A Gateway Between Worlds

One who travels from their world to save another.

There are few things that I enjoy more than thoroughly satisfying JRPGs. They’re somewhat rare nowadays. Hence why I was quite excited when I saw that Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was being remastered and was due for a PC release. I’ve not experienced the Ni no Kuni series before, but I was entirely aware of the PC release of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and it looked rather neat. However, in a display of restraint that would make Oliver Take Heart quicker than I clicked the pre-order button, I decided that I would abstain from the nostalgic JRPG hoping that the entire series would be released on PC.

Which it was. So, who’s laughing now? No-one. It wasn’t in any way humorous.

I’ve regretted more than a few pre-orders in my time but I definitely don’t regret this one. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered is entirely reminiscent of the JRPGs of the SNES or the PS1, and you can tell that the developers truly cared about delivering a one-of-a-kind experience when telling the story of Oliver’s adventure.

The presentation is immaculate. The visuals are beautiful, the animations are fluid, the music is exceptional, and the art direction is incredible. Unlike modern RPGs (of any description) you don’t eventually hit a wall where the only way to progress is to engage in a frustratingly repetitive task, which serves only to artificially extend the main campaign as the actual playable content is sorely lacking. I’ve regularly returned to earlier locations like Ding Dong Dell or Al Mamoon only to find new errands or bounties to undertake. While there are islands between Castaway Cove and Hamelin which I’ve yet to explore. Mostly because the enemies on those islands were actually quite challenging when I first arrived there. I could probably quite easily return and explore those islands having progressed further into the main campaign now.

Welcome to the majesty of Teeheeti Island.

That said, depending on which familiars you have, and which familiars you’d like to have, you’ve already got ample reason to explore every location on the world map. Though you can’t always guarantee that you’re going to get the familiar you want, there are the usual rewards of combat that incentive you to at least try to collect more familiars. Especially when many of the rewards from combat are ingredients used to fashion powerful equipment. Or really tasty cakes and chocolate. I too would be okay with being locked in a cage if you promised me delicious food as a reward for engaging in bloodthirsty visceral combat.

The Wizard’s Companion can be used to discover new familiars as well.

I’ve never understood (or agreed with) the idea that less information equates to higher difficulty. The Wizard’s Companion not only tells you more about your familiars, but also where certain equipment comes from, and even illustrates various alchemical formulae. More than just being useful it’s thematically appropriate, too.

There are innumerable things that I’ve enjoyed about Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered and it just keeps on giving. Every time I believe that I’ve reached a major point in the main campaign it finds some way to introduce new dungeons, modes of transportation, or increasingly more interesting spells. I’m looking forward to the sequel as well. It seems to suggest new mechanics (and a lack of familiars) of which some of those mechanics feel reminiscent of my dearly loved Suikoden. It’s been a while since I’ve led a rebel fortress. As is usual I’ll be writing more about Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered in an In Retrospect post, but I can already tell that this series is going to be one of the highlights of my entire year. It’s been such a refreshing, engaging, and entirely enjoyable experience so far.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impressions of… Children of Morta

One family to stand against the encroaching corruption.

Children of Morta is an exceptionally satisfying ARPG that functions as a dungeon crawler. An exquisite narrator tells the story of the Bergson family in their tireless struggle against an unnatural corruption, while the main campaign affords myriad opportunities to learn more about each family member and their motivations. There are numerous events to view or quests to complete throughout the main campaign that award permanent progression, too. These may unlock playable family members, build on the rich history of their ancestral home, or simply tie the main campaign together. It’s a simplistic but effective approach.

One that is painfully absent in modern RPGs.

ARPGs are rarely known for their engrossing main campaign stories, but Children of Morta wholeheartedly relies on telling that story and having you invested in the characters and events found therein. It feels natural and illustrates how the struggle against the corruption wears on both body and spirit. It’s an enthralling joy to play.

Each family member is rather interesting as well. John is the stalwart defender whose shield and sweeping attacks afford exceptional close combat proficiency, while Linda has heightened mobility and can pierce enemies with a hail of arrows. Kevin can dash effortlessly between enemies slicing and dicing with deadly efficiency, while Mark can draw enemies close before pummelling them mercilessly. I’ve had most success with Linda, Kevin, and Mark. I’ve never been particularly good at much of anything with John. While Joey is the newest addition and the character that best fits my usual approach to ARPGs. His potential for damage is quite impressive given that his health has been bolstered substantially. He can also charge through enemies like a burly lunatic.

Things are certainly starting to heat up down here.

Character development is extensive and intuitive. Levelling up any of the six characters allows you to unlock skills and (through investment in those skills) traits. Traits are shared with the family, and they provide an enticing incentive to level up multiple characters as each contributes to the proficiency of the rest. On the ancestral grounds you can invest in both Uncle Ben’s workshop (which improves various character attributes) and the Book of Rea (which offers dungeon crawling bonuses) to further empower the family. These investments affect the family equally and allow you to develop everyone at the same time.

Which makes using a less experienced character more viable.

While they might lack the skills or the traits of their more experienced kin they’re still quite powerful in their own way. Having more health, a better chance of landing a critical hit, or a higher dodge chance can certainly smooth out the difficulty curve in later areas. By surviving longer they contribute to the continual investment, too.

At first glance Children of Morta seemed like a rather engaging ARPG, but I’ve found it’s more of a dungeon crawler that’s actually quite reminiscent of Diablo in its execution of certain mechanics. The way that dungeons are divided into different areas, the obelisks which offer substantial bonuses, the deadly traps, and the possibility of uncovering random events make me nostalgic for the blasphemous bowels beneath Tristram. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have strength in its own convictions. It does. There’s an intriguing story that’s told exceptionally well by both the narrator and the various events or quests. But it’s still a unique approach that I’ve only seen attempted a scarce few times before, and fewer still have been successful in delivering the desired result.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Further Integration

The decision was finally made.

I’ve always been bothered that certain creative content (especially that of Material Studies) was never available on my personal site. This was mostly due to not knowing where best to fit them into the existing layout, but also because Moggie’s Proclamations lacked integration with the site in any meaningful way. While it has always been available via a social media icon it isn’t necessarily present elsewhere. Which is more or less what the recent updates to the site have aimed to rectify, as they’re now inescapably linked. I’ve even removed the WordPress social media icon from the site. Opting instead for a text link.

Which, hopefully, is just as identifiable as the social media icon.

The Instagram social media icon is still there, though. The solitary social media site that I actually frequent. Not that I’ve been nearly as active there as I would’ve liked, but that’s the only reasonable outcome when the flow of creative content stops almost entirely and you’ve shared nothing new in over a year. That said, I’m still working on things.

Hence the recent focus on Moggie’s Proclamations. I’ve taken the time to update both the Creative and Gaming pages, which resulted in a new layout and improved categorisation that better reflects the diversity of content available on the blog. I’m eager to start writing posts more regularly again, too. Not that we’ve been short of content in September. But none of that is creative content. Which is the (for lack of a better word) problem, but that extends further than just the blog to myself. I need to make the time for my creative pursuits. I need to have the ideas and the motivation for them. I’ve been taking some time out purposefully as, due to certain things that happened last year, I lost my way, but I’m ready to find my way again.

I’ll upload a new piece any day now. Just you wait.

As with all of the updates I’ve ever made they’re not entirely finished. They’ll never be entirely finished. As both the site and Moggie’s Proclamations are perpetual works in progress, and will change as I change. But this is the happiest I’ve ever been with everything that I do. It’s also the best and most accurate representation of what I do that I’ve ever had. Which, when you consider how long the site has been in existence, and the number of iterations it has been through, it’s not really surprising. If you keep changing things you’ll eventually happen upon the layout, design, or content that best represents your intentions.

I’ve also been updating some of the older content on the blog.

As before these updates are simply alterations to presentation and the original content remains (mostly) intact. It’s staggering to think that there are nearly three-hundred posts on Moggie’s Proclamations now, which illustrates the amount of content there is to work through and why these updates are implemented over several weeks.

It would take me a few days to read through all of the content available on the blog. Let alone update it. But I’ve grown accustomed to this process, and I’ll often be updating something without being entirely aware that I’m doing it. Editing a few tags or categories here or there certainly helps to eventually standardise them all. Adding new posts to pages eventually builds a comprehensive library. I guess that’s the funny thing about Moggie’s Proclamations. I’ve always enjoyed working on it, which means it’s never felt particularly laborious posting new (or updating older) content. With that said, if you notice that anything looks different, or isn’t where you remembered it was, I probably tweaked something for some reason or another.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 3)

Maddening tormented whispers flood into your mind.

A jagged landscape wrought of bone and wreathed in molten flame stands before you. Vile, despicable, bloodthirsty demons crowd you. You’ve reached the final levels of the main campaign, and hell will never be inviting or comforting for it’s where the greatest challenges await you. Defeating Lazarus to crack open the door to this hellish domain is just the beginning. Diablo, the Lord of Terror, waits patiently for you to free him from his subterranean prison. It’s arguably the most challenging content in Diablo, and it’s where your story ends as you hope to contain the overwhelming malice of the Prime Evil. Not that you can.

It’s a more satisfying and apt conclusion if you’re a Warrior.

Quite a lengthy section of content, too. It’s deceptive in that way. You believe that there are only four more levels until the end of the campaign, but within those levels are side quests to complete and puzzles to solve before you are able to fight Diablo. Even when you can you’re likely to be swarmed by the enemies released when he is.

This would be as good a time as any to revisit the crypt as well. Given that it forms the final content available in the Hellfire expansion pack. These levels are sadly less impressive, but they’re certainly challenging (in a way) due to the overwhelming number of magical floating orbs on the screen at any one time. I definitely found these areas more frustrating than the hive, too. The challenge (for lack of a better word) disappeared as long as I could keep drinking potions. The enemies annoyingly ran great distances away and soon the screen was littered with an impassable sea of magical damage. The final boss of the content was also somewhat anti-climactic. I decided not to weaken him and he still died relatively quickly.

Only in the blasphemous bowels of hell will we find the Lord of Terror.

Wirt was my saving grace throughout this entire endeavour. I had not only managed to acquire a rather useful helmet with a +% Resist All modifier on it, but an absurdly powerful axe with substantial +% Chance To Hit and +% Damage modifiers, and a ring that had significant +% Resist Fire and +Strength modifiers. I’m unsure but I don’t believe that the first Warrior that I completed the main campaign with was anywhere near as powerful as this one. I could’ve done with replacing one of the rings and the necklace, too. But nothing worth buying was available and instead I spent my gold on Strength, Vitality, and Dexterity Elixirs.

Diablo was certainly tougher than I remember, though.

I was unlucky and got consistently knocked back so was rarely able to actually land a hit on him. It took more than a few potions to survive the ensuing onslaught as I crawled towards him only to be knocked back again, but he eventually took enough hits to be little more than a mangled heap of demonic remains on the floor.

This has been quite an unconventional series of posts, but I felt that this would be more interesting than a single In Retrospect post detailing the content and the character that I’ve played. There’s a possibility I may even add a fourth post to this series. That depends on what I do next and whether I decide to revisit Diablo in the coming months, but I’ve been thinking about doing a similar (but extended) series for a new Diablo II character. I’ve never really written much about either on Moggie’s Proclamations before as they were before its time. But the Diablo series is one I’ve greatly enjoyed for many years and I hope that some of that shows through with this series.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 2)

There’s an unnerving skittering in the darkness.

Despite being reasonably experienced with Diablo I know very little of the Hellfire expansion pack. I know that it has an additional eight dungeon levels, that there’s a final campaign boss, and that it’s relatively self-contained but that’s about it. I do believe that there are a few shrines, the various Oils, the various Runes, and new equipment that can be found in the main campaign but most content is restricted to the hives and the crypt. Which allegedly mirror the difficulty of the caves and hell, respectively. There’s also a strangely low (arbitrary) level requirement to gain access to the hives via the Rune Bomb to start the content.

Strangely low because the content is for a higher level.

Or that’s how it feels to me. It could be that because Warriors run up to everything, often get surrounded, and essentially need to take damage to deal damage that they felt so flimsy in the hive. But I’m not so sure. The damage seemed absurd even after returning from the caves having cleared each floor and gaining access to hell.

It’s also relatively uninspired content in comparison to the main campaign. I found far fewer shrines, no actual quests or events, and even far less loot in those levels than I think I’d found anywhere else. I don’t even know if there were unique variants of the new enemies appearing in the levels, either. That’s not to say that it’s entirely bad content. It just felt like an exercise in repeating the same actions for a while. Even the hostility of enemies felt underwhelming due to the lack of anything else going on, and could certainly be improved with more of the puzzling quests or unique events present in the main campaign. That said, I wanted to experience the Hellfire expansion pack and I’m glad that I did.

The monstrosity beneath the throbbing hive.

The acquisition of Arkaine’s Valor earlier in the catacombs certainly made some of the Hellfire expansion pack content more bearable. The Fastest Hit Recovery modifier is definitely useful to a Warrior without a shield, but the additional -3 Damage From Enemies and +10 Vitality modifiers were perfectly suited to this particular build. Reducing the damage that I’d receive and bolstering my health even further. I also found the Optic Amulet which isn’t a spectacularly useful item, but does offer +20% Resist Lightning and -1 Damage From Enemies so it suited the build as it was at the time. I’d been gambling with Wirt for a while, too.

I was hoping to buy an extraordinarily powerful axe.

That’s one of the few things that endlessly frustrates me about Diablo. I’d like to be able to easily re-roll his inventory, or, at the very least, be allowed to gamble more than one item at a time. As Wirt is arguably the best (and most expensive) source of exceptionally powerful equipment, but it’s a hassle forcing him to re-roll his inventory to see it.

I was considering building a Monk when looking at the re-release of Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack. However, I felt more comfortable with a Warrior as it is a class I’m more experienced with and I’m not sure what a Monk actually does. It seems that they fight with staves, but that they can also fight with their bare fists and that both offer some unique benefit to them. It’s certainly a class that seems to be good at a few too many things. In that they’re not actually exceptionally good at any one thing. I’m likely to come back to Diablo over the coming months as I’m intending to play through Nightmare and Hell with this Warrior, and so it’s just as likely I might try building a Monk.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Diablo: The Wanderer’s Eulogy (Pt. 1)

Not all who wander will return alive.

Following my recent post regarding the re-release of Diablo and the Hellfire expansion pack I decided that I’d continue ever-deeper into the forsaken depths. I’d originally intended to build that particular character to be able to see the content before writing about it, but it was so overwhelmingly enjoyable returning to Diablo that I worked through the entire main campaign. This would be the second character to finish the main campaign (both Warriors), the first character to experience the Hellfire expansion pack content, and one of five characters who’ve made significant progress towards the Lord of Terror.

For those reasons, I’d say that I’m reasonably experienced with Diablo.

Which is why I wanted to focus on two-handed weapons and the colossal damage that they deal, and not lean on one-handed weapons with a shield. I’d lose the defensive capabilities and the affixes associated with shields. But I decided to invest heavily into Vitality to balance the lack of defensive capability with an overflowing health pool.

It was also because The Butcher drops The Butcher’s Cleaver on death and it has a ridiculous damage range for when it becomes available. It’s oddly more powerful than some of the highest quality axes available in higher level areas, although it does have low durability and has an unimpressive lower damage range. It’s still a great weapon until the caves, though. It’s even better if you manage to find a shrine that improves its durability. Which I did. I threw a few of those Accuracy Oils on it, too. Needless to say it was quite powerful after I finished tinkering with various aspects of it. The other key element of this build was The Undead Crown which (by my calculations) allows you to steal 10% of your damage as health on hit.

To plunder a king’s riches and The Undead Crown.

As Warriors have the poorest starting (and maximum) Magic attribute there were few spells which could be useful. Even learning the Town Portal spell wasn’t useful as a single cast would require me to drink a Full Mana Potion, which is technically cheaper than a Scroll of Town Portal, but it doesn’t account for randomly losing Mana in the dungeon, and it’s a reasonably insignificant saving. Healing has the same problem. While Search has an obscenely high cost for what it actually does and how long it lasts. Of course, experiences may vary as you need to find more books to further level those spells. So they do eventually get cheaper.

But I do believe each book has gradually higher Magic requirements.

So I tend to avoid learning any spells besides those that provide some utility. A single cast at any given time could be useful regardless of the associated potion cost. It also means that learning the Guardian spell via a quest could be ultimately anti-climactic, as it costs so much to cast that you can’t even use it when you first acquire it.

Warriors are exceptionally tough, though. Even without a shield they can take quite a bit of damage before being in any real danger. But they do need to run up to every single enemy to hit them, and with a lack of +% Chance to Hit modifiers in the earlier levels you’re likely to take more damage as you can’t successfully land killing blows. That’s also why later levels become slightly more frustrating for Warriors as they need to chase down enemies that run away. While being pelted with several magical orbs. That said, at least if they do get hit by the numerous unavoidable magical orbs they will likely survive the impact. The same can’t always be said for Sorcerers or Rogues.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Beneath the Cathedral

Hordes of monstrosities lurk in the darkness of these forsaken halls.

There are scarce few ARPGs that execute a harsh and unforgiving dungeon crawling experience as perfectly as Diablo does. Having to desperately scrounge for equipment, potions, and gold to have some hope of seeing the next floor. Having to face innumerable monsters that tear through your flesh and splinter your armour. Delving deeper into the blasphemous bowels beneath Tristram and encountering enemies or shrines that can permanently alter your various attributes. Both the atmosphere and mechanics blurring the line between the frantic nature of ARPGs and the punishing reality of dungeon crawlers.

Diablo can certainly hold its own even today.

For this reason the re-release of Diablo (and later the Hellfire expansion pack) was interesting to me. Mostly due to the convenience of being able to play Diablo without a disc, but also because I’ve yet to experience the content in Hellfire and the support for modern operating systems could be useful. Underwhelming but useful.

The re-release does little to change the actual content of either Diablo or Hellfire. Which I’m glad about. That said, the launcher does give you some rather interesting options. You can choose between the original release of Diablo, the re-release of Diablo, or the re-release of Diablo with the Hellfire expansion pack. Save files can be freely transferred between the original release and re-release of Diablo, but Hellfire has a different save file format. Which is slightly disappointing as it would seem that only Hellfire allows you to play through Normal, Nightmare, and Hell. Something that (as far as I’m aware) was only available to online characters in the original release. So, unfortunately, I can’t take my character from the original release and cleave my way through Nightmare. The save files just aren’t compatible.

The Butcher’s Cleaver is great at cleaving things. As you would expect.

Support for higher resolutions (and the advanced rendering options) only apply to the re-release of Diablo or the re-release of Diablo with the Hellfire expansion pack. Higher resolution support technically exists, but it simply stretches the original resolution (of 640 x 480) to fit your desired resolution. You can also opt for aspect ratio correction to retain the original 4:3 aspect ratio. I’m not sure why you would ever turn aspect ratio correction off, though. The advanced rendering options are likely to be doing something, but I’ve barely noticed even the slightest changes when utilising them.

The above screenshot was originally taken at 3840 x 2160 resolution.

However, regardless of the actual display resolution, screenshots will be saved at 640 x 480 resolution and in the (obscure) .pcx file format. It doesn’t detract at all from the experience and the visuals are comparable to the original release, but it doesn’t exactly feel like higher resolution support as we’ve come to know it in recent years.

If you enjoy Diablo (or are an ARPG enthusiast) then the re-release is certainly worth the relatively inexpensive cost of admission. Being able to switch between the original release and the re-release (with or without Hellfire) is a nice touch. It is, however, slightly disappointing that I can’t carry forward my progress from the original release into Hellfire. But that was often the case with expansion packs of yesteryear. I’m quite enthusiastic about the possibility of a re-release of Diablo II in a similar vein, too. It would be nice if that would also allow you to switch between either classic Diablo II or the Lord of Destruction expansion pack. I am rather fond of the countless hours I’ve spent with various classic Diablo II characters. It’d be nice to be able to revive them at some point.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie