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.

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…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…”

Doom 2: More Gore, Less Focus

Following an exploration of the original Doom and John Romero’s unofficial fifth episode, Sigil, a couple of weeks ago, I still felt as though I hadn’t digested quite enough Doom. It seemed like just the right moment to pick up the sequel, Doom 2, and answer a few of my own questions that I had about it. Firstly, just how different is it from the original? and is it the better game?

Like many people, my first real experiences of Doom outside of the shareware release was of the sequel rather than the full version of the first game. Unlike its predecessor, Doom 2 had a retail release which meant that it was (especially in the UK) much more widely available and I remember a friend of my sister bringing it around and installing it on our shiny new 486 PC; which let’s face it, as an early 90’s tween was my only real route to getting my hands on it. Running around the crumbling ruins of ‘Hell on Earth’ and blasting those damned minions with god-mode and all weapons was the way that I took my Doom-latte back then. Armed now with the Switch port, I cranked the difficulty to a respectable ‘Hurt Me Plenty’ and left it on mortal-mode to eliminate Hell’s forces on Earth once and for all… or until the next time… Continue reading “Doom 2: More Gore, Less Focus”

Resident Evil 2 on N64: Malevolent Tenant

Yes, it’s another Resident Evil 2 post.. and yes, this one is also super-geeky, but I think this is a really interesting port for so many reasons so just giraffe with me on this one ,ok? It’s no secret that 2019 has been my year of Resident Evil 2 revisiting. From my pre-remake stream, exploration of the re-imagined Raccoon Police Department, through to my marathon … Continue reading Resident Evil 2 on N64: Malevolent Tenant

I Have an N64 and I Don’t Know What to Do With It

It seems that despite my best efforts, I have indeed started collecting various editions of the game of games, Resident Evil 2… something that I desperately tried to avoid, despite writing about it. That recent marathon of a challenge, entitled “I’m Having Tofu Tonight!” started the ball rolling as I wanted to sample a few of the extra toppings available in the GameCube version which turned out to be a superb release of the title, and with my appetite wet I decided to embark upon playing the bizarre N64 port of the game…

… which I plan to write about on another occasion… 

To do this authentically however I needed an N64 and a copy of the game which, whilst not the most expensive collectable out there, didn’t come that cheap. My natural thrift nudged me in the direction of doing this all with as least expense as possible, so the cart I’ve ended up with is unboxed and worn; like wise I picked up an N64 without controller or screen cable, but luckily I happened to have a controller from a previous escapade and a cheap video cable was only a few pounds of British monies. So now I have a fully functional N64…

… and no idea what to do with it. Continue reading “I Have an N64 and I Don’t Know What to Do With It”

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”