Knights of the Old Replay: Kashyyyk

Back when I was a wee child, one of the first Star Wars books I ever read was Young Jedi Knights: Darkest Knight, which takes place primarily on Kashyyyk. Ever since, I’ve though the planet was super cool. It’s a city in the trees with very natural architecture and also a killer under-forest. Only the bravest can go down to the Shadowlands and return alive. Obviously that includes us.

When you have a wookiee in your party and you go to Kashyyyk, obviously he’s going to have some family drama that you need to deal with because that’s just how this works. Zaalbar is no exception to the rule. It turns out that he was exiled from his home for attacking his brother with his claws, which is apparently super terrible amongst his society. To be fair, he did it because his brother was dealing with Czerka slavers but no one believed him. Now his brother’s in control and holds Zaalbar hostage and sends you down to the Shadowlands to deal with this other crazed wookiee… who happens to be their father. (Family drama: not just limited to Skywalkers!) Continue reading

post

Teacups & 1UPs: Night In The Woods

Imagine being an early-twenties college drop-out. Imagine moving back to your small, dying home town, a place that hasn’t really changed, but has also changed enough to be strange. Imagine struggling to understand the futility of life.

Now imagine you are also a cat.

This is Night In The Woods, an adventure game/kind-of-Western-visual-novel that stars a humanoid(ish) cat named Mae Borowski. It’s a game I fell in love with the moment I first saw a trailer, and continue to love now that it’s over. As per usual with Teacups, this is less a review and more a discussion. Therefore, expect some spoilers; maybe save reading this until you’ve played through the game.

Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Tatooine

Anakin Skywalker was right: I hate sand. It’s rough and it’s coarse and it gets everywhere and the sands of Tatooine LITERALLY NEVER END. That’s what the game tells you if you try and go outside the Czerka boundary markers. You’ll just wander the desert wasteland and die if you keep going. (Note: The game does not let you keep going.)

Every single time I start this game, I tell myself that I’m going to change up the order of the planets and every single time, I go to them in basically the exact same order. Is it because of the story? Nah. (Okay it is for one planet.) It’s because I really want to get the crew members from certain planets as soon as possible. Why on earth would I go to Manaan first when I could maximize my time with HK-47?
Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Dantooine

Dantooine… they’re on Dantooine… parts of the Jedi Council are at least. Honestly, I always forget how much I love this planet because it is so completely and utterly ridiculous at times. Take this woman Elisa. She wants you to find her droid because it’s all she has left of her dead husband. One problem: the droid ran away because she was treating him a little too much like her dead husband. Yeah. It’s exactly what your brain went to and it makes me laugh every time.

The real point of Dantooine though is for you to be accepted into the Jedi Order and learn to use the Force because you and Bastila have some sort of connection and some super weird dreams about Darth Revan. (In retrospect, my 14-year-old self should have picked up on this foreshadowing way sooner but more on that later.) This means that you’ve got to study the Jedi way of life, their code, make your lightsaber, and decide what class of Jedi you want to be. I used to go for Sentinel but then I realized that I just want more of those sweet, sweet Force powers so Consular it is! It’ll be a cold day in hell before I go for Guardian.

There’s one final test before they make you an official padawan: you must cleanse the ancient grove of the dark side taint. Or something like that. This is flashing warning sign number one that the Jedi Order is kind of screwed up. You have to redeem a Jedi padawan named Juhani who fell to the dark side after her own master was testing her and made Juhani think that she’d killed her. It’s kinda messed up. Incidentally, that’s a good tagline for the Jedi Order. Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Taris

When I started this project, I had magical dreams about being able to use Twitch to livestream my game play and/or maybe recording videos of my playing and editing them into highlights. Unfortunately, then I remembered that I don’t actually have the technological abilities to make those things happen so uhhhh… gold star I tried?

On the other hand, it’s actually a good thing that you didn’t get to watch me play the game with the exception of those of you who tuned in for a little bit during my very early game play via Instagram. I die a lot. Now before you pull out your pitchforks, let me explain. For some reason, I like playing the game on the hardest setting which is still not terribly hard. Where I throw in the real challenge though is by leveling up my character as little as possible on Taris. What does that mean? It means that my Level 3 Kassia Ettyk dies a lot and poor Carth Onasi has to compensate by frantically shooting people and also dying a lot. (Seriously though: she’s supposed to be like a Level 7 or so by now.) Why do I do this? So I can get more Jedi powers once I go to Dantooine.

The initial levels of a game are often painfully slow no matter what but after almost a year of playing Mass Effect religiously, KOTOR’s older mechanics really suffered in comparison. (It also didn’t help that I’m switching from a PS3 to my laptop.) You’re setting up your actions about 4 moves in advance and you can also switch to actually fight as one of your crewmembers. (That last part is actually pretty nice… it helps me die a lot less.) The downside is that it feels a lot slower and less exciting. Getting off the Republic ship just made me want to take a nap until it was over. (Literally no one cares about you, Trask.)

Thankfully, things get a lot more interesting once you crash on the planet because now you and Carth Onasi (my boyfriend!) have to figure a way off Taris and then past the Sith blockade. This involves a lot of running around the Upper and Lower City levels, breaking into apartments, and either helping people or being a massive jerk to them depending on whether you’re being a light sider or dark sider. There’s approximately zero nuance involved with the light/dark choices. I think that’s why I never had a problem playing as dark side because you’re evil to such a comical extent that I never felt like a total jerk. Also the powers were cool.

Because I just wanted this planet to end, I skipped doing all the death ring battle matches this time around and I definitely didn’t play Pazaak with anyone. Instead, I just killed a Sith soldier, stole his armor, went down into the really Lower City, tried to avoid getting infected by these creepy Rakghouls, and then dived right into the sewers. Along the way, I picked up/rescued Mission Vao and Zaalbar to help me break into one gang’s base so I could steal back a prototype engine and give it back to another gang who let me ride the swoop bike so I could win a race and rescue Jedi Knight Bastila Shan. And all of that sounds way more convoluted when I actually write it out. Wow.

But wait there’s more! I also teamed up with Canderous Ordo to acquire an astromech droid (T3-M4) so I could break into the Sith base and steal codes and then we stole a ship from some crime lord and blasted our way off the planet while Darth Malak tried to bomb it into oblivion. (Nice try, buddy. Come back when you’ve got a Death Star.) Thankfully, I’m finally off Taris and have made my way to Dantooine.

One of my favorite things about this game is getting to know your crewmates and that kicks off almost from minute one. Carth has more trust issues than any one man really should but he also flirts with my player character and calls her beautiful so it all evens out really. I also love his interactions with Mission and Bastila that are randomly triggered as we run around the city. Mission and Carth clash because she’s a teenager pushing back against authority and Carth and Bastila clash because… she lost her lightsaber? Actually that last one’s just funny. If I didn’t play favorites, I’m sure that I would have encountered more of these conversations already but… well… Listen: I just know which crewmembers I really like, okay? Curse you Bioware for only letting me take two with me at a time!

Taris may have been a bit of a drag but I’m hoping that things will pick up now that I’ve made it to Dantooine and can get cool Jedi powers! I’m readjusting to the older game mechanics and the story’s more fun now. And hey! Maybe I’ll even remember to take screenshots while I’m actually playing this time…

post

Teacups & 1UPs: Symphony of the Machine

Welcome once more to Teacups & 1UPs, a fortnightly-ish column in which I talk about games and pair them with tea. This post should be one about multiplayer games, but because I’m an idiot and managed to miss a game from my VR multipack last time, we’re getting a short mini special this week: Symphony of the Machine, developed by Stirfire Studios. Call this the PAX Aus multipack 2.5.

Yet another virtual reality game I picked up at PAX Australia, Symphony is a puzzle game about reviving a dead world. You find yourself before a tower in a lifeless desert, and upon entering the tower you discover that it has the power to control the weather. With only a little robot as a companion and guide, it’s up to you to restore balance to the world through weather manipulation.

Continue reading

post

Teacups & 1UPs PAX Aus Multipack: Virtual Reality

Welcome once more to Teacups & 1UPs, a fortnightly-ish column in which I talk about games and pair them with tea. Last intallment was the first of my three-part special, where I talked about single player games at PAX Australia, and now it’s time for part two, which is all about games in a medium I’m particularly excited about: virtual reality.

I first tried VR last year at PAX Aus with the breathtaking Earthlight (which I returned to this year) and it was love at first sight. There’s something so special about stepping into another world and experiencing a narrative that encompasses your environment. So, of course, I jumped at every opportunity I was given to try out the VR games being shown at PAX this year.

a-township-taleA Township Tale
Alta

Continue reading

post

Teacups & 1UPs PAX Aus multipack: Single Player Indies

Welcome back to Teacups & 1UPs, a somewhat-regular column in which I talk about games and pair them with tea. Today is going to be a little bit different from usual, as it’s going to be the first of a three-part PAX Aus special, all about the indie games I picked up and tried out while in Melbourne. Each part will briefly look at a bunch of games I tried and liked, rather than examining one in-depth.

First up: single player games, followed by virtual reality and finally, local multiplayer—because there’s not much I love more than kicking my friends’ asses in ridiculous indie games. Of course, there will also be tea.

So, single player. Leave your friends at home, because it’s time for an adventure.

Continue reading

post

Teacups & 1UPs: Oxenfree

Welcome back to Teacups & 1UPs, a column in which I lovingly pick apart games and pair them with tea. I hope you’re ready for some more Opinions About Games, because I’ve sure got some, and this time I’m talking Oxenfree.

“But Saf,” you groan, “are you ever not talking about Oxenfree?

Probably not, but now I have a whole however-many-word-I-want to talk about it even more. Buckle up, kids, we’re going ghost hunting. Warnings for very light potential spoilers.

oxenfree-beach

It’s time to make some bad teenage decisions.

Continue reading

post

Teacups & 1UPs: The Banner Saga

Welcome to the first installment of Teacups & 1UPs, a (hopefully) fortnightly column in which I will talk about games both indie, AAA, and in-between! These may not entirely be reviews, and they won’t always be the same format, but one thing’s for sure: I’m going to pair a tea with each and every game.

Why tea? Because I love tea. Next question.

The first game I’m going to be tackling is The Banner Saga, which a Steam review accurately renamed “Tactical Starvation: The Game“. It’s not a new game, so warning for potential minor spoilers as I pick apart the good, the bad, and the fantasy misogyny. Buckle up, I definitely have Some Thoughts about this game.

the-banner-saga-day-22

You wouldn’t think such a pretty game could be so cruel.

Continue reading