The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: Love & Hate

I’ve tried to avoid major plot spoilers, but there’s a chance that there are some minor spoilers lurking in the text below. Also, for completeness, I played the Redux version of the game which has a few gameplay tweaks, slightly enhanced graphics, and loading optimisation.

I’m not sure if subliminally I was inspired by Steam’s latest “event” which is bizarrely focused on getting gamers to acknowledge their growing backlog of… well, whatever has been picked up for a bargain in the past 200 Steam sales yet never played… but I finally decided to fire up “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter”… then some hours later I finished it. The affectionately acronym-ed TVoEC (Pronounced too-voh-eck) jumped out at me x steam sales ago for being a first-person exploration game with some puzzle elements, a supernatural vibe, and seemingly coupled with some healthy reviews & recommendations. The cynical might call it a “walking simulator” leaning heavily on the negative implications of the phrase whilst the more pro-exploration crowd might also refer to it as a “walking simulator” but in a positive light of a group trying to own what was initially a derogatory term. I guess I prefer the more neutral “first-person exploration” as a genre, but given how widely recognised it is as a phrase I don’t flinch at the aforementioned divisive terminology which is a microcosm of the divide that this style of game causes. As I ambled through TVoEC I couldn’t help but begin to see it as a prime example of how and why this genre manages to split gamers. Continue reading “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter: Love & Hate”

Theme Hospital: This Hospital is no Walk in the Park

Despite “Theme Park” being one of the first PC games that I owned, I somehow managed to avoid most of the other big Bullfrog titles. My first PC gaming incarnation was during the mid-90′ which coincided with the golden age of the great amphibian developer so how I managed to steer clear of their work is a mystery …. sure, it’s not one that’s going to sell many novels, but it’s a mystery nonetheless. For anyone who doesn’t remember the gaming world of 20+ years ago, Bullfrog were responsible for a string of PC gaming success stories, many of which were ported to the consoles of the time, but given that most of their catalogue involved a mouse interface to some extent it was pretty obvious which market they were aiming for. They were responsible for the aforementioned “Theme Park”, the mesmerising 3D landscapes of the “Magic Carpet” games, “Dungeon Keeper”, and of course “Theme Hospital”. That final title is one that I only really knew from the odd “go” at a friend’s house, but it came across as a quirky cartoonish, slightly bizarrely toned, hospital management game that at the time I wasn’t remotely interested in because it didn’t involve a fast hedgehog or blasting some kind of demonic aliens; looking back I had pretty terrible taste in games at that age. Continue reading “Theme Hospital: This Hospital is no Walk in the Park”

QotM*: Umbrella Employee #57832

*Question of the Month is an apple crumble with a really good crumble-to-fruit ratio brought to us by Later Levels

This month’s slice of question pie has been dished out by the fantastic Pix1001 who runs a streamlined train over at “Shoot the Rookie“. Check out the MASTER POOOSST! for a little more about what her particular brand of cereal is. Right now, I’m going to get on with the business of this month’s question which is:

if you could live in any video game settlement (ie a town, village, city, etc), where would you choose to live and why; and what role would you play in it?

Wow – so this is quite the topic. Let’s face it, we’ve all daydreamed about living in our favourite in game setting from Hyrule to Rapture, but I think personally I’ve spent more time imagining what it would be like to live in Resident Evil’s Raccoon City more than anywhere else. It’s not your traditional utopia, but given the game’s impact on me, I always had dreams of roaming the police station and wanted to step in those detailed pre-rendered rooms to delve deeper in to that world.

I also guess that like most people in Raccoon City, I’d work for Umbrella because someone has to do all that evil science right? Unfortunately I just don’t think it work would out to be the idyllic experience I’m imagining…. Continue reading “QotM*: Umbrella Employee #57832”

Men in Black Retrospective: I Put My Hands… On My Head…

The second half of the 90’s was alien territory; it came after dinosaurs ruled the cinema, but before pirates and zombies made a well deserved and ultimately overstayed return. It was a revival for extra terrestrials, who had last been big in the late 60’s and 70’s following the space race, thanks in no small part to the dramatically lit FBI duo Mulder & Scully and their stories of a confusing filing system. Right in the middle of this resurgence of interest fell Barry Sonnenfeld’s movie, Men in Black, which showed moviegoers a lighter side to the alien invasion with this witty and clever insight in to the fictitious agency charged with keeping their presence a secret. It’s quirky, funny, and about as 90’s as things get with Will Smith taking the leading role backed up by Tommy Lee Jones, and has some neat ideas along with special effects which were impressive at the time. If this were a movie blog, I could easily ramble about the film for pages, but I want to focus on that always tricky game tie-in. Continue reading “Men in Black Retrospective: I Put My Hands… On My Head…”

Editorial: May 2018 – Subtitle not Found

I’d have to pick attending Rezzed in London’s Tobacco Dock as my April gaming highpoint. I havn’t been for the past few years and had forgotten how, as an expo, it fits me much better than some of the bigger events with its smaller crowds and developers eagerly waiting to discuss their craft directly with the players. I’d have to admit that it didn’t turn up as many gems as in previous years, but did finally give me the chance to meet with Kim, Ben, & Pete from LaterLevels and without them I wouldn’t have seen Tim Schafer’s developer session. Kim’s follow up to that was also an interesting experiment in free writing; a technique advocated by Tim himself which… even in my brief two-minute session… I could see the benefits of. Forcing yourself to not edit, and just plough on through is liberating, each idea that came in to my head HAD to go down on the paper and it worked its way in to some kind of bizarre detective story. Continue reading “Editorial: May 2018 – Subtitle not Found”

Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – STAAARRRSSSSS

Two things happened recently: I revealed how appealing I find rain in games, and the Later Levels Gameblast stream featured the HD Resident Evil Remake. The former reminded me how much I enjoyed the rainy section of Capcom’s Resident Evil 3 and the latter, whilst maybe not the best choice for sleep deprived brains, made me long for that classic brand of obtuse puzzle solving survival horror. With the gentle swirling of these two ideas in my mind I decided to revisit Resident Evil 3; it had been some years since I guided Jill Valentine’s “Last Escape” and I remember it being a good rounding out of the original trilogy before things went all “Resident Evil 4“.

… veteran readers of the blog will see this next bit coming, but it’s impossible for me to talk about Resident Evil without mentioning the second game, my personal undisputed favourite of the series. For those curiously looking at their calendars trying to work out how it took me so long to get to this point, I can reveal that before I replayed number three I decided to once again complete the second game… you know… for context… Continue reading “Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – STAAARRRSSSSS”

QotM*: Disease Ridden Vampiric Apocalypse

*Question of the Month is an pack of Oreos that you didn’t know you had, hidden in the back of the cupboard by Later Levels

It’s still April and I can still get in on this… right? This month’s question is diabolically intricate and provided by Nathan over at Hurricane Thought Process. Nathan hasn’t just asked one question, he’s asked a stunning One-Hundred and Forty Three Questions! (The Asteroid of Killer Tomatoes being sadly invalid due to February’s length). Luckily for you all I only have to answer one of these as dictated by my birthday, but for all of you curious wombats, and those who just want to check out the other answers, makes sure you drift on over to the “Post of Masterfulness“!

Which Three Video Game Characters Would I Pick to Help Me Survive an Apocalypse of Diseased Vampires? Continue reading “QotM*: Disease Ridden Vampiric Apocalypse”