Tag Archives: dark souls

Code Vein’s Network Test Was Packed With Trashy Anime Action

This weekend, the anime-nonsense action role-playing game Code Vein held a closed network test. The results were both everything I expected and more fun than I imagined. Beat-for-beat Dark Souls gameplay and edgy anime designs might seem groan-worthy, but teaming up with other players to defeat difficult bosses was incredibly badass, if a little simplistic at times. Code Vein is, as they say, a land of contrasts.

Code Vein is a first-party game by Bandai Namco that many players on the internet have been calling “anime-souls” ever since it was announced in 2017. That jokey assessment is pretty close to fact. Code Vein is set in some type of postapocalypse teeming with “Lost,” blood-crazed creatures threatening human survivors. The whole affair is hyper-stylized with cel-shaded graphics and designs that look like modern-day animation, and the gameplay is 200 percent modeled on Dark Souls. There’s a progression system where you level up by spending currency acquired by killing enemies. In this case it’s “haze,” a vaguely defined magical energy. And like the currencies in Dark Souls or Bloodborne, you lose it when you die. Code Vein doesn’t shake up this format much at all. There are caverns and ruined cityscapes full of monsters and bosses; go out there and beat them up. The result isn’t as engaging as the games that inspired it, but it can be fun if you embrace the trashy absurdity of it all.

There’s a split here between the eye-rolling anime plot and the actual experience of playing. On the one hand, there’s a vague story where your character is an amnesiac, blood-absorbing chosen one with a scantily clad magical companion. For the record, her boobs are big, and the slightest breeze sways them like a pile of coconuts in a hammock. It was more than a little distracting. If you can’t get over the cheese and sleaze, I wouldn’t blame you. If you can climb over that, there’s plenty of quality dungeon crawling and boss slaying to be had.

Boss designs are dope as all gosh, but multiplayer can make them a bit too easy.

What makes Code Vein’s particular brand of action work is how much you’re able to really define your character. There’s a host of weapons ranging from huge greatswords and axes to rifles and bayonets. They incorporate the sort of future-punk grime you see in games like Let It Die. These weapons pair with a variety of “blood codes,” character-build templates that you can switch out whenever you want. Each grants different passive traits and special abilities. One blood code might grant you the ability to teleport and toss freezing icicles. Another might offer a variety of shield abilities and attack buffs that you can toss on yourself and other players. There’s a lot of potential to customize your character. Wanna use a huge sword and have spells that sacrifice defense for massive attack gains? Go for it. Wanna sit back with a rifle and toss magical fire at demons? Have a blast. Literally.

Code Vein breaks down somewhat in multiplayer. Calling for help is a simple menu option away, but having multiple players (plus AI companions) severely trivialized boss encounters. This was a network test, so I figured I might as well play with other people. It was good for making progress in one of the trickier dungeons, but it also meant boss fights sometimes devolved into slash fests. The battles were still dire, but I definitely get the sense that Code Vein is a game best played alone if players want to really feel challenged. Teaming up with other players really sucks the magic out of cool boss fights.

Still, there was quality exploration and combat. Movement is fast, and the range of abilities made it fun to play around with new character builds. Code Vein’s biggest problems heading into the future will be ensuring that players remained challenged if they team up, and maybe toning down some of the thirsty character designs. Code Vein will presumably release sometime in 2019, and it could provide a good waste of time until Nioh 2 arrives. Just try not to cut yourselves on all of this edge, okay?

Source: Kotaku.com

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, As Told By Steam Reviews

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“Wait, they only die twice?” said all the literal title interpreters in the Steam community upon seeing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice’s name. They’ve since been shocked—shocked, I say—to find themselves dying many more times than twice.

Like Kotaku’s own Natalie Degraffinried, Steam reviewers mostly love Sekiro, the latest deliciously murderful brainchild of Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team, whose sadism comes so clearly through these series that I’m convinced they’d be in jail if they weren’t game designers. Steam reviewers are big fans of the fast-paced combat, stealth-centric encounter design, and setting. They’re also all about the punishing timing-based difficulty—for the most part. A handful of Sekiro’s Steam reviews read like that angry text you sent an ex when you probably just should’ve taken a nap instead. The salt, it flows.

Source: Kotaku.com

Ironman Completes All Five Souls Games Without Taking A Hit

As tough as it is, The_Happy_Hob has just put the Dark Souls series well and truly in its place, completing all five games—the three Dark Souls, Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne—in a row. Without taking a single hit.

Just finishing them back-to-back is a Herculean task in itself (it took over 12 hours!), but doing so without taking any hits whatsoever is just wow. And it’s cool that he managed to pull it off after his last attempt ended so nicely.

You can watch the whole thing here:

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Or skip to around 12:10 if you just want to see him finish the thing off and almost die of relief.

Note this isn’t the first time he’s done something like this; he’s previously completed all three Dark Souls games without taking a shot. But man, five games, phew.

Source: Kotaku.com

Anthem Has Me Wondering What A ‘Release Date’ Even Is Anymore

Anthem releases today—even though plenty of folks have been playing it since last week. As games continue to evolve through patches and players pay for early access to fully priced titles, I find myself asking oddly philosophical questions: When is a video game “finished,” and when are games actually “released”?

Let’s be real: Anthem had been available to play since Feb. 15. If you were an Origin Premier member, you had full access to the full game. Your time wasn’t limited, and the content wasn’t partially locked off until the “release” day. If you wanted to play through the story, you could play through the story. Despite the insistence of corporate executives that the game was not really out, folks sure as shit were playing Anthem. I know because I was playing the game with them. While my access came from a code provided by EA, I was joined in game by my ex. She’s an enthusiastic BioWare fan who couldn’t wait to play Anthem. In order to play, she plopped down the full price for the game plus an additional payment for Origin Premier membership. If she wasn’t paying for the game and it wasn’t even “out”, what the hell was she paying for?

This is a more complicated question than it seems. When we buy games, we’re actually buying many different things. We’re buying copies of a work. We’re buying experiences. We’re compensating people for their effort while also lining the pockets of executives. In some cases, like Origin Access members who had limited 10-hour access to Anthem, folks aren’t paying for anything. But to imply that players who threw down cash on a game aren’t really playing the game is some 1984 doublespeak nonsense. Sure, they’re doing it with the understanding that patches are coming and things might be messy, but their receipts don’t say that they paid for “The Highly Convoluted Early Access to Anthem.” It says they paid for Anthem.

I have to confess: As an anxious overthinker, games patches freak me the hell out.

When in its lifetime we play a game has an effect on what we experience. When I think about when a game is “released” or “finished,” it’s clear this question is complicated by our ability to change games on the fly. While patches are good for fixing game-breaking glitches and ensuring players have access to the best possible version of a title, they also make questions of versions and finality far more complex. It’s the kind of shit that keeps me up at night.

Before I was working at Kotaku, I broke this down:

“Is the authentic Dark Souls 2 the original, unpatched version? The version where I can still bino-boost and perform other glitches? Is it Patch 1.07 Calibration 1.10, when fatal blows online were adjusted and where the Red Tearstone Ring no longer modified the damage of spells? Or is it the new patch 1.10 that adds a swarth of content? The Scholar of the First Sin update?”

These types of questions might seem unimportant, but they do creep up to affect video game players from time to time. Speedrunners, for instance, need to contend with patches and how they affect games, which can remove essential glitches. If the goal is to go fast, are you required to play on a specific version? Is that fair to competitors who might not be able to access these versions? In casual circumstances, patches and fragmented releases affect the experiences players have. Important moment in a game’s history—like Destiny’s infamous loot cave—come and go. Things that helped define experiences fade away.

If I’m sitting up in bed wondering about the ontological implications of game patches and remakes, I’m absolutely doing a double-take at the increasingly complicated ways that companies sell their games. Because the honest answer isn’t that these models exist to benefit players; they exist for the purpose of making players spend money on special editions, pre-orders, and additional services. But my gut reaction to Anthem’s release model helps provide an answer to my question.

Folks saying “it’s not even out yet” are often (but not always!) insisting on a difference as a way of excusing problems that aren’t necessarily patchable. They want us to overthink it, and while I love overthinking stuff, the truth is straightforward: Anthem is Anthem. I was playing it. My friends were playing it. If you buy it today, after patches have already started to altered it, you’re playing it.

Source: Kotaku.com

Twitch Streamer’s Perfect Run Of All Soulsborne Games Fails When He Tries To Kill 69 Bosses

Image: The_Happy_Hob

The_Happy_Hob is no ordinary Twitch streamer. In 2016, he pulled off the first no-hit run of Dark Souls, stunning even series director Hidetaka Miyazaki. Last year, he one-upped himself by completing the whole series without getting hit. Now he’s added Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne to his marathon gauntlet. But recently, he 86-ed himself in pursuit of the internet’s favorite number: 69.

This run has been in the works for months. Hob broadcasts his attempts, which—even though he has this down to a science—still take multiple streams over the course of days. There is one ironclad rule: If he gets even the merest of scratches, he has to start the whole series over. Not just the game in which he got hit. The whole series.

Earlier this week, he was well on his way to finally achieving the even more impossible than the impossible he’s already achieved. He’d completed all three Dark Souls games and Bloodborne. No hits. He was three streams —or around 14 hours —into the marathon. Then he started Demon’s Souls, the underappreciated father of the tough-as-nails bloodline. There, he made a grim and costly miscalculation.

Hob decided to go toe-to-reptilian-foot-like-appendage with an optional tutorial boss called Vanguard. It’s far from the series’ steepest challenge, but it presents some specific challenges for a no-hit run. Vanguard’s strikes often scatter rubble that flies in a difficult-to-predict pattern. Hob wasn’t having much trouble avoiding that, but one of his post-dodge follow-up strikes left him out of position, at which point Vanguard turned ever so slightly, nicking Hob in the process.

A picture of poise and focus up until that moment, Hob immediately yelped in anguish. “No. Fuck! NOOOOOOOOOOOO,” he yelled. “No, dude. No! Not the fucking Vanguard!”

Pacing off screen in dejection, Hob explained why this defeat was especially devastating.

“You know why we fight that boss, motherfuckers?” he said. “So that there’s 69 bosses. We fight that guy entirely so that there’s 69 bosses. Because lol.”

Source: Kotaku.com

Brume Captures That Classic Adventure Game Feel

Like many kids, I used to explore the woods and get into all kinds of make-believe adventures. Often, that meant picking up a stick and questing for imaginary treasures. Brume is a low-fi adventure game that takes Dark Souls’ tough combat and adds a touch of whimsical exploration.

Created by Sokpop Collective, Brume is an adventure game for PC and Mac “inspired by Dark Souls, stories by Tolkien, and Irish castles.” The player explores a mysterious island full of swamps, forests, and other locations teeming with giant leeches and tough warriors. If you die, you quickly respawn at the last camp you encountered. It’s a familiar format, seen in games like Below and Ashen. What makes Brume fun is how it keeps the experience straightforward. There aren’t any gimmicks like branching quest chains or big boss fights here, and you’re not going to drown in lore. Instead, you have a sword, shield, and a world to explore. In that way, it takes more inspiration from the lighthearted exploration that inspired The Legend of Zelda.

Brume is a difficult game. The combat shifts between fighting somewhat easy enemies and intense one-on-one duels with random fighters. It’s straightforward to fight off ticks and slugs, as they give ample telegraphing whenever they attack. Holding up your shield or circle strafing usually does the trick. It gets more complicated when you find another adventurer enemy. Many of them are adept at blocking your attacks, and some have massive weapons like hard-hitting clubs that sweep wider than you’d expect. In the best cases, these fights can feel like a tricky bit of dodging and attacking. In the worst cases, you’ll sometimes get smacked with an overwhelmingly powerful attack.

“It’s supposed to be quite hard, so please don’t get angry,” a video message from the developer states.

That’s made much easier thanks to Brume’s art style, a low-detail world full of hazy greens and bright beaches. The main drive in Brume is simply to move forward and see more of its wonderful sights. Even if you fail, there’s an impulse to press on and retry. Brume isn’t about finding items or beating difficult enemies to level up, although you can do that. It’s about the joy of exploration for its own sake.

Source: Kotaku.com

$100 Dark Souls Statue Is Just The Bonfire

Later this year, Gecco will be releasing their next Dark Souls statue. Unlike previous ones, which have featured characters from the series (and run up $300 price tags), this one is just the bonfire.

The bonfire is 1/6 scale, same as the statues, and does actually have some functionality; the sword comes separate from the base, and when you insert it the fire will start glowing and flickering with LED lighting.

It’s intended as an accessory to Gecco’s other pieces, something you’d pose them around, but I kinda like it on its own. A little punch clock for the work-from-home crowd. Sit down, log on, insert the sword, save your progress, die repeatedly, log off. Repeat five times a week.

Source: Kotaku.com