Backlog 2015 #2: Batman: Arkham Origins: Blackgate: Deluxe Edition

Blackgate cover

I like to imagine that’s Batman looking at the people responsible for this nonsense.

I want to make this brief so I don’t waste too much more of my time on this game, but if you’re reading this I’m wasting your time with a messy article. Blame Batman. The most enjoyable moment I had was it enabling me to sincerely type B:AO:B:DE in a text to a friend. I was excited about this Metroidvania game due to a long time love of the Metroid series. Metroid + Batman; sign me up. But it’s a bad cover band. Continue reading

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Backlog 2015 #1: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

CoverI’ve had a massive backlog of Gen 7 games since pretty much halfway through Gen 7. I’ve tried to get through them a few times and started a separate blog to try to track it. All of these attempts have failed. Now I’m trying again. This time, I have all of my Gen 7 consoles with me in London, but my PS4 (with my Great Love Battlefield) is back in Belfast and I’m not bringing it over until this backlog is cleared; I actually want to play these games. Last year I think I only managed Bayonetta (which I loved to a criminal degree) and FarCry 3 (which I despised; it was like listening to a 14yo lecture you about the nature of humanity after they’d seen Apocalypse Now for the first time). The first game of 2015 was Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

General Impressions

I really liked this game. Reductively, the game’s USP is its control scheme. You spend the entire game controlling the two eponymous brothers (or sons, I guess), one with each analogue stick, with the only action button being a context-sensitive “Interact” mapped to the corresponding shoulder. It works incredibly well, particularly keeping the interaction pared down to one button, allowing the player to focus on the meat of the puzzles rather than execution.. The older brother’s movement is mapped to the left stick, where movement is usually mapped in video games at large. The younger brother’s is mapped to the right stick and I tended to lose track of him. I think the designers were aware of this and used it to make the big brother seem more solid and leader-like. Brothers is fundamentally a puzzle-platformer where each new section has you manipulating the unique control scheme in an interesting way. The game is almost completely linear (not a bad thing) and I enjoyed all of my time with it. I was never bored; the game introduces many unique events that keep the gameplay fresh but they’re all based around the central idea of having two characters so I never found them token. Much of the platforming reminded me of Sands of Time; always a good thing. The game is paced such that the relaxed puzzle sections are infrequently punctuated by more thrilling, pressured sections and it’s judged perfectly to give those sections a welcome sense of tension. Continue reading

Werewolf Cards

Silly Werewolf "logo"This Sunday I’ve organised for some friends to get together and play some tabletop games.  It’s our first time.  We played a lot of Halo (system link ftw) during high school but with the dawn of internet gaming it became less and less frequent.  I was primarily spurred on by this (excellent but long) video from Shut Up & Sit Down.  We’re gonna start off easy, safe with Settlers of Catan and Werewolf.  I’ve only played Werewolf once in my life, but had the privilege of doing it with some really wonderful people at IndieCade 2012.  I had a great time with it, despite leaning on some common roots I shared with another player to manipulate her allegiances.  Sorry, Brenda.  I wanted to share it with my friends and to try to make it a little special I decided to make some cards to assign the roles rather than just scrawling them on paper (though my design is basically just doing that with Photoshop). Continue reading

One Hit Kill Card Game

One Hit Kill LogoSo I made a little card game!

I call it “One Hit Kill”.  It’s basically Rock, Paper, Scissors where you can only win with scissors.  Two players play head-to-head with five cards each: 1 KILL, 2 DODGE, 2 REST.  Each turn, both players select the card they want to play and place it face down on the table.  The cards are then turned over simultaneously and as bombastically as possible for MAXIMUM DRAMA.  The object of the game is to play a KILL when your opponent plays a REST.  The winner is the first to 3 KILLS. Continue reading

How Halo 4’s ending took me from the most excited I’ve ever been about a video game to the most betrayed I’ve ever felt

I imagine I’m not the only person who’s ever misheard a song lyric or misunderstood a quotation only to find its true meaning unsatisfying afterwards.  Like discovering that Jimi Hendrix is singing about coming up for air, having dreamt about being underwater, when he sings “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky”, rather than brazenly canoodling with another man, saying, “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy.”  There’s an entire website devoted to this phenomenon called kissthisguy.com.  The front page there is pretty goddamn ugly, though, so I’d advise against clicking it if you have functioning eyes.

That’s a silly example, but I had a much more hurtful experience when I reached the end of Halo 4’s campaign.  I found myself watching a bold, abstract, emotional and exciting finale, only to have this cruelly undone leaving just the emotional experience to persist.  In this case the truth was frustrating, robbing me of a future for the franchise I was genuinely excited about.  Let me explain.

It’s the last cutscene in the game, so you really shouldn’t need a spoiler warning, but there it is. Continue reading

Victorian Christmas Parlour Games

One Christmas it was decided amongst my college friends that the meal and celebrations were to be Victorian themes.  A friend and I were tasked with creating the entertainment for after the meal.  A minimal amount of research found that the BBC had produced an article on popular parlour games in the Victorian era.  We rewrote the rules to make sure they were clear and gave them some brutally hackneyed presentation for the table.  Presented here as a PDF.  Some of the games are actually alright.

Complete Victorian Christmas