Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures Microreview

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Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures Microreview – 20/20!

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Closure Microreview

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Closure Microreview – 16/20!

Closure is a unique independent puzzle/platformer video game developed by programmer Tyler Glaiel and artist Jon Schubbe, with music and sound by Chris Rhyne, that focuses on the concept of light and dark.

Closure reveals a dark world where landscapes and objects only exist when and where the light touches. Gameplay features maneuvering light sources (fixed lamps and light orbs the player can carry) to phase objects in and out and therefore manipulate the environment for platforming. Due to real-time lighting of each level, there can be various solutions to get from point A to B by manipulating portions of platforms. Keep in mind: If it can’t be seen, it doesn’t exist. It’s possible to jump through walls and fall through floors, push boxes through walls, or drop a key through floors and walls to get to the door; just remove or add light.

The main playable character is an amorphous being who explores the stories of three human characters; a factory worker struggling to escape a decrepit factory, a young woman travelling through a murky forest to reunite body and soul after a horrific car crash, and a little girl who leaves the comfort and safety of her home to chase a black cat through an abandoned carnival. Of course, these are my interpretations, many players have speculated what the plot of this game could be. Based on the title of the game I assume each character is seeking “closure”. Although the developers may have had a specific plot in mind, I believe they have left a great deal open to your interpretation.

Each story consists of twenty four levels that can be accessed through unique doors within surreal central hubs, with ten additional levels designated to the amorphous being. The objective of the 82 levels is to travel from the start of each level to a door, some doors require keys or light sources to open. If the player reaches a dead-end in a puzzle, they can push the R key (PC) or Select button (console). There’s also an additional 30 Silver Moths to collect, where if all are found, a special unlock is rewarded. If the player reaches a dead-end in a puzzle, they can press [Select] to restart the level. A special ending is awarded to those players that also manage to collect thirty silver moths hidden throughout the game.

I really enjoy unique games that really challenge the players to think. Closure is extremely thought provoking. I loved illuminating the surroundings and devolving ways to reach the door and better still, the plot behind each character. Design and sound were also really engaging, it reminded me strongly of something born of Tim Burton’s mind.

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The Last of Us Microreview

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The Last of Us Microreview – 20/20!

The Last of Us is an action / adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

You play as Joel, a smuggler in a now post-apocalyptic United States, as he escorts a teenage girl named Ellie across the country. Firearms and improvised weapons can be used, in stealth or a more direct approach, against hostile humans and the Infected. The Infected are once human beings who have been exposed to fungus spores that warp their minds and mutate them into cannibalistic creatures akin to zombies.

Naughty Dog is exceptional at bringing all the heart and soul into their stories. I am a total coward when it comes to survival horror games, but I had heard so many good reviews about this game’s story that I had to bold-up and experience it for myself. In terms of emotion and storytelling, this is truly one of the greatest games ever created and I cannot wait for Part II!

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Welcome back Autumn!

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Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Fall and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter.  I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.

I intend to fully enjoy myself this season and invite you to join me. I will be doing a lot of cooking, crafting, book reading and game playing; among other things. Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!

I intend on:

  • Decorating for Halloween.
  • Watching Halloween mood movies.
  • Assembling a Halloween costume.
  • Hosting a Halloween dinner party.
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Making candy/caramel apples.
  • Cooking a dish for Thanksgiving.
  • Creating and sending Christmas cards.
  • Creating and hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Decorating for Christmas.
  • Baking Christmas cookies/cake.
  • Watching Christmas mood movies/specials.
  • Visiting local Christmas festivals.
  • Visiting Christmas Disneyland.
  • Hosting a Christmas dinner party.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies.

There will be other activities I do, but these are the core basics I try to do every year.

Dear Esther Microreview

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Dear Esther Microreview – 15/20!

Dear Esther is a first-person artistic video game, developed and published by The Chinese Room.

The player explores an uninhabited Hebridean island, listening to a series of narratives addressed to a woman named Esther. These monologue fragments trigger at certain points around the island, and are chosen by the game semi-randomly. Of course this may present a problem as different playthroughs reveal slight differences in the story, with certain readings are played while others get omitted, and I personally have had no interested in replaying.

Although the narrator’s identity is not specified, evidence suggests he may be the late Esther’s husband. In his letters, the narrator refers to several other unseen characters. One is a cartographer named Donnelly, who charted the island in the past. Another character, Jakobson, was a shepherd who lived on the island in the eighteenth century. The narrator also refers to Paul, the drunk driver who caused the car accident that killed Esther. The identities of the narrator, Esther, Donnelly, Jakobson and Paul become more and more blurred as the game progresses, as the narration moves between topics and relates the characters in different ways. The random selection of voice-overs inspires ambiguity and forces the player to draw their own conclusions to the story.

The status of Dear Esther as a video game has been contested and indeed the game does not follow traditional video game conventions. The experience focuses on a story told through fragmented narrative as the player walks around an unnamed island with minimal to no interaction with the game’s environment; no choices need to be made, nor tasks to be completed.

I belive this is a video game. It’s unconventional, true, but it is a digital experience played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program. Mildly bizarre, but beautiful, Dear Esther is worth experiencing at least once for it’s artistic value. Therein lies the problem, because although the game has something to say, you would have to play it multiple times to catch the whole commentary and with such limited interaction with the game’s surroundings one could get bored and uninspired to play it again.

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Gone Home Microreview

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Gone Home Microreview – 19/20!

Gone Home is a first-person interactive story adventure video game developed and published by Fullbright.

On the night of June 7th 1995, Kaitlin Greenbriar returns home to her parent’s mansion in Oregon after a year abroad. She’s greeted by a note on the front door from her sister Samantha asking her not to look for answers to where she is. As she enters the house, Kaitlin soon realizes no one is home, and she begins to investigate the house and it’s belongings to find where her family has gone.

The player assumes the role of Kaitlin in the first-person, guiding her through exploration of objects around the house, piecing together the story and gaining insight into her family and their experiences during the time she’s been away. Nostalgic memorabilia and themes from the nineties are prevalent, with some of my favorites like Super Nintendo cartridges and the X-Files, bringing back fond memories to those who, like myself, grew up during that time period. Additional clues can be found which explain the background of Kaitlin’s great uncle Oscar Masan, the previous owner of the house and target of social stigma within the community.

Though this game is based solely on exploration and discovery, with no threat to the player’s safety, I couldn’t help but feel the atmosphere was subtly ominous. Alone in a large old house in the middle of the night with a storm raging all around, I couldn’t help but feel a little anxious as I tiptoed around investigating. Some discoveries played with my imagination, leading me to believe sinister things may have happened or that there is or may be a presence in the house.

On the contrary, once I realized there was no real threat to Kaitlin’s safety, I was able to relax and enjoy this game for all it represents thematically and structurally. I was pleasantly surprised by the realism and family dynamics. Fullbright, a modest company of four persons, tastefully created one of the most ingenious storytelling games of our time through exploration, examination of objects and literary story elements. Interactive story adventures such as Gone Home are a quintessential genre for any gamer looking to relax and explore the elements and environment within a game without the menace of combat.

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Hector: Badge of Carnage Microreview

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Hector: Badge of Carnage Microreview – 17/20!

Hector: Badge of Carnage is an episodic graphic adventure game developed by Straandlooper and published by Telltale Games.

Hector is a drunken, violent and vulgar detective inspector with the Clappers Wreake Police Department. “Everyone is guilty” is his credo and although he has a personal penchant for certain criminal activities, he struggles to eliminate the truly warped and perverse criminals infesting Clappers Wreake; the crime capital of England and the town that took the ‘Great’ out of Britain.

This game is funky good! Picture a crime drama, with a large injection of vulgarity and offbeat humor and you’re in the plot of Hector: Badge of Carnage. The animation style is quirky and unique, but shouldn’t be mistaken for crude (unless we’re discussing subject matter). The sound quality (not to be confused with the voice acting) of the first episode was a little rough and hollow, but improved with each episode.

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