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[Game Journal] gimmegaming - 2022

25,502
Posts
11
Years
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Three
Back at it again. God this game is long.

I saved Date and Detective Matayoshi from an Eater as I had been tasked to. From there, they told me that another Eater was chasing Arata in the underground as well. Naturally, I healed up and gave chase. Apparently, Arata was there trying to help some friends of his who were under attack by Eaters. I decided to help him out and we teamed up. We were too late to save anyone, but we did fight and defeat the Eater. Unfortunately, the bad news didn't stop there. Suedo appeared and explained his goal at last - the merging of the real and digital to allow humanity the ability to manipulate the world and themselves at will. An interesting idea if not for all the problems it was causing. He invited Arata along to join him in this pursuit of greater power and not even the sudden arrival of Kyoko could dissuade him. Still, Kyoko was finally back in the picture so I guess some good did come of things. Back at the agency, she revealed that she had been trying to track down the Royal Knights and had located four of them at EDEN, Shibuya, Ueno and Odaiba.

I visited EDEN where I encountered Kentaurosmon... and the fucker attacked me and then ran off because I was too slow to be interesting. Kyoko and Omnimon suggested that we should enlist the aid of Uforceveemon (what a name), but he'd been stuck between worlds. To recruit him, we'd first need to bring him across to our world from a parallel one. No big deal. I went to talk to Mirei, something of an expert on that matter. Apparently, we could achieve our goal by creating a new Digimon using... Harmonious and Steel Will... whatever the fuck that means. Mirei suggested that I go to deal with the Shibuya and Ueno Knights in the meantime. So... it was off to Shibuya. Once there, I snuck past the army and set about looking for my target.

I found Magnamon at the end of a long and winding road, but he was of two-minds on the exterminating all humans things. Nokia showed up with Omnimon and convinced him to side with us, as she does, but we weren't getting away without bloodshed. Another knight, Dynasmon showed up and attacked... and he really shouldn't have bothered. Even without Magnamon acting as an ally, he wasn't particularly hard to deal with. With him defeated, Magnamon gave me the Harmonious Will and we regrouped.

Next stop was Ueno, where I very quickly found a Royal Knight called Gankoomon and his protege, Hackmon. Nice and easy... as if. No, before he would help, I had to help train Hackmon to be a Knight in his own right by defeating BanchoLeomon with them. So it was time to sneak into another area to make that happen. Naturally though, Hackmon ran off ahead on their own and got his ass kicked first. Naturally, I joined the fray to help out. This fight proved much more difficult than Dynasmon since Bancholeomon could one shot a lot of my team when he really got going. It was a close call, but in the end we prevailed. Hackmon evolved into a new Royal Knight, Jesmon, and joined our side with Gankoomon. Thus, I acquired the Steel Will.

I headed back to Mirei, but she informed me that it'd take some time to use the Wills. So it looks like I have to go do a bunch of filler missions until the next plothook mission becomes available. I think this continues to be my biggest complaint about this game. I've been playing it on-and-off throughout most of the year and I'm still not done. Now, obviously, if I just focused on this one game it'd go much quicker. But I don't think that negat5es the fact that Cyber Sleuth is much longer than it needs to be. Even the levelling and evolution system starts to become really tedious once you get to the later parts of the game because you have to constantly devolve and evolve things and mess around with the farm to buff the right stats. I'm at the point now where I just want the game to get to the finale already, but there's always another thing to do before I can get there. It's not that I'm not having fun anymore, it's still fun, but it is getting tiresome.
 
25,502
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11
Years
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Four
Well, as expected, I did a bunch of filler missions and then it was off to look for the Yuugo ghost again. Why? Because Yuuko decided it was finally time to delete the avatar since it was a tool for Crusadermon. She just wanted someone along for the ride since it was her link to her comatose brother. Unfortunately, the account wouldn't delete. Given that someone was walking around using the Yuugo avatar again apparently, we set out to find the perpetrator and put an end to it... in Kowloon again. We didn't find the avatar in Kowloon, but it found us. Yuuko received a message with a link to the Avalon server asking for a meeting. Expecting a trap, I went along with her. Turns out there was no hacker, the AI implanted in the avatar had gone rogue. There was still a fight to be had though as it sicked its Machinedramon on us while its RizeGreymon sided with Yuuko (and thus me). We defeated the AI and it merged with RizeGreymon or something to become... idk something else.

After that, it was finally time to go see Mirei again. She cooked up a Mastemon in a slightly homoerotic cutscene merging a LadyDevimon and Angewoman and then yeeted me through a portal to another dimension. There I immediately ran into a girl called Rina Shinomiya and her Veemon partner. Apparently, Barbamon had stolen "Veevee's" power and they needed help to defeat it. Obviously, this was going to help Veevee become UlforceVeemon, so I agreed to help out.

We defeated Barbamon, allowing Veevee to evolve to UlforceVeemon and then along with him and Rina, we headed back through the portal to our own world and made our way into EDEN to take on Kentaurosmon. He was easy enough to defeat and with his destructive urges quelled somewhat for the time being, he agreed to hang out with Rina and Veevee for a while to help him make up his mind on where he stands on the issue of exterminating humankind. In the meantime, I got another call from Date who once again apparently needed rescuing and headed to Asakusa to do that.

I arrived there and once again used Stealth Hide to sneak into a digital shift passed the army. I did not find Date at the end of the dungeon but I did run into Arata and a bunch of eaters. I joined forces with Arata to destroy one of the eaters... but he then proceeded to go crazy and absorb one of them becoming half-eater himself in his mad quest for power. Gallantmon showed up intending to kill Arata, but we ended up letting him go. Before there was time to dwell on that though, Nokia contacted me saying Yuuko had called a meeting. It was time to go after the enemy knights again so I was headed to Odaiba to seek out Crusadermon and Examon while Nokia and Omnimon tried to round up our allies.

Finally, things are happening again. I really enjoy these segments of the game when a lot of plot stuff is happening all at once, compared to the dead patches where it's all filler stuff. I still think that the game is about three times longer than it probably should be, but this was a fun segment. I like Rina a lot too, she's a fun character. Maybe a bit too similar to Nokia in some respects but she has her own quirks and manages to be much less grating. I'm going to take a break now, but that does wrap up Chapter Fifteen at last. I feel like that particular segment was four times longer than any of the previous. Might come back to play some more in an hour so.

Edit: I did, in fact, come back to do more. But given how the game has been doing its best to hammer in that Examon is ludicrously powerful, I've just used this time to do some grinding and evolutions.
 
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25,502
Posts
11
Years
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Five
I did a little more grinding to evolve Groundramon into Megadramon to open things up. Honestly, I was aiming to have Antylamon become Kerpymon too but this game is so damn grindy at this point that I got bored and figured screw it, I'll manage with what I've got. So, with that out the way, I gathered the troops and headed to Odaiba to seek out and deaol with Examon and Crusadermon.

We arrived to find the place in ruins. Another really cool bit of music for the OST in this area really added to the intense atmosphere of the smouldering locale. Kyoko informed us that the Knights were probably trying to use an Eater to get Examon under their control. As if his current rampage wasn't bad enough, we obviously couldn't let the enemy Knights get access to Examon's power. We headed further in, fighting our way to what was clearly our destination. Why was it so obvious? Because, as it turns out, Examon is a huge fuck-off dragon that dwarfs most buildings. We saw him easily enough and, concerningly, we saw Crusadermon with him. Nonetheless, we approached.

Yuuko confronted her, Crusadermon confirming that she was responsible for the death of Yuuko's father. The discussion didn't go much further than that though because she sicked Examon on us and it was fight time. Our allied knights - UlforceVeemon, Jesmon, Magnamon and Gallantmon (with Omnimon already present with Nokia) arrived to back us up and then it was on. We managed to drive Examon back but he proved to be a scripted battle and fled with Veevee and Jesmon in pursuit as Crusadermon slipped away. Things went from bad to worse soon after as Arata arrived on the scene and attacked Galantmon with his Eater arm, killing him and absorbing his power for himself. With Nokia heartbroken and the mission an abject failure, the group headed back to Kyoko's to regroup and recuperate.

Luckily, hope was not lost, even with Examon laying siege to Tokyo. The fight with Examon provided useful information. Kyoko figured out he would need to rest after each burst of destruction and that a huge amount of power was having to be filtered into him to sustain a being of his size and power. She tracked the source of that energy to Kowloon's (of course) as of yet unexplored fifth level. With Crusadermon likely waiting for us there, I headed there with Yuuko to try and interrupt the energy flow and weaken Examon/fee him from Crusadermon's influence.

We arrived at our destination but found the way in blocked. Suedo showed up, much to our collective concern, but posed a fairly reasonable arrangement. Crusdermon's quest to end the human world was a problem for both of us and he had the skillset to get us into the rest of Floor 5 and to disable Examon's energy source. So a tentative alliance was formed. Suedo opened the gate and we pressed on. We made our way through a series of traps, eventually coming to our destination. It was not Crusadermon that waited for us though, it was a different Knight - Craniamon, whom we had not yet met. Suedo tried to reason with him, but that went poorly and Craniamon attacked. Along with Yuuko's partner (who Google tells me is Gaiomon) I fought him with Diaboromon, Gryphonmon and Antylamon and he was quickly and easily defeated. Suedo made good on our deal and we returned to the agency... to do more boring filler shit that I'm not going to bother writing about other than to register my annoyance that it was mandated by the game to progress.

So, I did the irritating Occult Club mission and it seems like it's going to lead into the reveal of Pete's backstory and wrap that plotline I'd forgotten about up. So at least that should be somewhat interesting. However, the colossal waste of time that was the Occult Club mission has killed my enthusiasm so I'm going to pick it back up tomorrow.
 
25,502
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11
Years
Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Six
So, right as Pete started getting weird, I got a job from a man we met during the Occult Club bullshit in the previous segment to find his lost cat, Miko. Obviously, this was Pete's real identity, he looks a hell of a lot like a cat. So I pursued Pete into the building's old computer and found a bunch of data files about the origins of the Nakano Plaza as well as persona entries from Pete. Pete freaked out a bit and needed some beating to chill him about, but was eventually reunited with his old owner and they left together. The twist being that Pete/Miko really was a cat at first and gradually turned into a digimon while trapped with a bigass computer. Oh and his owner was probably a legit ghost. Mystery solved!

From there, I headed out but was immediately contacted by Arata. He wanted to meet in Odaiba and team up to defeat Examon, so I rushed right over there. Now knowing Examon had the Data type, I attacked with my three Virus team members - Megidramon, WereGarurumon (Black) and Matadormon. Between them and Arata, Examon proved much easier to defeat this time around even with his enormous HP bar. Arata took some of Examon's data to power up again, but fled when he was unable to consume all of it because of the sheer volume. In the meantime, Yuuko managed to track down Crusadermon in Akihabara, setting that as my next destination. I'm going to leave it there though aside from finally evolving Antylamon into one of the Kerpymon forms.
 
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11
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Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Seven
Turns out, for Kerpymon (Good) I still need to do more Int training... sigh. Well, I want to do story shit so I stuck Anylamon in the farm and headed to Akihabara with Yuuko, once more sneaking past the army to enter a digital shift. We navigated our way through the labyrinthine streets of Akihabara, fighting enemies as we went until we finally came face-to-face with Crusadermon. She blamed Rie for her sanity slippage and "revealed" that it was Yuuko, Yuugo, Arata, Nokia and myself entering the digital world during the EDEN beta test eight years prior that triggered the invasion of the eaters. We were not given much time to process this before she attacked.

Crusadermon proved pretty easy to defeat with Diaboromon, MagnaAngemon and Zudomon making short work of her. That was not to be the ends of our troubles though as I found myself separated from Yuuko in yet another digital maze and then thrust into flashbacks of eight years in the past. I followed the group of the past through what would eventually become Kowloon (of course), eventually coming to a stop at Galacta Park where we found a portal that brought us into the digital world just as Crusadermon said had happened (end chapter 17).

Of course, with me missing in a weird flashback dimension, the others were left rather concerned and trying to figure out how to track me down. Nokia took command of my digimon and she and Yuuko set off for EDEN to try and track me down. There they too encountered the flashbacks, as well as Yuugo's phantom - the pale ghost that would often appear in EDEN. He explained that during their exploration eight years ago, he had encountered an eater and his data had been absorbed. Absorbed, but not destroyed, it was now in a hidden location in the digital world he wouldn't reveal (to keep Yuuko and Nokia away from danger). Nonetheless, the girls entered the portal to continue their search, following our past versions. There they saw visions of the day they encountered the first eater, when Yuugo was absorbed, and also realised what Arata had remembered that drove him crazy. Crusadermon then apeared with an army of eaters, taking Nokia and Yuuko to my location.

Meanwhile, Kyoko, finally revealing herself to actually be Alphamon, entered the digital world in a pretty kickass cut scene animation to lend us her aid. Together, it was time for one last battle with Crusadermon. Alphamon/Kyoko bowed out half way through though, letting Yuuko and Gaiomon take her place and join me in finishing of Rie/Crusadermon once and for all. Crusadermon was dead at last, but not before revealing that Leopardmon was planning to use the energy of the Paradise Lost plan to wipe out both Eaters and humanity in one swoop. We returned to the office to get an explanation from Alphamon and strategise.

There she explained that the original Kyoko had been investigating Kamashiro on behalf of Yuuko and Yuugo's father, who suspected criminal doings within his own company at the same time as Alphamon was discovering that the Eaters originated in the human world. Rie lured Kyoko into EDEN to get rid of her, but Suedo had set a trap for both of them, setting Eaters on them and giving them EDEN syndrome. Shortly after, Alphamon and Crusadermon entered EDEN from their side and were able to take on the bodies and memories of the two women to investigate things in the human world. While Kyoko and Alphamon were perfectly aligned, Crusadermon was negatively influenced by Rie's shitty personality and turned full on homicidal.

With that out the way, we agreed to continue working with Kyoko and she pretty quick put a plan into motion. Leopardmon stood to become even more powerful than Examon by absorbing the digital wave energy from Paradise Lot, so if we wanted to defeat him, we'd have to take some of that power away. We'd rig EDEN points to absorb energy instead of emit to siphon off his power. That part of the plan was left to Nokia and her Rebels. In the meantime, Yuuko, Kyoko and I would go after Leopardmon himself at the Metro Office in Roppongi where the Paradise Lost plan was based out of. This ended Chapter 18.

This was a really good segment of the game! Lots of good story content and plotlines starting to come together and wrap up. I'm going to leave it there other than some more grinding since freaking Antylamon's int is still too low.
 
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11
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Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Eight
I finally evolved Antylamon, Grademon and MegaKabuterimon into Kerpymon (good), Ouryumon and HerculesKabuterimon respectively between these entries. From there I went on to complete four new missions off the board. Then, it was time to proceed with the story. I headed towards the Metropolitan Centre with Yuuko and Kyokomon in tow while Nokia set about getting the hackers on side to enact the plan.

We arrived at the building to find an extreme amount of digital shifting going on and powerful Digimon already fighting with humanity in the area. Magnamon and UlforceVeemon were doing what they could to keep the conflict to a minimum and stop it spreading, leaving us to head inside. The inside was a maze of lifts up and down and assorted obstructions, but eventually we fought our way up to floor thirty where we encountered Dynasmon. Kyokomon tried to talk him down, but in the end he decided a test of strength would determine who was correct in their convictions. With Kyokomon and Yuuko assisting, I fought him with Diaboromon, Megidramon and Matadormon (subbing in for Gryphonmon) and defeated him quite easily. We continued onwards from there.

Once more, we navigated our way through the maze-like interior of the shifted Metropolitan Building until, finally, we ascended to the rooftop. It wasn't just Leopardmon we found up there though. Arata was there too, waiting to eat Leopardmon once he had recharged. Arata lamented his inability to protect Yuugo, that being his reason for his slip into madness. Then, he changed form into a body fully merged with the Eater - Eater Adam - and attacked. I defeated him with Diaboromon, Megidramon and Gryphonmon and then connect jumped into him. From there, I forcefully dragged him out and separated him from the Eater.

There wasn't much time to comfort our messed up buddy though, Leopardmon was done charging and was ready to attack. Nokia arrived just in time and put the plan into action, weakening Leopardmon. The display of teamwork seemed to bring Arata back to his sense a bit, but Leopardmon wasn't so easy to sway. He went on the offensive against Kyokomon, Yuuko's Gaiomon and I. He was... kind of disappointing as penultimate bosses go and went down pretty easy. I didn't even switch out Diaboromon or Gryphonmon for Matadormon to hit him with an extra virus attribute.

After he was dealt with, Suedo showed up and explained to us how to finish things and deal with the Eaters once and for all. We would have to enter the digital world and defeat the Mother Eater that had latched onto King Drassil and corrupted him. To do that, the Royal Knights would hold the gate open for us while Suedo flooded the digital world with specially altered eaters to confuse the Mother Eater's security. From there, we could attack.

I'm on the home stretch of the game now. I have some last jobs to do for Rina, Mirei and Arata before heading off to fight the Mother Eater and maybe I'll try to do Diaboromon's last evolution into the Ultra level Digimon, Armagaddemon. We'll see if I can be bothered. I'm hyped to be near the end at last.
 
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Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - Part Twenty-Night
Over the last week-ish, I set about finishing the last major job on the noticeboard. I helped Arata break back into the Valhalla server and defeat Knightmon for past slights, I defeated the seven deadly Digimon for Mirei as well as her weird super-powerful Monzaemon, had a rematch with Jimikan and sparred with Rina and Veevee. With all that behind me, with my team all at their maximum possible levels and all but two at their highest evolved level - one of which being the Ultra-levelled Armageddimon - it was time to head into the Digital World.

With the aid of Suedo and the Royal Knights, Arata, Nokia, , Kyokomon, Yuuko and I passed through the portal. We arrived in the digital world shortly after, finding it overrun with eaters and half-ruined. With no idea where Suedo had gone, we pressed deeper inside. It wasn't long before we encountered one of King Drassil's security terminals and were forced into battle. Seeing Suedo's Eaters swarming, we followed them to the pit that led to where King Drassil was located. We made our way down into the pit, fighting our way through more security terminals.

Eventually, we reached the Mother Eater and King Drassil. However, I couldn't connect jump into it. We would have to defeat it first and it was ready for a fight. Arata, Nokia, Yuuko, I and our respective Digimon leapt into battle. This was... very anti-climactic. I'm not sure if my allies were actually on the turn order. Either they weren't or I outsped them so much they were too far down to see. I'm going to assume the former. Why? Because the fight was also pitifully easy. The security terminals were far from hard and they put up more of a fight.

Still, the Mother Eater was defeated and I was able to connect jump into King Drassil. Inside, I encountered Yuugo who was able to lead me to where I needed to go. Or was it? He kept talking about how lonely he was and happy to see me and go home and how worried he was that we didn't care about him... but every time a different voice cut over him and yelled that this wasn't exactly the case and that I shouldn't listen to him. I reached Yuugo's real body and pulled him out anyway despite his protests. Once he was out though, he revealed why he didn't want to be rescued. He had been supressing the Eaters from within and now that he was out, their speed of consumption would increase and the absorbed data of people with EDEN syndrome and both worlds were at risk.

That was when Suedo made his appearance. He declared that this was necessary for the evolution of humanity and the birth of his new world. He intended to merge with the Mother Eater and King Drassil, merging with them to eradicate the old and usher in the new world of his dreams. Before we could stop him, he walked up to the Mother Eater and merged with it and Drassil. I tried to connect jump in to pull him out, but my half-digitalness was an issue here not an asset - I had become too corrupted by repeated Eater contact and would basically die if I jumped again. So instead we all turned to fight the powered up new form of the Mother Eater... basically another JRPG fight with a god and I was excited for it after the last fight. This was the real boss battle.

This was a cool battle. Two stages each with different parts that needed to be defeated and each with different elements and attributes to encourage switching through your team. It also had a move that did shitloads of damage and switched your ally out for one of the others (it only did it to me once, switching Nokia for Arata) which I thought was a nice touch. It was definitely more powerful than Mother Eater v1, but still no match for my team. We overpowered the Mother Eater and defeated it... but Suedo was still within. While the others tried to figure out what to do, I risked one last jump. Suedo wouldn't come back, but after talking with me, he decided he would change his course of action to one safer for the various worlds. He went off to do his thing, and I jumped back out. Victorious, we returned home as King Drassil set about restoring the digital world to how it once was, repairing our own in the process by calling the digital back. With the Eaters returning to how they should have been as well, all the mental data they had eaten was sent back to where it belonged as well, curing EDEN syndrome.

So... what do I think of this game? I liked it quite a lot, it has its flaws, but I'm glad I got to experience it.

The overarching plot was multi-layered, full of mysteries and quite good. The mysteries were pretty simple to figure out before the big reveals, but not to the point of hurting the story. The characters weren't incredible, but they were compelling and there weren't any important characters I particularly disliked. Jimiken was annoying I suppose, but he was meant to be. Suedo made for a very interesting villain since his goals were generally well-meaning, just dangerously extreme. My only real complaint about the story is some of the execution. The game was very bloated with mandatory sidequests that broke up how you experienced the story and hurt the pacing. It was very frustrating to frequently be in the middle of a major story moment but have three trivial and tedious things I had to do before I could back to the interesting stuff. This is why it took me so long to finish the game too in large part. It made the game twice as long as it needed to be. Sidequests are fine, but I think most of those should have been optional, something to be done at my leisure when there was grinding to be done or something.

Mechanically, the game was solid here too. I like the dual attribute system with light, dark, fire, plant, water, electricity, wind, earth and neutral as the elements and then the more important virus, vaccine, data and free attributes. The heavily customisable movesets and branching evolution trees were nice too and the farm was a cool idea. There were issues here too though. The system required you to be constantly devolving and evolving your party to get their stats to the right place to eventually reach the next stage of evolution. But every time you evolve or devolve a Digimon, their level is reset to one and you have to grind it back up again. This isn't too bad at first but it quickly becomes tedious when you're aiming for higher evolutions like Mega or Ultra or shooting for specific Digimon in the evolution line. I think separating the level and evolution systems would make this much more streamlined.

Visually, the character designs were meh. Human characters ranged from "okay" to "what the fuck?" in design. The female characters in particular typically looked ridiculous with extremely impractical and oversexualised outfits. The only exception there is Yuuko and her half-fused Eater situation found away to change that briefly. The player character is technically customisable but the options are very lacklustre too. As always the Digimon themselves have a huge range in design. Some look amazing and some are absolutely hideous. Some of the animations were a bit weird or stiff too, but this is outweighed by how nice the cutscened usually looked - especially the Kyokomon one where the game does the Alphamon reveal.

Sound-wise the game does pretty well. There are some absolute bangers in this game's soundtrack while at worst the backing music is unobtrusive ambience.

So yeah, the game is flawed and way too long, but it is a lot of fun and enjoyable experience over all.

Writing: 7/10
Visuals: 6/10
Soundtrack: 7/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Total Score: 27/40
 
25,502
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11
Years
Saints Row IV - Part One
Alright, now that Cyber Sleuth is finally done and behind me, it's time to get started on my game for the month.

We kicked things off with a bang, a raid on a generic middle-eastern base to get a nuke put together by a British lady who is apparently ex-KGB and an MI6 dude who has supposedly tried to kill us before. I have no context for any of this, but my guy sure was a badass in the opening cutscene. Let's go. So, the prologue was short but sweet and certainly set the tone as it had me climbing a launched nuke to the sound of Aerosmith as my companions said a bunch of increasingly less genuine goodbyes until I disabled it and parachuted off only to land in the white house and become president. Yup.

We then jumped into character creation where I create a mohawk-wearing monstrosity of a president with shit ratings despite the fact I apparently was passing a bill to end world hunger. This did not remain a problem for long though as aliens invaded out of nowhere, stole by staff and my crew and beat the living shit out of me. As of that point, there were bigger concerns.

Things only got weirder from there as we were soundly beaten by the aliens and I was captured and thrown into a matrix-style simulation. With some help from tech-girl Kinzie, I managed to escape from the creepily peaceful 50's/60's world I was in but I was thrown into a grungy cityscape instead. There I bought myself some guns but that was apparently a bad idea because it resulted in me needing to shoot through a bunch of simulation cops and alien goons before fleeing to Kinzie's safehouse... only to find none of the Saint's gear was there because Emperor Zinyhak removed all traces of the gang/group/crew/whatever the fuck they are.

For now, I'[m stuck in the simulation trying to make do. Kinzie has some quests for me to help improve my situation but, I'm leaving it as a short play session for now. So far, the game is fun. Fun in a dumb way, but sometimes that's a good thing.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Two
We started things off today by going full Matrix. Kinzie had me run around collecting data clusters within the simulation that I then used to get access to superhuman feats of jumping and running. So as long as I'm in the simulation, I can outrun cars for a while or jump up buildings. Shit be wild. Next job was to upgrade my clothes and gear, because vibes are important. And with that very important job done, it was time to learn how to hurt aliens and destabilise the simulation. How? Well the hurting aliens is easy, you shoot them. The destabilisation involves wrecking their maintenance hotspots.

With the simulation now lacking in some of that sweet, sweet stability, Kinzie was able to code in a door that got me back into my body in yet another wonderful Matrix spoof scene. Unlike the Matrix though, my rescue was late and I was forced to nakedly fight through a bunch of aliens with stolen guns until the ship arrived. What followed was a kickass space ship escape to Haddway's What's Love?... and the subsequent destruction of the Earth because we pissed Zinyak off. Rather that demoralise the crew though, we were motivated. Kinzie sent me back into the simulation to fuck with their defences so we could map out the Zin mother ship and find Zinyak himself... oh and rescue all the other people trapped in the simulation I guess.

We started by causing some mayhem for the Zin, which earned us the attention of an AI who was interested in helping us. I completed his platforming task and was gifted a flame blast ability as a result. Next step is to build our new friend a body.

So far, still dumb. Still fun. I'll probably have more to say about mechanics and stuff next time.
 
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11
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Saints Row IV - Part Three
To start things off, we needed to get CID (our new AI friend) a body. To do that, I stole a robotic data terminal-thing and then downloaded him into it. All I had to do was fight off a bunch of Zin while I did it. The plus side was that I got a fancy new gun with bouncing plasma ammunition and unlocked a new power - telekinesis. So now I can yeet people/things with my mind which is always fun. CID has a body now too - both in and out of the simulation. That means he can be called on for help and he can also start working with us to free other members of my crew from their own simulations.

First up... not exactly a crew member. It was hacker-turned-MI6 Matt Miller - the guy I mentioned back in Part One who had repeatedly tried to kill me. Still he seemed useful so CID and Kinzie got me into his simulation prison and into a retro game sequence of tank simulator, racer and then text adventure. Being as great as I am, I breezed through those and Matt was saved. Sort of... he was out of simulation but he did still need saving. This involved getting into a kickass mech suit and smashing things which is always a plus. Things got even cooler when I got guns for the mech suit courtesy of Matt. Once he was onboard, we made a fighting retreat and subsequently learned of someone who's simulation involved being trapped in a plane - likely my supposed best friend (I guess knowing a bit more about 1-3 would have been good here lmao).

First things first though, it was back into the simulation to investigate a suspicious signal. That signal turned out to be one of the Warden boss aliens, but killing him via a Neo-style Matrix jump meant I unlocked a Hulk-esque super stomp to blast people with. With that out of the way, it was time to find our boy Johnny who was apparently trapped in a plane. Unfortunately, it wasn't Johnny on the plane it was Shaundi who was there on the plane that Johnny supposedly died on. So I saved her instead, shooting through a mob of clones of her weird stoner ex. Mission accomplished! Sort of.

Next up, it was rescuing another member of the Saints crew - Pierce. Whoever that is. To save Pierce, I had to shoot my way through an army of Saints mascots before it became time to take on the giant variety - named Paul - with a rocket launcher, a helicopter and then finally a gigantic statue piloted like a mech. Eventually though, Paul was slain and Pierce was rescued from his simulation. I'm leaving it there for now but suffice to say I'm still having fun. Mechanically the game is solid even if the story isn't anything amazing. At the very least the narrative isn't putting me off from the fun aspect and I'm learning to embrace the madness.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Four
It was back to bringing the crew back together. Next up, my former chief of staff, Ben King. For this rescue, I was revisiting a time in the past when Kings old gang threw a coup and he needed rescuing by the Saints. Of course, Zinyak had given the simulated gangsters some buffing, but that didn't stop us from mowing them down. What's more, apparently Ben had a plan to really cause Zinyak some trouble. He was sent to work it out with Kinzie and Matt. In the meantime, it was time to save Asha, the agent who put together the mission in the prologue.

Saving Asha was, I'm pretty sure, a parody of Metal Gear Solid since it involved us sneaking around a base through vents and inside cardboard boxes leading to a final showdown against an army of goons and an evil clone of me. Nonetheless, we killed me and made our exit from Asha's simulation. The next thing to do was to deal with the fact that through all of this, my own simulation had been going absolutely haywire with everything trying to kill me constantly. To do this, I partnered up with CID and we set about destroying the devices that were spawning all the crazed gang members into the simulation - learning that Johnny may well be alive after all in the process. Of course, while CID was disabling I was murdering legions of goons - including "throwback" me clones. This culminated in another warden fight where I unlocked the ability to empower both myself and my weapons with fire.

So, that's all for today but I'm going to take just a second to actually comment on the game since I haven't been doing much of that. Story aside, there's some actual positives. You have a lot of freedom in how you want to play - very GTA which makes sense since this franchise started as a GTA parody. The actual mechanics for weapons and abilities are easy to grasp and it does something I like a lot which is implement the mechanics of the game into the narrative. In this case, I particularly mean the way you increase your abilities by collecting data clumps and altering your code within the simulation. It's a nice touch.

So far, the game continues to be fun, although I wouldn't call it incredible or anything close either.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Five
First order of the day, find where Zinyak had Johnny Gat stashed and rescue him. Naturally, this meant entering into Johnny's simulation - a multi-stage retro beat 'em up centred around saving his doomed girlfriend. Once he was out of the simulation, it was back into the power armour to seek Johnny out in reality - alien killing time. I slaughtered my way through the aliens, all the while wondering why they were more worried about Johnny than me. Turns out it was because he'd been abducted years ago - before the invasion - because Zinyak was fucking terrified of him. Still, I rescued him and the gang was all together now. It was time to start prepping for Ben King's plan.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Six
So, it was time to meet up at Kinzie's warehouse in the simulation so we could get briefed on King's plan. Unfortunately, the Zin showed up en masse and we were forced into a fighting retreat across the simulation in a race to get back to the gateway and the ship. Unfortunately, this was something of a disaster. Zinyak smashed our car and made off with Kinzie (well her mind anyway) and we returned to the ship to find Matt, Asha and Keith David missing and the Zin boarding us.

We took out the boarders and then went onto their ship, rigging up the explosives they tried to rig up on our ship. The bombs went off and we managed to destroy all the attacking Zin. In the aftermath, we discovered Asha and Matt stuffed in a cupboard, suggesting Keith David had betrayed us. We now had to find Keith and rescue Kinzie so she could get back to her body.

Finding Keith David proved to be pretty easy since he was holding a presidential rally in the simulation - a rally that was also an ambush. I soon found myself fighting through hordes of Zin while chasing after Keith. Eventually, I found Keith in his office where I was jumped by his Zin bodyguards. Keith flipped back to our side though and saved my ass, only for Zinyak to appear and yeet him into his own simulated prison where I had to destroy a bunch of CIDs to free him from his brainwashing... and also Roddy Piper was there for some reason? Weirdest cameo ever.

Anyway, with Keith free, it was back to saving Kinzie. He knew where to find her.

With some help from CID, we found Kinzie back in the 50s simulation from before. There I had to destroy a bunch of speaker towers to free her from the clutches of a simulated Cyrus (nuke guy from the prologue) and then take Cyrus himself out - all with just a dubstep music gun as a weapon. Still, I prevailed and the crew was all back together and ready to take on Zinyak.

The dubstep gun has to be the slowest and most irritating weapon to use in the game and the Roddy Piper cameo was incredibly weird. This game needs to learn that sometimes it's okay not to go all in on the insanity. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Still, it has yet to become boring at least, even with me rushing through and just doing the main plot stuff for the most part... or maybe that's why.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Seven
At last, Ben King's plan was revealed. We would develop a key that could break down the walls between the individual simulations, eventually forcing the system to overload and crash, this ending the simulation and giving Zinyak a massive headache. To do this, I teamed up with Johnny to go about collecting the various pieced we'd need for the key from throughout the simulation. This involved making use of many of the skills I'd developed thus far - platforming, super sprints, grand theft auto and zin killing, all on a time limit against hordes of enemies. The platforming segment being particularly annoying this time around, but certainly doable. Eventually, we got what we needed and cleared away our pursuers so Shaundi could airlift us out.

After that, we just needed power cells to make the key work. This involved yet more hordes of Zin as I partnered with CID and Shaundi's doppleganger to hunt them down, having to breach force fields and pissed off guards to get my hands on. This culminated in a fighting retreat in a Zin tank, that was also home to the last of the cells. Despite the army set against us, we got back to Kinzie's warehouse and she was able to start preparations for our final assault. That is going to have to wait for tomorrow though.

I don't have much more to say about the game at this point until I wrap things up. It's a simple game with simple mechanics and a simple story. Simple isn't bad of course, but it doesn't make for a very exciting discussion.
 
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Saints Row IV - Part Eight
I gave the team a rousing speech about kicking the shit out of Zinyak in vengeance for humanity, to ensure our continued survival. Then it was time to begin the operation. I would lead three teams for three separate missions for the final stages of the game. The first to set up the key, the second to take out the simulation and the third to go after Zinyak. For the first part, I picked Shaundi and Pierce and we headed into the simulation to get to work. We escorted the key to CIDs location which was easy enough since we have a car and a BFG. Things got a little trickier after the hand-off though as I had to defend CID and the Key while he linked it up to the simulation while also going around this awful platforming segment.

With the Key in place, it was time to use the portals it opened to flood the simulation with allies. I partnered up with Asha and Matt and we headed into the simulation to unleash hell. I visited each portal in succession, opening them and leaving an ally there to secure it. That meant for the last and most heavily defended I was on my own and I admit it actually took me three tries to succeed here because I didn't notice all the aerial support the first two times like an idiot. After the portals were open and Paul unleashed from mine, the simulation started coming apart and I was forced to run from exit gateway to exit gateway as they sealed off in response, only narrowly making it out in time.

The next step? Board Zinyak's ship and kill some aliens with Johnny and Ben King. Which... we did. We murdered our way through the Zin to get to their armoury, held our position until Johnny could get it open and then came a kind of annoying free fall through the ship in some kick ass iron man style power armour that I am forgiving completely because it made a fantastic reference to the old 80s animated Transformers movie - you know the one. This culminated in a... actually pretty damn cool boss fight against Zinyak, who donned some giant power armour of his own is what I'm sure is a reference to the first Iron Man movie. Once he started losing, he hid in a forcefield and threw explosive CIDs at me that I had to throw back through the barrier, all the while being harried by hordes of his goons. Once the shield was down though, I was quickly able to finish the job. With Zin dead, the Saints Empire was born.

So, this game is no masterpiece. Let's just get that out the way. It's visually decent and the soundtrack is pretty solid, although largely because of the novelty of the choices of song for the cut scenes - especially the free fall at the end. Mechanically is where the game is at is best. The integration of the simulation narrative into the gameplay was clever, I always like that sort of thing - although the platforming segments could get bothersome and there was a little clunk. The combat stuff was solid all the way through and I genuinely really liked the Zinyak boss fight. I don't have a lot to say about the game though. The story is decent but nothing amazing and the writing runs the gamut from god awful to legitimately funny to a few moments that are actually pretty cool. It's a silly game designed to be a parody and homage and you get everything that comes with that. Probably not something I'll leap to recommend to people, but it's a good time if you want something simple to enjoy. Especially if you want to sink more time into it doing side quests and enjoying the open world.

Writing: 4/10
Visuals: 5/10
Soundtrack: 7/10
Gameplay: 7/10
Total Score: 24/40
 
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Pokemon Scarlet - Summary
I won't say too much, since we have a whole other section for Pokemon gaming, but I did finish Pokemon Scarlet just now and figure I should leave some thoughts.

First and foremost, I want to get the negative out the way because there's a lot of good I want to focus on. The game doesn't run as well as it could and should. There are occasional glitches, it sometimes gets laggy and it takes forever to transition between scenes. We all know it. We all understand that Gamefreak and the TPCI can and should do better. Ordinarily, I find complaint about this stuff very overblown and even now I think people do exaggerate, but this is a real issue that shouldn't be overlooked.

On a more neutral note, I found the Pokemon designs this gen to be kinda middling. There are very few Pokemon I really loved this gen, although plenty I liked well enough. By the same token though, my initial thoughts on designs were a lot more negative with a lot of the new mon growing on me as I played the game. As it stands the only ones I straight up really dislike are the Gimmighoul and Spidops lines. I'm not a huge fan of the Nacli line either, but it's rapidly growing on me. Character designs I'm in a similar boat. The important characters all looked really good, but regular NPCs ranged from eh to unpleasant.

Okay, now we move on to stuff that is more unambiguously positive. Terrastalising is a fun mechanic. It looks good and it adds an interesting element to gameplay. I think megas are still my favourite of the more recent gen's gimmicks conceptually, but I have no complaints about Terrastalising. The open world aspect they introduced was also really nice. The world felt much bigger and it felt very fitting for Pokemon. It irked me a bit that the gym/star/titan difficulties were locked so you couldn't play around too much with the order you battled them in, but I do think this was a step in the right direction. And as far as that difficulty goes, I think Scarlet and Violet's is in a pretty good place. The gyms/league and titans were still pretty damn easy, but I actually had to put some work in for the star bosses and, outside of the couple of gyms or titans I did in a weird order, I was never overlevelled. I was actually underlevelled once or twice.

The character customisation was great this time round as far as the actual physical traits of your character. This is the most control we've had over how our character has looked yet and I really hope the trend continues. I didn't much like being mostly stuck in the same uniform (I almost wish I'd gone with Violet just because the Violet uniform is better lol) and being able to have a bit more control over age/height/build would be cool too. Still steps in the right direction.

Now, for the stuff that I have basically no complaints about. The characters and the story in Scarlet & Violet are some of the best the franchise has to offer. The worldbuilding felt lacking compared to generations like 4, 6 and 8 - but the story itself was very well executed and hit emotional notes that previous generations have rarely approached. Each of the three story routes (we'll talk about the fourth one near the end in a bit) was enjoyable and tied into the characters and overarching themes of the games really well. Nemona as the hyper-focused battle fanatic who struggles to make friends because of her obsession was very one-note, but intentionally so. She was meant to embody the idea that it's lonely at the top primarily I'm sure, but she came off very autism and/or ADHD-coded which was interesting. Penny's character is a bit harder to pin down because you interact with her directly less, but her storyline focused on the lingering affects of bullying and the importance of community and friendship in the face of such things was compelling. Arven though was the standout character, possibly my favourite in the franchise. His story, both his relationship with Sada and his desperate attempt to save his Mabostiff was emotional, powerful and gripping. Hell, even Koraidon has an arc (the first time a Pokemon has in the franchise) about regaining confidence thanks to the efforts of the player and their friends.

The final part of the story is executed very well, with the three previous storylines converging to form a party of sorts going into the Paldean Crater (which is gorgeous and one of my favourite locations in Pokemon. The music was incredible too). I thoroughly enjoyed the character dynamics we got to see in action and although I would maybe have liked to explore the Sada storyline a bit longer, the limited time we do get to spend with it culminating in some major moments for Arven and Koraidon and the birth of a proper group of friends (and how that relates back to theme of the game) was great.

The lesser NPCs - the gym leaders, e4, Geeta, the star bosses and Clavell were also all quite enjoyable with (mostly) good designs and distinct personalities. It was also nice getting to interact with the e4 outside of the league which is a rarity. But yes, I'll say it again, some of the best writing Pokemon games have ever given us.

Writing: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10
Soundtrack: 7/10
Gameplay: 8/10
Total Score: 32/40
 
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I Am Setsuna - Part One
So, we jump right in with our protagonist who is not Setsuna but Endir, a swordsman from a mercenary clan. You know what that means? It's tutorial time! Endir was tasked with rescuing a girl from some monsters in a snow-covered forest accompanied by his mentor, Hapsper. It didn't take long to kill some evil penguins, find the girl and fight off a bear monster to protect her. With that done, Hapsper took the girl back with him to fulfil the mission and Endir was about to take his leave when a mysterious figure approached him to offer him a new job - to travel to the Island of Sacrifice and assassinate a girl who had been selected to travel to the Far Lands as a sacrifice. Why was not yet clear, but Endir did take the job and made his way towards the village on the isle of Nive.

Endir headed north from the Nive village where he was greeted by a man called Raishin, and told how the village was a very warm and welcome place. That doesn't really fit with a place also known as the Village of Sacrifice, which is intriguing to say the least. Endir set about exploring the village. Talking to the locals, I learned that the sacrifice was (what a shock), the titular Setsuna and that none of the villages were exactly thrilled about this. The sacrificial pilgrimage was a necessary evil, something to quell the monsters of the world a bit for a while. Setsuna had been chosen for the role, but she was well-liked and most people were quite morose about it. Apparently, sacrifices were often selected from her family as her mother and grandmother were chosen before her. Another interesting thing to note was one person who had moved to the village more recently and claimed the villages were taking a long time to warm up to him, contrary to what Endir was told earlier. Still, he found out where Setsuna was and headed off towards the Dazzshire Woods and the monument beyond to find her.

Endir found Setsuna at the monument, paying her respects to her mother and the other previous sacrifices and prepared to kill her, but backed down. They started to talk a bit, but the discussion was short-livd as Raishin and another girl in a hood showed up and very quickly knocked Endir out. He later awoke back in Nive. The girl in the hood, Aeterna, arrived shortly after. Endir managed to piss her off though and she left very soon after. The other guy who was there, a more generic NPC, informed Endir that he was spared the death penalty by Setsuna's request. However, he was to remain magically imprisoned until she was safely on her way.

Unfortunately, this was another conversation cut short as the village was suddenly attacked by monsters once more. Endir was abandoned, trapped in a house soon to be overrun. Lucky for him, Setsuna arrived and set him free, much to Aeterna's disapproval. Still, Endir was conscripted to help Aeterna clear out the village. The work was quick, but things took a sudden turn when a much more powerful monster appeared - a gigantic bird thing called a Whitewind. Setsuna rushed to join the fray as the party healer, despite Aeterna's protests and together they fought the creature off... although I almost wiped because I got distracted trying to remember which button set off Momentum mode and the combat system uses my old nemesis, the ATB so that meant I ate like three attacks.

Still, the monster was defeated and Endir was left with a choice. He could remain imprisoned until Setsuna was gone or, at her request, he could join her guard on her pilgrimage. He had some time to decide, so while he was trying to figure it out, he returned to the monument with Setsuna. They reached the monument easily enough, the Woods were already no real threat to Endir and Setsuna being in the party only made for shorter work of the adorab - I mean evil monster foes. Setsuna said her prayer at the monument and Endir took the time to reflect. After that, it was time to return to Nive and make a choice. Naturally, he decided to leave the mercenary life behind - at least for a while - and journey to the Last Lands as part of Setsuna's guide. Setsuna said her goodbyes to the people of Nile and Endir set off with her and Aeterna. Next destination: Flonaeia Citadel on the mainland.

So, some thought. This game was described as people a homage to a lot of Square Enix classic RPGs and it shows. The opening title sequence is heavily inspired by Final Fantasy VI's, the combat is almost identical to Chrono Trigger's with some nice little additions in a stealth approach mechanic and Momentum which is kind of like if Limit Breaks were one-off buffs not super attacks. The story - a young girl on a sacrificial pilgrimage to save people from monsters - is basically lifted right from Final Fantasy X, which is one of my favourite games ever so I Am Setsuna is treading in some dangerous waters. So far though, with only a little gameplay under my belt, I'm liking things. It's not exactly original, but it isn't meant to be, it's a love letter to some of the most highly regarded JRPGs ever made.

With that out the way, mechanically I obviously don't have much to add. The combat mechanics are solid because they are derived from great sources (mostly, we'll get to that). Chrono Trigger was clearly the biggest inspiration here, although the Spritnite stuff giving access to Tech's is something straight out of Final Fantasy VI and the Momentum system reminds me a lot of FFVII's Limit Breaks. The stealth element to approaching monsters is a cool addition that I like a lot too. The ATB though... did they have to bring the Active Time system back? I get that the game is a homage to the games that gave us the ATB but the ATB is also the worst thing about the mechanics in those games. God damn it. At least it's set to Wait by default which makes it a little better.

That aside, the game is beautiful and atmospheric. The music is entirely sombre piano music so far and it's mostly really pretty and emotive. The prologue's combat music was a bit too campy for the mood everything else has, but that's a small blip compared to how good the soundtrack is in general so far. I especially like the Nive village music. Visually the game is also gorgeous. The character models are good, the portraits are better and the environments? Holy shit. Look at some stills because damn.

So far, so good. I'm having a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to playing more.
 
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I Am Setsuna - Part Two
The party set sail for the Citadel, but it wasn't smooth sailing. The ship was abruptly attacked by a slew of minor monsters that were quickly dispatched and then an enormous sea-serpent/duck/dinosaur thing. This foe was tougher, but couldn't damage the group faster than Setsuna could heal them and eventually Aeterna was able to cut it down with a momentum kill. In its last moments though, it unleashed a wave that took out the ship and left the group separated and stranded somewhere on the shore.

Endir came to alone, travelling north for a short while where he eventually found Setsuna being attacked my more monsters still. He saved her and she re-joined the party. Then, they regrouped with Aeterna shortly after. From there it was a short journey northwards to reach Serendale. Far from helping orient the party though, Serendale was derelict and totally abandoned. Here the pary met a swordsman named Nidr who was on his last legs against a monster. The party rescued him and he told the to head north to a village called Purikka where they could meet the captain of some sort of resistance movement and from there travel onwards to Flonaeia Citadel. Seeing as he was a character with a rename option (side note: weird you can rename Setsuna too when her name is in the title), it seems like he'll be joining the party at some stage. Anyway, the journey continued on.

Soon after, the party reached Purikka, there they met Freyja, the captain of the resistance. Apparently, a resistance movement more about fighting back monsters than any human threat. She could apparently open up a passage through the mountains to Flonaeia. However, she was reluctant to do so for the party given the danger the monsters within posed and the small size of the party. She insisted that the party take one of her recruits as well. Nobody was that interested in the recruits honestly. They found Nidr intriguing though. Turns out he was part of another sacrifice's guard roughly twenty-years prior (Setsuna's mother? Does that timeframe add up?). Apparently he isn't the warrior he used to be though and mostly just loitered around Purikka. I have a feeling the party is getting him not a recruit. Not in the long term lol. Still, they went to meet the locals as instructed.

The party put the recruits to the test and thoroughly kicked their asses, proving that they weren't up to the test. Freyja decided to go instead, but had to do one last patrol first. She gave the party a chance to get some rest while she did so. The party took her up on this offer, using the time to recuperate and also to discuss Nidr. Setsuna really wanted to recruit the guy, more for his sake than theirs. He was apparently a shell of a man in need of help. He'd never even returned home after the last sacrifice.

The captain sure took her time to return though. Because she couldn't do it under her own steam. A cry for help called the party to the front of the town where they found Nidr had returned the captain and her recruits, Freyja herself badly wounded and in no condition to be an escort. Apparently, a scythe-wielding maniac (I guess in a Chrono Trigger homage there had to be one lol) had attacked them by Serendale and was after Setsuna. Nidr headed back to Serendale - chasing after an idiot who was out for revenge - and Setsuna decided the party should follow even though he'd told them to run, determined to help him and have him join them.

They got back to Serendale only to see Nidr kicking some serious monster ass in stark contrast to the exhausted mess he'd been during their first encounter. It seemed like he had been fighting the monsters in the area basically alone ever since the last pilgrimage, but was letting the last sacrifice take all the credit. The group pondered if that was because the sacrifice wasn't actually keeping people as safe as it seemed. It hadn't worked. Either they never made it, or the ritual failed. This explains why the monster presence had come back so strong so early too.

They found Nidr talking with the dumbass who chased after scythe-man and confronted him about this realisation. That was when the Reaper attacked. The fight was long because he was durable, but he only made single-target scythe attacks so he was a pretty easy foe. Still, once he was defeated he got back up and moved to attack again. Nidr jumped in to Setsuna's defence and forced the Reaper into a retreat.

Endir and the others returned to Freyja, who led them to the Icy Cavern's and opened the pathway for them. Nidr also arrived to see the party off, but Freyja called him out on his shit and he was finally convinced to join the party and make up for his failure to protect the sacrifice in the past. Aeterna was benched for a while to make room for Nidr and the party continued on into the caves. Naturally, before they could exit though, they had to fight the reason the caves were locked up: The Primeval Tortoise.

This thing was the first boss that really presented some measure of challenge because it has really high defence against physical attacks and despite Aeterna's claims to be a magic user, only Setsuna was equipped with offensive magic yet as the only one who could learn Lightning. Suffice to say, she put in work while Nidr did his best and Endir took over as healer for Setsuna. The fight was, nonetheless, eventually won though and with Setsuna swapped out for Aeterna for a while they reached the end with Flonaeia in sight.

I really like Nidr. He's not crazy powerful in practice but he is beefy and he hits a bit harder than Endir even if he has fewer options in general right now. His character though is really interesting and compelling. That's all for now though.
 
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I Am Setsuna - Part Three
The party soon arrived at Flonaeia Citadel, a large city ruled by a supremely benevolent man called Lord Avalo. The party explored a bit, hearing a lot about a place called Tenderville - a refugee camp that Avalo runs out of town to give a haven to monster victims. This makes him seem a little too good though, immediately making me suspicious. Especially since monsters apparently stopped attacking as much when Avalo took over from his father.

It wasn't long before we were meeting Lord Avalo himself. He was very friendly and was happy to lend the party the one airship (because inspired by Final Fantasy among other things) he had available to drop them off as close to the Last Lands as possible. Unfortunately though, Akash, the shipwright was needed for it to set off and he had gone missing. The party resolved to find him, learning that he had likely gone to Tenderville. So that was where they headed for as well, reaching Misleigh Woods. The music in the Woods reminds me a lot of You're Not Alone from FFIX, but a lot jauntier and less intense.

Part way through the woods, the party encountered a boy named Kir. He claimed that he was also travelling to the Last Lands, concerning the party. They decided to take him in and deposit him somewhere safe. Since he had a rename option, it seems likely he'll be joining the party properly at some point. For the meantime though, he was a tag-along on their journey towards Tenderville.

At Tenderville, the party found that Akash wasn't around but an old man named Dinas - the same name as the previous lord of Flonaeia (hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm). He claimed that the party could probably find Akash back in the pub in Flonaeia and gave them a letter to help secure his support. Apparently, he once made an error that got a lot of people killed, so he's helping Setsuna to save as many as he can in atonement. Intriguing.

The party headed back towards the Citadel, through the forest once more. This led to an interesting encounter with a spirit. The party prepared to attack, but Kir convinced them to stop and the spirit left without incident. Kir claimed to have seen the spirit before and that he always just wanders off like he did in the end. Curious to see what might become of that.

But that was a mystery for another time. The party reached Flonaeia and found Akash lurking in the pub. As expected though, he was reluctant to do anything with the airship, claiming that Avalo had overthrown Dinas for power and would use the ship for something dubious if he flew it again. However, the party had Dinas' latter, which changed Akash's tune pretty quick. Akash headed off to make preparations and the party returned to the Citadel to get given access to the airship. Queue Avalo's sudden but inevitable betrayal. He stunned the party with a spell and grabbed Setsuna... and also Kir who is apparently a valuable "rare-blood." He ordered his guards to kill the remaining party, clearly unaware he was attacking the protagonists. Avalo fled towards the airship with his captives, but the party broke out of their restraints quickly, kicked the crap out of his guards and then gave chase.

With a little help from Dinas and many unconscious guards left in their wake, Endir and the squad got access to the port. They fought through a bunch of monster on the airship, including a werewolf boss who did nasty amounts of damage. It's a good thing Endir has Aura to heal when Setsuna isn't around. Once the party were past the werewolf, they found Kir but not Setsuna. Kir explained that Setsuna had been taken somewhere else, but he had some idea of what Avalo was up to now. He had somehow made a deal with monsters. He would give them a set number of people (explaining why some people would sometimes just up and leave Tenderville and never go back) and Flonaeia wouldn't get attacked. This still raised other questions, but the party focused on giving chase.

Things can never be simple though. As the party reached Avalo and Setsuna, he held her at knife point and activated the ship since Akash refused to. Unfortunately though, he lacked the skills to actually fly it and basically set the thing to explode... which was when Repear showed up to attack Setsuna again. This complicated things, the Spritnite Device that powers the ship had to be destroyed to minimise the damage it would soon do, but Reaper was present. This left the party to focus on destroying the device while Repear wailed on them. Thanks to the combined healing of Endir and Setsuna though, they got through it and only a small, localised detonation took place. In the explosion though, the airship was left damaged, Dinas was killed and Setsuna was gravely injured. Kir though, had a solution perhaps. He believed that the party could have her successfully healed at his village and offered to lead them there. The party headed off, leaving Avalo to consider his actions after his father's dying words and Akash to fix the ship.

So, I Am Setsuna continues to have many of the hallmarks of the classic Square Enix RPGs. Not a bad thing, it's just worth noting. The love for the genre continues to shine through. The story and characters continue to be solid and the music and visuals are still excellent. I look forward to playing more when I won't melt sitting at my computer.
 
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I Am Setsuna - Part Four
The party followed Kir back through the woods, briefly encountering the strange blue spirit being again as they made their way into the mountains and towards Kir's village. Of course, it wasn't such a simple walk. The mountains were protected by illusions the party would have been hopeless to get through without Kir, and there was the usual monster presence to contend with too. Eventually though, the party reached Hiddbury, Kir's hidden village. Unfortunately, the village leader wasn't willing to use his own power to heal Setsuna and things seemed pretty tense with Kir. Also strangely, Kir noted that the village was constantly besieged by monsters but never fought back.

The party shelved secondary concerns for the time being though. Kir had an idea for healing Setsuna himself. He just needed to access a strong enough spritnite vein to draw out a shitload of magic. Thus, the search for a suitable vein began.

This also proved to be fruitless though. Even with help from his siblings, Kir lacked the power to heal Setsuna and was even putting his own life at risk by pushing it too far. The village chief, Hydor, explained that the rare-bloods were actually born with far greater magic than normal people, but this was a double-edged sword that shortened their lives and made them more appealing targets for monsters. To help mitigate this, the rare-bloods had most of their power locked away in a gigantic spritnite stone shortly after birth. This did expand their lifespans, but it failed to fully deal with their monster issue. Many of them sought out better means of extending their lives but few ever returned (Kir's brother being one of the losses) and none succeeded. Kir was talked down from helping Setsuna in such a risky way, but the village was attacked again and Hydor ambushed soon after.

Kir explained that he had originally been searching for a method to help his people like his brother, but decided on a new goal. He would take back his power and use it to save both Setsuna and his village, choosing a shorter life over one that wasn't worth living in his eyes. The party escorted him to the spritnite and defended him as long as they could, but soon had to leave him to finish the task on his own so they could return to village and help Hydor and the others.

Prospects seemed bleak upon arrival, but Kir was not far behind and was able to easily clear out the weak monsters and then played the role of the main DPS against the Timeslave boss fight that followed. With his full power unlocked, Kir reaffirmed his desire to join Setsuna's guard and was ready to live his life his way. But not before saying goodbye to the spirit that had been following him around, who was of course his deceased brother.

The game remains good, but the cracks in the pacing are starting to show now I think. The story it wants to tell, the characters it includes and the themes it touches upon are much too complex for such a fast-paced game. That's why the Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger are as long as they are. I am Setsuna remains a great homage with good quality, but at this stage it's clear that it doesn't have the time to reach its full potential.
 
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