Author Archives: St. Elmo's Fire

Darkest Dungeon

Yes, I finally got around to this one! I’m… rather ambivalent towards it.

Darkest Dungeon is a party-based RPG roguelike where you compile a party of 4 from 17 different classes and send them on expeditions into Lovecraftian nightmare dungeons. The key mechanic is that mental health is just as important as physical: Events like low light, critical hits, and certain enemy attacks will degrade your characters’ sanity, and when it gets to be too much they will go insane, followed by dying of a heart attack if pushed even farther. (Permadeath is, of course, a feature.) Insane characters create a death spiral where they will stress out the rest of the party with every action, as well as randomly disobeying orders or skipping turns. It’s very easy for even a well-balanced party to be completely destroyed if too many characters start going insane.

I found it to be an interesting idea, but the actual gameplay I found very grindy and frustrating, and I’m left feeling that the designers did not succeed in conveying their intended message at all.

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Games for Racial Justice and Equality (Part 2)

Continuing where we left off. A much weaker showing this time, with a lot of games I couldn’t even finish.

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Yo-Kai Watch

I recently tried out the first Yo-Kai Watch game, out of curiosity for what the rest of the mons scene is doing.

My most important takeaway is that anyone who says Yo-Kai Watch is trying to copy or replace Pokemon has clearly not only never played the game but never played any other mons game either and probably thinks Pokemon has a copyright on the genre. The two franchises share a target audience, but otherwise they could not be more different. Yokai talk and are presented as distinct characters, yokai cannot be commanded, and most shockingly of all, the protagonist isn’t silent!

As for the game itself, it is a godawful grindy mess that can barely be called a game. But it has some interesting ideas, and I enjoyed the creature designs.

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Games For Racial Justice and Equality (Part 1)

So, itch.io ran a bundle to fundraise for Black Lives Matter, offering over a thousand games for only $5. As a fundraiser, I found the ethos… questionable (“Give us money so we can do actual activism while you play video games”), but it was a good deal, so I got it.

A good chunk of the items included aren’t actual games; they are either assets or tabletop RPGs. There are still a ton, though. Here are my thoughts on the games I’ve gotten through in the first half of the year:

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Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

(Disclaimer: As of this writing, I have only seen up through season 2, and the show is still ongoing.)

This is Extruded Cartoon Product. Its blurb sounds like a blender of modern cartoon cliches: Post-apocalyptic! Female protagonist! “Journey home” plot! Power of friendship! Giant talking animals! Secret tragic villain backstory! But it doesn’t actually do anything with it. The whole thing has a very design-by-committee feel to it — it’s just woke enough to make the Tumblr crowd spread it like wildfire, without being truly transgressive or subversive.

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