And, done.

I have completed Horizon: Zero Dawn.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20171212204109
This was the only screenshot I took during the main quest line. I had a hard time framing it, but in retrospect it actually looks pretty good.

The main story line turned out to be excellent, and I might do a spoiler-intensive review of it at some point. Sadly, I spoiled myself a bit on the big surprising part of the story accidentally, and I kind of regret not going into that portion without expectations. It was still a very moving story, in a lot of ways, and I was actually tearing up a bit in the final cut scene before the credits.

Well, I’m not going to talk about the plot, but I am going to say a few words about my experience with the game. For the most part, it was entirely positive, as my final playtime of just under 84 hours will attest. 😉

Naturally, after playing a game for such a long time, various cracks will begin to show, especially in a game as complex and beautiful as Horizon. As time went on, I encountered various glitches, such as the picture I posted previously of the corpse of a Stormbird that teleported from directly in front of me onto an inaccessible mountain after it died, preventing me from looting it. I also managed to grab a short clip of a Glinthawk enemy completely glitching out and spinning end over end, but sadly I don’t have a convenient way to post it right now. 😛

Other than that, I noticed some graphical issues, especially with dynamic lighting and the like. But honestly, all these problems were pretty minor, and things you only notice if, like me, you play the game exhaustively.

Oh, and speaking of playing exhaustively, I was quite pleased when I finished the game and found that I only had one trophy left to collect, so almost every trophy I was able to acquire just by playing the game and doing all the side quests. Naturally, some of those quests were more irritating to complete than others, but it’s all entirely doable, so I was able to pick up my platinum trophy relatively easily. So, yay. 😀

Now, as for what’s next, I’m afraid that I’m going to set Horizon aside for a while. There is a New Game+ mode, as well as an expansion pack available (each with their own trophies to acquire) but my shelf of PS4 games keeps expanding, and I’d really, really like to finish a few more of them. (Hmm? When am I going to write? Hush, you. 😛 )

So I’ve got a tentative game schedule arranged, starting with Dishonored — or it was first, before my wife gave me my birthday present after I posted the chapter of Anubai yesterday:

20171214_113205

I love my wife. Not only do I have the game I really wanted, I have a model to work on as well.

So yeah, my next game will be NieR: Automata. I wonder if it has a photo mode… ^^;

Incidentally, I already installed it, and downloaded a fair huge (3+ gb) update file, leaving me slightly close to running out of hotspot data for the month. But don’t worry, I will continue to post! Somehow. 😛

For now, though, I’ll be saying fairwell to the Horizon. Thanks, Aloy. You were pretty awesome.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20171211210658
What with the whole “pet T-Rex” thing, y’know?
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Horizon Zero Dawn: Way too much fun while accomplishing nothing.

This game. Oh, man, this game.

Y’know, I don’t want to make video game reviews a normal feature on this blog, since it’s supposed to be for my many, many story ideas. But since that doesn’t seem to be happening, I may as well gush about this game for a while.

First of all, have you seen the intro? Check this out:

Beautiful, isn’t it? With some wonderful world-building on the side. And needless to say, Rost is awesome, because Rost is awesome. But more on Rost in a bit.

Incidentally, my son watched the prologue, and at the title screen, he asked me, “What does ‘Horizon: Zero Dawn’ mean?” So I told him, “Well, the horizon is where the sky meets the land, so you can see the horizon where the mountain is, there. And it’s dawn, because the sun just came up, right?” “So what does the ‘Zero’ mean?” he asked “…I have no idea,” I admitted.

Now, right after starting the game, you play as a six- or seven-year-old Aloi, and first of all, Rost, comb her hair! Secondly, right after the game starts, there’s a really, really poignant scene, that I really want to talk about, but I also don’t want to spoil it. It really gives you a feeling for Aloi’s isolation and sadness, though. Rost is an awesome father-figure, as I may have mentioned, but it’s tough being an outcast from birth. So after a few encounters, young Aloi decides to run the Proving, to gain entrance to the clan and find out who her mother actually was.

Then, after a lovely montage, we get to an older Aloi, a few days before the Proving, and Rost has called her to learn one final lesson.

So, how do you know if your open world game is fun? Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but in my case, if I spend nearly eight hours in the small beginner’s area at the start of the game, not advancing the extremely interesting plot, just to putz around killing wildlife and machines, and most importantly enjoying every damn minute of it, then the game is definitely successful in my book. 😛

Seriously, I spent hours just creeping around, hiding in the grass, killing boars, raccoons, rabbits, and turkeys, so I could craft potions and upgrade my carrying capacity. By the time I finally met Rost again to actually start the game, I had already upgraded the quiver for my default bow, and my resource carrying pack, to the limit. I don’t know if I’ll be able to upgrade it further later in the game, but for now it’s maxed out.

Sadly, I was also forced to hunt foxes. Poor foxes. 😦

Hmm? Why am I only upset about the foxes? Because they are much cuter than boars, of course. 😉

Anyway. I also snuck up and killed a whole bunch of machines, which are the main enemies for the game. It’s awesome, and a great source of xp, for what it’s worth. I haven’t seen anything yet that’s strictly connected to level… the quests and side missions have suggested levels attached to them, but frankly, the only thing you get from leveling is 10 HP per level, which isn’t bad, and 1 skill point. Incidentally, it seems that skill points can also be gained from quests, so you’ll probably be able to get some of the later skills sooner than you expect. I, personally, am focusing on the stealth tree, because I enjoy sneaking up on things and stabbing them. I mean, who doesn’t? 😉

Yeah, so, I’m over 10 hours of play, and I’ve barely progressed the game at all — I’ve finally entered the wider world, at least, but I’m definitely going to hit every side quest along the way, so, this could take quite some time to finish. Sigh, so many games, so little time… ^^;

So, in conclusion, Rost is awesome. Although, if you can watch his performance without thinking “Mentor Occupational Hazard,” more power to you… -_-

Er, no, that’s not the conclusion. I heartily recommend this game, if you like open world games even slightly. It requires a bit of skill, but the easier difficulty settings are very forgiving (I’m playing my first playthrough on Normal, FYI.)

Just… expect a lot of feels, ok? 😐

And a lot of spectacular views.

Horizon Zero Dawn™_20171127110300

Yes, in fact, that is Aloi standing on top of a giant robot. That’s what giant robots are for. 😉

Now if you excuse me, I’ve got to go rappel down a giant robot. Laters. 😛

Darksiders, huh? It’s OK.

So, yeah. First of all, happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Hope you had a good holiday. Unless you live outside the United States, in which case, I hope you had a good non-holiday. Unless your country has a holiday at about the same time… you know what? You get the idea.

I originally intended to post a review of Darksiders, before Thanksgiving, but I got sidetracked by various things, and when I finally came back to it, I found that everything I had previously written had disappeared from the draft. Damn you, WordPress!

So this leads me to two conclusions. First, write everything in Google Docs first, then transfer it over to WP. Second, I’m not going to do a full review of Darksiders, because I can’t face writing it a second time. So here’s the short version:

darksiders

It’s OK. Not a great success, nor a spectacular failure. As a platformer, War is not very nimble, and has a tendency to fall off ledges; as an action game, the fights are fun and visceral, but the finishers get a little same-y after a while. I enjoyed the story, even though it wasn’t especially original, and the voice acting was excellent. I don’t really care about graphics, but the artistic design was bright and serviceable, and there were a few nice touches. The environmental puzzles made no sense, given the setting, but they never do, so call it a wash. Finally, I had enough fun to want to finish it, and collect all the trophies, so I’d tentatively recommend it if you enjoy action platformers.

Honestly, my biggest problem was that the tone kept reminding me of the Soul Reaver games, which were superior on every level, so that can’t help but drag my opinion down. …I miss Raziel. 😛

So yeah. Darksiders. I guess I’d play the second game, but… it’s not on my list of priorities right now. That would be…

HZD_01

Seriously, I can’t get over how spectacular the intro and prologue of this game is. I’ve barely played into it at all, but I already want to gush about how wonderful it is. Here’s to hoping that it doesn’t let me down. 😉

Oh, and for those waiting for new chapters of my novels… wait a little longer, please. Sorry. -_-

Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 28: Eddard 6

Ahem. Let’s read A Game of Thrones!


 

Eddard 6 (27)

Janos Slynt, Commander of the City Watch, has come to complain to the king’s council about the security of King’s Landing during the buildup to the Hand’s tourney. He needs more men to combat the rise in crime. Lord Renly Baratheon is not sympathetic, but the King’s Hand Eddard Stark immediately orders more men hired, and commands Littlefinger to find the funds to pay them. He also temporarily detaches twenty men from his own guard to help the watch, and Slynt departs gratefully. After the man leaves, Ned grumbles about the tourney being held in his name, and Pycelle points out that such events are good for the realm, bringing wealth to many. Littlefinger and Renly start joking about whores, and the name of Renly’s prudish brother Stannis Baratheon comes up. Ned wonders aloud when Stannis would return from Dragonstone and resume his seat on the council, but the only response is another joke from Littlefinger. Continue reading

Let’s Read A Game Of Thrones! Part 27: Jon 4

It’s still Friday. Really.


 

Jon 4 (26)

Jon is practicing swordwork with his new comrades, when a new recruit enters the practice yard. It is an extraordinarily chubby boy, who is obviously intimidated by his surroundings. Ser Allister Thorne orders him to get equipped at the armory, where the armorer Donal Naye had to completely customize armor to fit his girth. When the boy was finally equipped, Ser Allister set him to fight against Halder, a former stonemason apprentice. The newcomer is completely destroyed by Halder, and yields; but Thorne tells the boy to get back up, and incites Halder to strike him until he does. At this point Jon intervenes, and prevents Halder from attacking the boy further. Incensed, Ser Allister calls two more people, Rast and Albett, to join Halder; unbidden, Pyp and Grenn reinforce Jon, and it becomes a 3 vs. 3 battle. Jon fights Halder, and in exchange for a heavy blow to his shoulder, he breaks Halder’s balance and defeats him. Grenn is holding his own against Albett, but Pyp is hard-pressed against Rast. Jon intervenes with a strike to Rast’s helm, and Pyp is able to take advantage to defeat the bigger man. Jon turns to help Grenn, but Albett surrenders rather than face two opponents. Furious, Ser Allister stalks off. Continue reading

Let’s Read A Game Of Thrones! Part 26: Eddard 5

Ugh…neck pain is painful…


 

Eddard 5 (25)

Eddard Stark is chatting with Grand Maester Pycelle, about the death of Jon Arryn. Pycelle tells him that, in retrospect, Lord Jon had seemed to be subtlety declining for some time. However, one day he came to borrow a certain book from Pycelle, and by the next day he had collapsed. He did not recover, but steadily weakened, and none of the attending doctors could help him. He died in the presence of his wife, Lady Lysa, as well as King Robert. His last words were “The seed is strong.” When Ned asks whether Jon Arryn’s death seemed unnatural, Pycelle says that he considers it fairly normal, but dodges Ned’s question about whether he had ever seen it before. When Ned suggests that he might have been poisoned, Pycelle claims that it would be unlikely, but at the same time tries to divert Ned’s suspicions onto the eunuch, Varys. Ned begins to leave, but on impulse asks to examine the book Lord Jon had asked to see before he collapsed. Pycelle promises to find the book and send it to him. Continue reading

What Would I Rather Be Reading? Part VII: Digger (and others)

This is coming later than I anticipated, but I expected that. While WordPress will list this as posted on Monday, it’s still Sunday where I live. So I win! Now. Has everyone gone and read Digger? No?

No problem, you can still go do that now.

….What, still not going? You’re only hurting yourself, you know.

So you’re probably wondering why I seem so insistent that you check this one out. Well, it is excellent in many ways. The art is good, the story is fantastic, and the characters are…well. You know the usual moral relativism, grey vs. grey morality, right? Basically, everyone has a dark side, no one is pure, that sort of thing? That is very much not in evidence in Digger; instead, if I were to say that everyone is a good person, I would be exaggerating only slightly. Every character has reasons for their actions and stances, and though some parties are more reasonable than others, there is almost no malice between characters. Which is not to say there isn’t conflict; there is a lot of conflict, but it is almost always generated from the clash of different cultures and worldviews, and once common ground is found the characters get along reasonably well. (There is, of course, one major exception, behind the majority of the plot. But the narrative to reach that point is so well constructed, I would never dream of spoiling it for you.) Continue reading

Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 25: Bran 4

Just sliiiiigtly late today. Time management, fail!


 

Bran 4 (24)

Bran is in his tower, watching Rickon playing with the three direwolves from his window. He is quite bitter because he can’t join them, and angry at the crow from his dream for tricking him into thinking he could fly. He is listening to Old Nan, an old woman who had come to Winterfell a long time in the past as a wet nurse for a different Brandon Stark, and who occasionally seemed to confuse Bran with that child, or with Bran’s uncle who was killed by the old Targaryen king. Old Nan is trying to tell him stories, but he is sick of listening to her. He thinks about his family, broken and scattered, and feels lonely and isolated. Old Nan finally grabs his attention with a story about the Others, the white walkers, who appeared during a dark, unending winter, and who hated and slaughtered the living without mercy. She speaks of a hero, who set forth to find the children of the forest with companions, and how he was pursued by the Others and hounded until all his companions were gone… Continue reading

Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 24: Daenerys 3

My daughter damaged one of the pages of this chapter. Literary criticism at its finest!


 

Daenerys 3 (23)

Dany is riding with Ser Jorah Mormont, on top of a ridge above the Dothraki grasslands. They are followed by a party including Viserys, but Dany decided that she didn’t want to listen to her brother whining again today. She leaves orders for everyone to remain behind, and rides off down the ridge by herself.

As she rides, she thinks back on the journey to this point. At first, riding had been a terrible ordeal. She had been completely unprepared for riding entire days, and her body had become a mass of sores and screaming muscles, and she began to consider death a preferable alternative. But one night, she had a dream of a dragon, which breathed flame at her that consumed her body without causing her pain. When she woke up that morning, she was feeling better, and afterwards she quickly healed and toughened to the point that riding became her favorite activity. Continue reading

Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 23: Arya 2

And now, angst.


 

Arya 2 (22)

Arya’s father is late to dinner again, and she can tell that he has been fighting with the King’s council. Ned discusses the upcoming tourney with Jory, and Sansa expresses a desire to attend. Ned doesn’t want to allow it, but Septa Mordane talks him into it. He allows Sansa and Arya to attend; however, Arya doesn’t want anything to do with the event. She and Sansa begin to argue, before their father stops them. Ned leaves the hall without eating anything, and Arya begins to muse gloomily upon her current life. No one attempts to address her, and she misses her brothers and the days back at Winterfell. Eventually she starts brooding about Mycah, and how no one she trusted had tried to help him. Becoming angry, she gets up and leaves, ignoring Mordane who tries to stop her.

Back in her bedroom, she begins to cry, and blame herself for everything that has happened. She goes to her chest and removes her sword, Needle, from where it is hidden beneath her clothes, and draws it. Mordane starts pounding on the door, demanding that Arya open it, and threatens to tell her father. Arya screams at her to go away, and Mordane leaves. The girl stares out the window, wishing she could climb like Bran, and starts dreaming of running away, finding Nymeria, and returning to Winterfell, or even joining Jon on the Wall. Then her father arrives. Continue reading