Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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Asphyxia • Roberta tells a chilling horror story

The game I was trying to think of yesterday was Victor Vran, which is the quasi-Diablo III knock-off, but it seems like my cursory look at the achievement list means I might have been optimistic grabbing one today. I’ll get something I’m sure, but the nearest achievement looks to be getting to level 10, so my twenty minutes of playtime and reaching level 2 this morning indicates to me I have a bit more work to do.

In the meantime, there’s visual novels.

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I didn’t realise how close I was to 100%’ing Asphyxia, considering out of the three achievements I had left, one of the playthrough gives you two and then it’s just another ten minute (if that) whip-through to completion. The same situation as last time, skip all dialogue and use a guide, but if it wasn’t for my out-and-out honesty, you’d never actually know.

Curse my ethics.

I want to make a bit of a final push in the story mode of Destiny 2 on my Xbox Account over the next few days, as I’ve started in on the Barons and I’m hovering in the early 40s level-wise … and I have a few 500’ish weapons willing me ‘over the line’ in terms of light level. I certainly didn’t have any problems last night playing Destiny 2, and – after a while – you begin to forget about the gorgeous graphics on PC and just settle in for the ride.

Maybe the universe is telling me to get a new TV?

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater

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Asphyxia • De Quincey confides in Samantha

I feel like Fridays are a good day for some Japanese Visual Novel gaming. There’s something about the slow pressure of everything that is, or was, due the past week needing to be done before you go home, but at the same time, there’s elements of set-and-forget in VN’s that really appeal to the overlap between my sense of wanting to play games, and my needing to do ‘actual’ work.

Some confessions: yes, I’m using a guide to work my way through the multiple endings of this game, and yes, I’m using auto/skip mode. This is nothing more than an achievement harvest for me – and I make no apologies for it. For purists, I promise you, I have a whole swag of achievements ready to pop on Forza Horizon 2 and 3 tonight (I didn’t realise how close I was for some achievements of FH2 until I looked at the ‘Forza Hub’ App this morning), and I have plenty of indie games kicking around if you really, really need something ‘more’.

But, this is my blog – my challenge. And, as I say, no apologies.

In other gaming news, my usual coffee lady discovered that I had a passion for esports, and introduced me to her husband who I’m led to believe has a stake in the Direwolves. I had to hover between being commercially envious, and simultaneously excited about the opportunities that someone with the same level of passion and enthusiasm for gaming as me had. Like a giddy fan, I left him my name, email and number – but I feel like he’s in the same position as me … ready to make the leap but not quite sure where the market lies and how to go about it.

Time will tell how this plays out.

In the meantime … there’s some Japanese Visual Novels to play … well, read … well, turn on and start, anyway …

Always Together

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Blue Rose • Completed Simon route

I think Japanese Visual Novels are an achievement hunter’s delight. Even the most basic of story paths still net you a nice haul of achievements, but when you use a guide (and I’m not ashamed to admit that I did!) then you can fully complete the game from start-to-finish in a matter of minutes.

There is, of course, the problem with understanding the story.

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I have no doubt that there is an interesting narrative with a compelling protagonist buried in the heart of Blue Rose, but truth be told, I’m more interested in receiving an achievement at the end of each story path than discovering each path for myself.

This ain’t Telltale, folks … (speaking of which, the last of Clementine’s The Walking Dead story is starting to roll out – insert hype here!).

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The interesting thing I stumbled across while trying to research the substance of the story was the attachment that the LGBT+ communities have to Japanese VNs. After playing some titles, then I can certainly see why games like this have an appeal – a world where person’s sexual proclivities are secondary to their ability to solve a murder, or kill a dragon, etc.

Truth be told, I was actually looking for a tidy little plot summary when I stumbled across these Steam groups … and while I’m pleased that this cohort enjoys VNs for the egalitarian theme, I still think that they can be enjoyed without fear (though, a lot of the time, probably not suitable for work) by most people.

Even moreso for people who want some quick-and-dirty achievements!

Stopped The Invasion

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Sakura Agent • Put an end to the invasion

I feel like we have reached a point in social progress where almost everything has become acceptable. In the words of Assassin’s Creed: Everything is Permitted.

I am not, however, convinced that playing a game about scantily-clad Japanese Secret Agents save the world from ‘incursions’ while on your lunch-break at work has quite reached mainstream acceptance yet. I suspected that there might be a ‘hint’ of suggestion in the game just by virtue of its genre, but I never quite expected salacious crotch-shots and lingerie-as-evening-wear revealing.

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Now, before you get the wrong idea – I am absolutely not a prude. I bloody love a good Asian cartoon soft-core semi-pornographically influenced visual novel as much as any other red-blooded thirty-something heterosexual male. I am certain there is an argument to be made for the sexualisation and objectification of women in games – and I absolutely support that, in truth, I spent most of my time while the game was loading searching for the right sequence of answers to get me through the game with a 100% achievement completion rate – my issue is more that this game was such a shock on an otherwise normal Wednesday afternoon.

I mean … I was having leftover spaghetti bolognaise, and next thing you know … blammo – crotch-shot. It’s a good thing I didn’t wear a white shirt today.

What pleases me most about Sakura Agent is that I’ve finished it. I am satisfied to have collected all of the achievements in this game, thanks to the aforementioned walkthrough. Done. Fin. The End.

I understand that there are other games in this series under the broad heading ‘Winged Cloud’, which I can only assume is some lost-in-translation title, so this may not be the last time you see the semi-naked cat-loving women grace the pages of this blog … but it’s probably the last time you’ll see it grace my screen during business hours.

Well, certainly in my current open-plan, heavy foot-traffic role, anyway!

Freedom

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CUPID – A free to play Visual Novel • You gave Rosa her Freedom

The thing about Visual Novels is that they are essentially the PC, or the ‘classic’ equivalent of a Telltale game. Good, meaty stories that you can interact with as opposed to just a static telling of a story – and while that is not to denigrate other media – I just enjoy being able to suck down a good story that not only rivals anything else on television or at the theatre – but also lets me earn an achievement or two and build up my gaming CV at the same time.

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This isn’t the first time that I’ve played CUPID. In fact, I’ve already earned about two thirds of the achievements thanks to the use of a guide, a pen-and-paper and just generally enjoying the story and fiddling around with a few different options (including speed runs) that get me the maximum achievement-age with the minimal effort.

Minimal Effort should be my middle name.

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Tonight is another action-packed night, so I didn’t want to be trying to push for an achievement when I get home. For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, you’ll appreciate that the evenings are cold, there’s less time to run around outside and play with your kids, making some afternoon/evening ‘couch time’ an inevitability. While the substance of this story isn’t really appropriate for my small kids (particularly the scene where a woman is having sex with a stranger – quite detailed subtitles on that one!), the idea of being able to spend the little time I ‘do’ have with my kids on something non-gaming related is alright by me.

… well, now it’s alright – if I hadn’t earned an achievement for the day, who knows what sort of neglectful Dad I’d be labelled as!

The Choice of Steins Gate

Steins;Gate • Started Steins;Gate • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 99.0% (Common)

You’d be hard pressed to miss this trophy if you even had a passing interest in Steins;Gate, considering it unlocks in the first few seconds of starting the game. Steins;Gate, let’s call if SG from now on, is part of my current kick of doing visual novels on the Vita, which often involves a combination of using a trophy guide for decision-making, Wikipedia to understand the story, and the game itself to get a flavour for the pacing and delivery.

Speaking of pacing, my goodness this game moves slow. I think the rapid progress of Hatoful Boyfriend has spoiled me somewhat, so it’s a combination of clicking X a lot and, well, watching the story unfold.

I’m hoping that this will end up as another Platinum trophy, but time will tell. If it continues to move at this pace, I’m uncertain if my attention span can keep the momentum, so we’ll see how this all unfolds in the coming weeks!