsuki as my party lead, and while his magic isn't strong, he at least can get a Session going already, so it's not like I need to have two people with electric spells for a diversified party. Of course, if I'm going in to a boss weak against Electricity, I'll still bring her with.

Also, I find it quite shocking just how liberal they were with all the singing and dancing and artsy cutscenes, haha. For how the game seems destined to have always been niche, they were shockingly ambitious with the choreography and the lyrics and the duets and so on. It almost makes sense they didn't want to localise the voice acting, because then you'd have to get new singers for the music, too.

Finished the game. At about 58 hours after doing the post-game and getting my save for New Game+. All side-stories completed, 48/50 requests done.

I did enjoy the game. It feels like a step back after playing Persona 5, which has some similar urban fantasy themes in Tokyo, but is slicker, more stylish, and just had a lot more attention put into it. Regardless, TMS does its own thing, and its a lot more colorful and vibrant, strikes a different theme going all-in on the performance arts, and isn't afraid to parade around in its camp factor.

The last 2 requests apparently need a NG+, and I have little desire to play through the game long enough to do 2 more requests and fight the NG+ boss. I also did a single full run-through of the Advanced Arena battles, clearing all three rounds relatively easily thanks to a decent party set-up (I did Itsuki + Tsubasa + Mamori, with enough overlap to cover all 4 main elements, some of them multiple times. Between Tsubasa and Mamori, each of them have multiple healing spells or SP techniques, and Itsuki has Take a Pose if ever required). However, it's such a slog that I didn't care to do it more than once, especially since it would take 9 run-throughs to get 80AC.

The game was actually surprisingly difficult, with lots of tanky enemies especially. I definitely had to exploit weaknesses fully to get off lots of Sessions. Tsubasa's Sexy Dance helps a lot with enemy Mirages in the late game, which I used to farm for Detritus, which helps narrow the stats gap a lot.

Some random thoughts: There's definitely an element of gap moe with Mamori wielding a big axe larger and heavier than she is. I find it adorable how the animation sequences actually play this up, like when she stumbles after swinging her axe, or how she'll just swing around on it sometimes.

Some frustration with the Sessions system, having to switch party members around to minimise times a Session gets cut short because somebody uses an element that gets nullified.

I have no idea how load times were on the Wii U, but I suppose I should be thankful I played the Switch version. Load times weren't bad at all, but the feeling of constantly going back and forth between multiple rooms and areas made it feel long.

After wiping a few times on a couple of bosses, I wish they would allow a scene skip, not just fast-forward.


Well-Known Member
Xenoblade Chronicles 2

I played the original Xenoblade Chronicles (or more specifically, the Definitive Edition) last year. It wasn't a huge love affair, but I did enjoy it. I sank about 110 hours in, and another 13 on Future Connected. I didn't defeat all Superbosses or get all in-game achievements, but otherwise I cleared very much of the content. Still, for a game that size, I try to space out when I play sequel games, thus taking most of a year to get to XC2. Also, with the gacha mechanics I've heard for getting rare stuff, I know already I won't be going for 100% completion of all content in this game.

Anyways, thus far I've played about 7 hours, and completed chapter 2.

So far, I've decently enjoyed the game, and getting relatively back in the groove. But I remember playing X1 and getting overwhelmed with just the sheer amount of different systems they were tossing at me for battles, and it took me practically half the game to get fully comfortable. It looks like that'll be the same here, especially with Blades and switching between them, and overlapping Specials. Not being able to execute my techs at the start of a fight or to open a battle until I actually upgrade my skill tree is really annoying. I used Back Slash to wipe out a lot of enemy HP in X1 before they responded, so to not be able to do that is really going backwards a lot.

Right now, I can already tell I'm probably not going to like the diving/treasure hunting parts much. I've had to pause scum to really get anything (open and close the Switch home menu quickly to see which button to press once the prompt pops up). I'll take a look and see how much of a slog Tora, Tora! is to get anything useful.

I did do a little research beforehand just to make sure I avoided missing out anything particularly good that is permanently missable after a point. Some stuff that gets cut off in chapter 8, and not to kill the baby Ardun in Torigoth, which thankfully I recognised that when I got there.

Yes, I am aware of the internet meming about Welsh catgirls. I've been hearing affectionate jokes for years about angry Welsh catgirl noises. Yes, Nia is cute in that tsundere tomboy way, so it'll be all the nicer when she thaws out a little more. It's still neat hearing British accents for once in a video game, and neater hearing some more diversity. Tora is a pervert, and he is an adorable pervert. It's nice seeing Nopon really be more front-and-centre in this game compared to X1. Speaking of Tora, since a lot of those moments are relevant to him. it's not like Xenoblade 1 lacked for slapstick moments, but I feel like X2 is going more all-in on a lot of gag scenes

Though for Rex and Nia, it seriously feels like they're 13 or 14 years old, a far cry from Shulk and Reyn and Fiora being 18, and at least looking that way. Probably part of that is the more anime-esque style for the models. Pyra appears a more healthy 17+, with the age she appears helped by certain assets Rex gets a good eyeful of when he first wakes up at the start of chapter 2 (albeit, they may also be the reason she's so heavy!). I guess Jin must be a Sephiroth expy. White hair, mysterious past, barely speaks, thin curved sword that's nearly taller than he is, and he fully stabs through a main character from the back.

A mild attention to detail that very few fictional properties do. Moraug and her Blade are said to wield 'hotter' flames than Pyra, and their flames are blue compared to Pyra's red/orange. As hotter flames SHOULD be, instead of 'more powerful and higher temperature flames are even more red than regular flames!!!1!'

Finished up to chapter 3, at 20.5 hours. I was at level 25 going to the final battle of chapter 3, having only used a little bit of my banked quest XP so far.

I'm going to say it now. This game actually really starts to drag, poorly. A large part of it is just how much of HP sponges all the enemies are in this game. The game throws a bunch of combat systems at me in a very short period of time, so it took me a while to get my bearings with it. Admittedly, I played the DE of Xenoblade, not the Wii original (outside of a few hours), but the UI is significantly better. Plus, when I have tutorials, I can actually look up how the systems work again afterwards, where here I had to refer to a couple of online guides instead. But even after I got familiar with it, battles simply take too long.

One example I'll give is that in XC1, I could hit an enemy with Back Stab to open a battle, and usually wipe out 50% of its HP. Here, if I do that, I'd be lucky to deal 10% damage on a lot of enemies, even with Aux Cores set-up for extra damage on my first attack (of course, I think the +60% for a surprise attack core is fairly useless, since I need to time my Blade Arts at the end of my three-attack sequence for maximum damage, unless I'm missing something with that specific Aux Core). Even going to more general damage set-ups, with extra strength accessories and Indoor/Outdoor damage Aux Cores, it's still a chore to get through a lot of the fights. I honestly don't think I'm exaggerating when I say some of the boss fights were easier overall. I admittedly did wipe on both the spider boss and Zeke, but after changing my set-ups, they went by quickly. Plus boss fights actually give out enough experience for most of a level up.

About the only thing I believe I really haven't fiddled with is switching out my own Blades regularly, or setting them up so I have at least 3 of 4 of the Break-Topple-Launch-Smash set-up on my own, instead of having to regularly rely on my party members to follow through, to be able to get Driver Combos and Fusion Combos more consistently.

Other little things that are aggravating. Changing targets is a huge pain in the ass. It seems like I have to pretty much get right up to a monster to be able to change targets? Quests that go on for like three or four detours before I finally can complete the thing.

Anyways. Something positive. I find the environments are a lot better in X2 than they were in X1. X1 was already beautiful, but I think of X2 as being kind of like Final Fantasy IX, in that it remembers it has 3D environments, so it can actually go up and down. The steep changes in elevations across the place makes Gormott and Uraya really beautiful.

I found that Leap Poppito give a hugely good amount of experience (350 to 400 when my level ups need about 4000) for no real downside other than that they try to run away and sometimes succeed, and there are level 38 monsters flying around. But they appear right next to a landmark so I can respawn then easy. So I set up my Aux Cores to give myself 260% damage on my opening back stab, which usually took out half their health. Quite a big difference from almost every other monster in Uraya.