Alien: Isolation is quiet… a little too quiet…

Oh good, a door!

I return to the elevator lobby, having repaired the security hacking tool that will get me into the lift, and up to the Sevastopol’s comms room, where I hope to get a ride out of this space station.

I’ve just had my first personal experience with the Xenomorph. It was scripted, but horribly tense, its demonically barbed tail uncoiling between my legs. It wasn’t aware of me, and that made the encounter all the more tense. It stalked off in the direction that I also need to go. I give it a head start — if I can’t see it, then it can’t see me, right… RIGHT?? — and head up to the lobby too.

Returning to the elevator lobby, I am simultaneously gratified and terrified to hear gunshots and screams. It’s obvious that the monster is having its way with the aggressive scavengers that I’d left behind. Soon, I won’t have to deal with the scavs. Of course that means that I’ll be alone with the Xenomorph. I spy a terminal. Maybe I can reroute power to some sort of distraction and then run for the elevator. Unfortunately the thing doesn’t have enough juice. I look up, realising that the noise has started to die down. Oh shit. What’s that bursting out of my stomach?

My vision blurs and then dims as that demonically barbed tail tells me that somehow it had got behind me. So, who was distracted?

Okay, so I’m over a year late to the Alien: Isolation “party”, but who cares? Survival horror like this is a very personal experience. I have that particular psychological quirk that reacts very well to the horror genre — insomniac for nights after a particularly “good” movie — and yet keeps coming back for more. I indulge myself infrequently at best, so I generally go for the best experiences. I did try Amnesia: A Dark Descent a couple years ago, but managed to freak myself out so thoroughly in about 20 minutes that I had to walk away. In fact, Steam claims that I haven’t even purchased the game. Probably for the best. Continue reading

“Ever, Jane” promises dancing and backbiting

Ever, Jane is a new type of MMO: there are no dungeons, swords, guns or spells. Instead, it is set in the polite society of Regency England. Your goals are to advance your status by attending balls, making matches, and vicious gossiping.

Even though I’m not a fan of Austen’s work (I appreciate it — it’s just not for me), I’ve often wondered how one would build a computer game with a non-combat conflict resolution mechanic. Tabletop RPGs have a whole indie niche dedicated to this (and there’s always freeforms), but this would be my first encounter with a computer game that attempted this.

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The Last of Us

Spoiler warning: This game is really good and you should definitely play it. I’ll do my best to talk in generalisations, but since this is a discussion of the story, I will have to make some assumptions. You have been warned.

If I were going to call a contender for the 2013 Game of the Year award, it would have to be Last of Us. It’s no technological marvel, and the gameplay is nothing new, but it sets a new standard in storytelling. Well, probably not as high as Torment – little approaches the masterpiece – but for a linear stealth/action game, it sets the bar really high.

Stories are most effective when we can identify with the characters. P likes to say she prefers Boromir over Strider because of his flaws. She finds Aragorn almost inhuman in his heroic perfection, while Boromir is more relatable because of his pride and susceptibility to temptation — and his redemption brings a little hope to the rest of us mere mortals. Continue reading

10 Things To Do While You Wait For That MMO Update

10. Complain you have to download the update
Chances are that the devs anticipated you might want to get in right away. Chances are also good that the game can download an update automatically. You weren’t silly enough to turn your computer off last night were you?

9. Complain you can’t log in
Ok, so you and half the population took a break three months ago because you got tired of grinding the same endgame content on all nine alts across three servers day after day, week after week. I get that. But when you and your thousands of fellows decide to come back en masse, do you really expect that you can all log in together at the same instant? Continue reading

The Secret World: Sexual Assault By Any Other Name Is…

Funcom, the developer of The Secret World announced bad returns on the back of poor sales of the MMO. They’re taking on measures like “temporary layoffs” in order to reduce operating expenses. In my mind, couldn’t have happened to a nicer crowd. Continue reading