The Last of Us of Review

I think I am quite unfair sometimes dismissing a game because of its popularity.   Back in 2013, there was this huge hype about The Last of Us. At that time, I was too busy playing Dark Souls II to drop the game to see what the hype is all about. Thanks to my purchase of the PS4 back in 2015 (the main reason I bought the console was for Bloodborne), it came with a digital copy of The Last of Us.  I decided to give the game a whirl because I want to challenge my preconceived notion about the game.

To my surprise, I must admit, I did enjoy the game to some extent.  The biggest strength about the game is the father and daughter like relationship.  I found the father and daughter bonding between Joel and Ellie more believable than the father and daughter relationship I saw in Resident Evil Revelations 2, The Evil Within 2 and even Nier Gestalt (another topic I will go into detail at a later time).  Partly it’s because Ellie was side by side with Joel most of the time so I saw the father and daughter relationship growing closer.

Even in combat, Ellie is not useless like Sheva in Resident Evil 5.  Throughout the game, teamwork is heavily emphasized in order for the two characters to survive. The most memorable part in the game to me is when there was a switch from Joel to Ellie. At that point in the game, I didn’t know if she was all alone, until later, I found out that she was nursing Joel back to his health.  I was relief. When she drove the bad guys away from harming the injured Joel–that’s when I began to sympathize with Ellie because I would do the same for my dad without a doubt. I felt Ellie’s urgency to protect Joel. When the role was switched to Joel, I felt the very same urgency to protect Ellie from David, the potential rapist. That part really did strengthened their bond and implied how much they need each other to survive, but more importantly, how much they trust each other.

As Joel and Ellie relationship deepened in the game, I felt sympathy for them. So towards the end of the game, my reaction when I had to shoot the doctor to save Ellie was plausible even if Joel was seen as a monster. Similarly,  Ellie is not that innocent and saintlike either when she hesitantly accepted Joel’s answer about the fireflies. For one, she trusts Joel with her life and grew attached to him. She couldn’t bear the thought of losing him, as we saw in the earlier scene where she threw a little tantrum and ran off with the horse.  But at the same time, she felt tremendously guilty for not being able to save human lives as she mentioned her best friend was the first to go, and of course there was Tess.

The story aimed at taking the realistic approach in life, depicting real human behavior. Every day humans make sacrifices and face tough decisions. With a stern face, Joel already made the decision to carve his own fate.  Any normal human being who underwent a traumatic event will never be the same.  He never recovered from the tragedy in the beginning (losing his daughter) but at least he has someone to fight for, which is Ellie.  It makes perfect sense why the title is called The Last of Us.   The game is about two people who lost everything–and they are not willing to give up on each other even at the expense of saving humanity.  From my understanding, the writer is trying to write an epic script where all human beings can relate to.   Joel is considered a romantic, chivalric modern day man who embodied the utmost masculine energy.  Ironically, some people argued that he is a bad guy.  It appears the writer must have agreed with the ancient thinkers that humans are fickle.  Joel is neither good nor bad.  But the moral of the story is not what bothered me.  The heart warming story and gameplay weren’t properly stitched together to bring out that quality game experience.  The game feels like a book, but plays like a movie.  There’s nothing really exciting about the gameplay.

Typically,  I am not much of a stickler for story in video games.  Most of the time, if the gameplay is fun enough I will keep playing even if story is lacking.  The gameplay in The Last of Us is very stale and tedious. There were only two instances I thought was exciting.  One part is when Joel got separated from Ellie for a brief moment, forcing him to dive into the water and navigate in the dark enclosed area to find a keycard. In the area, there were clickers.  At first, I was a little nervous as I dislike dark places, filled with lurking monsters, but as soon as I realized I have many different types of weapons, my nervousness went away as there weren’t many obstacles to overcome in order to reunite with Ellie. I blasted the enemies away with my shotgun.  Once I obtained the key, I bypassed all of them and got out quickly.  Not much of a challenge there.  The other part is when Joel was hanging upside down shooting the infected. That part reminded me of a section in Resident Evil Revelation, where Chris Redfield fell from the cliff and was pinned down to the ground, having to defend himself from the approaching wolves while waiting for Jessica to make her way down to help him. The only difference between the two games, is that Last of Us gameplay is forgiving. The game autosaves frequently.   So if you die constantly, it puts you in a decent spot in the game to try again. If you get stuck in the game, push L3 button when it appears. This will give you a hint.  The game is very generous, but that consideration actually kills any challenges that the game has to offer, and what is even worse, it makes the gameplay become dull quickly as gameplay becomes predictable.  I think I would be just content watching a movie version of the Last of Us than go through all that unnecessary trouble.

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about the gameplay in The Last of Us.  It’s very basic and simple. There was a lot of sneaking, hiding,  and some shooting.   There were plenty of  beautiful scenic areas in the game which stirred up some personal old memories. The realistic setting in the game aligned well with the mature undertone of the game.  I didn’t mind the flow of the game.  I could play the game at ease during the weekdays.  I even completed the game on normal difficulty when I thought I was playing on easy mode the whole time.  Although I am not going to lie, there were a few times I died in the game.  The controls don’t feel as fluid as other games that I’m used to, which made the gameplay experience frustrating.  I admit, I  was swearing at the last section of the game when I was unfairly ambushed with flying bullets.  I rarely get mad in games by the way. The last section made it difficult to explore without getting spotted.

To summarize my experience, the game felt very genuine to me as it amplifies the American identity–a free and rugged individual who has a choice.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing? That’s for you to decide.   The more I think about it, the game is just a political statement more than anything.   I was entertained while the game last, but not entertained enough to demand for a sequel.

I’m Not A Pervert! It’s the Developer’s Fault!

Even though, I have no intention of becoming a game designer or create my own games, I find it quite fascinating to learn about the thought process behind it.  The whole creativity process  is not so different from the way I approach to songwriting, which is something I do as a creative outlet.

Yesterday, my friend visited me and wanted to watch me play games so I picked Virtue’s Last Reward (PS4 version) of all the games because I find this game quite relaxing to play on a lazy evening.  As my friend and I were solving puzzles together, one particular part stood out to me: the pinned photo.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games_20180407171828

In this section,  I understand the importance of creativity in games.  In the Crew Quarters, there are four rooms, which contain four lockers. I have to find all the passwords in order to unlock the lockers.  In one of the rooms, I was given a coin, after entering the right set of numbers to a locker.  The coin is used to scratch off the woman’s clothes which reveal a different set of numbers to a password for a different locker in a different room. At that moment, I was thinking, indeed,  I’m playing a scratch lottery ticket.  As I was so focused on scratching off her clothes, my friend, (who is a prim and proper type of gal) looked at me and accused me of being a pervert.  In my mind, I was just trying to find all clues so we can progress in the game.  Even though, I am not a guy and can never understand what’s so appealing about half naked women, the experience was exciting as I was one step closer to solving the mystery underneath her clothes. To my surprise, the numbers were never underneath her clothes, they were located on her arms and legs!   It was then, I realized a great game is highly creative and has the ability to engage the player against his or her own will on a subconscious level.  I say this because I am not a gambler or a pervert, but I was lured and trapped into the developer’s craft.  And strangely, it put a smile on my face and made me laugh.

After completing this section in Virtue’s Last Reward,  I realized that authenticity is important to creativity, which is the intent to create and capture the audience. In some ways, I think developers should have more control over the medium and listen less to the consumers, but please be mindful.  Honestly, I  don’t think consumers know what they really want. They just want to play a good game.  Lastly, I want to make an argument that a game is a game, a medium to itself.  All the fancy stuff such as the art and music only enhance the overall experience and bring it to life.

P.S

[To my friend if you are reading this] Sorry this was supposed to be a secret between you and me that we found ourselves playing a pervy game, but it was a lot of fun solving the puzzle together.

Detention: An Indie Horror Game

After feeling disappointed with Evil Within 2, I decided to look for a new horror game to forget that horrid game.   I found Detention, watching a Youtube video clip, and so I gave it a shot.  I am not going to lie: survival horror/horror is my favorite video game genre and there is a good reason why.  But let’s not talk about that–leave it for another time. Let’s talk about the game.

This game is indeed creepy without the flashy stuff we see in AAA games.  You play a female protagonist, a teenage girl  who is undergoing personal hardship.  Like the protagonist,  I can recall experiencing that familiar overwhelming sadness when I was a teenager. I think it was so bad that the counselor and the school nurse had to check my wrists to see if I cut myself. Looking back, I think it was a typical thing for a teenage girl to go through (damn you hormones!).  So yeah,  it’s kind of nice to play a character that I can relate to and one that is realistically feminine.  A lot of games I’ve enjoyed  in the past were largely male-based.  I have my reasons–that too, I will tell you readers at a later time.

I won’t say much more about this game because I encourage you to check it out for yourself. Oh, and one last thing I do want to point out  about the game: the storytelling is ambiguous but not overly complex. The game has enough suspense and plenty of symbolic meanings, which I like very much.  There are 4 chapters and it didn’t take long to beat (around 2-5 hours). I think there are mutiple endings, so replay value is good.

Overall, I’d like to say great job RedCandleGames for crafting a pleasant horror game and for keeping me entertained during these winter evenings.

The Evil Within 2: Not My Cup of Tea

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 I deleted my old post and revised it since I do have something to say about the game once I beat it.  The game had a lot of potential, but unfortunately it wasn’t what I was hoping for. 

Call me picky when it comes to survival horror games, but I believe concepts do play a major role in horrifying audience.  Take for example, Silent Hill 2 will always be my favorite survival horror game because the developers know exactly how to define horror and  create a game which still haunts me till this day.  I learned to love the fog in winter because I experienced the chillness in Silent Hill. But this post is not going to be about the survival horror genre or Silent Hill games.  This is about The Evil Within 2 and my thoughts on it. Please keep in my mind, I am speaking from an artist perspective and from someone who dislike movie-like games.

With any artistic medium (I think some video games are a form of art), it’s wise not to imitate even if you are under the spell of nostalgia. I am not a fan of imitation.  You can  admire a successful game that haunts people–but reinventing the same thing doesn’t frightened people (at least for me) because we already walked that path before. The Evil Within 2 feels like a confused horror amusement park.  It cannot decide whether it wants to be an action or horror game. Hey, some people might like this game for the way it is and good for them. Personally, I don’t like games that feel generic.

What disappointed me about the game is its strong opening. The game introduction was atmospherically scary. Yes, there was a little chase here and there. Fun for a bit, but then it got sloppy  as soon as all the suspense is dispersed and the climax is reached. From there on, I found myself playing a cheap thrill. If gameplay is lacking then I expect a decent story, but this game has neither of them. The game design feels unpolished.  Why recycle boss enemies once it has been defeated? Why do I need to level up my skill trees in order to make the game a bit more fluid? There is some obvious technical issues with the game, especially in combat.  The cheesy dialogues amplify the  cliche plot.  I started asking myself, “Why I am playing this game?” I forced myself to complete the game anyway because I hate not completing games. I would have enjoyed the game more playing as Juli Kidman because she is an interesting character.

I enjoyed the first game even though it was not perfect. So I was hoping The Evil Within 2 is more of a refined version of the first. Sadly no. The only thing that Evil Within 2 has is a simplified story.  You  play as a detective who is given the chance to save his daughter.   In my honest opinion, the game failed to horrify and tell a good story because its attention was focused on trying to be a movie.

So no, I do not recommend this game if you have particular taste for horror games like me. I prefer the earlier Resident Evil games over The Evil Within series now that I have finished the game. This game is designed intentionally for the mass market (movie watchers), and there is nothing wrong with that. This game is just not my cup of tea.

Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon Review

I highly recommend playing the game before reading this post.   My intention is to share my interpretation of the game which may differ from yours.

I bought this game seven years ago and I finally beat it. The content of this game is quite mature but with light gameplay, which is both suitable for adults and children.  Perhaps, I am a child at heart but I really prefer the simplistic gameplay approach, especially when the story is the focal point. Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon is about a boy’s journey towards finding warmth in the post-apocalyptic world. It has a typical story but it took advantage of the video game medium to produce a unique experience.

What I enjoyed about the game is that it’s beautiful and atmospheric.  I found some of the enemies quite interesting and eerie, although this game is not a horror game.  I might do a separate post about this topic for in depth analysis.  Gameplay wise,  I personally think it’s a child version of Dark Souls.  In fact the bonfire and some enemies do have a strong resemblance to the Souls series. I don’t know much about the background for the development of making this game, but perhaps Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon  had some influences on the making of Dark Souls. Again, I will leave that for a different post after I gather some actual facts.

For now, I’d like to discuss Seto’s (the protagonist) journey. Throughout the game, Seto is accompanied by caring loving companions who are not humans. About midway,  Seto comes across an interesting character named Crow, who appears to be a big tea drinker like myself based on his clothes. This section, which may seem like a side track, is my favorite part of the game.

I enjoyed chasing and  hunting down Crow because it reminded me of  playing  hide and a seek and playing tag. For a moment, I didn’t mind taking a break from trying to find the silver hair girl. This section of the game illustrated an important point made by one of the characters, Chiyo : “It’s the sunbeams, the wind rolling over grass and the idle chit chat with friends [are] the gems of life.” That moment where Seto chased Crow to get his locket back is special. We must not forget during our journey to enjoy the moment we are in. That is called living.

However, the game also wanted to make an another important point:  Crow is a robot. Even if  we find happiness in the substitution of artificial life,  including digital ones–it does not replace the real life human interaction.  Thus, it’s the silver hair girl  that can offer Seto the real authentic relationship even if it involves conflict and misunderstanding between both people. And Sai, one of the main supporting characters, helped me understand that words may not always be the best form of expression, but it’s not entirely useless. Words fill in part where visual cue fails to communicate simple things such as  Seto wants Ren, the silver hair girl, to be his girlfriend. He is tired of being alone.

A little off topic here,  but I think everyone is alone because someone once told me that feelings are personal. We are so focused on our feelings most of the time that we forget other people have feelings too. There is a tendency to lack empathy for others and most of the time it’s unintentional. This lead to much hurt and destruction in the human society. The game really wanted to point out that the lack of empathy causes pain.

Overall,  the game provided a philosophical explanation for the continuation of existence, despite the dark side of humanity.  If you haven’t play this game already, check it out. And if you have played it,  let me know what you think. I’d love to hear them.

P.S

My next post most likely will be about Root Letter. I feel inspired by The Otaku Judge to get all the endings. Then I will play  Zero Escape: Nonary Games probably towards the end of this year.  

Thanks for reading! Until next time, take care guys.

My Shopping List–Casual Games are Great!

My apologies for the lack of posts.  I have been busy with songwriting lately. However, I managed to complete Root Letter, a game which I grew fond of and I enjoyed the genre a lot (visual novel games).   For one, I  enjoy books and a good story. Visual novel games have it all for me at the moment: light gameplay and not too mentally strenuous.  Because after a long day, the last thing I want to do is play a difficult game.  I must say I am very happy with my time management for games. I learned that opting for casual games actually balanced my stress level.  But I must confess, I do get the urge to play more difficult games from time to time.

Due to a decrease in gaming time, I became somewhat of a game collector. Still looking for those hidden gems but probably will not enjoy it to its max. So I’ll share a list of games that I have been looking at:

  1. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
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2. Exist Archive : The Other Side of the Sky

Amazon.com: Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky - PlayStation 4: Aksys  Games: Video Games

3. Assault Suit Leynos

Amazon.com: Assault Suit Leynos - PlayStation 4: Video Games

I know most of them are Playstation games. I am not at all bias towards a particular gaming platform, I just can’t afford to own every systems at the moment and have time to appreciate it.  And my gaming passion is not about collecting games,  I am actually collecting ideas. We are living in the Information Age and I just happened to grow up in a video game culture just like many of you folks. New ideas are not dead–they are just delivered in the form of video games.

My final thought for the post, I’m almost done with Nier Automata, my brother and friend are bugging me about the game because I am taking forever to complete it.  I have a lot of things to say about it, but it takes time to gather my thoughts.  I am a bit overwhelmed with the game because it’s so philosophical.  Big concepts require time to digest. I am finding myself more and more taking frequent breaks to pause and reflect on what I am playing (I do this with books as well).   I will not 100 percent the game because I just don’t have time.   But my next post will surely be about Nier Automata.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Thoughts on D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die

If someone came up to me and ask me what D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is about, I would say it’s about letting go of the past, eating and relationships. These are the three themes I noticed quite frequently in the game and the three main ingredients that keep a person functional in the society. This game is about a broken man named David Young who is on a metaphorical journey from death to life.

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I must admit, I was a bit confused to what was going on in the game.  All I knew was the protagonist loss his wife.  So I played the game several times. Then I concluded the game is very dreamlike purposely.  One moment, we see Young falling into the bathroom, and then we see him reading a magazine on the bed casually, drinking coffee, crushing fortune cookies, changing music records, turning on the T.V, changing clothes, pushing little squirrel off the window etc.  Everything seems calm and normal.  Until Amanda, his cat, enters the scene.  Then I realized, Mister Young is not okay.  We are witnessing a man who is undergoing some severe trauma in the head!

amanda

And so,  Forrest Kaysen, an important supporting role in the game, is there to guide Young back to life, the reality–the present moment.  If you haven’t  noticed, once Young solved a particular mystery of his past, the memento loses its special power. This is a way for the game to tell the player–mystery solved–now you can move forward into the present moment.  Have you folks  ever experienced that?   When you are bothered by the past, but there is nothing you can do to change it, but live in regret? Leave it in the past, my friends, leave it in the past. 

kaysen

Looking closely at Kaysen, he is like a philosopher and sometimes like a twisted version of Little Peggy.  Speaking with him, opens up a dialogue about eating.  It is important to nourish the body with food.  How can any person function without food?  Obviously, the game attempts to point out that people who are consumed by the past do not feed their bodies.  Why would they? They are dead inside.  So it’s no surprise to me, when Kaysen confronted Young for not finishing his meal.  Kaysen knew that Young has been drinking excessively to drown his misery, but he also wanted acknowledgement for his cooking ability.  It’s a hilarious cut scene which I could personally relate to.  I too, have a small stomach, and have a hard time finishing my meal.  So I’ll tell you a little personal story.  I once dated a Japanese man. He asked me what he should cook for dinner and I said, “I don’t like eating.” I said it because I wasn’t hungry at the time and food was never on my priority list of things to think about on a daily basis.  He got very upset. To him,  I was disrespecting life and his food.  He said we need to eat to be alive, which is true.  I should have chosen my words wisely or not say anything at all. This part of the game really highlighted the differences between Japanese and American culture on food and human interaction in a twisted way.

I know I mentioned a lot about the plot because the plot and the colorful characters are definitely stronger than the gameplay, but the gameplay is not monotonously minimal  like other cinematic games.  The stunts with Amanda and the courier are quite funny.  But my all time favorite side game is taking Philip Cheney’s quizzes. His dialogue is interesting and his villain-like approach to the quizzes made me laugh hard.  I am not surprised he is the fourth “D.”

cheney 

And yes, the game ends with a cliffhanger and is too short, but I didn’t mind it at all.  The game is jam packed with timeless human drama that made me think even after I am done playing it. It made me think about human relationships as being the most important aspect of human civilization.  We are like civilized social animals, resembling cats. According to a scrapbook article I found in the game,  cats sacrifice the lone life to move in large group.  Doing so will make them achieve social status.  Hmm…we are like cats!

Lastly, the game made me think about relationship between lovers as the strongest bond between humans. Some of us argued that we don’t need it, but I think we do.  Life seems more enjoyable despite the arguments that come with a relationship.  Losing a relationship will drive us crazy as we see it with the Marshal who chases after the courier to avenge his wife’s death.  He too, like the protagonist, is living in the past. But perhaps, Little Peggy is right: Things in the past need to stay in the past or else a person cannot move on and live a happy life.  The only thing we can do is acknowledge our mistakes and practice for tomorrow as Young once said. Overall, the game gave me a good feeling.  Most of the time,  I was laughing with the game despite its dark plot.

I am still curious–who killed Little Peggy? I’m hoping for season 2. Let me know what your thoughts are on D4 if you have played it, and thank you for reading! Until next time, take care!

 

NightCry: A Cruel but Charming Survival Horror Game

NightCry is indeed a survival horror game and it felt like one. But it made me laugh more than it scared me. Now I sound a bit sadistic, but hear me out.

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The game is designed to have multiple endings, but of course there is a good ending. That’s the one you want! I found myself  playing the game as if I am working on a math equation. The moment where you thought you had the answer, but your answer is wrong because you missed one little step?  Yep, NightCry will steer you to the path where you’d meet your early doom because you got the wrong answer! Occasionally, I heard someone laughing inside my head because I was like a mouse running inside a maze, trying to find an outlet only to find myself at a dead end. What a cruel joke.

Gameplay is very simple: light puzzles, running, and hiding, but you can’t always hide at a place twice, and if you fail to hold your breath, Scissorwalker will cut you up. Yes I died many times.

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The Scissorwalker is a bit humorous to me. That thing likes to play peek-a-boo. Got to be careful not to examine everything, doing so will trigger the Scissorwalker to appear, but it’s necessary. The character runs out of stamina easily and starts falling on the floor, making it easy for Scissorwalker to snip the character to death. So you better know where to run to! I made a mistake entering a dark room without turning on my flashlight. I got killed. I laughed. Game over.

As for the characters, I found them fashionable, simple and charming. There are three characters you can control: Monica, Leonard  and Rooney ( her name sounds like loony).  They are well designed for their roles. In fact, I like all of them.

MonicaMonica

LeonardLeonard

RooneyLooney

I won’t spoil the story for those who are interested in the game, but I think the game is intended for those who are suffering from depression. Sometimes when things get too crazy in life, your mind is switched to survival mode, you got put your hand on your hip and remind yourself you are given life to live. So live!

My final thought for this game is that people experience games differently. Currently my life is not that cheerful so I can relate to both Rooney and Monica. So it may seem odd that I can laugh at such a game. I would classify this game as a dark comedy survival horror game if I could, but that is just subjective. But overall, I enjoyed the game and I’m glad  I didn’t let some negative reviews hindered me from playing. You can never know whether a game is good or not until you try it yourself. Playing a game is a different experience from watching.  So go play it!

Reflecting on Resident Evil Franchise As a Survival Horror Genre

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I don’t know what happened, but gradually over the few years, I begin to lose interest in Resident Evil franchise despite the fact,  I enjoy playing all of  the RE games, but I think I’m getting tired of playing them and I’m losing faith that it will ever return to its roots as a survival horror genre.

It all started  with RE4, RE5 and RE6 on how the games are broken into chapters/campaigns. At the end of each chapter, I was given a”report card” on how well I did:  hit ratio, number of time killed, enemies routed etc. Because I am forced to acknowledge my performance, I spent more time focusing on how well I played and not so much about the survival aspect of the game.  This report card sort of destroyed the survivor horror experience  I had with RE1, RE2 and RE3.

I remember the earlier Resident Evil games were more story-driven and suspenseful. For example, in RE1, the characters are chased into the mansion. The mansion seems like a haven in the middle of the woods. They thought they are safe, but they are wrong. As they venture deeper into the mansion, they uncover its secret. Then with the realization that they might end up as zombies, they attempt to escape, knowing what they uncover is epidemic. To escape from something horrific is survival horror.

I didn’t feel this way about RE4, RE5 and RE6.  There is too much action going on in these games which make it difficult for me to follow Resident Evil’s timeline. Both RE4 and RE5 are very similar, in terms of structure. The environment did not feel claustrophobic. It didn’t make me feel as if I need to escape since I am already out in the open. In RE4,  the appearance of the Merchant acknowledges that this is a shooting game. It allows me to tune up my weapons right before when there is a serious zombie action event.  RE5 is even worse, in terms of survival horror,  Chris and Sheva are given handguns right after they walk pass the villagers.  The way how the handgun is given RE5 is not subtle compared to RE1, when Chris finds a handgun on the floor in the lobby and wonders where Jill and Wesker disappear to. Lastly, RE6 starts out dramatically with explosion. This is just a pure action-based game.

My argument is that the way how RE4 , RE5 and RE6 were introduced and narrated, made it less suspenseful, which in turn, made it less about survival horror. So I can’t say whether I am too excited about RE7. RE games have always been cinematic but how well it is executed will determine whether it falls into the survival horror category or not. I wish I could enjoy the demo, but sadly the first person-view  made me sick. I think I am going to wait for this one to go on sale instead of playing on launch day.

Kuon: An Enlightening Survival-Horror Video Game

Kuon, developed by FromSoftware, was one of the survival-horror video games I tried to squeeze in the month of October because of Halloween, but I ended up playing it into November.  It took me a month to complete  because I took my time and did not play every day. You can complete the game in 10 hours or less. Despite the short length of the game, Kuon is exceptionally great and is now on my top list of favorite games. Let me explain.

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The art direction in this game is superb as it reveals a simple but strong plot. The  use of sound effects and music created an intense horrific and isolating atmosphere. There were a few times, I was startled.  And yet, at times, it was not all scary. The sound of nature (e.g., footsteps, stream, wind) can be heard throughout the game, giving life to the atmosphere.

The placement of the sound effects ( monsters groaning, monk chanting in the temple, the twins singing) in the game were not overdone or overused. They all served a purpose and integrated really well to build suspense and tension. They also acted as subtle cue to steer me to the right direction, without acknowledging that I was playing the game. I was in the game.

Lastly, the three different protagonists (all females with unique personality)  which were played in three different phases, summarized the story so well that it left me feeling awe and sorrowfully happy.

Because of the game’s art direction, I was drawn to the game and understood the plot. This game is about the perversion of immortality. The father is so  driven to perfect the spells at the expense of his own daughter’s life and his disciples that he loses his humanity. The father, an authoritative figure, is evil and must be defeated by  the master exorcist, who is like a motherly figure. She rebukes the father and put things back in order.

This was the impression I got from the playing the game. Without the  art direction in this game, the story might have not been told well. It might have been another horror video game. But this one is special. It taught me something: We will die one day, why not enjoy the life we are given now in the present moment instead of tampering with something beyond our scope of reasoning?