Sekiro’s Final Boss

Word of Caution: The following post contains spoilers to the game Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The post contains information and a video footage of the game’s final boss.

It has been two years since Sekiro released (where does time go?!). I thoroughly enjoyed the game up to the final battle, at which point I dropped the game after countless tries. It has always been bugging me, but I remind myself that I’m not a completists or a perfectionist when it comes to games by any means. Having said that, I did finish every Miyazaki game I played, which probably warrants that nagging feeling.

It took a couple of days to get back into the game and roughly over 48 hours to finally beat the final boss and what an exhilarating feeling to finally do that. Despite it not being particularly described as a souls-game, it’s not different from Miyazaki’s other games. Except in this game, the final boss is a collection of 4 stages. Each one is unique with enough antics under its belt.

Genichero’s first stage is similar to Genichero’s battle, which the player has already beaten at that point. It’s a very fast-paced sequence that isn’t particularly harder than the first battle you face him in, but because of the pacing, you’re very prone to making mistakes and all it takes is one mistake for the entire battle to fall apart. This is probably something that I have always liked about Miyazaki’s games, is that the lower rank enemies are just as capable as bigger ones to challenge you, no matter how advanced you are in the game.

Isshin’s first phase is slower than Genichero’s, but the range of his sword attacks is massive. By far, it’s the most forgiving stage of the battle, but any wrong turn and you’ll pay the price. The two phases after this are the most gruesome. Isshin’s third phase, in my opinion, is the most challenging. At this point he abandons his sword and reveals a long deadly spear and fashions a gun. His movesets are so erratic, bizarre, unpredictable, and highly predictive of your own. Although he only has a handful of moves, he alternates them remarkably well depending on your own moving. In the final phase, Isshin maintains almost very similar movesets to his previous phase, except now he has a couple of new special attacks: two types of lightening and a wide arc charged attack. He’s also slightly faster and deadlier.

My strategy for the battle is the same as any souls game. I spend a few tries simply blocking to observe and memorize the movesets of the opponent. There’s no point trying to beat them at this point. The goal is to memorize the moves so well so that I could fall back onto muscle memory when and if I need it, especially when things suddenly go out of the ordinary or I need to focus on the next sequence.

For Genichero, I try to be as aggressive as he is and a bit more. If I give him space then his movement becomes wider and out of control. So for this stage, I try to keep him defending as I can. Eventually his breaks and he’ll fall.

For all four stages of the battle, I do not aim to defeat by means of attacking. Instead, I focus on building their posture bar through deflecting and then breaking their posture. It’s useless attacking. It will take a long time and put you more at risk of taking damage yourself, unless you’re doing the “tanking or cheesing” method, which is basically cheating and the game wasn’t designed to be played that way. At the same time, my own posture builds up as I deflect, so it’s an ongoing struggle to maintain the balance between attacking, deflecting, and allowing my own posture bar to deplete before charging. If my posture breaks at any point then I’m unmovable and basically sitting duck for a fatal blow.

For Isshin’s second and third phases, I deflect 90% of the time and only attack 10% between his own deflecting, if and when I get the chance like immediately after he lands an attack or when his back is turned. Some of his attack combinations are very long and I struggle to counter them without breaking my postures, so I try to get away, let him attack, and then counter the final special attack he does with a Mikiri encounter. The last phase continues the same way, except now whenever he jumps to perform a lightening attack, I wait a little for a second or two and then jump touch the lightening and throw it back at him. So overall, without attacking him, deflecting, countering with mikiri and using his own lightening should fill up his posture bar fast to finally break him down.

I absolutely loved the level of detail that went into designing the battle, and frankly every other battle in the game (Owl’s battle being one of my favorites). It’s not always fun playing Miyazaki’s games. They’re usually slow in the beginning, and I often find myself losing hope and confidence, but I also absolutely love the ability to see myself progress through active strategy. Once you get it, you’ll see yourself finding a way out. This is usually referred to as a motto souls-games fan often use—“Get good!”

The following video is of my gameplay against Sekiro’s final boss

Meridian 157 | Game Review

Don’t you just love it when you stumble effortlessly on a really good game? That was the case with Meridian 157. A point and click puzzle game by Nova Interactive Ltd. It is comprised of 3 parts so far- A prologue and 2 chapters.

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You begin the journey as detective David Zander who is investigating some kind of mysterious weather condition in the Pacific Ocean but eventually winds up in a deserted island. You can’t help but feel like you’re not alone there. Along the way you stumble on an excavation site and a mine field. The remnants left behind by those before you guide you to uncover a big mystery and that things are not really what they appear to be.

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The prologue is a free download and short in comparison to the following 2 chapters. For around $2 each, you receive a well lengthen game packed with mini games & puzzles. What seems like a straightforward game at first eventually grows and the story becomes exceedingly interesting.

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The game is very well written and that is evident in the lore. Unlike other games, the notes and entries you pick up feel authentic. The narration picks your curiosity and you start wondering about really going on in this world. On top of that, the puzzle difficulty is no joke. There were instances where I found myself thinking “that can’t be what they want me to do– it’s too complex” but it turns out it really is and it’s just a joy to finally solve a puzzle.

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There are no extra fluff in the mechanics of the game. You are simply given an inventory to pick up items and in Chapter 2, you can further combine them. There’s also a nifty camera for you to capture clues to help you crack codes and solve puzzles (and boy will those be handy!).

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What I really liked is that each chapter centers around a theme or an area and then segments into parts. Once you finish a section, you transition to the next. Over time this creates a feeling of progression and the game becomes dynamic.

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I felt very sad when I finished chapter 2 as I felt closer to finding out the truth as ever. According to the developer; however, it won’t be long before Chapter 3 is released!

If you’re looking for a mind bending fun puzzle adventure on the iPad, reasonably priced with great puzzles, look no further!

My final score is 5/5 ★★★★★

  • 5/5 for gameplay
  • 5/5 for design
  • 5/5 for Puzzles
  • 5/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): iPad
  • Game Link | Click Here

ND: Midnight in Salem

I finished Nancy Drew’s 33rd installment “Midnight in Salem” last night and what a journey it has been. I began playing the game on release day so technically it has taken me almost 7 months to complete this game.

A Bit of Back Story 

In case you’re new to the series, there has been a lot of attention (good and bad) on this particular game. I believe mentioning this information is important because it played a significant role in people’s reception and opinion of the MID.

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As is customary, HerInteractive was in the habit of releasing two games a year (yes, you read that right- two). Every time a game is released, a sneak peek trailer at the end of it is thrown in to reveal the next one. This went on for a very long time. So after Sea of Darkness (ND’s 32nd installments), fans knew that there will be a new game and it’s going to be Midnight in Salem.

However, in 2015 HerInteractive underwent big changes. In a letter to their fans, the company announced they will be shifting to Unity as the next game’s engine. As a result, this will affect the development schedule of MID, but that will also ensure better and smoother graphics…etc.

In addition, Lani Minella– who has been the voice behind the character Nancy Drew in the series for almost 20 years, was let go and Brittany Cox was hired. This resulted in an uproar in the community. Not to mention Lani, herself, has been… hmm, how do I say this? — very “vocal” about this decision. Based on what she was sharing with her fans, it was deduced that the reason she was let go was because she didn’t sound  “young enough”. HerInteractive denied this and banned one of Lani’s statements claiming she was sharing too much confidential information with the public.

Fans were sympathizing a lot with Lani because she does have a distinct voice and embodied THE Nancy Drew they’ve known for such a long time. That’s understandable but it’s also only her side of the story. It didn’t help that HerInteractive was elusive about many of the decisions they were making and frankly that is their right to do; however, fans were anguished for some kind of closure and they weren’t getting any.

To make things worse, in 2016, HerInteractive went completely quiet about MID and focused mainly on ND’s new mobile game Codes & Clues. This annoyed many people.

By 2019, many fans began losing all hopes of seeing MID– ever. However, eventually the company released more information about the characters and graphics as the game reached closer to its release date. And after several further delays just a couple of months away from its launch, the game finally came out.

With these factors taken into consideration you can imagine the amount of anticipation, expectation and suspense fans were slowly amassing over the course of 4 years waiting for this installment.

The Game 

Upon the request of a familiar ND character, Nancy flies to Salem, Massachusetts. There, she investigates an estate that is undergoing arson. The estate has roots in history and belongs to the Hathorne family, which was constructed by Judge Hathorne who in turn took part in the Salem witch trials. Drew races to uncover the truth with the aid of her friends and bold return of the Hardy Boys.

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The first thing that caught my attention in the game was the minimal interface. Icons and items are colorless and simple looking, mimicking most modern devices today. The second obviously being Nancy Drew’s voice. To my relief, it sounded suitable. I didn’t feel it was alienating from what we’re used to. It was definitely different as Lani’s voice is distinct but not distracting at the same time, which is good.

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Massachusetts looks stunning. The level design, the buildings, the music– it’s all nice. The characters on the other hand look less polished. I personally didn’t mind, because I don’t usually play ND games for their nice graphics. It’s the content that matters to me.

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The story is interesting but it could have been better. Unlike previously themed ND games, I didn’t feel like I learned a lot about Salem and the trials. There’s so much to work with here pertaining to that time period and history but sadly wasn’t utilized well.

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Bess and George, Nancy’s best buddies almost didn’t play any role in this game. Instead, the Hardy boys and Deirdre took their place. It’s a nice addition to have characters actively engage in the investigation. For instance, Deirdre is the detective’s Watson every step of the way. That’s a new experience in the series to have characters collectively piece things together. Usually, they’re a dial away to give you hints when needed but in MID, they’re physically there. Although I have to say that Deirdre’s presence can get a bit annoying at times especially when you’re trying to navigate a scene and she’s just too close to your face. It can get in the way of clicking and exploring things.

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As a result of having more characters involved, the conversations were interesting but it was also mentioned that they lacked interactiveness, which I’m afraid I kind of agree with. Usually the player is given the option to choose an answer that can affect the outcome; however in this game, the replies feel like they have little influence.

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The biggest let down for me was the lack of mini-games. It’s the aspect of the game that I usually look forward to the most. ND games are challenging and fun unlike many mainstream detective games out there. Each installment has creative mini game design. For instance, one game that comes to mind always is Shadow at the Water’s Edge, which is in Japan. That game seriously has a lot of cool mini games such as Sudoku, Kakuro and Bento puzzles. In comparison, MID is bland. There’s the “cooking” puzzle, which is slightly becoming an ND tradition by now, but other than that, there are hardly any well-crafted mini games to think of.

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And with that being said, the player can easily feel there’s little to do in this game aside from the main plot line. With previous games, you can leave one task or puzzle to pick up another. Your to-list is full and the game world feels rich. In this one, your iPhone’s check list is laughable. There’s usually only 1 or 2 tasks to accomplish. Kind of defeats the purpose of having a list really.

Without saying too much, the ending was appropriate. It wasn’t too obvious but neither was it too creative. And instead of a sneak peek trailer, Nancy drops a hint or two about a possible next game set in Austria (or maybe a sequel?).

The Verdict 

Although I’m sure many fans are happy to finally get their hands on MID, the uproar and negativity is understandable to a certain degree.

Having said that, I don’t think many people realize how difficult it is to roll out 2 games a year. I think what HerInteractive has done in the past is seriously commendable. It took a lot of effort to provide that level of consistency. As a result, fans developed a schedule. When things change, which are inevitable in any business, it’s normal to project a level of concern (especially with the Lani situation and her role in the games). And when there are a lot of delays justified for the sake of improving quality, fans’ expectations will soar.

Not many people were happy with the end result and some claim the character designs were even worse than previous installments. It makes me wonder if HerInteractive didn’t issue those promises, would people still think the same way? I think the game is a definite improvement from previous installment but not enough to justify the time spent on it to some people.

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I choose to take a more lenient position with the game. I’m certainly disappointed with many things in the game but I also understand that big changes in companies are not easy especially for small developer companies like HerInteractive. The company’s past accomplishments are enough for me to continue to want to have faith in what they do and I’m choosing to stay optimistic.

It’s going to take some time for them to maintain a schedule again, especially with old staff out of the building and new ones in (not to mention the pandemic situation).

So is it worth playing MID? Absolutely. If you’re new to the series; however, I would suggest starting with earlier ones. Not too early in the series though. Somewhere between games 21 and 32. The old games are an absolute gem but to new gamers, they might be outdated. Once you’re done with those 10 new installments, it’s certainly worth going back to the original games.

My final score is 4/5 ★★★★

  • 3/5 for gameplay
  • 4/5 for design
  • 2/5 for Puzzles
  • 3/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): Mac
  • Game Link | Click Here (Also available on Steam & Mac Apple Store).
  • Trailer | Click Here

 

Another hidden object game in the same week (I don’t learn, do I?) Especially when I’ve said it a thousand times on here how I’m not a big fan of hidden object games but sometimes you’re just in the mood for an easy point and click game to pass time, you know?

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Well anyway, I heard the Dark Tales series are popular so I gave this one a shot especially when it’s an Edgar Allen Poe game. I knew it wasn’t going to be The Dark Eye material in any way (THIS Dark Eye in case it skipped your radar; a fantastic classic Edgar Allen Poe game back in the 90s). I figured at least we might get a fun twist of Poe’s poem. I even read it before playing it to be prepared; it really made no difference.

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Story wise, I suppose the plot is slightly more interesting-ISH than the average H.O. game. The plot has a couple of twists, though predictable. There were also a few hysterically funny moments like the punching scenes, although now that I think about it I’m pretty sure they weren’t meant to be funny.

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The way you find and collect your items inventory also resembles a hidden object game in a way, which is a nice change. The mini puzzles; however, were laughably easy except for the final puzzle which I spent a really long time trying to solve. It wasn’t even that difficult but required a reset which didn’t occur to me. I guess in puzzle games the RESET button is the equivalent of kicking a vending machine when it swallows your coins and nothing comes out. I need to make a mental note of that.

Is it worth playing? Maybe. If you like hidden object games, then you might enjoy this one. The graphics are nice, there’s that. And while it’s considered a short game, they do give you extra content upon completion (which I’m afraid I didn’t bother to try). That says everything I guess.

My final score is 2/5 ★★

  • 2/5 for gameplay
  • 3/5 for design
  • 2/5 for Puzzles
  • 1/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): Steam.
  • Game Link | Click Here

 

Poisonous Promises is part of the Family Mysteries series, developed by Brave Giant and published by Artifax Mundi. It’s a hidden objects game that centers on Emma– a detective who tries to unravel the mystery behind several incidents where survivors show up with traces of poison on them. And much like many of the Family Mysteries series, the incidents involve several people/suspects and their connections to each other.

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Steam did a fantastic job in writing up the game description. Sadly I didn’t really find enough “oozing coolness” to keep me entertained. It’s a straight forward hidden object game with a few mini games on the side. The graphics are nice. They also focused a lot on technology, which I suppose is a cool feature. You can use your mobile phone as a flash light (which never occurs to other games), collect data and inspect evidence.

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The game is very short but once you’re done they give you a bonus chapter, which I thought was great– only it didn’t really add much to the original story.

Not worth the full price for a PC/Mac unless you’re getting it cheaper on the iOS.

My final score is 2/5 ★★

  • 2/5 for gameplay
  • 3/5 for design
  • 3/5 for Puzzles
  • 1/5 for plot
  • Game Platform (played on): Mac (Apple App Store).