Video Game Review: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is an action adventure game from Respawn Entertainment and EA. Set five years after Revenge of the Sith and the rise of the empire the story follows Cal Kestis a Jedi Padawan who has been hiding from the empire. At the beginning of the game he is found and must travel through the galaxy while being hunted by the Inquisitors while also trying to complete his training and possibly rebuild the Jedi Order.

As someone who is a fan of Star Wars when I saw the trailer I new that I had to play it at some point. I loved the world and the characters but I did sometimes get frustrated with the game play. The game is very exploration heavy and has no fast travel system. While I liked the initial exploration all the back tracking and multiple visits to the same location did become a little tedious. However, though all the exploration and fighting I felt like I gained a better understanding for combat. The combat style has been compared to Dark Soul, a series that I have no interest in, but with the focus on timing attacks and parrying I can understand the comparison.

I will admit that I played on easy because I could tell early on that I would not be very good at this game and most of my frustration I think came down to taking a while to get used to combat and the timing of the platforming sections.

The one thing that I do feel need major fixing is all of the bugs and glitches that are still in the game. I played on the PlayStation 4 so I don’t know if things are better or worse on other system. The game came out in late 2019 and I played it in June/July 2021 and had far too many issues. Their where a bunch of small things like textures loading in wrong however the worst was the fact that the game crashed twice during my play through. If bug and glitches really bug you, you might want to just watch a play through to get the story.

Overall, I love the characters and story but I feel like the game could have been polished a bit more.

June 2021 Wrap Up

In June I read seven books including two nonfiction and two manga. I also finished Persona 5 The Royal and the video game Journey.

Books:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is the first book in duology set in the Grisha world that takes place after the events of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy but focuses on new characters and locations is this world. We follow Kaz Brekker a criminal in the trade hub of Ketterdam and his crew as they attempt a dangerous heist that could make them rich but also they may be the only ones who can stop the destruction of the world as they know it. In general while I love the Grisha world I heated where the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and with this series being so hyped I tried not to have too high of expectations. I loved all the characters but felt at times there was too much information about everyone’s backstories. Not my favorite but I do plan to continue with the series.

The Anthropocene Review by John Green is a nonfiction selection of essays that Green wrote reviewing different things and topics in the world. This includes both personal accounts and background on the history of the topic. I book that I find hard to review but one that I absolutely loved. For me I feel like I read this book at the right time and otherwise I might not have loved it as much.

Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans is a nonfiction book about the women who worked on the Ocean Liners traveling between Europe and North America. While this book is incredibly detailed I was expecting more about the individual women and their personal lives and less about the Ocean Liners and the general history of the time. I’m also surprised that a fellow historian who perpetuate misconceptions of the Titanic Sinking. Specifically, the reported 300 foot gash at caused the ship to sink. Though this was reported in newspaper after the sinking and believed by many, multiple Titanic historians and researchers, including Tim Maltin, have determined that the damage was intermittent. However, even with these criticisms I do see this book as a good starting point for someone who is interested in Ocean Liners and the women who worked on them.

Sailor Moon Eternal volumes 3 and 4 are the continuation of the Sailor Moon manga series. We start where volume 2 leaves off with a mysterious girl threating Uasgi which starts the Black Moon Arc where the Black Moon Clan from the feature is threating the world. Volume 4 finishes off this Arc which is not my favorite because of Chibi-Usa becoming Black Lady as I find this part of the story creepy and off-putting. Also I personal prefer the 90s anime translation where she becomes Wicked Lady as I feel it fits the story better. Overall this is still one of my favorite manga series which I plan to finish collecting in these editions.

The Ivies is a young adult thriller that follows a group of high schoolers at a prestigious boarding school that will do anything to get into the Ivy League Universities. When Olivia and Emma secretly get into Harvard while Aery who expects to but doesn’t is furious. The next day when Emma is found dead Olivia decides to investigate to find out who killed Emma. I love the premise of this book and the attention given to toxic friend groups. However, I didn’t connect with the characters of the story. I feel as a recent college graduate that I’m a little removed from the drama of high school but this would be perfect for students currently in high school or those that love the high school setting.

Skin Deep by Renee Miller is a short horror novella that follows Victoria MacDonald who wants to find a way to die beautifully and ends up becoming a murder. This wasn’t what I was expecting. Since the book starts out with Victoria’s mother selling her daughters soul to say beautiful and the obsession’s with dying beautifully I thought that it would become a story where Victoria has to kill to stay beautiful. The switch from her trying to die to get sexual gratification from murder is very fast and not something that the story gives enough time to the reader to understand. Also there is no reason to have the selling ones soul as an aspect of this story. Given the subject matter the book uses in the plot I’m surprised that there were no trigger warnings listed at the beginning.

Video Games:

This month I finished two video games, Persona 5 The Royal and Journey.

Persona 5 The Royal is a retooled version of the original Persona 5 with new story elements. The main plot is that you are a normal high school student that is now on probation after attempting to stop a sexual assault and the man got injured. You and your group of friend get pulled into the Metaverse where you awaken a Persona and fight against the corrupted cognitions of others. I love this game and also have a full review posted.

Journey on the other hand is a much different game. You play as a robed figure traveling through a desert trying to reach the mountains in the distance. This is a very visual and emotional game that doesn’t use any dialogue. A game to pick up on a lazy afternoon when one wants a game that is very different from others.

Video Game Review: Persona 5 The Royal

Persona 5: The Royal is an enhanced and slightly retooled version of Persona 5. Where you play as the protagonist who has been sent to Tokyo after being put on probation for assault and is attending a new school Shujin Academy. During his time there he gains the powers of Persona and uses them to traverse the Metaverse with other Persona users to destroy and change the distorted desires of different people and society. In the end you fight the main bad guy an evil politician, Masayoshi Shido, and the god of control. You basically defeat the god of control with the power of friendship.

I loved the original Persona 5 and I also love Persona 5 The Royal however one is not better than the other. Its just a different take and characters but ultimately the same basic story. If you liked the original, you will like Person 5 The Royal. However, with the amount of changes, new characters, and the third semester add on it couldn’t just be a DLC as it changes too many things in the base game. I will give a brief rundown of some of the changes but to really talk about Persona 5 The Royal I will have to get into spoilers and must assume that you know the main story of the original game.

So changes that have been made are: two new confidants, a new character in Mementos, and expanding Akechi’s confidant, a third semester with a completely new story, new locations and activities to do with friends, and multiple changes to palaces, battles, and Mementos.

In general, the main story is same as it was in the original with tweaks made to make Mementos and palaces more interesting. Such as new boss battle stages and Jose in Mementos who can change the cognition of Mementos so you can gain money, EXP, and items faster. The main story changes come with the new confidants: Kasumi Yoshizawa, a young gymnast who transfers to Shujin at the same time as the protagonist and Takuto Maruki, a school counselor who comes in after the actions of Kamoshida are brought to light. Also Akechi’s confidant mostly no longer advances as part of the game you must hang out with him to advance his story which gives us more insight into who he really is. To get to the third semester you must max their confidants before fighting Shido otherwise you just get the original ending.

On to the new story, as you befriend Kasumi you find out that she and her now deceased twin sister always planed to become world famous gymnast together and she has some guilt that her sister isn’t with her. She also awakens a Persona but doesn’t become a Phantom Thief and her confidant gives you better ambush abilities in the Metaverse. Maruki as the school counselor listens to all the problems of the main characters and has an interest in cognitive Psience, with his confidant increasing SP and allowing it to recover when low.

After you defeat the god of control, Sae will ask you to turn yourself in to help prosecute Shido however now Akechi shows up will to confess everything as he survived Shido’s palace. On January 1, when you are planning on a shrine visit with Kasumi when things start to change. These changes include Morgana being human, Futaba’s mother, Haru’s father, and Makoto’s father not being dead, and all the horrible things that have happen to the character never happening. Only the protagonist and Akechi know that this is not how the world is suppose to be. You find out that Maruki has a Persona and a palace. He is using his power and the information given to him during counseling sessions to stop all the bad things in the world from happen and make the world a “better” place.

While traversing Maruki’s palace you find out that the Kasumi that you knew is really Sumire Yoshizawa who blamed herself for her sisters death and decided that it would be better if she became Kasumi as Kasumi was better at everything and the one Sumire perceived everyone wanted. She doesn’t want the world to go back to how it was as she doesn’t want to be Sumire anymore. Its hard to say that this world is a bad ending since the events that made life horrible never happen however my issue with Maruki’s concept is why does Sumire’s wish to be Kasumi supersede what is most likely her parents wish to have both of their daughters back. In a world where nothing bad ever happens and no one struggles what is there to strive for.

If you plan to reject Maruki’s world you end up finding out that Akechi really is dead and defeating Maruki will return the world to what was meant to happen. So the protagonist will end up in juvenile dentation and Akechi is gone. However, the changes Maruki made caused our cast of characters to realize that they still can persuse their own dreams and its implied that Akechi didn’t die.

Ultimately, I love both the original Persona 5 and Persona 5 The Royal and I don’t feel like the existence of Royal makes the original a lesser game. The changes to the game added about an additional 30 hours of game play on Easy and I expect a little longer on a harder setting. I only thing I do like a little better with Royal is the determination of all the characters at the end to peruse their own paths and dreams while staying friends.

April 2020 Wrap Up

In March I read three books and started and finished Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Books:

36686547The first book I read was The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette De Bodard. This is a science fiction novella that is set in a world where space ships have minds and personalities. The story follows Long Chau and the ship The Shadow’s Child who are attempting to solve a murder mystery. This is very much scifi combined with Sherlock Holmes. Though the story is short I ended up loving it, however it just drops you into the world so the first few pages are a little confusing as you try to figure out how this world works.

40333936._SX318_The League of Regrettable Sidekicks by Jon Morris is a coffee table type book that goes through many of the different sidekicks that have existed in comic book history. It focuses mostly on characters that are not popular and may have been forgotten over times. Its a very quick read for anyone who wants to know more comic history.

43785830The last book I read this month was Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?: Big Questions from Tiny Mortals about Death by Caitlin Doughty. This is a nonfiction book that answers questions about death and dying posed by kids. The answers and questions are given in a way that is informative and interesting with a dash of humor but are simple enough explanations for many people to understand. I’ve read Caitlin’s other books and follow her on YouTube so I enjoy her content. I love the fact that she answers questions that many have but will not ask.

Games:

FFVIIRemakeI only game that I was playing and focusing on this month was Final Fantasy VII Remake. This is a game that I absolutely loved and I can’t wait for the next game. If you have never played Final Fantasy VII or any Final Fantasy games I would give this one a shot. I also have a full review that does contain some spoilers if anyone wants to know my full thoughts.

Video Game Review: Final Fantasy VII Remake

FFVIIRemakeFinal Fantasy VII Remake is the remake and re-imagining of the original 1997 Final Fantasy VII. You play as Cloud Strife a mercenary connected to an Eco terrorist group AVALANCHE who are fighting against the evil Shinra Corporation and end up getting involved with trying to save the world.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is a game that I’ve been waiting for since the PlayStation 3 tech demo was released in 2007. I’ve played the original game and the Compilation games as well. Though VII was not my first Final Fantasy the characters and plot have stuck with me more than other games and its one of my favorites. Because of this I absolutely love the remake and really don’t have anything bad to say about it. This game was everything I wanted and more and I’m so glad that we are finally getting it regardless of the fact that its coming in installments.

If you have never played Final Fantasy VII or any Final Fantasy I feel like this would be a good game to start with. Each game is a separate story so you don’t need to know anything about previous games and though there are hints that will make more since if you have played the original the story still makes since to those who are new to this game.

The two biggest criticism that I’ve seen of the game is the fact the its coming in installments and that this section is very linear. While I would love to have the whole game right now the first part with the Midgar section is well fleshed out and I trust the team making the games will finish the whole thing. The Midgar section, even in the original, was the most linear part of the story. Its setup for the bigger events to come but I love how more flesh out the world and characters are. The events of this first part are given more weight and hit harder than in the original.

To talk about my feeling about the game I need to discuss spoilers specifically for the ending. So I would recommend playing the game for yourself and not reading further if you want to avoid spoilers.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!

Through out the game you encounter these dark ghost like creatures called the Whispers. We are told later in the game that they are harbinger of fate and are trying to keep destiny on track. Most of the time when they show up you see glimpses of events from the future that played out in the original and is the future of this timeline. At the end of the game you need up fighting these harbingers of fate and defeating them making the future yours to decide. At this point in the game you also see the scene where Zack is fighting Shinra and in the original dies up after defeating fate he lives. Sephorith is also attempting to fight fate and asks Cloud to join him implying that the future games might not be the same as the original story.

My interpretation of this part of the story is that we now have three timelines. The original game and the compilation games which is essentially the bad ending with Sephiroth defeated but at to high a cost. We have the Remake timeline which is following similar events to the original but Sephiroth and other characters know more than they should and are trying to change things. Final the third timeline where Zack lives and the story will change because of him. I can’t wait to see how the story will play out now and I hope that the timeline where Zack lives will intersect with the new game timeline at some point.

To those who read this and have finished the game, what are your thoughts? I would love to discuss different theories with others and how you think the future story will unfold.

 

Unravel Review

unravel_cover_artUnravel is puzzle platforming game released in 2016 where you play as Yarny, a little creature made out of red yarn.  The game play allows the player to interact with the world though the use of yarn to solve puzzles and find things in the environment. The game begins with an older woman picking up a basket of yarn and a ball of red yarn falling out, and then we see Yarny.

In the opening area of the game there are pictures that Yarny uses to visit and interact with the environments that were important to the owner of the home. In these environments there are glimpses of important memories which start out happy at the ocean and in the mountains but as the game continues darker memories emerge. At the end of each level, Yarny finds a badge that is put on the cover of a photo album which is then filled with photos of the memories that the player encounters in each level.

The game is beautifully designed with each level using new environments and challenges to the new puzzles. The story of Unravel is told completely though visuals and music as there is no dialogue used nor is there much written information in the levels. It’s a very fun game to play with the first level as the main tutorial and then needing to learn what each levels puzzles need from trial and error. The only thing that I had a problem with is sometimes the game is not clear which area is the next which can effect how the puzzles work and these can be more convoluted than need be. Also there are several sections that must be timed exactly right such as running from animals, falling rocks, and water sections that don’t have any check points in them. So if you mess up near the end you have to do the whole puzzle all over and for me most of them required multiple tries which got very frustrating at times.  I do really like this game but the frustration that I felt does make me question if I will ever play the sequel that was released in 2018.

Overall, Unravel is a fun but challenging puzzle game that is beautifully designed and one that I feel many people will enjoy.

Kingdom Hearts Retrospective

kingdom_heartsSo with Kingdom Hearts 3 finally coming out this year I’ve decided that it was time to get back into the series and start everything over from the beginning. At this point with the game only days away from release I know there is no way I will finish all the other games in time but I like taking my time with games and series even if that means I’m late to the party.

Currently I’m 25, and I’m going to be 26 in April but I’ve been a fan of Kingdom Hearts since 2006 when I was 13. I had gotten a PlayStation 2 either in 2002 or 2003 but didn’t really get into gaming until a couple of years later. At the time I was really into Final Fantasy and I still am but I had gone to Best Buy to pick up a copy of Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children and one of the employees suggest Kingdom Hearts which I also bought. But the thing is when I was younger I very bad a video games though I loved playing them. I had this bad habit of starting a game and either not understanding something or not leveling properly so I would get stuck and stop playing. A month would go by and I would attempt the game again and sometimes I would just restart from the beginning. So I had this tendency to never really finish any games (though in high school I broke this habit).

91d+8w4tspl._ac_ul320_sr256,320_In Kingdom Hearts you play as Sora, a kid from Destiny Island, who wants to go on an adventure with his friends Kairi and Riku. When the Islands get attacked by the heartless Sora is separated from his friends but meets up with Donald and Goofy who are tasked with traveling to different Disney worlds to defeat the heartless and save/find Kairi and Riku.

I know when I was a kid that I got to Halloween Town but never finished the game. I also played the first two hours of Kingdom Hearts 2 but that was it until recently. However, I followed the information about all the games coming out but could never play most of them because of how they seemed to be on different consoles each time.  At this point I have only gotten through Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories.

I love the first game. Its simple in its story telling but the emotional core is very strong. I want Sora to find his friends, I want King Mickey to be found and I want the heartless to be defeated. As the first game in the series its very easy to get into and overall the game play is not overly hard. There’s only a handful of things I don’t like with the game play but I also don’t think I’m very good at games so these might not be issues for many. The big problem is the jumping is not very good which makes any platforming sections even worse and there is no map on the screen so you have no idea where you are most of the time. I only other issue is the final boss is multiple fights in a row with no check point/ save or anything which the boss is not all that hard for the end of the game but if you mess up or your timing is off just enough you have to do it all over again.

With Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories I only played the first couple of hours before deciding that I absolutely can not stand the card battle system. So I ended up watching a play though for the plot information and just leaving it at that. I do feel that games are better played than watched but watching it is bettering than skipping the game outright when each game adds to the plot. In Chain of Memories Sora, Donald, and Goofy are trapped in Castle Oblivion and travel through the memories they have of visiting all of the worlds from the first game to find the truth while also dealing with the new villains, the Nobodies of Organization XIII.

I’m in the Kingdom Hearts pain train now as people call it and plan to continue playing the rest of the series and Kingdom Hearts 3 when I get around to it.