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420 Character Reviews: Salt and Sanctuary (9.3)

Here we go. A big dose of sodium is coming your way. I was drawn by the artistic style of the game and I stayed for the hearty gameplay. The colors create a certain atmosphere that is dark, yet exciting. You’ll find the combat to be exhilarating. The maps apparently have no limit-- they’re huge. This isn’t the game for you if you’re looking to relax and forget your woes. The challenge will be here when you’re ready.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 00:00

Why Are You Still Playing FIFA?

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FIFA has been corrupt throughout my whole life. It was probably one of the first facts that I learned about this planet, followed by the realizations that breast milk is great and breasts are greater. Later in my life I learned that FIFA was a non-profit organization and my young 13-year-old mind was permanently blown. The idea of FIFA was to have an organization that would facilitate the play and popularity of football throughout the world. It was not meant to go into countries and facilitate the building of stadiums through slave work and death. There are stadiums in Brazil that are abandoned now because they were built without thinking about usage after World Cup.

Narrative is important for games, even online, multiplayer shooters. While that might seem counterintuitive, a game like Overwatch has shown just how important storytelling can be in a game that has no single player mode and no story mode in the game at all. Instead, Overwatch is straightforward, boot-up-and-play, featuring a cast of colorful characters. So while it might seem like there isn’t any room to tell a story, Blizzard still did exactly that.

The part of me that excitedly bought my way into the Star Citizen universe is still there, but after what feels like years of nothing, I fear that the love affair has turned ugly. There have been public releases for Star Citizen and the promise of what the game could and should be is still there, but the reality of what is currently available is rather grim. Right now the game is distributed via it’s own launcher, which is fine in theory, but it’s also a mess.

Thursday, 19 May 2016 00:00

Driving While High Led Me To OPUS

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OPUS: The Day We Found Earth is Sour Diesel in my system. Sour Diesel in my system is just like playing OPUS. It was destiny that I ran into OPUS the morning after I drove through the streets of San Antonio completely consumed by Sour Diesel. I didn’t even know I was smoking Sour Diesel until it was absolutely too late. I was gone but I knew that I still had to drive through the hideous San Antonio highways; I knew I was screwed. Yes, I was a nervous sack of nerves while I drove, still, the Texas roads looked beautiful as I drove through them at 50 MPH in a 65 zone -- Siri guided me home. The complexities of the highway system became man-made concrete constellations and I was their spectator.

When we have excellent games like Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen at our disposal, and No Man’s Sky on the horizon, it’s easy to let less ambitious space combat and exploration titles fall by the wayside as we strap on our VR goggles and fire up the HOTAS. It’s a shame, really, because there’s something satisfying about the tight controls and simplicity of the classic twin sticks and shmups that you just don’t get with the newer, more simulationist games that carry on their legacy. While I still regularly fire up titles like Luftrausers, Jamestown, and Geometry Wars to get my fix, it saddens me to see the gulf widening between the space games of old and the newer, bigger, and often slower-paced titles of the modern age. I have an appreciation for both styles of gameplay, and that’s prompted me to search for something that bridges the gap. Something with satisfying twin-stick bullet hell gameplay and the depth of resource management, ship customization and macro-level mechanics that I crave in one package. Up until recently, the titles I’ve explored have come short of the mark. Plenty are fun in their own way, but just don’t scratch all of the itches I have when it comes to sci-fi ship-to- ship combat. That is, until I found Reassembly.

420 Character Reviews: Mystery Castle (7.2)

Hey it’s a straight-forward game but this one is funny when you’re high. You’re a dude who’s helping a miniature stereotype of a viking collect keys and diamonds. Those keys will be used to open doors to rooms with diamonds. But in your way a quirky moving challenges. I found the dialogue seriously funny for some reason. You’ve played games like this before, but give mystery castle a try while you’re high. I did.

This game holds the distinction of being the first independently developed game to be Sony’s centrepiece reveal at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Back in 2014, the announcement of this game slipped my attention. However, the first time I heard about this game, I was instantly hooked. Can No Man’s Sky really get past the glaringly obvious finite-ness of every game I’ve ever played? Infinity is a finicky thing, as anyone that has studied mathematics can tell you. The average person’s understanding of infinity (as well as concepts such as randomness) is also usually flawed. Like many of us, if something is beyond the capacity of my own human experience, I consider it infinite. Infinity, for most humans, is defined as such. Somewhere above a few billion, beyond where we can conceivably count.

The internet based tech media has been abuzz with news from nVidia’s Pascal launch event. Youtube “influencers” and other elements in entertainment media were invited to a ranch in Texas, where they were given early access to the GTX 1080 and review samples. They were also given NDAs to sign to stop early real world benchmarks from getting out. Notably absent from the launch event: hard, broad spectrum benchmark data, and representatives from more objective and journalistic media outlets. Masterful marketing on nVidia’s part, sure, but we should all take the rumours about the launch card’s performance with a grain of salt. There are good reasons youtube personalities are called influencers and not reporters. This turn of events has generated a hurricane of forum posts and social media comments making assumptions based on misinformation, and I’m starting to get sick of it.

420 Character Reviews: Slither.io (8.4)

Slither.io is the snake pit that Indiana Jones fell into. This arena game is surging on Agar.io’s House of Cards fame bump. Tap or click to tell your snake where to go. Double tap to go in for the kill with a rush of speed. Collide with another snake and die. Eat snake poop and get bigger! Once you fire this game up you can’t leave... So don’t play while you’re sitting in the restroom - that’s unhealthy.

As a man of distinguished tastes (read: too old for twitchy games) I find myself enjoying strategy games more and more over the past few years. Sitting down and thinking my way through a situation tends to be more rewarding than running through tight corridors with an assault rifle looking to explode heads. Mind you, I still enjoy a good shooter from time-to-time, but strategy games are far more appealing right now, even if they are giant time sucks. I’ve also written a ton of science fiction and consumed a lot of it in my life, so Paradox’s new strategy game, Stellaris, seemed like something I had to buy.

There is such an over saturation of zombie games on the market. The blame rests solely on The Walking Dead because it made the entire zombie genre 'cool.' They created a subculture of lonely mothers who religiously wear t-shirts with pictures of Murphy MacManus promising riots #IfDarrylDies. You can easily spot these people as they make early exits from a showing of Day of the Dead. Honestly, outside of the early Resident Evil games, the only zombie game you need to play is Project Zomboid. You can’t proclaim to be an expert at zombie-survival if you can’t stay alive for a week while playing PZ.

I’m a fan of all things horror and have been since I was a little kid. Sneaking onto the staircase after my parents put me to bed to watch movies like Kairo, The Thing, and Alien through the slats on the bannister are some of my earliest memories. As fond as I am of terrifying fiction, though, I have accepted that the difficulty inherent to the genre’s execution leaves long gaps in between great works of horror. For me, these holes are felt most sorely in video games. I can’t remember the last time I played a modern horror game (PT was a demo, people) that couldn’t be boiled down to pressing the sprint button to the next jump scare, then backtracking so you can do the same thing in a new area. That’s not to say those types of games aren’t good on their own or entertaining; they just aren’t good horror.

Monday, 09 May 2016 00:00

Explore Real Hauntings in Ghost Theory

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I've been to a cemetery at 4 a.m. I was with my colleague Alex -- his name has not been changed to protect the identity of those involved. We armed ourselves with a camera and tequila. Our intention was to capture an orb with the flash of the camera; the fact that those orbs were really just dust particles did nothing to stop us. On that night we were ghost hunters, and while amateurs, we were still doing a better job than those clowns on the SyFy Network. We were pretty obsessed with the paranormal, actually. There was an intent to break into an abandoned hospital but a sleeping hobo thwarted our plans. Look, you don't know and don't want to know what's it's like to startled a sleeping homeless man.

Friday, 06 May 2016 00:00

420 Character Reviews: The Park (8.1)

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420 Character Reviews: The Park (8.1)

Set in a theme park, you play an irresponsible mother who is looking for her son. The Park has you collecting items and while jump scares are cheap, they work well here. Someone should call CPS to bring some real horror to this mom’s life. Ghouls will appear behind you; I suggest you work out those kegel muscles before playing. This game is worth trying for the final act alone but dont play it if you cant read.

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