The Million Dollar Test

I have a test. I am going to say one word, actually three letters, and I want to know what the first thing is that comes in to your minds. Here we go: BFG.

I have a hunch that the results will split the majority of people in to two categories. Some people will undoubtedly think of Roald Dahl’s novel about a giant with large ears and a friendly disposition – a giant that is kind and caring to depths of his soul. Others, like me, will think of a massive fucking gun that obliterates aliens in a huge blast of plasma from a classic game called Doom. It’s a test that guarantees to expose all hardcore gamers for what they really are – monster melting freaks. Unsurprisingly, it is these gamers that I am talking to now – sorry Roald Dahl fans.

Doom is back!

Revealed during Quakecon 2014 for the first time since E3 and set to rock the socks off of any gaming fan, new or old, Doom 4 is well and truly on its merry way. There’s a short trailer beneath, but don’t expect to see the gameplay trailer that was shown at Quakecon; that’s been kept more top-secret than the contents of President Obama’s internet history. Developers have promised that the game will be more like the old-school Doom that we know and love – full of hundreds of monsters and no where to hide. I cant’t wait!

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The Room 1 + 2 : knock, knock – who’s there?

How exciting can one room be? The room I am in, for example, is full of empty cups scarred with beige tea stains, a bulging ashtray and a withered looking guitar, making it about as exciting as a sauna full of politicians – depending on your perspective. But in recent years, British based game studio, Fireproof games, have proved that a single room can be very exciting indeed. Their first two games, named The Room and The Room 2 – Return of the Broom Cupboard (those last 5 words I made up) are testament to what a talented production team and a room can achieve.

I think they got the feng shui just right

Some people may class these games as point-and-click adventures, but they’re more like point-click-drag-pinch-and-fucking-trip adventures. With gorgeous 3D graphics, trippy happenings and a range of puzzles that Mensa would be proud of, The Room is a whole new dimension of gaming. Both games take place in series of rooms at the centre of which is usually some sort of locked box. It is your job to solve and resolve certain elements to finally open this mysterious box and so progress to the next level. I can tell you now, it is thoroughly enjoying.

The next Xbox looks crazy!

The puzzles require a keen eye, a sharp mind and a fistful of imagination. It’s like reconstructing a pocket watch – bafflingly beautiful. Each puzzle really tests your thinking ability and with every catch, latch or lock that you open, another level of self-satisfaction unfastens itself within your own head. I’m reviewing both games at once purely because they are pretty similar – if it isn’t fucked, why try and fix it. The Room 2, however, takes the game to creepy new levels; one particular room has the setting of a seance and it makes you feel like you’ve just stepped in to a sepia-tinged, old-fashioned photograph, there to investigate what strange goings-on that have just taken place.

Right, who wants to play Snap?

As you swipe the screen to survey the situation before you from various perspectives, you start to pick out little details that you might have missed before – a hidden message, a secret button or an item that can be manipulate to your will. Pretty soon, you’re feeling like a supernatural detective with the IQ of Einstein on steroids, ready to show The Room just what you’re made of.

I don’t want to give away too much more, but my advice is this:

1. Download both games
2. Switch off the lights
3. Plug in your headphones
4. Freak out and swiftly come to terms with the fact that you are a puzzle solving genius

An easy 5 disc rating for these two little beauties. Respect the disk, respect The Room and get solving those mysteries!

By Brussel

Mosaika: What’s the Point-and-Click of it All?

Somethings never change: the day the bin-men come to collect my rubbish, the fact that my cat always sits on my bed whenever I try to make it or the local drunk that sits outside my local corner shop at 1pm every day. Always the same. But one other thing that ceases to alter is my love for point-and-click adventure games. Ever since I first loaded up ‘Day of the Tentacle’ and ‘Myst’ on my first PC (which also ran Encarta 95 – boom!), I was hooked with this mysteriously atmospheric genre. I don’t know if it’s the attention to graphical detail, the simplistic complexities of the game mechanics or the fact that I just love to point and click at shit, but I am a huge fan.

In recent years, companies like Glitch Games and Fire Maple Games have reinvented the genre and I, for one, am very grateful for it. One of the games that Fire Maple has recently released is ‘Mosaika’. As the third of its type to be released by the same company, this game was set to follow the enigmatic trends of its predecessors. ‘The Secret of Grisly Manor’ and ‘The Lost City’ were both fantastic releases from Fire Maple, so it was with excited fingertips that I loaded up their new game, ‘Mosaika’, when it was released on the app store.

Now, what can I use in my inventory for these birds…ah, an axe

It is a game where you “Explore a secret, magical land…” to unravel the mystery of an evil queen – straight forward fantasy stuff. Within five minutes, I was recognising the traits of  this well established game company: the impressive hand-drawn graphics, the bleak atmosphere, the subtle signs of puzzles that would soon need to be solved. You begin in a gloomy house with a sense of loneliness and an atmosphere that can only be described as the feeling you get when you are standing in an ancient room that has not been touched for hundreds of years – slightly spine tingling. It was right up my street. Then I opened a gateway to this ‘secret, magical land’, met a talking frog and felt my heart sink. Something was definitely wrong.

Up, up and away

It just wasn’t the same. The artwork was bright and brash. The talking frog pissed me right off and the game seemed to be plodding along with a stiff stride. No immersive world, no feeling of isolation, just sugar-coated, one dimensional shit. That’s probably a bit harsh to be honest. I did have some fun solving puzzles, but even those weren’t taxing in the same way that other games from Fire Maple had been. I was used to spending a while trying to figure a puzzle out and then feeling a sense of achievement when I solved it. But this game spoon-feeds you with a massive, plastic baby spoon and it just isn’t that much fun. There’s a cool map feature that allows you to log all of the places you’ve been to and the game uses an inventory system to keep track of items, which is tried and tested, so it works. It’s basically a case of collect item A, insert it into slot A, repeat and move on – it’s more like following an IKEA flat pack kit than a challenging adventure game.

Talk to me again and I’m going to sail you over to France in a tub of garlic butter

I think it all started with the talking frog – later in the game there are also gossiping owls and squirrels. You see, the thing is, when I play a point-and-click adventure, I enjoy the sense of isolation and loneliness. These talking animals strip that away from ‘Mosaika’ and turn it in to something trivial and Disney-esque rather than something gripping and intriguing. I want to feel like a troubled soul in a game like this, like a man who is trying to come to grips with the sinister environment he finds himself in. I do not want to feel like Dr Dolittle on a fucking day trip to the zoo.

The game is very short and doesn’t really require you to think too much, so it’s over before it starts. The story never quite manages to break away from the typical fantasy cliché and by the end of the game, I was feeling disappointed. I still think Fire Maple are an incredibly talented team, but I just think they tried something new and for me, it just didn’t work. If you want to try a game out from these folks, make it ‘The Lost City’, which was absolutely stunning, but ‘Mosaika’ is just too bland for my liking.

I’d give it a 3 disc rating of ‘Suspect the Disc’, because even though it seems like it will be fun and sometimes is, it just doesn’t deliver in the way I hoped it would.Rating

By Brussel

Journey : “the road goes ever on and on”, but should we follow it?

As a gamer, I find life extremely difficult if I don’t have a good game to play. During those sad moments when the pixels have dried up and I’m waiting for the next big game to slot in to my console, I, like many other people, take at look at some top ten game lists online to try and find something that can fill the gap. For about a year and a half, I had been toying with the idea of playing a particular game that sits almost exclusively at the top of any top ten PSN lists. The game I am talking about is Journey.

But something had been holding me back. The producers – That Game Company – are a team I have always respected, but the idea of another game that was minimalistic and symbolically fascinating just didn’t appeal to me, even with my love of adventure games – I don’t know why, but it just didn’t. Eventually, after months of deliberating, I forked out £9.99 and decided to give it try, and you know what…I hated it. The graphics were beautiful, truly and uniquely stunning, but within ten minutes I felt flat and unimpressed. I could appreciate the idea. I could understand the concept, but the fires of passion just weren’t burning for me. Nevertheless, I continued to play.

Pull yourself together – you’re a curtain character now

The little red curtain looking character was a fun design and the first level of swooping and sliding over sand dunes was original enough. There was no clear direction in the game, except that I knew I had to get to the top of a distant mountain. I nonchalantly jumped and jollied my way along for a little while, feeling like my £9.99 would have been better spent at my local kebab shop, but just then, something happened…

I went on a journey.

Basic life lesson #26: if you ever see two giant nail files in a desert, always stop for a picture.

Sounds obvious, right? But it wasn’t. This game, unlike any other I have played, got under my skin subtlety. I connected with the character in a peculiar way, almost as if I was being subliminally made to fall in love with the little red bastard. One moment I was feeling disappointed and the next I was enthralled. It was literally in the space of an infinitesimal millisecond that the game had me hooked. From then on, I was a fan.

Can’t we take a bus?

The Journey moves from location to location, and although one setting is not entirely different from the next, they were unique enough so that each stood out in my mind. Culture plays a big part in Journey and with every mysteriously secret cut-scene or dilapidated building that I found, so increased the feeling that I was playing out some ancient-Egyptian, supernatural tale.

Is there any body out there?

The soundtrack is amazing, with music that tinkers and tinkles along in the background, sometimes wistfully wailing with the drawn out notes of a cello, sometimes delicately dancing along with the sounds of flutes and harps or racing to the sound of a full orchestra. The game is a tornado of experiences and I was whisked away without even knowing it.

There is not an incredible amount of variation in gameplay, but this can be excused for one reason: it doesn’t feel like you’re playing a game. There are some puzzle elements, but essentially, Journey makes a genre all for itself and nestles down deeply in it to enjoy the space alone. One thing you can do is fly, and as you progress, you’ll find power-ups that lengthen a scarf around your neck. With these power-ups, your ability to fly at greater lengths is increased. That’s all you need. These simple mechanics allowed me to traverse the game with a real sense of satisfaction. Sometimes I would meet nameless people along the way, real players, who shared my experience with me. It is possible to interact with these other players and in some ways you can help each other out, but communication is blissfully limited – hitting the circle button when you meet one of these real-world people will be the most stupidly addictive thing you can possibly imagine – just try it.

I’ll scratch your scarf if you scratch mine

When I reached the end of the game, I openly declared my love for Journey, pledged my allegiance and spent hours boring my girlfriend about why it was so amazing – it is a very special edition to That Game Company’s repertoire. The ending, for me, (although I know some people will disagree) brought everything together in a moment of calm clarity that made me shudder. I would never spoil the end of a game, but I will say that it is a thinker – even if it is just deciding whether you liked it or not. As the end credits rolled up, I sat back, eyes slightly glazed over, mouth slightly ajar, wondering how a game that had seemed so mediocre at first had morphed in to the realms of the extraordinary and what’s more, without me even realising it was happening.

Not quite a ‘Shit Your Pants’ moment, but definitely a 5 disc rating, so ‘Respect the Disc’. If you haven’t played Journey, bow down and embrace it – you will not regret it.

Rating

By Brussel

 

 

What Would You Do ‘For Frodo’?

Now, we all know that many people gave up their lives in Lord of the Rings and they all did it ‘for Frodo’, but just how far would you go for the hairy footed hobbit? Below is a list of the top ten things we would do. Check them out and then let us know what you would do ‘for Frodo’! PS whisper the words, ‘for Frodo’, for an added element of LOTR authenticity.

For Frodo

1. I’d carry the ring for him – unless he got all moody about it…then he can just piss right off.

2. I’d lend him £5 – with all that ground to cover on his way to Mordor, he could at least use the £5 to get some sort of public transport. I think the 09:05 train from Rivendell stops at Mount Doom.

3. I’d shit in Gollum’s breakfast – although the little creature is loveable in a very stinky-fish sort of way, he can be annoying. I’d lay a log in his breakfast and Frodo could at least feel like he’d gotten some sort of revenge.

4. I’d tell Frodo how stupid he looks when he does that slightly scared, slightly constipated facial expression – he’s a ring bearer, so he needs to think about his image. This wouldn’t be rude; it’s like when you’ve got food on your face and no one tells you it’s there – you would much rather someone mentioned it. Frodo is probably blissfully unaware that he looks like a fucking frightened plank of wood at times – I’d gently let him know.

I can’t poo and I’m scared

5.I’d teach him some Harry Potter magic.

6. I’d walk behind him and play “Eye of Tiger” when he was feeling tired

7. I’d sneakily take a picture of Galadriel’s boobs and let Frodo have it – you know he’s got the raging hots for her.

Stop looking at my tits you little shit

 

8. I’d lend him every copy of the Twilight DVD in existence so he could sling them all in to the fires of Mount Doom – to be fair, that probably wouldn’t even destroy them. Those fires might be able to melt the most indestructible of all metals, but I bet they wouldn’t make a scratch on the Twilight Saga.

9. I’d show him these two pictures and tell him have a long, hard think about the type of neighbours he keeps.

shire Teletubbies

10. I’d play I-Spy with him whenever he wanted to while he was on his journey. This is how I imagine it would pan out:

Me: “I-Spy with my little eye something beginning with fat ginger Hobbit.”
Frodo: >frightened plank of wood look< “I don’t know…Sam, have you got any ideas?”

you don't mean that
So, there you have it – just a little taster of the lengths we would go to ‘for Frodo’. But what would you do? Leave a comment and let us know.