Wow, I have a twitter now. Hmmm, would you like to follow me? Here, take this link. If you follow me; I will make all your dreams come true:Twitter
Here's my Tumblr; it's where I write all my miscellaneous stuff: Tumblr
Do you like films? Do you like my writing? If so, then have a look at my movie blog:Flixist
I'm a student. I'm currently working on my second degree. My past jobs were working at a gym and Urban Outfitters. I love to play guitar, read, listen to music, and watch films. I'm funny and enjoy the arts. I sometimes can ramble on about literature and films. I'm born and breed in New York. I'm easy going and I love fashion. My favorite system is the DS. I constantly shop at Urban Outfitters and Topshop. I really don't know what else to say. Oh yeah, I'm a cool guy!
I Stand Alone, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood, Fight Club, Antichrist, Enter The Void, Dogtooth
Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Lhasa De Sela, MC5, Neil Young, Velvet Underground, Radiohead, Manu Chao, The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails
The Trial, Notes From Underground, Paris Spleen, Crime And Punishment, Junky, Hunger, Nausea, The Stranger
I started a blog at this very site to let some of my feelings out. In some way Destructoid was therapy for me. I write about everything from my mother, past relationships, financial situations, friends, hipsters, school, etc. This is done not for sympathy, but as a way to expresses myself. My financial situation is a mess and I have no idea how Iím going to make a living, but writing and reading some of the response from great users have bought a wealth of positiveness to my life; It really doesnít have to be anything big, but a simple comment of appreciation is enough to fill my heart with joy. Itís strange writing this, but joining this community has been the best thing I've ever done, well, second best thing; getting laid is pretty cool. What Iím trying to say here is thank you. Thank you for this awesome community. Thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting. Thank you for being awesome.
A big thanks goes to falsenipple for the header!
Venus In Furs - Don't know what it is? Well, my freind, click on the link and listen to the song.
For a game to be successful it must respect the playerís time. As I get older Iím finding it increasingly difficult to invest my time in video games. Iím not a busy man, no, in fact I sometimes have sufficient time to game. What I lack is a certain sense of motivation. Iím still very much interested in video games and gaming culture, but Iím at a point in my life where Iím no longer willing to invest my time to games that take twenty, thirty, sixty, or hundred hours to complete. More recently this generation of indie games has saved my once dying heart, pumping fresh blood into a decaying body that was once at the brink of disinterest in the medium. Games like Journey, Closure, Braid, and many other highly, and not so highly, regarded games opened my eyes to the wonderful world of the ďtwo hourĒ experience.
Iíd like to compare the ďtwo hourĒ experience to the literary world of short stories. My most admired short story is A Country Doctor by Franz Kafka. This four page story filled with long paragraph like sentences can be read in about 8 minutes. While the ďcompletionĒ time is brief, the impact; however, is unlike anything Iíve ever read. The same goes with video games -- the most emotionally filled games Iíve ever experienced have been no longer than five hours. These so called ďtwo hourĒ experiences are the future, and I couldnít be happier.
The filler, fat, and love handles that infested so many games in the past is finally ending, yet most seem to be against the idea of short game. Most of it is due because of pricing. Yes, video games are expensive, but ask yourself this: How many games do you actually replay? Like books and films, the length is only a problem if the material is not up to par. Nothing is more disingenuous than a game that must meet some imagery time goal. If the game is good -- youíll want to play it again -- just like films, books, comics, etc. The notion that a gameís length is determined by its price is something I find ludicrous. For instance, Journey is a game Iíve completed five times in a span of a month, it has taken me about two hours to complete the game. While some will say that the $15 price tag is too much for a two hour experience, what I get from it is far better than what most games offer. Iíve already invested ten hours in this two hour experience. Sniper Elite V2 can be complete in nine hours, very similar to Dead Space 2. The latter having perfect pacing is a testimony to its length. If Dead Space 2 was any longer (not including 100% completing the game) it would have ruined the overall flow making the game less enjoyable.
Iím not completely against long games. I sometimes love to immerse myself in a lengthy experience, but only if that experience is justified. Unfortunately most double digit games are filled with so much fat that it sometimes turns me off to the experience all together, which is why I get my moneyís worth with the ďtwo hourĒ experience -- I don't have to wait for the good stuff.
What is gameplay? Debates about this very word have caused controversy in the last couple of years in the gaming community. More often than not the attacks have been aimed at games that proclaim themselves as being ďartistic.Ē These art games made by indie developers are the pioneers of minimalistic gameplay. Most recently Dear Esther has spark up the conversation about what makes a game a game, and whether the game in question has any gameplay at all. The deep philosophical meaning (if any) of Dear Esther is not what Iím interested in. What I am interested is the definition of gameplay. A word that is universally known to gamers, but to the outside world needs dire annotations to be understood. An elementary definition of the word doesnít do justice to the actual act of the word. What Iím trying to achieve is an understanding of what constitutes a videogame as a videogame.
Yes, Dear Esther is a videogame. Itís a game of the simplest kind, but that doesnít hide the simple fact that it is in all intents and purposes a videogame. Like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Dear Esther relies on a organic or natural non-combat gameplay. But, unlike Shatterd Memories, Dear Esther fails to invite the player into its world -- itís still a game, but fails at the most fundamental goal of immersion through gameplay in which Shattered Memories triumphs. Dear Esther is, for the lack of a better word, an interactive audio book. This interactivity, no matter how sparse constitutes itself as a game. Shattered Memories, on the other hand, is game without the traditional combat gameplay done right, yet the masses still was hesitant to embrace this oddball of a game.
Besides running from demons, the main gameplay of Shattered Memories is walking, controlling the flashlight, and most importantly the phone. For instance, the world of Silent Hill is filled with random numbers graffitied on walls, or on billboards advertising stress relief. Every number in the game can be called and youíll be sure to get some weird response back. This is gameplay -- the reaction you get from performing an action as simple as dialing a number.
Gameplay is all about the gameís mechanic. Itís the core actions the gamer is performing in order to play the game (doesnít matter what genre it is). Everything else is a companion to enhance the core gaming mechanics. Game controls are split into two different aspects: play control and gameplay. Gameplay is the sequences you do in a game. Play control is how the character you play controls. Itís about the feeling you get when you move, use your sword/gun, jump, menu navigation, etc.
Let's take Devil Survivor, for example. Now, Devil Survivor doesn't have play control, it does; however, have gameplay. Devil Survivor is all about making clear, pin-point, linear strategic moves on a graphed battlefield. You use demons, magic, character placement, and leveling your characters to succeed in the game. Devil Survivor doesn't need play control, but a game like Dark Souls does. In Dark Souls if the feedback is not there, then the game fails.
In Dear Esther everything is automated for you, hence the feedback (play control) is virtually nonexistent. For instance, entering a cabin intuitively turns the flashlight on. This subtle, yet key feature is removed from the player and leaves the gamer disconnected from the world. However, In Shattered Memories the player is given full control of the flashlight. This simple play control of feeling like the player is discovering or just wondering around is a key feature in immersion. The immersion is killed when something as simple as turning a flashlight off or on is automated for you.
In Skyrim all I did for the majority of my playthrough was walk around, go into abandoned houses, look at all the details and find the many notes or books scattered around. This in fact was my favorite part of Skyrim, not the fighting or quests -- the exploration and subsequent notes and books I found because of the exploration was key to my enjoyment. This all relates back to Shattered Memories, exploration and finding a letter or anything that is interactive in the world is just as good as actually having a gun in your hand and shooting the head of a zombie right off. Dear Esther is a lost opportunity in which all you do is walk. This could have been something deeper if the developers gave the player the simple interaction of reading some of the books or dozens of scattered notes you see around; instead itís all eye candy and results to nothing interesting.
Growing up I was never religious. While my mother is a devout Christian, she never once forced her beliefs on me. Because of this, I grew to be a bit sympathetic towards religion. I don't believe in god or angels, but I do find the ďinspiredĒ writings to be truly fascinating from a literature perspective. In other words, I find the stories in the bible to be entertaining. In fact, I hold the belief that the book of Revelations would make for a great blockbuster summer flick -- thatís how I see these writings; from purely an entertainment point of view.
The messages vary from verse to verse, book to book. Debates have been fired from both sides in interpretations of what if right and what is wrong -- Iím interested in none of that. What I am interested in is the romance, the action, the betrayal, the sex, the violence, the imagery. This, my lovely reader, is where El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron comes into play.
The game really doesnít tell you much in terms of characters or story. In fact, the game is pretty ambiguous for the sake of being ambiguous. Random dialogues with names and words youíve never heard of are echoed through every characterís mouth. Nonetheless, that was enough to inspire me to get my hands on the apocryphal Book of Enoch and do a little research of my own. The gameís story, like the art style, is a combination of abstract, crazy, silly, and awe-inspiring moments.
Much talk has been given about the art style in El Shaddai (done by Takeyasu Sawaki; the same man who did Ōkami). While the art style is a big focal point of the game (In fact, the game is worth playing on looks alone), much to my disappointment very little has been said about the story, characters, events, meaning, and overall message (if there is one). Iím not claiming to have all the answers (if any), but I am trying to shed some light to some confusing little facts about this polarizing, yet fascinating gem of a game.
Before I start, I must mention that the Book of Enoch is not biblical canon. Very few churches actually consider it Holy Scripture, itís an apocryphal book. Even with that in mind, there are many references to actually scripture, itís hard not to see this included in canon. It also must be said that, without going to deep into the subject, that many books of the bible were chosen by a committee. In fact, the book of Revelations was almost not included in the bible. Thatís something to keep in mind if youíre a believer. Still, Iím looking at this not from a believerís point of view, but from the eyes of a lover of all things (to me) good story telling.
First, letís take a look of at the title: El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. El Shaddai is one of the Judaic names for god. It essentially translates to ďGod AlmightyĒ. "Ascension", from a mystical/spiritual perspective, means when an individual reaches heaven without dying. "Metatron" is essentially an important angel focus on record keeping (It must be noted that the word "metatron" is not mentioned in scripture). This all adds up to our protagonist in the game, Enoch.
Enoch is essentially the perfect human being. So perfect, in fact, that god took him as one of his own and gave him a home in heaven. The game visually gives a nod to the word "metatron" by showing Enoch next to a mountain of books writing, besides that, nothing else is mentioned about what he does or his former life on earth.
The game is essentially a series of random events. You fight bosses many times with no way of winning. Itís there for you to lose. In fact, during the last 40 minutes of the game thereís an optional side-scrolling level. If you miss a platform, the credits start playing backwards with music being sped up to a ridiculous speed. Why is it there? Just to be weird and eccentricÖ Whether there is a meaning or not to everything in the game is irrelevant in the eyes of whoever is playing -- itís about the feeling. The feeling of being in a world youíre not so familiar with, a world that gives you just enough information to draw some sort of abstract conclusion and maybe go out and do some research.
The story is simple; a gang of angels came down to earth and had sex with humans. In the Book of Enoch there are 10 fallen angels in total. The game only focuses on 3, even though 7 are mention in the beginning. The angels sole purpose was to have sex; as a result of this, the Nephilims are born. The Nephilims are giants who turned their backs to the human race and are now causing havoc on earth. Your mission is to bring the angles back to heaven for imprisonment. I do want to add a rather interesting quote by one of the angles in heaven talking to god about the panic happening on earth: You know everything before it happens. You know these things, and what has been done by them, yet you do not tell us what we are supposed to do about it? It is only when this is said that god finally decides to do something about it.
In the game the Nephilims are portrayed as some cuteÖ thing. While they do cause havoc, their physical designs are rather adorable. Even the giant Nephilim boss is cute! This comes to a major point I want to make: comedy. The thing I love most about anime/Japanese developed games is the silly nature of it. While this game is serious for the most part, comedic elements are sprinkled throughout. For instance, you lose a piece of armor every time you get hit, similar to Ghosts ní Goblins. The moment Enoch is naked is the moment one hit will kill him. Enoch, our savoir and holy man, wears designer skinny jeans, and your guide, Lucifer, talks to god on a cellular phone. I welcome the silly additions in that it adds more eccentricity to the already bizarre story.
God tells Enoch to travel to The Tower (this is where the game takes place); this Tower is the home to the fallen angels, each floor represents a different angel and a different art style. The game never looks the same. Each floor is a representation of the angles beliefs and doings in the world. For instance, one floor is literally a Tron inspired world, this floor represents the power of technology humans can achieve, epically with the help of that particular angel. Another is fame, represented by music and a stadium crowd, etc.
Enoch eventually meets a girl named Nanna in the The Tower who was raised by The Freeman; a group who is opposed to the angels doings on earth. She is a blind young girl who helps Enoch on his journey. No information is given on this girl whatsoever. Nanna (Also known as Sin) in Sumerian mythology is the god of the moon. In El Shaddia she helps Enoch on his journey, but also is friends with a Nephilim. Is she good? Is she Bad? Is she helping him out of her own agenda? None of those questions are answered. But as stated in the Book of Enoch, many angels had sex with humans, so she's most likely a Nephilim. Her servitude towards Enoch is impressive, though. At one point in the game, Enoch is frozen (literally and figuratively) and it takes 15 years for him to awaken -- she waits for him the entire time. This 15 year moment is a result of Enoch doubting his mission. This has to be the best part of the entire game.
The music is of interesting note, as well. The Tower has 7 floors, representing a different art style, with a different meaning (love, war, etc). The music is no different. The soundtrack is as diverse as the locales. One second you're listening to techno, the next you're listening a classical orchestrated piece, and so on and so forth. Music plays an important role in that it represents the constant hosh posh of events. The game is silly, and like Asura's Wrath, I champion this silly game for the simple reason that it's silly. I can see how this may upset people, and may even call this game style over substance, but for me, I found it exhilarating.
Everything in this game is essentially a question. Nothing makes much sense, but for me, I actually enjoyed the nonsense delivered. I enjoyed what little "story" and "meaning" there was. I admit, it's not for everyone, and I'm the first to admit that the game is not perfect, but the game does have a certain hold on me that I can't fully explain. What I'm trying to do is expand on some of the things I found interesting. El Shaddai is essentially an archaic platformer - it's very simple, and doesn't offer much variety in gameplay, but even with this fault I still very much enjoyed the game. I still found it fun.
The game is a simple platformer. In fact, itís very similar to the Mario Galaxy games in that every level is an obstacle course. The combat is very simple, not bad as some people will lead you to believe. Itís a brawler; you essentially attack with one button. I donít have much to say about the gameplay. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. It's simple, and for some people the gameplay may be too simple and that can be a deal breaker.
The ending isÖ just there. I have to be honest and say that the game lost steam towards the end and had an unsatisfactory conclusion. But in the end, I really was really touched by this little gem, a game that has gone completely forgotten by the gaming media and gamers alike. I may not have all the answers, but I do think if a game asked me to do some research into it, then it mustíve done something well. Even though I donít fully understand what the whole game is about, or even if the game has any meaning at all is pretty much irrelevant. The experience alone is worth the price of admission. Visuals, music, and a strange story is something I find appealing, even if it's all nonsensical. As long as it has my attention, I'm going to love it.
Sorry about the small font on some of the pictures; I never used an editing program before.
I slide, glide, and glitch into your life.
Why do you love me, if Iím so imperfect?
My identity is typical Ė shield, sword, hammer, spells.
I talk to you, repeating sameness until you leave.
The world I give you is beautiful, how will you serve it?
I will be your Link, and take care of you.
Yes, Iím branded, bruised, and hurt, but Iíve never offended you.
Only time and space will bring us closer.
Come here and Iíll cover you, Iíll pull this blanket over your body.
Darkness? Not quite. There is light; all coming from one direction.
Colors, sounds, movements. Stand still. Let the Link take its place.
Forget the world of the real Ė Iím real. My world, while temporary, is a joy to be in.
Relax, let yourself go, forget about life, love, work, depression, money Ė these things are not needed.
Youíre only allowed here for a limited time, you can stay longer, if you want Ė but itís not suggested.
Come, dress as you like. Talk as you like. Be who you want to be.
Remember, once you leave, your life will go back to normal.
Maybe youíll see things differently. Maybe youíll be happy.
Maybe a little escape is all you needed.
Iím starting to believe Iím the only one who has changed. Itís simple, but an unpleasant feeling. But I must finally realize that I am subject to these sudden transformations. Nothing new has happened. I sit here in Winterhold alone writing to some unnamed reader. This college, for the moment, I will call my home.
My journey to Solitude was a tough one. A young man comes to the city. He has no name, no home, no work Ė he has come to the city to fulfill a contract of death. I wander through the woods, losing my way to the city where my goal can be found. I worried about my disintegrating clothes. They wonít last long. I worried about my next meal. Iím suffering. Iím nearly going mad. I worried about life, deathÖ my family. My familyÖ I canít remember the last time I saw them. My life has no purpose; Iím just an errand boy employed by liars, thieves, and hypocrites. As I write this, Iíve found some peace, but Iím still at odds with the world. My body is tired. I admit, the worse is behind me, but thinking about the journey from there to here is something that hurts my very soul.
All of this happened while I was walking around starving in Skyrim. That strange place no one escapes from until some sort of mark has been left in the body. I was walking to some city Iíve never been to. I was about half way through my destination when I decided to stop by a small town near Riverwood. I needed rest, so I spent the last money I had on a room. Itís small, but warm and safe. The people for the most part were nice.
I was lying awake in my room. I didnít get any sleep. Daylight was starting to sneak in. I could hear the steps of people moving up and down the stairs. I decided to get up and go to the bar. I questioned the bartender about the town. He quickly changed the subject and began telling me about some child performing a ritual in some nearby town. He mentioned something about a Dark Brotherhood. Rumors are all these people care about. I can tell by his excitement that he has told this rumor plenty of times before. I doubt if even he believes it. I, on the other hand, was fascinated by it. Rumors; be true or false are always revealing. I decided to go to the city where the boy was performing this ritual to see if itís true. What do I have to lose? Itís on the way to Solitude.
I started my journey in the forest, not far from some nameless town. Itís nameless because I didnít bother to remember it! The town itself, let me admit, is ugly. It had a strange smell. You really donít need much time to discover what is that makes it different from so many other towns here in Skyrim.
I checked my inventory. I had nothing. I checked my wallet, but Iím completely broke. I checked knowing I had no money, but still I checked for sake of it - it's the only way of keeping my sanity. I decided to walk to the nearest town. Maybe someone will hire me or I can sell some of my stuff. That would be a good way to make some extra cash, I thought.
As I walked around the forest, I grew tired. I needed a horse. My stamina was just not up for running. The sound of heavy breathing was all too common. I opened up my map and see where I can teleport myself. I noticed Iím not next to any mountains, so I decided to walk to my destination, no need for fancy tricks.
I see forest creatures pass me by. A nice smoothing soundtrack follows me; it changes depending on my mood. I take a deep breath and stop. Iím bored Ė I needed something to do! I decided not to go to town and open up my quest log. So many activities all bunched up together. What to do? I read description after description of people wanting my help. What did I do to deserve this? I escaped death. In fact, my life was supposed to end a few days prior. What do these people see in this poor Breton? Iím skinny; my armor is made of broken fur I stole out of a dead body up in the mountains. Nothing I have on me I earned with money, everything about me is false.
I made many acquaintances, but none I can truly call a friend. Even the family I belong to, the Dark Brotherhood, seems suspicious. I have a feeling theyíre talking behind my back. I have a sense things are not going to end well with them. They seem lost and believe Iím the answer to their problems. Ugh, this all too much to handle!
I decided to venture out to Solitude, I have unfinished business with a man there. I decided to fulfill my contract, I needed the money. I needed to fix myself up with new armor, potions, and swords. What I had then would not last for long.
As I walked to Solitude, I saw a cave. Dead bodies were scattered around. Suddenly Iím attacked by some bandits. I barely made it out alive. A few seconds after the ruffle, I start to feel something inside of me. I canít explain it, thereís something new about my hands, a certain way of picking up my sword or shield. Or itís the sword which now has a certain way of having itself picked up, I donít know. Something has happened to me, I canít doubt it anymore. Little by little, I felt a little strange, a little put out. Iím finding it hard to put into words, so I wonít.
I looked at the cave with great intensity. It didn't say a word, but itís inviting me in. I should continue on my journey to Solitude, but I think it could wait. I entered the cave. A change has taken place during these last few weeks. But where? It is an abstract change without objects. Am I the one who has changed? If not, then it is this world, these mountains, and this nature that are changing with me.
Iíve decided to sit in the college in Winterhold and write down my story. Itís quite here, and Iím only an outsider to these people. Nevertheless, I will make this college my home and I will tell me story. Maybe some poor soul will read it, and can relate to the words I write down. I will continue to write down my journey. The caveÖ what marvelous and demonic things Iíve seen thereÖ The event in the cave only lasted a few minutes before I left. I'm thankful for my life. I have no idea how long this journey will last, but let me record it - it entertains me, it's the only thing that keeps me sane. As I write this, things are still uncertain and unclear.