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12:46 PM on 06.06.2013

11 Reasons Why You Should Be Playing Gunpoint


In no particular order.

First and foremost, the game not only allows, but encourages creativity and experimentation. You can go about problems however which way you like, and after the first few levels, once all the basic mechanics have been introduced, the game feels less like a puzzle game with one or two set solutions, and more like one where the open-ended nature allows you to come up with original solutions to problems.

There are enough things in the level and ways to make those things interact with each other and with the guards that you’ll be coming up with new (and better) ways of dealing with situations. And you’ll feel crazy clever when you’re able to link the multi-colored circuits through one simple button press (or in the case below, just walking). For this example (illustrated below), I got both vault doors (they close after 3 seconds) to open simultaneously for me just by walking towards it:

I, the shadowy figure on the left hand side (on the lower floor), walk in front of the camera, which calls an elevator to the floor above.

Once the elevator arrives, the red signal opens the red vault door simultaneously as the blue noise detector (the elevator caused a noise) opens the blue vault door.

I get in, hack the computer, by which time the doors have closed, but that’s okay, because the camera on the right recalls the elevator, which reopens both the vault doors so I can exit.



Easy-to-learn level editor. I tried it out and you can pick it up in a few minutes.

The soundtrack is fantastic. It quite perfectly reflects the game’s setting, predominantly jazz with, as it's in the near-future, electronic music mixed in, without becoming chiptune-y.

Despite not being the main mechanic of the gameplay anymore (it was early in development), you feel like the biggest badass when you arrive on a floor from inside the elevator, walk out with your gun pointed at a guard, hack the whatever, and walk back into the elevator, with the guard unable to do anything for fear of death.

I’ve seen people complain about the game’s short length. I actually appreciate it more for this. There’s no bullshit in the campaign - each level is important and has interesting idea behind it. Like Braid, there’s no filler material, and unlike BraidGunpoint has multiple ways to solve puzzles. You’ll find yourself coming back to the game for the 3rd, 4th, 5th time playing it in different styles (speed run, psychopathic run, pacifist run, etc.) and still finding new things about how the game works, and using how stuff works to your advantage in new ways.



The controls are spectacularly simple. What could’ve been a fairly complicated endeavour was made incredibly easy and intuitive - scroll up or down to enter crosslink mode where you just drag lines to and from electrical components to wire them.

The autosave system works beautifully. And it’s not just a neat feature, it’s so much more than that. It frees your mind from having to think about quicksaving so that if you die you won’t lose a bunch of progress. The autosave system works such that when you die you can load the game 5, 10, or 15 seconds before you, and there’s no wait time - it’s an instant thing. It’s part of games like Hotline MiamiVVVVVVSuper Meat Boy and Braid - they respect the player’s time with instant respawns and no loading screens every time you die. This is especially important since you’ll be dying a fair amount as you get to grips with the mechanics.



Leaping is done so well, and is so intrinsically enjoyable once you’ve upgraded it to the max. I think it stems from the idea that you know exactly where you’re going to land. It has this feeling of catapulting, holding the left mouse button until you’re ready to release, flying through a window and pouncing on a guy, throwing someone seven stories, or leaping from the high-security building into the subway just as someone is about to shoot you.

The writing is incredible. It manages to be hilarious and light-hearted and easy going, whilst not getting in the way or compromising the gameplay. But man, Tom Francis knows how to write funny words.

There are 8 different ways to beat the boss. Unlike Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s bosses, which forced the players to play one way, contrary to the rest of the game, Gunpoint teaches the players its mechanics and systems and actually allows you to use that knowledge and freedom in the final level and boss.

Get it here.   read


8:59 AM on 06.01.2013

Kentucky Route Zero Act II Thoughts

Kentucky Route Zero, for those of you that don’t know, is an allusive and weirdly magical 5-part episodic adventure game. Act II, in theme with the game’s tone, has been secretly released overnight, with no press release or official launch trailer. To my delight, I found it sitting in the Steam version of Kentucky Route Zero, whilst I was simply installing it and not at all expecting the second act to have arrived.

Let’s get this out of the way -  I have a lot of good things to say about Act II. I’ll be spoiling minor cool moments from the Act to illustrate why I love it, so PLEASE do yourself a favor and spend the hour that it takes to play this magical thing.



If you haven’t heard of Kentucky Route Zero, let me get you caught up. You play as Conway, a truck delivery guy, trying to get to 5 Dogwood Drive, which lies beyond the mystical Route Zero, to deliver a package. KRZ is an adventure game without puzzles and is more laid back and relaxing, focused on telling a great story. You travel the roads of Kentucky at night with a woman named Shannon and your loyal canine buddy, named in Act I. Conveniently, Act II doesn't rely too heavily on Act I, and a newcomer could dive into it with little to no discomfort. 

Act II resumes where Act I left off, not in narrative, as you begin with a short prologue giving an insight into the life of a clerk and a new character, Lula Chamberlain, but rather in style of storytelling - multiple pseudo-perspectives through which the story is told. After this brief foray into this new character, the game's first 'scene' goes back to Conway and Shannon, shortly arriving at the Bureau where Lula works. It's here where the game's slightly magical tone comes to place, with an office floor full of bears and a wall of TVs with interesting thoughts, such as that a well-lit elevator contributes to the lack of motion that a passenger should not feel during a ride.



As the act develops, you’ll choose the words in conversation for Shannon, a little girl named Ezra (who by the way is fucking fun to control due to the simple fact that she’s youthful and can run fast), the aforementioned Lula and perhaps most interestingly, a couple of ghostly museum security guards conversing and describing as they watch Conway, Shannon and your dog (mine named Blue), as you, the player, control Conway around the museum.

Although the story and characters are intriguing in it’s own surreal and beautiful way - a huge eagle that carries a brother and sister, who are more concerned with moving houses than finding their parents, for example - it’s the way that it’s told and presented which astounded me the most. 

The gorgeous and striking visuals (not to mention some great sound design) come together with some really ingenious writing in ways - ways I won't spoil - that must be played to be understood. Despite being, in a way, minimalistic, the small cast of characters come off as genuine and unique with down to earth personalities of their own, due to the eloquent and sometimes poetic writing.



The Second Act not only matches the wonder of the first, but develops on ideas in new and exciting ways. Simply said, Kentucky Route Zero excels in atmosphere and storytelling, inviting you into it's bizarre and beautiful world, and you must go play it now.   read


5:09 PM on 02.15.2013

Videogames are the Artform of the 21st Century



A moment ago I’d been enthralled by this place, fascinated by how different and fresh it was, hanging on every word of these people’s everyday lives. When I realized my next task was to ram a piece of metal into eight different people until they were all dead, part of me thought, sadly, “Oh yeah. Videogames.”
Tom Francis said this of Bioshock Infinite in the cover story of the February issue of PC Gamer UK. It's reassuring then, that when he asked Ken Levine about it, he said that it's "something that they attempt to confront at some point". Join me as I ponder the current state of game mechanics in the mainstream and wonder about the evolution of new types of games in the future.

Tom shared the sentiment that despite Bioshock Infinite being super interesting thematically with ideas of racism and capitalism and whatnot, the game’s gameplay is still killing people using different weapons and vigors in creative ways, which was a similar feeling that people had when Bioshock was released - the game that people pointed to as ‘sophisticated’ and ‘artistic’ had gameplay that was primarily about killing people in inventive ways with all these awesome powers.

In my mind, there are two genres of mainstream games where the main mechanic isn't killing people: puzzle games and adventure games. Although Super Mario Bros., for example, isn’t violent, it’s still a game that has pretty much the same gameplay tones - there are enemies and you defeat them in some way or another. Even if it is a game like Dishonored, where they encourage stealth and even no-kill runs, the gameplay is thematically similar.



Since Anthony Burch famously said “fun isn’t enough”, we’ve had lots of games that are emotive and moving without having similar gameplay themes, such as The Walking Dead, recently. But still, if we compare it to another medium, we don’t really get many romantic games or games that are not action/adventure, ignoring indie games. Although there will always be indie games that move videogames in different ways (for example, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a vulnerability fantasy rather than the common power fantasy), there really aren’t too many mainstream games with differing gameplay themes.

It's tough to think about gameplay that is different to the norm and yet not a puzzle/adventure game (sure, exploration exists, but that's just walking around in a space rather than a gameplay mechanic which intrinsically offers something new). I guess games just aren’t at the point where gameplay can be something different emotionally, at least from the mainstream.

Chris Hecker said in the Minecraft: The Story of Mojang (2 Player Productions) documentary that games are still really young, and that if you ask a developer to make a game about falling in love, they wouldn't know how to do that, because games aren’t at that point yet (also referring to how in the early 20th Century filmmakers learned to edit movies or move the camera when filming, which slowly resulted in all those cinematic techniques and shots, such as 'deep focus' and 'long shots').


The Great Train Robbery (1903), one of the first multiple-scene, multiple-minute films

Although The Walking Dead is violent and does include killing people, that’s part of the story, and the main gameplay, if it can be called that, are choices that you make through interactive dialogue. The effect of feeling close to Clementine is accomplished through the interactive dialogue gameplay, and not through traditional gameplay. So I wonder if those feelings can be evoked through traditional gameplay (not interactive dialogue) - gameplay mechanics which at its core expresses itself onto players in new and different ways. It boggles my mind to try to just think about how really new gameplay mechanics would work because it is, to me, like thinking of a new alphabet - it’s impossible, as it would just be made up of previous sounds that we know of and not a new sound.

One might argue that new ideas just evolve from previous ideas, but every now and then we get truly new ideas - such as making a game from the First-person point of view, or, as previously mentioned, editing a movie rather than just showing it in the order that it was filmed. I feel like Journey is the closest something has come to emotionally moving people through its gameplay - something that is exclusive to videogames - and not its cutscenes or dialogue.

The thought of being 16 years old and living for the majority of the 21st century excites me to no end, after it has been repeatedly declared that videogames are the artform of the 21st century. I can only wait to see how they will further reach their potential and evolve as the decades go by.   read


1:58 PM on 02.12.2013

Response to Warren Spector: An artform requires diversity



Recently, Warren Spector gave a talk at DICE 2013 that was largely about his personal tastes in games and how it has changed as he has gotten older and how he has less time to do the kind of things he did when he was in his 20s. The controversial part of the talk was his suggestion that games like “this” (pointing to a slide which had Lollipop Chainsaw) shouldn't be made.

If he were to just say that games like this don’t interest him then it would be a perfectly valid statement, because we all have tastes. However by saying that games like this shouldn’t be made he’s saying that Suda51 shouldn’t be creative in his own way and “leave his mark on the world”. Lollipop Chainsaw is certainly more creative than the abundance of military shooters we see today and it’s highly-stylized presentation helps the industry in the future, as it inspires people to make new sorts of games rather than making another clone of a successful game in order to do well commercially (or even critically) instead of seeking to be creative. Lollipop Chainsaw is a shameless game that doesn't worry about being taken seriously and illustrates the diversity of games we have today. Telling someone that a game like Lollipop Chainsaw shouldn't exist is narrowing the kind of games we have today - film is a widely respected art form, largely due to its large assortment of genres and cinematic styles, so surely telling someone that a certain type of game shouldn't exist is limiting the choices we have in gaming and harming the industry.

Furthermore, he mentioned in the beginning that he has aged and his tastes have changed, but that doesn't mean the demographic for Lollipop Chainsaw doesn't exist. And I doubt that the demographic for a game like Lollipop Chainsaw isn't just the youth - i’m sure it appeals to a larger demographic than he thinks.

At the end of the keynote, he says that he is no longer ashamed to say that he makes art, and that it is culturally important to leave a legacy of yourself behind - Deus Ex, and definitely not Epic Mickey, in this case - which is just a pure contradiction to his statement that violent games shouldn't be made, and that only thought-provoking and mature games, such as his examples of Heavy Rain and The Walking Dead.   read


4:30 PM on 02.09.2013

The first hour of Antichamber is the best hour

Antichamber is a psychological exploration puzzle game set within an Escher-like world. It’s a world where the rules don’t follow the same physical rules as other games would or our own world would.” -Alexander Bruce

When the example he gives is a “non-euclidian four-dimensional space”, you know you’re in for something really special. And it was, for the first hour, and here's why.
Antichamber is set in a unique and striking world in which you explore for the sake of exploration, which is something that’s really rare. These days, exploration usually means exploring to find a power-up, or to find all the collectibles, but in this case, I actually found myself exploring the world because it was worth exploring in and of itself.

It works better as an exploration game

And I think the game provides the best exploration within the first hour, when you have none of the devices which you pick up later on (once you get these you get into a more traditional puzzle game mindset rather than an exploration mindset) to use in many puzzles involving different colored cubes. To me, the game works better as an exploration game than a puzzle game - it’s harder to freely explore the world when puzzles act as blocks to the exploration.



In the first hour, before “the game proper” starts, Antichamber is just acclimatizing you to the nature of the world, to the strangeness and beauty of both the juxtaposition of color and pallidity and the truly amazing level design. It shows you the world, and lets you observe anything and everything at your own pace (which is something I hope Jonathan Blow’s The Witness does too), and rather than guiding you down a linear path it lets you go your own way. Granted, there are limited paths to take, unlike an open outdoor space, but it still offers a unique location and space everywhere you go - at least for the first hour, the introduction to the world.

After a few hours, the game and more than that, the puzzles itself often get boring, repetitive and tedious. You see, it’s in this first hour where you’re not interrupted by puzzles and you’re just set free to roam and explore to your heart’s desire.



A gallery of sorts

One of the first locations you arrive at is a small room, a gallery of sorts, where there are cubes set in a grid-like pattern. To get to this location, you walk down a corridor, and from a short distance you can only see one side of a cube, with the letters L I F E appearing every time a pendulum ticks by the center. As you walk towards it, the space opens up to you, showing many of these cubes, all containing unique and colorful 3D images, such as electrons flying around a nucleus or sets of rocks orbiting a large central rock and being orbited by mini-rocks of its own.

The amazing thing is that depending on which side you view each cube from, you see a different “sculpture”. And I use the word “sculpture” loosely, because what you see varies from a globe spinning to a game of Pong being played to a cube floating in space surrounded by block arrows pointing at it from all directions. This seemingly simple scene not only illustrates the kind of mentality that Antichamber provides, but also shows the player that this sort of beauty can only be achieved in a videogame. Simple pictures or video can’t capture the ability to walk around in a fantastical space and observe everything as you please.

I wholeheartedly recommend the game to anyone who's even a little interested, because this sort of game needs to be experienced firsthand. I give the first hour of the game an unequivocal 10/10, and think that it's worth it for that amazing hour alone. And if you've played Antichamber, what did you think?

  read


10:04 AM on 12.11.2012

Impressions of Assassin's Creed III

[Minor spoilers, specifically the first paragraph after the third picture.]

I recently finished playing Assassin's Creed III, so I thought I would write about my impressions of the game. Please note that this isn't a review per se, but rather certain things that I wanted to mention in greater detail than others.



Let's start on a positive note, shall we? Although much of the first half of the game is pretty boring, and as you may have heard, feels like your hand is being held (the game has a glorified tutorial as the prologue character, then when you first play as Connor, once Connor is a young adult, and even once he becomes an assassin), the game really becomes brilliant and opens up at Sequence 6 or 7 (of 12). For example, one of the last missions in Sequence 7 requires you to assassinate this Redcoat commander in the middle of a heavily guarded and patrolled camp. Although this mission could easily be accomplished by simply rushing in, killing every guard on site, and shoving your hidden blade through the target, the game offers "optional objectives", which encourage a much more stealthy play style. The optional objectives, which give "full synchronization", were to kill no more than three regular guards and to air assassinate the commander without being detected. It really encouraged me to think more before I killed him, and although it took me considerably longer to complete the mission, it was really rewarding, as each time I died, I learned from my mistake, observing certain patrol routes and knowing exactly when to hide and when to pounce. It was especially rewarding (and ironic), as to air assassinate him you must leap from atop a Union Jack flag.

Furthermore, I can only imagine, as I am not American, the feeling of epic that many of you had in such moments as replacing a UK flag with The Stars and Stripes, seen for the first time in the game, atop the mast of a ship, before Connor does his iconic Leap of Faith. Moments like this replicate the feeling of liberty and freedom.



One of the brilliant parts of the game was the freedom in the frontier - just running around, hunting and exploring, tree-climbing, which is fantastic, and even finding a camp fire, sitting down with “Frontiersmen”, and stumbling upon a little side quest, such as investigating a haunted lighthouse, or as is the case with “The Hunting Society”, tracking and killing a famous Black Bear, rare Bobcat or mystical deer. Hunting is pretty fun in and of itself, but after a while gets boring, as you are just shooting your bow-and-arrow, leaving bait and snares or air assassinating wildlife. At first it feels awesome, and it is pretty rewarding to stalk a deer for a little while before pouncing on it from above, but the main purpose of it is for resources, which grants you money.

This brings me to crafting, which is a system that lets you use resources from hunting and from purchasing from residents of the Homestead to make consumables, such as arrows, poison darts, smoke bombs, bait, snare etc. This is pretty pointless, as you can just go hunting, find any merchant, and sell all the fangs, claws, teeth, skin, hide and hearts so you can buy new weapons. I ended up hunting for around 2 hours halfway through the game, as I was doing a “Hunting Challenge” (which surmounts to killing animals in various ways) set by the aforementioned Hunting Society, and sold all the goods for around £6000, which afforded me new weapons, as well as the lovely Charleston Assassin Uniform (unfortunately it doesn't appear in cutscenes).
Still, the exploration was done very well, as stumbling upon Frontiersmen/Hunting society/Homestead missions were fairly exciting and rewarding.



Again, I'm sure you've heard that Connor's personality can be described as ‘a bit grumpy’ throughout the game, and that his lines are delivered dryly in cutscenes; this is only made worse by the fact that the prologue character is far more charismatic and interesting. It's a real shame that the more charismatic playable character has the worse gameplay, due to it being the beginning of the game, so it's still in 'handcuff mode', and as Connor has the superior and exciting new skillset - tree-climbing, the use of a bow-and-arrow, and hunting. In fact, some of the best parts of the game are when the game has stopped becoming condescending, and the prologue character is reintroduced as an NPC in the main narrative.

Away from the story, and now to a very specific problem I had, which was the weapon wheel. Switching weapons and tools is horribly designed - it takes 2-3 seconds for the wheel to come up, due to a transition screen, rather than just having an instant wheel over the gameplay, as it did in previous entries. This may sound like me nitpicking (nitpicking would be the number of bugs, such as falling through the map), but this issue wastes time, and generally discourages players from using various tools and experimenting with them. Due to this, I didn't discover the 'horse whistle' tool until halfway through the game, although I must say, the horse whistle is an incredibly useful tool to cross the vast Frontier.


The large wheel is from Brotherhood, and the smaller one is the new weapon wheel.

One of the biggest problems with the game is that it doesn't start until around 5 hours after it "starts", but once it does properly start, the game is excellent, and if you're patient, is definitely worth it.   read


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, I’m certain The Witness will be my game of the year.



Well, that’s 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 didn’t 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 it’s short length; I thought the game’s value was so high that the length really wasn’t 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 don’t worry, the game won’t be full of filler material.

One of the reasons The Witness caught my eye is because of it’s 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, I’d 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 you’re 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?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fm9vmyiYjHY

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.

  read


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


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