So the new Call of Duty trailer and release date of is out, and, not surprisingly, I’m not impressed. I doesn’t take five seconds to realize Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is going to be, by far, the most grandiose of all of the CoD game to date. With empowering exoskeleton suits, fancy ship cloaking and—let’s not forget—House of Cards’ Kevin Spacey, this new installment to the franchise is gearing up to be a “testosterone filled, action-pumped joy ride to the extreme”.
The DreamCast team has yet to discuss the trailer, but the rest of the guys have never been much for loving this particular gaming series, if anything I’ve been the most supportive of it with a couple of random purchases here and there. There’s no denying that the CoD games are good—great single-player and addictive multi-player tend to do that for a game. The issues stand in the multi-player experience. Many players, including myself, claim that the multi-player side of the game is a rehash installment by installment, logically, issues have arisen as Activision releases one on a yearly basis, but here’s the thing, I don’t blame them.
The FPS genre doesn’t really allow for a huge level of diversity, it always come down to “Have this gun, now go kill something.” Also, the fact is they’re making money, any smart business would continue to milk this as long as there’s a profit involved. Quite frankly I also agree with what the CoD fans that say “if you don’t like it, then don’t buy it.” It really all comes down to preference, CoD is going to keep doing what it does well, shooting stuff and making players rage, and, though I’m not going to dish out $60 for an experience I’ve already had plenty of times, anybody else is welcome to do whatever they want with their money this November 4th, free country and all.
I recently realized that it’s been almost three years since one of my favorite games came out, and even further realized that “Holy shit, I’m still playing this game”.
I’m talking about no other than The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I know this may not come as a surprise to some, but it does come as a surprise to me.
As much as I love the game I have never consistently kept up or gone back to a game like this unless it was an MMO, and MMOs require to much effort in my mind, so that’s debatable. On the other hand Skyrim has pulled me back EVERY time, and to me it all has to do with immersion.
I’ve been a long running fan of the series and I have to say that this franchise, by far, is my favorite open world environment. To me, no develper has ever achieved the perfect balance between immersion and RPG elements like Bethesda has. The fact that everything that you do feels natural and with purpose is something that I truly admire.
In the previous entry, Oblivion, Leveling up was a little intrusive. It required you to go to bed then pick which stats to level up, and to boot they’d level up depending on which schools/skills leveled up ( I literally had to youtube that, it’s been WAY too long.) This is highly intrusive because you had to constantly be aware of what schools NOT to use so that you could maximize your stat increase –this was a particular annoyance to people who like to branch out their playing style. Skyrim did us a One-UP by scaling down the level up process to two steps: Stat level up –which only three instead of eight– and Perk choosing. This in turn gave it a much better sense of progression and we could stop being concerned about leveling and in turn be concerned with the roads that lie ahead.
But enough about technicalities, let’s get to the fun stuff. The major reason why I still play Skyrim, and many of you will agree, is MODS. Every combination of mods makes the game a totally different experience adding to the immersion factor. My most recent combination is precisely aimed at immersion. It’s a world where you have to protect yourself from the chilling cold and the blinding snowstorms by hunting, and creating capes and pelts that serve as a flimsy second skin; a place were mere bandits are no longer sword fodder, but rather people hardened by the wild and ready to mercilessly eviscerate you in combat; a domain were every step you take is calculated, and were you take every advantage that you can so that you may avoid meeting your demise at the hands of traps or the marauders that lurk around the corner.
All in all I’ve created my own Skyrim experience, something that I can say I’m proud of and I still look for excuses to go back and play as often as I can. Bethesda made one hell of a game, and though it wasn’t perfect, this series has a large enough community of dedicated modders and players to make a it a new experience every time.
And even though we here at the DreamCast aren’t very exited for The Elder Scrolls Online, like Broseph said in his article “Only time will tell.” Maybe ESO is truly the multiplier experience we’ve all been yearning for?
What about you? Is there any one game in particular that after years you’re still not able to let go? What’s the experience like looking back to when you first played it?
So, It’s been a while since any of us have made a post, but do not fret friends, we’ve not left the scene of blogging, rather we have only been momentarily impeded progress by an all too familiar enemy: College.
We’re all college students here and the semester has hit it’s stride this month, and boy has it hit hard. It’s been project after project after presentation and as I’m sure you all know it take a great deal of red bull and all nighters.
Considering all of this we don’t want this blog to seem abandoned so we’ve decided to take a little bit of time to work on some good content that’s in the works and this post here. So, to keep hopes running here’s a little bit of rough art.
Stay tuned friends. We have some big surprises in store.
Have you been hiding under a rock lately? Been staring at the sun so long that you lost all cognitive ability? No? Then that means you know about Minecraft, the game that many gamers out there agree changed the spectrum of creative gaming.
Minecraft has become a worldwide phenomenon, it went from a small indie game developed by a single man and REALLY knowing how to handle his Java scripting, to a multimillionaire “Parallel Universe”, at least, that’s what I call it. I believe that it’s become so big that in a figurative sense the game exists parallel to our existence. People play it day in and day out, express monumental ideas that signify the very sense of creativity and learn to work towards a greater goal.
I still remember sitting in front of my computer playing for the first time “What the hell do I even do here?” and “This game looks downright nasty!” were my very first thoughts, and I KNOW that you guys shared the same thoughts. But then something extraordinary happened, I started to play the game and realized objects were breakable and collectible, and then immediately realized they were placeable. But there’s gotta be a quicker way to do this, right? Soon after I ventured into the internet and did what I could to inform myself finding out all about recipes and how the game was brought to reality.
Now it’s been 4 years since it released in its alpha stages, and I have to say, It’s turned into quite the social phenom.
How much so? Well, I’ll say this much about myself. I live in an island, and in this island gaming isn’t something that is considered something serious, it’s just a form of entertainment, then you put your gym shorts on, get up and go play basketball with your friends, right after playing 2K 14 and GTA V of course. Get the picture? Yeah? Ok good. The point I’m trying to get to, is that even in my life circumstances, where I’m completely surrounded by casual gamers I can mention Minecraft and someone will know what I’m talking about.
To further my example I’ll use a little anecdote a friend told me about her younger siblings class– bear with me. See, this girls class isn’t one of the nicest or savviest of classes, in fact it’s chock full of mischief makers and “Hooligans” for lack of a better word, but one day said class of trouble summoners had presentations to give, you know, the kind you get up and you have no idea what to say so you freeze up then puke, no? That’s just me? Ok. So the presentations subject is free and of their choosing, but then something magical happened, and I’ll quote this, so can give it some all necessary emphasis. The younger sibling of my friend said “Sis, it was so annoying. I had just finished mine and then this kid gets up and starts talking about Minecraft and how it can be creative and help educate, and stuff.”
Wait, what? Repeat that. it can be creative and help educate… and stuff?
Let me state for the record that these kids were in 6th grade at the time in a two-bit brainwashing private school.
And what is causing all this uproar? What is the reason behind why a private school boy would have the boulders to get up and present a video game? It’s freedom and the challenge to your creativity.
Minecraft doesn’t just let you build things, it doesn’t just say “Hey, have all of these things and go wild” (We’re talking about survival mode at this point if you haven’t noticed) instead it places a bunch of obstacles in your path that truly challenge your creativity, and many other things: Resource management, sense of curiosity, spatial logic, a sense of location and the creation of goals. There’s nothing quite like working hard on that one project that you’ve been so focused on, fighting of enemies that want to destroy you alongside your project, finding all of the necessary materials to build yourself up as a lean mean building machine AND finishing that magical project. Once it’s done, you know you earned it, you fought for it and you have something to be proud of. Then you move one to your next goal, and the next one and then you invite your friends and you build a massive scrotum alongside the score of mods available (We might talk about that one later BTW. Eyes peeled). It all lies simply in the possibilities.
And now, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I wholeheartedly agree wit the kid, Minecraft CAN be a platform for education. I believe that it’s just a matter of time until our global society comes to accept the fact that video games can be more than just a means for entertainment, and I very much believe that I will be alive and kicking when that time comes.
But in the meantime I’m gonna spend my time in a Parallel Universe, I’ve been trying to build that sky bridge for so long. I guess I better get busy with that scaffolding, you know what they say about building things that just float there “Just make sure you crouch when you’re near the edges and you’ll be fiiiiiine”.
5 seconds later: TumblerPiston hit the ground too hard.
Very few PC games out there can invest you so heavily in their plot that you are willing to sit down and after just an hour of playing you jump to the conclusion that you must simply finish this in one sitdown. Gone home is the embodiment of this very idea.
You play the role of Kaitlin Greenbriar and you’ve just returned home from travelling abroad to find that you won’t quite be getting the welcoming party you expected, nobody’s home. But here’s the kicker, as a player the only detail that you are aware of when you start the game is what the date and time of your arrival is, June 7th 1995. Your job is to figure everything out through the millennium old classic gameplay mechanic: Exploration.
And this is where things start to get interesting.
The whole house, with the exception of some locked doors, is open for your investigation. From the cabinets in a bedroom to every closet ever existent, it’s all explorable to your liking. And as you explore you will learn, little by little, what the people that live there are like. Things like self recorded rock cassettes, Kaitlins handwritten postcards and the selection of books strewn about (You have no idea how hard it was to make that list without spoiling EVERYTHING!) really set the pacing and the goal of the game: Understanding the characters that live in the house.
But all in all Gone Home isn’t a very complicated or difficult game to traverse, in fact most of the answers to where you need to go next and what you need to do are staring you straight in the face. If you are looking for a challenge you’re definitely going to be disappointed here as the only real challenge comes from figuring out how to get in some of the locked rooms, which is nothing a little bit of exploration can’t fix. The game does require patience and an interest for a story since this is what it’s all about, and even though the cover art does look a little menacing it’s not in the least scary… Unless you shudder at the idea of cobwebs and rooms that have their light switches flipped off… Which you can flip on…
All of this brings me to the real attractors of the game, the atmosphere. Without spoiling too much, there are events that seemed to have unfolded in the house that caused it to be evacuated suddenly and without even a minimum level of notice, and you find them out in such a disjointed way that your imagination will often run with exaggerated versions of reality. It’s this sense of mystery that creates the sense of absorption the story has. Especially when you find out about one character in particular that truly pulls you in and brings the sense of belonging in the story full circle.
It’s the girl from the narrations that truly tugs at your heart, truly moves the “FEELS-O-METER” if I may more accurately express myself. As you explore the house you’re going to be discovering her story and the struggles that she faces in her daily life. She’s a character that is very easy to approach and relate to considering the day to day problems that we face in our own lives. Very soon you start to create a real sense of caring and continue along the story simply to see if her plight IS heard and she DOES find happiness. By the later stage of the game you become so invested that you feel like part of the story, that you truly are the observer, the girl that just got home to start rummaging through your familys belongings in search for answers.
The house truly does feel like a family lives there. Every room that you go to, every cabinet you inspect and every cupboard that you investigate not only gives you another sense of the characters as individuals and as a unit, but of the time period the game is based on as well. Very few games can bring about a sense of nostalgia simply by it’s setting, but Gone Home pulled it off. You’ll walk into rooms with VHS cassettes lying on the floor, audio cassettes with self made titles written on them, phones that are much too large for our modern liking and TVs that could crush a small man by their sheer size. I haven’t felt this exhilarated whilst looking at the past through a Video Game ever, it was a truly unique experience for both it’s setting and it’s story.
Even though Gone Home is plot driven, it’s still a Video Game, and none of us want to buy something that will end up just sitting up in the digital shelves of our steam accounts. But, surprisingly enough Gone Home does have a slight level of replayability. Much like a good book or a short story, you may feel the desire to go through it once more. You never know what more details you can find.
Stories like this one are the type of stories that require you play them, to experience them to feel their true weight. But further than that, it’s these type of tales that everybody should experience because it is, quite frankly, a unique experience matched by very few games out there.
It may not be on the fancy side of game mechanics, but if you are willing to be captivated by an amazing story and cast of characters, get the game, sit down to play, go grab yourself a bucket of Popcorn and get ready to get those keys buttery, because you’ll be there for a while.
Oh, and a napkin might help.
Many of us don’t quite have the time to sit down in front of our living room TVs and our computer screens to play video games for the rest of what measurable time remains. Some of us have stuff to do, so some of us will really like this article about five great games we can finish in or under 5 hours.
Journey is one of many amazing indie games available on the market. Based on the heartwarming and seemingly vain adventure of a robed figure, you travel a vast desert towards a mountain. The reason why this game made the list is simply because of how incredibly enthralling the adventure can be. The player meets obstacles that don’t only challenge your skill, but your emotional fortitude as well, as you see these innocent and feeble creature struggle to obtain their goal. Reaching the mountain. Another large attractor of Journey is what it achieved on the technical side. Let’s face it, the game looks, sounds and acts beautifully thanks to it’s amazing collection of music as well as the physics heavy graphics. If you have a PS3 this is a must get.
Now, some long running fans of the series may be questioning why we didn’t specify WHICH slender game to play and/or get. Well, that’s because there are just that many great slender games out there, not to mention free ones. For those of you out there that are not aware of what Slender is, it’s a sort of creepypasta myth created in a photo forum that quickly escalated into an internet scare meme forming it’s own following and, eventually, a game. If you’re ready to poop your pants and not pay a cent for it, the catalyst of Slender games can be found here. If you think you have the boulders to go above and beyond go ahead, skip a step and buy yourself Slender: The Arrival, you won’t regret it, even if your pants will.
This list has a great number of games, the perfect cast for a quick slight of fun, but this game is probably the hardest one to describe. The reason why it’s hard to put into words is because this games breaks the norm of what a game is. Most video games have mechanics, a plot, obstacles to overcome, and enemies to fight. This game does not. The main attractor to this one is simply it’s plot and how you interact with it, now I can’t say much without spoiling it, but every detail of the plot from characters to your own identity is discovered through interaction with the “home”, probably one of the most interesting mechanics you’ll see in video games for a while. Gone home is really a unique experience that must be played to be understood, no gamer should remove himself/herself from this truly vitalizing opportunity.
Papers, please is, much like the previous game in this list, very unique. The difference stands in that this games doesn’t shy away from violence or many other forms of aggression. Why? simple. You play the role of an immigration officer in the fictional communist country of Arstotzka, your job is to let the people who are allowed in the country through and to stop those attempting to cross without the right credentials or if, in your judgement, they are up to no good. That’s without forgetting you have a family to feed and your screw ups WILL be reflected in your pay check making you choose between your family’s well being and that of others. Because of this the game will of often strike at the strings of your heart by blurring the line between morality and making you make choices that feel heavy and leave you with the lingering feelings that would seem all too real in these circumstances, you are making or breaking somebody’s life.
Faster Than Light
If you want a game with a challenge and a realistic sci-fi-space-faring-combat-simulator feel, then you’ve come to the right place. This game out of all the previous ones is, by far, the least reliant on it’s plot. It’s a very simple premise, you’re a group of space fairers on a mission that requires you get to the other side of the galaxy. And this is where it start to get complicated. You see, it’s a simple enough goal, but the obstacles you must face will often be very difficult to surpass thanks to the way the game is structured. The screen that you’re going to be seeing the most is that of the galaxy map (No Mass Effect reference here, nope). Here you’re going to be making the choice of where the vessel is headed too. Would you risk going into a blinding and destructive nebula for some supplies and extra time to escape the pirates that are hunting you, or do you take the easy route and risk running low on supplies and possibly encountering enemy resistance? It’s these types of stressing moments that truly charge the game, plus the upgradable combat capabilities of your ship make things all the more entertaining. Combat is the second concept behind this great Indie game. It happens in a pausable realtime ship vs. ship instance. Being pausable all you have to do is strategize what parts of your ship to power and use for combat, though this is later proven not to be a simple task. Between combat and space travel you’ll be plenty busy, believe me, it’ll take some practice. Bottom line, want a challenge, get FTL, you won’t regret it.
That’s a total of 25 hours, at most, of amazing of diverse Indie fun, and if you simply don’t have the patience to play one game on end, this is the list for you. Take it from my experience, it’s totally worth it.
In the past few years we’ve seen the dwindling of one of gaming’s most classic genres. To much of the dismay of those with a penchant for adrenaline, deep masochistic desires or just to laugh at someone else’s misery, the horror genre was dying.
But back when, it was always on somebody’s lips, gamer or no gamer. There was always gossip about that “One terrifying game,” how a friend of a friend had peed his pants playing it. Rumors would abound about how, right after playing these games, people would start to see and hear things. All exaggerations, of course, but it always gave you the sensation that there was something very much alive about this side of gaming. It was so much so that people went out of their way to create rumors and fables based on the experience of playing these games, heck you had fanatics and extremists of all types who were going as far as making nasty rumors about the “evil” that lied in horror games. And up until very recently that had all been gone. Completely.
You had big companies like Capcom for example, with their famed franchise Resident Evil, who spontaneously decided to tone down the horror and pump up the action, all the way to the horrendous broken disappointment that Resident Evil 6 was. Dead Space went from acceptably horrifying to a downright action trek. The big question is, what the hell happened? Simple, publishers and the casual gaming audience.
To make it as straight forward as possible we can state a simple theory: supply and demand. It’s that basic.
It’s sad really, because it’s not the hardcore gamers fault, rather it’s due to the insane and sudden flow of casual players who entered the gaming world for games like Gears of War, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and the other ridiculous plethora of action games now available in the market. That’s not saying that these games are bad, but it certainly had an effect on the gaming industry.
The idea that playing scary games was fun or “cool” had become a thing of the past and now most people took to shooting things and skipping through cutscenes if they didn’t have explosions. Publishers were forced to satisfy their audience and release games that not only became less and less challenging (I’m looking at you Assassins Creed), but also pretty much removed any other stress causer: Puzzles, figuring out the controls, thinking for yourself, going two steps without a hint, challenging gameplay even in normal, and finally scares.
But wait! Horror fans rejoice, the Indy industry is here to save us!
We’ve seen a sudden and crazy downpour of horror games lately, especially if you spend too much time on Youtube. Pay attention and you’ll notice that these games are developed pretty much exclusively by Indy companies. From the likes of Slender to the labyrinthine trek of Amnesia (Mostly referring to the Dark Descent) it’s all been a small group of people with really good ideas. I can’t say I can readily place where specifically it came from, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent is now world renown for a reason. The way that it seemingly brought back horror was sublime. It put you in the mind of a character who had no sense of identity (Hence the Amnesia part) and was locked in a mansion filled with horrid monsters with barely a semblance of a goal. Great way to set up a really, really scary game? Yeah, pretty much.
Another great thing we have to thank for this is the internet. Yes, the internet.
We have the internet to thank for Slender. If not for the creation of the great mythos that Slender is now, Horror gaming wouldn’t be pushing the boundaries it is now. Which, within itself, is thanks to the Youtube let’s players.
Let’s face it, Youtube is an internet sensation and EVERYBODY visits it, sometimes daily, and what better way to experience horror than vicariously? We like laughing at other people, and there are some great entertainers in Youtube that provide this. Its’a great way to get acquainted with horror in gaming. Some of us have even stepped into thorough analysis of the genre through these players and games like: Penumbra, Amnesia, Slender, SCP Containment Breach and the recently release Outlast.
And now thanks to all the great let’s players out there putting the “Horror” back in Horror Games we might just see the resurrection of this exhilarating gaming genre. People have started clamoring for more of these games, and not only to watch, but to play as well. If immersion is what you seek, horror is your best bet. I know I will be picking them up!
Welp, I’m ready to start hearing bump in the night. Are you?