The Witness: A Cross-Examination

I was going to write this one without spoilers, but some things I wanted to discuss certainly fall into that category so consider yourself duly warned… SPOILERS AHEAD ME HEARTIES!!! 

It’s currently one of Steam’s “Quick! Now’s your chance to trim that wishlist!” events which means I’ve parted with some cash to pick up some games in what I tell myself is a sly and savvy bit of retail action, but in reality is money that I wouldn’t necessarily have spent otherwise.

One of these purchases… specifically the one I’ve sunk 17 hours into over the past week... is ‘The Witness’, Jonathan Blow’s enigmatic follow up to to ‘Braid’. It’s a game that was pretty difficult to miss when it was released 18 months ago, as it seemed to gather polarised reviews and sparked some controversy over its perceived high prices “for an indie title“. As the dust has settled, it seems to be widely regarded as a creative success receiving solid review scores and being hailed as a work of art by many for its visual style, and ‘hidden depths’. The player jumps into the shoes (well, we assume, the topic of footwear never actually comes up) of a mysterious person emerging from an underground chamber to be greeted by a bright, colourful, highly stylised, and above all mysterious island. To escape our subterranean ingress point that player is presented with a door; a symbol, a dot with a line attached, sits expectantly on the panel and the player must tap the dot and trace the line to the end in order to open the door. That’s the first one… repeat about 400 times until you reach the ‘end’ of the game… and many more if you want to 100% (which as we’ve talked about isn’t my thing).

… that’s it… blog post over…    Continue reading “The Witness: A Cross-Examination”

Confession: “I Didn’t Finish These Five Excellent Games”

I’ve never really been a 100%-er, sure I’ve gathered that fabled status on a handful of games, but I’ve reached a comfortable state where I can put a game down without feeling the need to slay forty-dragons with a teaspoon, only walking backwards, following a heavy drinking session with the local wizard if it’s not fun anymore… although that particular brand of cutlery fueled reptilian carnage sounds pretty excellent so I would probably give it a shot. That being said, I do tend to reach the ‘end’ of a game if I’m enjoying it; whether it’s closing out the story, clearing all the missions, or managing a complete run, watching those credits roll is just as satisfying now as the first time I achieved it years ago.

It’s strange then that there are a few games that I think are pretty great that I have never gotten around to finishing. So, in a confession of sorts, here are five games that I’ve never completed… And my half mumbled apologetic excuses as to ‘why’:

Continue reading “Confession: “I Didn’t Finish These Five Excellent Games””

Cities Skylines: Idle Gaming

No, not ‘game idling’, that’s leaving TF2 running on an empty server because you’re desperately trying to get a hat as cool as my heavy’s purple-super-awesome-fuzzy-hat; it’ll never happen, so you should probably stop trying now. 

In the past week I’ve once more returned to ‘Cities: Skylines’, which may not be the most catchy name, but I guess the developers decided against calling it ‘Cities: The Game That SimCity Reboot Should Have Been’. I first tried my hand at this gentle brand of city planning back in 2015 when it made the list of top 5 games I played that year and, despite rarely being touched since the close of that twelve-months, it remained installed on my PC; a worthy achievement as I tend to clear space pretty regularly to make way for new titles. Working on the ‘Field of Dreams’ school of thought the player lays out roads, infrastructure, designated zones, and the population, like ballplayers through a cornfield, arrive to live, work, and shop. It’s a tried and tested formula that, in all the important ways, has remained unchanged since the first SimCity hit consoles and home computers in 1989 (if you can believe that!). ‘Cities: Skylines’ brings back all the important elements and adds a few more for good measure; along with overall budgeting the player can designate districts within their virtual utopia specifying local bylaws and incentives; for example you could designate a district which gives tax breaks to small businesses, or distribute smoke detectors to residents of a specific residential area. Along with this the game allows you to place certain landmark buildings as you reach gameplay milestones which in broad terms bring in more tourism and act as some kind of indicator of ingame progress. Continue reading “Cities Skylines: Idle Gaming”

Zelda Fan-Fiction: I Don’t Know Much About Zelda

Occasionally I’m roped into a conversation where I’m forced to admit that I really don’t know much about Zelda. By far my biggest experience was playing the original NES outing on the 3DS some years ago (which I picked up for free as part of their ambassador program), but only making it past two or three dungeons before abandoning it. Following one such admission, I began to think about how to best express this lack of knowledge and decided that writing Zelda Fan-Fiction with this severely limited background would really hammer the point home. This was a terrible idea… but I did it anyway. So for your reading pleasure here it is; a short Fan Fiction introduction to Zelda based on my limited knowledge of the series. You have been warned… enjoy?:   

Link materialised. He winced; the hot desert sun nearly blinded him, his eyes barely ready for the onset of day compared to the … the… non-existence that was before.

“Do I even have a backstory,” he pondered, carefully inspecting his clothes, “I guess I’ve got clothes… and they’re green…” he murmured, to nobody in particular, but genuinely pleased that he had discovered something about who he was.

The ‘green’ thought rattled around his brain for a while and he was just working his way up to drawing the conclusion that he presumed he must either be an elf, or Robin Hood when something else happened. A Ganon appeared: Continue reading “Zelda Fan-Fiction: I Don’t Know Much About Zelda”

Weird Retro Mumblings: Quake -game Reaper

It’s off the back of my recent outings into the various worlds of Strafe that my mind turned back to the title that it (arguably) draws much of inspiration from; the first title in ID’s third major FPS franchise ‘Quake’. I knew from the moment that I first installed this masterpiece of a game that I would be hooked for weeks, nay, years, basking in every aspect of it’s well-crafted…

…. no, wait… this isn’t how it happened at all…  

Quake is unquestionably an important title in the history of FPS games, and one that I experienced around the time that it was relevant; but being honest, it’s a title that I was more ‘interested in‘ rather than ‘enjoyed playing‘. Unleashed on the world in ’96, Quake caught me towards the end of my 16-bit love affair, but before the joys of the PlayStation opened my mind to 32-bit consoles. PC gaming was always something that I had enjoyed alongside consoles (as I mentioned in the pilot of “Please Insert Disk 2“*) and I guess my interest in the platform was heightened by the lull between generations. I remember clutching an issue of ‘PC Gamer’, cover CD proudly proclaiming to have the Shareware version of Quake, on my way home from the shops, eager to see what this hyped game was all about. I installed it, played for about two minutes, and then closed it, baffled as to why this drab mess of brown had warranted such hype.

It really is very brown

Continue reading “Weird Retro Mumblings: Quake -game Reaper”