News, Video Games

Minecraft Episode 6 Dated

Back in March Telltale announced that there would be three extra episodes for Minecraft Story Mode, and the first of those will be coming June 7th NA. A lot of people were surprised by the announcement, as Minecraft has not been the most well received of the Telltale games. Telltale is pushing forward with the extra episodes, they will cost 4.99 a piece or 14.99 for all three. The game will also feature a number of famous Minecraft community members, lending their voices as their online personalities. Among those to be featured are CaptainSparklez, Stacy Plays, and DanTDM. So Minecraft Story Mode fans prepare, soon you can continue your adventure!

Movies, News

Dan Aykroyd is a Fan of the New Ghostbusters

Dan Aykroyd has recently seen the new Ghostbusters movie and gave it his stamp of approval. He said that the movie “has more laughs and more scares than the first 2 films”, and also complimented the acting from the entire cast. He gave these compliments freely, and despite his belief in the past that Bill Murray’s performance is what made Ghostbusters (though I personally believe that is selling himself short), he still thinks the new one is amazing. While he did not directly address the issue of so called “fans” of Ghostbusters being angry at the all female cast, he was very open about his approval of the film and belief that people not only need to give it a chance, but will really enjoy it. I am not sure how many people will care about this review from Aykroyd, though this does help to peak our own curiosity.

TV

Great Openings: TV Edition

There is something about a good opening, it can grab us, and help excite us. TV shows have a particularly rough time, because you will watch the opening over and over. In fact often many people end up skipping the opening for the shows they love (depending on how we watch). It really says something when a show manages to create an opening that’s not something we just sit through but rather want to engage in. So with that in mind we’d like to give a nod to some of our favorite TV Shows openings.

1: Dexter

The Dexter opening is very cleverly designed metaphor for the entire show. Dexter is doing the most mundane of tasks yet somehow it’s much darker, much more creepy. Everything is slightly off from how it should be, and almost uncomfortable at moments. It’s very well shot, a smart take on the idea of an opening, and a catchy enough tune. It fits perfectly for the show, and is even more interesting than certain episodes (seasons).

2: The Walking Dead

A dark and eerie song, mixed with broken visuals, and you have an opening that is perfect for the show. Instead of over doing it with horror and gore, the opening is more subtle and it works. It makes an impact without being in your face, and sticks in the memory of those that have seen it.

3: Daredevil

This Netflix original series has one of the most artistic openings I have ever had the pleasure to see. It takes visual elements that you associate with Daredevil, but done in a stunning way. The melting pieces look slightly bloody, waxy, and just plain beautiful. It’s hard to exactly put words to this opening so I leave you with one, wow.

4: American Horror Story

It is no secret that I am not a fan of this series. I have given it many tries, and been disappointed every single time. That being said it has one of the most well composed opening songs I have ever heard. It’s haunting, and the slight changes done to it every season work well. Aside from that each season’s opening sequence manages to fit perfectly in with the theme for that season. Dark, disturbing, it deserves to be the opening for a much better show.

5: The Addams Family

Older shows have a slightly different take on openings than what we are used to with today’s TV. Even knowing that Addams Family opening is one of the best of all time. The song is catchy, and each of the characters does their part well. You get a quick look at the family (both through song and visuals) and you understand them instantly. It also paints the picture of a weird, but still loving family. It’s a great introduction for the show.

6: Six Feet Under

A show all about life, death, and being on the edge, this opening embraces that. It manages to introduce the audience to the idea of watching a show with a number of dead people, without banging you over the head with it. There are also a number of visuals that represent the the small line that divides life from death. Everything feels slightly melancholy, and sadly a little disconnected which fits the themes of the show well. Like many good openings it’s a good visual representation of what you will experience while remaining subtle.

7: Game of Thrones

For me this opening as all about the visuals. The map begins to fill itself, and introduces the audience to how complex this world is, and how many players there are in this world. If the visuals don’t get you then the epic song should.

8: The X-Files

Look at the cinematics, this is not the best opening on the list. However, the song is instantly recognizable and will bring smiles to the faces of fans. Not only that but they do manage to pull together some fairly good pictures to represent what people will see in the show.

9: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Hear me out before dismissing it. Can you honestly say there is an opening that sticks in your mind more than this one? It’s goofy, colorful, over the top, and fits in perfectly with the show itself. It introduces you to the idea of the show in a very lively way, and how much of an outcast our main character really is in this world.

10: The Twilight Zone

Add some weird visuals, with Rod Serling’s perfect narration and you have the perfect opening sequence for this show. Like the show itself it’s odd, can be a little off putting, and it also makes you wonder what exactly is to come.

Horror, Impressions

Impressions: The Forest

I want to get this out of the way before diving into the the main meat of the impressions, there was a lot of controversy with this film. Many people felt that the movie mishandled both the way it represented Japanese people, as well as how it handled suicide and depression. I can see where people are coming from with these arguments, however it’s not something I feel comfortable speaking on as I am not expert.

The Forest is features Natalie Dormer stepping into the role of identical twins Sara and Jess. Many people were curious because they feel Dormer has been untested outside of Game of Thrones and this would be a chance to see what she could do with not one but two roles. Aside from Dormer the actual plot of the film seemed fairly interesting to many. However, with all said and done what is the take away?

Story:

Jess and Sara are identical twins, with Jess always being the more problematic of the sisters. Jess moves to Japan and goes missing on a class trip, to Aokigahara Forest. Sara believes Jess is still alive due to a special connection they share as twins. Sara goes to Japan to search for Jess, and meets writer Aiden who agrees to take her into the forest with a guide, Michi. While there Sara begins to be taunted by her own inner sadness, her need to find Jess, and the spirits in the forest themselves.

Impressions:

I try not to start these pieces being overly negative, but there is not a lot I can say positively about this movie. It’s boring. Not bad, not gross, not over the top, boring. It sets up predictable jumps scares that fall flat, has no tension, and completely fails to bring any suspense. A movie about two people isolated in a forest (a forest known for suicide or not) should be really scary. Add in one of the characters going a little mad, and you should have a slam dunk. Instead The Forest is just flat.

The foundation is solid. As I said an isolation piece can be very effective, as can dealing with madness. It attempts to build tension by the location chosen, a place known for suicide, and deals heavily with the idea of what’s real or not. So with all the good ideas it’s rather surprising that nothing comes out of it. I struggle to put my finger on what exactly goes wrong, and the best I can guess at is it tries too hard.

When dealing with the idea of what’s real and what’s not there is no possibility of anything being real. It’s so clear that the things tormenting Sara are fake, so you never really start to wonder if she’s going crazy or not, you just know she is. Her story is also too much. It keeps trying to add on layer after layer after layer to give reasoning for why Sara and Jess would be susceptible to depression (and thus The Forest) when the reality is only one or two of those layers are needed. It also just keeps banging the audience over the head with it being “the suicide forest”. The movie just ends up adding too much, and drowns in it. Taking away multiple elements and scenes would still leave the movie overloaded and it would still end up drowning itself. It never has a chance to execute because it just tries too hard. Also again it’s boring.

I will say that Dormer does a solid job. Given the weakness of the script she doesn’t shine, but the fact that she also doesn’t do horrible in such a bad movie says something. I would love to see her in a movie that succeeds in the tension and suspense this film is attempting.

Bottomline:

Unless you are just very curious, skip this movie. It’s predictable, overworked, and not in the least bit scary.

Horror, Impressions

Impressions: The Witch

The Witch is an indie horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers. It calls itself a Folktale in the tagline, and attempts to separate itself from modern horror. It prides itself on historical accuracy, and the fears of the religious during the time it is set. It was well received by most critics, and we’ve finally had a chance to watch it and give our own impressions.

Story:

The story follows a family that is kicked out of their Puritan plantation. The father has been preaching and believe he knows the real word of the gospel, so they are expelled to live in the wilds. They build their farm and, at first have a fairly steady life. Thomasin, the eldest daughter, is asked to watch the baby Samuel and he disappears. Not long after the farm seems to be corrupted, and one by one the family is harassed and tormented. Thomasin receives the blame from the family, as they all turn on her, and each other.

Impressions:

This movie was praised as being so wonderful, especially in comparison to a lot of modern horror. I would agree with that statement, though feel it gets a major pass because what it’s stacked up against is not nearly as clever. In a world filled with gore porn The Witch actually attempts to be a smart, suspenseful, thriller/horror movie. This does by in large make it better than a lot of what you can see, it doesn’t however make it great. I know how negative that statement comes off, and I want to clarify that I do think the movie is rather good, just slightly overrated.

The isolation theme is well done. The family is actually completely alone, other than whatever is coming for them. The story itself is compelling. The family is falling apart and their religious beliefs are being tested, which at the time is really the worst thing that can happen to them. They all know something is wrong, but they don’t know exactly what it is.

Perhaps the most clever part of the film is the isolation that Thomasin feels. It takes very little for the entire family to turn on her, and once they do so it seems like their destruction is all but guaranteed. It deals with historical accuracy and chooses to build fear with heavy use of shadows and imagery rather than blood and guts. It does all of this well.

The problem is the movie suffers from bad pacing, and is extremely predictable. You know that whatever is going after them is using Thomasin as their scapegoat. One by one everyone is left alone with her, so when something happens to them there is no tension. Suspense I find is more important and impactful in horror films than jump scares, but it has to be done right. The Witch gets close at a number of moments, but is never really able to drive it home. You are left with something that is creepy, but it’s not really scary and shouldn’t it be? For me the test of a great horror film is how far it lingers, this movie did linger a little, but I would have liked more.

Bottomline:

The movie is good, and worth watching. The plot is interesting and it’s very well shot. It just fails to make a major impact which is something I really want from horror. It’s a good movie, but falls short of being a great horror film. I am curious to see what we will get from Robert Eggers in the future, this was his directorial debut and it was a rather good outing.

Movies, News, News, Video Games

Warcraft Movie Promotions Go Live

Blizzard Entertainment has released promotional transmogrification items in World of Warcraft to go alongside the upcoming movie, Warcraft: the Beginning. The movie will follow some of the earlier events in the fictional world of Azeroth, and the items pay homage to that. Playing Alliance, you gain the sword Replica Lion’s Fang, a 1-handed sword, and Replica Lion’s Heart, an Alliance-themed shield. Players for the Horde gain access to Replica Blood Guard’s Cleaver, a 1-handed axe, and Replica Staff of Gul’dan, designed after the staff of the great warlock himself.

A Feat of Strength achievement comes with these items, Fight for the Alliance or Fight for the Horde depending on which character you log into first, and they will be available for the next two months, in conjunction with the worldwide premiere. Warcraft will hit U.S. theaters June 10, 2016.

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News, Video Games

Ron Gilbert Want to Buy His Games Back

With the recent announcement that Disney would no longer be self publishing video games, many people have wondered what will happen to some of the titles they own. Ron Gilbert took to twitter to address that very issue. Gilbert was the co-creator of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion, and said on twitter that he wants to buy the IPs back from Disney. Disney owns the rights to most Lucas Arts games, and they have allowed developers to make remastered editions of a few, but not without issues. Tim Schafer said it was nothing short of a miracle that he was able to finally release the remastered version of Day of the Tentacle (sequel to Maniac Mansion). There is no word thus far on Disney’s reaction to the tweet, or their plans for the many IPs they own. However, if they are no longer making games themselves they might be more willing to release their grip on some of these names. On the other hand, as they are no longer making games themselves, the rights to those games would be fairly valuable, and making money off the IP (while other’s make the games) would be a smart business move. It’s really hard to say what will happen moving forward, but as fans of many of the Lucas Arts classics we are curious to see how this plays out. Disney could sell them, or give more freedom for remastered versions of games to come out. Here’s hoping, and we will bring you more news as it unfolds.

Horror, News

John Carpenter Coming Back to Halloween

There have been a lot of shake ups with the Halloween franchise lately, mostly around Dimension Films no longer having the rights to the franchise. Blumhouse, which has recently been known for the Paranormal Activity series, The Veil, and The Darkness, now owns the franchise. They have announced plans to bring back Halloween with John Carpenter as producer and creative consultant. There was a massive division among fans with the Rob Zombie reboot of the series, Zombie wanted to explore Michael as a human. Carpenter has not insulted this idea, but it’s pretty clear he wants the franchise to go away from that and back to when Michael was (in his own words) “not just a human being” and “a force of nature”. While the 1978 classic Halloween was hardly the first slasher film ever made, it is credited by many with really bringing that subgenre to a new level. Carpenter wants to help Blumhouse bring Halloween back to it’s roots. We are very excited to hear this announcement, and will bring more news as we can.

News, Video Games

Launch Trailer for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

We’ve gotten a couple of gameplay and teaser trailers over the last few months, but the official launch trailer for Mirror’s Edge has been released. Catalyst is an origin story for the main character from Mirror’s Edge, Faith. It shows Faith getting out of juvenile detention, and her desire to rise up and cause problems in Glass. It’s a very well put together trailer, and should increase the already massive hype for the game. The game will be launching June 7th NA and the 9th EU so we are getting very close to finally having another Mirror’s Edge game. Check out the trailer and get ready to run in a few short weeks.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: DOOM

2004’s DOOM 3 was a major disappointment to many gamers, and actually considered the death of the then popular franchise. However id Software is back, this time with a new publisher (Bethesda) to try to breath some life back into the game. But after so long, can the franchise really be saved?

Story:

It is fair to say that story is not the top priority for DOOM. There is an interesting enough of a story, to help give the gamers a reason to go from point a to point b. You play as an unnamed character who works for the Union Aerospace Corporation. UAC has been using a portal to hell in order to solve an energy crisis on Earth. A scientist goes a bit mad, releases a lot of demons on the UAC killing most of the people there. At first you are chasing her down as she attempts to open a major portal, you fail however. From there you bounce back and forth between Mars and Hell trying to close the portal.

Impressions:

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DOOM goes away from DOOM 3’s more slow paced survival horror, and back to being a very fast paced first person shooter. Bethesda and id Software made no secret of the fact that they wanted this game to be a throw back to DOOM and DOOM 2. The game throws a lot of enemies at the player, demanding them to move quickly, and fight wave after wave of enemies. You are given a variety of weapons to handle this, almost entirely based on weapons from the original games. There are a wide range of different weapons, and each one can be upgrade. This allows players to truly find their own way to fight and handle the enemies. Experimentation is the key when it comes to tight spots.

It’s twitch shooter to the extreme, and frankly enjoyable at that. It’s unfortunate then, that it shoots itself in the foot. If you aren’t involved in fast paced fights with many enemies you are then slowly platforming around. I have ranted in the past about my dislike for platforming and jumping areas in first person shooters, and DOOM is no exception. Unless the game is specifically designed with this type of gameplay in mind (Mirror’s Edge) these areas just don’t belong in the first person perspective. Aside from it being difficult, it is equally disappointing because it stops action. I do understand that the entirety of DOOM can not be super fast paced with wave after wave of enemies. However there is a bit of a disconnect from going from a lot of action to absolutely no action while doing some tricky jumping bit. It doesn’t flow correctly and throws off the pacing a bit.

However the game does manage to honor the originals and take a lot from them. There are a lot of extra areas, and upgrades to be found in the world of DOOM. Some have complained because DOOM and DOOM 2 were more straight forward, I argue those people must have not played the original games in awhile. For it’s time DOOM and DOOM 2 were actually fairly large maps, with a number of hidden areas to find. This version of DOOM manages to bring that general idea to the new generation, and does so well. You can get through the game doing the bare minimum, but you will miss a lot in doing so.

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As above I mentioned weapons being inspired by the original game, the same goes for enemies. There is a new coat of paint on everything, but it’s easy enough to tie them back to the enemies from the older game. AI could be polished, while AI is not horrible they can get stuck on their paths which can mean that certain enemies never fully feel like they are involved in the fight. However in areas with more enemies coming at you than you feel like you can properly react to this can be considered a good thing almost.

The sound track is loud and in your face, much like the fights. It fits perfectly and adds to the heart rate increasing experience. Some enemies sound very unique, but others seem a bit copy and pasted from each other. A little more polish on sound would not have gone amiss.

Multiplayer is probably my biggest disappointment with this game. It’s not bad, and will offer some form of entertainment. Warpath and Freeze Tag are also two pretty unique game types. However this game cries out for a more simplistic approach to multiplayer. Like all modern shooters it now has a ranking system with unlocks, and it’s disappointing. Going back to a Halo 3 style where ranks only helped balance matches, but weapons, upgrades, etc were part of the maps is exactly what this game needed. I am extremely let down that it seems that no development team understands the value of that format, and it would have worked so perfectly with a game that is attempting to reboot an older series. That’s not to say there is no fun to be had with multiplayer, but it’s not winning the game any major points.

Bottomline:

DOOM is not great. It needs tweaks to pacing, and multiplayer is too much of an after thought/let down. However DOOM is entertaining, solid, and frankly fun. The game is very close to being something more, but ends up just being good. I feel like it could really breath some life back into the franchise, and it does set up a sequel. With some more attention paid to certain aspects, the sequel could actually be a great game, for now I will enjoy my good one.

Anime, Mini Reviews

Mini Review: Trigun

Trigun is a late 90s anime, that combines futuristic tech with the retro feel of a western. It follows the story of Vash the Stampede, as he attempts to do good, but more often than not causes a lot of damage in the process. Meryl and Milly are insurance agents that follow him everywhere, attempting to either minimize the damage, or find justification for denying insurance pay outs.

Overall this show is mostly an action comedy. Vash is a rather bumbling hero, and while he is very skilled he is also very goofy. Meryl is a typical put upon worker, while Milly is more lighthearted and actually enjoys following Vash. Most of what you get is a wacky adventure with great action. Towards the end the more serious plot is revealed, showing a dark past for Vash that shapes his desire to never take another human life.

Trigun is equal parts great and frustrating. Like most “I refuse to kill” heroes (regardless of the media) it can be annoying to watch him. Multiple times it’s pretty evident that many people would be safer if Vash would just step up and take a life. That being said it does speak to the heart of the show, and who Vash is. He is a rather innocent man, thrown into a violent exsistance, and attempts to fight against it every day of his life.

It came out during the hay day of 90s anime, and has earned it’s place in a number of top anime lists. If you haven’t seen it you really should. If you have, and it’s been awhile maybe give Trigun another go.

Impressions, TV

Impressions: Archer Double Indecency

After our two part episode Archer is back with another stand alone. It picks up shortly after the Bel Panto, with the fall out from that event still looming. How does this episode manage to stack up to the rest of the season?

Story:

The Figgis Agency is hired by a husband and his wife. Both believe the other is cheating on them, and want the crew to seduce their partner and film it. The wife hires the women, and the husband the men, neither group knows about the other’s involvement. The main chunk of the story is about Lana betting that Pam could seduce the man while Mallory sides with Cheryl. Ray believes that for the men Cyril will get it, while Archer believes any other man would be more sexy and bets on Krieger. Cyril, Krieger, Pam, and Cheryl go through various make overs while the others settle their bets.

Impressions:

Frankly this episode is not the best. It’s not a bad episode, just rather lacking. Most of the comedy is from the make overs and Lana, Mallory, Archer, and Ray trying to both up the bets, and back out at the same time. The pacing is rather stale, and the jokes get repeated one too many times. Possibly the funniest part of the entire episode is Krieger just being Krieger in the background pretty much the entire time.

Despite this not being the funniest episode it still does a number of things I like. One, Archer and Lana both agree (on their own no less) fairly quickly not to be involved in the seduction. The episode sets up the expectation that they will participate and we will have another misunderstanding/jealousy face off. I said in the Bel Panto Impressions that I was tired of that joke being repeated, and I meant it. I was extremely glad that wasn’t the way they went with it.

The other major thing this episode does well is the unexpected character development. The episode doesn’t have a lot of it, in fact more confirmation of what we already know. However at the end the group gets angry because Pam, Cheryl, Cyril, and Krieger are repeatedly insulted by the very people that hired them. Archer snaps, and a very clear message is sent. The characters in this show are down right cruel to each other at times, and it can (for me at least) almost get hard to watch. The climax of this episode is a stern reminder that while they might insult one another, none of the characters are willing to allow outsiders do it. Their frustration with the people that hired them, and anger over the insults they’ve endured makes the group come together and kick butt. It’s a nice ending actually.

Bottomline:

It’s again not a terrible episode, but not my favorite. It made me giggle a few times, and the end was a little heart warming, or at least as heart warming as this show can be. It’s not an episode I will be in a hurry to watch again.

Movies, News

New Ghostbusters Trailer

It’s getting closer to the release date for the Ghostbusters reboot. The second trailer has been released, and shows a bit more of the plot of the film. It seems to follow a blend of what was in the original plot, but with it’s own unique spin on things. This trailer has gotten us a lot more hype than the first trailer, showing a bit more heart and personality. The trailer of course also shows of the return of fan favorite, Slimer. The movie will be releasing July 15th, and we’re excited to see what exactly this new take on Ghostbusters does.

Video Games

Games That Could Have Been Great

There are a number of games out there that hold so much potential. They are games that vary in execution, some of them are actually good while others are down right horrible. What they have in common is the fact that they could have been so much more.

Spryo: Enter the Dragonfly… but it was rushed

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Spryo: Enter the Dragonfly was the first Spyro game for the PS2 and Gamecube. It was set up to do really well too. The series was still popular and adventure games like it (such as Ratchet and Clank) were doing very well. The game was rushed though, it released earlier than planned and suffered greatly for it. The game was shorted significantly, didn’t really innovate the series, and on top of all that suffered from some serious glitches. The game is nearly impossible to play because of it’s technical flaws. When the game is playable it’s a decent amount of fun and shows great potential, more of the game is spent resetting it than actually playing it though. Not only was the game itself terrible, but it is considered to be the main cause of Spryo’s fall from fame.

 

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance… but there is just too much going on.

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance (like it’s name) has just a little too much going on. It continues the popular Kingdom Hearts series only adding in a few more bells and whistles. They included characters from World Ends With You. There is also a plethora of gameplay inclusions using both the touch pad and buttons, as well as the way you work with your team. The basic problem, there is just way too much happening in this game. Everything suffers slightly because it feels like no attention was paid to actually perfecting all these different aspects. It has one of the weaker stories in the series, rushed character development, and gameplay that doesn’t feel fleshed out. All in all it’s an ok game, but maybe had a few aspects been pulled the remaining ones could have shined.

Saints Row 4… but it was just a little too crazy.

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The Saints Row series has gone through a lot of changes over it’s life time. It started as a subpar GTA clone, then embraced the power of humor to set it apart. Saints Row 3 took the humor to a pretty big extreme, then Saints Row 4 decided to double up on that. The game is just crazy, it adds crazy new gameplay features, and over the top story lines. The problem is there is no substance to back up this level of crazy. There is fun to be had, but honestly what the game really needs is some more heart.

Duke Nukem Forever… but, well we all know

Honestly at this point we’ve all said the same things about this game. It was delayed too many times, there are just no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Some people enjoyed the game, and there is fun to be had. The problem is the game was just sent back to the drawing board so many times that it sort of got lost in the process. In the end a game that was anticipated and hyped to no end was just an average game. There was nothing that stood out, innovated, or recaptured fans love of the series. If Spryo proves that games shouldn’t be rushed, this game proves that some games need to be given up on.

Assassin’s Creed 3… but it takes forever to start

Assassin’s Creed 3 is not a bad game, in fact it’s rather enjoyable. Not the best in the series, but a decent installment. There is one major problem in my opinion, and that is the game just doesn’t seem to want to start. First you play a little introduction with Haytham, it’s pretty clear you won’t be playing as him for the full game, but whatever it feels a lot like a tutorial. So you help Haytham, have a pretty big plot twist then take over the main character of Connor. The problem is you start as child Connor and do ANOTHER tutorial like set of missions as he grows up. Once he grows you think “finally the game will begin” and yet… That’s right more tutorial like missions. It’s hard to stay excited for the game when you just keep waiting for it to start. I am not one to complain about story heavy games, but honestly this game really just needed to get on with it.

Silent Hill 4… but it shouldn’t have been a Silent Hill game.

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Despite what many (myself included) believe Silent Hill 4 was always meant to be a Silent Hill game. However the rumors that it was originally not connected to the series are pretty reasonable. Frankly I am of the belief that it just shouldn’t have been part of the series. The main point with Silent Hill 4 is that they wanted it to be completely different and “take the series in a new direction”. The problem is, it ends up just feeling disconnected and unsatisfying. The plot is interesting, but feels like all the “Silent Hill” inclusions are forced. The gameplay isn’t bad, but feels like a total departure. Honestly slap a different name on the game, remove the references to Silent Hill, and you have a decent survival horror game. The problem is the Silent Hill part sets up expectations that the game is unable to live up to.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot… but magic and honestly I’m not sure

The biggest problem with this game is they had a great foundation. Condemned was not perfect, but it was a really great and underrated game. It suffered from some issues but all the sequel really needed to do was flesh out what was already there. Instead they left the problematic things problematic, and then threw in a bunch of other stuff like magic and a convoluted plot. The game still suffers from technical issues like the first only now it was drowning in a bad story, and is just another horror action game rather than survival horror. At the end of the day it boils down to wasted potential.

Impressions, Video Games

Impressions: Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain is point and click adventure game, inspired by the genre from the 90s. It attempts to connect with point and click games from the time by actually setting the game in the 90s, making sure that the plots, settings, and puzzle solving, stays in line with older point and clicks. This genre has gotten a resurgence, especially for indie games, so how does Kathy Rain stack up?

Story:

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Kathy is an apathetic journalism student who finds out about the death of her estranged grandfather. She decides to go to the funeral, and in the process reconnects with her grandmother. What she uncovers is unexpected, her grandfather was in a mysterious accident, and in a vegetative state for years. Kathy begins to investigate his death, and in the process discovers a conspiracy, involving a cult, and many other people in the small town she once called home.

Impressions:

Kathy Rain does a great job of honoring old school point and click games, while still feeling like something fresh and unique. A lot of it has to do with the great work spent with writing, characters, and voice acting. Kathy herself is an interesting character. She is a tough, and clearly troubled, young woman. Digging deeper though she is also very caring and passionate when she finds the right thing. Surrounding her are a number of unique, and compelling characters. Everyone, even the most background of characters, have their own personality points. It really helps to sell the overall experience. My biggest issue with the title character is the “not like other girls” complex that is given to her.

Voice acting is on point. Every person does an amazing job. All voices are unique, and the only “stiff” performance given was clearly meant to be. On top of that the soundtrack is wonderful. All the songs are well done, and it’s a treat to listen to. Point and click games can take a long time, as such you can occasionally get sick of the music. That never happened with Kathy Rain.

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The story itself is intriguing, though goes a little further towards the supernatural than I would have personally liked. It starts as a seemingly simple investigation, but as each clue is revealed yet another piece of what ends up being a rather massive puzzle is given to us. As time goes on I found myself completely blown away by how complex the story was, yet how interconnected everything seemed to be. As each day passes (there are a total of 5) the game pushes into the supernatural more and more. I would have liked to see the case more grounded in reality, but that is personal preference. The story is fleshed out, and remains entertaining all the way. So despite what I might have wanted to see, I can hardly complain about what I got. There was one part of the story that greatly bothered me however, and you can see that complaint below (it is tagged for spoilers).

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The gameplay itself is solid. There are not the standard “push, pull, etc” that you see with most point and click games. I actually really liked this, because the game play is boiled down to the basics. You interact with what you can, and can combine things in your inventory. Otherwise pretty much everything comes down to the basic ‘you point, you click’. The game instead focuses on having a wide range of puzzles with these simplified controls. Some include finding number combinations, you have to put together a fake voice message in order to call and fool someone into giving you information, you even at one point help a computer hacker. The variety of puzzles is nice, you never really feel like you are repeating anything. The biggest issue is the difficulty difference between them. Some puzzles are easy, almost too easy, while others can be extremely frustrating. It remains entertaining overall, and one of the more enjoyable point and click games new or old.

Overall

I do have a few complaints, but other than one major issue those complaints are few and far between. The game is entertaining, both gameplay and story. Point and click fans will enjoy how it honors the old, but still remains new. People new to the genre will not go wrong being introduced this way. I am extremely hopeful that the implied follow up happens.

SPOILER and WARNING

I do have to complain about one point though. The issue of abortion is brought up, and frankly mishandled in my opinion. With such a sensitive issue there needs to be great care in how it’s dealt with. The implied guilt, as well as the actual depiction of a child were problematic to me. The ending of how it’s dealt with I was fine with. I feel subjects like this are about more than just a conclusion, but are a sum of their parts. In the end it was handled well enough that it didn’t ruin the experience for me, but I would have preferred it be left out.

News, Video Games

Steam Summer Sale Dated

Well the information of the date for the start of the Steam Summer Sale has been leaked. Those in charge of Steam social media seem pretty bothered by the leak, but have all but confirmed that the sale will begin June 23rd. The date is not entirely unexpected, but it’s still nice to have an idea of when it will start, and how long you have to save up. So get ready for lots of discounts on games, special trading cards, and for your wallet to take a hit or two.