Happy Friday, nerds. It’s been a rough week here at the House Trashlevania as we mourn the sudden loss of one of our best friends. This is going to start off sad so if you’re just here for the game talk then scroll down a bit.
Tony and I met in the 6th grade (1992) and instantly became close. We discovered hardcore music together, formed bands together, went to the first Ozzfest together, pushed our way to the front row to watch Sepultura, and got stuck inside the Bill Tracy Haunted House in Ocean City, MD. Tony was solely responsible for introducing me to RPGs when we stayed up all night playing Chrono Trigger on his SNES.
After high school, he battled substance abuse and addiction and we drifted apart. Many years later in 2010, we found each other on Facebook and caught up on things. It turned out that he was back in our hometown of Baltimore, MD, and I was just getting prepared to move back home from Indianapolis, IN after a divorce. We also found out that we both played World of Warcraft so he rolled a new character on the same server as my partner and me.
We literally played WoW together on a near-daily basis for a good while until my partner and I moved to Maryland. I’m so glad that Tony and my partner became friends.
Tony continued battling his demons over the years but he was a fighter. He never stayed down for too long. We spoke on Instagram at the end of October because he unearthed our 6th-grade yearbook and he wanted to show me our old pictures.
That’s the last time we talked.
A few days ago I got a message on Instagram from another friend telling me she had just seen on Facebook that Tony had passed away. I didn’t want to believe it. We still don’t have much to go on, just that he died during a recent visit to New York City.
Tony was my brother. In hardcore, our friends are our chosen family and I have nearly three decades of good memories to fall back on. I just can’t believe we’ll never see or speak to each other again.
I hope his family and friends find peace. Brothers forever, Tony.
So yeah, I was in dire need of a mental distrction and I found it in the incredible metroidvania, Unsighted. This new indie crafted by two trans women from Brazil oozes heart and soul and would currently be my Game of the Year had Disco Elysium not released on consoles in 2021.
You play as a sentient automaton named Alma who awakens to a world in ruins. Prior to the current state of the game, humans created automatons to help with everyday activities but went to war against them after an alien meteor crash landed and gave them sentience. Humans are jerks.
Cut back to present day. Alma begins to remember her sentient companions, in particular her romantic interest Raquel, who has been captured and imprisoned inside a magically locked tower. The key to entering lies in the forging of a sword that requires 5 crystals, which means dungeons and boss battles.
The interesting thing about the meteor’s power that gave life to the automatons is that its power is wearing out and every important NPC in the game only has a finite amount of time left to live. Unsighted uses a timed day and night cycle and once their time is up, they’re gone for good.
This puts quite a bit of pressure on you as metroidvanias typically beg to be explored and scoured for items and upgrades. It was definitely weird playing a game in this genre having to be efficient. Rare items exist in the game, called Meteor Dust, that are usually tucked away off the beaten path and can be gifted to an NPC to extend their life by an additional 24 hours.
Unsighted is very challenging, though. Alma can dodge attacks, but she can also parry them with perfectly-timed button presses that allow her to deliver a devastating strike for crazy damage. Until you learn enemy patterns and go through the feeling-out process in each boss battle, you’re going to die a lot. It’s a fun and rewarding learning experience.
Alma only has one healing item to start off, which can be refilled by simply killing enemies. If you’re having a rough go at things, though, you can choose to keep your precious Meteor Dust for yourself and trade them for additional permanent healing items.
Giving them to NPCs raises their affinity as well and maxing that out always rewards you with something enticing. Be it a sword enchanted with every elemental affinity, the ability to craft and reallocate passive battle perks without having to visit a terminal, or the invaluable ability to pay money for additional Meteor Dust.
There’s a lot going on under the hood here. It has a brilliant aesthetic, dripping with sci-fi vibes, which plays well with its killer soundtrack. There are also some super fun traversal tools that made exploring an absolute blast too, like grappling hooks, a gun that creates platforms, and a giant Beyblade spinny top thing that lets you grind rails like it’s 1995. Combat was highly satisfying too, once I got a handle on it, and I really just didn’t want to stop playing over the last few days.
It’s currently on Xbox Game Pass, so if you have that then I highly encourage you to give it a try. And if you don’t, then consider supporting the devs on your platform of choice! If the NPC death timers make you anxious you can turn them off. You can also toggle on god mode so you never take damage in battle. It’s as accessible or as difficult as you want it to be.
Like I mentioned earlier, if Disco Elysium hadn’t released this year then Unsighted would be my Game of the Year — it’s certainly in my all-time top 5 metroidvanias. It’s that good.
I checked out the dating sim/dungeon crawler RPG hybrid Boyfriend Dungeon because Game Pass is rad, but I doubt I’ll stick with it.
The premise of the game is that you’re spending the summer with your brother and he desperately wants you to meet new people while you’re around. The weird thing about this town, though, is that some people can transform into weapons. It leans into being silly, which is nice, but right now only half of the game is good.
When Boyfriend Dungeon is a dating sim you’re chatting and making dialogue choices with some interesting characters and getting to know them better. There’s an Asian popstar, a blacksmith that doesn’t understand the word “no,” a fencing instructor, a mysterious artist, and a few others across multiple gender identities and sexual orientations, and outside of the blacksmith I always looked forward to having more conversations.
Once all of your dates are over, though, your new friends transform into weapons that can be taken into randomized dungeons to have their affinity raised by killing stuff and locating hangout spots. You’re usually presented with the opportunity to give them gifts too, but it’s fairly easy to max their affinity levels early on, especially if you’re only interested in persuing one or two relationships. Their respective max affinity rank can’t be increased until the next date, which makes the dungeon aspect just feel like a grind.
Combat in Boyfriend Dungeon is absolutely miserable and paper-thin. You have light and heavy attacks that can be strung together, but without a soft lock-on mechanic I found myself zipping around enemies and whiffing attacks instead of doing anything productive. It definitely feels half-baked even if each weapon offers its own unique attack patterns (the cleave of the talwar and the lightening-quick stabs of the dagger, for example).
There’s also a dodge roll that is mechanically useless since you don’t get invulnerability frames like you would in other games. Enemies routinely gang up on you and none of the rooms you fight in are very large. This led to me getting trapped in corners or stuck inside of enemy swarms pretty consistently. You can’t dodge roll through enemies either, so your only option is to take it on the chin until you die.
Dying rewards you with XP that increases your damage output and health pool, and then you basically do it all over again. Date until you can’t, endure the terrible dungeon crawling, use whatever materials you acquire to craft gifts and cosmetic armor, repeat.
The transformation animations are BEAUTIFUL, though!
I’ve played for a few hours and I enjoyed the dialogue from most of the characters, but I don’t think I can waste time in these stupid dungeons. It’s just not fun.
The last game on my weekend agenda is Mortal Kombat 11, which was just added to Xbox Game Pass. I love the series but always wait to play the newest entries until all of its DLC characters have been added. Only the vanilla version was added to Game Pass, though, so no guest characters like Joker, Rambo, Robocop, or The Terminator.
My partner and I recently watched the new Mortal Kombat movie, which they surprisingly liked a lot, despite never really playing the games much growing up. I usually just play through the campaign, check out all of the fatalities, and move on, so they want to watch me go through the story mode later today.
On a more uplighting life update, I’ve successfully dropped 80 pounds and I’m proud of myself. It’s been a long, scary, stressful journey over the last 8 months.
Just ignore my dirty bathroom mirror…
That about does it for me, folks. This was a LONG write-up this weekend since I’ve had a lot on my mind and didn’t want to bother with individual blog posts for Unsighted and Boyfriend Dungeon.
What about you? Any big gaming plans this weekend?