The Perfect Game for Christmas

Christmas Guide – The Perfect Present for Every Type of Gamer

 

Tea: Cocoa Shells Tea (try it)

 

You know how hard it can be to find the right present for someone. Especially when Christmas is this close, and you are completely out of ideas. Well, fear not, I am here to help. I have compiled a short list of games that should suit different types of gamers and even something for non-gamers. This way everyone should find their perfect last-minute gift in time for the big celebration. Continue reading

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Deconstructing Star Wars

Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi

 

Tea: The Salty Tears of “Hardcore Fans”

 

How fast two years pass. It is time to return to a galaxy far far away with Episode VIII The Last Jedi, a surely foreboding title. Rest assured, there will be no spoilers in the following review, though you can already get yourselves ready for a Kylo Ren character article, since he continues to be my favourite part of the new trilogy. That being said, let’s talk about the actual movie first and what worked and what didn’t. And I can already tell that “hardcore” Star Wars fans will hate and despise this movie, simply because it does away with a lot of the stupid Star Wars traditions these people expect and crave, and that is what I loved the movie for.

 

To my great surprise, there is no time skip between the last movie and this one. We pick up right where we left off with Rey visiting Luke, Finn being in a coma, Kylo Ren still scared from the battle on Starkiller Base and Poe being a generally enjoyable character. These are the main story threads that unfold and intertwine later on. Finn’s is probably the weakest story thread of them all, simply because every instance feels far too long. Him being paired with a new character was not a bad choice, but his arc-bits always take a bit too long to unfold. Poe’s arc has the opposite problem, he goes through his development too fast and it all wraps up quickly when it could have used five to ten more minutes of elaborating. Rey’s part is twofold: All the stuff later on and when it focuses on Luke rather than her is execute quite competently, but the real problem is just her lack of character. Which does not mean that Daisy Ridley is not acting phenomenally, because she does, you can tell her growth as an actress, but she has little to nothing to work with. Rey has no strong inner conflict, no motivation, no hardships to overcome. It follows the same trajectory as The Force Awakens. Things are just handed to her without any struggle. She never evolves like any other character which is a shame for such an important leading role. Do not get me wrong, her character is not the same by the end of the movie, at least in a technical sense, but she never changes based on choices, events, tragedies etc. Her character changes because it has to change, not because it is organic in any way.

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– “Go away, I am not buying anything.” –

Which brings me to the final character: Kylo Ren. Oh boy, my love for this character is well documented, but what can I say, he is just a compelling character. Whatever all the other arcs missed in time spent, pacing, or characterisation is spot on in Ren’s arc. In the process, we get a lot of answers, such as why he burned down the Jedi temple, why he lost to Rey in The Force Awakens, and – I cannot believe this is actually in the movie – we get a reference, a pretty long one even, to that Undercover Boss: Starkiller Base skit and it actually kind of works within the movie as well as a reference. I do not want to spoil anything about Ren’s story, so I will just leave it at: I loved it. Hux played by Domhnall Gleeson was a blast to watch and I could tell he had a blast acting the part. He is the perfect over-the-top galactic Nazi and I love how they treat him that way throughout the film. His ridiculously overlord-like demeanour is constantly undercut by someone taking the piss out of him. It finally moves away from this fetishization of Nazi-esque imagery in Star Wars to a strong political statement against such fascist aesthetics. The other actors were all quite serviceable as well, Carrie Fisher was, of course, a big focus of the movie and while she certainly did a great job, I do not see the stand-out performance everybody else saw. Then again, I never thought Carrie Fisher was that great an actress to begin with, but you cannot make critical comments about a deceased actor apparently. Andy Serkis is quite good as Snoke and without spoiling anything: I loved what they did with Snoke. I just loved it. When you see it, you will either fully agree or disagree. I’d love to hear your take on it.

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– Adam Driver steals the show in pretty much every scene he is in. –

A big point of contention is the character of Luke Skywalker. I will say this, this is not the Luke from the original trilogy, so much is for certain. A lot of people despise his change and past choices, but all of that simply because they wanted more of the same, they wanted the original Luke. And this is the main point of his character’s story. Therefore, I cannot fathom how one can neglect such irony in disliking the change to the image of Luke when it is all about an image of a war-time hero. I enjoyed the direction they took the character in and the consequences for the remaining movie. Hamill also acts the part really well with the conflict showing in his expressions throughout the scenes.

Visually the movie is gorgeous. Simple as that. From the creature design to the planets. Everything looks great and is widely imaginative. The red planet which is prominently featured in the trailers is a visual marble which gets utilised to great effect. And then there is one specific scene which just knocks everything else out of the park. There is no doubt you know what I am talking about when you have seen it. It is a beautiful actions set-piece with everything on point: camera, sound, visuals. It hits at the exact right moment and simply works out amazingly. And I am glad to say that the John Williams is finally back. I did not really enjoy the Force Awakens soundtrack, but this one manages to recapture the old feeling while evolving it for the new movies, just like such a soundtrack built on a franchise should. The right balance between recognition and invention.

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– “It’s salt.” A screenwriter’s way out. –

But now I have to talk about the things that did not work out so well. The most glaring one is humour. The movie has far too many funny moments for my taste. Not that I do not appreciate a light-hearted moment here and there, but some scenes were just never able to build tension because there were so many funny moments sprinkled throughout. Remember those cute penguin-like creatures from the trailers? You will be seeing them a lot. A LOT. And they will always take away tension even if tension would be very welcome at some points. Which does not mean that the humour does not work, most of the time it does on a basic level, it is just that it does not really fit the tone of the scene. Dunking on Hux is always fun, but simply alleviating the tension of a fight by having a penguin scream into the camera is something else entirely. There is an incredibly artificial conflict on the resistance’s side which I could not wrap my head around. Basically, it boils down to a new character who has always been there and who is also important, but was just never mentioned before, showing up and refusing to disclose information for no reason at all. It does pay off in the end, but in the most roundabout and forced way possible. There is a really awkward scene with Leia and I mean really awkward which I suppose was to be a tribute to the actress, but it was just so odd and out place I did not know what to do with it.

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– Cute, but way too much in the movie. But still cute. –

The Force Awakens was basically filled with nostalgia bait and there are still a lot of these in here, but they are fewer and better established. There is no more hard name dropping like “tell them Han Solo got the Millennium Falcon back” which still makes my toenails roll up. There is a huge nostalgic moment which is handled incredibly well and a lot of subtle call-backs as this movie basically works its way through Episode V and VI in terms of references. And finally, there are fan theories. This movie cancels out all the ridiculously stupid fan theories out there. A truly more than welcome move as all the theorising around the characters was getting intensely annoying. I praise the movie just for that alone.

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– The aesthetics of the movie are certainly one of the strongest aspects. –

While The Last Jedi may not perfect – and no one expected it to be – it is a strong continuation of The Force Awakens. Your enjoyment of this one will hinge on whether or not you liked the first one and its characters. All the actors are quite good with Adam Driver being the strongest of the bunch. There are problems mainly with tone and sometimes pacing, but it is an enjoyable movie, a fun ride, an entertaining time to spent and Star Wars should always be like that. If you thought The Force Awakens played it too “safe” this is exactly the movie you are looking for. It deconstructs the Star Wars tropes in a spectacular way.

 

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A First Cautious Hunt

Monster Hunter World – Beta Impressions

 

Tea: Indian Chai

 

As a PS+ member, I had the chance of playing the Beta of Monster Hunter World this weekend. While I have never played a Monster Hunter title before, since the entry into this franchise seemed almost impossible, I gave this one a shot to find out whether MH was something for me after all. Keep in mind that the following observations do not account for anything that has already been in other games, I solely focus on this one and while some aspects are probably nothing new to seasoned players, I felt mentioning them was worth it nonetheless. Let’s start by opening our map and tracking some monsters, but first:

Continue reading

Ripe for the Bleeding

Ripe for the Bleeding

 

A thick fog hid most of the city as I emerged from the train station. The late-night train had arrived far too late, so I had little hope of finding a place to stay for the night. I knew of a hotel not far from here and, so I made my way into the misty city centre, from streetlamp to streetlamp. However, traversing the city in a night like this proved far more challenging than I had imagined and soon, I was lost amidst the tall houses with not a single illuminated window. The small streets seemed to endlessly meander onward without ever crossing another one. I found no doors, no ways out of the ever-growing labyrinth. When I finally came upon an illuminated entrance with the word “Hotel” barely visible, my heart almost leaped with joy. I pushed open the heavy iron door of this supposedly historic building and already braced myself for the price a room would cost here, especially this late at night. Continue reading

He’ll huff, and puff, and slow your house down to 1 fps

The Wolf Among Us (Vita Version)

 

Tea: Assam

 

This is the last time I will (probably) talk about Telltale Games and the like. After only having watched Let’s Plays of these games so far, I recently played the Vita version of The Wolf Among Us. Partially to experience one of these games myself, but mostly to free myself from any criticism. I played through the entire thing and rather than providing a review or rehashing my points made in previous articles, I will list all the new ways I discovered that makes these games atrocious. Continue reading

Cold Steel Coffin Act 2

Act Two

Scene One

The other side of the stage is lit, leaving the previous one in the dark. A paint bucket and a few benches stand around. Adam is carefully painting each one in pure white. He is dressed in a white overall with red splashes of paint near his feet. A radio plays in the background. The news report of a fatal thirty car accident on the highway. A girl of about twelve years of age enters, holding an ice cream cone. Continue reading

All the World’s a Machine

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

 

Tea: Indian Chai

 

To be honest, I had not planned to play more of the Amnesia series after The Dark Decent had so thoroughly disappointed me, but I am glad I did. A Machine for Pigs may not be the same type of horror the first one was aiming for, meaning silly and campy horror, but rather a much darker and deeper kind of horror. Of course, being so different from the previous instalments, A Machine for Pigs received a lot of negative criticism. So today it is time to tip the scales in favour of this trodden upon masterpiece. Continue reading

Into the Heart

Into the Heart

 

Records of that time are rarely false, but it can happen, of course. However, I was not willing to believe that all the accounts had just been fabricated and a few days away from the office would not hurt either. While the trip with the bus was anything but a pleasure, I was so engrossed in my work that I hardly noticed the bumpy ride. To think that someone would fake the records of an entire town still baffles me. To what end? Or maybe it was all just a lie. Continue reading

How to do insanity

How to do insanity

 

Tea: China Lung Ching

 

Having recently played Amnesia: The Dark Decent for the first time, I could not help but cringe at the terrible way insanity is handled in that game and afterwards I could not stop thinking about how other games deal with it. Which is why I will take you on a tour through the halls of insanity and show a few ways the breaking of the mind materialises in games and why they – in most cases – suck. Continue reading

Shadows in a Child’s Mind

Shadows in a Child’s Mind – Little Nightmares Interpretation

 

Tea: Herb Tea

 

When it comes to horror, your own brain is still the best creator. Nothing is more powerful at creating darkness than your mind given the little spark. And once the shadows have started transforming, there is little to stop them. Today, we look at the mind of scared little Six from Little Nightmares and what might actually be going on around her. No horrible sea establishment with good service but a rather steep bill. No, what we find in Six’s story is a traumatic journey through a child’s life.

Spoiler Alert for the Main Campaign of Little Nightmares Continue reading