Nioh Sub-Mission – The Red Oni of Li (Montage)


A Hack N' Slash Worth Your Time?“Nioh” has a beloved place in my heart.  I cannot quite quantify why it stands out to me in the current pantheon of Soulsborne titles, but…it does…

I am a huge fan of “Demon’s Souls,” which was further compounded by Sony announcing a “Demon’s Souls” remaster via Bluepoint Games during their PlayStation 5 reveal event. However, I never latched onto the “Dark Souls” trilogy or “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice” (yet), but I do quite enjoy “Bloodborne.” The only ‘x-factor’ that I can determine contributing towards my affinity for “Nioh,” “Demon’s Souls,” and “Bloodborne” is that they are more action and offensive-based, rather than the more defensive and parry-based combat presented in the others.

I digress– one of my main goals for this year (gaming-wise) was to finally finish the first “Nioh” in its entirety. I have played through the first region or two an innumerable amount of times now, but never quite got a round to finishing it.  However, just a few weeks before writing this I accomplished my goal! I finished “Nioh,” dived headlong into the DLC, and quickly purchased the collector’s edition of “Nioh 2.”

ii-naomasaThis video encompasses some of the footage that I gathered, while finishing my run of the original “Nioh.” Later in the campaign, the training room, otherwise known as the ‘Dojo,’ advancing and includes duels that you can partake in with NPCs to help unlock new skills to learn. Essentially, your player-character proves his worth and thus gains new abilities to better equip yourself for the future onslaught of difficult enemy types and bosses.

This is one such battle. I montaged my failed attempts with my successful one to help showcase a small vertical slice of my editing skills as well as how “Nioh” plays and some of the more difficult duels that are present throughout the game.

The combat really lends itself to these encounters, and I think helps accentuate the game’s stellar mechanics, visually.

Enjoy the ride, and hopefully you get a good laugh at my failed attempts and maybe a couple ‘wow’ moments as particular moves are pulled off or the fluidity of the combat in a three-year old game.

Now onto the montage!

Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure (PS4, PSV) – A Review


co20e3If you had asked me within the past decade, “Do you think the ‘Brick Breaker’ genre could make a comeback?”  I would have dismissively said, “No.” That being said, I definitely made an err in judgement. “Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbol Adventure” by Lillymo Games is simultaneously a wonderful throwback to an era in video games long lost to the annals of time as well as clever modernization of the genre for a new era.

First let us rewind the clock a bit— Brick Breakers are at their core a sub-genre of the 1972, arcade (and early home consoles’) classic, “Pong.”  Four-years later, Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, would refine the bat-and-ball premise with “Breakout,” which besides having a ball and paddle incorporated bricks to destroy in order to rack-up a high score.  Many years later a game aptly named, “Brick Breaker,” would truly cement the sub-class’s moniker, however, even with its eponymous name it is still deemed a ‘Breakout Clone.’

“Twin Breaker” takes the history and nostalgia of “Breakout” (and others—like 1986’s Arkanoid) and pays loving homage, while also adding in a lacquer of polish to an otherwise archaic mold.  “Twin Breaker” captures the chirpy, chiptunes that always accompanied older games, the (nearly) everlasting pixel art aesthetic, and the arcadey action of “Breakout.” It does so with ease, but if it were to merely clone an arcade title that has been duplicated so many times before, “Twin Breaker” would have been left wanting.  Instead, it brings the genre into a new decade by adding in modern sensibilities.  

Not only does “Twin Breaker” take a tried-and-true genre and bring it to 2020, but it does so with smashing success.

Colin Moriarty, (one of the developers of “Twin Breaker,” owner/founder of Colin’s Last Stand, and co-host to a plethora of podcasts including “Sacred Symbols”) wrote a fantastic, science-fiction narrative to pair with an already solid title.  It is exploratory in its palaver with the audience as it provides humor with more-serious underpinnings and motifs. Conveyed via splash screens and dialogue bubbles between Colin and Chris (the two protagonists of the game), it dissects a very real possibility of Earth’s place in the universe and how humanity’s interactions with one another could aid or hinder the celestial hierarchy without any of us truly knowing.  

Pretty weighty stuff, eh?  Don’t be too alarmed by the story.  It isn’t unnecessarily filled with jargon or high end philosophical stances; it merely expresses these issues as a framework, while the more tongue-in-cheek humor in the dialogue fleshes out the rest of the story.  That being said, if you wanted to dive headlong into the lore of this universe, there are codexes to unlock that further the player’s understanding of the world that they are experiencing. Playing a Brick Breaker that includes a narrative is rare and perhaps unheard of— The story and dialogue do not feel needlessly tacked onto an already decent ”Breakout” clone.  The story uplifts and fits snugly within the gameplay and vice-a-versa.

In addition to the inclusion of a narrative, “Twin Breaker” also works in innovative gameplay mechanics that keeps the pacing and moment-to-moment action thrilling and incredibly viable.  Every ten levels (in the 40 level campaign) features a unique boss battle, which work masterfully in the game’s pacing of difficulty. Halfway through “Twin Breaker,” two pairs of paddles are introduced, resulting in my favorite line of the game delivered by Colin’s “Sacred Symbol’s” podcast co-host, Chris, “This should make things a little easier.” (F.Y.I. It doesn’t).  However, this gameplay addition provides more difficulty and increases tension, which ultimately applies a nice little twist to the level designs that implement this feature. 

4-Paddles

In addition to the narrative, bosses, and refreshing nature of the game mechanics, this $9.99 digital package also includes several different gameplay modes which include: Marathon, Pong, Random, Shooter, Catcher, and Boss Rush modes.  You can check out how all of these modes function by watching our ASInquisitor Twitch stream VOD, which has been edited and uploaded to YouTube by clicking the link here: Let’s Play – Twin Breakers: A Sacred Symbols Adventure

“Twin Breaker” is a steal at $9.99 on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita (after all “Sacred Symbols” is in reference to Sony’s famous iconography emblazoned across their controllers), but that ten-dollar purchase will net you both copies because it is a cross-buy transaction.  Now onto the trophies: There are technically two separate trophy lists depending on which copy of the game you play, so even though each individual trophy is identical to its counterpart, you have the opportunity to achieve two platinum trophies. As a PS4 and Vita owner, I found this to be particularly enticing.  Personally, I find the trophy list to be fair, but still challenging. It will take you approximately three-hours to complete the campaign and perhaps 7-to-9 hours in total to achieve that coveted platinum trophy.

I highly recommend “Twin Breaker,” especially if you grew-up with arcades and classic home consoles.  It scratches a particular itch that not a lot of other games can reach. In our first ever review score for ASInquisitor, my lovely “Rage Quit” podcast co-host, Ariel, and I give it 4.5 ‘Polar Bear Paws’ out of 5. 

“Twin Breaker” gleefully harkens back to a golden era of arcades and Ataris with just the right amount of modernity.

Atop His Tower


He stood atop his ivory tower with a grin and swagger unbefitting for his age.  He had become callous, twisted, the very villain that he had once despised.  He fit the role perfectly.  His cloak billowed out into the fading light, folding and shifting, mimicking silken spectres caught in the twilight.

He had once been told:

Those who are not honest are more-truthful in the night.  It brings a certain gravitas to conversations that can rarely be replicated in the day’s light.  It’s our devout understanding of humanism, that drives us to bleed into others…but, only in the dark.

Why look into the eyes of your tormentor?

Flashes of gold and scarlet, beg pedanticism, but hardly do we relish in candor during God’s hours.  We want the truth when He’s away, and rightfully so.  Our sins are our own, once shared.

Evergreens spread into the valley like Ross’ happy trees, and not only did he not notice or care, he desired to burn them.  He needed the crackle and the heat to ignite that missing spark—  The one that had been missing, but ‘oh-so’ yearned for.  His scruff hung, like a dangling preposition, casting shadows upon his cheekbones—  Filling in the lines that had been scratched over.  His should-be blue eyes remained perpetually grey now.  They couldn’t shine for what they couldn’t see.  They could only show what they felt.

It began to rain.  The moon had risen—high and tight—blossoming into fruition, desperately calling to forgotten astronauts and lonesome bees.  It was impregnated by a lost spouse.  One that she had never met.  One that she wanted to know, but never would.

The man in the cloak stood, defying a God that he refused to believe in.  It poured.  Lightning cascaded through the sheets of rain like a wayward speedster looking for the reverse to be true—  Caught between the heavens and the ground it finally struck in a boom and a flash.  The Evergreen laid broken and split, smoldering like a corpse.  It gasped its last breath and then escaped into the cold, cold rain.

He remained.  Watching.  Ever-present.  Assuming the role of villain; making sure that the world still turned, or rather…

…burned.

Ivory Tower by TSONLINE via DeviantArt
Ivory Tower by TSONLINE via DeviantArt

Our People


Statue of LibertyI found God on the back of a dollar bill.  He spoke with few words— Some might say only in sign language, but I could hear the shouts.  The eternal struggles of a people.  Not those who fled across a desert, but those that live in paper temples— Traded in their glass houses for something more-flammable.  Whoosh.

Our people washed ashore.  Broken…forgotten, but determined.  We slaughtered our way to the Golden Arches in a mere two-and-a-half centuries, and while the world laughed we kept quite till the bombs fell.

We stayed silent.

We bided our time.  The world came crawling…begging for our help.  Before we walked on the moon, we ended a Great War.  Now who was laughing?  Definitely not the sleeping giant—  We were proud.  We built great things, we defined generations with our ingenuity, we carved the face of the world in our nuclear image, but we stumbled…we bloated.

And, then the flies came.

They picked at our flesh and laid their eggs in the crevasses of our economy, education, and the very hearts and minds of our people.  We call ourselves progressives as hate runs rampant.  The peaceful have become weak.  There was once a time when the peaceful picked up muskets to fight a world power, and now Guerrillas do the same.

The giant is down—  Pinned by sticks and rope.  We traveled to lands with little people, but we were never meant to stand in quicksand…we were meant to stand tall.  Lady Liberty please light the way, again.  Please Lady Liberty…please.

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