The Choices We Make

A thought occurred to me while I was working on my third playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins: how player choice can present itself differently across different games. Now I know this has been a long discussed topic, particularly when people feel that in so many games that their choices don’t matter, but I wanted to discuss how I most enjoy player decisions when they’re available.

This particular DA:O playthrough was my first time trying a new character (new origin, new look, new personality, new love interest, the whole bit), and as I progressed through the game, I realized that a lot of my significant plot point choices were very similar to my “canon” playthrough’s choices. I didn’t intend it to be that way, since I usually like to play around with new choices, but I also realized that several of the choices in DA:O have very clear indicators for what are the “right” and “wrong” choices. Not for everything (some decisions have more ambiguous consequences), but when it comes to recruiting allies for the final fight against the Archdemon, certain decisions could wind up costing you companions as well as certain allies. Alternatively, Dragon Age II and Dragon Age: Inquisition had a number of quests that relied on the player’s perception of the situation (sometimes with the intent of questioning morality) and it felt more catered to whatever personality you gave your protagonist. (Side note: personally, I don’t think DAII is as morally grey as it likes to think it is, but there were more opportunities to incorporate your decisions into defining your protagonist’s characterization.) The Dragon Age series’ choices are not perfect, but there is more room in the later games for varying personalities and characterizations than just “I’m being a horrible person just because I can.”

The point is: I feel that player choices work better when there’s an ambiguity to their result. I want to be sitting there wondering “did I make the best choice?” rather than just working down a “good” or an “evil” path. And when I make that choice, I don’t want only immediate results, I want that choice to affect me 10, 20, 30 hours later too… or even in the next game. I could not tell you how glad I was to have dodged a bullet in DA:I when I realized that making Alistair king two games ago might have just saved his life (and kept my Warden from a broken heart). I want more games to give me that sort of stress: make me feel the consequences of my actions even long after my decision has been made.

Games have the very unique ability to travel down different plot pathways, a reminder of the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, and when done well, I think it’s a very fun mechanic for the player to mess around with. It drives replayability by having the player wonder “what if I had done this instead?”, it encourages communication between players (for better or worse) on how they handled different decisions, and it has the ability to characterize the audience/player. One of the things I love knowing about my friends who have played the same game as me is how they decided to play the game. Did we make similar choices? Were different choices made based on what kind of personality they gave their character? What choices do they gravitate to naturally and what are they breaking away from to play their protagonist “in character?” I’m certain developers love hearing these sorts of responses as well. It’s a feature I love about finishing episodes in Telltale Games: polls will indicate how many made certain decisions and if you were in the majority or minority.

Telltale Games, in fact, is a company that has built an entire brand identity on the concept of branching storylines, with the mechanics and episodic set-up laying the groundwork for a lot of possibilities. I am particularly enjoying some of the new features added in the latest Batman: The Enemy Within, which include shifting attitudes towards Batman based on how you treat each of these characters in dialogue options. This expounds upon Telltales’ previous MO of “_____ will remember this” and creates the sensation of more tangible consequences and repercussions, whereas before it sometimes felt as if that statement didn’t have an explicit consequence. I understand that sometimes Telltales’ games have to override decisions for the sake of keeping a somewhat linear storyline, but one day, I would like to see them create completely separate scenarios and situations based on the decisions made by the player. It doesn’t have to be the whole game (that’s definitely a lot of work), but it would be interesting that for an episode, there could be two different versions with completely different scenarios and decisions. Then make it tie back into the story later, once the storylines have converged again: how will the protagonist react to a later situation based on what they experienced in one episode vs a protagonist who witnessed the other version?

The Dragon Age series and Telltale Games’ series are obviously not the only games that have a strong focus on player choice. Pyre is another game that focuses on decision-making, albeit a bit in a more subtle way. I mentioned in its original review post that there is no “True Ending” for Pyre, and you are forced into uncomfortable decisions in the realization that you won’t get absolutely everything “right.” Since there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the choices, players are given full responsibility for their actions in a way that adds pressure to the decision. Life is Strange starts off strong with their choices affecting characters and the player in later episodes. For example, being nice to one of the characters in the first episode will make them more receptive your cautions as opposed to suspicious in the later episodes. There are also many things to interact with that will show up in small ways later, such as under-watering or over-watering your plant. However, in the ending of the game, the ending itself is only based on a final choice, which just about ignores every decision you’ve made up until that point. It was possibly one of the most frustrating things to find that at the end of a very detailed game, none of your decisions had an effect on the ending.

Personally, I love decision-based games that give me a certain freedom to play how I want, and you can tell when the writers of these games took the time to consider the different options a player might want to take. Given that decision-based games continue to be a popular trend, I think writers should continue to examine how they go about writing these forks in the road. My personal favorite approach is the “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it” approach, making the player wonder if they’ve made the “best” choice and making them feel the effects even long after those scenes have passed. I’m curious to hear your thoughts: how do you think player choices should be handled? What games do you think use this concept well? How do you think some of these mechanics could be improved?

Happy gaming!

~ M

Freedom in the Pyre

Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Tobacco Reference, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol

Available for: Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux

This post will contain some minor spoilers for Pyre.

I didn’t expect to play another game by Supergiant Games so soon after Transistor, but with hearing all the buzz about the recently released Pyre (2017), I knew I had to try it out for myself. Once again, I found myself enthralled by the beautiful art style and music that Supergiant Games continues to deliver and was ready for the story that was about to unfold.

Pyre is the story of exiles banished to the Downside after being marked guilty of crimes committed in the Commonwealth. You, the player, are a character in the game, newly exiled and deemed Reader as one of the few with literacy skills (something banned in the Commonwealth) and are given the responsibility of guiding your fellow exiles in a tradition called the Rites. These Rites are the key to freedom from the Downside and returning to the Commonwealth, where this feat is rewarded with a high ranking position in the Commonwealth. Your companions are called the Nightwings and have been instructed by a mysterious contact to find more companions to “fit each of the masks” used in the Rites. On your journey, you encounter different triumvirates who are also seeking Liberation as the Rites seem to be quickly coming to a permanent end.

Ultimately, Pyre’s story centers around the question: what does freedom mean to each character? And in a story that focuses heavily on different definitions of freedom, there is a surprising amount of emphasis placed on the player’s decision or rather, judgement. Being an integrated character, you are to be the deciding factor of who should be set free first, and as you progress through the game, your companions will reveal more about themselves to help you make your decision. More or less of certain character arcs were revealed based on what order you decided to set people free, provided that you managed to win that particular Liberation Rite. That mechanic, the fact that the story could and would move on even if you failed a match, made Pyre especially interesting. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to gaming, so the fact that the game would move on even in failure felt like getting a bad grade on a test and realizing it would affect your final score. However, unlike test grades, failing a match didn’t necessarily mean you would get a “bad ending,” it would just affect particular characters’ final endings.

Choosing who would be granted Liberation ended up being a tricky business, much more so than expected. Pyre takes the time to examine each character in the game, even your opponents, and in doing so, it highlights how each character has different desires for what they want their life to look like. The problem is: you find out fairly early on that there are a limited amount of Liberation Rites before they would be finally over for good, meaning that not all of your companions were going to make it out. Moreover, Liberation meant you could not use that companion ever again to play out a Rite, even if you do favor their Abilities over another’s. So, do you make the decisions based on emotion, especially when some of your companions ask you to be set free? Or do you make the selfish decision based on who is more useful in a Rite? To make matters more difficult, finding out more information on your opponents and their respective reasons for exile meant you could intentionally throw the match in order for you opponent to be set free, a decision I contended with a couple of times. All of these considerations put you in the uncomfortable situation of evaluating everyone’s reasons for freedom and making that final call. There is a third, story-specific reason for deciding who should be Liberated, because you also participate in a Plan to overthrow the Commonwealth and their oppressive regime. So who will be more beneficial to the revolution once back on the Commonwealth side?

With a Plan set to fight for everyone’s freedom in the Commonwealth, the player was reminded that the Nightwings were not just looking out for themselves. Yes, they each had their own goals, but they were not so blinded by their desires that they would fall easily back into the system that exiled them in the first place. They realized that something had to change, not just for them but for everyone else in the Commonwealth and the future generations that would come. It was a good way for the story to come together and also unite the Nightwings more solidly. Each character was very different, but they found companionship in each other, making each Liberation Rite more difficult than the last. Another interesting point was the fact that at the Gates before the Liberation Rites, each companion had to state their purpose, something that could also potentially influence the player’s ultimate choices. Realizing that not all of the Nightwings would be leaving the Downside, considerations for what staying in the Downside meant for the characters also took effect. At this point, the player also had to decide who could potentially be happy staying in this exile. Fortunately for the player, not everyone wanted to return to the Commonwealth, preferring their freedoms in the Downside.

Pyre is a story that illustrates what it means to be free by describing a course for unified freedom and while also defining it differently within each main character. The characters have a common goal of overturning the Commonwealth, showing that when the Nightwings fight for freedom, they fight for freedom for all. These same characters also have their own personal goals, what they would like to do once obtaining freedom. Making the player a central character serves to make this responsibility more personal and more emotional, but at times still reminding the player that game mechanics such as Abilities might also be in contention with their emotional decisions. There is no “True Ending” for Pyre, meaning that this is no true “right answer” for characters’ fates (though some might be better than others). This game is not meant to be so black and white, something that is reinforced by each of the varied, personal endings characters have: freedom can be found in many different ways. I enjoyed Pyre immensely, particularly for its ability to force the player into making uncomfortable decisions while still emphasizing the themes of their story, and I definitely recommend it!

Pyre Official Website

Pyre Launch Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

The Journey Back

Rating: Not Available

Available for: Android, Windows, iOS

Broken Rules’ Old Man’s Journey (2017) is probably one of the more unique games I’ve played this year. There aren’t any action sequences, no dialogue, not even a character name to go by. And yet, in an hour and a half, it tells a story that is meaningful in its simplicity.

Old Man’s Journey follows an older man, as one might expect, as he receives a sudden letter and must be guided across mountains and sea to an untold destination. Throughout his journey, he encounters obstacles and resurfacing memories of a life he left behind. While moving mountains and pathways in unique puzzles, the player is slowly introduced to the unfolding story and soon realizes where the old man’s destination might be leading.

I’ll refrain from spoilers as much as possible here, because like my post on Transistor, Old Man’s Journey’s short story leaves little room to go into detail.

 

One thing I loved about this game is their use of environmental storytelling. It can be very tempting to use dialogue to convey your story, especially when you just want your audience to know all the details you’ve come up with. However, Old Man’s Journey expresses their story through the world around the old man: they use the weather, the townsfolk, the different settings like the town and countryside, and the shifting difficulty in terrain to lay out the emotional journey the player must take. The old man reminiscences in significant locations along the way and the player is drawn in by curiosity at what each location might reveal.

I also think this mechanic could have been utilized a bit more. During the puzzles, you can click around for various environmental reactions (the trees move, the sailboats change direction, etc.), something that was very reminiscent of my old point-and-click games. Occasionally, a click would result in a zoom in to focus a person’s small actions (a man playing guitar or a child playing). It would have been interesting to incorporate this into the old man’s story, at least in the beginning segment in the town. How does everyone else in town react to the old man? He’s been there for a while, so they must have some opinion of him. At the same time, these little details made the scenery more alive and not necessarily so focused on the old man, making it a private journey between the player and him.

 

The progression of weather and the use of terrain was especially interesting while playing this game. Weather can be a common mechanic when trying to convey a certain kind of emotion (how many times have we seen sad scenes in movies with rain?), but in Old Man’s Journey, the puzzles and terrain also rose in difficultly, reflecting the troubled memories the old man was also recounting at the time. It starts out with smooth hills and plains and transitions into abandoned territory with rubble and frequent waterfalls blocking your path. Additional obstacles such as sheep and walls made the path less straightforward and more treacherous for the old man. The underwater segment felt especially meaningful after experiencing the emotional journey, serving as a form of revelation for the player, who has seen this man’s dream change as he realized what was truly important to him.

Old Man’s Journey is a short and sweet game that can be appreciated for its environmental storytelling, its beautiful visuals, and lovely soundtrack. Broken Rules was able to convey exactly the story they wanted to tell in the world they created, and I’m looking forward to see what else they come up with!

Old Man’s Journey Official Website

Old Man’s Journey Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

SDCC 2017!

Wow, what a weekend! I’m still trying to process the whole thing, especially since it was four straight days of convention goodness, but I’ll try to summarize it all as best as I can.

I haven’t been to San Diego Comic Con since 2011(?), so a lot has changed since then. I considered that year to be riiiiight before it started getting ridiculously big. I mean, SDCC was still big then, but it wasn’t at the level it is today. This was also the first time I was going all four days; last time (which was my only time at SDCC), I went only Thursday and Saturday, so I didn’t get to experience the different activities and the different crowds that characterize each day.

I’ll start off by saying I had an incredible amount of fun at this convention. I got to see several really interesting panels relevant to this blog (and meet important people in the industry), I got to cosplay as a couple very recognizable characters, and I even got to meet several of my favorite voice actors in person! I really don’t think I could have asked for more, and the best part was going with a great group of friends.

Now, if you’ve ever been to SDCC, you know that it is impossible to see everything, especially when it comes to very popular movie/show trailer reveals. I’m still catching up on trailers, in fact, and I’m really just here to fill you in on what I saw during each of the days, so let’s get started!

Day 1, Thursday:

This day and Friday I went as D.Va from Overwatch in her Cruiser skin. My friends were still finishing up their Overwatch cosplays, so we would be going as a big group the next day. This was actually the first time going in a cosplay so recognizable that I was stopped for pictures, so that was really cool. My goals for this day were simple: attend both panels focusing on storytelling in video games. The first panel, entitled “Creating Immersive Game Story” had George Krstic (Blizzard), Leah Hoyer (Telltale Games), and Guillaume Colombo (Bungie) discussing the ways in which writers think about creating video game stories, what makes a good story, and how writing for a video game is a very different experience from writing for other mediums. I had the chance afterwards to speak with Leah Hoyer, Eric Stirpe (also from Telltale Games), Scott Hawkes (from Riot Games), and Jason Hill (also from Blizzard), and I asked them how they would approach encouraging someone who had never played video games to play a video game. Each of them gave me very different answers, but interesting in their own way. It became a discussion on how video games calls for immersive participation in a story and how different mechanics might appeal to different people, depending on their genre preferences.

The second panel I attended was “Writing for the Computer Gaming Industry,” featuring speakers: Neal Hallford (Lily Bard Online), Neil Druckmann (Uncharted 4), Anne Toole (Horizon Zero Dawn), John Zuur Platten (Ingress), and Kimberly Unger (Dexter: Slice), and moderated by Jana Hallford (Swords & Circuitry: A Designer’s Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games). Much of this panel focused on the mechanics of writing for video games, such as thinking through player logic rather than being very concrete in your story’s content (as players, we all know that we don’t always want to do what the game tells us to) and the ever evolving nature of video games (indie games in particular adding new and different kinds of mechanics).

By the end of this panel, the floor was closing, so it was time to call it a night (for me anyway, my friends still had cosplay work to do).

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Day 2, Friday:

Friday very quickly was a different animal from Thursday. This was the day we were going as a cosplay Overwatch group, which automatically means you’re going to get stopped for photos…a lot. And it was fun! Like really fun! I especially got to meet a lot of really cool people this way, either fellow Overwatch cosplayers or attendees. We did manage to get to a number of places before eventually making it to our meet-up in the afternoon, and who should be there but Reinhardt’s voice actor, the wonderful Darin De Paul. He was great to speak with, whether it was discussing how great the community has been or taking the time to sign notebooks and cosplay weapons and take photos. He stayed for the majority of the gathering until he had to go to his panel, but throughout, he gave his full attention to anyone who asked to speak with him.

After our group got our own photos of our cosplays, we eventually started making our (long) way to dinner. Now, I think any of us would have been satisfied with just running into Darin De Paul that day, but it appeared that the day was not yet over for meeting voice actors. In a situation that can only be described as “pure chance” and “is this seriously happening?”, our group ran into the entire Critical Role voice actor cast at dinner. With more situational ridiculousness still, the table was in direct line of sight of us as we kept getting stopped in front of the restaurant for photos. Naturally, they noticed us and waved and would occasionally keep looking over at us. Whenever we were able to sit down at a table, the cast was leaving their own dinner (yes, the wait time was that long that night) and Matthew Mercer and Taliesin Jaffe were kind enough to walk over to us and tell us that we looked great in our cosplays. We were able to get some photos with them, and I’ll tell you that even though I experienced it, it still feels incredible that it happened.

Day 3, Saturday:

Saturday played out a little differently than Friday since it was a lot more crowded that day. I decided to cosplay as Makoto Niijima from Persona 5, and my friends went again as the Overwatch team. We started the morning early this time, since a few of us wanted to go to the Critical Role panel (which was a lot of fun btw). Something I thought was hilarious was that since the Persona 5 cosplayers were so rare at SDCC, every time we found one another, it was this moment of “OMG!! You!!” My friends got a lot of awesome pictures taken of them throughout the day, and this day was especially great for meeting new people! Ended the day at a fast food restaurant, which is currently one of my favorite ways to have dinner at the end of a con day (aside from running into voice actors accidentally).

Day 4, Sunday:

Sunday was very chill since most of us went in casual or casual cosplay and spent the day walking the main floor. It was also a shopping day, and by the end of the day I was able to pick up a Bulbasaur plushie (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and the Deluxe Edition of the Dragon Age comics!

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By the end of SDCC, I was exhausted but I had a really fantastic time! It managed to surpass my expectations in the most awesome ways, and I loved experiencing the whole thing with a great group of friends!

A big thank you to @that_one_cosplayer76 for making my D.Va pistol!

If you want to see more photos from the conference, I’ve opened up an Instagram @thegamersjourney, so feel free to follow me there! (I’ll still be uploading photos) You can also find photos on our group’s Instagram @sdcosplaysquad!

Finally, if you’re curious about what I’m up to in terms of gaming when I’m not posting on here, I highly suggest you also follow some of my social media, especially if you want updates on when my posts are going up, see what I’m playing now, and just funny (well I think it’s funny) gaming commentary.

Twitter: @gamers_journey

Tumblr: thegamersjourney

Instagram: @thegamersjourney

Happy gaming!

~ M

Revisited: Final Fantasy III

Rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Suggestive Themes

Available for: Nintendo DS, Wii, Wii U, iOS port, Android, PSP, and Windows (via Steam)

Just to clear some things up before we get started here: I played the Nintendo DS version of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy III, the original third title of the Final Fantasy series, not the one that is also technically Final Fantasy VI due to a bunch of confusing localization stuff. It still kinda confuses me so I’m not going to explain it here, but you can go research it if you want to.

A few months ago, I found a box of old, unfinished games and decided that it would be good to explore them again in a blog series I’m calling “Revisited.”

I bought Final Fantasy III around the time I was just getting into story-heavy games. I believed that since Final Fantasy was a well known series, it would be good for me to know it. Turn-based mechanics and character classes very quickly ended up feeling like new territory to me. Not that I hadn’t seen it before, but I suddenly felt like a novice and that this was a game meant for better gamers than me. After a lot of stumbling around, various walkthroughs, and much level grinding later, I found myself in the final dungeon of the game, severely underleveled and in no condition to fight the bosses. Frustrated and not exactly enthusiastic about leveling up another 10 levels after this much work, I put the game down and didn’t finish it. That is, until I decided to pick it up again a few weeks ago. Revisiting the series, I discovered several things: Final Fantasy III has a great story and it could simultaneously greatly benefit from a modern day remake.

Square Enix’s Final Fantasy III starts with an earthquake and an orphan named Luneth trying to fight his way out of a cave after said earthquake. He stumbles upon a Crystal of Light, who tells him that he and three other orphans are destined to be the Warriors of Light to save the world from impending, eternal darkness. You very quickly meet up with your fellow Warriors of Light: Arc, Refia, and Ingus, and guide them through the world, while those influenced by the dark try to throw the world into chaos. Along the adventure, the Warriors of Light meet many important, temporary companions who will help bring hope to the world and help you find a way to defeat the culprit behind the chaos.

 

Throughout the game, you can immediately tell that it was written for a younger audience (though I would argue the difficulty level isn’t), and while the story can be simplistic, it does hold themes very popular to JRPGs, particularly the importance of hope and the balance between light and dark. Luneth, Arc, Refia, and Ingus are a constant presence of light and goodness, completing quests not as just a means to an end but because they are good people who want to help out others. What is especially great about them is that they are good people in different ways: Luneth is determined to do what’s right, Arc is kind and gentle, Refia has a good heart, and Ingus is loyal and noble. I believe a remake would really help this be expounded upon, since there is limited dialogue in the game and very little to chance to get a deep understanding of the main characters’ fleshed out personalities. The opening cinematic seems to suggest a really interesting dynamic between the group, and I felt that it was never really addressed in the entire game. Yes, there is a bit of banter with temporary companions, but it only has a couple of short exchanges and you have to remember to press a button to activate it. A remake would help create more dialogue/banter opportunities between the cast and really build up their bond.

Another way in which a remake could help this game is by filling in for some of the narrative gaps that happen throughout. I definitely felt like I was spending more time level grinding and dungeon crawling than I was focusing on the story, and it becomes especially prevalent in the final part of the game. Even with completing everything, I still found myself ten levels below where I needed to be to work through the final dungeon. This meant I had to spend a lot of time level grinding in a separate dungeon because that dungeon gave me more experience points per fight than the enemies in the final dungeon. I feel like this could be improved with side quests, by having the Warriors of Light bring hope and help to people in small ways and still ensuring that you are properly leveled up by the end of the game. This would also help make the long stretches of level grinding feel more interesting than endless running around in circles and hoping the enemies with more experience points attack you.

 

I don’t usually delve into this much, but mechanics that could also be improved with a remake:

1. Quest Markers: usually a character will just tell you the name of your next destination but otherwise doesn’t give you any sort of direction of where to go next (and when the world gets much bigger, yeah, it would have been a big help)

2. Not Limiting Saves to the World Map: as an obsessive saver, this would have saved me a lot of stress (at least a pre-boss checkpoint would have been nice)

3. Visible Enemy Encounters: okay, this one is more personal preference but I like deciding whether I want to fight an enemy or avoid it, rather than being forced into an encounter and trying to run away

4. Graphics Update: not that the style isn’t cute and nostalgic in its own way, but that opening cinematic was the biggest tease as a kid

Final Fantasy III is a wonderful game that I am so happy to have finally completed, and I would love to see it remade with modern day mechanics. There are a lot of opportunities to reinforce themes and characters in small ways throughout the narrative, while at the same time helping the player make sure they’re properly leveled up for the challenges ahead. Details like quest markers and more frequent save opportunities could help avoid annoyances and frustrations that don’t really add a beneficial challenge to the game. Final Fantasy III has a good story in its own right, but it also has great potential to be an even better story. It seems that now there are even more opportunities to play this title than when I first played it, so I would check it out if you have the chance!

Final Fantasy III Official Website

Final Fantasy III iPhone Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

P.S. My next post is going to be delayed a week since two weeks from now is San Diego Comic Con!! And I’ll be attending! See you all in three weeks!

E3 Impressions

I’ve been watching the E3 press conferences for the past couple of years, but I think this is the first time I actually sat through all of them (minus Bethesda’s because it was at a really late hour for me, sorry, Bethesda!). And compared to last year, I found many of the conferences to be…lacking. There were plenty of games to be discussed, that’s for certain, but I felt like there weren’t as many new game announcements like in years past. Many of the games brought up last week were games that had already been announced, and maybe it’s just me, who prefers to see new game announcements, but I just couldn’t seem to get that excited about the whole thing. This isn’t to take away from people who did enjoy this year’s E3, because I know there are a number of people who walked away hearing of new titles they had been waiting years for. This all being said, I did want to bring up some of the titles that I thought were interesting and I’m looking forward to hearing more about.

Without further ado, my highlights!

1. A Way Out (EA)

Every once in a while I see a game where I go “yes, this is exactly the type of game that is perfect for the point of my blog!” From the creators of Brothers- A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out is the story of two prison inmates trying to escape from prison. The player, or rather, two players each control one of the inmates in split-screen, cooperatively working to navigate through the narrative simultaneously. I don’t know how much the plot itself interests me, but I am definitely intrigued by the unique game mechanic used to tell this story.

A Way Out E3 Trailer

2. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider (Bethesda)

I’ll tell you one thing: I was not expecting to hear anything Dishonored related this year, so this was a very pleasant surprise to wake up to. I still haven’t figured out if Death of the Outsider is DLC or if it’s a stand-alone game, but I already love the idea of playing from Billie Lurk’s perspective. This now means that I need to go through all the Dishonored and Dishonored 2 DLC before it comes out!

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider E3 Trailer

3. Hidden Agenda (Sony)

This is another game where I said “Oooooooh, I really like this mechanic.” By the same group as Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda is a game where you are trying to find the serial killer and you and a group of friends collectively make decisions to affect outcomes in the story. It sounds like there were will be more subtle mechanics also in play and it looks like it could be a lot of fun for a game night with friends.

Hidden Agenda E3 Reveal

4. Unnamed Pokemon Game for the Nintendo Switch (Nintendo)

I cannot tell you how long I’ve waited for a main Pokemon game to be on a console. Okay, technically it can still be on a handheld, but I’ve always wondered how Pokemon would look if brought to a console. It’ll be interesting to see if the set-up changes at all or if they plan on keeping the same format. The only thing said during Nintendo’s presentation was that the game is in development, but that’s all it took for me to be intrigued.

Pokemon Switch Announcement

5. Tunic (PC)

I know literally nothing about this game other than it follows an adorable little fox on an RPG adventure and it looks precious. I’m curious to know what the story is and how the world works in the game, so I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.

Tunic E3 Trailer

Other Thoughts:

There were two other games discussed at E3 with titles and developers I’m familiar with, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on those titles here.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm (announced during Microsoft’s conference)

I watched my sister play the first Life is Strange and I really enjoyed a lot of the game, except for the ending. That being said, I thought that story was pretty complete, so when I heard that the developers were making a sequel, I did not expect for us to go back to the same characters. I don’t know how I feel about there being a prequel coming out, since I was pretty sure we had a full picture of what happened with Chloe and Rachel before Max arrived. I was honestly hoping for a different story and maybe the same rewind mechanic, so I have mixed feelings about this announcement.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Announcement Trailer

Anthem (EA)

BioWare’s new IP had gotten some buzz before E3, so I already knew about some of the details of the game before going into this conference. While I really like some of BioWare’s titles and this game does look very nice, I’m still getting used to the MMO style of gaming. I’ll be curious to see more details about this game and see how it stands out from the other games doing similar things.

Anthem Reveal Trailer

Overall, these were the titles that stood out to me the most. Some sequels for very popular games were announced as well and while they’re not on this list, I want to do some research on them to get a better idea of what the hype is about.

Did you see any of the conferences, and if so, which ones? Which titles are you most excited for? What were you hoping to see at E3 this year but didn’t? And is there anything not on this list that you recommend I take a second look at?

Happy gaming!

~ M

Mystery Blogger Award: Acceptance Speech!

During the last month, I had the honor of being nominated for the “Mystery Blogger Award” by both Robert Ian Shepherd of Adventure Rules and herrdelta of Split Screens!

Robert’s blog, Adventure Rules, discusses everything gaming, including reviews, impressions, and he answers a bunch of fun questions about his gaming experience!

herrdelta’s blog, Split Screens, features a great mix of reviews and news on games, tv shows, and movies!

I want to take a moment to thank you both for nominating me! It’s been great meeting you, and I hope we can continue sharing opinions on gaming.

Without further ado, let us begin the post!

The Rules

– Put the award logo/image on your blog

– List the rules

– Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog

– Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well

– Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

– You nominate 10-20 people (I’ll only be doing 5)

– Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

– Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)

– Share a link to your best post(s)

Background of the Award

mystery-blogger-award

Okoto Enigma is the creator of the Mystery Blogger Award. It was made as a way for undiscovered bloggers to be recognized and to create a greater community for bloggers to connect with each other. You can find the full description of the post here.

A quote from the official post: “Mystery Blogger Award”  is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.”

3 Things about Myself

1. My official undergraduate degree states that I studied English, but I was also a pre-med! Which means I’ll be forever confusing everyone when it comes to explaining what I studied in college. Originally, I intended to go to med school, but I ultimately decided to follow my heart and pursue writing. I feel really comfortable jumping between writing and science, however, and it’s probably why I get really excited about stories that examine science and science ethics.

2. I used to draw a lot as a kid and in recent years, I’ve picked it up again. I’ve been thinking about starting a series on here where I draw fan art from games I’ve played.

3. One of my favorite things about writing is coming up with original characters, whether it be in a character creation setting or just in my own writing. I love figuring out who they are, making headcanons, and just generally figuring out how they fit into the universe.

The Answers to the Questions

(Okay, usually it’s only 5 questions, but since I’m answering both Robert’s and herrdelta’s questions, it’s going to be a little longer….)

Robert Ian Shepherd’s Questions

1. What made you decide to take up blogging?

For the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into gaming in a way that was very different from my childhood. I was playing a lot of games that had deep stories and characters that I just wanted to talk to everyone about. I also wanted to start exploring more games so I wasn’t just replaying the same handful all the time. As a result, this blog was born!

2. What’s your favorite video game?

I have a hard time choosing just one game, but I split my favorites between the Dragon Age series, the Fire Emblem series, and the Persona series. Dragon Age and Fire Emblem feed directly into my love of medieval fantasy, and Persona games are fun modern day supernatural stories that have this really cathartic feel to them.

Since I’ve started this blog, I think Transistor will now also have to be added to the list too….

3. Why should people read your blog?

I think I bring a different kind of gaming review to the community. It’s more focused on the narrative aspect of the game itself and how well the developers use a video game medium to tell their story better than any tv show, book, or movie could. It’s also the kind of thing that I’d like to see people’s opinions on; agree or disagree, I want to know what they also got out of the game’s experience.

4. What video game item do you wish you had in real life?

The timepiece from Dishonored 2. Imagine going to historical sites with that!

5. If you could set up two characters from different games on a blind date, who would you put together?

Oh, hmmmmm, I’m having a lot of trouble deciding which characters would be good to pair up, mostly because I usually already ship them with someone else in their own respective games. That being said, I would love to see D.Va from Overwatch and Futaba Sakura from Persona 5 meet. They could talk about video games and computers and it’d be great.

herrdelta’s Questions

1. Who is your biggest video game crush and why?

Without hesitation: Alistair Theirin from the Dragon Age series. He’s a lovable sweetheart, and I loved his sense of humor. And as cheesy as it was, I was a sucker for that rose moment with the Warden.

2. If you could pick one game to be remastered, what would it be?

POKEMON SNAP. Without question. But I want all the new Pokemon in it, too. Nintendo, please make this happen for the Switch, I beg of you. It would be an automatic system seller for me.

3. What got you into playing video games?

As a child, I loved the new kinds of challenges video games presented and how each game brought something different to the table. As I grew older, my love of the stories was what turned me into the gamer I am today.

4. Outside of gaming, what is your favorite fandom or franchise (be it a comic, film, tv show, etc)?

I think the Harry Potter fandom will always be near and dear to my heart. I met a lot of wonderful people during my days there and I just remember the whole experience as being a lot of fun.

5. Is there any particular scene in a video game that you really wish you could rewrite? If so, how would you rewrite it?

Interesting question! As much as I love Dishonored, I hated the Non-lethal Option for “Lady Boyle’s Last Party.” Surely there were better ways to “Neutralize” Lady Boyle than shipping her off with the guy who was obsessed with her…. If I were to rewrite it, I would have focused a lot more on the fact that she was also the Lord Regent’s financier and not just his mistress. To Neutralize her, she would have been disgraced among her circles, so much so that she could no longer be trusted to be even near the Lord Regent and therefore cutting off his finances. That, or find a way to completely the deplete the family of their fortune, also cutting off the Lord Regent’s income.

And the Nominees are…

Michelle Anneliese, A Geek Girl’s Guide: Renowned Explorers: International Society Review

I really like Michelle’s reviews on games because she usually talks about different games I’ve never heard of before. It’s no different with Renowned Explorers: International Society, where she discusses the game’s unique “combat” mechanics and how quick and repayable the game is with the different ways players can approach the game. I haven’t played it yet, but she definitely made me want to check it out!

IamRhinos, IamRhinos: The Importance of Timing the Games You Play

I’ve often felt that after I’ve really enjoyed a game, I need to give myself a break before changing gears to another game, so I can give that new game the enjoyment and focus it deserves. IamRhinos writes a great article on this exact topic, acknowledging the fact that sometimes you need to play a game at the right time to fully appreciate it.

Hope Eliza, Nerd Out Word Out/Hope Eliza Blogs: Review- Little Nightmares

While I usually try to stay away from horror games, Hope Eliza does a fun review on the game Little Nightmares and explains that while she also stays away from horror, she couldn’t help but enjoy this spooky adventure. Her review does a good job explaining the style and all the elemental details that make this game interesting. I’ll have to be sure to add this game to my list!

M Weaver, Objection! Network: Night in the Woods Hits Too Close to Home, Wrecks Young Adults Everywhere

I have heard some truly excellent things about Night in the Woods, and M Weaver gives a wonderful overview of the game. Most compelling about the review is the discussion of what themes are made prevalent throughout with the heavy concentration on characters. I’m looking forward to trying this game out for myself!

Jon Wisniewski, The Legend of Pixels: Life is Strange Season 2: Thoughts and Speculations

Jon describes my exact thoughts when it comes to predicting what we will see in Life is Strange 2. With the first game having such self-contained elements to it, it seems highly likely that we will be seeing many new features in the sequel. I recommend checking out his post on the matter!

My Questions for You

1. What’s the funniest video game in-game moment you’ve had?

2. Con season is coming up (is here?), so have you ever been to a comic book/video game/etc convention? If so, which as been your favorite? If not, which one would you want to go to?

3. Favorite video game of 2017 so far? (Either that came out in 2017 or that you’ve played in 2017)

4. What video game have you replayed the most/have the most hours clocked into?

5. (Weird Question) You wake up to find that you are in your favorite video game universe. Which game is it and what is your first course of action?

My Best Post

So I don’t really have a lot to choose from, ha ha.

I’m quite proud of my first Dishonored post and my Dex post. With Dishonored, it was fun going through the different definitions of “dishonored” and seeing how they applied to the story as a whole. As for Dex, the game had an interesting method of handling dystopian/sci-fi themes in a way that was fascinating to explore in my first official post.

In closing up this very long post, I’d like to thank Robert and herrdelta again for nominating me for this award! It’s been really great meeting everyone so far in this blogging community and I’m looking forward to what new games and ideas may come in the future.

As for the nominees, I’ve greatly enjoyed reading your posts and I hope this nomination brings more people to your blogs!

Happy gaming!

~ M