Growing Pains

growing pains

It is much easier to write a negative review than a positive one. With this in mind, this one was honestly pretty easy to write, and I’d better just note the things I liked here while I remember: music is sufficiently funky and aesthetic quality ideal, despite the low production value on each.

For whatever it is worth, Growing Pains is a technically well-made arcade platformer with strong variation in difficulty and an attempt at a unique idea. Realistically though, it is yet another addition to a sorely saturated market; the masochistic and unnecessarily timed trial-and-error competitive flash games played by school students in class and no one else; in a perfect world, anyway. With the number of these games being pumped out by independent studios that could be otherwise producing actual entertainment, it appears there is some sort of market for this trash, which saddens me deeply.

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Project Temporality


Independent games were once renowned for the extra effort invested in original plot, characters and at least an attempt at interesting dialogue, while triple-A titles pushed forward interesting gameplay concepts. With big-name developers now competing to see who can be as derivative as possible, we rely on independents to conceive gaming elements intriguing enough to prevent the gaming world from becoming an industry-servicing industry, pumping out bland, generally acceptable titles that appeal to wider audiences to maximise sales, using the profits from last year’s sequel-fest bland-o-rama.

Project Temporality investigates some potential game-saving concepts but is one of the most derivative independent titles in regards to the extra-curricular gaming elements that we’ve ever seen. Somewhere along the line, tables have turned.

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Among The Sleep

As a non-combative first-person survival horror, it was inevitable that indie title Among the Sleep would be compared to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and this toddler-based game conjures similar feelings as the much longer and larger Amnesia, particularly that widespread feeling of pants being shat in. At least in Among the Sleep you’ll already be wearing a nappy.

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Wolfenstein: The New Order


Ahh, Wolfenstein. After almost single-handedly inventing the genre in 1992, the Wolfenstein series has struggled to stay relevant, releasing a handful of mediocre titles and non-canon multiplayer tie-ins over the last twenty years. Spoiler alert: Wolfenstein is back, and it’s making old-school sensibilities cool again.

Wolfenstein: The New Order is only the fourth title in the Wolfenstein series of first-person shooters (sort of, let’s not get into pedantics here) that started with id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D and essentially paved the way for all entries in the genre to follow. It was developed by on the id Tech 5 engine by debutants MachineGames, a studio mostly comprised of veterans from Starbreeze Studios (of Riddick and the Darkness fame.) Set in an alternate reality, the Axis forces (more specifically, the Nazis–I didn’t see any RSI imagery in the game) have won World War II by way of incredibly advanced technology and forced the Allies to their knees. As series staple protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz, Nazi-killer extraordinaire, it’s your job to go up against your old pal General William “Deathshead” Strasse–or, as he calls himself, Totenkopf–and his arsenal of Nazi robots.

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War of the Vikings

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I know quite a few of people who hate War of the Vikings. They truly detest it. Hardcore fans of its predecessor, 2012’s War of the Roses, these people mourn the level of complexity of Roses‘ damage system. They miss the depth of Roses‘ custom loadouts–the literally thousands of possible combinations of weapons, armor, perks–for example, they miss Vikings‘ inability to choose from one of three different groove types in your sword, each impacting the balance of its damage/speed/stamina cost. They particularly loathe the fact that Vikings features about 30 different types of one-handed axe, but the differences are all aesthetic–in game, regardless of how many coins the axe was worth (don’t worry, coins are earned after battles. They’re not microtransactions like in War of the Roses.), every one-handed axe will perform exactly the same. As will all weapons of the same overall type.

I also know a lot of people who love War of the Vikings. Sick of Roses‘ reliance on flashy, over-complicated custom loadouts, these people took Vikings‘ move towards simple, skill-based gameplay as a huge breath of fresh air. No longer do they see people run around bashing the living shit out of everything that dares to move, destroying their weapons, shield, and skull by flailing a fuck off massive war hammer around. These people recognised that the main result of Roses‘ huge level of complexity, while initially appealing, was the enormous difficulty in ensuring that gameplay was properly balanced. They recognised that it wasn’t. Hence the abundance of war hammers. They also appreciate Paradox’s step away from the microtransaction-based free to play model that War of the Roses morphed into.

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Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies


It was during the very early months of 2008 that I played my first Ace Attorney game and realised exactly what had been missing from my life: sunshine, and time spent outdoors. No, it was in fact Phoenix Wright, the slightly incompetent but very, very lucky young lawyer with hedgehog hair that pulled at my heartstrings and made me chuckle at the most inopportune moments. Since then I’ve been a huge fan of the series, and while it took a little while to warm up, the latest instalment did not disappoint.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2


The word Castlevania exists almost separate from the video game industry today – it represents one of those seriously long-lasting series that has been consistently produced for almost thirty years now; yet Microsoft Word still fails to recognise it as an acceptable word, the bastard. As the 35th instalment to the franchise, Lords of Shadow 2’s worth of carrying such a huge name from the past onward through modern gaming is questionable, coming from a first-time-Castelvania-player yet many-time-reviewer. Standalone or part of a huge series, C:LOS2 is a fantastically fun experience, even if it leaves far too much to be desired for in the realms of creative writing and level design.

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The Novelist


With games such as The Stanley Parable, Gone Home and Dear Esther finding their way into mainstream gaming, a new genre has begun to emerge. Some argue that perhaps interactive story would be a better label than ‘game’ for these titles, while others file them under the broad adventure game heading. Whatever you wish to call them, they have a new member among their ranks: Orthogonal Games’ The Novelist, a tale about a family living by the coast and the hardships they must overcome to keep their relationship in one piece.

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Edna & Harvey: The Breakout


It may surprise you to learn that during the rare moments when I’m not gaming and/or getting deeply emotionally invested in the lives of fictional characters, I’m a psychology student. Apart from leading to many “hilarious” jokes about me psychoanalysing my friends one day, my interest in psychology means that when I saw that Daedalic’s 2011 title Edna & Harvey: The Breakout was set in an asylum, I was cautiously optimistic. It’s not often that mental illness plays a role in games (explicitly, anyway), and when it does it’s usually used as an offensive way of explaining why a bunch of goons are flailing wildly at your face, so I hoped that this might be a fun change that I could really get behind. When I actually started playing, however, I became a little glad that the optimism had only been cautious.

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Call of Duty: Ghosts

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If you’d have talked to me a month ago, I would’ve passionately defended gaming’s whipping boy Call of Duty. While the series seemed to trip up a bit with Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3, last year’s sequel to the former by Treyarch was a true return to form, both in the incredibly popular multiplayer game mode and the once-popular-now-oft-forgotten single-player campaign. Additionally, a couple of years ago, I would have condemned Treyarch in favour of the all-powerful Infinity Ward, the company behind some of the greatest PC games of all time.

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