Yes, we know it's spelled
For this edition of the Second Wind Roundtable, I thought it'd be a funny little prank to coerce a couple of my colleagues into playing Scarlet Blade with me. I was wrong. I was so, so very wrong. We lost some good men in there, but those of us who survived to talk about it gathered 'round for some group therapy over hard whiskey and mind-bleach.

Coincidentally, we also transcribed it so that you can learn from our mistakes. Be warned, many screenshots below the cut are explicit, though some have been tastefully censored for the sake of all things holy and sacred. No, really, we are not kidding: This post is not safe for work/children/anyone with a sense of common decency. That being said, you can join us after the cut.

I'm so, so sorry.

Matt: Hello, friends.

Eliot: We're not friends after this, Matt.

Matt: Well, I guess that's as good a way as any to start this off. And for the record, I don't blame you.

Larry: I think I can safely say that I have never experienced anything like what I've experienced with you guys. I feel we've grown closer because of it.

The ladies of Scarlet Blade have a very loose definition of, Matt: Like a group of survivors of some traumatic experience.

Eliot: Yeah, this was... all right. We have to actually talk about the game instead of doing the textual equivalent of a thousand-yard stare, right? Here: [FLOOP] THIS GAME.

Matt: I think that sums up our sentiments pretty well, but can we talk about why [floop] this game? I mean, let's keep it to the short list 'cause I've got things to do tonight, but... Hell, where to begin?

Eliot: OK. Starting completely without talking about the game's transparent and immature attitude toward women...

Matt: Yeah, leave that for last. Make people scroll down for it.

Eliot: The control system is beyond screwed. It wants to control like TERA but lacks the active combat.

Matt: I'd say it wants to control like WoW, but somehow just lacks the gumption.

Larry: I think it felt kind of like Vindictus without the action combat. And exploding boxes.

Eliot: It felt like it couldn't figure out which route it wanted to go.

Matt: It was just your generic tab-target, hotkey rotation, repeat style of gameplay, but somehow made worse by the combat system and abilities. Your autoattack activated the GCD, leaving you unable to execute abilities at inconvenient times, and the abilities were all same-ish. I had "shoot," "shoot a bit harder," and "shoot really hard," and when I finally got to unlock a new ability it was, surprise, "shoot even harderer."

While she appears to be shimmying, she is, in fact, running. In heels.
Larry: My abilities all felt exactly the same, too. Light, medium, and heavy versions of the same skill. There wasn't even really a rotation. It was more like target mob and sit back and grab some coffee. I was actually eating while we played.

Matt: Well, I think we've established that the game's designed for maximum convenience. It's almost as if they expect people to play one-handed...

Eliot: Also Matt, you got that heal with the horrible sound effect.

Matt: Oh, god. Let's go ahead and address the fact that all the battle noises sounded way too porn-moany.

Larry: Bad-porn-moany.

Matt: There's good-porn-moany? You know what, don't answer that.

Eliot: It sounded fake. Every single thing about this game looked, sounded, and felt fake.

Matt: Well DUH, but it's not the fakeness I'm concerned about. I'm concerned about the fact that the chick getting the [sloop] kicked out of her seems to be enjoying herself. But yes, you're right, it all felt fake.

Eliot: The characters look like Bratz dolls that attained sentience and got implants.

Matt: HAHA, yes.

Larry: What if we looked at it as a comedic game? Even "funny" games -- like, say, WildStar -- take themselves seriously at some point. I saw nothing like that in this game.

Eliot: It's also not funny.

Matt: Yeah, that hinders things a bit. Also, I feel halfway like the game is taking itself seriously, which is even more worrisome. As if this [slarp] is legitimately supposed to be titillating and erotic or something.

Eliot: That's the whole "fake" thing again. There's never a sense of playfulness, of some giggling winks. This is a world populated solely by women in which every single one of them is a huge-breasted, sway-backed sex object. There are no alternatives.

Larry: I really just don't understand the point of the game other than "ooh, boobies!"

Eliot: It's just pointless. You get over it being sexist and it goes back to being a crap game.

Matt: Exactly. There's nothing to it; it's an excuse for people to look at some virtual T&A, and if they're especially gullible, to spend some money in the item shop (which, by the way, sells [flarp]ing lingerie). If you can even call a few lines of glowing electrical tape lingerie.

Pictured:
Eliot: Can we just go ahead and say that this game has outright nudity in several places?

Matt: Yes. Yes we can. Though even the characters who aren't showing copious amounts of skin are stuck in skin-tight (or transparent) outfits, and apparently it's always cold everywhere.

Larry: Honestly, I don't think I'd mind the game as much if there were a good game behind it.

Eliot: I'd still be annoyed that someone made Rob Liefeld's Idea of Women: The Game, but I could at least look at it like TERA: good core engine, sexist as heck, but the sexism is just dumb. As it stands, Scarlet Blade has literally nothing to recommend it except as being a tacky piece of sexism bordering on misogyny.

Matt: I mean, the questing structure was about as half-assed as you can possibly get. Auto-run to quest objective, kill some things, repeat. It gets minor bonus points for not making you run back and forth to questgivers, but it loses them by giving me multiple quests in a row to kill the same damn mob. It's about as pleasurable as slamming your face into a grinding stone.

Eliot: The auto-travel... The more I think about it, the less I like it. It's like admitting that the game doesn't have any tricks, just click this thing and go to the next point. I mean, we were literally running in a straight line killing things. I hate people calling something "linear" most of the time, but you can't call this anything else.

Second Wind Roundtable NSFW Edition
Larry: To be fair, the line curved sometimes.

Matt: Yeah, it's linear by definition.

Larry: It was more linear than SWTOR. BOOM BOOM BOOM! SWTOR BURN!

Eliot: It's possible that things branch out in the higher levels. But to find out, you would have to perform the equivalent of jamming your face into live current long enough to gain electricity-related powers.

Matt: As I've said (and been flamed for) multiple times: Any game that requires me to go through things that Hannibal Lecter would find inhumane just to get to the "good stuff" is not getting my time.

Somehow it actually did get published.Larry: Do we wanna talk about the mech with a woman riding in its [REDACTED]?

Matt: God, do we ever. I have screenshots of that. I'm not sure Bree will let me publish them. [Ed.: In for a penny, in for a pound.]

Eliot: It's hard to isolate the sexism from the game, too. That's the other thing.

Matt: Well yeah, when one of the major goals of the game is unlocking new lingerie...

Eliot: Like, it's literally shot through with sexual exploitation. There's no way to discuss a feature without mentioning that the game's stated goal is to bring the player closer to boobies at any moment.

Matt: Did we mention that one of the character models appears to be a girl in the range of like, 14 years old? The Sentinel, I think?

Larry: Also, Idel.

Matt: Oh yes, Idel, who is clearly like 12, and despite being almost fully clothed, you can still see her nipples. What. The. [Flurp].

Larry: Oh, and about the fifth quest in, you have to kill a girl named Cherry. Is that a metaphor?

Matt: I'm not sure I'd give the game's writers the credit of coming up with something as advanced as a metaphor.

Eliot: Part of me wonders if blaming the localization team is unfair. I wonder if a team of normal adult men and women were told, "You're localizing this," and they all just passed around a bottle of SoCo and said, "Screw it, it's thinly veiled sex jokes from dawn 'til dusk."

Larry: Speaking of writers: The quest dialogue felt like that Whose Line innuendo sketch, you know what I mean?

Matt: Yeah, it really made things hard to bear, if you know what I mean.

Eliot: WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE SAY NO MORE.

Matt: Ahem, anyway. In the interest of trying to find redeeming features in this catastrophe, I will say some of the environments were kind of nice, when I could see them behind the crowd of asses that even Sir Mix-A-Lot couldn't handle.

Larry: If this game did address one thing, it's that people are looking for a "sexy" game. A game that addresses sex without being immature, without being sexist. It's OK for characters to be sexist if handled maturely. People want a game that deals with mature themes in a mature way. Unfortunately, this game is not it.

Matt: God, no it isn't. I think that one orgy game probably has more potential on that front. Also, do you mean like, it's OK for characters within a game to be sexist as a character trait/flaw as long as the game doesn't espouse sexism?

Larry: Right.

Matt: I agree, but then you have to ask where the line between "a game with sexist characters" and "a sexist game" is drawn.

Eliot: I think that's an interesting discussion that does not deserve to be associated with this game.

Larry: Yes, please.

Matt: I'm inclined to agree. Any final thoughts before I go purge my hard drive with holy flame?

Eliot: This is an awful game. It's not just awful because it's sexist, but that just makes it worse.

Larry: I now know which game to never let my son play.

Matt: Or anyone else, for that matter, if you have any decency. Which I clearly don't.

Larry: We hate you now, Matt. Thanks for deep-frying our brains.

Eliot: Seriously people. For the same price of entry you could be playing SWTOR or Star Trek Online or Fallen Earth.

YEEEEEEEUP.Matt: Or really anything but this.

Eliot: I feel that this needs to be stressed. Those are three free-to-play science fiction games that handle sexuality in an infinitely better fashion than anything you will find in Scarlet Blade, and in all three sex is not the focus of the game. Heck, if you really want to see your women objectified, you can play TERA for the same price of entry. At least the combat there is good.

Larry: Yeah, I'm done.

Matt: Me too. So let's vow to never speak of this again, yes?

Larry: Never again.

Eliot: My one hope is that one day we see a game doing the same thing for me. That will be a thing of beauty.

Matt: OH GOD ME TOO. I mean uh...meeting adjourned. Thanks for giving yourselves to the cause; you're true patriots.

And readers, if you know of anything that can possibly unsear the above images from my brain, please send some my way. Thanks.

MMOs are constantly changing, and our opinions can change with them. That's why we're here to give some beloved (or not) games a second (or third) look. Has that game that was a wreck at launch finally pulled itself together? How do the hits of yesteryear hold up today? That's what we're here to find out as Massively gets its Second Wind!

This article was originally published on Massively.
Hands-on with Arena of Heroes' turn-based gameplay