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12:36 AM on 05.27.2011

My Review of Terraria

That's a really interesting new game mechanic they've invented where you spend the majority of your time getting gang-raped to death by monsters.   read

2:53 PM on 07.23.2010

REVIEW: The Silver Lining Episode 1: What Is Decreed Must Be

You fine folks may have heard about a video game called The Silver Lining. The Silver Lining is a fan-made sequel to King's Quest as a sort of tribute to a series that is no longer being made, and as a means to finally conclude the series. It was halted several times, first by Vivendi Studios, then by Activision. By the end of all of it, The Silver Lining was allowed to be completed, and even still be a King's Quest game, so long as King's Quest was no longer in the title. Sweet times!

This all brings us here, with my review of the first episode of the finally completed game. Episode 1, What is Decreed Must Be, is to serve as a sort of re-introduction into the King's Quest universe, which is good because I've never played a King's Quest game in the first place. I hear they're hard. Are they hard?

So, anyway, what with The Silver Lining being a free game and all, I figure I might as well try it out, and with Destructoid maybe-probably-not reviewing the game, I figured I'll do it for them. So, let's dive in, shall we?

Also, quick thing I should mention: I'm terrible at point-and-click adventure games. Absolutely god-awful. So... this should be fun?

Alright, so we're treated to a 6 six and a half minute intro movie where we see a wedding that starts out happy but very quickly goes horribly, horribly wrong. Sounds like a normal marriage, but this one went sour because one of the guests, the king's son (I think?) became posessed and fell unconscious and some large person in a black cloak suddenly appeared and shot the bride right in the face with a spell. Boom, headshot. Neither of them are dead, they're just under some sort of terrible spell. So, King Graham (you) must go on an adventure to save them. As King, he must quest. Like he's on some sort of... I can't think of it right now but it'll come to me.

As we find out in the opening cutscene, the voice-acting is... well, it's lacking. Particularly in emotion (the slightly muffled sound quality is no help, either). The characters (save the narrator, who we'll get to later) all sound emotionless and bland. Maybe it's this High Fantasy stuff, but I can't shake the feeling of sterility out of the first cutscene. Everything is so picturesque and the characters strong and brave and without flaws (except, you know, being possessed or shot in the face by a spell). The story feels like a fan-fiction and I haven't even started the game yet. Come on, story writers, can we get characterizations for people other than "good" or "bad" or "neutral"?

The game's graphics are certainly not the most amazing, but they are stylized enough that they aren't super-advanced and still look pretty. Everything is bright and colorful and is pleasing to the eye. Overall, as far as fan-made stuff goes, the game's decent looking, although at this day and age I've seen a lot better, even as far as fan-made stuff goes. However, the game is lacking in the animation department at times. It's not too egregious, but people can look somewhat stiff at times. I'd say the worst part is Graham's walking animation, something which you'll be seeing the entire game. He walks like a robot.

I drew that bear while listening to the game's many and long narrations.

Playing the game is simple enough. You point-and-click, and choose the various actions Graham can perform. You can move, talk to, grab, or look at. Walking around can be difficult because a lot of the time the camera works against you on occasion. Sure, the camera angle gives you a nice view of everything, but sometimes that nice view is away from where you want to go, so you're left to keep clicking the same small space in front of Graham's feet as he moves forward. I know it's a point-and-click game, but either give the player a camera angle that doesn't work against them, or allow for WASD key movements.

Something strange about this game is that there is a unique response to everything. Everything. There's a unique response for the carpet, the marble columns, the walls, the guards, the torches, you name it. However, when I say "response", I don't mean an animation of Graham trying to yank the marble columns out or giving the freakish dog-person guards a pat on the head. I mean the narrator says stuff. A lot of stuff. The many narrations in the game are always incredibly long-winded. In fact, about 1/3 of the game I spent listening to the narrator say things. You would choose to look at the column, and the narrator will say "the column is pretty" (except longer), then describe what characteristics make the column pretty, then give a history of the column, and then tell you Graham's thoughts on the column. It's all incredibly long and this happens for each and every object in the game. I'm sure these narrations are a treat to old King's Quest players and they're probably filled with tons of references and homages to the series, but the length is just unnecessary.

The creators tried to inject a bunch of humor into the narration, too. There's fourth-wall breaking abound and strange references and all kinds of weird things being said about everything, but not a lot of it is funny. Perhaps the jokes would be funnier if the narration was shorter (Shakespeare once said "Brevity is wit", the quote shortened for effect ), perhaps it would be funnier if they didn't break the fourth wall so much, as breaking the fourth wall is only not-nauseating when it's done sparingly. Either way, something in the humor is off. Don't people know how to write good humor these days?


All the previous stuff I can look past if the game is still fun, and in the beginning it showed promise of doing that, and until the end of Episode 1, the game threatens to be fun. However, Episode 1 is so short that I don't know if it's fun yet. The game has 7 areas to do stuff in (some of which you just walk though or are free to skip or not notice altogether), and all there really is to do is collect two things from the same room and then give them to some guy with two people to talk to along the way. That's it. That's all that happens. The rest of the game is narration or exploring the tiny areas you're in.(with no reward but more narration). There is barely anything in Episode 1. If you took out the gameplay and just had the cutscenes, you wouldn't realize it was gone.

The bottom line of the game is that it would be so much better if it weren't so entrenched in it's "Made by harcore King's Quest fans" persona. It's understandable that they love the series and want it to have a fitting end, but they got too stuck on that persona that they ended up making a game of nothing but references for people who have played the series before to go "Anh! Anh! Get it?!" It's like The Familly Guy, but with more pandering.

Yet, at the same time, it's also got more heart and soul. I really wanted to love The Silver Lining simply because it was an endeavor of love from some truly passionate people, and the references were being made because the creators wanted veterans of the series to be assured that King's Quest is in good hands. But they were so focused on showing their love for the series that they forgot to put an actual game there. In the end, What Is Decreed Must Be feels like a vaguely interactive fan-fiction.

It's possible, and I'm really, really hoping that, in Episode 2, the game really takes off. As I said at the beginning, it's been said that Episode 1 is meant to re-introduce you to the series. Maybe now that they're done re-introducing us they'll get to the actual meat of the game. I hold out some hope yet for when Episode 2 comes out.

After all, it would be a shame if those 9 years of work were for nothing.   read

7:20 PM on 03.11.2010

Something About Sex: If You Build It, They Will Make A Nude Mod

Oh hey this one got featured on the frontpage too!
Here's the link.   read

12:02 AM on 01.04.2010

Dragons With Pom Poms, my sorta webcomic, is starting up again

I'm really mostly posting this here because it features Mega Man in it. I guess.
That whole "comic" thing.   read

2:31 AM on 12.28.2009

Love/Hate: Sequels


Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're bad.

What's the deal?


2:10 PM on 10.01.2009

Nothing Is Sacred: Quick Time Events

Destructoid promoted this article (hoorays!)
You can see it here!   read

2:43 AM on 09.06.2009

Fantasy Games: "Contact Lost"

I figure because I am such a creative (not really) guy, I'll occasionally talk about a game I'd love to see made sometime. Chances are these games will never be made because dreams don't come, unicorns do not exist, and people won't ever read these posts.

I'm sure at some point in their lives, every avid video game fan has thought up a game that doesn't exist, probably won't ever exist, and is too impossible to pull off to exist. Sometimes, if they're inventive enough, they'll make that game with varying amounts success. Others are just left to wish for that game, knowing it'll never happen.

Well, I'm not inventive or smart enough to make my dream games, but I figure I could write them down for some reason.

Contact Lost (very working title).

Imagine this: You're some scientist who works on Mars in some science-y station doing things of science when, one day, something cataclysmic happens and, like Gordon Freeman (who is also a scientist), you have to escape from the facility alive.

However, unlike Gordon Freeman, you don't fight aliens or horrific creatures from another dimension on your way out. You just have to get out, no enemies to break up the pacing, no weapons to kill said enemies with, and only the occasional other survivor to sort of help you out (but for one reason or another, they eventually leave you and you have to go on your own again). Problem-solving, logical thinking, and generally avoiding the wrong route is the main goal you have as you escape from this collapsing facility. Armed with only your Mars Survival Suit (also a working title), a flashlight, and your wits, this game is all about tension as you try and escape the compound.

But that's only a small portion in the beginning of the game. You see, the real game starts, oh, say... five hours after the beginning when you finally escape the compound. Mars isn't colonized yet, so getting out of the compound was only step one to staying alive. You find out where the nearest compound is to your position and, braving the barren wastes of Mars, make your way to it.

Mars is pretty red.

This is the main portion of the game, where you experience how truly alone you are on the planet. You walk across long stretches of desert as you head for the compound, always keeping a check on how much food and oxygen your suit has left, and the temperature. Your suit can only stand a certain range of temperatures, which is fine and dandy because when it's daytime the temperature is fine. Night, however, is another story. In the preset area where the daylight has finally run out, the player is engaged in a desperate struggle, hurrying to find a place warm enough that your suit isn't destroyed by the biting cold. How you get to a warm spot is something I have not figured out yet, however. Maybe an area of methane gas spewing out of the ground? I dunno.

As you trek across the barren Mars surface, the player finds oxygen tanks (I'll have to figure out why scattering them about Mars makes sense), makes his way through caves, climbs down craters on Mars' surface, and any other geographical landmass that the developers happened to feel like putting there (the Mars surface is open to some reimagining for gameplay).

No enemies, no outside help, no weapons, and one singular goal. Just survive getting out of the compound and survive Mars as you make your way to the other outpost many miles away. This is the one of many games I'd love to see.   read

1:16 AM on 09.03.2009

Was Deja Vu One of the Fertile Grounds?

When I heard about the new Prince of Persia game mid 2008 and, later on, saw how pretty it looked, I was so giddy I had to get a change of pants. The new pants weren't quite as comfortable as the pair I had been wearing several minutes before, but that was alright because there was going to be a new Prince of Persia game and that was awesome.

I didn't actually play the game until July this year, more than seven months after it had come out and four months after they released the actual ending of the game that you had to pay extra cash for (which, might I add, is complete bullshit). It's not that I lost interest in the game, the whole time it was out I would mutter to myself on occasion "You know, I should play that new Prince of Persia game, whatever it's called." No, I was just strapped for cash, and I still am, so buying games is not a luxury I get to enjoy too often and renting is out of the question because I like to explore every facet of a game when I play one, and five days was in no way ample time for such a manner of playing.

When I did finally get my hands on a copy of the game, I was prepared to devote an entire afternoon to basking in the glory of the new Prince of Persia title. Eventually real life got the better of me and I ended up only playing for about two hours that day, but over the span of several weeks I would finally work my way toward beating the game and getting to the ending that would appear if you payed an extra fifteen dollars. When I finally did reach the end credits of the game, I was left with a bad taste in my mouth, and not because of the non-ending. There was something about the game that was just so... familiar...

To illustrate a point, allow me to explain the unnamed character who isn't royalty but is nonetheless named "The Prince" in the latest installment of Prince of Persia.

"The Prince" is a daring adventurer who has had various escapades and has explored the world far and wide seeking treasure from forgotten tombs, and has gained knowledge of the world and how it works from his past journeys. He is an aloof, fun-loving character who is thrown into a bad situation involving an ancient, abandoned city. The wise-cracks and one-liners come aplenty, but he has the ability to show his serious side, and he doesn't really go too in-depth about his past. He seems selfish at first, but reveals himself to have a good heart and a conscience. He is voiced by Nolan North.

Now, allow me to describe the character of Nathan Drake, main character of 2007 Playstation 3 exclusive title Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, a game that is so far one of my favorite games of this generation.

Nathan Drake is a daring adventurer who has had various escapades and has explored the world far and wide seeking treasure from forgotten tombs, and has gained knowledge of the world and how it works from his past journeys. He is an aloof, fun-loving character who is thrown into a bad situation involving an ancient, abandoned city. The wise-cracks and one-liners come aplenty, but he has the ability to show his serious side, and he doesn't really go too in-depth about his past. He seems selfish at first, but reveals himself to have a good heart and a conscience. He is voiced by Nolan North.

Throughout the entire time I played Prince of Persia I got the unmistakable feeling that I had played a platforming game with neat acrobatic gameplay, combat, and the occasional puzzle that needed solving with this same exact character before. Now, please note I'm not calling the games similar. If you boil them down to the basics they are very similar (and you have now ruined a perfectly good disc by putting it in boiling water for I don't know what reason), but you're definitely playing two very different games. No, my concern is with the wise-cracking and at times goddamned annoying main characters of the game. They are the same. They act the same, they sound the same, their professions are the same, and their good looks and impossible hair are the same. It's all the same. I don't know if this would have been less noticeable if Nolan North had not voice-acted for both characters, but all I know is that it did not help. Granted, Nathan Drake was a much less annoying character, but that changes nothing, they are clones of each other down to the very last offhanded and comedic comment nonchalantly brushing off their latest near-death experience.

I know I'm not the only person to see this. When I discussed the game with my good friend it didn't take very long at all for us to get to this subject. Now, I'd bet that these similarities are accidental and were never even noticed by Ubisoft when they were making the game, but it was something I could not, for the life of me (or The Prince, who I had jump off of just about every edge in the game) ignore the similarities between the characters. It was so prevalent in my mind that I kind of expected Nathan and Elaine to be one of the unlockable skins in the game that I never bothered to figure out how to get. Are they one of the unlockable skins?

Now this offers a whole new question, as well Are our video game characters becoming too samey and are they all just starting to become homogeneous? The answer is: Of course, don't be stupid. Grizzled space marines and the scared protagonist who eventually comes to his own and the girls who seem cold and distant from the main character but eventually open their heart to them and they fall in love and make kissy faces at each other. Sentence fragment. It's not a sign of the apocalpyse for good stories or anything, it's just that you're always going to have, in any media, characters who are the same as other characters, just like how Bruce Willis is always going to be the hilarious toughguy in the movies or Michael Cera will forever be typecast as that awkward kid (I wonder what'll happen the day he decides to sport a beard. You know it's coming). Despite all this, you're going to have your unique characters as long as there are good developers out there who hire good writers to make good characters for good stories.

As a whole I won't comment on what I thought of the latest Prince of Persia game (I thought the game to be too easy, slightly boring, and I didn't find either the story or the characters to be engaging. Also, you had to pay fifteen dollars for the ending. Seriously, what the hell?), I simply had to wonder if anyone else noticed this strange phenomenon scientists call "These Two Characters Are Exactly The Same" Syndrome.

I think that's Latin or something.   read

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