Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 5: Polarized Finished

Game: Life Is Strange Episode 5: Polarized
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC
Date Started: October 21, 2015
Date Finished: October 23, 2015

WARNING: SPOILERS! Don't read if you haven't finished the game yet.

The final episode got pretty polarized reactions and a lot of people complained about the ending. It wasn't just the ending that bothered me personally, it was the whole episode. But let's start from the beginning. Episode four ended on a huge twist that revealed Mark Jefferson is a murderer. I hoped they would provide a good explanation behind his motivation and develop his character in an interesting way but no, he's just evil. He explained his motivation in a overly long exposition speech that just bored me to death because I didn't believe a single word that came out of his mouth. Way to flush a good character down a toilet. The whole  episode was evidently rushed. That is unfortunate because even if they delayed it for a whole another month, they would still release episodes at a faster pace than Telltale. The Zeitgeist gallery level is clearly unfinished. Normally a conversation with any character would trigger a cut scene but in this part you talk to various critics and they just speak their dialogue without even looking at you. There's a a guy who talks about Jefferson, voiced by the same actor who plays Jefferson and it's painfully obvious. Oh and somehow all critics know Max Caulfield. She is just one of the many, many contestants but everyone recognizes her face and remembers her name.

I never asked for this

This episode felt a lot less interactive compared to the previous ones and thus less engaging. But I think that might be the point. Max is no longer in control. In one part she is drugged and tied up to a chair and in another she is trapped inside a nightmare. There's a lot of jumping between timelines  and it can get quite confusing, so much that even Max can't quite understand it and finds herself trapped once again because of it. After playing through this episode and reflecting on it, I think I was able to fully grasp the theory of time travel in this game and it doesn't make much sense. The way Max loses memory of what she has just done after jumping into a photograph gives me a bit of a creepy body snatcher vibe.

Oh Max, you're so punny

The thing that bothered me the most in this episode was Warren's reaction, or lack of, when Max told him she can rewind time. He just accepted it with a straight face. He didn't question it for a second, didn't even ask how she can travel through time (as far as he knows, she might be using a time machine) but somehow he knew right away that she caused a tornado and started to lecture her about chaos theory. That single scene made me suspend my disbelief thousand times harder than any of the sci-fi time travel stuff.

This guy wouldn't raise an eyebrow if Max just told him she's the Batman

Then there was this trippy nightmare sequence that blew my mind since it came out of nowhere and got progressively weirder. The looping dorm hall puzzle in which you have to connect a character with a corresponding room was pretty cool and it was obviously inspired by Kojima's P.T. However the best puzzle in the game was ruined for me when Max straight up told me the solution after a short time. I haven't even started solving it yet, I was just taking screenshots and stuff, I would totally solve it on my own but I guess Dontnod took an advice from stupid game reviewers. Let me quote a line from a GameSpot review of episode 4:

"When the puzzle began, I had no idea what I was looking for, and it was a long time before Max's voice-over offered any hints as to what I should be searching." - Alexa Ray Corriea, GS

There's a lot self referential humor in this episode. Dontnod throws a jab at it's own infamous bottle hunting fetch quest in episode 2

The whole nightmare sequence goes on for way too long and ads very little to the story. The long walk at the end of it reminds you of all the things you went through with Chloe, as you witness both happy and sad moments from previous episodes. The purpose of this recap is to put bigger emotional weight on your final decision (sacrifice Chloe or sacrifice Arcadia Bay). It's basically game's equivalent of a movie montage. Despite that, the ending didn't hit my emotional cord as hard as it should. The scene on the rooftop with Kate in episode 2, the ending of the episode 3 and the whole goddamn episode 4 had a huge emotional impact on me. Even the earlier scenes in this episode, like David's reaction to Chloe's death or Nathan's phone message had a stronger effect because at the time things still felt somewhat grounded. But after jumping between timelines so many times, seeing Arcadia Bay destroyed and people killed and then going through that insanely long nightmare sequence, things just didn't feel real anymore. Not only that but I sort of accepted Chloe's death already after telling David about it. The ending was fairly predictable (many people already called it after playing through the first 2 episodes) and it left a lot of questions unanswered. Most important of all, how did Max get her powers? I've seen a lot of people complain about why she even got the power if she wasn't supposed to use it and I thought about it and here's my personal interpretation:

It seems to me like Max got her powers so she can spend a few days with her best friend and have a chance to say goodbye. Now imagine what would happen if she didn't get the rewind power. Max left Chloe behind and went to Seattle when she needed her the most and never called or wrote her. She returned after a few years and avoided her for a whole month only to see her get shot in front of her eyes without a having a chance to say one word to her. Imagine how shitty Max would feel if things have played out this way. The guilt would destroy her. Through her powers she was able to reconcile with Chloe and spend some quality time with her. It didn't happen in this timeline but it was still real to Max. In Blade Runner Roy said "All those moments will be lost in tears in rain" but their moments won't be lost as long as Max remembers them.

Episode 5 was definitely the weakest. I expected much better finale but it didn't ruin the game for me. There are still good moments in it and some characters got great closure, mainly David and Chloe.

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My choices and collectible photos

+ David's resolution
+ trippy nightmare sequence
+ creative ways to get collectibles

- rushed and unfinished
- unbelievable character reaction
- the way time travel works doesn't make much sense 
- things left unexplained (in a bad way)
nightmare sequence went for way too long
- game tells you puzzle solution


Friday, October 30, 2015

Next to play: Penumbra: Overture

Game: Penumbra: Overture
Release Date: 2007
Platform: PC

Finish the game

It's Halloween so it's only natural that I'm going to play a horror game. So I went through my Steam library and out of many horror games I picked Penumbra from Frictional Games.

What do I expect?

I haven't played Amnesia but I've seen how it plays so I would imagine Penumbra plays in a similar way but with more puzzles. I don't know anything about the game's story so or much else so I'm going into it pretty blind, as it should be for the best experience. Hope it's gonna scare me a little.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Next to play: Starcraft

Game: Starcraft
Release Date: 1998
Platform: PC

- Beat all 3 campaigns: Terran, Zerg and Protoss

Starcraft 2 is not only one of the best RTS games ever made but one of the best games ever made period. Legacy of the Void is just around the corner so I have to catch up with the story.

What do I expect?
I've played this game before. I remember beating terran campaign but I couldn't do it with zerg. But that was back when I played RTS with mouse only. After playing a little bit of SC2 I'm familiar with keyboard shortcuts so single player shouldn't give me any trouble.

System Shock 2 Finished

Game: System Shock 2
Release Date: 1999
Platform: PC
Date Started: August 28, 2015
Date Finished: September 6, 2015

Conditions: Beat the game on impossible difficulty 
                     Play it only in the dark with the headphones on 

This post contains spoilers! 

I played the GOG version with the universal update patch. I didn't use SS2Tool, mods or HD textures because I want to experience games in their original form during the first playthrough. I actually played Shock 2 before but I didn't get to the end. There is a lot of backtracking in the game but I didn't find it annoying because the ship Von Braun, just like the Citadel station from the first game, feels like a real place and it's a character on it's own. Out of the 3 character classes I chose NAVI (tech specialist) and decided to focus on hacking and standard weapons skills. This game gave me nightmares as a kid and I was happy to revisit it but nothing could prepare me for the true horror - the protagonist's face. It is so terribly misshapen it doesn't even look human. I'm sure this was really bad even at a time it came out. Just look at it!

The protagonist is even uglier than mutants he fights

Never mind that, I just woke up from hypersleep and the entire sector is depressurizing, time to run. As Polito's voice is leading me through corridors and I listen to audio logs, I'm thinking the voice acting is really good. In the room with upgrade units I witness a ghostly apparition reenacting an event from the past. Apparently cybernetic implants enhance your perception and they can pick up ghostly phenomena. I always thought the ghost stuff was pretty stupid. The doors to the main hall open and I can hear distant mumbling of a mutant hybrid - "We seek, WEE SEEK!"  Nope, I'm not leaving this room. I back off whenever the voices get closer. I swear I spent at least 5 minutes just leaning behind a wall, afraid to step forward.

I think I'll just stay here.

All the horror disappeared in a second after I  killed a first hybrid. The same thing happened when I played Aliens versus Predator. At first I was nervously looking around in fear and I nearly shit my pants at the cliché broken steam pipe jump scare but after encountering an actual xenomorph, all fear was gone. System Shock 2 really creeped me out as a kid but both me and the game aged and I don't find it scary anymore. Doesn't matter, the story is still interesting and the game is hard. At this point I would go down from a single pipe swing of a hybrid. The game is really good at making you feel vulnerable and there is serious lack of ammo so you have to conserve it whenever it's possible. Wrench will be your best friend, get used to it. Scavenging and item management is really important so it's safe to say this game is a first person survival horror. Even the seemingly useless items like plants, cups and magazines can be recycled and converted into money. The gunplay feels alrigh, a lot better than in Deus Ex for example. The only problem is weapons are apparently made out of paper and they break after a couple of shots.

Psychic monkeys are the wost

Like it was yesterday
Yo Dawg, I herd you like games so I put a game in your game so you can play while you play. 

Honey, you got reeeal ugly

The story is pretty good and well told through audio logs. Unfortunately I got the big twist spoiled and I knew that Polito will turn out to be SHODAN but I didn't know the details so it was still a surprise to find we will be allies. The story suffers from some sci-fi stereotypes and they basically ripped off Alien. I mean they straight up called them "xenomorphs". Then again it wasn't totally unexpected since the later levels of the first game had very Giger-ish imagery.

Wait, WHAT? Xenomorphs? I didn't sign up for this!


Also some enemies feel a bit out of place. Like why the hell are there cybernetic ninja assassins on a FTL space ship? Doesn't matter, they are one of the more interesting enemies to fight. They throw energy shurikens at you from long range and run away when you get close to them. They are super fast so it was a nightmare trying to catch one of them with a wrench after I ran out of bullets. They remind me of the Black Ops assassins from Half-Life. After I crashed into bio mass in the Rickenbacker and started to descent into corridors made out of flesh, I started losing all hope for a happy ending. I thought the game could only end in two ways. Either SHODAN will transfer herself into my increasingly more cybernetic body and I will become her avatar, or more likely, I'll end up sacrificing myself  in order to blow up the bio mass. None of that happened. After SHODAN gets the power to alter reality, it starts recreating the Citadel station from memory and the final level of the game is actually the first level of System Shock 1. I felt right at home, having played the first game a few years ago. Visiting Rapture in Bioshock Infinite was awesome but System Shock 2 did it first!

SHODAN's Citadel recreation is pretty faithful. Left side is the original of course

The final boss fight was very disappointing, even compared to the anti-climatic boss fight from the first game. The ending cut scene was even worse.  I get what they were going for. Of course player wouldn't do what SHODAN wants and the "nah" after the epic long James Bond villain-like talk was similar to Indiana Jones simply shooting the swordsman who spent last 10 seconds showing off his skill. However I don't think the ending worked because it completely shifted the tone of the game that tried to be serious up to that point and the incredibly poor delivery of that single word didn't help either.


I already have an urge to replay the game. On my first playthrough I barely touched Psi skills and I wasn't able to use more powerful weapons like machine gun, grenade launcher or any heavy or exotic weapons. This time I'm going to use some mods and HD textures. The co-op seems really cool so hopefully I can get it to work.

+ complex level design
+ sense of vulnerability
+ superb sound and voice acting
+ improved interface
+ plot twist
+ final level
+ replayability

- weapon degradation
- poorly done character models
- ending


Friday, August 28, 2015

Next to play: System Shock 2

Game: System Shock 2
Release Date: 1999
Platform: PC

- Beat the game on "impossible" difficulty
- Play it only in the dark and with headphones on

Even tho I've never finished Shock 2, it's still one of my favorite games of all time. I've beaten demo countless times. When I finally got the full version my hard disk crashed as I was about halfway through the game. Then life happened and I didn't quite get back to it even tho I love the game. Now finally after all these years I'm about to witness the game in it's full glory and I cannot wait.

What do I expect?
I expect the game will be good all the way through and won't let me down. Hoping for some horror and I hope the monkeys will still scare me as they did when I was a kid:)

Heart of Darkness Finished

Game: Heart of Darkness
Release Date: 1998
Platform: PSX
Date Started: January 31, 2015
Date Finished: August 23, 2015

Conditions: Finish the game on a medium difficulty 

I was almost at the end of the game when  my disk stopped working. Fortunately I found  a replacement and I was able to finish the game.

The game is about Andy, a young boy who doesn't pay any attention in class yet somehow he's able to construct a functional flying machine and lightning gun out of scrap metal. He suffers from nyctophobia (fear of the dark) and has a loyal dog named Whiskey. Sudden eclipse happens while they chill in a park and Whiskey gets kidnapped by the darkness...somehow (it happens off camera). Determined to rescue his friend, Andy runs home to his treehouse full of fantastic inventions, grabs a Tesla gun and takes off in his flying machine. How does he even know where to look for Whiskey? Up in the sky he collides with a flying darkling and crashes into a cliff. By the look of it he must be from Arizona. He gets attacked by shadowy creatures and the game throws tons of them at you from the very beginning which is a very odd since the first 5 minutes are one of the hardest in a whole game. Instead of  giving players some time to familiarize themselves with controls and whatnot, they throw at you an angry mob of shadow creatures that will literally tear you apart. I can't understand that decision. After a while Andy meets Jar Jar-like creatures called Amigos and they are just as annoying. The twist ending will answer all the questions you could possibly have about this weird world and it will sort out all the things that didn't make sense. I see how some people could hate the ending but it didn't bother me. But I'm surprised they put such an effort to make this game feel cinematic but they didn't write a very good plot. It's kinda terrible actually. What is also surprising is they hired a film and TV composer Bruce Broughton (Homeward Bound!) and a symphonic orchestra but they only used the music during cut scenes. There is no music during the gameplay for some reason.

The game has great pacing and keeps changing things up so it's always interesting. Starts with some shooting sections, then you lose your gun and you have to run away from the enemies using your platforming skills. Andy gets a new power after coming in contact with a glowing green rock. Now he can shoot things as well as make seeds grow into trees. The later ability is used for puzzles. There are a lot of environmental puzzles where you have to move objects to a specific place and then activate them. They are not hard to figure out. Right in the beginning the game shows some interesting mechanics. Shadows can attack you and the only way to get rid of them is to destroy objects that are casting them. Great idea but sadly the game doesn't use it often and it feels like a wasted potential. The game has beautiful backgrounds and amazing animation. It can be frustrating at times, the last level made me scream at a TV for one hour straight but I enjoy the challenge (unless it's totally unfair like MK2). Heart of Darkness is officially the first PS1 game I've ever beaten.

Sauron, is that you?

+ animation
+ character design
+ gorgeous backgrounds
+ brutal death scenes
+ good mix of shooting, puzzles and platforming

- story
- shadow mechanic not used enough
- rough start


Saturday, August 22, 2015

My Hearthstone priest deck

This is my first Hearthstone deck. It is my creation. I haven't looked at internet  decklists or anything.With it I plan to reach rank 5 or lower on ranked play (I am at 14th right now). There aren't any super expansive cards in it, Maexxna is the only legendary. This whole deck is based on synergy but sometimes it seems like it needs too many things to come together to succeed. Creatures can't really stand on their own. Most of the creatures have 1 attack power in order they get boosted up by Hobgoblin. If he is on the table, Micro Machine enters the battlefield as 4/4 for example and Demolisher becomes a 3/6 a and that's not too shabby. Cleric, Lightwarden and Shadowboxer are a great team. There are situations when opponent is playing really passive and my hero or creatures aren't damaged at all. Enter Imp Master. With his ability he can grant that there will be s sure target to heal every turn, which compliments especially Cleric. Lightwarden can get ridiculously strong in a single turn if I play Holy Nova and have a lot of damaged creatures on board.  Maexxna is trere for cleaning big enemies and 8 health is quite enough with the healing to wipe of the opponents side of the board. I know as I move up the ladder, the games will only more difficult for this deck but I have a couple of ideas how to improve it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Game of Thrones Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers Finished

Warning: spoilers ahead

Unfortunately I got the ending spoiled and I knew from the start that I'll be able to save either Roderick or Asher. Before I even started the episode I already decided I'll let Roderick live. I like both of them but he is more suited to be a lord and his whole recovery would make a nice story arc. However when I finally reached the scene and saw the context, I had to leave Roderick behind since it made more sense in a way I played his character. He would choose to stay. I was looking forward to see Asher and Roderick rule and fight side by side so it was pretty disappointing the way it ended. The whole situation was bullshit anyway, archers would kill both of them just like they shot down every soldier that tried to get in under the gate. So even one of them making it out alive requires suspension of disbelief.
I feel stupid for carefully observing character actions and trying to figure out  which character was a traitor. They did exactly what I was afraid they're going to do. If you choose Royland for a sentinel, Duncan would betray you and vice versa. In my case the traitor was Royland and his reasoning was he tried to save the house and thought Roderick was too weak. My Roderick might have been physically weak but he never shown any type of weakness, didn't submit to anybody and always stood up to Gryff. Even Ramsay said something like "so I heard you're the man who cannot be broken". Even his physical recovery was going well so it makes no sense he would view him as weak. And how would betrayal help the house anyway?
I liked the part with the fighting pit, headbutting "The Beast" was fun (didn't enjoy the fight tho, don't like QTEs) and talk with Tyrion was slightly amusing. Gared's part was the least interesting.

All in all it's one of the weakest and possibly shortest episodes.

+ Ramsay                     

- short length
- lack of facial animation
- boring QTEs
- Gared's segments
- forced choice

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 4: Dark Room Finished

Game: Life Is Strange Episode 4: Dark Room
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC
Date Started: July 30, 2015
Date Finished: July 30, 2015

This is my favorite episode so far. It starts really melancholic but halfway through it gets really dark and turns into something like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or True Detective. The episode is twice as long as the previous ones and it should take 3-6 hours to finish, depending on how much you explore. The first third of the story Max spends in the alternative timeline where she has to deal with consequences of time travel that made her best friend paralyzed. She witnesses Chloe's pain as well as her parents mental and financial struggle. Max and Chloe watch Blade Runner and talk about childhood memories before Max is faced with the hardest decision in her life. Getting back to the original timeline was a relief. I've heard some reviewer called it "cowardly and convenient cop-out" but I disagree. If anything, staying in the alternative universe would be a cop-out since that would make all your previous choices absolutely irrelevant. This way we get a nice window in "what if" alternate universe and see just how little control Max actually has over time and how her actions could unpredictably spiral out of control.

All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Conversation with the drug dealer Frank is the highlight of the season for me because that scene shows just how much the choices you made in previous episodes affect the situation. And there are so many factors that can change. Did you let Frank take David's gun? Did you steal the money from the handicapped fund? Did you talk with Nathan about Frank? Did you ask the cop about Frank? How did you deal with Frank's dog? Did you find the gun in Frank's RV? Did you let Warren beat up Nathan? All these choices add up to the complex algorithm. And of course, the way you handled the situation with Frank in this episode will probably have consequences in the finale.

Once you get a client list from Frank, you have to connect it with other clues in the best puzzle in the game. They really stepped it up with this one. When I saw the complex detective board I was like "oh no, this will take a while" as I just wanted to move on with the story but it didn't take long and I found myself in a full detective mode focusing on every detail. The puzzle isn't very difficult but you will have to think about it and solving it will feels very rewarding, especially cracking the phone code. 

It's been a while since a game made me take notes. Writing the numbers down came really handy later on. btw I didn't write dog names for the puzzle, I just wanted to know who bought what drugs

After that the game takes a dark turn as we get to visit some creepy locations and uncover disturbing secret. Ashly Burch again delivers a heartbreaking performance during the emotionally intense scenes but I feel like all of the actors stepped up their game for this episode. Leading up to this episode I was under impression that the end of the world party will be the setup for the big finale but nothing huge happened there. The ending didn't really shock me. 

Collectible photos and my episode 4 choices 

+ twice as long as other episodes
+ choices and consequences
+ detective board puzzle
+ emotional roller coaster

- lip syncing is still an issue


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 3: Chaos Theory Finished

Game: Life Is Strange Episode 3: Chaos Theory
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC
Date Started: July 29, 2015
Date Finished: July 29, 2015

In this episode the girls break into principal's office at night in order to look for more clues about Rachel Amber and Kate being drugged. The way Max enters the locked office is really clever and it hasn't cross my mind that her power could be used in that way. There are a lot of quiet moments in this episode where Max and Chloe just chill and talk about life or Max and Joyce go through old family album. These scenes feel genuine and strengthen character relationships. We also find more about some side characters like Frank, Rachel and Nathan. By the episode 3 Max got out of her shell and she's much more confident than before and even Chloe mentions that.

Max and Chloe can potentially be more than just best friends

In the reviews for the first 2 episodes I complained a lot about illogical puzzles. Episode 3 doesn't suffer from that. There is a cool verbal "puzzle" where you talk to 3 people in the diner and use the information you got from one on the others, all while rewinding time, manipulating them all in order to get the keys. There are a lot more dialogue options in this episode. I like that Max can have fun with her rewind power and do some dangerous things just to see what happens. On the other hand nosebleeds and headaches from episode 2 seem to be completely gone now, although she sometimes comments on how careful she must be with overusing her power. Ashly Burch, the actress who plays Chloe, did a great job in this episode. She really nailed the emotional scenes. We found out that Max's powers are far greater than she imagined when she jumps way back in time while focusing on the old photograph. Focusing with keyboard and mouse was pretty clunky but I've heard it's a lot easier with a controller. The ending changes everything completely and I haven't seen it coming. Life Is Strange is getting better and better with each episode.

First snow, then eclipse and now dead animals. Tinkering with time has consequences 

+ ending
+ character relationships
+ more dialogue options                    

- clunky focus controls
- what happened to nosebleeds and headaches?


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Life Is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time Finished

Game: Life Is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC
Date Started: July 23, 2015
Date Finished: July 24, 2015

When I finished the first episode, I was worried that the player choices might not have much impact on the story. I can happily say that's not the case. The decisions you made in both episodes will come together during the most important scene in episode 2. Even some actions that seemed insignificant will add up to a bigger picture.

The principal of Blackwell Academy is a black man called Wells. Seriously?

I'm really liking how they are developing the story and the characters. In the episode 1 review I wrote that Chloe isn't very likable but I realized why she's acting  this way. The poor girl has serious abandonment issues. First she lost her dad and then her best friend left her when she needed her the most. She found a new friend but once again she was abandoned. Now she's afraid of getting hurt again. Looking at it from that angle, I'm much forgiving to her character now. The thing that annoyed me about the dialogue is that multiple characters use the same phrases. Like Victoria uses "boo-hoo" when mocking Kate but later on Chloe says the same thing to Max. "Boo-hoo" is an odd thing for an 18 year old to say so at least keep it to one character. Episode 2 is very much centered around Kate so I wonder if the future episodes will be dedicated to some character.

Obligatory shower scene. David Cage would be proud

The puzzles are still the weakest part of the game. The game tries to be grounded despite having the time travel but it is not the supernatural that requires suspension of disbelief- it's the puzzles. Should I seriously believe that Chloe could shoot bottles by bouncing bullets of objects like she is Clint Eastwood? Even if she had like 500 tries she'd hardly be able to do that shot. And then shooting a tire makes a whole car collapse...yeah right. The bottle fetching didn't bother me that much, I didn't have problem finding bottles like some other people did but I think that part could be greatly improved by adding more than the exact number of  bottles. It would make the experience less tedious and slightly more realistic.  The "what do I have in my pockets?" puzzle was pretty good but predicting the future part was again unbelievable and silly with cockroach triggering a jukebox. Good concept tho. The one with the train was great since it had a multiple solutions but it is unfortunate the whole scene was spoiled in both the trailer and the preview at the end of the first episode.


The acting in the most emotional part wasn't the best and the dialogue was written with a purpose to explain and remind you what you did prior to that event so it feels very unnatural. Still, I was on the edge during the whole scene. Episode 2 is even better than the first one and if they can continue like this, it's gonna be fantastic. Now, onto the next episode!

Photo album and my choices [ SPOILER WARNING! ]

+ choices that matter
+ ending
+ soundtrack                     

- puzzles   
- dialogue                          


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Next to play: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Game: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Release Date: 2014
Platform: PC

Conditions: Beat all solo adventures on all difficulties, get rank 5 or lower on ranked play

I have an internet connection at work and I need a simple game that doesn't require much concentration to play when I'm waiting for the customers. This seems perfect.

What do I expect?
I expect very simplicied version of Magic the Gathering. Something very easy to grasp but with enough depth that you can make interesting combos and decks. As a (former) Magic player, I'm not sure if I'm gonna like it but I'll certanly give it a try.
I might even try to enter some noob friendly tournament. Just hope the game is fun as free to play, would really suck if it's pay to win.

Next to play: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series

Game: Game of Thrones: A Telltale Games Series
Release Date: 2014 (Episode 1)
Platform: PC

Conditions: Finish all episodes of the season

I need to fill a Game of Thrones gap after this TV season ended so I'm picking up the Telltale series. This is going to be my First Telltale game ever.

What do I expect?
I'm a little worried since I've played Life Is Strange before any Telltale game and I've heard LiS is much better in terms of choices that actually matter. So I don't think I'll be very impressed with Telltale formula. But I like story driven games, adventure games and Game of Thrones so I should like this series. The original HBO actors gave the voice to familiar characters so that's really cool.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Summer Sale

I said in this post that I'll stop spending money on new games until I finish the one I already own but when I saw the games and discounts on the summer sale, the consumer spirit has taken over. Hey, at least I'm supporting the PC gaming industry, right?
I prefer GOG over steam so I bought most of the games on there.

System Shock 2 (GOG)

This one I used to own and I got about halfway through it when I  had to move to a new place and leave my PC behind Even tho I never finished the game, it's still one of my favorite games ever. It scared the shit out of me as a kid. I can still hear those psychic monkeys...

To The Moon (GOG)

To The Moon is an award winning story driven adventure game made in RPG Maker. One of the most moving video games ever.

A Bird Story (GOG)

A Bird Story is an indie adventure short, about a simple narrative taking place between the mix of a boy’s memories, dream, and imagination. The main character will be the next patient in To The Moon sequel.

The Last Door Collector's Edition (GOG) 

This is an episodic point and click horror adventure inspired by the works of  Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. It is intentionally pixalated so you can see what's on screen but you have to imagine the details and fill in the blanks so it's similar to imagining the scene while reading the books.

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (GOG)

This is a horror adventure based on the short story by Harlan Elison. I've heard that the author was actually working with the team on the game and he initially wanted to make it unwinable.

The Witcher Enhanced Edition (GOG)

Never played any of the Witcher games before but I'm reading the books so I'm looking forward to play it.

The Longest Journey (GOG)

There are two worlds. Stark is a world of order, science and industry.  Arcadia is a place of magic and chaos. April Ryan is a "shifter" able to travel between these worlds and she is tasked with restoring the balance. I've seen some gameplay from Dreamfall, a sequel to this game. It reminded me of Fahrenheit and I loved it. But first I have to play the original.

Sin City 2000 Special Edition - Free
Battle Reals + Winter of the Wolf - Free
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky - Gifted
Divine Divinity - Gifted

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Steam)

Got this game on Steam for only €1.49, 90% off. Totalbuiscuit said it is his favorite game ever, dethroning the original Deus Ex (which is my favorite game ever). So naturally I'm very interested. The game has innovative mechanics where you control 2 characters at a same time and their interaction is key to your progress. What makes Brothers great is the way it tells the story, using interactivity as much as possible. The game is fairly short, about 2 hours but it should be a worthwhile experience. This game is recommended to be played with a controller so I bought one just for it. It was a mistake but more on that later.

The Hat Man: Shadow Ward (Steam)

Shadow people creep me out more than anything and when I saw there's a horror game centered around them, I knew I had to play it. And it was a perfect time to get it since it was just 19 cents, 96% off!

Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.1 Onikakushi (Steam)

Higurashi is a Japanese murder mystery visual novel. I'm not really into visual novel games but this one is supposed to be really good. So good that they made an anime series based on it and it became really popular.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director's Cut

I had a physical copy of the Augmented Edition but I've given it to a friend. Now I scored Human Revolution Director's Cut for just $1 on some charity site.

Humble Bundle:

Psychonauts - A wacky platformer by Tim Schafer's Double Fine studio.
Back to Bed - 3D puzzle game set in surreal art environment
Tengami - Beautiful looking game set inside a Japanese pop-up book.

And now something physical:

Local shop had a discount on everything so I picked up all Starcraft games: Starcraft + Brood War, Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty + Heart of the Swarm. I already had Brood War but I lost the key so I just god a new one. My laptop doesn't have a DVD drive so I had to get an external one. I have a full shelf of PC games just waiting to be played so this is gonna be very useful. I bought the cheapest gamepad with thumbsticks I could find just because I got Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on Steam sale and the best way to play it is with a controller. I tested it a bit and it's terrible. The shape is nice but the buttons are unresponsive and there's a noticeable delay. I planned to use it temporarily until I get a proper Xbox One controller but I don't think I'll use it all.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


It's hard to keep up with gaming when you work 13 hours a day. There hasn't been much progress with Mortal Kombat II. I haven't beaten the game with a single character yet but I got better with Liu Kang adn improved my timings. There are total 13 opponents to beat and on my best try I managed to beat 8 of them. I laugh every time someone says Dark Souls is hard. They clearly haven't played Mortal Kombat vs AI. I was close to the end in Heart of Darkness when the game stopped loading and I found out the disk was damaged. I got a replacement CD so I'll finish that one soon. Life Is Strange should be a quick one too. I actually already finished the leaked version of episode 2 so I pretty much know everything that is going to happen but I'll play through it again since this is the proper finished version. It's gonna be interesting to see what has been changed and what little details have been added. Aside from these 3 games I'm planning to start a lot more. I've been playing a little bit of HeartStone so I'll add it on the list and set some goals for it. I bought all Starcraft games during the sale discount so I'll play a lot of those, starting with the original naturally.

Life Is Strange Episode 1: Chrysalis Finished

Game: Life Is Strange Episode 1: Chrystalis
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC
Date Started: February 7, 2015
Date Finished: February 9, 2015

Conditions: Finish the episode ✓ 
                     Collect all photos 

Haven't updated this blog in a while. I finished this episode way back in February but I was very busy and couldn't find the time to write about it.

Life Is Strange is an episodic high school mystery drama with a touch of supernatural. The story follows Max Caulfield, an 18 year old girl who returns to her home town Arcadia Bay after 5 years in order to study photography at an elite private school Blackwell Academy.  She plans to reunite with her childhood friend Chloe with whom she lost contact. Things become weird when she whitenesses a murder in girl's bathroom, which somehow triggers her ability to rewind time. This is just the beginning and soon you will be solving mystery of a missing girl, encountering spirit animals and getting tornado visions while trying to balance your daily life at school. The story isn't afraid to tackle such topics as bullying, drugs, rape and teen pregnancy.

The game looks beautiful and feels very cinematic. Hand painted textures combined with a great use of lightning give it a very distinctive visual style. The only thing I could complain about is Max's hair- it can look very solid, almost like plastic...or chocolate. The character's eyes can be quite weird looking in some scenes as well. I've played the game on medium setting so keep that in mind while looking at screenshots.

Some examples of great lightning that sets the atmosphere

This action will have consequences

The games's strongest selling points are the choice/consequence system and the time rewind mechanic, which often go hand in hand. You can make a decision, observe short term consequences and then rewind back and try something different until you settle for a choice that appeals to you the most. Even so, it is still hard to make a decision because most of the time there is no clear right or wrong answer and you don't know which decision will bite you in the ass later down the road. The choices are nicely balanced in that way. What I didn't like is that the game straight up tells you "This action will have consequence". When I play I want to be under the illusion that all my actions could have consequences. These messages, which cannot be turned off, break the immersion. The time rewind mechanic is fairly well implemented into gameplay and the rewind effect looks visually impressive. There are some limitations (checkpoints) on how far back you can rewind but that makes sense in the context of the game world since it's implied that Max gets hurt by using her power too much. I wish there was a hidden rewind meter that would take away your health and prevent you from abusing time travel too much. The power itself and the way it works is a bit inconsistent. The first time Max uses her power and rewinds time in the bathroom, she finds herself sitting in class a few minutes earlier. But whenever you rewind the time during the game, she remains at the exact same place while everything around her changes. This basically gives her a power of teleportation but non of the characters seem to react when suddenly Max appears beside them even tho she was nowhere near a second ago. I guess we are just supposed to ignore it because it works well for the puzzles...

Stupid puzzles

The puzzles are badly constructed and unrealistic. For example, there's a part in which you have to get tools but they are on top of a washing machine, just out of your reach. The first thing that came to my mind is to take a crowbar that was lying on the table right next to it and knock it of. But the game won't let you to do that. The correct and only way to solve the puzzle is to turn on the washing machine, which then starts to shake and the tools slide of. Max won't catch them as the fall behind the table so she must rewind again and put a cardboard under so she can pull it out after the tools land on it. Incredibly complicated process for such a simple task. It feels very "gamey". How did she even know the washing machine would vibrate so much? I wish there would be multiple solutions to solve problems in the game. I think there's a lot of wasted potential there. Multiple solutions worked so well in Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy).

Just out of reach

When it comes to interactivity, the game gives you enough things to examine and read through, actions to perform and characters you can talk to but I wish they went a step further. For example, you can ask a girl to remote control her drone. When you do, you get to see the point of view of the drone flying around a schoolyard but wouldn't it be cool if you could actually fly the drone yourself? Max is a passionate photographer who often takes photos with her Polaroid camera. I really wish photography was implemented into the gameplay in a way players could take pictures manually. During the game Max receives text messages on her phone, to which she automatically responds. I think it would be great if we could sometimes choose an answer,  just like we can during the dialogue. Max's diary is a really cool little feature that can be accessed at any time. It changes automatically based on your actions and you can read through it if you need a recap or just want to delve deeper into her mind.

Characters, acting and writing. Are you cereal?

I like character designs in the game but Max doesn't look her age. She is supposed to be 18 yet she looks 14-15 at most. Her childhood friend Chloe isn't very likable. Actually most of the characters act like dicks towards you without any reason and only after using your power you can befriend them by telling them exactly what they want to hear. But do I really want to hang out with these guys under those circumstances? Only Dana and Warren were nice to me. Kate is supposed to be my friend but during the first interaction she just tells me she wants to be left alone. Not the greatest first impression. The one character I really love to hate is Victoria Chase. She is a bully with an entourage of mean girls that seem to follow her every command and laugh at her jokes. A lot of characters may seem like a stereotypes but Dontnod has addressed that by saying they are using established character types and evolving them outside of the boundaries of those clichés by putting them on completely unexpected paths. So I'm looking forward to see how will they develop them during the rest of the season. The voice acting is mostly good but a lot of side characters are voiced by the same actors and it is noticeable. The actor who voiced Max's friend Warren is the most annoying and he got to play a few other characters and you can tell right away it's him. The lip sync is terrible but it didn't really bother me throughout the game, until during the final scene where it is especially noticeable and takes a lot of impact from the ending because the voices seem disconnected from the scene. A lot of people complained about the writing and the overuse of the word "hella". Hella is apparently a NorthCal thing so it's actually accurate considering the setting of the game but the dialogue can be quite cringey at times.

Who's laughing now? Got my revenge on Victoria

Some stats: photo album and choices (Spoiler warning!) Collected all the photos in the first episode.

What really stands out is a great soundtrack composed by Jonathan Morali of the band Syd Matters. It features 2 of their songs among other licensed tracks (PJ Harvey!) and sets the mood perfectly. Life Is Strange may seem very familiar, even cliché at times but only compared to movies and TV series. Compared to other games it's very unique and there's nothing quite like it.

+ sense of mystery
+ balanced choices
+ soundtrack
+ perfect length
+ there's nothing quite like it

- cringey dialogue and writing at times
- bad lip syncing
- same actors voicing multiple characters


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Next to play: Life is Strange

Game: Life Is Strange
Release Date: 2015
Platform: PC

Conditions: Finish all episodes
                     Collect all photos

Life is Strange is an episodic adventure game by Dontnod Entertainment (known for Remember Me). There will be 5 episodes total.

What do I expect?
I have mixed feelings about this one. The game seems unlike any other yet at the same time everything seems so familiar to the point it screams cliche. It almost looks like the devs looked at the movies, asked themselves "what is indie?" and put it in the game. I imagine it will play in similar way as Dreamfall but with higher emphasis on choice and less on the puzzles. I'm hoping for a lot of interactive elements and choices that actually matter and affect the story. This will be the first non-retro game I'll play in a very long time.


AAARRRGGH! Heart of Darkness disc 2 won't load

MFW the game stopped loading
I'm about halfway through the second disc (out of 2) and the game just wouldn't load past the certain point. Tried it like 15 times and it freezes at loading screen every time. I let it load for 30 minutes and nothing happened. I'm so fucking pissed right now. I'll have to find a new copy. Too bad, I was just about to beat the game.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Next to play: Heart of Darkness

Game: Heart of Darkness
Release Date: 1998
Platform: Playstation

Conditions: Finish the game on a medium difficulty

What do I expect?
I already know what to expect since I played the game for some 40 minutes after I bought it. And even before that I knew I should expect gruesome death animations and high difficulty. What I didn't expect is to lose my gun (shown on the cover) after the opening 5 minutes of the game. I thought I was done for when my only weapon was eaten by a giant monster after barely surviving an attack by a mob of shadowy creatures. Fortunately there wasn't any combat after that point and I had to evade the enemies through platforming. What really puzzles me is decision by the developer to make the first 2 minutes of the game way more difficult than anything that comes after. I could  almost see angry kids throwing controllers in rage and never progressing beyond that point. The only logical explanation I can think of is they wanted to have a shooting section in the beginning to draw the players in. I don't think it worked out well but let's start from the beginning.

Heart of Darkness is a cinematic platformer by Amazing Studios, supervised by Éric Chahi who is known for Another World. And just like Another World, Heart of Darkness has exceptionally good character animations and beautiful backgrounds. The game has that Oddworld visual style that doesn't age and looks just as good today as it did when it came out. It also reminds me a lot of Mighty Max cartoon. The game doesn't just look cinematic, it also sounds like it. It features a score by film and television composer Bruce Broughton. I'm really looking forward to hearing more of his music in this game since he did the theme for the movie Homeward Bound, which was one of my favorite childhood themes and I still love it. The high difficulty is balanced by unlimited tries. Sometimes it's worth to die just to experience the crazy death animations and the game won't punish you for it. It will just set you a single screen behind. For some reason Heart of Darkness didn't get the greatest critical reception when it came out (it received fairly good scores around 70%) nor it was very successful commercially. Time to delve into this cult classic to find out why.

Game facts

  • The development began in 1992. The game was planned for PC, 3DO and later for Sega Saturn. It was finally released in 1998 but only for PC and Playstation
  • Final FMV sequence of the game was done in 3D and the game came with a pair of blue/red 3D glasses
  • PC version only supported 256 colour VGA graphics while Playstation had 16 million
  • Game Boy Advance port was announced 2001 but never came out
  • Over 30 minutes of FMVs
  • Main character has a dog named Whiskey
  • The game was rated E for everyone despite having gruesome death animations. Someone wasn't paying attention.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Update / removing one game at a time rule

Haven't updated this blog in a while. Still haven't bean able to beat MKII with a single character. Honestly it felt impossible at times and I was thinking about lowering the difficulty to very easy. But once I played on easy, I was breezing through the enemies without any problem whatsoever and it didn't feel fulfilling at all, it felt like cheating. so I decided to stick with normal mode and in the meantime I learned some juggling combos with my current character Liu Kang and the game suddenly doesn't feel unbeatable.

  Removing rule 2 - one game at a time

When I started this blog I set some basic rules for beating the games. The second rule was one game at a time- I have to finish the game before moving on to the next one. I set this rule because it would allow me to completely focus on one game since besides playing it I also like to research it's development, put it into perspective and see what made the game special at a time it came out etc. Now I decided to remove this rule because of various reasons. In 2014 I have only finished a single game - Mortal Kombat. It took me 7 months to beat it and then I got stuck on it's even more difficult sequel. I get tired of playing MK after 2 games in a row so now I could play something else in the meantime. I also want to play new games along with the old ones and there are times when I feel like playing a specific game or a genre. I'd like to play horror games during the Halloween for example. So removing this restricting rule allows me to do all of these things.