Tag Archives: kotaku game diary

Returning To Final Fantasy VIII After 20 Years Is Letting Me Resolve Childhood Shame

Photo: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I vividly remember when Final Fantasy VIII came out in February 1999. I coveted it for months but didn’t get it until October for my 11th birthday. It was my first Japanese role-playing game ever. I struggled desperately just to get through its opening moments of tutorials and text walls and Y2K CD-Rom-ass menus. I was waiting for a fight where I had to run around and throw grenades into tanks. Ultimately, I resigned to give up and just watch my older brother play, leaving JRPGs untouched for years thereafter. Revisiting Final Fantasy VIII as an adult, after years of recovering with other role-playing games, has been revitalizing: It’s actually fun this time.

When the remaster was announced, I had to prepare myself to revisit some old trauma. In addition to not being able to get through its opening hours, I accidentally deleted my older brother’s save off the memory card one night after he’d just gotten to the third of four discs. So this game is cursed not just for me but for the whole Tamayo family. He never picked up the game again.

I distinctly remember spending way too long in the first testing sequence where mercenary Squall acquires the Guardian force Ifrit, a fire beast, by successfully battling him alongside his instructor Quistis. I could not figure out how to manage the menus and the rhythm of the battle. In little-kid time, this took me days to figure out. I then moved on to the first actual field mission, where I stopped and left the original for good.

In the time since, I’ve played dozens of other role-playing games, including other games in the Final Fantasy series. I racked up a lot of experience leading up to the moment this morning when I reached the same place I gave up as a kid. I reached the field mission, put my Switch to sleep, and got off at my subway stop. I was able to complete all this in under an hour of grown-man time.

The feeling of returning to this game and actually understanding how to flow through it is incredible. It’s like I’m finally able to get a tiny bit of closure. And honestly, the fast-forward feature is helping a lot. Finally getting what used to be such an impossible game for me and finishing something I started 20 years ago is empowering. Plus, we’ve got cloud saves now, so maybe I’ll pick up a copy for my brother too.

Source: Kotaku.com

Grandia Has Reignited My Love For Role-Playing Games

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

When I was in my impressionable pre-teen years, I spent vast amounts of my summer tucked away in a musty little basement down the street. My closest friends would visit at their grandma’s house near me every year while school was out, and when we weren’t “ripping and running,” playing basketball with the “mannish” little boys next door and riding our bikes back and forth up the bumpy brick streets, we gathered around our consoles for hours and hours of gaming. One summer, they brought with them a Dreamcast—the console that would impact my gaming palate more than any before it with games like Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, and Power Stone. One game stood out and ate up those hot summer days: Grandia II. It became one of my favorite games of all time, and playing its predecessor, Grandia, has been a trip in every imaginable way.

Grandia, like its sequel, is a role-playing game with an overhead view and a battle system that takes the best parts of both real-time and turn-based battle systems and squishes them into a neat package. Your characters’ physical positions affect whether they’ll be able to damage or take damage from enemies, and a turn gauge lets you anticipate when each character will move, allowing you to cancel or counter enemy actions. It is by far my favorite battle system in any game, and it’s almost always the first thing I mention about Grandia II, next to the fact that I stubbornly prefer its plot about nefarious churches and crises of faith to Final Fantasy X’s.

What I forgot over years of not revisiting Grandia II was the deep and gripping sense of wonder the game gave me. I forgot what it was like to actually get swept up in a game’s sense of adventure. So playing the first Grandia for the first time, years after I’d played its sequel, gave me an eerie feeling of deja vu and sentimentality. It was nostalgia for a game I’d never played before. I genuinely felt like a kid again, lost for a moment in a feeling of adventure and possibility. I forgot what it was like for excitement to feel this earnest.

Moment by moment, I found myself falling into old RPG habits. Talk to every character in the town, check. Explore every area, check. Look for hints or extra items, check. But instead of the feeling of compulsion that drives me to do those things in a lot of other games, Grandia kept me excited to talk to new NPCs—the woman pacing back and forth and fucking fuming, then bafflingly complaining to a kid about her gambling husband. The little boy hiding by the fountain to avoid being caught by his mom and getting dragged to the dentist. The mom hunting for her truant kid, who you can choose to help out or con into looking elsewhere. The old woman telling stories about her time as a child, when the entire town was forests and woodland creatures, before industrialization happened. The powerful men from the Joule company puffing up their chests about how they brought growth to such a small town with the power of industry. As I talked to each one, multiple times to see all of their dialogue options, I found myself feeling verklempt: Oh, shit. I actually used to like doing this.

It reminded me why I mechanically read through every text box in games nowadays, even when I find the writing banal. This is how video games used to make me feel. This is where I’d learned that behavior—from a series where curiosity actually felt worth it. Exploring the overworld wasn’t just a mad dash to find every item there, a series of actions guided by a long-curated cache of RPG tropes—I wanted to play around with the game’s battle system, figure out where it overlapped and diverged with its sequel, learn about the mysterious ancient cities teased at in the game’s opening and the museum my young protagonists visited.

If there’s a downside to playing Grandia for the first time today, it’s the little annoyances that were fixed in Grandia II. The overworld map feels a little finicky after playing the more polished second game. The monsters’ pixelated visages, while nice-looking in the HD collection, are a little hard to track, making the strategic movement of trying to approach them from behind for a surprise attack tricky. The characters’ movements on the battlefield feel slow and unwieldy, and after playing the sequel, the rudimentary turn gauge in the first Grandia feels more like a test pilot than the innovative and well-tuned system the series is known for. And like news editor Jason Schreier mentioned, the Grandia HD collection lacks the fast-forward button that’s present in emulators and many other retro re-releases, making the tedium of slower gameplay all the more pronounced.

What really struck me, though, was the fact that, as impossible as these things were to ignore, I… did not care. It’s always tough to play a game after you’ve played its sequel, especially in a series that’s been out for decades, but actually wanting to read everything I saw made piles of text boxes and unskippable cutscenes feel like a treat. Imagine that—long cutscenes feeling like a reward. I might feel differently when I play through it a second time, once I’m no longer new to the game and ravenous for story developments, but for now, I’m enjoying my slow stroll down memory lane via a game I’ve never even played.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Love When A Book Feels Like A Good Role-Playing Game

Concept art from Divinity: Original Sin 2
Illustration: Larian Studios
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

Role-playing games are one of my favorite genres. They’re also the genre I came latest to. I didn’t play video games for most of my teenage years, the time when I would have lost entire weekends and nights to them. Coming to love them as an adult has been a minor tragedy, because the amount of time I have to dedicate to 60-hour epics is shrinking dramatically with each passing year, and I am not quite ready to admit that I cannot play them all.

So I look for that sprawling feeling elsewhere when I can—books, mostly, since the time I spend in front of screens is probably best described as “unconscionable.” Strangely, I don’t really gravitate toward fantasy literature, since I’m not particularly interested in swords and magic and courtly intrigue. I specifically want the feeling of role-playing games: I want to be so transported I feel outside of myself, watching the beautiful little struggles of people who are ultimately small cogs in something incomprehensibly big.

Recently, I finished reading award-winning novelist Marlon James’ latest work, Black Leopard, Red Wolf, precisely because that’s what it offered. In a recent profile, James—who previously made his name in literary fiction with novels like A Brief History of Seven Killings—declared his intent to “geek the fuck out” with an “African Game of Thrones,” to give the kinds of people and folklore that rarely get centered in Western fantasy their due. It rules—partly because it feels a hell of a lot like playing through a Baldur’s Gate game.

The novel is about a man known only as Tracker, who recounts his personal history to a mysterious inquisitor who ultimately wants to know what happened when Tracker accepted a job to find a missing boy, a job that ultimately leads to something horrifying.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf is a dense, difficult book that slips in and out of focus from one passage to the next. It’s a tall, thick volume at 620 pages long—to read it for long stretches is to fall into a trance where you’re aware of the shape of things, even if you can’t always make out the details. It’s reassuring to have some kind of horizon to look toward, a wall to lean against when I felt disoriented.

That’s why I say it feels like a good role-playing game: The story starts with Tracker coming of age in the villages of the Riverlands and follows him until he comes to a city and joins a party. They venture out and face monstrous horrors on the road, and then, at another city, they find answers. Along the way, we meet characters who tell their stories at length and have their own agendas and side quests, some of which seem like they’re detracting from the main plot but ultimately end up being diversions you’re glad you took. (The story of Sad Ogo—a massive man you should not call a giant—is devastating.)

This isn’t something we haven’t seen in fantasy literature—it’s good narrative structure. You can recognize this in all sorts of stories across media. It’s just cool to see video games fall so neatly in this tradition, another voice in one big story that we’re all telling. It’s becoming more explicit, like the way the current generation of fantasy authors are openly influenced by Japanese role-playing games. (If you want something that will rock your goddamn world, put Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings next to Suikoden II.)

Reading Black Leopard, Red Wolf, I felt small. Maybe it’s weird to say this, but that’s one of my favorite feelings in video games—I like big sprawling games that suggest a wealth of stories unfolding around me, with nothing but my time and attention keeping me from finding them. And man, how I wish I had more time.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Can’t Help Reading Every Damn Text Box In Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I could speak with my house leader! I could also read these books.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

Fire Emblem: Three Houses has been a little bit of a slow burn for me. While I’ve been a fan of the series since Awakening, I found myself beset by choice paralysis in Three Houses when I realized that I did not even remotely feel attached to any of the three precocious rich children with whom I was being asked to ally myself. You’d think that once I finally chose a house—Black Eagles, based on Heather’s excellent guide to choosing a house—I’d be ripping and running and tearing up the battlefield. Instead, I opted to do a little reading.

“Opted” might be generous. At this point in my gaming career, my attraction to lore has become more akin to a compulsion. When I explored Garreg Mach Monastery for the first time, I painstakingly talked to every NPC that still had a “new text” bubble next to their minimap icon, a feature I both appreciate and lament because it gives me an easy way to lean into my obsessive see-it-all tendencies. So imagine my surprise and consternation when I realized that, after going through boxes and boxes and boxes of dialog text, there were even more text boxes to scroll through courtesy of the in-game library.

I’m still not even sure what the current year is, but this is riveting!

You can’t actually read all the books in the Three Houses library. It makes sense—there are a lot on those shelves. Instead, as in many games, you walk up to a bookshelf and interact with it for a few boxes of text related to a certain topic: the Church of Seiros, or the geography of Fodlan, or royal genealogy, for example. A more reasonable person would think, “Well, these books will clearly still be here for me to read at later points in the game, like after I do my first-ever real mission.” But what if there was some lore here that would add a little extra color to that mission? Or deepen my understanding of the world and characters around me? Maybe I’d stumble on some piece of information that I’d need for a support conversation. The characters I need to connect with in this game are students and teachers, after all, so trading in facts might actually be useful.

Those are all the justifications that I’ve retroactively invented for why I read all of those books. But in the moment, none of that was actually going through my mind. I just felt a deep tugging in the pit of my spirit, something like a disembodied voice whispering, “Natalie, here is a thing you can do, a task you can complete. If you don’t do it right now, you might forget it’s here. Read these textbooks, you fucking coward.” In the same compulsive way that I counted things as a kid, needing the numbers to be divisible in a certain way to feel “right,” I often find myself giving in and seeking “comfort” in the way of knowing that I’ve completed every little thing I can possibly complete in front of me before I move on to something else. It didn’t matter that this meant reading blocks of text for which I grossly lacked narrative context, from the climates of places I probably wouldn’t see for several more hours to family histories detailing long lines of nepotism behind characters about whom I already felt ambivalent.

Pictured: another excellent use of my time.

As I said, I’m not technically reading the entire library of books in this game, but only because I can’t. All I can do is watch my character read the books and then provide me, the player, with a summary of their contents. Because of that, I’ve found myself wondering if I should apply the logic behind the video game library to the other text in the game. If several thousand pages of books can be boiled down into a summary that only lasts for a few text boxes, should I apply that to the rest of the reading I do in the game, like the character dialogues? Was the two-box chat I had with a random knight actually an hours-long conversation about the minutiae of guarding a dormitory? Were the 45 seconds I spent watching a cat’s idle animations actually three hours of my character’s in-game life? Was the “…” I got from Marianne actually a tense, long silence that broke into a 15-minute staring contest?

I may not be able to accurately measure the time that my character is spending in the library, but the time that I’ve spent on this task as a player is certainly adding up. When I actually get to my first real Fire Emblem battle, I’ll let you know if all the reading paid off. I’ll let you know as soon as I finish reading all the tutorials in the pause menu.

Source: Kotaku.com

Helping People In Dragon Quest Builders 2 Gives Me So Much Joy

Image: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

In Dragon Quest Builders 2, you play as a little anime friend who knows how to build stuff in a world where building things is outlawed. It’s very funny. Often in the game’s opening hours, you will construct something like a simple straw mat, and people will look at you like you invented a bubble gum that makes people sing like Ariana Grande. How did you do that? They will wonder. Is that allowed? They will ask. You didn’t just…”build” something did you? They might fret.

Once their amazement passes, another funny thing happens, one that actually matters for your progress through the game. The characters for whom you built something will rush over in excitement, and literally explode with joy. Little yellow, green, and orange hearts burst out from them for you to collect. These hearts are what Dragon Quest Builders 2 calls gratitude points. Collect enough of them, and you can ring the bell at the center of the town you’re in to level up that town, unlocking new blueprints and recipes for you to build and craft and generally just make an even better town.

Helping townsfolk is a staple of role-playing games. It’s one of the weird little idiosyncrasies of the genre, which often casts players as powerful warriors who are capable of stopping existential threats but also presumes that they wouldn’t get annoyed by a farmer asking them to find a chicken that ran off.Dragon Quest games in particular are well-suited to this kind of diversion. That’s because they are, as Kotaku’s Tim Rogers noted in his review of Dragon Quest XI, basically bedtime stories. They’re meant to be sweet and endearing, just as much storybook as they are games. They’re stories set in worlds where helping people is something everyone does, just because it’s nice and right.

I think about that a lot as I play Dragon Quest Builders 2. Watching its little townsfolk explode with gratitude, it’s nice to see these ideas made just a little more tangible, to see how they feel externalized in a gameplay system. While you could argue (and I would) that the purity of that feeling is compromised by attaching it to a system that lets you earn new things, making all of your altruistic efforts into more of a transaction, the moment of the heart explosion itself remains a joy. It’s a joy to know that you helped someone, a joy to know that they deeply appreciate that help, that they’re glad you’re here, that you could make their lives a little bit better. 

Source: Kotaku.com

I Play Destiny As A Warlock But Now Think I Should Be A Titan

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

As far back as I can remember, I, like Ray Liotta, have always wanted to be a Warlock. My daddy was a Warlock. His daddy was a Warlock. Warlockin’ is in my blood, I thought as I started up Destiny for the first time in 2014. When Destiny 2 was released three years later, I stuck to what I knew. I stayed a Warlock.

Sure, in the past, I have dabbled in other classes. In Destiny, I eventually rolled a Hunter, but by the time I did, Destiny 2 was on the horizon. I tried playing a Hunter again in the sequel, but changes to the way Destiny worked made it not feel as fun. So I continued, a Warlock, like I’ve always been. It’s been five years now, and I think I’ve been making a mistake.

Character classes in Destiny are weird. It’s a first-person shooter, so your class can never really overshadow the shooting for more than a few moments—like, say, when you trigger your show-stopping super ability. Outside of that, a lot of the differences are subtle. Classes influence the way your jumps work, what kind of grenade and melee attacks you use, and how all those abilities work together and complement the players around you.

Destiny’s Warlocks are glass cannons, which is typical for mage classes in most role-playing games. You can’t take a terrible amount of damage, but your super abilities can wreck face from afar. Also, Warlocks have a bunch of melee and grenade skills that can be tuned to set off fun little chain reactions good for clearing out foes when you’re in a jam. I like playing a Warlock, but recently, I’ve also been starting to think a little more honestly about how I play Destiny 2, and it is…not like a Warlock.

I’ve just got to be in there, man, smashing Hive Ogres to bits up close and personal. I wanna feel like a walking space tank, not a floating space artillery. It’s time for a change. I want to be a Titan.

I realized this the other day as I was running some bounties using my Stormcaller sub-class. It’s got this super ability called Storm Trance that lets you float around the battlefield and fire the game’s version of Force Lightning at everyone around you. It’s a cool ability, and one of the few Warlock skills that lets you get up close and really scrap, if only for a little bit.

Unlike most online role-playing games, changing classes in Destiny 2 is not that big a deal. Doing it doesn’t come with the sort of guilt that my colleague Heather Alexandra experienced when she changed classes in Final Fantasy XIV. There’s less riding on your decision. Party composition matters for some of Destiny’stoughest challenges, but for the day-to-day of it, you can run whatever you like and be fine. It’s just work, since I’ll have to level up a new character from scratch. I don’t know if I want to do that work, especially because I know massive changes are coming in September when Destiny 2: Shadowkeep launches.

This is the drawback of playing a live game like Destiny. The world of the game can be mercurial; substantial changes can occur at any time, rendering decisions you make today moot tomorrow. That’s part of the fun, of course—learning the meta, figuring out the most effective ways to find what you need and get the best loot with every new update—but it also has a way of driving me into a narrow focus, from keeping me from wanting to spread myself too thin.

So maybe I’ll just stay a Warlock, at least until Shadowkeep drops and I have this existential crisis all over again this September. Who knows. Change is good, maybe.

Source: Kotaku.com

Sometimes It’s Nice To Stop Mid-Game And Watch The Players Around You

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

Yesterday I logged on to Destiny 2 for the first time in a very long while, intent on clearing out a chunk of the massive to-do list my character had accrued since this summer’s Season of Opulence update began. One of my many bounties and challenges involved killing a bunch of Fallen enemies on the game’s Nessus map. So I hung out in an area of the map where I knew Fallen spawn, as you do, and then I noticed another player tackling one of the game’s public events—random group activities open to everyone on the map—by themselves in the valley below me. I thought about joining in to help out, but instead found myself just standing on the edge of a cliff, watching them. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

At that distance—which you can get a sense of in the screenshot above—the way video game characters move looks different. As anyone familiar with games might notice, a video game character controlled by a human being moves strangely. They zig and zag erratically, run forward and backpedal in fits and starts, often displaying only a haphazard respect for their surroundings.

From my far-off vantage point, this character’s movement didn’t look awkward anymore. It was balletic, a fireworks show where one player swiftly moved in clean arcs and decisive lunges, trading colorful beams of light with the army of robots around them. I was transfixed.

The central fantasy of Destiny is one where players are superhuman space warriors capable of channeling godlike elemental powers, like if Thor also had a fondness for high-caliber machine guns. I’ve never really felt connected to that fantasy. Destiny 2 is a first-person shooter, and like most first-person shooters, especially ones that revolve around collecting new and better guns (as Destiny does), you spend most of your time thinking about guns. The godlike powers are there for variety and getting you out of tough scrapes.

Whenever Bungie promotes Destiny 2, its trailers lean hard on the feeling that you are this epic force of cosmic power, but that feeling is always undercut by the way video game characters move—like human-shaped bulldozers, lacking the grace that might accompany godlike power, much less the grace of movement that beings have in the natural world.

When I watched someone play from far away, that changed for me. Sure, my gun was in the frame, and I was a fellow player, capable of joining them in this theater. But I could easily imagine myself to be someone else within the game’s world. The worlds of Destiny 2 are largely absent of characters who aren’t there for shooting, but if that were not the case, maybe this is what it would feel like to be one of them. Just a person watching a faraway titan of myth standing against an army of time-bending robots. A little too close for safety, but far enough for everything to seem less than real. Flesh and blood in awe of strange cosmic power.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Can’t Stop Being A Reckless Moron In Fire Emblem: Awakening

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I have spent most of the last week feeling incredibly hyped for Fire Emblem: Three Houses, one of a handful of games I’m most excited to play this summer. Whenever I’m feeling pumped for a new game, one thing I tend to do is go back and play or replay old games in the same series. This means I’ve been revisiting my old Fire Emblem: Awakening save, and let me tell you: I am pretty sure I was bad at this game.

First, you should know that I came to Fire Emblem extremely late. I got into Awakening after messing around with Fire Emblem Heroes when it dropped on mobile in early 2017. (The Nintendo 3DS was also something I got into extremely late.) Prior to that, strategy games were only an occasional part of my gaming diet. Some Military Madness here, some XCOM: Enemy Unknown there.

This is me making excuses for all the characters I got killed in my Fire Emblem: Awakening playthrough. I played with permadeath on, because I believed in consequences in 2017 and I believe in them now. I also, apparently, believe in keeping a record of what a strategic moron I am.

I returned to my old save two years later to be reminded that, across 14 story missions and a handful of side missions, I let 9 out of the 27 characters I recruited die. That’s a third of my army! Who in their right mind would fight for me? At this rate, Frederick should depose my sorry ass. Hell, Donnel—who is somehow still alive in my game—would probably do better. I am a reckless punk, undeserving of the burden of leadership. Give it to the boy with a pot for a hat.

This led to a crisis of conscience in the middle of my long Fourth of July weekend: Do I continue to recklessly plunge ahead, consequences be damned, living with the fallout like my colleague Jason Schreier did before me? Or do I commit to cracking this game slowly, keeping all my remaining characters alive and restarting if I fail, so I can become the mastermind I know I can be by the time Three Houses releases?

At first, I tried the latter. Instead of plowing ahead, I began Chapter 15 with the attitude that my first attempt would be merely to get to know the map, with no expectation of winning. That worked out pretty well for a couple hours. Then I got to Chapter 17, and it became impossible to go more than three turns without someone dying.

Part of this wasn’t my fault. Fire Emblem: Awakening is pretty fair as far as strategy games go—there’s room for some surprises, but you generally know how a fight’s going to turn out before you begin. Unfortunately, I kept getting surprised, with an enemy Arcmage scoring a critical hit on one of my strongest units, killing him with one impossibly strong blow on three separate attempts.

Other times I failed to read the room, forgetting that archers can shoot over some walls and mixing up the rock-paper-scissors “weapon triangle” that determines which units have the advantage in a fight. I like making big, ballsy dramatic plays, and Awakening’s rigidly defined system of character strengths and weaknesses encourage a more patient approach akin to puzzle-solving. I don’t have anything against puzzles—in fact, I love ‘em. But give me an army full of pegasus-riding valkyries and axe-wielding badasses and I’m going to want to dive right into the shit with them, you feel me?

After no fewer than seven attempts at Chapter 17 in which I lost at least one soldier every time, I think I’ve figured out how I like playing Fire Emblem games: I love being a reckless punk. I am the Dominic Toretto of the Fire Emblem universe, living my life a quarter mile at a time, fast and furious until the day I die. Or, more likely, until my entire army dies around me, because I am a monster who has not absorbed a single lesson these games have tried to impart about the horrors of war.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Love When Video Game Music Is So Good I Forget To Actually Play The Game

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

One of my favorite games of the last several years is Facepalm Games’ The Swapper. I like it for a lot of reasons: it’s got this beautiful stop-motion clay art style, an immediately compelling hook in the titular Swapper, a gun that lets you clone yourself and zap your consciousness between those clones, and a disconcerting story.

But the primary reason The Swapper has long been a favorite is the Recreation area. In The Swapper, you’re mostly alone in an empty research lab and the desert planet it is built on after an unexplained disaster. . You spend the game trying to figure out what has gone wrong, and contemplating the existential dread that comes with using your weird gun that lets you clone yourself and zap your consciousness around. It’s an eerie, quiet game. And then you get to the Recreation area, and you hear this music:

It’s immediately arresting. You hear this elegiac, bittersweet piano piece when you’re not expecting it, in a space meant for people to enjoy themselves and be at ease, now abandoned. When I first reached the Recreation area, I stayed there, doing nothing, for 10 minutes, letting the music loop. I’ve never forgotten this game, and I think about it all the time. And a big part of that is thanks to composer Carlo Castellano’s beautiful, tender composition.

Stopping and listening to the music is one of gaming’s quieter pleasures. Sitting around and taking in the score was the unquestionable highlight of Destiny’s early days, and it has consistently been one of the best things about Final Fantasy XIV, a game that is just dripping with music that makes you want to stop and listen.

I have endlessly looped the menus of Final Fantasy X-2 and Persona 3 FES, my colleagues have let the Final Fantasy XI opening theme and the Threads of Fate score play over and over, and Kotaku video producer Paul Tamayo recalls being so enthralled by the opening to Chrono Cross that he looped a demo disc with no actual gameplay, just to listen and watch over and over.

The bigness of many games is sometimes intimidating, but more often I’ve found it to be a source of delight. Delight at the sheer possibility of what may be waiting for you in the next village, in the next room, and what sounds may greet you when you get there. I love the way they linger, letting my mind stay in this world even after I leave it to do something else.

Source: Kotaku.com

Look At This Extremely Nice Video Game Latrine

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

While playing State of Decay 2‘s new Heartland expansion—a game I find interesting, even if I don’t particularly enjoy it—I noticed something during one of several trips to my local frenemies the Wilkersons in the northern region of Trumbull Valley. It’s a latrine. An extremely considered, well-designed latrine.

Just look at it! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s on the second floor balcony, so it’s, you know, pretty private. There’s a “Come In, We’re Open” sign that a character could ostensibly flip over once they go in. Once you’re inside, creature comforts abound.

A candle! Matches! Magazines to read! There’s no indoor plumbing in the zombie apocalypse, but we’re doing our best! Also get a load of these Post-It notes folks have left each other.

Someone wants World War II guns, which is a cheeky nod to a recent State of Decay 2 update that added a bunch of WWII weaponry. There’s a note reminding people of a password (to what? I don’t know.) Something barely legible about a guy named Drew, and also Sasquatch, I think.

None of these details have to be here. Making anything in a video game is difficult, time-intensive work, so a lot of what you see must be there because someone cared about how these in-game characters shit.

This toilet isn’t necessary plot info. It’s not killing a dude in Bloodborne, picking up a teddy bear from his corpse that reads “not a child’s, but a lover’s” in its description and noticing that you were fighting him in front of a woman’s grave.

It’s literally just a toilet, made as comfortable as possible by people trying to survive the end of the world. Isn’t that nice? The world’s gone to hell, but you can still shit with dignity.

Source: Kotaku.com