Chris Redfield’s Awkward Debriefing

Apologies to all you non-Resident-Evil-Fan-Readers out there, but this is a Resident Evil related post. A little while ago I was once again in a Resi-mood, to I picked the REmake up on the Switch. And yes, it’s a great game and probably one of the best remakes ever cashed-in-in-on by Capcom. So I picked my way through Chris’ and Jill’s scenarios and found myself mulling over the implications of each of these versions of events. More than that, I realised that considering events in the following games, and given the additional questions raised by Resident Evil Zero, It’s Jill’s scenario, and not Chris’, that must be canonical… and that it must’ve been pretty awkward when Chris found out…


“That’s some expensive carpet…” Chris Redfield thought as he tentatively explored the flooring with his socked left foot. He kicked the discarded combat boots to one side and stretched out his body as best he could whilst still technically remaining seated in the cold metal chair. Irons had been gone for hours and his final words before leaving the room had been “…don’t move…” Even so, Chris had just reached a conclusion in his internal debate and decided that boot removal was technically not moving. The Chief seeing his socks was preferable to spending another how-ever-many hours with aching feet. It already felt like a lifetime since the surviving members of S.T.A.R.S. had been manhandled in to separate rooms for a personal debriefing with Irons himself following that nightmare in the Mansion. Continue reading “Chris Redfield’s Awkward Debriefing”

The Switch: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Waaaaaa eeeeeaaaiiaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh…… wwwaaaahhh wwwaaahhhh waaahhhhhhh

An oft unadvertised bit of Hundstrasse trivia is that I enjoy a good western. That cliche mix of myth and reality, tales of a fleeting time in history, and the frequently blurred lines between good and bad make for some ol’ fashioned guilty pleasure viewing. In the last few weeks I’ve replayed both ‘Hard West’ and ‘Call of Juarez: Gunslinger’; two titles that capture everything superbly over the top about the genre in very different gaming vehicles, but I’m not writing about westerns today. Instead I want to talk about the platform that I enjoyed those titles on, and in all honesty, most of my recently played games: the Nintendo Switch.

The Switch has been a fixture in the household for some years now, but aside from ‘Zelda, Breath of the Wild’, I really hadn’t spent too much time clutching the wonkey-eyed-dog. Our Switch was, for the first 2 years in the house, mostly a useful portable gaming vector for excursions away for the weekend, or to take with us to play with friends or family. That was until late August last year when our player 3 arrived. At the time of writing we’re getting in to something of a good routine, but the first few months of having a baby that routine is really changeable and gaming needed to be slotted in as and when it could be; heck, I played most of Golf Story with him sleeping on my lap. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that the Switch offers me a way to game when sitting down for long spells at the PC isn’t feasible. The quick startup, easily suspended software, and ability to just grab the console and continue in handheld mode all play right in to that need of having to adapt gaming to the current household circumstances. I’ve also begun… until recently of course… to brave possibly judgemental looks from my fellow commuters and started making use of my morning train journeys to get some gaming in.

So with the Switch the device I currently use the most to game, and having now played a good variety of titles, I felt like it was a good time to take stock and reflect on it as a console. In short, outline the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly …see what I did there?…  Continue reading “The Switch: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”

Good Job! – Missing the Office Life?

Have you been working from home? I’ve been working from home. I’m guessing a whole load of you have been working from home, and if you’re one of those key-workers who have been heading out there day after day to keep the rest of us safe and sound then you absolutely have my gratitude and assurance that I have been doing whatever I can to stay the heck out of your way.

It may not be much, but the best that most of us can do in the current situation  is to think about how our actions impact everyone around us 

… but, whilst I’m normally a fan, working from home does deny me the simple pleasures of being in the office or lab. Pleasures like mashing the buttons on a vending machine and sending canned beverages flying out across the room or merrily driving a forklift through a warehouse wall. Luckily a short while ago, a super-accurate workplace simulation game, ‘Good Job!’ was released on Switch and, as most jobs are better with a colleague in tow, my wife and I picked it up on a whim after watching the trailer in order to enjoy a bit of couch co-op workplace recreation. Continue reading “Good Job! – Missing the Office Life?”

Doom 64: New Old Doom

Way back in the pages of a physical print magazine some time during the 90’s are the few screenshots of ‘Doom 64’ that were my first knowledge of this game. Despite some more recent interest in the console, at the time when it was relevant I was fairly indifferent to Nintendo’s last big player in the bit-wars. Something about these screenshots stuck with me however; I’d played Doom on PC of course, but this… this looked so… different. Even without my recent exploration of the Doom back-catalogue, I think the grainy memory of those screenshots would have drawn me in to picking up the (very reasonably priced) ‘Doom 64’ re-master-release that appeared on the Switch store a couple of weeks ago. Eagerly I downloaded it on release day, desperate to step in to, what I recall being, some dramatically new and cutting edge re-imaginings of the Doom universe…

… before playing it for about 10-minutes and switching it off, having not been very impressed… 

   … the fact that I’m writing this kind of gives away the reality that I picked it back up a few days later to give it a better shot; even then I had to push through a certain amount of ‘meh’ before I began to enjoy it; Doom 64 hides its true colours behind a pretty lacklustre couple of opening levels. Continue reading “Doom 64: New Old Doom”

Return of the Obra Dinn: Brain Nod

The backstory is set; characters parade out one-by-one, each with their own motives and shady affiliations; the intrepid detective studies the clues and picks apart alibis; a red herring; summation and accusation. A master of the detective story, Agatha Christie had this formula perfected and, alongside the escapades of a certain Baker Street dwelling detective, our well thumbed copy of the adventures of Hercule Poirot is a favourite of mine. There’s a comforting completeness to the story: the mystery is laid out, we get to see all the clues, and finally the pieces are all put together. Unfortunately, satisfying translations of this premise to video-game form are few and far between. Sure, there are some good attempts; LA Noire and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments all take a crack at the detective formula in a more interactive setting, but inevitably the story tends to linearity (or very limited outcomes) largely because of the implausibly large number of permutations that even a few small decisions can produce. It’s impossible to give the player entirely free reign of the deductions, dialogue, or direction of the story, so we’re guided down specific paths inevitably meaning that sign-posting of the correct solution becomes painfully obvious. Continue reading “Return of the Obra Dinn: Brain Nod”

Heaven Dust: Esidentray Evilway

‘Heaven Dust’ is a game that makes me smile. It’s a game made by fans. Not just any fans; fans after my own heart, whose affection for the original Resident Evil games shines through in every polygon. Some twenty-x years after Capcom’s seminal survival horror hit the scene, this tribute made by ‘One Gruel Studio’ manages to hit all the right notes needed to evoke the feel of that first tentative shuffle through the Spencer Estate whilst still doing it in a new and distinctive style. Given how much the series has evolved and diverged, there’s something refreshing about a game that rewinds time back to what hooked-us in the first place.

HD_4

…oh, I’m sorry, you wanted an objective review?? Nope.. none of that here thank-you very much… 

Of course this type of thing is so in my wheelhouse that it’s basically an oak panelled part of the decor, but I ended up playing it mostly by chance after some fortunate browsing of the Switch store. In recent months, the Switch has become a staple gaming platform for me and I’m perpetually on the lookout for new releases that are compatible with my commute. ‘Heaven Dust’ was a delightfully stumbled upon discovery that has appeared on the store in the past few weeks and fills the super-niche of being a great choice for anyone who wants to play ‘Resident Evil’ on the go, but wants something just a little more causal than just playing ‘Resident Evil’ on the go*. Continue reading “Heaven Dust: Esidentray Evilway”

Doom 3: Hello Darkness My Old Friend…

… the dropship touches down on Mars and you tentatively step out. That murky gantry over some deep chasm your first taste of this isolated research outpost. Up ahead two shady characters mutter and plot; they’re altogether too suspicious. Unbeknown to you the suspicious characters go and talk to an even more suspicious and sinister character whilst you make your way to a suspicious commanding officer and…

Oh heck, everyone you meet in this damn game is suspicious & sinister. Someone desperately needed to tell the writer in Doom 3 that writing tense dialogue doesn’t mean each character tries to out gravely voice the other and that if you make everyone sinister then it kind of loses its impact. Anywho, where was I in the plot synopsis…

You get sent off to investigate some missing workers and then one of the sinister people does a thing that releases… “Doom”… (I guess) which possesses most of the humans in the local area and starts spawning in demons. Sadly for the demons their spawning accuracy is a little off and many end up trapped in a tiny cupboard waiting for some hapless space marine to touch the pressure plate just outside the hidden door and set them free. From this point on you are playing chase the objective, being sent hiking across the Mars facility to meet up/find/stop any combination of some people/evil force/object. It’s one of those games where whenever you get it the place you were trying to get to, you find an empty room, or a dying person, who lets you know that you just missed the person/thing/entity you were looking for and they’re now on their way to some new location about 5 levels away.  Ultimately you go to hell (because it’s a Doom game) and retrieve an object which helps you destroy all the demons.

… and if it sounds like my plot summary is a little thin on details I’d like to remind you that this is supposed to be a Doom game and plot really isn’t the reason that I picked it up; not that anyone told Doom 3 that. If you really want to know what’s happening then you’ll need to sift through the mountains of PDA’s that belonged to the crew reading though emails and listening to audio logs (most of which revolve around ‘strange goings on’ and ‘crew members behaving oddly’) to get hints as to the reasoning behind the path you’re inexorably being sent along. Whilst Doom 3’s plot might not be the reason it has had a mixed reception over the years, the very fact that it has a plot attempting to be more complicated than shoot demons could be indicative of some of the underlying difficulties it faced finding its identity. Continue reading “Doom 3: Hello Darkness My Old Friend…”

John Romero’s Sigil: Iconic or Demonic?

Growing up, I played Doom… but I never really played Doom. Does that make sense? Am I making sense right now? Let me qualify that; I was too young to play Doom, I mean, of course I was too young for the violence, but the point is that I was also too young for what is effectively fast paced first-person dungeon crawling. The labyrinthine like quality to levels loaded with secrets were lost on me as I jabbed in IDDQD and IDKFA to activate god-mode, all weapons, and keys just to shoot monsters. As a result I tended to get bored pretty quickly; I’d missed the point.

I don’t know if YouTube’s algorithms extend to delving in to your childhood, but for some reason recently I’ve been recommended many videos that outline the subtleties of Doom in the form of decino’s breakdowns of different game elements (it’s like they’re trying to show me what I missed out on). Picking apart the code itself I’ve been learning about monster, powerup, weapon behaviour and, armed with this insight, decided to pick up the recent Switch port of the original game (now that many of the initial problems have been patched) to finally experience the game as it should have been played. Over the week that followed I ploughed through the original three episodes, and the fourth episode (Thy Flesh Consumed) that was added in at version 1.666; ‘The Ultimate Doom’. It turned out to be one of the better four pounds that I’ve ever spent on a game and in its current state I have no problems recommending it (aside from an annoying bug where the game freezes if you put the system in to sleep) as a solid port. Blasting through the legions of hell I found a new appreciation for ID’s classic, how they’d managed to produce something so visually impressive on the limited PC hardware of the early 90’s, the thought that had gone into the various ingame elements, but most of all how the level design brings the entire game together. Continue reading “John Romero’s Sigil: Iconic or Demonic?”

Golf Story: Frosty Log

If you’ve been paying attention then you’ll know that I’ve been looking for games where it doesn’t necessarily matter if you suddenly have to putt the controller down and you can absorb just as easily in tiny slices as well as a great big drive for completion. A little birdie told me that, being essentially turn-based affairs, golf games are a pretty on-par choice that ticks these boxes. Having said that, I’m a fair-way off being considered a golf fan, to the point that I would be considered pretty green when it comes to the rules and nuance of the game. It just so happens that Golf Story had been on my radar for a while; the hook (or draw) here being that it’s all framed in the context of a 16-bit RPG – stroke of genius if you ask me – with the protagonist being introduced as a child cultivating dreams of reaching the top.-Spin on a few years and he’s a young man returning to the game, so determined to chip away at his once boyhood goal that he’s moved house and has been forced to bunk -er… ‘sleep’ close to the golf course whilst those ideas of fame he has to Mull… I … Gan…

…no… no, it’s no use, I can’t do it anymore! Your entire helping of golf puns is in that first paragraph… enjoy…  Continue reading “Golf Story: Frosty Log”

Bendy and the Ink Machine: Creepy Controls

Spoiler Warning: Oh yes, there are spoilers for ‘Bendy and the Ink Machine’ here!… erm… be warned? 

‘Bendy and the Ink Machine’ (BatIM?… does that work?) isn’t a game that was really on my radar. I guess I recognised the box art, but really couldn’t have told you anything about it, so it was an unexpected surprise when I was given it as a birthday present last week for Switch. Turning the box over in my hands a quick glance at the back suggested that it was totally my thing; 1930’s cartoon inspired, distinctive art style, slightly steampunk horror… sign me up! At that point I was also unaware that BatIM is actually the fever-dream product of TheMeatly, not that I’m a regular follower, but I’m certainly aware of their existence. After a few evenings of play I’ve now completed it and I’m left with mixed feelings about the experience. Continue reading “Bendy and the Ink Machine: Creepy Controls”