Blaugust Prompt #13 – 5 Facts

Jen from Bookofjen has a prompt for us: 

Tell us five things about yourself!

Thanks for the prompt, Jen! Check her blog out! The next one in line is Heather from Geeking By! Check her blog out as well! 🙂

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

Alas, the five-fact-list is starting now… This one should be not too depressing!

Fact 1: I’m getting better at cooking.

This should be no surprise since I’ve lived alone for nearly two years now (The 3rd of September marks the beginning of the third year!) but I actually am getting better at that cooking business.

Over time, I’m really good at knowing what spices and what things are missing in dishes and I’m very good at spicing up veggies, for instance. I don’t have too many mishaps anymore with too much salt or too much pepper and am also getting better at cooking meat through to certain points.

That’s something that I’ve been excited about lately. After all, food is important but it should also taste good and since I love cooking for other people, including friends and my girlfriend, I want them to enjoy their food as well. 

The things I work on right now is getting faster and more confident with the knives and actually being able to create dishes that look good. 

The latter is somewhat of a bad habit of mine where I don’t care about the look of the food if it’s food for “only” me. I’ll eat it regardless of how it looks… but I wouldn’t want to take a dump on other people’s plates and serve it to them, so I’m trying to get better at actually making it look good. For that, I tend to take a look at different veggies and their colours and stuff to essentially balance out the colour palette. Before cooking them, I tend to boil them for a bit before putting them into cold water… “to blanch” veggies is very good to stop them from cooking too much and losing their colour, which is important in the case of sweet potatoes who turn brown instead of orange… or beans that lose a lot of their green. You can also peel off tomato skins using that method.

Hence, I go through a bit more of an effort to make the actual dish look good. Forming the rice is also really nice… experimenting with the look and presentation of the sauce on the plate… that kinda stuff. 

The former thing about knives is a bit of a fear of mine. Before I started my blog, I accidentally stabbed myself with a knife into the left hand. So, now, I tend to be super scared of using knives since I don’t want to cause another red wedding in my flat, worrying everyone and passing out on the floor and stuff. 

To get better at knife-work, I try to challenge myself while cutting up veggies and to try and filet meat easier while also trying out different techniques… overall, it’s a process and I’m excited about getting better at it.

Fact 2: I hate tier lists.

While maybe surprising, I hate tier lists like this one. I don’t enjoy writing about something without connecting different dots in some way together. Lists don’t have anything to do with knife-work or food. Shopping lists are handy but as a post? I’d hate that! So, let’s try and get this over with…

Maybe, it’s a bit of an ego-issue but I tend to devalue posts like “top 20 games budgets” that essentially represent a five-minute Google search… Obviously, these posts also take work… obviously, they are also a time investment for the author. But I just don’t like them. My list right now already took more time to write than their post over there – and yet, it’s content produced for the masses. Stuff, that people enjoy and like. 

I hate it. I devalue it and I doubt that’s a bad thing either. It’s just opinion that I don’t rate posts about facts or lists or whatever highly.

I’ll hate this post, even if it probably does a lot better than my other posts. 

Fact 3: I enjoy anime.

This one is probably no surprise after the manga review that I did on Girl By The Sea or after talking about Necrobarista and Milky Way Prince. 

Generally, I wouldn’t consider myself a “fan” as the fandom consists of weebs and self-proclaimed “otakus” that constantly use at least one Japanese word per sentence… and I also don’t like a lot of the gatekeeping and hate that is going on in the fandom… and the sexism, bigotry and double standards… and the harassment of cosplayers… and the number of people thirsting over girls while obviously being toxic assholes… yeah, I don’t want to be part of that community.

But at the same, I guess I’m a “fan” since I enjoy a fair amount of anime and watched a fair amount myself so far and since I still actively watch shows whose episodes come out every week… it’s just that I don’t enjoy all of the fandom-aspects of it. I talked about it for a bit in the fandom-post a while back… But there are a lot of things that I’ve left uncommented…

Fact 4: My favourite numbers are 17 and 19.

Honestly, I don’t know why people would choose any other numbers… 19 is my absolute favourite number, so I had the habit of using it a lot when I created exercises for students of mine… but sometimes, when they were about to notice, I’d use (the inferior… but also really pretty) 17 to confuse them. They are both prime numbers as well, which is quite cool! 

A past professor of mine really liked 15 and 28. What a weirdo. 

And a friend of mine really liked 5/7, though I can understand that he liked that number a lot… 

…I really hope that I meet normal friends when I study English studies. I really hope that we can talk about normal stuff… my math friends were weird and they made me even weirder. 

Fact 5: I used to do Kendo, Iaido, Iodo and Muay Thai.

Okay, the latter was something that I initially wanted to do… but I ended up not being able to since I moved away shortly afterwards… but I did train Kendo (The Way of the Sword), Iaido (The Way of the Drawing of the Sword), and Iodo (The Way of the Stick) for a bit more than a year. 

It was a lot of fun and helped me with a lot of issues from my posture to my self-discipline to anger-management, I guess. I really enjoyed it when I passed one of the exams, the 6th Kyu (it’s the first thing you do and it goes down to the 1st Kyu and then you get the 1st Dan, all the way up to the 6th – at least in Germany).

Quite often, we’d travel somewhere as well to learn more about other schools and techniques and we’d also have joint exercises with other schools and dojos. Once, we had a workshop of sorts with other dojos of other martial arts and we were able to experience some more Iaido taught to us by a 4th Dan who passed the exam for the 5th in Japan (!) but didn’t accept it since he felt that he didn’t deserve it yet. I even got to learn a bit of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and we did some exercises on Kung Fu, or specifically the Pak Sao techniques. 

Sadly, it didn’t work out with that since I had to work, I had my girlfriend at the time, school stuff, the training, and lots more going on. In the end, I had to make the right call and prioritize something… 

When I had less work, I wanted to train something again, and Muay Thai seemed like a cool thing that I could enjoy, mainly since my ex-girlfriend at the time talked a lot about it. My long legs were quite optimal for it since I had the necessary speed and height to kick people’s head without them reaching me but sadly, I couldn’t practice it too much… Once the “Rona” stops, I may actually pick it up again and start over. I would have loved to do Iaido or Iodo again but I don’t have my old equip anymore…

Cheers!

Indietail – Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star

Remember that one time where you had that magical moment where you first fell in love with someone? When the stars aligned and everything seemed perfect? When you told yourself: “This is it.”

I remember that one time where the clouds broke up and the sun was shining after this rainy day. When I spotted her, sitting next to me, doodling in her notebook. As the professor was talking about something boring, I couldn’t help myself but get caught in her countenance. It was such an average moment with nothing special to it – but I couldn’t help myself dreaming of a common future or something that connected us, even if we were strangers. I had similar moments in the past. Love at first sight. A distinct connection that you feel to people you hardly know. Fate. Destiny. Magic. Whatever, you want to call it.

Developer: Eyeguys, Lorenzo Redaelli
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Genre: Visual Novel, Indie, Dark Romance, Anime
Release Date: August 13th, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC - coming soon to Switch, PS4 and XBOX One!
Copy received from the devs.

In today’s review, we’re talking about Milky Way Prince – The Vampire Star, a partially autobiographical dark-romance visual novel about Sune and Nuki, two young men whose passionate love affair collided with their inner demons. It’s a game about intimacy, idealization and abusive relationships. Hence, there’s a trigger warning.

We play as Nuki, a young man with a fascination for stars, who is being somewhat melancholic during the last days of summer. His obsession with stars goes as far as owning a pet starfish and gazing stars at the horizon and the ceiling of his room. One day, something crazy happens and after following a shooting star, he gets to meet and falls in love with Sune, another young man who seems to be upset about something. We want to know more about the two characters. We want to discover what’s up with Sune. We want to know if it works out. I really had my fingers crossed for the two of them… but some things are not meant to be, right? Sometimes it doesn’t work out. Sometimes, your issues get into the way. Your past haunts you while you’re sabotaging your luck.

The game’s constantly enigmatic, drawing you in, wanting you to cheer for the two unfortunate souls… but then you get rejected or accepted, based on your choices and senses. You want to help Sune and you want Nuki to be happy but in certain key moments, you just end up feeling the weight of your words and the way that you can harm others. It’s not that simple.

You can’t just help someone. Even if you want to be there for them, you can cause them more pain by doing so. Get caught in the moment and make one mistake, suddenly you’re feeling down in the slumps again as you give yourself the fault for the unfortunate outcome… And then you do it again or do better and it’s just a rollercoaster of emotions. It can work out! You can make it work! Or can you? I’m not sure.

And when you think that everything is alright, nothing is. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything wrong but there are always (at least) two people in a relationship. There are two sides to an argument, right?

While playing the game, I constantly saw myself in the characters. Getting eager, reading too much into certain feelings, feeling the passion, being up in the clouds and wanting to feel more… and then you’re down in the slumps again. Past abusive relationships that I had made me feel just like that. I see it. I see certain patterns and I get reminded of what I did wrong, even if it’s not about me. It’s about Nuki and Sune. It’s about the past experiences of Lorenzo Redaelli, the developer of the game. It’s about intimacy and idealization. It’s about mental health and problems. It’s about passion and struggle. Love and pain.

The game follows these kinds of patterns. You have moments where you enjoy yourself with Sune or where you are talking to yourself, thinking about things, and reflecting on a lot of stuff. But there are also choices. You can change the outcome. It doesn’t have to end badly. It doesn’t have to end well. You decide. And that’s something that surprised me. Your actions, your words, they reveal secrets and information. No playthrough is like the other, and I loved that about this game.

And when Nuki is with Suni… when they love each other, you’re able to use this special and innovative mechanic where you chose different senses to influence the sex, the love, the passion. Find out something new. Bring light into the darkness… or add more shadows to it? Control what happens, without it being too graphic. I liked that idea and the different outcomes are really interesting. I’m not sure if I’ve seen something like that in other games before!

On top of that, the game’s presentation is just amazing. Very abstract and ominous. At times quiet, at times loud. The game’s original, space-y, baroque electropop soundtrack is amazing and truly adds a lot to your experience… but it also lets you reflect on things at times. When you’re alone, all by yourself… Just you by yourself, the game’s quiet. You look at your phone, at the ceiling, at your mirror, and the game’s quiet. Silence is important. I highly enjoyed that aspect.

And then there’s the colours and the art style. Abstract. Minimalistic. At times just magical. The neon colours and all the different tones of red… they just add a lot to it. Sometimes it’s brighter and sometimes darker. Usually quite fitting to your feelings and your inner world. At times you see very interesting metaphors and images, although I don’t want to spoil it too much either, right now. In the end, my experience got enhanced by this and I highly enjoyed it, especially because of this art style that is so different from other games.

I guess the only issue that I had with the game was that it, at times, was too abstract for me. There have been some similes and images that I didn’t get… I also wasn’t able to tell when something was real and when something wasn’t. At times, I was wondering if it’s just a daydream or some sort of metaphor that Nuki uses to solve the problems he has. At times, I was confused… while at other times, I wasn’t sure which interpretation and which theory would be the most accurate.

Sometimes, I also had an issue with how Sune would react to things that Nuki said. You chose some of the dialogue options but sometimes the results or the reactions of Sune would be unexpected and it made me feel helpless. This is both an issue and a feature, in my opinion, as in real situations these kinds of things happen as well. You don’t get the expected results from a conversation. You cannot completely understand everyone. It doesn’t work like that. So, at times, I felt as if the choices were worded differently from the intention that I thought they would convey… which was an issue at one or two instances… but at the same time, it adds a bit of realism to the experience.

In the end, I couldn’t really talk too much about the game’s story itself but more about its topics and what I liked about it. It was somewhat hard to not spoil anything but I think I did a good job here… especially since there is so much that I didn’t talk about at all!

My first experience with this game was awesome and I still have goosebumps even while thinking back at it. I highly recommend this game… but I’m not sure if it’s for everyone. There are certain triggers in there. If you can’t deal with heavier topics like mental health issues, abusive relationships, borderline personality disorder, and the like, I wouldn’t recommend this to you. Otherwise, it’s a great experience that is definitely worth checking out!

The different endings and plot lines, the small secrets and the different choices really add a lot of replay value to the game, and even after you’re done with one ending or a lot of them, you’ve still got a ton of room for theory crafting, analysis, and speculation, so the game doesn’t end when you’re done with it, which is interesting and one of the many reasons as to why I’m recommending this.

Cheers!

TSS#67 – Blaugust Prompt #1 – Fandoms

Blaugust is here! I mean, August is here! 

Alas, here’s the first prompt by Belghast: “If you could change anything about one of your core fandoms, what would it be?” – and I’m already confused. My issue with this one is that I don’t think I’m part of really any fandom… at least I’m no active member of any bigger communities of fans of a genre, game, show, band, etc. But I’ll do my best to answer this prompt!

I guess that I’m a relatively big fan of Anime and Manga. I do read my fair share and watch quite a bunch right now. The only problem with the fandom I have, though, is the weebs. And I’m not trying to be inappropriate but usually, there is a “too far” for everything: 

Chocolate can be sweet but it can also be “too bitter”. You can drink a bunch of beers but you can also take it “too far” and get alcohol poisoning. 

I binged Kokkoku, the other day, btw – and I can highly recommend it!

With the anime fandom, it’s the same. 

According to Proxer.me (my streaming service of choice for ages now), I’ve watched a total of 5134 Anime episodes so far, not counting in episodes watch on other sites. As far as Manga chapters go, the number is at 811, not counting in chapters, manhwa, webtoons, light novels, etc. read on other sites. 

But I know people with bigger and smaller numbers that are way too extreme in regards to the fandom. I’m talking about people that don’t just watch anime… I’m talking about people that breathe anime. -> Weebs or weaboos. 

And well, the thing I’d change about them is just the fact that I don’t want them to call me an “otaku” or a “fellow weeb” because that’s insulting. That’s it. I have no problem with them being the way they are. I have no problem with them loving what they do. I just don’t like it when some of them try to convince others that those other people are also “otakus” (which is an insult if I remember correctly, to begin with). 

I really gotta finish this show up eventually… but I also am watching way too many other shows…

As far as other fandoms go, I used to be part of the Dr Who fandom and a few communities but then the constant discussions about “the best Doctor” and the diehard fans that don’t like a female doctor got on my nerves. Christopher Eccleston (or the Ninth Doctor) is probably my favourite but I’d never go as far as to go that he’s “the best doctor” since there is no universal truth like that. Matt Smith? David Tennant? Peter Capaldi? All great doctors! Loved them! I would not want to convince others, however, that these people are “the best” over others.

Uh, other fandoms… I’m a support main in League of Legends and since I love playing the role, I’d consider that a fandom of sorts, I guess? Anyways, I’d change the Janna Mains. I fucking hate them. It’s not about their champs… it’s also not about ALL of them… it’s just about the toxic ones because Janna Mains are the most fucking obnoxious and toxic support players in League. Janna is a champion that doesn’t require too much skill and that is really well at disengaging enemies and enabling their ADC. While I like playing her every now and then, I don’t usually do it nowadays, as she’s still missing a bunch of things that I like with other enchanters. She’s also just a champion played by toxic people that I don’t want to get associated with. Same goes for Nami Mains that build Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. Don’t. Fucking. Do. That. For reals. Your Q is a knock-up, your E is a slow already and your ultimate is a knock-up as well. You don’t really need the slow, especially as slows don’t stack in League. 

Btw, this is probably my favourite Janna skin. Way too adorable!

But in the end, I’m just complaining about extremes here. I feel like every fandom and every community has certain “Stans” and “extreme fans” that just take things too far or trolls and idiots that just act in bad faith, as everwake pointed out as well. I feel like there is always one shitty person for every ten good people, period. Not just in fandoms. Of course, there are also people that just try to diehard defend their own object of interest while degrading, as Bel noted, and I’d include those parts of these fandoms in the “shitty person” analogy as well.

I don’t think that you can change people that easily but I feel like people shouldn’t just look at the negative side of these fandoms but also the positive side with all the creators, cosplayers, artists, writers, bloggers, authors, theorists, analysts, etc. that provide us all with a bunch of awesome things

But I don’t really consider myself a part of any fandom… I mean, of course, I’m a fan of a bunch of things but I don’t usually interact with too many “likeminded” people apart from the Blaugustans or people in different discord and twitch communities. And regarding the “Blaugust Fandom”, I don’t really know what I’d change if at all. 🙂

So that was my take on the first prompt. You can find “the original post” here, made by Bel. Tomorrow’s prompt is being presented by Dragonray from Azerothian Life who (from what I could tell) is a blogger who is mostly writing about their adventures in World of Warcraft. Bel also talked highly of them, so I’m looking forward to browsing some more on that blog, despite not actually playing WoW. 🙂

This post is part of the Blaugust 2020 event. Wanna know more about it? Then check out my post on it or Bel’s post where he also linked everyone who’s participating! Be sure to check out the others as well!

Indietail – Necrobarista

At last year’s GamesCom I interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist from Route 59, who at the time worked on Necrobarista. Now that the game is out I got a key for review purposes and, well,…

TLDR: I love it. It’s a great game. Why? Find out here!

Developer: Route 59
Publisher: Route 59, Coconut Island Games
Genres: Supernatural, 3D, Story Rich, Visual Novel
Release Date: July 22nd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC - but PS4 and Switch are planned soon as well!
Copy was provided by the Devs.

Necrobarista is about time. Time to move on – or time to stay. Somewhere in a backstreet of Melbourne, there’s a CafĂ© where both the alive and the healthy come to. When you pass away, you have 24 hours to stay in that CafĂ©, have a drink and then move on… and Necrobarista tells a story about the owners of that CafĂ© and the people that come there. It’s a story about the ethics of Necromancy, hipster coffee, and letting go.

Strap on for a haunting and innovative experience and a haunting, yet cosy, time!

Meet Maddy, Chay, Ashley, and Ned – as well as a bunch of other characters! Get to know them! Listen to them and have a cosy time. I really liked the characters as all of them had a certain depth to them (without spoiling too much here). There’re all kinds of characters in all kinds of shapes and colours, so there’s some degree of inclusiveness here with representation for all kinds of people, which is something that I really fancy.

Necrobarista has a certain cosy slice-of-life-ness to it that I really enjoyed while playing. On top of that, though, it also has some intense moments here and there as well as some rather emotional moments. Think about it: It’s your last day on earth. I’ll just leave that there and you can think about it all you want, get emotional or shrug it off. Whatever you feel like. The story leaves a lot of room for interpretation and analysis, which is something that I personally really enjoyed doing. At some plot points, it made me feel down a bit but other plot points felt really nice and wholesome in a way. And while overall cosy, it gets intense later on as well.

What’s interesting is that you don’t spectate the story from the lens of one character that looks at all the characters interacting with only them, like in a lot of other visual novels, but rather you get different perspectives and points of view. You get to see the characters from the POV of one character or from above or the camera moves around a bit, panning while you read the text. There are no text boxes on the bottom side of the screen. Instead, you see them floating near the characters. You always know who’s talking but they are always somewhere else, making the game feel more whole and organic. It’s lovely.

A lot of these feelings are conveyed through the colours and the soundtrack. Necrobarista’s soundtrack has been composed by Kevin Penkin who’s known for making the soundtrack of Under The Dog, Made in Abyss, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. I’d put Necrobarista’s soundtrack on the same level as Made in Abyss. I love it to bits. It’s cosy and joyful, endearing and amusing but it also can be intense and mystic, enigmatic and threatening. That – combined with the lo-fi style that uses not only gorgeous images and colours but also some slight animations here and there – makes this just a wonderful experience.

And while I would have loved this game to branch out into choices and a story with different kinds of stories that you can explore over time, it really is not that kind of game.

It’s linear but still quite rich. I love the story and the aesthetic. The characters are great. The soundtrack underlines the plot points and brings the best out of everything. Again, I can’t praise Kevin Penkin enough but after what he did in Made in Abyss, it’s no surprise that the soundtrack for this game turned out so great. It sticks to your head and you notice a “sound” that you ultimately recognize as “Necrobarista-like” – or at least that’s what I feel like when I hear those tunes somewhere else now.

The story is linear but doesn’t need the branches. Of course, there is still some degree regarding choices.

For instance, you get to pick words that you’ve heard from different people at the end of every chapter. These words get associated with different meanings and subjects or people depending on the context and the character that said them. When you pick them, you then gain memory fragments from different categories. You then can use these fragments in the CafĂ© while walking around before continuing the story. You use them to unlock side stories or “memories” (essentially extra lore) that you can read on to learn more about the characters.

You click on “Blood” and get a fragment for “Magic” as it was mentioned in that context. You click on “Weather” and get a fragment for “Melbourne” as they were talking about a storm brewing. You click on “Minor Demon” and get a fragment for “Lore” as it’s part of the world that those exist… and “bowl of peas” belongs to “Food” as Ned loves them. Use these different fragments up for some nice and short stories in between chapters and collect more to unlock more stories. At some point, you’ll get through the main story but you can always load previous chapters and load previous save states, so it shouldn’t be a problem to unlock all of them, especially as you can view what you need and what you have already in the “memories” section of the pause menu.

I liked this feature. It creates a bit of replayability which is quite nice overall.

And you also get to explore the space a bit to unlock more short stories. Visit the basement or the bar, the CafĂ©’s upper area or the outside area. Look at different objects.

Enjoy the view. Take some pretty screenshots! I did, too! A lot of them!

But seriously. It’s a great game. I guess this is not a game for you if you’re not into reading or if you don’t like Visual Novels or anime or stories revolving around life and death… or if you feel like there’s not enough action in this game… but that’s your loss then. I highly recommend this game. I didn’t find any issues with it. The story, presentation, the characters, the gameplay, and the score were just great if not even superb and I loved it.

Necrobarista just came out on Steam! Check it out or wishlist it! Highly recommend it!

I’m glad that I saw it at last year’s GamesCom. I’m glad that I did that interview. I’m glad that I started this blog. Next week, the blog turns a year old and if it wasn’t for the blog I wouldn’t have been able to write about all kinds of topics and about these kinds of games. I love it. I hope you’re enjoying the blog posts, too. Until then.

Cheers!