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More bittersweet happy memories, let’s assume this will all pay off in a big emotional way later in the comic! But who am I kidding.

There’s this new Onimusha game you can download and try for free RIGHT NOW on the PS4 called Neo, err, I mean Nioh! It’s a limited Beta demo available for a limited time, until May 5th. I’ve been playing it a lot, and, well, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with it. On the love side it’s got wonderfully authentic feudal Japanese environments that I enjoy getting lost in. The combat is highly tense and addictive, with great animations and high/med/low stances for each weapon type. The designs of your character’s armor, the enemy humans, and the oni are so quintessential Japanese that I can not get enough!

What I don’t like, and it’s essentially the same thing I don’t like about Dark Souls, is that when you die, you lose all your amrita, the currency for leveling up your character. And I get that keeping your amrita when you die and respawn would make the game a lot easier in that you wouldn’t have to grind by just farming weaker enemies close to the nearest shrine. All your grinding would be done while simultaneously attempting to push forward and make progress, but is that such a bad thing? I suppose the dichotomy of being heavily punished for pushing forward and dying versus not being able to progress in the game unless you push forward is the heart of what these games are; a tense, high stakes gamble where gaming skill gives you the edge.

But what about people like me, who desperately want to enjoy these games for their difficult combat and art direction, but don’t want to be forced to grind mindlessly or lose a massive amount of progress because they dared to push forward? The only answer currently is “git gud” or “don’t play these games”. the Souls style of game that’s recently become so popular is endlessly frustrating to me, because I ALMOST love these types of games! I have no problem with the difficult combat and that feeling of pushing against a wall and making incremental progress, but these types of games often define ‘incremental progress’ as ‘no freaking progress at all’ after what could be half an hour to an hour of play, which is what a lot of us older gamers have to spare nowadays. So, really, all I want is to be able to keep my souls when I die, so that I know that I’ve advanced in the game even if my character didn’t make it deeper into the world on that run. Why not just make this an option in the game? An EASY MODE, if you will? The combat would still be as brutally hard, and dying would still put you all the way back at the bonfire/shrine/checkpoint, but at least it wouldn’t all feel like a colossal waste of time!

Having said all that, I still have every intention of buying the full version of Nioh whenever it gets a release date. I don’t see any Tenchus, Onimushas, or Genjis coming out any time soon. Where else am I gonna get my samurai hack and slash fix?

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  • Pascalle Lepas

    “Genchu be a horse!” is such a great response!

    • suburban_samurai

      Child logic is the best logic! Assuming you don’t build your world view around it.

      • IDPounder

        Wait…you mean I did things the wrong way all this time?

        • suburban_samurai

          Oh gods yes, I am so sorry.

          • IDPounder

            I guess I’ll have to cancel construction on the bouncy house in the backyard, then. :(

      • Kid Chaos

        Speaking of which, I’m going to throw a temper tantrum if this flashback drags on much longer. When are we going to see the glorious reunion of Genchu and his two favorite students? 👹

        • suburban_samurai

          Buckle up, cowboy, we’ve got four more pages (maybe three if I can figure out how to compress them) of ‘The Adventures of Hirotomo and the Happy Memories’. Then it’s off to a different adventure currently in progress!

          • Kid Chaos

            Any chance of upgrading to twice-a-week updates? 😬

          • suburban_samurai

            that’s certainly my ideal scenario. If I can get some buffer on the comic (‘m still usually finishing a page just before I post it), get up a Patreon page and have it get enough money to justify taking time away from my day job and putting it towards the comic, then, yes, two pages a week is feasible. As it stands, the comic on top of my job is basically a full time plus part time job, and they’re both art related, so it’s kind of mentally draining and exhausting in its sedentariness.

          • Turul

            Well, I’m happy about that. I’ve been enjoying this storyline a lot.

  • McNutty

    The only issue I’ve ever had with having any sort of easy mode for a souls game is that it would influence multiplayer. PvP and PvE are inextricably linked unless you play offline. Whenever you fight someone who seems overpowered or has a cool weapon, at least you know that they earned the weapon or levels just like everyone else (with the exception of hackers, which I hope doesn’t become a problem in DS3 like it was in DS2).

    Beyond that, though, I can’t really think of a good reason to not have some sort of difficulty scaler. Fans of these games tend to have a sense of elitist camaraderie, wanting everyone to struggle through the same things we did. It strengthens the existing community, but discourages new arrivals.

    • suburban_samurai

      That’s true about the multiplayer component, and I had thought of it. The easiest solution would be that playing on easy mode would disable online ability, maybe replacing the ‘summon player’ mechanic with an AI bot. And you wouldn’t be able to switch difficulty midway, you’re committed to an offline easy mode if you so choose it. Since the multiplayer component doesn’t really interest me, and it may not interest other people who just want to experience Souls style games, it seems like the ideal solution. Easy mode would also provide a nice foothold for potential new members of the Souls community, it may encourage them to take the plunge on the higher difficulty once they feel comfortable with the game’s world and mechanics.

      • Xinef

        While I haven’t played any Souls style games, I bet the best answer to these problems is simple. Modding. Just let people mod the game so that if they don’t like something about the game, they can fix it for themselves and others who think the same.
        As usual, people would only be able to play multiplayer if they have the same mods installed (exception – visual enhancement mods and the like that have no gameplay effect, commonly called client-side mods), and as usual any saves/progression/whatever you have in those games can not be transferred between different mod setups.

        I’ve seen this approach work in sandbox games, strategy games, hack’n’slash games… and I’ve seen plenty of games that could have hept my interest for much longer than they did, if only something in their gameplay was moddable. So I’m assuming that is true for any kind of game and any genre.

        As for the topic of cheating though, and how to prevent it… there’s only one effective solution and sadly few games implement it properly. The thin-client approach, where a player’s computer has only two tasks – display the game (visuals, audio) and gather user input (keyboard, mouse, other controllers). All the game logic has to be handled by the server. And you don’t even send the client any information that the player wouldn’t be able to see (such as the location of invisible enemies and such). Sure, that approach has the disadvantage that servers have a lot of work, therefore can only handle fewer people at the same time, and this usually means some monthly payment for multiplayer to offset the cost of additional servers. But still, that’s the only effective solution against any form of (software) cheating. Except bots, there’s no way to distinguish a real player from a bot even with a thin-client approach, other than by behavioral analysis (a Turing test of sorts xD ).

  • McNutty

    Damn. How brutal was his wife’s murder that he went from the happy guy he is here to the edgiest dude ever like he is in Yori’s flashback?

    • Turul

      I’ve been thinking the same thing! I wonder if Yori’s mom is going to appear on the next page, for maximum cuteness before everything goes to hell.

    • Flaming Squirrel

      I dunno, dude. I mean, we’re talking about killing somebody’s wife here.

    • suburban_samurai

      T’weren’t good, that’s for sure. But there may have been more factors than just his wife’s death that transformed him into a moody mcmoodster.

      • Xinef

        As far as I know Nataku, he might have been one of those factors.
        He just doesn’t like happy kids. Unless they’re all covered in blood or something.

  • charles81

    A pity for all Genchu’s enemies that Yori’s last request was that he be awesome incarnate.

  • Gary Foster

    I’m loving the in-panel transitions between present and past. It’s simply a delightful playground of figurative and metaphorical genius.

    • suburban_samurai

      GENIUS? Well, I’ll certainly take that compliment and lock it in my compliment lock box!

  • Leo

    That was the moment in which Genchu transformed into a horse. Despite later turning back, he came to the realization that working under a shogun was a difficult responsibility, and then decided to become a ronin in order to be a horse when he wanted to instead of when he was commanded. This divide ended up causing the Wataro-Daisuke war, and Yorikiro’s current crusade is his attempt to fix his worst mistake.

    • suburban_samurai

      With the help of his trust time travelling friend, Matrix, Yorikiro attempts to undo the mistakes of the past to preserve the the space time continuum in “QUANTUM JUMPER”! Fridays at 8 on FOX.

  • foducool


  • lilanimefan

    Little Yori!! fan see… fan glomp!!!!!! *glomps*

  • Flaming Squirrel

    Little did Yori know that when Genchu said “As you wish,” he was actually saying… okay, no, I’m not going there. I’m not making that joke. I’m sorry.

    • suburban_samurai

      You can totally make that joke, assuming we’re referring to the paternal kind of love!

    • jwkovell
      • Flaming Squirrel

        What’s creepier? Nataku loving Hirotomo, or Genchu… yeah, no, it’s Nataku. It’s always Nataku.

  • Skralin

    Goddamn but tiny Yorikiro is adorable.

  • Sunwu

    (I think we’re alone now, Tommy James and the Shondells)

    Daisuke behave! Thats what they say when We’re together! And watch how you play!!! And Hirotomo’s dad just doesn’t understand!

    So we’re running just as fast as we can, fighting over one anothers’ clans. Trying to get away into the night, as Genchu and Yori play horsey holding eachother tight, and then Hirotomo says:

    I think I’m alone now, there doesnt seem to be anyone around.
    I think I’m alone now, haunted by the past, seeing sights and sounds!

  • mateusz graven

    Maybe you would like a compromise to the souls games and only lose half your resources on death?

    • suburban_samurai

      this would also be acceptable.

  • Galeden

    At least you don’t have to start the entire game all over again like you used to.

  • Spikesagitta

    Wow. This is making this guy I always thought as a tyrant…human? What happen?

  • lilanimefan

    Genchu was the cool uncle for Yori. 😛

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