The Art of Assassination - Dishonored

With games like this I nearly always go for a stealth playthrough, doing my best to avoid getting seen and leaving behind as few casualties as possible. But the problem with Dishonored is that killing unsuspecting guards is just so god damn fun. This is just a short selection of various kill animations from my crazy psycho assassin playthrough from the first real mission, no story spoilers!

[Mod edit -- unless you're going to add enough commentary to inspire discussion for a forum thread, it's probably best to leave these in your blog and avoid posting them to the forums. Thanks! -PsEG]

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Why Frictional Games? Why?!

So I played through Amnesia: The Dark Descent way back at launch and despite it absolutely terrifying me to death each and every time I played the bloody thing I saw it through to the end (Let's ignore the fact that I actually played the last 20% or so of the game with the sound muted...)

So after our escapades with Slender we decided to playthrough Amnesia. Honestly, I wasn't expecting it to bother me so much having played it before but frankly, it's equally as scary and I guess a big part of that is down to the randomness of the encounters. Very little of the game is scripted. Sure certain sound effects play when you open a cupboard and some human skulls roll out for example, but for the most part the terror is in knowing that the...thing that's stalking you can and will appear at any single moment. One perfect example is in the video below, but let me describe it too. I'm exploring some dank corridors looking for something to break a rusted lock with. At this point I've had a few close encounters with the thing and I'm on edge. My palms are sweating, my foot tapping nervously and then I hear it. "MURGGHH" I panic and run into the nearest room, turning and closing the door behind me. I turn around ready to hide in a corner and BAM. The thing is there right up in my face. I scream like no grown man really should and hit the Escape key in a moment of genuine terror. Had it not been for Maria pretty much forcing me to hit Escape and run the hell out of that room, I probably would have left the game there for the night...

So yeah, a completely unscripted moment can give a far more genuine sense of horror than any scripted event. Scripted jump scares can be effective but they just cannot match that level of randomness that unscripted events can give the player. A completely unique scare just for them.

The bit I'm describing up above is at 4:25!

Don't get me wrong, scripted scares can be effective too, but they just don't match the scares unscripted stuff gives. Or is that just me?

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Like Amnesia? Being Scared? You should probably try Slender!

At the time of posting, both these download links were working!

Windows

Mac

I love horror games, but they genuinely terrify me. I only finished Amnesia because I muted the sound halfway through. So when I read about Slender which is based on the Slender Man mythos I had to try it, despite knowing it would probably give me nightmares. The premise is simple, you're in a forest with nothing but a flashlight and you need to collect 8 notes/pages/crazed scribblings before Slender Man gets you. Sounds easy, huh? Well yeah, you'd think so. The most I've collected is five. Once you pick up four the intensity picks up not only in the music, but in the frequency you encounter Slender Man, once you hit five notes you need nerves of steel to not panic. I dread to think how Slender Man reacts once you're on your seventh note.

If you're a fan of horror games, I urge you to give this indie developed nightmare inducer a try, you won't regret it. Or maybe you will.

Here's me and my girlfriend playing it earlier. Can you guess who screams the most?

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Pirates of New Horizons Preview (PC)

Posted this on my blog earlier, and I see the game doesn't have a wiki page here and I think it deserves a wider audience, so hopefully a few people will give the game a try, as it's really rather charming!

If you've been watching my videos (embedded below) of this, or following me on Twitter, you'll know I made the bold claim of this being the best Zelda game since Ocarina of Time. I wasn't lying, nor being needlessly controversial. I genuinely believe it, and here's why.

Ocarina of Time is one of my favourite games of all time. I also feel that it was the peak of the Zelda series. Majora's Mask was fantastic, but never quite reached Ocarina's levels of brilliance. Wind Waker was, and still is, gorgeous to look at but it was far too simplistic, and not even bloody finished, the less said about Twilight Princess the better and Skyward Sword is a weird mix of the series being dragged kicking and screaming into a new generation, whilst desperately holding on to the series tropes that these days just seem tired.

Playing Pirates of New Horizons it's easy to see the influence Zelda has had. Cutting grass? Check. Heart pieces? Check. The sense of exploration? Check. The difference is, the whole thing doesn't feel tired. It feels new, and fresh and a lot of that is down to the developers making a conscious effort to respect the player and the time they've set aside to play the game. Start up Skyward Sword and you're stuck in a two hour 'tutorial' which is so infuriatingly condescending towards anyone who has ever played a Zelda game before, and let's face it, 99% of the people buying Skyward Sword have played a previous game in the series. "Hey! Did you know that if you press the A button you can do this really obvious thing?" Um yes, I did.

Within seconds of starting Pirates of New Horizons you're playing, with the bare minimum of hand holding. The signs that are there, are to the point and not highlighting the obvious, and I can't even begin to state the sense of relief I had when I realised I didn't have to push blocks bit by bit into place. It just isn't fun to spend 20 seconds pushing a block slowly into place. You're not interrupted as you're running around doing whatever it is you want to do. No messages popping up telling you what to do or where you should go, and for that I thank the developers.

Lack of hand holding aside, the game itself is just glorious to look at. It's all done in the ever impressive Unity engine and it just oozes charm. Whilst we only see three islands in the pre-order version, they all look and feel completely different, and I can't wait to see what other places we'll visit in the finished game. The Volcano Island felt like a full blown dungeon from Zelda, the only thing missing was a giant boss at the end of it. The sense of scale as I was delving further down into the island was really impressive considering how tiny it looked from the outside as I arrived on my ship. The main hub island reminded me a lot of Delfino Island from Super Mario Sunshine and the place was just a constant joy to explore, and I've still more stuff to discover there it seems. What's behind that weird looking wall, what'll happen when I activate all the beacons?

A special mention goes to the soundtrack, which is constantly lovely. It's by Blake Robinson (check out his Youtube channel for a bunch of his stellar work) and it just fits the setting of the game perfectly. Again, I can't wait to hear more of it in the final game!

So all that aside, the game itself plays brilliantly. Annah controls wonderfully and using the hookshot grappling hook is joyful. Swinging across gaping chasms feels fantastic, and I hope at some point in the final game we'll get to swing from the mast of one pirate ship to another, just because. Getting given the jetpack at the end of the demo was a nice touch, and it was a lot of fun just flying around the island, the only thing I'd really add is that if the jetpack is obtained early on in the finished game, and doesn't have any limits to how much you can use it, it could lessen the sense of exploration and make the game a tad too easy.

So whilst all this is based on the preview version, which consists of just three islands, I'm massively impressed by what's there already. The potential for this game once it's all done is huge. The way the game is set up with all the different islands would make it incredibly easy for Exit Strategy Entertainment to release DLC islands post release and expand upon the already lovely world they've created.

Pirates of New Horizons is in development by Exit Strategy Entertainment and will be released when it's ready! You can play a preview in your browser on the official site, and pre-order the game too, which gets you access to a downloadable version of the game, an extra island to explore, and access to the jetpack, grappling hook and ninja shoes!
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Alan Wake on PC is glorious!

Alan Wake is a game I've wanted to play for a long, long time. I was holding out that Remedy would come through with their promise of bringing it to PC, and eventually, they only went and bloody did it. Boy was it worth the wait.



All taken at max settings, I'm sure you'll agree it looks stunning. Graphics aside, the game is excellent too, I'm really enjoying the narrative, The manuscripts are a stroke of genius and make the whole thing so tense when you know what's coming up soon, but not quite when.
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My Let's Play Metro 2033! First attempt at this...

So I recently got a new PC and I've had Metro 2033 sitting all alone and unplayed in my Steam library. I'm quite a big fan of Let's Play style videos, I find them pretty interesting to watch, and it's cool to see how other people play games you either already know inside out, or are just interested in. So I figured I'd give it a try!

As I say, it's my first time so it may not be great, but I'm up to Part 5 now and already it feels like I'm improving, so yay! Anyway, if you're interested Part 1 is below, and you can find the rest of the parts through my Youtube channel! Any feedback or constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated!

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One Down, 159 To Go.

So when 2010 became 2011 I told myself that this would be the year I actually make a dent on my ever growing pile of unfinished games. A new Steam sale rolls around, I inevitably buy several new games despite the fact I have loads I could play which I bought in the last Steam sale. But no more! Before I allow myself to buy even more games, I need to actually play the games I have. So I set myself a new years resolution.

A gaming resolution (no, not 1650x1050 you jokers) I guess you could say. Today I made a start! I picked a game at random on my Steam list and the lucky winner was Big Brain Wolf. A point and click adventure puzzle game, quite similar to Professor Layton on the Nintendo DS with a sprinkling of Brain Training added in for good measure. I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed it, but then, I'm a big fan of the Professor Layton series so it makes sense I'd enjoy something which is more of the same puzzle wise. I even hung around after the credits to pick up the last couple of achievements.

Admittedly it's not the longest of games but it's a good start! I beat a game! I'm now halfway to the amount of games I finished in 2010! Now, what to complete next? Who knows, if you've a suggestion feel free to let me know and (if I own it) maybe I'll listen to you and then you get to read what I think about it later!

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Minecraft, possibly my game of the year.

I bought Minecraft a few months back and loved it. I only dabbled in the single player as at the time the survival multiplayer wasn't working properly, and Minecraft to me is all about that survival element. Continuing on against the odds, making something out of nothing.
 
I played the game an obscene amount in single player, so much so that I burnt myself out before I'd even seen half of what could be done with the game. A couple of friends had also bought the game and we decided that when the survival multiplayer was fully implemented we'd get a server of our own set up and play it to death, and so last week we got our own server and we haven't been able to stop playing.  
 
It's just so compelling. Our first night was spent in a terribly dug hole in the ground, whilst we waited for sunrise to make the journey across the sea to some crazy looking mountain formations we'd spotted. We've now got a sweet base of operations at the bottom of that whilst the top of the mountain is currently being flattened before 'Tirade Manor' is built on the top with our mining operations down in the mountain below. One of our mining sites was getting a bit too big so I set out in doing something I'd yet to try in Minecraft, and make a basic minecart system to save us walking for several minutes each time we needed to stock up on supplies. An hour or two later and we've a basic, operational minecart system. Figuring out how to get it working, and then actually seeing it running was just a brilliant moment, so insanely satisfying to see it, and now my brain is ticking over thinking of hundreds of different things I could try and get working with this.  
 
I can understand that Minecraft isn't for everyone, and this rambling blog post isn't meant to change that, but I just had to get this off my chest. 
 
Well done Notch. Minecraft is possibly...no, definitely my game of 2010.

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