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Minor mechanics spoilers for Horizon Zero Dawn, some plot spoilers for King’s Quest

Butch:

I got nothing. Well, I got nothing relevant to Horizon. Nugget finally had a day when he didn’t act like a middle child so he earned some time with King’s Quest. We finished Chapter 4, but not before a HUGE puzzle related reaper moment, so by the time it was my game time, I was all reapered out.

So I played, just the wrong thing.

Still a good game….but the way the narrative is heading I might take back a thing or two I said about it being good for a kid as young as yours. They killed a likeable character at the end of this chapter, and I fear a sad, or at least, bittersweet ending.

Hmm. Ah, well. Too late to quit now.

I tell ya: someday, probably very soon, your eldest is gonna want to play games. You and Mr. O being who you are, you will be cool with this idea, as I am cool with my kids playing games. And you will learn that DAMN there really aren’t many games for them. I mean, even games that sure as hell look and play like kids’ games, like King’s Quest, have these undertones. Stardew Valley: got some romance. King’s Quest: undertones. Dark stuff. Unfinished Swan: Weird.

I mean, ok, there’s LEGO games (you can’t avoid those) and Minecraft (still don’t know why that’s fun), but then what?

I’m trying to scout it for you man. It’s tough going.

Feminina:

I appreciate you scouting ahead for us. Because yeah, it’s tough to know what’s going to be good for the kids. Besides Lego and Minecraft. If you find anything without grim undertones (not that your classic children’s fairy tales aren’t bristling with grim undertones!), let me know. I know the day is coming soon when we’ll have to address this. He’s going to be five…he can already use the controller to turn on the machine and get to Netflix. It’s only a matter of time.

I played some. Completed an actual sidequest, in addition to a lot of wandering around looking for metal flowers and campfires. (Campfires are kind of the worst distraction of all: there are so many, and they tend to be pretty close together, so it’s SOOOOOOO easy to say “I’ll just hit that one before I press on…oh, now that other one is just a stone’s throw from here, might as well go there…as long as I’m in this area, there IS that campfire over there…”)

Found a corrupted area that’s supposedly level 22 (I’m at level 23), and it’s inhabited by two corrupted stalkers. Those invisible things with the nasty tail-lash attack. I left in a hurry.

I defeated one, non-corrupted stalker in that general area, but two? Oozing poison and extra toughness? Pass.

Butch:

Dude, it’s the second one you have to worry about, cuz he will be taught things by the first one. I was cleaning the bathrooms the other day, so I plop Meatball in front of the TV (as one does) so he can watch PBS (what, I do have some standards) while I play with cleaning chemicals. I finish up, and Meatball is not upstairs where I left him. I look in his room. Nope. His brothers’ rooms. Nope. No, he had gone downstairs to where the old PS4 is, grabbed a controller, turned it on, got into Minecraft, loaded one of his brother’s worlds and was happily chucking cubes around like ain’t no thing.

So yeah.

King’s Quest doesn’t have, like, terrible adult overtones, but friendly characters do die, and choices and sacrifices need be made. And the story is being told by the main character, who is elderly, to his granddaughter, as a framed narrative. I have a feeling the main character isn’t going to make it to the credits. Just a feeling. And….yeah.

Oh dude, it’s all about campfires. I have this awful feeling that the one time I DO skip a campfire will be the time I wander stupidly into a herd of something awful, die, and lose half an hour of progress. Gotta save. NEED. TO. SAVE.

But come on, man, those things are only level 10! The game said so!

Feminina:

So true! The first one doesn’t know anything until you tell him…the second learns from the first, completely outside your control. We were all responsible and stuff, limiting O’Jr’s TV-time to wholesome things like Daniel Tiger until he was 4 or whatever, but Grigio is already watching Ninjago and Voltron and lord knows what by peeking at the screen while we try in vain to distract him.

I LET him watch it sometimes, in hopes it will keep him still while I clip his tiny razor sharp talons.

And I know, man. I’m such a wimp. Stalkers are nothing! The game said so! (Although I think it said the corrupted ones are 20. Still easy-peasy if you’re not a weakling like me!)

Butch:

Oh, dude, we’ve all been there. Wait until (ha) you have three (ha). I mean, a six year age gap? Forget it. You’re lucky if they’re not saying “Game of Thrones” before “beans.”

MY four year old can sing the “Pyramid scheme money” song from Teen Titans Go. That’s what it comes to.

But I’d rather that than him turning on the damn PS4 himself.

That’s how it begins, man. Start with nail clipping, and then you see how well it works, and it’s all downhill from there.

The game lies. It LIES! It’s just plain fucking with us.

Feminina:

Ha. Ha. There is no three.

 

The game is either deliberately messing with us, or it’s expecting us to have internalized useful combat tips that I have not actually internalized. Maybe shock bombs are way more effective against stalkers than they are against whatever that other thing was that I used them against?

I DO always forget about slings and bombs. That part is on me. Maybe everything would be perfectly level-appropriate if I were wearing the right armor and remembered my sling.

I also want to get excited about tying machines down with the ropecaster, but I never remember to use that either. When I tried right after I got it, I was always bouncing the ropes off things, so I never figured out exactly where they stick, and I finished the tutorial but I’ve been leery of it ever since. Probably should practice more.

Butch:

You gotta READ man! I think. Cuz I don’t.

You know what I forget about all the time but that totally rock? Ropecasters. Tying things down is really, really helpful. I’ll die a bunch and then be all “Wait a minute….I HAVE ROPECASTERS!” and then I don’t die. Cuz you tie them down, then either tearblast (Love those) or light spear attack their stuff off when they’re down. Much easier.

The sling I have not mastered. When I do remember it, I FEEL like I should be raining death down, so I’m all “AHAHAHA FEEL THE WRATH OF MY SLING THINGY!” and I fire and exactly nothing happens. I miss, or the bombs aren’t cool or whatever. I don’t know. But it’s always been a rather large disappointment.

And then, of course, there I am holding the damn sling. So when the baddies who have not been slowed down, injured, or affected in any noticeable way by the sling swarm me, my instinct is to fire at them, because I usually have a bow. But I do not have a bow. So what I fire is another “bomb” thing that does exactly nothing and I die.

The trick is to run around the thing. If you shoot them all in one place, then it’s only anchored in one place (or close enough), and it can run around that point like an angry dog tied to a stake, which isn’t very helpful. So you have to hit it, run around it some, hit it again, etc. etc. until it gets all tripped up and can’t move at all.

(This would be a lot easier to explain if you were here and I could use some sort of visual aid. Hard to explain in words. Essentially, move around it and shoot and repeat until it falls.)

Feminina:

I know, I know! I gotta read, and I never do! Or more like I do, and then I forget what I read by the time I run into a situation where it would have been useful. Like, I read that shock bombs are good against stalkers, but I only just remembered that now, rather than last night when I could have tried it and checked whether or not it was amazing.

I am also a little unsure about the slings. I’ve gotten them to do useful things a few times (freezing is nice), but the range is SO short. And the arc is weird–I feel like I always wind up with the end of the arc lost in the undergrowth or something, so I’m always guessing at where it’s going to land, even though supposedly I have a useful aiming tool, and then a lot of the time I’ve guessed wrong. And then the thing notices you and runs off or charges, and you’re left fumbling for a bow…

But your endorsement of the ropecaster encourages me to try that again. Maybe THAT’s the secret to corrupted stalkers!

Butch:

You know you can pause and read up mid fight, yes? Just hit the big ol’ button.

Shock is good against them! I found that out really out of necessity. When I fought it, I was out of everything but shock traps. It was one of those “Well, hope this works cuz if it doesn’t I’m fucked” things and, what do you know? It worked!

Cuz I STILL haven’t scanned one! Stupid invisible monster robot.

I do that all the time with sling bombs! “Ooo an aiming tool…wait…huh? Where is…that’s a bush…ok, move the camera, that’s my butt. Where’s the oh I’m seen.” I, too, have done the “Well, it’s close, and it IS a bomb” guessing trick that never, ever works.

Fuck those things. Stick to tearblast arrows.

It certainly does the trick on bellowbacks. It’s the only way on bellowbacks. Tie ’em down, take out the exploding stuff.

In other news, I’m not interested in any of the freebies for April (which is fine cuz it’s not like we’re lacking in games to play) but one is called “Lovers in a Dangerous Space/time” which is my new favorite game title, knocking off “The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot.”

Feminina:

Ha! I do like that title.

But yeah, good, I’m glad there’s nothing we have to play. We’re plenty busy as it is.

I CAN pause and read, but in the heat of the action I don’t think to. I’m too busy racing around frantically trying to heal while aiming fire arrows at that damn glinthawk that’s shooting frost at me. To pick an example at random.

I only finally scanned the stalker last night! While lurking in the bushes deciding NOT to attack that corrupted zone. So at least I added an entry to my machine catalog, even if I didn’t do anything about the corruption of the land.

Ropes are good on bellowbacks, eh? Good to know. So far my main approach to those is to hit them and then run off and sneak back later, but that takes a lot of time. Ropes could be good. I’m on it. Especially because I need a bellowback heart to get the purple version of my armor.

Butch:

True. Composure is at a premium. I, too, lack it.

Bellowbacks are clumsy, so it works. BUT they’re strong, so they break out in a shorter period of time.

This is key: They break out. Don’t be near them when they break out.

Feminina:

Note to self: be not near outbreaking bellowbacks. Check.

Can you tie them down again/more while they’re in the middle of breaking the first ropes, or is the rope decay rate set? Because I could see tying it up, whacking it a few times, shooting it with about 10 more ropes just in case, whacking it a few more times, etc.

Butch:

That seems to work. But the fire rate is slow, so each new rope wastes valuable whacking time. It’s a balance.

Never waste valuable whacking time.

T SHIRT!!!!!

Slightly offensive T SHIRT!!!!!

Feminina:

Whacking time is precious! We can’t help it if people take offense to this very straightforward and obvious statement.

Butch:

We can’t help it at all.

Not that we’d care.

Feminina:

We’re too busy whacking to care.

Butch:

T SHIRT!!!

Even more offensive T SHIRT!!!!

I thought I was the foggy one.

Feminina:

Reining it back to a topic…um…ropecasting! We’re for it!

I did also get the sharpshooter bow and the tearblast arrows. It’s fun to knock pieces off machines! Man, that slow reload time is kind of rough, though.

“It’s right there shoot shoot shoot damn it don’t have the arrow nocked yet and…the thing is gone. Oh, there it is, right on top of me.”

Butch:

Yeah but that sound, and the white blast….so satisfying.

You need cover.

Or to tie them down first. Then it’s open season.

Feminina:

The sound and the blast ARE satisfying. And the way the machines always seem to pull up short for a moment.

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