Sunday, July 19, 2015

Game diary.

When home, and able to sink some time into it, I am still in love with Darkest Dungeon.

The most recent update is a huge one - one that I expect they're going to smooth out a bit, difficulty-wise.  Things are nicely taut and frayed with a decked-out level-six squad, but just for shits and giggles I started up a fresh save to see how the changes might impact a newcomer's game.

It's probably three times harder than it was, when Early Access first launched in February.  I am almost always losing a hero or returning to town with everyone stark raving mad, and I'm not sure this is quite what Red Hook had intended.

One thing that is seriously working well in this update, though, are corpses.   They speak to the very heart of the game's positional tactics.

Each class (if you haven't played) has skills that can only be launched from certain positions in your lineup, which (generally) can only target certain enemy ranks.  Since the launch of Early Access, this has kind of eliminated the need to ever have a Plague Doctor.

Vestal in Rank 4, Highwayman in Rank 3, Man-At-Arms in Rank 2, and a stalwart Crusader in Rank 1. 

The Plague Doctor's most powerful ability - an area-of-effect damage-over-time Plague Grenade that blankets the furthest two positions of the enemy ranks - was all-but useless.  Same for Iron Swan on your Hellion - because as soon as a single enemy is killed, the enemy formation changes.  If you kill the guy in Rank 1, the guy in Rank 2 becomes Rank 1, and so on up the line.  Once you're down to two enemies, they'd be standing in the first two ranks, and any hero who specializes in thinning out the back ranks has literally nothing to do.

The Corpse & Hound updated fixes that.

If an enemy is killed by a direct attack (see: not by a DoT), they will leave a corpse that maintains the enemy formation.  You can no longer power through fights by just beating on the guy in front until the next one steps up, conveyor-belt style.  You need to have a ranged option, and the flow of fights changes (significantly) for the better.  It ups the value of every ability that targets beyond rank 2, and encourages the player to make fuller use of their heroes' repertoires.


The update also makes the game insanely difficult when starting up a new save - I think I'm fourteen weeks in and haven't managed to get a single hero to level 2 yet - but I've little doubt Red Hook will iron that out in the coming months.

They say they plan to have the full release ready to launch in October... I wonder if they'll make it?

Really, what I'm wondering most is when this thing will make it to Vita.  Or... if.

Galak-Z and Mercenary Kings.

Gamers in love with their Vitas - and there are a lot of us - have come to terms with the fact that the platform is less the mobile triple-A device Sony launched it as and more an awesome indie/Japanese gaming machine - and that's fine, because there are some wonderful Vita games coming out of Japan and some amazing indies I'm thrilled to have on it.  But it's really depressing when one of those sweet indies you were so excited about just kinda' sputters and dies before it lands on Vita.

Mercenary Kings' Vita version was announced in April 2014, and all mention of it disappeared until developer Tribute Games (who are currently hard at work on Curses 'N Chaos) basically said, last November, that they were kinda' stuck on the porting process, but assured us we'd get it in early 2015.  Then they said it would come after they finished up work on Curses 'N Chaos.

I doubt Mercenary Kings will ever come.  17-Bit have said flat-out that the Vita version of Galak-Z is not coming, or at least they won't be handling it, and there are others...

...where the heck is Banner Saga's PlayStation release, for example? That was announced for "spring 2015" last year - but at least they made a statement back on the 7th that they're still working on it.

Meanwhile, I've been searching for something to play on my Vita that's as fun as Shinovi Versus.

Shinovi Versus is, in a lot of ways, a Musou game - a game like Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors or whathaveyou, but I never liked those games much, so I decided to drop a few bucks on that 2D brawler from 2014, Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds.

It sure looks fun, but... I dunno, I didn't like it much.  I feel like I might need to put more time into it.  I poked around my back-catalog of games I've bought, downloaded but never played.  Put a bit of time into Resogun and Super Stardust Delta.  I picked up Frozen Synapse Prime for $4 on the flash sale.  Then, yesterday, I buckled and bought Samurai Warriors 4, which the internet seems to agree is the best Musou game on Vita.

It's pretty meh.  Graphics are decent.  The feel of the combat is rather... one-note.  There is no give-and-take in these battles, it's just give and give and give some more until it's entirely apparent that, in feudal era Japan, one dude with special moves can beat the shit out of armies with little effort.  I really wish I'd spent that money on trying out Ar Nosurge instead.

I went back into my back-catalog.  At some point in my Vita history, I must have bought Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention... let's just download that...

Worth a whirl.

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