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I just want to preface this with the following: This game contains a literal hive vagina. My first thought was of Free Jinger (after I stopped gagging and crossing my legs). I know this is very much not the place to make a rant about video games, but I need to get this out and it's the only blog I have. My fiance and my friends can only hear me whinge so many times. I am a gamer. A casual gamer to be sure, but I love games. In particular, I love a genre called 'survival horror'. Now, there are some atrocious survival horror games. There are also some outstanding games, and outstanding series. Perhaps the best example of survival horror, in my opinion, is the Silent Hill series as made by Team Silent. That encompasses games 1-4. Silent Hill 2 in particular is an incredible piece of art. It is art. It tells a heart-wrenching story of love, hate, guilt, grief and loss. The ending of the game feels like a gut punch. Resident Evil is another survival horror series. It predates Silent Hill by a couple of years. Although certainly atmospheric and creepy, it's much more of an action-based series. The puzzles are simplistic. Where Silent Hill demands you to sift through lengthy poems to deduce their meaning, RE asks you to find keys and solve basic visual puzzles. There are zombies - oh so many zombies - in place of Silent Hill's unique enemies, who are all conjured by the mind of the protagonist or other inhabitants of the titular town. Silent Hill has some narmy dialogue, but Resident Evil is straight up cheese, such as the infamous line "You were almost a Jill sandwich!" They are very different, and I expect completely different things from them. Silent Hill is grounded. It explores adult fears. It's highly psychological. It's far more concerned with story and atmosphere than combat. Its protagonists are every day people with no special skills. You play Silent Hill for the story and the journey. Resident Evil is fantastical. It's about zombies and biological warfare. The story takes a backseat to action. The dialogue is hammy and protagonists give pithy one-liners. It has moments of fantastic atmosphere, but there are plenty of guns and the protagonists are generally elite special forces officers with army backgrounds. They have always been two very distinct things. Now Resident Evil 7 has come out, and the lines have been hopelessly blurred. One of the main developers of RE7 came straight out of the most recent Silent Hill effort, Silent Hills. It was cancelled and they wound up on board Resident Evil 7. And it shows. Oh, does it show. The game feels more Silent Hill - specifically PT, the playable teaser for Silent Hills - than Resident Evil. Gone are the things that made the series distinctive - the trained protagonist, the insane arsenal, the narmy charm and the one liners. You still explore the halls of a mansion, but instead of hunting down its warped inhabitants, YOU are the prey. You run and hide from antagonists you cannot fight. In that way it feels more like Outlast than Resident Evil. The puzzles retain that Resident Evil feel - they're very much in keeping with the series - but nothing else is. The save room music sounds like Silent Hill music. It's as if the game went out of its way to be as similar to Silent Hills as possible, right down to its first-person perspective and suspiciously-similar ghost girl. There's barely any hint of a connection to the wider universe of Resident Evil - it is there if you look, but I expect mostly it's hidden in the downloadable content episodes. The worst part is the plot, because the plot has literally been taken from a Silent Hill game. The plot of Silent Hill 2 is as follows: A man named James has received a letter from his wife, Mary, begging him to come to her in 'their special place'. The problem is that Mary has been dead for 3 years... or has she? The plot of Resident Evil 7 is as follows: A man named Ethan has received a video tape from his wife, Mia, begging him to come to Louisiana and save her. The problem is, Mia has been dead for three years... or has she? See the issue? Resident Evil 7 has been met with tremendous acclaim. Much like when Resident Evil 4 was released it has revitalised the series, and for that I'm glad. I just miss my Resident Evil. They finally listened to the fans who have been begging for a return to its horror roots, only they sacrificed everything that made Resident Evil itself to do so. And I just can't get behind it.
I can't possibly be the only gamer on FJ. I refuse to believe it. I mostly use Playstation (though I only have a PS3 now, a PS4 is outside of my financial means atm), but I also tend to follow Nintendo legacy games like Mario and Zelda. I'm a huge fan of Steam, so anything you can get for PC on Steam is fair game for me. My favorite games are things like Okami, Red Dead Redemption (and a number of other Rockstar Games), Dead Island, and my apparently endless addiction to Don't Starve. I also love Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, anything Zelda... but also multi-console series like Portal, Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, Max Payne, GTA, etc. I love little games like The Cave, Thomas was Alone, Papers Please, and Limbo. I also love big ass games like The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls (and Heavy Rain, for that matter) and my all time favorite game forever is Shadow of the Colossus. Right now I'm playing the Walking Dead game by Telltale games, because I haven't had a lot of time to give to it so I'm way behind. I'm also currently replaying Brothers, which is fucking gorgeous. Please someone talk about games with me!
The Long Dark is a first-person survival simulation video game by a Canadian company called Hinterland. It's currently in alpha release (available on Steam for both PC and X box platforms), so there are constant changes, updates, and tweaking. The game is frequently updated with new areas, new mechanics,and new looks/feels. The setting is the frozen far-north Canadian wilderness after some kind of freak global disaster (currently not much info is yet available about that). So, there's no electricity or anyone else around (which they capture really well with an isolated/desolate feel to the game--you're on your own!), and you have to scavenge food, water, clothing, and other resources that will keep you alive all while protecting yourself from the elements. Oh, and the wolves. And did I mention the bears? Yeah, those godless killing machines, too. Currently, there are only 2 modes available: "Sandbox"--you have the freedom to explore the world as you wish, with the goal being to survive as long as you can. And when you die, it's perma-death. No saves for you! (This perma-death/no save feature really pissed me off when the game glitched out on my longest survival run yet--529 in-game days, which put me on the leaderboard on Steam in the 42nd place). "Challenge"--you can choose two pre-set challenges and try to beat the clock to accomplish the set goals (Oh, and watch out for that bear on "The Hunted, Part 1," because it's a bitch). There will eventually be a "Story" mode that will provide an RPG-type experience (and will allow saving, from what I understand), but that is still in development. I think the first chapter is due to be released sometime in the next month or couple of months. Let's take a look at just a few visuals, because the game is pretty visually stunning. Here's a gorgeous sunset over a frozen lake in an area called "Mystery Lake." There's a lot of walking, climbing, running, hiding (and falling and starving and freezing and dying) through these beautiful landscapes. A more typical snowscape, with a peach-tinged sunrise in the background. Here, I was trying to make it to a safe location in the dead of night, and turned around to catch the moon rising in between some stark trees. Here's a typical shelter that provides refuge from the cold (and usually food, drink, and supplies). Actually, this is one of the swank digs in the game. A lot of the time you're kickin' it in a quonset hut, a little shack, or even a cave. Hell, I've been caught up in blizzards when out running for supplies and had to make due with a hollowed out tree. Oh, and there are also some "prepper caches" hidden in two of the maps, so you can luck out and find some really good stores of supplies. There are currently 5 well-developed play areas (Coastal Highway, Mystery Lake, Pleasant Valley, Desolation Point, and Timberwolf Mountain), with more (from what I know) still in development. You can do fun (or terrifyingly dangerous, depending on your level of adrenaline junkiness) things like rappel down mountains, climb up mountains, ice fish (there are some cool little ice fishing huts on the frozen lakes), or try to find the wreckage of your airplane to scavenge for supplies. You can also trap rabbits, hunt wolves (usually *they're* hunting *you*, though), or hunt bears, and their skins can be made into useful clothing that can mean the difference between freezing to death and being toasty warm as you explore the landscape. I have been greatly enjoying it, and even though it's still only in alpha release and Sandbox mode is the most in-depth game play mode right now, I haven't yet gotten tired of it. Well, not *too* tired of it. They just recently did an update, so that's made me a pretty happy camper. I plan to post more (I've got some more interesting screenshots and will probably post a couple "Day in the Life Of" type posts), but here's a video of the most recent update, which will give you a feel for what the game looks like in action:
EyeQueue posted a blog entry in The Random EyeThe infamous Marguerite Perrin episode of Trading Spouses was mentioned in the "Your tv low point" thread. It had been a long time since I had thought of this vat of crazy pants, so I re-watched parts of the video, and read a few blogs about it. One of the more hilarious things I saw tonight in relation to the self-professed God Warrior was this: Anyone who played the old Street Fighter II should get this reference.
EyeQueue posted a blog entry in The Random EyeI've been completely immersed in Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines since I started playing it a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned in a previous post, it has a lot going for it as far as a computer RPG game: great voice acting, good story, and atmosphere. Lots of atmosphere. Did I mention atmosphere? While the game succeeds in creating immersive play areas throughout its arc, one of the episodes it really nails it is in The Ocean House Hotel quest you're sent on by Therese Voerman, proprietor of The Asylum night club and baroness of Santa Monica. So, VtM:B is not a "horror" game per se, but this episode ranks among my Top Ten Best Horror Moments in Gaming (I'll get this list whipped up at some point soon-ish). The sights, sounds, and overall eerie atmosphere come together in a masterful little side-quest that drops some creepy horror directly in the middle of this dark urban fantasy genre. Turn off the lights, put on your headphones (cranked up for maximum effect), and get ready for an eerie ride through this abandoned--and haunted!--hotel. You immediately set foot into the creepiness by having to travel to the Ocean House via the sewers of Santa Monica. They are filled with an otherworldly glow and the soft lapping of the water creates shadows and a scintillating effect. The way out of the sewers, and into the Ocean House property, is via a gated exit which looks dark and foreboding, creating an air of expectation of worse things to come. If you hack into Therese's computer (and pay attention to the conversation you have with her before you leave her office) you'll note that the hotel's remodeling has come to a halt because of strange happenings afoot at the construction site. When you enter into the Ocean House proper, you find yourself in this abandoned construction site, with the ominous hotel crouching in the background. This sense of abandonment and the far-off lights of the rest of Santa Monica create a sense of being cut off and alone. Crouching like a torpid beast that hasn't yet awoken from its slumber is The Ocean House hotel--made even more ominous by the full moon shining down intermittently in between moments of cloud cover. It really does have an Overlook Hotel kind of vibe to it, don't you think? And here's another shot of it from a different angle: When you first enter, you're faced with a decrepit parlor-like entry hall, with lots of cobwebs and spooky creaking sounds and sinister music playing. If you turn immediately to your right, you see this derelict hallway--empty, with a boarded-up doorway on the left. Oh, silly me! Did I say *empty*? I might have been mistaken. This is one of the moments that really sets the tone for the rest of your explorations of this haunted gem--and might be a Nope! moment for some. Don't look under this spoiler tag if you really don't want this moment spoiled for you if you plan to play the game. (I pulled this one from the interw3bz, b/c I was never quick enough with the screenshot to capture this). After exploring the warren of dusty, dank, dimly-lit hallways, your next stop is the basement boiler room. Anyone who's seen the Freddy Krueger movies knows you damn sure want to steer clear of *that* place. And--as expected--it's NOPE! levels of scary. Your old pal is again waiting for you (you can see him in between the pipes here--again, if you're worried about too many spoilers, skip this one). Throughout this experience, the designers play with common human fears: the dark, heights, and extremely cramped/close spaces. Like this one. It's the only way to get to the next area of the hotel, so...yeah...have fun with that if you're claustrophobic. After exiting the dumb waiter, the game proves that even otherwise banal places like kitchens can be super freaky. (And check out that microwave. I definitely don't want a swank hotel cooking my food in a microwave, yo!). What could be more comforting/disarming than a brightly-lit hotel room with all the makings of family game night? Family game *fright* is more like it when you zoom in on that child's drawing of his/her fam. Straight out of nightmares. PLOT SPOILER: Oh, hai there, little guy! Where the *Hell* did you come from, because there damn sure wasn't anyone in the room who could have propelled you toward me as I walked away from this doorway. Warnings that Horror Movie Characters All Too Frequently and Foolishly Ignore. When you make your way to the final levels of this quest, you get into the burned areas of the hotel, likely where the fire started. As expected, it's deliciously creepy. Be afraid of the dark and what lurks within it. Be very, very afraid. If you look closely at this next shot, you'll see what I mean. Something hunching at a door, which you see through a hole into the floor above you. *shudder* One of the final images you get before this episode ends is this nice shot of a lonely lighthouse in the harbor. Short, but sweetly horrific, The Ocean House Hotel sequence in this game succeeds on multiple levels of creating a terror-filled, uncanny gaming experience.
EyeQueue posted a blog entry in The Random EyeSo, for some reason I completely missed Vampire: The Masquerade -- Bloodlines when it came out in 2004. That's probably a *good* thing, though, since it was apparently buggy as shit and darn near impossible to finish. Fastforward to now, though, and we get a thriving community of committed PC gamers who have written patches galore for this thing (as well as some SEVERE mods that I'm dying to sink my teeth into...tee hee...once I'm finished with the canon game). I have a soft spot for all things World of Darkness (the White Wolf dark urban fantasy role-playing world), since Vampire: The Masquerade was the very first tabletop RPG I ever played. As a quick tangent, I didn't play D&D in my youth--that actually came *after* V:TM. I badly wanted to, but the boys at my high school who played wouldn't let me play with them--they were suspicious of my intentions b/c I hung out with the 2nd tier popular people. Oh, well. But, yeah--Vampire: The Masquerade. I can't tell you how many nights on my weekends during the 90s were filled with epic gaming sessions with my coterie of RPing friends. I even delved into LARPing a time or two within this system/world (on one occasion in full vampire costume). My very first character was a ninth-generation Tremere from 16th-century France named Nikita who had fallen into torpor and was interred underneath Versailles Palace. Since I had never RPd before, the GM set up my whole background, which nicely replicated someone awakening confused from over 300 years of slumber. I was, to say the least, absolutely thrilled when I started playing Bloodlines last week. It has been a complete flashback of a good chunk of my 90s experience (since for a good 6 years of that time I was a hardcore RPG devotee, and particularly into the urban/gothic/gritty/fantasy milieu that the World of Darkness so richly created). From the music (90s goth/industrial with some pieces from legit groups, such as Ministry and Lacuna Coil), to the voice acting, to the evocative and atmospheric art, this game is a must-have for anyone into the WoD scene, computer RPGs, or vampire fans. The designers have done an excellent job of capturing a kind of twisted, darker, gothic, grittier Los Angeles. From towering skyscrapers to gothic cathedrals (complete with gargoyles) to seedy red-light-esque districts, you can perfectly imagine vampires and other night dwellers inhabiting this cityscape. The nightclubs are pretty well-done. Nothing at all suspicious about this guy, straight-up sporting a katana in the middle of a bar! Lucky me! I got to meet the Prince of Los Angeles and his Sheriff (he's the super-tall scary-looking guy): Um, Mr. Prince? Trump called and wants his decorator back: Overall, a sumptuous, gorgeous, and highly-immersive gaming experience with a 90s throwback flair. Oh, and it has a good story, to boot and several truly poignant moments that really got me in the feels (more about that later).
This is one of my new Favorite Things: Layers of Fear. It's a horror survival game that's currently in beta release on Steam. You play a Victorian painter who is obsessed with completing his masterpiece painting, and who is also having memory problems and is trying to figure out/remember what happened to him and his wife recently. Gameplay consists of exploring your creepy old Victorian mansion, which is absolutely beautiful (though unsettling in a number of ways). As you make your way through various rooms, you look for clues, such as notes, receipts, letters, and important objects that spur your memories. Sometimes you are treated to an audio flashback of certain things that have happened, and you are able to start piecing things together, although the story is disjointed and not in chronological sequence. So far, I am loving this game (I'm about 2 hours or so into it). The artwork is beautiful and the sound effects are eerie and evocative. It's super immersive. Here are a few examples of some of the visuals: The best part about this game so far for me is that it almost perfectly captures the essence of "creepy," "unsettling," and "uncanny"--three characteristics of horror that are more important, IMHO, than gore and jump scares (don't get me wrong--there have been some great jump scares so far, and I'm definitely hoping for a few more). Ever since reading Mark Z. Danielewski's The House of Leaves (and I've read it thrice, and it's almost time to re-read it again), I've wanted either a great movie or video game that could capture the uncanniness of that novel. Not many movies have done that for me, and I always hope to see this element. One that did it fairly well was Grave Encounters, which didn't deserve the poor reviews it got IMHO. This game succeeds in establishing a pervasive uncanny atmosphere. You walk into rooms and busy yourself with a task, and when you open the door to leave...the house has totally changed around you. Sometimes you walk through a door to find the room upside down (and you're standing on the ceiling). And in one *great* sequence, you walk down a curved corridor that's almost Escher-like in the impossibility that you end up right where you began, and it just continues in a loop until you figure out how to get yourself out of it. Wonderful! Loved it! I can't wait to see what else this game has (and it's only in beta, so the developers are still tweaking it). I will post further gems as I get more into the game.
Part of my love of All Things Horror (the origins of which I'll probably make a post about soon) includes the horror genre of video games. Like many others, I love to be scared--albeit in a safe, controlled environment. And video games nicely fit these requirements, since I control the dosage and can basically say, "I'm out" whenever I want to (no safety word required...but more about that in another post). I just finished: [Sorry...I need to figure out the re-sizing issues for future posts.] And believe me, I "I'm out"-ed many, many times during this experience! *shiver* Released in 2013 (so, yeah...I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but I do a lot of adulting, so there's that), Outlast is a survival horror game where you take on the persona of Miles Upshur. He's an investigative reporter who has been tipped off by an inside source that there are all kinds of illegal shenanigans going on inside Mount Massive Asylum, a psychiatric hospital located way out in the boonies of Colorado. Armed with only your video camera, you guide Miles through the creepy, dilapidated hospital trying to find out what the Hell has happened in this place, and why there are so many disaggregated bodies lying around, and just what kind of supernatural disaster (or military-industrial complex cover-up) is the cause of all this carnage. Oh, did I mention that very scary guys stalk you throughout your entire journey? One in particular is a huge, hulking brute who will basically tear you limb from limb if he catches you. And you have no weapons. You only have the ability to run away and to vault over objects parkour-style as you flee in abject terror from the denizens of the asylum who--you discover through finding patient files and 'filming' scenes that then add insights into your 'notebook'--have been subjected by a private corporation to a nefarious project that involves Something Not Of This World. Along with running, you can also squeeze through tight spaces to evade your pursuers, or hide under beds or in lockers a la Ripley from Alien. Check it out. As you can imagine (if you're at all affected by this sort of genre/situation) this is utterly terrifying. The dude will walk away, and you'll wonder: "Is he still there? He's gone, right? I'm safe to come out now. I'm pretty sure he's gone." All the while, Miles (aka *you*) is heavy breathing in terror in the background, adding to the immersive experience. The visuals are quite well-done, and the designers have succeeded in creating an atmosphere that contains an overall oppressively creepy and uncanny feel--qualities that I admire much more than any amount of jumpscares or gore. Don't get me wrong: There are a good number of jumpscares and gore here, but the game goes a bit beyond just that. From time to time, you are plunged into pitch-black rooms, and the only way you can see is by activating the night vision feature on your video camera. The batteries run out quickly, though, so keep a weather eye out for extras along the way! The green-tinged visuals are similar to the feel of the Paranormal Activity series, or other recent found-footage films, which add to the immersive experience. There's also a great moment when you drop your camera and when you start using it again half the screen is cracked--a wonderful detail! Here are a few screenshots that give you an idea of the interiors you skulk through (or sprint through in sheer adrenaline-fueled terror!). Flooded basement with a dilapidated, industrial-type feel. The use of light and darkness is quite masterful. There are interiors that feel claustrophobic, and then some spacious areas, like above, where anything can be lurking in the darkness beyond. Better use your night vision and zoom function to check things out before you charge into unlit areas. Your camera's night vision reveals someone lurking in the darkness. Is he a friend or foe? Some of the hospital's denizens can be neutral to your presence, or even help you along your way. Yeah....Nope! Outlast took me quite awhile to get through (a couple of months). And this was because the designers were so successful in creating an immersive terrifying experience that really puts you right there in Miles' shaking shoes. My flight-or-flight responses kicked in so much that I could only take this game in small doses--15 minutes to about an hour here and there. This game, more so than any other, made me realize that I *really* don't like the feeling of being hunted in the dark in creepy surroundings--but, I'll do so in a controlled way on my terms. But, hats off to the designers, because that is their job. Well done!