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My sister has a term - rogue gifter - which applies to an acquaintance you didn't think you were present giving friends with who unexpectedly turns up with a present for you.

I got a wee bit of warning when my neighbour, who had popped round for a cup of tea and a spot of Star Trek, looked at my my little stack of video games and went, oh so nonchalantly: 'So, you don't have The Witcher III? Just checking.' Luckily in the same conversation where he had expressed disbelief that I hadn't played The Witcher III I had expressed disbelief that he hadn't read Good Omens, so a quick trip to Waterstones later and I had a present for him.

Wait. We spend hours hanging out talking geek and recommending things to each other. We're watching Deep Space Nine from the beginning. We are proper friends. I made a new friend this year! At the grand old age of thirty-five. That's cool.

So on Christmas morning it turned out that he'd gotten me a boxset of The Witcher III and Dark Souls III. I am going to die so many times playing Dark Souls. So. Many. Times. I also, from Santa, got Horizon Zero Dawn and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Thank you, Santa. I have installed not a single one of these frankly excellent looking games because in early December I bought myself Assassain's Creed: Odyssey as an early Christmas present.

I put down Rise of the Tomb Raider, a game about which I have nothing much to say, except, please God fire whoever was responsible for the home made snuff films that pass for the Lara dies cut scenes, and possibly send someone round to his house to check that he hasn't got a woman chained up under the stairs, and picked up Odyssey.

I am playing as Kassandra. 'Because the voice acting is better?' asked my straight dude gamer friend. 'Er. Ye-es. Because the voice acting is better. No other reasons. At all.' I don't know that I'm much of judge of voice acting yet. Spider-Man and The Last of Us both seemed film quality, and I don't know if it's actually bad in Rise of the Tomb Raider so much as that sort of plummy silver spoon English accent gets right up my nose.

I still can't hit the side of a barn with an arrow, which is fine because I have put all of my skill points into advanced stabbing and picked out a nice axe taller that I am. Which seems to be working out well.

I was going to write this up last week, but I wanted to wait till I'd made a bit more progress in the story. And, er, that hasn't happened. I have been playing for forty hours and I am sort of vaguely aware that there is a story happening way, way over there. The game won't even give me a percentage completion stat on the grounds that I might find it disheartening. But I have totally bought into the role playing aspect, and am just travelling round the map doing mercenary things - like killing most of the people I meet and stealing everything that isn't nailed down. 'Why do these bounty hunters keep hounding me?' I cry. 'Oh, yeah. It's all the murder and theft.' I keep getting notifications to go and collect a reward for offing someone that I wasn't going to be asked to kill till later in the game but I'd just axed in the course of my island wide killing spree.

The other reason it's taking so long is that I'm going most places on foot because I feel so guilty about my weirdly indestructible horse Phobos, who I have ridden off any number of cliffs, into the sea, gotten set on fire, and eaten by bears. And yet keeps coming back. I feel like the horse is in an abusive relationship with Kassandra and needs to be cut loose for his own good.

Because I am doing so much of the side stuff - which mostly involves doing quests for the same three npcs who always seem to get wherever I'm going before me, and yet never seem to remember me from the last seventeen times they employed me - I've mostly been a couple of levels above where I needed to be for where I was on the map. 'Be stealthy' the game's voiceover tries to remind me, as Kassandra kicks down the front gates screaming and axing anyone within reach. The voiceover sighs audibly. I am sure this gameplay approach is fine and will in no way come back to bite me on the bum later in the game.

The other thing I'm doing, because clearly I am not advancing in the story, is romancing the female npcs, which is an neat gimmick, and honestly the only reason I even knew this game was a thing because it was all over my tumblr dash when it first came out.That is one thing I will miss about tumblr, immediately knowing anytime any two fictional women in any media from any country touch lips. I am hit and miss at this part. I tried to seduce Odessa by suggestion she and Kassandra could read together to the reaction of one of the best video game eye-rolls ever animated. I mean, even buff video game me is bad at this. Plus, I kinda wish there was more of a through line to the romance, because it is a neat gimmick, but it does feel very gimmick-y.

Anyway, that's what I've been spending a frightening amount of time on, and I apologise to the, like, 80% of you to whom this post meant nothing.
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