Update, part 1 (10/23/2021)

First, sorry for the mess. I’d hoped to put up another game review today, but my mind hasn’t been in a good place for the last several days (or years really, if we’re stretching it out to the long term.) Between the increasingly apocalyptic mood here in the US and my own personal issues that I can’t seem to sort out, I’ve more or less given up on the future being anything other than a flaming fucking wreck, both for myself and for society as a whole. You might have guessed as much already if you’ve seen my griping on Twitter. As you can see above, I was too unmotivated to even give this post a proper title.

That’s nothing new for me, though. Outside of my writing here, I haven’t had any expectation of personal fulfillment for a long time now. I’m really just happy to finally have professional fulfillment, with a job I like well enough that I can cope with the amount of work I get piled onto me. And as for the rest of the world, since I have no control over it, I’m resisting all efforts on the part of the media to get me to worry about it (you know those articles you see all over the place — “Why you should be worried about x” where x is an actual problem but one individual people can’t do a god damned thing about — like we don’t have enough worries already. Is the point just to give me an ulcer? And then these are next to articles about self-care. Fuck off.)

There’s a reason I always use SZS screenshots in these posts: I identify with Mr. Despair more than any other character ever. I’m also completely open to the likelihood that my personal issues and negative mindset distort my view of the future.

There’s one aspect of the future I’ll never give up on, though, and that’s the salvation provided by art and entertainment. Since making it through the massive epics of Atelier Ryza and Yakuza 0, I’ve been taking it a little easier, but I still have games to complete that I need to get back to including NieR Replicant and a couple of visual novels I’ve had pending for a long time now. And anime series I need to catch up on like The Aquatope on White Sand, which I regret I’ve fallen behind on — but I will catch up. Hopefully this weekend.

However, there are also several new games and anime series I have already picked up or will be picking up in the near future when they come out, so I thought I’d also provide an update on those. For today let’s start with the games, and with the two I’m currently playing:

Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book

It’s confirmed now that Atelier has taken over my life. This is the fifth game in the series this year I’ve taken up (and the sixth Gust-developed game adding in Blue Reflection, and there will be more to come; read on for that.) I’m about ten hours into the PS4 remaster of Atelier Sophie already, so this entry will be a kind of very short first impressions post.

And my first impression of Sophie is that I like it. The game feels like a return to some of the simplicity of the Arland series, with a very slice-of-life style, only without that damned time limit that you had to mess around with in the Arland games. So in that sense, Sophie is even more relaxed than those — I’d say it’s the most relaxed and comfortable Atelier game I’ve played so far.

Well, mostly. Fuck this irritating cauldron puzzle alchemy system.

Luckily, comfortable and relaxed is just what I needed at the moment. The plot so far is very light, just about our cute alchemy girl protagonist (as usual) Sophie Neuenmuller doing alchemy and spending time with her friends around her idyllic old European-looking hometown of Kirchen Bell. One of these friends just happens to be a talking book containing the soul of another girl named Plachta, who knows a lot about alchemy and forms an informal mentor-student relationship with Sophie.

The character interaction so far is nice and enjoyable, especially between Sophie and Plachta. There are even a couple of very familiar faces in the game like Pamela (who was also in the Arland games, but she’s been around since Atelier Judie all the way back in 2002) and Logy (from Atelier Escha & Logy, of course, but this is apparently a totally different Logy who just looks and acts exactly the same as his alternate universe self in the Dusk series. I wonder if Escha will show up as well?)

I’m also a fan of the art and character designs — Atelier always does well in that regard.

Remember all those stupid 90s/00s high school movies where the nerdy girl takes her glasses off and suddenly she’s “attractive”? Fuck all of them, every single one, without exception. Glasses are hot. But to be fair, I think society has finally acknowledged that somewhat at least.

The only real criticism I can make so far is that I’m not much of a fan of the puzzle box alchemy mechanic Sophie uses, though that’s really more of a personal issue. I’ll just have to get used to it.

Yakuza Kiwami

I think I already mentioned that I’ve started Kiwami in my Yakuza 0 review. I’m still only in Chapter 1, partly because I’ve spent more time lately playing through the post-game Premium Adventure phase of 0 as part of my relaxation regimen.

But I can already tell that Kiwami is going to be interesting. The setting so far is familiar, the same Kamurocho I spent so much time in during 0 with more or less the same map, though many of the storefronts have changed with the passage of time, which makes sense. It’s also nice to see that protagonist Kazuma Kiryu is still just as stoic and unmovable as he was before. It’s impressive just how much shit this guy is willing to put up with for the sake of his ideals. I can see why people like him so much (well, I could already in 0.)

Not much more to say about Kiwami at the moment, since I’m not far enough in to even give proper first impressions beyond what I’ve already written. But I will be playing through it, if only because I need to know how Kiryu’s story continues. Also to see whatever wacky shit he gets pulled into on the side, because those were some of my favorite parts of 0.

I will, and same to you, Majima-chan!

Aside from those games already mentioned, there are a few I have preordered, two of which are coming out next month, so you can probably look forward to something about those in the near or not-so-near future depending. Starting with:

Blue Reflection: Second Light

Yes, the Blue Reflection sequel is finally almost here, coming out in NA on November 9. While I felt the original game had some flaws, I liked it and looked forward to whatever might come next. And shortly after I posted that review, Second Light (or Tie in Japan) was announced.

Second Light seems to be a continuation of the story told in Blue Reflection with a new central cast of characters, though the first game’s protagonist Hinako is back in some capacity. The all girls’ high school setting is back as well, of course, along with the social sim element from the original.

Best of all, both Mel Kishida (artist/character designer) and Hayato Asano (composer) are back, and their contributions were the best parts of Blue Reflection — for whatever flaws that game had, the art and music largely made up for them. I do hope there are some improvements to Second Light, but even if it’s similar in quality to the first game, I won’t be too put out if it looks and sounds just as beautiful.

Shin Megami Tensei V

Yeah, this one was expected, wasn’t it? SMT V is released next month, and I have it preordered as well, though unfortunately I won’t be able to play it right away because I don’t yet own a Switch.

Now you might ask — why the hell would you buy a game for a console you don’t own? Firstly, because SMT V is a Switch exclusive, and there’s no hint that it will be ported to any other console or to PC anytime soon, and secondly, because I was waiting for this god damn game for several years and I’m sure as hell buying it on release. I do plan to get a Switch sometime soon as well. Even if it’s a cheap secondhand one with half the buttons missing — I’m not particular as long as I can play SMT V.

In any case, there’s no way I can’t be excited for this game. It really looks excellent, with everything you’d expect from a mainline SMT title. Again, not much more to say at the moment, but I’m looking forward to getting into the game once I get my hands on a Switch (and by the way, if anyone knows any good deals, please drop me a tweet or leave a comment if you like. But not an email, because my MSN account is clogged to hell with garbage. Incidentally, my apologies if I’ve missed anything you might have sent there — please let me know if so.)

Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream

Yeah, why not. I figured since I’ve liked Atelier Sophie 1 so far, I may as well preorder the recently announced sequel. It’s set to come out in February 2022, probably among the last of the PS4 releases. Though it’s also coming out on the Switch as you can see to the left, and also on the PC.

I figure that at the rate I’m playing Atelier games, I might very well be finished with the Mysterious trilogy by the time I get Sophie 2 in four months, so it’s pretty good timing all things considered. There’s also a deluxe form of Sophie 2 out for preorder with a giant cloth poster, bonus soundtrack, and some other nice-looking stuff included, though that’s a bit too expensive for me — I’m sticking with the standard edition. I’m not quite enough of a rabid fan to buy those special editions. Remember when bonus mini-soundtracks came free with these games as a matter of course? I still have the five or six-track CD I got with the original Persona 3 release. Maybe this one is a full soundtrack instead, I don’t know.

Oh well, enough complaints from me. I might make an anime version of this post in a few days, following the pattern I set a couple of months ago. I hope I’m not being too lazy with these, but I feel like I’ve earned some laziness since writing two proper game reviews in a month, something I haven’t done for years now probably (or ever?) Until next time.

10 thoughts on “Update, part 1 (10/23/2021)

  1. I’ve actually purchased games for a system I didn’t own in the past. Wii’s were so god damn hard to find when they were first released that I bought a couple Wii games I wanted to play ahead of buying the hardware itself. I didn’t know if it’d take a year or two to get one and didn’t want to miss out on titles I had interest in playing so it made sense to just buy what I could when I could lol

    • That makes sense. Nintendo always seems to have those shortages of their consoles. I know people were out looking for the Switch a year or two back, and that was years after the damn thing was first released.

  2. It sucks things aren’t going well for you, but I hope art and entertainment will get you through these tough times. As someone who also lives in a country that’s in quite an apocalyptic mood, I can relate to some of what you have mentioned, and I think the days I feel the best are those when I avoid the news altogether and focus on working and, of course, gaming.

    Here’s hoping things will get better soon on your end!

    • Thanks for your wishes. I’m sorry to have complained about my personal issues here yet again, but then that’s kind of something I’ve always done on this site.

      I know just what you mean about avoiding the news as well. I have to keep up, of course, but there’s a difference between keeping up and getting battered with these stories every hour of the day. Getting absorbed in both work and games does help distract.

      • No need to be sorry. It’s your blog after all, and sometimes writing about our problems can help us deal with or even overcome them. =)

        Yeah, I think being totally unaware of what’s going on in the world is not ideal either, so it’s good to find a balance.

  3. I’m sorry to hear things are whacky on your end. I can relate too – even though Ontario’s opening up I still have yet to be able to do something quirky like conventions or whatnot, thanks to the overwhelming sense of paranoia from within my household. And yeah, I hate how the media is trying to overhype all the worst possible scenarios and that the government isn’t doing its job properly with handling this epidemic farce (sorry for the strong words).

    Thankfully, I’m glad to hear you at least enjoy your job and use that to the best of your advantage these days – I did the same, acquiring another part-time job in addition to my current day software developer job, so I’ll have a chunk of time accrued for work. Hopefully the 50+ hour work weeks will allow me to hide from ever saying, to quote Joker: “Is it me, or is it getting crazier out there?” daily.

    I hope the both of us can make it out alive – God help us all.

    • I hear you there. I had to miss my local anime con for the second time — I really miss attending that, but I have to take special care for various reasons. Even though I’m vaccinated. Who fucking knows at this point. And as for the media, I guess they’re doing the usual sensationalism thing, taking legitimate issues and blowing them up with those irritating headlines. Which in my opinion only serves to make people more cynical. What a mess.

      Sorry to hear it’s rough up in Canada as well. It seems nobody was truly ready for this. At least society hasn’t fallen apart in either of our countries. I still have a few relatives in Lebanon, where they were already having serious political problems, and now with COVID the economy has collapsed and the local currency has become worthless. It helps me put our problems into perspective at least. (Hope they can get the hell out at some point too, though they seem to be doing relatively okay despite everything.)

      Nice, it’s good to get more work up to a point at least. Work does help drown out the rest of the nonsense going on.

      And I hope so too. We definitely need God’s help now, for sure.

  4. Sorry you’re in such a rough place, man. I feel for you there. And I’m glad some of this stuff is shining a light into it for you.

    I might end up joining you in Yakuza Kiwami. With Lost Judgment out, but me not picking it up yet, I’ve been wanting to get into the series and decided to give Kiwami one a go after I finish Disgaea. Although how soon that might be, I can’t quite say. Still have some Item World to catch up on. And then some time spent with Captain Gordon. And I’ve been wanting to give a go at putting some things through the Dark Assembly. And I should probably pick up some units of the better classes. And then level them up a bit.

    • Thanks very much. I am happy to have some outlet to express myself fully at least; no way I could go without it.

      The work in Disgaea really never ends, does it? I have to admit I never got as far as beating the final final boss, but I did get up to beating and recruiting Priere at least. As for Kiwami, I’m already up to Chapter 3 — the first chapters fly by pretty quickly, seemingly just there to set up the plot and prepare you for what’s coming up. It’s all good so far, just what I’d hoped for.

  5. Pingback: Update, part 2 (10/31/2021: First impressions: Komi Can’t Communicate) | Everything is bad for you

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