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It's been a while since I've done a You Should Try, so today I'd like to tell you about an early access game called Hand of Fate. I know, I know, “Early Access? Yuck!” but this game is looking very promising and is already a lot of fun! So without further ado, let's talk about Hand of Fate; currently in development by Australian studio Defiant Development.
Hand of Fate is a deck building, card based choose your own adventure game with Arkham style combat and RPG elements. An interesting concept to say the least. It was Kickstarted last December and just arrived on Steam Early Access in July. It's received monthly updates since arriving on early access, so it's safe to say that so far they seem dedicated to keeping their project moving forward.
So how do you play a game with such a unique mix of styles? At its core Hand of Fate is a choose your own adventure game, except that the events and locations are all cards. You sit before the Dealer at a table and he will place your player token on the table and set a path of cards face down before it. Each turn you move one space and take part in whatever event is dictated by the card you land on. One full round requires you to make your way through each “level” of cards until you reach the boss.
Your character starts off with the most basic of equipment and stats: an axe, light armor, 100 health, and 10 food. Moving one space consumes 1 food, which also heals your character for 5 health. If you run out of food however, you will begin to starve and lose 10 health instead. Each card on the table that you will move between represents its own scenario for you to take part in. Some can be avoided, but those will also be ones that you could receive rewards for completing. These scenarios can differ greatly, and become increasingly varied as you play through the game. One scenario may simply be a bandit attack where you'll be forced to fend off enemies in combat. Another scenario may give you the option to parlay with a kidnapper to make a deal rather than fight him off.
Going into combat in this game presents you with yet another style of gameplay. Entering a scenario that requires you to fend off enemies will load up an environment and you will take control of your character and use Arkham style combat to survive. You'll even get to see a cool little scene of each of your cards falling down onto the character and becoming the pieces of armor that he has equipped.
With the basic starting equipment you'll only have access to attacks and a dodge, but by acquiring a shield you gain a counter, and gathering trinkets gives you special abilities in combat. One such trinket will allow you to reverse any health loss that occurred within the last 10 seconds, while another will fire daggers in all directions. You can find traveling vendors and healers who will allow you to spend your gold you've acquired to restore your health or food or even buy new equipment.
From what I can tell there are 12 bosses total in the game, and beating each will move that boss's card to the card cabinet, which has 4 rows of 3 boss spaces each, along with a 4th space on each row for a bonus that you unlock for completing that row. These bonuses will permanently boost your character for the rest of that run in various ways, such as giving him better starting equipment or more max health.
Many of the scenario cards will have tokens attributed to them. These tokens are the equivalent of booster packs within the game. Successfully completing a scenario that has a token associated with it will add a token to your rewards pile. Upon beating the boss of the round you're playing you'll be able to activate each of the tokens you acquired to get bonus cards for your deck.
This is where the deck building aspect comes into play. Between rounds you will be able to customize your deck to your liking, and it is split into two parts: your armory and your scenarios. Your armory, naturally, contains all item cards that can be equipped to your character. Armor, weapons, trinkets, etc will all be found in this part. You'll have a set number of armory cards you can have in your deck, which increases as you progress through the game. The scenario deck works exactly the same, except it contains the many scenarios you can encounter. Yes, this means you can effectively customize the experience you'll have each round. Didn't like the Ambush scenario? Replace it with a Mage Tower scenario.
What keeps this interesting is that you will not be able to see what exactly new cards DO unless you've found that card while on one of your adventures. If you have a Mage Tower scenario card or a Fiery Vestment armor card, you will be unable to see exactly what they offer you until you stumble upon it in game. It gives you a great way to add your own bit of mystery and customization to your adventure, but there will always be more cards in your deck than you'll actually encounter on an adventure, so you never know that you'll get the exact ones you want. At the beginning of each round the Dealer will also add a few of his own cards to the deck to further spice things up.
The game has an interesting art style and the cards themselves are beautifully designed. I'd love to own an actual deck of my own like it! If you're intrigued but don't want to rush in just yet, or would prefer to play somewhere other than PC then good news: Hand of Fate will also be coming to PS4 and Vita when it releases. No word just yet on an official release date from what I can tell, but it's certainly looking promising. If you wanna check it out you can find it on Steam HERE. Thanks for reading!
Hey all! I haven't done anything silly in a while, so tonight I submit for the approval of the -Midnight Society- Dtoid Cblogs: the dumbest thing I've ever done, a.k.a.:
“The Bathrobe in the Darkness: A Destructoid Fanfic.”
Once upon a time there were two twin brothers, Gajknight and Dreamweaver, who lived in the country with their uncle, Chris Carter. Gaj and Dream were the best of pals, true brotherly love held them together. Their true joy was playing video games together. Their Uncle Chris hated video games though. They once convinced him to try A Link Between Worlds for the 3DS and afterward he actually responded with “Meh, 6.5.” Unbelievable.
One day Gaj and Dream went out to play, because what do you think they are, some sort of stupid hermits who just sit in their rooms and play video games all day? Nah bro, that ain't them. They've got lives and shiz. They wandered farther than usual, probably playing hopscotch or some other equally exciting stuff. It started to get dark so they decided it would be best to turn back and head home, before Uncle Chris got worried. As they rose over the hill and their home came into view, their eyes fell upon a horrifying site. Their home was in flames! And not with Rock and Roll either! They rushed down and Gaj tried to push his way inside to find their Uncle, but Dream, always the more level headed of the two, pulled him out of the burning building. He wouldn't lose two loved ones this day.
When the firemen arrived and got the flames under control, one came out to the two young men to tell them that they couldn't find the body of their Uncle, and if he was home when the fire broke out then he probably went down with it. After giving them his condolences and leaving them to grieve, a strange old man approached from the darkness. “Young ones, dry your eyes. Your uncle yet lives.” They turned to the stranger, confused. “Who are you, and what do you mean?” asked Dream.
“I am known as Occams_Electric_Toothbrush. But you can just call me Occam.” “What the fuck kind of name is that? And how did you pronounce underscores?” demanded Gajknight, his poor heart aflame with the grief he had experienced this night. “Listen here you little shit, you wanna save your Uncle or not? That's what I thought. Now take these decoder rings and solve this riddle if you wish to save him: For you it is the day your Uncle disappeared, but for this maniacal man, it was just Tuesday.”
The two brothers looked at each other in confusion, and when they turned back to the old man, he was gone. All they had to show for his brief cameo was a couple of decoder rings and a riddle about Tuesdays. They didn't even like Tuesdays. Dream was more of a Thursday kinda guy. “Wait!” exclaimed Gaj, “What about that guy in the weird red suit?!” “Uhhh...Santa Claus?” “No, that Hoffman guy that's been on the news!” “Oh my god, Reinhold Hoffman! He never shuts up about Tuesdays! What would he want with Uncle Chris?” A good question posed by young Dream, one that Gaj had no answer for. Nonetheless, they knew their next course of action. They would have to venture to the city, and visit the towering...uh...tower of Hoffman Industries.
They visited the home of the too-gorgeous-to-be-a-mere-human-male Dale North, just down the road, who raised corgis of such phenomenal size and power that they could be ridden as mounts. With a smile and a song, Mr. North sent them southeast upon the backs of two of his finest to visit Destructville, [State Redacted]. Arriving at the address of Hoffman Industries, they noticed the city was strangely quiet. No cars, no pedestrians; just what had happened to the once bustling city? Probably some stupid GamerGate shenanigans, but I digress.
The two brothers sprinted into the building, throwing the doors open to find a large intricate, yet empty lobby with a desk at the far end between two elevators. At the desk sat a very bored looking young woman, blowing bubbles with her gum, popping them in such a way that the annoying sound echoed through the lobby. The two had lost a bit of their spark after having finally arrived at their destination, now filling with doubt as to just what they should, or even could, do to save their uncle. They nervously made their way across the lobby floor to the desk, the name Brittany Vincent etched on a small name plate on the desk. Sighing, she began her obviously forced line of inquiry. “Hello and welcome to Reinhold Industries, building the future of tomorrow one Tuesday at a time. How can I help you today?”
“We need to see Mr. Hoffman.” Gaj finally got up the courage to say. “Is he expecting you?” “Umm...I don't think so?” admitted Dream. Another sigh from the receptionist. “I'm sorry but while today is the day you failed to make an appointment with Mr. Hoffman, for him it is a very busy Tuesday. Please-” her second forced line of dialogue was cut short by the phone on her desk ringing. She picked up the phone and just listened for a few seconds before responding the caller with “Yes sir.” and hanging up. “Mr. Hoffman will see you. Take the elevator on your right to the top floor.”
Gaj and Dream looked at each other worriedly, was Reinhold Hoffman himself really expecting them? They stepped into the elevator and pressed the button to go to the top floor. There was no elevator music, just silence. Neither brother knew what to say to the other, nor what to expect when they reached their destination. The ride up was the longest ride of their lives. Finally, with a silence breaking ding, the elevator stopped and opened its metallic doors. The two stepped out of the elevator into an unrealistically dark room. Only the brief bit of light from the open elevator convinced them that there was even a floor. The elevator closed behind them after a moment, leaving them in total darkness.
“Mr. Hoffman?” Gaj asked the abyss. A voice they had never heard gave a reply. “I'm afraid not. You see, there is no Reinhold Hoffman.” With that, suddenly strange lights lit up in the floor to both sides of the brothers. Then another pair in front of those, then another, leading up the room until forming a circle around a large chair with a figure sitting in it, and another figure hunched over next to it. It was kinda like that scene in Chrono Trigger where the party meets Magus in his castle and-you know what, forget about it.
The flames were reflected in the dark sunglasses of the curly haired man adorned only in a bathrobe who sat in the large chair. “He is a fiction. A facade to spread chaos where I can not. I... am Andy Dixon.” “The two brothers looked at each other in confusion once again. “Who?” asked Gaj. Suddenly Dream noticed just who the second figure on the floor next to the chair was. “Uncle Chris!” He didn't even look at them, it was like he was deaf to everything but the tv that was placed in front of him, which he never took his eyes off of. In his hands was a video game controller. “Oh I wouldn't bother with him.” answered the robed figure.
“I don't suppose your Uncle Chris ever told you of his dark past, did he? You see long ago, he worked for me. He had a unique gift you see. He could play every video game in such a time frame that he could practically run the reviews section of a website alone. Really efficient as you can imagine. I mean we're talking about a guy who reviewed games regularly and still took time to max out characters in Destiny. What a fucking nut. Anyway, one day he came to me and said 'Oh Mr. Dixon, my two nephews are coming to live with me due to a convenient plothole that leaves out what happened to their parents or why their names are so fucking weird. I don't want this curse of mine to pass on to them. They must have lives outside of games. Please let me go.' I granted him his request, on one condition: that when the two of you became a reasonable age he would return to me, his apathy towards video games would end and he would write reviews for eternity.”
“Let him go you bastard!” shouted Gajknight, rushing towards the throne of Andy Dixon. Dream chased after him, but as they both approached the circle of lights that held their uncle and the robed man, a shockwave pulsed from the throne and knocked them onto their backs. They sat up and Dream pleaded “Please Mr. Dixon, you have to let him go! Take me instead! I can play a lot of games!” Andy cackled maniacally, “Hahaha ooh, intriguing.” Suddenly, a new voice bellowed from the darkness. “No one is taking anyone today.” With that, a slew of bullets fired into the tv that was holding Uncle Chris entranced, then a strange new figure strutted forward and stomped on the controller that he was holding. Chris's face finally rose, his eyes meeting the strange face of his savior. “Lol, DmC sucks.” It was Sephzilla, the robot police officer!
“Damn you Sephzilla, you'll pay for this!” shouted Andy Dixon. “I'm taking you in Andy, once and for all.” “Not today you robotic retard!” (fuckin sick burn m8) and he threw his hand towards the ground, letting fly a flash and smoke pellet, giving him just enough time to escape. When they regained their senses the two brothers thanked the officer profusely. “Just doing my job fellas. Take care of your Uncle. I have a villain to apprehend.” Sephzilla was gone as quickly as he had appeared, leaving the three of them to finally share a moment together. They were all safe, once again, and they all lived happily ever after, playing video games and having fun. I mean they didn't have a home anymore because that burned down, but they got by somehow I guess. Anyway, the moral of the story is, don't do drugs. And DmC wasn't even that bad.
Tomorrow sees the release of Lords of the Fallen, a game that I personally have been looking forward to for some time. As the release date has closed in though, and preview builds have been seen, the words on many lips seem to be those of disinterest rather than excitement. Over the past couple of weeks I've seen it called many things, and there's a theme amongst them all. “Souls Clone, Wannabe Dark Souls, Dark Souls for Noobs, Clunky Souls.” For a game that we've only seen the first hour or so of there sure has been a lot of talk about it's obvious influences and not a lot about the hope for it standing out.
This isn't meant to be some big “Lords of the Fallen defense post”, just a “Stop deciding a game will be terrible because it seems like another game you like” post. Every new game deserves to be criticized on its own merits, unless it directly relates to another game by proxy of being a sequel or some such.
Not everyone comparing LotF to the Souls series means it in a bad way, but even many of those who mean it in a good way seem to have their priorities a bit off in my opinion. Now, I personally love the Souls games. Dark Souls 1 and 2 are two of my favorite games ever. That being said, I am all for a game seeking to take the base Souls formula and try something new with it. I love it when ANY popular game formula is molded in the hands of someone new. However, it needs to be just that, something new. It needs it's own identity.
I have seen two main types of people in the Lords of the Fallen conversations going on. 1) The “This is stupid, it's just ripping off of Dark Souls but it's bad.” people. 2) The “I love Souls so I'm okay with a Souls clone, but the story telling needs to be like Souls and it needs Souls multiplayer or it'll flop.” people. Let's address both, shall we?
If your entire source of contention for a game is how much it looks like another game, especially before you've played it or even SEEN the majority of the game, you are already not running a very strong argument. Now, what I know of the game is based off of two main things: information put out by the devs and publisher of Lords of the Fallen, and a four hour long stream done by a cool guy on twitch who goes by the handle “LobosJr.” From what I have seen there are indeed many similarities to the Souls games. LotF uses a similar control scheme and seems to have similar ideas in terms of gameplay and a few mechanics.
These similarities COULD be viewed as negatives, but let's look at past examples of derivative games. The biggest one that comes to mind is the Darksiders series. Darksiders 1 was very much a Zelda style game set in a unique angels vs demons story with Devil May Cry 1 / God of War style combat. Darksiders 2 took this even further with a bigger world that still kept Zelda influences and similar combat to before, but now with Prince of Persia style platforming and Diablo-esque loot.
Many people hounded both of these games, the second in particular, for just “stealing” from other games, but it is the combination of ideas that makes Darksiders it's own thing. Darksiders 2 is one of my favorite games, not because it's revolutionary or has an award winning story, just because it is one of the most genuinely fun games I have ever played. More recently we saw similar criticisms lobbed at Shadow of Mordor when it was first getting shown off. “It's just Assassin's Creed in Lord of the Rings” many claimed, and yet what we got was a very enjoyable game.
Back to Lords of the Fallen now; from what we've been shown LotF seeks to take the base formula that the Souls series offers and wrap around it a beautiful gothic fantasy setting, uniquely weighted combat, a new take on magic and classes, and more direct story telling. Art of any medium, be it books, movies, games, etc. all requires derivative works if we want to see something we enjoy become all it can be. You may not have Bayonetta had Devil May Cry not become so popular. You may not have Dishonored had Thief not existed. The fact that a creator chooses to use something familiar isn't necessarily a display of laziness or lacking creativity, it can genuinely be a display of affection for that original inspiration and a desire to build upon it in a new way.
The second type of people I mentioned, those that are okay with a “Souls Clone” but want more things to be like Souls are only holding this new game back from being it's own beast. I have seen MANY people claim that Lords of the Fallen will flop solely because it lacks multiplayer, which, in their eyes, was a highlight of the Souls series. I have played a LOT of Souls, and I very rarely ever take part in any type of multiplayer with it. I leveled my way through the dragon covenant in DSII by dueling, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I've summoned or been summoned in either game combined for a boss. Other than that, multiplayer is little more than a footnote for me, and I have met many who feel similarly.
Your love for one of a game's many features does not make any other game worse without that feature. Similarly many have complained about LotF's storytelling approach, calling it “in your face.” Before these past few weeks I don't think I've ever seen so many people call skippable cutscenes and optional audio logs that play in the back ground while you fight “in your face.” I love the stories in both Dark Souls and Dark Souls II, I think that far too many people overlook the great stories in each, but relegating most of the story to item descriptions is not what I'd consider masterful storytelling.
It's true that in some cases the environments themselves and the npc's tell you the story of the world, but probably 75% of story details are from you reading items (how does so much text fit on these weapons anyway? :P). Even then, you're assuming that because this game has cutscenes and audio logs (the latter of which surely isn't that much different than having an NPC tell you the same thing) that this game's environments will obviously lack the same stories, based off the one environment we've seen.
I've even seen people claiming that they won't buy the game because it uses a set character rather than allowing you to make your own. This game has a story to tell and this character is apparently a part of that story. Do you refuse to buy any game that doesn't let you craft your own character, or is it only because you want this game to BE Dark Souls that it's such a big deal to you?
At the end of the day I have no idea whether or not Lords of the Fallen will be any good. It could be great, it could be terrible. All I know is that I plan on going into it with as little bias as I can so that I can hope to enjoy it for what it offers, not for how it compares to its inspiration. And you can be damn sure that if it sucks I'll be right back here next week telling you ALL about what it does wrong. So until then, thanks for reading!
The Evil Within finally released last week and it met with some pretty mixed reception. Despite what a lot of the reception has been like or all of the criticism I'm going to lob at it today, I found the game to be pretty enjoyable overall. While I had fun with it though, there is quite a bit that I feel should be addressed with it. As such, today I want to talk about what The Evil Within is, as a product presented to us, and also what it could have been based upon what the game offers.
The Evil Within is a strange game. In a time where the horror genre is in such a weird place, Shinji Mikami promised to bring it back to an era when it was well loved and received. What he delivered is essentially that, but it is also a game of two halves. Simply put, the game seems to be at odds with itself. Picture, if you will, two different types of survival horror games. In one hand you have Resident Evil 4; the action packed, tense game that still holds a place in many hearts today, while also begrudged by many others as the first step down the path that has slowly ruined the genre over time.
In the other hand, however, you have something new. A game that threatens to really break the mold, one that has the capability to truly revitalize the staling genre by taking the wonderfully psychological nature of Silent Hill 2 and giving it some old school Resident Evil tweaks, a Last of Us-esque stealth system, modern controls, and an incredibly cinematic look. What seems to have happened with The Evil Within is that these two games were mashed together to make a game that has all the pieces necessary to create something masterful, but chooses to hold it back by playing it safe and seeking to remind people of the other game that Mr. Mikami made that you probably loved.
It honestly feels like the creation of that second game was their intention, but they were worried that it wouldn't be received well; that people would cry for more action, because that seems to be what developers and publishers have decided that we want. If you have yet to play The Evil Within then you may think that I'm overreacting, that surely one would expect a survival horror by the man who created the award winning RE4 to play somewhat similarly, but no my friend. There are scenes in Evil Within, entire chapters mind you, that feel as if they were ripped straight from RE4. Not just similar, but legitimately feeling like you could replace Sebastian with Leon and you would not be able to tell the difference.
There are long sequences in run down villages with waves of zombie-esque villagers with torches and pitchforks climbing through windows and you using all the weapons at your disposal to fight off the seemingly never ending tide as your partner slowly unlocks a nearby door. Out of the 15 chapters in Evil Within I would say at least 3 or 4 of them feel like they take place in locations left over from RE4 development. Now, I thoroughly enjoyed Resident Evil 4 and I'm sure many of you did, but the issue is that these parts of the game are at odds with the rest of it.
The parts of Evil Within that don't feel like RE4 material are by far and wide the highlight of the game. There are fantastic sequences of you running for your life from one terror to find your self falling against gravity until you fall through a wall and end up in an entirely different setting. There are tons of great environments and monsters that mess with your head and make you wonder “just what the FUCK is going on here?!” and I LOVE those moments. Unfortunately, those moments are then broken up by the aforementioned action scenes or a fight in which you can easily get killed from full health in literally one hit.
These one hit kills are not rare either, they come frequently. The ones from traps can mostly be forgiven, as you can spot all traps if you're observant and careful enough, which should be expected of you. However, there are plenty of fights with enemies who can easily kill you in one hit and these can be painful. There is a many limbed, long haired enemy that you've likely seen in trailers or early demos who you have to face on multiply occasions and on any of these occasions if she so much as touches you then you will be locked into an animation from which you must watch your self get ripped apart, regardless of your health. I noticed in many reviews that reviewers felt that the game was unfair, but these one hit death encounters are probably the only times I truly felt like I was up against unfairly balanced odds.
If you want more proof that the game seems to work against itself and seems to be of contradicting ideologies then look no further than its presentation. The developers of The Evil Within went to great lengths to make this game as cinematic an experience as possible. The game runs at 30 fps, with a film grain filter, and a wide aspect ratio with incredibly large black bars along the top and bottom of the screen. When you're going through one of the more finely crafted chapters of the game you can really get into this immersive experience.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, these are quickly broken up. Once you've gotten in the swing of the game and you're wandering through the creepy mental hospital or mansion environments and you're really feeling into the experience, you'll then be pulled completely out of it by a large, ridiculous “CHAPTER CLEAR” screen with a big picture of the big threat from that chapter on a bloody screen with save and next chapter options. These screens serve no purpose but to pull you out of the experience. Nothing good is added to the game by these existing. It's there simply because it was in Resident Evil and that's not a good reason. Why would you go through such great lengths to make me feel like I'm having a cinematic and immersive experience only to rip me from it?
The Evil Within is both a very good game and also a pretty big disappointment, and no these two are not mutually exclusive. This game had all of the necessary pieces to create a new survival horror experience that could have been ranked among the best of the genre, but unfortunately those pieces were stitched together with RE4 threads and made in a way that feels like the safe way out. So many fantastic psychological and creepy moments placed adjacent moments that you feel as if you've already played through 9 years ago. I'd still recommend Evil Within to any fan of the genre, but just know what you're getting into. Thanks for reading.
We all have our little quirks in life, and many of us have them in video games as well. I'm referring to those little things that you do, consciously or otherwise, when playing different types of games. Maybe you roll everywhere instead of walking in Zelda or maybe you can't stand not having your inventory sorted in a certain way in RPGs. I've got a few things myself that I stick to when gaming, so I'll tell you some of mine and then you can tell me yours!
When ever I'm playing an RPG for instance, if I am at all invested in the characters, I will generally use the characters I actually like rather than characters that may be better stat wise. In Final Fantasy VI I always seem to end up with a party of Setzer, Sabin, Shadow, and Gogo solely because they are awesome. The fact that I play these types of games in this way is actually one reason I'm very happy that Dragon Age: Inquisition is removing dedicated healers, because I despised having to either take the one character designed for healing with me all the time or just going healer myself in the previous games.
Dark Souls is a game that easily lends itself to many different types of players. I have a lot of quirks for this series alone. For example I pretty much always lean towards melee. If I play a character who has spells those are always secondary to my melee ability. I also always rely heavily on dodging, only really making use of my shield on little guys between bosses. The fact that there are so many different ways to play the Souls games leads a lot of people to create little quirks or personal challenges to make replays more interesting.
In one playthrough of Dark Souls II I decided to do a dual wield only Lucatiel armor run. I made a bee-line for Lucatiel, killed her so that I could have her fabulous looking light armor, and then played through the entirety of the game using only that armor and never using a shield. While it seems like you should be asking “okay, but what do you gain by doing that?” I'd actually recommend trying random stuff like that, because you never know how it will affect your overall outlook on the gameplay mechanics.
Doing a playthrough where you're forced to dodge rather than block can help you not rely so heavily on that shield the next time you play. The “Lucatiel's armor only” bit was just my personal game of “Fashion Souls,” the game everyone should be playing. Looking cooler is always higher priority than being more effective in battle!
When I play stealth games like Dishonored I have a particular way I play as well. I always personally challenge myself to use complete stealth and take out every enemy I come across in complete silence, leaving no one standing behind me. If I get seen I generally restart from the previous checkpoint. I can't really explain why, that is just the way that I personally view as the most enjoyable way to complete a stealth game.
There are plenty of other more inconsequential quirks I have as well, like the fact that I always play a game on Normal difficulty the first time through, regardless of how difficult or easy it turns out to be. When playing Ocarina of Time I always do Spirit Temple before Shadow Temple. I go and get the Lens of Truth from the well and then skip straight to the desert. I also always keep my ocarina on the C-down button at all times. I can't explain why that matters to me, it just does. When playing Pokemon I HAVE to have a team of 6 relevant pokemon. I can't stand the idea of having 3 or 4 good pokemon and 2 bullshit entries that are just there for HMs.
So those are just a few of the weird gaming quirks I have. I'm interested in hearing if any of you have similarly weird personal things you do when playing different games, so feel free to share them with me! Thanks for reading!
This post contains full spoilers for Silent Hill 2. If you have somehow still not played through it then rectify that immediately and then return here.
October is here dear readers; the month that everyone's minds begin drifting towards the slew of horror games on offer. Bloggers will be recounting their tales of terror, youtubers will be scaring themselves on camera for your amusement, and nearly everyone with an interest in the genre will finally be playing through Evil Within come next week.
The horror genre is one that I've never really leaned one way or the other with. There are plenty of great horror games but usually it needs to be pretty unique to get me to try it out, rather than being a part of the landslide of first person indie horror games we've seen over the past few years. My favorite type of horror will always be of the psychological variety. I love the idea of the human mind being the true source of terror in a story. With that in mind I'd like to talk about what is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of psychological horror: Silent Hill 2.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; Silent Hill 2 is a masterpiece of story telling. It's also a fantastic example of a series evolving and finding it's true potential. This is a game where the devs said to themselves “I mean, we've created this creepy setting and it's pretty cool, but surely there's more we can do with it than dark cult magic bullshit.” I'm no huge fan of the first game (nothing against it, it just wasn't up my alley), but the second entry is one of my favorite games ever. From the brilliant introduction that tells you just what you need to know to get started to the creepily bizarre characters to the fantastic enemies that all have meaning behind their designs.
Silent Hill 2 isn't necessarily a game that exists to try and make you jump from your seat or be terrified to sleep at night; what it really wants to do is make you think to yourself “...what the FUCK is going on right now?!” and it does a damn good job at that. The town of Silent Hill is so incredibly surreal that it's difficult to not become completely enthralled in it. Seeing insane sights like the infamous “There was a hole here. It's gone now.” sign or the strange prison deep beneath the historical society leaves you so incredibly intrigued that you can't stop yourself trying to find some small form of understanding.
If you're unfamiliar with the premise of the game or have forgotten over the years then allow me to enlighten you: James Sunderland has received a letter from his wife asking him to join her at their special place in the town of Silent Hill. The kicker here is that James' wife, Mary, is dead. While venturing through the foggy ruins of the town he discovers strange creatures and even stranger people. One of the latter is a woman named Maria; a gal who looks uncomfortably similar to his former wife, but with a much more forward personality.
Making your way through the town you battle many remarkably disgusting enemies who each represent something within James; the creepily attractive nurses representing both his difficulty staying committed to his wife and the terrible memories associated with hospitals, and the infamous pyramid head representing things such as his darker thoughts, his masculinity, and his desire for punishment. The amount of detail and thought that went into each of the character and monster designs is astonishing.
Equally impressive is the way the scenery and the mechanics of the game tell you even more about this crazy world of Silent Hill, even when you think you're learning something completely different. For example: there is a fantastic scene in the prison area where you find Maria (whom you believed to have been killed by pyramid head earlier) locked in a cell. You make your way into the room adjacent to her cell and have a seat in a chair in front of the bars and have a conversation with her that leads to more questions than answers, with her briefly drifting into Mary's personality before snapping out of it to remind James of his place. During the scene the camera changes between angles around the room, swapping between her side of the bars and your own. This wonderfully subtle change in perspective plants the idea in your head that it may not be Maria who is really locked away, but James who is locked away in his mind and the pain hidden within it.
Learning the truth behind James' journey to Silent Hill is a moment of realization that I'm sure most who played this game will always remember. Finally making your way to you and your wife's special place and seeing the VHS tape of old memories and the truth behind Mary's death is a fantastic turn of events. Mary had been stuck bedridden in a hospital for a long time due to illness and James had been finding it harder and harder to cope with having to take care of her and remain faithful until he finally took her life in a moment of weakness and selfishness.
The letter he had received from Mary was written by her before her death to be given to him after she passed away from illness and James, in his fragile state of mind, used it as an escape to convince himself that he could somehow get his wife back. The specifics of the ending after that change depending on how you went through the game, but hearing Mary's voice read her full letter as James finally exits the haunting town of Silent Hill serves as a fantastic epilogue. It's a wonderfully tragic story of horror and suspense that keeps you going and looking out for the tiniest details in the strange environment.
The mind is the most terrifying place in the world in my opinion. No matter how much a movie or game or event scares you in the moment, when you're laying in bed that night it's your mind that convinces you that, even though you know that what scared you isn't real, you should still pull those covers up just a little bit higher just in case. A story where the fears a character is seeing are pulled straight from his or her mind and are therefore impossible to escape without coming to grips with them is a truly intriguing story for me. Imagine if your worst experiences in life; all the terrible decisions you made or thought of making, were given physical form. Your depression and your hate manifested in a form with the ability to inflict harm on you. THAT is true horror.
If you know of any other great psychological horror stories or just have a different idea of the pinnacle of the horror genre then feel free to share your thoughts. Thanks for reading!