Goon Review: Friday the 13th – The Game

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters, so yell at him about it!! 😉 xoxox)

As a bad omen, to quote Crazy Ralph, “You’re all doomed!”

It may not be Friday the 13th, but the day is finally here. Friday the 13th: The Game has launched on PS4, Xbox One and Steam and needless to say, Jason fans are going rabid. By that, I mean they are bloodthirsty to massacre their friends online and also due to the serious issues the game has been having since the moment it was released, but we can talk about that later. I know the start of this seems like a bad omen for the game and while it’s not perfect nor is it the Friday the 13th game we hoped it would shape up to be, it’s still a tremendous amount of fun despite all of the launch problems along with the other bugs and glitches that are present in the game.

For now, the game is strictly online only, pitting seven players (eight if you manage to radio Tommy Jarvis for help… more on that later) against another player who will be controlling Jason. Guess who everyone wants to play as? During the pre-game cinematic, the counselors sit around a campfire as Jason approaches, dispatching one of them and the other seven are left to scramble. There’s a feeling of anticipation and excitement of whether or not you will be playing Jason. Then once you discover it’s not you, panic and dread start to settle in as you quickly scramble as a counselor to the nearest cabin, searching drawers and shelves for weapons or important vehicle parts that will aid you in your escape. That’s the name of the game here: survival. Players have a set amount of time to survive and they can choose to run from Jason or hide which can be far more difficult that it sounds. You could also find a fuse to repair the phone box to call the police who take a few minutes to arrive, or find missing pieces for one of the two cars or a boat and escape that way. However, once they are fixed and you are fleeing, that doesn’t ensure safety. Jason can appear and halt the car by slamming the hood or yanking the driver of the boat into the water and drowning them. Yes, death truly awaits around nearly every turn here at one of the three maps of Camp Crystal Lake.

Being an online multiplayer, communication is essential for survival (instead of slinging homophobic remarks at one another). Having a headset is a key item the gamer will need before you even start. It’s not mandatory, of course, but it helps to keep in contact with the other players that are in proximity to you. That’s right, you can’t just shout over your headset hoping others will hear you, because that creates noise and makes it easier for Jason to spot you. Only counselors that happen to be nearby can hear one another, unless you have a walkie in which case others with walkies can hear you. I really liked this aspect of the game, because like a horror film, if you walk out into the woods screaming for help, the killer is gonna find you. However, you need to chatter back and forth, so if Jason is close by, he can hear all your little scheming. It’s a real dilemma the game puts you in. To be fair, if Jason is creeping close by, you’ll start to hear that iconic Harry Manfredini score (although one of Jason’s abilities allows him to mute it). My first time playing as Jason, I heard one of the players reveal to another player where he laid a bear trap down and what he planned to do. Needless to say, I sort of crushed that plan by crushing his head.

Each counselor has their own set of skills. Some are better at sneaking or repairs, while others have better stamina or are stronger. Not one counselor is necessarily better than the other, but it’s up to the player on how they use that specific counselors set of skills. I prefer better stamina and health since killing Jason requires a laundry list of shit to do, so I find it better to sneak around. Even if your counselor doesn’t have stats you prefer, there are perks as well only these are chosen at random and cost you experience points. Every match you play earns you points and these points can be spent on improving your character. As I said, for the counselors, it’s totally at random, so you could get something really good like start with a map or a radio or even increase your stamina regeneration that you could then equip to a counselor with lower stamina to even them out. You can also unlock different variations of their outfits, but these can take a while seeing as it takes about ten level ups to get them each time… and there’s 100 levels.

Jason has his own set of unlockables as well that you can purchase using the same points. Seeing as how Jason is overpowered (OP as the kids call it), increasing his stats isn’t necessary and he does have his limitations. Each Jason – represented by different incarnations from various entries in the Friday the 13th series – has their own strengths and weaknesses. Jason from Part 2 can run while his Part 7 counterpart cannot, however he is much stronger and has a faster swim. Different kills can be purchased that Jason can perform with either his hand or the specific weapon that particular Jason is given. Most of the kills are interchangeable between Jasons, but each has three weapons specific kills that only that Jason can use. These kills are brutal the first time you watch them, but even after that initial time, you start to see how poor the animation in this game truly is.

Yes, even though I happen to think most of the character models look decent, especially each Jason, the animations on them are quite awful. Hair seems to unevenly flow in chunks, the mouths don’t open when the speak half the time and I don’t know if this is part of glitching or the animations are incomplete, but often during a kill it’s like whole animations weren’t there. Their expression didn’t morph, it was just like gore appeared on their face suddenly. The best way I can explain it is to ask you think about an exploitation movie’s graphic scene, for example, someone gets shot in the face. Now say you were to cut out all the frames between when the actor gets shot and it immediately picks up afterwards. It looks awkward and really poor. One of the more massive glitches is the constant glitching and hit detection. I can’t tell you how many times characters fell through things or appeared to be floating in air. Hell, a couple times I found characters floating in mid air or sinking into the ground. There were also times when you would swing your weapon at Jason or vice versa and no damage would occur. This is a serious issue that needs to be resolved. Actually seeing as it’s so bad, I’m surprised it was released in this state. One gamer commented that it feels like we paid full price for a BETA and in this sense, I kind of agree with him.

After about logging in around 12 hours of gameplay (note that I am saying “gameplay,” this does not factor in the time spent sitting around waiting for the game to connect), I played as Jason twice which totaled about 15 minutes. 15 minutes out of 12 hours. Are you fucking kidding me? You can set your preference to spawn as Jason more, but I found this didn’t help. There were even instances where one player would play as Jason several times during the duration where others wouldn’t play as him at all. I don’t know how this randomizer works, but it’s one of the many problems that needs to be fixed.

One of the most difficult things about reviewing the game is that you can’t review it if you can’t play it. Sure, I did get to play it, but I spent an equal amount of time, if not more, waiting for the game to find a session I could join or waiting around in lobbies. Not to mention that if you did find a game, staying connected to it was pure luck of its own. At first I thought that maybe it was my internet, so I scrambled around the house shutting off everything that was connected to the wi-fi and once I was in a lobby, it was there that I noticed the incredibly high ping all of the other players had and everyone was having the same connection troubles.

Jason’s biggest adversary wasn’t the players as the counselors or even Tommy Jarvis… it’s the unfortunate developer that miscalculated how many gamers wanted to play, thus not having enough dedicated servers. This plays into why for hours – or for some days – of not being able to find a session to join and play the game. Gun Media took to social media to comment that the players “Jasoned” the servers, meaning that we overwhelmed them and that’s why the game was laggy, slow or you couldn’t connect. I don’t think they meant to make it sound like they were laying blame on us, but they commented that they tripled the numbers of all the pre-orders and so on, only preparing the servers to handle about 30,000 players. When nearly 100,000 players logged on to play during launch, it crashed their servers. I realize they are a small, independent developer and weren’t expecting Call of Duty numbers here, but c’mon… it’s Friday the 13th! This game has been hyped since it was called Summer Camp and changing it to an official Friday the 13th game only made it more popular, so how could you not expect or prepare for this to be monstrous?

I really, really wanted to love this game, I really did. Friday the 13th is my favorite horror franchise and needless to say that Jason is my favorite slasher villain, but even as an extremely die hard Friday the 13th fan, I couldn’t love this game. This is a game only a mother could love. I’m more like, the second stepfather. Even though I didn’t love it, we connected a few times, had a bonding moment here and there and it’s alright. Friday the 13th feels like an unfinished game that was released. I get the feeling the developers felt as if they couldn’t keep on delaying it, having filled the gamer population full of promises and feared the worst if they did. Being launched with a handful of issues, like the glitches, incomplete animations and major, crippling problems like the server downtime, the terrible lag and ping coupled with repetitive gameplay, keeps it from being the perfect horror game it should have been. Nowadays, gamers unfortunately have shorter attention spans and unless it’s the most recent incarnation of Call of Duty, they won’t play long. Seeing as how there are only a handful of things to do, I get the feeling many will find it stale and unfortunately a majority of player will stop playing after several weeks. Maybe the developer should have focused on the single player mode and adding a story during all these delays.

I know I picked the game apart, but I did have a tremendous amount of fun with this game. It was so nostalgic to be running around Higgins Haven from Part 3, Packanack Lodge from Part 2 and even the original Camp Crystal Lake area itself from the first movie. It was almost like being there and it overjoyed both my film and gaming senses as well as it warmed my heart and that’s something this game has a lot of that people seem to be overlooking; heart’ Friday the 13th: The Game was created by fans who cared about this franchise and cared about bringing you the best experience possible. It’s like they wanted you to feel like a counselor at Crystal Lake and it does feel like you are there. It was a blast to creep around cabins looking for items and hoping that I wasn’t making too much noise and working with others to try and survive the night. After all, surviving together is how you make new friends! Seriously, I’m still playing and chatting with a few folks I met playing this game as well as playing with old friends for the first time in what seems like ages. Even when playing as Jason, you can feel everyone working against you, but there’s no greater feeling when you foil their plan which sends them scattering like cockroaches when you flick on the light. You slowly dwindle their numbers and they panic more, becoming more desperate, but it’s all in good fun. Being able to be Jason do some of his iconic kills felt like an accomplishment and playing as Tommy helping others to survive felt like a real heroic feat.

It’s been a real long time since I sat down and played a game online or even wanted to play a game online. Gun Media has captured the true essence of Friday the 13th in a game and I hope all of the bugs and other issues are fixed and maybe a few more skins, added levels and characters. Maybe we’ll see Crazy Ralph in there somewhere? Or how about Steven from Jason Goes to Hell or Tina from Part 7 and she could have telekinetic abilities! Well, let’s just stick with fixing the current issues first.

Goon Game Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

(Submited by Andrew Peters…Thanks, ho-mie. I’m totally checking this sucka out! 🙂 xoxo)

How a video game is defined or is played has certainly changed since its existence. In the beginning, you had a dial-type controller and a paddle and ball would appear on screen. You used these color overlays that would go over your TV set and it would be up to you, the gamer, to change the type of game it was. Then we moved on into side scrolling, RPG, racing, sports, whatever it may be and that changed from 8-bit to 16-bit and so on until it eventually became 3D. Worlds opened up and became more interactive and story became so structured and integral to the plot, it nearly takes over (not that it’s a bad thing). Some games are so cinematic, you’re virtually watching a movie and that’s kind of how I would describe Developer Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s like watching a movie that you in essence control to some extent.

The game may not be considered what is defined as a game in the traditional sense by some gamers, but more of an interactive story. I want to say there isn’t much to do in the game or there isn’t much to explore, but that’s painting it too broad, but what I mean those in a more global sense. It’s not an open world exploration and it’s not about really interacting with things in the environment (although there are items that allows you to do so). This is the game’s strongest point; it’s extremely interesting and the stories are well told that you don’t mind and you want to continue. The aesthetic of the game and the house you explore is something that would be an amalgamation between the works of Tim Burton and Wes Anderson. While I personally am not a fan of either of most of their works, I do appreciate their aesthetics and it really works for this game.

It’s a simple premise, but the imagination behind it is not. Players assume the role of a seventeen year old girl named Edith Finch who is chronicling the lives and untimely – and horrible – deaths of her relatives after inheriting the family house and revisiting it after a decade. I know to some of our readers, pretending you’re a seventeen year old girl isn’t out of the norm for you, but this isn’t that, you creeps. The opening of the game reminded me of Resident Evil VII, making your way up a path to an old, dilapidated house and although moments of the game may have horror elements, this isn’t a horror game. This becomes more clear once you enter the home and make your way about, noticing that each family member’s room has a particular theme that will play into how the story is told. For the most part, you don’t have much option in what order you play the stories, since the game is very linear.

However, being linear doesn’t stop the game from keeping you anticipated. Sure, you know the outcome to each story and you can’t exactly go off the beaten path and explore, but it’s how the story takes shape that will make you eager to participate in it. Being that the game revolves around the demise of these family members, some gamers would be excited about the violence and gore, but What Remains of Edith Finch isn’t about that. It’s not about the deaths of these family members per say, but about their journey and how it came to an end. It’s about telling their tragic end in a magical and beautiful way while giving the gamer a unique spectrum of variety in storytelling, even if you don’t have much in the way of control.

The game does allow you to move the character about freely, for the most part, but you are limited to where you can go and what you can do. Aside from being able to zoom in, allowing you to look at objects around the house in finer detail, there’s nothing else you can do unless you are prompted to hold down a button to open a door or one of the bumper buttons to move an object, but the game tries to get creative with its limitations. For example, during young Walter’s story, while being really short, you are confined to a swing. Normally, you would just push down and up on the thumbstick, but here you push the left bumper to kick out his left leg and right bumper to kick out his right leg. Embarrassingly enough, it took me several minutes to figure that out, because it’s something as a gamer I’m not used to. It’s little things like that that will keep you involved in each story.

As I’ve mentioned before, the stories themselves offer a variety of refreshing ways to tell them. The first story you play as young girl who went to bed without dinner. She notices a bird outside her window and upon opening the window, you transform into a cat, then into an owl and then an octopus monster, gobbling up bigger prey each time. It’s a fantastic way to introduce you into the magical element of the game and by magical, I don’t mean there is mystic powers or something like that. I mean that rather than tell you something horrible happened to these people, leaving you feeling empty and hopeless, it gives them a witty and exciting way to be involved with on this journey. Sure, there are some shorter, more simple stories, like the aforementioned Walter, but another story has an 8-bit Legend of Zelda style to it and another one is telling its story through the viewfinder of a camera. My personal favorite is that of Barbara Finch, an ex-child star who was known for her scream. It’s told through an old EC Comic, even going from panel to panel being narrated by a Crypt Keeper type of character. It even uses the Halloween theme for added effect.
The whole experience of What Remains of Edith Finch won’t take you more than two hours and there isn’t much in the way of replay, unless you want to experience a particular story, the game does allow you to skip right to a family member’s tale. It may be a short game, but it’s an experience that’s going to stick with you for a while. I can’t foresee forgetting playing through the stylish segment of Barbara Finch in the near future, but it’s not just about the style. It was also about how well we got to know these characters in a short amount of time. Hell, games that have a much larger playing time can’t even develop characters this good. You’ll get to know these characters in a brief amount of time that it’ll break your heart knowing their fate. You know their gonna die, but you don’t want them to and the entire game foreshadows the ending, but I didn’t want to admit that to myself. You care about these characters, you care about what’s going on. What Remains of Edith Finch, while short, is absolutely beautiful and unique.

#FBF: The “Custer? I Hardly Know Her!” Edition

Ho-wdy, Kinky Ho-mies! I think we can all agree that Atari games are just about the seXXXiest thing in the cosmos, right? No? Well, the folks at Mystique certainly thought they were! You see, Mystique was a company that specialized in, um, “erotic” games. Their games included such classics as Beat ‘Em & Eat ‘Em, Bachelor Party, and, the subject of today’s article, Custer’s Revenge.

Custer’s Revenge is a game in which  General George Armstrong Custer rises from the grave to maneuver through a barrage  of arrows in order to hump an Indian girl tied to a cactus. And that’s the entire game! Custer wears nothing but a hat, boots and cavalry scarf, so his enormous 8-bit pecker is on display the entire time! It’s like watching a Lego sexually assaulting another Lego!

As you can imagine, this game didn’t go over well with… anyone. Women’s rights groups, Women Against Pornography (WAP), Native American spokespersons, and critics of the video game industry all (understandably) ripped this game apart for its wildly offensive content. Video game players hated it for being repetitive and often cite it as being one of the worst video games ever made.
The game is nothing more than a crude joke, but it’s pretty wild that a game like this ever got made…especially on Atari! Custer’s Revenge is just one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. By far, the most remarkable thing about the game is that it actually exists.

Check out the insanity below:

Goon Review: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Soundtrack

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Rock on, Ho-rror Ho-mies! 😉 xo)

Even though Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest wasn’t a hit with the fans, Konami still made a sequel, but decided to bring it back to its original roots and becoming more of the simple side-scrolling game that the first Castlevania was. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse wasn’t just a retread. Not only was it a prequel to the first game, taking place centuries before those events, it also offered the player the ability to switch between playable characters and also take branching paths during certain points in the game. That’s Konami for you. Well, the old Konami. Always thinking outside the box.

The music this time around was different, but still in the same spirit, if that makes sense. In Dracula’s Curse, the tone seems to be much darker and it lacks that poppy punch (that’s the best way that I can describe it) that Simon’s Quest had. I guess the idea was to make it seem more gothic horror, having a much more metallic tinge and slower pace. It certainly fits the image that would pop into your head when you think of Dracula; a dark, blue evening with a full moon reflecting on a thick fog that masks danger. However coming off of Simon’s Quest that arguably has the best score in the entire series, Dracula’s Curse seems to lack that action-hearted punch. Not to say that it’s bad or anything, I just enjoy Simon’s Quest more thoroughly. The soundtrack, not the game.

Mondo’s presentation of Dracula’s Curse, however, is not lacking. The original artwork from Sachin Teng is hypnotically eye catching, making your brain try and piece it all together. Another thing you’ll notice right away is that this soundtrack is spread across two 12″ 180 Gram LPs, one Famicom and the other NES. Both versions have the same 28 tracks (which, by the way, is amazing amount of tracks for an NES game), but once again just as with Simon’s Quest, the Famicom version has a much more rustic sound than the NES version and for this soundtrack, I actually prefer the Famicom version. I feel like it has a much more gothic horror and atmospheric sound and it fits what I feel the game was trying to accomplish. Having said that, I do like the NES version of Stage 01, Beginning and Stage 06, Demon Seed better. Both have a higher energy that their Famicom counterparts don’t seem to have and those are some jazzy, energetic tracks. Konami Kukeiha Club once again did a fantastic job capturing a nightmarish batch of tunes perfectly fitting for a Castlevania game.

The records themselves are really beautiful too. The vinyls I received are orange with some black splatter all over them with tinges of white or silver here and there. There is a variant for you collectors out there, disc one is Trevor Bronze and Alucard Black and disc two is Grant Maroon and Sypha Blue. I haven’t seen those for myself, but I can imagine they are quite a sight to behold.

There’s no better way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Castlevania series than with these Mondo soundtracks. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse goes for $30 and while the split colored version is sold out, the orange with black splatter is still available, so get it while it’s hot.

 

#TerrorTuesday: The “Horror Noir” Edition

(Submitted by Mr. Dr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for reminding us this lil’ slice o’weirdom eXXXists. I plan to re-open this investigation immediately! 🙂 xoxo)

It was another one of those hot L.A. days. I poured myself another shot of cheap whisky and said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been slapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like watching a made-for-TV monster movie.”

I humored myself and I found it: the, uh, stuff screams are made of…

Cast a Deadly Spell is nifty little number that attempts to fuse Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft into one bizarre creature. Set in alternative 1940s when magic is in vogue and the creatures of the night mingle with average folks, It has all the trappings of a classic film noir (hard-boiled detectives, sleazy clubs, stylized dialogue, femme fatales, etc.), but paints it all with a coat of Cosmic Horror. If that last part wasn’t clear, they drive the point home with their protagonist: Phillip Lovecraft.

This film does for lovers of the grotesque what Who Framed Roger Rabbit does for toon fans. Almost every scene has a zombie, werewolf, or fiend amidst the detective action. The story is decent, but it’s really about seeing noir and nightmare come together in a beautiful way. The monsters are fiendish and Fred Ward as Lovecraft is the perfect jaded gumshoe, bringing enough down-to-Earth wit to ground this peculiar picture.

For those wanting to crack the case, click on the box below:

Ho-stess’s Semi-Related Side Note: I just started playing Blues and Bullets (I was craving a good noir mystery), and so far so rad. I’m only in the first episode, but the first murder scene I investigated is creepy as all heck!! I’ll update you as I get further along, but since it’s been out for a while, maybe you fiends already have some thoughts on this one? Would love to hear what you think if you’ve playing it, too. 🙂 xoxo

UPDATE: I should’ve researched this game a lil’ more before I started playing it. I finished Episode 2 and immediately went to dive into the neXXXt installment, only to discover that IT DOESN’T ExxxIST!!!! 🙁

Chapter One was released in 2015, and apparently Chapter 2 didn’t come out until almost a year later. Although it hasn’t been officially announced as cancelled, it doesn’t look like we’re getting any more installments. Apparently the development company basically ran out of money, so there are currently no plans to finish his tit-le. Such a shame, too, because the story was super intriguing. Would’ve loved to see ho-w it all ended up. (And that little dog murdering piece of shit Bruno needs to feel my wrath!!! ;))

Oh well…It’s still a fun lil’ cocktease. Feel free to check this half-game out if self-torture is your thing. 😉 xoxo

 

NES Friday the 13th: The Movie :)

Ho-wdy, you valiant Voorhees lovers! I’m not sure about you kinky kreeps, but I happen to love the living dead poop out of the NES Friday the 13th game…

…And so does director Michael Ramova! So much so that he directed this nifty short film based on that eXXXcellent 8-bit horror show! 🙂 Funded through Indiegogo (by Friday Fiends like me :)), Mr. Ramoval did what Paramount couldn’t and brought Jason to 2017. You just can’t keep a bad ghoul down. 🙂

Check it out below, Kinky Ho-s! 🙂 xoxo

Goon Review: The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Episode 1: Ties That Bind

(Thanks so much to Mr. Andrew Peters for this radass review…I love all of TT’s TWD tit-les, and I shall be checking this one mout posthaste!! 🙂 xoxo)

Before we get started on the review, doesn’t that episode sound familiar? Like we’ve heard it before. Was this a title for another Walking Dead game or a superhero game of some kind? Anyway, it’s irrelevant. So, the third season of The Walking Dead subtitled A New Frontier debuted not only it’s first episode, but its second one as well, although for now we will only be talking about the first which is called Ties That Bind Part 1 and it does have some relevance into what happens. Personally, I would love a second season of The Wolf Among Us or Tales From the Borderlands, but I do want to see some closure with Clementine’s character, if done justice.

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Being the fourth Walking Dead series from Telltale, I was worried about this season coming off as stale, seeing as how TWD: Michonne was so milquetoast, it may as well not have existed. Not only that, any incarnation of TWD seems to pander to an audience that only wants to see gore and zombies, shaping itself after the television show. Michonne really suffered from having too many characters that had no substance and you didn’t care about them, which was extremely disappointing seeing as that’s what these games are known for. However, we’ve grown with TWD’s main character Clementine over two seasons. We’ve watched the decaying world – both the state of humanity and the physical form of them – tear away at her as she has resisted to become anything less, but the end of the second season saw her and Jane being pushed to the limit by an old friend.

However, A New Frontier doesn’t throw us right into Clementine’s situation yet. We’re introduced to a new character, Javi. The game opens right as the outbreak is taking place, but people aren’t really aware of it, as we see Javi running to his brother David’s home and explains that he’s late because the highway was congested. His brother insults him, even hits him, because their father died and Javi, being the favorite son, should have been there, but we learn that Javi was never really around. We’re also introduced to other family members, like David’s son Gabe, David’s wife Kate, which the two seem to have a mutual interest in one another and there are various other family members, but the only other one that really matters is Mariana, Javi’s younger niece. Suddenly, Mariana is bringing her grandfather’s favorite drinking cup to him as the others tell her that he’s sleeping, to which she tells them he isn’t… dun dun DUN! Not the strongest opening the series has had, but it was really decent, maybe even a little chilling. Javi’s got some potential to be a good character, so let’s see what’s in store.

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As they check the room, zombie gramps bites grandma on the face and another on the hand. David takes them to the hospital and Javi looks after Kate, Mariana and Gabe. We cut to someone time later and the four seem to have been traveling in a van not down by the river, but all over looking for food, gas, maybe even a home. Gabe and Mariana are asleep in the back seat, giving us the players some time with Kate and Javi to get to know them as Kate lights up a phatty and your first big choice is to toke with her or not. Okay, TWD, I get it. Weed’s legal now. This wakes up the kids just in time as you find a junkyard and you decide to explore it. Before doing so, you get a little bonding time with Mariana, kinda like how Lee did with Clem back in the first season. It was a nice touch to call back to that subtly, even if it doesn’t seem as strong. It’ll make sense when you play it.

Things go sour quickly after the group finds a cache of food and Javi is jumped by a group that seems to share a similar mark on their body, like they were branded like cattle. Javi lies about the having others with him and is en route to their base when a tree falls in the middle of the road, blocking the way and crashing the truck. Upon exiting, you have the option to shoot the driver or let him go, but that all depends on how cold blooded you are. Turns out that tree falling was no coincidence as the little saboteur reveals themself as… get ready for it… CLEMENTINE! She’s back and she’s a little older and has a potty mouth and an attitude. Oh Clem, what made you this way? Well, this is something you should know if you are playing with saved games from Seasons One and Two. The game shapes her and her past after what choices you made during your gameplay, which is very, very cool. If you don’t have any previous game saves, the games creates her past at random, so on my PS4 playthrough, I saw what happened to Clem and Jane after the events of the second season and although it was predictable, it was very sad because I liked Jane’s character. On my playthrough on PC that you can watch, I had no saves, so one was created for me and it was just uneventful and only led to Clem missing a finger for no reason. Huh, okay then.

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Clem and Javi pitstop at a safe town where the people seem friendly and you’re even introduced to a few new characters and get a little insight into Javi’s past. Personally, I liked Tripp who’s basically a loveable oaf. It doesn’t take long before Clem causes some problems and lands you in one of their homemade holding cells, but the most interesting thing is that nobody really seems to care about what happened. You’re given the option of sticking up for Clem or throwing her under the bus and if you do that, then I must believe you have no soul. You’re also given the option of sneaking out at night with one of the characters you met or waiting in the morning for Tripp to take you to the junkyard. Now, believe it or not, your choices will seemingly have a vastly different outcome. First time, I chose to sneak out only to arrive at the junkyard with two of my family members dead, so I went back and played again, waited for Tripp and got a much happier outcome… for the moment.

This is where the game really starts to take off. Seeing as how the truck is destroyed, Javi manages to convince Clem to head back to the junkyard to find his family and depending on how you converse with her, you can build a nice budding friendship, which is what I’m doing. I’ve missed Clem and I can’t be mean to her, seeing as we’ve already been through so much and I know what she’s lost. Once you reach the junkyard, it looks as if it’s been turned over and lit on fire, but you quickly find your family and everything seems like it’s going to be alright… yeah, sure. If there is one thing The Walking Dead tries to do way too much, it’s lull you into a false sense of security. I do have to admit, it kinda worked here. As Javi’s relationship was building with one of the characters, it became more clear what was going to happen, seeing as The Walking Dead just can’t help itself from steering away from this one trope, but it kinda got to me, especially as graphic as it happens. Your final choice is to stay and fight your attackers with Clem or bail with your family.

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After a long, overdue wait, Clementine is finally back and it’s great to see her again (especially after the remarkably disappointing Michonne). As gamers, we’ve grown up with Clem and to see her as the teenager she’s grown into is both depressing and you’re proud of her at the same time for making it as far as she has and depending on your choices, you get hints that she’s still the same girl you’ve grown to love. I’m excited to see what else she’s been up to since she’s been gone and at the time I’m scared at what might happen to her. At first, I thought Javi was just gonna be a cliched character with nothing interesting going on and was only going to be a vehicle for Clementine, but he’s actually shaping up into a likeably guy. Even if you decide to be a dick to everyone with him, you’re making the choices, so you still root for him. Javi and Clem make a great pair and luckily it’s not a retread of the father-daughter dynamic Clem and Lee had, but it’s something new altogether. Survivors becoming friends and that’s what The Walking Dead is all about! Part Two of Ties That Bind is looking to be another great episode, so we’ll dive into that one soon.

Goon Review: Batman: The Telltale Series: Episode 3: New World Order

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks Kinky Ho-bot! 🙂 xoxo)

Oh man, we are in for a world of shit (a New World Order, amirite?). The third episode of Telltale’s Batman series entitled New World Order is all amount making some choices that seem like they are going to have some serious repercussions and lemme tell ya… they do. Oh, they do. I feel like I am saying this and going to continue saying this, but this episode has you making the biggest decisions yet, one of which is really gonna leave you feeling dirty if you do, but damned if you don’t.

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The third episode opens up with Harvey in the hospital and depending on if you attempted to save him or not, he’s either going to still look as sharp as ever or like half the man he used to be. I mentioned in the last review on Episode 2 that I felt Batman would have attempted to save Harvey and knew Selina could handle herself, so I acted on that. Harvey looks good and all, seems thankful, but something isn’t right with the guy. Seems like the drug he was giving may be resurfacing some old, violent feelings. This is immediately followed up with a seemingly tough decision to help either Officer Montoya who is in trouble with the Children of Arkham or Harvey who seems to be in a similar predicament. I say seemingly because it had no effect on what happens to any character this episode and Batman doesn’t seem any closer to finding anything out about this new villain.

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That’s enough about Batman, what about Bruce Wayne, who this game is really about? Giving the recent light about his family’s dealings with crime boss Carmine Falcone and how Thomas Wayne was pretty much a despicable scumbag, Bruce is being told he’s gotta step down as CEO of Wayne Enterprises, but not to worry as they have already found a perfect replacement; Oswald Cobblepot! Clearly, this stinks and I’m not talking about the fish in the room. Bruce knows he’s being setup and this interaction is actually quite a bit of fun as you can play on all different reactions Bruce would have, like from being apologetic and self loathing or the route I took, being a smug, sarcastic dick to Oz. Screw this guy. He’s already shown his intentions, so there is no reason to be nice to this guy. At the end of it is another decision that I hadn’t really noticed a major outcome of and that is to have Lucious Fox leave Wayne Enterprises with you or stay on board as your eyes and ears. As I said, I’m not sure what difference this would make, but I told him to stay put. Never hurts to have a spy on the inside.

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So, why would Wayne Enterprises appoint Oz, a criminal, as the new CEO? Well, not only has he wiped his background (I guess it’s that easy), but it also looks good for the company to appoint the guy whose mother was unjustly committed to Arkham by Thomas so he could steal her fortune. Told you this guy was a scumbag. Seriously, the more I hear about Thomas, the more I hate him and it somehow really changes the impact Batman’s origin has on you. Sure, he’s doing the right thing, but his dad kinda deserved what he got. Even Vicki Vale seems to think so and it’s up to Batman to try and set things straight with her in another interaction that, you guessed it, seemingly doesn’t have any consequence. For the first time in this game, maybe even a Telltale game, I’m beginning to feel like my actions don’t have any real weight to the world it’s shaping and maybe this – the game’s – outcome is predetermined. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions.

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The game also has some more detective solving to do, but this time around, I gotta admit that it feels weak and I wasn’t fascinated with it. In fact, I found myself rushing through it just to get the story moving again, because that’s where the real interest is. I wanted to see what happens next. This time, the investigating takes place at a train depot where Batman attempts to further unravel the Children of Arkham’s plan, but when Catwoman shows up, things go to shit real quick and you’re treated with another fight sequence along with your first duel with this new bad guy. It’s not a tough brawl, but it is pretty fun. Batman and Catwoman escape back to her place and I think we all know what could happen if you play your cards right. And I did. And they do. Pow. I knew I shouldn’t have, because of Harvey’s feelings for her, but I can’t resist her or the real connection we (I mean Bruce, of course) have. Look at that babe. How could you not? Needless to say, Harvey shows up and attacks them both revealing his true self, big bad Harv. Bruce and Selina notice that he has a personality disorder and like good friends, you are forced to whoop his ass and once you are done, he leaves. Sure, I was feeling a little guilty, but that Selina Kyle… M’ROW!

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For the finale of this episode, Bruce needs to address the CEO change at Wayne Enterprises and is asked to read from the teleprompter or ad lib. I think I knew what we would all do. I slang mud at Oz, because once again, fuck that guy, dropped the mic and walked off stage. If you thought that was intense, brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet. While in the audience, Bruce is having a chat with a character we know and is well established who pricks him with a pen, injecting him with the same toxin Harvey was at the debate. This character then reveals themself to be the leader of the Children of Arkham! I won’t say who or even what the villain’s name is, because that would spoil it (although in later reviews I will have to, but for now you will be spared), but I have to admit that it got one over one me. I didn’t see it coming. Not in a long shot, so kudos to Telltale!

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All in all, New World Order seemed to have some very heavy decisions, but you notice quickly that they had absolutely no consequence… at first. Later, I started think about what if I had done something differently, like not snogged Selina. I couldn’t help but wonder if Harvey still would have gone ballistic if I had been there. Now that I think about it, most likely. I feel like the consequences in this episode are short lived, if at all and won’t have any effect in later episodes. They didn’t seem to have that much of an impact, but I do have to say the story here is really start to take noticeable shape and I’m beginning to really feel for Bruce. I don’t think he’s no longer an whiny emo kid, but rather a good guy on the fence about everything. Who his father is, what’s happening to his best friend, his feelings for a girl. All while some twit is taking your company out from under you when you know he’s up to no good and a new villain is causing problems. I gotta say, you really start to feel that pressure on every decision you make, so maybe they don’t have to have an impact, because they are making you worry that they will. It’s these kind of decisions that Telltale has cleverly inserted into the game so that you will want to play through a second or a third time.

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So even though the detective stuff wasn’t anything to write home about, there was some action that felt pretty good finally be able to do more as Batman, but it was this story where you really feel the characters becoming who they really are and that’s what made me hooked. I like these characters – including Oz, who I was unsure about for the first two episodes – and I can’t wait to see what happening next, especially since we now know who the villain is and Bruce has the drug in him! Shit’s about to get real!

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Inside (hehe ;) Review

(Back to Back Gaming goodies fer ya, courtesy of Mr. Andrew Peters. Thanks for this, Ho-rror Ho-mie!! Your vids are too cute!! 🙂 xoxo)

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Playdead’s first game Limbo was about a boy searching for his sister in Hell. Of course you wouldn’t know this, because the game doesn’t tell you. It has no direct narrative as to what is going on, but cleverly leaves it up to the player to figure it out as they play the game. And that’s what this review is; my interpretation of the game. Now, it’s not completely vague and a lot of the stuff is pretty easy to guess what is happening, so I did do a little research and it turns out there are many like minded folk, so keep this in mind as you are reading this review, that what I’m telling you is both my experience of the game and then comparing to others. There’s no dialogue or cutscenes to tell you what is happening, but rather you get subtle clues from objects or something happening in the background or something you have to overcome face to face. It was something that hadn’t really been done before and it was really fresh and cool, mixed with the art style, everything being silhouetted in the foreground and ominous music and puzzles varying in difficulty, Playdead made their mark. It was a semi-difficult, dark toned and yet rewarding adventure.

Their latest game, Inside, follows the same formula, but feels like it improves on them at the same time. , Inside is also a 3D side scrolling puzzle platformer, but takes things out of the shadows and gives them some color while keeping them vague. You play as a red shirted boy who is making his way through the woods while being chased – and avoiding detection – from faceless men. Now, I literally mean faceless. That’s one of the first things you will realize about the game as once you start, you are instantly dropped into this world; nobody has a face. At first, it may seem like a cool art direction, which it is, but as you play and you learn about what is happening and realizing who or what the these men are and what they are doing, it becomes clear as to why they are faceless. Shortly after, you see them loading dozens of people into trucks and driving away, but again, the reason is never told and leaves you to figure it out. As you march through the woods and through a cornfield, you happen upon a farm, but right away you will notice something very wrong; all of the animals are dead (with the exception of some cute chicks) and there seem to be some sort of parasitic worms. Beyond that, you venture into a rural area where people are being marched into what seems like a factory. Suddenly, you realize they don’t seem to be marching against their will, but almost as if they are being mind controlled. Further and further as you explore, even going as far as underwater exploration in a tiny little James Cameron sub, you find yourself in a lab and to get through it and to get answers, these mindless people seem to be helping you and this is an interesting part of the game. There are thing helmet devices scattered through the game that the player will need to use to control these people to help with puzzles. This may include, using brute strength in numbers to pull something open or to control someone elsewhere to open a door. These become increasingly difficult as the game progresses, but nothing that is too frustrating and I’m sure with a short amount of time, you can figure them out on your own. All of these will reveal answers, but will you like what you find at the end?

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As I was saying, the plot is never made clear, it’s never told directly to the player what is going on or what exactly anything is. You are left to figure that out through your adventure and it leaves it up to your own interpretation. You easily and quickly get a feel for the oppressive nature, like the population is being controlled by these men that seem to be guarding places or chasing after you with flashlights and dogs (that will rip you, a little kid, apart!), so you may guess that it’s the government. But, what exactly do they want with all these people? Why mind control them? Along my adventures, I was noticing all of these tubes that people seemed to be stuffed in, mixed with all of the dead animals, led me to believe that in this world people are being farmed for food. Yes, we got a Soylent Green situation happening here. I also made the conclusion that this probably took place during the early ‘80s from the aesthetics, but didn’t fully make this conclusion until at one point in the game you see a tape recorder and stacks of VHS tapes. By now, you start to realize how government controlled everything feels and the game’s George Orwell-ian vibe is thicker than oil. It’s a dark, dystopian 1980’s future and you don’t even realize it until you are nearing the end of the game. Now the end of the game is a little mind boggling as it kind of steps into Akira territory, but mixed with other subtle props in the background, you get the feeling that this was being controlled all along. Keep in mind that there is an alternative ending that is achieved by finding and destroying thirteen hidden orbs throughout the game that is a little more direct on what’s happening, but it’s not any happier.

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The game mechanics are rather easy, you just move left or right and jump when necessary. You can also grab objects to reveal passages or to move items to help you solve a puzzle. It’s easy and the game doesn’t prompt displays on how to move about or control, but rather treats you with some intelligence and eases you into how the game is played through increasingly difficult puzzles and situations. It doesn’t show you exactly what to do, but rather hints at how to go about figuring something out, so you aren’t left hanging, but you aren’t having your hand held either. However, it’s not just the puzzles that will be trying to stop you, it’s various things in the environment, like some sort of concussion blast that will literally blow this poor kid apart unless you time his movements right and use obstacles to block the blast. Another thing it a long haired, naked child that swims in the water and seemingly wants to drown you, thus forcing you to cause diversions or be very quick before either you run out of oxygen or you are pulled into the dark abyss.

I could keep going on, but Inside is a short experience (I beat it in just under two hours) that you should indulge in. It’s not about heavy handing a plot or theme to the player, but rather letting them figure it out and it manages to impact you with emotions from the oppressive imagery and what seems to be happening. I can’t wait to see what Playdead comes up with next. I’m sure it will involve horribly killing a child. (#DaretoDream -D.P.)

Comic Book Review: Axcend Vol 1 – The World Revolves Around You

(Submitted by our SuperheroScifi-tastic buddy, Mr. Prince Adam. Thanks, Heroic Ho-mie!! 🙂 xoxo)

“From New York Times bestselling creator, Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One, Rage of the Red Lanterns) and the superstar art team of Michelle Delecki (JLA, Wonder Woman) and Morry Hollowell (Civil War, Old Man Logan), AXCEND is the tragic tale of 3 teens who find the balance of humanity resting on their shoulders. When a group of gamers mistakenly set loose a virtual reality game into the real world, they risk everything to save an existence they always sought to escape. Fantasy and reality bleed together in the epic first volume of AXCEND, collecting issues #1 -5.” (Image)

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Ever since his stint on the pre-New 52 Superman/Batman and through to his work on the art for the Superman: Earth One graphic novels, I have been a fan of Shane Davis. When it came to following his first creator owned endeavour, I had no hesitation following his other work. This is Shane’s first go around as writer and artist on a book. His first opportunity to truly create a world and the characters that inhabit it. Oh and what a intriguing world it is. Really, Shane Davis has to do double the world building in this comic book. He has to create the fictional game of Axcend, three of the Avatars of the game and then the characters in the “real world” that are playing the game. Both these sets of characters are equally unique and interesting. Our lead character Eric Morn’s game avatar Axcend can create portals, and resurrect every time he is killed. Rayne is an absolute bad ass in the game. She’s dominant, almost dominatrix-esque and has two linking magical chains, that she uses similarly to Wonder Woman’s lasso, The final of the 3 avatars is Ruin. As his name suggests he is the big “Boss” the other two are trying to take down in the game. Ruin utilizes energy absorption, flight, his superhuman strength and telepathy to dominate the game and the other players. I won’t lie, the game is fictional…But I would definitely play it. If I had to choose a character to play as…it would be Axcend! He’s the novice, would-be hero of the game and I’m a sucker for the underdog. Shane Davis spends little time actually in the fictional game world, but he puts so much emphasis on the XP points and the characters special moves, you can’t help but get lost and hyped in the game.

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As cool as those segments of the story are, the real hook is the characters playing as those avatars, and why they are playing the video game.

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While the premise revolves around a virtual reality video game, the characters playing that game are dealing with real world, contemporary problems. Eric Morn is an average high school student, who lost his twin brother in a traffic accident. Since then, he has been withdrawn and a bit anti-social. Playing video games is a relief from his sadness and his escape from reality. Rain is a superstar pop singer. While the media obsesses over her and her management team uses her, she doesn’t have true friends or supporters in her life. She turns to video games, because she can shape and mold her image and also have relations with other gamers in co-op modes, Ruin is a Hispanic high schooler who experiences bullying and gay bashing from his peers. His retired army vet father is verbally abusive, constantly telling him he has amounted to nothing. He’s even gone so far as to try and slit his wrists. Thus in the game, he creates a commanding and physically dominant character to escape his perceived “shitty” real world. These are rather deep and heavy themes at play with these characters. However, these are issues that are plaguing teenagers today, so I appreciate Shane Davis shining a light on them. Many people play video games for the sheer fun of it but there are those who play them to escape their troubles. It’s important for non-gamers to understand that, so once again, kudos to Shane Davis for highlighting that.

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While highlighting the positives of gaming, the book also highlights the negative. All three characters become so engrossed in the game, it begins to consume their lives. Eric can’t concentrate on his class because he’s too focused on thinking about the game. Rain is so fixated on the game that she devises a financial strategy in the hopes of investing, or even buying the game outright. Meanwhile, the minute the persona behind Ruin gets home, he absconds to his room waiting for the next update. I’ve seen and read stories about people who get addicted to video games to the point where it consumes them, and they are unable to function or be productive outside of the gaming world. This book is not all about deep themes and character drama. There’s plenty of action that is spread throughout this story. Right from the start, Eric gets sucked into the game, through his console and literally becomes Axcend. It’s very reminiscent of the Tron franchise in this aspect. However, Shane Davis gives us Bizarro Tron when our characters became their game characters in the real world. I’m talking about full-on costumed/armored characters, complete with their superpowers intact. They are recruited in the real world, by the game’s training mode, “Dog”, who has been pulled through to the real world by Rain. He instructs her to recruit Axcend to stop Ruin, who has killed the President of the United States and taken control of the White House, My one real issue with this story is Ruin deciding to kill the President, because his Dad was bragging that he served for, and met Ronald Regan. That being the catalyst to promote such an attack seems like a bit of a stretch. This comic book also has a bit of an Inception vibe going on. I say that, because the Axcend game “comes to life”, if you will, during extreme circumstances. Eric becomes Axcend after getting hit by a bus, having an out of body experience. Rain, pulls Dog out of the game and becomes her character, after getting high on pills. Ruin becomes, well Ruin, after trying to slit his wrists. Since nothing is explicitly stated, it’s conceivable to believe that the game seeping into reality is due to hallucinations to these circumstances. There are a couple of massive twists in the third act, which I refuse to outright spoil here. However, I will warn that things involving Dog, Axcend and Ruin are not exactly what they seem. Be on the lookout for some buzzwords and hints of these twists. They’re there, if you pay enough attention.
Art-wise, Shane Davis is wonderful as always. Since I’m biased towards Superman, his Earth One books will always be my favourite work of his. That is in no way knocking what he’s done on Axcend. I loved that at least one of the main characters was Latino and of ethnicity. Also, that one was female is great too. It would’ve been disingenuous if the cast of characters was comprised of three white males. Females and Latinos play video games, too. Speaking of the game, the fictional look of the game’s environment has a bit of an 80’s game look to it, while the three characters have a more modern game aesthetic to it. Rain, or Rayne when in game mode, looks like a cross between DC’s Katana, The Pink Power Ranger and Indigo from Supergirl, given that both characters are A.I. Axcend looks like a cross between Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern and Iron Man. Ruin was the more generic looking of the three, Essentially he’s a stripped down version of Guardians of the Galaxy’s the Executioner and He-Man’s villain Trap Jaw. Axcend’s power of creating portals to travel from one location to the next looked great. It gave me some Sliders feels, so I give the artwork extra points for that. The final battle was so big and bombastic in scope. When you’re looking at the pages, you’ll swear that this is the common wet dream of Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich, and Jerry Bruckheimer.

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I’m glad I am following Shane Davis on social media because had I not been, I would’ve missed this book entirely. As noted, this book borrows elements from Tron and maybe even Inception, yet alters those ideas to make it their own thing and create an entirely new story for the comic book genre. The story deals with deep themes, gets pretty intense and emotional for the character, but never loses the sense of spectacle a tale such as this needs. Strong story, characters and great art make this one of the best books I’ve read all year. Since the cliff-hanger ending will drive me (and likely you all) nuts, you can bet I’ll be returning to Axcend whenever volume 2 is released. This is a definite MUST READ!