Emotions are a pretty cool thing. You might chuckle at David Cage's latest use of the word, but you can't deny that they're powerful. They can leave a strong lasting impression. Our minds may jump straight back to the most emotionally powerful moment of something when we think of it in the future. In a sense, emotions can define or experience. I mean think about it. When people think of the movie Titanic, their thoughts jump to the scenes that are distressing, depressing, or shocking (in the case of the painting scene). The ones that create a sudden surge of emotions.
Lord, I sound like David Cage, now. Let's just get on with this before I turn into him. I recently beat Shin Megami Tensei IV, which had a very emotional scene (kind of shocking), and it led me to think of other scenes like it that I had experienced over the many games I have played throughout my life. So, here they are.
Needless to say, there's going to be a hell of a lot of spoilers in this blog. Both pictures (there will be one for every game I talk about) and text. Here's the deal. I'm going to list every game I'll be talking about right after this little disclaimer. In the order they'll appear in. That way you can know ahead of time if you want to avert your eyes for a segment of it or not or not. I don't want to spoil anything if I can help it. Ready?
Batman: Arkham City
9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Metal Gear Solid 3
Metal Gear Solid 4
Red Dead Redemption
Shin Megami Tensei IV
The Walking Dead
And now I'll put this big picture here to create a split, so you don't accidentally see #10's picture immediately (if you want to skip it).
Okay, onto number 10, then! But one final note. I'm trying to put these in some sort of order of emotional impact, but it's really hard to gauge that, so don't think this order is final by any means. I think the order isn't too far off, though.
#10: THE JOKER'S DEATH (BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY)
Say what you will about how many times the Joker has died in other Batman media, I was shocked to see the Joker die in Arkham City. Everything was in place. Hugo Strange was dead, Ra's was taken care of...all that was left was to get the Joker the antidote that you had spent the better half of the game making. It's not like I didn't expect him to try to pull something on Batman, but I knew that Batman would have given him the antidote, in the end. To see him die wasn't quite what I was expecting.
It was pretty sad, too. For all the crimes the Joker had committed, you can't help but like him. Seeing Batman carrying the Joker's body, putting it on the hood of a police car, and walking away in silence was powerful.
Of course, they found a way around all that by making a prequel to the Arkham games. That bugs me and feels like it cheapens the whole affair, when we thought we'd seen the last of the Joker in the Arkham series. But even still, that ending leaves me as speechless as Batman.
#9: SNAKE'S DEATH (9 HOURS 9 PERSONS 9 DOORS)
Playing 999 for the first time, Snake immediately stood out as one of my favorite characters in the crowd. Princely, smart, blind (yet quite able), kind...wears a nice coat. Snake was pretty damn awesome. And then he had to go and die. Not once. But twice. The first time doesn't matter so much, because it turns out that it wasn't actually him. I'm talking about the second time.
It's sad enough to see such a likable character die, but the circumstances left an impact on me. So, Snake dies in an incinerator, sacrificing himself to take Ace along with him, the guy who killed his sister (in this timeline). First of all, you have to admire him for his determination and willingness to make such a huge sacrifice. But the strangest thing that stuck out to me is how he continued to keep going despite being shot many times in the chest. It's inhuman.
"But Marche, it's fiction". Doesn't change that it was shocking and made it stick. This would probably be higher on the list if Snake's death was permanent, but it isn't. In the true ending he survives, so it's all good. But still, in that minute you see Snake die, you'd be lying if you said your heart wasn't aching.
#8: ELI VANCE'S DEATH (HALF LIFE 2: EPISODE 2)
Funny, I saw that this death was featured on an installment of Chad Concelmo's Memory Card series as a shocking loss. Well, he's not wrong there. It was certainly shocking, and heartbreaking.
Eli was apparently in Half-Life 1, although you wouldn't have known it. Many scientists shared his model, so it could have been any of them for all I knew. Half-Life 2 is where I was really introduced to him. Nice guy! He was always looking out for Alyx and Gordon, giving them guidance and cracking a few jokes along the way. Heck, by the end of Episode 2, he acted more like a father to Gordon than anything else.
That made it especially hard to accept it when he died right at the end. For all you've accomplished in the Half-Life games, you're powerless at that one moment. The moment that it matters. And then Dog showing up RIGHT AFTER ELI DIES was just the cherry on top. Nice timing. *sniff* But seriously, I think part of what made Eli's death so hard was how well written he was. He felt like a real human. It was like losing someone close to you that you had known for ages.
Damn you Valve. Damn your brilliance.
#7: THE BOSS FIGHT/DEATH SCENE (METAL GEAR SOLID 3)
No one wanted to kill The Boss. No one. For the longest time, it seemed like she was the villain, but that's not the whole story. She was playing the part of a traitor to avert nuclear war. Talk about tough ordeals. And you learn of her back story, that she was rendered infertile via atomic bomb testing, and you can't help but feel for her. Oh, and she spends pretty well the entire game acting as a mother figure, even when she's supposedly the "bad guy". Yeah.
So, you establish that you don't want to kill her, because out of anyone in Metal Gear Solid 3, she deserves to die the least (well, there are a few exceptions). But then they had to make the fight one of the most beautiful fights ever made, in a field of white flowers, and with that fight theme. You know the one. It's hard not to feel like you should be bawling your eyes out as you fight.
And then you kill her. And the flowers ripple outwards from The Boss' body and turn a shade of red. Just rip my heart out Konami. RIP IT OUT.
#6: REVOLVER OCELOT FIGHT/DEATH SCENE
Yes, I hold this particular moment in higher regard than that I listed from Metal Gear Solid 3. I never started up Metal Gear Solid 3 again just to replay that moment. But I have started up Metal Gear Solid 4 up multiple times just to relive this stunning fight.
This one isn't like the ones before it. It's not so much a matter of feeling sad for Revolver Ocelot. I mean, I still kind of do. I like him as a character. A lot. But it's more-so about the fight itself. This is a fight that's been long awaited. It's the culmination of the many events throughout the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I don't usually throw this word around, because I feel like it's overused, but it is an epic battle.
Like the moment I described from Metal Gear Solid 3, the scene around this fight is stunning. Just look at that screenshot. Beautiful. And then the fight itself plays out in phases reflecting every major Metal Gear Solid title. Don't tell me you didn't get hyped up as you went through this fight. You can tell that a lot of thought was put into how this fight would pan out, and it paid off. It's a breathtaking scene from beginning to end.
And then Ocelot said "you're pretty good" and made the hand gesture from Metal Gear Solid 3. Okay, that's where my heart broke. Metal Gear Solid 3 Ocelot was awesome.
#5: MASKED MAN FIGHT/DEATH (MOTHER 3)
This one gets points simply for bringing me pretty close to tears. Whereas the Giygas fight from Mother 2 was all about fear, I found this one to be much more powerful, because it's about the death of a loved one.
You spend some time in Mother 3 looking for Claus, who disappears. Even though that search leaves the spotlight, you know that Claus is never far from Lucas' thoughts. I know I was wondering if Claus would ever turn back up. He does, near the end of the game but brainwashed...to the extreme.
The fight itself can bring you into a pretty heightened state. The music is weird. Like, you need to go listen to it to yourself if you haven't already. It's kind of creepy, otherworldly, and at the same time sort of sad, because it has the Theme of Love song mixed into it. Of course, how can I mention the fight without talking about how Lucas and Claus' dead mother speaks to them throughout the fight, trying to get them to stop fighting. Claus clearly struggles to regain control and to listen to her voice. So sad.
But of course, even after you manage to temporarily break the brainwashing effects, Claus sacrifices himself so that he doesn't fall back into being brainwashed. It's heart shattering stuff (I keep using the word heart breaking and I need to come up with new words for it).
#4: MINATO'S DEATH (PERSONA 3)
I think the hardest deaths in games are the ones where the character you've been playing as for the entire game dies. Persona 3 is a special case. The main character's appearance is set in stone, but his personality isn't. You decide his personality, his actions (to a degree), and his interests. So, in a way, when Minato dies, it's not really him dying. It's you. That's a depressing thought.
It was pretty shocking, too. Nyx had been defeated and sealed away. Everything looked like it was going to turn out okay. Everyone was happy, again. It was, what, a month after you had even fought Nyx? And then Minato just up and falls asleep in Aigis' arms and dies. Wow. Talk about coming out of nowhere.
I think Persona 3 gets the award for most shocking death. Seriously. I was upset when he died.
#3: JOHN MARSTON'S DEATH (RED DEAD REDEMPTION)
Talk about your surprises. John Marston had finally redeemed himself. He had killed the members of his gang that he used to run with and is free of his doings with the government. He then returns to his home to raise his son and return to life as usual. But nothing could ever be that simple. I mean, we all knew there had to be a reason that the game was still going, at that point. Something bad was brewing, but that didn't make it any less of a shock.
The surprise attack on Marston's home didn't totally shock me in itself. I thought "hey, I've dealt with this kind of crap all game, I can deal with these bozos". And for a while, you do. Rockstar pretty expertly made you think that you had the possibility of making it out of that situation alive, at least for a moment.
What shocked me was when Marston actually dies. That moment gets his family to safety and steps out to hold off the attackers. There were a lot of them, and for a second, I thought "my dead eye is going to wipe the floor with you idiots". When it became clear that you were overwhelmed, I couldn't believe it. I thought that I had done something wrong. Like I could have actually won, but just failed to do so for some reason.
It was hard to accept it. It was a sad day when I finished Red Dead Redemption.
#2: ISABEAU FIGHT/DEATH (SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI IV)
So, you eventually fight Isabeau if you choose Law or Chaos in Shin Megami Tensei IV and it is one of the most awfully depressing scenes I have ever seen. Good lord. I'm simply speaking from experience in taking the Law route, so some of these things don't apply to Chaos.
First of all, she calls your move to totally wipe out Tokyo genocide. Well...when you put it that way...it does make me feel pretty bad, even after Jonathan's speech about preserving peace. Then you fight her, and she hints that she had feelings for the main character. Well, crap. Now, you KNOW you've chosen the wrong route, because you know where this is headed.
The worst is yet to come. So, you beat the heck out of her because you're level 70something and everything falls before you. Then you're treated to a picture of her all bloodied, like Issachar earlier in the game. Ugh. Regret. To top it all off, she wants to at least have her final choice be her own and slits her throat. Shit. Is it too late to change over to neutral?
So that's more than just a downer. That's downright sickening. I had to step away from my 3DS because I couldn't believe what had just happened. It's interesting, too, because you spend only about the first half of the game with Isabeau. So, she's like a lesser major character. And yet, I still found her death more impacting than Jonathan's, or even Flynn's (although don't get me wrong, I was very sad to see them go, too).
Atlus sure knows how to toy with everyone's emotions.
#1: LEE EVERETT'S DEATH (THE WALKING DEAD)
I know this must be near the top of most people's lists, if they've played The Walking Dead. Well, it's at the time of mine, too, because EVERYTHING about this scene is sad. And I'm talking about when you get Clementine to shoot him. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only real way that this scene can go down. Leaving him to re-animate is like denial of the fact that Clementine will have to face tough situations like this and might have to kill those she grows attached to later on.
Anyways, Let's start with Lee. Lee Everett was an awesome character. I know you could shape his personality, but he was generally a kind, caring, person and like a father to Clementine. He could do what he had to do, do the right thing, and be a leader when there was a need for him to be. I felt very attached to Lee, by the end, and found it very hard to let him go.
Moving on, the conversation between Lee and Clementine was pretty depressing. Lee trying to get Clementine to believe that she can do it, that she can survive, while he's sitting there, a few minutes from being a zombie. And then you can get Lee to tell her to keep her hair short, as one final fatherly piece of advice. Heartsplosion. Getting her to pull the trigger was almost too much, too.
But of course, the worst part of it all is that Clementine is a kid, and she has to go through all this. We've actually been talking about this in my English course. Kids are quite possibly the fastest way to get at someone's emotions, and that holds true, here. If it was some adult in Clementine's place in this scene, the scene would not be as high on the list. No way.
Now I've made myself sad.
There you have it. My 10 most emotional moments in video games. As far as I know. I'm sure there are plenty of games with emotional moments out there that I've never played. But as far as my experiences go, this feels pretty accurate.
So, now that I've emotionally drained myself by writing that, anyone care to share a few of their top emotional moments? I'm interested in seeing any that weren't on my list.
I just quoted myself up there in the title, because I can't think of a better title. But more importantly, I said that in the forums the other day in regards to Sonic Unleashed, which I refuse to play any further. I wish I didn't have to, but I feel that I do.
I'm human. We're all human here, I hope. As forgiving (if you want evidence of that, note that I suffered through 3 solid days of nothing but grinding in Final Fantasy XIII and lived to finish the game) and open as I am to many games, I can't finish every one. As a human, I have nerves. Things get on them. They may cause me to play through the rest of it with a much more negative outlook on the game, or even put down the game, permanently.
But that's not to say that all of my pet peeves are the fault of the game. Oh, no, there are plenty of things that irritate me to no end that can be/are caused by the player, like a careless death or two that sets you way back.
Time to vent a little (although I'm not really "angry" right now). So, here are my pet peeves in video games.
My number one pet peeve is repetition. There are different forms of repetition in games. The one I really can't stand is redoing something. Going through 30 minutes worth of game-play only to die and have to redo the whole thing? My willingness to play a game just took a massive hit.
Zack and Wiki suffered from this issue because of a lack of checkpoints. That's another pet peeve of mine: a lack of/poorly placed checkpoints. I won't get into that one beyond mentioning it, though. Back to the subject of Zack and Wiki...This is a game that has no checkpoints in its levels. Some of these levels are 10-30 minutes long.
You're supposed to think about your actions and their consequences so you don't make a fatal error in solving each level, but that's a load of crap. There are consequences in Zack and Wiki that no normal player would foresee (just look around on the web and see how many people complain about how much they die in the game, if you want proof).
So, not having the miraculous powers of foresight that the developers seem to think that I could possess, I died a lot and failed levels plenty of times. In particular, I failed on a 10 minute long level at least 6 times. Right near the end. That's over and hour it took me to complete a level that should have taken me 10 minutes. And I had to go through the same motions each time. I mean, come on. Don't tell me that you wouldn't be annoyed by that.
But there's another kind of repetition I can't stand. This one's in vast quantities. That's right, I'm talking about grinding. The joy of grinding. Who doesn't love waking up to endless hours of fighting the same enemies over and over again? Me.
This one's kind of weird, because over the years, I've built up a sort of resistance to grinding. Grinding in most RPGs doesn't even faze me, anymore. Shin Megami Tensei IV has grinding? I'd say: "What grinding?" It's just naturally become a part of how I play RPGs, so I don't even notice it, sometimes.
But even then, there are certain ones that just cross the line. I return to the subject of my experience with Final Fantasy XIII, which I referenced earlier. I can't even clearly recall the three days I spent grinding on Gran Pulse in that. It was bad. VERY bad.
To put into perspective how much I felt that I had to grind, I'll first state that many times when I have to grind in RPGs for a while I tend to watch something as I do it, to distract me and to help me through it. I watched the first four seasons of Futurama from beginning to end, Hercules, and this one documentary Jiro: Dreams of Sushi while grinding, and that wasn't all of it. I spent quite a few hours simply pacing back and forth while grinding, staring at the screen and trying to keep my mind from collapsing on itself.
Now, it can be said that I didn't need to grind that much, but Final Fantasy XIII is not an easy game. Even after all that grinding, I had no easy time getting through the final bosses. That much grinding is unacceptable. Another game that stepped over the line of acceptable grinding was Shin Megami Tensei: Soul Hackers, although not nearly to the extent of FFXIII (and at least I still enjoyed Soul Hackers, in the end).
Now, we come to the one that made me quit Sonic Unleashed. Level requirements. Sonic Unleashed requires that you collect sun/moon medals to unlock new levels and proceed in the game. These medals are scattered throughout levels, mainly. As soon as I heard that, I decided to give up on Sonic Unleashed.
I don't think that a game like Sonic Unleashed should enforce level requirements. Maybe for optional levels, but for mandatory ones? Seriously? It might have been bearable if all of the levels were fast-paced day levels, but the werehog levels are some of the longest, most drawn out bore-fests in recent memory. (And would it have killed them to at least tell me sometime about there being level requirements, rather than for me to find out for myself via Google?)
Of course, level requirements aren't always bad. The 3D Mario games pull the requirements off quite well. Then again, the objective of the levels in those games are to find the sprite/star/whatever, in the first place. So, fulfilling the requirement in those games comes naturally. In Sonic Unleashed it does not. It is an unnecessary impediment that disrupts the flow of a game that's already out of whack due to the conflicting paces of the day/night levels.
Even then, there are some games with unnecessary level requirements that I'll cut some slack. No More Heroes is one. Gathering the money needed to enter ranked matches by completing various tasks around town is absurd. Heck, the protagonist, Travis Touchdown, thought it was crazy when he was first told that he needed to pay. But it works. He's an assassin. He completes assassination gigs to get money. Mind blowing. Well, he can also do various side jobs like garbage collecting, but those are kind of funny, knowing Travis' personality and the fact that he's putting up with it.
What's Sonic's excuse? He's a hedgehog that runs fast and fights Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman). He collects medals. It makes no sense. What a stupid level requirement.
You all know that feeling, I bet. Getting lost. Bet you wish the game had a map, huh? Oh wait, some of them do. But what's this? The maps suck. Magnificent.
Shin Megami Tensei IV suffers heavily from its lack of navigational assistance. If I go out onto the world map in SMTIV I couldn't tell you what any of the places are just from looking at it. It has a map, but nothing is labeled on it. On top of that, when people in the game tell you to go somewhere, they don't really point you in any specific direction. They say "go here". Not "go here, which is a bit to the east". You get no hints.
Needless to say, it's easy to get lost, and very frustrated. I know you're supposed to explore and whatnot, but that's no excuse for not labeling areas on the map that you've already been to and at least pointing you east or north or whatever, when you need to go somewhere.
But SMTIV is a great game, otherwise, so I'll still play it happily. But this gets on my nerves. Big time. Heck, I'm using a walk through right now just because it gives me directions, and for a game with a map as complex as SMTIV's, I need it.
Now, I'm being general here in saying deaths, because deaths, in general, are pretty frustrating. I think we can all agree on that. But there are certain kinds that I find particularly annoying, beyond the fact that they make you lose progress.
One kind is the death is "cheap deaths". Deaths that aren't necessarily your fault as a player. My experience with cheap deaths mainly deals with poor physics/controls and object collision. For example, trying to maneuver Yoshi in Rico Harbor in Super Mario Sunshine and repeatedly falling and having to spend 5 minutes climbing back up only to where I need to be (only to fall again) caused me to put down the game and never pick it back up. Sonic Adventure caused me some cheap deaths, too. Sometimes, when Sonic clearly should have snapped onto a railing (to grind on it), it didn't pick up on the collision, and I fell to my death. Great stuff.
The other kind of death that sticks out in my mind is the "I'm one hit from killing this boss and I die" death. I'm sure many Demons Souls/Dark Souls players know the feeling you get from suffering this kind of death all too well. I just died in Wario Land: Shake It's final boss the other day as I was one hit away from killing him. I was angry, to put it lightly.
Yeah, despite all these pet peeves and the anger they bring, it gives me no pleasure to put down a game like Sonic Unleashed. Even though I've put Sonic Unleashed down, I'll still be feeling pangs of guilt for not having finished it. I hate not finishing a game, but sometimes you just have to admit that you'd be better off not playing it.
That doesn't make it any easier, though.
So, there you have it. I feel that I have adequately vented, and I really need to go to school right now. I did not think that this would take me as long as it did to write, and I don't want to be late. I'm not going to leave it off there, though, so I'll just ask the obvious question: "What are some of your pet peeves in video games?"
Marche stepped up to the cave, sword in hand, peering into its dark depths. This was the supposed lair of the fiendish backlog, a horrific monster that lived eternal and only seemed to grow larger and stronger as time went on. Marche knew full well that he would have to face the monster, sometime. After all, it was borne of him and his purchases. He had put off slaying it for so long that something had to be done. Still, could he do it? His heart shouted at him to walk into the cave, but his mind said "no". What to do?
What manner of beast is this?! I shall slay it, henceforth!
Those of you who hang around the forums know that I've started facing down my backlog just this weekend. I'm embarking on a journey that will take months, even if I move along as quickly as I can. I want to take a step back and reflect on my backlog, how it took shape and became the monster it is today, and how I intend to fell it once and for all.
So, I guess I ought to start back at the beginning.
Why can't *we* have highways with loop-de-loops?
My current backlog started back when I was but 5 or 6 years old, although I wouldn't have known it. I had Sonic Adventure. Played the heck out of the first few levels, but I was at the age where I didn't understand the concept of saving/auto-saving, nor did I care, so I would start a new game time I picked the game up. Heck, at the time, I don't think I understood that you can switch between characters in Sonic Adventure, so of course I never beat it.
But Sonic Adventure is a special case. It was a gift, and I didn't ask for it specifically, as I was so young I knew nothing of what games existed beyond what I could see at Wal-Mart in the display cases. Almost every other game on my backlog is a game I've bought or asked for, myself. They are all games I enjoy, to various degrees, but have never found the motivation to finish.
Twelve years this backlog has been snowballing. Twelve years. 50 games, and I know for a fact that I could put many more on that backlog, but there are just some games that I will never find the drive to finish (like Yoshi's Island DS and Wario: Master of Disguise).
Stuck playing Paper Mario for the rest of my life. Send help.
So why haven't I been able to work on that backlog for so long? Well, first of all, I will say that I have made some dents here and there in the past. Just this past summer, I beat Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Zelda: Skyward Sword, two games that have been in my backlog for years, but randomly finding the drive to surge through games like those is rare, for me.
No, the reason I haven't been able to really work on my backlog all these years is my damn brain.
First of all, you have to understand how I work. If possible, I like playing games in a) chronological/sequential order, and b) in threes. Three is a magical number. Just a few months back I decided to hit up Paper Mario: TTYD and Super Paper Mario, but taking into account the rule of threes and sequential order, I just "had" to play the first Paper Mario again, despite the fact that I've beaten it before.
Don't ever think like I do on that point, if you're trying to work on your backlog. It's a recipe for disaster. I was bored by the second chapter of the game, and my plans to work on my backlog fell apart then and there.
My mind must look like the Milkman level in Psychonauts when it comes to my backlog.
But there are much more rational reasons that I don't work on my backlog, too, and they make sense to some degree. Whenever I look at a game in my backlog and think about whether or not I want to play it, questions start pouring into my mind. Do I really have time for the 100 hour Persona 4? Will I want to play it 50 hours in from now? Do I even want to play it, now?
This constant barrage of questioning just spirals into an endless loop that has me second guessing my decision to work on my backlog, in the first place, and I always end up not playing whatever game I was considering. My heart cries out "I JUST WANT TO GET THIS GAME OFF MY BACKLOG", but my brain laughs and says "no, you're an idiot for thinking that you'll play this".
I hate my brain.
RESTRAIN THE BRAIN.
So, I've been working on my backlog all weekend and making good progress. How did I do this? How on earth, after so many years, after so many failures of trying to get anything done with my backlog, have I been able to do anything about it? Simple, really.
I told myself: "Sit down, shut up, and play the damn game, whether you like it or not."
Sounds harsher than it really is. This is really just to get me started on playing the games in my backlog. Sometimes, the hardest part of playing a game is just putting the game into the system, as odd as that sounds, and that's exactly the case, here. Because of all my second guessing, I end up putting the game down right after I pluck it from my shelf. I never even get to start it up before I'm finished with it.
Once I actually force myself to start playing the game, despite what I may be thinking, I find myself enjoying it, and it makes sense that I do. I liked them enough, initially, to want to finish them, some day, so why shouldn't I like them when I get started, now? (I do still reserve the right to dislike them after I start playing, though, as was the case with Dark Souls, although I'm giving that one last chance.)
Right now, my backlog looks like this, but when I'm finished with it, it'll look like this...in corpse form.
This weekend, I beat Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, got halfway through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, nearly beat Sonic Adventure, and started Banjo Tooie. Decent progress. So, what's the major lesson, here? I don't know if there is one.
Everyone handles their backlog differently. For me, I just needed to really force myself to sit down and play, rather than over-think it. I know there are others that have a much easier time tackling their backlog, and there are those who have a hard time dealing with it, like I did. I guess you just have to find what works for you, even if it sounds absurd (like my method did to me, at first).
My monstrous backlog has been living for far too long. It's time to put it out of its misery, and now, I know that I have the capacity to do so. And so, I will dive into the depths of that cave where my backlog thrives, and I will carve out its heart.
'Tis the season for scares. Many people take this time of the year to play horror games. Makes sense. Whether your fix is the new Amnesia, Outlast, Metro: Last Light, or that Slenderman game, there's a decent selection of games to sate one's appetite for horror. Not that anyone is restricted to just those games released in 2013, either. There's a sea of horror games out there.
But let's not forget the free games out there. There are a variety of horror games available that are short and sweet, only a few hours long apiece, that are free to download. There are some truly fantastic ones out there, too. I don't know how much any of you are into that sort of thing, but hey, I like great, free games.
Needless to say, these are all PC titles. They are all made in RPG Maker, which might be a turn-off for some people, but I implore you to hold final judgement until seeing/playing the games yourself.
So, without further ado, let's get started. I'm going to try to keep these short, because I have a tendency to talk too much.
GAME #4: AO ONI
Four middle school students enter a bland-looking mansion. They've heard the rumors that a monster is in the mansion, but screw those rumors, stupidity overrules everything! It turns out that the monster exists. It's big, it's purple, it has an face that looks eerily like a human's face that's been warped in Photoshop, and it doesn't care much for stupid kids. And it turns out you're playing as the stupidest one of all, the one who didn't believe in the monster's existence, at first. Welcome to Ao Oni.
Ao Oni doesn't have much in the way of characters or story, and as you can tell from the fan art and the screen shot above, the mansion the game takes place in is no royal palace, but it makes up for all of that through the monster the game is named for (the Oni), alone.
There are scripted encounters throughout the game, but there are also totally random encounters decided by a random number generator, which can totally catch the player off-guard, forcing them to jump straight from a puzzle-jumping mindset into a "oh hell, this thing is going to kill me, I'd better run" mindset. Running is easier said than done, though, as the Oni is nearly as fast as the player, making evading it difficult, and it's easy for the player to back their self into a corner.
All in all, it makes for a memorable experience, ripe with plenty of shocking moments and surprise encounters with the Oni.
GAME #3: THE WITCH'S HOUSE
You are Viola, a young girl visiting your friend Ellen, who apparently lives in some haunted woods. Oh, and there's a witch living in the woods. OH, and it just so happens that you have no choice but to enter the witch's house. Well, that's one way to start a day off on the wrong foot. The witch booby-trapped her house for you. You can thank her later. And there's also a black cat following you around, saving your game and kind of being a douche bag. You've set foot in the Witch's House.
The Witch's House is very tricksy, as Gollum would say. I challenge you to play the game and not die 5 minutes in. This witch doesn't fool around. Her traps are unexpected and deadly. They require some thinking to work around. There are ghosts in the kitchen, there's a giant teddy bear out for blood, and there's a garden of flowers that won't seem to stop talking about mutilating each other. This isn't grandma's house.
On top of that, once you get towards the end of the game, you'll find an interesting story with a few unexpected twists, and some points that require thought long after the credits have stopped rolling, depending on which ending you get. And there's always the black cat. The cat is the most interesting character in the game. He's a douche, but an douche you love to hate. And he allows you to save your game, so what's not to love about that in a game where death is potentially around every corner?
The Witch's House is a game worth playing simply to see what trap is in store for you next. Can you make it through the traps, save the world, and become headmaster of Hogwarts? Probably not. But that first part seems doable. Do that.
GAME #2: MAD FATHER
You are Aya, daughter of a mad doctor. You know that your father has been conducting apeshit insane experiments in the basement of your house, but your dad's the bomb, so screw his test subjects. One night, you hear your father scream. It's normal to hear other people screaming from your basement in pain and desperation, but when it's your father, YOU MUST DO SOMETHING. Oh, and there are living corpses from your fathers and experiments and stuff all over the house. Now, who let those guys out of the basement?
Mad Father reminds me of the Witch's House in that it's wonderfully made. This one has a bit more of an interesting story to it, helped by periodic flashbacks that give Aya and her family a decent bit of back story and personality. The story itself can leave the player with some room for thought, as there are multiple ways that the endings can be interpreted. On that note, there are 21 gems that can be collected throughout the game by completing tasks and fully exploring Aya's home, which are actually quite fun to collect and are necessary for the game's true ending.
The home itself is pretty fun to explore. You begin the game in the home proper before descending into the depths of the basement, and each room has its own little unique touches. You'll find your fathers experiments roaming the house, and while most want to kill you, some are friendly enough, and lead to some strangely heartwarming scenes. One nice thing is that while you have a health bar, if you exit a room, your health instantaneously is filled up, again, so there's no need for green herbs. There is a bit of backtracking in the game, but there are well-placed shortcuts throughout the house that make the backtracking quick and painless.
Mad Father is not to be missed, as it proves to be a worthwhile horror experience, and the titular character, specifically, makes for an interesting character.
GAME #1: IB
You play as a little girl, Ib, on a trip to the art gallery with your parents. But what's this? Everyone's gone. You must be blind to have not seen them leave. Oh wait, but you can see the paintings and mannequins coming to life. Phew, close call. Wait-what? Some of them are silly, some of them are strange, and some of them are out for blood. There's some other guy there, too, named Garry. And another girl named Mary. Through the power of friendship, anyone can overcome rampant works in an art gallery! Hopefully...
Of any of the games I've listed here, play Ib. Just play it. It's a wonderful experience. Ib doesn't look like much, at face value, but quickly becomes one of the most fantastic horror games available. Each room full of paintings and works of art is unique and filled with life. Some paintings will have you chuckling. Some will have you raising an eyebrow. Some will give you chills. And, of course, each adds its own touch to the gameplay, whether just being something to gawk at in delight, something to run from, or a part of a larger puzzle.
I'm not even going to say any more on it. It's really something that needs to be experienced for yourself. Great characters, great story, great setting. It's the quintessential free horror game. Don't miss it.
HONORABLE MENTION: YUME NIKKI
There is no word more proper to describe this game with than "surreal". You play as a girl. You explore your dreams. Things get very...very...weird, depending on the dream. It's not really a horror game, but at the same time it is. It is a game about nothing, and at the same time, it is a game about everything. Thoughts...emotions...imagination...
Yume Nikki is a game that every person will experience differently. Some will love it, some will hate it. Some think they'll love it and end up hating the exploration aspect of it. I can't really recommend it, because of that, but it's worth mentioning. It's worth a try, I guess.
And there you have it. Free horror games that I would like to recommend to you, the people of Destructoid, as we approach the end of October. Give them a try. It's a day or two's worth of games, here. I've now played them all, and I can say that they have more than earned the respect that they get.
My fellow Destructoidians, I come before you today to present the stockpile of drawings that I have created over the years. I figure you guys must like looking at art. Gather round, take a seat. I have every single drawing that's normally hung on my wall all ready to go, here. It goes as far back as 2009. Phew. This blog also gives me an excuse to change the tape on the back of the drawings that holds them to the wall, so even if you don't care about my drawings, there's always that.
A word on my drawings before I begin. I am not an original artist, exactly. I would never be able to draw these things off the top of my head. No, for fun, I like to replicate other art. But, I make a point to never trace. That's no fun. Why hang something on my wall that I put no effort into? I do this stuff freehand. A few of these drawings have taken me upwards of weeks to draw, so I'd say that's plenty of effort right there. They might not be my original designs, but I drew these instances of the designs, and I'm proud of them.
Also, for the heck of it, I'm going to put in some notes and fun facts about the drawings. I'll give them a nice little title, too, and put them in periods. I'm that bored, right now. Humor me. I also recommend listening to some calming music while you read. It gives this blog a sort of art gallery feel, I think, and it's quite relaxing.
THE EARLY PERIOD (November 2009-June 2011)
This period involves my earliest works, when I was scrambling to see if I could even draw anything half-decent, in the first place. Not a very productive period, but everybody has to start somewhere.
Title: The Insane Mathematician
Origin: The World Ends With You
Notes: Ah, my very first drawing. I made this one off of the sprite art in The World Ends With You. Honestly, seeing as this was my first work of such a kind, I was not sure that I could pull this off. I think it turned out pretty well, in the end. I remember that his eyes were the hardest thing to draw. No idea why. I just couldn't get them right for the longest time.
Title: The Sun Goddess
Notes: I drew this one during a very emotional time in my life. I had learned that I had epilepsy a few months back, and I had quite a few fits during the month I drew this. Emotions were high, to say the least. Honestly, I'm shocked to this day that it turned out so well. As far as I can remember, it didn't take me long to draw, and everything seemed to fit together on my first go. If only every drawing were so easy.
Title: La Espada Que no Tiene un Corazón
Notes: A decent attempt, to say the least. The final product doesn't really look like Ulquiorra. I screwed up his face, and that sword blade is far from straight. I haven't read Bleach in quite some time, but Ulquiorra was always my favorite antagonist. I actually drew this off of a still frame from the anime. Also one of my only attempts to do some shading in my drawings. Shading is a pain in the butt.
THE DECENT PERIOD (June 2011-November 2011)
I started feeling a bit more confident in my work around this time. Ironically, despite my increasing skills, this period contains my simplest works of all. Still, it bridged the way into quite possibly the greatest period of my work, so I have to acknowledge that. These works are decent, but they could have done with some more complexity.
Title: The Necromorph Slayer
Notes: This one is so simple it hurts. It still took me some time to do, but gosh, I should have stepped up to the plate with a more complicated picture of Isaac. This is actually drawn off of a stencil design. Totally weird, huh? It's not every day that you freehand a stencil design. Heck, I haven't seen a stencil in years. I digress. Dead Space 2 had some truly awesome box art. The stencil design came from there.
Title: The Brave Little Toaster
Notes: This is embarrassingly simple. This took like 10 minutes. And yet, I still managed to screw up his eyes. Unbelievable. If you're wondering what that little pixel art up in the corner is doing, I thought that it would spruce up this simple drawing and look cool if I included a shot of Balrog's actual sprite art alongside the drawing. Meh. Doesn't really help.
Title: BOSS TIME!
Notes: This is obviously the best work out of this period. It actually looks like it took some effort. Originally, I was going to draw more of the bosses from the Binding of Isaac in a circle around Isaac, but I felt like it would get too cramped if I did. I was probably wise in backing-off, there. It looks nice as it stands. I especially like the little shading I did on Peep's urine puddle and Isaac's puddle of tears. It's like the perfect transition from light to dark.
THE PRODUCTIVE PERIOD (December 2011-August 2012)
This was a good period. I cranked out quite a few drawings in under a year's time. I have what I consider to be some really fantastic ones compared to the others I've shown thus far, too. So, I'll just get on with it. Lots to see.
Title: The Fullmetal Alchemist
Notes: To this day, this stands as one of my favorite drawings. I drew it while I was watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and my passion for it really shows, I think, especially in how much care I took to make his hand look nice and pretty. Something about his eyes always bugs me, though. I don't know what. They're level, but the right one seems out of place, a bit. I'm nitpicking, though. If you're curious, it's made off of the cover for the series' first DVD/Blu-ray release.
Title: B.O.X's Downfall
Notes: I was on a roll with good effort. Like the Fullmetal Alchemist drawing, this remains one of my favorite drawings I've ever made. I made it off of a work I found on Deviantart, and I was happy that I found it. The B.O.X Security Robot fight is one of the most memorable sequences in Metroid Fusion, and it felt good to capture it on paper in such a dramatic moment.
Title: The Big-Ass Drawing
Notes: Ugh, was this ever a pain to draw. For a time, I was enchanted by Homestuck, and so I drew the trolls. It's always the trolls. I'm not a fan, anymore, but I have to admit that I like this drawing for how much effort it took and how it actually turned out pretty well. For how complex it was, I thought I would have at least screwed up a few of the trolls, but they all turned out okay. Part of the pain of this drawing was how long it took. It took weeks, and then once I finished actually drawing it, it took me even longer to work up the will to color it in. If you're curious, this was also made off of a work I found on Deviantart.
Title: The Coffee-Maniac
Notes: Who doesn't love Godot? Seriously. This one was pretty cut and dry. No major issues in drawing it. Nothing really to talk about with this one, either. I was playing Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations when I drew it. That's pretty much it.
Title: The Mad Scientist
Notes: Yeah, so I was into Soul Eater for a while. Watched the entire show and all that. Dr. Stein is pretty well my favorite character on the show, so of course I just had to draw him. Kind of disappointing how plain his clothing is. That's what I always think about when I look at this. I guess that's a lab coat for you, though.
Title: Death's Embrace
Notes: Hey, lookie there! It's Mr. Destructoid's head! Yeah, I drew this for Destructoid's Darksiders II contest back in August of last year. I didn't win anything, though. Ironically, I won a different contest for a copy of Darksiders II where I basically retweeted something to enter the contest. The lesson here is do the thing that takes the least amount of effort and you'll come away a winner. (I'm joking, of course.)
THE FUTURE PERIOD (March 2013-present)
This period only contains two drawings. One I did back in March and one I just finished like two hours ago. These are the most recent drawings I've done, and I think both are fairly good, although the first has some problems that I'll talk about in a bit.
Title: The Fog of Disaster
Notes: This drawing was a disaster. You can kind of see why just by looking at it. It's not that the drawing itself is bad, but what I did with it kind of screwed things over. It has some VERY thin lines in pencil. I always go over my drawings in pencil twice to darken the lines. That proved to be difficult, here. So, I thought "hey, maybe I can use a fine-tip pen to do the job". Ha. Ha. Ha...*sob* Wrong. The ink smeared everywhere and laid on way thicker than I thought it would. It's a miracle that I managed to clean it up as much as it is, now. That's not the only disaster this drawing faced, though. It got ripped clean in half. By me. In frustration after the pen incident. Yeah, I was pretty upset. I managed to tape it back together pretty well, but it will never look the same. Lesson learned, pens are the bane of my existence. Other than that, this drawing looks pretty good. It's actually a mash up of two designs. The playable characters on the right come from a piece of concept art. Adachi, on the left, comes from some totally different work that I found online. Kind of interesting how their designs compare within this drawing.
Title: The Other Mad Scientist
Notes: If you've been anywhere around the forums lately, you know that I've fallen head over heels for Steins;Gate, an anime series I just recently finished watching. Well, it fired me up into a drawing mood, which I haven't been in since March (if that isn't obvious enough from the date of the Persona 4 drawing). So, I drew the protagonist, Rintarou Okabe. It turned out really well, I think. His hair was a pain to draw. In the picture I drew this off of, you could just BARELY make out the lines in his hair, since his hair was so black. Other than that, this one went really smoothly, which is good.
THE FUTURE OF THE FUTURE PERIOD (the future [duh])
So, what now, you may ask? Well, I'm still in quite a drawing mood, here, so I'm geared up and ready to get going on some more drawings, tomorrow (or I guess that would be today, since it's 4:14 in the morning, right now). My plan currently is as follows: to draw more Steins;Gate characters, so I can have a sort of "series" of drawings going, which I think would be kind of cool. After that, I'm thinking of trying some Samurai Champloo drawings.
So, that covers all of my drawings. I hope you enjoyed, because I sure enjoy drawing them and walking in to see them hanging on my wall. I guess if you want to see some of my future drawings, just say so, and I'll be happy to show them. Other than that, I guess I'm done, here. Time to get out the masking tape and hang these bad boys back up.
I don't watch Pretty Little Liars, but if Google Images is anything to go by, it's about four girls who stand around doing not much of anything.
Spoilers. Love them or hate them, they're all around us. Some of us can't resist the temptation and dive right into the spoilers, laughing maniacally all the while. Others become hermits, refusing to so much as look at the Google homepage for fear of having everything spoiled. Or, maybe you just don't care. Whichever way you go, it's important to be considerate to those who don't want to have things spoiled for them. Use spoiler tags. Don't blurt out a spoiler. These kinds of things.
Oh no, I've just spoiled the Breaking Bad finale. Walter White has hair!
My family gets Entertainment Weekly, so I noticed in the most recent issue that there's an article about the Breaking Bad finale. It gives a spoiler warning at the beginning of the article. Right above the words is a picture that totally spoils the ending of the show. Yeah. I won't say what the picture is, because I'm a tad more considerate, but Entertainment Weekly means business when they say that once that 24 hours is up, they no longer need to be careful with how they use their spoilers.
Agree or disagree, I've been thinking lately about spoilers in video-games. How does this all fit in to video-games? Let's think on that.
I wish Sephiroth could have made that face in the actual game.
Yes, yes, I know. I know that you know that Aeris dies in Final Fantasy VII. That's common knowledge, now. But, at one point or another, that was considered a spoiler, wouldn't you agree?
Here's where video games differ from something as simple as a TV show. A TV show airs for its first time once and only once. There is a 24 hour time slot after the first airing where an event within the episode is considered a spoiler, which is to account for other time zones where the episode will air at different times.
On the other hand, video games are not as cut and dry. Take Kingdom Hearts 2, for example. I beat the game for my first time about 2 or 3 days after its release. I blazed through it. But not everyone blazes through it. Some people might take weeks, or even months to finish it. Heck, people might put it on their backlogs and not get to it for years to come.
And that's without taking into account the differences in release dates between countries! You're getting into some complicated territory, there.
Would you kindly refrain from spoiling the plot twist until it's no longer considered a spoiler?
Regardless of how long it takes people to get around to playing a game, it's clear from the "Aeris dies" example that there is a point where a spoiler ceases to be a spoiler. The question is, "When is that time?" And that's the question I would like to pose to you.
Frankly, I don't know what to think, because every time I type down a spoiler, even if it's from an old game, I think to myself, "should this be in spoiler tags?" It's difficult to say when the statute of limitations on a spoiler runs out, and people are always going to disagree on when that is. But I'm curious as to your opinions are on this.
So, when does a video game spoiler cease to be a spoiler? Or can you even measure that? What do you think?