Game Review Page

“Mirror’s Edge” (29/03/14)

Created by EA Digital Illusions CE (Playstation 3)

Mirror's_Edge

Image not mine: Mirror’s Edge

Mirror’s Edge is a high octane action game, played in first person in the character, Faith, as a “runner” in a dystopian city. It is up to you – Faith – to help carry messages and packages, in any way possible, around the city in order to convey information in a society which has developed a major crackdown on freedom of information.

At the beginning, Faith has been out of the game for a while, due to an injury, so she is taken through basic training again (high kicks, punches, disarming), which proves to be useful stuff to know in the game. It is immediately obvious that the game has a heavy parkour influence, a practice in which any aspect of a city – rooftops, ledges, roping, massive gaps between each building – are simply obstacles to be overcome.

It takes a short while to get the hang of the moves in order to get from A to B without falling with a resounding splat and having to start the level all over again (and if you’re like me, you’ll be doing a lot of “real life” moving and jerking in time to the game), but it soon feels like second nature to be leaping and climbing to each destination.

A storyline, of course, begins to unfold throughout the game. After Faith’s brief rehabilitation, trouble is soon afoot in the city once again, and she has to deliver potentially life-threatening messages here and there, whilst learning that her sister, a member of the police, is being implicated in the murder of a mayoral candidate.

Soon, Faith overhears another plot and potential lead, which is the only reliable way to gain information now in a society in which conversations via phone and email are heavily monitored, and it is not long before Faith is discovered and heavily pursued by armed guards, which keeps her very busy and in which she is usually lucky to escape from in one piece. Personally, I have yet to accomplish this feat, and it remains an ongoing challenge…

Clearly, one of the main appeals of playing a character such as Faith is in getting to play an otherwise normal and witty person who is trying to survive and remain honest in a place where this is nearly impossible. The normalisation of parkour – a sport requiring a sharply keen sense of spatial awareness, agility, and a perfect balance – shows just how far many in Faith’s generation are willing to go to defy an oppressive regime.

Some levels require many attempts to defeat the enemy, during which it is tempting to give up, but do keep going. You’ll want to see where Faith’s journey will take her, and you, in this game.

“Don’t Starve” (27/02/14)  

Created by Klei Entertainment (brought in the Steam store)

ds_darkness_1920x1200

Image not mine: Don’t Starve

Don’t Starve is an indie game of survival from day to day in an oddly shaped island – generated differently on every “day” – with a background tone reminiscent of a quaint Victorian era, in which all the protagonist needs for an adventure is a sense of naive curiosity. This tone is ready-made from the beginning, so you’re good to go.

You begin the game as Maxwell, who is awakened by a gentleman who advises him to eat something soon before darkness falls, which on the first day, seems to fall rather rapidly. From then on, there is apparently little else to do, and that can be done, other than to wander around the place (walk, trot, amble, you choose) and start uprooting things from the ground such as carrots and berries, pulling grass and picking up stones and chopping down trees with the axe you’ll need to create with some of the objects you retrieve. If you’re lucky on the first evening, you’ll have time to make passing remarks about objects in the area. Pass a skeleton and be grateful for your own vitality (“Better him than me”), pass a tree and make a frankly unoriginal observation (It’s all piney”), and gloat victoriously over the stump when you’re done chopping (“Take that, nature!”).

At the very least, you need to gather enough materials to build a campfire, if only to ward off the creepy crawly creatures in the woods, which will start getting “bitey” come the night-time. And of course, gather enough food to nibble on so that you – Don’t Starve.

Admittedly, so far I have not been able to do much beyond merely surviving from day to day, but the island changes a little each day so it’s not a totally finite area, and if you get bored and want to “regenerate” the place you can always just jump down a worm-hole if you find one. Apparently, there is a more “science-y” theme to the game which can be brought out if you know how, which I would really like to find as I don’t much like the way my “brain icon” in the upper corner is quickly withering away.

I would certainly welcome a further dimension to the game rather than merely surviving, which may be something of an unfair demand of a game called “Don’t Starve”, but given what the game hints at as being plausible with the right materials, I think I’ll stick it out a bit longer and see what more there may be to come.

 *****

“Journaliere” (07/09/13)

Created by Mason Lindroth (& courtesy of Rock Paper Shotgun)

283a1__webgame-roundup-journaliere-610x346

Image not mine: Journaliere

This is a game which, upon first impression, is one stripped bare, adhering strictly to a true minimalist style. Its sparse, grayscale imagery immediately sets it apart, visually, from the majority of games out there.

You “awaken” in the living room, then start moving around and snooping, as one may. Before long, an exclamation mark above the head indicates that one “ought to do something”… all else done, you go outside.

The house you love in is almost Dali-esque, with a lone chicken pacing around the upper level garden. You go to visit it only for it to fly away. If it’s meant to be your pet then it’s not a very trusting one..

Wandering around waiting for inspiration – or “exclamation” – to strike, you get in the car and take a drive by hitting space.

What a bizarre world you find yourself living in. The surreal sketchy style extends to the “outside” world as you drive along – although you cannot go far off course as going off the road is not a possibility.

With the apparently limited choice available to you, this game is visually stark and compelling enough to draw you in, and even the mundane has a touch of the “quirky”.

“Journaliere” translates as “daily”, the implication therein being that this is, essentially, everyday life. Given that it has the atmosphere of an obscure arthouse movie, it is a suitably “alternative” way to pass a brief period of your day. Worth a try.

Fin

(This is the first and last time I will ever end a post or article with “Fin”. Promise.)

*****

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s