Living the Good Life, Episode 17 (August 19, 2016): Getting Ready for South Carolina

Another good week, though there’s a bit of anxiety laying on my head since I have a trip to take. But for now, the fun stuff:


WATCHAN:

Macross Delta 20: This episode was OK, but I didn’t like it so much…No fighting, not much singing, just some melodrama. I hope we’ll get answers to some questions next episode…

OPM dub 5: Amai Mask (Shouldn’t it have been Sweet Mask, though?)’s voice was PERFECT, really great. Aside from that the duel with Saitama and Genos was great too. And the last moments…”I have rent money.” Classic, haha!

My other stuff hasn’t been released yet, guess I’ll report on it next week.

PLAYAN:

I’ve gotten back into Vindictus, even though I said I wouldn’t last week! ;_; Just when I thought I was out, they announced a boss rush mode that was exactly what I’d been wanting for a long time, so I had to come back, haha.

I’ve also been playing The Age of Decadence, an indie Western-style RPG released on Steam about a year ago. Though the game advertises itself as being much different from any other RPG, I honestly found it most similar to…Shadowrun, specifically Shadowrun Returns/Dragonfall/Hong Kong. See, in Shadowrun, you can either fight your way through the game (as in Baldur’s Gate or most other RPGS), *or* talk your way through it and evade fights that way. If your intelligence is high, you can outwit most opponents so they won’t want to fight, and if your charisma is high, you can bluff your way out of most fights. That’s kind of how it is in Age of Decadence, where putting points into charisma and intelligence (and their related subfields) will allow you to just talk your way through the game without fighting at all. That was pretty fun, and it’s equally fun in this game, enough so that I could overlook the relatively poor graphics (which are forgivable, as this is an indie game made by a handful of people who wouldn’t have nearly the resources to make something that looks like Bloodborne).

Less forgivable is the game’s awful combat. The devs advertised it as being really hard, unlike other RPGs, and more “realistic” than games where you can just take on armies of mooks by yourself. In this game, even the best hand to hand fighters can only take on one or two enemies at most, and even then that’s a risky proposition.

Sounds good and realistic, except…the combat system gets most of that “realistic difficulty” from the utterly tried and uncreative method of RNG dickery. The combat isn’t much different from Fire Emblem, as you control characters on a panel-organized battlefield, but it’s more similar to XCOM, as both moving and attacking require AP. You also have a choice between different attacks–“fast” ones that have a high chance to hit but low damage, regular ones with no characteristics, power attacks with hi damage and low hit chance, and some other ones (head strikes, hand strikes, leg strikes) that trade accuracy and power for inflicting debuffs on your enemy like reducing his dodge or hit chance. Whatever you choose, you’ll essentially be unable to do any damage to anything unless you have 10 strength (the maximum), unable to do anything unless you have 10 dexterity (the maximum, which gives you maximum AP), and unable and unable to hit anything unless you have 10 perception (which influences only accuracy in combat, otherwise it determines how well you pass certain non-combat related tests, which strikes me as a baffling decision–why would this be related to “perception” rather than dexterity?), but even if you have those the RNG, or random number generator, is ridiculously annoying. For instance, I started a new character as a mercenary with nearly maxed out Strength, Dexterity, and Perception (and a minimum of the two remaining characteristics, Intelligence and Charisma, naturally), and the very first fight took like 10 minutes because my guy missed nearly all of his attacks, no matter how high his hit percent was. Regular attacks missed 4 out of 5 times with a hit chance of 65%, fast missed 3 out of 5 times (I only made 2 out of 5 hits) with a hit chance of about 75%. Now, I know the devs will say I just got (un)lucky, but that’s the thing–combat in Age of Decadence revolves around just pumping your stats into combat and hoping the RNG likes you, not any real thought or challenge. Later on you can get some useful battle items like alchemic bombs or boosts to hit and damage, but that just turns combat into “use buffs or damage items and then hope the RNG likes you a little better.” Despite the dev’s pretensions of imitating the strategic combat of XCOM (which also had its share of RNG silliness), there’s almost no strategic component to combat–aside from choosing your attacks and using (some) items, there are no special abilities (OK, because this is a “low fantasy” setting where magic doesn’t show up until the end), and no terrain effects (as in other games like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, or XCOM’s cover system), which is far less understandable. Thus, there’s absolutely no other strategy than standing there and trading blows (only selecting which attacks you want to use) in a one on one fight, or, if facing multiple opponents, get yourself inbetween some boxes or something so only one or two of them can attack you. I’m not kidding, see this video:

So yeah, not that impressive.

Despite these flaws, my overall opinion of the game is still pretty positive, because what it gets right, it gets really right. The writing and dialogue are fantastic, as is the plot progression. The game definitely lives up to its promises of non-linearity, there are a bunch of different factions and a bunch of ways you can either help them or foil them, ranging from bluffing your way through everything with high charisma or bribing your way through the game with a high trading skill. There are also a bunch of different endings reflecting this, which I love, tho alas, no ending cinematics (again, no budget). And it’s all set in a very engaging world. Essentially, it’s a very early “medieval”–the fantasy equivalent of the Roman Empire has fallen, but only a couple of centuries ago, and we still see “praetors” and “legionnaires” dressed up in Roman style armor dominating the place. However, that former “Roman Empire” fell because, according to old manuscripts, foreign invaders called the Qantari invaded and summoned demons, which the old Empire could only defeat by summoning gods of their own, and even when they won, their lands were devastated and civilization had ended. For most of the game, it’s left very ambiguous as to whether or not things actually happened like that, since there’s no magic and no evidence of supernatural beings, and many think the “Qantari” and their demons were just excuses concocted to explain away famine or disease or other more mundane causes of collapse. Only at the end do we learn there’s something to the old legends, and even in that case, the legends didn’t say the whole story. I thought that was really cool and something I hadn’t seen a lot of before. So I’m still happy I bought this game, all things considered.

TIMAN:

Haven’t been able to do much–I’m getting ready for my trip to SC ;-;

READAN:

Once again, not much readan cause I’ve been buuuusy ;_;

WRITAN:

See above 😦

COMPUTERAN:

After two weeks, my computer is…still running perfectly! In fact, about as good as it’s ever ran 😮

You’ll notice this has been a little bit of a brief entry. Why? Well, later today I’ll be off taking another GUNZ class, and then after that I’m getting all my stuff ready to head down to South Carolina on Sunday, in order to do more dissertation research–on Martin Delany this time, rather than George Fitzhugh. Wish me luck, I’ll tell you how it goes next week…not next Friday, but next Saturday, because I’ll be flying all day Friday. XD

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