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I am a human from Edinburgh, Scotland and I am on_line.
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Kooram
4:59 PM on 01.22.2015

I haven't played many point and click adventure games but recently I've been warming to them at a quite alarming rate. I'm finding that puzzle solving and interesting character interactions are a welcome reprieve from the grim-dark-shooty-stab that's the norm in a lot of modern games. So recently I had a playthrough of a game that I picked up a long time ago but never really sank much time into until now. It's still pretty heavy on the grim-dark, but refreshingly lighter on the shooty-stab. So, you know, baby steps and all. It's Primordia, and it's frickin' sweet.

Released by Wadjet Eye Games in 2012, Primordia is something of a little darling in some circles, but I've not seen as much love for it as I think it deserves. The game is set at an unspecified time in the future, and humans are no longer kept in much high regard by either the radioactive wasteland of future Earth or the machine inhabitants of the same, unless you happen to be Horatio Nullbuilt v.5, which in this particular game you very much do happen to be. A devoutly religious robot, Horatio spends his days fixing up his ship The Uniic and studying his 'Gospel of Man;' a sort of robot bible that seems to paint humans in a similar light to how the actual Bible paints God. He has a sarcastic sidekick (because of course he does) named Crispin, a floating metal ball who serves as an excellent foil to Horatio's more stoic and somber lead. All of a sudden a big nasty fridge looking robot with an assortment of lasers and claws steals Horatio and Crispin's power core, leaving them without the precious energy they need to continue living, and it's this event that is the impetus for the game's post-human tale.

So begins the tale, and you spend a little time with some relatively simple puzzles to ease you in to the particular quirks of Primordia's puzzle solving. I particularly like the thoughtful pace of the introduction, and the way it gives you time to really inhabit The Uniic and the surrounding terrain, before fate forces Horatio and Crispin further afield to get back their power core. The game world expands slowly as it goes on, and the puzzles make very economic use of the various boards you travel through, scattering plot and puzzle items here and there. The later areas in particular are great for their verticality, with items thought lost being found again in relation to where they dropped higher up, really giving you a sense of how the different backgrounds fit together to form something more than just painted landscapes.

I'm being a little sparse on details here to be quite honest and that's deliberate as with these sort of games the plot, puzzles, and exploration are the gameplay, so to allude to the story and locales too much would ruin the experience. The puzzles themselves are on the whole very well crafted, requiring very few leaps of logic unlike some other games in this genre. Very rarely did I ever feel cheated by a problem. I did feel like one puzzle involving an information kiosk in particular was a little arcane and only then did I do a very quick dip into a guide to point me in the right direction, though if I'm honest looking at the problem after I probably should have managed it without. There's a tremendous sense of satisfaction from getting the answer right in this game and as mentioned before it's really only simple logic and problem solving with no obfuscation or 'how the hell was I supposed to know that?!' moments. This is no small part helped by a great deal of puzzles involving fixing broken machinery, the mechanics of which are often quite familiar and easy to get a handle on. If you should find yourself stuck the hint system is very skillfully woven into Crispin and Horatio's dialogue, with the former coming out with lines that are so just enough to put you on the right track without ruining the fun of solving it yourself that it's just downright impressive.

The story is great fun and there's a lot of very interesting characters to meet along the way, some favourites being a pair of stuck up robots arguing over who had a greater role in the building of their robot dog. Or a badass robotic lady Judge Dredd type. The world building too is very impressive, with plenty of allusions to to the origin of the robot society that exists, and what happened to get it to the sorry state it's in. It's very Dark Souls in it's breadcrumbs of lore and dust trails of past conflicts and the atmosphere is artfully crafted.

I really don't have much to say against this one. You probably already know if you're the type of person who likes point and click adventure games, but if you happen to be on the fence I really couldn't recommend a better place to start. With sound puzzle logic, a beautiful art style, surprisingly affecting voice acting and a kickin' synthy Blade Runner soundtrack, there's a lot to recommend here. Very happy with this one.

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A wronged warrior who has everything taken away from them? Grisly yet cartoonish violence perpetrated on nameless mooks as cathartic revenge for an act of unspeakable cruelty? Quiet character moments interspersed with explosions of brutality and death? It's Tolkein by way of Kill Bill, and it's great fun.

So let's get this out of the way as soon as possible; this game is fan fiction of the most shameless kind. It takes unbelievable liberties with established lore, it inserts ludicrously powerful original characters that leave you wondering why you haven't heard of this guy before. In short, it's The Force Unleashed of Middle Earth. That's sort of appropriate given that Lord of The Rings and Star Wars seem to be the only franchises apart from comics that invite the same volume of original stories that often amount to little more than... well fan fiction. I'm thinking of games like Knights of the Old Republic and The Battle for Middle Earth. 

I stress none of this should be taken as criticism of Shadow of Mordor or any of the other games that come to mind. The fact that I compared the game to Kill Bill is praise enough. I had a lot of fun with this game and by the end I was quite genuinely howling with laughter at the sheer audacity of Monolith. They really do wholeheartedly go big in this game and the result is genious

The game opens and honestly there's no better to say it than shit really does go down from there on. Horrific tradegy occurs, Talion (you) dies, and then he's possessed by a very sinister elven wraith (voiced excellently by Alastair Duncan) who reminds me of Bill Nighy. From here you're very much thrown into the thick of things and I actually felt quite overwhelmed by how the game just threw you into it's open world, which was great cause goddamn did it immerse me, mirroring Talion's difficult adaption to life as a member of the living dead perfectly.

There's a few introductory missions dotted about the landscape classic GTA style and these take you through the basics of killing orcs. Having said that there's nothing to stop you just wandering about killing them yourself and besides since the combat system is quite literally just Arkham Asylum's you won't have much trouble picking things up. Seriously though I'm not joking it's exactly the same, which is fine because it's an excellent combat system that suits the game very well. There are some notable differences such as the ability to slow down time and do sick headshots in slow motion with your spectral bow. Tolkein is spinning so fast in his grave he's currently gyrating through the bedrock. Other notable literature destroying ablities later on include flashing to any enemy in wraith form and removing their dumb orc head, and the capability to make all the orcs currently under your kickass wraith mind control suffer a case of exploding cranium. Sweet.

It's a noted problem with the game that it becomes a little too easy especially once you gain the ability to disappear instantly and perfom UNLIMITED STEALTH KILLS FOR 20 SECONDS, but really it's just part of the fun. The game is all about slaughtering orcs in their thousands and anything that helps with that is fine by me. A lot of the warchiefs and captains you encounter can provide a meaty challenge with their various special attacks and invulnerabilities and mostly these guys are about as hard as things get with actual bosses being disappointing QTE laden fare. It's the warchiefs and captains that populate the much acclaimed 'Nemesis System' that are the games real bosses make no mistake.

Speaking of that when you do get the ability to do the aforementioned kickass wraith mind control the game is at it's best, and building an army of orcs led by the named captains and warchiefs you've kickass wraith mind controlled is some of the best organic story telling I've ever seen. The fun is not endless though and therein lies why it's here under 'If It's On Sale.' I really hope you like slaying the heck out of orcs, cause that's the game through and through. Becoming an unstoppable phantasmal badass is really swell but it does get stale, and though the game's story is absolutely hilarious and it's worth getting this game just for the last line Talion utters, it's just not enough to carry things to full price. Though I suppose that does depend on what 20 or so hours of amusement is worth to you. I quickly lost interest when the orc slaying got stale but I can definitely say this is a game I will come back to.

Shadow of Mordor is as dumb as it gets story-wise, as tight as it gets presentation-wise, and as repetitive as it gets gameplay-wise, but it is a whole lot of fun and features some genuinely affecting original characters. My favourite is Torvin, a rowdy dwarf hunter who really brings out Talion's human side in some nice little side missions that remind our hero what it's like to not live consumed by vengeance. Pick this one up if you like Tolkein's lore enough to see someone tear huge holes in it for fun.

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Kooram
4:54 PM on 12.30.2014

The problem with keeping a blog like this as a kind of hobbyist is that it's difficult to keep up a regular output when you hit a bit of dry patch in game releases. Proper reviewers have the promise of a paycheck whilst sitting through a game they'd sooner pass over, but for amateurs like me it's a long shot that I'll force myself through a game I'm not interested in just so I have something to write about, and so Endless Legend is my both my boon and my bane. This game has taken over my life in a blitzkrieg of pure addiction, draining hours out of my days and spreading obsession through me with a viral efficiency so complete that I've been putting off writing this for days just so I have more time to play it. 

Endless Legend is a 4X fantasy game developed by Amplitude Studios, with setting and lore closely intertwined with their previous 4X effort Endless Space. It's also my favourite 4X since Civ 4, a game which aggressively expanded into my free time like a warmongering neighbour. This game is no clone however, with it's most glaring difference being the highly asymmetric factions, of which there are eight. So let's say you're the type of player that likes to aggressively expand and destroy your enemies, giving no thought to diplomacy or trade; then the ever hungry insectoid Necrophage are the empire for you. Perhaps you prefer victory through economic might and and careful manipulation of trade and markets? Then the nomadic Roving Clans should take your fancy. Maybe you're a diplomat ar heart, preferring to achieve victory through conversation and political leverage? Then the dignified Drakken, self-appointed custodians of the planet will take your fancy.

Each faction is surprisingly rich in lore, with an overarching faction quest for each that is surprisingly engaging for all of the empires. My favourite of these is from the Broken Lords, a race of creatures whose incorporeal forms are trapped within suits of gleaming armour bearing all the trappings of chivalric knights, contrasting starkly with their ravenous hunger for the life-force of other beings. This friction between their knightly ideals and their vampiric curse is the engine at the core of their narrative. Their quest concerns switching your nations food source from the souls of the innocent, to Dust, the games currency and catch all magic miracle substance. 

These faction quests provide some welcome nuance and context to the actions you'll undertake in the course of the game. It even does a good job of painting the at first glance evil Necrophage as something a little more sympathetic. After all, what would giant ravenous insects eat, but whatever was closest to the hive? When you're in their shoes, they don't seem quite so reprehensible.

Presentation is excellent in all aspects. The GUI is clean and pleasing, the map weird and beautiful. Unit models are instantly recognisable as well as gorgeously designed. From the shining knights of the Broken Lord's Stalwarts, to the Proliferators, slavering living engines of necrotic destruction utilised by the Necrophage there's plenty of variety in flavour as well as gameplay.

The world of Auriga is at once different and familiar with each new campaign. It feels positively brimming with life and despite the randomised nature of each new start the landscape is boiling over with it's own fictional history. When setting down a new city you are staking claim to a whole named region, themed and generated to feel like country or province in it's own right, dotted with minor villages with it's landscape dominated by your ever expanding metropolis at it's beating heart. Music and sound design are excellent also. My favourite thing ever is the sound the Roving Clans weird beetle-horses the Yirmak make, an almost digital chirruping roar that sends chills down my spine as I picture riding one alongside one of the Clans great city-carrying Setseke beetles.

In case it wasn't quite clear I absolutely adore this game but I do have a few gripes. Tactical combat is not very engaging, and the majority of battles are won in the preperation stage rather than on the battle map, though even here the game finds ways to delight me as the battles take place on the actual game map, with hills and forests real objects and obstacles to war. The AI is sadly not very smart on either a macro or micro level with difficulty implemented mostly as statistical boosts to AI damage and production. I'd recommend playing on hard as that's where it seemed to me the AI gained the greatest amount of meaningful better decision-making without the percentage boosts to it's stats becoming too obnoxious. You can of course bypass this problem by playing multiplayer as me and a few friends have been doing for a little too long each day for the past week or so.

For me Endless Legend is something of a benchmark, a stress test for any new 4X's to stand up against. It's the sort of game that keeps you awake at night and itching to throw off the covers and stay up until 5AM huddled over the ghostly glow of the monitor. This is the kind of game I could play for weeks or even months at a time, and after a bit of disappointing last few months of gaming for me, I can't think of any better way to be eased into the new year.

Bottom line: I wanted to give this a ten, and then I thought about not doing it cause it's not perfect, and then I did cause I love it.

10/10

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Please note that this review is based on my general impressions based on play with a character currently at level 96 with maybe 20-25 or so hours playtime in the expansion. I'll maybe do a quick rundown of end game content later on.

Me and WoW have a complicated relationship, best explained by that bit from House when Stacy says that House is like vindaloo curry. Real great trash scene from a great trash TV show look it up.

Every few months I binge WoW for a week or two and have a great time doing so. Then I burn myself out on it and never even look until the itch returns. I always have fun with this process and the release of Draenor gave me a great reason to jump back in a little earlier this time around in the endless cycle of relapse and rehabilitation and I'm happy to report it's a solid expansion.

So it's pretty slick. Surprisingly so for WoW. Longtime players of this great titan of MMO's will know what I mean when I say that WoW has always been pretty janky and jerky but this time around things are a lot more polished. Oh there's jank, and lot's of it. Enemies still ignore terrain in their single-minded determination to hit you until one of you falls over, and the animations still flow into each other like a river of rusty car wreckage, but the quest lines feel driven and alive. An excellent opening section that has you storm The Dark Portal lead by a host of popular lore characters as part of a combined force of Horde and Alliance is the best example of this. It feels like one huge quest, though it's really several carefully stitched together to form a surprisingly investing trapped behind enemy lines style narrative. It's filled with obstacles to overcome and foes to battle that feel natural, though running into so many 'me too' characters from the lore does feel a little contrived. This introductory chunk of gameplay really got me excited to explore Draenor and find out what Outland used to look like before the Burning Legion ruined the neigbourhood.

This is an oddly comforting expansion; it feels like an old friend, like visiting a place from your childhood, and this is surely Blizzard's intention. They've run with the theme of going back in time in everything from the characters you encounter, to the dungeons you run, to the wild animals you'll be killing for 10 of their scrotums or whatever. Familiar designs haunt every pixel, the game wants to evoke vanilla content very deliberately and I love it. This is not to say that Draenor is a stagnant expansion by any means; quests feel more investing than they ever have and new additions such as the Garrison are most welcome. This in particular is a strong point of the new content and I can see myself breaking the binge cycle a little here in the coming months, logging in every now and then to tend to my own personal stronghold. It grows as your character does and there's mechanics stolen wholesale from free to play wait-a-thons like Farmville to keep you coming back but they're hardly intrusive and are generally worth the little effort involved. It's also good fun collecting and levelling up the colourful list of followers you can accrue as you level. Profession buildings seem like a worthwhile addition but I haven't delved too deeply on that count.

Environments are excellent and Blizzard have done an admirable job of weaving in little echoes of Outland into the world. Shadowmoon valley gives away hints of the den of demonic sin it will become, Talador and Gorgrond see glimpses of the alien fauna of Zangarmarsh and Nagrand lies almost unchanged, it's majestic plains green and vibrant. This feels like an expansion very much for the players, easter eggs and nods to the past litter the narrative and lore buffs will love interacting with the likes of Gul'Dan and the Iron Horde warchiefs.

Dungeons too are very reminiscent of older content with Bloodmaul Slagmines in particular feeling like something straight of Ragefire Chasm. I'm especially fond of the introduction of some slightly more complex dungeon boss mechanics in some of the enemies you encounter in the overworld with AOE attacks to avoid and danger zones to nip out of.

Gripes I have could mostly be copy-pasted from any opinion piece about WoW in general. As polished as content is this time round everything still feels stitched together with bubble gum in a way that feels a lot less endearing in 2014 than it did a few years ago, and the levelling process can be a horrendous grind for the impatient. It does feel faster levelling through Draenor than it did in Pandaria but I'm not sure if that's just me. Personal problems I have do include some of the spells Blizzard pruned to reduce toolbar bloat. I play Warlock almost exclusively and I see no reason whatsoever to remove some of the more niche spells and effects such as the water walking effect on Soulburn: Unending Breath. Many of the spells removed were the sort of abilities you would be glad to have in certain scenarios but wouldn't necessarily take up a space on your toolbar anyway so their removal feels annoying to me. I'm also not a fan of how DPS is still so much RNG and trinket procs but you can't have it all.

I've had a lot of fun with Draenor thus far and I have every intention to hit level cap and hit up some end-game content with my almost non-existent talent to do damage per second.

Bottom line: If you still like WoW in 2014 you'll like this. Would be a 7/10 but gets a point added for the sheer addictive quality of the WoW formula.

8/10

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I bought this game when it was on sale and here's why you should do the same.

I sat on this one for a looooooong time before I got round to playing it, and this week I finally woke it up and dragged it out of my cavernous Steam library and into the harsh light of my scorn for not being faithful to the originals damn it! Vergil's all wrong! Who the fuck is this Mundus guy!?

Nah I really liked this game but you might want to take that with a pinch of salt because I was trying very hard to. I was always willing to give this one a try, and see some of the extreme reboot detractors proved wrong, but I never got round to playing it when it came out. Now that I have I'm pretty happy it exists. I'm way into this version Dante because he works so well as a precursor to the guy we know and love. So let's face it. Dante has always been a huge dick, a loveable huge dick to be sure, but still a huge dick. DMC's Dante feels to me exactly like what would happen if you turned back the clock on classic Dante all the way to adolescence and early adulthood. There's no way Dante didn't have an angsty, edgy teenage phase and I feel like Ninja Theory really ran with that idea when developing DMC. 

I know a lot of fans can't ever forgive messing with ole' whitehair and I'm not going to be the one to tell them they're wrong but if you're even a little interested in what Ninja Theory did with the reboot I'd recommend you give this one a chance. This Dante isn't just obnoxious and arrogant, in fact he's kind of a genuine asshole, but through the game he grows and matures into something better than just an angsty teen thug. He becomes Dante. He's got a proper arc, and before the end credits roll he's well on his way to becoming the wisecracking, prancing tit we all love so much.

Speaking of prancing, you do a lot of it in this game. Like older Devil's you get Dante's workhorse sword Rebellion, and the ever faithful pistols Ebony and Ivory in addition to a whole host of angelic and demonic murdering sticks which you can use to slice your broody way through hordes of demon scum. At first combat feels very shallow, and I would say it probably is far shallower in comparison to older titles, but once you get a few new weapons things heat up a little, because it's in switching weapons mid combo and chaining together moves from your arsenal that the true depth lurks. While the moveset may not be as extensive as say, Devil May Cry 3, juggling dozens of mooks in the air almost indefinitely and then slamming them all down for a gibbety finish is just as satisfying as ever it was.

Let's talk about level design because holy christ did Ninja Theory go fucking nuts on this one. The world shapes and shatters around you, reforming and repairing beneath your feet, melting out of the air and into the ether. It feels like the very ground you're walking on wants you dead and it's awesome. Levels are very linear with a few rare exceptions, and the ever shifting environments rigidly scripted, but it's so stylishly presented that it doesn't matter. I found myself exhilarated level by level and particularly enjoyed the nightmarish fizzy drinks factory that feels like playing the infamous tunnel sequence from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. 

Stylish presentation feels like a great summation of this game overall really. It embodies the 'spectacle' part of spectacle fighter fully, and feels like a gaudy but undeniably beautiful sports car in presentation. Gaudy is another word to keep in mind; this game is obnoxious as hell but I loved the big stupid dubstep baselines that accompany most bossfights, and the angsty metal that would play every time you get a new weapon. I suppose it's to be expected from a game that boasts almost two full Combichrist albums as it's soundtrack, and I howled with laughter at it throughout.

Bossfights follow a similar pattern to the level design; all flashy effects and flawless presentation without much actual substance but I'll be damned if I didn't get really taken in by them. My favourite, pictured above, being a fight taking place in a CNN style news report tripscape against what amounts to Bill O'Reilly crossed with Hexadecimal from Reboot. I particularly enjoyed the little third wall breaks when he shouts if you'd like him to shit down your neck for 'style points,' and another where he screams that not only will he kick your ass... he'll do it live. Cute.

This review kind of feels like a glowing endorsement so far but I do have gripes. Levels are very linear, enemies get repetitive quickly and it's just too easy. Herein lies a lot of older fans real issue with this installment and I honestly can't defend it with a straight face. I am absolutely terrible at these sorts of games and I was getting consistent A-SSS rankings whilst playing on hard mode. This is as someone who rarely scraped C's in older Devil titles.

There's a bit of very shitty voice acting too but I think that problem lies with whoever was in charge of the actors myself. Dante's voiceover in particular gets very bad at times but at others sounds great and I think it's a case of bad takes being used rather than a lack of ability on Tim Phillips' part.

So if you see this one on sale I'd say definitely pick it up cause it's way cool if you give it a chance. It's a big dumb spectacle fighter that puts on quite spectacle. That being said, fans of the older titles looking for a similar challenge should probably skip it cause goddamn it is really easy and piling on the reboot aspects will alienate a lot of people.

Bottom line: There's room enough for two Dante's in my games library.

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I will take the firstborn child of the first person to tell me if I got the punctuation correct in the title. The mystery excites me.

The original Binding of Isaac delighted me into hour after hour of icky, squirming enjoyment when it first released on Steam a few years ago and I was not alone. It got in on the 'roguelike' craze fairly early and took all of the permadeath, randomized room layouts and upgrade drops and wrapped them up in childish, Freudian terror paper, painted with crude cartoon genitalia, and oozing at the seams with bodily fluids and oh man did I love that game. It was light on actual narrative but the setup is that each run you made through the game is the result of Isaac jumping into a trap door in his room whilst fleeing his mother who is convinced that the voice of God told her to kill him. The whole game takes place in Isaac's basement and some of the things that live down there look a little familiar... It's a hilariously grim concept to base an arcadey top down shooter on and the game is swimming in imagery and concepts that a more realistic game would struggle to get past a ratings board and holy goddamn do I love The Binding of Isaac.

So when it was announced that there was to be remake complete with new content, art design and music I was awfully excited, because I am a 21st century consumer and I will buy any dumb shit even if it is basically the same shit I already have, and make no mistake, if you've played The Binding of Isaac this new Rebirth (hah) is hard to reasonably recommend. Unless you really like the first one in which case what are you waiting for? Or if you haven't played the first one in which case stop reading immediately and buy Rebirth so your dear departed loved ones can finally know peace.

I should make it clear right now this game is definitely an upgrade and I would argue more than a mere reskin. It's more claustrophobic, despite it's more expansive levels. It's subtler soundtrack lends everything a thick, oppressive tension despite a greater focus on more traditionally light and orchestral instruments, and the grimier, pixellated visuals wash the game world of all the crisp lines found in the originals games Flash based graphics. I'm even a little scared of Rebirth. The first game was a little... gooey, sort of distasteful in a way that reminded me of kid's show from Cartoon Network's golden age. Rebirth is filthy, sticky. 

Along with all the content contained in the original, including the genitalia monsters (yay) is a hearty offering of original work created specifically for the remake. From new bosses, new secret rooms and a whole shopping list of new grotesque upgrades to make a monster out of Isaac as he cries his way through the hellscape hidden under his house. I was particularly happy with my favourite bosses returning, my favourite being a pair of horrific worms named Larry Jr. who are constantly shitting everywhere, and presumably eating that shit to survive. I love this game so much. Look how mutated my Isaac got on my first playthrough. Great stuff.

The new monster designs are all fantastic but none on par with the originals laser shooting vaginas with legs, who thankfully turn up to ensure that the tone remains as high brow as possible. It's here that lurks my issue with recommending Rebirth to owners of the original. The new designs are great, the new upgrades are suitably deforming and the new soundtrack positively fucking terrifies me but there's probably not enough to justify it's £10.99 price tag when none of the new content truly blows the old out of the water. I'm trying to do this game justice believe me but I would feel wrong wholeheartedly recommending it to all because as much as I adoooore the new art style and as much as I giggle with glee to see all of my favourite barely concealed cock monsters to return to hunt me once more there's no denying this game functions almost exactly as the original does. There's full controller support which is nice, and as mentioned before a whole new, excellent, soundtrack but you could be forgiven for looking at Rebirth and thinking it was some sort of alternate texture pack for The Binding of Isaac. 

Having said all of that I love this game. I love it so much and I loved the first one and anyone who did too will get a kick out of Rebirth. I would urge anyone who hasn't played the original to come join me in the putrid green water, it's warm.

Bottom line: A solid game in the 'roguelike' catalogue, probably my 2nd or 3rd favourite premise ever, a cutely disgusting aesthetic and a suprisingly foreboding atmosphere. Held back from a near perfect score by being a remake. Shame.

8/10

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