Point and Autobot - Myst, 21 Years Later

This didn’t go according to plan. Very few things seem to do that with any regularity in my life, and sadly playing adventure games is another one. I planned on playing Under a Killing Moon in order to prepare somewhat for the new Tex game that’s finishing up production. Did you guess that I didn’t play that game? Because I didn’t. Well, I tried to but no matter what I tried in DOSbox I couldn’t get the thing to run reliably and even when I had it stable for longer than five minutes the first-person controls were so bad I actually couldn’t progress.

I sat staring at the screen hoping something would click, just anything at all. I tried my best, but it was entirely too unwieldy. So I decided to sit down and watch a few duders play Myst for whatever reason and I was, surprisingly, completely suckered into buying that thing immediately. Then, notebook in hand, I sat down to try and demystify everything I’ve ever heard about this legendary point-and-click-and-sleep game.

Sidenote before the main blog - I found out just recently that this game was released on the exact date I was born. No idea why that makes me feel weird, but it does. Also, I could have easily written an entire novella's worth of analysis on this game. Luckily for your time and my sanity, I didn't.

Myst: ~realMyst: Masterpiece EXtended! Remix Love++ HD~

I never knew there were so many rereleases and re-re-releases and ports of this game. GOG had a few and Steam was carrying two (or three? I forget). Because it was $6 I just opted for the realMyst that isn’t being egregiously priced, whatever that meant graphics-wise since I really didn’t care at that point. I just wanted to click the shit out of some books. Unfortunately the version I picked up has muddy textures, insanely loud (and I mean violently loud) mixing, and a strange juxtaposition of 3D movement in a game that was clearly designed for screens. But that didn’t matter. After fixing strange performance issues and dialing that volume knob down about 20 dB, I dug deep into this world ready for some intense atmosphere.

And man is there some serious atmosphere in this game. So much that I’d say the game hinges entirely on it, very nearly to a fault. The claims of “not doing anything” aren’t entirely unfounded, especially if you’re the kind of person that categorizes reading as a non-activity. When I stepped onto Myst Island, just before I sat there deciding which mystery/mysterious/myst-word pun I liked best, I had no clue what to expect. I had a few pages left in my lab notebook that were going unused and my pencil at hand, but I still didn’t realize just how much of this game relies on that exact process.

I just fell in love with this place right away

In Myst you control a Stranger who finds the book - a linking book as they’re called - that leads him to the eponymous island. There was a note on the ground and from there, I kinda had no clue what to do. So I just read everything I could click on or see, wrote as much down that seemed important, and focused on using the central library structure often. The initial books weren’t of any help to me, most of them describing fantastical worlds I imagined were going to be important as some point in time and two others inhabited by guys who seemed both a) insane and b) manipulative. Every machination was slightly related to something else and seemed to connect to an obvious landmark on the island, such as the clocktower in the sea to the gigantic gears or the power station to the ship.

Then I found out the inner-workings of the tower rotation and just what the hell it was even for. After that it all started to roll out nicely, with each readable book among the burned ones describing some outrageous land that the author seemingly created himself. I soon figured out that the two people in the red and blue books were the sons, Sirrus and Achenar, that the author speaks of during his travels. Despite some glaring grammatical issues and strange diction, I was completely enthralled by these descriptions in the hope that I’d visit the same ones. The first book, the book of the Channelwood age, described a beautiful series of treetop villages and the people that lived there with a stronger sense of character than any game I’ve played in the last decade. Atrus, the author of these books, is revered by the tree-dwellers and immerses himself in their culture. Then his writing started changing color, to which my adventure game instincts responded immediately by noting the pattern of colors. To my surprise this isn’t used at all: it was a practical joke played by the tree-dwellers on Atrus. They gave him ink that would change colors over time.

Clearly the great tree planted randomly on the island was connected to this age. It had to be. After working out how exactly to get there, I was excited to see this culture and civilization for myself.

Mine's just words, but I do have maps for every age quite like this guy's

I found empty huts and broken platforms. Waterlines destroyed, windmills stopped, and elevators malfunctioning. Everything in the Channelwood age of Myst’s present was broken and deserted. No soul in sight, only books and a few red and blue pages scattered around. Aside from the rather simple puzzle, this age was purely atmosphere and feeling for me. I had learned so much about these people that I couldn’t wait to engross myself, but that wasn’t what was there. The feeling of displacement, of removal, left me wondering about the children that Atrus spoke so highly of. The same children trapped in those mysterious books.

This sums up the entire Myst experience for me: read book on age, write down clues in that context that help you understand a bit about the central puzzle, then go there to retrieve pages. Repeat. When laid out like that, it just sounds like busywork and total boredom. But it’s a real treat to experience, especially the Stoneship and Channelwood ages. Within the game’s human story of familial betrayal set to the backdrop of otherworldly magic and creationism, these places told stories of isolation, power’s natural entitlement, and how that power can ruin entire civilizations in the name of personal gain. Many video game stories tell that, but few of them show you this. It’s rare that a game will show you the madman conqueror's throneroom without some climactic battle, and discovering over time that his interests changed from mere study to torture and mutilation.Well, horror games would but the gore would be the point there. In Myst, Achenar’s acts are connected to people and cultures that leave distinct impressions on you when you read about them. There's likely entire essays written on this game's themes and for good reason. You see the ruins of those peoples, and sometimes the ruins of the brothers’ wake, but are always left to walk through deserted corridors and rooms.

Yes, I imagine there was a technical reason behind this but the game fares so much better because of it. You’re left, alone in each of these worlds, diligently taking note of your surroundings and the few key points to interact with. From that you research the intrinsic logics and properties of the world’s puzzle, gathering everything until you can piece it all together and return to Myst. And that, for me, was a blast. There were definitely times when the backtracking was a slog, but for the most part it was easy to navigate areas after the primary puzzle was solved. Except for the Selentic Age. That one can fuck right off with it’s inane maze puzzle that requires you to differentiate arbitrary honks and hoots in order to pass through it. I managed to finish the maze in one go but at no point did I have any feedback about whether or not the path I’d taken was working.

I don’t want to spoil too much about this game’s puzzles or story conclusions, mostly because I feel like they should be experienced personally. The only puzzles that require anything resembling inane, adventure game babble-logic can be counted on one hand - in a game with only eight or nine puzzles to be fair. If you’re willing to crack your binder open, sharpen your pencil, and write down a lot of notes (and I mean a lot; I had 11 pages of a full-sized notebook completely jam packed full) then Myst will be an absolute blast to go through. Even for the first time today, as I did.

I was completely absorbed in this shitty looking mess of textures even though I could/should have just played the '93 original

As for what's after this one, it's still up in the air. I have Riven: the Sequelest Next-Game in the Myst Quintology eyed up, but I don’t know if I want to immediately jump into another adventure game of this caliber. I don't think my wrist can take it anymore. The Quest for Glory games are sitting on my hard-drive, the third Gabe Knight game was an instant purchase at a discount, and there’s the always the possibility of testing out UAKM again… or maybe I’ll play System Shock 1. Who the hell knows, because I really don’t.

P.S. Man, tagging blogs to game forums being broken makes me way too sad.

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Point and Autobot - A Not-so-Brief Detour, Part II

The greatest fear I had with this blog was that I'd grow bored of adventure games. Sure, I'd barrelled through the Gabriel Knight games. That was great fun and all, but I'm the kind of person that likes to start things but hates finishing them. It's a wonder I ever beat games in the first place, let alone things that have a tangible impact on my life. Even if there are an average of 3 comments per entry, not committing to what I've set out on is a personal failure. System Shock 2 proved to be unable to conquer me and, despite my ever-draining will to see it through to the end, I've walked away from this with a greater appreciation for many things in modern games and a whole lot of retroactive disappointment in them.

Most people that play this game for the first time post-2007 are playing it to find out some of the roots of the BioShock series, but I can't say I was ever a fan. I just thought I'd point that out before I "heap" praise on this game, just in case any crazy people start getting weird ideas about me. That would require people to read this, though...

Anyways, I wanna talk about something else first. Because I've left the back half of this game for a separate post I decided to throw in some extra thoughts about another (non-UAKM) game I finished:

Shadow Warrior - Bad Jokes, Racism, and a Bucket of Fun

I don't really know what I can write about this game. It's a remake of a 1997 3D Realms shooter that used the Build Engine - the very same engine that powered Duke Nukem and Blood, and unlike those two I'd never actually played the original. I really don't know if I ever plan to, even if the classic version is actually free on Steam and still sitting in my installed pile of games waiting to be played. After the 11 hours I spent with the remake I'm not sure I even want to. The game is by no means outright bad, in fact I'd say it's damn good, but the style of shooter that it happens to be is only really palatable in small doses.

Luckily, Shadow Warrior knows that it has to play hard and fast to keep your attention. With its insane mixture of sword mechanics, including special moves with unique inputs, over-the-top and likely incredibly offensive humor, and a mess of guns that are mostly useless this game doesn't hold back. Half the time, when the game wasn't throwing a really stupid enemy type at me, I was having a blast bunny hopping with a rocket launcher and a katana that shoots fucking energy beams at people.

This snowman defied me. It refused to be taken down. For that I was most dishonored.

There's not a very weighty story or any sort of real atmosphere here other than kill, kill, kill which is kind of the point. Unfortunately, the game tries to hastily smash some sort of sympathetic plot in the end for one of the main characters that just sort of brings the whole thing down. Man, does it lay it on you too. There was one section where Lo Wang - yep - had to reunite with his buddy and reinvigorate the little guy's spirit. That worked, mostly because it was brief and fit more in line with the broader, incredibly stupid thematic elements of the game. After that, it gets sappy in a story that it doesn't really need or, frankly, deserve.

Thankfully the game only goes down that direction a few times in what is an otherwise thoroughly enjoyable, low-brow shooter. In spite of it's own vain attempts at making the player feel emotions and other strange sensations, Shadow Warrior is a totally great game and well worth the asking price even if only to screenshot every single fortune cookie in the game like I did.

No, seriously. I have far too many pointless screens of this overwhelmingly stupid game.

System Shock 2 - "Nah," aka the Best Use of a (Mostly) Silent Protagonist

Last time I wrote about this game I was busy smashing everything to bits that referred to itself as "we." I thought it was a good idea at the time, and I enjoyed the visual of a burly hacker running around rewiring everything to do his bidding and, when that wasn't an option, beating the everloving shit out of anything he stumbled across. "Dr. Polito" was pleased with my successes, awarding me a boatload of modules that I could use to enhance my already superhuman abilities. At this point I was capable of using a shotgun and didn't really want to go down the gun path any farther than that so my modules were constantly piling up. I was toying with the idea of flirting with energy weapons to get a feel for them, but decided my wrench was doing just fine.

That is, until I found my true love: the Laser Rapier.

The button never saw me coming.

This unassuming beam of light wasn't quite the Dragon Tooth from Deus Ex, but at the time that I found it the thing was absurd. With my armloads of upgrades ready and waiting, getting the requisite Energy weapon and Agility stats was just an elevator ride away. After that, I was able to dance across the Von Braun and the Rickenbacker like some sort of cyberpunk jedi. It was pretty rad, and then because of my already upgrade Energy stats I decided to take up a laser pistol and EMP rifle. Combined with the sword, this was the best decision I could have made. Most of the annoyance in this game comes from dealing with the service droids, the explode-y ones that makes my eyes roll so far in the back of my head they've gone cross and the much larger and more threatening laser and rocket launcher toting ones. With the EMP rifle in hand these were no more than a momentary environmental hazard, because - as far as I could tell - the rifle both dealt massive damage and disabled them for a brief time. The downside being that anything that was purely flesh (or a hybrid, minus the midwife enemy) was totally unaffected by the gun.

But with the combination of my Super Butter Knife and Zappy Cannon, things were looking up for the hacker. Until I met up with Polito/SHODAN. Oh spoilers, I guess. If it isn't obvious SHODAN was speaking to you by this point, especially with the extremely heavy handed descriptions and references to the rogue AI throughout the first half of the game, there is no hope for you. Still, despite the obvious twist, the scene that plays out to explain it is far better than most games could have done. After I've been introduced to the real force behind my operations, the game funnels me through another series of floors to get more keys with which to open things. The real bastard of this game is this completely stupid code puzzle that requires you to search every one of a specific environmental object to find the code. It's real, real dumb. When I'd gotten through the entirety of the crew's art collection, I was pretty much clear to find my way to the Rickenbacker and eventually off this hellish ship.

But, surprise, SHODAN betrayed me!

Even SHODAN was surprised! (No she wasn't)

I know, right? This electrical monstrosity that frequently called me an insect, a pile of flesh, and uselessly inadequate didn't want to be buddies with me and help destroy itself? Gee whiz! This is truly one for the books. Now, this is what differentiates System Shock 2 from most story driven games I've played from this era - sometimes, most times really, the game makes it's intentions completely known and relies on its intense atmosphere to leave you immersed enough to just go with the moment. The audio design, the music, and the rich flavor in the audio logs all back that immersion up and make that twist much more digestible because of that. Without the feeling that the Von Braun is taking shape around you as the game occurs, the plot would feel thin and vapid. Instead, because the game commits fully to its intentions and doesn't really pull any punches in any category, I connected more to this story than what most games have tried.

So there's some story left, I guess and at this point I've lost track of my ability to give a shit about what this game is trying to tell me. Even if the game's ability to keep me interested constantly ramps up with the atmosphere, the actual plots and character motivations in the game are just plain tedious. I lost the thread for a few conversations, resulting in me relying on my instincts of having played games long enough to get me through it. And you know what? I wanted to confront SHODAN and see if I could end the game that way, because I had lived in this world as a character that wasn't going to just assume this computer-lady was on the uptake.

My reward was finishing the game. That's it. There wasn't some grand, super special path to this conclusion. I had just made the right choice based on the way the world and its characters had revealed themselves to me. That's the illusion of choice that games strive for, the style of making players believe they have a real impact on the world while making sure they go down this singular path.

That's the key to this game's evergreen nature, I think. The static plotline is easy to comprehend: you wake up, there are monsters and you are told to find keys to navigate this unknown area. Also, space. After that, the designers left optional world-building in the form of the audio logs for you to conceive your own viewpoint for this universe and the ship. More so, the game uses the amnesia trope to great effect here by letting you develop that sense without any preformed notions of the way things work. That is, assuming you've never played the original System Shock which is totally understandable since that game requires a little more patience to go back to than this one. Even if there's a linear path that the story takes you along, the illusion of choice in the later portions of the game is just right so that it lets you believe you’re making a truly unique decision while giving you a completely heterogeneous solution.

This story - the central arc of the game - isn't trying to revolutionize anything about the cyberpunk genre, nor is it anything more than a great backdrop for the personal story you create. There isn't a vast open world, thinly populated with vaguely interesting areas and half-formed quests. There's just you, a wrench, and a Walkman filled with the screams of the dead.

Tommy hates your new look, SHOBecca. I wish we could have seen it.

I enjoyed System Shock 2, but I don't know if I loved it. There was plenty to like about the game, and it's pretty clear that I really liked the way the world managed to build itself without being overt and cloying. I feel like I should say that this game is something I do believe everyone who calls themselves a fan of the BioShock series should play. Since I'm not one of those people I'm just gonna chalk it up to liking good old games, but hey it is what it is. It's incredibly obvious how influential this game was and still is, but after a point influence stops being a critical factor and the need to actually connect with the game personally steps up. With System Shock 2, I sort of connected to it. When I wasn't fulfilling my macho fever dream of a cyberpunk pulp hero, the game was doing an incredible job keeping me interested in its world with some of the better use of audio design I've heard in a long time.

Now I've had my cleansing ritual, and can return to the fray of playing 90's point-and-click games. I can look back on The Beast Within as a sad could-have-been and Sins of the Fathers as my bright expectations for the adventure game genre. Everything I've learned from these two is stored away in my head now, replacing what was probably a useful skill in place of the understanding that clicking every pixel available is a good idea. All that's left is to stay true to my word and continue my adventures in point-and-clickism with the game that this entry and the last were supposed to be about:

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Point and Autobot - A Not-so-Brief Detour, Part I

This blog was supposedly for point-and-click adventure games. Namely to take everyone with me on my discovery of this sort-of-dead but still annoying alive genre. I mean to keep that promise, mostly because I still really want to play Under a Killing Moon and I just recently bought Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned off of gog at a nice discount. Sneak peek and all that. Anyways, the game I decided to write about today isn't really an adventure game, but there are things you pick up and put in/on other things to acheive your goals. Does that count?

What's that? Oh, that's just a game in general? Okay, then.

So it's a game, and that's a good enough correlation to warrant me piggybacking this blog with a slight detour. Into space. With robots.

Cyborgs, cyberpunk and whatnot.

When I started this dumb quest to find out just what the hell people twenty-plus years ago found entertaining about silly joke output-machines I was also taking solace in the fact that I was catching up on games I really ought to have played. I like old games, and I like laughing. It made sense to me at the time, to a version of myself that hadn't yet crawled through the sludge throughout the second Gabriel Knight game. In keeping with my bright-eyed hopes of unveiling greatness that I've missed I dug my dirty, single-minded man-paws into:

System Shock 2 - WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP

If you noticed my overwhelming cleverness in the title, this is in fact just the first part of a two-part extravaganza. Unlike the adventure games I've been playing for this blog, System Shock 2 is a fairly long game. I couldn't sit down and play it to completion in 2-3 serious afternoons with a few pages of scribbled nonsense notes and complaints. Being that I've decided to continue writing this while still doing that whole "getting an education" thing, carving out the time to really finish a game of this magnitude was something else. Basically, I forgot what sleep was because the insane drum and bass blaring over the loudspeakers of the Von Braun never let me do anything other than devolve into a paranoid, psycho-kinetic plumber.

Sound design is immensely important to to bringing the atmosphere of a game together in a way that's concrete. In the pitch-black corners of this ship the only sound dancing through the otherwise naked hallways are my footsteps. The occasional synth pad leaves an oftentimes distorted and shaky bed for the noises of the ship to come alive. She's poorly maintained, and I can hear it. I can see it and feel it.

Science!

Then a groan comes from the Crew's quarters just ahead, a pleading moan of warning. It's telling me to stay away. Naturally, I investigate and before I know it my skull is being hammered in by a combination of wild, pounding snares and an oversized, rusty wrench. Lucky for me, I have magic nano-space-cyborg abilities that leave me slightly more resilient to wrench smashes. I turn around and smack this voice modulated horror to death with my own oversized, rusty wrench.

Half of the time, System Shock 2 revels in its ability to leave you feeling safe but with the impending sense of dread that marks the best horror and suspense. The music swells die down, sometimes with an anticlimactic sputter, and you're free to explore an area of the ship until the voices - I say voices because the modulation is the always creepy layering of several different tones and actors altogether - of the infected crew flitter through your robot-ears and you have to remember how to properly wrench-at-face. Then the incredible soundtrack amps back up and I'm wondering just how many times I could listen to this on loop without slowly going mad myself. Instead of worrying about that, I dash through corridors rewiring security cameras, turrets, and doing the aforementioned wrenching.

The combat, at least so far, has become a game of waiting for the crazed hunchbacks to swing at me so I can walk up to them and hit them then retreat to relative safety. Then rinse and repeat. At least, that's the melee combat as relying on guns isn't completely viable at this point. Why have guns anyway, when I can hack to pieces just about anything that won't explode on death. Which is, sadly, more frequent than I'd like. Having enemies explode on death, and as their means of attack, is just about the most uninspired and tedious enemy design possible. I can't actually think of anything worse than that, because it's the pits.

I was going to make a JC Denton joke here. I'm still torn on it.

The plot of the game, however, isn't. The integration of the character's background and training as tutorials is really well done. Having you choose skills and stats seemingly at random, though? Yeah, that sucks. I knew from the word go that I wanted to play this as a hacking whiz who had a penchant for melee weapons so, after reading the manual I learned that I wanted some strength and hacking. Well, I could have figured that out myself now couldn't I have? It's still a poor excuse to force the player to make seemingly random, non-arbitrary decisions. Luckily the game gets rather judicious with the skill point equivalents and rewiring your build isn't that difficult and doesn't really screw you up, at least from my experience so far. Now that I've done a handful of years worth of training with the UNN and other organizations, I've signed up for the Von Braun, an experimental FTL ship built by the omnipresent TriOptimum corporation. All hail our glorious TriOp overlords.

Anyway, there's some kind of distress beacon that the ship responds to on a planet called Tau Ceti V. And that's where the game picks up, with you awakening from cryostasis and getting immediately contacted by someone who seems to have an immense amount of control over the ship's computers - Dr. Polito. It's clearly her. How could it be anyone else?

At this point I'm following the instructions of "Dr. Polito" (because, really, who at this point doesn't make the connection that it isn't actually her?) and running around the Von Braun looking for a way to rendezvous with her. The storytelling itself is mostly through the use of audio logs which, for the most part, make the ship come alive and feel vibrant. The other times its almost quite literally the trope of someone writing down their death screams. At least with an audio log it's somewhat better... right? I guess for all of these death-logs their recording device switched off automatically/lost power...?

I don't know, but I do know that it's not worth thinking about.

Instead, I'm going to continue my trip through this dying hulk. I've just purged the elevators of some mysterious growth in the Hydroponics lab, and the meeting with "Dr. Polito" is nigh.

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Point and Autobot - A(nother) Gabriel Knight Mystery?

Last time I talked about Gabriel Knight I was but a young child of adventure games: totally unable to really talk about the mechanics without much clarity. When I played the game I felt I had a firm grasp on the concepts and the puzzles, but when I sat down to write about it I didn’t know how to specifically argue for the game. I'd chalk it up to being a bit rusty in my writing, and also the fact that I had no idea how to explain these things without sounding like a terrible wannabe game journalist. My writing was what an aspiring wannabe games journalist would write, unfortunately. I think though, with my most recent journey, I’ve gotten my hands on and played with the genre enough to understand a few things.

Like, sifting through hot garbage puzzles in the hopes that the next plot point will have some meat to it. Or struggling to get the triggers to go off and let the game know to push me forward. On that note, I peeked at a walkthrough twice in the game because I was just simply lost. Once it was because the game decided to hand you one of the dumbest ideas I’ve seen in a while – namely, having one of the main characters carry a live pigeon in their coat pocket for a solid afternoon. The other time was because I was simply tired of how lethargic the game moved and the limp pacing by the time the final chapter rolled around.

The game I’m referring to is, of course, The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery. The second game in the franchise, and an FMV game.

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery - You Done Goofed, Jane

I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve watched a few Let’s Plays of these types of games, and enjoyed Vinny and Dave goof around in Phantasmagoria (thankfully making a playthrough of that pointless and thus saving me from playing that pile of trash). I’ve never played one myself and, since I’d played the first Gabriel Knight as a gateway into point-and-click adventures I decided to give it a go and fire up this 1995 piece of work. The game follows directly after the first game, with a yearlong break between the two storylines and with Gabriel having finished his novel about The Voodoo Murders – appropriately titled… The Voodoo Murders – and being confronted about a possible Werewolf case by locals around the Rittersburg estate of Schloss Ritter.

"Hi y'all, I'm not a good actor."

The first thing I noticed, other than the drab main menu lacking any theme, was Gabriel. Or rather, the actor playing him. Even though I would have loved to see Tim Curry in a wig and overlong coat, Dean Erickson does an all right job of filling in the physical features. Though the different jacket bugs me for some ungodly reason. The other noteworthy change is that, unlike the first game, you play as both the titular character and his assistant Grace Nakimura. While I thought changing between the two characters was going to ruin the game’s premise and pacing, I ended up enjoying the interplay that the two storylines had more than just about anything else on display.

As for his acting itself, well… Erickson does a decent enough job of being a body. After that, things get fuzzy. The obnoxious, rude, and roguish dork that Gabriel was in the first game is replaced by this sometimes annoying, oftentimes impotent sounding American tourist. With the story taking place mainly in Germany, hearing Erickson butcher these words and names is something else as well. And one of the first discrepancies I had with the game was mainly in how convenient it was that all the major players in the game spoke English to some degree. Whether that’s because I’m not German, and haven’t been to Germany so I have no clue the English fluency around the Munich area, I don’t know. It’d be nice to clear that up since I’d probably retract that complaint.

Even though Herr Huber speaks in English, I didn't cap anyone who actually spoke in German exclusively

One I won’t, however, is the lack of English subtitles or ones that I could find without downloading an external patch. I don’t understand the language and, assumedly, neither does a fair share of the demographic this version was produced for. When I did download the patch I was almost halfway through the game and the patch refused to allow me to load those games, so I was forced to search for something resembling a cognate to try and gather context about what the hell these people were saying. Luckily, most of the important documentation in the game is either translated at some point or pre-translated so I don’t have to stare at a foreign language I have no concept of.

Another quality of this game is the blatant homo-eroticism

Since watching composited actors gape awkwardly at each other is the name of the game, it was surprising to see the level of quality some of the screens had. Some were just fully composited while others had actual physical sets – usually an office or small room – which lent a very strong atmosphere to the game it otherwise wouldn’t have. Even if the actors performing weren’t outstanding, the visuals were pretty great and actually not a detriment to play. On the other hand, the audio quality is a total mess with standards ranging from full and without decent pop filtering to tinny, boomless productions and an even more annoying profile with a low hum and well sthPoken P’s all over the place. I can’t help but wonder if that’s an error in my version of the game rather than with the game itself, but it was still completely distracting and irritating. The music, like the first game, was always on point but the quality issues that plague the dialogue unfortunately crept into the music as well, oftentimes cutting between different portions of the same song when you changed scenes in a location.

Fortunately, even though the delivery is sometimes stale or just completely bizarre, the game has another interesting storyline that kept stringing me along through awful gameplay and strangely overlong FMV of people picking up newspapers. At first the game gives us a kernel of information – a German farmer’s daughter was murdered by a mysterious Black Wolf and he has called upon the new Schattenjäger to aid him. From there the game goes into a surreal conspiracy theory style tale of werewolfry within the former Bavarian throne room. Namely in King Ludwig II, a mad-king who was an introvert most of his life, and connecting to him a string of supposed “Black Wolves” until it begins to connect to Gabriel’s newest friend Friedrich von Glower, a Baron he meets when he joins an exclusive hunting club.

I mean there's a lot of it.

The story has a strong foundation and builds on that just as well as the first game, with some portions being even stronger – especially the clues and hints as to the actual players in the storyline. I feel the reveal that Malia and Dr. John were in on it the whole time in the first game were simplistic and a little boring, if well executed. Here, the intertwining histories of the Rittersberg locals and the characters around Munich created a much more engrossing and enveloped story. For instance, the Ritter family ubergrau (which I take to be a combination of a lawyer and accountant) Harold, is a great little part of the game because he plays only the role that makes sense for what’s been described so far. He’s not some Schattenjäger sidekick in the making, even though I want that game now. There’s no reveal for him – he’s just doing his job, assisting Gabriel when and where he can.

"I'm just talkin' to a large German man bathing." Y'know, video games.

His main role, really, is to ferry information between Gracie and Gabe. Especially when she gets deeper into her studies into Ludwig and his connection to the composer Richard Wagner, specifically his composing an opera for Ludwig personally. Now, I’m not a classical music historian so the significance was lost on me but the idea of this mad-king having great trust in his friend who created works the king lost himself in was fascinating. Better yet, the Black Wolf eventually ties back into Ludwig in a great reveal – that the monarch himself was a werewolf, and that Wagner was writing an opera and building an opera house to help ease his friend’s pain while transforming. What made this interesting wasn’t necessarily the story itself but the fact that the game told this entirely through letters that Ludwig wrote to his few friends and his closes servants rather than a total expository scene where the game repeated the wolf reveal over and over again. I’d put this together about a chapter before and because the game gave adequate clues, the final reveal left me feeling smug in the same way any good mystery should.

Unfortunately, and it comes with the territory, this mystery is littered with bad, and I mean sometimes downright awful designs. With the original game I felt the majority of the gameplay was totally understandable and I was able to finish the game without really looking at puzzle FAQ’s or guides. With this game, I tried my damndest to follow through on that and, for the most part, I succeeded. Because of the style of visuals it was much easier to tell what and where I could interact with and made analyzing everything in the game for the next trigger far easier than the original game. However, once everything was collected I had to sit down and string together some frankly stupid things to finish a chapter.

Grace gets ready to do something really stupid with a pile of dumb objects: The Game

I could name a few, Weiss wurst and cuckoo clocks off the top of my head, but the one I feel exemplifies the absurdity on display involves the aforementioned pigeon. After Gabriel is attacked by another wolf and left ill, though whether the game is implying he’s turning into wolf I’m still not 100% sure on even though I think he is, and another visit to a couple of demonologists who just happened to be looking for the Schattenjäger a while back Grace decides it’d be a smart idea to find the lost Wagner opera by… you guessed it, distracting a guard in the Ludwig museum with a bird so that she could open a twelve-by-eight hole in the wall. I guess the game showed you exactly where each portion of the opera was hidden, which made the whole ordeal far less obtuse and more of a chore. But what made this especially bad wasn’t coming to the conclusion that the bird was the goal object, but finding a way to get it. Most of the time, the game rarely has any use for Gabriel’s bedroom after the second or third chapter but at this point the game expects you to go all the way back up there to investigate his linens. You literally catch a pigeon with a pillowcase and keep it in your trenchcoat for hours.

And how was I supposed to know Gabriel has his bed made only once every two months?

"Hey, Gracie... d'you think anyone will care we spent twelve seconds on this ending?"

Anyways, once the story comes to a conclusion the game just kind of… drifts off. The ending of the first game felt powerful and almost like it was earned because of the excellent buildup to the end. Here, the strangely unclear fade falls apart and leaves me wanting. It’s obvious the developers ran out of time and money during shooting, and even worse because the final chapter could have been an incredible subversion on what the game was presenting up and to that point. Instead of having Wagner being a true friend to Ludwig and actually writing his opera to help him, it would have been far more interesting to have the composer make it so that the wolves didn’t just transform in the hall. I wanted to see the possibility of Gabriel falling from grace, so to speak, and have the final game be his redemptive arc. Instead what I got was a solid ten minute production of Wagner’s opera, a joke of a final action scene and a disappointing conclusion.

I’ll admit, while I played the game I was enjoying it and generally just grumbling along when the puzzles got muddled or hard to parse. When I started writing this, though, I couldn’t help but see where I was just forgiving the game and letting it by on the good graces of its forbearer. Even though I really want to love this game – the goofy alternate history especially – I just can’t bring myself to believe this is better, or even as good as, Sins of the Fathers. The most surprising part of that conclusion was the FMV having almost nothing to do with the disappointment, at least directly. There might have been some difficulty designing puzzles that could manifest physically with the actors in mind, but that’s no excuse for some of the cruft in the game.

I’m going to take a short break before I dive into the next game like this. I have the 2013 Tomb Raider I still want to finish,Rogue Legacy to barrel through, and more hours of Dota 2 than I really should be comfortable with. Next time I’ll be taking an even weirder trip into the future (?) with another FMV game, in my attempt to find what the hell made adventure games so popular with:

P.S. Even though I do want to see where the series goes, I don’t want to look at another Gabriel Knight game for a while. Especially the icky, late 90’s 3D graphics that sit in the weird valley of shit I don’t want to focus on for any amount of time. I also don’t own GK3, but gog’s got my back.

P.P.S. There's a KKK joke in this game. Thought I'd point that nonsense out.

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Point and Autobot - Sins of the Fathers

2013’s been a really, really inactive year for me.

I told myself I was going to finish Betrayal at Krondor, so much that I even wrote a blog about my journey through the early portions, and then successfully stopped playing after five or six chapters of the game. At some point in time I do want to get around to finishing it, but that’s a separate topic by itself. I’ve played, at most, three or four games from 2013 that aren’t in Early Access or have been Greenlit.

The reason I haven’t, and I don’t know if I’m proud to say it, is because I spent an inordinate amount of money and time on adventure games. I have some blindspots in my gaming history, almost everyone has something they just don’t have the time for. These games, however, are my primary blindspot. I know next to nothing about the genre conventions, the big players let alone the indies, and I’ve never finished a point-and-click adventure that I can recall.

I want to change that, so here I am playing point-and-click adventure games. Not modern ones, if this blog is any indication. No, I decided to say:

“Hey, you know what’s smart? Playing Sierra adventure games from the early 90’s, and without walkthroughs. Yeah!”

Yeah…

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – Doing it Right, Accents and All

If there was anything I can say I made a good decision about this year, it was picking this game to start my adventure game foray. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers rides the horizon-wide line of old school adventure games, using a relatively well-defined verb system and asking the player to differentiate the teal pixel from the aqua pixel in order to get the item that will prevent the hero from dying in chapter 9. That was one of my first pitfalls in the game – getting used to each of the actions.

Those things at the left are the game? Weird.

Now, I’m not a total goofball but it was definitely something different for me to have to understand the ins-and-outs of each verb very precisely, and understand the definition the developers were using, in order to finish the game. That usually wasn’t a prickly issue, but occasionally the game had some fun haranguing me for ‘opening’ something when I really should have been ‘operating’ it. I don’t know if this is a genre trope yet or not, but is having an action used for one specific puzzle and literally nothing else common? Because I feel like the ‘push’ command was used twice, maybe.

Then again, my memory is terrible so let’s continue with what I do know. And that’s that Sins of the Fathers is an incredible game.

Your base of operations: St. George's Books.

I have almost nothing but praise for this game. What I do know about adventure games is that the primary focus of any adventure game has to be story, or at least some kind of atmospheric setting. Without that there’s generally nothing for me to do other than sit around doing crappy puzzles. Sins of the Fathers takes that principle to the nth by generating a rich, lifelike emulation of 90’s New Orleans and filling it with a cast of characters who are equal parts trope-y and totally lovable. From the desk sergeant Frick, to the imposing Dr. John, back to the enigmatic Wolfgang Ritter the characters in this game are top notch. Each of them has a unique, interesting story or personality that really livens up a game made twenty years ago.

To compound the well written atmosphere and personality the game has, Robert Holmes delivers a top-notch soundtrack. The main theme is stuck in my head even now, especially as I write this while listening to the whole thing. Unfortunately, because of the era, there are some times that the audio has a low-rumbling hiss. Sampling rates just weren’t that great around that time, but it was unfortunate to have that hiss under dialog especially. Even so, the overall effect was still there.

The plot itself focuses on our titular character, who is currently researching for a new book that he hopes will help his failing career as a horror novelist and rare book store owner. From that we learn more and more about the culture of Voodoo, the religious aspects of it, and even that the local highfalutin types are woven into the game’s so-called “Voodoo Murders.” As each day, or chapter, progresses Gabriel Knight becomes further embroiled in the mystery as he turns research into first-hand account. Through his journey, Gabriel learns about his own family history and takes up the mantle of Schattenjäger, or shadowhunter. The family trade of monster-hunters, because why wouldn’t it be?

To finish each day, Gabriel has to solve the requisite inane adventure game puzzles. However, and what’s left me ready to continue this strange journey, the puzzles here aren’t insane logical leaps for the most part. Yes, the Cazaunoux puzzle was a little obscure and bizarre, but the rest of the game manages to create a strong backbone of a game with a very nice hint system in the way of the daily newspaper and your secretary, Grace. I rarely felt befuddled by the game’s puzzles, counter to my six pages of writing in a notebook ranging from scribbles and doodles to confused phrases asking why this game is such a piece of shit. The aforementioned Cazaunoux puzzle was totally baffling to me, though. That was the one time I broke my oath and looked a walkthrough, because no thank you video games.

The game reaches fever pitch around day six or seven, and at that point the game takes a strange pacing twist. Up until that point, the game’s primary structure of investigation and research turns into a very brief play on the traditional hero’s tale. If the game could have included an extra day of Gabriel’s transition to the new Schattenjäger, of which there can be only one, instead of this hyperspeed rendition it would have taken some of the scuff from the otherwise polished story arc. Speaking of the fact there's only one Schattenjäger, the scene in the first Wheel-Within-a-Wheel is one of the most brutal things I've ever seen in a video game and just after we get introduced to the mysterious Uncle Wolfgang.

On the unfortunate note of negatives, there’s only one that I really have to comment on: Tim Curry. His accent, throughout this game, is fucking incredulous and usually unintelligible. It’s amazing, just watch this. I apologize for the nightmares in advance.

Even so, Sins of the Fathers is a must-play and even made its way onto my GOTY list.

Gabriel Knight’s journey doesn’t end here, however. He has to write that novel he was so busy working on at the start of the game! Oh, and there's that whole Ritter estate and Schattenjäger thing he should probably be looking into. I'll join Gabriel, in all his not-Tim Curry voiced and acted goodness in FMV hell with...

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Adventures of a "Musician" - Thanks, For Everything, Ryan

After hearing about Ryan's passing I shared most of your guys' sorrow and wished my best to the crew and his family, but I knew that wasn't all I would do. I immediately went to work with a beat in mind and an aesthetic floating in my brain-space. That being, namely, Kavinsky or Daft Punk's more laid-back groove.

Whether or not I succeeded isn't the point. My point is that it's gonna be a real rough stretch of Tuesdays for... well, I don't know how long. Thanks for the memories Ryan, and here's a brief tune that I wrote to remember how much joy you put in my life and others' without really understanding how special you are yourself.

Much love and Respect to the crew and to everyone who knew him personally. My grief is but an iota compared to what you all must be feeling.

Soundcloud Link - "Thanks Man"

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An Autobot in Midkemia - Pt. 1

I know, I have another blog that's a supposed "part 1." Well, if you read it then you should know that I will totally own up to never going through with side-projects and high concept ideas I might have. That novel idea? Too much time. Pen and paper game? Eh, it's too much like Pathfinder so I'll go play that. Finishing that EP from forever ago? Fuck that noise.

What was my original point? Oh yes! This time I will have a finished product on the other end because of the topic at hand. That being...

Betrayal at Krondor

Betrayal at Krondor is a computer role-playing game released in 1993, based in Raymond E. Feist's world of Midkemia from his Riftwar novels. I think. I wouldn't know since I've never touched his books - mostly out of lack of knowledge about them more than anything - but it's got his seal of approval so that's good right? There is also the sometimes hilarious, often times acceptable, use of digitized actors in silly costumes throughout the story, and the game itself is structured like a book with page numbers and chapters for the major turning points of the story (of which I am on number three at the time of this blog). Obviously this has the mark of the author.

Obviously.

So it turns out that some cat named Neal Hallford is actually the one responsible for the important part of this game: the story. Yeah Feist is mentioned in the Original Story credits, but I'd bet money that's only due to it being pulled from a previous source and not to do with his actual writing credits. So why am I getting so worked up about writing credits?

For starters, the writing is superb. The flavor text, and there's a lot of it, is fantastic for world-building and developing a sense of place in a game that would otherwise be nonexistent. It's generic fantasy, and boring geometry, all around you but the descriptions of items and dialogue make the setting come alive. It was a necessity then to have things literally spelled out for you because of the lack of voice acting, and I think it manages to make the game read even better than it would have normally. It's 2013, so I need a real damn good reason to be playing a 20-year old game with okay but not spectacular combat.

Okay, that's pretty good.

The world is pretty generic fantastic schlock from what I can tell (the moredhel are Wild Elves, the undead roam, magic is misunderstood...), but it's the actual characterizations and such that always draw me into a story. In Betrayal at Krondor we are thrown into a story of oncoming "savage" hordes full pelt, being told very little about that actual plot and just given characters to work with. In them are a moredhel prisoner who we're told relatively soon is incredibly vital, a young noble-born magician whose father disapproves, and a dorky knight with the silliest mustache this side of early 90's James Hetfield. Instead of long prologues and pointless cut-scenes the game says "look, you know how this setting works, just take these characters." It's a ballsy maneuver and would likely fall flat on it's face nowadays, or at least be ridiculed for it.

Sweet beard, dude.

Gorath - the prisoner we're toting around - immediately comes across as a stereotype, talking about how the leader of the clans of the moredhel is a total scumbag and doesn't follow the code of blah blah blah. It's Locklear, the goofy knight, that's a gem in this early portion of the game. Most of the dialogue towards him condescends him for being a straight-up bad womanizer, having stupid hair (that he apparently dyes), but also respecting him for being a great swordsman. Normally this just seems like standard characterization: flaws and strengths. Betrayal at Krondor, however, does a pretty cool thing by backing that up with it's systems.

You can say a character is awesome all you want, but if the game doesn't back this up in the gameplay then your introductory sequence is pointless and, frankly, obnoxious. When you open up the first combat sequence right after being introduced to the characters, you feel how powerful these people are. Gorath and Locklear destroy the assassins in a few hits, while puny little Owyn the Mage is stuck blinding people and hoping they don't get near him.

The combat itself is turn-based, revolving around the speed rating of your character, and relies on random dice rolls based on your stamina - a figure that represents both your easily recoverable health and the "strength" of your character. If your stamina hits 0, you lose combat efficiency and speed but can still fight. If health reaches 0 your character goes into a "Near-Death" state and must either spend a boatload of gold at a temple to recover instantaneously or rest for days and days while applying frequent healing salves and eating up precious rations. Death only occurs when the whole party falls, most likely due to every character being an integral portion of the story.

Enemies themselves are pretty damn smart, especially after just playing Borderlands 2. They won't mindlessly run into Gorath or Locklear the Meatgrinder and it's rare that they'll stay longer than they need to. Often times they'll break off from characters when support arrives and retreat or, more likely, head towards Owyn to stop him from casting spells everywhere for free. That's not to say they won't retreat. If an intelligent enemy gets low enough in stamina and health, they'll split. It's strangely satisfying, and certainly a bit more realistic, seeing the rogue run for his life while he leaves his allies to die at the hands of Guy de Mustachio, wisely choosing to get the fuck out of Dodge before he dies too. It's even better when they're run through in the middle of their escape.

Owyn ponders why his hair is so dumb as two Nighthawks approach.

Do you see where I'm going with this? The game melds the two aspects that people are arguing over The Walking Dead or even BioShock Infinite about: the use of story within the gameplay without tossing off the actual "game" portions. Everything in the game, so far, is presented with gameplay incentive or a mechanic to support it. You want to get Owyn's barding to 100 and get phat gold pieces every time you go to an inn? Well, you'll have to endure his terrible mangling of the one song he knows over and over again, replete with MIDI guitar playing off-time, key, and frequently "finding" chords, to get there. And damn is it rewarding.

How about the loot itself? Well, it ranges from poorly managed armor and shitty broadswords to daily rations. And that's pretty much it. At least on enemies, for the most part. You'll occasionally have a wizard or assassin carrying a poison, spell scroll, or very rarely a relatively powerful armor set, but that's not where the real treasures lie. You'll have to solve the insidious wordlock chests to get most of the best stuff. The chests themselves are a riddle that comes with a series of dials labeled with four static letters that, in some combination, answer the puzzle.

Not super subtle, but I felt good for picking up on it.

And man do they incentivize opening them!

You could just look at the combinations possible, since the chests I've encountered clearly require a noun or verb specifically, but the real fun is actually solving the riddle. I don't care what's in the chest - unless it's another one of those Blessed Rapiers - and I love ditching the main quest objective right in front of me just to find these boxes and break the code. It's probably due to me being a, y'know, person and liking positive reinforcement.

I like it that the game rewards my "intelligence" and that noticing a pattern totally irrelevant to the actual riddle will save me five or so minutes. It feels good, and it definitely is one of the best parts of the game so far. Like I've said though, the story and flavor text is some of the best I've ever read. I could just troll through my inventory if it meant getting to read new information about the world and the items. And that means getting around this inventory.

So I'm going to keep playing this game. Hopefully the titular betrayal isn't as obvious as I've predicted, but at this point it's not even about that and wouldn't lessen the experience at all. This story and it's characters stick with the concept of the journey over the destination. If I didn't spend four or five hours wandering the north of the map I wouldn't have found as many of those awesome wordlocks, gotten more characterization about Seigneur Dweeb, or learned a few choice damage-dealing spells. Yeah, I don't see myself disliking where this is going.

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Adventures of a "Musician" - The Link Dump

So, I never got around to using that Hotline Miami inspired song. I didn't follow through on a hastily thrown together plan?

That's fucking new.

Anyways, that's not the point of this thing. Really, I don't know what the point is. I think I need validation more than anything, and once again it's in the form of my music. Now, I write a lot of music. It's to the point that I have literally hundreds of saved sheets on GP5, tons of beats in Beatcraft, and a handful of actual recordings. They all range in styles - jazz, death metal, fucking bluegrass - because I never knew what I wanted to write when I did think about becoming a professional musician instead of my current amateurism.

I considered that "experimenting" and "learning my way around a song." What a crock of shit.

However, I've been playing around with MIDI instruments for a few months now and having fun with it so I thought I'd present some of my tunes here for the folks at Giant Bomb to consume. If you want to, that is. Link dump since I can't seem to find where the raw html field is anymore. That's not gone, is it? I might continue my "adventures" if the mood is right and the tunes are crackin'. If not, then I'll just chalk this up to another failed experiment. Sound good?

Whatever. I'll toss a few links down here but you're always welcome to take a gander at my soundcloud (replete with an awesome MBMBaM reference!) I upload piano covers of video game songs every once and a while, some acoustic songs if I can get over my nerves, but mostly these piano songs that are going at the bottom of this. I guess I'm just asking for a little feedback every once and a while and tumblr certainly doesn't like to do that unless it's a Chrono Trigger cover. I feel like I understand, at a very miniscule level, what people like Elton John must go through. I certainly couldn't play Rocket Man for the thousandth time, let alone the tenth. It'd be like smashing my head against concrete over and over again to be "obligated" to play something just to get more hits/listens/clicks/whatever.

I JUST WANT TO MAKE ART, MAN.

Forward, unto said art! [note: this stuff is mostly done on a MIDI keyboard and, as such, the instruments range from sounding pretty good to sounding terrible.]

Let's Talk

This is my most recent song. Now I'm no devotee of music theory at all, but I wrote this with that phrase in mind and attempted to keep that mood throughout the piece. Anyone that's been in a rocky relationship, with family or your SO or whatever, knows what I mean when I say that phrase. The song is supposed to mirror the feeling of being in one of those conversations - minor feeling and frequently changing tempo, but also with a twinge of hope.

Also, bassy as fuck. That F sounds rad to me.

Vigor

I wrote this after a heavy Motoi Sakuraba binge. Also, a friend of mine had a MIDI-capable guitar around so I took advantage of that - I wrote/played the fifths and octaves in the end bit before the final refrain with it to give the song a rockier feel. Still uses the same janky samples, but it was difficult playing those parts accurately on a keyboard. Like, really fucking hard.

You will also learn that I cannot into outros. Just cannot get the concept of ending a song down.

Chilly

I love that synth pad that I used as the bed for this track. It can be anything from comforting and warm - what I'm attempting here - to a silly bass groove if you wanted to go that way. The vibraphone is there just because I think it sounds awesome.

You & I

I don't like the idea of Valentine's Day, nor do I think anyone should ever sit down to write a song for their significant other. Taking both of those to heart, I wrote a song for my fiancee/Beyonce/finance for V-Day a few weeks ago. It's alright, but I'm rather fond of the drum bit at the end. Double bass because fuck it... why not?

Please

Another moody piano song. I sort of like the beginning, but I really like the slower bits here. I dunno though. I can't tell the difference between these songs after a certain point. Can you?

Furthermore, why are you still reading this? Shouldn't you be doing something better with your life than reading about someone writing piano tunes and posting about it on a video game website? Reevaluate your life, son/lady. Seriously, go get a job or something... just stay. The fuck. Away.

...

From the rock, that is. Stay positive and don't do drugs, kids!

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What Hotline Miami Does to a "Musician"...

As someone who considers themselves an amateur try-hard, I was surprised by what came to me from playing this game. This blog is more about the game's effect on my writing, but also about the "homage" to the style of the soundtrack that I've written. The pure madness of the soundtrack, the mesmerizing loops, and the ultra-violence all combined to make this thing in what amounted to less than an hour's worth of work. If you just want to hear more heavy drum and bass, scroll down and skip the text block.

Rarely do I work this fanatically. Sure, if my year has been a pile of shit then writing some sappy ballady thing is easy enough... but that usually takes days to really fine tune. I feel like the game clicked something on in my brain - something that kind of worries me. Isn't it pretty messed up that something this disgusting is causing the most creativity in me? I mean, sure, I wrote a lot of death metal years ago but I never looked at something like an autopsy and said, "yep, got a riff!" Thinking about this, about this game in a way beyond the "scroll mouse, click LMB" mentality, brought about an interesting realization to me. Normally I would call it over-analyzing, but the parallels are there and they make me wonder.

Hotline Miami is, in a sense, the death metal of video games for 2012. Surgically precise, grotesque, and strangely attractive. Something draws you in, even though your mind is initially telling you to back the fuck off, and you give in to that something. The initial stench of decay isn't enough to put you off from the entrancing violence, and soon you've crashed through the door of an apartment knife in hand. It takes less than a second to have conducted your first kill, and where are you now?

Standing still, calculating your next move. The first was easy, and the following one thousand nine-hundred and eighty-eight kills are more of the same. That's how I would describe the feeling I tried to push through this song: an homage to the butt-fucking-insanity that the soundtrack of the game uses to back up the vibrant crazy going on in the world. I think I did it justice.

The beat was composed entirely in Acoustica Beatcraft - 808 kick, baby - and the voice is me with some effects from Audacity thrown in. I was playing around with the gain and the feedback/clipping from, what I think was, the kick being turned up created some kind of horrible nightmare squarewave bass, so I made sure to keep that. I won't tell you what I'm saying, but it should be easy to figure out, either by ear or by fiddling with it (though I dunno if I want to drop the raw .aup here, so that option isn't extant).

(in case the embed doesn't work on your browser: Here)

I plan on writing a rap over this thing, and I might -possibly- post the finished version of that if I do.

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