There is Something Rotten in the State of Gaming

GJshitstorm

From the outset, I need to say that this article is in no way connected to any of the reporting outlets for which I produce material.  Everything published herein is a product of my independent reading and research on this topic, and can only be said to be connected to those who choose to support it.  I will present my findings as objectively as possible.  I was up until 3am last night just reading and reading and reading about this situation and I am no more decided on this than I was at the start.  I will only explore the arguments and each side’s standpoint so those who have no idea on what is going on can at least get a picture of what is going down on the internet.  Again, this is in no way connected to any Games Journalism site that I develop and produce content for outside of my own.

Figuring out where to start with this is difficult as even placing one argument above another in a list-type article could be construed as preferential.  However, since this is turning into a war between gamers and those reporting on the games we love, I will start with the gamers.  Hell, I am a gamer myself.  My biggest concern is the “Death of the Gamer” as it is being coined and the “Death of an Identity”.  On this topic I am a little upset, since I have always called myself a gamer.  I am.  I grew up playing video games and gaming has gotten me through some tough times.  I tried to walk away from it, but it is so key to the things I love that I couldn’t do it.  Across the past couple weeks, however, numerous games reporting sites have put up articles blatantly stating that the Gamer is dead.  I have filtered these through DoNotLink to avoid directing clicks to them.

‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience.  ‘Gamers’ are over. – Gamasutra

A Guide to Ending Gamers – Gamasutra

We Might be Witnessing the Death of an Identity – Kotaku

The Death of the “Gamers” and the Women Who “Killed” Them – Opposable Thumbs

The End of Gamers – Dan Golding

So we’re over?  That’s it?  Honestly this just seems like the most childish smear campaign ever.  Gamers will never be over.  As long as there are games, and people growing up playing them, gamers will be alive and well.  I love how they didn’t say the “death of misogyny in games” or “the cleansing of gamer culture”: They just outright attacked everyone that plays games.  It is disheartening, honestly.  I will no longer be granting these people ad revenue by directing links to their site, I will start using DoNotClick to send readers there without adding to their viewing statistics.

Now they make some valid points here.  Harassment is messed up for any reason.  If anything, people deserve to be allowed to keep some things to themselves, and their personal lives should be the big one.  So, I don’t care who it is, harassing people for any reason is insidious. If you are trying to destroy someone’s credibility, harassing them will only provide them with a wall of anger and hatred to champion a cause against.  This, in turn, only grants them a valid soapbox to stand on, especially if you end up having a serious effect in their real lives.

The most powerful accusations in this situation come from the gamers themselves, actually, and it seems to be the reason gamers are so incensed over this.  These accusations are pretty thoroughly summed up by the Internet Aristocrat, focusing primarily on Zoe Quinn.  When I first saw this guy’s video, I thought he was just another hate-mongering asshat with a silly wig; but seeing some of the evidence presented, he makes a compelling argument.  If any of what he says in his video is remotely correct, then there is definitely something really ugly hiding in games journalism.  Of course, the video also makes some leaps in logic, such as not wondering if the ZoePost Blog was entirely true and not just the rantings of a jilted ex.

Now he says a lot in there, including that Zoe Quinn has single-handedly been able to manipulate all of games journalism with the magic power of her vagina.  Now that is a tall order, but if something wasn’t true about the level of journalistic integrity being called into question, why would Kotaku and Polygon both alter their policies on Journalistic Transparency in response?

Another big name at the center of this controversy is the girl at the top left of the banner for this article.  Her name is Vivian James.  She is a character created by 4chan (note her hair adornment) to represent females in gaming.  She was adopted by The Fine Young Capitalists.  They are creating a Game Jam where female gamers submit game ideas and TFYC work with developers and artists.  These games are then sold and the proceeds go to charity.  The really bizarre thing here is that 4Chan is known for being a haven for those with anti-feminist and anti-inclusion beliefs.  VICE.com recently posted an article about Vivian where they actually defame Vivian as being created for the sole purpose of spiting feminists. I also find her initials mildly comical since they sound like a euphemistic term for a woman’s.. ehem.  You get the gist.  Personally, I like Vivian since she resembles my own wife, who plays 3DS, iPad games and loves Mountain Dew all whilst wearing hoodies.

Major internet games media has a lot to answer for, really, but if there is some element of journalistic integrity that needs to be called into question, it should be openly discussed and investigated.  Harassing people is always wrong, and my heart goes out to those that have suffered in the wake of this shitstorm, because it honestly is a shitstorm.  There are plenty of people, famous and small-time, who want to see this situation calm down and seek to peacefully support progress in the direction of an inclusive gamer culture.  Support The Fine Young Capitalists and their IndieGoGo Campaign. Contact people and tell them it is time for transparency and serious discussion about inclusive gamer culture.  But don’t let the raging flame war continue, because it is hindering progress.  I know that I will no longer be reading Kotaku, RPS, Polygon and others since I no longer know who I will be able to trust.

Some things that have come out of this, however are good.  First, The Fine Young Capitalists are at 71% of their goal.  Second, girls in gaming now have a character, albeit fabricated by 4Channers, that represents them.  Honestly, someone should inspire them to make characters representing various faces contributing to gamer culture and turn it into a webshow.  There is also a petition being signed by developers, gamers, social media outlets and others that calls for combating internet harassment.  I don’t need to tell you that is a good thing, but as long as it is enforced equally there shouldn’t be a problem.  PC Gamer tried to say it was signed to support Anita Sarkeesian, but the letter itself just states:

“We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.”

And they are right.  I would have signed this thing myself, but it was closed by the time I found it. (UPDATE: it has come to my attention that I did, in fact, sign this petition.  While some have said it might be a petition of the “major people” involved, the message is still one I wholly endorse. I remember sending my name in, but I also thought I was too late and not important enough anyways. My thanks to Vlak for the ) Finally, and most importantly, people are calling for gaming journalists to be held accountable for their actions.  To this measure, I will share with readers the games and campaigns that I have supported via Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.  Some I have already openly mentioned my contributions to, others not so much.  Either way, here they all are:

Elysian Shadows – I funded them worth 50$ and wrote an article about their game.

Goblin Quest – I funded them worth about 50$, but it is based in the UK, so I really gave them 30£.  I haven’t written an article on the tabletop yet, but I am considering doing so once I get my hardback copy of the book.

Beguile – I funded them worth 59$, which was about 65$ Canadian after shipping outside Canada and exchange rates applied.

Redneck Assassin – I funded them worth 15$ since I was really poor at the time.  I haven’t reviewed the game, but I plan to once it is finished.

The Fine Young Capitalists – I funded them worth 25$ and haven’t done an article on them.  I probably won’t write an article, but I think what they are trying to do is noble and pretty freaking cool.

I don’t think there is a problem with supporting campaigns that I like, especially when they’ve made so much already that my contribution is just a drop in the bucket.  From now on I will be posting how much I have contributed and whether I have a plan to do so, but sometimes it is just a spur-of-the-moment decision. And that is honestly it.  This is really all that I have to say about this topic for now, so hopefully it has been informative and gives readers that are still confused about this situation an idea of the arguments on both sides.  There will be more to come, including my own strong-armed opinions, but for now, objective discussion.  As per usual, I will be creating a topic to discuss the situation on my Steam group, Crotchety Gamers United.

Zeno Clash 2: Much More ‘What’, Equal Parts ‘The Fuck’

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Zeno Clash 2 is a perfect example of what happens when an imaginative group of talented developers find a publisher and can make a game the way the always wanted.  Granted, it is fucking bizarre as pink dancing hamsters in tutus tearing apart two cows having a threesome with a Scottish midget, but there is just as much fun and blood involved as the above description.  This game is fun.  It is a ton of fucking fun heaped into a bizarre surrealist world and topped off with guns.  Not to mention, the storyline is interesting as fuck.

So Ghat makes his comeback in this sequel by doing the opposite of what he did in the first one.  Literally, the fucking opposite.  Where before he was trying to kill father-mother and break up the family in order to avenge FM’s baby-thieving, now he is trying to save FM from a much-deserved ass-kicking and reuniting the family.  I honestly think this guy just likes to fucking beat shit up and kill motherfuckers.  I mean, that is what he did as a Corwid, and he hasn’t changed anything but the fact that now he no longer wears a mask.  I would hypothesize that this shows that Ghat is willing to face who he is and give into his dark, true self, but that would almost be too fucking involved.  I think he just likes to fuck shit up.

City of Halstedom, pronounced Hal-stom.  See also churning homestead of wanton fucking insanity.

City of Halstedom, pronounced Hal-stom. See also churning homestead of wanton fucking insanity.

Halstedom has been taken over by the North Golem, Kax-Teh.  You know, the guy you brought to Halstedom to deal with Father-Mother?  The North Golem, the guy with the Rubick’s cube from ZC, has built a jail, the colonnade-adorned head building, to incarcerate criminals in the town.  Makes sense, guy’s a natural fucking philanthropist.  Except one thing.  These people have no idea what this concept of “law” is.  It is literal anarchy.  Whoever wants to rule can, if they can get enough support from other thugs and people in the area.  So he is literally forcing these foreign concepts of law and order onto a city of people that have trouble with the concepts associated with a can-opener.  They are children, and he is ruling them with an iron fist from his head-palace using concepts none of them can understand.  Very little about any of this makes much sense.

With FM behind bars, you would assume that everything should be alright in the world, but Ghat is a more motiveless malignancy than Iago, so he gets tired of starting bar-fights all the time.  Luckily, Rimat, a woman wearing a rice paddy hat from FM’s family, decides to start some shit.  See, after everyone found out about FM’s treachery and baby-stealing, the North Golem told them who their real parents are and where they could be found.  Many went to him, but a few did not.  Rimat was one of those who didn’t.  Her opinion was that you cannot change the past, so she cannot change the fact that she was raised by a giant, hooded man-bird.  And, honestly, she has a compelling point.  This is something that many adoptees have to come to terms with, but Rimat, given the chance to go back to them, prefers to stay with the familiar.  She chooses to stay with those that she grew up with.  Very interesting.  So together with Rimat, Ghat helps to break FM out of jail and seek out the various members of the family.

After they’ve found all their brothers and sisters, they then turn their goals against the golems.  As it turns out, the golems are just the servants of some infinitely wiser entities, and they were put in place to keep the Zenos from leaving their land of Zenozoic.  The term “zenos” is used to describe anyone from this place, too.  I would want to keep these guys out of my backyard too.  I mean fucking look at them!

Ugly is a polite term for these people

Ugly is a polite term for these people. I mean, the police force wear flour sacks on their heads leaving you to imagine the horrors beneath!

Above is one of my favorite features of this game.  Normally, the gameplay is something like a free-roaming RPG, but there will be these areas where you’ll be pitted against a ton of enemies.  Unlike other games such as Half-Life 2 or any FPS by Flying Wild Hog, these arenas are not resolved with a sword or by gutting people with a machine-gun.  These battles are most often resolved with combo attacks and flying double-fist strikes.  Massive battles like this are resolved like street thugs would back in the 1920’s:  Everyone has a nasty brawl and the victors are the ones who are right.  Sometimes you will have some assholes sitting back, picking people off with a rifle or a grenade launcher, but hit them hard enough and they will drop it.  Of course, if there are weapons like rifles and grenade launchers, why even get into pitch brawls like that?  Simple, the guns in this game are few and far between and there isn’t oodles of ammo laying around.  It’s actually somewhat realistic in this way.  Of course, why not grab a club?  Those are around too!  This game forces you to deal with someone via fisticuffs.  Weapons that you have to strike someone with, including guns without ammo, will break and shatter.  The most reliable way to deal with your issues is to beat them to a bloody pulp with your bare hands, as God intended.

The landscapes in this game are absolutely magnificent and always always always have elements that make you curious, intrigued and outright confused.  As you wander these landscapes, you might be wondering if you are on Mars.  Actually, the game gives you ample reason to believe that it might be Earth, but the game has numerous regions.  Each region can be explored and explored freely.  Some are more open than others, but each area has its own unique look and feel, and each area has its secrets and stashes.

The two-headed monkey riding on the back of a fire-spitting vulture made the muculosaurus in the desert seem low-key.

The two-headed monkey riding on the back of a fire-spitting vulture region made the muculosaurus in the desert seem low-key.

Two features adding to this are stashes and skill points.  Stashes are places where you can find items (food to heal, totems to fill the special attacks meter, weapons etc) which fulfill a variety of uses, mostly combat-oriented.  These stashes look like giant, horned clamshells and function much the same way as chests.  The art director for this game should be drug-tested hourly.

The other feature are the skill point totems.  These appear as skulls hanging from a crude stand and can be found nearly everywhere.  A couple time I revisited regions only to find a new skill totem that wasn’t accessible without equipment I found elsewhere.  These totems are well-hidden too, almost as if they hired someone from Flying Wild Hog to put in the secrets.  When you interact with these totems, half the present skulls disappear and you get points equal to the number of skulls obtained.  Once you have the points, you can go ahead and start pouring them into the various skills: health, stamina, strength, leadership. Health is health, stamina dictates how many punches you can throw before getting weak, strength is how hard you hit.  Leadership is the most interesting skill, though.  Throughout the game, you will switch out between various characters that will help Ghat and Rimat on their journey.  The higher your leadership, the more powerful the allies that you can recruit to your quest with you.  These guys are useful, too, especially when you find yourself suddenly confronted with a massive mosaic of faces as seen above.  You will be fighting ALL those fuckers, often in close-quarters.  With little space to run and twenty mother-fuckers trying to kick your ass, you will need some friends to mix up the melee.  I poured nearly all of my points into leadership.

The skills are accessible from the map screen, where you can also find some collections.  There are a variety of things to collect, all of which are random and make little sense.  They are a ton of fun, and when you play, you’ll likely see how they add their own pieces of flavor to this game.

Make a left at the canyon filled with testicle-chinned shrimp, pass by the butthole-licking tribe of barbarians and we'll arrive at the city of mechanical, two-headed monkey people.  Remember to pack sandwiches!

Turn left at the canyon of testicle-chinned shrimp, pass foot-collecting barbarian tribe and arrive at the city of mechanical, two-headed monkey people. Remember to pack sandwiches!

Do not play this game thinking you will not be saying “What the fuck” every five seconds.  This game is just as whacky, if not moreso, than the first, but its gameplay is memorable and awesome.  I honestly hope they take this formula and apply to a remake of Double-Dragon or Final Fight.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have a fighting-style free-roaming first-person RPG like this one in a vast post-apocalyptic, future cityscape where gangs tear eachother apart?  You could have some guns in there, but they might be so rare that they are almost a form of currency, so battles are largely solved with blades and fists.  Just food for thought to give Ace Team.  This game itself is a hell of a thing though.  It feels like the greater narrative of morality and law being waged by the golems is the true story, and the rest of the world is made to be ridiculous so a seeking mind is almost forced to latch onto the golems and interpret their story.  Then Ghat comes in and fucks shit up, believing, I guess, that true freedom requires the death of law.  Whatever you glean from this game, it is likely to be memorable.  And the best part is that its Special Edition currently on sale for 2.99$ on Steam, although it is deserving of every cent of the 24.99$ usual asking price.  Go get it now! Seriously!  It’s fucking awesome!

Memories of a Vagabond Should be Repressed

MOAV_logo

 

I would say this is what happens when a game studio doesn’t hire dedicated writers, but looking at the DarkElite Studios website, they have several.  I think one of their staff is even from Blizzard, but even throwing a name like that around did nothing for MOAV.  Certainly one of the worst games that someone is asking money for.  I am not sure why the most terrible games I have played are mostly RPG’s, but this one made me shake my head in disappointment numerous times.  It wasn’t all bad, just mostly.  Come with me as I plow through this clusterfuck of under-utilized potential.  Wow.  What a keynote.

Let me start this review off by naming the many things this game did right.  The music in Memories of a Vagabond was pretty spectacular.  It was appropriate, enjoyable and I often found myself tapping a toe.  Battles often found themselves alongside the usual battle-music, while the boss fights had a badass metal riff going.  Music provided an acceptable variety with a new jam for each area.  Granted, there were one or two recycled songs, but they were still enjoyable.  Another fantastic feature of the game was the art.  If you are feeling nostalgic for the old days of RPG, a la FFVI or  Chronotrigger, this pixel art will definitely feed that craving.  Every sprite is lovingly crafted, the areas are imaginative and exotic and the characters are pretty fancy.  And when I say characters, I mean all the characters.  This leads to anther really great element of the game: its soul-mechanic.  Throughout the game, you get the choice of playing as 4 different characters: warrior, mage, bounty hunter and assassin.  Should you die, you also get the chance to change to another body.  Almost made dying worth your time.  I spent most of my time, however, as the Bounty Hunter.  That honestly concludes everything good that I have to say about this game.  Get your snorkel out, baby.  We’re going down into this shit.

You're right. Not everything on Steam is worth playing after all....

You’re right. Not everything on Steam is worth playing after all…

Oh my godness is right.  I have combed the Dark Elite site looking for evidence that they are primarily made up of people from a non-English-speaking country, but I have found nothing either way.  I can say that it seems they could afford to pay for someone to look over the writing on their site, so there is no reason they shouldn’t have been able to correct the gross errors in their dialogue.  And it is beyond a few adorable mistakes here and there, they literally have numerous instances of the most common errors in the English language.  It seems the editing was either done by someone who is not familiar with English, or the writers just didn’t care.  The main story-writers have  names seemingly of French origin, so I will give them some leeway here.  However, with a dedicated person for text-corrections, I have to wonder if she played through the game even once to pick up on its myriad English faux pas.  I will decorate this article with examples in pictorial form as Vlad the Impaler decorated his castle with corpses: to show others what not to do.  Granted in Vlad’s case, the message was “you should move to another country”.

Moving on from the language and toward the story, I have to say that this seems the biggest gripe I have over low-budget indie games.  They are willing to cut out story and writing in favor of mechanics and coding, which makes some sense on the surface.  Codeslingers are the ones that make the game playable.  Without them the mechanics, engine and other important elements won’t work.  Of course, if you skimp too hard on your writers, as MOAV seems to have done in spades, you get a game that isn’t tolerable.  Some fucking morons and reckless retro fanboys might be willing to overlook such “dispensable polish” as story and language, but one of the things that was so spectacular about retro games like Final Fantasy and Chronotrigger was the level of detail they paid to story, art, music and the entire package.  In this title, you have a game story that is a joke compared to those games.  Your character starts off proposing to his love.  No fault here.  After a night in bed with his beloved where they “sleep” (I rarely believe titles anyways), she is pulled from bed by some evil demon, who then kills you.  After a visit to hell you meet some soul-dealer that will rent you a new body for the low low price of any dignity you soul might possess.  If you chose the old man body, that shit is on you.  Later you find out, pretty unceremoniously, that the soul-dealer and the demon were working together.  The best part is that the soul-dealer is all prophetic when you meet him, then, after time traveling to defeat the demon and save your lady-love, you see him sitting out front the house with the evil demon as if they are both ro-sham-bo-ing for who will steal the broad.  I face-palmed.  Now they aren’t actually doing this, I am being dramatic, but then he turns to you and you shout something like “traitor!” and this soul-dealing demon of fate replies, “look guy, I don’t know who you are, but I have lives to ruin right now.  Take a number and get in line.”  Not an exact quote, a creative paraphrase.

Lift a.. what?  That sounds like it could be gross.  I wouldn't want a demon lifting his "finger" on my wife either...

Lift a.. what? That sounds like it could be gross. I wouldn’t want a demon lifting his “finger” on my wife either…

There is also the matter of your fellow adventurers.  The only one that gets any real explanation is the bunny-girl, who spends a lot of her time early on being inadvertently sexual, and she makes a big deal out of sleeping in a bed with you.  She tells her employer that she wants to explore the world, then you suggest she do it with you, to which she replies “that was my idea.”  So we have some cute, though awkwardly-handled war-of-the-roses banter.  Fun.  The other characters are sort of just lumped into your party after you do a mission with them.  Nothing is said, and you never tell them that you will be fighting demons.  Imagine that conversation “Yea, I am out to find my fiancee, kill a couple eldritch demons of screaming horror, then be home in time for tea.”  It almost feels like this game was getting down to the wire and they didn’t have time to throw in any real material for the characters.  They are all pretty flat, beyond a mission or a little feature here or there.  The hero doesn’t even allow them into the conversation most of the time, occasionally talking at them amidst exploration.  As long as they bring their gear to battle.  Sure, one is a mercenary, but treating that as an excuse to just have a character thrown into the party that sits there and attacks back is just lazy scriptwriting (not the code kind), and makes me think someone didn’t put more than a weekend into it.

There were also a number of 4th-wall breaking elements of the script that felt less like clever little “we’re making a game” jokes, and more like careless writing.  In some places it even felt like an outright refusal to give any fucks and arrogant dick-wagging like they thought they were creating some masterwork.  This is barely a finger painting.  Granted, it was hung on a billion-dollar refrigerator, but Steam needs to learn how to vet its selection.  This just shows low standards.

While we are talking about characters, there is this fiancee.  With all the attention paid to her side of things, she might as well be a Princess Peach life-size sex doll.  At least DLC Quest had the decency to call their lady “Princess McGuffin” and obviate the fact that she is little more than motivation for the hero to act.  I am not one to go all activist on a game, but she is a sex-token that does nothing for indie games and treating women with any kind of respect in gaming.  At the end I thought she would turn out to be the villain, but she just kind of lilts and says how glad she is to see you.  Y’know, like a good little Stepford robot.  See those bodies around on the ground?  They are, as I realized hours later, her fucking family.  The hero pays them no mind, nothing is said about them if you “interact” with them.  There is no dramatic elements drawn from the wholesale slaughter of her family, and they are not explored in any fashion to give you the feeling of them being anything more than randomly selected sprites on a rooftop.  There is a vague dream-sequence that I just now realized includes them, but they say these detached lines and mill about in a spectral manner.  It feels like they are just figments of the dreamworld, and they have as little relevance by now as possible.  Any drama to be gleaned from them is diluted heavily.

Man, these thatch roofs are fucked!

Man, these thatch roofs are fucked!

There is also the matter of ???? island.  Wander to the lower-right edge of the main continent, and you will find a row boat to ???? island.  It has a small town with some guy that buys journals and another lake with a fishing spot, one of two in the game that I found.  Go inside the houses, and the rain follows you.  Sure, there is some thatch roofing involved, but they were never this bad.  Seriously, it is like aliens invaded only to replace their roofs with holograms before disappearing without evidence of having been there.  At this point I realized the entire game is a broken, unfinished mess.  Or so it feels.  It’s almost as if the game has cardboard cut outs stuck up and put out.  Sure, you could argue that publishing unfinished games is now the industry standard for indie games, and you’d be right.  But that is for “pre-release” or “early-release” games, not supposedly completed titles like MOAV.  And with a name attached to this like Blizzard, I have to wonder where that guy’s influence was.  It must have been a case where someone knew the guy and he stood in the room and used their bathroom to give some credentials to the title.  Don’t be fooled.  This is not a piece of mastery, it is a shoddy piece of work that is scarcely better than the games that my friends and I made on pirated copies of RPGMaker 2000 back in middle school.  Before Steam.  Fuck you, shit was tough to come by.

Fuck you, guy.  I will gladly drink whiskey from your skull this night.

Fuck you, guy. I will gladly drink whiskey from your skull this night.

Overall, this game is pretty easy, non-complex and has a storyline with as much depth as a snack cracker.  The characters mostly feel like cardboard stand-ups and the language and writing is so god-awful unprofessional that I almost puked.  I feel like this is what CoD players see at the epitome of RPG gaming, because the other RPGs are too “complicated and wordy” for their tiny brains, although I am certain they would phrase that “fagit gamez for FAGGITZ!”  The best parts of this game are the music and the art, which seemed to get all of the attention.  The mechanics have a lot of potential, especially the soul-changing concept, but that could have been better employed.  I would have liked to see the developers give each body a different story that you had to help sort out before being able to find your own lady and resolve your own quest.  Instead, this plays like a twelve-year-old raging through the world after his sex-bot is taken, bashing in the heads of any nebulous foe that appears until he gets strong enough to fight the last bad guy.  There was also a battle arena, but that was literally like putting up a sign saying “grind here.  we were too lazy to make an actual game.”  I didn’t even bother to try fighting in there.  Another point of interest.  I didn’t want to purchase the services of the mercenary in the beginning, thinking “hey, the devs might have added more interesting and involved characters later.”  I mean, all I did with this guy was meet him and get his axe in exchange for armor.  Then at the end, each character gets a nostalgic little send-off, which would be great, except that there was no bonding with the characters.  There was no interaction.  Just, “I helped you so you’re now my friend that will help me get my sex-doll back.”  This game costs money , too.  It is currently 5.99$ on Steam.  5.99$!!!!  I wouldn’t give them a turd in a blanket for this game, let alone 5.99$.  This game should be 0.12$ on itch.io or Desura, not cluttering up Steam and making it dirty.  Not recommended, but you are certainly welcome to make your own judgments on this one.  Steam needs to get some standards, this game is evidence.

Shadow Warrior, Better the Second Time

SW_Logo

 

As with movies, games that were remade from an older title fall into two categories: epic or fail.  Shadow Warrior takes the material from the unrepentantly indecent original and sculpts it into an experience that adds to and surpasses the original.  And the way they did it is what makes this so awesome; Shadow Warrior uses the same corny sense of humor, but tempers it with a snarky, demonic sidekick. Devolver Digital has recreating an old washed-up title down to a process as simple as “give it to Flying Wild Hog.”

When SW kicks off, you main character is driving down the street listening to The Touch by Stan Bush.  People seem to like those songs from the 80’s, but not everything out of that era is worthy of remembrance.  Shit, not much out of the 80’s and even some of the 90’s is worth remembering, so this guy listening to some shitty 80’s music in a badass car on the way to a deal is a little off-putting.  Honestly, at first I was like, “God, please don’t tell me that’s the main character.”  But this game is filled with demons, so despite my pleas of “don’t make me play this guy”, I was forced to play as Lo Wang. I let out a nervous giggle and soldiered on.  Of course, this was the only thing that I, as a gamer, found distasteful about the game.  Its humor, on the other hand, is another story entirely.  If I were asian, I might be pretty deeply insulted by most parts of this game, but the way the game also makes fun of the original seems an attempt to apologize for it.

SW_powah

Huh, they misspelled “POWAAH!”

 

As with most games, the first level gives you an idea of what to expect, and it is fucking awesome.  It’s about an hour worth of slicing enemies to tiny pieces with a katana as they shriek and gush blood all over the carpet.  Your katana behaves like a magical limb-detaching wand, and at first I was really surprised by how horrible and gory the game is.  That lasted about 10 seconds before I was laughing my ass off at how ridiculous it really was.  2 parts Tarantino, 2 parts Jet Li and all Wang, baby.  It also displays how good at hiding shit in plain sight FWH really is.  At one point there is a statue behind glass in one of the main corridors, and I walked past it wondering why it was the only glowing statue in the whole place.  This statue is one of several types of collectibles that the game hides from you: money statues, bowls of blood, Ki Crystals and fortune cookies.

The statues give you money, but are not the only source of funds.  The other source is an ancient chinese method called “finding that shit lying around.”  As you collect money, the game totals it and lets you use it to buy ammo and upgrades for your weapons.  There are 3 different upgrades per weapon with 6 upgradable weapons: a pistol, machinegun, shotgun, crossbow, flamethrower, rpg.  One of the things I love about this game is a logical conundrum that I call the “Dimensional Sphincter Improbability”.  Essentially, unless you have a magical asshole that also links to an alternate dimension where you store all your weapons, it’s highly fucking improbable that you can carry an arsenal this vast.  Hard Reset, FWH’s inaugural title, solved this issue by making these weapons varying configurations of the same two weapons.  Shadow Warrior just stores these weapons in an off-screen pocket dimension that follows Lo Wang around at all times.  Of course, this game makes no apologies, and why should it?  It is a remake of an old, less-than-classic game.  Fuck logic.  Your first weapon, though, is the best.  The katana is an awesome part of this game, and you start the game dicing people up and flinging shuriken.  There is one problem with all of this.  The money has the square hole, which is distinctly Chinese, but the katana and shuriken were weapons of Japanese origin.  This game is a bizarre cultural amalgamation of two cultures.  Maybe the enemies in the next game will come from Korean lore?

The next big K-pop group, "Puppets of a Delusional Overlord"

Massacring these blood puppets was more fun than my ethics should have been able to tolerate.

Next, you have the bowls of blood.  This part makes me a little uneasy, and I filed it under “shit I won’t think about too much.”  Every once in a while, you will come across a secretly ensconced bowl of blood suspended by demonic power on a spiked shrine built of the corpses of your enemies victims.  So, naturally the first thing you do is drink it.  At least, I assume you do, and I am pretty sure it is never outwardly stated exactly what Wang does with it, but what else is there to do with it?  Rub it all over your body?  Either way, you get these bowls and they grant you Karma, which, in turn, is used to upgrade yourself with all kinds of abilities.  I spent the most of my first karma points on Ki attacks with my sword, which are badass attacks that allow you to cut through demons like lightly-chilled tofu.  These attacks are rewarding as fuck, too.  Get off a good divider of the heavens attack and your enemies basically explode while is great for taking off legs.  Your enemies will crawl off a bit, which makes it easy to deal with their friends then come back for the karma of beheading them, too.

Ki crystals are giant crystals that glow with ki power, something that fuels the demons’ magic.  Luckily, it also allows you to use Ki powers like self-healing or making a defensive bubble.  While not overtly useful, if used properly the powers become as deadly as the attacks.  Each of these collectibles allow you to buy new weapons, powers and abilities that make gameplay deeper and more entertaining.  The best part is that the abilities flow perfectly from gameplay, and the controls are beautifully intuitive.  As soon as I had the abilities mapped to my brain and the controls, I was ripping through enemies.  When I was finished, their army was measured in liters rather than kilograms.

After a battle, every arena tends to look like this.

After a battle, every arena tends to look like this.

Finally, there are these fortune cookies. Each of them gives you 5 health, which is nice, and then slips you a Confucius-style joke that will make you face-palm so many times your head will turn black-and-blue.  Generally, the humor of this game is pretty terrible, and it would even get to a point that is indecent, but the demon in your head makes it a little better.  He is an ancient, which is some kind of immortal asian demon.  The one you befriend is named Hoji, and he was banished from the shadow realm.  His story is one of Romeo and Juliet turned Pygmalion and Galatea, but with a dark twist.  He provides some comedic levity to balance your character’s ego a little.  With Hoji by your side, there is someone to keep Lo Wang from being the same person he was in the first game.  At one point he even says “Sorry, I used to be a prick.”  In the context of the game, he could be referring to his recent personal catharsis, but it also feels like a reference to that previous life.  Given the fact that this game also has more Easter eggs than grocery stores in late March, it’s not too much of a stretch.

Your enemies are also a throwback to that old time, when Nukem was the duke and consoles were for kiddies.  Many times, this game just throws you into fights where you are like “o shit I’m gonna die” and the entire time I was having flashbacks to plays of Descent and Doom.  Your first enemies are humans, but the game is fast to switch them out for an army of demons.  And those old games seemed to have a habit of throwing demons in as a foe for shooters.  I mean, look at Quake.  I had no fucking clue what the fuck I was even fighting, and the recent(ish) Quake 4 changed over to aliens instead of demonic foes.  Honestly, whatever.  Shadow Warrior made it cool to kill demons again and gave me as much of a thrill as Bioshock did.  Then there are these massive bosses that the game throws at you.  I played a little Duke Nukem Forever, and the giant-boss battles were just a little too… Duke.  They seemed so focused on the fact that the boss was massive and it played well enough, but it was just uninteresting.  Just felt like I was firing bullets into a river to dam in an attempt to damn it shut.  I didn’t feel  badass, just felt like damage control.  Boss battles in this game follow a sort of rhythm and you can measure your progress visually.  You also feel badass at the end for taking down this giant enemy.  It doesn’t feel one bit frustrating and is well done.  The battles are the same method as those found in Hard Reset, and I greatly enjoyed them.

Alongside the enemies, the game takes numerous flares from old-style games, like the card-key search.  Back in the days of Doom, it was standard procedure to be sent out after a set of keys to the complex you were running and gunning through.  Lo Wang finds himself running through arenas of foes searching for colored shrines to destroy in order to get past mystical demon seals.  It really brought me home, and I feel like this is an experience that new gamers will enjoy while old gamers can get all nostalgic.  On top of all this, Shadow Warrior had a spin-off game with Viscera Clean-up Detail: Shadow Warrior.  That is another indie gold mine and a lot of fun, so check it out.

Obligatory scenic screenshot

Obligatory scenic screenshot

Every ounce of this game screams with a righteous fire that burns through every expectation that I had.  It is a vein-bursting experience with fun gameplay, amazing music and a storyline that plays an artful, melodramatic chord against the game’s wang-fueled humor.  The game is ridiculous and over-the-top in a way that made old kung-fu movies so popular.  It doesn’t matter that this game is goofy and ridiculous, it is still a lot of fun, and in a lot of ways it is a shrine to the old generations of PC games and a fist-bump to their players.  It almost feels like I just sat down with the developers, had a few beers and talked about the “good old days of PC gaming” and how gamers nowadays wouldn’t understand.  This they would understand.  And it is really something special, even though it is so, so ridiculous.  Not to mention, the game leaves one of its main enemies wide open for a sequel.  Zilla, your former employer and demonically-enhanced lunatic, escapes in a helicopter.  You slice the other guy’s throat, though, so you get that satisfaction.  This game is 39.99$ on Steam, and I whole-heartedly endorse paying this money.  I got the game when it was on sale, so I lucked out, but it is a title you are guaranteed to enjoy.

With all that being said, the thing that boils my blood over this game is its developers.  Seriously!  How dare they make something so good!  This sets fucking standards!  They literally have made 3 fucking games.  FUCKING 3!  A game where you shred through hordes of demonic minions with righteous blazing fury, one where you blow your way through level after level of robotic minions that are spliced with human bodies and … a game starring a pink panda and a yellow lizard.  Ok, so that last one is still in development, but I am totally fucking serious.  These guys should be given some other old-school titles to revive, like SiN or Blake Stone!  I feel like the only fucking guy that even remembers Blake and his battles with Aliens of Gold!  Shit!  Oh well, I am sure all that is just around the corner, Devolver Digital just needs more money for properties acquisition.  I wish I could just give them money.  LoL!  Be so much easier than waiting for games to come out.

The Fall, Protocol Bypass Complex

Fall_logo

 

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.

Dear Game Informer: You’re a Fucking Asshole

gibastard

 

Game Informer is a major gaming magazine that is apparently written by assholes.  Now, the reason I receive it is because my wife got the Powerup rewards card at Gamestop.  This was when she got our 3DS ‘s and Pokemon X and Y.  I pick it up and peruse it whenever it comes in, and it often shows me some surprisingly good indie games I hadn’t yet heard about.  But this month was different.  This month I got to pages 28-29 of the July 2014 issue and was met with this woven monstrosity called “The Indie Game Flowchart”.  I would tell you that IndieDevs are the sole reason for true ingenuity and without those with the balls to run free in the capitalist wilds, there would never be any innovation or progress in gaming at all.  We would all be playing COD and WOW rip-offs.  This is a rage article of crotchety proportions, so if you don’t like it, fuck off.  Game Informer needs to sit down and shut the fuck up.

This article, written by some mimsy tart named Joe Juba, has this text blurb to start you off:

If you want to make an indie game, you need to be driven by passion.  Maybe you want to tell a personal story, or experiment with a never-before-seen genre.  Realizing this dream might require years of work and your life savings, but it could be worth the struggle.  What is your reward at the end of the journey?  Follow our flowchart to find out.  You might earn instant credibility, vast wealth, or cheap statuettes from an indusrty awards show.

– Joe Jube, Game Informer, Issue July 2014, Page 28

You might think “O, that’s not so bad!  He just gave the indie devs some credit for drive and passion.  Not to mention experimenting with genres and some other things!”  Honestly, sure, he does, but then he cheapens it with a giant flowchart that mocks the entirety of Indie Developers and what the real goal is as an IndieDev.  While the article is a comedy-rag with sarcasm dripping from its pages, one should keep in mind that comedy is a form of philosophy where they cause you to laugh by showing you the truth (in this case Juba’s perception of the truth) and making you see it in an entertaining light.  Just watch Louie C.K. or George Karlin.  Hell, nearly every comic uses elements of real-life in their shows, and that makes them artists in a way.  This is just flat-out mockery of a people who have no real centralized way of responding.

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

Here is the map of mockery so you can follow along

At start is says “So you want to be an indie. What is the first priority?”  Move on to the first offense, “Fun, good gameplay“.  The next box after that just says “wrong” and directs you to the other option out of the gate “A cool art style.”  Now stop right there you fucking pricks.  Did you just see that?  With a quick flick of the goddamn wrist, this slimy little fuck says that indie games as a whole do not have fun, good gameplay and rely on art style.  FUCK NO!  I can name plenty of games off the top of my head in varying genres that have great gameplay with great art all the way to shit art and fabulous gameplay.  Minecraft, for instance, has arguably simplistic art.  Most Super Nintendo titles had more advanced textures.  The gameplay is the redeeming part of this game, and spawned several genres.  THAT was the work of one fucking guy in a goddamn basement, NOT the result of the industry’s method-at-large, which is typically “who fucking cares how mindless the gameplay is, just art it up with pretty graphics and fantastic visuals so that no on notices.”  Want another?  Sure.  Hard Reset.  That is a game with some pretty graphics, great ambiance and an artistic method of doing cut-scenes in a comic book style.  The gameplay, however, is a ton of fun, allowing you to blow shit up and use a variety of weapons with the same two “guns” and elminating the question of where you keep that bazooka.  Sure, the story is a little confusing at times, but Half-life 2 had as much story as a mass-murderer does.  Shit, Call of Fucking Duty has less story, but that is punching the retarded kid there.  I don’t know where Joe Juba thinks he gets carte blanche to say what he wants about the indie culture, but he is writing for a major fucking magazine.  That, along side his little opening to this masterpiece of douche-baggery, automatically takes away any credibility he truly has with the indie culture.  But he goes on, so, too, must I.

From that box you also see “it needs…” You can go to “blocks like minecraft” and that takes you to the minecraft clones.  This path ends in the Copy-cat award, success by association.  That is a bit funny, but the devs in those games are getting a little short-changed.  Often, the best way to get to new shades of genres are to take the major genre elements of something successful and apply them to other facets and ideas not explored by the majorly referenced work.  This is done all the time with fantasy, with Lord of the Rings as a start, and brings you to people like George R.R. Martin writing dark fantasy worlds that owe their lives and allegiance to Tolkien.  The next major issue I have with this article of short-selling +9000 is “first-person..” leads to “shooter” which leads to the David and Goliath Award, Call of Duty will destroy you.  STOP RIGHT THERE YOU SHITTY LITTLE FUCKFACE!  So, you’re telling me all first-person shooters are in direct competition with COD?  Your taste in games obviously has a diversity comparable to Iceland’s gene pool.  One massive collection of similar-looking people with a few sharply-contrasted elements floating around to emphasize the main body.  Hard Reset and ZenoClash are two indie FPS’s that are nothing like COD and thank god for it!  These titles add elements of diversity to a stagnant pool of genre degeneracy that is characterized by vastly acclaimed titles like Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, Black Ops, Battlefield…  Seeing some similarities?  And the best part is, the moment that this genre drifts away from the Call of Douchebags FPS standard of “kill da bad guy soljers” it drops in funding, quality and standards.  Don’t believe me?  Thief.  As if I needed to expound further this guy does a way better job at explaining the game’s shortcomings than I could here.  And he tries to defend it with lengthy diatribes of legitimately interesting discussion about how the game could have been better.  Genre diversity is a must, and indie FPS’s offer way more in this respect.

Another off-shoot from that “cool art style” box leads you to “A living painting. Like Braid, but with…” and this section leading to the ‘Too Indie, What about gameplay?’ endpoint that dominates the center of the first page.  This placement is no fucking accident.  This is the way that mainstream gaming stereotypes the indie gaming culture.  I do appreciate their implication that this is the home of the extremist indie games, and thereby not the bulk of them, but this still puts a smear on the community as a whole.  These are apparently the representative items of indie culture that the most people will understand and, thus, it is in a plce that the most people will read, with the bulk of readers giggling a bit here then moving on to their Culla’ Doodie circle jerks.  In this section they include Braid, and a number of weird modifiers.  They also catch these outliers by having First-Person also lead to “Pretentious Interactive Narrative Experience“, which is arguably a way of saying “artistic game experience”.  But another place first-person takes you is were you bought by Valve, in which case you end up at the “Gamer darling Award, Please stop saying the cake is a lie” or elsewhere.  If you say no, it moves on to the next page and “years later”.  This implies that every indie title will take years to complete.  This brings you to “Perfect! You project has the green light! When will it release?”  Two options after: One year, which leads to a delay show at PAX then the second selection, which is two years.  Then another delay show at PAX, and then four years.  This means, fuck you, even if you think that your game will release in a year, after years and not getting bought by Valve, you’ll actually take four years and tons of personal delays to make your game.  That is degraging.  Sure, it may happen to some, but this seems to imply that indie developers cannot adequately structure time schedules.  Because the major industry has ben SOOOOOO fucking good at doing that! Right?  By the way, what was the release date of Half-life 3 again?  Whatever, just play Duke Nukem Forever and you’ll start to get an idea.  In fact, just read this fucking Cracked article.  That should tell you.

But let me skip over to another point of contention.  Following side-scrolling games takes you to the inevitability of “Wait a minute… are you already a major developer?”  One option (No, then keep at it!) takes you to the aforementioned “years later” situation.  The other 2 are “Does Double-Fine count?” and “Yes”.  Yea, you see where I am going with this now.  This gets you to Nice Try, Decades of experience isn’t indie.  FUCK YOU!  You sit there and say that to me?! I wanted to just type a string of random angry characters but quivered with rage for a few moments instead.  Where do you get off saying that indie developers cannot have decades of experience? Do you realize that Sword of the Stars was made by people from Rockstar?  Just because they have been around for a while, doesn’t mean they are not indie.  My understanding is the Double-Fine got to mainstream game dev and backed out because they wanted, I don’t know, some GODDAMN FREEDOM!

Moving right along, there is this other endpoint of Indie Foul! That’s not how this works.  Among the things that lead here are third-person roguelikes with crop-farming and carefully crafted dungeons and collectible creatures.  That takes you to “Look, I don’t know what “roguelike” means”  There are also apparently Third-person roguelikes with spaceships and no permadeath, which also leads here.  Fuck you.  Now we need perma-death in spaceship games to be good?  Fuck you.  My angriest path here leads through the thoroughly convoluted “third-person zombie survival games funded by independent modders who have a well-organized business plan”.  This is apparently no one, as this goes to Indie Foul.  fuck you. again.  The option aside a well-organized business plan is apparently “who get massive community support” and this just has to be a joke.  Having these as separate options basically states that crowd-funding is not part of a well-organized business plan.  Honestly, asking the gaming community to fund your project isn’t the most sure-fire way to get it done, but Kickstarter is for gamedevs that have great ideas and none of the money required.  So I also suggest that, yes, crowd-funding can be a good element of a well-organized business plan.  Other ways to indie foul include an old-school RPG inspired by some N64 RPG’s with retro sprites that was considered as an Ouya exclusive.  There is also a mainstream audience that leads to Indie Foul, but that tells me that this guy thinks the main element of “indie” gaming is that only a couple assholes like it.  This is even more heavily implied by the statement that aiming precise challenges at a few dozen masochists will be enough to get your project the green light.  I am not sure which planet this Joe Juba asshole comes from, but it is one where “indie” means “pretentious dicks that think they know better” rather than, you know, independent.  Indie games can be aimed at mainstream audiences.  The retro style that many take on these days are made to appeal to what a lot of us older gamers played as children.  Oh, I am sorry, not every spoiled-rotten little rat bastard was able to buy games when I was a kid.  In fact, when I was your age, playing games made you the socially awkward nerd that got beat on.  On last path that takes you to Indie Foul! is Border Control Simulator.  I would say this is a jab at all those weird simulator like Rock Simulator, Streetsweeper Simulator and Papers, Please, but those games are a new genre that deals with allowing you to literally live different aspects of real-life.

So now your game is finished.  There are now three results for you left, having dodged the sweeping two-page morass outlined by some ass.  The only thing left is the name.  Three options: First, you can go with something slimy and geometric, like “Gooptahedron”.  The next thing is “that’s free to play, isn’t it?“.  The only selection is yes, or hell yes.  This leads you to the Zero Credibility Award, Money (is not equal to) Quality, which is the only place Joe Juba deserves to be classified.  Granted, he starts off with that whole gooptahedron crack, but this is the only location on the indie flowchart that features free-to-play games.  I can think of a couple really good free-to-play games.  Immediately I am reminded of Gear Up, a multi-player tank-shooter.  So, tell me, you relentless shit, are you saying that all F2P indie games have zero credibility as indie games? Fuck you, again, indie is not about money, it is about independence.  The other two options out of game-finishing are a weird sentence fragement and a single vague word.  Your game is then a success.  Either you say Fuck it, I quit, where you earn the Something Fishy Award, Don’t forget to cancel the sequel and the most insulting thing on this shit-sheet: “beg for money on Kickstarter and try again.”  Yup.  BEG for money you worthless little worms!  Then you can go back to start to begin again.  O, and you remember how, apparently, it takes four years after previous years of delaying to get it done?  Yea, that path leads here, too.

Now, if you read all the way to the end of this article, I give you a lot of credit.  This is a long wall-of-rage-text article with few visual stops.  The point I am making is as follows:  This convoluted two-page spread is just an insidious mockery that attempts to rob the indie gaming and indie developer community of its main source of undeniable respect.  Indie Devs want freedom.  Freedom from major developers to develop as they please, without the back-burner rejection that these types of games would receive from mainstream companies entrenched in the FPS standard, or whatever standard they prefer.  Indie means independent, and that scares the mainstream companies and their little turd-sniffing employees, such as Joe Juba.  Not because they think  we want to be like them and want the money that comes with it, but because we want nothing to do with them, we want to do what we want, and accept the money that comes with it.  This is where indie developers get their real power.  Alongside the fact that indie games are the testing ground for new and interesting concepts that push the industry forward and bend the boundaries of virtual experience like minecraft, which spawned crafting games and survival games like Rust.  For this reason, Indie Gaming is the source of true gaming diversity.  We don’t want our options to be between WoW, CoD and Assassin’s Creed without recourse.   We’re not a bunch of pretentious dorks sitting in a corner of a lunchroom wearing goofy glasses and handlebar mustaches making fun of the “cool COD kids”.  We are a collection of like-minded individuals that are tired of the same old horse shit that mainstream gaming presents.  We are tired of graphically fluorescent games with shit story lines or inept game-play.  We are ready to take gaming into our own hands.  And that scares the ever-loving shit out of them.  If I ever needed physical proof that mainstream gaming resents the indie community to the level that you might call it hate, this is it.

Double-Up Discussion: Trippin’ Balls, Freaky Tup

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With a working title like “Pong on Drugs” you know this game is going to be out there.  I mean look at that title screen.  Is that a flaming fucking taco?  Trippin’ Balls lives up to its name, and the best way to enjoy this simple game would likely to be with a heavy dose of weed.  Then again the title screen might make you hungry.  Those selections on the title page float around, btw.  It’s actually a bit comical chasing them around to learn how to play.. for about 5 seconds, then the chiptune music makes you want to club a baby seal.  No worries, though.  I’ll explain it to you so you only need to see this screen once.

Move your paddle back and forth.  That is most of the game.  Thanks for playin’!  O, right, the other stuff.  So there are two pick-ups.  They fly in your direction from the middle of the screen and you have to catch them with your paddle while still returning the ball.  The blue pick up doubles the size of your paddle, while the other halves the size of your paddle.  Both explained in-game with a penis joke.  That’s not all there is to this game though.  Play it for a little while.  Really, go ahead.  While you’re batting the ball back and forth, you’ll take notice that the entire game screen flips.  Yep.  It’s fucking cruel.  It flips while the fucking ball is flying, too!  That shit gets frustrating, and after a while I just let it go like Elsa.

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Just the still picture makes me feel like vomiting…

One more note for this title.  The chiptune soundtrack is actually kind of fun, and yes, I was one of those kids that listened to midis when the internet was pronounced “A-O-L”.  But I was a kid, my parents wanted to pay for that service, fuck off if you’re judging me.  Anyway, coming from jamming to midis like they were grammy-nominated titles, this one is actually pretty cool.  The graphics in this game, however, will make you want to pull your eyes out of your head.  The playing field is lined with psychedelically pulsing squares and the ball has a shimmering comet tail.  It’s a fun waste of time for only 0.60£ or 1.02$ American on itch.io.

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Freaky Tup is a game with a weird freaking name. I have no fucking idea what a TUP is, nor why it is freaky.  It might be, like, Tee Up, but the game itself has nothing to do with golf in the slightest degree at all.  The idea of the game is that you launch these little pink squiddly guys (similar to the yellow one pictured above) to hit the little angry-face guys.  Honestly, it’s a cute game and if I had kids, this would be on their phones.  Now, these little pink guys squeal with glee or say “yucky” when the enemies explode in a splash of black slime.  Be careful, though!  You have to avoid hitting the friendly (and doofy looking) amoeba blobs.

While you are playing, bad guys and good guys will fly across your screen, and you have to hit the baddies with the pink squids.  Sometimes a glowing golden heart with fly past, too.  Those grant you extra health, whereas hitting the good guys and letting bad guys get through unharmed will make you lose health.  I lost a few times before I got the hang of it, I just got to a point where I had some 4070 points on the first level and lost all patience to get to the next one.  I guess mindless mobile games are just not my fucking genre.  The directions are stupid simple and this can be played by anything with flexing digits.  It can be obtained by the same on the Google Play Store, since it is completely free.

freakygame

I can’t help but think those dopey-faced guys are hiding some insidious secret…

Between these two games, the one thing that pissed me off the most was pretty expected.  I can’t fucking stand playing mindless games!  Seriously!  I just spent an hour and a half launching little pink squids at angry-faced blackheads!  I almost want there to be a premise for Freaky Tup but that would be pointless in itself! Then there is Tripping Balls!  Holy fuck!  I am so glad we evolved past pong!  There is no way I would want to be trapped in front of a black screen moving white boxes to bounce a white ball for HOURS!  AGH!  Mobile games are just not my thing.

 

Pseudo “Game” Art: Proteus

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Calling Proteus a game is incorrect.  All you can do is walk around, look and listen.  This game has existed long enough, however, where I do not feel at all bad about telling you everything I experienced in it, because let’s face it, it was fucking weird.

When you load up the game a screen like that above will appear.  You click the island to start and dive in.  Every time you start up Proteus, the island is different and you are offshore a good distance.  After the long swim (which feels like it is supposed to build anticipation) you come to shore and you start to get an idea what you just bought.  Everything is in saturated colors and the visuals make Minecraft look like a graphical powerhouse.  Everything is in these bizarrely basic Atari-level graphics.  But that is not the cool part.  Obviously.  What’s so unique about Proteus is that it is about wandering around and discovering.  The things you discover aren’t cool loot or terrifying enemies, they’re sights and sounds.  Strangely, at a lack of other stimuli, you then start to react to the game emotionally, which makes it a more deep and tactile experience.

I came ashore in Proteus and there were a bunch of pink trees with leaves falling from them, which made a beepy drifting noise as they fell to the ground.  Walking further I found a frog and chased him up a hill where I found the ruined towers.  This tower had a weird chiptune bag-pipe music.  That’s the best fucking way I can put it.  Walking up to the thing I noticed my screen blink black.  When I turned around, I was elsewhere on the island.  I stepped away from the imposing broken-looking structure and found a path, which bordered a forest.  Just inside the forest was a flock of birds that bloop when they peck the ground.  I figured they must be chickens.  If you walk too close to them, they’ll chirrup before skittering off, tinkling the whole way.

I walked along the path and found nothing of particular fucking interest.  By this time it was getting late in game, and my natural gamer instinct kicked in.  “Fuck!  The zombies are going to eat me!” but the game lilts softly as night falls, making comforting and sleepy noises.  Really pretty, and no zombies came out looking for my brains.  I’ll tell you what I did find, though.  Fireflies!  I heard weird little bloops that came and went and looked around only to find little lightning bugs flashing here and there.  I wandered around for a bit and saw some sparkles like falling stars in the distance, spinning and writhing.  I got there and found a mass of spinning sparkles.  As I entered the circle, it condensed and formed a portal.  Already time was flying by around me, so I stepped inside the portal.  I was at the same place, but it was a little different.

 

Ooo! Sparkly!

Ooo! Sparkly!

So after wandering around more I found a circle of totems, these made a low whirring noise and the stars pulsed wildly like they were exploding then retracting then exploding again.  Eventually this stopped and a storm rolled in.  Nothing in this game seems to follow any kind of logical sense, though.  There are simple effects and things that react to your presence (standing stones that shoot sparks and make a noise as you walk by, animals to chase) but nothing all that interactive.  At one point I went through the portal and came out into a sad autumn land with a graveyard.  Seriously.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t there before, but it had a bunch of sparkles everywhere.  I also noticed that clusters of sparkles would pulse into existence, then disappear.  When I left the graveyard to search for the portal again, I saw ghosts playing peek-a-boo with me behind trees.  Weird.

Finally I entered the portal again and came out into a desolate snowy waste with dead trees and over cast with clouds.  It began to snow a little, which added some sound.  There was very little, and this took away most of the fun of the game at this point.  I went around and there was very little of interest, so I looked for the totems again.  I couldn’t tell if it was night or day, since the sky was blocked out.  I felt claustrophobic too, and wanted to get above the low-hanging clouds.  When I found them, the totems were emanating a weird chanting noise.  Suddenly I began to float upward.  The chanting got louder.  I saw the mountains, a huge fucking tree I found earlier and went to those landmarks, but I kept moving upward.  A couple falling stars whished past me as I drifted up and up toward the moon.  Finally my eyes began to close slowly until the screen was black.  And the title screen slowly loaded up.

I have to assume this game is some kind of weird analogy for life, you start off fresh and new and everything seems to be in a state of springtime.  You step into the portal and time whooshes by and then it is summer.  Summer is full of more weird shit, there are some bees and the sun is pulsating hotly.  Step into the portal again and it is autumn, the world is full of trees dropping leaves and death.  There are spirits and ghosts and I even found a graveyard.  Step in again and the world is dead.  You find the place of passage and you pass through the clouds, out of sight and into the heavens.  Yay, fun.  I wish I had dropped acid or ate some ‘shrooms.  Might have made the game that much more enthralling.  Of course, I would be the fucker to find the only way to fucking die in a game about looking around and listening to everything.  If you want to play this game, it is available on Steam for 3.99$ due to the Steam Summer Sale.

It is hard for me to recommend that anyone else buy this game.  I liked it, it definitely made me feel something different.  But this is not something for standard gamers to buy.  It is weird and experiential.  You will find things in here that are neat and fun.  Everyone will feel something about this game, whether it be hatred or ecstasy, but to say it is a good game would be a vast overstatement.  Art is to be looked at, enjoyed and explored, and with more than just a few key clicks.  Don’t buy this game if you are looking for a fun little game to waste some time with.  This is not that.  It is more like a visual and auditory vacation from everything else that leaves you on one side of a massive wall or the other.  Do not buy this as a game, buy it as a piece of art, for it is to be enjoyed lightly, perhaps over a pipe of some strong weed.

Whooshy comets go whoosh!

Whooshy comets go whoosh!

In a game with music and bizarre visuals where I always had one eye-brow quirked, I still found something to be angry about.  And that is the fucking reviews on Steam.  Seriously!  It is like everyone is taking some fantastic drugs and loading this baby up!  Everyone seems to agree this is a game you come into just to wander around and enjoy being away for a while.  You get sent to a pristine island of singing things and happy-happy times!  Not to mention, this game has better scores than games that work harder and give you more.  But I have another theory!  This game is actually the waiting room that demented gods send their human sacrifices through! Each day in game is how long it takes in the real world for them to send another one through.  And at night you are sent to the next level of this insane purgatory!  Finally at the end, you are so bored out of your mind that you are happy to let the world melt away and drift into the air to be consumed – mind, body, spirit – by your god(s).  Take that, you hippy-ass art-as-experience pricks.

Zeno Clash, Untamed WTF

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Zeno Clash is what would happen if Guillermo del Toro dropped acid and wrote a videogame storyline.  This title is full of weird enemies, surreal visuals, somewhat disjointed story elements and a world so bizarre it defies logical explanation.  I tried to explain the game itself to my wife and she said it defines “what the fuck”.  Yet, everything I just described is merely the flavor of the downright bad-ass, knuckle-cracking time this game provides.

First, your character.  A human named Ghat that starts of the game having savagely disfigured a creature known as father-mother, the leader of a clan in this town. The town of Halstedom.  Father-mother’s clan runs the city alongside the Northern Gate Gang.  It seems like this place is a veritable hive of scum and villainy as nearly everyone is part of either the clan or the gang, and there are very few laws being observed to the outside observer.  At least, few laws outside whatever father-mother says.  This leads one to submit to the supposition that father-mother (henceforth FM) is the monarch of the town, or at least influential enough to be a sort of leader of Halstedom.  Not to mention, FM has his entire clan convinced that he’s their father and mother.

Now, why Ghat has decided to take on FM is beyond me, especially considering that FM is a 10-foot-tall peacock creature.  Regardless, he escapes Halstedom with his hide intact where Deadra, crazy-horny heartthrob, follows him and helps him in his journey.. by being as flighty as possible.  And by horny I mean she has enormous fucking horns coming out the sides of her head. No, seriously.

The horns must be great for extra doughnut storage.

The horns must be great for extra doughnut storage.

Now, I am not saying I would hide my sexuality from her in abject fear of her getting naked, but those horns would definitely do a number on my bedside table.  I, mean, she probably never goes indoors, for that matter, but they do come off once, if memory serves.  This being the only point where she is shown laying down looking dreamily into Ghat’s eyes.  She is very naive considering she follows a known felon, who may have killed the only being either has ever known as father or mother,  into the wilderness and away from the safety of the only home she’s ever known.  To her credit, however, she is handy with her sawed-off shotgun and has some nice legs.

Despite the weak central female character, whose only function is to harass Ghat about FM’s secret and stand defensively out of the way of fights, the game still delivers in the place that truly matters.  Gameplay.  And here I introduce Metamoq and the Corwids.  The Corwids are these guys Ghat describes enigmatically as being not insane, but having chosen to be what they are.  So, they are fucking insane and do everything from eat people to bang their heads on trees.  There is one guy that walks in a straight line and refuses to let anyone change his course.  You find him later dead when he met the only nemesis a nutcase wearing giant iron boots has: a tree.  And he runs into a fucking tree in a desert after making his way OUT OF A GODDAMN FOREST! Sorry.  That is in no way important to the plot, but it was one of many WTF moments in this game.  These not-crazy, but actually fucking insane, mask-wearing guys have some members that border on intelligent.  Ghat was a Corwid for a while, which is how he knows so fucking much about them.  Since each of them seems to really only do one thing, I am going to say Ghat’s “thing” was beating the fuck out of bitches with his bare hands.  He never says what inspired this ascetic lifestyle either, nor what he did before that.  At some point he meets Metamoq, a growly-voiced, mask-wearing, sentient booger that teaches Ghat how to beat people with his fists.

And beat people he does.  This brings me to the best part of the game, its combat.  You can punch and kick people.  You can get super hard wind-up punches in.  You can dodge and strike ’em in the ribs.  You can even knee ’em in the face.  Much fun to be had.  You might expect a fighting game made with the source engine to be less maneuverable , or maybe generally difficult.  Not so, and the first-person fighting makes things challenging in a way that doesn’t make it less enjoyable.  Although this game holds a number of features reminiscent of older-generation fighting games like Double Dragon (ie slide-in versus screens and free-style fights and health bars), it fails to devolve into the button-mashing frenzy of those older games.  And you can’t just use the “powerful attack” all the time since stronger enemies will just dodge that slow-ass punch.  But timed well and as part of a combo, those attacks become devastating cards in a deck of whoop-ass.  I discussed this with my brother, The Game Pirate and he said it reminded him of a game we played on the Nintendo 64 called Hybrid Heaven, and equally WTF-inducing fighting game.  But where Hybrid Heaven focused on using the WWF’s finest spine-splintering attacks, Zeno Clash focuses more on its use of boxing-type moves.  When you get tired of fisting everyone in sight, you can pick up any of a number of imaginatively fucking-weird guns.  They are slow to reload and have shitty rate of fire, but this is a brawler at its heart, and even grenades are tough to use against enemies who do the logical fucking thing and run away.  They also tend to hide if you have a gun and favor moving through cover to get to your position, rather than making it nice and easy by running across the giant open field to get in fist-range.  Some of the boss fights All of the boss fights are weird, and most of this game will leave you scratching your head.  But don’t let that stop you because it damn well might.

So at some point you wander through a dark wasteland on the other side of a desert and find this guy named Golem waiting for you.  He calls you and Deadra by name and says he was left by a long-dead race of wise people.  Why everyone always thinks the “long-dead race of ancients who are wiser than us” thing makes sense I will never know. But if they were all that fucking wise, why are they ALL FUCKING DEAD?! Anyway, this guy has a human torso and a head, arms and feet made of blue playdough.  He follows you around and even helps you kill a blind assassin, who uses squirrels with parachutes and powder keg backpacks to kill you.  Then at some point he sits down and starts working on a fucking Rubick’s cube.

Big, strong AND he maintains his mental acuity

Big, strong AND he maintains his mental acuity

You bring him with you back to Halstedom and after finishing off FM, he reveals the secret FM has that Ghat is too much of a pussy to tell.  Y’know, that the father-mother guy everyone is defending steals babies from their beds and raises them as his own. Also, he’s a guy.  And he replaces the babies with baby pigs.  You even run into a woman that seems perfectly happy with a new baby pig, too.  Just bringing up baby Peter, or whatever.  Once FM lays dying, the big blue guy pulls out his Rubick’s cube and it starts to glow.  He says that he can help bring peace by bringing everyone in as part of a new connection that can never be broken.  Screen zooms out, you see this weird guy with a telescope standing next to a completed Rubick’s cube and everything ends.

Endingcredits

Shiny naked metallic dude, just looking at everyone else with a telescope like he has nothing to hide. Whatever, not the weirdest shit in the game so far.

Now, this guy looks remarkably like one of those metallic shadow zombies that infested the wasteland where you find Golem.  So part of me thinks his idea of peace is quite a bit more morose and sad than his words imply.  All that just makes me want to play the sequel even more.  Just bought it and set it to download.  No game has had me as excited to play as Zeno Clash has since Half-life 2, and perhaps Hard Reset, so hopefully the sequel upholds all these points while gracefully embellishing upon them and simultaneously polishing its rough-points.

So, given everything about this game and how much fun it is, what bothers me the most about it?  I have never said ‘what the fuck’ more times in more ways and for more reasons than I did while playing this game.  I mean, the blind assassin first shows up and fights you from atop the head of this floppy elephant/brontosaurus.

Is it just me, or does that thing have hairy testicle sacs hanging from various spots on its face?

Is it just me, or does that thing have hairy testicle sacs hanging from various spots on its face?

The whole father-mother thing.  Baby thievery being the basis for an entire city!  Using squirrels as purveyors of fiery death!  Giant horn-headed chick! Mostly-naked masked men dancing in the woods!  There is a point where a Corwid spins in circles and plays music while hopping on one leg!  Grenades are human skulls hollowed out and filled with explosives!  The only non-caveman humans in the game seem to be wearing rice paddy hats for no reason! Did I mention this game was made by a bunch of Chileans?  That rifle’s sight up there is a piece of wire! Regular-sized crabs spit vomitous goo!  The giant chicken-dragon also vomit green goo!  You can get a double-slingshot-crossbow as a ranged weapon!  The ammo for said crossbow uses rocks that have faces!  The faces have noserings where the trigger mechanism attaches!  Oh, that rifle is reloaded by inserting a long rod with an orange-hot end into a metal loop on the back of the chamber and shutting a little door with it!  This game deserves a what the fuck of the year award for the year 2009, when it was released.  Seriously.  I don’t think I will ever say what the fuck as many times in a row ever again.  Oh, right there’s a sequel.  The thing is, even this element of the game gives it a unique-ness that really cannot be matched.  You could say that anything this bizarre couldn’t be called ‘art’ or ‘artistic’, and it doesn’t really have a deep moral meaning outside of ‘beat up baby stealing assholes with your bear hands’.  But if you think bizarre cannot be artistic, just look at anything by Salvador Dahli.  How about all that crazy, though awesome, music out of the 1970’s?  (Pink Floydd, Led Zepplin, Jimmi Hendrix et al)  This game’s unique approach and winning gameplay are guaranteed to lock you in and wtf you until the games conclusion.  Which makes no more sense than nearly anything else about it. Surrealist art. Period.