By Nytrik 13 Comments
The Demon's Crest title screen is bad as shit.
Look at it. It's fuckin' awesome.
What's a really bad ass title screen you remember?
YOU KNOW WHAT I WANT?
A FUCKING NEW SSX GAME. I WANT TO SNOWBOARD ON SURFBOARDS AND DO UBER TRICKS.
(This is written in caps because that's how my brain received it.)
My favorite piece of video game music, in concert. Here's an OCRemix of the Ye Olde classic "Aquatic Ambiance" from the SNES's Donkey Kong Country. Adaptive a jazzy smooth tone, it takes a really nice modern turn on a tune that is forever my gem.
Big plans today.
So, like the obsessive person I am, I bought my Microsoft Points last night (8/19) to pick up both Super Meat Boy and Costume Quest when I woke up the next morning. All was fine and I swear it was like a juxtaposed Christmas this morning. Considering I've been almost unable to get any new games lately. I played Super Meat Boy for about an hour and then booted up Costume Quest. Boy, was I happy I did that. Thus started a binge that I haven't done in awhile. I played through Costume Quest in literally one sitting.
Sprung into a nostalgic world of Halloween for the early years I immediately became (if I dare say) charmed by the cute and simple pleasure that Costume Quest offers. Ignoring the story and what transpires you can call Costume Quest an RPG in the vain of Paper Mario or the Mario RPG's. The key difference these RPG's hold from normal JRPG's would be the idea that in Paper Mario or Mario RPG you don't simply activate the skill and wait for the effect. The skill's effectiveness depends on a timed button press or waggle of the stick. In Costume Quest the only attack you have to worry about effing up is the basic attack and softening blows from enemies. Missing the button presses isn't too punishing on the basic attack functions, but if you miss the button press to defend yourself prepare to reap the consequences. You'll be hit a considerable amount harder than if you were to soften the blow. They do a good job of making you pay attention by changing up which one of the face buttons you need to press to block or successfully enhance an attack.
Every third or fourth attack you'll have the option to choose whatever it is your specific costume does for a special attack. I found these special attacks to be pretty great in presentation. They're visually interesting and full of snappy camera shots and neat effects. If Costume Quest does anything right (which it does a lot, don't get me wrong) it does everything correct in presentation, but more on that later. These special attacks for the most part are pretty neat in the effects they offer when cast. Some damage, some heal, and some disable the foes you're fighting. You know, obvious things to expect from the genre as far as special abilities go. Some are splash, which is really helpful against multiple enemies. More often than not you'll be facing about three enemies at the same time, all with their set of turns after you take your starting few. This can cause some really big problems with the health of your party members. Early on there is literally no way to heal your party back up, and there are very few defensive options. Well there's only one early on and that's the knight costume's special ability which only comes around every 3-4 turns (My memory fails me in regard to the exact number). When you receive the statue of liberty costume things come a little easier if you decide to use it, but I really liked the knight costume on my trusty friend Everett. I guess I'm harping more on the lack of items within the game to help you out in a clinch. However, this game is so forgiving if you loose a battle that you literally loose nothing from it. At least nothing that I noticed. You might loose candy, but I had so much candy throughout the game that I really wouldn't have noticed. The enemy you were fighting doesn't even disappear you both are thrust back into the normal world as if nothing had ever happened. This all being said, the "lack" as I call it of healing doesn't really matter in the long run, unless you never want to loose a battle. Which isn't an achievement or anything, so I don't see the point in wanting that past personal obsession. What's even more forgiving about the battle system in this game is that the gift of all your health restored after every fight. This leaves you never wanting to miss a battle or not fight a monster because the fights are often quick and they keep you entertained with the button presses. Overall Costume Quest's battle system is really enjoyable, and the lack of punishment makes you determined to defeat that battle you just lost too. The 'lets give it another go' mentality.
Costume Quest, I feel suffers from a lack of distribution of information in a great deal. Not that it detracts from the experience or leaves of vital information, I would have just liked an explanation mid-battle of what my special abilities did. Instead of swapping costumes out, waiting 3-4 turns, and then activating the ability to try to guess what it did based on the appearance of my enemy. Good thing most of them heal or damage. The ninja one I had to actually look up to figure out what it did. Turns out it protects you, neat.
Without spoiling any of the environments, I have to harp on one of them that just seems a little odd. Nothing wrong with it, I was more just along the lines of "Oh? Oh yeah? Sure, why not?". All of the environments are dabbled with Halloween flair to really give the game that suburbian Halloween feel. Green glows, jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, cob-webs; you name it. It's probably hanging off of something in Costume Quest. The environments themselves have a satisfying amount of little secrets and destructibles to keep you running around in small circles on your roller shoes for at least an extra hour than you have to. I found myself hitting every single thing with my dumb little pail that the game would let me, including people. So if anyone gives you any sass you can give them a good womp with your pail. It's pretty amusing because they all their own versions of "What the hell? Screw you buddy.". The levels feel populated and keep in-line with the idea that: Yo it's Halloween, kids are walking around. The occasional adults also populate the areas, as well as wandering enemies. Yep, the enemies are totally not only experts at B&E but they are roaming the streets assaulting kids. Man, I just made Costume Quest seem way darker than it ever embraces. Realistically Costume Quest is genuinely amusing at some points. The dialog isn't even close to being dry and it's actually pretty funny sometimes. I met an Italian fellow that made me chuckle. It's never there for good hearty laughs, but they're worth a smile and a bit of recognition. I feel like the only way to explain the story is that of a 90's cartoon on Nickelodeon. To be honest this could have been a cartoon back then and we could all be being fooled right now.It really has that feel of being a kid on lock down. We all really wanted our Halloween costumes to spring to life and kick the ass of weird ogre creatures. I mean, if this happened to you on Halloween you'd be effing stoked. Don't even front.
The costume transformations are pretty bad ass too, even the unicorn is pretty bad ass. It heals a party member for full health WITH RAINBOWS. So everything feels pretty awesome and fantastical in the world of Costume Quest. They also do a pretty good job of letting you get everything your first play through. Right before the final boss fight there's a pseudo-"are you sure you're ready?" prompt. I stumbled on what I thought was the last boss fight a little scared because I hadn't gotten the last of the stamps and costumes yet. There's portals to the earlier zones and ways to traverse between them. So you don't ever feel like you're locked in where you are. You can always back track and make sure you have everything. It's a really big pet-peeve when I can't get things my first run through, so that's why I don't play Dead Rising (har har). In turn, I ended the game with all of the achievements, and collected everything I could collect. None of it was overtly hard to find or felt "cheap".
The only gripe I have on Costume Quest is that it left me wanting more. I simply want more of it. I feel like it's not enough. I want to fight more monsters and find more costumes. About 2 hours before the game ends the battle system starts to take a turn for depth, and starts to become even more enjoyable and I really wanted the game to have much more of this. It's not a long game by any means, but it's also an extremely quality experience for the price it asks. I hope to see DLC and extra story add-ons for this game. It really sits in a place in my heart. It's definitely worth your 15 bucks and future DLC purchases. I fully support this turn that Double Fine is taking with smaller games in bit sized additives. I'm just a little torn on what the future of Costume Quest would be. I mean, we could all just accept that it's Halloween forever and be happy, but I doubt that'll happy. I'd like to see them at the later years, with some weird costumes and truly bad ass representations--All right I'll stop.
Now, if you'll excuse me I have to play Super Meat Boy.
EDIT: Blame my lack of images on my lack of funds to purchase a capture set up.
So if you've been keeping up with last months GSL tournaments you'd know about "Fruit Dealer" or originally known as "Cool". Fruit dealer, as many of you know just from listening to the Bombcast left professional Starcraft to sell fruit to raise money for his (from what I've come to understand) ill father. This is all touching and nice, and to see him win the GSL's tops it all off. He took his $80,000 and supposedly gave it to his parents to pay for the medical bills. It's all cute and heart warming. In honor of Fruit Dealer blizzard did something cute.
Essentially the only caption I could use is a kitty face. Despite it being horrible zerg monstrosities mixed with fruit. I feel as though it's such a cute gift that I'd post something about it.
Just to preface everything; I’m a huge scaredy cat. I haven’t played Penumbra and I didn't finish Dead Space. Scary things just aren’t up my alley, until September 8 came rolling around and steam unlocked my copy of Amnesia. I had been looking forward to this game just based on the thrill I got out of watching the trailer. Even the trailer I feel holds its foreboding warning message really faithfully. I was, admittedly, sold from the day one. Even further so when the demo hit steam I was genuinely excited, and albeit a little apprehensive. Being, for the most part, new to the survival horror scene I’m not familiar with its traits and clichés, or its ability to put me on such an edge. This happened literally to the point where I simply could not play any longer. However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let’s rewind this and explain what, if you don’t know, Amnesia is.
Amnesia is a survival horror game built around the idea that both immersion and ambiance are the keys to accessing that pure fright in the player. From the moment you start the demo the developers say that this is an experience intended to be had with the full effort from the player to immerse themselves into it. This means headphones on, lights off and alone in the room. Admittedly you’re setting yourself up to be frightened, but isn’t that precisely the point? I fail to see why you would want to detract anything from the experience by just not simply giving the game its rightful chance to scare the eff out of you; an aspect in which Amnesia completely delivers on.
You start the game as the dazed and struggling to remain conscious Daniel. Wobbling around Daniel is struggling to tell himself everything he can think of. His name, where he lives and what he needs to do spill out as he struggles to walk; swaying side to side whilst drifting through the castle. Until the final scene where Daniel is laying on the ground moving his head about, vision blurred, and falling unconscious. This whole scene seems to last just the right amount of time,a perfect amount intrigue is presented to the player. Who is Daniel? Why is he in this castle? What’s Shadow is he talking about? It all really sets the tone for the experience.
During the entirety of the beginning sequence you have control of Daniel. He is slow, lumbering, and moves in the exact way one does when they are on the verge of passing out. You tell your body to do something, and a second later it does it, blurred and sloppily. This is how the game handles Daniel’s ability to stay sane, or rather, his lack of that ability. The game measures sanity as a state in which your vision is blurred, movements delayed and commands exaggerated. You sway about the room as you run if you’re at the lowest point of sanity, which is appropriately labeled, morbidly comedic even. This sanity meter shows up in the interface under your health and has obviously different levels of sanity. The sanity meter ranges from “Crystal clear.” to “…”, respectively. However, for the majority of the game you don’t need to look at that meter because sanity doesn’t play that large of a role (or a noticeable role) until you’re at the lowest possible state of sanity. This is where it directly affects gameplay the most. That being said, you won’t need to constantly be hitting tab (your inventory) to check your sanity. This is all really important due to the idea that it controls just the same as Penumbra, Frictional games’ previous title. If you don’t know what this entails, it means that most things in the environment can be picked up, and have physics. Doors can be cracked open to specific widths, drawers can be pulled out to reveal objects inside, and anything else you want to touch you most likely can. The game genuinely feels good and controls as it should being a first person survival horror game. Everything is more exciting when you have to open the door and shut it behind you to slow a monster down as he's barreling behind you.
If Amnesia does anything correctly (which it does a lot of things) it is the uncanny ability to make the player feel extremely uncomfortable all the time. Creeks in the floorboards, moans in the castle, the ever drafting wind gusting about the rooms all create an environment where even the most hardened criminal would fret to no end. However, given Daniel’s questionable sanity, these sounds could either be in his head or real. In reality it’s the anticipation that scares you the most as you play Amnesia. That and the scaaaaarrrryyy monsters! In all seriousness the actual things that are in Amnesia (yes monster-esque things exist) are really messed up and present this foreboding feeling that you’re going to die. The last thing you want is for them to get any closer to you in the slightest. This fright of them going hand-in-hand with the idea that you are completely defenseless. It’s the simple possibility that anything could happen at any point. This feeling of discomfort really lends each individual player to their own experience. Allowing for players to be scared by different things, notice different nooks and crannies and run from something different. During my play through I happened across many paintings, but never once saw anything significant in them. So it turns out that in one of the rooms the painting is a skull before you do something within that room, and then changes to the natural picture after.
Amnesia has a path that you follow, as well as a story, built around a series of hub worlds. You start with the first ‘hub’-esque area after the general introduction of what your task is inside the Castle Brennenberg. You can go to pretty much every room in which ever order you decide you want to go. Picking up puzzle pieces and solving puzzles as you creep about the castle. You also find well produced voice acted diary entrees and memos along the way that tell the story. Amnesia presents these blatantly due to the fact that the diary pages and breaks in the gameplay for “flashback” type sequences are really the only way the game has to tell the story. You are a single vessel in a large castle filled to the brim with spooky things. Not a single NPC exists to tell you what's up. Along with the core story, there are even more things to pick up and read throughout the castle that really help set the feel for the environment. Backstory and written pieces from people who have also been in the castle are laying about for you to read. Granted these were opted to not be voice acted, they are still pretty well written (minus a few translation errors).
During my play through of Amnesia I found myself genuinely disturbed more than once at the delightfully awful soundscape and noises that the game presents. These range from people being murdered audibly to the calming music of piano during a sequence where the game tries to give you a feeling of eerie calm, only to break down the doors on you (literally). Being the scaredy cat that I am I admittedly hit a point where I was too worked up and scared in my session to play any longer. I had to stop and calm down. It was simply too much. I’ve heard from many people that this has also happened to them during the same section of the game. I simply cannot believe that a game can cause me to literally be too worked up to play any longer during that session. This happened for me during the Prison/Dungeon area of the castle. No, that’s not a spoiler; big surprise there’s a prison in an eerie castle!
However, sound isn’t the only thing that makes you feel this uncomfortable jeer. This game is messed up. When I mean messed up, I mean this game is genuinely fucked. Torture chambers and explanations on the optimal ways to torture someone are all part the integral Amnesia experience. You hear these things happen, and you come up close and personal with all of the devices. However, in fear of revealing too much of the game, I’ll leave the visuals on a note: They look awful in the best way.
I feel like I could write endlessly about Amnesia, but I'll wrap this up.
Amnesia really puts a new tier on survival horror titles. It has given me an experience I can tell people about, and recommend to anyone. I feel in the realm of horror, there isn’t a niche; there’s really only people who want to be scared. This is where my only sad point of Amnesia comes. It would really benefit from the port to consoles. I would love to see this game hit the mainstream and show people what games can do to scare you shitless.
Yo, Amnesia is messed up.
Like, really messed up.
This is where I don’t see the logistics of this argument, at least brought into fruition with today’s announcement. If what Pachter said is true about Microsofts intent, wouldn’t this be counter-productive? Wouldn’t increasing the price of entry into a multiplayer experience (when PS3 or PC does it for free) only hurt the entrance of new consumers coming over? Even so, Microsoft has stated that they want to bring more PC support to the board. Maybe this whole 10 dollar increase is money they can put towards that, although I doubt Microsoft is struggling.
Use your keyboard!
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