Until Dawn

Like any selfrespecting author, there are plenty of things I absolutely hate about myself. But nothing is more annoying than my inability to deal with the horror genre. Yes, I’m a scaredy-cat – and never has this been more annoying than during my time with the PS4 horror game “Until Dawn”.

Because god damn, that game is good.

The premise is deviously simple: Until Dawn is a choose-your-own-adventure-style horror game, an interactive movie in which you alternate between eight teenage cliches as they try to survive a particularly gruesome night. So far, there’s been ghosts, werewolves, clowns, and – because the game keeps asking what I find scariest of all – a whole lot of scarecrows. God damn I hate scarecrows.

So how does this work? It’s quite easy: you play “scenes” from what is essentially an eight hour horror epic and sometimes, the game will ask you to make mistakes. Do you want Ashley to crush Chris superhard or do you want to give him the cold shoulder? Do you want to shoot a squirrel for fun? Watch out, that squirrel might just give you a bloody wound which a particularly scary clown murderer can smell five hours later.

You win the game if, at dawn, all characters survive. But it’s also impossible to know what will kill them or not. And that’s where the fun is: Wondering what the repercussions of your micro-decisions will be. The characters are all perfectly tailor-made to kind of *want* to kill them, but they’re also kind of endearing in their own right – because their dialogues are incredibly witty. It makes role-playing as “the cool jock with abandonment issues” all the more fun – and it’s amazing to see him hung from a meat hook later on.

RIP Matt, we hardly knew ye.

So yeah, I love this game. But I play it five minutes at a time with cozy music in the background. And if one more ghost suddenly jumps on the screen, I will lose my shit and hurly my controller at the TV.

I can’t wait for the sunrise to come and release me. Fuck this game. Fuck this amazing game.

Homemade Arkham Utensil

I have a confession to make: I’m one of those people who got *really* into board games during the pandemic. Like, spend way too much cash on games like Root and Scythe, supercomplicated games you ideally have to have four players to play, which is ironic, because there’s only two people who can read in my household and we weren’t supposed to have people over.

Suddenly, our house was littered with cardboard boxes containing meeples and coins and dices and oh my god these games are absolutely terrible to set up, aren’t they?!

Thank God we had a second lockdown. One in which I decided that maybe I should get into woodworking. Because as it turns out: these two hobbies are pretty compatible!

So it was obvious that one of my first projects was going to be something to clean up the table on our weekly Arkham Horror nights. Arkham is one of those games I pimped up the wazoo with custom-made tokens, arrow markers, session cards, etc. And I made it my mission to have them neatly stored on the side of the table so they don’t interfere with the game – and look cool doing so.

This is how it started – with a few scraps of wood

It had to hold eight kinds of tokens, and three sets of cards, two of these horizontally (the so-called act and agenda decks, which advance the game) and one vertically (the scenario overview, which tells you what the game’s symbols – essentially its dice rolls – mean in this scenario). The cards have to be visible at all times, the tokens have to be easily reachable so you don’t have to look for the right one. As an added bonus, I wanted to include the “mythos deck” in this utensil – the deck you pull a card from at the start of every turn, but I quickly dropped it because there was no way to do it elegantly.

In essence, I made a box with five compartments. Originally, I wanted to divide one of these compartments into three more, and prepared all the pieces too – but that didn’t work because of how I did the lid. I gotta say: I love the lid. It doubles as a lectern that holds the cards and makes this box look hella unique.

So I made some measurements and took them to class (I made this utensil in a workshop). There, the teacher handed me some leftover wood and essentially threw all the measurements out of the window. The rest was really quite unspectacular: we cut the wood to size, partially by table saw, partially by hand. Then I routed out the compartments and the lid, chiseled the sides to fit said lid, and grinded for what felt like ages before gluing everything together.

After what felt like hours of careful chiseling, the lid fit.

In the end, I slathered wax on it, which I will never do again because it was a smelly mess and it kind of cheapens the whole deal. But hey, at least I learned something.

It’s not perfect by any means – I made some chiseling mistakes and the routing was off by a millimeter, creating a crooked look for the compartments if you look at it from above, but god damn it’s my first project and there’s nothing in this world that looks like this and I love it like a widdle baby.

It works! It woooorks!

Final Fantasy IX

I’ve been replaying a lot of Final Fantasies lately. It started with 12 (the zodiac age!), a japanese star wars; then I switched to 7 (the remake!), the edgiest of the bunch barring 8, and then I landed on nine. And man, I love Final Fantasy IX.

When it came out in 2000 (a few years before I had a PlayStation and could actually play the damn thing at full-speed and not emulated on a PC without a dedicated GPU), Final Fantasy IX was supposed to be a victory lap of what was arguably one of the most successful video game series of the 90s. It had all the tropes and then some. And man, teenage me looooved me some tropes.

Now that I’m older, I enjoy Final Fantasy IX differently. I enjoy its incredibly rich world. Its amazing characters, who, like no other Final Fantasy, can carry both the comedy and the tragedy embedded in the wonderful script. And man, that music… it’s something else.

Unfortunately, it looks like a playstation game. Because it is. It’s got the crude models, the blocky backgrounds, that weird floaty polygon effect that happened because 3D graphics were just out of the Playstation’s reach. And because I always played it on a Playstation console (or a vita), I could do squat about it.

But now, for the first time in ages, I have a PC. And I can mod it.

Enter the Moguri Mod, a modification bigger than the game itself that, with a few clicks, transforms the game in widescreen and wonderful HD. Suddenly, those blocky backgrounds look the way they were intended, like wonderful paintings of beautiful locales; the music sounds amazing, and the character models… them polygons don’t float, man.

Just click the link and look at the trailer and tell me that ain’t the most precious thing ever!

Final Fantasy IX is my happy place. And now it’s a happy place that doesn’t look like shit.

PS Quina is the absolute best character ever and I won’t be convinced otherwise.

(Do people still do blogs nowadays?)