Halloween Scream is a stormy day dream


xboxboxart14
It was a dark and stormy night…

Well, okay. It was day time… and it wasn’t stormy. It was just raining-whatever.

Wrapped in a blanket on a cold and blustery day I sat down on my couch to play Halloween Scream by Bandana Games. This is really the only way to play a game like this. Halloween Scream is a text only adventure game so it takes some effort on the player’s part to get into the mood. Effort I was happy to exert.

You control a nameless protagonist as they venture into Highmoor Manor to investigate the secret life of their deceased aunt. If I were to sum up the game in one word it would be “spooky”. This is my favorite kind of horror, it’s all about atmosphere and the anticipation of what lies in wait around the corner. No blood and guts, no cheap jump scares, and just enough humor to make the whole experience of being scared actually fun. This is a balance that many AAA games don’t grasp.

The game is minimalist and all about exploration, so if you need HD graphics and fighting to enjoy a game, this isn’t the game for you. But it was certainly the game for me. I was able to beat it one evening and I had a blast doing it. This is the type of game you’ll like if you’ve ever said the phrase, “I had to draw my own map, it was awesome.

But the game is not without flaws. The first thing to rub me the wrong way was up until one point, I was imagining myself in the part of the investigator. All of the text prompts refer to me as, “You” therefore I injected myself -gleefully- into the role of the player. It was reading like a choose-your-own-adventure book. Then at some point half way through the game they dropped in, “Besides, you’re more of a lager man anyway…”

sad-baby-face

But…but…but I’M the protagonist. Meeeeee!

I admittedly whined like a baby, but it’s not that big a deal. I do wish they had kept it up to the player though. If you’re playing a set character it’s best to say, “You’re Ben Bonaparte. This ladies nephew. Go do the thing.” but if your text says “YOU” let it be me and don’t assume the player is male.  Next time, guys. Next time.

0 (1)

There were also a couple times where the background was too light in places and it made it hard to read the text. But it was never illegible. The story was fun, interesting, and I spotted a lot of fun references that made me laugh and groan. However, at one point I felt I was at the end of the game, and then it took a sharp left turn sending me totally out of the environment I had been in for the entire game. Although the rest of the game was still fun (and included the draw your own map part) I felt this was a misstep.

In a haunted house story, there are only two characters: the protagonist and the house. The story is encapsulated entirely within that house and that allows for the atmosphere to envelope the player; to trap them in the scenario. Suddenly sending them outside of this environment breaks that atmosphere. I was still good, but not the same.

Despite these minor bumps, I would like to see more of these. Like a lot more. MORE OF THESE.

I recommend Halloween Scream to anyone who likes spooky stories and choose your own adventure books.

Conclusion: 4 out of 5 whining babies.

Game Review – Fez and “Mature” Gaming


Just played Fez. Well, got the demo, tried it, BOUGHT THE SHIT OUT OF IT and then played it.

Oh look, a bunny! TANGENT!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “mature games”. I think a lot of the time, we forget that mature has two meanings. Mature as in: fully developed adult, and mature as in: having violent or graphic content that is not suitable for children. Gamers can sometimes subconsciously confuse the two, and begin to conflate gritty violence and sex with maturity. Now, that’s not to say a game that includes these factors can not also be mature, Silent Hill 2 is a perfect example, Metal Gear Solid is another. But for a demographic that loves to mock directors like Micheal Bay for his masturbatory use of explosions, violence and hyper sexuality- they seem to rabidly defend gaming’s right to be just as vapid. When I log into steam or XBOX Live to browse new games, all the games seem to blur together in one long log of sameyness:

  • Military Man Shoots Brown People
  • Hulked Out Muscle Man Fights Monsters
  • Badass Shoots People ‘Cuz Vengeance also Boobs
  • ALIEEEENNNS!
  • The Zombie Apocolypse Scenario We All Want to Happen for some reason
  • …and a JRPG and underage tittays.

I’ve played these games, I’ve played ALL these games. I’m bored with these games. As I get older these “gritty, realistic” games appeal to me less and less. There are a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is that so many of them are immature power fantasies.  Now everyone has guilty pleasures. There are movies and games I know are brainless and yet I enjoy them. Just because something isn’t mature doesn’t automatically mean it has no merit or isn’t a great game. But so many games rely heavily on gritty realism and shock-jock antics in order to grab attention in a over saturated market. However, not a one of these games is an immature power fantasy for me. Not a one, is a over-the-top power fantasy for a girl.

And so, feeling bored and cock blocked from the boys club that is popular gaming, I often turn to indie games.

Yes, I remembered what I was talking about.

Fez_cover

I previously reviewed Benjamin Rivers indie game HOME, and I praised it for it’s unbridled radness. Fez is to platform gaming what HOME is to indie horror. You play Gomez and adorable 8 bit sprite to navigate a brilliant 3 dimensional world in order to collect cubes. The game itself is aware of it’s roots, I giggled when I noticed the constellations in the sky looked like Tetris pieces. You don’t shoot anyone, there are no monsters. It’s you against the world- just like real life. It’s the kind of game you can come home from a long day at work and play to relax. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about screaming at 14 year old boys who are teabagging my corpse  that really doesn’t help me unwind.

The gamers who first picked up a light gun to shoot  at ducks in Duck Hunt or race through Sonic are older now, and a lot of us have kids we’re hoping to introduce to gaming as well. This is a game you can play around your kids.

“No baby girl, look away when the half naked woman gets shot in the face. And that one… and that one…and that one.”

I highly recommend Fez as a game for anyone bored of shooting people.