Get Even – Because odd numbers just won’t do.

If Inception were a horror movie, it would probably be like this.

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Did you know that one of my all time favourite games is Deadly Premonition?  An utterly insane story of murder and supernatural obsession wrapped up in a buggy, ugly, sloppily made game.  But in spite of all that I loved it.  The story was brilliant, the characters were simultaneously tragic and hilarious, and the world had so much to find.  It was as though Swery65 watched Twin Peaks, then played GTA and decided to glue them together without understanding how GTA‘s gameplay worked.  But still it was a wonderful experience and one that I remember to this day.  It’s also, to my mind, evidence that sometimes a well crafted story, told in an interesting way by well written characters can overcome a game’s mechanical shortcomings.  And here we have Get Even.

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I looks pretty enough to start with, but it doesn’t stay that way.

Get Even feels as though someone watched Inception, then played Call of Duty and decided to glue them together without understanding how Call of Duty‘s gameplay worked.  And whilst I don’t think it’s something that will stay with me as long as Deadly Premonition has, it’s another game in which its story manages to overcome those mechanical failings.  It plays part FPS, part Walking Simulator with influences in Condemned and tells the story of Cole Black (good choice of name their, guys) as he awakens in a seemingly abandoned mental asylum.

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This is what ends up being attached to your face. It looks like something Jigsaw would play around with.

I’m going to keep it light on story elements, but the game opens with Cole attempting to rescue a kidnapped girl with a bomb strapped to her.  We are introduced to Cole’s use of his phone for a map, UV light and evidence scanner (hence the Condemned comparison) as well as use of a gun and stealth takedowns.  Cole finds the girl, and then wakes up in the aforementioned asylum, with the Pandora device strapped to his head that allows him to access and re-experience memories through photographs.  He is guided by a man calling himself Red via video screens to proceed through the asylum gathering evidence of the events surrounding the kidnapping to get to the bottom of just what happened.

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Just one of the inmates you come across. Seems friendly enough, did I make a good decision earlier on that lead to this?

There are other characters in the asylum, all with their own Pandora device.  Some are hostile, some less so, and how you interact with them will lead to different events later in the game.  Do you release this inmate or leave him in his cell?  Maybe he’ll return to attack you later or perhaps he will kill other inmates.  You will be reminded often that your actions (not always choices) have consequences, and your behaviour both in and out of your memories will impact events later in the game.

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A nice little Twin Peaks reference there.

The asylum has a wonderfully creepy and threatening atmosphere with the occasional puzzle to solve, but the bulk of the game takes place in Cole’s memories and this is where the gameplay lets itself down somewhat.  You are encouraged to be stealthy, using silent takedowns and your map (which shows enemy visions cones) to avoid conflict.  I found the stealth somewhat cumbersome and tended to get spotted by enemies way outside of the map’s range.  The combat is passable, with standard pistols, assault rifles and shotguns making up the bulk of your tools.  You also have the Cornergun, which uses Cole’s phone’s thermal imagine to aim around corners to take out enemies.  I found the framerate dropped quite a bit when using this which was rather irritating, but it was a neat inclusion that aided stealth.  If you do get spotted, everyone in the area will instantly know where you are and make a beeline for you resulting in death more often than not.  What was pretty neat was that the game explains why these enemies exist in the story’s context.  Whilst I won’t say more, it’s elements like this that allowed me to overlook the weak combat and concentrate more on the story.  Around two-thirds of the way through the game, the plot shifts considerably and gives you new abilities to play with.  But again, I’ll say no more.

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Scanning certain items gives you little flashbacks like this to advance the story, as well as progress your current memory.

It’s very hard for me to explain why I enjoyed this game so much in spite of the slightly off combat without spoiling the story.  But it genuinely is well worth playing.  A wonderful atmosphere with fantastic music and a story full of twists and turns in which you can’t be sure who or what to believe.  It plays with your perception in ways I rarely see (Layers of Fear came to my mind on more than one occasion) and uses the unreliability of memory in an interesting fashion to progress the plot and alter the game world (think Call of Juarez: Gunslinger).  This is one of those games that I feel too many people will overlook due to its generic name and outdated visuals, but if you’re interested in stories in gaming and can look past some slightly off combat then you’ll be in for a great experience.  I realise that I’ve not given you much to go on, but I implore you to check it out and give it a chance.

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What’s my fault?!

Get Even was developed by The Farm 51 and published by Bandai Namco.  I played the game on Xbox One and encourage you to check it out for its story.  I’ll give Bandai Namco a lot of credit for taking a risk on this one, it very much paid off in my mind.  Let me know what you think if you give it a go!

Outlast 2 Demo -A nice family friendly game about hugs. Honest…

Outlast was one of those polarising horror games that lead to arguments about what actually qualifies as scary as opposed to shocking.  Some people claimed it was simply YouTube fodder, designed to get online celebrities with face-cams to scream a lot for our amusement, whilst others would claim it was a real survival horror experience in which you felt genuinely vulnerable throughout.  Personally, I quite enjoyed it.  For a good proportion of the game I felt unsettled by the atmosphere and threatened by the denizens of the world, hunting down my defenseless cameraman.  Towards the end the game started to lose some pace, with the same tricks being thrown at you and the ability to exploit somewhat stupid AI reducing the fear factor significantly.  On the whole though, I felt it was a fun budget horror experience.  And now we have the inevitable sequel!  Because it’s 2016 and success = sequel.  This is going to be a look at the events of the demo and a quick overview on my feelings on it.  Enjoy!

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We start of the demo with a little preamble to set the scene. It doesn’t really tie into what happens in the demo much though.

If this game follows on from the story of the original game, it hides it well in the demo.  You’re a guy with a night vision camera (in keeping with the previous game’s theme) searching for his wife through a seemingly abandoned settlement in the hills of the Arizona desert.  Obviously all is not well as you gradually slip through the shacks, finding bodies in various states of dismemberment.  After a short while you come across a figure in the shadows watching you. Being an Outlast survivor, I expected to be rushed at immediately, but the figure just steps back, deeper into the blackness, almost demanding you follow him.  Being a game, you have little choice and you press onward, your camera’s night vision mode allowing you to see in the pitch black.

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My Latin is rather rusty, but I think this translates roughly as Satan is the enemy of God.

Before long you find yourself before a well.  As we all know, a well in a horror situation is something you tend to avoid, but investigate it we must!  Cue a huge…tongue…thing.  Possibly a tentacle?  I’m not too sure.  Anyway, it flies out and drags you into a vent, which collapses leaving you in a modern looking Catholic school.  This seems extremely out of place, but I’m sure there will be more detail on this come the full release.  You pass through the school, seeing some bizarre moments of a screaming child running past, a demon grabbing you and flinging you down the corridor, and a corpse hanging from the ceiling being dragged upwards by a cloud full of hands.  Finally, you walk through a locker (yes, through) into a room where you are attacked by the man you saw at the beginning.  He flings you down the stairs and the game prompts you to run!  Back into the mechanics of the original game then.

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The chase through the corn field is somewhat intense. You can just about make out a person hunting for me on the left.

You’re chased through a corn field, being hunted by multiple men with torches.  The use of light here is very effective here, as it dances off the plants whilst you sneak around.  There’s no direction here, it’s simply a case of trying to find a way out without being caught.  This culminates with a chase around some shacks before sliding down a slope to be confronted by a woman wielding an enormous axe.  An axe which comes down solidly onto you.  Onto your crotch specifically.  You get rather a graphic view of the results, before the axe swings into you one more time, cutting the demo to black.

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You can see the hanging body down the corridor here. This whole section is very much at odds with the other environments.

Some thoughts on the demo.  It gave me a good idea of what to expect from the game beyond the mechanics (which are mostly the same of the previous entry in the series).  The environments look really good and are far more open than before, allowing for enemies to sneak up on you if you’re not paying attention.  The lack of direction when being looked for is a double edged sword.  At first it’s intense as you have no idea where to go whilst being pursued, but before long the effect wore off and I became more irritated that I had to scour the area to find the way I was meant to go.  The previous game being mostly made up of corridors made navigation somewhat easier.  The school section was most interesting.  The demons and mysterious voices heard throughout it made me think this section is in the character’s head, or some alternate reality.  I’m curious as to how this ties into the story.  On the whole, I’m curious about Outlast 2 as a result of this, I do hope that there are more mechanics to the game than are present in the demo.  Otherwise it could be a case of more of the same.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that it could become rather dull rather quickly if there isn’t more to it.

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School. God damn terrifying!

Outlast 2 is being developed and published by Red Barrels.  I played the demo on Xbox One and would recommend you give it a try if you enjoyed the original.  If you didn’t then this is very unlikely to sway you!

5 Memorable Gaming Moments – Unforgettable!

Memories a funny thing isn’t it?  We have so many experiences every single day, in the real world and in our choice of entertainment, but we remember very little of it in real terms.  Most of what we experience gets filtered out and forgotten, leaving memories that tend to have a strong emotional reaction attached to them.  In games, especially ones released in recent years, there are so many high impact scenes constantly flashing before our eyes that we could be forgiven for allowing them to all blur into one.  However, some games have certain scenes that are so full of impact for many different reasons, that they stay with us for a long time.  This is dedicated to those scenes that will remain with you long into the future, whether you stay involved in gaming or not.

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Remarkably unmemorable.

As ever, I must have played the games I’m talking about.  I’m going with a one game per series rule for this one, otherwise certain game franchises could easily dominate!  Most importantly, whilst many of these moments will be familiar if you’ve played these games, this is a personal list.  My opinion only!

Oh, and spoilers.  Obviously.

Half Life 2 – Wake up and smell the ashes

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Half Life 2 (2004)

I could have easily gone for the tram ride, the tentacle creature or the canyon helicopter fight from Half Life.  Or perhaps the Super Gravity Gun, playing with Dog or (my god) Ravenholm from Half Life 2.  The series is packed with moments, scenes, areas and people that have lodged themselves in my brain, either from playing them so many times (I still go through Half Life 2 every now and then) or from the impact they had the first time (Ravenholm is still scary somehow).  But it’s the introduction to the second game in the series that still gives me chills when I load it up for another run through.

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The unsettling, not quite human look of the G-Man as he fades in and out of reality keeps a tight hold on your attention during the speech.

At the end of Half Life, the G-Man appears, giving you the choice of working for him and being put into suspended animation, or declining and dying at the hands (claws?) of the alien horde you just survived.  Canonically, Gordon Freeman chooses to work for the G-Man, which leads to the opening of Half Life 2.  Once again you are faced with the G-Man, giving a short, stilted monologue about how long you’ve been gone, culminating in the line “So, wake up, Mr. Freeman.  Wake up, and smell the ashes.” The implication that the world has gone to hell in the time you’ve been in stasis and the cold, alien way he speaks to you sets you up to rejoin the world you were taken from in the previous installment with an urge to find out just what happened.  The fact that the game that follows is one of the best games ever made makes it all the better.

Resident Evil – That first zombie

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Resident Evil (1996)

This is probably one the most iconic scenes of its generation in gaming terms.  Again, Resident Evil has a lot of moments that will have stuck with you if you ever played the game.  But it’s this short piece of (frankly ugly) FMV that will be most memorable.  Even more so that that cheesy live action intro movie!

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It looks even worse than I remember!

Resident Evil uses something that has been lost in modern mainstream horror games and movies, and that is not tipping its hand too early.  It takes quite some time before you even meet this first enemy, having spent time walking around parts of the mansion, exploring and building tension after seeing the chaos going on outside the mansion’s door.  After all this walking, you hear something at the end of a corridor, drawing you in.  Rounding the corner, you’re greeted by a creature, chewing on a corpse.  Interrupted, it turns slowly to face you, giving you a good look at the monster you’ll be fighting to survive.  For the time it was very much a creepy image, and the fact you were practically right on top of it (due to it being obscured by the wall) before triggering the video gave you very little room to work with as you grappled with the as yet unused combat controls.  A very well crafted moment of horror, something that the series seems to have lost in recent years.  Maybe Resident Evil VII will return to this.

Battlefield 4 – That helicopter bit

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Battlefield 4 (2013)

Now this one is a little bit different.  Most modern military FPS games these days have more big, bombastic moments than you can shake a Michael Bay at.  Some of them are genuinely memorable (the Modern Warfare series “Nuke” and “No Russian” scenes especially), but this one is a lot more personal.  No other player has had this exact moment, as it happened in the multiplayer.

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Standing up in a warzone.  Needless to say I died about 2 seconds after I took this.

I can’t remember the name of the map, but it’s set on a series of beaches and islands with a large (I think) hotel in the middle.  A holiday resort I suppose.  After a group of players and I cleared out the enemy team from the ground floor of the now ruined hotel, the sounds of a helicopter fill my speakers.  A enemy pilot swooped the vehicle into view at the demolished front of the hotel.  We were screwed, all the work of clearing the building going to waste and another respawn and long slog back to the building.  A few players start running, but it was clearly hopeless.  Then the helicopter inexplicably exploded.  Did the pilot clip the wall?  Did someone have a rocket launcher?  A friendly jet fighter rushes over the wrecked enemy vehicle, like something out of an action movie, to the relief of everyone involved.  It felt like the moment the heroes are rescued from certain doom by that renegade team member who happened to hotwire a plane in defiance of their orders.  A stunning, unscripted, almost movie like moment that won’t be replicated.

Bioshock – Would you kindly…

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Bioshock (2007)

Admit it, you knew this was coming.  Possibly one of the most shocking, unexpected reveals in gaming history.  The moment that makes you question almost every instruction you’ve ever followed in a video game to this point.  You’d spent hours fighting your way through Rapture, assuming you were helping Atlas who always prefaced his instructions with a charming “Would you kindly…”.  We thought you were helping.  We thought we had decided to assist this pleasant, heroic freedom fighter take down a tyrannical ruler.  We thought our actions were your own.  Oh, how wrong we were.

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It all comes flooding back!

It only took one audiolog to change everything.  An audiolog about a child being ordered to carry out actions against his will.  But only when a certain trigger phrase was uttered.  “Would you kindly…”.  The flashback to every order you’d been given completely rewrites everything you’d done throughout the game.  It wasn’t free will, it was indoctrination.  As it turns out, you were the illegitimate son of the tyrannical leader, taken by crime boss Fontaine, and indoctrinated to respond to the trigger phrase.  Fontaine, who happened to be masquerading as Atlas in an effort to remove the leader of Rapture, your father Andrew Ryan, so he could claim it for himself.  The moment of realisation is forever ingrained in my mind, and the implication that everything I’d done in this (and arguably every game I’d ever played) was all at someone else’s behest sticks with me to this day.  It’s just a pity that the remainder of the game failed to use this revelation in a smart way.

The Stanley Parable – Literally everything

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The Stanley Parable (2013)

I was quite torn over what to put in this last slot.  I had plenty of options, all of which are top games with great moments that will be lodged in my brain forever.  But the final spot goes to this game.  If you could even call it a game.  Interactive fiction maybe?  Walking simulator?  An experiment in gaming narrative?  No matter what you describe this as, pretty much everything in it is a memorable moment.  If you have played it, I’d wager that you can still remember what the first ending you reached was.  For me, it was the “suicide” ending, in which you defy the narrator to the point that he just lets you throw yourself off a ledge repeatedly until you finally expire.

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8!

This is another title that plays with the idea of choice within gaming, or the lack thereof.  The narrator instructs you, as Stanley, and you either do as you are told, or defy the instruction.  At first, I felt quite clever when I didn’t do as I was told.  “Aha!” I thought, “I bet they didn’t expect me to do that!”.  But at every turn, the narrator chides you for not following the story as it had been set out for you.  It can eventually lead to all manner of insanity, from a secret “making of” museum to escaping the game world by clipping through the wall, only to find that the narrator expected you to do that.  It really is quite genius at times, and half the fun comes from trying to find as many different endings as possible just to see what the developers had thought of.  A genuinely memorable, and fascinating, piece of interactive media.

As ever, here are some honourable mentions!  Silent Hill 2’s various appearances of Pyramid Head are quite unsettling, often distressing, and always memorable.  Who can forget his…interactions with some of the other creatures?  It’s a pity he almost became a running joke in the series as it went on.  The Scarecrow sequence in Arkham Asylum was absolutely fantastic, from its jump scares out of nowhere, to it’s “game crash”.  Even the platforming section that followed was excellent, and a great change of pace from the rest of the game.  I’m sure many of you will have these:  World 1-1 from Super Mario Bros. and Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog.  Is it the music?  The bright colours?  The fact that we’ve probably experienced the levels a hundred times?  Whatever it is, those stages are perfectly crafted to evoke memories of every inch of them from the moment that first note is played.

What about you?

That’s my list, but what about you?  Is there anything that you consider a moment in a game that will stay with you forever?  A piece of music combined with a scene?  Maybe a specific level or shocking reveal?  Let me know!

 

 

 

Oxenfree – Teenage beach party goes wrong…

First things first, I’m going to avoid story spoilers as far as possible due to this being such a narrative-driven game.  So fear not!  It does mean that this will be an odd write up as I’m going to tell you as little as possible about the story.  Anyway, on with the words!

The term “walking simulator” gets thrown around a lot at the moment, mostly in a derisive way to mock games that people feel lack actual gameplay.  But whether or not you feel they are truly games (lack of challenge often being cited), walking simulators can be very enjoyable narrative experiences.  More often than not they will have an atmospheric environment and engaging story.  You just have to look at the success of Gone Home and Firewatch to see that plenty of people, gamers or otherwise, enjoy this type of experience.  Oxenfree is almost a walking simulator, but with a few more gameplay elements.  It paints itself as a light adventure game with conversation elements that effect various outcomes.  In that regard it’s somewhat like the Telltale games (Walking Dead, Tales from the Borderlands, Life Is Strange etc.) but with a very different style.

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You and your friends arrive on an abandoned island for a high school beach party.

This is an almost 2D side scrolling adventure with a horror/mystery theme in which you move around areas (sometimes into the area’s background, hence it being almost 2D) with one or more partners, finding objects and solving simple puzzles.  Along the way, you’ll converse (or not if you feel like it!) with your companions with certain choices changing the outcome of the game.  It’s these elements that I feel move the game away from walking simulator and more into the realm of the Telltale style of game.  Unlike those games, though, this one is much shorter (about 4 hours) making it much easier to go back and experiment with different routes through the game.

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You end up with a group of 5 characters, all are interesting and well voiced.

The story begins with you, as Alex, and your high school friends arriving on an island for a beach party.  Surprisingly, your group are the only people there and so you decide to explore the island.  Before long you come across a cave with some unusual markings and discover that your radio can receive strange signals which set of a chain of events that brings into question what the real history of the island actually is.  You’re told that a WW2 submarine sunk just off the coast of the island, but over the course of the game you find out that not everything is as it seems.  The game is as about your relationships with your friends as it is the mysteries of the island.  Your choices will dictate how they react to you and how their lives will develop at the end of the story.

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Your interactions tend to revolve around 3 dialogue choices, although the option to say nothing can be just as important.

The game looks good, with an art style that suits the tone of the game.  The muted colours of the island makes the characters stand out and brings your attention to elements of the world that are important.  The voice acting is excellent and I found each character interesting and likeable in their own way.  They all have their own history and baggage that you can uncover if you spend enough time with each of them, so multiple play throughs to interact with each character is something I would encourage.  Whilst the writing is mostly very good, some of the dialogue comes across as quite odd considering some of the things the characters experience on the island (not spoiling too much here).  Alex in particular came across as a little too calm from time to time which broke the immersion for me a little.

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The island isn’t terribly big, meaning it’s fairly quick to find your way around.

The puzzles aren’t difficult, and most are solved simply by activating the correct object in the environment.  There are collectables to find though, with some (ever so) slightly more challenging puzzles that will require more exploration.  I found locating these to be quite enjoyable as they add a lot of history to the island and give you a better understanding of just what is going on.  You aren’t likely to be challenged in this game, but if you like a good story you should find yourself very much engaged.  And once you reach the end (which is either a total cop-out or utter genius, I can’t quite decide!)  and figure out just what was happening, you’ll almost certainly want to have another play through to find even more answers.

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Most of the puzzles will involve using your radio to find or interact with the world in a number of ways.

Oxenfree was developed and published by Night School Studio.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend you play it if you are looking for a good story.  If you enjoyed any of Telltale’s games, I would say you should look into this.  There’s a lot here that improves on them and it isn’t overly long, making another try at the game to find alternative routes and endings a very real possibility.  You really should give this a try.

Inside – Don’t play outside, play Inside!

Before I start, there will be no spoilers here.  I’ll mention very little about the plot and the screenshots are from very early in the game, so fear not!

I’ll cut to the chase with this one.  Inside is as near to perfect as you could hope a game to be.  This is the next game from Playdead, the team that made the wonderful Limbo, and this takes everything from that game and improves on it.  Most importantly of all (for me anyway) is just how atmospheric it is.  Every moment, every scene, drips with personality and little details that create a world worth exploring.  After finishing it, I went back through some of my favourite areas again just to see if there was anything I missed (there was).  You might be able to tell early on that this is going to be a very positive write up.

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You play a young boy, seemingly trying to break into a mysterious complex.

Inside is a puzzle platformer at heart, which is normally something that would put me off.  I’m not a fan of timing based leaps of faith, or awkward multi-level puzzles.  Maybe I’m not smart enough or too impatient to figure them out, but I’m just not a fan.  Here though, the puzzles are pitched just right for me.  They’re not overly complex, but there’s just enough depth to them to give you that satisfying ‘Aha!’ moment when you work out what to do.  They mostly involve moving platforms around, throwing objects, or using other characters in certain ways (I’ll say no more!).  They never get to the point where they block your progress for long, allowing you to move the story forward.  The game is very well paced in that regard.  The controls are sharp and will rarely cause you to slip up.  Any mistakes you make will likely be your own.

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The world the game builds is quite mysterious and deliberately explains very little.

Much like Limbo, there is a story here but it’s not 100% clear what it is.  Nothing is explained to you.  There is no dialog, no text, just visual cues that hint at what this world is all about.  Every scene has a disturbing, bleak atmosphere that demands to be explored in the hopes you can glean a little more information about just what is happening and why is this boy involved.  I’m not going to say much for fear of spoiling anything, but the characters and locations you come across suggest a very dark world, and the may well leave you with a lot of questions about the game, and yourself.

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Most of the game appears in a very muted colour scheme.

The world is mostly very dark as you travel through the various environments, but the occasional shaft of sunlight will highlight stark colours and give a brief moment of respite from the oppressive atmosphere.  The characters themselves have a simplistic look to them, but it’s the animations where the game excels.  Every movement is stunningly lifelike, little animations such as your character looking at something odd in the background, or crouching and placing his hands on a wall when someone is searching for him.  Deaths also receive a lot of detailed animation and are somewhat unpleasant when you consider your character is a child.  Whilst graphics are absolutely not everything in a game, but when they are done well, in such a unique way, they do nothing but improve the experience.

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A rare splash of colour will give you a moment of hope in this dire world.

Inside was developed and published by Playdead.  I played the game on XBox One and would recommend this to anyone.  This is an experience that you will remember for a long time and is absolutely worth your time and money.  A must buy to my mind!

Danganronpa – Teddy Bear Murder School

I’d never really considered visual novels as a genre of games I’d be particularly interested in.  I felt like there wouldn’t be much actual ‘game’ there (whatever that means).  But this one caught my attention when it turned up on Steam.  Yes, I realise it has been around on PSP for years, but I wasn’t one of the 8 people that bought one of those.  Anyway, a mystery investigation game with rhythm action and hangman elements sounded just a little bit too interesting to pass up.  Also murderous teddy bears.  Japan makes some weird games.

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Evil teddy bear.  Yep.

Without spoiling too much, the premise is that you wake up trapped in a school with a number of other students.  You’re quickly told by Monokuma, the evil teddy bear, that if you can murder someone and get away with it, then you’ll be free to leave whilst everyone else will be executed.  If you are caught out though, you will be executed.  The different characters are very colourful with their own distinct personalities and quirks.  This can make identifying the killer tricky at times once the murders start flying.    Once a murder occurs, you’ll spend time investigating the crime scene and related locations, interviewing the other students and gathering information.  Once you’re done, a trial takes place in which you have to piece together the evidence to find the killer.

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The students range from great writers to bike gang leaders.  All are interesting and well fleshed out, although some do slip a bit far into stereotype territory.

In reality, you’re guided through the trials by the other students.  You need to think through your evidence and find something to disprove statements a bit like in Phoenix Wright, but there aren’t that many to work through at any one time.  You can fail, but if you’re paying attention you’ll probably do alright.  Occasionally it’s not too clear what piece of evidence you’re supposed to use, even though you know what you’re disproving which can be a bit annoying as you’re forced into explaining things in the exact way the game wants.  When this happens you feel less like an investigator and more like a dog jumping through hoops.  Sometimes you’ll have to complete a hangman puzzle or a bizarre rhythm action game involving shooting statements in time to a beat.  These sections are the weakest part of the game in my opinion and the rhythm action section doesn’t seem to fit too well into the theme.

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Each case is distinct from the others, with their own twists and attempts to misdirect you.

The cases will drive you forward in the overall plot as to why you’re even in the school in the first place, and why there’s a teddy telling you to murder each other.  It’s engaging and I found myself wanting to find out what was going on.  I feel like the game was very linear though.  I’m not too familiar with visual novels, but I was hoping for multiple endings or different routes through the game, with differing survivors.  It’s still very good as it is, but I don’t feel there’s much replay value after having finished it.

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Why hello friendly lady!

Danganronpa was developed and published by Spike Chunsoft (although Abstraction Games dealt with the PC port).  I played the game on PC and would recommend it if you’re looking for a good story without too much challenge.

5 Games That Could Do With A Sequel

There are a lot of games that really overdo it when it comes to sequels.  Studios and publishers hit onto a winning formula and then flog it to death year on year (I’m looking at you Assassin’s Creed!) until people are sick of it.  Then there are those other games, the ones that were great fun but may have been a little too niche to be a massive commercial success.  The games that had great ideas and stories but never garnered enough attention to warrant a follow up.  So much wasted potential…

Rules!  These are games that were the only one in their series at the time of writing (not including spin offs) and I have to have played them.  Games that are rumoured to have sequels on the way do not have sequels and so can be included.  Finally, these are my opinions only, if I didn’t include one that you would, either I didn’t play it or I don’t agree.  On with the games!

Skies of Arcadia

skiesofarcadia_logoSkies of Arcadia from Sega came out on the Dreamcast in 2000 (There was a rerelease on Gamecube in 2002 as well).  This was an era full of fantasy based JRPGs and I think a lot of people saw this one as just another one trying to get in on the Final Fantasy crowd.  But this was different.  Skies of Arcadia was a sky pirate adventure RPG with a huge world to explore.  Whilst it did have the usual JRPG features such as exploring ancient temples and those damned random battles, it did plenty different.  You could go pretty much anywhere fairly early on once you get access to your pirate ship.  Some areas were locked off for story purposes but you had a lot of scope pretty much from the get go.

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Also, ship vs. ship battles!  Whilst the mechanics weren’t hugely different to a normal battle, a 1 v 1 fight between ships was a great sight.  The special abilities look really good from harpooning enemy vessels to charging up a laser cannon powered by moonstones.  The world was really engaging with plenty to find.  In fact, a side quest has you exploring the world and making discoveries before your rival can over the course of the whole game.  The story is fairly standard JRPG save-the-world fare, but the world was   The world is really why I feel this deserves a sequel.  The story was wrapped up nicely by the end but there was a really interesting universe to explore.  It could follow a new group of adventurers, or a different region of the world.  It’s a shame there won’t be a chance to explore more of this world.

Vanquish

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My experience of Platinum Games has been nothing but good.  Bayonetta, Anarchy Reigns, Transformers: Devastation…and Vanquish.  Platinum are really better known for their melee action games in a similar vein to Devil May Cry & co., but this was a shooter more akin to Gears of War.  Gears of War on amphetamines.  This is a third person cover based shooter turned up to 11.  Rocket packs let you knee slide around at enormous speeds before dropping into slow mo to blow up a bunch of robots who are distracted by a cigarette that you flicked ahead of you half a second earlier.  Because you’re such a bad ass.

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Major enemies are HUGE in scale, firing away with thousands of missiles and physical attacks at once.  They’re like hyper speed Dark Souls bosses.  The plot is pretty uninteresting in my opinion, being just standard space marine nonsense.  But that’s not why you play this, it’s blisteringly fast paced fun that it knows exactly how insane it is.  Too many cover based shooters these days are about big burly soldiers in two metric tons of armour, slowly battling through enemies.  I’d love to see more games like Vanquish and would dearly love to see a sequel.

Bloodborne

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I’m a massive fan of From Software’s Souls series.  I’m also a fan of Lovecraftian horror.  Put these two things together and you get Bloodborne, a game that is nearer to perfect as pretty much any game I’ve played. The story, whilst obscure, is fascinating once you delve into it, the combat is intense yet perfectly tuned to test you throughout the whole game, and the art design is wonderful, packed full of varied environments and grotesque enemies.

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Just looking through my screenshots of my playthrough made me want to start again to experience its adventure once more.  I really can’t overstate how much I enjoyed this game, from it’s top notch graphics and sound to it’s tough as nails boss encounters.  I don’t know how a sequel would work in terms of plot, but another adventure in its world is something I’d deeply enjoy.

Alan Wake

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This.  This is the big one for me.  In spite of its spin off (American Nightmare) there is still a huge amount of story here that’s still crying out to be explored.  Alan and his wife take a trip to Bright Falls (which might as well be called Twin Peaks) which leads to Alan’s wife seemingly being kidnapped.  From here, it seems that what Alan writes comes to pass, leading to some very interesting (and well foreshadowed) set pieces.  This game is absolutely dripping with atmosphere thanks to great visual and sound design.

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The gameplay involves the use of light to protect yourself (as well as attack) the darkness.  It’s very intense for a lot of the game (especially on Nightmare difficulty), but the combat does become a little samey towards the end.  There’s also some slightly dodgy platforming from time to time.  I’m still eager for a sequel to this in spite of these flaws, mostly due to the strength of the story.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

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A little earlier, I mentioned Platinum Games and how I’ve not really had a bad experience with their games and I neglected to mention this utter gem.  Now within the rules I feel I can include this one as even though it’s part of the Metal Gear universe, it is entirely it’s own game.  This is such a major departure from Metal Gear Solid.  You play as Raiden, a cyborg ninja with a cyborg dog buddy fighting robots with a samurai sword.  You can use slow motion at various points to carefully aim where to swing your sword to slice enemies into pieces, a skill that’s used very effectively during boss fights.  The story is totally bonkers, because this is involved in Metal Gear, so I had no idea what was going on.  The gameplay though, is a perfect blend of defending, parrying, and attacking at the right time.  It can be rather challenging at times, but it never feels unfair.

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The soundtrack fits the game perfectly, lots of crazy guitars and angry vocals.  I once heard it described as music that, when combined with the gameplay, makes you feel like to could suplex a planet.  I’m not sure if that’s high praise or not, but it’s pretty damn accurate.  This is another game that feels like it was more interested in being a really polished, fun experience rather than something designed to grab as many sales as possible.  That coupled with Konami being Konami (and Konami is the worst) means we’re unlikely to ever see a sequel to this, which is a damn shame to my mind.

Special mentions

Some games that I wanted to include but couldn’t for various reasons.  Call of C’thulhu (I’m not sure how well it’d work in a modern context), Power Stone 2 (already a sequel, I know!) and FTL (if only to increase the number of different types of encounter) could all have interesting or downright fun follow ups!

What do you think?  Did I miss one that you’d love to see a follow up to?  Do you agree?  Let me know!