Appreciation ≠ Approval

I acquired Gone Home through a Humble Bundle. It was not the game I was aiming for when I purchased said bundle, but it was a game I had read good things about. I knew what to expect to some degree, hearing that it’s “not a game” in the traditional sense, but more a visual narrative. With many a TellTale title under my belt, I have come to enjoy this type of game. However, Gone Home is more “walking simulator” or point-and-click adventure, and the narrative is flimsy at best. Potential spoilers are ahead.

In Gone Home, you play the eldest sister of a two child nuclear family. Dad is a failed writer who now reviews consumer electronics, and Mom works for the local forestry department. Your younger sister is in high school still, and her coming of age tale is woven through journal entries scattered about the house. You have just been abroad for a year, a post high school trip taken before life truly begins. As the game opens, you have just left a message on the answering machine at your home, and are catching a late flight back to the States. Upon your arrival, you find that the house is mysteriously empty.

The reasons for the house being empty are revealed as you explore the house. You can move around freely, provided doors aren’t locked, and this leads you to a point and click adventure through the mansion that your family moved into while you were away. It’s amazing to me that this family has lived in the house for a year, yet the house looks un-lived-in. There are still many packed boxes, trash about the house, and objects that are important to driving the story are mixed in with other junk. You can open drawers and doors, find hidden passages and keys to open other doors that are locked, combinations to other locked objects, and listen to tapes strewn about (though always conveniently located next to a tape player).

The overall narrative is from the point of view of your sister. She leaves journal entries for you, locked inside the attic that you presumably read once you find it. Still, little bits and pieces of notes or other noteworthy items will cue up voice-overs which are your sister reading the journal entries aloud. If you suspend your disbelief, it’s as if she attached these notes to bits of her life that occurred while you were away. However, it’s all actually tied up in the journal that awaits you at the end of the game. Other bits of information turn up as you explore, from the owner of the house actually being your uncle, who was called a “psycho” and the house is called the “psycho house,” though it’s never really explained why. Your sister gets caught up with poltergeists, hauntings and ghost hunting, but none of this serves a purpose except to give you an idea of the kind of person she is. Despite the game taking place in an empty mansion during a raging storm, and creepy sounds coming from all around you, that’s the end of the scare factor, and that was severely disappointing. I wanted to know more about the psycho. I wanted to see something spooky. It didn’t happen.

Within a few minutes it was obvious that your sister was discovering (or finally admitting) that she is a lesbian, or at least attracted to women. Before you jump to conclusions, no, I don’t have a problem with homosexuality in games. This isn’t about that. The problem with it is that it was predictable, and every time the developers tried to distract you from their “love story” with supernatural tidbits or the psycho spin — or that Dad is probably an alcoholic and Mom is cheating on him with Ranger Rick — they come back around to the story about lesbians. If they wanted this game to be a love story, make it a love story. If it’s supposed to be about a psycho uncle or the supernatural, give us that. Don’t tease me with a good time and then say “just kidding, this is a lesbian love story.”

That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy what was offered. It’s a fair game with a lot of interesting stuff in it. It does peek back into the 90’s very well, and that nostalgia is probably what I liked the most. It also takes a typical family, even with all its dysfunction, and gives you an honest look into their lives. I really do appreciate what the game was trying to accomplish, and I applaud the dev’s ability to stray from the norm. However, appreciation doesn’t always equal approval, and in this case, I don’t approve. Especially with a $20 price point, and a completion time of just over an hour. Thankfully, I didn’t pay nearly that much for it.

I saw a review on Steam that I just had to share:

Should I buy this game?
A handy, dandy flowchart

1) Are you a nineties kid?
Yes – Go to 2
No – Go to 5

2) Are you female?
Yes – Go to 3
No – Go to 5

3) Are you a lesbian?
Yes – Go to 4
No – Go to 5

4) Do you like having fun?
Yes – Go to 5
No – Go to 5

5) No.

-Moxd

It’s not a fair review, but it made me laugh. Here’s my breakdown:

Graphics, Sound, Production – hits the sweet spot

Gameplay – smooth

90’s nostalgia – spot on

Story – we could tell Sam was a lesbian from the start. Why didn’t they delve into why the uncle was a psycho? Something supernatural would have been nice too. Oh, and Mom is totally cheating with Rick.

Verdict – overall a meh experience. not worth $20. Glad I got it for next to nothing. I can appreciate the way it strives to do something different, and I’m cool with the lesbian bit, just don’t see why it was made when it really doesn’t accomplish anything.

I give Gone Home 2 out of 5 Corals.

coralcoralcoralgreycoralgreycoralgrey

 

#gonehome #review #walkingsimulator #coral

State of the Game: Scattered

This week was like any other week. I got involved in some multiplayer for games I’ve had access to for a long time but never played for whatever reason. I sampled some indie games I hadn’t touched yet. I watched a bunch of League of Legends’ World Championship, along with playing the game a bit. I also played through the remainder of Dead Space 3, which had been sitting in the backlog for a couple months. So all in all, I’ve been sticking to my guns when it comes to clearing out the backlog, but also taking time to play some games with friends. A large portion of my focus this week was on Bragtoberfest though, which meant nailing down the details and getting things ready to go since the 1st in in a few short days. All in all the event is ready to go, and we’ve had a positive response from the community, so I’m looking forward to gaming with my fellow bloggers.

I did a bit of that already, playing a couple of different games with Doone this week. We started off by trying out The Banner Saga Factions, which was the multiplayer component that actually released before the regular game. It’s free to play, and basically just the battle mode, but instead of playing against the computer you play your friends. It seemed sort of buggy in our experience, and we only played one match before calling it quits. It had potential to be a cool game, but the battles would get old after a while, as you don’t have the storyline to go along with it. The Banner Saga was an amazing game, and I loved playing through it, but this multiplayer component was rather lacking.

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After that I suggested that we play some Starcraft II multiplayer, and he agreed. I hadn’t touched the MP yet, having only made it ten or so missions into the solo campaign, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Turns out that the multiplayer introduced some units I hadn’t seen yet, or that functioned differently than they did in the single player missions. This was even more disturbing when I tried out the Zerg, who used to be my favorite race but didn’t make much sense to me in the multiplayer. I assume this means I need to get used to them via the single player, but the Terran still didn’t have the learning curve. We started off in a 1v1 and I claimed victory fairly quickly, though Doone says he forced the fight and was distracted by reading about new units and that sort of thing. Sounds like excuses to me, but he did show more of what he could do when we played co-op vs. the AI. It was a sad showing for a while, we just couldn’t click and kept losing to the AI, but when we played again the next day, things went our way. We ended up finally crushing the AI, though it did take quite a while. We basically had to starve them of minerals without starving ourselves, so it was a delicate matter, but in the end we were victorious. I started to browse the Arcade and it looks to have a lot of cool user-created mods/modes and I look forward to checking that out soon.

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As I mentioned, I’ve been watching the shit out of Worlds this year. I watched last year as well, though only the Summer Split and the tail end of Worlds (I did see SKT1 win it all). This year I missed the Spring and Summer Splits and only started watching during Worlds. I actually missed groups A & B, but I managed to watch almost every game from groups C & D. I’ve been rooting for TSM and Cloud 9 (US teams) because in years past it’s been European (Season 1) or Korean (Seasons 2 & 3) teams who have won it all, and it’s time for the US to show they can compete. So far the brackets are set up for the Quarterfinals, and both of those teams have hung in there, along with Chinese and Korean teams. Europe managed to see itself out after last night. If you’re interested, there’s a lot of coverage over at the official site. In other League news, they released skins for Fnatic (who won season 1), as they somehow hadn’t done that yet, but had for TPA and SKT in the seasons following. There’s also been updates to Viktor and Sion, along with a new champion released, called Azir. The game is most definitely still going strong. Having watched so much of it I was ready to get in game again myself, so I played a handful of ARAMs the other night. Hadn’t touched the game for a month, but first round was a great success:

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Unfortunately I lost every game afterwards. That’s the problem with ARAM, sometimes you get stuck with a champion you love, and other times you don’t. Add in a few other people getting champs they aren’t good with, and say good night.

I played a few other games in my Steam catalog (scored from Humble Bundle), all Indie titles that I either really didn’t know about or hadn’t really been interested in, but thought I needed to try anyway due to some positive reviews and feedback from friends. Papers, Please was highly regarded by anyone I’ve heard of playing it, and I can say that it’s pretty fun, though reminds me a lot of when I worked in security, which was a bit of a turn off. Still, it’s an interesting idea for a game, that turns the mundane into a problem solving nightmare. Overall I’d recommend it for those looking for something completely out of left field to try. Another cool title is Race the Sun, in which you literally try to race the sun as it sets. Your plane is solar powered, so you need the sunlight to keep it going. It’s a simplistic idea, and the graphics are fairly basic, but it’s actually rather fun.

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I also started up Prison Architect, which looks to be rather interesting, but I didn’t get too far along before deciding not to get too involved. It’s still in early access so things are always changing. I hear that this newest build is one of the best so far, so I do want to play more of it, but I just want to keep sticking to my guns with the whole backlog. So for now, I’m just poking my head into titles here and there. The Humble Store freebie this last week was Tropico 3, and though I’ve never played the series I hear that it’s pretty good, and that’s got the whole city builder thing going for it, so I have been avoiding it as well. Don’t want the time sinks until I finish a few more games! The last game I played for about an hour was Steamworld Dig, and it was rather fun as well. I wasn’t expecting much, some of the reviews on the store page were dismissive, but it’s got it’s hooks. Digging for treasure is never a bad thing, and using that treasure to get upgrades and new gadgets is fun as well. It’s basically a Metroidvania, but for the most part it feels pretty fresh. Playing as a steam-powered robot is an interesting twist by itself.

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I have a few games in mind for my next playthrough. I’m going to continue on with the campaign for SC2, and perhaps try and finish another in the meantime. Some of these indies might be easy to beat as well, so I might knock a few off before long. Time will tell. Anyway, that’s all for this week’s edition. Happy Gaming!

#stateofthegame #roundup #gaming

Couch Podtatoes Episode 15: Bragtoberfest

This episode we basically focus on getting the formalities of Bragtoberfest out there in the public space. The sanctioned events are discussed along with everything you can expect from the overall event. If you had questions about it, hopefully they’ll be answered now. There really isn’t much else for me to say here, just check out the episode!

Download

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Listen to Stitcher

Couch Podtatoes Epsiode 15: Bragtoberfest (runtime: 39:16)

Breaking the Ice: what are we playing? (starts at 1:28)
Announcement: Bragtoberfest (starts at 18:00)
Community Talk: Mr. Luvva Luvva (starts at 32:16)

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter:@mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Community Spotlight:
Mr. Luvva Luvva
the article
part 2

Music Credits:
“Level Up” by Cookie Monsta (from the Riot! EP)
“Luftrausers Theme” by Kozilek (from the album “Luftrausers OST”)
“Laserrauser” by Kozilek (from the album “Luftrausers OST”)
“Enchanted Rose” by Bury Your Dead (from the album Beauty and the Breakdown)

Couch Podtatoes is a podcast about gaming, though we might stray into other forms of media. Sometimes we use strong language, but we try to keep that to a minimum. All opinions expressed by us or our guests are our own and are in no way to be interpreted as official commentary from any companies we discuss. You can visit our official podcast page at http://couchpodtatoes.libsyn.com/. Be sure to follow us on iTunes, and/or Stitcher Radio.

Questions, comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!

#couchpodtatoes #podcast #gamesdiscussion #gaming #bragtoberfest

Week 4, 2014

It seems like a poor start for a Packers unit that came into the season with higher expectations. Fans (including me) wanted to see more of the stellar run game that Lacy and Starks produced last season, and an improved defense after picking up LB Peppers and drafting defensive players like Saftey Clinton-Dix. So far, the defense started slow but has turned it on during the last half of the Jets game and for most of the Lions game. Only one of those games was a win though, and last week the offense couldn’t do shit. The running game has been stifled completely, but that is in part due to injury, just like every other damn year. The Bears are typically the team to worry about in the NFC North, so this game isn’t going to be a walk in the park. They were responsible for our almost lost season last year, injuring Rodgers and putting him out for 7 (or was it 8?) weeks.

Stepping back and thinking about it, this is the 3rd season in a row that the Packers had a 1-2 start, and the last three seasons saw them take the division crown (thought that was extremely luck last year). We need to return to form, and get the offense clicking again. When it’s firing on all cylinders, good things happen. But that doesn’t mean the defense can relax. The Pack is always a contender for the NFC crown, and this year is no exception. Let’s just avoid digging a deeper hole. Packers.com has put up another infographic that I’ve stolen for your pleasure. Enjoy.

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#greenbay #packers #nfcnorth

Optimal Timing

Now that #Bragtoberfest has been officially announced, I’m happy that there has been an overall positive response to it. As I’ve mentioned, there are going to be gaming events on the weekends run by J3w3l and myself, and I volunteered to run the first, which will take place on Saturday, October 4th. That day works the best as folks from the US will mostly be off from work, it will be evening for those in the UK, and it will be Sunday morning for those in the Australia region.  Having representatives from around the world in our blogging and gaming community, we have the challenge of finding times that work best for as many people as possible, so that we can have awesome events. Plus, with so many prizes to give out, I want people to have opportunities to earn them!

With that said, here is my thought process for the time frame for the first event. I already have the day worked out, and I know which game I want to get people involved in. Depending on turn out and interest, there are other games we might play as well. That’s all back end planning for me, don’t worry your pretty little head about it.

So I’m thinking that sometime between noon and 3 p.m. PST (GMT -8) on Saturday is probably best, as that’s between 8-11 p.m. for the UK (GMT 0), still Saturday, and 5-8 a.m. on Sunday for the far east quadrant (GMT +8). Alternatively, we could push the start time later, making it late at night for the US (say around 10-12 at night) so that would be 6-8 am on Sunday morning for the UK, and  2-4 p.m. on Sunday for the easterners. I am totally okay with either option, because it’s either mid-day or mid-night for me, and I’m up at both of those times especially on a weekend. So I need feedback from you. Are you a morning person or not?  Being on the weekend I hope some people would be more willing to get up early or stay up late, depending on the option chosen by the majority. This will help in planning for future weekend events for Bragtoberfest, though on the weekends J3w3l is hosting, things might change up a bit depending on how she wants to handle it.

Here’s a poll for you to vote on, and hopefully we can find the time frame that works best for the most people. Keep in mind, that the time ranges are to help determine START time, not the duration of the event. Events will go until we decide we’ve had enough.

As always, thanks for your feedback, and I can’t wait to game with all of you.