Tag Archive: fantasy


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

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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.

7 deadly sins

“Your eyes can see through evil, your mouth utters the truth, your heart is filled with justice and your sword shall crush evil. To stand by what you believe is right till the end…isn’t that the most important thing for a knight?”

Wrath. Greed. Sloth. Lust. Gluttony. Envy. Pride. The Seven Deadly Sins in which so many people either fight against with all their might or simply accept freely with open arms. Whether it is seen as weakness or strength, the true intent often becomes the greatest demon of all.

When stars streak across the darkened sky forming a cross, it is said that a great calamity will soon fall upon Brittania – but to what end? Are the country’s exalted Holy Knights truly as honored and noble in their positions as people seem to believe? What of the legendary group of criminals, The Seven Deadly Sins, who once attempted to overthrow the kingdom ten years ago? When surrounded by enemies and deceit on all fronts, how does one choose the lesser evil?7 deadly posters

The anime Seven Deadly Sins or Nanatsu no Taizai follows the third princess, Elizabeth, as she flees her home in search of the great warriors once called the Seven Deadly Sins. The only problem being that no one has seen or heard of any of them in ten years – ever since they were accused of attempting to overthrow the kingdom and killing a Grand Master.

As luck would have it, Elizabeth ends up running into the former captain of the sins, Meliodas (the dragon sin of wrath) and after some untimely trouble and explaining that the Holy Knights have been corrupted and her plan in having the sins help, they end up traveling together in search of the others.7 deadly e and hawk

So begins the quest that takes Elizabeth, Meliodas and Hawk (the adorably heroic talking pig and scraps manager of the Boar Hat – Meliodas’ moving tavern) all over the land from the “haunted” white forest to a heavily fortified prison to a necropolis of the dead in search of the others. Of course, as if locating the other members and convincing them to come along wasn’t hard enough, numerous powerful Holy Knights show up to try and thwart their plans – their goals being to kill the sins, particularly Meliodas, and forcibly returning Elizabeth back to the castle. 7 deadly ban king

Seven Deadly Sins is an anime topped full of action, comedy and fantasy. It has an almost Full Metal Alchemist feel to it and keeps that spirit alive throughout its 24 episodes (and even has the sin name thing going). There’s also a fairly sizable nod to the original Dragon Age (whether intentional or not) that those who have experienced being a Grey Warden will almost instantly recognize once that point is reached. With  lovable and amusing characters, a fitting score, a story with far more depth, twists and turns and plenty of action – the episodes go by far too quick!

All of the main characters are so vibrant that there is never a dull moment to be had. They are so much more than just weapon wielders and pretty faces. They each have their own in depth stories, reasoning, races, abilities and personalities. From the happy go lucky kid who is captain of the sins for a reason to the most bubbly and adorable giant girl that ever existed – the cast simply never fails to impress.7deadly diane

It is a story of simple premise at start that gains momentum in leaps and bounds keeping shock and surprise around every corner. Characters that were hated will become loved while others backstab when least expected – it will play on emotions with the best of them! With no shortage of humor – and even tears on occasion – it is an anime that should not be missed.

Who would have thought teaming up with a bunch of criminals could bring on such an amazing adventure!?

“Even if you were to die, I would still fulfill the promise made with you.”

7 deadly group

Happiness is… ~ Finding Teddy

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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

MMO Game over

Come with me to escape your everyday life and take on a role for a world much different than your own. Where evil abides in numbers, will you stand with those against it or aid to empower the imbalance? Will you join others in the greatest fights of all or will you be confident enough in your own skills to survive the terrors unaided? Venture to a world where you can make a difference in the lives of its citizens; where fierce beasts lay havoc on the lands and wait for formidable adventurers, like yourself, to bring their reign to an uncompromising finale. So choose your weapon, don your armor and take your first step into the adventure of a lifetime…

This is but a general set up for a genre of games called MMORPGS, or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. It is the epitome of creating your own character, your own legacy and your own story. While this does not discount the establishment that single player RPGs or other genre of games bring to gamers, there is one vital difference that MMOs bring to the table: community. Some of the more notable games of this type that most people will recognize at least on some level would be WoW (World of Warcraft), Final Fantasy XI or XIV, Rift, Tera, Guild Wars and the list continues. They are immensely popular games, some being free to play while other require subscription – yet the adventure, fun and camaraderie has always brought more and more people to their ranks and continued to draw people back in.

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I will admit that I have never played WoW, I know, it seems crazy. However, my first experience with MMOs was years ago not long after Final Fantasy XI launched. I remember the first time I launched the game and saw the warning message telling me to have fun but not to forget about friends, family, work and school. I had always spent a good amount of time gaming on various platforms, but to think something would have to put that message up beforehand just seemed amusing to me. I soon learned why it was there and encountered people within the game that clearly could have taken those words of wisdom a little more to heart.

But here is the thing: MMOs have taken a turn for the worse lately, and it is sad to me. Although I had many large breaks from FFXI due to other things I was doing in life, I probably went back to it on and off for almost 9 years (9 years! That is a good bit of devotion). It clearly had enough content, challenge and fun to keep me going back and accomplishing more and more. Of course, having played since nearly the beginning I was able to see first hand as the genre began to warp into the creature it is today.

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What Final Fantasy XI used to be was what I loved. It was difficult and unforgiving but it gave you a true sense of accomplishment. Level 75 was the max level that could be reached for the first half of the game and it wasn’t something that could be done in a month…it took me years to get there. Quests were mostly to give you gear or items needed to unlock certain level caps or abilities; missions were used for story progression and to increase renown and gain other benefits and rare items; and leveling to 75, well that was something completely different. The fastest method of leveling was made by putting in time, hard work and team effort. Parties of 6 people of different jobs would gather together at a specific place and simply kill enemies until they reached a higher level and needed to move on. At best the enemies may have given 200xp each; however when it takes 18k, 30k or 50k to get one level it can be quite a time-involved endeavor. Other aspects of the game involved hunting extremely difficult bosses for rare items which would only spawn once every few hours or days and could only be claimed by the first person or party to attack them; a death and exp loss penalty for dying; huge maps of which to traverse usually by foot or with some teleportation help from certain job classes of higher levels. Then of course there was the end-game which had numerous events made up of large alliances of people of varying jobs that met multiple times a week and would give great reward for those who were able to put in the necessary time. All of this made for a challenging and beautiful adventure. Unfortunately, it is something very rare to find now.

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Some of the more recent MMOs that have come out the past few years still offer much of the same format, however it is hard to ignore how easy the games have become. The greatest part of the genre was the community aspect: teaming up with random people who may end up as close friends to fight through difficult battles, level, or down huge mega bosses for merit and reward. This is hard to find now. Leveling up can be done completely solo via quests and missions and done within a matter of weeks usually; and most people tend to just do their own thing as opposed to joining forces and getting to enjoy the game with others. Sure the larger bosses and end game events still require groups to survive, but these are likely random people placed together through a group finder who are spread throughout many servers and will likely never see or hear of each other again. It just feels so soulless and empty. Why play an online game geared towards cooperation between people to simply play it alone or only expect the best people to join you so that you can win the first time, every time?

People said the games were too hard, so they changed the format to be more friendly to casual players. Sure, not everyone has countless hours every week to put into a game, that is understandable; but they made the games so that everyone can easily be swept to max level and then carry on with the same mundane and simple tasks, guided by their happy lighted arrows on the map. The adventure and exploration is gone for most people and the magic went with it. People wanted to see results and they wanted them now. They didn’t want to work on something and earn their reward after putting in the time and effort. There are still many who would like the challenge of years ago to remain, but the majority simply want everything handed to them – which makes for quite a boring game in the long run.

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Sure, I enjoyed my time playing Guild Wars 2 or FFXIV and the others, but they maybe lasted me 8 months tops before I felt like anything else I did was repetition and mostly I stayed that long for the friends I had in game. Sure there is new content being put out, but really, it is the same format as everything else but with a different background. The community is still unimaginative and self involved and the challenge is minimal – sometimes only being difficult at the very start until the method is found that will kill the boss easily. They have made the games so that almost anyone can have the best of the best – and when everyone has it, it loses that special something that made it what it is. Sure having the strongest weapon and the best gear stats is great and will help you, but it has lost that accomplishment of “I worked hard to get this and now I have the right to wear it”.

When I played FFXI, I certainly did not ever have the time to get the best gear. It took years for me to get my first job to 75 and I struggled and fought and suffered to get there. I never had time to join groups that did end game events, so I did the best I could and I had fun doing it. I learned to be good at my job and my abilities on there instead of simply relying on getting the best gear to carry me through. Skill is what sets people apart in those games, and sadly they have made it so that even those without skill can look just as good with little effort.

Some people may disagree with this view, but I personally dislike that I can max out level and gear on a job within a month or two of the game being released. What will make me stay? The friends I have with me certainly will for a while, and sure, I will want to work to get the gear to match my skill and usefulness; but after that? The adventure fades, the sparkly new-ness of everything becomes dull and I move on to something else. I understand why companies have shifted to create a larger, more diverse, player base; but at the same time the longevity that would keep people going back seems to be dwindling.

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Times change and people change, it is just how things are. For myself, I will always be on the lookout for something that may be more akin to the type of MMO world I loved; but in the mean time, at least the variety and adventure of gaming can be found through numerous other genres and platforms – and that is something that I know will never fade away.

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.

 

queen

The day has finally come. The halls are bustling with anticipation as last minute preparations for the ceremony are underway. A few short months ago she was almost a normal school girl worrying about grades and friends and social gatherings; but now everything has changed. For better or worse she has finally arrived at this momentous day – the day she would become queen. So many people dream of being a princess and living a prosperous royal life decorated to the nines and waited on hand and foot. If only they knew what it took to get to that point; the time, the knowledge and the sacrifice. Adorning her last decoration and examining her attire one last time, she takes her final steps as princess…

queen testLong Live the Queen is a life simulation visual novel created by Hanako Games. Stepping into the life of Princess Elodie, players are given the task of preparing Elodie to take the throne and will quickly discover that every decision made has the utmost importance and consequence. Surprisingly enough, while every issue encountered has a distinct cause and effect, surviving long enough to see her coronation is no easy feat.

The game opens with Elodie talking to her Father on their return trip from her boarding school to the castle. Her mother’s untimely death has forced her to leave behind her school life and begin preparations to become queen. Although a simple premise at first glance, it does not take long to discover just how in depth and difficult accomplishing that task will be.

The game itself is broken up into two sections for each week that passes. Elodie has 40 weeks of preparation before the coronation andqueen classes each week can be considered a player’s turn. At the start of each week Elodie must choose two courses of study (one for the morning and one for the afternoon) which will boost her skills in that particular field. Easy enough, right? Not so much. There are 14 class categories which range from royal demeanor/conversation/expression to agility/weapons/athletics/animal handling and history/intrigue/medicine/economics/military/faith/lumen. Within each of these categories lie 3 particular areas of study and one is then chosen for morning and afternoon for that week. Elodie’s skills will go up in that category at a rate of 10 per week – though that also depends on her mood. Yes, a plot twist! Elodie is affected by the events that occur to her. Whether she is happy, sad, determined or worried it will affect how she learns certain skills. When determined she may learn military strategy at a much higher rate but if she were sad there would be a penalty. Of course, Elodie could just learn certain areas randomly and gradually increase them all but in all actuality that does not get her very far.

queen skill levelThe second section of each week places Elodie in the role of regent. These meetings and events all force decisions that will ultimately aim Elodie towards a certain fate and it is also where the skills that are selected to be learned become of great value. For example, criminals may be put on trial and the decision must be made on whether they are to be set free, put to work, locked up or executed; but decisions may backfire or they may anger or bring alliance with other nobles involved. Additionally investors may come looking for approval but if Elodie does not have enough economic knowledge she may simply dismiss them rather than bring good fortune to her land via great innovations or aid.

That is the basic setup of the game but the options and outcomes are enormous. One tiny decision made different or the lack of a skill at the right time can send Elodie to her death or can unlock even more elements and parts of the story that might have easily been missed. The dilemmas range from the simple trials and investment offers as given above to more serious political strategy, commoner rebellion, nobility backstabbing, magic, invasion and war. Every decision counts and preparation for the actions and consequences that follow is everything.

Long Live the Queen is a game that seemed intriguing enough to pick up during a sale and give a try. Unbeknownst to me, I wouldqueen death soon be spending hours upon hours retrying my decisions and attempting to open up other avenues within the expansive story line. It was a delightful surprise to find how in depth and challenging the game became and even now after the hours I have put into it I still have things left undiscovered. Available on PC, it is well worth the price for the amount of content. Although it may get somewhat repetitive recounting the same trials over and over to gain new results, the reward is often worth the trouble and many of the scenes can be skipped through and sped up to get to the decision once you have seen them so many times they are devoted to memory. It may seem a bit girly at first but it is a game that anyone can and probably will enjoy. When a break is needed from guns and action or leveling, delving into the strategic gameplay and enjoying the anime style art of Long Live the Queen may be just the right decision.

Long live the queen! Long live the queen! Long live the queen!

queen coronation

E3 2014 ~ So Far…

E3-2014

It looks awesome!

It is an event that gamers throughout the world as well as those within the industry look forward to each year.  It is an event where thousands view the conference from their homes via live streaming while others traverse the halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center brushing shoulders with big name developers and playing demos of games that seem barely more than a wandering thought for most; it is a time in which all eyes focus towards one finite point. And as always, oh what a show it has been so far.

Monday marked day zero of the 4 day conference showcasing Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony and all they have in store within the coming future.

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Microsoft presented a succinct showing of numerous exclusive and large titles that would exhibit all that the XBox One is truly capable of. Glimpsing the first images of huge names such as Rise of the Tomb Raider, Witcher 3 gameplay footage, Tom Clancy Thehalo_5_guardians-672x372 Division, Forza, and Sunset Overdrive; that alone would have been enough to keep gamers glued onto the coming horizon. Add in a few unexpected twists such as Phantom Dust, an original Xbox remake; much loved Crackdown; new title Scalebound; and of course numerous smaller titles such as Project Spark, Ori and the Dark Forest and handfuls of other Indie games that hold just as much impact and there is little more that could be asked for. Lastly, who could forget to mention the news surrounding the Halo series – Masterchief collection coming out end of year containing all the previous Halo games leading up to the much anticipated Halo 5: Guardians. Microsoft ended their conference stating that they make the Xbox for the gamers and that every gamer helps “shape the future” of the beloved brand and system.

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EA took the stage next bringing with them an entourage of sporting titles and other big names. Opening with Star Wars Battlefront and the greatly anticipated Dragon Age Inquisition (accompanied by a live musical performance) set the stage for what was to DAInquisitionGoGamercome. The new Sims 4 captured much attention with their “smarter Sims, weirder stories” demo which outlined the limitless possibilities players will have. Additionally, EA brought forth gameplay and footage of the new UFC game, NHL 15, PGA Tour (“Golf without limit”), Madden 15 and Fifa 15 to round out their sports venues. Criterion Games went behind the scenes of their newest work which, while unnamed, promises to showcase every mode of transportation and extreme adventure known to man. MOBA Dawngate and Mirror’s Edge also gained some press time. The finale of EA’s conference came with not only long minutes of gameplay for Battlefield Hardline (set on the streets, cops and criminals) but also announced the start of the live beta opening with 64 PS4s in room and directions on how to register both PS4 and PC to those at the conference and at home.

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Next on the lineup came Ubisoft, which in my opinion gave one of the most entertaining shows thus far (pre-show rules given by none other than a group of Rabbids, of course). Opening the stage with the first 5 minutes of footage from Far Cry 4, it started the show on a grand scale and kept on climbing. Just Dance 2015 followed introducing not only new gameplay footage and music but also a new way of playing the game altogether – with a smart phone. Using technology most everyone has paired with the Just Dance App allows anywhere from one to thousands of people to play together – anyone, anytime, anywhere – and of course this was demonstrated with about 30 people on stage, in the balcony and in the aisles of the conference room. Tom Clancy The Divisionac unity graced the screen next with more visual footage to aid the gameplay viewed earlier by Microsoft. As a zombie apocalypse survival shooter without the zombies, its line of “tragedy is invisible” really struck home after viewing this side of the presentation. Racing across the world and a tournament of teams accompanied more information on The Crew with an announced beta of July 23 and a November 11 release date. Next up on their list of heavy hitters came Assassin’s Creed Unity, not only giving an intense preview of the game and just what exactly it means when it says ‘unity’ but also showing an entire missions worth of live gameplay. AC Unity is set to release October 28. On another level entirely, to help gamers enjoy a bit of fitness a new game called Shape Up was introduced as well making fitness activities into a competition (and what gamer can turn down a competition, anyway?). From the talented creators of Child of Light, Valiant Hearts The Great War tore at the crowd and viewer’s heartstrings as it showed a glimpse into the story of 4 separate military personnel all accompanied by their faithful canine. For their grand finale, Ubisoft unveiled something that nobody saw coming. Showing unnamed gameplay as a co-op team of 4 attempts to infiltrate a house and recapture a hostage with tactical prowess, good aim and perma-death, audiences watched in awe as Rainbow Six: Siege was unveiled and truly almost stole the entire show.

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Sony ended day zero of E3 with a somewhat overly long but well done conference. As anyone who watched the conference can say, there is no doubt that Sony ever tires of stating how they bring things to gamers first and they bring it better. Destiny opened their show as well as announcing a glacier white PS4 bundle that will be available at game launch. Following this came numerous game previews and announcements to include The Order 1886 footage, Entwined, Infamous DLC, Little Big Planet 3, Bloodborne, Far Cry Destiny4 (with the ability to play co-op even if friends do not own the game), Dead Island 2, Diablo III (with last of us zombies included – hello clickers! :eek:), Battlefield Hardline, Disney Infinity 2, Majicka 2, Remastered classic Grim Fandango, Let it die, Abzu (from some of the same creators as Journey), and No Man’s Sky. A huge list of games all with great potential as well as great exclusives for playing them on PS4. Additional hardware was also shown such as Project Morpheus, the supposed future of gaming incorporating the Playstation camera. Also discussed was PSN as a whole as well as free to play games. Information was also given on Playstation Now and its hundreds of titles available on any device and even a Sony TV with a dualshock 3 controller (July 31 open beta PS4). Playstation TV will also be available later this year for a $99 price tag or a $130 bundle. Following this technology interlude it returned to what players really wanted to see: Mortal Kombat X gameplay, PS+ promotions, A new show based on a graphic novel called Powers, Ratchet & Clank movie and remastered game, Last of Us remastered, Metal Gear Solid 5 Phantom Pain footage, Grand Theft Auto V for PS4 announcement, Batman Arkham Knight gameplay and a glimpse at Uncharted 4. Phew. It was a long two hour conference for Sony, but they certainly delivered.

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Finally, the start of Day One began with Nintendo’s pre-recorded conference and they brought exactly what people were looking for. Super Smash Bros for 3DS and Wii U showed more depth into Mii fighting styles and techniques (to include brawler, fighter andYoshisWoolyWorld gunner as well as over 36 mixed abilities) and also gave the first view of something called Amiibo – a way of bringing toys to life (much like Disney Infinity or Skylanders). These small figures of Mario, Link, Pikachu and many more can be used to bring powerful, yet unique, characters into certain games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart (among many more to come) simply by hovering the figurine over a corner of the Wii U Gamepad. The adorable Yoshi’s Woolly World was looked into as well showing the initial idea process of it to actual game play as well as a look into a new game featuring Toad called Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. A game that most everyone held their breath in anticipation for was word of  a new Zelda game for Wii U and although only a small amount of footage was seen, the promise of a truly open world and the beauty and mystery that has always surrounded the Zelda universe surely made every fan smile. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire as well as Bayonetta 2 were given some previews as well as Kirby and the Rainbow Curse and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Small interviews and footage were also shown for the upcoming Hyrule Warriors (confirming Link, Zelda, Impa and Midna as playable characters), Mario Maker (an amusing new twist on creating and playing Mario levels either in classic or more updated form) and a new ink shooter battle game called Splatoon.

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All in all, E3 2014 has been huge and there is no way to crown just one conference as the best. With major cross platform titles to exclusive franchises to unique and quirky adventures, there is something for every type of gamer no matter what system they may own or prefer (if not all of them). As E3 continues for the next two days there are still bounds of news, trailers, booths and demos to see whether it is on site at the convention center or from the comfort of home. So enjoy one of the biggest events in the gaming industry, let anticipation reach an entirely new level and know that at the end of the day, everyone is leaving as a winner!

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Listen closely child, to this story of a land; a place called Lemuria, a landscape grand. Left forsaken to darkness by a queen of the night; left with but one beacon of hope – a princess of light. Twisted forests to caves, to the depths of the sea; the crown and her companions would fight so bravely. To recover her kingdom, her stars, moon and sun; but for now, listen child, as her story is just begun…

Within this vast world of gaming there are numerous qualities that stand out among others: graphical prowess, innovative gameplay mechanics, in depth multi-faceted storylines or even exquisite and hard to forget soundtracks. Sometimes games possess many of these qualities among so many others all in one pristine package and other times many fall just short in one or more areas. Ubisoft’s newest release Child of Light, may not be a trailblazer of these factors by most people’s standards; however, it shines brightly through those clouds of violence, gunfire, and blood and introduces players to a spectrum of elegance that is not often found.

In this fairy tale RPG, players find themselves in control of a young girl named Aurora who awakens in a land unlike anything shechild of light dialogue has ever seen. With bright red flowing hair held under a protective crown and a sword at her side, she sets off to discover this mysterious land of Lemuria and find a way back to her home, back to her ailing father. As she aids many passerby and villages, she receives more than just simple items and trinkets to help along her journey – she finds companions and friends whose worth becomes more than words can say. From a rhyme challenged Jester with a beautiful voice to a love-struck mouse archer always eager to impress, the cast leaves behind the generic party makeup that so often accompanies RPGs for an endearing cast of creatures whose intentions almost carry an air of innocence. With her friends, Aurora explores the lands ever searching for the light that was so cruelly taken away from the Lemurians and fights to gain back what was once taken.

One of the most noticeable aspects of this title lay in its enchanting art style. Beautiful hand drawn characters and landscapes almost replicate floating through a dream. Contorted trees and rocks shadow in the forefront and the endless backgrounds go on for what looks like miles giving a wondrous depth to the 2d sidescrolling fantasy.  Additionally, the story and dialogue is not told in a usual format, but rather in an almost shakespearean-esque round of poem and lyric from the narrator’s interludes to the characters banter back and forth. It is an unusual and surprising element at first; and while it may cause some to lose focus of the story trying to keep up with the rhyme, it also adds a variance of color to its own atmosphere. It just feels right.

child of light combatGame play wise, the player primarily controls Aurora either on foot or by the most welcomed method of flying around the overworld areas. In addition to Aurora, players also control a small firefly of light named Igniculus, who can alternatively be played by a second person. Igniculus has his own abilities both in and out of combat which consist of acquiring items and some chests that may be out of reach for Aurora or simply hazardous to navigate to as well as temporarily stun/blind enemies for safe passage. Once combat is initiated (either by a frontal or rear encounter) the screen and tempo changes to a new format. It is a mix of turn based and real time combat that truly is something simple and easy to grasp yet exceptionally fun to master at the same time. During battle, two party members may be on screen at the same time (along with Igniculus) and a small action bar appears at the bottom of the screen to show both party and enemy placement along the timeline. Each attack or defensive tactic has its own cast time within the action window and it goes the same for both friend and foe. Attacks and spells may also be interrupted by either side and alternatively may also revert the target further back on the time line, which in turn opens the door to the true strategy of it all. On top of planning attacks and counters and watching the enemy, Igniculus also plays a part via healing party members, slowing down enemy progress along the time line and even collecting small replenishments of hp, mp and his own light source.

In addition to exploration and combat there is also a trove of treasures, stat boosts and confessions to find scattered around the world map to achieve that 100% completion mark. Going even deeper, each character has their own unique three tiered skill tree so they may upgrade their active and passive abilities as the player chooses up to a three star basis determining power and effectiveness. A somewhat simple crafting system is also in place involving certain gems called Oculi. These oculi have varying degrees of strength and up to three can be attached to each character to boost elemental attack, elemental resistance, evasion, hp or mp depending on the slot they are assigned. In essence, these factors allow the player freedom to build the characters as they wish and utilize them to the best of their ability.child of light sea monster

Overall, Child of Light is a game that takes many familiar RPG elements and places them into an atmosphere that is somewhat unexpected yet exquisitely enchanting. The story may hold a simple premise, yet plays out much as it is first introduced: as a bedtime story told to a child awaiting their dreams. It is a work of art both in visual allure as well as written word, and should be taken in as such. Taking around 10 hours to complete the story (and perhaps additional to find and acquire everything missed once complete), it is well worth the price and can be played on PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox360, Xbox1 and in the near future the PS Vita as well.

So when the time comes, will you step into the world of Lemuria?

Will you listen to this story?

…I think you should.

“A person who cannot give up anything, can change nothing.”

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One hundred years ago humanity was thrust into a one-sided conflict against incredible giant humanoid Titans; a devastation that would result in a majority of the population being wiped out – without remorse, without reason. Since then, peace has been found within the safe and well defensive confines of three ginormous walls: Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and the center-most Wall Sina. During this time, many people have lived their lives happily without ever laying eyes on a Titan; but peace can only last for so long uninterrupted…

In the year 845, the outermost wall containing the Shiganshina district would experience this terror once again and numerous citizens and military personnel would invariably lose their lives and lay witness to a massacre and evacuation that would not soon be forgotten.

Within this area called home to so many, three youth connected by difficult experiences and dreams of the outside world go about attack on titan legionstheir day as if it is any other. Eren Jaeger and Mikasa Ackerman make their way home while completing chores and stop to see the return of the brave but war-torn Survey Corps; one of three branches of the military that go beyond the walls in hopes of quelling the Titan onslaught and gathering intel – though usually at the cost of many lives. As people insult and disgrace the men and women as they return home, Eren is enraged, hoping to one day join their ranks and help gain humanities freedom. Along the way they also run into a close friend named Armin Arlert, a sweet and intelligent young man who would do anything for his friends.

It is after a brief visit home that all hell breaks lose upon Shiganshina as a giant Colossus Titan appears as well as another variant known as an Armored Titan break through Wall Maria and let lose an onslaught of Titans onto humanities doorstep. Peace has ended and blood swiftly begins to flow down the streets of destruction and terror. As military personnel try their best to defeat the 3 to 15 meter tall titans overtaking the city and evacuate as many citizens as possible via boat to the inner walls; the three youth make their way to safety but it is not without tragedy or heartbreak. As refugees to the inner Wall Rose, Eren vows to join the cadet ranks and enter the fight personally to kill any and all Titans that have torn his life asunder. At this proclamation, Mikasa and Armin also agree to enlist in order to help protect Eren as well as accomplish their own motives.

attack-on-titan titanThe next 5 years follows the three through harsh military training: vigorous regiments, classes, hand to hand combat and mastering the core weapon used to down their most formidable foe – 3D Vertical Maneuvering Equipment. This equipment sits at the belt and is comprised of a storage vessel for blades on each side connected with a trigger hilt which not only houses the sharp swords for use but also triggers the maneuver part of the gear. The maneuvering allows the user to be versatile in air combat via gas supply by extending two separate hookshot-esque lines into walls, building, trees and Titans – and is invariably the only method that allows reach to the Titans true weak point: a death stroke to the back of the neck. Most other attacks will simply allow the Titan to regenerate injuries and lost limbs within a short amount of time.

Attack on Titan, or Shingeki no Kyojin, is a 25 episode anime that follows humanities fight for survival against the fearsome Titans. Staying close to Eren, Mikasa and Armin, as well as the other cadets in their graduating class, they are thrust headfirst into battle and bloodshed, unknown circumstances and enemies and even distrust within their own ranks. As they watch elite members of the guard fall time and again, they must somehow find the strength to carry on with their mission…no matter what the cost.

attack on titanIt is an action intense, dramatic anime that will keep attention throughout. With a decent amount of character growth within the first season, it brings forth many different elements and truly accentuates the fact that there is rarely an easy or correct decision. A good leader must be willing to risk everything to gain results, and this is truly the mindset that becomes impossible to ignore. Although many of the ‘shocking’ moments and realizations can be estimated beforehand, it does not take away the intensity and want to keep watching. There should be some warning though as it does contain a large amount of graphic content from horrific and bloody deaths to the harsh language one would expect to accompany such atmosphere. The anime ends with just as many questions as it begins with, if not more; but that leaves plenty of room for the oncoming second season to pick up with.

At one point in the series a character states that, “It takes great courage to go against the tide. I respect that.” In difficult times it can be easy to simply cower in fear and run with the crowd, but it is those who stand up to fear that show their true strengths when it really counts – and it is those that make all the difference.

“They are the prey and we are the hunters!”