Lucien’s Best Game of 2017

This has been an interesting year for gaming.  A pretty quiet year, to be honest.  At least up to the end.  Things have gotten pretty loud and insane over all the to-do with EA, and I have no sympathy for the.  Last night we got to see everyone gush about Kojima’s latest game, but here’s my question – when are we gonna get to see gameplay?  That’s my deal.  Naturally, Nintendo had everyone fawning and gushing, but for me, It’s Sony who stole the show.  My two favorite games this year were exclusive to them, and both were amazing.  The margin for favorite game comes down to such a narrow margin that I had a hard time picking.  But here it is.  My totally important pick for best game of 2017.

Persona 5

Never in all my years did I think I would end up hearing the words AAA JRPG.  This game had delay after delay, and man did it pay off.  Never has my belief that I don’t care how long a game gets delayed, if they can make it perfect been vindicated.  This game is a marvel of its genre.  We live in an interesting time.  We have AAA stealth games, AAA arena FPS games, AAA fighting games, and AAA survival horror games.  The AAA market is learning that players have gotten bored with the same old thing every year.  We want something new.  And wouldn’t you know it, Atlus decided to make it happen.

This game is a masterpiece of the genre.  An almost-perfect masterpiece.  The center of it is the story and characters.  I love every one of these characters, except Haru.  She’s kind of dull.  You have such a vast cast of characters that you can forge relationships with and then inevitably become either life-long friends or in some cases lovers with.  The levels are fun and all, but I always was way more interested in finishing those up fast so I could spend time with my favorite characters.  When I got to go through New Game Plus and develop all of my companion relationships and the rest of the cast, it made it so much more enjoyable.  My biggest gripe with the game is that because the time system is so skewed, we don’t get to spend enough time developing our character and growing the confidant relationships.  No such issue in New Game Plus.

Voice acting in this game is at the top of its game.  Every character has such personality that bursts onto screen in the best ways.  The Confidants should have just been boring subplots, but they’re not!  With so much of Tokyo to explore, you can take people around and get to know them in different ways.  So many permutations of interactions and places to see in different ways, it felt like I could never run out of things to do.

But the rest of the game is fantastic too.  The battle system is clearly mapped to the controller and combat flows as smooth as silk.  As you develop relationships with the confidants and companions, it affects your play style in a vast number of ways.  But the pinnacle of each dungeon are the bosses.  I love how unique and interesting every boss in this game is.  No two is alike, and while some of the later ones drag on (the final boss is ridiculously long to fight, almost to the point that if you don’t have a fuck-ton of potions, it’s going to really suck), they are still a real test of your skill.

One thing I like is that making confidants and growing tight with them isn’t just a fun narrative to explore.  There are real consequences to it in the rest of the game.  Leveling up with companions allows you to trade characters with them, have them back you up during hold-ups, or even take a hit for you when you’re at your lowest point.  Confidants can teach you things like how to trade out any character on the fly, customize your weapons, get better healing items, and become better at negotiations by getting leadership skills from a confidant who is a politician.

What’s more, the game has even more depth.  See, some characters can’t be leveled up until you level up yourself.  By paying attention in class, studying, and doing various activities, you can level yourself up.  The sheer amount of stuff to do is amazing.  It really wraps you up in the world of the game.  I can take on a crazy burger challenge one night, hang out with a friend at the movies, and then see my girlfriend the next.  So many options, except when the game takes away control from you.  Again, ties in to my biggest gripe.

Finally, there’s the music.  The jazzy tunes are the best!  I have so much of that soundtrack on my iPod.  So much of that gets stuck in my head.  The woman they got to do most of the numbers is just amazing.

Overall, this game is a milestone for its genre.  JRPG games are treated as just this niche thing that will never have a place in the rest of the market, but to have a game this good come from this genre, and for it to be a AAA title is just magnificent.  Atlus did an amazing job, and I am eager to see what they come up with next.

Until next time, a quote,

When I took you in, I thought I was the one helping you,but it turns out it was the other way around.  Take care.” – Sojiro Sakura, Persona 5

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Unpopular Opinion: There is NOTHING Wrong with Child Abuse in a Video Game

My most anticipated game of 2018 (list coming out this month) Detroit: Become Human is coming under fire right now for a trailer in which the first character we got to meet in the debut trailer is serving a drunk asshole, and is party to the beating of a child.  Here’s a link to the trailer so you can see for yourself.  It’s amazing.  It shows how you as the android are in a situation where you have to choose what you do in respect to this old drunk beating a girl that you have bonded with.  It’s a gripping scene.  Just like the last trailer which showed you negotiating with a malfunctioning android to save a little girl from a hostage situation (linked here).  There was also the trailer where you play as an android who is in charge of an android resistance and you have to make hard decisions about how violently or peacefully your revolution goes.  This game is all about making ethical decisions.

That’s what the trailer showcasing a domestic violence situation was trying to convey.  You, as both the character and the player, have to show that you can help this little girl from getting a beating.  You can try and manipulate the father, incapacitate him, or if all else fails, kill him.  I think it’s an amazing trailer and it has me so damn hyped for the game.  The likes to dislikes ratio reflects that other players are eager to see this as well.

But wouldn’t you know it, the moral busy-body squad has decided to make their voices heard.  Techraptor did a video on the affair, here’s a link to that.  See some of the quotes they found to justify this stupid reaction.  My favorite of which is the one where it says that this is never okay in a video game because this sort of thing happens to children all over the world.  No shit!  That’s kind of the point!  This video game is showcasing this in a game because it does happen in real life, and it is terrible.  This game NEVER frames what is potentially happening to that small child as a good thing.  As the robot, you want to protect her and take care of her.  It’s what you are tasked with doing.  That and the old drunk almost certainly forces that robot to do sexual thing.  I get the feeling that’s the kind of dude he is.  Ick.

This idea that we are never supposed to show morally uncomfortable things in entertainment baffles me.  Think of all the films that showcase morally questionable things that are lauded as cultural landmarks.  You have Blade Runner, with a morally questionable protagonist who forces himself on a fellow replicant.  It’s a disturbing scene for a reason.  You have the twisted kind of relationship that develops between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs.  There is a police officer being forced to accept evil because there is no way to stop it and has her own gun held to her head by a man who is supposed to be the good guy in Sicario.  All three of these films are lauded as good pieces of filmmaking with morally uncomfortable things.

Meanwhile, a video game that has shown in three previous trailer that it is tackling some heavy issues has a scene where you have to find a way to protect a child from a drunk man and that’s the problem?  There was that idiot who said that showing it in a video game “normalizes” it.  Are you fucking kidding me?!  Yeah, because finding out that the character Billy in Xenogears was a child prostitute who let other men have their way with him to help his family normalized pedophilia, right?  Wait, Salon magazine is trying to do that.  I’m sorry, I got confused.

Here’s a little fact that I guess the “intellectual” buffoons who wrote these articles don’t seem to understand – art imitates life, not the other way around.  There are plenty of children who are the victims of abusive drunks.  My father’s old man was a severe alcoholic, and it was known that my own man was his favorite punching bag.  It’s why my father has such a huge disdain for people who drink in excess.  His history with alcoholism in his family has caused some tension in mine, but that’s a story you don’t need to know anymore about.

People who espouse this viewpoint are just as stupid as Anita Sarkeesian and Jack Thompson, who thought that video games teach sexism and violence, respectively.  There has never been any, ANY evidence that video games have such an affect on real life.  So now you are going to say that this game where the context (a word that these social justice ninnies hate to no end) shows that this is bad and you are compelled to stop it is going to teach gamers to beat their kids?!  How stupid are these people?!

I just love how a video game is being told to compromise its artistic integrity in order to satisfy the petty hangups of idiots who don’t get how real life works.  I guarantee that the people featured in the article Techraptor mentioned are so happy they got a chance to finally have their worldview featured in media.  Someone can listen to them rant about absolute bullshit that there hasn’t been a single piece of substantive evidence toward in the history of video games.  These are the same assholes who said that people need to accept the ending to Mass Effect 3 because it was that game’s artistic vision.  I swear, one day video game media is going to be self-aware.  It is going to happen.  I don’t know when, but they will someday realize just how far up their own butt-puckers they have buried their heads.

Thankfully, David Cage was taking none of this bullshit and put those idiots in their place.  Let a game creator have their vision.  It’s his to have.  He’s absolutely right.  What matters is context.  But don’t tell the people quoted in the articles that.  They said there is no good context.  Not only that, but it’s funny that we have a scene where a mob of androids can choose to mercilessly kill innocent people, and there’s no problem with that.  We have a scene where you save a little girl’s life and promise to help the girl’s captor, and then are party to that android who trusted you getting murdered.  No outrage there.  It’s only when the little girl is put in a situation that the game makes no secret is morally gray and now it’s wrong.

I have a word for these people – hypocrites.  Violence is only wrong when it’s against this group that I like.  These are the same people who say that women are never victims in games, yet then get outraged when a woman is killed in one.  These people are so two-faced that it hurts.  Might as well give them a coin.  It would be fitting.

Until next time, a quote,

“If these people didn’t have double-standards, they’d have no standards at all.” – TJ Kirk

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds DLC

This game was such a marvel.  For the studio that made it to have never done anything like this, and build everything about this game straight up from scratch, from the combat to the visuals to the world, it is a masterpiece of the medium.  It loses out to my favorite game of this year by the slimmest margin you can imagine.  I love it.  And to all the feminists who say that we don’t like games with female protagonists, suck on Aloy’s non-existent balls!  She is badass and doesn’t need you losers to defend her.  When I heard that they were making DLC for this game, I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad that I didn’t let that stop me from making the jump.  This DLC is everything that DLC is supposed to be.  It’s what I look for in it.  For $20, I got so much more than my money’s worth.  The ONLY detraction I have is that this is the only DLC this game is getting, so far as I know, and that kind of pisses me off now that I’ve seen what potential there is.  Let’s talk about it.

When you buy this DLC, it can be a little weird.  You wouldn’t know it was added on to the game unless you look at the map and see a mission marking.  A new area has been unlocked.  A banuk territory call The Cut.  And you are able to go in there and look around.  Take it from me, do NOT go into this place unless you have reached the end of the game.  Challenge is the word, but we’ll get there when we do.  Aloy reaches The Cut and realizes that not all is well.  There is a different demon in this place, and it is up to her to find out the problem and set things right.

Where do I begin in talking about this DLC?  First, let me say that this place opens up a whole new stomping ground.  And it is awesome!  My biggest problem with the actual game is that there are all these tribes and all of them have this neat cultural perspective, but we don’t get to see much of them.  We still haven’t gotten to see Ban Ur, or the Claim, or much of anything from this weird jungle tribe that you hear about but never see.  I want to!  You’ve shown all the potential for creating narratives and building culture just with environmental story-telling, so show me more!  I wanna see more!

In addition to have a ton of area to explore and a plethora of side-quests to do in addition to a fascinating main quest, you have a vast array of characters to meet and get to know as well.  It offers perspective on virtually every tribe.  But the banuk are the center, and I am glad of it.  Seeing so much about their culture is fascinating.  And the voice acting is phenomenal across the board.  Ashly Burch is quickly rising the ranks of my favorite voice actresses, and her role as Aloy is awesome.  Even for the smaller roles, no matter how briefly we get to know them, they are memorable.  It makes the fact that we never really get to follow up with characters later that much more frustrating.  That is one thing this game needed.  It got the action and RPG elements done well, but some of the world-building and character interaction could have been improved.  But that’s just splitting hairs.

We also get some new weapons to play with!  Each one is focused on an element, and that’s just super.  I legit cannot wait to put them to work on some of the monsters I’ve fought in New Game Plus.  A fantastic addition in an update, though I am kind of annoyed that the face paint is something you have to unlock.  I was hoping we’d get that as something you can buy and play around with.

The missions are all unique as well.  This game seemed to know that it was telling a 100% banuk story, and all of the story missions help you learn about their culture in some way or another.  I dig that.  Sure, there are a lot of hunting missions, but there was one mission where you get to track down killers and learn about crime and punishment that was fun.  The Witcher 3 had a lot of gamers seeing side-quests in a new way, and this game ran with that very well.  They are hinting at a sequel, so they better not lose sight of that.  This studio has proven themselves beyond anything I expected, so let’s see more!

Oh, and there are new monsters as well.  That was something I was also annoyed at in the original game.  The machine variety got pretty stale, pretty quick.  That’s not to say that it’s bad, I just really wanted to see more.  This game seems to realize that, and gives me what I want.  We have two new machine varieties that are tough as nails and fun to fight.  We also have legit boss battles!  Your first foray into The Cut has you fighting a boss that is a brand new machine variety.  It shows you that this DLC isn’t fucking around.  These things are tough, and are not messing around.  You either bring your A-game to the fight, or you are going to die.  A lot.

Which does bring me to being sad that this seems to be the only story DLC for this game.  Come on!  You’ve shown you can do this kind of narrative to show us a whole new section of the game’s world.  Let’s see more!  Show us some of the Claim!  Let’s take a look at how the osram live.  Or what about this mysterious jungle tribe?  When you talk about new enemy variety, that has potential in spades!  How about a snake machine!  Or insect machines!  Lets fuck with my arachnophobia and make a giant spider machine!  There’s an idea!  There is so much potential in this world, and I am loving this DLC so much.  It was a fantastic foray back into this world, and my genuine sadness is that it may be the only one before the sequel.

All-in-all, this is a masterpiece of a DLC.  It does everything good DLC should do, and I loved every minute of it.  If you loved this game and haven’t downloaded this, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Check it out, and fall in love all over again.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1: Awake

I’ve talked at length about how my favorite game of 2015 was Life is Strange.  While it had its flaws, it told an interesting narrative about a girl with time powers and a mystery that unfortunately had a lackluster conclusion.  The outright-terrible ending of the game, however, didn’t ruin the entire experience for me.  I still love everything leading up to it.  It’s kind of like Mass Effect 3 in that regard.  When I saw the announcement for this, I was more than a little pissed.  I mean, why would I want a prequel?  It’s a story I already know!  Rachel and Chloe were tight as fuck, Rachel was secretly in love with Frank, she gets killed.  What more could they fill in?  I said in my First Take post that if this was just some stupid prequel telling us crap we already know and nothing else, I would ream this game a new one in a way that Square Enix would feel.  I’m happy to say that this prequel challenged my skepticism.  It’s not perfect, but for the flaws it has, it has some things done better.  Let’s talk about it.

This game is still a prequel.  Set four years before the events of the original game, we see a much younger and much more vulnerable Chloe.  She’s trying to get into a concert where a band who is weirdly playing the tune of another band (did the actual band not want their name associated with this game?  You’d think they at least would have had to have the song licensed, so why not just play as yourselves?  Odd).  After getting in trouble, it’s here that we see her meet Rachel Amber, the most popular girl in her school.  From there, our young protagonist gets involved in a new life of freedom, friendship, and maybe something more.

There’s a lot to say about this prequel, and it’s a lot of the same stuff one could say about the original game.  For starters, the dialogue is just as bad as the first episode of the last game.  Maybe this is a trend with this game.  I don’t know who their writing staff is, but no teenager anywhere talks like this.  But just like the original game, that grows on you after a while.  It sure as hell grew on me.  So there’s that.

The visuals are much better.  They’re using the Unity engine, and it really stands out.  The faces in-particular.  My biggest complaint with the original game was that the faces were so inexpressive.  Better facial animation would have made some of the best scenes of dialogue even better.  Here, there is much more expression, and it makes the dramatic climax of the episode really good.

One thing I do miss is that the time powers are gone.  Now, instead of being able to rewind and make a choice about whether or not you want to follow through with something, you have to basically own it.  Not gonna lie, that does bother.  You also can’t restart episodes from various chapters.  That’s kinda frustrating too.  Here’s hoping future episodes fix that.  But you do have some new mechanics.  Like this back-talk mechanic that makes no sense in reality but it is kinda cool that you get to play mental games with people.

Let’s talk about the characters.  There are some REALLY weird voice-actor changes that totally take away from characters.  For example – David.  I grew to like him at the very end when you finally see under the hood of his mental problems if you tell him that Mr. Jefferson killed Chloe and he shoots him.  Whoever they got to replace him as a voice actor does NOT sound at all like a torn-up veteran.  The first guy they got was a douche, but you believed he’s a tormented veteran haunted by what he saw.  This guy sounds like a fucking doofus.  There is no presence with this guy.  Same with the dude they got to replace William.  I can at least forgive that because you only see William in dreams.  His weird speech patterns fit with the scenes they are in, but still.

Ashly Burch is back to play Chloe, and I genuinely do like her character more.  It’s pretty clear that the voice actress is older, but the performance feels more genuine.  Stereotypical punk Chloe is cool and kinda hot, but young and vulnerable Chloe is genuinely more interesting.  One of my biggest complaints from the first game was the fact that we never got to meet Rachel Amber, since I assumed that the power Max had has some connection with her.  Thankfully, I at least know that’s right.  But that gets into spoiler territory for this game.

Something I’d like to add is that there is one genuine improvement over its predecessor.  So many choice-based games make it so that the choices feel meaningless.  This episode doesn’t!  There are a ton of variations, little things that change in scenes because of choices you make.  It was surprising when I’d go through the same scenes over again and have them play out differently because of things I’d done.  That’s pretty cool.  It gives me some hope that the decisions I make in the end will actually amount to something.

Overall, this game is about growing up.  It’s about Chloe accepting that her dad is dead and making a new friend and how she can’t deal with how alone she is.  We also get to peek into the life of a character who I always wanted to meet.  But I am glad to see that it isn’t just a prequel to stuff we already knew.  They actually go back even further than recent history and give us some stuff.  We get some hints as to the nature of the supernatural in Arcadia Bay, which I am desperately hoping they run with.  I’m curious to see where this goes, and while I do hate how much Max gets shit on, we have two new characters to see where things go.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: BioMutant: Gameplay Trailer

I first heard about this the other day, when a leaked image showed a one-eyed cat person holding a sword.  And immediately I wanted to know more.  2017 has been kind of a slow year for gaming, but it’s clear that the best is yet to come.  2018 already has some big things in its roster.  There’s the God of War reboot, Insomniac’s Spider-Man game, and now we have a game which is being advertised as a kung fu game with furry creatures, guns, and mechs.  All of these things sound good to me.  And this trailer, while definitely leaving me wondering a lot of things, has at least got me intrigued.  Let’s take a look.

We begin seeing a little robot grasshopper.  That’s kinda cute.  It hops away to its master, a furry creature waving its hand over a pool of what looks like nuclear waste.  I’m assuming the title ties in to that.  What is the story with this universe?  I’m hearing that it’s some kind of post-apocalyptic sorta place, but that doesn’t jive.  There are places in this game’s world that look like real world dilapidated places.  Is the story here that the mutant ooze turned animals into kung fu furries?  You know…I can dig it.  This game clearly is meant to make little sense, so let’s go with it.

Our little furry friend then has a giant furry monster show up looking to mess up his day.  Pulls out a pistol, but that doesn’t help.  Then we see him whip out a katana and charge it up.  Game on!  But really, the gameplay section is the part that got my attention more.

There are good parts, and there are bad parts.  The good parts are the environment.  This is definitely not maximum fidelity, but you know what, that’s fine by me.  I kind of miss the undercooked look of RPGs from back in the day.  Has it really been so long.  And it won’t be too demanding on my hardware.  Still got the first generation PS4.  I also know that high fidelity doesn’t always mean great content.  My favorite game of this year is perfectly capable of running on the PS3 (which it was also released on) and was damn-near flawless.  I’m willing to give this game a chance.  But the water looks amusingly low-tech, not gonna lie.  Oh well, the sunsets are glorious.  Plus, seeing how you get around is very fun.  You can fly in giant dirigibles, use gliders that remind me of the one Aang had, or even board a jet-ski!  Very nice.

I love this little section where you have your furry friend inside a mechanical hand walking around and then transforming into a finger pistol and shooting things.  It’s a sign that this game isn’t going to take itself too seriously.  Have mechanics that are silly and maybe a little stupid.  After all, is the finger robot wind-up?  That looks like a wind-up thing on its back.  Cute.  As is how some of the little furry friends you come across method of speech.  Seems they are taking cues from 90’s platformers, like Banjo Kazooie.  Interesting.

Something that does make me wonder is the combat.  How is this going to work?  What are the mechanics?  They are saying this game will use martial-arts, gunplay, mech combat, and customizable weapons.  That’s am ambitious roster to have.  I honestly wonder how that will pan out.  Is there a HUD?  If this game is trying to hang its hat on deep combat, getting to see more of how that worked would have been nice.

All-in-all, I’m curious.  An open-world RPG with furry creatures fighting with katanas, guns, and mechs has all the ingredients for one hell of a game.  Apparently the studio making this is THQ Nordic.  Didn’t THQ go under?  Someone let me know what the story of this is in the Comments.  I’m gonna wait for reviews, but I think this game is going on my Most Anticipated Game of 2018 list, when it comes out.

Initial Verdict
Promising

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2017 E3 Gameplay

I meant to talk about this months ago, but I am finally getting around to it, because there is a lot to unpack.  Here’s the thing about probably 95% of superhero games – they suck, or are really mediocre.  Especially the ones licensed to films.  Licensed games are the worst thing under the sun.  After the SNES and Sega Genesis, they were all nothing but crap.  So when I heard that Insomniac is making a Spider-Man game that is officially licensed by Marvel, I was groaning.  I mean, Insomniac games are awesome.  They made the Ratchet and Clank games, which are awesome.  But a superhero game to come directly from Marvel?  This has bad idea written all over it.  This year at E3, however, they released a gameplay trailer that has taken all my skepticism and destroyed it.  It looks awesome, so let’s take a look at it now.

Right out of the game, the visuals for this game are amazing.  The level of detail is just perfect.  It’s pretty standard, for a modern console game, but you know what, it’s great.  Definitely hoping we can either customize or get new suits for the web-slinger, but I do like this suit.  Not too worried about that.  Switchable suits has been a standard for Spider-Man games since their inception, so it’s all good.

The control scheme for this game looks pretty simple.  I can clearly tell that almost all of it will be about staying above your targets.  The stealth elements look absolutely phenomenal.  One of the things I always thought was kinda dumb about Spider-Man games is that they don’t take advantage of the elements of getting enemies from above.  Sure, his suit ain’t exactly made to sneak, but you can still hit an enemy from above without them seeing you coming.  Since Spider-Man never kills his foes, we don’t have to worry about non-lethal runs of the game.  Exciting stuff.  The controls for getting back up to beams or on top of objects are taken right out of the Arkham games.  No problem with that whatsoever.  It’s totally fitting for our friendly neighborhood hero.

We also get to see some potential gadget stuff in this game.  Another thing I am digging that seems to have come straight out of the Arkham games.  Desperately hoping that they don’t just copy that formula beat-for-beat though and give you some freedom to customize the stuff you use and be able to craft specialty stuff.  Really wondering how the leveling up system is going to work.  You also can use the environment to fuck up enemies!  That’s awesome!  I love it.  Later on we get to see that done even in combat scenarios.  Manipulating the environment in active combat and not just for stealth is a break from the mold they clearly are going off of, and I think that’s a great one.  But the stealth aspect of this game is really something.  Not gonna lie, the more potential I have to be stealthy, the happier I’ll be.  It’s my favorite way to play a game, and it looks like I get to scratch my itch here.

Then we get our first peek into the combat.  Now here’s something where I want to elaborate on how this game is using the Arkham formula.  A lot of people are saying that that’s unoriginal, but you know what, I think it’s goddamn brilliant.  There’s a reason why.  When you fight, it’s clear that you are using the same kind of system they used in Arkham to dodge enemy attacks before they happen.  To me, this formula makes even more sense for Spider-Man than it did for Batman.  Why?  Because of the Spider Sense.  That talent gives him the ability to see what’s about to happen when danger is close.  He gets an almost perfect ability to perceive incoming problems and react to them.  So the indicator system from the aforementioned series is perfect for that!  It also lets you dodge machine gun fire, which, for those who read the comics, is something that Spider-Man could do when he’s at his best.  Since this game isn’t attached to any film or thing like that, keeping it true to the comics is kind of awesome.

From there we get some stuff with a helicopter that shows this game is also taking cues from the old God of War games with quicktime events.  Not gonna complain about that either.  Clearly they are doing the concept right.  Kinda curious to see what all this “HEX” stuff in that clearly is some kind of energy.  This should be interesting.

This game went from being something I figured wouldn’t be worth my time, to one of my most-anticipated games of 2018.  That’s pretty awesome.  Let me know what you all think down below.

Initial Verdict:
Hyped!

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick