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.

david young

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.

scissorwalker

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?