A Series of Unfortunate Games

shipment-of-failIt’s been almost two weeks since the last post and I am profoundly sorry. “Surely you have been productive in all that time,” you are probably saying. Why yes, I have. I finished Bioshock on Steam which is officially the first game I’ve finished in my Steam Library. Inspired by conquering the leaking, underwater city of Rapture, I moved on to conquer the leaking, less exciting faucet in the kitchen. I was rewarded with a new, non-leaking faucet and +1 to plumbing. For the purposes of this blog though, let us not dwell on basin wrenches and o-rings.

After Bioshock and in preparation for Berserk Warriors, which you may have gathered I’m excited about, I went back to the PS4 to finish one of the digital titles filling up my hard drive. It was a solid plan initially, but quickly turned in to a day of disappointments. My first choice was to finally play Heavy Rain. I had played the demo on PS3 before the game released back in 2010. It shames me to say my PS3 was largely neglected during its life cycle, at least for playing PS3 titles. I used it primarily to play PS1 and PS2 games on my HDTV without wanting to claw my eyes out. I bought more games for PS4 in the first year than I have total for PS3 still, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t games I had my eye on. I was excited to see Heavy Rain was ported over to PS4 along with Beyond: Two Souls, but of course you know this story isn’t heading to a happy ending. Heavy Rain is unplayable on PS4. At least for me. I start the game and the first screen comes up asking general setup questions, language preferences and such, but everything is flashing! Navigating through that menu is like wading through a vat of maple syrup only to get the next setup task of setting the brightness, which is altogether impossible with everything still flashing. I restarted the game several times, deleted the game entirely and redownloaded it, but nothing seems to help the issue. I checked online and found that this is a widespread issue and in disgust I decided I would move on to something else. I have since seen a possible solution is doing a full system restart of the PS4 to fix the flashing, but I’ve not had the heart to try it yet.

A somewhat sadder version of myself scrolled through my PS4 library and decided to give Zombi a try. The keen observer may have picked up earlier that I said “disappointments” instead of a singular “disappointment”. Since the first Resident Evil game I’ve always liked the idea of survival horror games. I’m a horror movie fan and that does translate over to games, but to this day I have yet to find a survival horror game that I liked the controls for. I’m not sure what it is about the genre, but my hands simply do not want to any part of it. Zombi brings some unique features that caught my interest. Each time you die, instead of being put back where you were to do it again, you wake up as a new survivor in the safe house. On top of that your last character is now a zombie that you can go put down if you want to get your equipment back. I didn’t make it deep in to the story, but initially a disembodied voice calling himself “The Prepper” tells you how he and a group of others knew the zombie apocalypse was coming and had…well…prepped for it. He asks you to help by going out into the now zombie-infested London and hacking CCTV terminals so that he can reactivate the cameras and get a better idea of what is going on. All of this works for me, but holding the left stick down to run does not work for me. Technically it works, it just doesn’t feel natural to my hands. Since running is a critical maneuver in this game, that’s a big problem. On my third survivor, I reflected on my life up to this point and decided it just isn’t meant for me to play survival horror games. I can watch other people play them and enjoy the story, but I’ll accept my hands’ refusal to participate. Maybe I should try them on PC? The upside of this is I could now free up 22 GB of space on my PS4 hard drive when I deleted it.

Having missed two attempts to find something to play now, I went for the low hanging fruit. I have yet to play a Telltale game that disappointed me and Game of Thrones has been beckoning me over for a while so I jumped in to it. “Intense” isn’t generally a word I would use to describe most Telltale games, but never have I felt like every answer held as much consequence as I have felt while playing Game of Thrones. Having watched the show amplifies this dramatically as you already know how major events are going to play out, though not necessarily for your character. Telltale has you play as multiple characters that are part of a Northern family, the Forresters. This is a house loyal to the Starks, and again, if you’ve seen the show you already know that things are not going to go well for you. The game warms you up by starting you outside The Twins on the night of The Red Wedding. The hits just keep coming from there. Members of House Forrester are scattered around so you get to see their involvement with many of the events and key characters of the series. Telltale managed to get Lena Headey, Natalie Dormer, Peter Dinklage, and others to voice their characters so it feels like you’re actually interacting with episodes of the show. There are some graphical glitches and performance issues here and there that don’t necessarily break the game (though I tend to be much more forgiving on that front than other gamers) but are a little jarring at times. I also found myself a little distracted by the art style they went with in this game. Most of Telltale’s games have the same general look, and you can see that in the character designs here as well, but the environments and characters kind of have a watercolor-style look to them that kept pulling my attention away from the dialogue at times. If you like what Telltale does and you like Game of Thrones, then this is a no-brainer that you’ll want to play this. I’m on the last episode now of what is season 1 and while season 2 has been confirmed, there’s no firm release date in sight yet. As the show nears completion it may well be that Season 2 will play along the fringes of events yet to be revealed. The groundwork is certainly there.

That’s it for now. When next we meet, I’ll be ready to discuss my adventures with Guts and the Band of the Hawk and perhaps some non-video game material I’ve been working through. Until then.

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