Welcome back to our long-dead and now revived feature “Gaming Respawn Plays”. Here us Gaming Respawners get together and talk about the games we are currently playing, whether they be brand new games, older games we never got to before, or even games we are revisiting because we missed them or because they are online titles that require our constant attention (*coughs* and money *coughs*). Join us as we regale you on our current video gaming adventures and see if you’re inspired to play any of these games yourselves if you haven’t already.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
I have never played any of FromSoftware’s Souls games until now. I have played a few “Souls-Likes” in my time, like the Nioh games and Darksiders III, but no true Souls games. For whatever reason, Demon’s Souls and the later Dark Souls games never got my attention too much, partly because of their extra dark fantasy themes (I prefer the more bright and adventurous themes of fantasy games like Dragon’s Dogma and Skyrim), as well as the Souls series’ notorious difficulty. Bloodborne seemed more intriguing to me, but I avoided that title as well for similar reasons. But Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice got my attention immediately since I am quite the fan of ninjas, samurai, Japanese demon creatures, etc. The only reason I didn’t jump on Sekiro right away was because of Nioh 2 and Ghost of Tsushima releasing the following year, and I was way more excited for those games. But the itch to try my hand at a true Souls game developed by FromSoftware remained, and now I’ve finally taken the plunge.
And oh boy, what a plunge it has been so far. As challenging as the Nioh games were, Sekiro is a very different beast. Whereas the Nioh games give you many options with which to build and shape your character, not to mention many abilities, skills, and weapons offered to you that all work differently against different enemies, Sekiro demands you face your enemies with a very specific set of skills in a very specific manner. And if you don’t fall in line with Sekiro’s teachings, you will fail over and over again until you either get it right or just give up out of frustration. I came dangerously close to giving up since I was having a hard time “getting it”, and I found myself getting slaughtered even by regular thug enemies at times; meanwhile, the bosses were absolutely obliterating me. I got past several of them through sheer determination, but it was a difficult process, to say the least.
But once I hit the brick wall known as Lady Butterfly, I eventually (after MANY deaths) learned the proper ways of combat and how to more efficiently respond to the different types of enemy attacks that are thrown at me. After finally killing that infuriating hag, I was able to get through a few more bosses far more easily and with much fewer deaths, so I was starting to get a hang of things. More difficulties popped up though, so now I’m currently farming for items and gear before I go any further through the game and likely encounter another supremely pain in the ass boss (I sense that I’m dangerously close to encountering those damn Great Apes or Guardian Apes or whatever that Sekiro players have warned other gamers about since the game originally released). Time will tell whether I choose to see the game through, like I do with pretty much every game I play, or if I choose to say, “Screw this,” and just trade the game in before I develop another stress headache from the frustration.
Final Fantasy X
Twenty years after its release, I’ve finally ventured into the world of Spira with Final Fantasy X.
I have vague memories of the game from when I was younger, but I don’t think I ever got particularly far into it, which is a shame because it was a real jump from previous Final Fantasy games both in terms of visuals and the addition of voiced dialogue.
I’m ashamed to admit that my progress has been hindered by my unexpected addiction to playing Blitzball, so I’m not too far in. That being said, I’m enjoying myself, even with that horrific laughing scene still echoing painfully in my head.
Quern- Undying Thoughts, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair, and Hades
After a craving for classic puzzling and adventuring took hold of me, I recently bought Quern. Very similar to Myst, we explore a deserted place full of strange contraptions while being guided by a mysterious predecessor who tells us all about the wonders of this place. Quern‘s got a unique art style that, at least to me, is very reminiscent of renderings we‘d see back in the 90s. The puzzles can be obtuse, and I‘ve spent more than a few minutes aimlessly running around trying to find some item or clue I might have missed. Still, some parts are quite clever, and overall, it‘s scratching that itch of wanting some non-threatening, chill game to challenge my brain.
The other thing that‘s been taking up most of my gaming time recently is on the polar opposite of the spectrum in that regard. The occasional round of Earth Defense Force 4.1 is perfect to play while listening to podcasts. Blasting giant insects, mechs and spaceships to smithereens is as cathartic as it gets, despite looking like trash. But that‘s just part of the charm. Besides, I don‘t want these gigantic spiders to look any more realistic when they‘re jumping straight at me and covering the whole screen.
Oh, and after more than 25 hours of playtime and beating the final boss twice, I recently learned it‘s possible to upgrade your weapons in Hades. I guess I‘m going back to Tartarus, baby.
Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure
Lately, I’ve been rediscovering my love for handheld gaming. While I enjoy the hell out of my Switch, I had forgotten some of the great dedicated handheld experiences that older handhelds have given us. So, with my DS, 3DS, Vita, and PSP all repaired and running again, I dove in and ended up finding one of my all-time favourite PSP games to boot!
The game in question is Gurumin: A Monstrous Adventure, an action-adventure game about a girl with a drill. It’s basically sort of like a 3D Zelda game but with a map screen rather than an overworld. You clear dungeons, unlock more of the map, upgrade your drill to spit fire, all excellent stuff. The combat system is incredibly simple but works insanely well. It’s also one of those games where just collecting coins is as fun as hell, so it’s always great jumping back in just to grab stuff you missed from dungeons. Plus, if you’re a completionist like me, being able to get a “master” symbol floating above levels really tickles the right spot. If you’ve never tried it, I suggest picking it up. It’s great on the go but is also on Steam if you want a more easily accessible version.