Soma #1

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Warning: Spoilers.

I played SOMA recently, for the first time ever and sadly had no end of technical issues when I tried to play this game. I don’t know if it’s something to do with my PS4 or it’s the copy of the game I own. But they were game-breaking because I couldn’t get past the part where Catherine tells Simon to get to the tram. It would either freeze or stay stuck on a black screen with all the controls and UI functional. I tried restarting my PS4, but that didn’t work. I could’ve probably done more to try and fix it but I really couldn’t be bothered at that point. So basically this is the first part of a few wherein I talk about how much I was able to play through.

I’m a huge fan of Frictional Games work. My first experience with their games was Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I found people playing it on Youtube and I loved watching their reactions. It’s what made me want to experience it for myself. Of course since I had watched numerous playthroughs from my favourite Youtubers, I knew my way through which probably made the game a lot less scary for me. I loved the environment designs and the monsters. I loved how twisted the story became and how it made you question your actions. I love their attention to detail with the environments and how they drip feed you the story through the gameplay.

It’s what made me pre-order the next in the series: A Machine For Pigs. I played part way through the Penumbra series while waiting, to see the origins of their horror game development. And I can definitely say, Amnesia was a big improvement in terms of atmosphere compared to the Penumbra series. I loved A Machine For Pigs when it was released. I didn’t find it that scary and compared to The Dark Descent, the gameplay wasn’t that great (I might write about why in a blog post later). I loved the story and I think The Chinese Room is great with writing a compelling story and creating beautiful environments. So when Soma was announced, I was interested. I followed all the promotional videos that they released on their site, and I was hooked.

Basically I went into the game just knowing what they used to market the game. I preordered it as soon as it was announced and it’s only now that I’ve been able to get the chance to play it for myself. Which is why I’m a little disappointed that it wouldn’t work for me and because I really wanted to know what it was about, I went and watched some gameplay videos of it after giving up. So now I know the whole story and I regret not trying harder to get it to work.

Next part I actually start talking about the opening 🙂

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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.

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.

Pokemon Moon #4

This contains some spoilers.

Well, I’ve discovered the joys of Wonder Trade. It’s not that different from the previous iterations. Though I did have some difficulty with the global link not working for days. I did like 4 trades and now I have a Chikorita. It looks like somebody might be IV breeding since it’s lvl 1. But since I’m not that far into the game, I don’t have a way of knowing what the Chikorita’s IVs are. 

I haven’t whited out so far, but I have gotten really close, like twice. I don’t really know the type match-ups that well. Fairy messed everything up for me XD Basically a Carbink almost wiped out my team due to me not knowing what move to use. I though it was rock-ice but nope, apparently its rock-fairy.

I mean come on… That looks like it would be an ice type. 

The second time I was facing the totem Pokemon for the 3rd? trial. It was for the water Z-gem. I pretty much have a severe type weakness to water since my only Pokemon good against it, is Sparky, my Pichu. My Pichu is very easy to kill. I apparently missed the Soothe Bell, so at some point I need to go back and grab it. Luckily Mob, my Kadabra pulled through and won the fight. One day I’ll trade it to get an Alakazam. 

There was a bit of nod to Pokemon Gold and Silver with the Sudowoodo blocking the path. I also met my proper rival. At least I think he is XD I mean Hau is always there to fight me for fun but he feels more like a friend than a rival, y’know. He’s not really competing with me, its like hes along for the ride and having fun while doing so. 

I’ve discovered the Pokemon Day-Care and they’ve made some changes to it. Basically you can put Pokemon with them but they don’t grow stronger over time, its now just for breeding. I don’t know if there’s going to be a place later on where they’ll take your Pokemon and then train them up while you walk. I’m trying to avoid as much spoilers as possible. But that is an interesting decision. Maybe they removed that completely since people only used the day care for breeding, not raising Pokemon.  

Anyways my team so far is:

  • Kiro, lvl 28 Torracat
  • Sparky, lvl 23 Pichu
  • Wingu, lvl 22 Wingull
  • Mob, lvl 23 Kadabra
  • Loony, lvl 22 Drifloon

I’m carrying around an egg with me. I have no idea what its going to be XD I’m thinking of changing Loony with something. I don’t know what. Maybe a different kind of ghost Pokemon? If I ever find a Shinx, I’m definitely replacing Sparky. I love Luxray. Luxray is my fave Pokemon. I hoping to get a Mudkip, with an attack boosting nature at some point because I have the best moveset for Swampert. 

Anyways back to playing some more Pokemon 🙂

Pokemon Moon #3

Finally left the first island. I spent way too long looking around the cities and petting my Pokemon. It’s really easy to get them to love you and its worth taking the time XD You get a greater chance at getting crits and avoiding attacks. Plus their reactions are super cute.

I’m trying to evolve my Pichu but I can’t remember if it was affection or friendship that it needs. I don’t quite remember all the ways friendship is raised. I just know Soothe Bell is good for it. Something to look up later I guess. 

Gotta say I’m enjoying Pokemon Moon a lot more than Y. I think even more than Omega Ruby too. I just love that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the characters have really fun personalities. The changes they’ve made to the game are a nice change to the same old formula that’s been used for the past 20 years. 

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.

Pokemon Go

I uninstalled Pokemon Go, because when it actually worked, it would suck my phone’s battery dry. The game didn’t really engage me either. It was fun stumbling across Pokemon and then catching them but I soon realised that either you get super good at throwing those Pokeballs or you’ll soon run out. And to replenish your supply you either need to use Pokecoins in the Pokestore or visit a nearby Pokestop. 

I’m currently nowhere near any Pokestops and I’m never able to connect to the servers when I’m in an area where there is loads of Pokestops. Pretty much I’ve run into to no end of troubles using the app and its soured my experience with it. I kind of wish that the Pokemon you catch are used for more aspects of the game than just the gym. Like they would influence your catch rate depending on who you had as your active Pokemon. Or different Pokemon would have different abilities/ natures that had an affect on what Pokemon you encountered in your area. I guess I just wanted it to be more like the Pokemon games rather than a walking app with Pokemon branding. I’d probably be more into it if I could connect to the servers more often >.>

To be honest, I might pick it back up again at a later date when more stuff is added. Because at the moment, there’s not enough there to make me put up with the crashing and server errors.