>Observer_ Trailer and Impressions

I love cyberpunk and it’s associated aesthetic, but i rarely associate the genre with horror. That’s kind of crazy right? I mean, this is a realm where downloading another persons memories is a potability, but no one i can think of has ever talked about reliving someone else trauma or their own misdeeds? Maybe my ignorance here is more my fault than anyone else’s, but i do have to thank Blood Team here for putting the idea in my head with their new game Observer. The Idea of going into someone’s head directly to look for incriminating evidence is scary enough, but when you add to that the way memories can be distorted, and the way other people  could twist them in a cyberpunk setting, and you have the set up for a potentially limitless horror story. I can’t say if any of those ideas will come into play here, or how well they’ll be handled if they do. But as of right now i am intrigued by this and more that willing to give the game a few hours.

The Surge Now Has a Demo

I thought The Surge was a pretty mixed bag, but i was glad i got to get my hands on a copy when everything was said and done. Well, if you’re still wondering if you should pick up a copy of Deck 13’s newest game, you can now try the first few hours of free. If you decide you do want to buy the game, all of your progress in the demo will carry over to the full game, so you don’t have to worry about re-beating the games bosses.

I gave The Surge a 5.75/10 citing cheap boss fight, poor level layouts and mishandled upgrades as some of my main issues. However, i did find the game to be an interesting take on the Soulslike formula and think fans of this particular kind of experience should at least give it a shot. And now you no longer have to take my word for it; go download the demo and see for yourself if The Surge is for you.

Introducing my Saturday Streaming.

Hello everyone!

So, I am very much aware that i’m not as active as i want to be on this site. I was aiming to post at least 1000 words a day, but as time has gone on I’ve found myself less and less inclined to do that. With school and everything, i just needed sometime to myself. It also doesn’t help that i was pushing myself to keep a semi-professional schedule without any of the benefits of doing so. I’m not getting paid and i rarely garner the attention of those i want to work with, so the stress about my time between posts ends up getting the better of my and i kind of just say “fuck it” and stop.  I really don’t like that, and i am going to try an do better from here on out.

On top of simply making an effort to write more, i’ve also decided that i’m going to start doing a Saturday Stream on my twitch channel. This means that at least once a week i’ll be doing something related to the site, while also allowing me to just kind of chill out and take a breather. Now, i’ll be the first to admit that i’m not the best when it comes to live streaming, but it is something i want to get better at. I recently did a charity stream for Indie Gamer Chicks Birthday, and i’ll probably try to do another one next year too. So getting better at this kind of thing would mean a lot to me. So join me at 1:00pm Pacific Time this Saturday and hang out, have a chat. It’ll be fun.

Kingdom Hearts 3 (Supposedly) Releasing Next Year

At this years D23, Disney showed new footage og Kingdom Hearts 3, including an extended bit set in the Toy Story universe. The game continues to look amazing, but the real interesting news came at the end of the trailer. While no hard date was given, they did announce that the game in scheduled to be released sometime in 2018. After a decade long wait it’s hard not to get excited by this news, but it’s also just as hard for me to believe this information. I’ve yet to see any English language footage, which has me worried the localization with end up delaying the game at some point. Even so, having a release window is preferable over the “sometime in the next 3 years” Square Enix last said for this and the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 remake.

Metal Gear turns 30-Years-Old

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Hideo Kojima’s gloriously incomprehensible railing against nuclear proliferation, private military contractors and the military-industrial complex turns 30 today. While many fans are more failure with the “Solid” sub-series/continuation, the franchise got it’s start on the Japanese MSX2 computer 30 years ago today. While i wasn’t the biggest fan of the series’ most recent outing, The Metal Gear franchise still holds a very special place in my heart. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater still places is my list of all time favorite games, and i only ever got into gaming thanks to finding an old Playstation and the first disk of Metal Gear Solid 1 years and years ago.

So happy Birthday Metal Gear! Hopefully Konomi doesn’t completely ruin the franchise over the next 30 years.

Fun Isn’t Everything

By William Shelton

At E3 this year Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé said something I want to talk about. It was something I was glad to hear him say and something I think speaks deeply to Nintendo’s core design philosophy, but none the less it is a statement I hate. He said “if [a game] isn’t fun, why bother?” While I’m not try and argue that video games need to stop being fun, that would be ludicrous, I do have to ask why this line of thought is so prevalent in the gaming community. Every other form of Art has its masterpieces that are not meant to be enjoyed in a way you could call “fun”. From Bosch’s “A Violent Forcing of the Frog” to Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List”, a lot of great art can be unenjoyable and even downright hard to sit through. Not only do I think games are capable of this as well, a few have ready proven it can be done.

Spec Ops: The Line is a great example of this, if a little cliche to talk about. In a lot of ways the game is a complete mess. The controls are far from tight, enemies act in predictable ways and spawn in obvious “video game-y” locations. On top of that, it had it’s fair share of bugs as well. I remember spending 10 minutes trying to shoot out a window in order to move the plot along, only to restart the mission and have it break almost instantly. There just isn’t a lot of enjoyment to get out of “Spec Ops: The Line”.

But it is a game I think every one should play. Released in 2012, Spec Ops: The Line came out near the height of the “Modern Warfare” craze and was a damning critique of both the genre and the culture that made it one of the biggest phenomenons in entertainment. While it would be easy to look at the games mechanical flaws and say it was shoddily made, in fact almost every part of it was expertly crafted. The poor controls and obvious enemy spawns help reinforce to the player that they are in fact playing a game. Unlike most other games were the control scheme is made to help the player forget about the hunk of plastic in their hands, Spec Ops never wants you to forget that you’re playing a game. It wants that fact in your mind at all times. Because the game soon starts asking you to do things that are meant to feel wrong. The games enemies are American soldiers, Not just that, they are the player characters countrymen. Through out the game you are constantly killing your own people, and you’re aware of that from the nearly the very start of the game. Then there is the games famous white phosphorus scene, when you kill hundreds of civilians. The question is, why? Why do you do these horrid things? Because the game tells you too. The game asks you to commit war crimes, and you do, because the game told you to and thus it must be the right thing, right? Spec Ops: The Line was designed not to be fun in order to ask why a game about armed warfare should be considered fun in the first place.

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Some have argued that Spec Ops failed in it’s message by not offering the player a choice. I’d argue that it did: You chose to keep playing.

Another game well worth you’re time despite not being a whole lot of fun is Loneliness by creator Jordan Magnuson. Loneliness is a masterpiece of minimalism and a game that taught me a lot about myself. You play as a single pixel and you can beat the entire game in about 5 minutes by simply holding the up key. As you play other pixels appear, all of whom scatter as you approach. After constant rejection you may choose to stop interacting with the other pixels, much like I did. Or maybe you hold on to hope, enthusiastically greeting each new cluster as they appear. There is no wrong way to play Loneliness, but how you choose too speaks volumes. I never realized just how poorly I handle rejection and abandonment until I played Loneliness and was forced to confront it. After the second group ran off I started to avoid any other groups I saw. Just like in real life, I had been hurt and I isolated myself in return.

I don’t think it is passable to create an experience like this that manages to be fun. Loneliness, depression and isolation are not fun emotions. As such, really getting a player into that head space requires engaging them in ways that are atypical to gaming and antithetical to being “fun”.

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Loneliness is mechanically boring, but i highly recommend giving it the five minutes it asks for.

I don’t want to see a world without my big dumb action games in it. I will take all the Uncharted’s, Overwatch’s and Mario’s this industry wants to throw at me. But there is a whole host of human emotions and experiences that games can address, and I also don’t want to live in a world were developers chose not to engage with that material because they don’t know how to make it fun. Fun is great, it’s important. But it isn’t everything.