Category Archives: Games

Stuff about games.

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.

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.

Hades

There’s this theory in gaming that the reason people like video games is because, when everything comes together, inputs become automatic, like clockwork. You lose track of your surroundings and see nothing but the screen. You’re completely in the flow.

Now, I like video games, but I rarely get this. Usually, after half an hour, I get antsy and feel the need to get up and do something useful. Games have to really click to consume me.

Then I played Hades!

Hades is a roguelike – a game in which you keep on repeating an arduous and difficult “run” through a semi-randomized set of levels. In Hades, you play as Zagreus, the titular god’s son, and the run is escaping the underworld. The semi-randomized part is a meticulously crafted set of variables: Not only do enemies change, but your uncles and aunts on Mount Olympus give you certain boons to help you in your escape attempt. For instance, Poseidon might imbue my attacks with tidal waves, whereas Zeus has the power of lightning. Every ability interacts, making sure that no two runs are alike.

I think roguelikes are okay. I’m not a huge fan of the time investment involved in mastering and finishing one – often times, I get bored by the second or third run. But Hades has a hook: Every time you die, you end up with your father, and the story continues. This game is filled to the brim with beautifully recorded dialogue and superb characters, making sure you go for one more run, just so you know how the story unfolds.

This narrative is a brilliant idea, no surprise coming from Supergiant, the makers of Bastion, Transistor and Pyre, who’ve always been strong storytellers. Bastion and Transistor exist on pretty much every computer, tablet or smart fridge, you should try them out, if only for the art style and the story. Or better yet:

Hades. It’s on switch, so you can play it on the toilet.