Orwell

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Where do I even begin with Orwell.

First things first, I really enjoyed the gameplay of the game, even though it’s not THAT interactive. You play as an investigator and your role is to trawl through pages of various websites and social media for datachunks. These datachunks are highlighted pieces of relevant information on the pages. Some are in conflict with each other, and you have to determine which is more in line with the narrative you’ve created for the targets you’re investigating. There are some that are quite clear cut, like there’s been a bunch of factual information that makes one of the datachunks seem quite unlikely but others are very vague. Vague enough that they could go either way, this is where your interpretation comes in.

Now, I recommend reading everything through because while you can just play the game from just reading the important datachunks and understand what’s going on. You, however, miss the context of the words being used and you’ll encounter situations where you you might incorrectly label a target as “dangerous” and a “terrorist”. I made that mistake during my first playthrough. I played so aggressively, not really reading through the information. I just assumed the worst of people and ended up making some terrible choices, with some grave consequences.

But that’s the point of it, isn’t it? You can’t correctly determine who a person is based on some tidbits of information that they’ve chosen to reveal. They could be lying or they could be telling the truth. A sentence’s meaning can completely change based on how it’s said, what tone is used, what their body language is and what bits of the sentence are emphasised. Because I assumed a person’s motives based on how they conducted themselves in a form that is lacking most of the conventions of a proper conversation, I misread the situation.

It makes you think about the information you’ve put out on the internet via the various social media outlets. Did you know that if you register a website, all your personal information is available to a whois lookup? You can take those details to find out where a person lives, what their house looks like, what their email is, and what other sites the person has signed up to with that email. Via the other sites, you can find their common alias’ and thus find more information about who they are, what they’re interested in, and what they apparently believe in. It’s kind of scary. And with all that information, all those things you’ve said; people can read into it and judge you on that. Which is happening in this game. Except it does go one step further and monitor the target’s phone calls, their text messages, the files on their computers, and their online conversations. You’re like a fly on the wall as the conversations play out, while they are completely unaware. I took a joke out of context and froze the target’s credit cards while they were chatting about it. It kind of makes you paranoid, because with the ways things are now, this kind of situation seems quite likely to happen…

Orwell is a beautifully short game, I think it took me over 2 hours to complete? The user-interface is easy enough to navigate and it’s pleasingly minimalist. The music isn’t too repetitive but it seems a bit contrived in parts. Like it builds up to let the player know that this is a stressful situation that you should be stressing over. I think the game was episodic? So each episode can be completed in different ways depending on what datachunks you send off to your supervisor, with each choice making a difference in the following episodes. Think Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead’.

The game has multiple endings and the path I was lead down made me acutely aware that I was the antagonist of the story. It was like I was in those Big Brother dystopian stories where the protagonist is railing against the man. I watched as they made plans and were trying to figure out what was going on; all the while I was picking apart their words and using it against them. I felt… bad. Horribly guilty and yet I just had to keep going.

Just go play it XD You can find it on Steam for 9.99 USD. Though I picked it up while it was on sale, I can definitely say that it was well worth 6.79 USD.

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Skyrim Enhanced Edition

I’ve been slow on working on my projects because I’ve recently gotten around to playing the enhanced edition of Skyrim. It’s been fun revisiting all the questlines I’ve played through before and discovering ones I skipped over. I discovered quite the bug and figuring out a workaround was frustrating.

I ended up roaming into Falkreath days ago, and learned that a guy had torn a girl apart and was now in the jail. I made my way over and talked to the guy, who I learned was called Sinding. I empathised with his strife, since he was afflicted by lycanthropy and was cursed by a ring he had stolen in hopes to control himself. So I took the cursed ring and went off to talk with the Daedric prince of the hunt. This was my first mistake. I saw Sinding transform and left the jail without watching what he did next. I’ll come back to this later. I hunted down the stag to summon Hircine and kind of agreed to hunt down the guy I just promised to help. I went off to do another quest because I didn’t really feel like doing that.

Cue two real life days later, I’ve joined the Dark Brotherhood, the Thieves Guild and the Companions. Basically done a bunch of different quests and I’ve decided to continue focusing on the Companions since I never really got far with them before. So Farkas, one of the Companions, decides that I need to go and intimidate a guy to progress in the questline. This guy being Sinding. The same guy I needed to hunt down for another quest. So, I’m like… okay. I guess I have to deal with him. I decide, logically that I should do the Companions quest first, because if I have to kill him that’ll fail that quest. I’m lead straight to the jail, which he should’ve already left by now. But, no. He’s still there and still a werewolf. I can’t interact with him, no matter how many times I exit and re-enter the jail.

I was very confused and I did a bit of digging online to no avail. It’s not like I could reload a save because I talked to this guy more than several hours ago. And I couldn’t use console commands because I’m playing the game on the Xbox One. I played around with what quests I had active and realised that the other quest’s marker pointed to a completely different area.  So I went off to find him in this random cave and found a bunch of dead hunters. I looked all through that cave and he’s just not there. I checked my map and apparently he’s out roaming in the world.

I followed him to near Whiterun, where he’s this giant werewolf monster walking in broad daylight. I thought that he might attack me upon seeing me but I was able to talk to him and side with him. Apparently I now had to take on the rest of the hunters who were hunting him. These hunters never came, no matter how long I waited there with Sinding. I then had to look up the quest and he’s SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE CAVE! So I head back there but has Sinding followed me? Nope. No, he hasn’t. I went back to looking around the cave but this time I didn’t sneak around like I usually do. I ran at full sprint, knocked into those bone things and FINALLY the hunters spawned. And Sinding appeared behind me, like seriously out of nowhere. I figured I managed to fix whatever bug had occurred. I kill them all, quest done and I got a nice uncursed ring out of it. Sinding has decided to forever be a hermit and I’m like good. This should fix the companions quest and I can progress.

I look at the map and its pointing to somewhere outside of Falkreath, no longer at the jail. I can’t believe I thought it would be that easy but I hoped that it would be a simple brawl. I was so wrong. I found him again and he’s permanently in beast form. I literally had no way to beat him. My fists do shit all damage and his claws take a quarter of my life each hit. It was such bullshit.

I went through ALL this trouble to keep the poor sod alive. But no, in the end I had to murder him and fail the intimidation quest. I mean I was still able to continue past it but I went through all that and I still had to kill him. I haven’t checked back at that cave to see if there’s another copy of him yet but I’m just at the point of completely ignoring it.

TL;DR – Kill everything, don’t bother saving people. It’s easier that way.

Steam Sales and Replica

I grabbed a few games on the steam sale. I think pretty much all indie games. Not the best idea I’ve had considering that I still haven’t finished Pokemon Moon and I still have hundreds of games to play, but ah well. So I actually played two of the games I picked up and finished them. These two short games were called Replica and Orwell.

I think I get pretty emotional when playing games, I get really invested in the plot and become very immersed because playing these two games made me feel very uncomfortable. Both deal with the idea of Big Brother Surveillance and I’m under the umbrella that if you don’t have anything to hide, you shouldn’t have a problem with it. I mean with cameras out on streets and stuff recording what’s going on. Y’know public
places. But I draw the line at cameras in people’s homes or monitoring people’s devices to see/ hear their private conversations. It’s just wrong. I’ve always thought that people can misconstrue what’s being said because they don’t personally know the people whose being monitored. And I guess that these games have just reinforced my beliefs about that. It’s even got me thinking about the cameras that are in public places, like I completely understand why they’re so useful but are we giving away our privacy? Is this just a stepping stone to making us okay with the idea with further surveillance, after all if we have nothing to hide surely we should be fine with it.

Anyway back to the games. Both I highly recommend playing. They’re both kind of visual novels? Except I reckon it has a lot less reading and is a bit more interactive.

In Replica, basically you’re cracking into somebody’s phone and rooting around looking for any evidence that they’re responsible for a terrorist attack. You immediately find out that the person who’s accused is almost 17 years old. That leads you to figuring out the passcode for the phone. Everything the person has done on their phone, what social media accounts they use, what they look up for an innocent school assignment is just used as
ammunition to keep them trapped. It’s not hard to come to the conclusion that they had nothing to do with it but everything you find is just twisted. Anything completely innocent is made out to be villainous. You just feel horrible playing it. But there’s this burning curiosity to look further, to see what they’ve been up to, who they’ve been talking to. You always have the choice to stop playing and now you’re complicit. You, the player, are just as guilty as the person who’s making you crack the phone.

The game has multiple endings depending on if you follow orders or not, or if you look deeper into what’s on the phone. I think I got most of them but I had to look up a walkthrough. Basically I was trying to find out what the secret code sms meant, because I couldn’t find anything to interact with. I had tried earlier to call the number but I didn’t
get anywhere with it. I kinda accidentally spoiled it for myself… just too damn curious, I guess.

Gonna have to split this post up into two since it’s getting pretty long. So next post will have my thoughts on Orwell.

So I’m going through my steam list and pruning all the games I’m never going to play. I’ve tried out a few of the smaller games and I have to say Bit.Trip Beat is pretty fun but it really screws with the eyes. Same with

boxeswithguns except that’s not that fun. I’ve hidden like 100 games so far. I just have so many…

BRAINPIPE: A Plunge to Unhumanity

BRAINPIPE: A Plunge to Unhumanity is pretty much a trippy and surreal take on the Missile Game 3D. You use the mouse to guide an invisible eyeball through the “tunnels of the mind”, dodging various obstacles along the way. The sensitivity of the controls cannot be changed in the options as that is relegated to the sound/ music levels. So if you find them to be not sensitive enough or overly so, you’re kinda out of luck.

Though that’s kind of the same with the Missile Game 3D. I used to play the hell out of that game as a kid. I got really good at it since I played it so often during recess and lunch. It would mess with your eyes a lot since it was slightly rotating around and it had such a high contrast – mostly being bright white with black lines. BRAINPIPE kind of does the same effect since the background lights rotate around. It’s a lot easier on the eyes, since its bright colours on black.

There are collectibles which are odd symbols floating around each level that you can choose to collect. I think they add something to the score which is pretty illegible due to the font chosen. You can see what these symbols are upon the game ending. Apparently they represent aspects of the mind.

The music and sounds are very sci-fi. They’re interesting to listen to. They have enough variety that it’s not overly annoying to have running in the background, they also aren’t distracting when you want to concentrate on the game. Each level changes up the sounds and some even have the low murmuring of voices. It fits the aesthetic style the developers have gone with. The graphics are very retro-y. They’re bright and colourful on a dark background, with most of the obstacles being glowy particle effect type things. Basically it’s odd, surreal and trippy.

It’s quite a short game with only 10 levels and you can very easily get through it in about 30 minutes. There’s not really any story within the game as all of the information on the setting and the goal of the game are found on the game’s store page. It’s a very barebones arcade experience at best as there really isn’t any reason to replay it other than to get a better score. It’s a meh kinda game. It’s fun and interesting to play once but once you put it down, you don’t really want to play it again.

Gish

Gish starts off with a cliché damsel in distress story to motivate the player’s journey. You a small piece of tar, are out with your female friend and suddenly she gets snatched up and pulled underground. You heroically follow on after her. Yawn.

The art style is a mixture of cartoon and grunge. The designs of the enemies remind me of the Binding of Isaac, which I guess since this came out before might’ve been an inspiration XD I don’t find it that appealing.

The controls are pretty simple, but I feel it would be more suited with controller rather than a keyboard. The control scheme just didn’t feel right. How the tar is controlled can be pretty frustrating, and combined with the clunky controls it exacerbates the feeling.

It does offer some interesting mechanics with you playing a fluid ball of tar. You can slide into small places, or make yourself solid to break blocks and defeat the enemies.

The game really isn’t my kind of game.

Defender’s Quest #5

And a few more spoilers, which include the ending.

I finally finished the game. Turns out killing the bad guy didn’t actually kill him, so he came back. His plan was to ignite all these crystals and blow up the pit and all its inhabitants. For completely good reasons too, he wanted to sacrifice them all to create a better blood seal to keep the big bad god thing from escaping its prison.

I had a choice to either leave the pit and save myself or follow after the bad guy and stop him from killing everybody. I chose to follow after the bad guy, and I got a pretty great ending. It was super sweet.

I highly recommend playing this game. Of course if tower defenses aren’t your thing, then this probably isn’t for you