Games Are Evil http://www.gamesareevil.com Gaming with intelligence Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:32:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 4416848 GrE Retro: Critical Thinking and the Chainsaw Gun of Gore http://www.gamesareevil.com/gre-retro-critical-thinking-chainsaw-gun-gore/ Tue, 20 Sep 2016 18:32:01 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=260 roblogsml

From way back in 2008, here’s an essay that might still resonate with you as we look forward to Gears of War 4 coming out. Let me know what you think in the comments below – the more things change, […]

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From way back in 2008, here’s an essay that might still resonate with you as we look forward to Gears of War 4 coming out.

Let me know what you think in the comments below – the more things change, the more they stay the same. It’s interesting to note which of the blogs survived thus far; I know I didn’t. I moved on past the long-form video game essay into video gaming freelance news, then into tech/Apple blogging, and now most of my actual writing is about highly technical behind-the-scenes stuff for companies that pay well.

I’ve been trying for a month now to wrap my head around some unifying structure that I can put my thoughts about video gaming into. I’ve wanted to contribute to an Editor’s blog here on Games Are Evil, but just couldn’t find any theme or rationale for doing so.

I want to thank the Brainy Gamer, first and foremost, for introducing what, to me, is a whole new way to approach gaming journalism: a critical discussion of video games and their purpose in our culture. Michael Abbot produces a monthly podcast and a written blog that elevates the field in many ways. The new Gamer Confab structure to his podcast has introduced me to another ton of critical thinking games journalists, including The Quixotic Engineer, Acid for Blood, Design Rampage, Sexy Videogameland, Insult Swordfighting, and Man Bytes Blog, among others. [Editor’s note: these URLs may have moved/changed/gone dark in the eight years since this was originally published.]

The topic that I am seeing discussed across all of these varied and well-written websites is, to my mind, twofold: a desire to think beyond the typical “graphics/gameplay/controller” review to the deeper, perhaps even transcendent nature of video gaming as well as a willingness to ask questions for the sake of finding that deeper meaning. These excellent writers are, more importantly, critical thinkers engaged in both an inner process of reflection and analysis as well as a public, ongoing discussion of these cultural and personal issues. I find that the give and take in this section of the blogosphere to be most resonant with my way of thinking about the world and video gaming.

My theme, therefore, is the question: “Why do we play games?” I’m hoping to spend some time each month here, on other gaming sites, and on our forums, engaged in this very personal and very interesting conversation. I don’t think the point is to answer the question, but to think about it deeply.

And Let Slip the Gears of War

So let’s get right to it. I’ve been playing Gears of War 2 quite a bit lately. For me, as a father of two young children, a husband and full-time employee with a web design business on the side, video gaming is something I need to shoehorn into my life as I can. With my duties here as Associate Editor, as well as Portable Editor and general web-hack, I’ve been playing a lot of games on a lot of consoles.
So, for me, playing a game quite a bit means more than an hour at a time. It means devoting the kind of time many other gamers take for granted, in 6 or 7 hour shifts. Yes, I’ve spent that kind of time on this game. Why is that? What is it about this game, in particular, that has me hooked?

Let’s look at that question a little deeper. I’m a fairly non-violent guy. I abhor physical violence and warfare as a solution to ANY problem, large or small, private or national. I think boxing is a barbaric and ultimately stupid sport, and killing things with weapons is something I’ve never done in real life. I’ve played many violent games, though I tend to shy away from the more realistic ones, like Call of Duty, or Grand Theft Auto. I just can’t make myself do it.

I can, however, play games with more science fiction or fantasy violence. If it’s swordplay, or laser beams, I’m able to get past my hesitance. The closest I’ve come to realistic gaming is Resident Evil, or Doom, wherein the enemies are clearly monstrous and horrible. There is little or no connection to a real human involved. Which, in its own way, is how I was able to connect to Gears of War in the first place. It was sci-fi themed, which is right up my alley, the enemies are fully non-human, and it had an immersive storyline that felt, to me, like a movie I was taking part in. I was able to get past the realistic ammo and “hoo-rah!” attitude of the main characters. The tight controls and the mechanic of cover and fire really brought me further into the game, as it’s how I’d probably react in a real bullet-fight: I’d hide, and take shots at available targets.

Violence Isn’t the Answer, Is It?

So, along comes Gears of War 2. It’s horribly violent. Death is gory and messy and loud. I’ve walked through rivers of blood, and chainsawed locusts and wretches with aplomb. I don’t cringe when my teammates cheer at the end of a particularly difficult Horde level, or when Marcus Fenix says something incredibly military. I’ve been known to yell, “Suck it!” into my XBox 360 microphone during a pitched session of Wingman. Who is this guy I’ve become? And why am I allowing it to occur?
The answer is, of course, complex and full of ambiguity. I’m going to mention a couple-three things, though, that seem to help me understand this phenomenon: participation, immersion, and gaming resonance. There are a lot more things that inform my thoughts, but these three, for now, are what I want to talk about. In the interest of furthering the discussion, I’d like to point you all to the comments, below, as well as the forum thread associated with this post. Let’s have a discussion. Why does this game resonate with you?

Participation is the sense of, as Mr. Abbot says in one of his Brainy Gamer podcasts, being part of the discussion. I bought Gears 2 on launch day, and brought it home. When I popped the disk into my Xbox, my entire friends list was playing the game. It was the first time I’ve been there from the beginning (I got Halo 3 a full year after release, so that tells you the kind of buyer I am, as well). Suddenly, I was one of the cool kids, engaged in a discussion of which levels were great, how the multiplayer was shaping up, how far I’d gotten in the single player storyline, etc. I was, finally, part of the discussion. So here I am sharing it with the blogosphere, to get a broader perspective, as it were. This participation is immensely appealing to me, and goes beyond the simple, “now I’m cool” dynamic that I half-flippantly state above. It’s the same feeling I get from playing through Fable II, and then reading about it in articles like this excellent series of posts by Corvus over at Man Bytes Blog. If you have Fable II, I highly recommend going to read what he has to say.

Immersion Therapy

Now that I feel a part of the ongoing conversation, what also resonates with me is the immersion Gears of War 2 allows me. I’m taking part in a scifi action movie with all the high quality audio and video that implies. The story is only one part of the equation in any Hollywood blockbuster, and that’s also true here in the game. The music, sound design (bullets whizzing, chainsaws buzzing), and incredibly high-resolution graphics and animation complete the scene, if you will, for my falling in love. It’s like high-octane candy for the mind, with the extra-added value of being able to control the main actor for the stunt scenes. In addition, as I mentioned above, the gameplay mechanics fully mesh with the way I would act in a similar situation (if, of course, I were a highly-trained, foul-mouthed, cynical son of a bitch embroiled in a huge world-ending war with similarly equipped monsters coming in wave upon wave against me). I’d duck, hide, roll, vault barriers and throw grenades. I’d use long range weapons when possible to avoid up close fighting, and melee only when there’s no other option. This is immersive in the sense that it meshes with the way my brain already works, placing me into the action and story without realizing that I’m really only sitting on a couch, pressing colored buttons at specified intervals.

Marcus Fenix, at his best, resonates with me on another level. If I was the veteran of hundreds of pitched battles, with only my comrades and wits and serious boxes of ordinance to protect me and my world, I’d be just as cynical and battle-weary as him. I can sense his frustration and disgust with what he has to do. He’s a human being, in other words, who does what he has to do because he’s good at it. Who can’t relate to that? The designers of this game really kicked up their story a notch with the way they characterize the main people in the game. I wish they’d gone a bit more into Dom’s worry for his wife, though I haven’t completed the main single player story yet (I’ve sunk most of my available gaming time into the Multiplayer action), so I can’t comment too much on whether they fulfill the promise of such a characterization premise. But again, who can’t relate to worrying about your loved ones? I worry about my partner and children when they’re a few minutes late getting home from school pickups. How much more intensely would I worry if they were missing, and I in a state of warfare with humanity’s future balanced on my personal actions? It’s all resonant with me. If the heroes of this story enjoyed what they were doing more than they do, I would probably not be such a huge fan of the game. Yes, it’s satisfying to yell at a nasty alien that almost got the drop on us with their own blunt-edged power-tool, but I only allow myself to do so with the understanding that I have no choice.

Final Thoughts?

In conclusion, I hope I’ve been clear about what I want to do with this, my little piece of the blogosphere. Video gaming has become, in my view, something worthy of a critical analysis and depth of thought that goes beyond the typical review or fanboy site. It’s my intention, with varying success, I’d guess, to spend time talking about my own reasons for gaming. Why do we game? There are as many answers to this questions as there are gamers. I hope that this post has begun the process for any one of you to begin thinking about your own gaming perspectives. I, for one, am by no means finished with my talking and thinking about this game. The joy of such a huge triple-A title is that there is a ton of content and plenty of modes to get through, experience, and enjoy. So, stay tuned for monthly posts in this vein, and let me know what resonated for you in the comments, or on the forums.

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New Collaboration Brings Diversity and Inclusivity to Gaming Conference http://www.gamesareevil.com/new-collaboration-brings-diversity-inclusivity-gaming-conference/ Mon, 12 Sep 2016 21:51:37 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=253 large group of cosplayers from last year's GaymerX conference

Bringing together diverse people and viewpoints is the big-picture concept behind a new team up between GaymerX and XPO Game Festival this year in Tulsa, Oklahoma. GaymerX’s founder, Matt Conn, says, “GaymerX’s mission includes exposing people to rarely discussed social concepts […]

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large group of cosplayers from last year's GaymerX conference

Bringing together diverse people and viewpoints is the big-picture concept behind a new team up between GaymerX and XPO Game Festival this year in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

GaymerX’s founder, Matt Conn, says, “GaymerX’s mission includes exposing people to rarely discussed social concepts and issues in games while creating a fun, inviting space. Our collaboration with XPO Game Festival will let us share this message with parts of the country that might not regularly have the chance to openly debate these issues.”

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It seems surprising that a festival that takes place in America’s heartland would choose to connect with a diverse audience as represented by the GaymerX group, but Matt Stockman, Events Manager at VisitTulsa, is excited to include new voices.

“Like GaymerX, everyone has a place at XPO — regardless of gender, ethnicity, or orientation,” Stockman said in a statement. “Closely following the trend for more inclusiveness, XPO will feature transgender restrooms and open discussions on any and all topics related to the game industry and gaming culture.”

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To learn more about these two organizations and their respective events, head to:

GaymerX: http://gaymerx.com
XPO: http://xpotulsa.com

Tickets for both XPO and GaymerX are discounted this week, Sept 12 through the 16, by 15%, so head on over and grab your spot for both GaymerX and XPO now.

So, whether you’re in Santa Clara, CA, or Tulsa OK, you can get yourself to an inclusive gaming conference that respects all gamers. All means all.

 

 

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Play Your Cards Right in Where Cards Fall – The Portable Gamer http://www.gamesareevil.com/play-your-cards-right-in-where-cards-fall-the-portable-gamer/ Tue, 30 Aug 2016 19:01:19 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=247 There’s nothing better than a game that’s both visually stunning as well as mechanically deep. Where Cards Fall is an upcoming game from the folks behind Alto’s Adventure, and we’re super excited to get this first sneak peek. Click on through […]

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There’s nothing better than a game that’s both visually stunning as well as mechanically deep.

Where Cards Fall is an upcoming game from the folks behind Alto’s Adventure, and we’re super excited to get this first sneak peek. Click on through to The Portable Gamer below to see the whole, beautiful dream, then read to the end to find out where to enter to win a killer t-shirt.

Source: Play Your Cards Right in Gorgeous Game, Where Cards Fall – The Portable Gamer

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The Technomancer‘s E3 trailer is pretty gonzo http://www.gamesareevil.com/e3-2016-technomancer-e3-trailer-youtube/ Fri, 10 Jun 2016 17:19:49 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=238 Image: Focus Home Interactive

Love to see sci-fi games get off Earth. This has a definite Starship Troopers vibe, too. We’re excited. You? The Technomancer releases June 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Image: Focus Home Interactive

Love to see sci-fi games get off Earth. This has a definite Starship Troopers vibe, too. We’re excited. You?

The Technomancer releases June 28 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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Heart&Slash will smash your heart to bits this month http://www.gamesareevil.com/heartslash-launch-trailer-youtube/ Wed, 08 Jun 2016 19:48:04 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=230 Giant robots and voxel graphics? Yes, please.

Looks like fun, yeah? From the Press Release: Successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2014, Heart&Slash is a fast-paced 3D brawler with rogue-like elements set in a colorful yet desolate world. You fight as Heart, a malfunctioning robot trying to escape […]

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Giant robots and voxel graphics? Yes, please.

Looks like fun, yeah?

From the Press Release:

Successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2014, Heart&Slash is a fast-paced 3D brawler with rogue-like elements set in a colorful yet desolate world. You fight as Heart, a malfunctioning robot trying to escape the grip of mindless machines in a future where humans are no more.

Along the way, you meet Slash. Naturally, Heart tries to capture Slash’s attention through several playthroughs — which is far from easy since Slash is a somewhat rough veteran. *How* and *if* Heart succeeds actually depends on your choices: Each quest undertaken, for example, is a chance to woo Slash; you’ll have a couple of opportunities during every playthrough to define how the relationship evolves. Will you choose independence, or will you change in order to be loved? Will you find a balance that will allow your love story to thrive? The choice is yours 🙂

Heart&Slash will launch on June 24, 2016 to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 worldwide. The desktop version has been available on Steam Early Access; the final release (Windows/Mac/Linux) will launch in August (all territories).

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Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’ shuffling back to your screens this fall http://www.gamesareevil.com/jump-back-into-telltales-the-walking-dead-this-fall/ Tue, 07 Jun 2016 00:25:55 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=227 It’s coming! More undead goodness from the geniuses at Telltale. Job Stauffer says season three of this amazing choice-based game is coming this fall. Yes! Excited? You bet we are. Source: Jump back into Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’ this fall

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It’s coming! More undead goodness from the geniuses at Telltale.

Job Stauffer says season three of this amazing choice-based game is coming this fall. Yes!

Excited? You bet we are.

Source: Jump back into Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’ this fall

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Accessibility matters to gamers with disabilities http://www.gamesareevil.com/how-one-disabled-player-convinced-naughty-dog-to-add-more-accessibility-options-to-uncharted-4/ Thu, 19 May 2016 21:53:55 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=220 Just remember to use person-first language when you talk about it, ok? It’s a person with a disability, not a “disabled person.” You might not have dug into Uncharted 4’s extensive set of accessibility features, but for fans with disabilities, […]

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Just remember to use person-first language when you talk about it, ok? It’s a person with a disability, not a “disabled person.”

You might not have dug into Uncharted 4’s extensive set of accessibility features, but for fans with disabilities, they’re incredibly important. The reason Uncharted 4 has so many is thanks to a fortuitous meeting at GDC.

Source: How One Disabled Player Convinced Naughty Dog To Add More Accessibility Options To Uncharted 4

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Mash-up of Mario and Minecraft is magical http://www.gamesareevil.com/mash-mario-minecraft-magical/ Mon, 09 May 2016 18:02:35 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=216 I’ve been loving the Little Big Planet skins on my PS4 copy of Minecraft, but this new development in the blocky world that Notch built has me considering getting a Wii U version, as well. Joey Davidson (a GrE alumnus, […]

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Mario and Minecraft? Yes, please! Photo: Nintendo

Mario and Minecraft? Yes, please! Photo: Nintendo

I’ve been loving the Little Big Planet skins on my PS4 copy of Minecraft, but this new development in the blocky world that Notch built has me considering getting a Wii U version, as well.

Joey Davidson (a GrE alumnus, at that!) broke the news over at TechnoBuffalo, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Can you dig it? Get it? Dig? Sigh. Dad jokes.

Anyway, get that Wii U dusted off and that Minecraft booted up for this free download from Nintendo.

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Demon’s Souls Review (2009) http://www.gamesareevil.com/demons-souls-review-2009/ Fri, 15 Apr 2016 06:15:09 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=212 I’ve been at this a while – now that Dark Souls III is out, maybe it’s time to look back at 2009 me – writing about the first game in the series, Demon’s Souls. Still interesting to read, for me, […]

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Defeated again, I suppose. Image:  Bliptalk

Defeated again, I suppose. Image: Bliptalk

I’ve been at this a while – now that Dark Souls III is out, maybe it’s time to look back at 2009 me – writing about the first game in the series, Demon’s Souls.

Still interesting to read, for me, anyway – boy was I wordy.

DEMON’S SOULS REVIEW

06 OCTOBER 2009

Game: Demon’s Souls
Developer: From Software
Publisher: Atlus, USA
Platform: PS3
Price: $59.99, or $69.99 for Deluxe Editon
Pros: Gorgeous, addictive, depth of play
Cons: Scale of difficulty is pitched high

PART ONE – September 2, 2009

In a rare twist, Atlus has informed us press-types that there are no embargoes on this game. We can talk about it freely, and fully. We could even review it if we wanted to. Boy, I wish. I just got the press-copy yesterday in the mail, so there’s no way I could be through enough of this game to give a quality review.

However, I can preview the first part. Spoil it, if you will. So, if you do NOT want to know anything about the first part of the game, do not read any more. I MEAN IT! You’ve been warned. 🙂

Demon’s Souls is a game for the PS3 system, published and localized by Atlus, originally developed by FROM Software. It’s releasing October 6th, so be ready. Because it is one hell of a ride.

From the opening score and the well-produced voice over, I found myself exclaiming (in my head, of course), “Wow, this is what Oblivion WANTED to be.” The visuals are simply stunning: mountains are craggy and realistic looking, the vistas are panoramic and the big giant demon-monster at the end of the opening credits? Scary as all get-out. The PS3 really does this game justice, especially on a big ole TV screen. The music is a bit overdone, but it does send the message of, “oh crap, the world is DOOMED” right to your ears. From the official Atlus blog, we can see what Demon’s Souls is about:

King Allant the XII, the last king of Boletaria, searched tirelessly to expand his might. The Nexus, a great ice shrine nestled in the mountains, bestowed the power of the souls onto him, bringing prosperity to his kingdom. Still unsated, he returned again to the Nexus, where he foolishly awakened the Old One from its eternal slumber. This long forgotten evil, now wrought upon Boletaria, plunged the realm into darkness and fog. A mighty demon horde poured into the kingdom, devouring the souls of men.

Champions from other realms learned of Boletaria’s fate and sought to deliver the kingdom from evil; none would return from the cursed land. Called upon by a mysterious maiden in black, you go forth, the last hope for humanity in a place lost to demons and darkness…

All of the above is voiced by a woman with a vaguely European accent, while the sweeping vistas and scary monsters fly on by. You’re dropped right into the character creation screens, which are a bit on the overwhelming side, especially since players will have no clue what kind of stats will best advantage them in gameplay. I went with my standard: female magic user with purple hair, named Squiff (long story). You could REALLY spend some time in this tool, and I did spend a fair amount tweaking everything from the size of my nose to the upturn of my eyes to the pigment and lighting of my skin tone. I’m guessing that folks with talent and time could make a character look just like them. I found the gender selector to be a joy of progressive thought, as it allows a player to move a slider along a continuum from male to female. This is the first time I’ve seen that done, and I have to applaud the developers for their foresight.

So, purple-haired magician woman in hand, I went into the Tutorial, which is a series of corridors/caves. You’re introduced to basic moves like short, quick attacks to stronger, but longer attacks. Using the left shoulder buttons lets players guard (L1) and parry (L2), which when timed right allows a player to riposte, generally a killing move that looks awesome.

Players are also introduced to locking on (an awkward right stick press) and changing weapons and magic (if applicable) as well as using herbs that can be found by examining corpses and remains – woohoo! On the floor are pretty little red shiny areas that are messages from the developers, giving players helpful hints and teaching valuable Tutorial lessons. You learn about blood stains (touch them and you can watch the death scene of the given spot’s blood “donor.” This comes in handy later in the game as you can hit a bloodstain and find out where the baddies might be shooting arrows, for example.

At the end of the Tutorial, you face a boss, which I thought was pretty clever. I’m thinking, “hey, they’re going to have me use all the things I just learned to defeat this boss.” Then, I realized that this “boss” was really a ringer. I was never meant to survive. Doesn’t matter HOW well I learned the basic moves – not only did I die, but they WANTED me to die. What other game kills you at the end of the Tutorial so you can begin the actual game? That’s what I thought.

Ending up in the Nexus, I began to see that this wasn’t what Oblivion wanted to be. This game is what Oblivion had no idea even existed. The Nexus is where you start your game, as a dead person. The object, so I’m told by another dead warrior, is to travel to places, fight demons, and collect, you guessed it, Demon’s Souls. When you do this, apparently you might get your body back. Maybe. I’m not too clear on this as I can’t seem to get to the first Demon.

When I say I can’t get to the first Demon, what I mean is that the first level is so incredibly difficult, and so foreign to me as a gamer, that I can’t seem to get through the whole thing without dying. Repeatedly. I’ve touched my own bloodstain three or four times now. What i find absolutely compelling, though, is that I want to keep playing. Most games, if I was this frustrated this early on, I’d stop playing. I might even write a clever post about games that are too hard for old guys like me. But not here. I’m compelled to play this game. I’m really honestly interested in honing my strategy, skills, and equipment into the perfect set of “stuff” to see me through the level. Because each time I attempt it, I learn something new about how to approach this game.

First off, I’ve learned not to hack n slash. This will kill me. In addition, relying only on ranged magic spells will kill me as they run out and I need to then rely on a sword, which then isn’t good enough to get the bad guys who are far away and lobbing fireballs at me. I will die. Not locking on to my foes will, ultimately, kill me. Not remembering where, exactly, that guy waiting in ambush is will, in fact, kill me. I will continue to start from the beginning of the level each time I die. Which, in most games, is overly frustrating. In this game, for some reason, it’s motivating me.

So, the title says First Level. Honestly, I’ve been through the first level ALMOST to the end about 20 times. In fact, it wasn’t until I reached maximum frustration and watched a 4-part walkthrough on YouTube that I realized that I’d not been fighting the main boss Demon, but getting fried by some random giant dragons NEAR the end. Ugh. A couple of tips – if you find yourself having trouble, try a Royalty class character. The magic replenishes magically, with a ring you get, and you’ll not lose all your items each time you die. Just a tip. Just sayin’.

Regardless, I’ll keep playing this, and keep writing about it. Because, honestly, a 1500 word article with a score on it will do you no good. Those will all tell you to go buy it and tell you the story and then tell you about the battle system, etc. But you already knew that stuff. What I hope to do is to help you experience some of this game, through my eyes and hands, so that you can make a well-rounded decision about buying this game. I have a feeling I’ll be a while playing this game, so as you purchase it and get to where I am, be sure to stop and say hello. And touch my bloodstain, please.

PART TWO – October 6, 2009

By now, you’ve seen the videos, the screenshots and the buzz surrounding Atlus’ latest PS3 game, Demon’s Souls.

You’ve heard about the really amazingly cool deluxe edition and pre-order bonus artbook and CD that has me itching to purchase it, even though I have the reviewer version of the game.

You’ve heard about how brutally difficult it can be. You may even have heard about how it’s really not as hard as everyone makes it out to be. I’m here to tell you that it’s both.

I also want you to bend your mind around this: if you’ve played and enjoyed Donkey Kong, Frogger, Super Mario Brothers or any of the dozen other old school platformers out there, you’ll dig Demon’s Souls. I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m talking about the same Demon’s Souls that you might have been anticipating. It is definitely not a platforming game. It’s an action RPG with decidedly old school learning curve, with no hand holding and no support system for being a n00b. Demon’s Souls is incredibly unforgiving, and the one hit kills aren’t koopa-cute, but this is your daddy’s old-school gaming.
Let me explain. Demon’s Souls is, first and foremost, an incredibly beautiful, well-produced, fantastic game for the PS3. The stunning vistas, dark corridors and clever sound cues all go a long way to keeping me coming back for more. Personally, I don’t like the precision of the old school platforming genre. I’m not a huge fan of endless grinding, either. So, why am I still finding myself drawn to this interesting amalgamation of the two?

First up, it’s gorgeous. I’m a sucker for eye candy and this game is the pinnacle of visual greatness. The environments are lush, from the stunning vista atop the Boletarian castle walkway, to the immense fire breathing dragon demon that flies above you, burning everything in its path, to the deep dark dank caves of Stonefang Tunnel, there’s nothing I’ve seen that compares to this game’s stunning beauty. The animation of enemy and the player’s own avatar is second to none, and supports gameplay at every turn with extras like slowing down and dodge-rolling slower due to carrying too many weapons.
Second of all, it’s addictive. The enemies are in the same place each time, though they may act differently or take a different path to attempt to kill you. The urge to play through just one more time after each death is strong. Yes, death happens. A lot. But that’s part of the draw, and gives this game its legs: not only am I dead, but I have to get back to my spot of death to be able to collect the souls I dropped there when I died. Brilliant and addictive.

Third, and this took me a while to get to, is the compelling storyline. Yes, I said storyline. The story told to me by the Monumental was moving, deep, and intelligent. I long for that kind of emotional experience in games, and this really took me by surprise. The motivation as a role-played character became, for me, that much deeper. No spoilers here, but if you’re getting frustrated with the intensity and/or repetitive nature of the learning curve, stick with it. It gets more and more worth it. The concepts of nexus as world-hub, archstones as portals, and the various nexus denizens (from the world-weary knight to the grumpy blacksmith) do please my story-needs, and make a lot of the die, start at the beginning, die just as you reach the point you need to, rinse and repeat a bit more easy to swallow.

Finally, the online multiplayer holds great promise. I can’t say that I got to play with anyone, due to server constraints and timezones, but I certainly saw a lot of folks playing alongside me. While running through each lovingly crafted world, ghostly and luminous shadows of other players can be seen, dashing along the path you trod, talking to the NPCs in the Nexus and the like. The bloodstains show where other adventurers have died and allow you to replay their grisly end, making them entertaining AND informative.

I’m not going to dissemble and tell you that this game will be something you like from start to finish. In my month with the game I have gone from rapt joy to fierce, razor-sharp hatred to a grudging acceptance of my own failings as a gamer in my attempt to understand this game. As such, here are some gameplay tips, garnered from a long career in the world of the Nexus, boletaria and the other worlds of Demon’s Souls:

Souls = money. It is often worth running ALL THE WAY back to the start of the level, activating the archstone key, and talking to the Lady in Black to level up. Please do this. A lot. Higher level characters just do better, period.
If you’re having trouble with your initial character choice, consider switching to the Royalty class. You’ll get a ring that replentishes your magic powers over time, so you really only need to guard your health.

GUARD YOUR HEALTH. Do not run in and expect to take much damage. Even the least of foes can get in a good shot and kill. Kill. Kill. You. Learn how to guard, dodge, roll, jump backward, and switch from ranged magic and weapons to melee and back. Don’t be afraid to use your health herbs early and often. You can buy more with the souls. See point #1 above.

You will spend most of your time dead. Let it be. This is how you are supposed to be playing the game, mostly.

Get help when you can. I believe that I would have progressed farther if I had someone to play through some of the levels with.

DO NOT TRY TO KILL THE BIG DRAGONS. That is all. They will not die. You will.

I hope this review (part one here), has inspired you to get this game. I think this is the kind of game that shows off the PS3’s abilities to great effect, and will raise your own skills to a higher level, should you stick with it. I am a better player now, because of my trials and tribulations in Demon’s Souls. Games that I had given up on before at the “I’m stuck” point have opened up to me as being much easier now that I have a few more skillz under my belt. Thanks, Atlus!

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Kingdom Hearts Unchained X at The Portable Gamer http://www.gamesareevil.com/kingdom-hearts-unchained-x-portable-gamer/ Fri, 08 Apr 2016 15:48:30 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=210 Link Post: https://theportablegamer.com/kingdom-hearts-unchained-x-surprisingly-fun-16d0228c2f0f#.3kayffo11

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Link Post: https://theportablegamer.com/kingdom-hearts-unchained-x-surprisingly-fun-16d0228c2f0f#.3kayffo11

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What about the dancers at the Microsoft GDC party? http://www.gamesareevil.com/dancers-microsoft-gdc-party/ Tue, 22 Mar 2016 23:43:42 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=204 A woman who is an exotic dancer is not below a woman who is a computer programmer, and we need to stop trying to force these beliefs on others.

Quote Source: Maki Roll's Chop Shop

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A woman who is an exotic dancer is not below a woman who is a computer programmer, and we need to stop trying to force these beliefs on others.

Quote Source: Maki Roll's Chop Shop

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Blizzard drops a brand-new Overwatch video on YouTube, Xbox One http://www.gamesareevil.com/blizzard-drops-big-overwatch-video-youtube-xbox-one/ Tue, 22 Mar 2016 00:51:10 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=196 Winston likes peanut butter with his bananas.  Photo: Blizzard

“Recall,” the first of four Overwatch animated shorts by Blizzard, is ostensibly only on Xbox One, but it’s also on YouTube, and embedded below. But I can’t help but ask myself, does any of this of any matter to the […]

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Winston likes peanut butter with his bananas.  Photo: Blizzard
Winston likes peanut butter with his bananas.  Photo: Blizzard

Winston likes peanut butter with his bananas. Photo: Blizzard

“Recall,” the first of four Overwatch animated shorts by Blizzard, is ostensibly only on Xbox One, but it’s also on YouTube, and embedded below.

But I can’t help but ask myself, does any of this of any matter to the FPS crowd? Do we really need the backstory — however adorable — of any of the characters in Overwatch, when all we’ll be doing is shooting each other, capturing territory and flags, and the like?


It’s exciting to see this kind of quality storytelling, sure, and the animation is as cinema-quality as ever.

But do we really care? I guess if you’re already a huge Team Fortress 2 player, for example, you like those clever videos that Valve puts out, sure. But it seems kind of silly to create such a highly-polished animated short for the express purpose of advertising a “spawn. die. repeat.” sort of gaming experience.

I want a game that is ALL ANIMATED SHORTS, ALL THE TIME. Or, failing that, something where the story and background like this actually, you know, matters. Something like Firewatch, for example.

What do you think?

PS – Did you catch that Hearthstone easter egg? Fantastic.

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Firewatch sells tons of copies, proving worth of walking sims http://www.gamesareevil.com/firewatch-sells-tons-copies-proving-worth-walking-sims/ Sun, 20 Mar 2016 17:46:21 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=192 Meet Shelly Duvall. Or is that Turt Reynolds? Photo: Campo Santo

Firewatch is a fantastic first-person walker that will engage and entertain you long after you finish it. It’s fantastic to see it doing so well, commercially, as well. This can only bode well for the near future of games. Via: […]

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Meet Shelly Duvall. Or is that Turt Reynolds? Photo: Campo Santo
Meet Shelly Duvall. Or is that Turt Reynolds? Photo: Campo Santo

Meet Shelly Duvall. Or is that Turt Reynolds? Photo: Campo Santo

Firewatch is a fantastic first-person walker that will engage and entertain you long after you finish it.

It’s fantastic to see it doing so well, commercially, as well. This can only bode well for the near future of games.

Via: Polygon

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SNES games will ‘run on the system with quality results,’ says Nintendo http://www.gamesareevil.com/snes-games-will-run-system-quality-results-says-nintendo/ Thu, 10 Mar 2016 18:40:13 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=187 When we realized that only the New 3DS hardware would run these older-than-many-gamers games from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, we were hard pressed not to think of it as yet another cash grab by Japan’s venerable gaming company. I […]

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Super Metroid needs a faster CPU than the original 3DS?  Photo: Nintendo

Super Metroid needs a faster CPU than the original 3DS? Photo: Nintendo

When we realized that only the New 3DS hardware would run these older-than-many-gamers games from the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, we were hard pressed not to think of it as yet another cash grab by Japan’s venerable gaming company. I mean, how many portable Nintendo gaming systems do we really need?

Today, however, Nintendo tells Game Informer that the reason you need new hardware is because the new hardware has a better CPU in it. To run games from 25 years ago. Ok.

“As previously announced, New Nintendo 3DS has an improved CPU, which enables Super NES games to run on the system with quality results,” a Nintendo rep told Game Informer. “The Super NES games also include Perfect-Pixel mode, which allows players to see their games in their original TV resolution and aspect resolution.”

I’m not a coder, but it seems silly that a game made for a 16-bit system with simulated 3D, a palette of 32,768 colors and 8-channel audio needs an even faster CPU than a gaming system that runs things like Fire Emblem Fates, which came out this year.

But, hey, maybe that’s what it is.

Via TechnoBuffalo

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Thimbleweed Park is more of what you like in adventure games, less of what you don’t http://www.gamesareevil.com/thimbleweed-park-like-adventure-games-less-dont/ Fri, 04 Mar 2016 17:07:12 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=182 Adventure games: lots of humorous storytelling, delightful art, and a lot of annoying mechanics that should all just die in a fire. Am I right? Thimbleweed Park, the upcoming adventure game from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick of Maniac Mansion […]

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I dunno -- still looks kind of "adventure gamey" to me. Photo: Thimbleweed Park

I dunno — still looks kind of “adventure gamey” to me. Photo: Thimbleweed Park

Adventure games: lots of humorous storytelling, delightful art, and a lot of annoying mechanics that should all just die in a fire. Am I right?

Thimbleweed Park, the upcoming adventure game from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick of Maniac Mansion fame, hopes to close the book on those crappy outdated old mechanics and get us back into adventure games.

Here’s a little trailer to show you what they’re hoping to do.

Thimbleweed Park should release in later this year for Mac, Windows, Xbox One and Linux, and mobile platforms a bit after that.

What do you think?

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Why are upcoming Super Nintendo games limited to New 3DS models? http://www.gamesareevil.com/upcoming-super-nintendo-games-limited-new-3ds-models/ Thu, 03 Mar 2016 23:26:29 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=177 Photo: Fobby.net

Looks like SNES classics Pilotwings, Super Mario World, and F-Zero will be available today in the Nintendo eShop. Super Mario Kart, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong Country will be available on March 24. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the […]

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Photo: Fobby.net
The one game i'm excited to play on my New 3DS XL. Image shamelessly stolen from TechnoBuffalo

The one game i’m excited to play on my New 3DS XL. Image shamelessly stolen from TechnoBuffalo

Looks like SNES classics Pilotwings, Super Mario World, and F-Zero will be available today in the Nintendo eShop.

Super Mario Kart, Earthbound, and Donkey Kong Country will be available on March 24.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest will make it to your handheld on April 14th.

Why, though, will these older video games require Nintendo’s latest handheld hardware, the New 3DS and the New 3DS XL?

During today’s Nintendo Direct announcement, Nintendo said that the games will feature a “Pixel Perfect Mode,” which will let the games to be played in their original resolution. I’m unsure why “older” hardware, like the 3DS, 3DS XL and even newer 2DS won’t be able to run these games.

Is it Nintendo trying to push us to all get a New 3DS? Is there some technical reason?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Via: The Verge

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Happy 20th, Resident Evil! Now where are our presents? http://www.gamesareevil.com/happy-20th-resident-evil-now-presents/ Thu, 03 Mar 2016 01:54:44 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=172 Still creepy AF.

Photo: YouTube

Oh, hey! They’re right here! You can save up to 75 percent over at the Playstation Store, with RE titles available for both PS4 and the PS3, which really is still a very capable machine. Check out the sale if […]

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Still creepy AF.

Photo: YouTube

Oh, hey! They’re right here!

You can save up to 75 percent over at the Playstation Store, with RE titles available for both PS4 and the PS3, which really is still a very capable machine.

Check out the sale if you have a mind to, and remember to carry lots of herb with you.

Remember, though, that new RE games are coming to PS4 soon, and you should have (still might be ale to) picked up Resident Evil 2 Revelations on PS Plus for FREE.

Enjoy!

Via: The handsome folks at TechnoBuffalo

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GameStop jumps the (rail)gun – Titanfall 2 is coming http://www.gamesareevil.com/gamestop-jumps-railgun-titanfall-2-coming/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 19:02:28 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=166 Twitter user Niall Maher took a snapshot of his local GameStop, confirming the fact that the video game superstore has Titanfall 2 boxes up on shelves for pre-order. EA hasn’t officially announced the sequel to 2014’s mega-hit Titanfall, yet. Awesome. […]

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For reals, yo.

For reals, yo.

Twitter user Niall Maher took a snapshot of his local GameStop, confirming the fact that the video game superstore has Titanfall 2 boxes up on shelves for pre-order.

EA hasn’t officially announced the sequel to 2014’s mega-hit Titanfall, yet.

Awesome.

Of course, it could be a fake, as the games appear to be on the PS3 shelf – which makes no sense for a game that was Xbox One exclusive.

Via: Technobuffalo

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The Church in the Darkness will creep you out http://www.gamesareevil.com/church-darkness-will-creep/ Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:40:57 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=164 Just go ahead and watch that. Listen to the strident voices of your cult leaders as they tell you why their way is the right way, why the rest of the world is corrupt, and how you must purify yourself […]

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Just go ahead and watch that.

Listen to the strident voices of your cult leaders as they tell you why their way is the right way, why the rest of the world is corrupt, and how you must purify yourself for the greater, socialist good.

Watch as the camera pans over cages, huts, and barbed wire-wrapped posts. See the members of the cult spell out “HELP US” in palm fronds on a nearby beach.

Get ready to play The Church in the Darkness.

“The Church in the Darkness combines unique narrative with tight top-down action-infiltration gameplay in an open-ended environment. As Vic, an ex-law enforcement officer, you travel to South America to get into Freedom Town and check on your nephew, Alex. Play how you want – you can avoid detection completely, take on the guards using non-lethal methods, or kill anyone who gets in your way. But you’ll have to live with the consequences of those choices.”

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Fire Emblem Fates is headed your way Friday and the reviews are in http://www.gamesareevil.com/fire-emblem-fates-headed-way-friday-reviews/ Thu, 18 Feb 2016 00:23:29 +0000 http://www.gamesareevil.com/?p=158 Photo: Nintendo

Fire Emblem Fates, one of my most anticipated games all year (and the title that I used as a reason to purchase a new 3DS XL, even after my old one was left on a plane by my kiddo last […]

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Photo: Nintendo

Fire Emblem Fates, one of my most anticipated games all year (and the title that I used as a reason to purchase a new 3DS XL, even after my old one was left on a plane by my kiddo last year), is out on Friday.

The first pre-release reviews are here, and they’ve got some great things to say.

Griffin McElroy takes point over at Polygon, saying, “Still, Fire Emblem Fates isn’t lacking in reasons for you to care about the plight of its world and its inhabitants. It has a powerful emotional core that is unique for games, and it all stems from the ramifications of its instigating choice. It’s a war game that’s light on blind aggression and bloodlust, instead fueled by curiosity — maybe even regret, when you consider where the different paths lead.”

Over at IGN, Meghan Sullivan echoes the point about feelings, saying, “It’s an emotional and engaging journey, one where I often teared up as siblings accused each other of treason and challenged one another to mortal combat. This sad tale is elevated by excellent art direction that uses sweeping angles and well-timed close-ups on characters’ expressive faces to convey pain, regret, or hope as the two warring factions fight for supremacy.”

Destructoid’s Chris Carter tells us not to worry too much about which version to get, though he does say that “Conquest on the other hand is a more enjoyable from my perspective as a strategy veteran. It’s much more complex from the start, and offers bigger maps, more interesting objectives (such as point defense or sieges), and a more intriguing plot.”

Alexa Ray Corriea reviews Fire Emblem Fates for Gamespot, turning in a review titled, “Love, Sex, and Fire Emblem Fates,” as intriguing a headline for a portable game as I’ve ever seen. “Sure, the relationship building is only half the battle,” she writes, “but it’s the foundation on which your combat strategy rests; pair people up and you will deal extra damage, heal, and crunch through maps more efficiently, not to mention produce offspring with high stats and powerful attacks. Bedding down is a tactical move, and while that seems like a cold way to put it, that’s exactly what it is. The added flair in bringing people into your bedroom also gives ample room for you to project their own desires, to use your imagination to take things a step further.”

Maybe that’s why I like Nintendo’s flagship strategy series to begin with.

Whatever your thing, though, it looks like Fire Emblem Fates is shaping up to be a must-buy. Which version are you picking up? Birthright, Conquest, or both?

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