Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Dark Souls III: A World without Fire

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Beyond the daddy dragon was a tomb with a single snakeman who was easily killed. I learned the "path of the dragon" gesture on a corpse just passed him and had a pretty good idea where to try it too (since the corpses there were also in the same pose). The crypt gives way to a dark version of the starting graveyard zone. Only this one has no fire and is guarded by grave wardens and the invader Daughter of Crystal Kreimhild (I assume that's the Crystal Sage from before). She isn't too challenging as I just kick her off a cliff.

The spear statue boss in this dark world is much stronger too, but fortunately I have both Bill the swordmaster and Agnon Rhyat (sunbro player) to assist - finally a coop player can enter the boss fog! Agnon falls in battle, but it is enough for me to learn the boss' moves and earn a victory. Thanks Agnon! In the dark version of Firelink shrine I also find eyes of a Firekeeper, and the sole inhabitant - the creepy hag lady - is here telling me to leave before the darkness takes me. Good suggestion.

I warp back to the regular Firelink Shrine and give the eyes to my regular Firekeeper. She says that it's forbidden but plugs them in anyway, then asks if I wish for a world without fire. Having seen exactly what "a world without fire" is I say no. This upsets her, and she asks that I slay her so that I can take the eyes away from her. Again I have to refuse her request and leave her to get used to seeing the world as it is.

That's got to be a safety issue...

PS. My graphics card finally surrendered and lowered the visuals so I could play without crashing. The quality of the screenies will suffer a bit as a result! :P

Monday, 30 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Dancing with Dragons

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Soon after defeating Aldrich I am teleported back to Priestess Emma, who is bleeding out on the floor. She asks that I save Prince Lothric's soul before expiring. I imagine that translates to "kill that bastard Lothric", but don't have long to dwell on it as Emma's killer drops down from the roof to face me: a giant dancer lady. I get her down to 10% on my first attempt but subsequently do worse and worse on future ones, getting caught out by her incredible range and really long, spinning combos (which are beautiful to watch by the way). I also try bring Saranthor (player) to assist me, but runs into that problem of being unable to enter the boss fog. Sorry Saranthor!

Son of a...

I do manage to defeat her once I realize not to care about the camera though, which often goes berserk while tracking her. Basically I just run up to her butt and spam two handed attack while the world (and her) spins like crazy. The disadvantage of long reach eh? Also semi-related, funny fact: high ground in the Dark Souls franchise is -BAD- for the same reason. You will miss often, which means being lower on a staircase for example, is always preferred.

Anyway, with the dancer dead I was free to progress further into the Castle grounds, defeating some tough knights and running past "possessed" hollows through a poisonous marsh that was the King's Garden. I encounter a dragon thing here who is suffering from post natal depression and looking for its child (who is possibly Shanalotte, the Emerald Herald?). I am assisted by Ser Sad, who finally is doing something useful, in putting it out of it's misery.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Yhormine, Aldrich!

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Stout and tough.

After that little break I figured it's time to try fight bosses again, starting with Yhorm. Since my axe had a significant reach disadvantage I decided to upgrade a great sword, like the one I used in Drangleic, specifically for this battle. Turns out I shouldn't have bothered, because I have a surprise assistant this time around: Ser Chubby! He's here to fulfill a promise to his old friend, Yhorm and boy can he hold his own.

The epic fight ensues!

Apparently there's a new mechanic of "weapon skills" that I've been totally missing out on, but Ser Chubby's a master at it - using his wind sword to smack Yhorm around and leaving the giant open to cheap shots from me. Unfortunately Yhorm slays Ser Chubby during the battle, but is weak enough for me to finish off with my great sword. I take Ser Chubby back to Firelink for a proper burial using my sword as his grave marker.

I hate that arrow attack.

While here, I find Greirat has returned from his raid - selling a whole slew of new items. The kleptomaniac wants to raid Irithyll valley next so I let him go for it, while I return to Anor Londo to take down Petrus Aldrich. It takes a few attempts to work out that I can actually out pace his arrow storm, that he is weak in melee, and that his tail takes increased damage from my axe. Indeed, towards the end his only unblockable attack is using too much FX that makes me crash - but that just means I have to focus more on offense - discarding my shield and two handing the axe for maximum damage. Once I had that all down, he got ownzored.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (I & II)

Or Deathly boring then just Deathly. :P

Only recently did I get around to watching the final two movies of the Harry Potter storyline, and they certainly are very different beasts. If you haven't watched any of the previous movies you are going to be quite lost too, so I wouldn't start here and go backwards.

After the opening Part I is a snooze fest, due to the heavy reliance of "intrigue" in the plot and prior connection to characters introduced in earlier films. If like me, you don't remember or don't care about said characters then this is certainly not going to keep your attention. From an anime watcher stand point I'm almost inclined to say it's filler.

What the hell are we watching?

Nothing wrong with the acting or the effects, it's just really the plodding storyline that kills it. No such issue in Part II though, since they can finally focus on all the action as the forces or good and evil battle it out, already making it a much more entertaining film for me.

There's a fair bit of death happening in both movies too, but for me it's almost like the movie maker tried to keep in more to the PG side of things with many characters dying off screen - Harry just sees their bodies or hears about their demise later on. I suppose that's how it is in the books(?) but I for one would have liked to see just exactly how they died, because gore = fun.

I think the main problem though with both movies is that it's counting on you to be invested and on-side with people already, which is fine if you are. Less fine if you aren't. That's not a problem with these book-end movies per se, but it certainly means its a problem in the earlier ones.

All up, I give Deathly Hallows I 1.5 brooms out of 5 and Deathly Hallows II 3 wands out of 5. For non Potter fans who haven't yet seen them, Part II is entertaining enough but you might need to wade through Part I to get there. It really is a "play it in the background while doing something else" film.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Five Finger Discount

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

What gave it away?

To take a break from Aldrich, I decide to revisit old areas again this time starting with the High Wall of Lothric where I can now one or two shot most enemies - making exploration really easy. I manage to free the prisoner I encountered before now that I found the key to his cell and he introduces himself as Greirat the thief. He asks that I find a lady friend of his but since I already have one of her bones (how the hell I know the bone is hers is a mystery, I guess it's labelled?) he just gets sad and then asks if he can serve me... by raiding! Go for it buddy!

New friend vs old friend.

Opting to revisit Irithyll next, I find Sirris fighting Creighton the axe man on the bridge! How he survived being run over by a chariot is also a mystery, though I suppose he managed to kill Pate if he's that tough. He does put up a good fight but is no match against both Sirris and I. Sirris mentions her order is against the group Creighton now belonged to: Rosaria's fingers, because they are all evil scum.

Further in Irithyll I find Ser Chubby making soup in a kitchen which he happily shares with me (estus soup)! Such a jolly fellow. I then return to Firelink (because those frostbite knight patrols are annoying) and decide to kill Leonhard for Sirris. He's nowhere near as tough as Creighton and is killed easily. I then go to Rosaria herself and kill the evil slug with one shot. FOR JUSTICE!

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Disconnect

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

De ja vu.

After using a familiar rotating tower I'm back looking at the palace of Anor Londo, only this time the knights are the ones guarding the place. It takes some practice to slay the first pair (at once), and there in his old side room I find the corpse of the friendly giant blacksmith. At least there's some advantage to having been here before, as I know exactly where the mechanism is to open the main door in the now pitch black hall guarded by fire cultists, like the ones in the Cathedral of the Deep.

I'm definitely glad I ran back out towards the bonfire after opening it though, because said cultists brought their terrifying furry pet with them! Yep, the massive spider chased me all the way down the stairs and ... into an invisible wall? Hurrah for flawed AI! Thanks to that barrier I just arrowed the beast to death. Yes it took long, but it was worth it.


With a relatively clear run to the Smough and Ornstein's old boss room where someone rebuilt all those non-weight bearing pillars, I soon find myself facing Petrus Aldrich, who has eaten so many things he's now a sludge like beast that happens to use  a whole slew of attacks: the favourites of mine are the magic missile lights (which track) and the instadeath arrow volley which you can take cover from in phase 1, but not in phase 2, which also happens to follow you as you run around the room. Hope you have enough stamina! Lol. I recruit Myria (player) to try assist me here but midfight I crash out due to all the special FX Aldrich is using which is really annoying. Looks like I'll have to do this solo. Sorry about that Myria! :(

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Not so Uplifting

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

With the uplifting turn of events last time, I return to the Pontiff's church and just try solo him to learn his moves. While I die a couple of times it finally dawns on me that his big movements and good range aren't very good against someone right up beside him. With that in mind, I lured him to the entry way which is slightly tighter than the rest of the area to prevent him moving "away", and caned his scrawny butt. Even his phantom perished due to the close quarters and the wide arc of my axe. Solo victory!

Where's your god now?

Beyond him was a plaza full of giants an a very familiar place in the distance, but before I could advance I was invaded by Asfdg (player) whom I caned, most likely because he was lagging. I didn't get to slay him though, that honor went to Catharina (player) of the Dark Moon who arrived to defend me. Basically she just did a final backstab to finish him off. Thanks Catharina and no hard feelings Asfdg. If it makes you feel better I was soon invaded by two more of Aldrich's Faithful (players) who slaughtered me.

I didn't really mind though because I was too much in shock of where I was running - Anor Londo! My suicide scouting run showed me where to go, and how to avoid the many Anor Londo knight archers on the rooftops (yep they paid homage to that), and soon I found myself if the old Darkmoon Tomb where Gwyndolin was before (apparently he's one of Aldrich's victims). Now all I find are the corpses of the Knight Firekeeper lady, a pilgrim, and Anri's corpse used in some sacrificial rite. So much for being uplifting.

That looks... fatal.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Epic Justice

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Since my paths are blocked by a rock and a slenderman, I decide to revisit all the old areas in semi-speed run mode to see if I missed anything that can help me get past them. Turns out, I missed quite a bit! While re-exploring Firelink Tower I am trapped by a familiar bald guy: Patches! Guess he survived our previous encounter after all. His motto of robbing my corpse "later" hasn't changed, but he doesn't realize I already know another way out. Pity he is gone by the time I get back to where he was.

I'm also surprised to find Ser Chubby down a well at the Cathedral of the Deep. Someone has apparently stolen his armor, and I have a pretty good idea who. While there I also burn a bunch of maggot men in a moat and find a way to a higher level of the Cathedral where I slay some evil pallies, poop guys, and find Rosaria the Mother of Rebirth who also happens to lead "the fingers" PvP covenant, which Leonhard wanted me to join. Obviously I decline.

The attack of the turds.

Back at Firelink to level up, I am surprised to find Patches on a higher level peddling his obviously stolen wares - which includes Ser Chubby's armor. He asks for forgiveness for his antics. I say hell no. kill the f*cker and in a moment of epic justice, rob HIS corpse of all his belongings. IT FEELS SO GOOD! I then return Ser Chubby's gear to him and help him out of the well.

Die patches!

Monday, 23 January 2017

John Wick

He makes an 86.52% accuracy rating look good.

Truthfully, I didn't know what to expect when watching this as my sole reason for doing so is that John Wick happens to be the character I use in the game: Payday 2. The movie begins slowly and quietly with the stoic John Wick (portrayed by the immortal, Keanu Reeves) having a really, really bad time. Due to the actions of a well-connected but naive scum bag, Wick is given the opportunity to channel all that rage into what he does best: Killing people. And it is spectacular to watch as the body count keeps getting higher.

He can never have enough guns!

There isn't much plot to talk of here other than revenge but the action scenes and setup of the "assassin's world" lore is pretty good. I also quite like that they don't make Wick invincible and that he gets his fair share of beatings during the progression of the film. In contrast, Arnie's 1985 "Commando" comes to mind, where he walks across a lawn during a fire fight and doesn't get hit by a single bullet.

There's also little in the way of computer graphics which makes the film grittier, and more "meat and bones" if you will, which blends well with the overall tone. All up I give John Wick three and a half bullets out of five, and recommend it for those of you who are looking for a "light on thinking" violent action movie.

Would I watch it again? To answer your question, I went out and bought the DVD - and I'm definitely going to watch John Wick 2! :)

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Wolverine

"I feel violated," says Logan at one point in the film. That accurately describes it.

Wolverine (portrayed nicely again by Hugh Jackman) is a mutant who has superhuman regenerative powers and bone blades that like to come out of his knuckles. Living a solitary life for something he did in his past he is tracked down and invited by a now elderly and dying Japanese man he saved from a nuke during WWII. As a reward for saving his skin back then the man offers to kill Wolverine. Obviously he doesn't enjoy that notion but the dying old dude won't take no for an answer.

Since when does Wolverine need a Katana?

So... Wolverine vs dying old man. Whaaa? To make it interesting, Wolverine has his powers almost nullified early on so that normal folk can now hurt him. I have to ask why he wasn't just immediately subdued at that point but the plot meanders along through what seem to be unneccesary hoops just to lengthen the movie and add a love interest. At least she speaks clear english. The other female japanese lead, not so much. I suppose I should mention that being set in Japan, there is a lot of japanese spoken. Not all of it is subtitled. I hate it when they do that.

After a lot of fighting yakuza and ninjas (because Japan!) whose quality ranges from "pretty damn good" thanks to Hiroyuki Sanada's sword mastery, to a "ridiculous bullet train sequence", it finally returns to Wolverine getting "violated" and eventually earning a body guard. Because apparently he needs one. The film ends with one character asking "Where to?" and the other character has no reply. Probably a good mirror of the higher ups asking how to continue the Wolverine franchise after this movie. 

The obvious answer was to do a "go back in time and change these f*ing mistakes" which happens in X-Men: Days of Future Past that released the following year.

I give The Wolverine two claws out of five and don't really have a desire to see it again. After all, even the actual franchise tried to erase all the events that happened in it! :P

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Road Blocks

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Since Yhorm trounced me I am inspired to infuse my new axe with a "heavy" gem, which weakens the axe a little but takes a larger percentage of my character's strength for bonus damage. For those that play Mabinogi, its a similar methology to the 222 Broadsword which is fantastic in the hands of high level dex monkeys but terrible for everyone else. My new weapon doesn't phase Yhorm at all though, and he sends me packing just as fast as last time.

Damnit! Distracted by chest! :P

Instead I decide to explore the sewer underneath Irithyll City, which turns out to be just one big room full of white spider bug things. They are easily slain and nowhere as scary as the hairy one at the Cathedral. I then find myself in a nice gallery of screenshots artwork from the previous games, guarded by a trio of Anor Londo knights! Fortunately my upgraded axe makes up for my lack of parrying!

A couple of opened short cuts later and I an back at an earlier bonfire but now with a clear path to the Church dwelling boss, slender man Pontiff Sulyvahn - a tall dual sword wielder with fantastic reach and speed. Since this is the first place I see summon signs I try bring help in the form of Marcoh78, Eurion and Boro of Irithyll (players) but none can enter the boss fog for some reason. Thanks anyway guys!

Everything keeps stabbing me!

Best I could do was get him to half HP, which triggered his second skill of creating a phantom of himself who could do all the same moves and unlike the Crystal Sage's illusions, the phantom didn't die in one hit. Frustrated, I headed back to Firelink Shrine to consider my options.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Urban Espionage

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

While Irithyll wasn't as cold as Frozen Elysium Loyce, the tall and slender guardsmen liked to dish out frost bite damage and work in squads. There were also fire stick carriers who led processions of ghoul like hollows across the streets. It was simpler to avoid them when I could - ducking into dead ends and only killing the few that spotted me. This sneaking around worked very well here, letting me reach a number of bonfires with relative ease.

Just need to avoid these!

After a dark warehouse of "invisible" hollows (not really since you can see their eyes, and the rest of them when they are in striking distance), I found myself in the moat surrounding the city - avoiding the white, bug like monsters resting in the water.  The path eventually led to a separate tower - Irithyll dungeon home to masked lantern branders who had the annoying ability of "death stare". Yup, as long as they looked at you your maximum health would drop.

This was especially bad in the areas where they clustered in groups of eight or more. Obviously I opted to sprint past them when I could, as well as a sleepy giant and a surprise handful of cute froggies. Thankfully there were shortcut elevators to the bonfire up the top that I could unlock. There was also a strange cliff that suggested I "try gesture" but none of the ones I knew did anything.

Dungeon delving at its finest!

The prison eventually gave way to an old temple like place guarded by stone gargoyles (who can still fly) and fire cultists. The place is also littered with visual treasure, making progreses incredibly slow despite it being a smallish zone due to my graphics card crashing the game out constantly. Despite that I find the boss of the place, a giant King named Yhorm who has no issues in squishing me with his great sword. Finally a giant who isn't a push over! Given the minuscule damage I was doing to him in return he was certainly going to be a problem.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Hurrah for Vengeance

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Looks like the peaceful drider died anyway.

Surprisingly the caverns continue for quite a ways down past the old demon king - home to more evil monkeys, demon flamethrowers and the cute frogs. During my exploration I manage to collect a number of pyromancy tomes for Corynx too - one from the corpse of a very familiar looking pale drider. I am very surprised to run into Knightslayer Tsorig again down here - I guess the old demon managed to posses his corpse and due to his two hander hitting like a truck, I opted to run - right into the sword wielding Anor Londo knight (possibly the same one from the swamp)!

Lucky for me the two decided to attack each other, with the Anor Londo knight defeating Tsorig. Since he was badly hurt in his duel he was easy to put down. I also found out why Tsorig had such good DPS - he was wielding the Fume Knight's greatsword. I don't even have the stats to wield that thing. A number of ladders and skeleton wheel guys later, I finally reach the bloody ballista and turn it off. Hurrah for vengeance!

That is a huge ballista.

Satisfied that this area was now clear, I warped back to the bridge leading to Irithyll city only to be attacked by a dragon dog who can turn invisible!? Oh, this again huh. The AI on this one is pretty easy to abuse though, as luring it back the way I came makes is freeze and vanish (but not recover HP). A few repeats of this leads to its demise, granting me free passage into the snowy city.

Another pretty place!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Target Acquired

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Past a rope bridge in the Catacombs (which I accidentally break and kill myself on *sigh*), I find a strange and ominous chalice. Because the door past it doesn't open I decide to poke it, which teleports me into a really dark landscape occupied by a massive giant skeleton who breathes poison and summons his regular sized minions to battle too. Alas for him, his bling stands out so much that it is clearly evident what his weak spots are. A few broken bracelets later and he explodes (from shame I guess), which opens the path to the picturesque city of Irithyll.

Gee, I wonder what I should attack?

I opt to go back to that rope bridge though, since breaking it seems to open the path down to a huge and almost empty lake. The giant crabs on one side are easy to avoid, and so is the giant electric purple worm. The giant ballista that keeps shooting at me, not so much! At least I can get it to kill the worm for me. While looking for a way up to it to shut it down I find a small cave with Horace waiting inside - he's gone evil so I am forced to kill him.

Where's Anri, you bastard...

I also find the Old Demon King, who for a change, has a belly weakspot. This actually makes it tough to get at him, and I fail a few of times. Fortunately there's a bonfire nearby and when I ember up I also find assistance in the form of Knightslayer Tsorig (I guess getting rolled over by the skeletons muddled him up) as well as Cuculus of the Great Swamp, a pyromancer student of Corynx. While both are slain in battle, they weaken the Old Demon enough for me to finish it off. I could have probably left the lake at this point, but I really wanted to shut down that ballista.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Whack and Roll

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Not willing to run into that spider monster again, on my next foray into the Cathedral I simply jumped down to face the giants who were actually easy victims once you get under them. Not far away I finally find stairs down leading to a whole congregation of evil deacons for a game of whack a mole! These moles were too tough on my first round (I had them down to 25%), but on my second try I had both Sirris and Horace with me which made it a really easy battle. After taking a doll that they worship for some reason I warp back to Firelink and find Anri and Horace there.

Bring it on!

Apparently Anri took advantage of our ruckus and checked out Aldrich's coffin. Alas, it was empty so the search for him will have to continue. I also give Irina another braille dark tome that I found at the Cathedral. I guess there are a lot of evil blind folk? Not that it matters since I don't have the stats to cast any of the spells she sells, light or dark. Since the Cathedral is a dead end I warp back to the Abyss Watchers chamber and proceed deeper into some old looking catacombs.

The standard fare of rats and skeletons are here, including some that get up at extra time but are nowhere near as annoying since there are no necros reviving them. There are also some undead warriors who aren't that difficult to axe down, as well as pressure plate traps that are easily avoided. What catches me off guard are the giant rolling balls of skeletons. These humorous things just go back and forth between two points, and after slaying me once by knocking me off into a bottomless pit, I learned to use them to my advantage - luring foes including the invader Knightslayer Tsorig into the danger zones for cheap kills. I definitely find this place more pleasant than the Cathedral.

Behold my new weapon! Lol!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Unholy Ground

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!


After defeating the Abyss Watchers I was back in Firelink Shrine with enough souls for the Firekeeper to cure my dark sigil, so I did. Yuria was not pleased at this, saying I was a "false lord" and simply left. Eygon showed up in her place, though just to check on Irina. Ser Sad is also chattier than usual, telling me about the history of the Abyss Watchers and how they got corrupted by the very thing they defended against. He also speaks of another Lord of Cinder: Saint Aldrich, who was once just a simple cleric with a penchant for eating people. He gained a lot of power (and visavisfollowers) when he started eating gods though! I instantly thought of any chubby clerics I'd met in the past... no way, can't be him.

Since it was adventure time again, I then decided to face the Crystal Sage once more, this time while embered and with Eygon as my helper we smash him and his little mirror images. Past him was a pair of bandits and a hollow hunting party, and then the Cathedral of the Deep where I and am promptly invaded by Yorams (player). We had a good duel, complete with the exchanging of "welcome gestures", and for a change I'm pretty sure I had this guy - but our fight was cut short as Chara (player) of the Blue Sentinels arrived. I backed off and let the two duel with Chara eliminating Yorams without much incident. Thanks Chara, and good fight Yorams! :)

With the Cathedral doors locked, I explored the grounds in a lengthy detour through a graveyard with endless zombies and a challenging rooftop section with many midget assassin ambush spots. Inside it only gets worse as the midgets are reinforced by pretty tough evil paladins, and a pair of giants who guard the main, flooded hall. In one ominously large yet empty room I am also jumped by a terrifying spider monster who easily kills me in my panicked state - good thing I've found ways to open the shortcut doors back to that initial bonfire!


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Watch This

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Since I'm getting whooped on the field now, I return to Firelink Shrine to level up and more importantly, upgrade a second, regular axe which actually scales with my character's strength - which is something the Deep Axe doesn't do which means it is slowly getting eclipsed by it's regular cousin. Also, two new ladies were here. The first, Sirris of the Sunless Realms offered her aid on my quest, and the second - Yuria of Londor - stood over Yoel's corpse like a vulture, stating that I was their "Lord of Hollows" thanks to the Dark Sign Yoel had been giving me. What?

Yep, for every "free" level I've been getting these, more of the very thing I wanted to cure. Turns out the firekeeper can cure them, thanks to a firekeeper soul I found earlier, except it costs an exorbitant amount of souls. Should have guessed the free levels were too good to be true! Anyway, I purchase a braile tome from Yuria for Irina to read. She's blind too since she was in training to become a firekeeper.

These crystal lizards have grown pretty big. And pretty gymnastic.

I then get Sirris to help me slay another massive crystal lizard, and then return to face the Abyss Watchers with the help of BlackHand Gotthard (who looks a lot like an Abyss Watcher) and Londor Paleshade (a servant of Yuria). Gotthard falls in battle, and during phase 2 (with an entirely new lifebar), the power of all the Abyss Watchers fills him and we have to take him down. It is a long slog but since the Paleshade is pretty tough we beat him and I claim the first Lord soul!

Turns out he's prone to stun lock.

And then I put their collective severed heads on their allotted throne back at the Shrine. Do you expect anything less from Dark Souls? :P

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Farron's Keep

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Tweedledee and Tweedledum?

Deciding to avoid the Crystal Sage for now, I find another path guarded by two bandits - a club wielder and a sword guy. I manage to kick one down a ladder shaft and follow up with a plunging strike. The second one opts to take the ladder down which makes it easy to hack at him while he is defenseless. Just when I think I'm doing well, I reach the next area - the continuation of the swamp, only this time it is green AND poisonous, meaning it is running time aplenty.

The giant leeches are the least of my worries as I scurry from dry land to dry land, avoiding the poison monkey men and giant swamp things wandering about. A sign near the start indicates that I'm supposed to turn off three flames to open "the door" too, and while the flames turn out to be little candles - of course they are all pretty well guarded. A ladder up leads to a really tall tower and the lair of Farron, the old wolf. He's eternally asleep though, and offers a PvP covenant to protect his swamp from invaders. As if this place wasn't bad enough!

Atop his lair are some gorgeous views, as well as extra items. There's also a huge demon like the one Ser Chubby helped with before, but I leave that one alone. Using that vantage point I can find the flames I missed and put them out too, opening the path to the next area which loops back to the non-poison swamp, and another bonfire within walking distance of the next boss, and Lord of Cinder, the Abyss Watchers.

Sounds like a boring job, watching an Abyss...

Interestingly the path to them is a battle site between the resident poison monkeys and a pair of dark wraiths, meaning easy souls for me and an easier time reaching the boss fog. This doesn't help me in the slightest once I'm inside though, as the dual wielding warriors (yes plural) make short work of me. For added difficulty my graphics card has a really hard time here and increases my "crash out of the game" ratio.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Marathon Man

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

While at Firelink Shrine I purchase a sewer key being sold by the hag. Makes me wonder if she goes around locking all these doors just to make a profit. Anyway, after slaying the mandatory rats (same ones from before since it's the same sewer) I unlock a side grate and find the nun prisoner Irina, who offers to train miracles in exchange for freedom. Sure! This makes her guard, the gargoyle helm guy named Eygon, a bit annoyed but he suggests he will be an ally as long as I keep Irina safe. Safe like... keeping her locked up somewhere you psycho?

Anyway, the path forward was then to go to the tunnel under the sniper cathedral - guarded by a scary frost knight. Since he was too dangerous I lured him into an adjoining room and just ran past into the nearby forest, which turns out to be the home to a huge flock of wereharpy hollows. Not so bad if you kill them before they grow their wings but when they are "flight-enabled" they are quite annoying. I also put down a madwoman with a giant knife in the area.

Anri and Horace. You never see their faces.

In the bonfire clearing just past that I meet the knights Horace and Anri who apparently are on the same quest I am - to return the Lords of Cinder to their thrones. Good to know I'm not the only one! They offer me to join the Blue Sentinels but I decline, preferring to be protected rather than be the one doing the protecting. They are gone after I rest at the bonfire, so I continue alone into the next area - a swamp. At least it's not poisonous, it's just inhabited by crabs. The small ones are ok, but the giant ones I soon learn to avoid.

I also encounter a lone, sword wielding, Anor Londo Knight in one of the ruins - and knowing my parrying skill (as a player) is long gone I opt to flee to another set of ruins which is home to more hollows, and on the path beyond I find a Crystal Sage. This magic based boss relies on teleportation for movement which leaves him open for a lot of attacks, but once I got him to 50% he began using mirror images too and that proved to be my undoing. Sigh.

That's a pretty big hat. I wonder if this was Grigg's master?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Right in the Nuts

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

On the trip down from the archer, I hop off half way to find Ser Chubby sitting along the balcony quite confused as to how he got there. He's also quite afraid of a large flaming demon in the distance. I use my tried and true method of archery from where the monster can't reach me - but this forces Ser Chubby into action, charging the demon in close quarters. He can certainly hold his own though, and almost single-handedly slays the beast! After sharing a drink in celebration, he takes a little nap while I continue exploring, eventually making my way to a huge plaza where hollows seem to be worshiping a huge, misshapen tree.

Oh... it's not just decor.

This horrible thing is a boss, and much like the previous tree boss requires hits to land on it's cancerous sack weakspots. It's much more agile than the last tree though, which catches me by surprise. My 2nd attempt goes much better, where I use its own attacks to squish it's own, endless adds. Eventually it breaks the floor into a large underground pit. Despite the change of scenery it doesn't actually gain anything new, making it an easy kill.

Protip: Don't let giant foes pick you up. :P

Returning to Firelink Shrine to level up, I talk a bit to Yoel who offers to "draw out my true strength" which translates to free levels! Yay! There's also a new, tricorne hat wearing guy named Leonhard here who gives me a key to a lift at Lothric's High wall and asks that I slay the Darkwraith at the bottom for him. It happens to be a very short mission since there's a bonfire I can warp to nearby. Also since the skeletor has the exact same moves from the ones in New Londo Ruins, I make short work of him. This impresses Leonhard who suggests I join Rosaria's fingers at the Cathedral of the Deep. Sounds like a fetish cult.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Dark Souls III: Diplomacy

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

My advance into the town is impeded by the arrival of Holy Knight Hodrick who fights me to a draw (erm, I guess he thinks I fled but that's just a technicality), which makes me seek out alternate paths forward. In doing so I find Corynx of the Great Swamp imprisoned on a rooftop. Turns out he is pyromancer master (possibly Laurentius' master too) and offers his services in exchange for his freedom. Sure, why not?

After a rat filled sewer (with an extra giant rat, just for me since I missed killing the one beneath undead berg) and another bonfire, I come across an interesting forest of trees and spears... which turn out to be giant arrows. It proves to be an interesting exercise crossing those woods as it is bombarded by the huge archer in the distant tower - it's much like running through artillery! Good thing he shoots at the bad guys too, but since it's too costly health wise to do that I change path and make a beeline for his perch which happens to be an abandoned church.

You can actually see him from pretty far away.

Just outside I meet a large guy wearing a gargoyle hat and wielding a huge mace. He's not hostile, but he is keeping some lady hostage and basically calls me a bitch. I decide to deal with him later, since there's a giant archer that demands my attention first. As I approach the lift, it suddenly moves on its own and out comes... Ser Chubby!? A new Ser Chubby, who has the same idea about the archer as I did. He just can't work out how to use the lift up, a problem I solve with one quick roll. Hah! I know it's not the same guy, but it's good to have you back, Ser Chubby!


In a huge change of pace for the Souls series, I am given the option to "Make peace" with the giant archer (is that you Gough!?). He readily, calling me friend and offering to provide cover next time I'm within range. Awesome!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Dark Souls III: The Circus is in Town

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

With the deep axe, slow and steady progress led me to another bonfire and the unlocking of shortcuts back to earlier bonfires. I even find a prisoner caged in one tower but with no key I decide to come back some other time. In a cathedral guarded by knights (who I'm getting more efficient at killing now) I meet the elderly priestess Emma who offers me to join the Way of the Blue covenant. Since it helped me out last time I jump at the opportunity! Newbie guild for me! :)

It was then time for a rematch against Battle Cat, but this time I used an ember (the replacement of humanity here) to power up and to summon the katana guy from before. I'll call him Bill. Apparently kicking each other off a cliff was enough to become friends! He-man's steed has no match against the two of us, and Bill waves farewell as I go ahead and wave a little flag Emma had given me to summon transport to bring me to the undead settlement: demon transport.

Here I find the regular hollows being fed to some hounds by some sadistic villagers. I also find a pilgrim named Yoel who offers his sorcery services to me. Sure! The more friends the better! He warps out to Firelink shrine, while I continue into the rather large village full of psychos armed with pitchforks and butcher knives who enjoy stringing up their victims. Also among their number are fat, bearded sorceresses, and midget assassins. Oh and some caged victims have melded into ridiculous, multi-legged monsters. It certainly feels like I walked into a circus.

A circus that needs to be purified with fire.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Dark Souls III: And my axe!

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

Outside Firelink Shrine I found a half naked guy wielding a katana, and he manages to kill me off a cliff! I return immediately and return the favor. Unfortunately the door he guards is locked (man I miss the master key), so I have no choice but to use the shrine bonfire to warp myself up to the High Wall of Lothric. It's beautiful. And full of undead. The dead dragons on the parapet are a cool touch too... until I come across a live fire breathing one - followed by dangerous knights.

I'll get up there... much later.

In typical Joe fashion, I decided to try sprint past them, because whatever was beyond would be easier right? Lol. After a crazy run across rooftops and courtyards reached some giant doors and encountered... Battle cat! To no ones surprise, the creature tore me to ribbons (though I was surprised I got it to 50% health). Having not found a further bonfire I opted to do the grinding then, especially since I had a handy dragon to help me farm souls. He didn't really care what he was setting alight.

Couldn't get the dragon to torch battle cat. :(

First 20k went to the hag, for a key to the Firekeeper tower right behind the shrine. It took me awhile to actually find he damn thing, but I netted a useful Estus shard, silver cat ring (more souls per kill) and Estus ring (more HP per estus) from what turned out to be a crypt for dead firekeepers (and there were a lot). The grind then continued in the same spot, to level me up a bit, until I could actually sprint to the tower the dragon was sitting on top of. There I found a mimic which I masterfully slew (no damage), partially because it was like the Dark Souls "humanoid" type and not the Dark Souls II "silent hill" type. :P

Most importantly it dropped a really cool weapon: a deep axe, which more than doubled my current damage output. After successfully slaying the first "dangerous" knight with it, I knew right away that I could finally advance.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Dark Souls III: One Way or Another

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

After talking with Abbess Feeva it turns out that she knew of a place I could go to cure this curse, but since it was pretty far I'd need to be teleported via coffin to reach it. Using the same one I rode into the frigid outskirts she prepared a spell and I got in for a long nap. Too long I think, because when I emerged my armor was no longer black, instead it was a fully rusted grey and for some reason I was in a graveyard! I suppose my arsenal of weapons was also too much so I only had a long sword left for me by the Head of Vengarl.

It would suffice.

After dispatching the expected wandering hollows and an unexpected giant crystal lizard I found myself in a large plaza with a statue in the center. Like a moron, I pulled out the sword that was thrust into it, making it come to life. Fortunately my dodging skills had not rusted as much as my armor so I could take down the halberd statue on the first attempt. Beyond him lay a large structure, which had the familiar name of Firelink Shrine.

Just in case you thought you were somewhere else...

The blind firekeeper welcomed me "home", as did Ser Sad, Andre the Smith, and the merchant hag who now moonlights as a shrine handmaiden. Most interestingly, there are five humongous thrones here, one of which is occupied by a little man named Ludeth. Apparently he is a Lord of Cinder, the only one with balls enough to face his own demise to link the fire. The other four have gone missing, and to no ones surprise it's my job to bring them back - one way or another.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Captain America: Civil War

When there are no bad guys to fight, heroes must fight each other!

Thanks to more collateral damage while the Avengers are out doing their thing, the world has decided to reign in all these enhanced individuals to make them work for the UN. This divides the team on the accountability vs freedom front and one very lucky bad guy manages to leverage this into a more violent and entertaining conflict where heroes fight each other.

We're not fighting, I'm just repairing Cap's shield.

What's good? Marvel characters galore with quality acting, humorous segments that made me laugh along, nice action choreography and high budget CGI. Introducing even more characters in an already large line up seemed like a bad idea to me but they pulled it off just fine. I also quite like the idea they had behind the bad guy, who really is nothing special - a good contrast to all the powered folk of the Avengers.

On the negative side the biggest issue for me is that said bad guy was extremely lucky that so many things went his way for as long as they did. There's one bit where he would have had to get past a number of security check points AND somehow kill backup generators in what I'm guessing is a high level building, unless of course there are no backup generators in a world where they have underwater prisons and guys that fly in suits of armor?

It's not explained how he manages to do all of this, he just does, which is a bit annoying. The other problem will be for anyone who hasn't watched the Avengers or the previous Marvel films - you could get lost really quickly with "who is that again" even with the 3 minute intros. All up I enjoyed the film and give it 4 Vision lasers out of 5, even if it is a "moving pawns across the board for the next movie" sort of thing.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Dark Souls II: Of Ice and Fire

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

The frigid outskirts beyond Elysium Loyce were the furthest place I knew of to escape from Drangleic. I joined an expedition led by the Head of Vengarl (a barbarian), with familiar faces Abbess Feeva the healer and Manhunter O'Harrah the archer, who has upgraded to using explosive arrows from the last time I saw her in the Iron Keep.

We make our way across the snowfield, going slow to keep together for when the ice deer show up. In the scattered ruins there are also a few regular hollows and some hostile wandering knights but none pose much of a problem. Even the ice deer aren't so bad once we put a snow wall to one side of our group. Soon we find the lair of our quarry - a pair of black sabertooth cats (which is basically Aava x 2)!

Burning them is super effective!

While they do hit strong it's nothing my fully upgraded gear can't deflect, and with proper preparation of fire resin (which was effective for everything else leading up to here too) we soon take down both kitties with little effort, and no losses to the team. Making camp in a nearby cave afterwards Feeva and the others are already talking of heading back to escape the cold. What I sought wasn't there though, my road could only lead forward. Silently, I watched the flames of the bonfire as I waited ... to install Dark Souls III. :P

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Dark Souls II: The Darksign Lives

Tales from Dark Souls - spoilers ahead! You can follow the rest of the story here!

It's the "B" team!

Upon our approach to the Throne, Bellclaire and I were joined by Benhart of Jugo and Bradley of the old guard which is a pretty strong team! Inside a duo who are a poor emulation of Ornstein and Smough try to stop but are so easily defeated by our superior numbers. Then as the Emerald Herald predicted, Nashandra arrived - looking much scarier than before and proclaiming all of us should join the dark... by dying.

Nasty AoE's meant it was archery time!

Her aura of curse kinda caught me by surprise so I opted to stay far away from her and snipe with my lightning short bow instead until her health was low enough to burst down. Bellclaire and Benhart fell to her scythe during the battle but my plan worked - soon Nashandra was just another corpse. Before Bradley and I could even recover, Aldia then shows up in all the glory of a flaming, magic casting and tentacled shrubbery.

Die you shrubbery!

Bradley tanks him effectively while I get his patterns down. While this eventually leads to victory it is not soon enough for the old guard who is impaled by the bastard bush. Just like Nashandra, Aldia is surprised by his own death - asking what is it that I will ask the throne (in both his voice and that of the Emerald Herald) before he dies. Aldia was Shanalotte all along!? It's then I notice the "throne" looks a hell of a lot like kiln of the first flame, and have vivid memories of Gwyn flooding back. "Narp," I say out loud to the room full of corpses and turn my back on it all.

There must be another way to break the curse of the darksign...