Couch Podtatoes Episode 84: Cynicism


Welcome back to another episode of the show. We’re back with Tacktix for an in-depth discussion about Cynicism and how it can relate to gaming. We tackle how some of us feel that we have become more cynical with age, how skepticism, apathy and other factors can affect our moods towards gaming itself, the industry and our communities. We round it out with how cynicism and trust are related. Of course, we also talk a bit about what we’ve been playing lately too. Check it out, and let us know what you think!


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Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 84: Cynicism (runtime: 1:03:58)

What are we playing? (starts at 1:05)
Discussion: How Are We Doing? (starts at 15:23)

Host Contact information:

Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter: @mevsmyselfandi

Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Blog: Tough Love Critic
Twitter: @TaCktiX

Music Credits:
“Bit Rush” by Riot Games
“Take It All Away” by Cake (from the album Pressure Chief)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

You can also find the show in video format at The Gaming And Entertainment Network YouTube page. Or view it here:

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

The Banner Saga 2: Screenshot Dump

I pre-ordered The Banner Saga 2 as soon as I had the chance. The first game caught my attention due to it’s beautiful 2-D animation art style, reminiscent of old animated films from the 70’s and 80’s. Learning that it was a tactical RPG was all I needed to hear, and finding that I enjoyed both the combat and the story was even better. I loved it, but only managed one playthrough of the game. Sadly, I lost my save file so I was unable to import that into my playthrough of The Banner Saga 2. I might have to go back and play through them both again at some point, as the sequel is a direction continuation of the first game, so it is less of a sequel and more of a second episode — despite the title never being labelled as “episodic.”

The game went live this past Tuesday, and I dove right in. I’m only three hours into the game at this point, but I can already tell you it’s fantastic. If you enjoyed the first game, you will enjoy this one all the same. It feels like some of the kinks from the first game have been ironed out, and some additional depth has been added. For instance, it seems like you earn Renown more readily, which can be used to promote your heroes and buy items/supplies. It also feels like the random encounters are almost always bad, but you’ll still make it to your next destination with supplies to spare. Either that or things that I learned during the first game are just coming back to me, and I’m playing a safe style? I’m not sure but it seems more balanced this time around. The combat also feels more varied and diverse. There are additional races and combat abilities this time around. For the most part though, if you liked the first title, you will enjoy this one as well. I wanted to save some of the screenshots for posterity, so I’m going to add them to the bottom of this post. Be warned, there might be some mild spoilers but I don’t think anything game-breaking.

I saved a couple bucks by pre-ordering, but you can still pick the game up for only $20 on Steam. It’s very much worth your time. The first game took me 8 hours to beat, and it’s likely this one will be a similar length, so it’s also one of those games you can beat in a weekend and still feel like you got your money’s worth. That’s my two cents at least.

Thoughts on the LCS Playoffs

So the Spring Split has come and gone, and with the end of the regular season I didn’t have fantasy LCS to play anymore, which meant that I didn’t talk much about the professional side of the game. Over the past few weeks however, there was plenty of playoff action, which means I have something to talk about once again. It’s been an interesting half of a season so far, which brings us up to the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) and then the Summer Split shortly thereafter. There’s also a big ass patch for the mid-season, with a bunch of new features that will likely shake up the summer split for all of us, not just the pros. I’ll get to that bit in another post though. For now, let’s talk about the playoffs.

During the first weekend in April, the Quarterfinals went down. I didn’t watch much of the European LCS, but during the course of that weekend Fnatic beat out Vitality, and that was surprising considering the shaky season Fnatic seemed to have (again, I didn’t watch much of the EULCS), and Vitality seemed to be the superior team prior to playoffs. The same goes for the other matchup between Unicorns of Love and Origen. Though I called Origen as one of the powerhouses for Europe at the beginning of the split, but they didn’t deliver on that as much as I thought. They were no Immortals, let’s put it that way (more on them later).

In NA, more surprises were abound. TSM looked to be a powerhouse for North America, but they struggled throughout the split. Cloud 9 had a shaky start to the season but finished strong and were the clear favorites in this matchup. They managed to take a game in the series, but TSM dismantled them. It was surprising. Where was this TSM all spring? Less surprising was Team Liquid taking down NRG, particularly with how well Matt and Dardoch performed as rookies. NRG never really stood a chance this split. They need to find better talent in a couple of roles.

The following weekend the semi-final matches were played, and in Europe we saw G2 take down Fnatic (expected) along with Origen continuing it’s streak to defeat H2K. The latter team seemed pretty consistent during the split but didn’t have it when it counted. Origen moves on to the finals against G2, but there is a clear expectation there.

In NA, I was rooting for Liquid to take down CLG. Honestly I don’t think CLG is that good of a team, despite winning the summer split last year. Darshan pulls off some pretty amazing stuff, and Aphromoo has his moments, but I’m not too big on their other players. I think CLG of last year was a better team. Liquid felt like the new hotness. I wanted the rookies to win and for Piglet/Fenix to get some real recognition for their efforts. I think a different top-laner might make up all the difference. Why don’t they pick up Impact? Imagine that team? But it was not meant to be, as CLG took the series 3-2, and moved onto the finals.

The most shocking part of the entire playoffs happened in the other semi-final game. Immortals, the team that only lost one game the entire split, though looking a little weaker towards the end, was expected to completely dismantle TSM. But this wasn’t the TSM from the split, nope that part of their lives was already done. They put together a monster series, and swept Immortals right under the rug 3-0. It was incredible to watch. The tilt was real. I’m really beginning to love esports!

The finals were less exciting, and more exciting at the same time. CLG vs TSM, the dream. The rematch. The same result. Meh. Again, less impressed with this year’s CLG as opposed to last year’s. More impressed with TSM stepping up when it mattered, but they still lost overall. In Europe, G2 triumphed over Origen, as I expected. A new crown over there, the same crown for NA. Either way, it was a fun split, and I look forward to watching all summer long. MSI soon, I may have more thoughts.

PC Upgrade #1982

It’s been a while since I’ve done a hardware post, and as most of you know I’m not really a keep up with the Joneses kind of guy. I try not to skimp on PC components, but I also recognize a good deal when I see one, even if it is on something that some might consider mid-range. I’m okay with not having the best thing money can buy, because it will be on sale sooner or later. And sometimes, you hit gold on something that fits your budget. I feel like that is the case with my most recent upgrade.

The Corsair Strafe Keyboard

I was coming home from visiting a friend last night, and there’s a Fry’s Electronics along the route I was driving, so I thought I’d just pop in to answer some questions that have been floating around in my head for a while. I told myself I was just going to check out their selection of monitors because I have been thinking about getting one. I’m running on an LCD TV at the moment, so it doesn’t have the best refresh rate, nor can it display anything more than 1920×1080 resolution. I was toying with an upgrade to at least a 2k monitor with a decent refresh rate, and relegating the trusty old 32″ to PS4 duty (which it’s perfect for). That would allow me to stream things in the background off the PS4 and dedicate my PC to gaming or whatever other projects I’m working on. I really want that two screen experience. But I digress. That purchase was not made on this day.

I looked at all kinds of goodies. I found some really cool custom fighting game controllers for the PS4, and other various accessories that I might invest in at some point. I have a good idea now of what I’ll probably end up spending on a new monitor when the time comes. I checked out Podcast microphones (they did have the Blue Yeti in stock!), hard drives I could potentially use to expand upon my PS4’s capacity, even tablets. I think I’m leaning more towards a new monitor over a tablet, though either solution would give me the two screen experience. Finally, I found myself looking at mechanical keyboards.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s no real reason for this upgrade, but man am I glad I made the decision to go for it. My Corsair Raptor K30 was a fine keyboard, and has handled 2+ years of blogging, school work, and gaming use. But it was showing signs of wear, and one of the support legs in the back had broken so it would wobble at times and that was rather annoying. To be fair I guess it was time to buy a new one, but my cheap as could justify keeping it for a while still. Somewhere along the line though I decided that I wanted to upgrade to a mechanical keyboard, but when I was looking at the prices of the K70s and comparable models, I was swallowing hard at the price tags. There was a rather neat Logitech (G910 I think it was?) that had a dock for your smart phone, and a mobile app that integrated with the keyboard to work similarly to other keyboards with built in screens, providing in-game data. It was also almost $200 and for a keyboard that feels rather steep.

So I went with the Corsair STRAFE (non-RGB). I’m fond of the company, having had one of their keyboards prior to this one, along with using a Corsair mouse and water cooler. It was half the price of some of the higher end models, but at $100 I can’t complain one bit. It has Cherry MX Red keys, individual per key lighting, some animations/effects for the keys, and programmable keys and lighting schemes. It’s a plastic shell, unlike the K70 which is aluminum, so that’s part of where the reduced cost comes in. It also lacks a wrist wrest, and dedicated media keys. That is the only aspect that I miss from my old keyboard, but having to hold the FN key and then hit a function key to control the media isn’t that big of a deal. It’s less convienient sure, but it’s not a huge deal. The keys are smooth plastic, but the space bar is textured. Optional keys were provided for FPS and MOBA set ups. Since both use most of the same keys, I used all that were provided, so Q-R and A-F are all grey faced now, along with being curved directionally apropriate. I played a couple of Rogue-likes earlier and got a feel for playing a WASD focused game, and it felt fine. I’m planning on playing a game of League to see how it feels after finishing up this post, but I wanted to see how typing on it felt, and I have to say that I rather like it. I feel like I can type a bit faster when I get on a roll, but I’m not quite used to the key placement and touch that goes along with a mechanical keyboard. It’s getting easier the further I get into this post, but I can tell that after a month of using this I’m going to be typing 100 WPM. Maybe not, but it still feels that way!

So yeah, if you think spending $150-200 on a keyboard feels silly, I humbly recommend the Corsair Strafe. It’s a budget priced ($100) well constructed gaming keyboard that has already exceeded my expectations.

Stories: The Path of Destinies


I love it when a great indie game comes out of nowhere and ends up being fantastic. It’s not every day you discover a game that you hadn’t ever heard of before that moment. You guys know me by now, I try to keep my ear to the street about gaming releases, indie or otherwise — but Stories: The Path of Destinies caught me entirely by surprise. I was browsing the Playstation Store a couple of weeks ago, and was checking out new releases. I ended up looking at pre-orders too, and this title caught my eye. I realized later that it also released on Steam, but I had already pre-ordered on my PS4 at that point, so I awaited it’s release for the console. The night it was playable, I jumped in, thinking to myself that I’d only play for twenty minutes or so and then I’d probably wander off to do something else, as is my typical behavior. But something special happened.

Stories is a game about a Fox. Well, actually it’s about a book. Hmm… it’s also about time travel. You know, it’s kind of hard to describe accurately. But mechanically speaking, it’s an Action RPG. You move with one stick, you attack with one button, you get some other abilities mixed in and can spend skill points to improve your abilities. I would generally and favorably compare it to titles such as The Legend of Zelda. Where it differentiates itself from the standard hack n slash of games like Diablo, is by having a very involved and confusing storyline that makes more sense as you play the game. There are meaningful choices and consequences. You can die, but you can’t die. I can’t say much more or I’ll ruin the story for you. Let’s just say that when it feels like the game is going to end, there’s still much to do.

You start off the game in a flashback of sorts, and you are set by a dying woman to look after her son who has a very powerful book, and from there your adventure begins. From there I really can’t say anymore, because there are too many cool spoilers. The story is very well done, and I really liked how the developers handled sticky situations with meaningful consequences, but nothing that will ruin the experience. The combat is another high point, as it feels very much like the Batman Arkham games, with a combo system and various learned abilities that really let you mix things up. It’s more fun than most ARPG combat by a mile, but it’s also more spread out between other obstacles, treasures, puzzles and of course, story bits. There is light crafting, in that you collect essence and ore, and can use that to upgrade your “hero sword” into other forms. They are all elementally based and have varying effects, along with working as keys for various doors. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right sword for a door in the early parts of the game, you will revisit old areas later on. There are also gems to discover that provide some nice passives. All in all, it feels very juvenile at times, but still handles adult situations very well. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it, and I haven’t even seen all there is to see yet.

I highly recommend this title to anyone who is fond of story-driven action RPGs and meaningful choices. It’s fairly kid appropriate, and inexpensive to boot.

Here’s a screenshot dump from my PS4, which automatically takes screens when you earn trophies. As a result some of them aren’t the greatest pictures, but they will show off a myriad of features of the game that I have mentioned here.