Tag Archive: PC


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.

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.

evolve title

 

Behold this beautiful living planet! A place unlike any other with an abundance of exotic wildlife and fauna nearly untouched by human population and advancement. There is, of course, the small detail that everything existing on this world has a strong penchant for death and dismemberment – but that’s all just part of the fun! Oh, and let’s not forget the slight problem of enormously overpowered monsters that inhabit the world and aim to make it their own. But enough idle chit chat! Go and enjoy the beauty that abounds under foot, overhead and all around. Keep your weapons loaded and your wits about you. Welcome to Shear, Hunters!

Most people who see the words 4v1 will instantly have numerous thoughts fly through their heads such as ‘There is no way that is fair!’, ‘Someone must think themselves elite as all get out to expect to win solo against 4 people’, ‘This sounds totally AWESOME!’ Well, the creators of the much adored Left 4 Dead series have brought about a new world for fans of cooperative and versus multiplayer to annihilate each other in with Evolve.

evolveInstead of the usual 4 person cooperative against AI or 4v4 matches, Evolve introduces an asymmetrical fps experience that works amazingly well where no matter which side is represented, they will have to use every ability and know how in order to outsmart, out-maneuver and overpower the enemy before they end up gazing longingly at the winners circle just out of reach. Currently, there are 12 possible hunters that can be chosen from to include 3 assault classes, 3 support classes, 3 medic classes, and 3 trapper classes. The beauty of it lies in that each of the hunters all have unique weapons and abilities which can aid their team in different ways (however they do all share the same class ability whether that be a shield, invisibility, regen field, or mobile arena). This allows for numerous combinations and strategy when it comes to completing the objective or destroying the monster for that particular match. The monsters have similar options, though seeing as they are solitary hunters, there are only 3 variances as of right now to include the Goliath, the Kraken and the Wraith – each with their own devastating attacks and abilities.

Before even deciding which hunter or monster is to be played, there is the choice of map and objective which can greatly alter the outcome of the match if not taken into account. Evolve is so much more than simply the hunters and monsters going after each other for the kill. The heart and soul of the game lies in its Evacuation mode – a 5 map alternating circuit where the outcome of each match has the potential for beneficial or detrimental effects going forward for the winning and losing side, finally leading up to a finale where the fate of the planet is decided. Additionally, each map mode can be played on its own or rotating. There is hunt mode – where hunters track the monster throughout a decently large map and aim to kill it before it kills them; Nest – where hunters aim to destroy monster eggs before the monster hatches or kills the hunters in the process; Rescue – where survivors scattered and injured throughout the map must be revived and escorted to the dropship to safety before the monster kills them first; and Defend – where the monster (and its powerful minions) aim to destroy generators and ultimately the power ship as the hunters work to thwart its destruction.

Within each match there are also additional things to keep in mind besides hunters and monster killing each other evolve huntersand trying to complete the main objective. Hunters must be wary of the environment as well as each other as wildlife can easily incapacitate a hunter whether it is by elite albino creature or by man eating plant. Monsters have the additional tactic of up-keeping the games namesake and evolving by consuming fallen wildlife throughout Shear to reach the coveted and extremely volatile stage 3 monster.

The variances in maps, matches, monsters and hunters lead the game to having over 800 thousand possibilities with no two matches every being quite the same. But wait, there is even more! Each hunter can be leveled up in their unique weapons to become even more powerful and useful to the team; where monsters can do just the same to reach that ever desired Elite status of mastery. An overall leveling system unlocking hunter and monster perks as well as badges and other accolades are also tracked; and lets not forget the bragging rights on how high each class or monster is ranked on the leaderboards.

Looking past the concepts that make up Evolve, its core makeup is pretty solid in itself. Gameplay wise, the controls are smooth and fluid whether it is using the jetpack to traverse cliffs or get a birds eye view of the terrain to switching weapons and aiding teammates in need. Running, jumping and jetpack evasions all but scratch the surface as even the great size of the monsters is attributed in their great leaps and span over the land. Visually the graphics are beautiful from the plants and creatures found on Shear to the harmful effects of acidic gas flooding from destroyed power plants and airships flying overhead. The only problem is taking a second to actually enjoy the beauty all around as you careen across the landscape in hot pursuit of death itself. Evolve is truly a solid gaming experience all around no matter if you prefer playing solo with extremely intelligent AI bots or with friends and strangers through multiplayer rounds.

evolve wraithNow let’s take a moment to explore the more controversial side of Evolve: the reviews! If you look around the Internet, likely you will come across a huge array of reviews having outstanding scores to dismal ones. How could this be possible? Well, there are two sides here – those based on gameplay experience and those based on sales experience. The gameplay experience reviews will likely be the higher of the two in regards to the actual gameplay, graphics, sound, replay-ability, controls, and ingenuity (basically, everything the developers worked hard to implement into the game); the sales experience reviews will be the lower tier, most not even giving the actual game much chance because of disagreement with involvement from a monetary standpoint. What is frustrating is that for those gamers on the fence about trying this game, it leaves them little help in what to think when enough negative reviews may make a large enough impact to scare them away from trying a game they might actually truly enjoy.

So why the money issues when it comes to Evolve? Well, it mostly boils down to the $60 price tag, day one dlc, a season pass and pre-order bonuses. I will honestly say that I can see their point, but I wholeheartedly disagree with where they are coming from. Here are some thoughts on it –

The price tag: yes, it is the full price that most new games retail at. Take into account the amount of time, effort and resources the developers put into creating a game such as this and it does add up. If it is too much, simply wait for the price to go down – it will.

The day one DLC: I agree, it is frustrating to see at times. Why put out a game when there is still additional contentevolve creature that should be implemented into it originally and force gamers to pay extra for something that could have simply been launched from the start? I get it. However, the day one DLC complaints are really not an issue at all because of one simple thing: what could be bought had zero impact or advantage to playing the game. If buying weapon and character skins is really that big of a deal, well then just don’t buy them – they certainly won’t make you play better and is just for those who like to stand out from the crowd a little bit (something that most players will likely not even notice amidst everything else going on).

The season pass: Most games these days are coming out with them, however it comes down to each individual game if paying the extra for all additional content is truly worth the price. Take Borderlands 2 for example, is the season pass worth it? Most definitely! What about a season pass for a game that simply offers a couple extra maps and weapons? Well, maybe not so much. Evolve’s season pass is hard to pinpoint right now as nothing additional has come out for it yet. More monsters and hunters have been announced and speculated and perhaps even additional maps or game modes, but we will just have to wait and see what lies in store.

Lastly, the pre-order bonuses: How this is even an argument baffles me, and yet I have seen it mentioned. In today’s retail world, pre-orders are what guarantee sales for companies and in return they often offer free exclusive content to those purchasing the game. Taking advantage of this benefit is not only held by a particular group of people – anyone can do so simply by pre-purchasing or putting a small amount down on the game before its release date. That said, the bonuses for doing so are non-game changing: skins, extra characters, a map or maybe a weapon. Most games coming out have pre-order bonuses linked to them, and whether people decide to take advantage of it or not is purely up to them.

evolve goliathSo take what you will from media and user reviews and decide for yourself what is truly worth your hard earned time and money. Not every AAA title with great reviews is loved by all and not every low scoring game is a complete waste of time. Play what you want and then make your own opinion of it. Sometimes it doesn’t even matter what the game is so long as you are having fun with friends.

Regardless of it all, Evolve is a solid multiplayer experience for next gen consoles and pc that already has accumulated over 100 years time in gameplay since its launch a couple weeks ago. Whether it is fighting and dying with friends and strangers or showing off solo superiority, there is much awaiting on Shear for all.

It is out there. Waiting. Fighting. Hunting. Dying.

Evolving.

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!)

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

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.

 

Achievement

Achievement Unlocked!

Oh what beautiful words! That small tiny icon of instant praise telling me, ‘Hey! I did something!’ showing up at the corner of my screen, controller in hand, and you just can’t help but smile at the recognition. Sure, achievements and trophies are a thing of more recent years but even despite that they have caused quite a ripple in the gaming realm and even affect how some people play the games they so dearly love.

Think back to the days when the Nintendo 64 battled head on with the Playstation 1: Was Zelda Ocarina of Time better than Final Fantasy VII? Well, arguments on Internet gaming forums and in High School cafeterias would be the battleground for that death match; but did it really matter? You played what you liked because you wanted to. Did I really want to find every skulltula in Zelda to free that poor family from the horrid arachnophobic nightmare curse? Well, honestly, not really – and I didn’t. What if there had been an achievement for doing so, what if that would have been the last thing standing between me and that blessed 100% completion rating? Nope, still wouldn’t have done it (because I loathe spiders and that family can just rot in misery…far away from me). However, this inclusion just may have pushed people that extra mile to get every last item and complete every optional side quest to perfection. This represents a small view of the love/hate relationship that many gamers have with the achievements, trophies, and gamer scores that preside over the gaming world today.

achievement trophy

Achievements have ruined my life! Some gamers may state this as they now have lost that childlike awe and wonder when looking at the games they long to play. They don’t simply play the game as they want to and leave it at that because now there are achievements! Ooooh, the shiny achievements and I must get them all! Missed one halfway through the story? Damn, well better restart the game or reload a save file from three hours ago. Really, it’s true, there are many gamers who are purely achievement hunters; their gamer scores are astronomical and there is rarely a game logged in their library without that gold or platinum mark on it unless it is still in progress. They claim they can’t look at games the same anymore because they want to gain as many achievements in as few playthroughs as possible then move on to the next game. Surely this raises their score and bragging rights, but really it is all just to show off. Here’s a small and possibly unheard of secret that I will let you all onto: achievements are completely OPTIONAL. They are fun and offer some extra challenge but they are not necessary and missing a few will not diminish the enjoyment of a game. If you claim that achievements have destroyed your gaming life, don’t blame the games – you do it to yourself.

achieve cake

With that out of the way, I think that the addition of achievements/trophies is a great asset to the gaming industry. As I alluded to in the intro, I adore getting those little pings of ‘Good Job!’ a midst my gaming but at the same time, I don’t make it my life goal to see every single one of those pop up on my first play through. When I first get a game I play it how I want to. If the only achievements I see during that run is ‘You beat an enemy’, ‘You beat this boss’, ‘You beat the game’, well then so be it – time for round 2! That is one of the greatest reasons that achievements are in place: they add additional replay values to games that developers put so much time, heart and effort into. Not every single player game is 80 hours long and it may well be worth the time to go back through and see what you may have missed on the first run. Maybe choose option 2 instead of option 1, let a character die instead of saving them, go good instead of evil, get different endings and see it all play out to the fullest. Even multiplayer heavy games such as the Call of Duty franchise have numerous achievements that extend the life of the title. Maybe you get tired of being the elite sniper on the team and to add a little difficulty change to grenades only (I’m sure there is an achievement for that as well). So step out of the cozy comfort box and try something new – the Devs didn’t put it in there for it to be completely ignored, even if it may not be the best way of getting from point A to point B.

achieve Easter-Egg-2

Speaking from the developer standpoint, it takes years to develop games and oftentimes a team of devoted individuals with varying skills and assets to make their dream come to life. From my standpoint, adding in extra achievements (whether it be 10 or 187) just helps show gamers that there is so much more they can do and get from playing their game. Sure there are some nearly impossible achievements added in for those hardcore masochistic types, but from what I can tell, most of the achievements that I miss my first play through only lead me to explore every aspect within that game as I pursue them on following runs. I know if I was a developer I would want people to find the snarky little hidden messages in secret areas or discover this beautiful character interaction point off the beaten track or know what it is like to team up with a friend and take out an entire enemy team without dying. Plus, they add a level of difficulty to the game that you may not have realized. Oh, the game seemed too easy that run? Well now try beating it while keeping your main character at level one the entire time! It may sound insane to some, but it offers a unique challenge and play style to games that people may not have normally come up with (plus, if it is an achievement, then it must be possible to do…right?).

achievements steam

If you look at any of my gaming profiles you will find a decent library of games of various genres and find that very few of those games on any platform have that glowing 100% next to them. Most I am still working on or will go back to; others, well, they may be a bit ridiculous or I may just not care for the game enough to replay it 5 more times. I am okay with all of that. I enjoy hunting achievements but they do not control how I play games or how much I enjoy them – and that is how it should be.

Think of achievements as a fun little side quest to your gaming life. So what if I didn’t want to hunt down every evil skulltula in Zelda? Well, I don’t really care that I missed that other achievement either. At the end of the day I’m still going to enjoy what I love to do, and really, that is all that matters.

Pretentious-Game

I will go wherever you are.

Life. Love. Happiness. Despair. Rejection. Courage. Betrayal. Tragedy. Camaraderie. Friendship. Hate. Hope. Death. To most, this list of actions and emotions may sound like the makings of a multi-season television drama – but it’s not. Perhaps then, it is what comprises long standing in depth RPGs – nope, wrong again. Surprisingly enough, it is the very heart of what makes up the simple yet enlightening puzzle platformer Pretentious Game created by Keybol Games/BulkyPix.

Climb any mountain. Use whatever is necessary.

At first glance, it is a graphically simple game made up of a few chapters all incorporating getting a square of a certain color to a specific point on the screen – whether it be another colored square or an alleged exit to the level. The obstacles involved are easy as jumping over blocks, chasms and small red triangles (representing fire) to get to the destination; and while they do increase the difficulty in some aspects, the change does not come by player skill but rather in other unique and intuitive ways. It may involve creating a safer route or taking a leap of faith to discover an alternative pathway or a new skill to help in progression; or perhaps turning the soft melodic piano music off for a moment or repeating an action, or no action, may even give results. Although never outright told exactly what to do, the small lines of story often give all the hint that is needed in order to reach the current goal.

Leap cliffs. Dodge Fire. I will run fearless.

The story itself, like the gameplay, is simple yet speaks volumes within its small sentences of text throughout the chapters. The words appear at the start of each level, without narration, and remain until the next screen is reached. It is an almost poetic story about life, love and relationships; most of which tending to err on a more depressing note though sadly. A hopeful new romance that soon leads to rejection, the recovery in finding new love to have it swiftly taken away by an unfortunate accident, an unrequited love, a cheating love – and they all circle back to one another weaving a single, tangled story of heartfelt emotion.

I will find a way…or make a way. Even if I have to drag myself to you.

Yes, they are inanimate squares, but the lessons derived from this small experience transcend to a much deeper look into human interaction.  There may not be much to this game overall, but it will certainly bring an element of surprise twofold: in how the story unfolds as well as how the player will react to its portrayal. Pretentious Game can be found through various sources on PC as well as through app stores for phone/tablet. For those who may not know, the word pretentious is said to mean an attempt to impress by affecting greater importance or talent than may actually be possessed. Perhaps that is appropriate for this title, for this story; but perhaps not. All that is left is to be decided.

I have faith in you.