Blog #3: On genres and labels and the way we think about games

Has Call of Duty bastardized the concept of experience points? And is that a bad thing?

Has Call of Duty bastardized the concept of experience points? And is that a bad thing?

I discovered a cool new gaming podcast called “Axe of the Blood God” (that name alone earns it quite a bit of kudos from me). It’s focused on RPGs and you can find it here: http://www.usgamer.net/archive?tag=axe-of-the-blood-god.

The first episode, they are tackling the age old question “What is an RPG?” right out the gate. It’s one of those questions, like “are games art?”. They seem important issues that need resolving, but are in truth utterly pointless to stress over. In that episode, the guys and gals discuss how they would categorize games, what they think is elemental to an RPG and look at some edge cases. Are RPG about stats? Are they about narrative agency? Do they have to have turn-based combat and parties? Where does a Dark Souls or Zelda fit in?

All the while I was listening to their back and forth, it became pretty clear that genre labels are outdated. I’ll try to follow that train of thought some more here. (more…)

Blog #2: I’m feelin’ MMO-ey

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The weirdest thing happened over the last two weeks. After finally solving my PC’s heating issue which led to the fans being unbearably noisy, I found myself suddenly able to delve into the majority of my now 400+ game library on Steam. It’s great that I now play games without wishing to be deaf. When I buy my next desktop PC, optimal cooling will be my number 1 priority.

So anyway, I had picked up Guild Wars 2 back in November when it was on sale then. I played the first 14 levels on a Sylvari ranger (that’s basically the GW2 equivalent of tree hugging elves, only they’re actually humanoid plants). But since my PC was so loud that my family members complained from the other room, I put the game down.

I decided to give GW2 another shot now, and with the announcement of the first expansion “Heart of Thorns” there was considerable buzz about this game too. (more…)

Blog #1: Pillars of Thrones

Some light lesbo-erotic prose there

Some light lesbo-erotic prose there

Trying out a new format for my little blog here, as I’m looking into writing more regularly and trying to keep it to either reviews or larger in-depth discussions on stuff feels a bit too time intensive to do it spontaneously. So this will be the first of a weekly blog series discussion anything and everything I wanna talk about. (more…)

Whiplash (2014) Review

Whiplash

After watching the Oscars, I figured I’d watch all the apparently good movies I missed out on last year, partially some of the Oscar winners/nominations as well as stuff I was interested in anyway. On the list were “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”, “Kingdom of Dreams and Madness”, “The Theory of Everything”, “Whiplash”, “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game”. I’ve now seen all of them except for the last one. I’ll get to it eventually.

So on to Whiplash! To say it outright: this was the most intense, most magnetic movie I’ve seen in a while. There is literally nothing I don’t like about it. (more…)

I’m getting hyped for Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity

March 26, 2015. Less than 5 days. Get hyped. Pillars of Eternity is coming.

After decades of waiting we’re finally seeing a rebirth of isometric party-based RPGs full of good ol’ writing. Games like Baldur’s Gate 2 or the original Fallout were amazing and quite influential gaming experiences in my early teenage years, but thanks to the forces of business that kind of game seemed as dead as classic click-and-point adventure games.

But we’re now in a sort of post-modern era of video games. The drive for more cinematic experiences and higher fidelity graphics is slowing down. A generation of gamers raised on Call of Duty and Mass Effect is now discovering a more thoughtful, more complex kind of gaming. We see innovation in adventures lead by Telltale, we see great remakes like XCOM and now we’re seeing a rebirth of classic CRPGs with Wasteland 2, Divinity Original Sin and now Pillars of Eternity.

Here’s some things I hope Pillars of Eternity will bring to the table. (more…)

Delver Early Access Impressions

Delver

A quick impressions post today on “Delver”. It’s a first person roguelike dungeoncrawler on PC. It’s in early access on Steam at the moment and I just picked it up on the Humble Weekly Bundle: Roguelikes 2.

It’s a game I stumbled upon while browsing Steam a while ago and it really looked like a game to watch. So to my delight, this sale comes along and I just had to pick it up at that low price.  (more…)

Steins;Gate Anime Review

Steins;Gate

Recently I’ve been getting back into my Japanophilia, playing JRPGs, watching anime and reading manga. The completion of the Naruto manga which prompted me to pick that up again, my discovery of the Persona series and other things have all factored in. So here I am, a couple of years behind the anime scene, looking for stuff and collecting recommendations. I bounced off of Code Geass, enjoyed my time with Barakamon and initially bounced off of Steins;Gate. But seeing that one at the top of so many top anime lists, and seeing Kotaku’s Richard Eisenbeis declare Steins;Gate as possibly the best anime he’s ever seen, I just had to give it a second chance.
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I tried to play Suikoden 2

Suikoden 2

*sigh*

Actually this should’ve been a review of Suikoden 2. What follows isn’t a negative write-up of a cult classic, but rather a report on why I couldn’t enjoy this game.

Suikoden 2 is one of those games that through circumstances take on a new identity in the collective gaming conscience. Its peers are titles such as Planescape: Torment, No One Lives Forever, Okami or Strife. They’re games that broke new grounds, differentiating themselves in a positive way from the pack, and through that proceeded to NOT make bank in the mainstream market. Then, the people who DID play them at the time recognized their uniqueness, left in dismay when they saw that the wider public didn’t give a shit which caused developers to abandon such unprofitable paths. (more…)

The latest Persona 5 trailer is looking fantastic

Oh my god, get hyped. The first gameplay footage for Persona 5 was revealed and it looks amazing. The art is as stylish as any Persona game before it, with a strong red and black motif. Overall, I think this is going to be a darker game than the previous ones. It looks like the main protagonist (“glasses-kun” as he has been christened by fans) will be the leader of a vigilante group. Thieves fighting the good fight for their ideals against a corrupt establishment? I can totally get behind that! That’d be a really relevant topic to tackle. One of the strong influences seems to be Arsène Lupin, an anime character from way back in the 70’s. He too is a thief and anti-hero with a good heart (checkt out Hayao Miyazaki’s adaptation Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro). Man this is all sounding really promising.

Crucially you can see the “new” in game graphics. I say “new” because this is pretty much the engine and style used in Atlus’ other PS3 game Catherine. I’m loving it. It’s so…next-gen for a Persona game.

Just look at these shots!

Persona 5

Catherine

 

Anyway, I wish I had a PS4…this is going to be a system seller!

More info can be had here: http://www.siliconera.com/2015/02/05/persona-5-producer-shares-thoughts-trailer-characters/

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together Review

Tactics Ogre

One of the biggest surprises I had after getting a PSP is that long epic JRPGs are the perfect fit for portable gaming. It might be counter intuitive. After all, for a big epic RPG it should be most appropriate to play in front of a large screen in the comfort of your living room, no? But the parameters of my lifestyle have changed and I can’t justify hogging the TV like that anymore. And anyway, with the added responsibilities of being a grown up, there’s simply not enough time to chomp down on a long JRPG with 5, 6 hour play sessions.

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