Avengers Endgame Ruined Steve Rogers

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So this time last week, I went to the movie theaters with a friend to see what should be considered the finale of the 11 year billion dollar nerd dream that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A franchise that in itself spawned the concept of a “cinematic universe” that would lead movie executives a plenty to run face first into the dirt in an attempt to grab so much as a penny spawned from the success that Disney continues to profit from. This isn’t really a review of the film (I thought it was pretty good. I didn’t love it, but it’s still better than God’s mistake, Thor 2), but more of a way to expunge my unending thoughts about how the film decided to seemingly retire Steve Rogers as a character. I’ll be blunt, I fucking hated what they did.

(None of what I’m about to say is going to make any sense unless you watch the film in questions so please do not read further unless you either have seen it, or don’t care about being spoiled.)

At the end of the film, Steve Rogers is tasked with returning the Infinity Stones that saved all of existence from the evil purple man, Thanos (no relation to Jessica Jones antagonist, THE Purple Man). While he does end up doing that, Steve decides to also spend 40+ years in the past to get married to Peggy Carter, the woman he loved so much he also ended up dating her grand niece, Sharon. I feel like this was written to give Steve and Peggy this sort-of fairy tale type ending where the two lovers separated by time can finally reunite and give folks closure. Perhaps I would have found this satisfying had it not felt so ham-fisted, but I also felt like this scenario not only goes against Steve’s entire story arc and function as a character, but it also invalidates both the Carters.

Steve Roger’s entire deal in just about every piece of media since his revival from the WW2 era is that he is a man awakened from a different time. Whether that time period was 20 years or 70 years, the culture shock, the clash of values, and initial feelings of complete isolation is what makes Captain America an interesting character. To simply give Steve everything he lost back to him feels like a cheap move, especially considering that he didn’t allow his fellow time-displaced friend Bucky the same opportunity. This felt like something Steve would have done maybe back in 2011/2 when he first awoke from the ice rather than in 202X, where’s he spent almost 10 years building a new life with the Avengers.

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This also invalidates what the Marvel Writers seemed to have set up for Peggy Carter, as Steve’s assumed sacrifice was what led her to lead and create S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place. She continued doing spy missions, started a family, and even eventually reunited with Steve years later in The Winter Soldier. By having Steve just come back in time to do that long awaited dance, it just turns Peggy into a trophy for Steve for being such a good boy this year. And it doesn’t help that Steve basically left her behind again to go back to the present as Grandpa Rogers. It’s frankly bullshit that Peggy doesn’t even get a single on screen line in the film, but Howard Stark is allowed to be prominently featured here.

Sharon Carter on the other hand has been completely abandoned by the folks who brought her in the marvel movies to begin with. She essentially existed in the two Captain America movies to act as proof that Steve Rogers is totally not gay for Bucky and likes boobs. That’s really sad considering Marvel movies already have a bad track record when it comes to throwing away the women in their stories without care (Sif, Betty Ross, Jane Foster, Darcy Lewis, Maria Hill). What’s even worse is something that I feel like movie didn’t think too hard about when Steve choose to go back in time to marry Peggy. By doing this, he made Sharon Carter his great niece.



THAT MEANS HE RETROACTIVELY DATED HIS GREAT NIECE.

STEVE ROGERS IS NOW GUILTY OF INCEST


It was already hard to like Captain America after the whole Nazi Cap story in the comics set off nuclear bomb levels of discourse, but this may be the final breaking point for me. Fuck Cap. Hope Bucky and Falcon send him to the retirement home.

Pax South 2019: Three Games I Think People Should Play

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So this has been long overdue to write about, but this past January was my annual trip to the video game convention, Pax South. This has mostly been a way to re-unite with friends that are located all across the united states, but i must say that this year has been one of my favorites for letting me play some incredible games that I did not expect to be there. So I thought I would just go through some of these games in a blog post and rave about why people should check these games out when they eventually release (hopefully this year * fingers crossed * )

Hypnospace Outlaw

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Hypnospace Outlaw has been a game i have been anticipating since its kickstarter reveal (which I helped back years ago). This game is being made by one of the folks who helped create Dropsy, a video game where you played as a clown who looked scary, but just wants to give hugs. This game is quite different than Dropsy, as Hypnospace is essentially a Geocites moderator simulator, or rather a re-imagining of the late 90’s internet space that I was just too young to experience at the time. In fact, the controls are basically the exact same as well… browsing the web.

Funnily enough, I first found out about their presence at PAX on Twitter, when I was searching the Pax South hashtag to find any clues as to what the show floor looked like from the inside. I’m not sure if anyone else had their mouth agape like I did when I found out they were here, but regardless I decided to seek out their booth on the first day. This demo was actually quite hidden away from the rest of the con, despite having a huge CRT television showing of the game while another would play the game on the laptop. Regardless, I managed to locate this bundle of joy and sat down to experience an internet I wish was real.

From my brief experience with it, I can imagine how different an experience with this game can be for a multitude of players. You can honestly just spend your time exploring “Hypnospace”, the name of the internet in this game without doing anything else. However, the game also encourages you to act as a moderator to report and remove such actions as copyright infringement, bullying, etc in exchange for actual internet points that can be used to decorate your fake desktop. I’m very curious just how immersive this game can become when more people can get their hands on it, but I at least made sure that i got every single one of my friends over at this booth to experience this for themselves. This was by far the coolest thing at the show for me personally, and that includes popular games that were at the show like Resident Evil 2’s remake.

Boyfriend Dungeon

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I vaguely remember hearing about Boyfriend Dungeon last year, either from an announcement tweet, or maybe from something from Youtube. Whatever it was, I remember thinking “that looks neat, though I’m not sure if it’s for me.”. As it turns out, Boyfriend Dungeon is very much for me, as I had a pleasant time playing this game for about 15-20 minutes at PAX.

Boyfriend Dungeon is a Dating Simulator game that somehow also is a dungeon crawling top down role playing game (I’m really adding a bunch of words here that I’m not sure makes much sense right now). Basically the player goes through different dungeons and finds a weapon that turns into someone that you can go on dates with. Convenient! The action itself is simple, but I feel like that is intentional given you would not want it to be too difficult to find potential new dating partners if you’re not the biggest fan of the currently available suitors. I will say that I’m pleased that you can date dudes, ladies, non-binary partners, and you can also just summon a cat to just have as a pet. It seems really well thought out and has potential for being enthralling.

Given that it was such a short taste, I don’t know how the visual novel side of the game will hold up, but the premise is so strong that I really want to give it a show, especially as someone who has been waiting for a dating sim to get hyped about.

World of Horror

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I feel like there is a trend with each game I talk about on this list, because this is yet another game I knew about ahead of time thanks to Twitter because it’s retweeted by cool people. At least this time it was actually one of my friends who brought me to the booth, because I was pleasantly surprised at their presence given that I had no clue they were showing up to Pax South this year.

World of Horror is a horror game (shocking I know) that feels straight out of the works of Junji Ito and Kazuo Umezu. It’s a mystery solving experience that involves your investigative character to check out various horror cases happening around them as reality seems to fall victim to horrifying powers beyond humanity’s control. The demo had one case available where the player got to explore a school to find enough materials to summon and defeat a scissor ghost that has been acting like a huge dick. I can’t say I was personally scared by the particular scenario, but I definitely know some folks who would fall victim to its jump scares quite easily as well.

The part of the game I sucked at was the final confrontation between myself and the ghost. Perhaps I didn’t collect enough materials or maybe I could not fully grasp this element of the game, but sadly I just could not deal a satisfying Rock to the scissors ghost’s…. scissors I guess. I’m still pretty excited for this game, and I’m also glad that friends of mine who primarily play on a PS4 or a Switch can get their hands on it as well eventually. I just hope that when the game comes out, I’ll learn more about killing ghosts other than yelling “BUSTIN BUSTIN BUSTIN BUSTIN” at my computer screen.

5 More Dragon Ball Z Games That Don't Exist, but Should

Yesterday I read a wonderful blog post by Jordan Mallory on Fanbyte that discusses 5 potential video games based around the world of Dragon Ball that all sounded wonderful. Rather than bombarding the comment section with a long ass gushing paragraph detailing my thoughts and further suggestions, I decided to that it would be a good exercise to just make a list of my own!

So here are 5 more Dragon Ball themed games that do not exist, but I would be very happy to see come alive in some sort of miracle that only Mr. Satan could provide.


Saiyan Chef Brigade Z

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I know that Jordan already had a cooking based game on their list relating to cooking food for the great lord Beerus, but honestly this is the only blatant rip-off that I am willing to stand by. Given the success of 2017’s Battle Chef Brigade, I thought it would be an excellent idea to use that as a base for a combat/cooking hybrid game.

With all the dinosaurs, giant animals, and destructive landscapes that plague the Earth, it will take more than the average human to create a fabulous feast for a god of destruction, let alone a proud saiyan warrior. Players will be able to control a variety of Dragon Ball characters to help collect and harvest food from a variety of wildlife and animals and send them over to Bulma or Chi-Chi to prepare.

My big twist when it comes to the cooking segment is that instead of being based around Battle Chef Brigade, it instead becomes Puzzle Fighter. Other chefs seek to use your ingredients to create food for nefarious purposes including Dinah - the head chef of Lord Frieza!!!!

Fun Time Bingo!

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Bingo! It’s the Freiza Saga of games played in churches, retirement homes, and birthday parties. It’s also the brand new Dragon Ball phone game headed to YOUR phone. That’s right! You can play bingo anywhere, all in the palm of your hand. But here’s the thing…

IT’S LIVE! AND VEGETA IS THE HOST

Now that HQ is no longer the fad it once was, it’s time for the Prince of all Saiyans to become the Prince of your free time. Twice a day you can watch Bingo start with Vegeta’s incredible singing and dancing talent that amazed everyone during Battle of Gods. Those who get a BINGO can potentially win some big money!

But be careful, call Bingo too soon, and your account just might get a taste of a Final Flash into oblivion


Chi-Chi Hid My Gi!

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OH NO! Chi-Chi has hidden Goku’s training gear and demands he go to work instead. Based on the popular Mom HId My Game series, Dragon Ball will take things even further beyond with Goku searching around his home desprately for his Gi.

With over 100 levels, Goku will need to use his wits (or ask King Kai for at least 3 hints) to figure out where Chi-Chi hid it this time. Should he check under the house? Is it hiding inside his Sensu Bean bag? And just what is Bubbles the monkey doing just standing around?

But Goku better be careful, if he accidently gets Chi-Chi to notice him slacking off by clicking on her…. GAME OVER!

Leisure Suit Roshi

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While there are a multitude of bachelors out there in the world of Dragon Ball, Roshi is definitely the most pathetic and at times kinda a bad guy when he’s around ladies. But what happens while Roshi isn’t on screen when the world is not in the process of being blown up? Is he just sitting on the island the whole time, or does he actually try to go out to Satan City to hook up a date?

These answers would be revealed in this adventure game, where you play as Master Roshi traveling around the world for a kiss. Point and click your way out of danger when you are not given a variety of bad dialogue options for every conversation. But be warned, a game over will occur if Master Roshi expels too much blood from his nose (aka never get TOO horny!)

Along the way Roshi will also encounter fellow bachelors like Yamcha, who will attempt to steal away the ladies. Be sure to mash that kamehameha button to fly them away.

Sonic Adventure 3

Wait a minute…… that’s NOT GOKU!!!!

Get this outta here!


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So I guess I only had 4 Dragon Ball-esque games in my mind. Oh well! Hope you enjoyed looking at these bundles of joy. Even if none of these come to fruition, at the very least I can appreciate that Goku got to be on TV as a big ass balloon during Thanksgiving. That’s all good with me.







Octopath Traveler: RANKING THE OCTO-STORIES

After close to 80 hours of playing OCTOPATH TRAVELER, I finally managed to complete the main stories of every playable character. Given that there are 8 protagonists, each with their own tale, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to look back at each story and rank them based on my views of how coherent and interesting the total four chapters are for the traveling heroes. So here it is ranked from 8 to 1!

Traveler #8: Alfyn

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Alfyn's entire story felt like a huge letdown for me by the end of his story, as I actually kind of liked how it started. At the beginning, Alfyn is just an novice apothecary taking care of his small village. His primary goal in life is to adventure to become a greater doctor after experiencing the very relatable task of beating the shit out of a giant snake to cure your best friend's sister's snake bite. Given that the story makes it clear that Alfyn’s story is set during the dawn of what becomes modern medicine, I was hoping for Alfyn to experience a variety of adventures fighting JRPG diseases to move medicine forward.

The second chapter of his story seems to take this step, as Alfyn is introduced to another apothecary in a different community. This doctor is far more experienced and well-kept than Alfyn, whose own outfit makes folks view him as a charlatan of a medical practitioner. The irony of this is revealed when Alfyn's would-be rival is in fact curing sicknesses for free only for her method to cause her patients to become ill again. On top of that, she demands a high fee that is only achievable to the upper class of the town's community. Refusing to let this slide, Alfyn defeats the villain and cures the town's plague before things turn for the worse. At this point, I was hoping for more adventures like this, but here's where the fun begins to stop.

Ch's 3 and 4 introduce Alfyn to an older apothecary named Ogen, a man with a dark and edgy past who decides to only cure people he deems to be morally deserving of his care. Alfyn does not like his philosophy and decides to prove him wrong by taking care of an injured thief and raising him back to health. Turns out that was a mistake, because it turns out the thief was an ex-mercenary evil jerk who kidnaps a kid and stabs said kid when he made too much noise during his hostage escape. Whoops.

surely I can take this man’s word

surely I can take this man’s word


After Alfyn clearly murders the man and rescues the little boy, Alfyn spends the last chapter if his story trying to figure out why he chose medicine as his passion. Things become immensely silly when it turns out Ogen is incredibly ill and refuses to treat himself because he does not view himself as a good person after killing the man who killed his wife and kid. Which then just leads Alfyn to decide that he was right the whole time and makes a cure for Ogen by defeating the final boss of Alfyn's story.... a big bird.

For as sweet and ripe with potential that Alfyn's introduction has, it is a shame that his story ended up a wet fart.

Traveler #7: H'aanit

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I honestly do not have much to say about the tale of H'aanit the hunter that cannot talk in any way but as an unintentional parody of Shakespearean dialogue. Most of the story was quite boring for me, due to main focus of the story revolving around the huntress's journey to find her missing master (whose main characterization is that he has a gambling problem). There really is not much more to her story, her character, or even her master's character then that. It's an elongated fetch quest that morphs into killing a weird demon monster that her master could not handle alone. Fighting as H'aanit was interesting due to her monster tamer gameplay mechanic reminding me of Shin Megami Tensei, or Pokemon style capture games. But, I really wish that gameplay element was attached to a far more rounded character, or at least someone who did not ad a -th to the end of each word.

You cannot capture this rattata sadly

You cannot capture this rattata sadly

If it was not for Alfyn's story becoming so aggravating to me by its end, this would have been at the very bottom of my list. However, since H'aanit was able to have an actual climatic finish to her story, she makes it second to last. Just this once-th.

 

Traveler #6: Cyrus

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If Cyrus were to have a title for his adventure, I would probably call it "Problematic Teacher and the Very Very Nasty Book of Terrors". Cyrus feels weird to root for due to his character flaw of unintentionally flirting with his students. It's a bizarre element of his character that is ridiculed, and yet feels played for laughs when teachers wanting to romance their students is in fact a serious issue that should not be treated lightly. Despite my distaste of this character trait, I actually liked the inclusion of a core political point that Cyrus approaches throughout his adventure, which relates to accessibility of knowledge.

At the start of Cyrus's tale, he is a professor teaching a Royal Academy that only has two students. Cyrus wants to be able to learn as much about the world as he can, but he also wants to share it through literary papers. However, the headmaster at the academy does not want him to share sources that come from the secret archives of the academy, because he views them as a private treasure that should only be viewed by those deemed worthy. As the headmaster becomes an actual adversary towards the end of the story, it's interesting to watch how the philosophy of treating knowledge as a personal treasure leads him towards using a demonic tome to become a monster who believed to be immortal (but got owned by magic instead).

RAORRRRR I HOARDE NOLEDGE ALL TO MESELFFFF

RAORRRRR I HOARDE NOLEDGE ALL TO MESELFFFF

One other element I appreciated about the adventures of Cyrus were the brief moments it would mimic phoenix wright by Cyrus piecing together testimony and evidence nearby him to figure out what he should do next. These were charming moments that made me want to like Cyrus more, but maybe the game should stop shipping him with his 17 year old student first.

Traveler #5: Therion

 

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When I think of Therion, I think of the mid 2000's of english dubbed anime featuring young men screaming damn bastard and muttering "whatever". Therion is essentially the Shadow the Hedgehog of the Octopath Travelers. He likes to work alone, he has a mysterious past, he has an unclear morality, and he has a GUN! Well, scratch the gun, but everything else is true. So it should be no surprise that this is a story about teaching the loner that you can't go through life alone, and with the power of love and friendship, you can accomplish everything. Despite how cliche it sounds, I was actually able to find some enjoyment by its finale.

By the third chapter of the story, it's revealed that Therion's distrustful nature comes from his betrayal by his ex-partner, Darius, who through his tenacity and manipulative nature was able to take control of a small town through fear of retaliation by his hand. Therion manages to sneak his way to a final confrontation with his former partner and engage in a fight where Darius does not have any backup to support him unlike Therion. Previous bosses throughout different storylines tend to have some lackeys to support the primary enemy through buffs or simply providing a helping hand in the fight. However, the lack of trust that Darius has actually found its way into the combat by forcing Darius to fight alone, which I find to be a great combination of storytelling through cutscenes and gameplay. What elevates this further is the finale of the fight, where Darius lies defeated, but Therion does not kill him. Instead, Therion leaves Darius to deal with his lackeys, who betray him the moment they see him weak and leave him to die alone.


sayonara…. Therion the hedgehog

sayonara…. Therion the hedgehog

One pet peeve I do want to address before moving on is my distaste for the banter between Therion and Claudia, the rich woman that tricked Therion into questing for her in the first place. Given that Therion has been a thief since he was a kid, I found it hard to believe that Therion would buy into Claudia's argument that she's suffered as much as Therion has because when her parents died, people stole her family's dragon crystals. She still has wealth, a mansion, security guards, and a butler that does whatever she says. I really cannot fathom that Therion would be willing to entertain this argument from someone who still has so much more than he ever will have. Anywho, neat story: 7/10.

Traveler #4: Tressa 

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Tressa is by far one of my favorite characters of the entire main cast. She's full of energy that never lets up, and she cares deeply for just about everyone around her. It's because of these qualities that it's fitting for Tressa's main quest to be a simple, lighthearted adventure. Tressa’s reason for adventuring is essentially just to travel. To explore new lands and experience different cultures. Even though Tressa also seeks to become a greater merchant as well, it was the variety of adventures she had that made her entire journey feel like a worthwhile experience.

I was at first curious if Tressa's journey would revolve around pirates. After all, she makes friends with a legendary ex-pirate named Leon during the first chapter of her story while also fighting against active pirates that have made a base inside a cave in her home town. To make matters worse, said pirates have also stolen some of her goods. It seemed like a natural fit considering merchants would normally be an obvious adversary for pirates collecting treasure. I was surprised that this turned out to not be the case, as those pirates only return as comic relief goofballs after being swayed to join up with Leon after their defeat at the hands of Tressa. Instead, what happens is that the connecting thread throughout the story is the analysis of what treasure is to others throughout Tressa’s travels through the world.

By the end of the first chapter, Tressa is allowed to take one item from Leon's collection of treasures he "acquired" over his tenure as a pirate. With a variety of precious items to take, Tressa decides to only claim a journal that was used by an unknown writer that never filled up the book. This is the first real treasure in Tressa's story, as it inspires her to continue where the last writer left off by going on her own adventures. Tressa's first real adventure leads her to a gold mining site filled with workers trying to find their own golden treasures. Also in the village resides a fellow merchant named Ali, who teaches Tressa about the hidden gems in the village known as Skystones (green shiny crystals) while also teasing her for being a rookie. While Ali comes across as antagonistic in this chapter, the real replacement for the pirates in this portion of the tale is the wealthy landlord of the mines and his bodyguards, who steal all the profits collected by the miners. On the surface level, treasure is the shiny object found within the depths of rock and soil, but the greater treasure that Tressa found by vanquishing the baron of the gold mine was the personal freedoms and livelihoods that were stolen from to miners to ensure consistent profit.

Burnnnnnnnnn

Burnnnnnnnnn


Chapter 3 and 4 of Tressa's journey continues to explore different treasures, as she acquires a treasure map from Leon's old pirate friend/rival Baltazar. After following the map and defeating a giant monster that was guarding the treasure chest, Tressa discovers it contains both an immensely rare gem as a well as a letter from Baltazar to Leon. The letter, according to Leon, remarks upon an old discussion the two had as pirates, as Baltazar wanted to know what Leon considered to be the most precious thing to him. At the time, both could not come up with a valid answer despite gathering so many rare items during their pirating careers. It was not until Baltazar's death that Leon decided his personal treasure was Baltazar's ship, as it serves as a lasting memory of his departed friend. The question of what is one's greatest treasure impacts Tressa, as she is unable to come up with a decent answer herself.

Chapter 4 provides the answer when Tressa arrives at a famous merchant competition, where the goal is for every merchant to market their greatest goods to an immensely wealthy man seeking to please his daughter, Noa. Tressa at first considers using the gem from Baltazar's treasure chest, but this answer changes once her journal is stolen by a mysterious woman who seeks to use it for some unknown dark deed. After reclaiming the journal, Tressa reaches an epiphany that her greatest treasure, was in fact the very journey she embarked on and documented inside her journal. Tressa decides to showcase the journal during the merchant competition in the hopes that the stories of her adventures detailed inside the book could lead to Noa following Tressa's footsteps as an aspiring adventurer. Despite the crowd not considering the book to be a real treasure, Noa was deeply touched by Tressa’s journey and made sure that her father would declare Tressa to be the winner of the contest.

It is with this victory that Tressa not only proved herself to be one of the best merchants in the land, but was also able to showcase the value of stepping outside familiar lands and expanding your horizons.

Traveler #3: Ophelia

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When I first started OCTOPATH TRAVELER, I chose Ophilia to be the character I started with not for story reasons, but rather for planning out party dynamics down the road. Since the player is unable to remove their first party member until their story has been completed, I felt that a healer was a smart choice to keep around at all times. What I did not expect was to actually become immensely engaged with Ophilia's story not at the start, but rather 3/4's of the way into her story.

The set up for Ophilia’s journey is somewhat reminiscent of the Dark Souls series, as a chosen member of the game’s church must travel around the land every 20 years rekindling sacred flames in different churches using a small essence of fire known as “the sacred flame”. Ophilia is supposed to carry this flame with her throughout her pilgrimage and yet nothing too dangerous targets her during her adventures until she arrives at her last destination for the rekindling in Chapter 3. It is during this time that Ophilia not only learns that someone has been trying to steal the flame away from her, but they have taken a nefarious step by kidnapping that church bishop's daughter and tried to blackmail him to steal the flame for him. As if the stakes were not high enough, it was the reveal of who did the task in the first place that made me super excited. Three words: DEATH GOD CULT! Naturally I rocked them so hard with Pious laser beams and saved the day... or so I thought.

Before chapter three ends, Ophilia is about to head back home after lighting the last flame, when she encounters her sister, Lianna, in the same town. The two have a private chat where it is revealed that their father during Ophilia's journey had passed away. It was during this shock, that it turned out that Lianna had drugged Ophilia's drink in order to steal the flame from her and give it to a hooded man.... from the DEATH GOD CULT! Lianna is so distraught by her father's death, that she has been manipulated to believe that he can be brought back through their power. A whole lot of buttons got pressed during this sequence, but they all led me to get immensely more invested in Ophilia's story.

Chapter 4 takes place in the home base of DEATH GOD CULT, where Ophilia discovers that her sister is being used as a vestal to turn the sacred flame into a essence embodying the DEATH GOD to give the cult's leader the ability to do DEATH GOD CULT things in a larger scale. Ophilia and myself were not going to have any of that and proceeded to fight our way through cult members until we reached the head of the DEATH GOD CULT, who tells Ophilia that the ritual cannot be stopped as long as Lianna desires her father to be resurrected. All of this ends with a heart to heart talk between sisters that makes Lianna come to her senses quick enough to undo the ritual, and allow Ophilia to lay down some justice.

An aspect I left out so far that I want to discuss here before moving on is the factor that Ophilia is the adopted daughter of the archbishop. I feel like in many popular fictional stories, adopted siblings are not really treated as equals and are sometimes led to become villains due to their "Secret Origins". Given that Ophilia was adopted after he parents were killed in the middle of a war, I appreciated that Ophilia was treated with kindness not only by her new father, but also by Lianna, who wanted her new sister to open up more to her. I was actually kind of surprised how this element of Ophilia's character was brought back in Chapter 4, as the DEATH GOD CULT leader proclaimed that Ophilia's relationship with Lianna will never be as strong due to them not being born from the same parents. Clearly that idiot was proven wrong, due to the last cut scene of Ophilia's tale showcasing her stepping up to help Lianna recover from her depressive state with love and support.

Ophilia's story is not groundbreaking or epic necessarily compared to other games in the JRPG genre, but I appreciate how genuine her sappy story was. I really loved how strong Ophilia and Lianna's sisterhood was by the end of their story. It's a distinct relationship that I respect, which I admit i am biased given how much I care for my own sister. The story proves that despite what a member of a DEATH GOD CULT tells you, family is not defined by blood, but by the people around you that love you deeply.

 

Traveler #2: Olberic

 

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Olberic is by far one of the most ripped from the shounen genre out of the eight characters featured in the cast. Like many powerful warriors from the genre, Olberic is a highly skilled warrior with a tragic past involving the losses of his people, and being betrayed at the hands of one of his greatest friends. These story elements are told quite often in shounen comic stories like Naruto, Dragon Ball, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Fist of the North Star. But, what makes these tales of battle special is not necessarily how original their plots are, but rather the execution of the shounen formula. Olberic may be much older than a typical shounen protagonist (normally a kid/teen boy), but his overall story feels like one of those well executed tales of battle.

Unlike the other Octopath Traverlers, Olberic is not a novice when it comes to his role in life. Far from it, he is in fact a legend even before the fall of his kingdom, which makes it interesting how Chapter 1 of his story begins with him living incognito in a small village with seemingly nothing left to fight for. This quiet life does not last, as a crew of baddies kidnap a child (a recurring event in different paths in OCTOPATH TRAVELER as well as in Shounen fiction) that leads Olberic to reveal his true identity and fight the villains single-handedly. It is from this confrontation that Olberic learns these men once fought with Erdhardt, Olberic's old best friend who betrayed him and destroyed the kingdom that Olberic once served as their greatest knight. As Olberic's journey begins to find Erdhardt to seek vengeance, the shounen formula has also revealed itself to us. Our hero on a quest to settle a score with an old friend/rival that humiliated him through defeat and conquest. It's a quest not only for revenge, but also one to discover what Olberic truly wants to fight for. These are the shounen plot threads I was referring to at the start, ones that require some solid execution to avoid coming across as a generic story. Given the placement of Olberic on this list, you can probably tell I did not find the rest of Olberic's story to be a boring one.

Chapter 2 of Olberic's story brings us to another old staple of shounen fiction, the tournament arc, which refers to fighters from different areas of the land challenging the protagonist's skills in combat in either non-lethal or lethal fights that are typically one on one. Olberic's version of this trope involves him participating in a gladiator styled arena in the hopes of getting its champion to reveal where Erdhardt currently lives. Typically in shounen stories, the protagonist is the unknown fighter with no fame to his name that surprises everyone in the stands, as they make their way to the finals. What makes Olberic stand out however is that the moment his name is revealed, everyone FREAKS out, because he is one of the most legendary swordsman alive. It's a remarkable twist on this setup that makes the final fight of the chapter that much more enjoyable, where Olberic decides his current reason to fight is simply to win, and it works. Olberic wins and learns exactly where he needs to go to find Erdhardt. I also want to point out before moving on that this boss fight features one of my favorite transitions from theme music to battle music in the game, which Heather Alexandra from Kotaku talks about in this article: (link here)

As I was approaching the third chapter for Olberic, I was expecting it to be a similar setup to Therion's story, where his old partner moved to a town to rule it or at least be presented as some sort of villain. It came to my surprise however that when Olberic arrives at Erdhardt's location that he is in fact treated as their savior. Apparently, Erdhardt has been fighting off monsters that have been invading the town and has kept the community safe. Given how rival characters who betray the protagonist often walk the path of ridiculous evil (Sasuke Uchiha beging a famous example in Naruto), it was actually interesting to see Olberic's supposed nemesis turn out to be kind of a good guy like Olberic. The two eventually rediscover each other in the middle of the monster's lair, where they first team up to fight against the beasts within. It's after this brief cooperation where Erdhardt tries to explain his betrayal as his own act of revenge against the kingdom he served destroying his original home, and how his act of revenge did not actually help him in the long run, but rather left him feeling even emptier than before. Despite this, Olberic still desires a fight, not necessarily to the death, but to satisfy his feelings of regret for not defeating Erdhardt when it mattered most.

6’0’’ vs 5’11’’

6’0’’ vs 5’11’’


Enter what is probably my favorite boss fight of Olberic's entire story, a one on one fight between the two. No party members join alongside you in this fight, it's simply a duel between arguably the two greatest swordsmen in the entire world. The fight ends with Olberic sparring Erdhardt, knowing that he has now found purpose in his life in a positive way, and decides to now spend the last moments of his journey to bring the true mastermind of his kingdom's destruction to justice.

Within the final chapter of Olberic's story is a combination of not only shounen storytelling elements, but also ones I tend to associate with JRPG stories: A true villain behind the mastermind of tragic things that occurred in a protagonist's backstory. Given that this is the endgame for Olberic's quest, it did not come as a big surprise to me that this line of action would occur. Perhaps what did startle me though was how incredibly terrifying the home turf of this surprise villain turned out to be. Like with Therion, this is a town being ruled by someone with nefarious purpose, but the deeds carried out are far more sinister given that people are routinely scarified once of month by being burned at the stake. According to active resistance members of this actual fascist government, this practice was initially done to people deemed the "bad ones" like outlaws before proceeding to murder people deemed too poor or drunk to live. It is a town literally carrying out the killings of "undesirables" that feels very close to how political systems can deem anyone they consider a problem to be a liability as long as they breathe air. Given how terrible this is, Olberic joins up with the local resistance and fights alongside them in what they hope to be their victory. This leads to a trap where hope appears lost for everyone, that is until one of my favorite shounen tropes occurs, which is the surprise rescue by an old rival. Erdhardt appears once more to assist Olberic in defending the remaining resistance members to allow Olberic time to find the true final boss and battle him.

When Olberic first finds and battles against the mysterious villain, Werner, it came across as the classic battle between good and evil where Olberic proclaims that the real reason he fights now and forever is to become a sword of justice for those in need. To my surprise, this idea is actually challenged by the villain by the end of their fight, in a way that reminded me of one of my favorite games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance. Werner proclaims that being a warrior of justice is inherently false if you kill people with your own sword anyway. He then takes things a step further by ending his own life through stabbing himself rather than being struck further by an ideology he deems inherently dishonest. I was actually surprised that Olberic did not say a quip or any response to Werner as he died. It's left to the player to decide if Werner was actually correct in calling Olberic a hypocrite by the end.

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I've made many comparisons to shounen fiction with Olberic throughout this piece, but I do want to bring up one more thing that I hope to see in a potential sequel to OCTOPATH TRAVELER, a timeskip that features Olberic in some fashion. While I would prefer to not see most of the original characters reappear in the following game, I would very much like to see Olberic become a mentor character to a new protagonist. This leads to a potential outcome where we see an actual typical shounen protagonist take the place of Olberic as a hot blooded, sword-wielding warrior of justice out to vanquish evil to make his Master Olberic proud. I would also like to see this as an opportunity to perhaps witness Olberic's teachings of fighting for justice being misinterpreted to lead some pupils towards potentially violent confrontations about what "justice" really means. Is justice enacting revenge, or is revenge not an ideal way to solve problems? These are the types of questions that make me interested in the future of this potential series, and that all stems from taking these popular shounen plot elements and executing them in an exhilarating way.

 

Traveler #1: Primrose

 

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Primrose was the character I tried out in the initial demo of OCTOPATH TRAVELER back in 2017, and I was shocked at how immensely dark her story was. The story plays out like a revenge tale featuring Primrose pursuing one of the longest revenge schemes in a video game in a long time. After her father was murdered by three cloaked figures with raven tattoos, Primrose decided to become an alluring dancer in the desert in the hopes of one day finding a clue as to the whereabouts of the killers. The first chapter provides the backstory for Primrose’s reasons for revenge, but also begins to apply more elements of tragedy into Primrose’s quest, as her only dancer friend, Yusufa, is killed by their mutual boss/master as retaliation against Primrose preparing to leave to commence her revenge quest. The level of escalation despair continues throughout her story to a level that makes me understand people who are turned off by it. As for myself, I was mostly fine with the direction the story was going an expected a by the numbers finale that would land her tale probably in the bottom 4.

That all changed when chapter four happened and rocked my shit to the depths of the earth.

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The final chapter of Primrose’s story takes place in a town that is entirely consumed by theater productions to the point that every citizen in the town is playing a character. Not a single person feels genuine with the exception of the town’s own theater attendants (who I must assume are this town’s version of guards given their insistence of not interrupting performances). As for the play being performed while Primrose enters the town… it is a re-enactment of Primrose’s own life crafted by her supposed old friend/romantic interest, Simeon, who helped in the murder of her father years ago. While this obviously is terrifying for Primrose to experience, I was confused at first as to why the first scene chosen that Primrose claimed the remember was her as a baby. I brushed aside the thought at first given how different scenes of her life began to be reenacted as I traversed through the theater, but that changed when I finally caught up to Simeon inside his balcony suite. It is during this confrontation that he offers a question that I honestly did not expect to be a possibility; What if Primrose is an unreliable narrator of her own life story?

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As Primrose and Simeon begin their final confrontation, the scenery of the game changes from the private seating the two are currently standing in to what I would describe as a spectral theater where the two are on stage together. The vibrant colors featured in the theater the two were standing in before have vanished and has been replaced with a dark purple color pallet. There is even fog covering both the stage and the stands where the audience would be seated. Reality itself seems to have evaporated, as Simeon first monologues about his love of tragedies before he begins to ask Primrose if her father would actually approve of dedicating her entire life all for revenge. Primrose at first tries to deflect the argument by saying he’s dead, but that line of thinking is quickly countered by Primrose’s own flashbacks of her past and her journey throughout the game. She reflects about wanting to dance to impress her father, the men she has killed, the people who believe she always had great potential, but most importantly there is a reoccurring theme of a desire for finding her own reason to be alive. Primrose is briefly confused about who her revenge plot was even meant for before quickly reverting back to her belief that her father would approve of her quest for revenge and proceeds to fight Simeon and two faceless “actors” portraying Primrose’s father and Primrose herself. This entire fight is still within this stage of the minds, with Simeon sitting down in a chair looking amused, at least at first.

I don’t like this play anymore

I don’t like this play anymore


The end of the fight leaves Simeon upset, but not out of “losing”, but rather not feeling the battle was climatic enough. Given his love of tragedy, Simeon believes that the climax of Primrose’s story cannot be achieved unless he pulls a darker truth from within her soul. That’s when Simeon proclaims that not only is Primrose lying to herself about her reasoning for revenge, but she is creating false memories of her father to justify her road to revenge. Unlike last time, this creates both a breakdown from Primrose and a scene change.

The scenery has changed to Primrose standing in front of her father. What was once the theater has morphed into a small portion of a courtyard while a single light (stagelight?) shines from above. Within this more quiet setting, Primrose openly admits that all the anger and desires for revenge were truly not for her father, but rather from her feelings of self-hatred and loneliness for being alone without him. She embraces her father and asks for forgiveness, but there is no response. Instead a bright light covers the screen, and Primrose is back in reality. She engages in a final battle with Simeon, ending with Simeon demanding Primrose to kill him to fulfill the climax. Two different endings emerge within this moment, as the real Simeon is embraced by death at the hands of Primrose’s dagger, while the actors in Simeon’s play embrace each other as lovers.

I think part of what makes Primrose’s story my absolute favorite is its willingness to challenge the the main character’s sense of justice by dedicating their life towards revenge (taking things a step further than what was carried out by Erdhardt in Olberic’s story). The video game medium is filled with a plethora of narratives where characters kill others seemingly for a just cause like the loss of family, friends, or even entire communities. While OCTOPATH TRAVELER is not the first game I have witnessed discussing revenge as an unhealthy way of life (Nier + Nier Automata, and Xenoblade Chronicles being two examples from the same genre), I found it fascinating to witness this criticism of revenge coming from a game that is designed to ape the classical JRPG experience. Basically, I expected a safer narrative overall, which makes Primrose’s dark story stand out that much more compared to the rest of the cast. While one could assume most of the cast will lead happier lives by the end of their stories, Primrose’s fate is unclear for me. Although her ending image is a smiling face, Primrose admits that killing all of her father’s murderers did not make her feel better. We are left to wonder if Primrose will ever find something else to live for, and it is because of this feeling of uncertainty that I placed her story at the top of this list. It makes me hopeful to see even further character studies emerge should this game ever receive the encore performance it deserves.

1 Month Later: PUBG's Event Pass

Yesterday marked the end of the Battle Pass event that PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) launched as part of its reveal of its mini-royale map, Sankhok. The point of the experience was to pay 10 bucks with the promise that if you continued to play for a month, you would be able to earn rare items that normally would take like 10 billion lootcrates before even one could produce something worth showing off. Feeling curious about the process, I proceeded to purchase it just to see what it would take to make it to its maximum level of 30. 4 weeks later, I was able to accomplish the goal, but I'm not sure if the rewards were worth the 80+ hours of time I had to put into it. 

I made it to Level 30 and all I got were these swim trunks

I made it to Level 30 and all I got were these swim trunks

To explain the Event pass process, it essentially works like an achievement system that you can find in most video game consoles, game clients, and gamified office work initiatives that claim to be totally hip and tubular for the millennials out there. When you play a game, it will acknowledge if you have met a requirement listed in the main menu that will reward you with event points. These points are essentially limited time experience points that help you level up to receive rewards. These rewards are divided into two rows, with the tops being awards for the folks that paid 10 bucks, and the bottoms getting the free items that the event pass players can also receive. 21-30 however, are just for the pass playerzzzz.  

A preview of what you, the event pass player, could win!

A preview of what you, the event pass player, could win!

As far as what would unlock those points. Things were basically divided into three categories, Normal, Sankhok, and Week (X). Normal referred to missions that could be unlocked throughout the entire event, Sankhok missions only work on the new map, and Week (X) refers to missions that would become available to attempt with each week of the event pass. The initial missions were actually pretty fun to go through with goals like driving 10km in a map in first person mode, or just getting a kill with a molotov cocktail. However, as time progressed, things would become much more difficult to proceed through. The image below is just one of the worst examples of how tedious things started to become. 

Look at this bullshit

Look at this bullshit

The entire process made me re-live some of my worst moments in my high school days, when I would try to get all the achievements for my Xbox 360 to increase that oh so important gamerscore. What was once an opportunity to be rewarded for playing the game had become a terrifying quest to ensure I did not waste 10 dollars just to be stuck on level 11. Of course right when I was considering giving up at the last week, the game started to reward 200 XP for each day playing to ensure I could potentially reach the final goal if I just pushed myself harder. There is something kind of evil about placing this kind of system last minute to ensure would-be quitters like me could see the potential math in winning to prevent me from doing literally anything else with the limited time I have on this doomed planet. By the last day of the event, I had reached level 30 and got handed some swim trunks for my trouble. Hurray.

If PUBG were to ever bring this event pass back, I really cannot see myself jumping into it again without some serious considerations for providing a better experience. I felt like it was really scummy of the game to restrict permanent fem clothing options to the higher levels of the pass. It should not take 29 levels just to get a skirt! Also, without the free large XP given to me during the last week, I never would have been able to reach the final level without dealing with some tedious bullshit. But for now, I think I am going to give PUBG a break. I am curious what the team will focus on next, but I really hope it'll end up better than this turned out to be.