Tag Archive: dark


Forget title

The tree of life.

It is said that any who discover the true heart of its being would truly inherit the power of the gods. The gift of life. It is something so precious that it is nigh unfathomable to even consider the possibility of its creation by almost unusually normal means. But what if…what if it were possible? Just imagine the difference it could make…

In one of the most vibrant, dark and quirky titles that I have played recently, Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden by Cavyhouse and Playism creates a glimpse of a world unlike anything you have ever seen. The view from a small town shop where a young witch performs alchemic experiments, a young boy wishes only to be strong enough to play with the other children, a girl wishes to talk with her cat and a ferret wishes only to feeds its family. That is but a small glimpse of the cast and clientele that come into this particular shop and they all come for one extremely rare and unique ingredient: organs (yes, the human kind – what were you thinking?).

Forget witchIrene’s shop has its own brand of alchemical and magical flair to it in that she has discovered a means of growing organs through a special variety of trees raised carefully in her greenhouse. As her apprentice, Organa, it is your job to care for these trees and harvest organs for the shop while filling customer’s orders. Organs can be harvested in Excellent, Great or Normal form while the scraps make the perfect meals for small animals – let nothing go to waste! However, as with most dealings with alchemy there is always a risk and reward to keep in mind: you may transplant a new organ in a living or non-living being and it may gain new life and/or abilities but it may be at the cost of its original soul.

Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden may be described as a uniquely spirited organ clicking game (or perhaps a very dark humored gardening simulator). As Organa, players will slowly but surely grow and learn to care for this unique garden. Starting with one tree and learning how to water and when to harvest it will then transform into quite the undertaking once the entire greenhouse is filled with various organ plants and other creations (such as a meat mincer and pickling jars). Various animals can be bought to help aid in the process of growing, ripening, pickling and mincing the organs to place various orders of variety, size and quantity that customers request. There is but a small amount of timing actually involved and most of the harvesting can be done at your own pace. As the garden grows and things become more hectic, Irine will often grant Organa new ways to mass water or harvest organs and help make the entire process less tedious.

This all probably sounds quite odd and there is no denying that fact. The various characters that come in and out of the shop  are so very twisted in each of their own ways that it comes full round from psychotic to endearing in a way that you will likely never quite understand. They are a small sampling of stories that truly paint a picture of what having such a resource can do for society – the good and the bad.

In my playthrough, it took me around 20 hours to 100% this game and complete all quests, stories,Forget ferret objectives and both endings (which just let me say, the true ending is adorable). It is a simple concept overall that you will tweak into your own form of perfection in gathering the various qualities of organs needed for quests and moving the story forward. I will forewarn you – it is a point and click grind of soft music and random birds chirping for about 90% of the game. Personally, I enjoyed the weirdness of the story and just overall atmosphere of the game – it is such a brightly colored game and yet the content is something you might hear of in a horror story just before everything goes terribly wrong. It was worth it to grind through the quests and they really required very little thinking to accomplish (i.e. it was perfect to play in the background while listening to music, watching a movie or even just to play by itself in a weirdly therapeutic way I suppose).

It may not be action intense, puzzle heavy or in-depth story driven but it is a unique experience for those willing to give it a chance. Perhaps it is simply a dark and playful side of my spirit that found the charm in this game but it won me over despite its slow start and grinding repetition.

In the end, you have to admit there may be a small part of you that has been missing out on growing life granting organs from trees alongside hummingbirds, lizards and humunculi to fulfill the wishes of your fellow townspeople. Or maybe not, but that is for you to decide.

Forget garden

Notch Main

She runs through the darkened forest with wild abandon. Tree branches slash her face as twigs snap savagely against her ankles, fleeing with hardly a glance towards the ground. Her lungs burn. Her eyes piercingly sting with each tear ripped out by the wind. As she falls to the ground, she wishes with all her might that things would end differently…

In its own corner of the world, a small island village quietly waits for the world to remember – or perhaps, forget – that it exists. A once bustling tourist location, it is all but deserted of visitors from far off lands; only leaving its dwindling number of citizens to carry on its legacy. This is a town that lives forever by its olden ways: there is no true government, simply two rich and powerful families that rule over the town from their far off estates in the forest; there is also no hospital, simply family doctors who tend the ill and injured. The town is peaceful; it’s residents content with life…

Notch Girls

However, when young girls begin showing up mutilated and murdered, the townsfolk hardly know how to handle the situation. With peace shattered and an unknown killer residing in the area, it can be hard to know who to even turn to. But when those we love are brutally taken from us, it tends to strike vengeance and determination into our very core.

…Nanami didn’t deserve to die…

Notch – The Innocent LunA: Eclipsed SinnerS is a supernatural murder mystery Visual Novel developed by Angels Blue Digital Entertaiment and DEZ Studio. The player takes on the roll of the main protagonist: a young man seeking to save the girl he loves after she is slain in cold blood. He sets out to speak with the two ruling families about the murders but uncovers a much deeper rooted cause than anyone could have ever anticipated – mass killings, abusive relationships, families ripped apart, torture, lies, forbidden resurrection, alternate dimensions, pacts with devils and the enslavement of gods.

Notch Sister

To begin with, the story is beautiful, sad and captivating from the basic premise surrounding the main character and Nanami to all of the additional characters met that weave such integral pieces to the tale. The masters of each ruling family try to recover from the murder of their households all the while grasping tightly to dark secrets from nearly twenty years past. Meanwhile, the protagonist comes across numerous intriguing personalities on his journey to save Nanami: the caring and mysterious maid, Hitomi, who works for one of the ruling families; Rika, a dainty mute girl in a tragically abusive relationship; Saki, another almost-victim of the brutal killer; and Misa, a mysterious lolita-esque girl with abilities to traverse dimensions. Throughout the title, in learning their stories they both add greatly to the overall atmosphere as well as create a unique diversity whilst moving the main story along. It draws the player in quickly and does a fairly good job of holding their attention despite one of the game’s main flaws.

Aesthetically, the game provides a beautiful mixture of art and music styles. From anime/manga style drawings of the female characters to almost pastel sketches and water colors; the drastic contrast presents a beautiful landscape in which the story is portrayed. Oftentimes a picture can be worth so much more than words and it certainly rings true in this case. Additionally adding to the landscape would be the soundtrack. Made up of serenading piano arrangements, soft melancholic vocal tracks and even epic rock anthems (a la boss music) provide a near perfect backdrop for a majority of the scenes throughout the game.

Notch Misa

Unfortunately, there is one jarringly disruptive feature that nearly destroys all other beacons of recommendation: the writing. It is understood that translation can sometimes be attributed to sentences being a little off or seemingly simple, but this goes beyond that. Simple wording and sentences can be easily excused; however, it is the unnecessary repetition that is truly insanity inducing. After a few hours of playing the game, the writing became so frustrating that I found myself simply tapping the Enter key non-stop and skimming the lines as they quickly went by. The story is phenomenal, but I understood what was meant the first time it was said…the additional 15 statements trying to explain and send the sentiment home were just overkill. It demonstrates that its fast forward feature simply could never be fast enough. Take for example the following excerpt (keep in mind, this is but a mild example):

“I tried to stay alive…I didn’t surrender in the face of brutal tortures…But you didn’t come to see me…I was waiting for an impossible dream…”

“Don’t cry…I live to atone for my sin…Now I have redeemed my sin…I don’t expect you to forgive me…I am unworthy of being forgiven…I hope you can have a happy life from now on…I am going to die…but you can still enjoy your life in this world…I don’t expect your forgiveness. I just want my inner world to regain peace…I am going to say goodbye to you…I don’t regret trading my life for yours. I can have a chance to say sorry to you..I finally did this…Promise me you’ll have a good life…”

…and this goes on, even still.

Aside from that glaringly (oftentimes obnoxious) detail, Notch – The Innocent LunA: Eclipsed SinnerS is a game that will entrance and mystify. You will truly be drawn in by the art, music and story and yearn to find out more – if you can slog through the endless streams of unnecessary text. Should you decide to give this one a try, the 14 endings that, despite their differences, remain curiously connected will offer plenty of replay value. It is a story that will stay with you – at least in part – long after it is through.

Will the killer be brought to justice or remain free?

Will you be able to save anyone?

Will you be able to save yourself?

Notch Bloody

I hope someday you will forgive me.

If you could go back and change something, would you do it?

Would you risk everything for simply a chance?

Is that truly your wish?

amnesia wall

What could be more difficult than waking up into a world where nothing makes sense? Your work, your school, your friends, your interests, your dreams – why can’t you remember? It seems like there is something you should not have forgotten, no matter what happened. What…or who…could it be?

Opening your eyes for the first time you come across a strange looking boy with horns – a spirit named Orion. Barely remembering your own name, Orion explains that he accidentally crashed into you – literally – and fused with your subconscious, knocking your memories and personality to the winds while doing so. How unfortunate, but luckily he vows to stay with you until your memories can be found and returned. Now, where to start ~

amnesia memories orion

Amnesia: Memories by Otomate and Idea Factory is a beautiful visual novel in which a young girl, the player, returns to her life after an uncanny turn of events and attempts to recover everything about herself that she lost. Reliving the month of August within 5 different timelines – the places remain the same and so do the people around her – but not everything is just as it used to be.

Although waking up with amnesia is certainly terrifying, staying locked inside is probably the worst possible scenario: no outward stimulation means no chance of triggering a memory returning. Only once these precious significant memories are recovered can Orion finally be separated from you and you can begin to live your life as you used to.

amnesia memories suits

Your apartment, your work, the hospital, the theater, the park – these are all places that mean so much to you for various reasons both past and future, yet they always remain static; it is the people you surround yourself with that have the biggest impact, and also provide the biggest danger. There is Shin (the harsh but caring suit of hearts) and Toma (the protective suit of diamonds) that have been your closest friends since childhood; Ikki (the compassionate playboy suit of spades) and Kent (the methodical suit of clubs) who you know from work and school; there is Sawa, who one of your best friends, and Mine who is a younger co-worker and occasionally a friendly rival; then of course there is the manager of your work, Waka, who has unique quirks of his own (military style run maid cafe? Sure, why not). Last but not least there is one other individual (the joker) – his appearances are rare and usually veiled in mystery, yet he almost seems the most important…but why?

amnesia memories others

So you must relive and relearn life as you once knew it five times over; but fear not, although the faces and locations remain familiar, the events that occur within each story arc vastly differ and are never easily overcome.

Each of the five arcs hold numerous bad endings, a normal ending and a good ending; which although may seem like a lot (26 endings in total) they truly leave you with a thorough understanding of everything around you. Initially, the first four arcs (heart, spade, diamond and club) may be played in any order; once completed, the final arc (joker) may be played. After viewing all the other stories, the final arc is almost a culmination of aspects the other four possess and represents the place where you truly belong.

amnesia memories heroine

Amnesia: Memories is truly a captivating experience and never seems like you are simply reading the same things over and over again. How you react and the answers you give to those around you can make a huge difference and change how the story plays out in drastic ways. Attempting to hide your amnesia but poorly masking it may lead others to become suspicious of you or even acting so off course to how you used did (which who really knows how that was until someone tells you) may become a good or a bad thing. However, even though you go to and from your apartment and work so often throughout the month, don’t think for a second that it is just an average slice-of-life playthrough. Each route holds its own suspense and in each one there are attempts on your life through various forms of dangers and harassment. Perhaps it is a jealous fan club that wishes you harm for dating their obsession or maybe it is being pushed by an unknown source into an oncoming train or traffic. Orion and those around you try to help as much as possible, but it is never easy to know the future or react fast enough when the time comes.

amnesia memories group

You may think this sounds familiar, and perhaps it is; there is an anime of the same name that follows a similar premise (If you’d like to see my review of that, click Here). However, the downfalls of the anime are almost entirely replaced within the visual novel on so many fronts. For one, the visual novel requires self insertment meaning that you, the player, become the protagonist/heroine and you decide what is going to happen and how to answer; in an anime, the viewer has no input and therefore the heroine became a blank slate with no memories, no personality, no brain (or so it would seem) and was simply frustrating to watch at times. The VN also is able to place far more detail into the story – almost akin to how reading a book and watching a movie based on the book will be similar, but not the same. The VN explains that it was her personality as well as her memories that were pushed out by Orion fusing with her and it also goes into far more aspects of the other characters that simply could not be conveyed in a 12 episode series adaption.

An aspect of the anime that did transfer over from the VN would be the exquisite art style and the beautiful soundtrack. From the ornate and detailed outfits and look of all the characters to their multifaceted eyes, the art style is mesmerizing. The music adds its own opening and closing themes and the instrumental backgrounds that accompany the scenes simply meld perfectly – from gentle, unknown melodies to beautiful piano arrangements to suspenseful rhythms which all somehow never take away from what it actually happening on screen. The voice acting is also superb and really brings the characters to life no matter what change of atmosphere may occur.

amnesia memories shin

One thing that caught me off guard in a good way was how consistent the story remained in its finest details. Many games that have multiple endings will change them drastically and leave you wondering which is truly the correct ending – which one really adds up all the details and makes sense 100% and which ones don’t quite fit right. Within each arc there are 4-5 different endings, yet the story never deviates from its ultimate path. For example, in the heart world you are pushed off a cliff by someone and wake up in the hospital. Shin is suspected of having done so but was let off after many interrogations and your own support to the police claiming that he did not do it. As the story goes on and you, as well as everyone who was present that night, go back to investigate the incident the paths begin to diverge. However, even though all of the endings come to vastly different finales, the culprit who pushed you remains the same…although that may not necessarily be the same person who kills you or attempts to interfere or otherwise. On a larger scale, even throughout viewing the stories of the other worlds so many things remain the same. Each characters personalities never falter even if their type of relationship with you changes, who they are friends with, who you are friends with, the types of dangers and atmosphere at present – they all exist in all of the worlds, it is how they affect you and what you are involved with that changes the outcome.

In the end, Amnesia: Memories is a romance and mystery visual novel with dabbles of supernatural (I mean, you are fused with a spirit after all). I suppose something that should be explained for those who may not know is what a visual novel actually is: it is an interactive fiction game usually using anime style art and still images. For anyone who may have only seen the anime or is interested in this series, I would highly suggest playing the visual novel. It is not a game for everyone, but if it is you will certainly not regret it. Give it some time and let the story truly encompass you. Let the fear, the sorrow and happiness pull you in. Experience the journey. Remember the good and the bad. Simply, feel.

amnesia memories pretty

never alone title

When times are at their worst, often that is when evil will choose to strike. Where blizzards never cease to bellow their wintery wilds and frostbitten winds tear and rage at everything in its path, a young girl ventures away from the safety of her starving village to see what could be causing the devastating weather. The path ahead of her is laden with trials and dangers from the deadly jaws of polar bears to strangers ransacking her village to sinking ice caps and tumultuous waters. With naught but her courage and her new found arctic fox companion, they traverse the dangers together with the aid of helpful ancient spirits to see what lies in wait at the end of the blizzards roar.

never aloneNever Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna), developed by Upper One Games, is so much more than just a beautiful puzzle/platformer – it is a collaboration of gaming and Native Alaskan folklore told through an interactive experience. The game, however, was not simply a product of devoted research and interviews; but rather had direct involvement with over 40 Native elders, storytellers and community members of the Iñupiat people creating not only an atmospheric and endearing gameplay experience but also including an informative documentary on the culture.

Never Alone allows players to take control of both the young Iñupiat girl, Nuna, and the arctic fox either by switching between the two in single player mode or allowing (and encouraging) playing with a friend through local co-op. The playstyle of each character is different enough to keep things interesting and add an extra layer to the puzzles as each cannot always reach places via the same methods. Nuna has the ability to push objects, climb ropes and use a bolas weapon to break through certain obstacles; whereas the fox has a much better jumping and climbingnever alone 3 ability, can fit in small tunnels and also communicate with ancient spirits that aid the two in their difficult journey for survival. The controls are smooth and easy to grasp as Nuna and fox jump, climb, shatter ice and branches, and out maneuver creatures that wish for their demise, though that is not to say there aren’t times where what the characters should do and what they actually do differed (usually leading to a swift, and slightly heart-wrenching death on one part or the other). Luckily, check point saves occur fairly often so there is not much backtracking to be done if a more difficult or timing induced area is encountered.

Aesthetically, the game is absolutely gorgeous. From the airbrushed art style of the main game to the simple sketches of the story’s cutscenes, it all comes together fluidly. Faded out and cloudy edges of the screen give sense of the all encompassing blizzard surrounding everything while soft and vivid tones accentuate danger and safety – a subtle hint that speaks volumes. The overlying story itself is narrated in the Native Iñupiat language almost giving a feeling of listening to a folk tale by the light of the fire as the images come to life in front of your very eyes.

never alone 4Never Alone offers players a unique chance to experience a culture so very few know much about and does so in an artistic way that really brings everything to life. Available on PC and next gen consoles, it is certainly worth at least one playthrough to experience the beauty and artistry of the game and story (although perhaps not for its full price tag). The game may take a couple of hours to 100% and finish with about 30 minutes of documentary unlockables to be viewed as well either during the playthrough or afterwards. For those with Playstation Plus, Never Alone is free to download for the month of April; so do yourself a favor and spend a little time with this one. Between the endearing affection and trust between Nuna and the fox and the overall passion the developers imbued within every moment, it truly speaks for itself.

never alone 2

 Always remember that no matter what happens, you are never truly alone.

Happiness is… ~ Finding Teddy

finding teddy

Remember what it was like to be a child: where scary creatures lurked in the darkness waiting to pounce once the lights went out; where the inhabitants of dark half-open closets and underneath beds held danger with pointed claws and gleaming eyes; and where through it all, that furry stuffed animal became the best friend and protector ever to be had. Remember the overwhelming panic that struck each time that fuzzy comfort evaded arms reach? Imagine if a gigantic spider-like tendril reached from the depths of the closet and snagged that which was most precious? Oh, the horror! It is in those very times that fear must be pushed aside to save what is most important to us – to find and save Teddy!

findingteddy-1Finding Teddy is an endearing point and click adventure game by developer LookAtMyGames in which players control a young girl who sets out into a simple yet enchanting world to brave dangerous creatures, aid them in their troubles and find her stolen Teddy Bear.

What appeared to be a simple yet intriguing concept at the start truly became a work of art by its completion. From the pixelated graphics to the midi style music to the puzzles and gameplay – the bright colored world within the wardrobe comes to life before the players eyes as they venture into forests, caverns, cities and graveyards; dying horrifically from tormented creatures and turning their worlds around from dismal gray to colorful happy. Collecting and using items to help these creatures in turn helps the girl move forward; whether it is by adding music notes to her repertoire or granting safe passage to a distant area. By the end, subtle realization hits that the seemingly colorful world that was entered at the start was but a fading glimmer of what it truly becomes by its finale. Speaking only through music and bringing happiness to those that are sad and lonely – it was almost shocking how much insight can be gained from a stolen teddy bear.finding-teddy_graveyard

The game itself may only take an hour the first playthrough but does give enough content to warrant at least a second run once teddy has been saved initially (and perhaps look forward to an upcoming Finding Teddy 2). Although short and sweet, it really speaks volumes in following imagination, finding the best in bad situations and at its core, going out of the way to spread happiness even to those who may not warrant a second glance. It is something the world could certainly use as a reminder at times.

Yes, there may be numerous spiders to be had in this game; but even the most arachnophobic at heart (a.k.a. me) should be able to [almost] find even the biggest and scariest of them to be cute by the final credits. So give this one a try – it may not seem like much, but its magic will strike whether it is expected or not.

finding-teddy-artwork-wasp

Melody Title

Please don’t stop the – Please don’t stop the – Please don’t stop the music!

Moving to the beat of your own music is probably one of the best philosophies that a person can have in life. Whether someone is happy, sad, playful, angry or nostalgic, music simply has a way of impacting people inside and out.

So how awesome would it be to gauge a game off of the very tracks that make up your own music library?

MelodyDoing just that, indie developer Icetesy’s Melody’s Escape is a runner/rhythm PC game that feeds off the music found on your own computer and creates a unique fast-paced quick reflex course for Melody to traverse for each track that is played. From the slowest sonata to the fastest techno beat, each track becomes an instinct based battlefield of directional and specific button sequences for the player to navigate – with perfection being the ultimate goal!

At the end of each music track a rating of 1-5 hearts is given as well as the highest chain sequence and a breakdown of how each obstacle was hit or missed. Additionally, achieving that perfect chain score proves to be no easy task on any of the four difficulties ranging from relaxing to normal to intense and finally to overload!MelodyThumbnailAnimated200px

Similar to other music based games, Melody’s Escape is primarily based on quick eye-hand coordination and fast reflexes. What makes it truly spectacular is that it does not submit the player to its own quirky nondescript electro-beat music but rather utilizes the players own music library – adding not only enjoyment but additional replay value in seeing what new tracks and courses may be created.

Overall, Melody’s Escape is a simple yet challenging and enjoyable game that spices up simply listening to music to experiencing it. The game can be purchased through Steam and played via keyboard or controller.

To see some of my own gameplay, check out the video below: =)

Music: Choir Jail by Suzuki Konomi
Official Site: http://www.melodysescape.com/
Steam store: http://store.steampowered.com/app/270210/

(Only thing owned by me is whatever skill (or lack there of) seen above!)

The Gods Among Us ~ Noragami

noragami

“Even if things are painful and tough, people should appreciate what it means to be alive at all.”

A lost cat, a strange encounter and a bus. This is how it all started for Hiyori Iki as she walked with her friends on what could have been any ordinary day. As the three friends stop to look at a small ‘lost cat’ poster of Milord, they joke of Hiyori’s closet martial arts obsession and shake their heads as she completely zones out into her own little world. It is then, as they pass by a beautiful stranger with dark hair and piercing blue eyes, that everything changes. Her friends don’t bat an eye at his passing, but Hiyori notices him and turns to watch as he calls for Milord at the top of his lungs. At sight of the small feline across the street, the young man jumps into oncoming traffic only to be knocked out of the way by Hiyori trying to save his life. Oh, what a day!

Noragami yato

After awaking in the hospital, Hiyori finds the young man in her room and he introduces himself as Yato, a minor god. It turns out, Yato is so minor that not only is his name hardly recognized but he doesn’t even have his own shrine and he works minor jobs (such as saving lost cats) in order to earn money and gain a reputation to match his large ego and dreams. The next time their paths cross, Yato points out that Hiyori is a little bit different since they saved each other at the accident: Hiyori has become a hanyou, a half phantom that on occasion will separate from her own body and walk among the realm of the far shore – the realm of phantoms and gods.

noragami Bisha

From that point on, Hiyori becomes entangled in the lives of the gods – beings that exist alongside humans, although most people do not have the ability to even notice them unless the gods allow it. While many gods remain at their shrines, others go out and seek to eliminate phantoms that have crossed onto the near shore, the realm that humans inhabit. These gods fight with weapons called Regalia – spirits who are found and named by the gods after their death and take on a weapon form to work in tandem with their masters. Yato names a new regalia Yukine, a young troubled youth who wishes only to be alive like everyone else and causes much pain to his new master through his reckless actions.  The three encounter other gods in the area as well as their Regalia which bring friendship, loyalty, vengeance and betrayal – with none more mysterious than the disowned and renounced Regalia, Nora.

noragami nora

Noragami (meaning ‘stray god’) is a supernatural/action/comedy manga and anime that was recently aired running 12 episodes. Providing an entertaining premise and story mixed with a beautiful art style, the episodes keep audiences interested throughout their entirety. While the story line itself could easily be more in depth, the way different aspects and elements are strung together create a riveting and synonymous tale from beginning to end. For the length of the series it is very well done and gives an entertainment value that many fail to do quite so well. As the three somewhat unwilling strangers survive trials and grow ever closer, they all learn much about themselves and each other – even when the darkest of pasts come to light.

noragami hiyori

Despite harrowing circumstances, people can sometimes change each other for the better. Friendships are bonded, loyalties remain, and even gods of war and calamity can find light in their irrefutable darkness.

The Devil’s Own ~ Blue Exorcist

blue exorcist

The forest looked down on her with gentle smiling leaves as her feet sank into the freshly fallen snow at each step. This place was only to be a temporary assignment but it somehow became the only place she cared to be. It was all a misunderstanding anyways. Humans and demons could learn to coexist and understand each other, she was sure of it. Perhaps one day that world without separation and hate would become reality…

It had been 15 years since Father Shiro Fujimoto had taken in twin boys to raise as his own. The monastery they grew up in was the only home they ever knew, but the boys could not have possibly been any different from each other. Yukio Okumura was always smart, calculated and studious; even though he was the younger sibling he always sought to be able to protect his older brother and those that he cared for. The elder brother, Rin, on the other hand was always a wild card; somewhat of a rebel and slacker yet always attempting to do things with the best of intentions – even if putting his own life at risk. The brothers always seemed to be a little bit different in some aspects, but it remained a deeply hidden secret until one fatal night when their lives would change forever.

blue exorcist groupWhen demons begin to overtake Assiah, the human world, Father Fujimoto has no choice but to finally reveal to Rin that he is the true Son of Satan and give him Kurikara, the demon sword that had sealed away his powers up until this point. When the gate to the demon realm Gehenna opens and Fujimoto is possessed by none other than Satan himself, he sacrifices himself in front of Rin’s eyes in order to save him. From that point on Rin vows to destroy Satan and eventually ends up enrolling in the elite True Cross Academy high school.

Admitted by the preceptor himself, True Cross Academy has a hidden curriculum that only certain dedicated students even have knowledge of called the Cram School: a school for exorcists. It is there that exorcists in training learn not only to combat demons and protect the world from a danger most people do not even see, but they also hone the exact methods in which they will repel the evil and learn to work as a team. Some exorcists become Tamers with summoned pets to do their will while other may choose to become an Aria and defeat demons through reading scripture. There are other categories as well that aspiring exorcists may enlist themselves as, but none so highly ranked as the Paladin. Rin soon finds himself among a small yet colorful cast of students and faculty that will take them up the ranks of becoming exorcists and closer to their goal of abolishing Satan. Of course, nothing ever goes quite so smoothly planned and as Rin attempts to keep his demonic looks and powers concealed, plenty of trials and trouble test the students up until their final showdown with the demon king himself.

Blue Exorcist is an action/supernatural manga and anime following the story of the brothers – in particular, Rin. Throughout the 26 blue exorcist rin and shiemiepisodes of the first season, the main story remains ever in tact while still including many side stories and character backgrounds that truly draw the audience in. From the goal oriented justice seeking Suguro, to the abandoned demon familiar Kuro who is quickly won over by Rin, to the gentle and quiet Shiemi who ends up becoming one of the strongest characters overall – the cast truly transforms into a solid unit of friends and allies by going through so many difficult trials together. With humor, emotion, and plenty of action throughout each episode it is one that will easily keep attention throughout the series.

Humans and demons have been at war for as long as texts have been written and stories have been told. Perhaps it only takes one person to change that fate for the future.

There are always dreams to be realized.

Lives to be lived.

 

wolf-among-us-cry-wolf-art

…Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary…

Every story has a purpose.

Think of those classic tales most everyone has heard and loved since childhood: Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel or the Princess and the Frog (to name only a few). Each story not only held entertainment value but also had lessons and warnings hidden deep within their pages. Many of these stories were actually written much crueler in their original form and some may be surprised to learn that the princess did not kiss the frog but rather threw it against the wall and that the wicked queen in Snow White was forced to dance in red hot iron shoes at their wedding until she fell dead. Not every fable and fairy tale gets that Happily Ever After, oftentimes all that the audience is left with is surprise.

As the previous four chapters of Telltale Games’ The Wolf Among Us have played out: Fabletown is ripping apart at its seams as a dark mastermind and those working under his watchful gaze begin murdering their own and capitalizing on other fables misfortunes. The fifth and final chapter of the series based on Bill Willingham’s comic book series Fables brings players to the pinnacle of the action as Sheriff Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf) finally meets with those of the inner crime circle and discovers the truth a midst a complicated tangle of lies.

Some might say that the previous episodes of the title did not incorporate enough actual action sequences – well, the final episode makes up for that in leaps and bounds. From hand to hand combat to street chase scenes to taking on more enemies than can be counted in one room, the action is at nearly a constant making use of quick reflexes, aiming and controls. Don’t worry though, when the pace slows down the player isn’t simply left with idle chit chat; what they are left with is making critical and weighted timed decisions and ensuring that justice is given its due. Needless to say, it is two hours of gameplay that seem to take only minutes whilst careening towards the games grand finale.

Telltale Games certainly has had it high and low points throughout the series, but they did not hold back when it came to bringing this story to conclusion. Even after the height of the action and story has ebbed, they leave the player with one final scene which gives some measure of explanation and fills in the gaps while, in turn, also making the player question every decision they ever made. There are many theories on what the true ending to The Wolf Among Us means, but sometimes, figuring them out firsthand is the greatest reward.

So now that the story has met its end (for now), the time to play this title couldn’t be more perfect; or for those who have been keeping up as the episodes are released, perhaps another play through to truly piece the puzzle together may be in order. So discover the darker side of Fabletown and those that dwell within, glimpse the violent crime mystery from a different perspective…see how big and bad the wolf truly is.

You’re not as bad as everyone says you are.

I hope you find what you’re looking for.

I’ll see you around…wolf.

 

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Since time began there has been an undying curiosity found deep within every human being. A curiosity towards self; a curiosity towards the world; a curiosity towards time and space; a curiosity towards the future.

Although unknown in origin, in ancient Scandinavian folklore there existed a way to seek out visions, to see the future, called year walking. This practice, while varying on details depending on location, had very strict rules which if not followed directly could prove to not only lead to disastrous results, but to be fatal. Upon deciding to undertake a year walk certain obligations must be met:

First, a year walk could not take place on just any day; but on certain festival days such as May Day, Midsummer’s Eve, Christmas Eve or most commonly New Years Eve.

Second, the individual must abstain from any and all food served on these holidays. A sacrifice of sorts as most of these days were usually accompanied by plentiful feasts.

Lastly, the individual must seclude themselves from all others and remain without fire for the entirety of the day. Locking themselves in dark rooms, away from light and warmth, until the hour reached Midnight – then would be their last opportunity to forgo the year walk. Once outside, there was no turning back…

A year walker’s destination would always be the church, though the journey would be anything but a pleasant stroll through the woods. Numerous supernatural entities were said to be encountered along the way such as The Huldra (a female guardian of the forest said to bring both good fortune and untimely ends), The Brook Horse (most often associated with death and drowning), The Myling (children killed very young, wandering and wailing seeking help or leaving death in their wake), The Night Raven (often associated with disease, the manifestation of an evil greedy man not properly buried) and finally The Church Grim (a sacrifice, guardian and parasite of the church) all of which would potentially cause physical, mental and spiritual strife to the year walker.

Upon arriving at the church and circling the grounds in a specific pattern the year walker would be given visions of the future as well as lure out The Church Grim. These visions could present themselves in a variety of ways such as a procession of people leaving the church, all of which would end up dying the following year or a view of various wedding ceremonies. Life, love and death would all play a part but each journey would leave the walker a changed person forever.

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Indie developer Simogo has recreated this haunting experience in their simple yet artistic puzzle/horror game Year Walk. Starting out just before the night begins, the player discerns through a brief encounter that their journey not only lies in seeking the future but ultimately to find if they are truly loved in return.

year walkThe game itself follows much of the history that is given above, and it can all be found within the opening moments of the game if chosen via an encyclopedia. While it is not necessary to read each of the pages before beginning the journey, it adds a certain level of comprehension and depth which may not be taken from the gameplay itself. There is very little dialogue or explanation within the actual game, actually, there is not much direction given at all; but knowing the destination does not always mean knowing which path to travel.

The actual gameplay relies on simple left/right/forward/back movements in addition to clicking the mouse to interact and carry objects (yes, carry objects – there is no such thing as an inventory. Additionally, it is recommended to not solely rely on the map to get around as carrying certain objects will not allow it to be viewed). Aside from that it is basic exploration and getting to the right place at the correct point in the storyline as subsequent supernatural beings are revealed. Many puzzles and clues can be found scattered about the map as well, but not all of them will be solved, nor even make sense, until after the first playthrough. The puzzles themselves vary greatly from simple button presses and sequences to open doors and pathways to listening to distinct sound pitches to find the correct path out of a darkened maze. Oftentimes, many of these puzzles will have no immediate clues on how to solve them while others require some backtracking to discover exactly what must be done. There is a hint option that can aid the player if they simply have no idea where to start but otherwise a little bit of note taking may be all that is necessary.yearwalk6_2490317b

While the gameplay is not very intense nor intricate, the artistic flourish resonating throughout the title is what truly makes it
stand out. The dark, almost cut from a story book, visuals are like walking through a painting but it is far from the beauty one might find gazing at a quiet cabin in the woods brimming with life and quiet. It is a changing scenery emanating with an eerie stillness as nightmarish creatures take to their true forms and pristine snow becomes tainted with blood. The music that accompanies these images and puzzles is often mysterious but calm – serenading piano melodies and haunting vocal tracks blend into the background almost entirely unnoticed until realization hits that something has changed.

All in all, Year Walk is not a long game nor is it terribly involved; yet it holds within it an intriguing story rich in nearly forgotten folklore. While it is not without a few small jump scares it mostly relies on its haunting and isolated atmosphere to give its horror-esque touch. It has been recently remastered for PC (which is this version played) but originally debuted on IOS, both versions staying fairly similar but with a few additions and adaptions for PC implemented. It is a small and mostly unheard of title, but anyone with an interest in olden folklore or dark legends will surely find this one worth its price.

“To see if they would be wealthy”

“To see if they would be happy”

“To see if they would live”

“To see if they would be loved”