Maddox Interview: F*ck Whales, Video Games and Criticism

This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with Maddox, available here.

George Ouzounian, better known as Maddox, has built his brand on the internet for twenty years. Beginning with The Best Page in the Universe in 1997, the project has grown into a number of different mediums. Primarily, Maddox considers himself a writer and satirist. Yet, he’s always made an effort to craft content for various platforms. While maintaining a consistent and practised tone, Maddox now produces podcasts, animation, comics and YouTube videos. He’s even currently working on a video game. Though all of his output is faithful to the core of his character, his outspoken penmanship inspires it all.…   [continue reading]

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 Gestalt & Replicant 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 Gestalt 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]

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]

The Best and Worst of Trailers [2016]

Hear the writers discuss this subject on the Secret Cave Podcast!  And another time!  And even another time!

At first I was going to make this piece an overview of trailers in their entirety, using two from this year as examples.  Instead, it occurred to me that i’d simply be stealing an upcoming subject from fellow writer, Ben Mulholland.  As such, I thought it more befitting of me to look in depth at the two examples.  One staggeringly bad, another breathtakingly good, there are a lot of meaty tangents to go off on from both.

Trailers, on the whole, are mere promotional tools to rally the populous.  …   [continue reading]

Rockstar Retrospective: Grand Theft Auto III

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

As hopefully the first in a series of “Rockstar Retrospective” articles, I thought it prudent to start with their first 3D foray, Grand Theft Auto III.  Having recently earned the Platinum Trophy on this undoubted classic, I feel in a position to give it a fair and holistic overview.  A diminutive eleven years of age on its day of release, it helps that I hold such vivid memories of its initial impact too.  With that in mind, there’s plenty about the game that screams of bad design – almost in equal measure to the beautiful details found in every corner of the experience.  …   [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, My Darling Clementine to the clank of small change hitting metal and the very occasional cry of joy over a 5p toy being spat out after £15 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, 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]

DOOM [FINAL IMPRESSIONS]

DOOM
Final Impressions

(all ratings are out of 10)

Concept
5

It’s not a particularly interesting idea to throw another Doom sequel at us, and it doesn’t even twist it that much on its head to make it a re-boot.  The idea of violent first-person shooting has an appeal, but a limited one.

British fellow consumes media and regurgitates back what you should think about it.
…   [continue reading]