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Vague location spoilers for Rise of the Tomb Raider; some spoilers for romantic options and character stories in Dragon Age: Inquisition


OK, I’m here. Have the Xmas busy.

Played a bit. Mostly, this was dude killing, but good, exciting dude killing. It was the “Sneak through the village” (Which, as we know, is sneak, kill two dudes, feel good about yourself, get seen, go shotgun) bit, and now I’m at the “Get into the place” bit. Which place? That place with the….well…it’s hard to be specific in this game.

Two thoughts (neither involving Johnson Physics, as it’s only Wednesday):

The difficulty balance is really, really spot on. Played a good hour, it was sneaky killy the whole way, and I died once. Just once! And yet, the whole time, it was TENSE. A whole lot of “OMIGOD I’m down to the last leaf! Oh my god he almost got me!” Rare to have that much tense without so many load screens. I wonder why we’re getting that a notch up from default. Are we just that good?

Also, we touched on this before but I was reminded last night: I think they really did make a concerted effort to make Lara’s deaths less ooky and her kills more ooky. I think they did intend a metaphor there. I did my first “water stealth” kill last night and….eww. I was reminiscent of the vaguely sexualized violence of the first one, but backwards. She’s there, lying on top of the guy, strangling away, but it’s him that ends up dead and floating away. Indeed, it was SO reminiscent of the ooky deaths in game one that, at first, I thought I had fucked up somehow and I had died. “Why did that kill me oh it didn’t. Oh. OH!”

I don’t think it’s a mistake.

Which begs an interesting question: Game one was criticized, rightly or wrongly, for those vaguely sexualized death scenes. We have a problem switching the sides?


Ugh. Don’t mention Christmas.

Work busy…in a meeting. Will review in more detail later!


Merry merry! Deck the halls!


“Christmas monkey, Christmas monkey, nobody knows about Christmas monkey…”

Two can play that game.



That’s full molotov dude.


You started it, man.

OK, where were we?

I also thought the “sneak through the village (until you get spotted and have to go on a rampage)” bit was effective. I died a lot more than you, though (should have had the shotgun! I had some assault rifle or other), so this “are we that good?” question should probably just turn into you being that good.

I suggest you take it and revel in it. You’re really just that good, man. Enjoy it.

I remember that stealth water kill! Nasty indeed. Just…like…I mean, she really killed the hell out of that guy. I don’t know if it’s entirely equivalent to the slightly sexualized deaths of Lara herself in the first game, though, partly because this guy had a lot of bulky clothing concealing his sexy, sexy body, and partly because this guy was a guy.

We can argue about whether or not that’s fair, but I think it’s true that certain things suggest ‘sexy’ for a female character and don’t necessarily suggest it, or don’t suggest it nearly as strongly, for a male one.

Say, sprawling limply with limbs akimbo as you float downstream.

I would argue that on a woman’s body that sort of posture reads a lot like the displays of surrender and passion and “hey I’m just hanging out splayed on this bed here ’cause why not?” that we see all the time in every form of media providing wholesome entertainment and selling everything anybody could possibly want to buy.

On a man’s body it reads at least as much like “that dude is dead” or possibly passed out drunk or badly injured or something. I mean, maybe he’s surrendering to passion, sure, it could be, but that’s not the first way I’d read it, because we just don’t nearly as often (not never!–there are certainly counterexamples) see images everywhere of guys just hanging out splayed on this bed here ’cause why not.

So I guess I think that bit was as grisly as the first game’s Lara-deaths, but less disturbingly titillating, and maybe that’s why we react differently?


Two words, dude: Grenade. Arrows. Grenade arrows are my favorite thing in the history of games. I haven’t been this into a thing since Morrigan and I did that whole “Inferno plus that electrical storm spell from the other side of the door” trick. And you can craft more mid fight! R1! Grenade arrows make dudes go away, man.

I am not that good. But my grenade arrows are.

As for the other conversation…He was very clothed, that he was. But the “guy was a guy” bit….Hmm. I mean, she was prone on top of him in a rather…suggestive position. It may not be entirely equivalent, as I don’t think this was SUPPOSED to be….I hate to say “sexy,” cuz, eww…but you get my meaning….but MAN it felt similar. Like I said, I thought I had died.

But, I see where you’re coming from. Different media portrayals. Makes sense.

Also thrown in there was the fact there was a scene of attempted rape in game one independent of death scenes, so they went there explicitly.

Maybe this whole kill just goes back to the whole “Lara as animal predator” thing that I mentioned when she started climbing trees. More a savagery than a sexual thing. She’s losing her very humanity bit by bit.

Also a theme, that. Telling that the hardest enemies (at least for me), Lara’s equals or betters, aren’t men, they’re bears and jaguars. She’s on par with the beasts, better than the men. Also not an accident, I think.


Ah, that’s a good point. She was crouching over him in a pose that I saw as more like you say, feral and animalistic, but which could also (and almost certainly WOULD also, if the genders were reversed) be read as sort of rapey. Double standards, man!

So she’s becoming more like a predatory animal (nice point that the hard fights tend to be with animals)…but also more like a man? Is there a weird gender commentary hidden in there too? The standard “men are beasts” stuff? Hm.


Better than the men. I die on the bears all the time.

It’s funny that the nastiest baddie is the jaguar, which is what she looks the most like when she’s up in the trees and sneaking.


I guess it’s fitting, really, that the thing she has to work hardest to defeat is the creature most like herself.

I haven’t defeated it yet, actually. I’m not really in this for the hunting, so I just ran away from it…then sneaked over to grab the coin cache and hightailed it out of jaguar territory. I’ve got nothing against a jaguar, man.


I did kill one! It was between me a and a tomb. It was HARD man! I wasn’t hunting it. I just wanted the tomb. Animals have to stop hanging out by tombs.

And we don’t want to kill them! We see Lara in them, man.

In other news, my hockey buddy, who has absolutely NO tech no how, and hasn’t played a game like, ever, got a PS4 Pro because his kids wanted one. He decided he and his wife are gonna play some stuff to bond and, of course, was asking me questions. I told him to grab minecraft (which the kids demanded) and the Unfinished Swan to start for them, and gave him UC 1-3 and DAI for the grown ups. Are those good starters? TW3 and FO4 seem more advanced…

I dunno, man. I haven’t had to worry about gateways for some time….

He’ll be addicted in no time. And he’ll be pissed his wife banged Cullen.

Remind me….who’d you end up with in DAI?


Dude. You had to open the old wound of my DAI love life.

Blackwall, man. I ended up with the brooding, angsty, flag-seeking, stalkery, fake Gray Warden.

I can pick ’em.

Anyway, nice work probably hooking new converts! I think DAI and UC are good intro games. Something on the fantasy side, something on the ‘real world’ action side…decent story/action balance in both cases (don’t want them getting hooked on sports titles or something). Good work.


Sports titles are good for learning buttons, though. I’ll give them that.

Right. Blackwall. Forgot. I do remember Sera fondly.

My buddy’s wife is named Elena. So watch him really dig Chloe.

I remember Chloe fondly.