I beat Dark Souls. I am now in the gamer hall of fame. Here’s what the 6-hour analysis videos don’t tell you about the game.

1.) IT’S NOT THAT HARD

Dark Souls is a tough video game. But it isn’t the hardest game ever. Far from it. In fact, I thought Bloodborne was much more difficult, due to faster and aggressive enemies. Wielding a two-handed weapon, I took most enemies in Dark Souls down in 2-3 hits. Combat was deliberate and engaging, as it requires spacing, awareness, and great zoning to succeed, but it isn’t unfair. Just take a few swings and don’t be an idiot.

dude in armour 1

2.) IT’S POORLY BALANCED

Magic is ridiculous, but it’s boring, and I couldn’t squeeze that in my 8-hour lore video. Daggers are completely useless. Range and damage are the name of the game. But it’s a single player game so don’t let me influence your decision. Play it however you want. I’m not trying to send messages. I’m not salty because I chose the dagger as my starting weapon, only to find the black knight halberd doing 20x the damage. Nope. Not at all.

A second dude in armour?!?!

3.) IT’S KIND OF UNFINISHED

A lot of the later environments in the game are barebones. Lost Izalith is a land of Listerine with hundreds of dinosaurs around it. It will also destroy your eyesight.

The last level was also kind of weak but really atmospheric so whatever.

4.) DON’T JUST ROLL

Parries are pretty gangster. Do those.

You also get hit with that W H O O S H every time it lands. Once you master these and die about 50 times trying it, they trivialize any humanoid encounter.

5.) DON’T TAKE THE LORE SO SERIOUSLY

Just watch videos online. That’s what I did. It’ll save you so much time. Read item descriptions after that, and it will become clearer to you, and your brain will make its own assumptions and interpretations. Remember, the lore is just flavour text. It isn’t essential to enjoying the game. It’s not the point of Dark Souls.

Oh no, I feel an 8-hour analysis coming…HEL-

If you recall in my Fire Emblem: Fates Review, you notice that I was very harsh on its bland story and awful characters. I reprimanded the game for essentially splitting a single game’s story across three. However, I was hopeful! I didn’t think that the franchise was over. I thought it was merely a bump in the road. Something to learn from.

So when Echoes was announced, I was excited! I saw a Fire Emblem that had the old-school difficulty, and it was a remake of a game I had never played. I was excited to see the series’ roots!

And once I completed it, I realize that it might be my favourite Fire Emblem game.

Let’s discuss why.

REASON #1: ACTUALLY DIFFICULT

Let’s be honest, Fire Emblem Awakening is pretty easy. The children in that game are essentially their parents but 1.5x stronger. Morgan/Robin are monsters who can tank anything and kill anything in 1 hit. Donnel becomes a monster that ruins the game. You can take the game on autopilot for a lot of it.

On the flipside, however, if you set Awakening’s difficulty to Hard, the game’s difficulty curve can best be described as a Z. It starts off incredibly difficult, but after the 9th chapter, it becomes rote once everybody has levelled.

Fates was an even worse culprit. In Birthright, the strategy became “put Ryoma in the front and pair him with somebody who boosts his stats.” It was like running through Pokemon with a level 100 legendary. It wasn’t fun at all. It became a slower RPG at that point.

So when I opened Echoes, and saw the characters’ stats, I raised my eyebrows. No pairing units to make them overpowered? Specialized classes are actually only good at 1 or 2 stats, and have real weaknesses? I need to actually position my units to survive? What is this nonsense? There was finally strategy!

Levelling isn’t nearly as generous in Echoes either. It is rare that a character gets more than 3 stats from a level, so when it goes higher on that rare occaision, you feel so much stronger. Enemies are balanced perfectly to be higher in numbers than your party, but only slightly lower in stats. This means that a group of them can definitely kill a party member, but if you utilize tanks correctly, and position support units properly, you can survive.

I remember missing my stops on transit, because I was staring at the screen for minutes at a time, contemplating moves 3 turns in advance. I was playing virtual chess with anime girls.

Another layer of strategy is the relationship system between units. You are rewarded nice character developing cutscenes if you position amicable units together. This forms a sort of metagame in your strategy, that emphasizes friendship over proper positioning. Now, this has certainly gotten me killed quite a bit, and forced many restarts, but its still fun!

REASON #2: SUPPORT CONVERSATIONS

Speaking of support conversations, they sucked in Fates. There were thousands of lines of dialogue, but so much of it was worthless.

The exact opposite is true for Echoes. There are about 1/5th of support conversations compared to Fates or Awakening, and they are much shorter, but they are amplified by two things: Amazing voice acting, and fantastic writing.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a strong voice actor elevates a character. An example of a character ruined by their voice is Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2. His tone doesn’t match his character’s actions in-game, and his accent changes to all of the countries in The British Isles.

In Echoes, a great example of a strong voice actor would be the woman who voices Clair, Alexis Tipton. She also voices Pascal in Nier:Automata, which she was fantastic in as well. She evokes a sense of royal upbringing and class, but also shows that she is incredibly caring. She’s brash, but she understands and reads the people around her. She is capable of empathy. All of this is shown in her performance as well. This reflects every voice actor in Echoes. They are all incredibly talented for the few lines that they have, and I remember more about them than the hours I spent reading character conversations in Fates.

I also enjoy that there is no marriage system. I always thought it was strange how, after four conversations, you were married to a person. It felt incredibly rushed, and that it wasn’t very fitting for the narrative that Fire Emblem was weaving. Echoes does away with this, and you realize that characters become stronger friends over time. Their bonds deepen, but they don’t lust after one another.

REASON #3: COMPELLING STORY

The driving plot of Echoes was much more focused than previous games. Awakening’s story meandered for a while in the middle, and we all know how I feel about Fates. But Echoes was quick and to the point: Alm leads the Deliverance to retake the Kingdom from Rigel. Done. Boom. All you need. Everything can build from there, but we have that goal. Celica is seeking help from her goddess to resolve the world, and her and Alm’s paths cross often. They even fight as well, creating a rift between the two of them. It genuinely hurt to see that.

But, we need to discuss something. This is a review. Not a gush session. I have 1 problem with Echoes. But it’s massive, and makes the second half of the game significantly weaker than the first.

The Incantors.

THIS GUY. RIGHT HERE:

LOOK AT HIM.

These dudes summon 5 monsters almost every turn. It becomes incredibly problematic, as fights grind to a complete halt, as your units have to whittle away at their minions. You are hardly ever able to advance either, because their summoned units to considerable damage as well!

But the worst part, is their goons do so much damage as well! You NEED to have at least 2 healers if you want to have a chance of succeeding on the later maps. They break the pace of the game, and make it borderline unenjoyable.

For that 1, incredibly huge flaw, my final rating for Fire Emblem Echoes is a 7/10. I was almost unable to finish it because of the Incantors. All other aspects are phenomenal, but these assholes just hold the whole game back from being my favourite Fire Emblem game.

 

 

I guess Steam is trying to make the Steam Awards an annual thing. Which is good! Because it gives me something to look forward to annually. I actually enjoy the Steam Awards. It’s honest with how pointless it is to categorize games when people’s experience with them varies, like they’re actual individuals and not a collective.

Wait, what?

Anyways, if you’ve seen my video about the Steam Awards from 2016, you know how this goes. But if not, let me give you the rundown anyways: I look at every category in the Steam Award, judge the victor, and provide my completely pointless opinion.

OKAY LET’S PUT AS MUCH EFFORT INTO THIS AS STEAM DOES INTO ITS UI YENNOWHATIMSAYIN

Category #1: Choices Matter.

Winner: The Witcher 3

I have a serious confession. I am one of those people. I am one of those people, who are going to talk about Witcher 3, without actually having beaten the game. I put 50 hours into it, but I’m unsure if I even made a dent in this game.

But I will say, out of all of these games, there was actually a really profound moment where I felt the choices mattered. I have had a decision made in a sidequest, come back to bite me in a random encounter later on. And, honestly, I did not expect it to happen for such a minute thing. I’m sure this game is full of more moments like these, but like most game reviewers, I will not list them. Because none of us have actually finished this game. And I’m fairly sure nobody else did. Anybody who did is a liar.

Life is Strange Before the Storm should not be on there though.

Category #2: Mom’s Spaghetti

Winner: PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

I’ve never had that existential feeling of age creeping up on me. I’m still fairly young. I’m in University, I have hope in my life, goals I wish to attain.

But, I don’t get PUBG. And that scares me. It freaks me out that it has sold millions on Steam, because I don’t get it. I am not with the majority anymore. I’m not a tween or teen. I can’t spend 5 hours a day playing a single video game anymore. This reminds me that I have lost my childhood somewhat, and it’s cause for reflection.

So, yes. This is fitting for the mom’s spaghetti reward.

Category #3: Labor of Love

Winner: Warframe

My personal pick for this category didn’t even get a nomination. Hearing the story of Cuphead’s creation, the passion, and the love that went into it, surprises me that it didn’t even get a mention.

But I get Warframe winning this. I don’t understand this game or what it’s even about, but I get all of the effort going into the game to improve it.

Jungle Inferno wasn’t a labour of love though. Team Fortress gets one massive update after nearly a year, and everybody is calling me out on it. Well, I have something to say to that.

If Valve makes a massive update to Team Fortress 2 in six months, I will delete my YouTube channel. Boom. Your move Valve, and your weird, mobile Portal game.

Category #4: Suspension of Disbelief

Winner: Rocket League

This category is essentially a more professional way of allowing the lol XD games to get nominated. Thankfully, this ruse succeeded, and only one meme game got nominated. It didn’t even win!

The idea of Rocket-powered cars playing soccer is far-fetched now, but, honestly, out of all of the nominees, it seems the most plausible. I don’t know why, but I see self-driving cars inventing their own sport as more likely than, I don’t know, a Nazi regime returning at any point. Right?

Category #5: The World is Grim Enough Let’s Just All Get Along

Winner; Stardew Valley

The world needs more wholesome games in it. The world needs more Stardew Valley’s. I still can’t get enough of this game. I’ve bought it for 3 different consoles, and have sunk at least 40 hours into each version. It’s so addictive, but it’s very calming as well. This game is best experienced at your own pace. Don’t look at massive, immaculate farms and get discouraged. Those people are either on Year 5, or have 100+ hours of experience and are just starting a new game. Nobody begins with the perfect farm. Mine still sucks, and I have that 100+ hours of experience too.

Category #6: No Apologies

Winner: The Witcher

This game is awful. That’s why it’s the perfect winner.

Character’s eyes are soulless potatoes, and I feel that everybody talks like they’re about to give me the lecture of the century on the degrading industrial economy of Poland. But, hell if it doesn’t have heart and passion behind it. The Witcher 1 is so archaeic, but it tried so hard to be innovated. It is so hard not to love.

Rust is just bad though.

Category #7: Defies Description

Winner: Garry’s Mod

“Hello, I am Valve. I hath memed upon myself with this reward, for if you go to the Steam Store page, WHAT DO WE FIND?”

Begone, Valve.

Category #8: Cry Havoc and Let Slip The Dogs of War

Winner: Just Cause 3

Hey, this is a game that came out, remember? In the best year of gaming ever 2015? (this is a meme. Please don’t judge, I honestly don’t know why that year got praised so much for being one of the best ever.)

Does Just Cause 3 have explosions? Yes.

Does Just Cause 3 let you control these explosions? Yes.

Does Just Cause 3’s physics enable it? Yes.

There ya go. Big boom game.

Category #9: Haunts My Dreams

Winner; Counter-Strike

Okay, so. I’ve been fairly lenient and accepting of the winners so far. This one I just do not get. How in the world did this beat Dota 2? And why is Dark Souls 3 on there? It’s a single-player game, and regardless of its PVP, people will get sick of it.

And if Counter-Strike had to win, why original, and not Global Offensive? I have friends who have 1000+ hours in that game. I’ve seen the proof. I’ve stalked their profile.

But the most mind-boggling thing, is how is PUBG not on this list? Or Fortnite? I feel those battle royale games lend people to sink 100s of hours into them.

BAD PICK STEAM COMMUNITY. FEEL BAD FOR NOT POINTLESSLY VOTING FOR THE POINTLESS AWARDS.

Category #10: Soul of Vitruvius

Winner: Tomb Raider

More people thought Lara Croft is prettier than 2B. A robot designed to be as attractive as possible. An android created to represent peak humanity.

Okay guys.

Whatever.

I don’t care.

Category #11: “Whoooaaaaaaa, Dude! 2.0”

Winner; The Evil Within 2

I believe this category is for the most psychedelic game. Which, if that’s the case, this is a terrible choice.

The Evil Within 2 was just one of those whatever blips on the radar this year. I mean, i’m all for horror games, but I don’t feel this deserves the award. Hotline Miami 2 would be the clear winner for me.

Category #12: Best Soundtrack

Winner: Cuphead

I DON’T AGREE WITH THE WINNER, BUT I UNDERSTAND. I would put NieR: Automata above Undertale, then Undertale above Cuphead. BUT I UNDERSTAND WHY IT WON. THESE GAMES ALL HAVE 10/10 SOUNDTRACKS. IT IS REALLY HARD TO COMPETE WITH PERFECTION.

NieR is better thou-BUT I GET IT, OKAY. THIS IS A FINE CHOICE.

Category #13: Even Better Than I Expected

Winner: Cuphead

None of these games I had positive expectations for. Hollow Knight I didn’t know about. Sonic Mania is a sonic game, so of course, I expected it to be terrible, but it was one of the best games of the year.

And I was so worried about Cuphead. I was worried it would suck. I was worried it was going to be popcorn filler, but it’s not. It’s amazing. All of it is fantastic. I love Cuphead. Just, not as much as some crazed fans.

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