Thursday, December 6, 2018

Life is Strange 2 - First Episode Review

This is a game that even with the fantasy related elements it really hits you in the heart with elements that embark the realness of the situation the Diaz brothers are involved.

Life is Strange 2 is on a certain extent a departure of the first installment, the gameplay is a little bit different since now you control two characters, leaving the deuteragonist as an extension of the main character is his own younger brother who has telekinetic abilities that are triggered by a stressful event.

The style of the game is similar to the first entry, there is a soft pallette that reflects a naturalistic approach mixed with a symbology that is related to the characters roles in the game. The game narrative is far more complex than the surface that is presented as it presents alienation and racism in a very direct way.

It is indeed a sensitive topic but racial violence has to be addressed  more openly, that within certain segments of the population such as LGBT, people of color, based on language, family history and origins that are going to be subjected to discrimination based on political climate or geographic location in which ideals of the Civil War stay present in every day life, even towards religious ideals just to say some of several examples.

Probably the most heartbreaking one is with Hank and Doris Stamper in which Hank attacks Sean out of no reason, handcuff him in his office and assault him just for the fact that Sean is Hispanic and even mentioned on sending him to ICE to see if he is a citizen. That realness was difficult to play through but it was the beginning of the game what is a tearjerker and if you had been subjected to discrimination from the police you can understand how difficult is to trust them as a corp but also as the way they protect and retaliate against anyone that doesn't look or sound white.

Homelessness is another core element within the game, after their father's death the Diaz siblings found themselves running away and traveling around Oregon with an extremely budget and living on the road, even sleeping on an abandoned state park just because Sean the eldest of the two didn't wanted to end in the juvenile system and his brother taken to the United States foster care which it can be problematic to any youth at risk.

The soundtrack is just gorgeous, the entire game is accompanied of a soft indie rock that creates harmony with the storytelling, but also it reflects on the life of the Diaz brothers. The background music takes the lead as it gives a haunting enviroment to the settings of the games and the match with flow of the story.

The scenarios are just plain beautiful, especially the nature's trail; the trees and the river with the mountains in the background gives an overwhelming feeling as if you as the spectator are there with the siblings, is as much being around Oregon being around the nature paths and the imagery that is being surrounded around the Northwest of the United States.

Gameplay wise, is similar to the first installment mixed with the options of Before the Storm decision tree from Chloe, but it rather goes on a simplistic level where the options are shown before the moment that the game auto save the progress but overall it retains the classic controllers of the PS4 and PC that the other game had.

I totally recommend buying the first episode as it offers an interesting dynamics towards gaming, it gives a commentary about our current society problem and how we perceive isolationism versus globalism, but on how human capital affects individual and societal efforts of economical and political growth.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fallout 76 is just a modern retelling of The Oregon Trail

This is just mere joke from my part, or a crazy theory but what if The Oregon Trail and FallOut 76 are placed in the same universe? For starters the two games set a close proximity to each other in terms of geographic location, where the protagonist is connected from Missouri and West Virgina in terms of history but also mobilization; in modern times we have I-64.

The geographical correlation between the two games could be a starter in which hints of the apocalypse mostly because the similarities found in the flora, fauna and biological agents that have a correlation  with the mortality in between the games and how much affect the players development i.e. dysentery in the Trail of Oregon and an evolution of the enviroment because of the nuclear war in the Fallout 76 game.

We all know that evolution is a constant process, take a look of the Galapagos Finches that in less than two generations they evolved in to a new species; which two generations span around 40 years and in between a couple of centuries and with the proper catalyst (nuclear catastrophe) a simple viral or parasitic infection mutated up to the point that affected everything around it gained the ability to kill almost instantly anyone.

Let's imagine the scorched, beings who used to be human and were infected by a plague who left them on a semi-conscious state in which they aren't full humans but not full ghouls as they retain their knowledge of who they have become but not who they were. Probably it was.

The Scorched where formed because of a plague, and the plague was product of a biological weapon that the key component was made by an underground fungus found on the Appalachian system; fungi are also common to be used within the Cherokees apothecary medicine as well into modern medicine. So we shouldn't be surprised that Arktos Pharma  experimented with some other agents to create a biological weapon powerful enough that would destroy a complete ecosystem.

Maybe, the staff from Arktos Pharma knew that dysentery on their Earth was powerful enough to kill people back on the 1800's and just used  what they have in their disposition to change the panorama of their world.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mirror's Edge and Philosophy

Lately I've been trying to organize my thoughts about how mortality is expressed in video games, but also how much philosophical influence you can find into a piece of entertainment, there are several games around but it was Mirror's Edge who got my attention the most because of the use of philosophy such as free will, social contract, politics and how we as a society we can influence our niches and communities but also how politics can model us after a totalitarian regime rise to the power.

The game itself is quite complete even if is an action oriented platformer but the cinematic sequences and dialogues open on how the world of Faith Connors is structured and is not far away on how ours is developing, the parallelism of Faith's totalitarian regime and what is happening in the Americas within the rise of the populist regimes and the cult of personality that the leaders develop.

The necessity of Faith's profession being a runner is a demand created by the offer of traffic information without being detected, because of the controls the regime in the unnamed city has over every single thing in the daily life. We can compare on a certain extent with China and their social credit system in which every citizen is monitored and every action is controlled by the government which led to the development of the runners.

City of Glass
The anti-authoritarianism force can have consequence in the world outside what the government tries execute on the citizens such as manipulating the information but also attacking and dismantling any form of resistance i.e. the pursuit cops.

Also, the game deals heavily with concepts of life and death in which Faith seems to embrace nihilism in her daily life because the game title is her personal philosophy of living between the gloss and the reality, as if everything that is linked to her senses such as her perception to reality and death.

As a player the most gruesome concept of the game is when you die, which much of the time being bullet down by the state police is less horrible than falling to your death, there are no proper words how nerve wracking is to see Faith falling to her death from such high distance which makes you wonder how many other runners had died in a similar fashion, but also how in real life you can have an idea how is to die by falling from a great height just to wake up on the last saving point.

The idea that Faith's reality could be simulated doesn't sound strange; it doesn't matter how many times Faith dies, she always resets to the last spot she was which we can be in an epistemological problem as she couldn't be aware of her own reality in a dystopian future but also why death doesn't affect her.

The game constructs the notion that reality can be manipulated, but also it follows the ideas that reality is what we perceived and how our experiences manage us; we, maybe as individuals pre-programmed that we have free will but in reality we don't, we can be an extension of what makes us social creatures or extensions of the social collective, that is linked to our humanity.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

Elder Scrolls Arena, First Hour of Gameplay

Promotional Image
The first game of the Elder Scrolls that I ever played was Skyrim, it blew me as I never saw something as open as that game in my life, even with Grand Theft Auto I feel that the mobility was limited and the interaction with the NPC's was also extremely restricted.

With the Elder Scrolls: Skyrim it was the first time I played freely in an scenario that let me interact with everything around, and it was a big world map also; as a player I was impressed and it gave me the idea to play the other games without any order just because I wanted to enjoy the experience.

It wasn't until this week, where I finally decided to play the first game ever, I bought it along with Daggerfall as I never had the chance to play them when I was younger and I am extremely impressed because there wasn't something as Arena back in 1994, and is easy to see based on the technical capabilities of the time why it influenced players through different decades and the development of other games.

I couldn't imagine my 10 years old self facing the first dungeon and getting killed without even saving and having to restart over, my 34 years old self was screaming when I got killed within the first ten minutes and I didn't even save it, learning from the experience I save every single step that I took because I noticed this game is unforgiven with new players and it can surprise old ones also, the controllers aren't intuitive albeit with some hours of gameplay they tend to get easy.

 One thing that happened with old games loading times within the world map it was that everything would pop out and enemies could just spawn in front of you and kill you really quickly without you even noticing, it happened to me twice with rats because they were following me and I didn't got a clue they were so close.

What is fantastic about the game is that is mostly automatic generated making the experience different for every gamer which for 94' that was a big feauture, adding that it has a day and night cycle, and if you are stuck outside at night beware because enemies will approach from everywhere.

The enviroment is tense, you feel you can die in every corner, but also it gives magnificent scenarios that are quite large to explorer and a wide variety of NPC's and enemies that are lurking everywhere.

The soundtrack is cool, and the addition of cinematic sequences makes the game quite charming, as if it's a little jewel from almost 3 decades ago that is still as relevant as it was when it came out on the market.

One interesting aspect is that this game is relic of is time, it's on the same era as Doom, Wolfstein 3D, Quake Grand Theft, the first two Monkey Island, cult game Normality and the classic Ultima IV. Games that influenced storytellers but also the industry towards PC gaming towards the development of 3D games in PC gaming.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

DeltaRune Demo Review

You have created 
This is a complete departure from the Undertale formula but yet it has the charm of the old game, graphic wise is similar but story and gameplay are a departure of what Undertale was.

I was honestly impressed from the beginning to the end because I wasn't expecting this to be a demo as it's extremely well done but even with some minor bugs and glitches the experience of Deltarune is enjoyable.

To make a synopsis the game is a reinvention of the formula, characters from the previous game appear in new roles and to give a spoiler (assuming that a big amount of players download the demo) there is an influence of Sans through the game in which we can appreciate his "shortcuts" on a physical manner and it can give us an idea extremely quickly.

Being a demo it leaves outside several aspect of the story as well a proper tutorial because you as a player will be interacting with three characters at the same time, the battle system also drastically change from the previous actions in Undertale such as giving mercy or even sparing the enemies because you will have two other sidekicks which are Ralsei which is more of a pacifist and Suzie who is extremely aggressive and can change the outcome of certain events.

King
The controllers are extremely easy to understand, in a certain way the main map interface keeps the old Undertale close as possible but the battle system is where the fun begins as is a complete overhaul, the best way to explain is to mention that the battle is arranged similar to the classic Final Fantasy, three characters arranged in perpendicular position and the characters positioning affects the menu and the combos.

The music is just spectacular, that's the main reason I couldn't believe this is a demo, the soundtrack is just supreme because the music helps the action of the game to flow and even on the most mundane actions such as avoiding an enemy there is a fantastic composition that makes you want to continue playing until the end.

Besides the great technical aspects there are also some Easter Eggs and hidden boss which adds more value to the game, because as the first Undertale you want to discover them all and find every single possible action, there are different endings and secret bosses around the game, is just truly spectacular to find something as Deltarune and that it was for free because it placed Toby Fox again in the center of attention as an indie developer.

Main Menu
Also one important thing that to know with Deltarune is that even on 2018 there is room for a narrative in the video-game industry, this game is not highly advanced in the graphics, it has an old style almost vintage from the early 1990's but the story is complex and interesting, the characters are well developed and it offers an immersive narrative.

Probably Toby Fox's biggest assets as a developer is that he is an amazing storyteller, which can gather people and enjoy his products but we need to add that the protagonist of his mangum-opus is a non-binary person and the other characters at any moment mention Kris about being within any specified gender which it makes this game great for the queer community, because we don't have a proper representation towards the video game industry.

If this is honestly a demo and something else will come, I would love to play it from the beginning to the end because it was wonderful, I would buy every single chapter just to know how the story progress and how the new world is connected to the previous.

If you want to read some further content on Deltarune here are some resources:

  1. Game Crate: https://www.gamecrate.com/toby-fox-shares-more-deltarune-details-including-how-it-connects-undertale/21275
  2. Twit Longer: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/n_1sqn3p9
  3. Kotaku: https://kotaku.com/undertale-fans-already-have-theories-about-whats-going-1830165547

Monday, October 8, 2018

Playing Online Massive Multiplayer Games Half a Year Later

So recently I decided to give a shot to online playing again, I only maybe tried WOW for like two weeks around ten years ago and it was fine but it didn't really got my attention until maybe around 2015 when husband bought Final Fantasy 14 and a little bit after the Elder's Scrolls Online and also he got FF14 got for my birthday this year as he wanted the two of us to play together but my attention to these types of games was completely out of my focus.

Since we live in a small apartment I probably set my attention watching him play, as the computer and the Playstation are in the living room. Out of nowhere, I just mentioned that I would like to play together and he got the card and got the game without thinking, at first I only played when he was near, but also with time I found myself immerse in the game atmosphere and I wanted to know more about the experience.

Elder Scrolls Online was maybe the game that put some ideas on my persona about playing further these type of games, the game itself contained some of the essence of the Elder's Scrolls but it wasn't the same as many aspects diverted from the source; graphics was one of them and how the interaction with the NPC's was executed, but the biggest disappointment for me was nothing compared to the same immersion given on the stand-alone games, I was honestly bored and probably played for around 2 months before dropping the control and continued with something else.

I know ESO has people who enjoy it, myself on certain extent included as not long ago I decided to give a small game play and see if there were any changes. During the last year another two games I had the chance to try were Fortnite and Player Unknown Battleground.

 Fortnite is quite interesting, it's a game that doesn't require too much memory and plays quite easily with almost every computer besides being multi platform, PUBG is not far behind only with better graphics and a more realistic scenario.

Player vs. Player games seem to be on vogue lately, and it attracts millions of users per year and it generates a decent revenue but is not a genre for everyone, there is no chance to enjoy the enviroment if you get executed quickly and even if you survive the objectives of these types of games tend to be extremely limited and is usually oriented to what person or teams can win.

As any other game to chose, the best way is to try them first and see which community you feel you fit the most. At the end six months later of continuously playing even if it has been longer but it wasn't until 2018 that I finally made my mind into what new community I want to be inmersed and I had enjoyed playing Final Fantasy a lot as it's perfect as a couple's activity.

At first Final Fantasy can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you are joining late on the game's story development as myself. It's a world of is own with is own lore, writing system, races, technology, etc. It's almost even a vision to another universe in which you can explore based on the level you gain.

It's interesting to see that almost every NPC has their own way to talk, the fauna and flora differs from every region and customary traditions; I am enchanted with the game as it offers what I am looking for but also it has helped to connect with a community that essentially role play with the characters they develop and they become one with their online personas.

Friday, October 5, 2018

RichaadEB

RichaadEB
Last July I had the chance to go to Metro-Con in Tampa Bay, it was the first time I was also going for the four days of the convention as last year I only went for Saturday and it was also the first time I was going to a con which was a fantastic experience.

This year it was amazing, not only because I had the chance to finally meet several cosplayers that I've been following but for the first time I had the opportunity to meet him thanks to Metro Con in Tampa Bay, Florida but also besides the meet and greets he was playing for the first time in a live show and it was incredible.

The first moment I saw RichaadEB it wasn't on the concert itself, it was on the first day of the convention that myself and my friend Kim who we always go together to these events.

My surprise was that he was already there also, he was walking along with Caleb Hyles and Jonathan Young, among Caleb's wife and Thundersque. All the people I admire were walking not far away from where we were sitting listening music as on the first day there aren't many forums as well many cosplayers.

They passed and say hello, I couldn't even muttered a word because I was excited to see them all, much of the reason I like Metro Con as a convention is that you as an attendee have the chance to see the guests walking among everyone and posing for photos, from all the conventions I've been you never get a more one-on-one experience as is Metro Con plus the cosplayers are just awesome.

RichaadEB is just the epitome of smooth but also extremely cool, his style on stage is just smooth as the chords on his guitar but also his stage presence is just unique, I am trying to think someone who Richaad reminds me of but there is no one.

His demeanor is just smooth and calm much as the audiovisual content he create, his stage persona translates perfectly on the stage as well on the interaction with his fans but listening to him play live is just a unique experience because his hammers, his pinch harmonics is just flawless, I can go on and on on his technique because honestly it really impressed me.

The first time I heard about RichaadEB it was when YouTube was on is first years, I was trying to find covers of Final Fantasy but also find music that I never found in Colombia, at first I found the channel of ToxicxEternity and from there some of the channels that YouTube suggested was eRock and RichaadEB back when Richaad was going by his non artist name and I got stuck.

Over the years Rich has dangled between nerdcore, hard rock and metal; his fusion of styles is just so cool, he can make you rock to the Tetris A Theme or Kirby's Gourmet Race and add humor to his videos which the production values are extremely good but also catchy. Probably one of the aspects that made me a life long fan of RichaadEB is his humor, is just subtle but also that nerds can relate.

The meet and greets were quite nice also, great way to speak with the guests and take photos. Probably could be because of the intense schedule, but I noticed that Rich is a man of few words but also extremely eloquent and really pleasant with his manners; it was also fun to see a musician that I been following for almost a decade for the first time.

Besides all of that, one aspect I love about RichaadEB it is his involvement within the Undertale music, not only on the official soundtrack but also the covers, his cover of Death by Glamour with Family Jules is just even better than the one in the game, is full of energy and the two personalities contrast in an release of energy which make the final audiovisual product incredibly dynamic.