Why I’m Glad Panic! At The Disco “Broke Up” (More Accurate Clickbait Title In Progress)

Controversial statement incoming: I don’t like Panic! At The Disco. In their early days, I always felt like they were riding the coattails of bigger, better bands that they happened to be close with (coughcoughFallOutBoycough). Their music videos in particular were of the “desperate try hard” variety and evoked nothing in me but apathy, while the music itself was bland and derivative. In their current form, as essentially a Brendon Urie solo project, I find them acceptable but not fantastic.

However, in 2009, founding member Ryan Ross and bassist Jon Walker left the band in order to pursue a project of their own, The Young Veins. This project wasn’t just influenced by classic 60’s mod rock; they practically time-travelled back to that era in order to write their songs. As a huge fan of that era of rock and roll, discovering The Young Veins was as fantastic to me as The Monkees’s releasing Good Times was (which, incidentally, is a fantastic album as well and you chould go check it out right now).

Active only from 2009-2010, there sadly is not much to talk in regards to The Young Veins themselves. After a year of touring, Ryan Ross decided to try for a solo career, with Jon Walker announcing on Twitter in 2010 that the band would “be on hiatus for the time being.” In 2010. It’s 2017. They broke up. However, they did release an album called Take A Vacation!, which is what we’re looking at today! HA! I tricked you! This is an album review and you didn’t even know it!

But seriously, I adore this album and would like to share my thoughts on it in the proper Wombat fashion (which none of you know because I only ever wrote album reviews on Medium). So without any further ado, let’s work our way through the track listing.

The album kicks off with their single “Change”, which is about how, despite failing circumstances and runs of bad luck that can only be called karma, “some people never change.” The verses have a fast, punchy delivery that serves to emphasize Ross’s brilliant lyricism and a hook that slows the tempo down enough for you to get the message without killing the momentum. You’ll immediately notice the twang of the guitar on this song, which persists throughout the album and serves to sell their mid-60’s feel. It ends with a quick call to arms for “change”, and it’s gone just as quickly as it came.

“Take a Vacation!” is a Beach Boys-esque jam about how, well, the singer wants to take a vacation. It’s basically “Surfin’ Safari,” but better and with a really nice, intricate keyboard backing that I could listen to for eternity. Swallow me whole, liquid musical genius of Nick White. May I drift forever on the keys of your soul.

This is followed by “Cape Town,” a song about being in love with a woman in the titular town. The singer is clearly not about to spend the rest of his life with her, especially as she already has a husband “in prison.” Rather, it’s more about how he’s met with a rush of feelings for this woman while he’s in Cape Town. It’s very similar to the sort of temporary feelings that songs like Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance” are about, but here, rather than being excited, the singer is more melancholy, as if the feelings have continued to linger for a while after parting. It’s actually slightly haunting.

My favorite song on the entire album, however, is the Jon Walker-sung “Maybe I Will, Maybe I Won’t.” There’s not any particular reason for it being my favorite, though; it isn’t especially better than any other song, Jon’s vocals somewhat lack the same punch as Ryan’s, and I could not, for the life of me, tell you what it’s about. But it reminds me of the happy-go-lucky songs of the early Beatles or Herman’s Hermits, with a chorus so catchy I find myself singing it days after last hearing it. It just evokes a “fun” feeling inside of me that I can’t shake.

“Young Veins (Die Tonight” is another song about being young and in love and how confusing that can be. It’s rather well done, but rather than talk about the same kind of song again, let’s discuss this for a moment. Youthful love is such a fleeting thing. It’s easy to think you’ll be with your current partner for the rest of your life, but the reality is a lot less blissful. You’re both still changing, still learning, discovering new passions, discarding old ones, and 3-4 years from now, you might find each other to be complete strangers, where once you knew everything about each other. Not only that, but at such a young age, even though it feels like you know everything, you know so little. You need time and experience to learn what you need to hold a relationship together. It’s hard to sustain a serious one that begins so early in life. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is very difficult. As Ryan says, “Is ‘young’ a word for dumb, a word for fun?” It’s a word for both. Being youthful does mean being dumb, no matter how intelligent you are. But it also means this is the time in your life when you can have the most fun. Don’t dwell on whether you’ll be with this person in 10 years. Again, as Ryan says, “have the time of (y)our lives every night.”

If you’re listening to it on vinyl, like a hipster (or me, and I’m *totally* not a hipster), Side 1 is closed out by another melancholic song, this one sung by Jon Walker again, “Everyone But You.” Being somebody who is infatuated with the idea of love, but never wants to get married, it almost feels as if this song was penned for me. It’s all about being in love with a woman, but she only loves him back in his dreams. And he tells himself and others that “love is all (he’s) really after,” but knows it’s not true. It’s a very honest song about being dishonest to yourself.

“The Other Girl” is short, bittersweet, and not necessarily to the point. As far as the musical aspect itself goes, it’s one of the better songs on the album. However, being a writer, my focus will always be on the lyrics within a song, which, at face value, are actually well written. However, like all songs on this album, there is a story here, which means I can criticize it for plot holes and unclear wording all day long. And I’m here to say right now: what is up with this second verse? In the first one, he’s clearly talking to someone whose boyfriend is cheating on her, telling her what’s up. But in the second verse, he almost feels personally offended by the boyfriend cheating. He’s not your boyfriend, Ryan! You don’t have to get so invested! Stop trying to figure out why he’s cheating! It’s probably because he’s a horny asshole, anyway, dude, it’s not that interesting!

Unfortunately, “The Other Girl” is probably the best song on the second half of this album. I divide albums into four distinct categories; top-heavy, back-heavy, garbage, and gold. “Take a Vacation!” is very top-heavy, putting all of its heavy-hitters up to the front to grab you, and then letting the more average songs run off their momentum. Actually, we could these kinds of albums “Baseball Albums.” There, that’s a better name.

Regardless, “Dangerous Blues” is the next song, which kind of exemplifies problems I have with slow songs in general. I don’t hate slow songs altogether, but what I’ve found is that they need to have something in them to punch, and “Dangerous Blues” has no punch. Also, ” I know now love is a dangerous blues” and all the variations used within the song is a meaningless line of gibberish that I expect to come from John McCrea, not Ryan Ross.

“Defiance” is, at least, a better song than the last. It’s a slower song as well, but each verse builds up to a powerful crooning of the last word, usually “defiance” but also “wanted” in one case. It’s what meant previously by a “punch.” It’s still not a great punch, but it is enough to keep you interested in the song, and the rest of it is very solid, if not particularly memorable. It’s probably the most average song on the album, which could be damning with faint praise, but that’s all I can really say about it.

Actually, now that I think about it, they just stuck all their slower, sadder songs on the second half, didn’t they? I prefer it when songs are paced across an album a bit better than this. It would probably help a lot if the album’s track listing was switched up a bit better, so that all the fast songs and all the slow songs weren’t back to back. “Lie to the Truth” here is a perfect example of this. On it’s own, it stands as a great song, with some of the best lyricism on the album. “I’ll lie to to the truth, ’cause you lied to it too” is one of the best lines Ryan Ross has ever penned, comparable even to some of Lindsey Buckingham’s work on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, but because of the never ending snoozefest on the second half, it can easily get lost. If this were to come after, say, “Maybe I Will, Maybe I Won’t,” this song would have so much more oomph, and I’m very saddened by this loss of potential. As it, keep your ears open for this one, because you don’t want to miss it.

The album closes out with “Heart of Mine,” which I quite honestly dislike. It’s a wall of indistinguishable noises, fighting to drown each other out. It’s like listening to Oasis, you’re gonna walk away with one bleeding ear. And the lyrics sound like a discarded Weezer track from Red Album, with a terrible platitude for the chorus and strangely specific lines in the chorus. “Girls on the equator never even compare?” Were we asking for a comparison? Hold on, let me scroll up… No, no we didn’t.

However, as poor as the second half is, as a whole, Take a Vacation! is still a really great album by a very talented band who should have done more. Ryan Ross is trying to get a solo career going, from what I’ve seen, but it’s all very bland and uninteresting. Some great minds need buffers in order to achieve their full potential, and that’s what Ryan had in Jon Walker. Their teamwork is what made this album so fantastic, and I really recommend you give it a listen so you can see what I mean.

 

 

 

My Relationship With Friendship

Throughout my life, I have never been good at making friends. There’s just something about social interaction that is so draining and bothersome that much of the time, I would rather just not bother. However, my skills as a wallflower are second to none, and while I may not like interaction all that much, I do still prefer to be in the company of others.

Not aiding in my social growth is the fact that I moved almost once a year between the ages of eight and eighteen. In fact, I still move quite regularly; I’m moving right now, for instance. So, I was never able to form solid, lasting relationships with people just because I knew I wouldn’t be around for their birthday the next year. Again, there are a couple of exceptions, but for the most part, when I moved, it was to an entirely different place, not within the same town or region.

For example, in the ninth grade, I lived in a little town in Alabama about half an hour outside of Montgomery. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had, I made while going to the high school there, but halfway through the 10th grade, I dropped out (technically I became homeschooled, but that’s an entirely different story). But while I wasn’t going to that high school, I still lived in that town for another six to eight months. In this time, I stayed in contact with exactly nobody, completely dropping off of the grid. All my time was spent alone, which at the time I was accepting of, but now deeply regret.

If not for the cosmic coincidence of reconnecting with two of my friends through work last year, those friendships would be completely lost. Not only that, I would have gone on living without them, oblivious to what I had sacrificed. That isn’t all right to me, and I am so thankful that it didn’t turn out that way.

However, while my relationships with those physically close to me came and went, I began to form longer-lasting bonds with people I met through the internet. For an example of them, look no further than our very own Komoto Raynar, whom I have known for over seven years, longer than anybody else currently relevant to my life (this includes family. He is my family now). Unfortunately, he is also a prime example of my biggest obstacle in friendships; myself.

The main problem here is that, after about a year or so, I become a terrible friend. One of the worst, in fact. I bully, belittle, demean, take advantage, drop away, come back like nothing happened, and still claim to be your best friend. As that terrible, overplayed song by Lit goes, “I am my own worst enemy.” It’s difficult for me to change, as well. As hard as I try, I still often slip back into my old ways. And Raynar is the one who has unfortunately taken the brunt of it, but he’s also the reason I try to change.

He is important to me, moreso than anybody else in the world. “Jokingly,” I would sometimes tell my partners that he came before even them. The quotations are there because it was never a joke, he truly is the greatest person in my life. And a lot of that comes down to one important factor; he came back. After betraying and hurting him in one of the worst ways possible, he continued to be my friend (I mean, it took him a year to even speak to me again, but I’m not complaining. It was my fault).

Where this fits in to the overall theme of this article is that most people did not come back. As soon as I showed my worst, they cut me loose and didn’t look back. Even worse than that is the fact that I cannot honestly blame them. I was needlessly cruel and thoughtless. I said hurtful things because it was fun, I boasted about my lack of consideration and care, I intentionally did things to drive them away just to see how much it would take to chase them off. And just to top it all off, I never fought.

Retaining a friendship was never important to me, because despite how much I cared for these people, I felt I was unworthy of their time. Part of me did not want them to be my friends purely because, in my mind, they could do better. And a large part of me still believes this, even as I rebel against the idea. Saying this is not meant to garner sympathy or pity, because I need none (well, maybe a little is nice, because I’m a special snowflake who needs to feel important). Rather, this is just meant to clarify the whole picture, which is this:

A burdensome asshole, an uncaring prick, a relentless bully; I am all of these things. But I do, truly, want to change. And to start doing that, I’d like to apologize to all of my friends, past and present, whom I have hurt or discarded like so much wet cardboard. I did you wrong, and I am truly sorry.

 

(Remember, it’s not those that flock to your best, it’s those that stick around through your worst. This world is what you make of it, just as you typically are what the world makes you. ~Ray)

Onyx: An Ugly, Brown Tur-Rock, Onyx Is A Rock

On a whim, I picked up this cheap Steam RPG that came out not even a week before writing this review. Now, I’m against the idea of people charging anything for the games they’ve made in RPG Maker, but they rarely charge more than $5-$7, which I suppose isn’t objectionable. What is objectionable, however, is Onyx.

Onyx is about a world where witches are a regular part of life, but are being hunted down and slaughtered like lambs by a rebel sect known as the “Nimrod Brotherhood.” Yes, that is what they’re called. No, I don’t believe they’re named after the Biblical Nimrod. I think they’re named Nimrod because it’s a JOOOOOOOOOOOOOKE.

That seems to be half the reason for the game’s existence, really. There can’t be three lines of dialogue without some character or other cracking what they must think is the wittiest jest in their lifetime, and while some will get a chuckle out of you, others fall flat on their face. Not helping matters is the lack of any editing or spellchecking going into the product before release, leaving horrendous typos everywhere and sometimes incomprehensible sentences, problems that could easily have been fixed prior to release.

That’s another problem I have with the whole RPG Maker business model. Due to the ease of cranking out games when you have very little to do yourself aside from place assets and write a story, it creates an environment where you could easily release two or three games a month, given enough free time. With that capability at your fingertips, it can become easy to give in to apathy, and start cutting back on things like QA testing or giving a shit about the products you sell your customers.

Speaking of not giving a shit, the game focuses on a character named Rowan, though you can rename all playable characters anything you see fit within the 8-or-9 character limit. Rowan is Velvet Crowe from Tales of Berseria. That’s her character. A poorly written Velvet Crowe. She’s joined by a character who is basically Komoto Raynar from this site, a mother and daughter with serious familial issues, a Mystic Knight from Final Fantasy V, and some other character I couldn’t be bothered to play long enough to meet. None of them are interesting enough to get invested in, Vel- I mean, Rowan is a selfish witch, and they are all groan-worthy at various points.

The maps you’ll be spending most of your time travelling around are some of the clunkiest and poorly designed maps I’ve ever seen. Back in my Ar tonelico review, I threw some serious shade at its maps, but I feel I now owe it an apology. At least Ar tonelico had maps with rules. Onyx has no rules. One bush might block your progress, while the very same bush in a different location you might be able to pass over. Sometimes the ground covers up half your character’s sprite, as if they are slowly sinking into the abyssal quicksand that is this game. Take two steps and they are suddenly freed, allowed to suffer the torment of fourth wall breaks and petty intra-party drama. This will occur even if you are standing on the exact same kind of floor tile after moving.

Battles are just a visual nightmare. Your party appears as RPG Maker sprites, obviously, but enemies are these weird, watercolor portraits superimposed over Earthbound‘s battle background. They look horrendous, have a tendency to blend together or hide each other, and, given enough enough enemies on the screen, can even impose themselves over your own character sprites. And once you have a fourth party member, you might not realize it, because the UI is so tall and the characters are situated in such a way that the UI will cover your fourth member. It is negative fun to get into a fight in this game. Anti-fun, if you will. It actively sucks joy from your life.

You’re allowed to save anywhere in the game, but outside a tent early in the game, there’s a save point. It has no reason for existence. I can only assume that an early version required save points, and they failed to dummy them all out. It’s extremely inconsistent.

Near the end of my play time, I also stumbled across The End of Ti- I mean, a magical museum that is not totally a ripoff of Chrono Trigger right down to name-dropping Melchior as the inspiration. It definitely also does not have the Hylian shield (which can be seen in other places within the game, as well) and Prince of Persia‘s scimitars hanging in a hallway. This game is wholly original and will not fall back on using nostalgic images in order to garner favor from its players. I hate this game and my life because of this game.

I don’t understand why this exists. I don’t understand how it has the right to charge money. But since it is charging money, it deserves to be criticized like anything else we have to crack open our wallets for, and even at a $7 price tag, this one is not worth your time or money. Even if you are an avid follower of RPG Maker enterprises, steer clear of this one.

Developer: Aldorlea Games

Released: 2017

Platform: Steam

(Hijacking the post to relay my thoughts on this whole thing, since I was watching him play that 3-4 hours before he wrote this. This game has about as much polish as I’d expect from a 90’s freeware game. I feel like the developers need a few lessons in proper design, or at least some research into how other games did it. The few maps I saw were spacious, yes, but with a lot of dead ends, and dead ends that look like they should lead somewhere but don’t. The battle system is about as simple as it gets, with ridiculously inflated damage values, and for Goddess sake, if one of your selling points is “Hilarious Touches of Humor”, at least actually let it be humor for humor’s sake. One of the NPCs in an early game town literally states how badly constructed the town is. Parody Played Straight is a horrible thing to let happen to your game, regardless of your intention. Don’t get me wrong, we had a few laughs at this game, but laughing at this game is about all we’ll be doing from now on.

I try hard to find redeeming features in games. The only redeeming feature I find for this one, is a “What Not To Do” example for game design classes. ~Ray)

The Last Story Review: End of an Era

The Last Story is one of the most unique games I have ever played. Over the years, I’ve seen it receive scorn and criticism from all angles (one of my favorite video game reviewers even called it one of the worst games of 2012), but I’d never actually played it myself. Having done so now, I […]

The Last Story is one of the most unique games I have ever played. Over the years, I’ve seen it receive scorn and criticism from all angles (one of my favorite video game reviewers even called it one of the worst games of 2012), but I’d never actually played it myself. Having done so now, I have to say that I largely disagree that any flaws it has ruins the product as a game. This romp with the adorably boring Zael and his band of mercenaries was one of the most enjoyable times I’ve had all year.

As with all JRPG’s, the first place you have to look is to the story. Being largely linear, narrative experiences, a terrible story can indeed make for a terrible game in this genre, and each new entry has a host of previous classics to contend with. Fortunately, at The Last Story’s helm is Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy and essentially father of the genre, and he is fully aware of what he has to contend with. While the game largely confines you to a single major city, it weaves a tale on a global scale, as a threat to the entire world is defended against at this central location. And it works. Zael and his friends fight a massive war on the frontlines, and have no reason to go beyond where they are right now. Characters appear to be of moral ambiguity until their true intentions are realized. Setpieces are grand and beautiful and perfectly convey the levity of the situation bringing you to them.

That’s not to say the story isn’t riddled with cliche’s. The villains are just a little too on the nose (save one), with one in particular who could have made for a much more satisfying turn had his evil motivations not been revealed in an entirely unnecessary scene a full dozen chapters before his direct betrayal of the mercenaries. Another just looks like Ganondorf in a purple aura, and that’s about all the characterization he gets, too. The central conflict is a very generic “our world is dying” tale, as well, though the reasons for the world dying are much weirder than most.

But behind the poor villain characterization and poorly hidden plot twists lies a story with heart, as the mercenaries, initially fighting for their own gain, begin to realize that there’s more at stake, and they’ll have to learn to think beyond themselves. Each mercenary has their own reasons for fighting, interesting backstories and development, and you really do grow to care for each of them. The only major gripe I have with the main cast is how often Lowell was not in my party, because Lowell is clearly the best character in the game and should have been in my party constantly, but actually spends less time with Zael than almost any other party member.

The love story between Zael and Calisto is almost a deconstruction of generic JRPG love stories, as they spend as little time as possible after the first quarter of the game in each other’s company, with Calisto actively pushing Zael away, which only makes Zael more interested in staying close to her. Doing so only creates further problems for the both of them, where had Calisto not been so worrisome or had Zael given up on Calisto after being told to stay away, their lives would have been much simpler than the third path their contradictory actions resulted in. It’s ultimately reconstructed near the very end of the game and in an optional epilogue chapter, but it comes so late you would almost be excused for thinking this was more like Romeo and Juliet and less a RomCom.

However, I feel like the story was also more of an afterthought for the core gameplay, as if they had an idea for how the game would play and then crafted a storyline around it, because The Last Story is one of the tightest games I have ever played. Coming in from any other JRPG, you might be thrown off, because combat is less explosive action and more like a real-time tactical shooter, but with swords and magic. Imagine if Fire Emblem combined with Gears of War, and that’s similar to what you get in The Last Story. You approach enemies carefully, because being overwhelmed means death. You single out the most dangerous targets first and take them out with Zael’s crossbow, which while usually cannot kill enemies, does come equipped with bolts that can instantly kill a magic-user. Once the fight starts however, there’s no turning back, as you are often locked in the combat area until all your enemies lay defeated. At that point, you might take advantage of the ability to deal powerful blows to enemies as you exit cover. Or you might command one of your friends to use powerful magic on surrounding enemies. It’s a very intricate battle system which can be used to full effect or discarded completely in favor of a brute force approach… so long as you’re good enough.

Unfortunately, when it comes to bosses, the possibilities tend to be limited to one strategy and no other ways of coming at it. It can be very frustrating going from trying out all kinds of cool tactics against regular enemies to using the same commands over and over again in a boss fight. Of particular note is the boss that closes off the entire ship-raiding segment early on, which not only has a very specific and unreliable method of defeating, but is also the one to start the trend of terrible bosses within the game, throwing you a huge curveball. If you end up fighting this thing for an hour and a half, don’t worry. I did the same.

Sometimes, however, the game will throw a boss out that seems absolutely impenetrable. What this usually means is that Zael and co. are underleveled, which would mean lots of grinding, right? Not so! There is usually at least one place within a dungeon that you can return to, and it will have summoning circles that allow you to summon enemies. This is the only true way to grind in the game at all, as enemies do not respawn and revisiting areas does not award experience. However, I mean this as a good thing. The summon battles take little to no time, are very straightforward, and will award you tons of experience until you’re caught up to about where the game wants you to be, at which point you’ll notice that instead of gaining 2-3 levels a fight, you’re not even gaining one. It’s very easy and quick and will put you right back on the story’s path once you’re done.

Chapters in the game are more like Missions in a tactical shooter. It’s a very linear pathway where you clear out enemies until you arrive at your objective. People like to spit on the word linear, but done correctly, a good hallway can mean a lot more than a not-so-great continent. The linearity fits with the story being told, as the party has a clear objective and consistently work towards it, and it keeps the pace steady. You are always moving forward, and there are no major chapters that might count as “filler” or “padding”. Any unnecessary chapters are treated just like that; unnecessary and optional. And even doing all of those, the game clocks in at just over 20 hours. The game never outstays its welcome, tells you exactly what it needs to, and wastes no time getting there.

All in all, The Last Story is one of the best experiences I have ever had with a JRPG (which is really saying something when you consider my game library). I highly recommend picking this one up if you never have. I don’t think you’ll regret it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Review – NieR: Automata – “Falling Back Right In With The System…”

A look at the story of two androids, and the loss and struggle they endure on a machine-ruled Earth.

The Story of two androids in a mechanical hell…

Starting up the game, you’re immediately thrown into a top-down shooter style of gameplay. Hold on, bear with me, as this is basically introducing you to the type of reality this world is. As your comrades get shot down one by one, you’ll suddenly find yourself fending off your enemies, and eventually ditching your flight unit to take the fight to the ground, where you belong.

That is your introduction to 2B, and the world of Automata.

After dealing with a giant buzzsaw and meeting up with your field support unit (Simply known as 9S), you race through this abandoned weapons factory, cutting down all in your way. In the end, though, you can’t find your actual objective, something called a Goliath-class machine. (Spoiler warning, they’re as big as they sound.), unless you are accosted by two more giant buzzsaws, which turn out to be attached to the Goliath you were actually hunting.

It’s a hard fight, but 2B and 9S eventually manage to disable it, at great cost to themselves.NieR:Automata_20170323112719

Surprisingly, this is one the tamest things in the game

After some big fireworks, you’ll find yourself in a space station known as “The Bunker”; a bastion for the android forces of YorHa to restore themselves. And by restore, I mean we’re literally going to walk you through the Settings menu…NieR:Automata_20170323113644

On a meta level, it works…

Once back in fighting shape, you are given your mission: To contact the Resistance camp stationed on Earth, which leads into doing some odd jobs to get the shops into working order and some desert recon. The machines, despite being the enemy, are a strange and mysterious group. And it gets even stranger once you battle your way through both desert and ruined apartment complex.NieR:Automata_20170323142545

There’s something clearly not right here.

Certain events cause 2B and 9S to retreat from what they discover in the desert, but since they technically accomplished what they were told to do, they are met with praise from the Resistance. Afterwards, The Bunker gives the pair another mission; contacting a missing faction of YorHa that have fallen off the communication grid. This leads the andriods through an abandoned sewer pipe and into an even stranger sight…NieR:Automata_20170323152314

Disney Land in the future.

The machines here are more interested in having celebrations, so progress is smooth until you have to stop an one-machine show in the heart of castle. Unfortunately, the fate of the YorHa soliders is not pleasent, but this chain of events does lead into something not quite unexpected at this point.NieR:Automata_20170323155019

Pacifist machines. Better yet, they’re into philosophy.

After making introductory rounds, 2B and 9S are met with shocking news; Goliaths are attacking the city ruins where the Resistance is station. Even though the recently discovered machine village is suspected of laying a trap, it’s quickly put aside to actually deal with the threat. Upon disposing of the second Goliath, however, something strange is discovered in the aftermath left behind.NieR:Automata_20170323200309

This chasm is more important than you’ll ever realize.

Following the strange signal underground, however, leads to the first of many shocking revelations, and the official introduction of two familiar adversaries.NieR:Automata_20170323204157

Our greetings.

The ensuring fight ends in a stalemate, promising another encounter between the two pairs. However, more pressing matters await, as Command tells the two androids to investigate the leader of the pacifist machines, who in turn, sends them to contend with a group of machines who live in a “forest kingdom” that they built. It’s a hack-and-slash journey through the loyal machines, but the ending is not quite what they expected.maxresdefault

This android doesn’t feel the need to hide her true self…

Despite orders to dispatch this rogue android, she takes off on her own agenda. At this point, the two decide to check in on the Resistance camp, where they are suddenly tasked with guard duty. The escort? A payload of missiles. Guarding the missiles in itself is no chore, but then the supply ship itself suddenly comes under fire, after which point protecting it is no longer an issue…NieR:Automata_20170408013512

Mecha-Sin: Yevon’s new lord and savior.

It’s an intense fight, at the conclusion of which 2B and 9S are seperated. After obtaining a Scanner program for her Pod, 2B manages to track down 9S’ location to a baffling area; a fabricated, colorless array of blocks arranged into something like a city. And at the end awaits one of the two heads of the machine network.maxresdefault (1)

What happened here may be explained in an alternate reality.

The following struggle between the two ends with 2B killing her adversary. After bringing 9S’ data back to The Bunker, she is enlisted by the head of the machine village to accompany him to meet another group of machines that desire peace. This takes them back to the abandoned factory (from all the way back in the beginning), and to the dismay of them, leads them directly into the midst of what is actually a machine cult of all things…hqdefault

Renounce your false religion…

With some outside assistance from 9S, escape from the factory is possible. However, things quickly go from bad to worse, as the other half of the network starts to experience a slight malfunction… causing some of the machines to go berserk and begin wrecking not only the Resistance camp, but the machine village as well. 2B and 9S manage to stay them off, buying enough time for them to strike at the source itself.NieR:Automata_20170402001732

Putting an end to the chaos.

Broken and battered, 2B still manages to kill off the other side of the network and bring the machines back to normal (whatever that is.), but payment must be paved twofold, as they say…NieR:Automata_20170402003629

And that’s simply just the first ending. There’s a set of five main endings, and twenty-one non-canonical endings, for a grand total of twenty-six endings and off-shoots. The fun’s just beginning here.NieR:Automata_20170408021357

The choices are yours, and yours alone.

Armaments of a fighter.

There’s three distinct game play styles. The first one you’re introduced to is vertical shooter style, which probably could have been taken out and not have anything lost. This only ever applies to whenever you take a Flight Unit for scripted battle sets, and even then, it only applies to half of each set.

More prominent than that, however, is when your Flight Unit transforms into a Gundem-light knockoff. Your controls become that of a twin-stick shooter at that point. This is not only the other half of your Flight Unit sections, but is also the control setup for the hacking minigame. It’s a little awkward to get used to it, however, and precision is a bit of a chore for controllers. In addition, most of the challenge doesn’t come from unique challenge, but rather how many bullets can you slide around, which may be a bit overwhelming for people who are not used to this type of third-person shooter content.NieR:Automata_20170403005825

Still, it’s a lot easier than real world hacking…

The main gameplay style you’ll be working with, however, is more traditional hack-and-slash combat. It’s set up like a mix Devil May Cry and God Of War. There’s no style ranking, so it’s less about combos and more about finding your openings between enemy attacks to take them down. There’s four weapon types than handle differently, and you’re able to assign two different weapons to a Light and Heavy (Square and Triangle respectively) attack, which can do different things both seperately and when mixed together depending on your weapon type. Holding down R1 fires off your Pod, which faces in the same direction as the camera. It’s a strange design at first, but you can effectively damage two fronts at once after you learn to set up. L1 uses a Pod’s equipped program, a sort of extra attack you can perform on cooldown. These range from really useful (Hammer) to siuationally useful (Spear), to almost useless (Gravity). There’s enough variety to let you find something to compliment your play style however. R2 lets you perform an evade, and evading just before an attack hits sets you up for a counter attack that does something different depending on which attack button you hit. You’re going to be evading a lot in this game, so learning when to prop an enemy into the air or simply blowing it up is key to helping improve your combat life. L2 lets you lock onto an enemy, but, honestly, I found it to be a hindrance in this game. It’s designed to help aim your Pod easier, but this game sometimes has targeting issues where you’ll sometimes lock onto an enemy halfway across the field instead of the one right in your face that you wanted to lock onto. In addition, harder difficulties actually disable your ability to lock on, so it becomes a double-miss in my book. The combat isn’t built around requiring singling out enemies, however, so you can take or leave it as you will.NieR:Automata_20170401235155

Combat can be as fast or as methodical as you like. Just be careful of getting tossed into the air.

Throughout your adventure/genocide of all things mechanical, you’ll come across Plug-In Chips. These define everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) your android fighter is capable of doing and seeing. Like with Pod Programs, there’s a fair amount of variety to them, but some are going to be more clearly useful than others, especially given the limited space you have to install.

As far as moving around in the world, X lets you jump. Pressing X again in midair gives you a double jump, and holding down X lets you grab onto your pod to glide down to safety. Yes, there is fall damage in the game, but you kind of have to go out of your way to encounter, as you’ll often land on your feet anyway. Pressing R2 lets you perform an evade, even outside of battle, and I mention this because after an evade dash, you’ll run instead of jog, and after enough time running, you’ll move into a sprint that lets you cover ground the quickest. The game doesn’t tell you this, it’s something you’ll have to learn on your own (or by having someone like me tell you that you can do this.) The world only consists of five major areas and a couple additional side areas that the plot takes you to, so it’s a rather condensed world. Despite that, however, I wish that there was a little more inter connectivity between the areas, especially with the desert. A lot of side quests either take place, or take you back to the desert and there’s only one way to get into the desert. Granted, you will get access to a quick-travel option to help cut down on walking, but that happens halfway through the first playthrough, and by that time, you’ll probably have missed a few sidequests in that time. The same thing could be said of the abandoned factory as well and overall these two areas could have been better interconnected with the rest of the world.NieR:Automata_20170323195736

By the end of your first go around, you’ll probably be sick of all this sand.

Walking the streets of a ruined Earth

Despite the general inconsistency in running between areas, exploration can be a rewarding things. There are chests and item spots scattered all over to help reward you for going off the beaten path. While you’ll mostly get materials for upgrading weapons from these, you’ll also sometimes find brand new weapons in general, or even a little backstory lore for your trouble.

You’ll also find a bunch of side quests throughout the world as well, and these range from world-building, to outright silly, to some combination of both.NieR:Automata_20170323200534

Yes. Escorting a machine clown parade is one of the many things you can do.

Side quests will also give you materials and weapons to work with for your trouble, as well as occasional other things like new Pod Programs or Plug-In Chips. It’s worth going out of your way to do them, but a lot of them are missable, so it may take you a few playthroughs to track them all down.NieR:Automata_20170323202122

Want to know what happened here? Just another of many side quests you can do.

Parting Notes

The time you’ll spend in NieR: Automata is most likely going to spent deciphering the rabbit hole. Some things are more easily picked up than others, and others will have to be pieced together in order to discover what’s really going on. By the end, you’ll most likely wonder just what, exactly, you were fighting for, and I believe that was the point. This not a story of a singular good versus a singular evil, of great conquests or epic battles. This story is about two androids and the loss and struggles they have to contend with as they undertake their missions in the name of YorHa.

The gameplay is a solid experience throughout, with no glaring flaws to look at, the world is constructed to tell an experience with it’s side quests and environments, and the facts you find are not always directly given to you.

If you appreciate a story that doesn’t pull punches, and a solid combat experience to accompany it, I’d recommend giving Automata a try. You won’t be disappointed.

~Komoto Raynar

A Return to Monthly Updates: March 2017

Hello there, everybody! Wombat here, bring you the latest and greatest in site news (not there’s a whole lot, but what there is is substantial!)

First and most obvious of all is the addition of Komoto Raynar! He’s my best and one of my oldest friends, and we’ve always wanted to work together, so this is our chance (though I did kind of coerce him into it)! He’s said he probably won’t write much, but we’ll see.

Second is the name change. With the addition of Raynar, it obviously couldn’t be named solely after myself, so Raynar’s first order of business was changing the name. Two Professional Amateurs was the best idea he had that I could agree to, though it is subject to change if we think of something nicer. The site URL will remain the same, however.

Thirdly, we are considering doing a biweekly podcast for the site where we would primarily talk about video games. We’re not sure on the specifics just yet, but it is something I’ve been interested in doing for a long time, so keep an eye out for that appearing in the next month, or at least a mention in the next update.

Finally, I’m really sorry that I disappeared for a whole year. A lot of things happened, including loss of internet in my apartment for the larger part of that year, but I’m moving on to bigger and better things, and one of those is returning to this site to make it my hub of writing that I always wanted it to be. I’m definitely going to be giving it a lot more love from here on out, so that will be fun.

That’s about it for this month, so in the next, I’m going to see how far I can push myself to reliably release content here. I’m aiming for a much more active writing schedule, at least one post from me a week, but I don’t know how well I can keep to that. No promises, but I’ll give it my all.

With great regards,

Wombat Lord

The New Person In The Neighborhood

Hello everyone. My name is Komoto, long time friend of Wombat, avid gamer, and general average person of the world. From now on, I’m going to be sharing space in this blog to add in my thoughts on things from time to time.

Truth be told, however, I don’t write much, or a lot when I do. This could be a chance to change that up.

If you’re really interested in what I have more of a passion for, you can take a look at my YouTube Channel. Whatever I write here is most likely going to be a more in-depth look at what I choose.

That is all I wished to say. Told you I don’t typically write much.

Until next time

Take Care Now