Man, I was so sure that there was a trailer for the original Nier scored to White Rabbit that I spent twenty minutes this morning looking for it. Turns out it was Lost Odyssey. Also, turns out that game wasn’t that good except for the story in the cutscenes, but those were written by an actual novelist. Anyway, at least we got an okay trailer out of it all.
Behold Memoranda, a point-and-click adventure game that claims to be a magical realist experience in the vein of a Haruki Murakami novel:
Memoranda is a game about forgetting and being forgotten!
A point and click adventure game with magic realism elements that tells the story of a young lady who gradually realizes she is forgetting her own name. Is she really losing her memory or is there something else that could explain the strange circumstances? The story happens in a quiet little town where a few ordinary and strange characters live together. Including a World War II surviving soldier to an elephant taking shelter in a man’s cottage hoping to become a human. There is one thing all these characters have in common: they are losing something. It could be a name, a husband or even someone’s sanity!
I dunno, it seems rather annoyingly twee. I’d say it’s hard to translate the quiet strangeness of Murakami’s novels into the visual medium, but I rather think the Norwegian Wood movie pulled it off. I’m curious, but not enough to pay $17 and change. I’ll probably buy this if the price drops below $5 since I have an abiding lust for point-and-click adventures, but right now I think I’ll hold off.
So I’m playing Tales From the Borderlands. I’m already on the third episode. This is in contrast to season 2 of The Walking Dead, which I still haven’t finished, and The Wolf Among Us, which took me most of a year to get through.
I think it’s because Tales From the Borderlands is actually fun. It’s not depressing like The Walking Dead (tap X to avoid catching dysentery) or gruesomely violent like The Wolf Among Us.
I’m not kidding about Wolf Among Us – a lot of the Quicktime fight scenes felt shoehorned in, while the crunching sounds of bones snapping and the copious blood leaking out of various gaping wounds was offputting. And I say this as a connoisseur of graphic violence (I have enjoyed works from Messrs. Miller, Tarantino, and Chiba).
It’s probably the air of seedy fictional hyperreality that pervades the game. Fiction always asks that we not pay attention to how artificial their worlds are, but Wolf Among Us was so grubby and bleak that I kept noticing how my narrative path was always railroaded onto the most noirishly depressing options.
But yeah, Tales From the Borderlands – while also containing violence – is too cartoonish for me to be bothered when someone gets shot through the head. And, you know, it’s fun to play. I’ll probably finish it by the end of this week, which is a record for me as far as Telltale Games properties go.
Goodness, what is this Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax? A 2D fighting game with modern anime characters, you say?
And it’s available in English on PSN? And there’s a sequel with even more characters?
Let’s see, in the original game there’s Celty and Shizuo from Durarara, Kirino from Oreimo (not a character you’d expect in a fighting game), Holo from Spice and Wolf, Alicia and Selvaria from Valkyria Chronicles (that was also an anime), Satan from The Devil is a Part-Timer . . . Boy, there’s a lot. Fighting game nerds say it’s more for anime nerds, but if I want hardcore I’ll fire up Tekken. This title looks like a pleasant game to relax to as I make cartoon girls assault each other.
I’ve been playing Star Trek Timelines, the new mobile F2P game that’s only been out for a few days. I never play these types of games, but I’ve read about them and I’m aware of all the little psychological tricks it’s using to hook me in. But on the other hand, when I click on Worf he says “Today is a good day to die.” Plus, if I keep playing I’ll get to unlock Odo and Chakotay soon. How am I supposed to resist?
The premise is what you’d expect – some time-space hooey is afoot and Q has dragooned you, nameless Starfleet captain, into flying around fixing the problems when past, present, and alternate timelines collide.
The game’s only been out for a few days, though, so some of the kinks are apparently still being ironed out. For instance, I think the beginning is a bit too complicated to just jump into – Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is noticeably slicker (speaking of another mobile F2P game that I just got into over the holidays) – but zooming around in a Constitution-class starship scanning planets is fun enough by itself.
It’s curious that so far I’ve yet to find a characters from the Bakula Enterprise that’s been voiced, considering that characters from the other series have had voices. Not all of them (Yeoman Rand and Keiko are mute, for instance), but enough that I notice. Perhaps there’s something in the Enterprise actors’ contracts that puts a kibosh on video game adaptations? I do notice that the J.J. Abrams movie versions aren’t included, which I assume is because the game’s contract covers only the TV shows.
Anyway, I’m probably going to keep playing this grindy clickfest until I vomit. It’s Star Trek, how could I not?
So someone took The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and turned it into a viable business model in The Sims:
Every time I play The Sims, I start my family with a “painting goblin”.
I make him/her morbidly obese with green skin. I make sure to give him the following traits:
- likes to be alone
- likes art
- hates the outdoors
The first thing I do once I have enough money is build a small room in the basement, send him down there, and then remove the stairs. I set him up in a tiny little area with only an easel, a toilet, a refrigerator, a bed, a shower, and a trash bin.
All he does all day is paint. That’s it. He paints and paints and paints and paints.
Eventually his paintings become very good and worth a lot of money. Every few minutes I go downstairs and sell whatever painting he has finished, and then I return to playing the game.
My family always ends up feeling blessed because of their fortune, and they never find out about the horrible secret living beneath their home.
I love point-and-click adventure games. I love walking around their worlds and clicking “look” on each piece of background scenery, I love talking to every character I come across, and I even love obtuse inventory puzzles that leave me wondering how the hell a rubber ducky is supposed to help me get on a subway train. This is not a rational love but one born from the nostalgia of a person who played a lot of Sierra adventure games as a kid.
But art does not exist in a vacuum. Audiences always bring their prior experiences with them when encountering a text. Keeping in mind my partiality toward its genre, I must say this: I like Technobabylon.
Part police procedural, part conspiracy thriller, and wholly a sci-fi cyberpunk journey through a decadent city of sorrow and sin, Technobabylon is a pleasant return to the old adventure and puzzle gaming formula. You play as three main characters: a curmudgeonly police detective hostile to the newfangled AI that governs his city (like a white Bill Cosby, minus the rape), his younger and more enthusiastic post-op (actually post-genetic-engineering) female-to-male partner who’s down with the hacking and the tweeting and the bipping and the bopping, and an unemployed shut-in on welfare addicted to the Internet who subsists on protein sludge extruded from her shitty apartment’s food machine. Also there’s a murderous plot which could lead all the way to the top.Continue reading “Future Imperfect”
After several years and many effulgent panegyrics from game critics later, I’ve finally tried out Gone Home for myself.
You play as a 21 year old girl coming home to Oregon in 1995 after a year of travelling overseas. The entire game takes place over one stormy night as you wander around the empty house wondering where your family is as you search for clues in their underwear drawers and spiral ring school notebooks.
I think it’s best to manage expectations, so let me enumerate what the game is not. It’s not a horror game, though the atmosphere may make it feel like one. It’s not an adventure game, as the puzzles barely deserve the name and one can progress forward in the game by practically doing nothing besides walking forward. It’s not a visual novel, as it offers a lot more space while at the same time having much fewer characters. But I think the visual novel is its closest comparison, as the game is essentially a 3D first-person visual novel. It’s not as simplified as a visual novel, where one can move the story forward by doing almost nothing more game-like than pressing a button over and over, but its interactivity and deliberately pared down choices certainly put it in the same narrative ballpark. Some may question whether Gone Home is a game at all, but if we can call a visual novel a game then I think we have to call this a game as well.
The narrative itself feels rather slight, and I agree with Eurogamer that the game’s story “would come across as deeply generic if it wasn’t told in such an unconventional medium”. I actually felt embarrassed on behalf of the characters when I uncovered the rather cliched teen rebellion portion of the story. The game has been lauded for its story by many gaming publications, but I think that its accolades speak as much to the low level of quality in video game writing than to Gone Home possessing an absolutely superlative narrative. I do wonder how well the game can come across if the player has no nostalgia for the setting, if the player has no personal connection to the material reality of the knickknacks and curios that continually thrust the setting’s 1995-ness forward.
I liked playing the game and thought it was a decent way to pass a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, but I concur once again with Eurogamer‘s assessment: “The Fullbright Company has built a fine house for intimate storytelling in games, but it hasn’t found the story to live in it yet.”
Well damn, Buzz Aldrin provided the voice of the old alien in the after-credits scene from Mass Effect 3?
That’s kind of out of left field. What’s even more out of left field is that I learned about Buzz’s voice work in a discussion of noted conspiracy theorist Marion Cotillard’s views on 9/11 and the moon landings on the Onion AV Club (Buzz apparently is a global warming denier).
I think I’m more than halfway through Baldur’s Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal. I’ve been playing the Baldur’s Gate series off and on ever since I loaded up the first game probably eight or nine years ago. I used the Baldur’s Gate Trilogy mod to have BG1 run through the BG2 engine, so essentially I’ve been playing a single run of a computer role-playing game for most of a decade. With the end fast approaching I wanted to take a look back at the highlights of my run. Call it a greatest hits compilation.Continue reading “I have walked 500 miles”