Crystal Relic Collector

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Knack • Acquired a Crystal Relic • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 62.9% (Common)

It’s the freakin’ weekend, and do you know what that means? If you guessed housework, and a day out-and-about, then you’re absolutely correct; but if your guess ventured into something about having to entertain the kids when they’ve had a full day of the aforementioned ‘out-and-about’, and they’re eyes are hanging out of their head … then I’m happy to give you a silver medal as well.

What does this all mean? Why, time to fire up the closest friendly family game, of course – and Knack fit the bill. While we’re pretty much tag-teaming the game for the most part, it really is a case of my son playing for a bit, getting killed, and then me having to go back and get through the next chunk until he feels like playing again. Repeat, ad nauseum.

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Even though he still falls over along the way, he’s certainly got the grasp of the game, and he knows when to look in side doors or areas where chests might be. Even though he breezes past a lot of these things while he’s playing, it pleases me that he’s getting a good grasp of side quests. I’ll turn him into a professional gamer yet!

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This trophy is simply for unlocking a particular type of collectible, or ‘relic’ as the game labels them. I noticed that collecting the full set of these crystals appears to be the requirement for unlocking ‘Vampire Knack’, which – perhaps most importantly – is necessary for another trophy entirely! I can’t see myself in the likely multiple playthroughs needed to obtain the full set, but by the same token, I said that a lot about Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, and then I had to keep going back to it to cater to my son’s obsession, and used the time to 100% it. Silver lining and all that.

Tomorrow is pretty much a dedicated family day, so I’m not sure where I’m going to land when it comes to achievements. I still have many of my quick-and-dirty achievements on Steam there to work my way through, which might be a nice change from the more ‘meaty’ stuff I’ve been working on lately. Final Fantasy VII, in particular, is proving particularly taxing on the mind.

I’m not sure if that reflects the game, the twenty years since it’s been out or … more troubling … my mind!

Survivor!

Rayman Origins • Survived a Piranha Pond without a scratch!

I’ve played a lot of Rayman in various forms over the years – but it’s been so on-and-off I haven’t really worked towards a particular trophy. Between different accounts and different games, it’s always been much more of a casual pleasure than on steady rotation, and so when I was playing around tonight and this trophy popped, it seemed like a good a time as any to celebrate.

Ironically, for the hours I’ve put into the game I still don’t consider myself very good! Every time I attempt one of the timed runs (for another one of the little purple creatures) I fall just short or fail miserably. Que Sera, Sera.

Grabbing this trophy frees me up a bit tonight, so I’m thinking a bit more Fortnite or something more shooty bangs on the fixture.

Either way, flexibility is good – as good as a nostalgic walk down memory lane with a good ol’ Vita game to keep you company.

Allfather Blinded

God of War • Kill all of Odin’s Ravens

Tonight started off about collecting all the relics, and finished with a tricky little walk around the Iron Cove and some sneaky axe throwing work to kill the last of Odin’s Ravens.

One trophy to go.

Earning these last few trophies has felt more like relief than satisfaction. Part of this is frustration that I missed or didn’t work more systematically through the game in the first place.

Still, for want of a better cliche: better late than never.

I’m hoping that a solid Friday night session tomorrow might be enough to round-out the GoW trophy hunt, but I’m also conscious that it’s going to be a grind – so, worse case scenario, it might be a weekend job.

Cliche 2: Time will tell.

Treasure Hunter

God of War • Use treasure maps to find all of the dig spots

Look, I’ll be honest – I just wanted to talk about God of War a bit today – because I’ve been putting in the hard yards and I feel like I’ve earned a ‘bit’ of a narrative around my journey to platinum.

First things first – yes, I beat the Valkyrie Queen. Yes, it felt good. And yes, I am officially on ‘the home straight.’

The battle itself was, as expected, tough. Very tough. For all the guides I read and the videos I watched about how to beat her, I ended up essentially doing my own thing and just pressing the fight. It involved a bit of mastery around the relic attacks, and once I spent some time tweaking them to maximise the chance of actually hitting her (one of them, for instance, the ‘spinning axe’ attack, seemed to always fall a touch short) and getting better at dodging her attacks (except the one where she jumps into the air and slams down on top of you … I never quite mastered that), I started to slowly find her health get lower and lower each encounter … to the point at which I actually had her health at zero and then got killed by what must have been a last-minute projectile.

That one, in particular, was almost controller-through-the-TV worthy.

My trophy for this entry, however, is part of my ‘cleanup’, and involved finding three final treasure caches that you are guided to from maps you’ve collected along the journey. My fairly significant exploration of the world had already uncovered all the maps that I needed, and so for the final three steps I had to look up a bit of a guide to see what I might have missed. Sure enough – the caches were just in tricky little spots that I had already explored, but were just off to the side of an area that likely had a battle that caused me to rush through it – or they were ‘just’ aside the main path. In short, there was no big revelation or new area that I discovered while doing this trophy, but it is another milestone on the path to platinum.

So, there’s only a few trophies left. The first is unlocking all the workshop chests, which largely amounts to a bit of grinding. I was tossing up between doing this and killing the Valkyrie Queen, and I have to say – I’m glad I killed the Queen. Now I have the luxury of just killing bad guys and opening chests, and I feel like that is the right level of catharsis that I’m seeking from God of War at this stage.

That is, of course, until they patch in New Game Plus.

Why Fight It?

God of War • Fully upgrade the Blades of Chaos

It’s been a long time since I’ve been awake at 2am playing video games, and yet – here we are! Tonight I was able to take down my eighth and penultimate Valkyrie, but after a few attempts at the Queen – I felt it best to maybe side with the trophy that I had already earned, rather than the aspiration. I think it will take some patience, a quiet, kid-free period of time, an empty bladder and a sprinkle of luck to finally beat her, but on consulting with my Dark Souls’ speed running mate who takes pride in smashing big, difficult bosses – who gave up after three attempts – I’m feeling like I made a good call.

This trophy in and of itself isn’t a throwaway one though – I’ve had a long stint of not having my Blades of Chaos fully upgraded, and I have to say – it felt kind of weird at this point in the game. I am a fully upgraded, well-equipped killing machine, but for a long time I haven’t had the right materials to tip me over the edge to Level 5 Blades. Well, it seems Brok and Sindri came good – and it turned out that the necessary resources were now just available to buy! Whatever it was I needed (memory fails me), I know that I needed some resources from Muspelheim to trade – so it seems like completing the Trials was a good decision.

For the rest of today, I’d like to see what I can sort out in the home PC. There’s a whole decade’s worth of Steam games that I need to start working through! (And then I might be able to start on my EA Origin, Uplay, GOG, etc.)

Dangerous Skies

God of War • Free all of the Dragons

Another episode of Kratos and Son tonight, and – as promised – thus concludes the third and final dragon free from both the metaphoric and literal constraints of Norse mythological life.

I have actually already free’d this dragon as part of my first God of War playthrough on my other PSN account, which made finding the shrines and releasing him a touch easier this time around.

Much of my effort now has concentrated on cleaning up small tasks like killing Odin’s ravens and finishing up the odd task still on the to-do list. Given enough time, and a good walkthrough – anything is possible.

And I’ve already found plenty of good walkthroughs!

Last Wish

God of War • Spread the ashes • Gold Trophy • Rarity 43.9% (Rare)

And now, my time has come. I’ve had my share … etc. It is done. God of War Campaign Complete. I texted a friend about the news and he asked me for a rating, and while I’m not generally enthusiastic about numbers when it comes to scoring games, I made an exception:

Hmm. Tricky one. Solid 8.5-9 with moments of a 10. Feels epic in scope, gameplay wise has a lot of similarities with Tomb Raider. Some nice touches of nostalgia which tickled me in all the right places.

There’s probably nothing in that message that is contrary to what I’ve been saying all along – but I guess I wanted to include it as a bit of a ‘tying up loose ends’ thought.

Was the ending everything I hoped it would be? Absolutely. It struck just the right narrative note in my mind – combining a nice ‘reveal’, or twist, along with a satisfying level of poignancy that doesn’t seem forced or unnecessary. Indeed, Sony Santa Monica have done a good job of always making the story feel appropriate for what you’re doing at any given time – and that’s no mean feat. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that game writers are so incredibly unsung but they actually make all the difference when it comes to a great narrative-driven game, and they can enhance every other game through clever dialogue and strong characters – up to and including the world’s latest obsession with Battle Royale.

I’ve enjoyed my God of War journey tremendously, and it’s been nice to see Kratos both keep his same level of badass while tempered with the burden of fatherhood (and his history). Sony have got themselves an absolutely A+ franchise here, and they have revitalised it just right for a new generation.

They better not stuff it up for the next.

The Best Moves

God of War • Fully upgrade a Runic Attack • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 53.8% (Common)

I wore some criticism yesterday for ‘giving too much away’ when it comes to God of War, which I suppose is a subjective assessment, but it still gives me an emotional reaction at the injustice of being called out. The modern risk of putting yourself out there is not so much an occupational hazard, but one of the vissictudes of life. Que Sera Sera.

Anyway, as much as I’d like to be spiteful and try and ‘spoil’ something else (yes, I’m that kind of person), I went with a trophy that’s a little more ‘mainstream’ tonight. My intent isn’t so much as to labor the substance of this achievement – I feel like it’s one that most people will get to in their course of learning the game (and a 53% completion rate seems to support that), but more so just to talk about these final few beats of the God of War narrative.

Tonight I had a range of battles, puzzles and encounters that start to tie-up the threads that have been left throughout the journey. I feel like the game is moving at a cracking pace, but sure enough, it’s nearly midnight and I have just put the controller down for the night – talk about a time-sink. I am left glancing at the clock every twenty minutes while willing the game to draw to an end, just so I can scratch this one off my ‘played’ list and return to hating on PlayStation and Sony.

Another solid session like today should bring the main narrative to an end, but a glance at the checklist to complete shows a much greater list of side missions and tasks to complete before I even get close to a Platinum trophy. I’m not sure if this is an ‘immediate’ priority for me, or whether it’s something I’ll go back to later in the year.

Either way, I’ve enjoyed the journey so far – and I intend to enjoy these final few steps as well.

Hello, Old Friend

God of War • Retrieve the Blades of Chaos • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 56.6% (Common)

I’ve tried to stifle the unbridled praise for God of War that swamped the internet. Quite against my character, I’ve tried to add nuance to the echo chamber of the Sony fanboi chorus holding God of War up as some idol of gaming in 2018.

Tonight, however, I am gladly adding God of War to my short list for Game of the Year.

To be honest, not much has changed. The puzzles are still on par with Tomb Raider. The graphics are brilliantly matched to the best the Xbox can offer and the combat is as good as anything else on the market (sans the satisfying thunk of an axe returning to your hand). But it was this very moment in the achievement which got me – the return of Kratos’ Blades of Chaos, made famous through – well, pretty much his entire career, and they look and feel just as wonderful as they did the first time you played God of War … and that goes for any platform at any point in history. You never forget your first time playing, and tonight I had every piece of nostalgia not just tickled, but caressed lovingly as Kratos flung those babies around like no tomorrow.

It was glorious. Glorious.

I really have no idea where I’m up to narrative-wise. I’m still stopping to complete the odd side-quest, so I’m probably not being as prompt as I could be, but Sony Santa Monica have done a brilliant job of making a quick half hour turn into a four-hour gaming session.

That’s a special kind of magic.

I feel like that if there was three acts, then we’d be about to kick-off the third, but I’m simply hypothesising, so don’t mind my shoot-from-the-hip approach to blogging. I’m just happy I got to experience this game despite my ongoing bitterness towards Sony.

Yes. God of War even has the power to break through that. If that doesn’t get bonus points for Game of the Year – nothing will.

Dragon Slayer

God of War • Defeat the Dragon of The Mountain • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 65.1% (Common)

Well, in terms of big battles, this really tickled my tits. It’s what I want out of Dark Souls, but it offers a level of accessibility that far surpasses any of From Software’s catalogue. This was a big, meaty fight that let you learn and respond to attacks along the way, rather than punishing you from the first strike for failing to study up on a particular combatants techniques.

I guess this also gives you a placeholder in terms of where I’m up to in God of War. Kratos and Son have been working their way to the summit of the mountain, and found a new friend (with echoes from Game of Thrones and Fallout 3), and started their journey back to the witch in the forest.

You can begin to see why you hear whispers of so many ‘false endings.’ Even now I have become accustomed to not getting comfortable about my place in the narrative, so every session continues to surprise and delight me.

With a few more setpiece battles like this … it might even start to convince me that it deserves Game of the Year.