Friday, May 12, 2023

Quick Sips 05/12/2023

In which I provide...
- Fur analysis on Morn

- Some brief updates

- First thoughts on Disco Elysium

Okay let's go! First off please take a moment to appreciate Morn in all his sleepy glory, here captured in an apparently comfortable(???) position. He's something of a goof but a soft one. Unfortunately with the weather turning we are entering into one of his least favorite seasons...clump season! You see, Morn is not the most fastidious of groomers, and when it gets a bit more humid, he gets these fur tangles (despite being a short haired cat) that we lovingly refer to as clumps (or if we're channeling our inner Lumpy Space Princess, his lumps). Which means our son needs to get brushed more regularly, which he is mostly against (mostly because he doesn't mind brushing when he doesn't have clumps). He much prefers the colder months because 1. heat vent is on and warm; 2. no clumps because it's dry; 3. no birds to mock him. So it goes...

Otherwise, there's not too much going on. I'm busily splitting my time between a number of things, as usual, and working on getting my reviews done because there will be plenty of travel and etc in the coming months. Blarg. But I'm getting a bit of writing done, and putting together a poetry chapbook that I'll be bringing with to WisCon, and doing things with the non-profit that I'm on the board of helping do social media, printing projects, document wrangling, etc etc. Lots of things to do! And of course my previously published (but mostly out of print) SFF romance continues to drop at JMS Books:

In media consumption, Matt and I are rewatching Vera (again, yes, okay, we like it) while we wait for some other mystery shows (The Bay, Sister Boniface, and...something else?) to finish releasing their full seasons. I'm watching Midsomer Murders meanwhile (which Matt had no interest in) and finding it good stuff to fall asleep too (just don't ask me the plot to most of the episodes...). And, following a Twitter poll on what to play next, I have started playing Disco Elysium.

And before you ask, no, I have not finished Final Fantasy VI yet. As much as I rather like that game, though, the spell grinding is rather tedious and I wanted a break, and people have had lots of good things to say about Disco Elysium (it also won the poll with over 50% of the votes, where next-runner-up was Final Fantasy VIII in the low 30%s). So, first impressions!

1. Gameplay

I do love the way it plays, the whole update on the old Sierra-style adventure game (like King's Quest) where you're mostly just moving around, finding things and talking to people. Unlocking clues, completing little side questions, etc etc. It's a murder mystery (kinda) at its core so I mean there's just a lot that makes it My Kinda Thing and I appreciate that. I even like the weird liminal/cerebral elements where you don't know who you are and have to figure that out, too, while contending with trauma and a world that's pretty fucked and all that. Good times!

That said, the game is rather glitchy on the Switch (sad especially given that was something people were counting against Pokemon Violet, which was also in the poll). I keep on crashing things and having to restart and given that a lot of things require skill checks this has been a mixed bag in terms of results but also just frustrating. It's not unplayable by any means but it isn't ideal.

2. Story

Again, I like most of the story elements here. The situation in the city and the larger world, the way that's mirrored onto the main character, the way all the other things swirl around it. It takes a rather mature look at unions, politics, and much more, so yay to all of that. The twists in the case are compelling so far, and the more you explore the more there is to discover and participate in. That the story is unfolding under a deadline (I assume, as time is passing and I'm told if you take too long things progress anyway) is interesting and adds a sense of urgency but so does needing to find out about yourself and all the things you're missing.

That said, the thing that's letting me down somewhat is that the game is so...straight? White as well? to discuss this? So, if the protagonist were a trans person of color (for instance), then so many of the "choices" of the game wouldn't work at all. The real crux of a lot of the moral and etc choices in the game come down to the fact that the protagonist has access to basically all levels of privilege as a cis-het white man (plus cop). And I do think the game does a good job engaging with the guilt of being in that situation, and wanting to do the right thing, and striving toward a better and more just world. But a lot of the choices in the game are still to a more 101 level of x vs y vs z where none of them are really great choices (which implies there *aren't* better choices). Which in a game mechanic makes a lot of sense. But personally it's a small frustration. That we never get to see how being outside of the most privileged demographic impacts how the world seems/how you can move through that world (you get some indications based on how people treat Kim and others) means there are times when I feel a bit talked down to. But so it goes.

And it's a fairly minor complaint, in that I am still enjoying the ride the game offers and etc. And there are *first* impressions so it's possible that the game will do some more interesting stuff but is easing players into it and maybe I'm just being arrogant to feel that some of set-ups and choices in the game aren't as provocative as they could be.

3. Etc etc etc

The music is good, the voice acting is rather great (even when it's *terrible* and *annoying*). The graphics and all that are fitting. I'm enjoying myself while trying not to get too grumpy about the frequent crashes and glitches. Also trying hard not to save scum because the game does rather reward it (skill checks are roll based so random enough that if you really want to you can hold out for a better result). Unless the game is secretly keeping track in which case we'll see (I don't feel I've done it much but that's not to say I haven't at all).

So yeah, that's it for now. I think. I hope you're all doing well! Cheers!


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