Author Archives: Zoe

About Zoe

I am an ex-pat from Texas, a retired PC technician and crazy writer who lives in Milan with my husband, one neurotic dog, and one evil cat. I am considered opinionated and offensive. Yes, even by friends.

Game review: Let It Die for PS4

Y’all, I want to apologize for this review taking so long, and for not being able to finish Let It Die. I have only nine floors left to reach the end, and yet the thought of playing even one more time fills me with a creeping boredom so intense, I was making up house chores to avoid playing. I have fallen asleep while playing despite having just had a nap. The grind is so dreadfully boring that I actually went back to play Bloodborne, a game I swore I wouldn’t start over because the grind was so dull. I just reached a point where I said to hubby, “If I’m going to be grinding for days on end against cookie cutter clones, I should at least get rewarded with unique boss fights every now and then.”

Before I go on, I want to say that the makers of Let It Die quite often patch the game both to fix problems and to add different events. This has also made reviewing it harder because a lot of what bugged me when I first installed the game was fixed only a couple days or weeks later. This might seem like a good thing, but even the patches create their own problems that I’ll get to later. But I bring this up because within a month of this review going up, it’s possible some of what I’ll criticize won’t be in the game anymore. If you pick it up later and want to comment, “Nuh-uh Zoe, that isn’t how it works,” I’ll rebut that it was how things were when I played, and the patched version you have fixed it.

But I’m relatively confident that the game’s biggest problems cannot be fixed, and that’s the monotonous grind combined with an overly repetitive design.

Oh, also, this is a very long review. Consider this a fair warning that you’re gonna be here a while to finish this post. Continue reading


My thoughts on the weapon durability game mechanic…

Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a lot of people raving about how good it is, and watching people play on live streams, it certainly does look fun. And yet, there’s a problem that even people who like it have called out, and that’s the introduction of weapon durability. The problem isn’t that it’s a part of the game, though. No, the real problem is the exaggerated fragility of the weapons.

I’ll have to wait quite some time before I can play BotW, but I have played a number of games recently where durability is a mechanic in them, and I think it’s a good idea if it’s done right. For instance, it’s mostly okay in Dark Souls III and the original game (I still haven’t played the second installment so I can’t say how it is, but it’s on my “want to play” list.) while it’s decidedly more frustrating in Bloodborne, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and Let it Die.

In particular, Let it Die has constantly annoyed me with how fragile the weapons are, especially in the higher levels. I can carry a supply of four or five swords for one level and still not reach the next floor before I’ve used up my supply. This is a problem for many reasons. One is the high cost of the upgraded weapons, requiring a half a day of grinding for cash just to afford a decent supply. But even with cash on hand, the game blocks additional purchases of the same weapon type with a timer, so gathering my arsenal requires upwards of two hours sitting around and doing nothing. So imagine the “fun” of wasting a whole day to buy a weapon cache, only to have said cache be wiped out in twenty minutes. Continue reading


A “Where the hell have you been” update…

Yeah, I know, I’ve been a very bad writer lately, but I want you to know, it’s not just you blog readers left isolated out in the proverbial cold. I’ve been just as horrid keeping folks in the loop on Twitter and Facebook, and if you think you’ve got it rough, the poor souls following me on Tumblr and Wattpad haven’t heard a peep from me in over a year. I would love to say things will change for the better for all parties soon, but I can’t quite make a promise because things here are still iffy. But with warmer weather coming, I hope my health will recover somewhat, and then I can devote more time to you lovely peoples whom I love, respect, and admire. (You’re looking very good, by the way.)

With butt smooching and apologies out of the way, I finally have the brain cells to sit down and whack out an update to let you know where I am and what I’ve been up to. First, I should explain that this winter has been pretty damned nasty to me, with several bugs tag teaming me like some kind of sadist Wrestlemania of flus and colds. I’d just start to get over one thing when I’d get something else, and so I spent a lot of time on my couch.

In theory, that should have meant another game review for y’all, only Let It Die has proved to be a lot longer than I would have expected from a free game. That’s not an issue with the difficulty, though. It’s the absolutely dreadful RNG for crafting item drops, leading to instances where I have spent whole weeks looking for one fucking item to upgrade a weapon ONE level, and then I got to look forward to hunting for that same rare item twice or even three times. I’ll talk more about this when I can finally do a proper review, but I’ll just let you know, I will not be kind to the grind of this game. Like, at all. Fucking hate it, actually. Continue reading


Pre-review: Nioh Last Chance Demo (PS4)

I’ve got this pre-review and a new game review coming in the near future, and this is possible because both games were free. I’m looking to publish a new book in the coming months, so that may help the financial crunch that’s keeping me strapped and gameless. (and bookless)(guh, being broke sucks)(I am incidentally attempting to go overboard with parentheses))

But so let me digress and talk about Nioh, which put out a last chance demo over the weekend. It is a demo and a beta, so there’s no guarantees that some of what I’ll talk about will be in the actual release. And in breaking with tradition, I’m going to give a verdict upfront. When the demo locked me out at 1:00 AM on Monday, my first question was “Would I buy this if this were the finished product?” The answer is yes, but I will probably wait a few months in the hopes of finding it at a discounted price. That’s more to do with me being broke and needing to be choosy about what one game I can buy in any month, and as Horizon Zero Dawn is also coming out in February, I would much rather get that first.

I played through the first mission twice and had two very different impressions of the game as a result of RNG. Given that the second playthrough was far more favorable and less negative, I kinda want to talk about it first. But some of those impressions won’t make sense if I take them out of order. So just be aware that while I’ll initially have a lot of bad things to bring up, eventually this review will get around to saying something nice to balance it all out. Continue reading


Extended re-re-review: Fallout 4…modded like a boss! (PS4)

It took FOREVER for Sony and Bethesda to get mod support on Fallout 4 on the PS4, at one point even looking like it would never come to pass. I was actually in a really long run on Dark Souls III when the update came out, and then I got Dark Souls, which also distracted me for a while before I could finally give this much desired feature a chance.

At first, I couldn’t get mods to work, but that wasn’t the fault of the mods themselves. For some odd reason, I started having lag in many indoor areas, lag so bad that I was seeing single digit frame rates and really bad instances of rubber banding. My character would literally take two steps forward and then one step back, and this was the case even after I deleted all mods and started a new game with the vanilla setup.

But after a few days of searching, I found a mod that cleaned up some extra debris, and that improvement in performance allowed me to start putting on other mods, some of which were for visual flair, like Simple Green. (Adding grass and leaves to the environment so it doesn’t look so barren and lifeless.) Another one I added allowed me to make any gun I wanted, just to see what I could get away with. (Funny story in that. I made a badass rifle before groaning in dismay because I had no ammo for it. I ended up having to craft a much less wicked .38 pipe pistol because that’s the more common ammo found in the early areas. Once I had some ammo to test my monster combat rifle, oh, baby, was it fun to use!)

I gave the mods a test run, completing one game on normal mode before I downloaded a mod that changed the time scale of the world to real time. Then I started a new game in survival mode to see if having a longer day/night cycle would address my problems with the constant prompts for food and water. Oh, and I also made a ring that gave me crazy amounts of XP for kills, making it much easier to level up and try out new perks that I’d previously left alone because I didn’t consider them essential. More on that in a bit. Continue reading


Game review: Dark Souls for Xbox360

I got a little amount of cash for Christmas, not enough for a proper new game, though. But as I’ve played something like 600 hours in Dark Souls III, I figured why not get the first game and see what’s changed? So I went to the local game shop, and as luck would have it, they had exactly one copy of the Prepare to Die edition in stock.

Before I get to the proper review, I want to address some complaints about the third installment. I see a lot of fans complain that Dark Souls III is totally different from the original game, and I gotta say, I’m not in agreement with that opinion. The third game is in many ways a refinement of all these ideas that started in the first. The menus and interface are more intuitive to use, the camera is less wonky, and the fast travel system is much, much better in the final installment. But almost everything else is quite similar. Many of the items and enemies found in the first game are in the third installment, and now having played the first game, and then gone back to play the third over again, I can see all the ways From Software is elbowing me in the ribs and going “Remember that? Wasn’t it great?”

And it can be great at times, when it isn’t being clunky or clumsy. The controls are so slow to react, and the dodge roll is pretty useless in most situations. I could hold the stick to the left, press the dodge roll four times, and go every direction EXCEPT to the left. I couldn’t reliably roll and execute a thrust attack because rather than thrust at the camera locked enemy, my character would instead attack thin air in whichever direction she was facing when she finished the roll. The camera lock is even more wonky than the later From Software games I’ve played, but I had to use it because attempting to fight without it often resulted in a gloriously clumsy dance where my character and the enemy both swung half a dozen times without either ever once connecting for a hit. Continue reading


Book review: The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue

The Boy Who Drew Monsters was my Halloween read, although I started it a day early. The first few chapters really sucked me in, but near the middle of the book it lost me, and reading the last chapters just dragged on and on because the story both loses momentum and does a terrible job of answering the questions its posed.

Jack Peter, or JP, or Jip, is an autistic boy who hasn’t left his house since almost drowning three years before the start of the book. Only that’s a lie the blurb tells, and he frequently leaves his house for trips to his therapist. Another lie the blurb tells is that he’s just recently started to draw monsters and they somehow come to life. Also not true.

Jack is a boy with extraordinary powers that he has always had, but no one noticed before, somehow. The circumstances of his near drowning are murky, but seem to be an attempted murder that backfired. His parents are friends with the parents of his best friend Nick, although I’m not sure how that can be when Tim had an affair with Nick’s mother, and everyone seems to know it even if it’s never explained when this all came out.

I guess that’s my real problem with the book. All the things I had questions about were glossed over, and the only question that did get answered in the end felt like a really, really stupid answer. I had so little interest in the story that it’s taken me this long just to write up a review.

I’m giving The Boy Who Drew Monsters 2 stars. If this is horror, it’s the kind of crappy PG-13 horror someone might make for a kid’s movie (assuming the one dull sex scene was edited out, that is). It’s never scary and wastes the potential it started out with. I can’t even think of anyone I’d recommend this to. There are better ways to waste time with. Navel gazing, for instance.