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.
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.
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.