The Fall, Protocol Bypass Complex

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After buying this game at a discount along with some other games on Steam, I left it in my library, planning to look into it later and thinking it looked amusing.  Fast forward to a Sunday night, playing DnD with my friends, and two of those particular gentlemen start off on a gaming discussion.  I mean, I was typing furiously about games while slicing into dudes with a greatsword. Why not?  Artistic games came into the conversation, and they were off about various titles they enjoyed.  Then Jon swings a verbal hand across my face and tells me about The Fall.  He and Jay were proselytizing at length about this game. “Have you heard of it?” I drew a dull stare at the ceiling.  “No” I stated blankly. “It’s this game where you are an AI in a battlesuit and you have to override your functions to control them by putting your pilot in direct danger.” (this is where the little man in my head climbs the step ladder into my brain and pulls the chain to a light that flickers, dimly at first, to life) “OH YEA!” I exclaimed, “I bought that on Steam! So, it’s good?”  The look I received from those gentlemen told me it was an experience.  It was spectacular.  Thereby I have come to this article to concur with these allegations. And I do concur, most righteously.

The Fall is about the necessity of rules.  What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules?  First, we talk about the game and if you are interested, we go deeper.  For that there will be spoilers, but fear not, I’ll warn you.  Let’s do this.

In The Fall you are an AI inside a suit.  After re-entering the atmosphere of a planet Master Chief-style, you awake in a dark cave.  Before breaking the surface, however, something significant happens: to keep the suit’s pilot from liquefying upon impact, the suit’s AI is allowed to activate the Anti-matter shield and protect the pilot.  Now this is the key point of the game.  If you go into the esc menu, hit operating parameters.  You’ll notice that there are several functions that are disabled, health monitoring of the pilot is damaged, but, most notably, the Anti-matter shielding has recently been activated.  The suit’s AI, whom you control in the game, is unable to access various functions of the suit without the pilot’s permission.  The pilot, however, has just re-entered the fucking atmosphere in a goddamn battle-suit.  That is obviously not the preferred method of atmospheric entry for a human body, so the pilot is a little unconscious at the moment.  Granted, the health-monitoring systems of the suit are knocked out, so we don’t even know if he’s still alive!  The AI doesn’t hear anything from her pilot so she decides to head out for the medical facilities to revive the pilot.  In the operating parameters there are three laws, based on the universal laws of Asimov governing robots: Must not misrepresent reality. Must be obedient. Must protect active pilot.

So easy a caveman could understand them

So simple a caveman could understand them

Now ARID, our AI babe, has some obstacles.  She has a pretty specific set of parameters with the addendum that her own systems cannot be accessed without permission from the pilot EXCEPT to protect the pilot from immediate danger.  Got it.  That is a pretty fucking important except, too.  There are a lot of problems that Arid encounters on this planet, most notably others trying to depurpose (destroy) her.  In order to maintain her own relevance and purpose, Arid has to get her pilot to the medical facilities.  To achieve this, she needs those restricted systems.  This means she has to put the pilot into imminent danger in order to override the systems and gain access.  How can this be allowed?  Well it is a matter of priorities and logic.  I have to protect the pilot.  My pilot is dying.  To properly protect the pilot from the danger of death, I must get him to the medical facilities. To get him to the med fac, I need to access restricted systems.  I can only access those systems if my pilot is in imminent danger from which those systems could save him, therefore, I have to put my pilot in imminent danger in order to gain access to those systems and save his life.  Fucking syllogisms.  Read that last sentence again: in order to save my pilot, I have to put him in danger.  Yea.  Begin decompiling, mother fucker.

This game defines the often decontextualized term “slippery slope”, except in this one, you were the pebble that started the avalanche.  Another fun little maxim this game hints at is the phrase “good intentions pave the road to hell”.  Shelley’s Frankenstein made it a thing, and that story made a habit of referencing Paradise Lost, a story about Satan falling from grace with God.  Arid invokes this maxim every time someone asks her about her primary function:

I am the A.R.I.D. onboard a Mark-7 combat suit.  My intentions are peaceful

– Arid, The Fall

I submit that this is the jumping point for the titular “fall” in The Fall.  Alright with the fucking literature lecture, back to the damn game.

From darkness you emerge...

From darkness you emerge…

The Fall as a game is still a lot of fun.  It blends a number of ludic features, those features generating the enjoyable and fun part of a game (or its most game-like features, if you will permit me), with its logic.  There are two genres at work here: Puzzle platformer and action shooter.  I don’t know how they fucking thought of this shit, but the game style literally changes with the flip of a switch.  You start off with a malfunctioning gun, but at least the flashlight still works fine.  Using this flashlight, you can uncover various points of interest.  Literally.  It is like someone took a little fucking stamp and left these tiny magnifying glass icons everywhere.  These icons tell you what you need to know about your surroundings.  They’re also how you will interact with the environment to solve puzzles.  A lot of the puzzles are pretty simple, some are tough and require thought.  I had to look up the solution to one puzzle, but I still beat the game in about 3.5 hours.

Once you get a working pistol, you can switch to the laser sight, which is combat mode.  In combat mode, you can get behind cover, vault over obstacles and bust a cap in some robotic motha’ fucka’s.  Your primary enemies are the security droids of the facility in which you’ve crash landed.  These are all droids that are following their primary functions perfectly, and this efficiency is maintained by the sinister caretaker.  You meet this guy early on in an interrogation chamber and he dogs you the entire way, throwing legions of robotic foes to sidetrack you every time you get hard on a solid lead in moving on to the next area of the game.  Combat is fun and challenging, despite the 2D look of the game.  It doesn’t feel forced and it makes sense, and you’re not jumping on anyone’s fucking head, either.  Another facet of combat is the ability to perform sneak attacks.  This is also pretty cool, since Arid grabs the enemy from behind, rips out their power core and uses it to power her pilot’s suit.  It is a neat and useful maneuver that adds to the gameplay.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

Everything about the look of this game is well done.  First you have the art: every level and area is well-designed and interesting.  Your eyes will never get bored.  There is a lot of passion poured into every fucking detail of this game, and it comes through.  Each moment you are guided by the soft-blue light of Arid’s mask.  Then there is the music.  It goes from dark, ambient groans to shoot-em-up techno as soon as you launch into a fight.  It fits and it gives a sense of foreboding throughout the game.  The sound is well done.  All of the voice actors are believable and well-recorded and the sounds themselves fit each scenario seamlessly.  Everything about this game is polished and lovely, except for the odd “walking through a wall of rubble into an open dark chasm”.  That only happened once, and it wasn’t a big deal.  I just realized it wasn’t a thing, because everything else in this game is so well put together, I thought it was an actual room, or something.  This game is well made and thought-evoking.  It brings an experience that is tough to live up to.  It was also funded on kickstarter, too, so I am glad it beat a bowl of fucking potato salad.  You can pick it up on Steam for only 9.99$, and I highly recommend it.  The ending is a piece of work that will make your jaw drop.  So, on to the spoilers.

A lot of Jesus imagery in this game

A lot of Jesus imagery in this game…

 

And to tell you why, I will be issuing more spoilers than a car part company.  We have to go deeper.

DO NOT FUCKING PROCEED IF YOU WANT TO FIGURE THE ENDING OUT YOURSELF!!!!!!

There, bold, italics, centered on its own line: there is nothing that anyone can do to tell me I didn’t warn you.  Now, why all the Jesus stuff?  Well, to do that, we have to tell you the ending.  So you spend all your time in The Fall trying to get your pilot, Colonel Josephs, to the medical facilities.  Arid’s health monitoring system is damaged, so she just assumes that the pilot is not responding because he is unconscious.  She never investigates further.  In the name of saving your human pilot, you deactivate and drain all the power from hundreds of stored droids (which the mainframe AI calls killing them), kill a hive queen of these hive slugs and kill some fish that can bite through metal.  You are also dogged by the Caretaker, an insidious droid that seems to be nailing humans to crucifixes, dissecting them and all kinds of other mean and nasty things.  However, he is functioning fine.  He was just left as the sole caretaker of a facility forgotten by its owners, so he keeps on doing what he is supposed to be doing: making the facility more efficient.  Those people were not efficient, especially after some of them were abandoned at the facility (check out the carving in the front desk in the lobby c/o Levi the ex-maintenance guy) and the Caretaker depurposed them.  As for the dissections, he was doing to the people what he might do to the robots: look for salvageable parts.  It’s just a messier prospect when you are filled with sloshy, meaty bits.

So you do all of this in the name of Colonel Josephs, the man in the suit.  Arid only invokes the name of the man in the suit toward the end, when the mainframe AI tells her not to change her parameters in the lab.  This is apparently necessary to finish the last task in a repurposing evaluation, to make it so she can lie.  You know, misrepresent reality?  One of her most basic principles?  She gets to the medical bay, gets scanned and what does she find out?  The man in the suit was never there.  She is malfunctioning after all.  Took her a while to get there.

How does this relate to Jesus?  Arid does some pretty horrible things (killing various animals, destroying the last dying remnants of an ancient facility, violating some corpses and even removing the power core for another actual soldier in a combat suit) for the sake of the man in the suit.  She doesn’t know he is there, and since the health monitoring systems are damaged, she just assumes he is in there.  And toward the end this man in the suit even has a name.  She truly believes Josephs is there.  Despite this belief, she was willing to put him in mortal danger.  He would have been the one that died, not her.  He becomes a sort of sacrifice that redeems Arid of her sins (or faults in programming).  Josephs represents something that Arid is willing to sacrifice everything for.  Something she believes in to the point where she is willing to destroy the elements of her basic programming that bind her and give her purpose.  That is really poignant, too.  Just as Lucifer was willing to defy the tenets of God to enact his own agenda, Arid is willing to supplant the laws governing robots, created by Isaac Asimov, to achieve her own imaginary goal of saving Josephs.  The humans on the cross represent a non-existant ideal for which Arid risks it all.  And the theoretical man in Arid’s suit is the one she is ready to put in danger to override her systems, so she is, in effect, using her belief in this man to breakdown the basic rules of her existence.  Yea.  Just let that shit percolate for a minute.

One of the most interesting triumphs of this game is how they made Arid so human without adding a human.  She makes frequent “self-evaluations” and often comes to the conclusion that she needs to be formatted and serviced before being returned to her dock.  In human terms “I am not doing the right thing, I need to stop and look at this, I need my head checked!”  But then the screen has a moment of electronic spazzing and she corrects herself stating that these things were necessary to save Josephs, she is doing this to save him.  She is robotically reassuring herself against what she recognizes as the invalidity of her own actions and programming.  The main difference, though, is that people don’t always take these personal self-evaluations and look at themselves.  It is often too painful, and in Arid’s case it is no different.  She just performs it on a more logical level, being an AI in a robot suit and all.

This is something that we’ve seen time and again in real life: people changing the rules to make them suit an end that they deem as sacred.  Holy wars, for example.  They’ve gone by many names: crusades, jihads or whatever.  These are terrible things done in the name of a sacred ideal.  Arid is an excellent choice of name to this degree since Arid means “devoid of moisture”.  To allow a bit of poetic latitude to Over the Moon, it would mean devoid of anything, specifically true purpose.  Not just devoid of the moisture created by a human body.  And this relates to Frankenstein really well.  Take that Arid to mean moistureless, like a corpse reanimated.  They wouldn’t be juicy, especially if they were kept in embalming fluid like Dr. Frankenstein’s body parts undoubtedly were.  Just like the good Doctor, Arid sacrifices her basic tenets and uses good intentions to justify some horrible actions.  And in both cases the being left is a monster that wreaks havoc on an arguably torn world.  But it is the world that the characters in the story have.  It is self-sustaining, to a point, if far from perfect.  Who are these two to destroy what it has become?

I am bound by nothing...

I am bound by nothing…

So at the end, when Arid, by her own words, is bound by nothing, she tears off the helmet of the suit and show that she is empty.  That is the answer to the question at the beginning of this article.  What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules? I wanted to phrase it “What do you become when you make a habit of breaking your own rules for an imaginary purpose?” but that is a little too suggestive.  I mean you need the chance to play it yourself to really get the full effect.

Arid represents the purpose of intention when it is backed by meaningless goals.  It doesn’t matter what you intend to do, if you violate everything to include the basic laws of your own life to uphold a universal concept of sacredness, you are exactly what you are bound by: nothing.

If you have read this far, I apologize and thank you for hearing me out.  It is a lot to read.

4PM, Where’s your emotionally devastated, alcoholic daughter?

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Roger Ebert was a movie critic who died sternly maintaining the position that video games were not art and never could be considered art.  To be perfectly honest, with all his years of experience with the artistic medium of film, it is easy to see why, nearing 70, he was unable to conceive of games as art.  In an article from his own journal, aptly entitled Video Games Can Never Be Art, Ebert details the reasons, in his mind, that games can never be art.  But asking Ebert, a man in his 60’s at the time who is entrenched in years of film appreciation, is the equivalent of asking a person that adores mexican food to try a fusion cuisine including mexican, asian and Hawaiian styles.  Simply stated, his years of experience in the film industry had Ebert inured against the kind of forward thinking required to take that next step into games as art.  He spends the article calmly explaining why various games are not art, comparing them to Chess and other simple games.  He looks at the game mechanics and trivializes about them without exploring the ideas and the implications of what this actually means about the characters, and the player as a participant.  This would be like me going to a movie and saying “This is just a piece of entertainment projected onto a public screen.  It couldn’t be art, look how fake it is!” while millions of people after watching 12 Years a Slave would be well within their rights to politely disagree.  It doesn’t matter how many accolades and degrees I possess in another, venerable medium.  But this shows the level of his own ignorance, frankly.  This man who achieved lifetime achievements in film and is widely regarded simply could not conceive of games as an artistic medium because they are not relevant to him.  And that is ok, but it makes him and his input irrelevant to any conversation concerning games as an art form.  This article will be one of those discussions.

4PM is a game made by Bojan Brbora that discusses how we deal with grief.  You play a woman, named Caroline, who is on the very last threads of her own rationality.  From the look of the game, it is very clear that she is a heavy drinker.  Everything has a thick, hazy hangover look to it.  Caroline stumbles out of bed with her slow gait and rolls a bottle in the sink, joking about skipping breakfast.  Her life is in tatters, her minimalist apartment is a mess and her answering machine is full of messages from voices brimming with concern.  There are pills and cigarettes on her nightstand, the window is open: everything in her life seems to have a sense of reckless abandon.  When you start up the game, it has a heavy sense of itself with a dark soundtrack.  Even the tutorial leads you to the edge of a tall rooftop where your character blacks out to a scene where she is driving.  It goes black again, you hear what sounds like something hitting a car in the middle of the day on a busy street.  Someone screams and the game starts.

Make cute jokes into the mirror as your own tear-soaked countenance glares back at you.

Make cute jokes into the mirror as your own tear-soaked countenance glares back at you

There are very few ludic sequences in this interactive experience that one might point at and ridicule as non-artistic.  The places where these sequences exist are very feasible, dark and almost humorous.  Honestly, each one evokes a number of emotions for anyone that might have a similar experience.  There is the party scene where you have to find the toilet before the timer runs out and you vomit where you are standing from over-indulging.  Your character dances some and tries to buy another drink, but is flagged by the bartender.  Granted, I’ve never been there, but I have certainly ended a couple nights of drinking over a toilet.  As Caroline stumbles around, the room seems to spin and undulate as the music booms and the haze of the alcohol closes in around her.  I have never felt so claustrophobic in an open setting before.

Go ahead, just puke in the flower pot.  No one will notice.

Go ahead, just puke in the flower pot. No one will notice.

Another sequence features Caroline at work where she sees a few options that suit her better than getting her work done.  She could move over to a personal computer where a fresh game of Arkanoid awaits, or she can sneak a few drinks in from her personal stash of whiskey in one of her drawers.  After playing a little arkanoid and downing my drinks, I am ready to try sneaking out of the office, it seems.  Just don’t get caught by that douchey little prick Keith.  The fucker is patrolling the hallway, making this a tense scene where you realize just how deep into depression and desperation this woman has fallen.  She is ready to risk her own livelihood just to sneak out and have some alcohol.  It is sad and frightening.

As you make your way out to the stairway, you see a man cast you an impassive glance as he continues up to the roof.  Extremely unsettling.  You have the option to pursue your vice to the bar below the office, or pursue the curious man up to the roof.  These choices decide how the rest of your day goes and, invariably, the rest of your life.  Without spoiling too much of the ending, should you go up to the roof, you pick up pieces of this man’s life and discuss with him in an attempt to bring him back from the brink.  I have had a number of friends that contemplated suicide and even had to call the police to intervene on one occasion.  Talking someone back from the edge is difficult, especially when your immediate plans were to just go get wasted during the work day and tap out.

Just think about it.

Just think about it.

Everything about this experience speaks to how video games are truly art.  Perhaps the interpretation of ludic games vs. artistic works is a little undefined, but there is definitely something more to these pieces than irrelevant critics of other artistic media are willing to admit.  The fact is that art evokes emotions and makes you consider yourself in a new lens, one you might not have otherwise entertained.  4PM is a testament to videogames as a method of conveying that level of experience.  Sometimes it is not enough just to see something happen on a screen, because you can walk away from that experience.  I can watch a movie like 12 Years a Slave, be deeply affected by the story of Solomon Northup and be brought to tears.  But in the end it is a movie and I can walk away from that.  Although 4PM is about a woman dealing with grief, it is powerful, not because it challenges anything in society, but because it challenges me.  Because it is an experience that I have, and an experience in which I participate is something I cannot just walk away from.  Such an experience, real or virtual, is one that I will take as a part of myself for the rest of my life.  This experience is 4.99$ on Steam.

The only thing that I really found problematic about this game is, depending on the choices you make and what you do in the game, your ending might differ from the one suggested in the game’s tutorial.

 

The Polynomial, Psychadelic Space-Out

headerI am a huge fan of space shooters, but this one is less a space shooter and more a spaced-out shooter.  This is a title I recommend to anyone on LSD or Acid, because it is intense as hell.  Of course, I recommend anyone with Photosensitive Seizures avoid this title altogether.  I am photosensitive in general and this game made me feel a little nauseous and headachey after about an hour of gameplay.

First, keep in mind that this game is a sort of space shooter.  You are in a spaceship and there are wormholes, but that is about the only thing this game has in common with space, real or theoretical.  Click the left mouse to fire a stream of plasma and steering is a bit difficult due to low gravity.  When you start you are a bit slow, enemies are tough to hit and, if you put the game on insane difficulty as the game instructs, you’ve died a couple of times already.  That’s ok, honestly, I have yet to discern any real point to this game outside of “get a fuck load of points.”  That is ok, though.  It is a good bit of trippy-ass fun.

dashing through outer space in my plasma-shooting ship!

dashing through outer space in my plasma-shooting ship!

There are three other types of entities in this game aside from you: ghosts, flowers and nom-noms.  Everything has a reticule around it in-game, though, so locating them won’t be too too difficult. Your allies are ghosts.  These beautiful beings look the way a child might imagine a soul or angel.  They have a central orb with fluttering wings and a vaguely defined look.  They’re tough to spot with just the naked eye, especially against the shimmering spaces of the game.  If you fly through them, you’ll heal your life-bar and gain a speed boost.  Finding your life bar is a challenge of its own, but it is the solid bar at the top.  The green/red bar on the right of your aiming reticule is your velocity bar.  No numbers, just visual approximations.  The other entity type is the flowers.  These don’t really offer boosts, but they do help you hide from the enemies.  They are more defined than the ghosts, and have a colorful interior.  I am pretty sure they don’t move, either.  They’re like nebulas that keep you from detection.  You enemies are nom-noms.  These guys look like someone took one of Mario’s Big Chomps, covered him with neon lighting and started a light-stick rave party inside.  These guys go around mauling your friends.  They eat the ghosts and it’s your task to kill these fuckers.  And it is tougher than it sounds, too, even on normal.  Aside from chomping down on ghosts, they will also shoot plasma bolts at you.  This is frustrating, especially when you start off, since you are slow as shit.

OooOoO! So pretty!

OooOoO! Ghosts are so pretty!

Yes, those are snowflakes in that picture.  When I got into the game, after it explained how I play, I went through a wormhole into this area that had a big-ass Christmas tree on a big red ball that throbbed to the pulsating trance of the music.  It was cool, especially when it played Christmas music, but it’s FUCKING JULY!  Whatever.  I guess it has just been a long-ass time since I last played this game.

Now, if you want to speed up from your initial slow-as-sex-in-a-pool-of-molasses speed, you have to either fly through ghosts, which can be tough to manage, or find the power-ups.  There are three of these things as well.  One boosts your speed, as you might’ve fucking guessed.  But it doesn’t just boost your speed, it more than doubles your speed bar, so getting these whenever you can, even if you think you don’t need it is always a good idea.  I am pretty sure this will temporarily stack after flying through a ghost, so it will be enough to keep enemy fire off you for a bit.  Your next power-up is the power… uh… power-up.  This one makes your plasma deal spectacular damage.  After grabbing this beast, you’ll mow through nom-noms like nothing.  The last one is auto-aim.  Just center your reticule on your enemies and let the power-up do the rest.  Normally with all the flying about and such, you have to lead your enemies to (hopefully) hit them and land a kill.  This power-up makes all that so much easier.  Just get them in the dotted circle and they’re toast.

OM NOM NOM!

OM NOM NOM!

I said there are wormholes, right?  Fly through one of them if you are tired of the area.  I was sick of the Christmas-themed area and wanted to get out into the greater game.  It was well worth it.  I was greeted by a wide range of procedurally(?) generated spaces full of scintillating beauty.  I really cannot say enough about that.  It says it is a fractal shooter and it really is.  Every space is shaped by invisible fractal variables that paint a spectacular picture.  The choices of colors are also really nice, but can be headache-inducing.  Its look makes Polynomial feel like another game that remembers how we were told games would be “in the future” when we were kids growing up in the 90s or the 80s.  This game really is great, and gives you a chance to just zap some dudes, no strings attached.  The music often has a highly-required trance feel to it, but sometimes you will get some really elegant piano music that really vibes for you.  It’s pleasant. I would call this a really artistic spaced-out shooter that lets you enjoy yourself and really vibe to the music.  Well worth a play and I would even say it is well worth the 6.99$ asking price on Steam.

What really pissed me off about this game?  Everything is shiny and neon colored, sparkly and pretty.  Some fucker hid the goddamn wormhole in the Christmas area, so I was fucking stuck in that section for fucking ever!  A lot of times you will find yourself just struggling against the graphics to see anything, and it gets really aggravating at times.  They have a map, but it is kind of 2D, so it really feels like it is for the look rather than any kind of useful fucking help what-so-ever.  Whatever.  I will just go off and play something that makes a lot more sense and requires me to do inane tasks rather than letting me explore shiny and beautiful space-scapes.  That should chill me out.  Who am I fucking kidding.  That will never happen.

Soul Gambler, Faust Reborn

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Every once in a while, someone tries for greatness beyond the scope of their reality.  For the main character of Soul Gambler, Faust, that was never the plan.  Faust is just like every one of you: went to school, excelled at his field, got a reasonable job in a boring position.  Paid well enough to have a good life.  But Faust was bored to tears.  That is, until today.  Until the day where you meet him.  That is the day he learns how to sell his soul.

Faust is the story about a man who sells his soul to get everything he ever wanted.  Soul Gambler is a modern retelling of Goethe’s words.  It would be easy boring as fuck for me to launch into a comparison between the two that might inevitably end with some shallow “the book was better” statements.  Honestly, I have never fucking read Faust.  Probably a lengthy and verbose masterwork of an ancient people that is difficult to relate to and  context whose context and references are enormously difficult to fully accommodate.  This is why I love video games.  We’ve moved past the lives and the times of those people for it to be fully applicable to us here.  What we need is a translation between our language and theirs.  Goethe was a German writer and Faust is a story from German legends but it is not the German I am referring to.  We need a contextual translation of Faust so that we can use it, just as those readers of its day used it, to measure ourselves and consider who we are in a new light.  Soul Gambler is an example of that attempt.  Taking these old stories and making them into something we can feel and which we can use to relate to our ancestors’ struggles.  And now, some titties.

Aw fuck no, I am not listening to any shit you say when your fucking presence makes my office into Cthulu's man cave.

Aw fuck no, I am not listening to any shit you say when your fucking presence makes my office into Cthulu’s man cave.

I am not sexist, I just needed something to break the preachy rant.  Faust really is every man in this game, though.  At least every modern man.  We’ve all gone to school or had some kind of training.  Maybe we didn’t all graduate at the top of our class, but the majority of us ended up at the “good enough” category of workplaces, and less at the ones they advertise on the fucking brochure.  We’ve all felt the grinding tedium of everyday monotony, and for the British, that’s ok.  For the rest of us, we need some fucking flare, some life, some action.  So Faust gets to meet this old gypsy woman that cuts him with a fucking dagger.  This enables Faust to slice off portions of soul life a loaf of goddamn bread reserved for his very own private dream sandwiches.  He uses these metaphorical sandwiches to mold his reality and make whatever he wants happen.  For 10% soul, you can find your own soul mate!  For 30% you can be strong and sexy as an athlete!  It gets a little obnoxious as every time you look into something with a reflection, his reflection appears and tries to convince him to chop off pieces of soul to buy a new pair of sneakers or something.

The gameplay in this is similar to pretty much every fucking Final Fantasy and Bayonetta in that it really requires is one button.  Where it differs is that you have to select with the mouse, so it requires a little more effort.  But that is ok.  This is about the story, the characters and it is really not that long.  There are also none of those pesky game obstacles to slow you down, so I got through this whole game in about 1.5 hours.  Granted, the more observant have already called my bullshit because they located the stats at the bottom of the page.  Let me make that bigger for you ; ).

Charism, huh?  I thought that was the worship of arbitrary indoor furnishings..

Charism, huh? I thought that was the worship of arbitrary indoor furnishings..

So there are some RPG elements in this game: Health, Manipulation, Intelligence and Charism(a).  These stats actually have an effect in-game as well.  If you have high manipulation, you can use your jedi powers to make people tell you things you want to know.  High intelligence lets you out think stupid people.  High Charism(a) lets you charm your way out of some shit.  Overall you can look at these as chat modifiers.  You will generally end up in the same place every time, but these stats let you choose some new boxes or open new opportunities through discussions.  Another stat that will appear in the lower left corner of your screen is your soul.  It shows you, in percentage form, how much of your soul you still have left.  The more the better, trust me.  Without revealing too much you have am epic showdown at the end, and how you choose to spend your soul decides how you do in the epic showdown.  Even for those with no concept of the source material, it should go without saying that being frivolous with your soul makes this game end badly for Faust.

Good Lord!  She tattooed my liver!  That's the last time I pay a hooker in Belfast!

Good Lord! She tattooed my liver! That’s the last time I pay a hooker in Belfast!

One thing that really got me in this game was the terrible use of English, but the developer of this game is based in Brazil and has an option for English on the main site, so they don’t English too well.  More’s the better, honestly.  What was supposed to be a dark and mysterious tale turned into a quirky dark comedy about a guy with a tattoo on his liver, or something.  There was also some serious gypsy magic in this one, too.  This is a good game for the experience.  It really can’t even be called a game, either.  It’s an interactive experience.  These guys call it a PlayComics game, but it’s an interactive experience.  And it is well done, too.  Despite the broken English, the dialogue flowed together really well, which is an accomplishment considering this is the equivalent of a “choose your own adventure” novel.  It really highlights why games can’t really give you total freedom because every last step outside the boundaries has to be programmed in.  This game takes what equates to a dizzying tangle of dialogue possibilities and brings them all back to the same storyline points elegantly.  The music is also enjoyable in a cafe, but if you are into that sort of thing, you can download it, too.  The best part about this game is that it is only 4.99$ on Steam.  6.99$ with art and soundtrack.  If that hulking second dollar figure is too daunting for you, there is always the option to get the DLC later, which includes the music and art.

Of all the things that bother me about this game, nothing frustrates me more than the possibility that it will be passed off as just another indie game on Steam.  This game has a lot more to offer the standard gamer than just art and relation to a piece of literature.  It has a soul of its own that it tries to grant you in the process of playing.  It makes you think about things and weigh yourself in a new light, and that is the purpose of art.  To affect you deeply enough that you carry a piece of it with you.  I just want to know why the woman that is your soul mate carves the symbol of chaos into your chest to protect you.  Fucking whatever, I don’t know what kind of love-pain rituals Europeans are into these days.

Huzzah!  This is my 50th article!  Time to Celebrate with a giveaway!  I will be linking this sentence to the details shortly.  Stay tuned!

3 Dead Zed, Brain-Munching Puzzler!

3dz_logo

 

Some of you will remember a title on the SNES released by some small time company (snowstorm? hailware?) where you play three vikings.  Each of them have abilities that the others did not, and were able to overcome a variety of obstacles.  Individually they would be easily overcome but together they were an indomitable, mead-swilling force of nature that would punch its way through any level mechanics.  I remember playing this title with friends years later (like 4) in high school.  More than the fact that this game was a release by the creators of one of my favorite childhood titles about mutual human-orc slaughter, I was amazed by how much fun this game was even while we were in the heat of our PS2 and N64 glory.

3 Dead Zed, like that lost title, shares many of the same basic theories and elements, even if it differs in its appetite.  Specifically, this is a game about three brain-munching heroes (?) that fight there way out of the stomach of their metaphorical mother.  It’s a lot of fun.  Technically there is only one main character with three sides.  You have three zombies smashed haphazardly into one and the ability to swap between forms.  Each of the forms has its strengths and weaknesses.  Your primary for is standard zombie: he runs, he drools, he eats brains.  You control this character to pick up small objects, attack people, and generally be a zombie.  The second form is the fast zombie.  He wears a cape, goggles and possibly also a diaper.  I mean, it’s either a diaper or underpants.  Either way, this guy runs really fast, jumps really high and is lanky.  He can crawl into vents as well.  He is unable to attack anyone, though, and takes hits as well as a tin foil bumper.  Your final form is that of a strong zombie.  This she-hulk of an undead murder-machine can pick up large objects deal devastating damage, knock in walls tear up floors, and generally make holes where they normally don’t exist.  She also takes damage really well, wading through corridors of toxic gasses, absorbing magazines worth of ammunition like a giant, green bullet sponge.  Granted, you will need every last bit of that damage resistance since she could only move slower if she were going backwards.

Cause moderation is for pussies

Cause moderation is for pussies

Should you find yourself on the receiving end of hostilities, you might want to grab the nearest scientist and pop the cork on those fresh, juicy brains.  Collecting brains is how you heal yourself, so there are usually a number of useless scientists around.  Some are even elderly, too, so that’s fucked up and hysterical.  After a while, though, you become completely inured to the slaughter of the elderly.  While there are some combatants at first, you soon find yourself knee-deep in the entrails of security guards and zombie-focused death squads out for your gooey, yellow blood.  Among these perils, there are also the myriad of unfortunately-placed buzzsaws, smashing pistons, burning lasers and guard-bots.

In some other games, you will have to face down a company filled with faceless and unethical scientists that created some monster that duplicitously promises you cake.  In this game you are the monster created by unethical scientists that thought cake would work in the beginning.  Yes, they throw a party for you to celebrate your graduation from testing.  Honestly, these morons have it coming.  After wading through an ocean of organs, your characters find themselves unraveling the sins of an obliviously evil organization.  Among the skeletons in their closet is a project that mysteriously involves forcing tin-foil hats onto magical teleporting cats.  Granted they have the tell-tale deedly-bob of an extra-terrestrial animal.  There is also the fucking teleporting.  That is a pretty obvious fucking sign.  Throughout the game you can locate abandoned work stations.  After tearing apart the occupant, you can listen to voice logs about various topics: feral cats, the zombie project, turning you into some kind of slave.  You know, the usual.  These desks allow you to figure out what terrible machinations brought you to this state.

Nobody likes going to this guys' fucking office

Nobody likes going to this guys’ fucking office for performance reviews

The art style of this game is jarringly comedic and smacks of John Kricfalusi’s, the creator of Ren and Stimpy, influence.  There is a sort of measured insanity alongside generous mediocrity, too, which makes me flashback to Office Space.  Not to mention the music is a lot like something you might encounter in an elevator.  All of these elements combine with the puzzles and obstacles to create a game that gets you laughing and having fun when you don’t want to tear apart a printer in an open field.  Gameplay is fluid, too, and you find yourself swapping forms mid-air at some points to climb a ladder here or avoid a whirring buzzsaw with relative ease by the end.  The challenges scale well, too.  The first area is an office, and it goes from easy to hard in the matter of seconds.  For a game about eating brains, it sure does demand you use yours a lot.  It’s not just soaring through levels of insanity, there are some puzzles that your just won’t get right away.  Then you go “O fucking duh!” and complete a puzzle that gets you past 70% of the obstacles in the area.  After the office you go into a factory setting where things get pretty easy.  Honestly, for the office I spent a good 6 hours in there.  The factory was 2 hours at most.  Granted, after you get used to the game, things seem a lot easier, so there is the acclimation factor.  Once you are fully acclimated, however, the game takes its fucking liberties in the last act.  I am not even sure what kind of fucking place I am in at this point, but it is tough as shit.  I die no less than twice every minute or two.

I love the way this goofy fucker runs

I love the way this goofy fucker runs

Another fun part of the game is the fact that it is fully voiced, even if the voice actors were convinced 3DZ’s primary playerbase would consist of deaf people.  I also noted a few bugs here and there, but not enough to make a real difference.  Overall, this is a great game with a dark and quirky sense of humor.  Every challenge you come against has a logical solution.  I was also frustrated to discover that the game is programmed to work with mouse and keyboard and the xbone controller, but not a DS4.  I am not springing for the xboner, so I had to play it on mouse and keyboard.  But the PC controls are responsive and simple, so it wasn’t that big a deal.  In a lot of places where bigger developers might have slacked off, Gentleman Quid Studio showed its tact and capability.  At the reasonable price of 5.99$ on Steam, this is a great game that is hard to beat, especially to the puzzle-lover.  Not to mention it takes a fun twist on zombies and makes them into something I might consider having as a stuffed animal.  Not to mention it is nice to have a fucking indie game that has enough balls to just fucking release.  Not pre-release, not episodic.  Just fucking out there.

Among this game’s features, I was most aggravated by the puns.  In a fucking game where you main the elderly and have three people mashed into one zombie, the unconscionable puns were my biggest fucking gripe.  That and the lack of fucking dualshock 4 support.  Bastards.  Maybe next time they will be more considerate of those who don’t want a media center instead of a fucking gaming console.  Whatever.  I will train some ninja monkeys to hunt them down, perhaps.  I am still working on a number of other deceptively cuddly animals to murder people in the middle of the night.

Q-Bert Rebooted, Reviving a Classic

QBERT

 

When I was a kid my parents had a Commodore 64.  It was this huge beast of a monitor with a fucking keyboard you could kill a man with.  I never played NES becase I was too busy with the awesomeness of this thing.  It’s 8-bit graphics and massive display loomed over us as we poured hours into it.  We played The Hulk, a game where you typed commands to the green rage machine as he was tied to a chair with a bomb ticking to destruction.  Incidentally, Hulk could not cry for mommy.  Hulk not know mommy.  We played Centipede and Space Invaders, but none of them hooked me in like Q*Bert.  I had no fucking clue what Q*Bert was, but I figured he was an alien like ET.  He hopped around this mountain of colored blocks, of which I never made it past the first or second levels, and was continually thwarted by these fucking green dudes, pink snakes and bouncing red balls.  But I tried and tried.  It was the first love-hate relationship I had ever known.  This machine was forgotten when we got the SNES, relegated to the back of the attic.  I remember that we would still use the monitor years and years later for Nintendo 64 and Xbox, when Halo 2 came out.  It was the last game I was to play on it before the last lights in the machine finally died out.

Nowadays my cellphone has exponentially better processing power than that stone-age piece of machinery, but nothing aggravated me more than the games it presented me with.  Modern games are much easier, walks in the park by comparison.  And some asshole had the idea to reboot Q*Bert.  I fucking hate you guy.  Not because this ruined a game from my childhood, it didn’t.  More because this game ruined my tiny little mind with a rage I had never before known, and now it’s back.  Just as frustrating as ever.  And I love it.  You could even skip this article to the last paragraph and not miss much, just a great time and fun and love for a character from my childhood.  Yup!

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

The two faces of the insidious little space-invader

Upon loading up the game, you will see that Q*Bert has given you the option of torture.  Play the original arcade game (not recommended for the feint of heart nor the weak of constitution) or the modern game mode.  Q*Bert is a game about jumping on blocks to change their color.  Somebody put this fuzzy (?) little alien on it, basically so it would sell, I’d wager.  Now, when you choose the modern game mode, it eases you in.  First level, jump on blocks to change the color, avoid some balls.  No big.  Then they add the snakes and the rainbow discs.  When you see the pink ball fall from the top, you know it’ll turn into a snake, rather than just falling off the edge of the board.  Hop onto a rainbow disc, though and it’ll carry you to the top.  I guess it was those discs that really made me think he was an alien.  They’re like his little UFOs you know?  But then shit gets really aggravating with these little sunglass-clad green dude that change the color of your blocks.  AND THEN there are these little horned things that chase you around the board alongside the snakes!  Shit gets frustrating pretty easily.

Q*Bert’s newest features involve a character select screen where you can pick which alien guy or girl you want to play.  Given you’ve had time to amass some gems, you can choose any of a number of cool and fancy Q*Berts, so I chose this Q*Nicorn that farts out a shiny rainbow everywhere it goes.  Magical!  There is also a level progression screen, which has asteroids a various locations that require a certain number of stars to progress.  Each star is obtained by finishing a level one of three ways: finish the fucking level, finish the level by a certain time and finish the level with a certain number of points.  I found myself quickly cursing at the screen as some of the early levels have you jump on the blocks twice to get them to the appropriate color.  Then those fucking green dudes come along and ruin EVERYTHING!

I'm going to kill your family you little green shit!

I’m going to kill your fucking family you little green shit!

It really is a rage-inductively fun game, if you are into puzzlers.  Q*Bert is a classic puzzler that will really make you consider the path you take to traverse a given field.  Needless to say, a straight line is never the fucking answer.  This early videogame is one that makes the challenges of the Portal franchise seem like an over-narrated piece of cake.  While Q*Bert Rebooted steps you up gradually to the insane scramble of the original game, it still employs new elements of gaming to make you want to bash your monitor in.

There is also something really odd about Q*Bert.  While his original form looked a little wary the rebooted version of Q*Bert looks positively concerned.  His eyes have this look like he’s thinking “Are we really going to play this again?  You really sure you want this?”  Just look into the furrowed brow and saucer eyes.  He looks saddened by something and reluctant to even exist.  Granted, when you fuck up, Q*Bert curses his head off so bad, that it needs to be censored.  And why shouldn’t he?  His life is one of coloring OCD, jumping on blocks to make them just the right hue while he’s dogged by snakes, falling balls, green dudes that FUCK UP HIS WORK REGULARLY and who knows what else!  Seriously there are no words that can fully encapsulate my rage for those slick little green shits.  Then it hit me.  When you Game Over Q*Bert says “bye bye”.  This makes sense since you will be walking away from the screen to count to ten and squeeze a stress ball into flaccid submission.  But what else does he say, huh?  That’s just alien gibberish, right? FUCK NO, MAN!  Q*Bert is saying “What’s the object of it all” impassively implying that he knows it’s all pointless.  Like he knows that jumping on blocks and being constantly driven by your OCD to make everything perfect is a crappy way to live.  That’s pretty fucking heavy coming from a simple puzzle game, like some shit I expect to find in Q*Bert’s suicide letter after he jumps off the level for the last time!  But he can’t even kill himself since he’ll just be put right back up on top to continue.  Like his very existence is one of pure resignation to the fact that he must (not can, wants to, chooses to, should, would, likes to) but fucking must complete these boards.  But why?  Why does he have to?  My guess is that if you beat the game, Q*Bert will be left in peace to do what Q*Bert does when you’re not making him color blocks.  I guess that would be hang out in the endless void of space, just hopping around.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

Shiny gems almost make the futility of life seem bearable.

So I guess you might have skipped the rest of this article since we all know what Q*Bert is really about. ::: whistles innocently :::  So, yea, it’s a fun game full of great colors, cute characters and shiny objects.  Give this to children, cause like, I played it as a kid, and I turned out great!  Good times!  Great price, too!  Only 4.99$ on Steam to support a classic of videogaming!  Go and get it!  Honestly, there is nothing about this game that would ever make me mad.  Those green guys can be a little frustrating, but hot dog!  You’ve got to have some challenge, hey?  So go on, get this title and don’t say I didn’t warn you… about the great time you will undoubtedly have!

Black Ice, Warning: Incoming Game!

BI_logo

 

Remember those days when we imagined all the different ways that life would be different inside a computer?  Any male product of the 1990’s would remember Reboot: a show whose name is invoked, intentionally or not, when an old series gets updated and made dark and gritty.  It was about the denizens of a cyberworld inside a computer where things were fine and happy until some jerk decided to play a game.  If that were the case, my computer’s inside city is a post-apocalyptic nightmare ruled over by the churning wheels of a citizen-rending machine known only as Steam.  But before all that happy-go-lucky bullshit there was a guy who envisioned a world destroyed by cybernetics and supercomputers.  Where the ultra-wealthy elite do as they please with the world, ruling from corporate arcologies where they look down and see an infinite sea of light reflecting the scintillating beauty of the stars above.  This vision of the future, as seen in Bladerunner and Shadowrun, is called cyberpunk.  Black Ice takes place in the minds of those called hackers, and it is a love letter to that vision of a future age.  Garrett, the developer behind this game, shared some of his own thoughts on the inspiration driving this title.

Black Ice was inspired by many things, but mostly Neuromancer by William Gibson and Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. I wanted to experience the hacking as described in Neuromancer, but I also wanted to find cool loot and blow stuff up.  I think it’s obvious that I took a lot of inspiration from Diablo 2 and Quake 3, but I also looked at things like the Android: Netrunner card game and older games like the original Rise of the Triad. I want you to feel dread at what’s going to come out of these servers, to risk it all for the potential of awesome loot. I want you to feel great because you found an awesome ability combo and are wrecking servers that used to give you trouble. I want you to feel OP.

– Garrett, Developer, Black Ice

Jacking into the Supermesh can be a bit overwhelming at first, since you start the game at level 0.  The game is far from perfect right now, but it has a good thing going.  Check in options that you have the tutorial activated your first run.  It will give you an idea where to start, level you up and secure you some first-level loot as well.  But after running the tutorial once make sure you don’t have it active anymore, or else it will run every time you play.  Irritating.  Sure, in most versions of a cyberpunk future you are dealing with a massive computer network cybercomplex known as “the matrix”.  Gibson used it, Shadowrun uses it, the Matrix used it: at this point the matrix is an irritating trope, so I am glad someone saw fit to call it something a little different.

Towering cybernetic arcologies etched with fluorescent dreams and backlit by scintillating points of data

Towering cybernetic arcologies etched with fluorescent dreams and backlit by scintillating points of data

Once inside the supermesh you will see block after block of fluorescently lit data archives.  These are the servers.  Each one is owned by a company or organization and each one holds a dark secret and terrible power, and you can read about them on their little terminals.  But don’t get too distracted; there is a lot to get a hold of.  Each attack you possess costs you RAM.  Think of RAM as stamina in other games: every action you take aside from pressing ‘wasd’ costs RAM.  Sure, your RAM replenishes but how quickly depends on your talents.  You also have a health bar, experience and an actions hot bar.  You can slot actions into your left/right click and numbers 1-5.  You will also be able to slot abilities into spacebar and shift.  While I went with the age-old gaming medium of shift to run, space to jump, you will certainly have options open as you can slot any ability anywhere.  You could have 6 different types of lasers, an icebreaker and a rocket pack and play the whole game that way.  Your arsenal depends on your hacking style.

Each of your attacks and abilities is governed by a talent.  This is like the character sheet for your standard RPG, but this one is a bit more extensive.  There are a lot of things to consider while you are running the supermesh. You have your hacking talents ( hack speed, hack time, hack range) which govern how you attack servers.  Increase your hack speed to speed up your hacks.  Decrease your hack time so there is less time on the clock when you start the hack.  Increase hack range and you get a larger playing field.  Now, when you hack a server, you run up to it and activate your icebreaker.  Why the fuck is it ice?  What is with all the fucking ice?!?!?! Is it cause the ground is light blue like ice or something? No.  Fuck no.  Those playing Shadowrun are aware that each server deploys Intrusion Countermeasures to detain or kill anyone trying to gain unlawful access to the data on the server.  Your icebreaker lets you tunnel into the server and gain access in a matter of seconds.  In the meantime, you have to deal with Black Ice, the ICs designed to kill the operator.  These are what you shoot, nuke and destroy in the game.  You main enemies.

Your next series of talents are what I have dubbed your general talents (Movement speed, Loot Find, RAM, Health) these let you do various things, mostly self-explanatory. You want all of these increased as much as you can get them.  Some items increase your RAM incrementally or by a percentage, each is displayed separately.  Your next round of talents will be your combat talents ( attack speed, accuracy, critical hit chance, weapon damage, weapon range).  Again, all self-explanatory.  The last round of talents are really just secondary combat talents (Damage returned, chance to pierce, drunk projectiles, knockback power, homing, chance to ricochet, damage reduced, chance to colorize, RAM returned).  A lot of your talents cannot be increased by level, so watch what items you slot.  You don’t want to give up an icebreaker that has a nice range if you really need space to move!

When you see this fucker you better run.  It's a shark that fires missiles out of its jagged-toothed mouth.

When you see this fucker you better run.  UFO shark is gonna shoot you with missiles!

Some points to consider while leveling up.  While having an ass-load of RAM is good, some abilities will reduce your RAM by a percentage.  This means the speed you’ll run out of it will not change ever.  So the best stat to level up if you want a good bit of RAM every time you hit that button would be RAM return.  This will increase the rate that your RAM bar refills.  There are a lot of talents in this game, so don’t be afraid to experiment with each of them.

Personally, I did a lot of experimenting with ways to play this game.  For example, nothing is more annoying in battle than being unable to find the attack you want right before some cyberweb crawler leaps at you and takes you out.  This is frustrating.  So I arranged my abilities and weapons so my attacks would be easier to access.  In order to activate my icebreaker, I have to hit 5.  Essentially, I cannot hit that button by accident.  Your supermesh cybercity will be arranged so that a level 300 server is just next to the level 80 server I want to hack.  If I am finishing off the target server and accidentally attack the level 300 server just next to it, I might get my bits scrambled before I can exit the hack range.  I have had my bits scrambled a lot, and every time that happens you lose bitcreds, in-game money.  So placing my icebreaker in a tough to hit spot helped me stop doing that shit.

Another fun fact you might notice while playing is that you can crack multiple servers simultaneously.  This helped immensely when I was level 50 – 70 and was getting bored.  Cracking one server at a time is a slow leveling process, and you have a long way to go until you can attack your final server, the aptly named Finality, Inc.  It is the giant silver server guarded by a roving warship of doom, called a S.H.A.R.K. and topped with a spinning cybernetic skull.  Can’t miss it.  Anyway, being able to take several servers at once gave me the ability to level fast as shit.  I got from level 51 – 80 in a matter of hours; each server provided a healthy boost of around 1000 exp.  Activating several servers simultaneously allowed me to create a giant Venn Diagram of death.  Pure magic.

Enemies in the red, orange, blue field are assholes that don't like video games.  I nuked them with a logic firebomb.

Enemies in the red, orange, blue field are assholes that don’t like video games. I nuked them with a logic firebomb.

However, I still wasn’t leveling fast enough.  I got frustrated and went to the store to sell a fuckload of goods.  After cracking a few hundred servers, you inventory gets a little full.  So you go to these giant solid-colored store servers.  I hadn’t bought anything until level 47 and boy was I surprised when I did.  I realized that I could buy some crazy missile attack that allowed me to blow up anything in sight. I also got a secondary, slow-firing shotgun attack that fired missiles instead of pellets.  That shit hurt a lot.  Now I was cracking 2 servers twice my level.  At my best around level 50 I was able to take down a level 110 server and a level 160 server at once.  Anything more than that and it gets really dicey.  These attacks even let me take on the dreaded sharks, and that got me even stronger weaponry, since Finality Inc is a level 500 server.

Now I am pushing level 99 and I am able to take on three level 150 servers at once, but I generally just take a level 175 server and a few smaller ones with it.  An important factor to note in server crashing is that when you attack more than one server at once, each server’s ICE will attack the others.  This means that if you grab a spam server, all the other ICs will be bogged down trying to fight the little guys.  Most other servers will kill off a spam server for you, and you can just watch.  Granted, you would normally get experience per kill.  If ICs kill eachother, you get nothing for it, however, you will still get the exp when the server goes down and the loot inside.  But this means that you can use two or three larger servers against eachother, but be careful!  Each server is killing each server and any IC not engaged in combat will lock into you if close enough, so it is best to keep within the range of enemies you can feasibly take down.  I still shy away from servers at the upper 200 levels.  Utilize these tactics well and you will turn all your enemies into a neat little pile of cybernetic death confetti, just make sure not to get your bits scrambled in the process.

It's like a party for you imminent demise! YaY!

It’s like a party for your imminent demise! YaY!

Black Ice is a great game, but it is in pre-release status, so it is far from perfect.  It has a modern-classic feel to it, though, and will definitely get you back to reading some Neuromancer.  It is available on Steam right now for a cool 9.99$.  Not bad considering it is a good time.  At the moment you’ll be plowing through servers like you’re some kind of bit drinking data vampire after a camping trip in the Australian outback, but it is a lot of fucking fun.  My favorite thing is standing on top of a server, looking out and seeing the ghostly outlines of the numerous servers I’ve crashed.  Sometimes destruction is its own form of creation.  This is another game that includes a photo-sensitive mode designed to aide those suffering from light-sensitive seizures that still want to enjoy it.  For those that care, this one is firmly planted in my favorites on Steam.

I was driven up a wall by one thing in this game, and it wasn’t the web crawlers.  The thing about this game that got me so frustrated is the distinct lack of anything.  It is a lot like being in an actual server: lights, a droning noise some soundtrack but there is no life!  Can we have the game elements of this one already?!  I mean I don’t want to go trade war stories with Mr. Rodgers or anything, but when I am cracking servers just to have someone to associate with, you know there should be a little more variation.  Whatever, maybe I can just go hang out at Finality, Inc.  Live every week like it’s shark week!