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

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

Revenge and Redemption

Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, and Suggestive Themes

Available for: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

This post will contain spoilers for a Low Chaos!Emily playthrough of Dishonored 2. I have not yet played Corvo’s route, so opinions in this post will be without whatever knowledge comes in that playthrough. For that reason also, no Corvo spoilers in the comments please! I’ll make a post for his story once I’ve finished that route.

Arkane Studios’ Dishonored 2 (2016) picks up 15 years after the ending of Dishonored, with Emily Kaldwin seated firmly on the throne and her father Corvo as Royal Protector. Upon the anniversary of her mother’s death, Emily is suddenly usurped by a woman claiming to be her long lost aunt, Delilah. Depending on who you choose to play as, either Emily or Corvo will be forced to flee from Dunwall and escape to Karnaca, located in the southernmost isle of the empire and Corvo’s birth city. As you progress through the game, your chosen protagonist will take down Delilah’s closest associates before returning to Dunwall to take back the throne.

Something that immediately stands out upon playing Dishonored 2 is the new voice acting for the protagonists. This gives Corvo and Emily the opportunity to react to the world around them and truly gives a perspective on their personalities. I’m not yet sure if this is the case for Corvo, but Emily also has a journal where she gives further commentary on her situation and how she feels about the decisions she’s made. The first Dishonored game put a lot of the story and focus on the characters surrounding Corvo, but here, Dishonored 2 brings the focus back to the protagonist, allowing them to have their own character arc and development.

Sequels tend to come with a nostalgia attached to them, particularly for the characters who make returning appearances. Along with that, there’s a nostalgic purity that latches onto these characters, if you remember them fondly. Dishonored 2 doesn’t give you the opportunity to settle into that position. When we last saw Emily, she was a young girl placed in a terrible situation but still kind and good and with a determined mischievous streak. Now, 15 years later, we start seeing flaws in her character and how she has decided to rule over the Empire, or her lax rule as it were. Through an early conversation with Corvo and reading through letters in Emily’s safe room, you start finding that Emily is doing everything she can to avoid the title and responsibilities she holds. Newspapers reveal that it has not passed the Empire’s attention, either. These real consequences result in a great setup for her character arc.

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Naturally, Emily is eager to take back her throne and save her father, but she soon realizes it won’t be just a matter of taking back her throne but proving to her people that she is worthy of having the throne back in the first place. One particular journal entry indicates Emily’s exact concerns over the matter as she worries that Delilah might make a better Empress than her and might be worthier of the position. Throughout her journey, Emily comes face-to-face with the hardships the people of the Empire face in their daily lives and some of the injustices her targets have brought upon the people with their positions of nobility. She is quick to condemn them, but other characters are just as quick to remind her that she let these injustices slide when she was on the throne.

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Dualities of revenge and redemption play a lot into the story of Dishonored 2, with Emily’s non-lethal options involving either bestowing retribution or in some cases, a chance at redemption. Dr. Hypatia is an example of one such case of redemption (the allusion to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was not lost on me), where the non-lethal option allows you to cure her of her condition and help her to return to her work. Contrarily, Breanna Ashworth is not granted such forgiveness, her non-lethal option will strip her of her magical abilities and her connection to Delilah. The game seems to take on a trend that some are worthy of forgiveness while others will receive a harsh punishment for their crimes, and at first glance, you would expect that Delilah would fall into the latter category. Delilah, who has committed no small list of crimes in order to see and rule the world as she wanted it, does end up getting some of what she wanted in the end. A non-lethal option will trap Delilah in an alternate world where she is respected and adored by the people of the Empire. It would seem surprising that Emily would give this to a woman who all but destroyed everything, but Emily’s Low Chaos personality seems to be far more forgiving in regards to some cases.

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I absolutely loved Dishonored 2. I didn’t know how much the voice acting would add to the overall story, but it did so very much. It was a joy to watch Emily’s character grow as she realized her own flaws and set out to correct them all while fighting for her throne. Playing her perspective seemed so personalized to her arc, so I’m eager to find what the story has in store for Corvo as well. I highly recommend both Dishonored and Dishonored 2 to anyone who hasn’t played before.

Dishonored 2 Official Website

Dishonored 2 Launch Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

Deception! Betrayal! Dishonor!

Rating: M for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language

Available for: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows

Just as a warning, this post will contain spoilers for Dishonored, including the ending of the game. If you are interested in playing Dishonored and don’t want to be spoiled, I suggest coming back after you’ve finished the game.

People who know me would probably describe me as a klutz. When I’m not walking into a wall or hitting a doorknob on my way past a door, I’m tripping over my own feet. Amazingly, this manages to carry over to stealth video games, where I’m probably the least stealthiest person in the game. And as you can imagine, it leads to a lot of restarts.

Still, I decided to try my hand at Arcane Studio’s Dishonored(2012) since it was their Dishonored 2(2016) announcement that first intrigued me to the series.

Dishonored tells the story of Corvo Attano, Royal Protector to the Empress and recently accused party to her murder. While in prison for a crime he did not commit, Corvo is set free by a group called the Loyalists, who are attempting to dethrone the Lord Regent (the true murderer and usurper) and place Emily Kaldwin, the Empress’ young daughter, on the throne. Corvo becomes the Loyalists’ assassin and takes up the tasks of eliminating or neutralizing supporters of the Lord Regent in order to take down his defenses and remove him from the throne. As the title would imply, “Dishonored” is meant to be a descriptor for the game’s protagonist and his disgraced reputation, but as the game progresses, it holds multiple meanings meant to describe many of the game’s main characters and their actions.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the following definitions of “dishonor”:

1. (Noun) lack or loss of honor or reputation

2. (Noun) the state of one who has lost honor or prestige: shame

3. (Noun) a cause of disgrace

4. (Transitive Verb) to treat in a degrading manner

5. (Transitive Verb) to bring shame upon

Setting aside Corvo’s situation, every single one of these definitions is apparent throughout the game. The majority of the game is spent completing missions by neutralizing enemies of the Loyalists, and in those tasks, you are to decide whether you kill them outright (High Chaos) or if you disgrace them so that they lose all power (Low Chaos).

I played with the goal of Low Chaos and found that many of the aforementioned definitions applied directly to the enemy’s fate. Neutralizing the High Overseer in Corvo’s first real task requires giving him the Heretic’s Brand, causing him to be shamed and ostracized from all society. The Pendleton brothers will be forced to work hard labor in the mines in punishment for the crimes they have committed. Corvo may have been the one initially dishonored, but it will be his enemies that encounter their own disgrace.

At the turning point in the game, however, you find that it is not only the Lord Regent’s supporters and the Lord Regent himself that encounter Corvo’s retribution, but members of the Loyalists themselves. Along with much of the word play of “dishonor,” Dishonored is quick to remind you of other motifs, namely deception and betrayal. Corvo, the Empress, and Emily have all known this from the onset, but Corvo will experience it again when the time comes to put Emily on the throne. Feeling guilty for the crimes they have committed and realizing that the same backlash could fall upon them, the Loyalists plan to do away with any lose ends and possible connections to Corvo’s actions. All of this to maintain their own sense of honor. Their bond of trust does not last long however, because in the final moments of the climax, the rest of the Loyalists are killed by one of their own.

There is very little trust to be found in this game, as Dishonored explores to what lengths people close to power will deceive and betray until they reach the top. The Lord Regent is a central focal point in this statement, beginning before the planned assassination of the Empress. As it turns out, the Lord Regent introduced the disease plaguing the city as a way to eliminate the country’s poorest citizens. For fear of being found out, he orders for the Empress to be assassinated, but his deceptions go further than affecting the immediate royal family. Much of Dunwall is seen in distress from results of the quickly spreading plague, and it is obvious that the citizens of Dunwall have been left abandoned for focus on political games. With a High Chaos!Corvo, you can see this accelerate faster, with discarded bodies allowing the plague to propagate. The significance of Corvo’s actions in the extended world seems to suggest that this version of Corvo has little regard for consequence of those surrounding his enemies and its potential catastrophic effects on the world as a whole.

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What comes off as a simple story line, Dishonored has the ability to play around and explore their motifs in different ways, all while utilizing the characters they have at hand. The title’s word play is particularly smart as it integrates itself into the rest of the story, releasing its dependency on the game’s central character. Using this method, the game is able to connect all of its characters and motifs into a more centralized theme. I’ll be eager to see if the title has the same significance in the game’s sequel, Dishonored 2, and how it will be utilized in the new plot.

Dishonored 2 Official Website

Dishonored Launch Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

A Unification of Heroes

Rating: 12+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence, Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity

Available for: iOS, Android

As I am posting this, it will be nearly a year to the day of Fire Emblem Fates’ North American release date. More over, it comes with the knowledge that a Fire Emblem game remake is just around the corner, with Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia being released this coming May. As someone who has been a fan of the series for many years, it’s incredible for me to have seen the Fire Emblem series grow to this level. I don’t think I ever considered the possibility that this series could become among of Nintendo’s top selling games, let alone encourage Intelligent Systems to remake and revitalize older series titles.

With Intelligent System’s mobile Fire Emblem game, Fire Emblem Heroes, I believe there was an intention to unite the Fire Emblem fanbase with a single game that everyone could enjoy. It does the enormous task of bringing together different games and all the different characters into a single game. Such a concept does not necessarily need a story, much like Super Smash Bros. does not need one to unite various Nintendo characters, but Intelligent Systems still found a clever premise and a simple story to give reason for this crossover and maybe even explain certain overlaps in the Fire Emblem series as a whole.

Fire Emblem Heroes sets up a classic plot of warring countries, with one side in the pursuit of conquest and the other seeking to stop the invading country. It’s always a little risky introducing new characters in a scenario that is meant to give the stage to series favorites, but Alfonse and Sharena come into the story seamlessly and at no point feel like they’re impeding on the focus. In fact, in the moments of dialogue, Alfonse and Sharena introduce their own story in a way that feels just as natural as any other Fire Emblem game. After all, royal siblings defending their homeland is a common feature in many of the series’ titles. Veronica and the Mysterious Man are placed as the antagonists in this tale, with Veronica’s invasion of the Askr Empire reminding us of previous plots of the series. The new characters’ direct relationship to the series comes with the assistance of Anna, who is given the role of Commander and becomes a clever acknowledgement of the many years she’s been a staple in the Fire Emblem series.

So how to explain all of the familiar characters popping into this new world, if you’re dedicating yourself to creating such a scenario…. Immediately into the game, it is explained that this current world oversees all of the different Fire Emblem worlds. Gates will open and close at the discretions of the Askr and Emblian empires, almost to suggest the opening and closing of a story when their time has come and gone. With this set-up, it would also suggest that all of the other games are occurring in parallel universes, something we’ve already seen hints about in recent games in the form of Easter Eggs.

Take Fire Emblem: Awakening, for example: an Outrealm Gate is set up for DLCs, allowing you to encounter previous heroes, travel to different worlds, and to even visit a parallel world where Grima defeated the first generation of characters. Fire Emblem: Fates has the “Before Awakening” DLC, where it is suggested that Fates’ world is fictional to those living in the Awakening universe. Amiibo characters can also make appearances in Fates. With all this being possible, you could even make the case that Anna (and her many, many family members) are truly from the Heroes universe and find their way into each of the other worlds through the portals.

I honestly loved the Heroes concept. It unites all the games in a interesting way without being too much of an imposition on the existing canon. Having completed Chapter 9, currently the last chapter available in the game, I was very, very pleasantly surprised to find that the game/story is not done. I was really worried when I only saw nine chapters and the worlds were starting to repeat. This leaves it open for far more Fire Emblem worlds to be introduced with later updates, potentially with new events to keep the interest high.

I’m trying to keep this short, so I’ll list a few other things I really liked about Fire Emblem Heroes:

1. You are not forced to purchase orbs to enjoy the game. Right now a lot of orbs are being made readily available and new characters are being introduced for recruitment every day, if you don’t want to spend orbs.

2. Maps and music are very familiar to their respective games, making it so the crossover is not limited to the characters. (The map on Chapter 8, Part 3 continues to be the bane of my existence.)

3. I’m still getting used to the new artwork for the different characters, but it is really nice to see different artists’ take on the familiar faces.

4. The special maps are a great way to allow the player to recruit characters they’re trying to summon and to encourage them to log in every day. Weekend Log-In orb bonuses are also wonderful.

Three things I, personally, would love to see in the future:

1. Tellius characters (bias and nostalgia everywhere)

2. Characters from the other games/worlds (some were just released and I suspect more are coming soon)

3. A special event for Fire Emblem Echoes characters, when the time comes to release the game.

As you can probably tell, I’ve been really enjoying playing Fire Emblem Heroes, and it definitively brought in more story than I was expecting. I was glad to see it, because it resulted in a lot more elements of the series making appearances. I am definitely looking forward to upcoming events and updates, and I know it will be an app I keep going back to.

Now I turn this to you: what have been your thoughts on the app? How does it do in bringing the Fire Emblem games together? What do you think of the story so far?

Fire Emblem Heroes Official Website

Fire Emblem Heroes Trailer

Happy gaming!

~ M

Hacking, Augmentations, and Dex

Rating: M for Violence, Blood, Sexual Content, Drug Reference, Strong Language

Available for: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One

Dreadlocks’ Dex (2015) tosses you in a cyberpunk world that has been dominated by advancements in technology and has you as witness to its consequences.

Set in a dystopian future, Dex follows the story of Dex, a girl thrust in the middle of a cyber war between hackers and a world-dominating group called The Complex. The game starts out when Raycast, a mysterious hacker, tells Dex that her life is in danger and puts her in the care of hacktivists named Decker and Tony. Together, they work to tear apart the very fabric of The Complex and relinquish the world from their grip. Throughout the story, the player is introduced to the city of Harbor Prime and its inhabitants in a way that sets up both the world and the themes it’s about to tackle.

Dex touches themes that are all very common to the sci-fi genre, particularly in anything that describes itself as “cyberpunk”: control and power through information on the internet, this uncomfortable conflict between what is considered “natural” and the use of “augmentations,” and the discussion of what truly makes a human. With these archetypes in tow, the question then becomes: what does Dex bring to this table?

Right off of the bat, it is established that The Complex controls just about everything: the media, information, even governments. It is meant to establish that The Complex is big, very big, and because they control most of the information consumed, they have a lot of power. You are reminded about this in many of the quests you undertake throughout the game. As you are speaking to people around Harbor Prime, you find that a lot of them have direct and indirect dealings with The Complex. Some people are more allied with The Complex than others, but this all goes to show that the organization is very much present throughout the world. Your task, as you keep finding, is to find people to help you take down the organization, and when you are asked to speak to characters, it’s not just a conversational task. There’s is usually a handy computer nearby where you can hack your way through and find incriminating emails detailing blackmail, murders, and all sorts of underground dealings. This is usually enough to convince a character to ally themselves against The Complex’s powerful hold. The Complex are no longer the ones with sole control of the information, and in that way, you are already pulling at the seams of the organization. Information control is not a new theme, but using it in a video game gives the ability to see it manifest in a “worldwide” way, allowing you to see how The Complex affects everyone to different extents. These interactions with minor characters fleshes out the world a bit more, which contrasts to a lot of sci-fi movies that make you feel like the only ones aware of this information control are the main characters. Dex does a good job of presenting the hacking game mechanic in a way that links directly to their theme, and it is especially aided by how frequently you are required to use the mechanic. I’ll admit I did struggle a bit in trying to figure out the mini-game, but after I did, I found myself enjoying it a lot. I started going back to places I had skipped earlier just so I could hack my way through the computers and find more emails and small tidbits the creators had put in. The information control theme becomes more significant towards the end of the game, but I’m going to leave that for a spoiler post.

Dex also tries to tackle the theme of nature vs “technological enhancements.” Harbor Prime, and potentially the world, seems to be at a turning point with this concept. They are caught between what is seen as natural and “pure” vs the use of technology to “enhance” their livelihoods. This presents itself in many different ways. Dex is hesitant to “upgrade” herself with implants and the like but must do so to advance the plot. There is a side quest with Barbara, a classical singer, who decides to get an implant to continue her career but is harassed by her biggest fan for doing so. The Aphrodite, a pleasure venue, is finding that their “Flesh-and-Blood” employees are more desirable than employees who have all the latest implants. The list goes on, and the world is highly conflicted for how to handle this change in society. I was actually surprised at how strongly emotional some characters were about keeping things natural. Perhaps it was my preconceived notions about the genre that I had assumed just about all the characters had some sort of implant, but progressing through the game made me realize that these augmentations are a relatively recent cultural shift. Maybe one that is accelerating too fast for the citizens of Harbor Prime. I liked seeing the cultural struggle present itself in various forms around Harbor Prime and then have it all come together for the big monologue at the climax of the game (more on this in the spoiler post). Dex creates that set-up well, especially by having Dex expressing her own initial discomfort at implants and augmentations.

I have a lot more to discuss on the themes of the game, which I will write about in a later post, but I just wanted to give my initial impressions of the game and how the story works in this medium. Dex does a good job of getting its points across without feeling overbearing or too “in your face” about the themes they were trying to get across. You are able to get a solid understanding of the world through the secondary characters, and it was refreshing to see that they all didn’t have the exact same problem with The Complex. I would have loved to have the game be a little longer, just so I could have more time with the characters, but I thought they had their significant moments for how short this game is. The fourth wall breaking moments had the right level of humor to them, which is always appreciated. There were places in the game where the plot build up could have been stronger, but, again, I will get to that in my spoiler post. Overall, I really enjoyed the game, and I would definitely recommend you to check it out if you have the chance.

Also, I didn’t have a place to say this earlier, but one of the things I really loved about the game was the atmosphere created by the art style, music, and voice acting. It really helped to set the tone for the rest of the world.

I’ll post my thoughts on the end of the story in a couple weeks, just to give enough time for those who want to try out the game first a chance to play.

Dex Official Website

Dex Official Trailer

Happy gaming!

~M

Introductions

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn wasn’t the first RPG I had ever played, that’s an honor that belongs to Pokemon, but it was the first game that taught me that stories were not just window dressing for game mechanics. It was the first time I had truly paid attention and engaged with the characters, the story, and my motivation was not just driven by trying to defeat the final boss but in trying to find out what happens at the end of the story. It read to me like all the books that I loved, but this time, I was actively trying to help these characters move through the narrative. Mercenaries fighting for a cause, battle-ready princesses who were ready to join the fray, and an overarching mystery I had to solve; it was unlike anything I had ever played before and I knew immediately I needed more like it.

I could say I have a long history of gaming, ever since my sister and I received a Nintendo 64 when I was 6. We didn’t play too many “story” games back then, a lot of Mario Kart and other Mario Sports. Pokemon came a few years later and I could have paid attention to the narrative then but my 10 year old self was more concerned with making my way around Kanto with Pikachu at my side. I went through some simulation games (like The Sims and Zoo Tycoon) over the next few years, but it would be Super Smash Bros. Brawl that led me to a genre that would ultimately change my life. Like many who knew Fire Emblem before Awakening, I stumbled across the series by way of the question: “Who is that blue-haired sword wielder?” (There were many more where that came from, apparently.) It was then I was able to confirm “my genre” as RPGs, and it would be several years more when I would add Dragon Age and the Persona series to my list of favorite game series. So where am I going with all this?

While studying for my English degree, I realized the things that I was learning about literature could also be applied to video games and how they work as a storytelling medium. It’s easy to limit the gaming experience to just strategy and mechanics: what armor has the best defense? What sword/bow/staff should I have equipped? Where is the best place to stand to attack this monster? However, there is this big emphasis now on the narrative and characters of the game. Just take a look at the recent popularity of the Telltale games, Life is Strange, Overwatch…. Heck, look at the games that have won Game of the Year in the past several years. I have long advocated (to any of my friends and family who will listen) that video games are a valid medium for storytelling. With this blog, I want to explore more of that. Video games can be just as meaningful and profound as a book, movie, or a TV show, and I want to analyze games that do just that. I’ll be looking at games with good narratives, well rounded characters, and games that utilize their mechanics as a way to uniquely tell their story. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with some college English essay on the color symbolism of the Super Mario cast, that’s not why I’m here, but I’d like to take a look at how well game developers got their story across and the unique ways they used the video game medium to do so.

I will post on select Fridays, either discussing my first impressions on a new game I’ve played or discussing storytelling elements of a game or games. Be sure to be on the look out for new posts, either through my social media or by subscribing to me here!

Happy gaming!

~M