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]

How Final Fantasy VIII’s Insanity Made it Better

When was the last time you were surprised by a video game? No, I don’t mean an occasional plot twist or the fact that the game turned out to be way better than you were giving it credit at first. I mean when you weren’t ready for anything that a game was going to throw at you. When you thought you knew gaming, but then it pulls you up from the Earth and into the open space to show that there’s a whole new universe beyond the one you were familiar with.

“I envy you. I wish I could go back and do it for the first time, all over again.”
— The Game (1997)

Arguably, you can experience this once in a lifetime.…   [continue reading]

LEGO Worlds [FIRST IMPRESSIONS]

LEGO Worlds
First Impressions

Concept
7/10

Admittedly, the mere concept of LEGO Worlds is what draws me in.  Melding the sensibilities of Minecraft and LEGO itself, its subtle step forward is very exciting.  Of course, much of its concept relies on established tropes and mechanics.  While it’s not building a brand new concept afresh, the ideas and potential it brings to the table seem to be what I wanted from Minecraft in the first place.  However, I can’t deny that the inclusion of greatly varied brick sizes is the main allure in that package.  It makes for much more detailed, enjoyable and artful landscapes, the creation of which is at your beck and call in a variety of interesting ways.  …   [continue reading]

Why Adult Swim’s Kingsway is Set in a Fake ’90s Operating System

If I’ve learned anything from the fringes of comedy in the past year or so, it’s that old-looking shit is apparently hilarious. Not monochrome or vintage, but trashy VHS tapes, pre-internet computers, glitchy edits, and archaic internet junk.

Adult Swim’s new PC game was announced today, complete with a VHS tape-style announcement video. The game itself is set inside a mock operating system reminiscent of the days where Minesweeper and Solitaire were the main digital pastimes.

Interest in VHS distortion hasn’t been this popular since people were searching it to genuinely remedy their failing home cinema systems, and the trend of retro computers is spiking.…   [continue reading]

Soulstorm: ARG Rumblings of an Oddworld

Oddworld Inhabitants are the brains behind Abe and his odysseys.  Certainly a legend of the PS1 era, his spirit has endured with the release of New ‘n’ Tasty in 2014.  After a long hiatus, this reboot of their first game was an exciting return for a company of great integrity.  After all, their preceding outing was Stranger’s Wrath in 2005; a game which knocked them out financially.  While it did cement their legacy critically, a few shady practices by Microsoft would leave the humble studio disenfranchised.  This seems to make sense too, when you consider the philosophical thrust of their work.…   [continue reading]

The Last Guardian [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

The Last Guardian
Final Impressions

Concept
8/10

The conceptual thrust behind The Last Guardian had me somewhat confused when I first reviewed it.  After a more complete experience it’s clear that my assumptions were right.  For example, the main themes permeating both its story and gameplay are teamwork and friendship.  To expertly explore those thoughts, Trico is a uniquely realised AI mechanic, which anchors the whole thing.  Bringing him to life must have been a daunting prospect in an age where artificial intelligence is so widely weak.  That they took to the task with such flair and determination is laudable in itself, and the end result is entirely one of a kind.  …   [continue reading]

Deep into Freudian Hell with The Binding of Isaac

I’m lying in bed, eyes closed. I’m on one and a half hearts, scouring bloody, bombed out rooms for a health pickup before facing the boss, dodging spiders, rushing past spiked blocks, or setting fire to my mother’s leg as it stomps down from above. Even when I have my eyes closed, I can see the flashing interface, and feel the urgency of my shots and movements.

The Binding of Isaac has taken over my life.

My first reaction to Isaac (and all games of its kind) used to be: “nope, too hard and frustrating”. It was also an unfair eye-roll at it and all games of its kind that seem to rely on outdated mechanics and graphics because of budget.…   [continue reading]