Nier, Spoilers, and Emotion in Video Games

Even after writing last week’s spoiler-free Nier review, and despite promising a spoiler-fueled deep dive into the topic today, this article has been scrapped countless times.

That’s because the twists, turns, and entire emotional rollercoaster are impossible to convey in words. Such an experience isn’t even possible outside of a video game, because the player-game interaction is what allows Nier to reach those heights.

I know that sounds pretentious as all hell, but let me try to explain.

!!WARNING!! From this point on there will be spoilers for Nier – if you have any intention of playing it,
please consider getting each of the game’s endings before reading on

nier emotion kaine

Nier takes full advantage of being a game

Nier is an example of how games can truly engage the player in a way that is simply impossible for a book or movie.…   [continue reading]

Nier Review: A Perfectly Flawed Masterpiece

This game – this damn game – is the reason I didn’t publish an article on Secret Cave for more than two months.

I’d planned out at least four different articles for Nier in my head over that time, but none could do it justice. I had to keep playing until I’d reached 100% completion.

And once I saw everything it had to offer, I was at a total loss for words.

Nier is quite possibly the best gaming experience I’ve ever had. I say “experience” because (as with an increasing number of titles) Nier manages to interact with the player directly, completely separate from the in-game characters.…   [continue reading]

Beyond Good and Evil Review: A Proper PS2 Game

Over the past 15 years, I’ve played countless games. From Snake and Space Impact (even the name evokes a wave of nostalgia) to modern masterpieces like Nier and Nuclear Throne.

However, despite having primarily played games on PC (474 Steam games and counting) for years now, there is one console that will always hold a special place in my heart and cupboard – the PS2.

While that’s partly because of the large chunk of my childhood I spent on the console, it’s also because the PS2 has some of the greatest games ever made in its library.

Jak and Daxter (1 and 3), Ratchet and Clank (take your pick), Soulcalibur 3 (stick it 2), Devil May Cry, and the flawed masterpieces that are Drakengard and Shadow of Memories.…   [continue reading]

Bunker Punks: A Fantastically Limited Rebellion

I like Bunker Punks. I really do.

It’s a fantastic mix of smooth gameplay and simple mechanics slowly building up to one hell of a satisfying twitch shooter.

Unfortunately, Bunker Punks is also a bit of a confused and limited mess – so much, in fact, that I can’t bring myself to recommend it at full price. Definitely worth picking up in a sale, but consider what you’re willing to pay for an hour or two of solid entertainment before fatigue starts to set in.

First, the nitty gritty. Bunker Punks is an Early Access FPS with roguelike and base building mechanics that’s been on Steam since 30th March 2016.…   [continue reading]

Farewell Hilary Shaw

On Tuesday 20th December, at 5:30 pm GMT I stood up and stretched, working out a crick in my back which had settled after 9 hours in the same chair.

The work call had just ended, with my next post set up and scheduled, ready to go the next day automatically.

On a whim, I decided to check my Twitter, expecting some kind of backlash at the Rogue One review that went live the day before.

“@Ben__Mulholland Hi Ben Mulholland”

This message from Gabriele Palmer seemed a little odd, mainly because I had (and still have) a paltry amount of followers – I’m not important enough to make spam worthwhile or to inspire any real interest in striking up a conversation out of the blue.…   [continue reading]

Twat with a Laptop: A Tale of Hometown Alienation

“What the fuck is that twat with a laptop doing?”

Ah, Grimsby charm, you’ve got to love it. Bet it’s some idiot in a beany and shoes far too high-grade for the sweatshop turtleneck he’s draped across a frame sorely lacking sustenance other than the outrage of the internet.

Except it wasn’t. He was talking about me.

And in that moment I felt homeless.

Now, I’m not trying to spin a “woe is me, I don’t belong anywhere” story. I grew up in a town (and family) of little sympathy for people who whine and moan about how bad they’ve got it.…   [continue reading]

Rogue One Review: A Shallow “fix” for A New Hope

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!

***This article will contain spoilers for Rogue One***

“That was a really good film. The ending was great!”

As the bloke two rows in front finished the longest spiel of his life and got up to leave, I knew I was fucked.

Because I was always going to write this Rogue One review.

And I thought it was a bit shit.

It wasn’t irredeemable – it had some pretty shots, some almost believable CGI people, and even made me laugh once or twice. However, it failed at so many hurdles that, come the intermission (Louth cinema is old and cute, with a halfway break for ice cream), I knew my mind was made up.…   [continue reading]

Online Multiplayer: The Addictive and Infuriating Barrier

I used to hate the idea of online multiplayer.

I grew up on single player behemoths; Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, Spyro, Crash Bandicoot, Dark Cloud, and Devil May Cry. Why would I play against other people when I had hours of challenging enjoyment ahead of me?

In my mind, online multiplayer (when it came about, that is) was just asking to get yourself trashed, then screamed at by someone half your age with double your free time to practice.

That’s not fun – that’s masochism.

Gaming nerd and movie over-analyzer. Has credits on Appcues, Usability Geek, and Process Street, but comes to Secret Cave to unwind and spit the shit.
…   [continue reading]

Copying Clickbait In An Overwatch “Clone”

Booting up, the main thought being that it’s free, so at least I’m only wasting time if it’s shit.

Fiddle about with login details for 15 minutes – who knows what my bloody password for Smite was?

Music sounds a bit Overwatch-y.

Get kicked into a tutorial with Soldier 76. Wait, sorry, “Viktor“. He’s Russian. Totally different

overwatch clone - viktor

So we get abilities with cooldowns, a primary weapon with infinite ammo but a limited clip, and an ultimate that doesn’t get lost when I die.

Wonder what abilities vodka-toss over here gets? … Oh. Great start that. I love it when one of my defining “abilities” is fucking iron sights.…   [continue reading]

GundeadliGne Review: The Most Fun You Can Have With An Epileptic Seizure

gundeadligne - header

Some of my first memories of gaming come from wandering into an arcade on Cleethorpes seafront; a crappy little run of buildings spanning both sides of the pier, discordantly bleating out Oh,ย My Darling Clementine to the clank of small change hitting metal and the very occasional cry of joy over aย 5p toy being spat out after ยฃ15 was force fed into one of the top chutes.

Amongst the mechanical 2p thieves and bullshit crane machines a lifelong hobby was born. The obligatory House Of The Dead box towered imposingly,ย scaring my 7-year-old self into steering clear of the thing entirely, so that just left a single stick, top-down bullet hell title which had your helicopter shooting down waves of military tech.…   [continue reading]