Remembering Jackie Welles

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

This post will contain spoilers for the First Act of Cyberpunk 2077. I bought this game for the PlayStation 4 and it was not looking great. But, I was interested in the story because I felt an instant bond to Jackie Welles. He reminded me of friends that I had so it was easier for me to bond with him despite his regrettably short time in the game.

How Meet

How you meet Jackie depends on your life path. I played through all three intros out of curiosity, but my main path is Street Kid.

Street Kid

V meets Jackie doing a favor for someone that worked at his mother’s bar which is why he later decides to trust V. The bartender owed a debt to a man named Kirk. Kirk tells V the debt will be repaid if she can steal a luxury car for him. When V followed his orders the car door opened and Jackie was threatening V to get out of the car because he had also been hired to steal it. After that, the police swarm in and take us both down and knock us out. When V wakes up Jackie was relieved that nothing had happened to them and after hearing that V did all this for someone else ,especially someone that works at his mother’s bar, he decides that V is an upstanding person and wants to work with V.

Corpo

V and Jackie have been friends for quite some time. He shows concern for V when he sees that she gets so stressed she gets sick at work saying that the job is going to kill her. V is told by her boss to take down his rival. V asks Jackie for help with this job but, due to him describing himself as a man of principle, he is not happy about the job. Then, Arasaka comes after V while Jackie is with her and strips her of her job. Jackie threatens them when they are about to try to take V in so they leave her alone afterwards.

Nomad

V has been hired to smuggle goods and Jackie Welles has the cargo. They have to go through a border check to get into Night City which ends with border patrol chasing them as they have stolen corporate goods. After narrowly avoiding the officers, they open the cargo to find an adorable iguana. Jackie decides to help V find a place to stay and wants to work with her in Night City.

Background and Personality

Jackie was part of the Valentino’s gang until he was shot in the heart at 19 and his mother found out that he was part of the gang. This is where he gained his principles as the Valentino’s value loyalty, honor, and respect. Despite not being part of the gang anymore, he still shows pride as you can see he wears a Valentino jacket and shirt, has tattoos of the Valentino, and his bike also has Valentino on it.

Jackie is also someone I would describe as full of life. He’s vibrant, happy, funny. He treats you like family frequently calling you hermana. He also will look after you. When you do story missions together, he’ll tell you if there’s trouble or to hide.

Jackie wanted more out of life. It’s clear based on conversations where he mentions wanting to be part of The Afterlife, a club where you know you made it if they name a drink after you when you die. He wants his own home for his girlfriend Misty. His life has been moving slower than he expected and he’s been struggling to get the kinds of jobs where he will earn big money.

Story

Jackie tells V that a large fixer named Dexter DeShawn wants to meet her. He gives V a small task at first to secure a flatbot from Maelstrom, a gang known for their insane amount of cyberware and being hostile. This route can go forward in a few ways. In my version I received a chip with money on it from Militech. It came with a virus which led Militech to find Maelstrom and a fight ensued.

After V gets the bot, The Heist could begin. First, Dex gets V and Jackie into The Afterlife so Jackie and V could see the bar and order drinks. I usually don’t drink in games, but Jackie wanted to order drinks so we could celebrate together so sharing a drink with him made the moment special. I also learned about his signature drink which he told the bartender so he could one day have his name in The Afterlife. Dexter gives the group a plan on how to steal a special chip from Arasaka and then you can choose whether to start the mission immediately or do other quests.

The Heist was very difficult emotionally. I was looking up lore on characters and accidentally got a spoiler about Jackie’s death so I was well aware and crying through the whole thing. What made it worse was how happy he was. Jackie kept talking about the future he wanted. He tried to rent a Delmain cab once for a relatives party to make it special, but it was too expensive. When he makes it big he wants to take Misty to the nice restaurant at the hotel the Heist was at. He has a good feeling this job will make us rich and we’ll be happy.

The Heist goes wrong when an assassination occurs at The Arasaka hotel. The son of Arasaka kills his father, alarms ring out, and V and Jackie are in the middle of everything. Jackie gets shot in the stomach, the chip’s container breaks and Jackie slots it in his brain, and you have to sneak or run out into the Delmain cab.

Once V enters the cab Jackie slowly die in V’s arms while he hands her the chip. That was very hard to watch, it may have been one of the hardest things I’ve watched in a game. On top of that Dex blames V and shoots her in the head. V is saved by the chip only to find out that her brain is being slowly taken over by Johnny Silverhand whose life was stored on the chip.

Aftermath

There’s a side quest that unlocks where V finds something to give to Jackie’s ofrenda. She goes to his home and finds Misty there who says that she still waits an hour for him every day. V then learns more about Jackie by going through his things. The sweetest thing was he built a sand mandala because Misty told him to make one. He also told her he’d love to use the sand to build them a home. I chose to give him a bottle of unopened rare tequila that he kept for luck. Unfortunately my game bugged and I had to reload three times before I could select the bottle. At the ofrenda you get Jackie’s bike and his guns.

V can still call Jackie after his death and leave him voice-mails. I also found out by going through my Journal that the text for the quests were written with his voice. It was really touching to see a final goodbye from him telling me to keep moving forward for him.

Lessons Learned

Upon meeting the character and interacting with them, I loved that Jackie obviously lived life to the fullest. He wasn’t held back by fear and that’s what I wish I could do. I would like to let go of the fears I get from having anxiety and learn to be in the moment more.

For the sudden death, it definitely taught me to hold my friends close and let them know how much I care. You’ll never know when you’ll lose someone. Jackie was really young, he was 30 which is only 4 years older than me. I hope I will never lose any of my friends young.

As for lessons learned in the game world, it shows just how cruel Night City is. You find this one character that just wants to help people and is a good person and he gets killed. It also set the game’s serious tone as before it was more fun and focused on action.

What did you think of Jackie Welles as a character? Were you able to bond with him in the short time he was in the game?

The State of Cyberpunk 2077 on PS4

Photo by Naveen Annam on Pexels.com

I was very excited to play this game at launch. Unfortunately, when I woke up that morning I saw news that the game wasn’t running well. I waited for my physical copy to arrive and then had to wait for it to download 102 GB because the console versions are larger. The original state was very bad and even though with the current patch it does work, I would advise waiting for further patches.

Launch State

The original state of this game was bad for the little bit I played it. The graphics and lighting were poor. Textures had no detail and graphics were in general very blurry. There were loading issues with textures so things would appear pixelated. It was struggling with any action in the game.

It was bad enough that I was thinking about refunding. Then the next day a patch came out that fixed things enough that I liked the game.

Current Graphics

Graphics are still low quality, but they do have more detail. I noticed that people’s faces had more detail and the lightning had been improved. Graphics can still be poor quality like signs sometimes have blurry textures so its hard to read. A homeless guy’s sign didn’t render properly so I was struggling to read the words. Textures still pop in so if you look in the distance in the city you can see how poorly detailed things are.

If you are planning on still playing, here are some tips that I found online or just by me tweaking settings. Turn off all graphic effects except Lens Flare and then turn on HDR if you have a compatible TV. Set the maximum brightness to 2000, paper white to 600, and tone mapping to 1.50. I would not set the paper white higher as it gets so bright it causes a double vision effect making it hard to concentrate and read. If you don’t have HDR, turn Chromatic Aberration on. Now turn your sharpness on your TV to a medium setting, I had it at 13 and then the game does look much better!

Controls

The controls needs a bit of work, but it could also be due to frame drops during intense combat. Driving was also hard at first because I could easily oversteer the vehicle when making turns.

The recommended control scheme I found by searching online was to turn dead zones down to their lowest amounts and turn all bonuses in the advanced options to 0. This allowed the controls to be tighter when driving and made combat smoother.

Bugs and Crashes

So far I have only encountered 2 crashes on my console. Both happened on the same day when I was able to play the game on the weekend. The first happened after I took a break from the game to think about a decision, I came back and chose my option and then the game crashed a few minutes later. The second I don’t know what happened; it was weird. All of a sudden, I started feeling like something was visually off with the game and then I noticed that things were blurring when I moved the camera and the game was really stuttering and I could tell the frame rate was dropping. Then, it just crashed. Both times when it crashed it completely reset my settings so I had to redo my settings so I made notes on what I had the game set to.

As for bugs, I’ve got plenty. I’ve had T-posing NPCs. I’ve had cars and people randomly spawn in. When a cyberpsycho died in the game his mouth was still moving. One time when my car spawned in when I called it, it landed on top of another car and got stuck. I found out that if a car flips over, it will do nothing, then the person in the car will stand on top of the car and then both will explode into fire.

I also have an odd bug that also happened twice where my controller disconnected. I’ve no idea how the game disconnected my controller as there’s no issue with the controller. I’ve played Valhalla for hours or used my controller to play Steam games with no issues so it’s not my controller.

AI Behavior

I’m coming from Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto games so I was shocked at how bad the AI behavior is. So, there was a scene where I had to capture someone in a diner. First, for some reason the cops were called and they spawned in immediately outside. So, I can’t tell whose a gang member and whose a cop. So, I took out the Tyger Claws gang and hid. Eventually the police gave up, but the Tyger Claws were still attacking. When I got outside of the area, everyone was crouching and hiding even though the action was over and they were far away.

Police do just literally spawn in and them doing that can slow the game down for a bit. They don’t arrive at a scene. They are also very hostile and will attack if you get too near to them. I was walking down to a fast travel location because I didn’t know what it was at the time. All of a sudden a cop said “drop your weapon” even though I had nothing out and started shooting. I just walked past him to explore and he took it as a threat.

As for people, they are not very interactive. Some have interesting dialogue that they will say to each other, but they mostly just tell you in various ways to go away. At least there’s one hairless cat you can pet in the game that’s friendly. There’s also street vendors, but you can’t buy food from them.

Positive Aspects of The Game

If you’re wondering why would anyone buy this then I do want to mention why I’ve decided to not try to refund it. The story is really fun and I’m interested in it; plus Jackie. I love Jackie, as soon as I met him I just had to keep playing the game! He’s a fun character that’s very comforting because he treats you like family.

Side quests can be fun. There are unique quests or some fun ones that repeat like researching cyberpsychosis by knocking out cyberpsychos. There’s weird NPCs like I found Jesse Cox in the game! He was flaming crotch man because I had to take him to a ripperdoc to an implant gone wrong. That was really funny!

The world is really pretty and with work I feel like it could be an immersive game! If stuff like AI was worked on and interactive elements like being able to eat food on street corners or go to the barber like in Witcher 3 would also be really nice RPG elements.

The cyberpunk aspect is really cool! I love the style and the emphasis on corrupt corporations. I am interested in how the cyberpunk theme and style will be developed throughout the game.

Verdict

This game has potential to be a really good game on consoles and in general with some patches. For now, if you are a console player and own this game, consider playing something else for the time being like I’m going to focus on Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. If you are looking forward to buying this, wait until at least February because the latest news from CD Projekt Red is that there will be major patches in January and February. It sucks that the game I was looking forward to the most this year did release in this state. I’m hoping that this game can be really nice looking and play wonderfully after a few patches. Right now it can be played even though it can crash or have frame drops during battles, but I would rather wait until it is better looking and completely stable before playing.

What are your thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077 on consoles?

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: A Gem That Still Needs Some Polish

Photo by Erik Mclean on Pexels.com

I was really excited to play this game when I got back from vacation! At first it took time to get used to mainly due to bugs and I spent too much time focusing on completing Norway before continuing plot. But, now that patches are coming out and I’m in England I’m really enjoying the game! Also my PS4 (not a pro model) sounds like it’s a jet plane trying to keep up with this new game!

Plot

Elivor seeks revenge for her father’s death by taking out her father’s killer, Kjotve. Once she does that with the help of Harald, he declares that he wants to be the king of Norway and unite the different  clans under him.     

Elivor and her brother are against being ruled under a King so they move to England to start their own clan and seek out alliances so that their clan can grow stronger. They are also working with The Hidden Ones to take out The Order of The Ancients as Kjotve was one of them.

Combat and Stealth

The stealth aspect of Assassin’s Creed games are here, but they need to first be taught by The Hidden Ones before Elivor can do them.

Combat is about trying different styles. You can try different weapons combos or use one two-handed weapon like a spear. Right now I am using an axe and a shield. You can upgrade weapons and put runes in them like fire damage runes or weight reducing runes.

Special abilities come from leveling up on the Skill tree as well as finding books in the game to unlock Abilities. I love this feature because it encourages you to explore!

Settlement

The Settlement serves as a base you can upgrade by getting supplies by doing quests or raiding villages.

You have a main hall where you rest, receive letters, or forge alliances.

There’s customization with tattoos, mounts and mount training, boat customization, and also little things around the settlement like customizing trees.

You can also upgrade weapons, hire a Jomsviking to help you, open a trading shop, do fishing (which I haven’t unlocked yet), and set up posts to exchange hunting trophies or artifacts for rewards.

Activities

Raiding is how you get supplies for your settlement. You use your horn to summon your crew and raid towns for riches. Its really fun and I enjoy the music that plays! Hunting is back and do far I’ve fought a giant Elk! I love the challenging bosses. Roman artifacts can now be found in the form of masks hidden in the area. Cursed areas are also new where you look for a cursed skull. I also stumbled across cursed bosses I believe? This woman appeared and she seemed to have cursed a land but she was way higher leveled that I was so I can’t talk about that much yet. Hunting down The Order of The Ancients is back and instead of mercenaries wondering around; there are  Zealots. I love that this back because I really enjoyed it last time!

Fishing is new, but unfortunately I need to build that settlement so I can’t comment on it. There’s a fun platforming activity where you platform across glitched platforms as Layla to fix the simulation and gather data. There are also world puzzles such as putting an image together or walking through doors in the right order.

My favorite little part is petting dogs and cats! The dogs put their paws on you and the cats are huge! I know there are quests where I can get a dog and one where I can get a cat and I’m really excited!

Side Quests

For my playthrough, I have the game tell me where everything is so I can see all of the side content instead of walking around looking for things. I really love these and I just wanted to share my favorites:

  • Axehead who was wondering why he had a splitting headache who then told me a sweet story while I took the axe out of his head
  • A man who kept telling me to burn down his house so he could prove his faith when he was really trying to hide that he was a murderer
  • A wife and child who needed their house cleaned because the husband insisted on not bathing and I had to trick him into taking a bath.
  • Finding treasure by letting cats out of a house so they would chase the rats away

Bugs

This game is a bit buggy, but luckily it has gotten better and should get even more better with each patch. When I first played the game, it had just started experiencing save corruptions and The Seer quest was broken. Luckily my game wasn’t impacted and by the time I explored all of the first area, the quest proceeded smoothly. There were issues I was having with wealth that were frustrating. So when you killed the mini boss of a big wealth section you’re supposed to get wealth from them. I got a messed up looking mannequin and had to reload and do it again so the game would accept it. This has also been fixed!

I did see a low poly boat with a mannequin figure and also a child did appear to be growing while he walked during a quest because he was all of a sudden my height, but he shrunk down again!

First Time Advice

So I explored all of Norway before playing through the story and going to England. I do not recommend doing this! First, you cannot do the Leap of Faith until you unlock it. You also need to visit the first settlement in Norway to unlock steal assassinations which make entering wealth areas so much easier! Also Norway was mostly snowy mountains so I did find the first area boring after a while while England has a lot of different colors and environments. It would be better to go back and forth between the two areas instead of only focusing on one area at a time.

Be a Viking!

I am really enjoying this game now that I am in England! I am looking forward to upgrading my settlement and doing all of the activities and side quests! I am also interested in seeing how this story develops and it is currently focused on building a new life. I wonder if some great conflict will arise; something that will drive the plot forward.

What do you think about playing a Viking?

Alice: Madness Returns – A Beautiful Story With Flaws

I finished Alice: Madness Returns after I finally had time to sit down and complete it. It tells a beautiful story about overcoming trauma. The issues with I have with this game are mainly bugs and it feeling like a rushed game.

Story

In the last game Alice manages to wake herself from her coma by reconciling her guilt over her parents fire. But the trauma still remains. Her brain can’t let go of the fire even thought her psychiatrist, Dr. Bumby, encourages her to forget everything. The story takes place in both London where Alice tries to figure out what exactly happened the night of the fire and in Wonderland which is being ruined by an evil train.

Level Design of Wonderland

The game is separated into stages each with it’s own separate theme. You start out in Wonderland with Alice’s standard dress. You also get a steampunk dress for the Mad hatter, a Siren dress for an underwater level, a dress inspired by China for a China level, a hearts dress for The Queen of Hearts, and a patchwork dress for Dollhouse. The dresses were really fun and had lots of variety.

The levels were mostly fun. There was a ton of platforming that got more complex as the game progressed. Later on there are timed puzzles that were the hardest part where there would be two platforms that would change height based on the weight put on one of them like a scale. So you had to put a little clockwork bunny bomb down and race to the other platform before the timer went off. My other favorite levels were the little slides you could go down because it reminded me of a Harry Potter game I played, I think The Prison of Azkaban, where there were ice slides you could go down.

There are also collectibles in the level like bottles and extra dialogue that reveal more of the story. Collecting all of these will reward you with bonus content like artwork. You can use Shrink Mode during the game to find paths for these collectibles. There will be drawing of a bottle or perhaps a drawing of a memory. You can shoot pepper at pig’s noses to reveal hidden paths. Sometimes there are invisible walkways only revealed through Shrink Mode. My favorite was finding an Easter Egg where Spicy Horse’s logo could be seen by Shrinking down near a large teapot in the China world.

The levels did sometimes feel like they were dragging on especially since the environments looked similar. Besides the slides, there was nothing to really break up the levels. There are puzzles but these puzzles repeat like a sliding puzzle or a rhythm puzzle that lags. This game has no boss fights besides a final boss. There were mentions of a boss during Hatter’s stage but the boss defeats itself. I’m thinking that there was not enough time to design boss fights which is why they are not there.

Best Level

This goes to the Queen of Hearts level. There were occasional chase scenes with an Executioner. It also had a fun mini game section where you became a giant Alice and got to smash your enemies.

London Level Design

These levels were very small sections which did have some fun little parts. Basically each section of London would hint to the next area. So you go to a mermaid bar you enter an underwater level later. You got to a man obsessed with China you go to a level that is Chinese influenced.

The most intriguing part was when it wasn’t real at all. There’s one part where Alice gets eaten by The Red Queen. She wakes up in an insane asylum. The game then demonstrates techniques used in Alice’s era like leeches or drilling holes in the head. It then would show disturbing imagery such as a room with bloody drills in the ceiling or leeches falling down from the ceiling. Towards the end you could see insane people with disturbed faces.

Bugs

This game could be a bit buggy although it never crashed on me. The rythym puzzles felt like they were lagging as it was hard to time the notes correctly. I would think I was pressing at the right time and I wasn’t. There was also a weird bug where any time Alice entered a level she would automatically start running forward unless you hit a wall to stop here. It was a minor problem until I had to follow a corridor of lights and she kept running in the oppoesite direction until I paused the game.

There were also odd glitches. When the screen was supposed to black out I could still see things happening which caused some funny moments like seeing The Mad Hatter being taken and the scene blacking out and he’s just hanging out waiting for the next scene to load. The final bonus level area where you can collect paint for hearts there were missing textures. It wasn’t my computer as I looked up other playthrough’s to check and no there were just black textures in some places. This also led me to believe that this was rushed as it should have been caught.

Major Theme: Trigger Warning of Sexual Assault

The game’s plot twist is the fire was not an accident. The psychiatrist, Dr. Bumby, raped Alice’s sister and then burnt the house down to hide the evidence. The game hints at this very early on until it is very much obvious in the Dollhouse level. How the game handles this is a mix of really well done and odd.

To start, I’m going to talk about the enemies. Your very first enemies are black sludge babies. This could be the earliest hint of abuse and if it is; the impact is lost. At first it is creepy and disturbing but various types of this enemy will keep reappearing so it feels like it gets turned into a generic battle. But, there is an effective enemy in Dollhouse. There are these dolls and when you hit them their clothes will fall off and then their beating heart is exposed. That was genuinely disturbing and I felt extremely uncomfortable with those battles.

There are subtle hints throughout the story and that’s’ when I think the game is at it’s strongest. If you’re paying attention at the beginning, there are kids with numbers hanging around confused around Dr. Bumby’s orphanage. Later on, the game shows this kids as dolls who are being groomed for further abuse by adults and Alice was being conditioned to be like them. That was very effective to show you something small and then do a major reveal at the end.

Dollhouse was a bit over the top. I think it was effective but it could be potentially too disturbing and triggering. In two parts of the level there are dolls with doors. One you have to enter in through a hole in the front of the doll where there’s a big hole below the chest and the doll looks like it’s screaming and the other door you enter in through a hole of the rear and the doll looks very upset. That made me extremly uncomfortable and didn’t want to proceed but it was the only way to get through the game. I feel that was a bit too strong of an image even though it was highly effective.

Final Boss

After Alice figures out that she was mentally blocking out Dr. Bumby grooming kids and that he was attempting to do the same as her via this train she becomes enraged. Bumby insists that she can’t win because she’s considered insane. This starts the final fight.

The boss fight is also very disturbing. He grabs Alice and you have to defeat him by hitting his tongue covered in the black sludge and doll faces from the first monsters you see in the game. It is very clear that Alice was probably assaulted by him as well. It was the toughest fight in the game and I did die in this section due to a hand move that could wipe out a few of Alice’s rose health icons.

This leads to an ending that’s probably the happiest Alice could have. She pushes Bumby into an oncoming train full of new children he intends to groom then she walks off into a London that is now like Wonderland in her Alice dress finally free of her abuse and with a full restored Wonderland.

Final Thoughts

While this game isn’t perfect, I still would recommend it. The fighting was fun even with the repetitive enemies. The platforming and slide sections were fun. It also was overall a powerful story of a women overcoming child abuse and also fighting to protect others. It’s also a tale of Alice finding herself again even and coming to terms with what happened to her and her family now that she knows everything. While it does have bugs they were pretty minor and the game was still very enjoyable. I would reccomend getting the version I got on Humble Bundle which is The Complete Edition so you could both this game and American Mcgee’s Alice.

What did you think of this game?

My Plan for 2020 Month of Halloween

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

I love Halloween and enjoy dressing up and watching horror films! This year I have new games to play and films to watch! I am dressing up as Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 3. I was her last year and due to COVID I did not want to get a new costume. I am hoping to possible be Harley Quinn next year.

Games

I enjoy playing Ghost Master every Halloween. It’s a game on Steam where you control ghosts and solve puzzles which usually involves scaring people or freeing ghosts. It’s a game from my childhood that I was glad Steam had so I could play it again!

This year Alice: Madness Returns is going to be played! I am working on finishing it and with it’s creepy atmosphere it is perfect for Halloween. This game is the sequel to American Mcgee’s Alice where Alice must go back to Wonderland to figure out who started the fire that killed her parents.

Finally, a pleasant surprise. I woke up last weekend to find out that Silent Hill 4 was on GOG! I am super excited as I’ve always wanted to play a Silent Hill game! So far it is definitely creepy with the weird locked apartment you’re in and the tunnel that leads to the subway. The protagonist is also surprisingly nonchalant about everything. He is really calm for someone that has been padlocked in his apartment.

Film/TV

This year I met a new friend that has given me a long list of Halloween films to watch including some horror anime and Tim Burton films.

I am currently watching BeetleJuice and Let the Right One In. I saw Let Me In years ago and it was my favorite horror film and Let The Right One In is the original Swedish version of the film. It’s basically about a young boy who falls in love with is vampire neighbor.

I also want to watch the original Prom Night as I have only seen the remake and the remake is one of my favorite films! I love prom so I love that their is a film that is basically prom and horror. I also want to watch a horror anime and maybe an Asian horror film as Amazon Prime and my smart TV both have them.

What are your plan for this Halloween?

Witcher 3 and Worldbuilding

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is one of my favorite worlds to explore in gaming. As I am replaying the game, I am appreciating all the little things they do to keep me imersed.

Landscapes and City Life

The world is beautiful. Just look at any screenshot of this game and you feel like you’re in another world. The trees are beautiful and lush. The weather system is realistic like the when it rains or a storm is coming. The day and night cycle causes different things to occur like maybe the villagers are asleep at night. There are items you can collect while exploring such as different flowered trees being a symbol that you can collect herbs to use for potions.

The cities are also fun to see during different hours of the day. In the daytime you can see vendors and people shopping. You can also hear live bands. At night you can see guards patrolling the area or in Novigrad you can run into bandits. If you go into a tavern you can usually see someone there at any time of the day. All these little things make you feel like you’re in a real city.

Encouraging Exploration

One of the first things I do when I open up a new area is look at all the new sign boards in the area. Seeing them on the large map and going to them unlocks new fast travel areas and reading the signboards unlocks quests and question marks. Question marks are fun to explore because maybe you find hidden treasure, maybe you help the villagers gain back a piece of land that has been overrun by monsters, maybe you stumble across a monster’s nest. Another fun part is when you come across something that is way too challenging. A skull will appear next to the area you explored to let you know you can go back there later once you’ve leveled up some.

Characters

Each minor or major character in this game has a unique story that makes them feel real. For example, I am currently on the quest “Broken Flowers” and every single woman that I have met has something unique about them. The first woman I talked to turned out to be twins that were playing a prank by pretending to be each other. I also learned that one sister wrote a letter to Dandelion so that the other sister who had a crush on him could meet her. Later on, that same character led me to a “Fencing Lessons” side quest where I got to learn more about her personality.

Speaking of Dandelion, I do love how this game builds on fantasy stereotypes. We have the bard whose quest to find him has me running all over town talking to the many women he flirted with. But, based on what the woman have revealed, it’s possible that he was trying to talk to them to uncover clues about something he wanted to know about.

Story Quests

Whenever a quest line ends, you get a painting that shows the ending of that quest. My favorite was just a small side quest. I had to find Corinne because she could learn about Ciri through dreams and learned that she was investigating a haunted house. I found out that she was trapped in a nightmare by a godling named Sarah. Sarah just wanted to play and didn’t understand that nightmares were bad because she loved having them. She was also the reason the house was haunted because she loved pulling pranks. I could force her to leave or let her stay. I decided to let her stay and later on found out that she became friends with Corinne and they moved in together so Sarah could have a friend. I loved the painting because there was a little picture of Geralt tucking Sarah in like she was a little kid.

Favorite Worlds To Explore

I’d like for you to think of your favorite worlds to explore. Maybe there’s a game that you’re playing right now that also gives you the feeling like you’re in another world! I am enjoying replaying The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and I am looking forward to writing more about it as I progress more in the story.

Let me know your favorite gaming worlds in the comments!

Fun Moments in Gaming This Week

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

This week I played a few games and just wanted to share some of my favorite moments from the games I’ve played! I played Super Mario 3D All Stars, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Super Mario 3D All Stars

This weekend I played Super Mario 3D All Stars and posted an impressions post on it.

Super Mario 64 is really fun. My favorite part so far is all the hidden secrets. I was about to go into the ice level when I saw this hole in a wall so of course I try to go in there. I’m greeted to water level where I have to collect 8 coins to get a star which was really fun! I also used stars to open a section of the castle where I had to jump through a Peach window and go down a slide to learn about hidden levels.

Super Mario Sunshine is my favorite due to how unique it is. I love being on an island shaped like a dolphin. Most of the enemies so far are either weird or cute. I love the little paint Octopus enemies even though they are annoying. The weirdest one that had me laughing was this bird with a little butt that show out brown paint like they really made that an enemy?! The award for pain in the ass goes to the whirlwind with glasses as I can only stun it; not defeat it. It made collecting the red coins in the first level even trickier than it already was.

Speaking of cute, Super Mario Galaxy’s Luna are so adorable! I love the little stars and it’s so cute when they’re hungry and you feed them! I also loved when they turned into bunnies. This game is so fun seeing all the different planets on just one level!

Vice City

I did not know Judas Priest’s music was in this game so I was so happy and excited when “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” started playing. I definitely am loving all the 80’s music! I did not get too far as I was on “Guardian Angels” and it honestly took me almost 10 tries because the two people I was supposed to protect kept dying. I also am so confused by this game’s pedestrians because they have a habit of jumping in front of cars. I also started up the game one day, exited the apartment after hearing a crash to see a car accident that caused a massive pileup of cars and people running around panicked. I barely started playing the game and the pedestrians were causing chaos!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

I am on the Bloody Baron storyline so it was mostly very serious, but the side quests made everything funny!

First, an unintentional funny moment. I was participating in the fighting tournaments where I was talking to someone to start the match and this one NPC kept hiccupping loudly in the speaker behind my left ear. I’m trying to talk to this guy while this NPC kept interrupting the conversation with hiccups so I just started laughing!

Then, I met Trollololo again. I love that troll! He loves to sing although he’s not great at it. Then I found out that I draw worse than a troll. Basically he asked me to bring him paint. Then he had a problem: he has the paint but how does he paint? He doesn’t know how. I decided to tell him to do it this time around to see what would happen. He called the bird ugly, but it was a beautiful bird! I tried to recreate it and mine looked terrible because I can’t draw.

Your Favorite Gaming Moments?

Now that I’ve told you all the things that excited me and made me laugh this week, please tell me some of yours! This weekend I’m going to be continuing these three games as they just make me smile!

Super Mario 3D All Stars

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Super Mario 3D All Stars on the Switch allowed me to play Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy for the first time! I pre-ordered the game as soon as I heard about it and finally got to play it this weekend. I wanted to play Super Mario 64 so I could experience Mario’s first 3D game. I’ve seen little bits of it like the biting piano. Super Mario Sunshine looked so much fun with it’s beach setting, I thought it would be really relaxing to play! I love the moon and stars so the idea of visiting galaxies had me really excited for Super Mario Galaxy.

Presentation

The game begins with a cute opening cinematic of Mario catching stars from all three games before transitioning to the main menu. On the main menu a random track will play from the games and the name of the track and the game it comes from is shown in the top right corner. The three games each have a little information blurb on when they were created and a bit of history. After the three games, the three soundtracks are listed with information on the game soundtracks such as Super Mario Galaxy being the first game that included an orchestra. When playing the games you can press the – button to close the game, view the controls, view special moves which is super helpful, or activate 2 player mode in Super Mario Galaxy.

Super Mario 64

Peach tells Mario she baked him a cake so he should visit the castle, but when he arrives Bowser has taken over. Because this game introduced a 3D camera, the camera becomes a cameraman turtle called Lakitu. I played through the third course. I first explored the outside land and the interior of the castle as best as I could since most of it is locked.

It was really fun seeing the old graphics. I loved Lakitu on the cloud and Mario looks so cute with his little blocky body. I loved exploring the first level. It was fun running around the mountain to climb up until the top. The first boss was King Bob-omb who I had to throw three times. I got a little overzealous and threw him off the cliff which I was not supposed to do and he scolded me for it. I also had my first race with Koopa the Quick which was a bit tricky because I had to run up the mountain with bombs rolling down it and lava pits I had to jump. I was able to beat him in two tries. I also loved learning how the canons worked and launching Mario to collect all the red coins and getting another star. My other favorite thing about the beginning courses is how you’re taught mechanics like the red coins in that level taught me about more complicated platforming because I had to jump on an odd shaped moving block and then jump on several islands to get the rest of the red coins.

The one thing I was not the biggest fan on was the resolution. I would have liked the game to have widescreen so It could fit my TV, but it didn’t hamper me enjoying the game. I still really enjoy playing it! The camera controls also take getting used to but that was my problems across all three games. For this one, you can’t do a full 3D circle. You have to move the camera in increments and it tends to want to center behind Mario. It does take getting used to and may cause problems in harder stages.

Super Mario Sunshine

I definitely find this game to be very relaxing although it can be a little stressful when things get tricky. So Mario wants to go on an island vacation but there’s an ink Mario wreaking havoc and Mario is getting blamed for his messes and must clean up the island.

Exploring the hub world is really fun. I love the harbor! I love how pretty the water looks and the residents are adorable! The voice acting is hilarious especially when the toads talk! They have the oddest voices like very pitchy but also scratchy at the same time.

F.L.U.D.D. is a fun mechanic to switch things up. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but I am enjoying the water mechanics! I also love that the machine has a little personality like Cappy.

I explored Bianco Hills. I collected the stars up to finding all the red coins which was a lot of platforming, but I’m glad that it threw that in there because I can learn about how platforming works in the game. I also had a challenge where I had to collect a star without F.L.U.D.D. which involved getting used to platforming without F.L.U.D.D.’s help.

The first boss was Petey Piranha. I had to climb up to the top of a windmill which broke and then I fell inside the windmill and had to fill Petey up with water and then jump on his stomach three times. So far all the enemies have been really adorable with little flowers monsters and octopuses! The most annoying one is this little whirlwind that keeps respawning and knocks me off platforms if I don’t stun him with water.

Camera wise this also has a flaw. The full 3D camera and close up are very nice, but the camera can get “stuck” like when I was doing a puzzle where I had to shoot water at an X to pop out a coin from another X on the other side of the wall. The camera kept getting stuck because I had to zoom in to shoot the X and when it showed the cinematic where the coin was it would put the camera far away from Mario on the other side of the wall and it would take a bit of work to bring it back. Luckily it appear that pressing close up Mario camera mode resets the camera when it gets too far away.

The blue coins are interesting as it appears like they unlock things like stars. When I brought 10 coins to a shop at the harbor, I got a star! Red coins in a level do not transfer outside the level and are only for getting another star.

Super Mario Galaxy

Peach asks Mario to meet her for the Star festival. When he arrives Bowser kidnaps her and her castle. Mario gets thrown into space and lands on an island where little stars called Luma help him find Rosalina’s ship which needs powered up with Stars to catch Bowser.

I love the little mini islands I travel to on each level. The little Luma are so cute! I love that there’s ones I have to feed Star Bits too. Collecting star bits was fun using a controller! It took a little bit of time to get used to, but as long as I press R to center, I can easily collect Star bits. I’m loving how creative the little worlds are. Each galaxy level is composed of several planets which Mario must travel to by pressing Y or shaking the controller. You can also use the pointer and press A on little blue stars to drag Mario over the blue stars.

The first boss was also a little baby Piranha plant. It would chase me and I would have to run behind it and spin attack it’s tail so it would hit the Piranha on the head. My favorite was the last star on the first level where I had to go into this clear island and navigate the inside of the island which had arrows that would change the direction of the gravity.

The camera here was also a bit limited. You can only move it so far. But, there’s a first person mode that makes up for the camera limitations. The camera does try to be as responsive as possible following Mario around as quickly as it can so it doesn’t feel like Mario is running away from the camera. I’d say out of the three game I think this has the most responsive camera.

Final Thoughts

I think this game is perfect for a target audience like me who has never played these games! If you’re someone that has played them, you aren’t really getting anything new here besides them being in HD. It was also disappointing that the first game was not put into widescreen and the cameras have quirks for each game. But, I still love playing this game and do think they are very fun! I would say if you’re new or really want to play these games again or on the go, then it’s definitely worth it!

Have you played Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, or Super Mario Galaxy? What did you think of them? Are you going to play Super Mario 3D All Stars?

American Mcgee’s Alice and Mental Illness

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

American McGee’s Alice is a game that I have been wanting to play, but at the time I could only get the sequel: Alice: Madness Returns on Origin. Last week, I saw a Facebook ad that Humble Bundles released Alice: Madness Returns – The Complete Edition so I decided to get the game again so I could play the original game and get the fun DLC for the sequel which include like new costumes and weapons. I am very glad I did as I loved this game especially due to how it portrayed mental illness!

Background

American McGee’s Alice is a horror interpretation of Alice in Wonderland by American McGee. Alice’s parents died in a fire while she was asleep. She managed to wake up and flee, but her parents did not survive. Alice could not cope so she became catatonic and was put in an asylum until she woke up. Alice goes into Wonderland after her stuffed rabbit appears to beg her for help.

Alice is in Wonderland which has been deformed showing how her mental state has declined. The Queen has corrupted Wonderland turning into a land of ruin and horror. You can see her corruption in the form of tentacles that have spread throughout the different levels. The inhabitants of Wonderland are also corrupted with the Chesire cat being so thin you can see his bones and horrendous creatures such as the boojum roaming around. The music also has a psychological effect on the gamer with eerie synths mixed in with old children’s toys. Occasionally a haunting chorus or mechanical like sounds will be in the soundtrack as well. This music also shows just how much Alice’s mental state has deteriorated since the tragic loss of her parents. Alice’s mental state is also part of the game. Your health bar is a Sanity meter which deteriorates as you take hits and powerful attacks can only be used through Willpower which is like the magic in this game. Most weapons except for the beginning weapon require Willpower to use.

The Loss of Innocence

When the game begins, Alice sees The White Rabbit which kinda resembles her stuffed rabbit except The White Rabbit is in better shape. Alice’s first task is to track down her beloved Rabbit with the help of Chesire’s advice. Chesire serves as Alice’s guide throughout the game. I believe you could ask him for hints as a button exists for that, but it doesn’t work in the remastered version that I played. I believe he also looks so thin because Alice has a real black cat and if the cat survived the first it would also be very thin.

Alice’s first area is a short mining area where the workers have been enslaved. They no longer have a will to fight back so they just do as The Queen says. Alice only wants to look for her Rabbit so she mostly ignores them. Then she goes to a school with Insane Children. Unlike Alice, there is no hope for these children. They are lost in their madness and have been experimented on by someone. They represent various mental illnesses like the happy and crying one symbolizing being bipolar. Alice is different from them as there is hope that she can still wake up from Wonderland and won’t be lost in her madness. Alice must gather ingredients from the school to grow smaller so she can find the Rabbit who shrunk himself.

Finally, the last world is The Vale of Tears which shows Alice’s grief as the water is literally tears from her statue. The first boss is The Duchess who enjoys killing people and The Queen lets her. She’s the first boss which shows you just how corrupted Wonderland has become.

After finally catching up to The White Rabbit, she loses him in The Vale of Tears. The White Rabbit is squished by The Mad Hatter who has grown quite mad. Alice loses the one friend she wanted to see most and she does not know how to go on. She feels that death follows her everywhere. Mentally, Alice cannot recognize that she is not responsible for her parents’ death. The Voracious Centipede is the next boss she faces who is Alice’s last obstacle before she can grow up. Alice shrunk into a small state so she can be with her Rabbit. Now that her childhood has been destroyed with the Rabbit’s death, Alice must grow up by eating a Mushroom which allows her to physically grow and face the Queen.

Facing Guilt

Alice ends up in a hellish landscape which acts as a hub world. This world connects to the next set of levels before Alice will finally fight The Queen. But, Alice must first go through this hell and find pieces of for the Jabberwocky staff which will open the door to The Queen.

While Alice is finding these pieces, she is captured by The Mad Hatter. The Mad Hatter shows just how “mad” Wonderland has become. He has turned himself into a machine and has started doing experiments on The Dormouse, The March Hare, and The Gryphon. He also experiments on The Insane Children which shows Alice’s fate. These Insane Children are turned into automaton monsters that attack Alice. They can only do what their creator commands them and no longer have any “sanity” or “will” of their own. Alice’s brain seems to be aware that this will be her fate if she doesn’t wake up soon. Alice has to first fight Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum which reference the orderlies who have been abusing Alice while they think she is not aware of what’s going on around her. Then, Alice must fight her madness through The Mad Hatter.

After that comes a very emotional boss. The Jabberwocky. The Jabberwocky is all the pain and guilt Alice is feeling. He tells her that she was too busy dreaming of Wonderland to save her parents and the boss fight takes place in her house on fire. Alice receives help from The Gryphon, but he is killed when she has to face The Jabberwocky the second time. Alice must face her guilt alone, but The Gryphon gives her advice before passing away. He just tells her to try her best to face The Queen. It’s such a small line, but it has an impact on me. I have anxiety and sometimes it’s really nice to hear that I just have to “try my best” instead of feeling like I have to do everything perfectly.

Facing Yourself

Alice must then fight through The Queen’s castle. The castle is macabre; full of tentacles, blood, and flesh. It’s a physical reminder of how disturbed The Queen is. Before Alice can face The Queen, she has to lose everyone. The Chestire Cat dies while explaining to Alice how both she and The Queen cannot survive. The Queen makes sure that Alice has lost all of her allies and must face The Queen alone.

The Queen is a two part battle. The first part shows a figure with no face whose body is connect to Wonderland through tentacles. After that, the form changes into Alice and The Mad Hatter, The Queen is Alice and her madness. That’s why Alice must face her alone. She must face all of her trauma and mental illness by herself as she needs to free herself from this hell she’s trapped in. The Queen tells Alice that there is no hope causing Alice to feel despair. But hope appears in the form of a butterfly which protects Alice through the final fight. It quickly restores her Willpower while she fights against The Queen until The Queen dies.

The End

After facing herself, Wonderland is restored to it’s beauty. Also, all of Alice’s friends are brought back to life. Alice is able to wake up and leave the asylum. She also finds that her cat has survived. By facing her madness and learning to accept everything she has gone through, Alice can finally wake up and live her life the way she chooses.

Have you played American Mcgee’s Alice? What games do you think portray mental health in a positive light?

Final Fantasy XIV: First Impressions and Calming Anxiety

woman wearing fairy costume
Photo by Tu00fa Nguyu1ec5n on Pexels.com

Final Fantasy XIV is my first major MMO. I have two free ones and this one is currently free due to a long free trial that will go up to level 60. After that, I can choose to pay for the game and it’s latest DLC and also start a subscription plan. I decided to get this on Tuesday after hearing the news about the free trial going up until 60 and I find the game to be very fun and soothing!

Past MMO Experience

So I have slowly being getting used to MMOs, but mine are all free ones. It started with my Android. I saw a game called Perfect World on there and I was in love with the mythology. I recently restarted so I could become a character that can shape shift into a fox called a Vulpine. The game is beautiful for being a mobile port. After that, Black Desert came out on mobile. I am playing as a sorcerer class and love it! It’s a fun game and I am interested in learning more about the black spirit and the story.

With COVID going on I was missing my friend so we each found an MMO. He enjoys Tera so we play that together occasionally and I like  Blade & Soul which has kung-fu style action and a story focusing on vengeance.

Creating My Character

Pretty much the first day was spent creating my character as it was actually difficult. I was between the Miqo’te which were cat-like and the Au-Ra which were dragon people. It was so hard, but I’ve never played as a dragon before and I loved the scale patterns on my character. After that I could decide the tail, the scale patterns, makeup, and any extra features.

After that, it was time to pick the class which was even harder than the first choice. The issue I was having is I needed to choose between a physical class and a magic class. There was also a world I wanted to start in, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to the class. It was Limsa Lominsa which kinda looked like Alcamoth to me from the pictures. I decided to go with a Lancer and I thought I would play a physical class better, and I can do more classes on one character later.

After that there was a goddess and birth date. I decided to match my birthdate to the goddess I chose. I chose Halone who was a warrior.

Story and Quests

I got distracted by side quests like I usually do so I have not seen much of the main plot. I know that there was a war in Eorzea caused by Bahamut 5 years ago. I am an adventurer who has arrived at Gridania and I am currently helping out the locals there.

So far I have learned how to collect items, fight enemies with my lance (which have so far just been ladybugs, squirrels, and mushrooms), and learned more about how the game works. I have not had any memorable quests yet, but I am still having fun getting experience and just exploring!

Exploration

This has been the most fun for me and the most relaxing part of this game! Some players have minions so I can see red pandas, dogs, and moogles. I saw the cutest delivery moogle hovering over a rock. I also have seen fireworks at night which was fun! Last time I logged on, it was raining. The world is so pretty and detailed! The fireworks were the most relaxing part for me because I just had my character dance around while I watched fireworks and it was really nice to just relax.

I also learned about FATE running around which are timed events. I went into a village and there were opo-opos running around. I was too low leveled, but I had fun learning the combat more. I did find another one that was in my level and also helped me get my first main quest done because it involved a lot of fighting mushrooms!

Future Plans

I would like to explore more classes. I want to try to do the Arcanist class for my character so she can have physical and magic. I also want to go to Limsa Lominsa when I am able to. I really need to get a chocobo so I don’t have to walk everywhere, but I’ll need to level up more first. I am looking forward to playing more of the free trial becuase it is fun and relaxing game for me to play!

What are your thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV?