I havenít been writing for very long, It mostly started as an excuse for doing nothing all day, every day. Since I was playing games all day, might as well do something useful with it, write reviews and such. Its escalated into something pretty important to me in these short months, and I don't really want, nor plan to stop anytime soon. But I havenít been able to write about much things lately as Iíve been, for once, surprisingly busy. Its only been several weeks without writing very much (besides just one review) but its something thats beginning to bug me, not writing anything you guys. I don't really have a point, but I figured Iíd still leave an update.
I finally hit that point where I needed get up and fucking do something. Iíve mostly been one to stick to the couch or in front of some form of TV/monitor, so it feels weird and exciting to finally be at a loss of spare time.
I recently started school (Iíll make this quick, Wrench, please don't strike me down!) to not sound as pathetic when someone asks me ďSo.. What do you do?Ē. They aren't the hardest of ventures, a drawing and publishing class (sprinkled with a math class but who cares about that), mainly to improve a personal site, while also trying to repair a long lost drawing talent. I wanted more, but they were mostly what time allotted me, as most of classes that interested me were in the same time slots.
The remaining hours have been spent trying to think of ideas about games or other things to write about, record or anything else that could be loosely defined as a Ďcreationí. Theyíre not the greatest ideas, as I find myself often hard pressed for anything better than any simple game review, but I hope theyíll catch at least one eye.
I think itíll take more time to let the fruit ripen and iron out the kinks this time, as I have less time to mess around with, but now that Iím grasping hold my new routine I'm figuring out easier ways to get some more immediate content in between. Elgatoís game capture HD updated to include live streaming to Twitch.Tv, making it easier to get into the fray of the latest topics, without the need to completely literate my opinions, and in fact I can show them form. Feeling a need to have some video content, its something Iím interested in pursuing.
Iíve got quite a weekend ahead of me, having friday and monday off, which Iíve decided to dedicate to streaming the Dead Space franchise from the original, hopefully through to (as long as fucking Gamefly works) the apparently lackluster third entry. And if I can't make it to Dead Space 3, I at least get to play the good ones. It seemed like the perfect event to tie into my recent obsession, though I realized the daytime hours will kill the mood.
Though I could just stream something else if the need arises...
Iíve been trying to start Assassinís Creed 3, though Im beginning to see the intro as slow, as Iíve only just reach the end of Haythemís introduction. What Ive found the worst so far is the Ďdetection=game overí mentality of the first chapterís missions. I heard I shouldnít be overwhelmed by the title, but I hope that mentality changes as I think Iím about to reach Connorís content.
Iíve been saving Ni No Kuni for enough time to make it through the introduction, as the grapevine tells me its quite a dense intro. As Iím sure everyone else is, Iím a Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli fan, owning most of the films; Iím not the hugest Level-5 fan, but they have enough merit in what little I played of White Knight Chronicles. Oooh...I cant wait..
I hope that this can explain my lack of commitment lately, while also excusing the continued lulls.
Forzaís developer, Turn 10, is out of town, working on the next full entry in the racing franchise, and theyíve left the series unguarded. While theyíre away, their new steward, Playground Games, came up with best way to pass the meantime: Throw a party. And with the ĎKing of Simulatorísí crown in hand, going big is the only way to go, taking most of Colorado hostage for the biggest festival invented.
Set in the fictitious Horizon driving festival, held across Colorado, Forza Horizon is sensory overload. A new sprawling city to explore, with a variety of terrains, the flashing lights and sounds scattered across the foreground and background as you dash by with the hissing, purring, and roaring explosions of your engine chasing ever behind. Music induces the youthful joy that has entranced the party scene that riddles Horizon, with its electronica sinking its clutches to keep your foot planted to the floor.
Theres plenty to do in Horizon. With the events that are scattered throughout the city containing the bulk of the experience, thereís are Ďshowcase racesí that deserve a special spotlight. Placed against odd opponents such as bi-planes, helicopters, and other crazy challenges that invigorate when the experience begins to dull. There are also other sub-challenges like passing speed signs or challenging the other racerís head on, that help increase your driver progress as the Ďmost popularí driver amongst the other competition.
Under the hood, you're still basically leveling up via an standard point based system, but this time your progress is presented with wristbands, because cheap plastic wristbands are hip, right? As you progress each wristband grade, the major players of Horizon, each one flashier than the next of course, begin to notice the rising young underdog, challenging you in each event you partake in. During most races, youíll be given a select opponent, usually the top competitor, that youíll be given bonus experience for defeating. Then once youíre on the verge of progressing the next rank theyíll challenge you to a duel. Its a funny touch thats effectively a boss battle, but its never used more than another excuse to give you different challenges, as there isn't much of a story linking these people together.
Driving heavily represents the new (side)developer, Playground Games, made up of developers from other top tier racing titles, such as the BurnOut and Project Gotham series', with rewards from their own seriesí staples, like rewarding ďkudosĒ for driving recklessly in interesting ways. Horizon shares much of the techniques that are involved in most arcade driving game, but it isnít hard to notice the influence of interbreeding on the franchises. Forza Horizon is a well build forgery, as itís hard to tell whats actually missing without taking a deep look, since for the most part, the omissions are negligible.
Horizon is much more lighthearted comparing to main Forza series. Driving is still largely the same, yet the damage's cause and effect is removed. Taking a lesser bearing on the mechanics of the car and the physics of driving, Playground Games relinquishing the negative possibilities of driving recklessly. Weighing less on realism to a T, Horizon is more about the act of driving instead of the ballet of mechanics and physics. Itís still possible to get under the hood and unleash the more technical aspects of Forza engines and get close to the realistic simulation, but it never quite reaches the depths of the core series.
Driving is still enormous fun, but lacks Forzaís distinct touch. In previous titles, if you misinterpreted a corner and slammed at full speed, your race was over (unless you used the series miracle device, the rewind button) as your car would be totaled, unable to physically compete regardless of your inputs. Horizon removes these functions, for better or worse depending on your opinion, making races mostly a well simulated real to life race acting like bumper cars. It destroys the immersion when you fatally crash, and continue on unfazed. I still smile when it occurs, but feel it still shouldnít happen.
A welcome change, Playground Games lets you play around a fictional part of Colorado that's hosting the Horizon festival, free to roam, left to the variety of locales to drive at will. With the welcome change of dirt tracks and an included day/night cycle, Horizon spins Forza usual tropes on its head. Since Horizon lets you take cars on the open road, you get the best sense of driving these vehicles in real life, as you witness regular pedestrians fly out of view as you barrel past at plus hundred miles per hour.
The change I've been waiting for, Horizon lets you finally drive at night, giving the chance to experience the true intent of the gameís visual palette. Lights are allowed to whir past, leaving behind beautiful trails of colors in the dust of your drift. Unfortunately they donít take the inclusion of night-driving very far; No event takes place at night. Its disappointing that what would have benefit from the most change, is left with little to no change at all.
Pulling back the focus off the car, people are now involved in the picture. There is a bit of uncanny valley aversions during the small amount of cutscene but people mostly looks great for primarily a racing game's engine. Of course the protagonist isnít improved much, though, as heís sparsely seen from the wrists up. Finally let out of the nameless driverís fireproof suit, our driver has moved into the silent, white shirted, clean cut generic white dude attire. Its nice to see the guyís face, since they forced the driver into the spotlight now, but itís odd there isn't even the lightest bit character customization. A white-shirted fashion mute in a setting of flash and flamboyance throws off the overall image, taking focus away from the hero and onto the rivals that are too scattered to get a decent impression of anyone.
Forza Horizon is meant to be a stop gap, biding the fans time while creator, Turn 10, toils away on the inevitable Forza 5, and giving them an extra year to refine the series that's just starting staling over. Horizonís departure from the sophisticated car societal nature of the series is a sour taste, as thatís what distinguished itself from the rest of the dime a dozen street racing echelon, but the youthful energy does keep me up and my foot down.
In many ways Horizon feels like the adolescent of the Forza series: It shows what the series can do with time and precision, yet still lacking the seriousness, elegance, and tone of its forefathers, wetting my palette enough, while still leaving me to wanting for Forza 5. If you're interested in arcade racers, but want to dabble into the simulator scene, or vice versa, Horizon is a great place to place to start, as it blends the worlds together. If you expecting Forza's next generation of top racing simulations, its probably best to wait until Turn 10 returns.
Returning from the dead, the crown prince of action is back. Back from the halls of Limbo, or more accurately returning to them, Dante the demon hunter, is ready for another stylish romp of raunchy destruction as he searches for the man who killed his parents.
Referencing popular media like V for Vendetta and Big Brother, Developer Ninja Theory weaves together the understandable bits of Devil May Cry's canon into the classic "teens against 'the man' " stereotype that easily compliments the demonic background of the series. Reintroduced to Dante, his aristocratic brother Vergil and their family nemesis, Mundus, the story reestablishes the archetypes of the series as terroristic freedom fighters clashing against a power hungry demon that controls the world through its debts. And though it does end on a cliff hanger, the ending's invitation to a sequel presents the reblooming of the franchise wonderfully.
Set in the surreal, vibrant, and simple to understand Limbo City, Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry reinvigorates the franchise where its always been confusing and convoluted. Since DmC is a fresh start that tosses away the more abrasive content, it's a perfect introduction for the starting fan.
Sticking firm to its roots, style is still the heart of Devil May Cry. Never dissuaded from expletives or the risquť, DmC is a much vulgar beast than its predecessors, reaching its climax with a classy "f@&$ you" argument. Well wrapped in allegories and metaphors, (like the family home of Paradise Manor, or the deceptively parasitic 'cure-all' Virility) DmC's universe consists of the human world that's ripe for parody and the demon infested sister realm, Limbo, thats not afraid to cast its criticisms.
As Dante is deterred from his mission by the autonomic Limbo, the human's world collaterally reflects the calamity, often leading to disastrous results. Itís an idea that leads to great laughs; I.e. As a demon tosses a Ferris wheel at Dante, in the human realm, the dumbfounded masses watch as a passenger filled Ferris wheel rips itself from its bindings to parade down an amusement park. It's just never quite utilized, set aside as a small gimmick that has little effect on the greater picture.
Maintaining its status as an contender for the fast paced action crown, DmC has refined its vast repertoire of attacks, selecting the the most prominent of attacks in the series' fighting styles into one encompassing set, cutting out the expansive unused sets to emphasize the more prominent techniques and eliminate the more cluttered choices.
But that isn't to say they don't add anything new, besides his trusty blade Rebellion, Dante is equipped with angelic and demonic weaponry that representing his ancestral heritage. Effecting attacks by holding down dedicated buttons, they are unleashed on the fly, negating the series' former need to carry select weapons at a time. It's a simple change that's efficiently handled, though its still possible to get lost in the buttons in some of the fiercer battles.
To make the nuances of combat easier to understand, Ninja Theory has added UI hints to aid the player. Visual blips make the small pauses in combo's simple to spot, negating a need to search for a "sweet zone" in the animations. Also, instead of the invisible judge that grades your actions, a score is displayed on the side, showing the effective style points of each move. It's a welcomed addition that calculates your skill, making it easier to achieve higher scores, while explaining exactly how you lost it, without needing to delve into the combat's mechanics through trial and error.
DmC is not without its flaws, though. Some lines do fall flat, mostly delivered from Dante's less than interested tone, though it is a rarity, and on the whole the rest of the voice acting is superb. There are a lot of empty hallways that fill the spaces between fights, and the puzzles add enough lull to highlight the up-beats of combat, but they aren't the biggest brain busters. It's a projection, but the lack of a dedicated block or lock-on does leave me wanting in tight knit situations. Defense is handled with an evasive dodge which is efficient, but it can get interrupted easily in the tighter crowds or the occasional bad camera angle. Where the lack of a dedicated lock-on is sorely missed, though the button space is filled to capacity.
If you find the fountain of hell depleting before your satisfied, there is a bevy of post game content to keep you going. Several types of keys and corresponding secret doors, that unlock the various challenges that the series is known for, are of course scattered to the nooks and crannies. Now an extra collectible as well as a source of income, red orbs have been become trapped lost souls scatter limbo, left ripe for the taking. It's great to see them included in some sort of context instead of just an unmasked gameplay necessity. Another series staple, there's plenty of difficulties that alter the campaign's challenges, for those left unsatisfied with the standard challenge, even including a 'one-hit game over' mode for the more masochistic.
Fundamentally close to the core to woo the reluctant veteran, and the easiest welcoming point for the series for newcomers, both from a canonical sense as well as gameplay one, and still designed with the competitive leader board climbers and score hunters in mind DmC: Devil May Cry reevaluates, and refocuses the series, stepping the series into a new clearer direction. Proud of its heritage, but not afraid of the changes of time, DmC: Devil May Cry is proof that devils never cry, they just move forward.
Since I've been on a bit of a Skyrim binge lately, and 1UP's Jeremy Perish not helping much, I had an idea that could make or break my writing career: writing some Fanfiction. I've always had a bit of stigma with the word, but recently saw it as a great excuse to write. Without further Adieu..
Awakening in a small plain just west of Fort Greymoor, an abandoned military base thatís become a haven for robbing bandits, me and my ironclad companion, Lydia, assemble our small camp, relishing in the relative warm pocket tucked behind the jagged hill, shielding my Imperial temperament from the nordic winds.
Approaching a giantís camp near an oak deemed Sleeping Tree, I hide under the grass at the sight of the large automaton of fur and leather, fearful of the destruction unleashed along with the massive tusks cloaked in the thicket of crimson. Sneaking past the goliath mammoth patrolling the camp, I inch closer, my compatriot shortly behind.
Iíve never fought a giant. Driven away by tales of their destructive wakes, Iíve usually kept heed to the warnings, straying clear of their clearings, skimming the edges if given no other passage, but when in the search for compensation, for an Imperial, ethics outweigh emotions. In between nervous glances toward the massive beast on watch behind us, I spot a figure further on the hill. Drawing my bow in attempt to clarify the figureís owner, I peer vigilantly down the arrows shaft as I inch forward up the hill.
Reaching the hillís peak as I slack my bowstring to maintain endurance, I stick to a nearby boulder, urging my assistant to my heel. Unaware of what lies behind my stone rampart, I inch around to get a view, thinking to myself:
ďWhat belonged to the figure I saw, was it something contestable, something my stature, or was it the Giant whose position on the hill is tricking my perception?Ē Hearing a familiar click heightened my suspicions.
ďIs that a crab?!Ē, I smirked. Tossing aside my fears, and steeling my resolve I pull back my bow and charge forward.
Springing from the security of the barricade, I identify my unknown foe. An undead collection of bones held together by a sapphire turban, retaliates to our charge, sparking a fire bolt incinerating my arrow. Dodging around my barrage of Forsworn bolts, Lydia rushes forward, ignorant of friendly fire, confident in her steel plating. Before the undead sorcerer could reach its blade, Lydiaís greatsword crashes upon the corpse, releasing the spell bonding the bones to life, scattering its pieces across the field. Before the adrenaline could spread thoroughly, we are victorious, collecting our spoils and regaining our composure. Hearing the undead click slowly crescendo behind us, Lydia turns to spot two more skeleton warriors, creeping closer at an undead stride. Focused on the reinforcements, Lydia fights her blade out of the sorcererís skull, stuck in the tundra below. Desperate to rescue my faithful colleague, four arrow embed in the assailants, scattering bones like exploding shrapnel. Smashing the skull prisoning her sword, a muffled sound sneaks from Lydiaís helm.
As we slowly creep up the hills, mistaking nearby crickets chirps for more skeleton click battle cries, a fresh cadaver enters view, lifeless at the foot of a candlelit table, another draped atop, both with daggers in hand. The stone ruins that encircle the sacrificial ritual ensures their purpose, proved by the prime locale. Inspecting the body on the table, I discover several potions and oils along with herbs that allude to my suspicions. With no way to confirm, and the Giantís bonfire in sight across the expansive clearing, we push forward.
Arriving at Sleeping Tree, Lydia and I return to a hunterís stance, stalking in the shadows created by the Giantís large fire. At the snap of a branch, Lydia and I match glares before the pounce of a Sabre Cat breaks the armored fataleís footing. Trying to pry the mighty beastís attention without attracting my Targetís proved daunting, slugging arrows into its hide while trying to pull it way from the camp. Returning to her feet, Lydia repays the predator with a mighty swing down upon its hind, buckling its charge. Unwilling to drag to fight longer, I stab an arrow threw the jugular, attempting to silence its cry as I stare at the bonfire for movement.
Deathly still, choked by the fleeting Sabre carcass, I concentrate on the quakes from Sleeping Tree, fearful of the imminent encounter. Nervous about my foeís awareness of his surrounding danger, I crawl toward the the fireís light. Closing near the glowing embers of the camp, my Enemy is nowhere to be seen. Scanning the camp my eyes fix on the Sleeping Tree, fog cloaking it in an illusive miasma. Distracted by the oakís aura, I spot the Giant arriving with his crimson cattle. Pulling myself together as I grab a gap in Lydiaís shoulder guard, we escape to the edge of the camp.
Pulling my bow to the ready, I aim for my Foe hidden behind the girth of his livestock. Spotting the pale leather hide of the Giant behind a sea of the mammothís flowing crimson fur, I loose my arrow, spurring a panic among his cattle; The Giant jumps from the sting to his spine, whipping around to spot the two hunters, the source of his nuisance and joins two bullís charge against the hail of arrows from our two bows. Witnessing the closing gap, Lydia drops her bow for her greatsword to meet the colossal opposition, barring her feet deep in the soil. Choosing fire instead of wood and steel to halt the charge, I drop my weapon for a more effective arsenal, sparking ethereal flames in either hand.
Swept aside by the large stampede, Lydia finds herself behind the mammothís charge.
In attempt to split the bulls from their Shepard, Lydia hurls her blade into a mammothís hide, causing the massive beast to buckle under its stride. Spurred by its brethrenís torment, the other mammoth alters course, barreling for Lydia. Racing to her bow, Lydia is bucked by the trampling bovine, kicked up to the beastís shoulders. Gripping despite her gauntletís lack of traction, scrambling to the mammothís shoulder blades, the warrior flings off her armored glove to tighten her grasp, searching for her side-blade blindly with her offhand. Working the clinging soldier off its back, the gargantuan creature bucks and shakes, ignorant of its movements, stepping ever closer to the struggling buck. Tearing her anchor from its tether, Lydia clutches her knife, striking it deep into the goliathís crest, tightening her grasp on its hilt as the monster shrieks in its agony, its spine severed. Weightless as life fades, the massive tusk of the titan pierces its brotherís ribcage, deafening the last roar of the rising behemoth.
Detached from his reinforcements, the Giant slows on his outmatched opponent, weighting his steps to throw off the balance of the tiny hunter, humbled by the odds of the duel.
Drained of energy from the barrage of firebolts, I find myself too winded to effectively press back my colossal adversary, his large stature proving stronger than my array of spells. Sneaking shots while weaseling an escape, I scramble for a concoction that could reinforce my will, patting every pouch and pocket. Focused on my antagonist, my foot catches a rabbitís hole, prompting a Potion of Magicka to slip from my belt pocket. Scurrying to the vial, I muster enough strength into one bolt, causing the Giant to falter with fatigue. Rising from the ground with reimburse vigor, calling upon the ancestral Unrelenting Force, I shout at my rival, delivering the severing blow.
After the cacophony of deathly wails, silence grips the camp, muting the sound of our footsteps for the several surviving minutes. First our heartbeat returns, then the fireís crackle, then the surrounding ambience. Embracing the bonfireís warmth, we set up camp for the night.
With the novel kick over, I'll probably return to my regular reviews. This kind of thing is fun though, so I'll be back
My long slumber finally ends, my first in the warming embrace of a bed. The safety of its many layers saved me from the cold and the many creatures that wish me harm, sparing me of an eternal paranoia that prevented me from any rest or solitude. Baking in the shine of the morning's celestial beams, I ponder the day's challenges as I'm left in wonder in the shadow of my previous inventions and structures.
-Relishing the glory of my great obelisk I recall the previous night.-
Unable to sleep some point, I perform a cautionary patrol of my inner quarters and cavern entrance. Returning to the ground from the subterranean, I hear manic thuds as I climb the stairs. Paranoid and fearful I reach for my iron sword, glancing over my weaker stone axe, convinced of an imminent danger judging by the severity of the throbs on the door to. Scrambling across the hall I search every entrance, unaware of the source of the intrusion. After several attempts at incorrect doors, I find several undead nearly through the gateway entrance. Taking a encouraging breath, I open the entryway, allowing the creatures access to my blades edge. Several swings to each creature later, I am again alone, confirming my assertions by checking my surroundings, the glowing essence of my foes absorbing into my being, warming me against the cold for several seconds. Nervous about what other dangers might be closing in, I relinquish to my bunk, wishing that slumber's embrace will defeat my fears.
Back in the morning's cradle, I am pulled from my imagination to engage the reality of the daylight. Trying to recall my former efforts, I scan my surroundings noticing the cleared jungle that forms the beginning of a yard. A few paces past, the ever engrossing jungle. What is beyond I doubt I'll ever learn, since I'm to scared to leave to comforts and safety of my abode. The sudden rush of memories of death and my desertion in the jungle scrambling for the lights and signals of my tower convince me this is not first occurrence of such thoughts, or that this is my only life.
My plans were interrupted by the a rumble of my stomach. Returning to the chest near my cot carrying my provisions, I feel the familiar shape of a sphere in my pocket. Upon reaching my forearm deep into its pouch, I discover several apples. Admitting gluttony, I stuff my mouth, grasping for air between chunks of apple, seed and core. Stuffed to the gizzard, I return the alluring forest.
Impressed and daunted by the impenetrable silhouette of the trees, I hesitate adventuring away. The lack of food and gear paired with my disappearing levels of knowledge of the world pause my stride. Crossing the small bay that shelters my tower, I trim the tree line expecting a day's objective to make itself clear. Hesitation ruins the day. I feel the chill of the moon as I slow my lumbering rhythm and greet the celestial glow of its distracting surface. The scruff of my neck stands to attention at the ethereal grasp of paranoia's clutch as my tasks became meaningless along with the day's rays and I sprint for the candles scattered around the ground to steer my eyes home. Upon slamming the door and a return to composure, I turn to face the lunar satellite, cursing it for my lack of conviction.
After a glance at the comforts of the silken sheets, my mind shakes to the realization that the day cannot end with such disgrace, I must face the land below. Steeling myself for the dangers of infinite night, the ever spawning womb of monsters and ghouls, and the source of recent nightmares: a creature that's knowledge and practices in the world far surpasses my own functions, a disturbing beast resembling man's shadow, capable of moving without the requirement of its leg's motion and are driven mad by the direct gaze of others.
The ever expanding tunnels that I endeavor to illuminate from the grasp of monsters soon teach me of the impossibility of the task, as each tunnel I kindle, the world births another. Exploring the great hall at the bottom of my underground staircase, I venture the tentacle like passages that protrude from the chasm. Searching a hole to its end for iron, coal, and gold, I become distracted by a stray path upon my return. Following the stray, I find its connections to rocky foyer at end of the hall. While trying to weave a connection, I hear more rumbles of the undead, instilling fear, and causing my mandible to form a grit. Exploding the small agitation to full despair, the siren's call from the manlike demon. Retreating to reinforce my courage by dumping my blunder, I turn to face my nightmare, revitalized and determined to defeat the abomination.
To no avail, I search the halls endlessly, bent on slaying the creature creating my grief. Avoiding hunger with my last remaining apples, I stumble off a ledge in my gluttony, landing in the lap of the prickly cactus-like bio organic explosive, its creepy gaze piercing my conviction to escape is bursting defense. Pulling myself away from the loose stone, I find myself wounded but alive. An earthly creation couldn't pry me from my mission, even a creep, though fear and paranoid imagine cause my hands to dance.
Upon arriving back to a familiar locale, I hear the ethereal horn of my foe, causing my legs to move away autonomously as my fear peaks. Once I reach the safety of my door, my courage returns, demanding my leg's cooperation, spinning me to offensive. Patrolling the sources of the noise and its surroundings for several passes proves my cowardice, as my foe has departed. Feeling the warming winds blowing down from burrowed passage and stung by hunger, I abandon my hunt. You win this round, demon.
Thank god for the digital world we live in, increasing the boundaries of the gaming community beyond a few players huddled together in a dark room, squished in front of a glowing CRT television. I've come here to the digital arcade of the Internet to ask for a lending shoulder, and some help: I'm completely lost in Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Now it should be said for those interested, this will include SPOILERS.
The last things I remember was...
After running into Snow as he's battling a giant tomato monster and adventuring in the jungle like tree canopy, riding a quadrupedal beast across a passage and chasing several tomato monster colonies created by a time paradox, Serah and Noel are swept away to another time(level) where they reunite with Hope in Yaschas Massif -010 AF-. After Hope and his female friend (the academic chick that knows of Serah) explain paradoxes and alternative timelines, Serah and Noel return to the same location, Yaschas Massif, but an different era, deemed -01X AF-, where they again talk to Hope, but this time must journey under spotlights avoiding a pitch black night created by the Giant Crystal blocking out the sun and moon.
I'm not sure when it occurred, but I remember going to Oerba, an abandoned village in the snowy regions of the world, eventually running into Ciaus and the seeress, Yeul, who Noel recalls from his time. After some exposition you learn that with the multiple timelines, there are multiple Yeuls monitor each one. Serah and Noel then battle Ciaus for, I believe, the first time. After defeating Ciaus, the duo are transported to a castle entrance, with no explorable area at the moment. With a Historia Crux Title "locked location" and even a description of " with nothing here, the party is forced to go back" I get the picture there's not much to do besides collect a handful of items.
With several attempts to hop back into it, usually only leading to some level grinding and sight seeing without any real progress, I can't help but feel lost. I have access to New Bodhum -003 AF-, the island resort that started the journey; the Bresha Ruins -005 AF- whose streets worked as a tutorial, along with its frozen alternative -300 AF- that I believe is only for a fragment side quest; the aforementioned Yaschas Massif -010 AF, -01X AF- and Oerba -200AF-; I've traveled to the Sunleth Waterscape -300 AF- several times, believing killing the Giant Tomato would progress something, but I remember hearings its a side quest as well.
I even have the guide, but since FFXIII-2 is a game based on time travel and paradoxes, it's complicatedly put together, leaving no actual help with gauging progress.