Month in Review – February

I don’t know that I’ve ever been as upset with work as I am right now. This upcoming April will be my ninth consecutive year of full time employment, and I think I fully understand something my old manager (henceforth Roscoe) told me. She said that the majority of people leave jobs because they hate their boss, or don’t get along with their coworkers. After having worked with downright terrible management for the last 4 years, I have come to full appreciate what Roscoe was getting at. I mean, how could I not when the following happened a few weeks back:

For those wondering, I do have a new position lined up in a completely different area within the company, but I’m still pissed off about the whole situation. It feels a bit backwards that I have to uproot myself and move in response to bad management. Doubly so when you consider that half of our team has left in the last 8 months, presumably for the same reason. Instead of hiring and training 15 new employees it’d be cheaper to kill the problem at its source. That isn’t what’s happened though, and as people continue to leave management becomes increasingly belligerent with their demands so more of us have chosen to leave in response. At least, I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I know I don’t share my personal life often, but I needed to vent because this situation has been bugging the shit out of me. Unfortunately, I am a human, so having a shitty boss has actively impeded my ability to focus on things I enjoy doing. That’s partially why I haven’t been getting as much writing done as I’d have liked. Most of my February was spent quietly sinking into games, while I neglected other aspects of my life. I’m only now starting to get some of my thoughts about Dark Souls written down, despite that being the only major project I planned for last month. That in mind, I don’t know what articles will manifest in March, but I’m hopeful there will be something given my situation should be improving.

Anyway, video games.

Games

As stated, I didn’t spend much time writing last month so that meant I had plenty of time to play games. Unfortunately, I spent most of February playing Guilty Gear Strive. This isn’t unfortunate for me, but I’ve talked about it so often on Frosty Canucks that I feel like most people are probably sick of hearing about it. Well too fucking bad. This is my blog so sucks to be you if you’re one of those people. I’m going to cover what I feel like and right now that’s Strive. Doubly so because Baiken finally dropped at the tail end of January so I was able to play her this past month.

After playing Baiken for a couple weeks I’ve concluded that I’m extremely bad at Strive. I’m very used to playing May, who controls and plays differently from Baiken. While that in itself isn’t a strong enough justification to criticize one’s abilities, or lack thereof, it did shine a spotlight onto areas that I need some massive improvement in. May’s overwhelming damage output allowed me to completely dust less experienced players, but I kept running into a wall while playing anyone even halfway decent. Through playing Baiken, and asking for advice from fellow players, I’ve come to understand that my ability to play neutral does not exist. So, now I have a brand new abstract skill to work on for the entirety of 2022.

In all seriousness, learning about this shortcoming was exactly what I’d been looking for. It’s super frustrating to know about a problem without being able to identify the cause of it, or work out a solution. Receiving a few tips, and a breakdown of how my approach to play was fundamentally flawed has given me exactly what I needed to continue improving. I, once again, have a long term goal, smaller milestones that contribute to said goal, and a community with whom I can connect to practice and continue fine-tuning my play. That said, I hope you weren’t tired of reading about Strive because it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

With my gaming cocaine out of the way, let’s delve into some games that you won’t likely read about again, starting with Inscryption. Last year there weren’t many releases that stood out as being particularly innovative. It was a very safe year. Inscryption was one of the few that reviewers and gamers alike seemed to clamor around as it offered a truly unique experience that didn’t follow the conventions of other games. Having finished it, I can safely say that Inscryption is a truly bizarre game worth checking out, though it’s not one I fully enjoyed playing.

If you’ve never heard of it, Inscryption is yet another roguelike card game, which also features escape room elements. The card game is fun enough, but is wholly undermined by randomness. After each run in Inscryption, you’ll make a new card based on cards from your deck. This works as follows: you’re asked how much the new card costs and are then presented with 2 or 3 cards from your deck. The cost of whichever card you choose will be graft to the new card. This is repeated twice more for the card’s stats and unique abilities. Thanks to this, particularly lucky players can roll godly combinations that completely break the game and this sits at the heart of why I didn’t fully enjoy playing Inscryption.

In other card games, players are capable of rolling godly combos, but doing so requires them to analyze their available options in each run. Careful consideration is rewarded with a huge payoff for players who choose correctly. By contrast, Inscryption’s various self-made cards feel cheap. I owe my first victory to one such card named EAT MY ASS that could one shot my opponent as soon as it was played. As such, this achievement felt incredibly hollow because I hadn’t done anything outside of get really lucky while making the card.

Editor’s Note: spoilers for Inscryption

Hollow victory aside, I think such a system was implemented specifically to make sure everyone could play the rest of the game. Once you finish a run, Inscryption goes completely off the rails and becomes a meta narrative adventure. However, I was a little disappointed by this aspect of the game as it only ever flirted with the fourth wall instead of dismantling it like Oneshot did. The story is still expressed effectively though, and it utilizes interactive elements in ways that other games entirely fail to. So, on that basis, Inscryption is a hell of a lot more interesting than most games, and I’m glad it received some degree of recognition from critical circles because of that.

Editor’s Note: Inscryption spoilers end here

You know what game didn’t receive a heap of critical recognition though? TOEM. I played the demo for it last year, and recently had the opportunity to finish TOEM in its entirety. It’s a game where you wander around taking pictures to help folks on a journey to see the eponymous TOEM. The pacing of the game is fantastic and allows for more goal oriented players to move through it briskly, while still letting those who want to sniff the roses to do so without penalty. While there isn’t a lot of depth, TOEM was a nice break from constantly getting my jeans ironed in Strive. It’s definitely worth checking out if you need a relaxing game to play, though the shrewd among you may wish to wait for a sale before purchasing it.

Community

That’s enough from me. Now it’s time to move onto articles written by other fantastic folks. Here are 5 stand-outs from last month that I think you should read if you haven’t already:

Ian Shepard | Adventure Rules – Wildermyth, Disco Elysium, and the Pleasure of Bold Choices

drmabian | Abstracting Games – On Storytelling: Mega Gaming

Meghan | Meghan Plays Games – Wordplay and Double Entendre in Bloodborne

AK | Everything is bad for you – Shipgirls in thighhighs: My Year in Azur Lane

Naithin | Time to Loot – The Variable Difficulty of Lost Ark Abyss Dungeons


As always, thanks for reading my ramblings if you made it this far. I’ll see you in the next post.

8 thoughts on “Month in Review – February

  1. Thanks for the shoutout! Sorry to hear work is garbo, I’m glad you’re moving somewhere that will hopefully be (at least marginally) better 😦

    Also petition to get the “Eat My Ass” card in the next run of Uno?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds like an absolutely shitty situation at work. Glad you’re able to jump out of it and hope the new area is better, although I also agree that you shouldn’t have to move like that just to get a passable work experience!

    Aside from that, thanks for the mention! And Inscryption is one I almost passed on, but picked it up over the Christmas/New Year holidays and enjoyed the couple of hours I have given it so far. Who knows now when I’ll ever get back to it… xD

    Really looking forward to your thoughts on Dark Souls too! Any intent to pick up Elden Ring?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Here’s hoping. I guess on the bright side it can’t get much worse, so anything should be an improvement. XD

      Oh man. I mean…I’m not gunna tell you to stop playing Elden Ring or Lost Ark, but it might be one worth going back to once you’ve finished off with all your big releases.

      Man I’m having such a legitimately hard time nailing down exactly what to write about Dark Souls. Half of what I’ve written makes it sound like I enjoy having the shit stomped out of me, and the other half is pile of jibberish. I’m leaning more toward yes, but I was hoping to read thoughts from yourself and Meghan before making a hard yes|no decision. Probably be something I grab later in the year, or next year after some patching and a discount. I liked Dark Souls well enough, but I’m a bit dubious on the open world stuff owing to my not always enjoying that style of game. No pressure though. I just selected the two of you since I know you both play Souls games and I have a reasonable grasp on your gaming tastes, so I can figure out exactly if I’d like the game or not from reading your collective thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely have thoughts regarding Elden Ring! The scales are tipping in favour of it becoming most played, although I’m still keeping up with Lost Ark and being on when friends are.

        I have a post coming on initial thoughts tentatively titled ‘A Game of Two Parts’ but it isn’t likely to be today’s post. So in the short: Yes, I’m really enjoying it. I had a bit of a wonky start with it, but I think that was a melting pot of the launch performance issues, being rusty on the controls, and the addition of the jump button shifting interact button’s position from it’s regular spot.

        I swear to God, that one shift of button really threw me off for a bit — and not just for jump/interact, but more generally too.

        The open world aspect feels really different to the typical modern open world experience to be sure, and while I enjoy it — if it was the sum total of the game, I think it would absolutely feel like something was missing. The micro dungeons on their own wouldn’t carry it.

        But the legacy dungeons.. Oh man. I’ve only done the first one so far and seen hints at what I think will be the second, but they are your ‘classic’ Souls experience in full.

        More soon though!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That awkward moment when the developer moves one button and suddenly you can’t play the game anymore.

          Well I look forward to reading through the expanded version of your thoughts, but what you’ve shared so far, and my enjoyment of Dark Souls earlier this year, certainly moved Elden Ring from being a title I didn’t give a shit about to one I’ll more than likely end up playing eventually.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy to hear your work situation is about to get better. I know just how demoralized a team can get under bad management. It’s amazing just how lacking in self-awareness some such managers can be. Hell, even if they don’t give a damn about the feelings of their workers by taking as much of their free time away as possible, can they at least understand that we’re not serfs who are chained to our jobs, and that their organization will wither and die eventually?

    I might check out TOEM on sale. That kind of relaxation game can be nice sometimes.

    And thanks for linking my post! I had a good time with that one. Anytime I have an excuse to post cute catgirls on my blog, I take it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I believe it’s a cyclical issue. This particular manager has been at for 20+ years and slaved away at the bottom to get to the top. Now that they’re at the top they expect the rest of us to participate in the same shithead rat race that they did. Personally, I have no interest in doing so, but even the people who would normally left the team because of how much of a dickhead this guy was. Plus, after massive hiring freezes through 2020, when the freeze finally lifted in 2021 there was a LOT of people looking to hire and they had an entire year of accumulated money to do that hiring with. So it was kind of the perfect storm of, “well I could stay here and get abused and maybe get a raise, or I could just leave to another team and pick up a sweet 10-15% raise along the way”. What sane person wouldn’t take the money and run?

      For sure. TOEM also gives off a “buy on sale” vibe if you know what I mean. It also works as nicely as a “break” game. You know the kinda thing you play to break up 2 otherwise similar games so they don’t totally meld together in your brain while you’re trying to play them. I kind of assume other bloggers play “break” games because that’s part of how I will keep games separated in my mind until I get content written about them lol

      You’re quite welcome. I know it isn’t exactly what you typically write about, but it was fun to read about your time sinking into a completely degenerate mobile game hahah

      Liked by 1 person

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