Lucien Cooks: Chicken Bacon Alfredo German Noodles

I have had one of my favorite people staying with me lately.  It’s a girl who has decided to take over my guest room while she waits for the results of the bar exam.  And while she waits to do that, I am getting to flex my cooking muscles.  I love to have an audience when I make food, and having that audience be a hot girl makes a lot of difference.  Which brings me to today’s creation.

Since she is staying with me, she is helping to pay for the groceries.  And since she had the day off from the DA’s office, she decided to research obscure markets for us to check out.  Since she is a trendy Californian, she actually wants food with ingredients that you can pronounce.  Weird, right?  Why can’t she just accept that crappy American junk with ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce with a phonetic translation?  Fuck if I know.  What she found was an Eastern European market in my town that I had never heard of.  As I love a good adventure and her company I figured – fuck it, let’s go see what I can come up with!  And that is how we ended up at one of the most interesting places I have ever been.  Got a TON of pics from there.  If you want to see it, go to my About page and check out my Instagram page.  Trust me, you’ll find some weird shit, some random shit, food, and my cat.  Because all lonely late-20’s asshole introverts have a cat, right?  Love that pussy.  She’s such a bitch.  She’s great.  But I digress.

At the very niche market we came across real noodles!  With ingredients that are normal!  Not hydroxinated shit in here.  Just real stuff.  So I got some, along with these wafer cookies that were SO good!  I brought them home, and decided that I would make some noodles for dinner tonight.  Let me show you want I came up with.

I know that doesn’t look like much, but it was so awesome!  I used a recipe I found on Facebook from Tasty One-Pot.  It involves bacon, chicken, and noodles.  There was supposed to be spinach in there too, but I decided to ax that because I don’t have any and am too lazy to get some.  Let me tell you – it was so good!  Not only that, but I had it with some Russian soda.  That’s right, soda from Russia.  Tonight was a very strange experience.  But so worth it.

Let that be my lesson.  I am introverted as fuck.  But sometimes, you just need a little push to do something that you will remember.  I will keep be cherishing these memories I have with her for a long time.  It will make it that much sadder when I take her to the airport and watch her leave again.  But at least this means that I may get to see her again in my neck of the woods.  I want to know what weird markets you all have gone to and the weird shit you got there, so let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Whatever you do, don’t talk about the war!” – Basil Fawlty, Fawlty Towers

Peace out,

Maverick

The Book That Sparked My Atheism

While I have contended that I never really believed in God as a kid, and still hold true to that, there was a book that really got to me when I was thinking about what it meant to believe in a deity.  A lot of atheists have books by Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris or people like that, but to me there was one book that truly took my thoughts about a religious being and calcified them into a perfect blend of terror.  That book is what I believe to be the best work by H.P. Lovecraft “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”  A story that tells of a man who goes into an isolated community and learns things that slowly distort his mind until he doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore.

Can you think of a perfect metaphor for religion?  A values system that those who follow it believe in whole-heartedly and never have even a moment’s worth of criticism.  A belief structure that gets people so wrapped up in its narrative that they eventually cannot tell what is real unless it is the reality that they are told to believe in.  And any threat to that reality is actively attacked by its members.  Yup, religion in a nutshell.

But here’s the difference – in “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” the narrator finds out that the deity that this cult believes in is real.  He realizes that they are worshiping, communing, and even trying to cross-breed with being who are ancient and powerful.  Beings who are massive and beyond comprehension.  The Deep Ones are found to be real, but this knowledge destroy the minds of everyone who comes into contact with them.  See, the gods of this story and the Cthulhu Mythos surrounding it are not beings who care about if you stick your dick in another man’s butt.  They are creatures who are ageless, unknowable and see humans as so far beneath their concern that they act as they see fit without any input from those in the cult surrounding them.

When I think about a being that is capable of creating the entire universe, do you know what comes to mind – the Deep Ones.  I mean, why on Earth would a God give five shits about us?  What would be to it?  In the span of time that this universe has existed, with all the countless civilizations in the stars who have risen and fallen in the billions of years that this cosmos has existed, this idea that a divine being actually created us and watches us close enough to the point that they care if a man has sex with another man just makes me laugh.  It’s the pinnacle of absurd.

Something the book was very good at was portraying the narrators as small, and their lives as meaningless.  In the scope of the universe, that’s true.  We are insignificantly tiny.  We aren’t even a pixel in the massive image of the cosmos.  Given the size of the cosmos, we aren’t even an atom in it.  We are a subatomic particle.  If the size of the universe is our model, humanity isn’t even that.  We are NOTHING in the face of reality.  So when my religious friends tell me all about how God has our backs and cares deeply about us, it strikes me as complete hubris.  After all, since there is no possible way that countless civilizations better than us haven’t risen and fallen, then how exactly is it that a being with the power to create all of this finds us so fascinating?  What quality does humanity have that the rest of the universe does not?

And as the book points out, the answer to that question is – nothing.  We are NOTHING in the face of that kind of power.  The Deep Ones see us as meaningless, and so would any kind of god that could conceivably exist.  That reality shook my young mind up when I read the book, but then it made a lot of sense.

Here’s the truth – God is a fairytale that is created because the universe is a scary place.  It’s scary to think that we are so pathetic that we are one cosmic disaster away from not existing anymore.  One asteroid away from letting the octopus have its chance at sentience and living in the world we leave behind.  When people are faced with that kind of helplessness, it’s easy to just reach out to whatever source of moral comfort you can find in order to not feel so small and meaningless anymore.

Just like at the end of the book, however, we all must realize that religion is a delusion, and the God that you worship wouldn’t give a single fuck about you anymore than the Deep Ones did about that community.  Unknowable, infinite.  And when you think about the fact that infinite realities probably exist with infinite possibilities, then God would probably end up like Rick from Rick and Morty.  The only reason he is so cold and cruel is because he realized how meaningless his own life is because of the sheer amount of existences that he has been able to see.

But that’s just me.

Until next time, a quote,

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien Cooks: Beef Stew

I’ve been kinda bored of the typical things that I have been posting on for so long.  Talking about SJW bullshit is boring.  I still enjoy doing reviews on this site, and that isn’t going anywhere.  And I’m sure I’ll find stupid SJW nonsense to talk about.  However, there is currently a beautiful woman staying with me.  She is a dear friend, and having company in my guest room at my new apartment is a fantastic thing.  But more than that, I now have someone living with me who is compelling me to put my cooking talents to work.  See, I love to cook.  I love it so much.  I am so fucking good at it.  No joke, I keep impressing myself to trying out things that are ridiculously complicated just so I can push the limits of my skills.

So when I got my new crockpot, my girlfriend told me that I should make beef stew.  I love beef stew.  Like, a lot.  Now that I am on my own, I get to have the ingredients that I want to have in it.  Can’t wait to do that for beef stroganoff and nix the mushrooms.  Seriously, mum, why do you insist on putting those in there?!  Mushrooms are so gross.  But I digress.  I looked up a simple recipe, and got to work this morning chopping up the ingredients and putting them in.

Now, for these posts, I won’t be giving you an ingredient breakdown for the recipe.  After all, I got all this shit from the Internet.  It’s easy to find.  Instead, this is going to be me basically posting it and talking about what I did specifically in making the dish that digresses from the recipe.  The thing is, I’m not great at following recipes.  I basically get the gist of them down, then almost-immediately start experimenting when I do it my way.  After all, so much of recipes is tedious and unnecessary.  Like, I don’t blend things after adding each individual egg.  That’s stupid.  So these posts is going to show you my creations, and talk about the experience of making it.  If that sounds boring to you, feel free to peace out now.  With that said, let’s show you the results of my beef stew!

Oh yeah!  This turned out so well!  Better than I could have ever anticipated!  The first comment I got on this when I posted it on Facebook is that I need a fork and knife for this stew.  And yeah, it is pretty chunky.  You know what, that’s fine by me!  I cut up my potatoes a little larger than was necessary, won’t lie.  See, I’m a giant.  So tiny cutting on food is a totally alien concept to me.  Being right under the cusp of seven feet tall, it takes a lot to feed me.  Especially since I stay active.  Now I have enough to feed me for at least a few days!  Hell yeah!

Let’s talk about where I deviated from the recipe.  First off, I nixed the celery.  Neat fact – I don’t like celery.  Like, at all.  It’s stringy and tastes bad.  That’s my honest-to-Groj thoughts on the stuff.  It’s gross.  And since this is my stew, I can put in whatever I want!  Loving that. Also, did you know that you can buy carrots pre-cut!  That’s awesome!  I can be lazy and it totally works!  Lazy culture may bug me sometimes, but getting to save 10 minutes chopping up carrots goes a long way.  They cut them like Ruffles, but whatever.  Tastes good to me.

Also, I guess I was supposed to cover the meat in flour.  I didn’t do that.  I just threw the flour in there on top of everything.  There are days where I wonder if my stupid-ass decisions with making food where I totally forget steps or just do things wrong don’t end up in most of my food sucking.  For whatever reason, it works out.  Life is strange like that.

I put the crock pot on high for about 5 hours or so.  I honestly wasn’t keeping that diligent of track.  The whole idea is that this is a recipe that I’ll be able to make in the future and just leave in the crock pot on low when I go to work in the morning.  The idea of coming home to food just tickles me pink.

Thought about this, but I am going to rate my own creations.  In the future, when I have more people around eating stuff I make, I’ll add their verdicts here as well.  My girly-mate is out at the moment.  This was a fun recipe.  And I want to hear about how your cooking projects have turned out as well.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Little Nightmares

I’ve talked before about how one of my favorite Indie games is the 2D puzzle-platformer Limbo.  A game that combined creepy atmosphere with some pretty enjoyable puzzle elements and an aesthetic that was all its own.  I still enjoy that game whenever I am bored and just looking for a nice zen way to pass time.  Here we have another puzzle-platformer, not quite 2D with a creepy atmosphere and an aesthetic all its own.  And just like the other one, while it isn’t perfect, for the genre it is in, it is very good.  And creepy as fuck.  Let’s talk about it.

Beginning with a literal nightmare, you wake up as a tiny person.  What is this person?  Why are they tiny?  Where are they trying to go?  This game has absolutely zero dialogue of any kind, so you never know the answers to those questions.  I could and may one day do a Critical Examination post on what my interpretation of the world and the creatures within it represent, but that’s for another day.  Suffice it to say, nothing is as it seems in this world.  Even your tiny, adorable, defenseless character has some darkness about it that you will never truly understand.  Which can lead to some genuinely horrifying moments as your tiny person descends into whatever darkness has possessed it as well.

As with Limbo, this is a game that is less about overt fear and more about the subtle implications.  This game is creepy as fuck.  Some of the things you come across made my spine tingle.  However, this game is very good about keeping things within enough nebulous to let your imagination do the heavy lifting.  I like that.  With so many horror games relying on jump scares, it’s nice to see a game that eschews that for an experience that is totally based on the creep factor.  So the place can make the fear come to life.

Which isn’t to say that it’s all about atmosphere.  This game has some creepy-as-fuck monsters living in its world.  From the long-armed blind creature that seems to be taking tiny people for some unknown purpose, to the hog-like chefs who are eager to chop you up, and the lady herself who is running this joint, the designs of the monsters here is just fantastic.  And since you are a tiny person with no weapons of their own, all you can do is hide.  You are completely powerless in the face of what is after you.  Running and hiding.  That’s it.

Since this game is a puzzle-platformer, you may be wondering how those elements hold up.  And I gotta say, pretty well.  Since this game is 3D in many places, it makes you have to think vertically about challenges, and how certain environmental elements can be used to solve puzzles which are all about progression.  Every environmental puzzle is about getting from A to B.  But sometimes you have to back to A, then to C, then back to A and you finally have a way to get to B.  Can it be a little confusing a times? Sure.  However, one thing I really like is how the game does NOT hold your hand.  Right from the start you have to figure out the control scheme and using the lighter you have on your own.  With so many games choosing to hold players hands, this is a very nice touch.

It is worth pointing out that this game is very short.  Only a few hours long.  For the short length, it may be a little overpriced, but I think I got pretty close to my money’s worth, so I’ll let that slide.

Overall, this is a solid entry into its genre, and creepy as fuck to boot.  There really isn’t much more to say about it.  If games like Limbo appeal to you, then check this out and get ready to be unnerved.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Another Pseudo-Intellectual Wants to Talk About Video Games (A response to Ian Bogost)

I just love all these people with degrees from prestigious schools and 2-digit IQs telling me what video games are lacking.  It’s so charming.  These people who want to pretend like they got it all figured out, and then use the latest buzzwords to be able to bolster their arguments that sound like sophistry at best.  Is this lexicon verbose enough for you?  Our latest pseudo-intellectual wants to make sure that he sounds very smart while he talks about how videos really shouldn’t have stories, all the while ripping off arguments that Roger Ebert was proven wrong about 10 years ago.  It’s charming, in its own stupid way.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s rip this bitch to pieces.

A longstanding dream: Video games will evolve into interactive stories, like the ones that play out fictionally on the Star Trek Holodeck. In this hypothetical future, players could interact with computerized characters as round as those in novels or films, making choices that would influence an ever-evolving plot. It would be like living in a novel, where the player’s actions would have as much of an influence on the story as they might in the real world.

First off, I don’t want games to be the Holodeck.  I’m not into VR.  Second, for the most part, the part about making an ever-evolving plot has already happened.  I’ve played it out dozens of times.  Whether it be something very linear, or something where I have choices and agency, I am able to help shape a narrative with the games I play.  Already there, skippy.  I look forward to what will be your solid reasoning for why that isn’t the case.

It’s an almost impossible bar to reach, for cultural reasons as much as technical ones.

Neat fact – immediately after this sentence, there is nothing about this for ages.  He goes on and on about how environmental storytelling works, but right when he makes a substantive point, he doesn’t go into greater detail.  I mean, if you are going to say why this bar is impossible to reach, shouldn’t you then follow that up with something about why this milestone is so impossible?  But let’s get into what he says about environmental storytelling and how it shapes a narrative.

The approach raises many questions. Are the resulting interactive stories really interactive, when all the player does is assemble something from parts? Are they really stories, when they are really environments? And most of all, are they better stories than the more popular and proven ones in the cinema, on television, and in books?

Well, yeah.  That’s easy to prove.  You use Bioshock as an example, a game with a very developed and rich lore with characters who you come to care about strictly from hearing about their trials in the city.  I’ve never met them, but there are some characters in the audio logs who was I sad to see go when you learn of their ultimate fate.  It was just another twisted end to a frankly depressing game.

Or let’s talk about my favorite game of 2015 – Life is Strange.  In that game, you look at pretty much everything around you and it tells stories.  You can see Chloe’s decent into a punk rock girl after her father died.  You can see her family with all their financial troubles and personal ones.  You can learn that David isn’t quite the asshole he seems, finding his book on recovering from war that he has read many times.  These things provide a richer canvas to the game’s narrative, which you grow to care about.  It’s what makes the fact that your choices ultimately don’t matter in the end that much more frustrating.

I think I see your problem – you are trying to make a direct comparison between video games and other visual mediums like film and television.  But you can’t do that.  I don’t play a game with the same mindset as I read a book or watch a movie.  I expect elements to be interactive and give me at least some agency in being a part of.  It doesn’t have to be everything.  As I said, I don’t want the Holodeck.  I just want a narrative that I feel immersed in.  My favorite games are ones where I feel like I was a part of the action.  It can still be linear and accomplish this, so long as the characters are well-developed and the world immerses me enough to want to see the story through.  Gaming is an interactive experience, not a purely visual one.  I didn’t like Metal Gear Solid IV because it felt like I had no agency.  60% of the time I was just watching the film play.  That’s not how games work.  For someone who purports to have a very rich understanding of the medium, this fact seemed to escape you.

In retrospect, it’s easy easy to blame old games like Doom and Duke Nukem for stimulating the fantasy of male adolescent power. But that choice was made less deliberately at the time. Real-time 3-D worlds are harder to create than it seems, especially on the relatively low-powered computers that first ran games like Doom in the early 1990s. It helped to empty them out as much as possible, with surfaces detailed by simple textures and objects kept to a minimum. In other words, the first 3-D games were designed to be empty so that they would run.

Okay…why did the male adolescent power line come up?  What did ANY of what followed in that paragraph have to do with men?  Are you clumsily setting the stage for where you blame men for video games being whatever way you don’t like?  I can see that coming from a mile away.  That is bad writing, dude.  If you want to take the Anita Sarkeesian route of saying men are pure evil in video games, then at least TRY and make it feel more natural.

The dude goes on and on for paragraphs about how environments in games aren’t realistic enough and that npc’s are all basically just going off a script, which I guess is supposed to mean that you can’t seem them as real.  Well…duh. I don’t see the vendor in Persona 5 selling me DVDs as a real person.  I’m not supposed to.  Half of this dude’s diatribes reek of a person who doesn’t actually have a lot of experience in this medium.  Or someone who is playing games with an agenda.  Seeing as how he brought up men in this article, I get the feeling him and Anita share similar social views.,

Environmental storytelling offers a solution to this conundrum. Instead of trying to resolve the matter of simulated character and plot, the genre gives up on both, embracing scripted action instead. The player’s experience becomes that of a detective, piecing together narrative coherence from fragments conveniently left behind in the game’s physical environment.

Well yeah, games that use environmental story-telling do have some convenience to them.  So do books and films.  After all, it sure was convenient that Tony Stark found out about the dead interpreter in Civil War, isn’t it?  Or it’s convenient that no one asked who had actually heard the main character say “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane when no one was clearly in the room.  All works of fiction rely on convenience to one extent or another.  Find me a piece of fiction where there aren’t some plot conveniences to move things along.

In 2013, two developers who had worked on the BioShock series borrowed the environmental-storytelling technique and threw away both the shooting and the sci-fi fantasy. The result was Gone Home, a story game about a college-aged woman who returns home to a mysterious, empty mansion near Portland, Oregon. By reassembling the fragments found in this mansion, the player reconstructs the story of the main character’s sister and her journey to discover her sexual identity. The game was widely praised for breaking the mold of the first-person experience while also importing issues in identity politics into a medium known for its unwavering masculinity.

Oh boy.  The pseudo-intellectual is about to talk about Gone Home.  This basically confirms to me that he is full of shit.  Every wanna-be intellectual and their SJW sister have talked about how this game is representative of some great milestone.  In this case, he says that it showed that games are basically on the level of young-adult novels.  Groan.  And the fucker actually makes the argument that this game represents the high water mark in gaming story-telling.  Give me a fucking break!

There are 1000 games, probably more, with narratives 1000X richer than that walking simulator could have ever hoped for.  Hell, I don’t even have a problem with the walking simulator genre and I see it as a lesser option.  When I think about the emotional levels the Mass Effect series got (before the STUPID ending to 3), or the moral implications of The Last of Us, and I see this clown telling me that some hipster-approved work.  Hell, Limbo, a 2D side-scroller was able to make a game world with more emotional weight, without any exposition of any kind.  Just from the environment you play in, you can see the story of a great civilization’s rise to power and then fall.  An art game called Journey did much the same.  Did this ass-clown actually play games, or is he just quoting the line from his contemporaries?  He is probably a grad with a fancy degree, who spent all his academic life citing other people in papers.  Thinking for yourself is hard, after all.

The result is aesthetically coherent, fusing the artistic sensibilities of Edward Gory, Isabel Allende, and Wes Anderson. The writing is good, an uncommon accomplishment in a video game. On the whole, there is nothing to fault in What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s a lovely little title with ambitions scaled to match their execution. Few will leave it unsatisfied.

Good writing is uncommon in video games?  Oh fuck off, you hipster culture critic.  Look me in the eye and tell me that Beyond: Two Souls or Uncharted 4 have bad writing.  And you better be able to bolster it with some strong argument.  By the way, dude, I was unsatisfied at that game.  Know why – because the ending was crap.  The game was FINALLY getting to the really good stuff, then just stopped.  It just ends.  And don’t tell me “it’s open to interpretation!”  That is a line used by people who have no other argument.  I heard that crap about the Mass Effect 3 ending by pseudo-intellectuals just like this.

And that’s really it.  He doesn’t go into any other genre or aspects to games story-telling.  I guess, in his mind, the only kinds of games that can tell stories are first-person ones.  That is beyond asinine.  When I play art games like ABZU, or JRPGs like Persona 5, both with very good narratives and stories that suck me in, I am realizing why this guy is full of shit.  Another person who had to write some bullshit about games and then peace out without even looking at anything else but the one thing he wants to focus on.  No wonder this guy came from modern university.  His argumentation is garbage.

Funny, he looks at three games to try and make his point.  I can talk about dozens to make mine.  Yeah, this dude sucks.  I cannot believe a publication like The Atlantic takes this bullshit seriously.

Until next time, a quote,

“If you don’t feel it, you won’t remember it.” – Bob Dickman

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Failure of Final Fantasy XV and a Road Trip Game Done Right

It’s no mystery that I view Final Fantasy XV as a game with a good idea, but a bad execution.  The problem is that the game devs decided that they were going to go the typical Final Fantasy game route and make it about saving the world.  Failing to realize that what drew people in was the theme song that was horribly misused in the actual game.  This game was marketed as Noctis and his friends going on a road trip in a fantasy world that is very similar to our own.  And I think that was a great concept.  If they had just gone all the way with it, that game could have been one of a kind.  For a while now I have been thinking of how this idea could be done correctly.  Let me share what I came up with.

For starters, there cannot be a plot outside of the road trip.  It would have to be a very small story.  No saving the world.  Maybe thwarting some threats that are posing a danger to the places that the party comes across in their travels, but that’s it.  You can even have the world’s politics play a part in it, but that has to come secondary.  It’s just an element of setting, not a core plot element.  But it should still be a part of things.  After all, you want the world to seem believable.  If the game’s world doesn’t feel like one that you can live in, then it is not doing its job in immersion.  However, none of the choices you make in a road trip game can affect politics on a large scale.  Maybe you can change a village or town or even part of a city’s mind about your group.  Maybe make it some kind of ethnic conflict.  But at the end of the game, the politics are what they are and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Next up, the stuff where the car is basically driving itself and you are just along for the ride actually didn’t bug me.  However, in order to do this concept better, I have some tips.  First – make a larger music selection.  Give the world some personality.  Make radio stations that play various kinds of music and add to the world by injecting some diverse opinions into the mix.  Maybe have one station who is very much a friend to your characters nation and political views, while having another that is very much opposed.  Run the gamut of political ideas, all while having lots of music that makes you feel like this is a real place.  Not just stock music options and soundtracks to other games.  Hell, the didn’t even do that right.  I mean, if you’re going to get soundtracks you can buy, why not have the whole thing?  And why not make it like when you are making an iTunes playlist and pick the songs you want to hear?  So many small details about this game that could have been done better.

Second – ditch the open world.  I am honestly getting tired of huge worlds that feel like there is no one living there.  Instead, why not make it so you have large levels at various places in the journey?  Open levels on your journey, rather than vast spaces that feel like not one person has ever lived there.  Since you are traveling in your car, that would allow you to make the set-pieces of driving and taking in scenery, characters talking, and the ambiance that much better.  However, too many games have vast open spaces that are just so boring.  I may be in a minority here, but a game that did this concept flawlessly was Uncharted 4.  Instead of being one massive open world, they allowed you to explore large contained areas at your own pace.  For a game about a road trip, with the idea being characters exploring what they come across, that seems much more fitting.

Third – immerse your character in the world.  Take a few cues from Persona 5.  Let your characters buy food at the restaurants they come across.  I wanna be able to buy their world’s version of a juicy burger at the gas station diner.  Or have some fancy meal at an upscale restaurant in some tourist trap city.  Maybe even take in a bowl of ramen or whatever the noodles of that world are.  Little touches like that go a long way.  When I am chilling at a hotel room or something, let me watch movies, read books, of something else that gets me involved in the area.  Maybe have doing that stuff help your character level up stats or something.  Give some incentive for taking the time for this.  Persona 5 had hilarious rip-offs of big movies that were terribly acted on purpose, but it was still so fun to do because you had fun laughing at the ridiculousness of a Batman knock-off talking about desserts.  Give the player incentive to learn about the world.

Fourth – side-quests, and don’t just make it busy work.  Have party members want to do stuff in towns, or developing relationships with random npc’s leading to bigger payoffs with fun missions that can either be difficulty challenges or give you special stuff.  Take some cues from The Witcher 3 and make the side-stuff just as interesting as the main stuff.

Finally – make the game feel like it’s a story about the group on the road trip growing as people.  A kind of coming-of-age story.  Maybe make them a touch older and have some ideas about the nature of growing up and having to be adults.

Final Fantasy XV had a solid concept, it just didn’t go all the way with it.  More than anything, that’s what frustrates me as a gamer.  A wasted good idea is the very worst, and too many games are guilty of it.  But what about you?  Agree or disagree with my assessment?  Let me know down in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.” – Walt Whitman

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

From the creators of The Unfinished Swan, a very depressing but poetic story comes another tale that is equal parts depressing and poetic.  There is just one major flaw holding it back.  It is nowhere near the artistic rendering that its predecessor was, but that doesn’t do too much damage to it. The problem is that doing a review of this game means that I get to go into more the artistic merits of it than the gameplay elements.  This is a game for those who like unconventional games that take your mind to very strange places.  If that isn’t your jam, trust me, best to just pass.  So now let’s put on my hipster hat and go into a game that I can already see the anti-SJW crowd calling a “walking simulator.”  A title that this game whole-heartedly does NOT deserve.

The plot goes that Edith Finch is returning back to the family home.  It’s a dark house that has as many stories as it does dead bodies in its cemetery. A tragic story of a family that Edith has returned to so she can uncover.  And along the way, she comes to some realizations about this home and what it represents.  Does the mystery come together in a fitting climax where all the disparate elements make sense and you have an emotional catharsis much like the previous work of this company?!  Well…no.  But props to how close they got.

As I said, this game is not a walking simulator.  To call it that is to be underselling how this game plays.  Sure, the story of Edith is pretty much just walking from place to place with basic environmental interactions.  However, each of the narratives that tells the story of one of the Finch family dying incorporates all kinds of gameplay dynamics.  My favorite being where you have to manipulate the sticks on the controller to do different tasks at the same time.  Can get confusing, but that fits with the narrative.  While this game lacks the novelty in the pain elements from the last game, it does at least have something going for it.

When I saw the original promo for the game SJWs fawn all over, Gone Home, this is what I thought I was going to get.  A game where you explore an abandoned home, but there is a definitive creepy edge to it.  While I wouldn’t call this a horror game, its use of atmosphere is truly fantastic.  Without a single jump scare, this game makes the house it is set in very ominous.  As you uncover all the secrets and build up the narrative, the place gets less and less inviting.  Which just makes the fact that it never really builds to anything that much more frustrating.

The best thing about this game is the first three quarters of the narrative.  Sure, the exposition can be a little much, but you learn to roll with it because you think it is building to something.  Which brings me to the thing that I need to talk about.  I will try and avoid outright spoiling the ending, but I will spoil the elements of how it comes together which may set your expectations.  If that’s something you want to avoid, go to the Final Verdict now.

Here’s my problem – the ending.  This game has some pretty great build-up.  Right as we are FINALLY getting to see where it was all building to and if it would be something more, the game just stops.  In the most anti-climactic way ever, it just stops.  I was so frustrated by that.  I mean come on!  We are finally going to know what the mysterious force surrounding this house is, and you stop?!  What the hell!?  I was actually really stoked to see just what it was that had come into contact with this family.  It is hinted that the actual stories being told in this game give the forces at work power, but since you never get to find out what it actually was, you never know!  I hate that this game has so much great narrative tension build, only for it to crash and burn.  Part of me thinks that the development of the game got a little rushed at the end, or maybe they had written themselves into a corner and decided to go with the “you never know what it was” thing, but I honestly think that works against this game.

All-in-all, this is a decent game.  As games purely for art’s sake go, it’s fine.  But I think the lackluster ending really does damage to the whole narrative, and that is a real shame.  That doesn’t make this a bad game.  Just not one that I would recommend.  Do with that what you will.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick