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4:21 PM on 12.06.2012

2012: The Power of Adventure

[Major spoilers for all episodes of the Walking Dead]

People always go on about the storytelling ability of adventure games, that they are loved so much for their capabilities to tell wonderful stories and present deep characters. I never really got that. I completely agree with Craig D. Adams (Superbrothers - Sword & Sworcery) when he said that traditional adventure game mechanics - inventory puzzles, for example - don't hold up, as they are blocks that interrupt the storytelling. What I do think adventure games are great for are describing or setting otherworldly places - I still fondly remember places such as Blood Island from Monkey Island 3, all the Voodoo Lady Swamps (OH MY GOD THAT MUSIC) or even places from recent games, such as the Crossroads from Episode 5 of Tales of Monkey Island. But, onto the topic of this entry - The Walking Dead. How this game pulled my heartstrings. How it toyed with my feelings. I can't remember the last time I was touched this much by something of interactive entertainment, let alone by an adventure game. Yes, The Walking Dead knows how to tell a story.

If I was going to talk about the whole game, this would be far too long, so I'm going to focus on my favourite moment, the ending. Everything came together so very perfectly. It all starts with that conversation in that hotel room. Never in the game had there been such an eerily silent and tense conversation. I sat in my room, the glow of the monitor on my face, slowly tapping A, B, Y. And then it all breaks out. I quickly find myself choking the man who kidnapped Clementine, and although he did something terrible, after hearing his story, I sympathise with him, and as the game has taught me over 5 harrowing episodes, I decide not to kill him and try and spare him. That doesn't turn out well for me, but I hear a gunshot, and find Clementine's hand shaking, as smoke rises from the chamber of the pistol. I immediately thought 'Like Father like Daughter'.

You see, back in Episode 1, when all but one was alive, when Clementine asked me about the man I was convicted for killing, and whether he was alive or dead (a zombie) when I killed him, I replied, "It's complicated" - I never thought she truly understood why I did what I did, and the morality of it, but after seeing her killing the man, I (Lee) had never felt closer with her. It was brutal, and frankly just depressing, to see the innocence of this happy child slowly break down, to a point where she is forced to apply zombie guts on her clothes, bash a walker in the head with a baseball bat (while seeing blood spray on her face), shoot someone she loves, and escape a city full of walkers.

And man, what a character. Throughout the game I found myself caring for her, and making every decision based on her well-being. I have never cared for a character in a video game to such a degree, and Telltale have done a truly astounding job of making me feel as if I'm in the game, and that I am Lee, and creating a child character who isn't simply there for the ride, slowing me down, or just a straight pain in the arse.

During the last scene before the credits, I found myself shaking as the scene played on, thinking about how everyone was dead, and it, in the end, came down to Clem and I, and arguably more importantly, Clementine. Lee sat against the wall, incredibly sick, one-armed, ready to turn, as Clementine picked up the gun. She hesitates, and after that brief and heartfelt conversation, with the camera focused on her face, I, trembling, hear the loud bang, flash, as the room around me lights up for a moment, before the screen cuts to black.

Oh, what an experience. And once the beautiful credits song began I teared up, shaken, exhausted, shocked, and more than anything, touched.

The glimmer of hope afterwards though, that's what gave me closure. Seeing that Clementine had made it, and finding Christa and Omid (I hope), I was able to move on. Still, after it all ended, I walked around my house for around ten minutes, thinking about what had just happened. I was dazed; I lied down and I slowly calmed down, my body physically relaxing from the world I had lived in for the past week, and the characters that I had interacted with and taken care of.   read

1:43 PM on 01.13.2012

What I Want in 2012: The Witness

Indie games don't often get heavy marketing. Word of mouth is usually the largest way for Indie games to garner financial success. A game like The Witness deserves and will most likely get such success. This is primarily because it's being designed by Indie game guru Jonathon Blow. For those of you that don't already know, Mr. Blow designed XBLA (and now Steam and PSN) game Braid (which Destructoid, and specifically, reverendanthony, seem to absolutely love), a time-manipulation based platformer which boasts stunning visuals, a brilliant soundtrack, clever puzzles and an enigmatic yet thematic narrative.

I loved braid. And I'm going to love The Witness. In fact, if GTA V isn't released this year, Iím certain The Witness will be my game of the year.

Well, thatís enough about Blow and Braid. Witness is an exploration-based puzzle game set on a fully-3D beautiful uninhabited island. When Blow created the game, he designed the puzzles first and kept the buildings and/or areas the puzzles were in very primitive, often just as placeholders until a further point in development when he would know what to do with it. From the beginning he didnít just want the island to be a setting for puzzles, but rather a rich island with deep stories waiting to be told. Because of this, Blow has hired two architectural firms, FOURM design (for buildings and such), and David Fletcher Studio (for landscape architecture), to help create an island that feels genuine with a history to each area and building.

And all this architectural work is completely relevant to the main story - the detail to the island will reflect the many times civilizations has been at that island, embodying their various philosophies and beliefs. This way, backstory of the game can be presented non-verbally, imbued into the architecture and landscape of the world. Different styles on the island may represent different inhabitants; Blow essentially hired architects so that the island feels deeper and so that it would be brought alive. He says, "the game is constructed so that the more you pay attention to tiny details during your travels, the more insight you will have to the central story".

The Keep, before and after the architects' work.

The only criticism with Braid was itís short length; I thought the gameís value was so high that the length really wasnít a problem. However, Blow has said that The Witness will be three to four times the size of Braid. He believes in to-the-point puzzles, so donít worry, the game wonít be full of filler material.

One of the reasons The Witness caught my eye is because of itís similarity with Myst, or at least as far as I remember. I was very young, too young, to have remembered what Myst was about at all. I do although have vague memories of Myst, as this was one of the first games that my dad played after the arcade days. I remember watching my older brother, cousin and dad play through the game, and even now, if I look through the garage, Iíd be able to find a notepad full of scribbling; a mix of numbers, diagrams and words - notes for the many hard puzzles that Myst had.

Knowing Braid, I'm sure the game will be incredibly atmospheric with a great soundtrack. The art, as you can see from the screenshots, are brilliant. It's a colourful, deep, rich world that looks great, as far as Indie or retail games go.

So, please keep an eye out for The Witness when it releases this year, and make sure to buy it if youíre into exploration/puzzle games.   read

11:14 AM on 12.09.2011

This is what happens when you piss off a Greybeard

So this is what happens when you piss off a Greybeard (in Skyrim). Also, I made this video and I can't embed it. Sorry. Why did Destructoid remove the ability to embed videos?

Listen to how he says FUS ROH DAH. What he emphasises is strange.   read

1:11 PM on 12.07.2011

Xenophilia: Mother 3

For those of you that don't already know what Mother 3 is, it's a JRPG that was released for the GBA in 2006. It has only ever been released in Japan, but if it is ever released on the 3DS eShop, that'd be the day that I (finally) buy Nintendo's latest handheld console. It wasn't released outside Japan for two main reasons: Earthbound (Mother 2)'s poor sales in the west, and that the game was released a year and a half after the Nintendo DS was released in the US (15 months in Europe), which meant sales would be fairly poor, as all the attention had been shifted to the DS.

For some odd reason, I have all 552 blank Mother 3 maps on my computer

One thing that intrigued me about Mother 3 are the mature themes that are present in the game. The main plot is about an army from a different time coming to the protagonists' innocent, simple, and colourful world and transforming it into a commercialist, mechanised world. The game presents themes of corruption, brainwashing, dysfunction, and destruction, as well as evoking emotions of rage, sorrow, guilt, and love through the brilliant writing of Shigesato Itoi. At one moment, the game will have you chuckling to yourself at its iconic tongue and cheek humour, and at others, will have you crying over the deep meaningful stories. Personally, I was astounded at the games' themes, given that it's a Nintendo game.

One particular scene that had me arrested, less than an hour into the game, was when Flint, a primary character, is consumed by rage, lashes out on innocent townfolk, and put in jail, all in front of his two young children. Their family is torn apart by a devastating loss, and this very-realistic reaction is something that affected me. It was all brilliantly written, and it wasn't just the writing that did it. It was the timing. After the horrifying news is told to Flint, the music (or rather, the sounds of the forest and the fire) cuts, a lightning strikes, and Flint's sorrow turns into rage, as he starts pounding the ground with his fist, lashing out, all in front of his two young boys, with the perfectly fitting "Gentle Rain" now playing in the background. This scene (spoiler) comes together in perfect harmony, delivering a touching start to the wonderful world of the Nowhere Islands.

The game itself is very quirky and surreal, as you'll find yourself fighting enemies such as a Candle, a Carpet Monster, a Balding Eagle, a Baked Yammonster, a Dung Beetle, a Naughty Mushroom, a Really Flying Mouse, and a variety of musical instruments. You get the idea. Although they may be flat on screen, the characters feel real and three-dimensional, with actual motives and feelings. That said, the sprite-work really is brilliant; the game has some of the most pleasing-to-look-at graphics, 2D or 3D, boasting wonderful watercolour-esque 16-bit graphics.

Mother 3 is laid out in several chapters, and these chapters are told from various characters' points of view. The multiple playable characters not only give different gameplay styles, but it gives a spin on events, creating a new found perspective on previous seemingly insignificant events. The multiple perspectives intertwine to create a richer, more dynamic narrative. You may be surprised at how a game with such simple sprite-based graphics can make a great story-telling experience. There's a 3 year leap between two of the chapters, and on the other side, a lot has changed to the world, including a new monetary system in place for the first time (creating a heavily consumerist society, from one where everything was free), a railway, a club (Club Titiboo) in the north, and the happy boxes being put into people's homes as an act to brainwash them. Above all, Lucas, Flint's son, is more grown up, and is now ready to take on the world.

The music plays a big part in the whole Mother 3 package, and I can (almost) guarantee you that anyone who has played the game would agree that the game would not be the same if not for the brilliantly masterful music, composed by Shogo Sakai, who is known for other games such as Virtua Fighter 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. It really is a magical experience, and the various meticulously crafted melodies reflect the various events and things in the strange world of Mother 3.

Since the game has a little more of a modern setting, instead of spells, swords, and bow and arrows, you'll be using thief tools, psychic powers, and baseball bats. And the combat isn't your typical JRPG affair, as there is a rhythm based element involved - there are several different battle themes, for various sets of enemies. If the player is able repeatedly tap A to the beat of the song playing after the initial attack selection, one would be able to rack up higher combos and deal additional damage, which really helps, as this game is considerably hard in some areas. Possibly my favourite boss-battle in the game is against Mr. Passion, a ghost classical composer, in Castle Osohe. The battle is accompanied by wonderful classical music, and this battle was the first time that I was able to keep with the beat and successfully rack up a great combo, which feels exhilarating the first time you pull it off.

You can enjoy the magical experience of Mother 3 (using an emulator) by downloading a ROM (or acquiring it through legal means) and applying the fan translation found here. The fans of this cult classic continue to amaze me; the dedication put forth is astounding. A fan-game, Mother 4, is in the works, and is shaping out to be quite excellent, as it retains the quirky humour that is iconic of the previous entries in this series.


3:47 PM on 11.29.2011

Tales from Skyrim: Entrance to The College of Winterhold

I learned about Winterhold College through a tweet from reverendanthony, saying "Winterhold College is like Hogwarts for adults, yaaaaay". Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. At the time, I spent most of my time in Whiterun, the trading city of Skyrim. Keep in mind, this was fairly early in my game; I hadn't even visited the Greybeards yet, and this being my first Elder Scrolls game, I did not know about the pseudo fast-travel Horse and Carriage system. As a result of this, I manually rode all the way to Winterhold, which, simply put, was a breathtaking serene journey.

So, as soon as I came into Winterhold, which I expected to be a major city, as opposed to a smaller town like Morthal, I found my way to a bridge, where an elvish woman was standing. I engaged in conversation with her, and found out that Winterhold is selection-based. I was told all about the College, it's background, professors and the Five Schools of Magic; I also learned that if I wanted to be a master of the arts, I had to pass a few tests. While I was talking to Faralda, I could hear dragon roars in the background. Since this is a magic school, I thought the dragon was the test I had to face. Naturally, I was pretty scared, this being the second (or first random) dragon that I had seen (or heard) after the initial maingame dragon.

I was pumped, and I was ready for Faralda to give the go ahead to some mage to release the dragon so I could have an epic fight on the bridge to the College. As she continues to talk to me, she is literally set on fire right in front of me (I was experiencing a WTF moment). Surprisingly not dead, she starts to run back to the main part of Winterhold, spell in hand, body still burning. At this point I've realized that this wasn't a glitch, but was in fact, my first random encouter dragon. I quickly scrambled, furiously clicking to get Sparks and Healing in my right and left hand, ready to take it down. Some townspeople had started to don bows and arrows, and inflicted minimal damage. My magic was draining quickly, so I had to take shelter and heal myself from the pursuing dragon. I drank a few magic potions, healed myself, and got back out there. The dragon swooped down, grabbed a man with it's teeth, and threw him out, killing him. It subsequently roared fire, shaking it's head, burning more people. I got my two-handed axe out, ran behind it, where it wouldn't eat me, and started swinging away.

After absorbing it's soul, many walked up to me and said things like "So you're the Dragonborn," or "I can't believe you took it down all by yourself". As I said before, this is my first Elder Scrolls game, and I'm astounded at the amount of work that's put into "side quests", which in my opinion, are so detailed that they can be considered the main story. After the initian Helgen mission, you're free to roam all of Skyrim, and do whatever you want, and call that your main story. Many of my friends haven't touched the main story, doing whatever the hell they want to, which just shows the level of freedom that this game offers. I'm still playing Skyrim, and will be for a long long time, as I'm thoroughly enjoying all that it has to offer. And yes, I am now the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.

My home, in the distance.   read

11:04 AM on 10.20.2011

Chocolate Destructoid Robot!

Sure, it's a generic robot, but the head looks a lot like the head of Mr. Destructoid.   read

12:08 PM on 07.12.2011

Digital Distribution: Steam is awesome!

Digital distribution is awesome, or more specifically, Steam is awesome. In this blog I'm going to talk about some of the advantages and disadvantages of Steam, and also other platforms of digital distribution, such as XBLA or the PS Store.

The Disadvantages

No one can say that at least one form of digital distribution is bad. For example, downloading a game demo is one form of digital distribution (try saying THAT five times fast) that benefits us. People often complain of how terrible a game is, or rather how dissapointed they were with the game. Game demos solve that problem - play a slice of the game, and your level of doubt over whether to purchase the game suddenly diminishes.

Having said that, many people (sometimes myself) would be displeased with a digital copy of a game, as they would rather buy a physical copy, with it's glorious brand new smell, manual, box art and all. For many, this seemingly simple factor can be a deal breaker, especially with all the different kinds of collector's/special editions that are available for all major releases today, as well as the physical game-world maps that are included with games like Age of Conan, GTA IV or Red Dead Redemption. On top of that, many franchise fans are filled with anticipation, and to many, counting down the release of a game on Steam isn't as exciting as waiting in line for the midnight release of the "next" game.

One notable disadvantage of digital distribution (or advantage for the developer) is that after having bought and played through a game, you haven't got the option to sell it back to the digital store, which also means you haven't got the option of buying a pre-owned copy for a cheaper price.

The Advantages

Usually on Steam, I'm reluctant to purchase a new multiplatform game when it's released, because even if the game is probably better on PC, and is £10 cheaper, buying the game from Amazon would be a lot cheaper. However, when there's a Steam sale, be it a Summer, Christmas, or Halloween sale, I fall in love with digital distribution all over again - I mean, the prices at which you can buy these games are mind-blowing. In this recent sale, although I didn't buy as many games as I did during the Christmas sale (Mafia II, Mirror's Edge, Super Meat Boy, GTA IV Complete Edition, Left 4 Dead 2), I'm still brimming with joy at the 66%-80% deals on the games I've purchased - Amnesia: the Dark Descent, Aquaria, Bioshock, Bully: Scholarship Edition and Sims 3: Complete Pack.

Personally, the ability to download a game, old or brand new, just makes life easier. I don't own a single physical copy of a PC game, and that's because downloading something off Steam, is easy, quick and generally a lot less bothersome than going out and buying a game from a store, or even ordering a game off Amazon. One reason downloading old games on Steam is such an obvious choice is because they're so cheap - much cheaper than games on services such as Xbox Live's Games on Demand (which is why I buy all retail games for my 360 through GAME or Amazon.

Another major advantage is that digital distribution is a blessing for indie game developers, giving them the tools to spread the word of their game, to easily have access to a large market, and ultimately the potential to have a hit on popular distribution services like Apple's Appstore, the Android Market, XBLA, Steam and the PSN Store. Online markets are huge today, and indie developers are given the opportunity to get their concepts and ideas out to the world, so that it may be ridiculed, or so that it becomes a worldwide phenomenon.

My Conclusion

So in conclusion, I believe that digital distribution is amazing, and minor disadvantages shouldn't sway you from what is inevitably the future of gaming. You can't not love Steam Sales, and promotional sales give players further motive to download games. The fact of the matter is that retail copies of games are gonna be around for a very long time, so if you want to get the soundtrack, art book, character figure from the Collector's edition of [insert game name here], you still can for a very long time.   read

11:46 AM on 07.07.2011

Freedom: My first experience with true(?) freedom

Having only joined Destructoid in May of this year, Iíve been waiting for a fun monthly musing/blogs wanted topic to write about. This week's topic interested me because to me every game has some extent of freedom - the defining trait of a video game is that you have the (sometime limited) freedom to play how you like under the given set of rules. It doesnít matter that you're always going to save the princess - itís all about how you do it. Even in the most linear of games you have the ability to choose how you play the game (I myself canít think of a single game which is as linear as a film, in which you canít control even the simplest of actions. If there is such a game, please let me know in the comments as I am far too young (15) to have come across a game so ancient that doesn't give the player the simplest level of freedom.))

From my early childhood I remember many great games like Mortal Kombat, Monkey Island, Worms, Sonic, Pokťmon, and Counter Strike, as well as all the memories with it, however one game that I remember perhaps too well was the then free to play (on the Indian servers) Korean MMORPG Ragnarok Online. Although Ragnarok is one of the simplest MMO's (not having a quest system), it was one of the first exposures I had to a truly open world with a high level of diversity in the many different regions and major cities. Some people may see it as a grind (because really, the only way to level up is by killing shitloads of monsters over and over again); and although today looking back I wouldnít be very interested in playing it, years ago, levelling through dungeons and bosses, undergoing tests to "evolve" from a "job" to a secondary higher job (e.g. novice->archer->hunter) and grinding till I heard a ďbing!Ē when I levelled up, I would want to hop back on and play with my friends.

But reminiscing aside, this game was the first ever game I played that I had true freedom. I could be whoever I chose to be. I experienced the bliss of being able to choose how you look, your different base stats and attributes, and the complete and utter freedom to choose in which area you chose to train your character in. Writing this blog reminds me of what Iíve been told of the original Legend of Zelda, which is partially known for the ability to tackle the dungeons in whatever order you like, with no minimal linearity and no overworld map (in the original?).

Today I can say that personally open-world games are the most enjoyable, just because they set you up with a beautiful world (Aquaria, Shadow of the Colossus, Journey) to explore - whether itís a world which is filled with buzzing urban environments or a world which you can admire solely because of how serene it is. Open world games are one of the most popular genres in todayís gaming scene (shooters are still definitely the most popular), with great games like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Saints Row, Rockstar Games' games (Red Dead, GTA), Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Infamous, as well as smaller but still equally awesome games like Minecraft and Terraria.

Personally, I hope that developers (and publishers) start to look more towards games with higher levels of freedom (because as gamers we milk all the freedom given by developers) in brand new (fictional) locations and periods in time, rather than creating another Call of Duty or Halo. Donít get me wrong, I love games with great cinematics and amazing set-pieces like Uncharted 2, but Iím honestly looking forward to Arkham City and Skyrim far more than Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3.   read

3:25 PM on 05.17.2011

I hate spoilers (+impressions of Portal series)[SPOILERS!]

Note: Major spoilers for Bioshock and Mother 3

I felt like getting my thoughts out, so I decided to write a quick c-blog. Some of my arguments might be contradicting what I said prior - the only excuse I can find for that is that I wasn't thinking methodically and in an organised-fashion when i wrote this. I was originally gonna call it a rant, but it's not very rant-y at all, but anyways... Before I continue, I realized that some of the things I say have little to nothing to do with other things that I say, but here it is:

I hate it when games are spoiled for you. This is one of the things that have put me off a few games that are critically acclaimed which I spoil for myself. Although I can be as angry as I want at others, it's my fault for looking up some information about the game that I'm playing. For me, although gameplay is pretty important, I've always looked at single-player games as a way of telling a good story (although there are shitloads of games I love for gameplay: super meat boy, zeldas, counter strike, metroidvanias, old pokemon and many many more). Now there are games where I'm playing the game more for the story than for the gameplay, or rather, the only thing that's really compelling me to keep on playing is the story (such as Assassins Creed 1). This is a case where the gameplay could either be downright mediocre, or perhaps the gameplay is good, but that's not the reason I'm playing the game.

For example with Bioshock, I liked the gameplay, but not enough to say "I would happily play Bioshock even if the story was terrible and the gameplay was the same." With Bioshock, I had it on my PC, and when my computer crashed I was forced to stop playing Bioshock for around 2-4 weeks. During this period, I played other games, but I was still interested in Bioshock. I wanted to keep myself updated to where I had got up to in regards of the story and the characters, and I was interested in finding Irishman Atlas' last name. By doing this I had discovered his true identity, and I was shocked and I hated myself for looking this up. After reading this, and after getting my computer fixed, I didn't feel like playing Bioshock. It didn't have that same atmosphere. I was like a child being told that Santa isn't real.

Around a year later though, I picked up Bioshock again, and I liked it quite a lot. After making a fuss about the story and gameplay, the thing that I really liked is the atmosphere in Rapture. It's so dreary yet it's so full of life. Much like in Arkham Asylum, the underwater dystopia is filled with audio tapes about the history of Rapture and all the people which helped make it what it is. Furthermore the music and graphics were fantastic and just looking at things like the flow of water down corridors looks beautiful. I'm a music person in games - I always admire great music and for me that's a majority of what makes how great a particular world or level is. For me the music of a game (and for that matter a film as well) brings a place alive, especially in dark sad places like Rapture.

Another thing that was on my mind is Portal 2 - I'm finding it easier than Portal 1. I'm still playing Portal 2 (I know, it's been a little more than three weeks). The truth is I had just upgraded my graphics card so I missed my chance to play Portal 2 up until 2 weeks after launch. I was compelled to buy the game on my Xbox 360 but decided against it. I waited for my computer to be revamped so I could quickly download it from Steam and get started. I was anxiously anticipating Portal 2 and it was made worse by my personal delay.

Once I got my hands on it, I quickly leaped at any spare time I had to play the game, and the first 5 or 6 chapters or so were quite easy (maybe thats because I had already played Portal 1 and was quite used to the mechanics), but after that point it has started to get harder. One thing I've noticed is that unlike Braid and Portal, quite a few of the puzzles are very "Where's Waldo?" in the sense that it's all about looking around the level once you enter it, finding where all the interactions are, and then using them together. For example finding an Aperture weighted cube on a hanging platform, working out how to get up there, and then finding the red switch to put it on. Often its just using the gels with the walls that you identify first as useful, and then shooting out of a diagonal wall with speed by using the propulsion gel to run super fast into the wall. Saying these things might make you think that I'm disappointed with the game, but so far, far from it. Sure, there have been one or two puzzles that I have been quite disappointed with, but for the most part the puzzles are pretty good.

Although I like all the new game mechanics (Propulsion Gel, Repulsion Gel, White Gel, Hard Light Bridge, Thermal Discouragement Beam, Aerial Faith Plate etc.) and how they make you think differently, I think these new mechanics hide how fairly simple and relatively straight-foward the puzzles are (i.e. just combining all these different mechanics to solve the puzzle) in comparison to the first game. In the first game the puzzles had to be harder as there were only a few things you had to think about when solving a puzzle: your Portal gun, the red timer buttons, momentum and the ever-lovable Companion cube. Again it may sound like I'm bashing Portal, but I really loved the puzzles, and what I'm trying to say is that with less gameplay mechanics, the puzzles had to be harder, and they benefited from being harder and more thinking-oriented.

Going back to my original thoughts, Mother 3 is another game that has been spoiled for me (well, partially). I had gone on a holiday so I was interrupted from playing Mother 3, and soon after I had come back I'd lost my game save data. Now, I don't mind starting the game over but I'd rather not be interrupted again by the release of L.A. Noire. Again, there's nothing much else to talk about, as Mother 3 was spoiled to me in a similar manner as Bioshock: the internet told me things that I didn't want to hear. But this time the internet wasn't as blunt about it.

For this spoiler, I don't think I even got it from the internet, rather I got it from not playing the game too much and thinking about what had happened to Claus, and why I'm yet to play as him in the game. My guess: he was found by the Pigmask Army and was mechanised (or brainwashed) like the Drago in the first act. My idea has also been backed up by seeing "brotherly love" somewhere and the cover of Mother 3+ being of Lucas and Claus lying next to each other. This gives me the idea that they love each other but perhaps they have different ideas and approaches to life, giving me the idea that Claus is the final boss and there is a great big emotional plot point. Also when playing as Lucas 3 years later in the new world, travelling across the rail road to find Duster, a Magypsy teaches you how to use the PSI ability "Love", also saying that only 2 people in the world can use "Love". Hmmm, I wonder who that second person is.

I hate myself soooo much for ruining a perfectly good "cult following" game that has been raved about so much on the internet and on this very blog. Although I've pretty much ruined a very big chunk of the game for myself, I still love the music, the characters, the way the chapters are set out (multiple perspectives of same events = dynamism), the simple yet gorgeous graphics, the awesome combat system and the interesting themes looked at such as a simple village becoming a commercial city with its surrounding establishments (Club Titiboo), ideas of technologically advanced peoples brainwashing and changing simple farmer lives, and finally the dramatic scene where Flint (a protaganist) realistically, violently freaks out over the death of his wife - something I thought I would never see in a Nintendo game. Although this specific scene is a beautiful sad moment and I experienced it with its full effect, I feel terrible that I'm going to miss other scenes in later parts of the game all because of spoilers.


I hate spoilers. My word of advice: never look up anything remotely related to a game that you are playing or even have the slightest chance of playing. Because once you spoil a beautiful story-based game, you can't unlearn it. I wish The Haitian was real. So bad.


3:35 PM on 05.02.2011

my first blog: Braid Review

I recently had the chance to play Jonathon Blowís award-winning indie game Braid and I was blown away by it. Although Destructoid already posted an extensive review of Braid by Reverend Anthony, Chad Concelmo and the notorious Jim Sterling back in Ď08, after having recently played it, I decided to have a go at this ďwriting a blogĒ thing, in the form of a review.

Braid (XBLA/PS3/PC/Mac)
Publisher: XBLA/ Number None, Inc.
Developer: Number None, Inc. (XBLA, PC)/Hothead Games (Mac, PS3)
Released: August 6, 2008 (XBLA), April 10, 2009 (PC), December 12, 2009 (PS3)
Price: 800 Microsoft Points, $10 (PS3, PC, Mac)

Braid is an Xbox Live Arcade Indie puzzle-platformer that has you solving physical puzzles by using the gameís time-based gameplay mechanics that the player-character, Tim, possesses. Throughout the game you have the ability to rewind time but in each world an additional time manipulation mechanic is added, such as the introduction of green-glowing objects that arenít affected by the manipulation of time or the ability to have a shadow of yourself do the actions of what you just did before you reversed time, or being in possession of a ring that slows down time around it (time moves faster the further away from it). The game puts you in a central hub (a house) which gives access to the six primary worlds, represented by rooms in the house. In each world there are 12 hard-to-reach jigsaw puzzle pieces that you must collect in order to access the final world. The pieces usually involve a hard puzzle that you must solve to acquire the piece, and when you finally do get that piece thatís been tempting you to use a walkthrough but you didnít, itís a triumphant moment that you cherish. After getting all twelve pieces, you can now fit these pieces together on a virtual board to create a nice picture.

The puzzles have been devised exceedingly well, and thatís all in thanks of Jonathon Blowís excellent level design - this small-team indie game has much better levels than a lot of ďmainstreamĒ games- each level in Braid has you thinking in completely different ways as the game puts you in different situations; youíll never feel any repetition at all in the gameplay.

The learning kerb is small as the three basic (and only) buttons you need are movement by analog stick, the Ďactioní button (such as for pushing levers), and the ability to rewind time.

The narrative is done like that of Portal or Left 4 Dead Ė not shoved down your throat. In fact, there are no cut scenes and you can play through the entire game without being told anything about the story (apart from the end of each world where a fluffy brown dinosaur tells you, ďIím sorry. The princess in another castle.Ē)

The plot can be easily summarised that Tim is a man searching for a princess who "has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster." His relationship with this princess is vague at best, and the only clear part of this relationship is that Tim has made some sort of mistake which he hopes to rewind and correct, because ďif you erase your mistakes, you donít need to make themĒ. If you choose to immerse yourself in this twist on the traditional Mario plotline, you will most likely find yourself interested, as the plot itself is given in a non-linear fashion like that of Max Payne 2. There is storyline text to read at the entrance to the levels of each world, presented in green books on pedestals. These chunks of narrative evoke themes of forgiveness, desire, frustration and a hint of violence.

The presentation of the game is beautiful, and anyone who has played the game would agree that the game wouldnít be the same if it wasnít for the gorgeous watercolour artwork by David Hellman and the beautiful Celtic Cello strings heard in the euphonious soundtrack by Jami Sieber (even hearing the soundtrack in reverse as you rewind time is a pleasure to your ears).

Braid has received critical acclaim from every reviewer on earth, and for good reason. Even if you hate puzzle games, you owe it to yourself to own this game whether itís for the music, the graphics, or that this game is recognised as one of the first art games. All in all, Jonathon Blow has given gamers a blessing, and in my opinion, heís given us one of the best (if not the best) indie games out there.   read

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