Pneuma: Breath of Life (Deco Digital)

One of this month’s Xbox Games With Gold titles is a little-known, slightly indie game conceived by Deco Digital and released February 27, 2015. The game runs on Unreal Engine 4 and makes a pretty solid statement where graphics and effects are concerned, even if only in a ‘simplistic’ environment and puzzle-focused game.

If you’re wondering whether or not the game is worth the hassle (or lack thereof) of shelling out the time to download it this month as free title on Xbox Live (for Xbox One), then look no further. Kotaku has a pretty fair review that hits just about all the high points one should need in order to weigh their choices. Here it is.

Sorry for the lack of blogging and reviewing being done here and there, but I’ll be able to get some more done whenever I can here and there. I’ll see you all on the next post.

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Until Dawn Review

[As Read on GIO.]

Nothing Beats the Thrill of Running from a Serial Killer while Risking your Life Nudity

Everybody dies eventually. It sounds somber but there’s only so much we can do to delay the inevitable. However, venturing to a remote and far from hospitable countryside during horrible weather conditions, intending to celebrate the anniversary of a friend’s disappearance and probable death, alongside several other compadres, is probably a good way to speed up the inevitable. And as luck, as well as any good horror flick writer’s intentions, would have it- that’s pretty much the exact premise for Supermassive Games’ ‘Until Dawn.’

Until Dawn is at its best in its earliest moments for sure, but that’s not to say the entire package isn’t pleasing. Somewhere along the way some details get tossed aside with a little more abandon, but the end result is still an enjoyable and even sometimes funny experience. Yes, I said funny- despite the fact this is essentially a teen slasher horror flick of a game. It retains the aspects of horror, drama and general suspense of any good jump-scare, slasher-ridden, morbidly-cliched 80’s movie but it also embraces the cheesiness and makes it work well. Whether or not the majority of this is intentional, the world may never know. But it works, and the ends often justify the means where the gaming and entertainment worlds are concerned.One thing remains undeniable: Until Dawn definitely has its moments.

In my mind, Until Dawn finds its own spot somewhere along the line between Heavy Rain’s interactivity and atmosphere and an episodic Telltale play and pray foray. Choice isn’t a figment of your imagination- you CAN and will impact the direction the story takes characters in, regarding their survival and much, much more. There’s definitely room for error where choice-driven gameplay and storylines are concerned in gaming, however Until Dawn performs remarkably well and manages to produce truly meaningful changes to the way the story progresses. Every little decision really could matter, when all things are said and done. The atmosphere is appropriately reflective of the consequences of your actions as well as the brooding musical score and the gloomy, dangerous environment see to that.

Don’t for a second be fooled into thinking this is just your everyday, average teen horror flick in game form. Until Dawn also boasts a fairly intriguing mystery and plot. Sure, all our sad little teens care about is survival when all is said and done, however there’s more to be discovered concerning plenty of juicy plot details the further through the runtime you go. Though a survival horror-adventure story at heart, the only thing you need worry about is exploration, choices, and dynamic encounters. No precious fallback such as a massive inventory or combat system exists. It’s just you (the teens, rotating throughout their escapades) and the story.

The experience is scarily realistic, or as life-like as such a cliched adventure can be. The choices and their resulting consequences play out over the course of the entire game and actually do impact your experience and the story. The visuals and the performances of actors and actresses within the core cast add further life and grit as well. The environments themselves serve as a conduit of the game’s very mood and the score inlaid complements that. All in all, the experience is a polished one even with hiccups to be found here and there. Choices, while not at all spoiled where their outcomes are concerned, are continually tracked in the menu- leading you further and further down the path towards completion and letting you take note of side impacts and repercussions along the way. Just don’t think you’re going to be able to keep trying for a desired outcome, as you’re better off playing through continually one way and making alternate decisions another time in order to compare outcomes.

There’s certainly an air of permadeath constant throughout the game, as you get no retries, no redos, no concessions for your mistakes. You pay with your life, just as somebody would in a horror flick of the same type, often gruesomely so in gratifying if disheartening fashion. However, despite the constant threat of death and disembowelment looming over your head(s), it’s always heartening to see characters evolve alongside your choices too- acting as you cast them, although still retaining some of their true character.

However, the game is no simple point and click survival horror adventure- it also has its fair share of side content in the form of mysterious clues, signs, and collectible items. The more you explore the surrounding area, the higher your risk of being decapitated, impaled, or eviscerated but also the more rewarding the story becomes as new details and hints are discovered, revealing more about just about everything. Foreshadowing plays a large role in gameplay as well. There is the usual amount of “nothing could possibly go wrong, so everything will go wrong” laughably cliched tone throughout the story, but then there are also brief bursts of visions foretelling doom and delight equally for your characters, depending on what encounters you steer them towards and away from. Which brings us to the points where you actually physically steer your characters…in life or death situations. Yes folks, QTEs make an appearance, and yes they’re as generally annoying as usual, but remarkably well handled (as well as can be) and used more conservatively. Failure is not an option, unless you have a death wish, but sometimes by happenstance you survive even if you are a second too late.

Nothing sucks more than your favorite character dying in your favorite television show, and the feeling is the same through Until Dawn. The character archetypes are all easily recognizable- you’ve always got to have the jock, love interest, etc. however they aren’t all as memorable as others. By the end of the game, if you’ve managed to keep the more redeemable characters alive then you’ve done something right, as the expendables and general asses might make the experience more entertaining, but they also don’t seem as easy to be genuinely invested in. Your experience will likely clock out somewhere around twelve hours but don’t let that stop you from replaying the game differently- Supermassive is not lying when they say it will be an entirely different experience. This isn’t a case of “red light, green light, blue light” a la Mass Effect- it’s far more than a few diverse choices and then an aesthetic ending cutscene. When it’s at its best, Until Dawn is being ridiculous, scary, and interesting all at the same time.

So let’s talk about the less than stellar details, the ones keeping an otherwise entirely praiseworthy experience from its well-deserved glory. The world is atmospheric for sure and it doesn’t need to be large, but at times even when it wasn’t supposed to, the cramped setting gave off a more claustrophobic vibe than intended. I can’t find too much fault in that choice as there’s plenty of content and story to explore in the variety of settings offered, but perhaps a little fluff around the edges would’ve gone a little ways as well. Until Dawn has plenty of adequately scary moments and shocking turn of events, however sometimes its cheesiness and jokes get the upper hand and really soften the intended pang of consequences and horror. A little finer tuned balancing of that could’ve done wonders. What’s more, even the light humor sprinkled throughout falls flat and gives way to a much more convoluted and conflicted storyline somewhere around the eight hour mark, and from then on out the experience in the second act is much less than that of the stellar expository scenes.

So, despite the small flaws and cracks in its casing, Until Dawn is an entirely competent and enjoyable horror adventure and certainly a commendable effort on the part of the developers. It is well-worth the anticipation and wait, as well as all the trouble it went through in production. It’s discordant and lacks true focus in certain instances, but it never loses track of what it is or where it’s going, making it a creepily tantalizing game and story.

Concept: Revel in the atmospheric horrors of a classic slasher film from the comfort of your couch, and better yet make the decisions leading to gruesome and sometimes hilarious and well-deserved deaths all the while progressing through an interesting and malleable plot.

Graphics: The visuals, the animations, and the overall content showcase a fine level of quality and add believability to the resume as well. Yes, I probably made that word up.

Sound: Both the melodies and the voice work add to the already well designed experience and add a higher sense of tension appropriately where needed.

Playability: While the majority of gameplay focuses on simplicity, that’s not to say it isn’t still a highly enjoyable and interactive experience.

Entertainment: I hope you like tripping and being cleaved in half by a tottering psychopath, because that and even more is in store for you if you choose to play this game.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0

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An Interesting Experiment- The Flock

[As Read on GIO.]

Lighting up the Shadows

Game Informer has briefly mentioned the aforementioned Indie game titled ‘The Flock’ lately, however many of you all may still be somewhat in the dark concerning the specifics of the project. The game literally just released in full so to speak and I must say it’s an interesting experience but more importantly an interesting experiment in developmental design and many other entertaining and unique concepts. Perhaps the most interesting concept of all is the basis for the game itself: it’s essentially a two-team player versus player online multiplayer game, however it’s far from just any online PVP we’ve ever experienced.

The main draw of The Flock lies in the fact that it means to meld both story and gameplay (and as a multiplayer game, to boot). Now, it’s no Titanfall- meaning it’s no online multiplayer game that inserts a few story driven aspects between the lines and between the matches, barely in fact adding much to an overall plot other than “kill this, destroy that, capture that, etc.” No, The Flock aims much higher than that but admirably aims to accomplish this by doing much less, in fact. The only real way The Flock means to promote storytelling is through its foreboding environments, twisted enemies, and background history. Aside from that and potentially a bit more meat on the story’s bones, its general interpretation is so far left to players.

One of the most unique qualities of the game is the fact that there is a set, communal death count that, once surpassed, immediately pulls the game from online storefronts and general sale. It will still be playable among players who shell out the roughly fifteen dollars to purchase it, but even then only for a set time. You see, The Flock actually has an ending- it’s not like the majority of multiplayer only games that simply exist until the game is out of date and inevitably shut down, or perhaps updated to include semi-additional story and map content. There, in the grand scheme of things, is some sort of finale of sorts planned for the game, and as of yet all we can do is sit back until the kill count (roughly 215 million or so) is reached.

Now, instead of following the general rule of thumb that multiplayer games must be action packed shooters with plenty of depth and showy gameplay, The Flock takes quite another approach entirely. Its world is grey and shadowy, inhabited by beings known as the titular Flock- zombie like in some appearances, deformed, gangly, and altogether nasty to encounter I would imagine. For years these beings have inhabited what was once a rich, populated planet- Earth in fact, we are led to believe. However the Flock are not alone because lifeforms known as Carriers have appeared and whereas the Flock detest and cannot live in anything other than shadows, these Carriers can accept light and use this to their advantage. Thus exists the basis for the player versus player matches: it’s an asymmetrical approach to the classic light versus dark mantra.

At first glance, matches may seem entirely skewed in favor of the dark side, however each side is not without its benefits. Whereas there is at all times more of the Flock than the Carriers, these beasts of shadow cannot stand the slightest touch of light cast from the collectible artifacts the Carriers can wield, meaning they will essentially disintegrate on contact. However, along with their strength in numbers the Flock also boasts physical strength and size and speed, a near perfect match to the Carriers apparent intelligence and cunning in utilizing said artifacts. Therefore it piques my interest enough to witness this ongoing battle, just as I am also interested to stick around for the finale and see how much players may control the eventual outcome of the horrific war for survival.

Gameplay is simple enough in concept and slightly simpler in execution, making the entire process surprisingly smooth and also somewhat easily addicting I suppose, if survival horror and terrifying close encounters in shadowy settings are your thing. Gameplay is particularly fast as it centers around players rushing towards a random location holding one artifact- the weapon or tool wielded by Carriers that emits massive quantities of light. The first player to hold the artifact becomes a Carrier and now gameplay shifts to one versus one hundred. The Flock attempts to kill the Carrier as the Carrier utilizes their new technology in order to survive and complete specific objectives. There’s one catch to prevent the shadowy Flock from instant death in the light however and it’s quite a doozie. If you’re particularly fond of Doctor Who or any good at the similar earthly game known as ‘Statues’ then you’re going to enjoy this one.

Think of the Weeping Angels and how they only move when you blink, turn your back, or make otherwise entirely too foolish mistakes around them. Now add a flashlight to the mix and change the universal rules around a little bit so that they can only move in shadow but in light they must stay still for fear of death, if they fear such a thing. This is the basic premise for the game and this is why, while incredibly simple in concept, there is actually quite a great deal of strategy in playing as both Carriers and Flock. Although you may be outnumbered as a Carrier you wield quite a powerful weapon against the Flock, however by the same token you are incredibly vulnerable and should the Flock choose to work together and be cunning enough, they will still inevitably overtake you.

Gameplay continues as the Flock kills the Carrier and a new Carrier is chosen and the cycle continues along until one player gains enough points from completing objectives and holding the artifact essentially. That’s a basic rundown of everything that is known about the game, but now let’s talk a little bit more about the experimental part of things and why it is of even greater interest to me than this game alone ever could be, indie darling or no.

Perhaps intended or perhaps not, The Flock could make a very strong case for games forcing opposing players to actually work together in order to achieve some end goal. I’m sure this was somewhat intentional by design, but I still admire it nevertheless. Player versus player is most definitely the goal here as ultimately only one can reign victorious, and there are no teams. However, I particularly appreciate that, once a player ascends to Carrier status, initially the Flock will still attempt to kill them singlehandedly, however if the Carrier player is quite good at surviving then the Flock will be forced to ultimately work together in order to be cunning enough to take them down. Sure, the Carrier should never really be hunting the Flock whatsoever so survival for the respawning Flock is no big issue, however they still need to survive long enough in order to get remotely close enough to stifle the beams of light emitted from the Carrier’s artifact.

So, no verdicts on my part as of yet- I will wait my time until the death count has been reached and until the finale we’ve been promised comes to light. However, let it be said that I’m going to not only do my part and participate here and there, but also stand by and watch with interest as this project takes shape even more. I think, by design, it sends an interesting message in its dark apocalypse, as well as showcases some brilliantly simple gameplay and settings. I promised I’d stick to my word and write a few more blogs this year despite being busy, so here’s another to add to that list. Ciao friends.

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In Which I Deign it an Appropriate Time to Write a Blog Post Pt. 187/X

[As Read on GIO.]

Aka ‘How I Came to Write about these Random Things Today’

Hello all. I truly hate having to do this every few months it seems like, but here’s my “sorry, I’m back, probably will write some things that may or may not make it to post, probably will end up missing out on activity for a long period again” post. I am the watcher on the wall, the sword in the shadows- so don’t worry, I still skulk about and keep one eye on all of you and the gaming community as a whole, despite not being entirely up to date whereas news and current gaming events may be concerned. My apologies for long delays in response between comments to those of you who have tried to stay in contact as well.

Suffice it to say, I’ve been quite the busy bee this past year and a half or however long its been. I’ve lost track. That’s quite scary. Apologies for foregoing general blogging and grammatical etiquette. Apologies for a lot of unspoken sentiment and a lot of things I’ve been unable to produce lately, blogs included. But you all are a forgiving lot so I’ll assume my presence and livelihood alone are merit enough for your forgiveness, although I do genuinely mean it when I constantly assure you that I will in fact attempt to produce new blogs here and there this year (I’ve still got time after all). So…long time no blog.

I’ll start simply today. I’ll even give you something of a little bit of substance for once, not just a measly few paragraphs after an eight month or so break like the last time. So let’s talk, shall we? As I’ve mentioned, I have in fact been quite busy of late. And although I would’ve never in my life thought I would be too busy to write blogs about one of my truest loves, I have been. A travesty of justice if there ever was one, I know, I really do. But alas, quite a true finding indeed. I have, however, been able to keep some writing going on the side as well as a tad bit of gaming when the opportunity presents itself. So there is that. While I was missing out on one of my continuing dreams (aka game blogging and all things related) and continuing my furthered education, I did manage to bring some things to fruition for the first time in years and realize the first stage of a longtime dream of mine. I’m a published (not self-published, mind you- I don’t count that in this respect although I respect the two equally) author/poet! I will admit however that I did not deign to publish under my own name however so I may, after a time, reveal my ‘Lemony Snicket’-esque pseudonym haha. Have no fear.

This exciting development aside, the past year has been a busy but not always thrilling ride of a time. That’s not to say it has been a poor time, merely a rough, long and eventful one. I mentioned some details of my current plans way back in this blog but in case you don’t recall, I’ll talk a bit more about some of it- leaving out the boring details though. I’m pursuing furthered education in not one, but actually two degrees. Yes, you heard right. At this rate I’ll be in hell, er school, for the rest of my life. But social obligations be damned, am I right? No? Oops. Partial jokes, partial suffering aside, it’s pretty necessary that I undertake said tasks so therefore I have. I’m all for a little work now and a little fun later, as well as mixing the two on occasion. So in order to pursue my ultimate dream of intertwining gaming, writing, art and fun into one massive career, I’ve got to school myself a tad more first.

I have, in other interesting news, also been hard at work on at least one confirmed gaming related project over the past year or so. How I’ve managed to do my part in this as well as school and what few other responsibilities I’ve procured lately, I may never truly know. I may or may not have alluded to said project in the past, I know for sure I did here. But yeah, this particular project at least is an indie one for sure, although that’s not say I don’t have love for it. Who wouldn’t have, after slaving over script and other writings for over a year? So I’ve still got my feelers out there. I’m still making moves and trying to keep myself occupied even if it’s not always as fun and easy going as I would like. I can’t always be on here spending my days and nights commenting, blogging, reviewing, and giving feedback galore- but that’s not to say I don’t completely miss those days (because oh yes I do).

So I’ve relegated myself to a more behind the scenes approach to things in terms of social opportunities of late, but that’s not to say I’m any less interested or up to date. I implore any and everyone who’s still interested in my opinion on matters, getting feedback, or hell who just wants to talk or ask questions to feel free to shoot me messages on here. I’ll always get back to you eventually, just maybe not with the quickest response time. I mean, I haven’t even checked my main email hooked up to this account in ages, so I can only imagine the horrible amounts of info on there. All things considered, I do genuinely hope I can be better about responses and general acknowledgement of questions in the future. I promise I haven’t gotten too big for my britches and I’m not going to ignore you. Well, unless you spam me and are annoying, then you may be the last response I send. (Joking, of course…or am I?)

On the subject of reviews, I’ve found myself mentally reviewing things a lot and even written some notes down for actual reviews to be made, however I’ve just not had the stomach for actual writing of said reviews for whatever reason these past few months. Maybe there’s a disease out there for that I honestly wouldn’t know. It’s probably some sort of phase similar to writer’s block or some other horribly inconvenient trend. Alas, I fear it may not change in the near future, but I can assure you I’ll try to be on the ball enough so that if the moment presents itself and the drive and fire are still there, I will be sure to pick up pen and paper and slave away on more masterpieces for your heart’s content, or rather game content as it may be. I will definitely find time to be on the ball about blog posting, if not reviews as well.

Now to the point where I briefly discuss games, gaming, and news regarding anything akin to either of those therein. At least before I depart anyway.

As of late, I’ve not so much purchased many new games per se as I have instead gone back and revisited well-trod, older worlds and realms. There’s merit to be found in both experiences and while I am all for new games, I’m saving money and simply enjoying the old instead. That’s not to say I’m not looking out for the hottest titles in beloved series or maybe even that one shining new IP, but for the past few months to a year I’ve focused mainly on finishing my woefully large backlog of games that I touched but never showed truer love to. Of course I’ve also looked to guilty pleasures and nostalgic trips as well, returning to the blasphemous calls of duty and galloping across the barren wastes of many borderlands and post apocalyptic fallout zones as well. And yes, those were all allusions and puns of sorts, hate me if you will.

It’s been real, but now’s as good a time to bow out as any. For those of you still keeping up with my blogs, woeful few though there are, I thank you. And for those of you still as of yet new to the site, welcome, and welcome to my deranged and demented mind-space as well. Enjoy your stay and try not to get too terribly caught up and bewildered by my ever-conversational and grammatically inept approach to writing. Ciao.

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It’s Been a Long While…

[As Read on GIO.]

Not a ‘Hello I’m Back’ and not a ‘Goodbye for Good’

It’s hard to believe I haven’t posted a single blog since September of 2014 and even before then my blog posting and reviews had been sporadic at best throughout the entire previous year. I’ve been a pretty busy individual of late and that’s actually only going to get worse as I have much work ahead of me this spring and into summer. So although I would like to say I am coming back and will be posting much more regularly, this is in fact not the case. But I did want to drop by and assure you all that yes, I am in fact alive, and also that I have still kept up with the gaming world. Even if I am so far inadequately prepared to discuss some of the major titles coming out soon, and woefully ill-equipped to review a few others that have already released.

So what exactly have I been doing to occupy my time of late? Well, quite simply: schooling myself. Or rather being schooled…by school. Yes, I’ve gone back. Hard to believe? I don’t blame you- I mean what sane individual in their right mind would do that to themselves right? Jokes aside, you can probably read back through some old comments and whatnot for the details, but I’ve gone back for some even higher, higher education. And it’s been totally worth the pain and torture and social suicide thus far haha.

So, short and sweet though this is, this is still just an update for you all to prove I’m still here in some capacity even if I’m gone in most others. I’ll try to get back to blogging here and there infrequently but I really can’t make any promises whatsoever. It’s good to see things still up and running even if there have been changes and challenges along the way. Ciao friends.

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Incredibly Short Reviews (For Now) of Recent Releases

Hey there folks, it’s been a little while. Here are some pretty short reviews for some recently released titles. I promise I’ll try to write fleshed out ones for big releases such as Advanced Warfare and Unity. Anyway, here you go.

Bound by Flame 8/10

EA Sports UFC 8.25/10

Divinity: Original Sin 9.25/10

Sacred 3 8/10

Risen 3: Titan Lords 7.75/10

Lichdom: Battlemage 8.5/10

Infamous: First Light 8.75/10

Velocity 2X 8.25/10

The Sims 4 7/10

FIFA 15 9/10

D4 7/10

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor 8.5/10

Super Smash Bros. Wii U 9.5/10

Forza Horizon 2 8/10

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter 8/10

Alien Isolation 8/10

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment 8.25/10

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel 7.25/10

The Evil Within 9.25/10

Project Spark 7/10

Civilization: Beyond Earth 9.5/10

Bayonetta 2 8.5/10

Sunset Overdrive 8.75/10

Lords of the Fallen 9/10

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare 9/10

Halo: Master Chief Collection 8.75/10

Dragon Age: Inquisition 9.75/10

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue 7.75/10

Assassin’s Creed: Unity 8.5/10

Legends of Grimrock 2 7.5/10

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham 8/10

Far Cry 4 9/10

LittleBigPlanet 3 8.25/10

Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One- Zero Sum 7/10

Game of Thrones: Episode One- Iron from Ice 8/10

Note: I will follow up with lengthier reviews of Advanced Warfare, Unity, Far Cry 4, and Alien Isolation when time allows.

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Another Brief Update

Hey again folks. Today’s short update is just another to let you know life is going marginally alright currently. I’m playing here and there with new releases but there’s nothing much in the pipeline in the way of reviews. That may change during the upcoming holiday season but I’m far enough behind as is so I’ll just post brief tidbits if anything. Hate to do it that way but other duties call. Have a pleasant day folks.

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Mobile Update

So sorry for the long period of inactivity folks. For those of you who may not have heard, I’ve returned to school to work on furthering one of my degrees. And that takes a lot more time than I anticipated. I haven’t done much in the way of anything besides this. So hopefully that will change soon. I am still alive though, so that’s a plus. See you all in the Nethersphere.

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Brief Reviews of Recent Releases

[As Soon to be Read on GIO.]

Because with each passing day it is looking less and less possible that I will find the time to fully edit older review drafts or write new ones to publish, I am going to provide short reviews here that nail the high points of the games in question. Hell, maybe I throw in some movies I’ve watched as well. Anyway, here’s to being very busy and not even having time to procrastinate. I’ll try to find some free time elsewhere.

Mario Kart 8:

Overall Premise: Improve the series in many ways imaginable and as of yet not thought of.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals look excellent on the Wii U and are the best in the series so far. Sound is comprised of good track selection and audio accompaniment ambiance as well.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is even more fun thanks to new twists and turns, literally at times. The controls work well on the standard controller.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 9.0/10.0

Murdered: Soul Suspect:

Overall Premise: Solve a supernatural mystery murder…your own, in fact.

Graphics and Sound: The cinematic experience looks great in most aspects as do many character models. However, your own character doesn’t look as unique and the surroundings often feature the same bland color palette. The voice-work is pretty spectacular whereas the actually music is minimal and the ambiance sounds convincingly haunting.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay isn’t as well-handled as the story itself but it gets the job done. The story offers most of the entertainment as it is an interesting experience and somewhat of a better-quality version of something akin to Deadly Premonition mixed with Heavy Rain.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 7.5/10.0

The Wolf Among Us: Episode Five- Cry Wolf:

Overall Premise: Conclude the first season of the Fables-inspired episodic game series.

Graphics and Sound: The same semi-cell shaded and artistic visuals are found in this episode as the previous ones. The vice-work is still top notch and doesn’t feel as overused as it has before in Telltale’s episodic releases.

Playability and Entertainment: The quick-time events are exciting and fast-paced but still not of much difficulty and usually only take two tries at most to complete. The controls still work fine and the balance between action and thought is still present although this is one of the more action-packed episodes by far. Rather than answering most of your questions, no matter the outcome you have more at the end of the episode- for better or worse.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Four: Amid the Ruins:

Overall Premise: Clem and her group fights harder against each other than ever before and many factors other than the zombie horde threaten to split them apart.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics are essentially the Telltale standard for the series and have no noticeable differences for better or for worse. The voice-work still isn’t quite as good as that of The Wolf Among Us’ however it is quality work and the music that accompanies tense moments nails the mood.

Playability and Entertainment: Both the story and the tense moments progress naturally- as naturally as they can during a zombie apocalypse anyway. The entertainment has been amped up even more but everything still controls solidly.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Last of Us: Remastered Edition:

Overall Premise: Build upon the epic masterpiece released last year with a slight graphical update for new consoles and a few other tweaks and additional features.

Graphics and Sound: Truly phenomenal work all around.

Playability and Entertainment: The story is still entertaining and believable, the ending as simultaneously heart-achey and solid. The controls have been tweaked slightly and work even better to get the dirty jobs required done.

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 9.75/10.0

Madden NFL 15:

Overall Premise: Build upon the annual sports juggernaut by adding and taking away some features that do and don’t work.

Graphics and Sound: The visuals are definitely an upgrade from last year’s but the sound work still suffers from inconsistencies in play calling and commentary, despite sounding good quality wise.

Playability and Entertainment: For the most part it is well-controlled and a step up from the last title and as far as entertainment goes it gets the job done and is yet another fine-tuned experience on the whole.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

The Walking Dead: Season Two- Episode Five: No Going Back:

Overall Premise: Really a game-changer at this point- there are truly vastly different endings and a phenomenal amount of impact from the story thus far as well. Interesting to finally see so many things hit home hard.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics remain unchanged but the sound work steps up and comes up with a win in my book. The background music weaves a tale of its own and the voice-work hits all the right notes at the right times during tense and somber moments.

Playability and Entertainment: Controls fine once more and the entertainment value is through the roof here partly because of the explosiveness of some of the moments towards the ending(s).

Replay Value: Very High.

Overall Score: 8.75/10.0


Overall Premise: Halo x Call of Duty x Mass Effect x MMO Status.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look great and the soundtracks are not only truly interesting to listen to but also memorable as well. A true testament to the work of so many talented artists together as far as tracks go.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls handle excellently and makeup for some less than savory moments during the game. The story is pretty basic but nonetheless an entertaining adventure, and the same can be said about the game as a whole. It merges most of the right elements between MMO and shooter and RPG genres.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hyrule Warriors:

Overall Premise: Essentially a Legend of Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors game. Hell, we already had Gundam so why not, right?

Graphics and Sound: The visuals aren’t as striking as I expected but the number of characters onscreen at once makes up for that and the character design itself is pretty good. The sound effects are undoubtedly better than the soundtracks but that’s not to say the soundtracks are bad.

Playability and Entertainment: While most of the so-called story is repetitive as to be expected in Dynasty Warriors, the combat is adrenaline-filled and a journey I appreciated having the opportunity to take.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0

Wasteland 2:

Overall Premise: Return to the apocalypse ala Fallout, but closer to the original Wasteland mixed with modern elements than anything else.

Graphics and Sound: The environments are truly impressive even if the overall graphics aren’t by any standards today. The sound work is superb to say the least.

Playability and Entertainment: The gameplay is heavily tactics-based and enjoyable nonetheless. There’s definitely strategy involved but the adventure isn’t an impossible one. The story and journey as a whole is definitely ingrained with wit and darkness in equal portions here and there.

Replay Value: High

Overall Score: 8.25/10.0

Tropico 5:

Overall Premise: By now your dictatorial duties haven’t evolved much but are still a last to fiddle around with as usual. Even more is open this time around.

Graphics and Sound: Visuals are pretty much the same they were the last time around, meaning they aren’t spectacular or bad. The sound effects and the music selection keep things fresh.

Playability and Entertainment: The controls aren’t so complex as to be unrecognizable to newcomers and veterans alike. The community building experience is definitely one of the best.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.0/10.0


Overall Premise: Just imagine what the minds behind a game such as Bastion can do and then play this game.

Graphics and Sound: The coloring of the environments offsets appropriately the setting and the overall awareness they provide means the colors don’t clash as you’d expect. The soundtrack is an interesting concoction.

Playability and Entertainment: There is some difficulty to be found in the gameplay but the need to discover more of the story makes the experience more than worthwhile at the end.

Replay Value: Moderate.

Overall Score: 8.5/10.0

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft:

Overall Premise: Digital Card Games x Warcraft to the greatest effect.

Graphics and Sound: The graphics look like Warcraft to be sure and the the sound effects to accompany cards are definitely…interesting at times throughout.

Playability and Entertainment: Definitely very accessible and entertaining to collect cards as you progress in skill.

Replay Value: High.

Overall Score: 9.25/10.0

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Four Weeks In

My Weekly Picks for each NFL game of the Season thus far:

Howdy folks. Today’s blog is simply a statistics-based one. I simulated the entire NFL playoffs and regular season last year, so this year I am going to do the same (later on) but for now am settling for predicting each week’s winners and losers. I have scores as well, but the key thing I’m looking at are if the teams I choose actually win. You’ll see how I’ve done shortly. Without further ado, let’s begin.

Here’s a mockup of how the formatting will go (to ease your reading and interpretation):



Game #- Winning Team, Predicted Scores, Losing Team, (Actual Scores, Result if different)

TOTAL W/L/T for the Week (My Record not the NFL’s)



Thursday Night Football (TNF)

1- Seahawks 35-21 Packers (36-14)

Sunday Night Football (SNF)

2- Eagles 28-13 Jaguars (34-17)

3- Steelers 21-14 Browns (30-27)

4- Vikings 20-7 Rams (34-6)

5- Patriots 35-17 Dolphins (Dolphins 33-20 Patriots)

6- Jets 17-14 Raiders (19-14)

7- Chiefs 21-10 Titans (Titans 26-10 Chiefs)

8- Bengals 24-17 Ravens (23-16)

9- Saints 21-13 Falcons (Falcons 37-34 Saints)

10- Texans 21-17 Redskins (17-6)

11- Bears 21-7 Bills (Bills 23-20 Bears)

12- Panthers 28-14 Buccaneers (20-14)

13- 49ers 35-21 Cowboys (28-17)

14- Broncos 28-21 Colts (31-24)

Monday Night Football (MNF)

15- Lions 21-9 Giants (35-14)

16- Chargers 21-18 Cardinals (Cardinals 18-17 Chargers)

TOT: 11-5-0



17- Ravens 21-14 Steelers (26-6)


18- Cardinals 27-17 Giants (25-14)

19- Redskins 31-14 Jaguars (41-10)

20- Patriots 21-10 Vikings (30-7)

21- Cowboys 21-7 Titans (26-10)

22- Bills 21-20 Dolphins (29-10)

23- Panthers 28-14 Lions (24-7)

24- Falcons 21-17 Bengals (Bengals 24-10 Falcons)

25- Browns 21-20 Saints (26-24)

26- Rams 17-10 Buccaneers (19-17)

27- Chargers 27-24 Seahawks (30-21)

28- Texans 21-10 Raiders (30-14)

29- Jets 21-17 Packers (Packers 31-24 Jets)

30- Broncos 35-14 Chiefs (24-17)

31- 49ers 21-14 Bears (Bears 28-20 49ers)


32- Eagles 27-21 Colts (30-27)

TOT: 13-3-0



33- Falcons 35-17 Buccaneers (56-14)


34- Texans 21-14 Giants (Giants 30-17 Texans)

35- Eagles 28-14 Redskins (37-34)

36- Cowboys 21-7 Rams (34-31)

37- Patriots 28-6 Raiders (16-9)

38- Saints 21-10 Vikings (20-9)

39- Colts 42-17 Jaguars (44-17)

40- Bengals 28-13 Titans (33-7)

41- Chargers 23-10 Bills (22-10)

42- Browns 24-21 Ravens (Ravens 23-21)

43- Packers 21-14 Lions (Lions 19-7 Packers)

44- Cardinals 21-20 49ers (23-14)

45- Broncos 23-21 Seahawks (Seahawks 26-20 Broncos)

46- Chiefs 26- 14 Dolphins (34-15)

47- Panthers 21-17 Steelers (Steelers 37-19 Panthers)


48- Bears 21-3 Jets (27-19)

TOT: 11-5-0


Who knows what will happen?


I’ll continue posting my predictions every few weeks after they have come true or been dismissed. Also, here is my total current overall record for the first three weeks.


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