Tag Archives: game

LET’S PLAY – Until Dawn

With my Unravel Let’s Play now over I have moved onto a horror game I have been excited to play, Until Dawn. To view the first two episodes of this series you can check out Twisted Tales Studio’s Youtube Channel.

Until-Dawn-02

Until Dawn is a cinematic survival horror video game developed by Supermassive Games and published by Sony Entertainment. This game is a PS4 exclusive which was released in August of 2014.

One year after the disappearance of twins Hannah and Beth, a group of eight teenagers return to the ski lodge on Blackwood Mountain. The group is faced with a life-or-death situation when a psychopath begins to terrorize them, and unfortunately for them that is not the only thing they have to worry about. Something strange is happening in the woods, and not everything is as it seems. Can all eight survive until dawn?

I always say that I am particularly attracted to games that have a heavy emphasis on storytelling. Until Dawn is an example of this principal put into overdrive. In Until Dawn actual game play mechanics take a backseat to story. To say this game is cut scene heavy would be an understatement. In the two episodes of my Let’s Play, which are about twenty minutes each, maybe half of the run time is the actual game play. The player can only effect the outcome of the story through a series of choices, quick time events, and exploration in short linear environments. Success in the game depends on making the correct choices in each situation and uncovering clues to the mystery behind the twin’s disappearance.

With the opportunity for player interaction so drastically downplayed, Until Dawn relies heavily on its story and atmosphere. This is where the game shines. The animation is top tier for a new generation console game and it contains some memorable music to set the mood. I have only played the introduction, and I have not yet gotten to the aforementioned ski lodge, but I am already blown away by the environments. I have high expectations for the set pieces I have yet to see.

I say this in the video, but I work in film, and I love horror, so I may actually be the ideal audience for this game. I cannot wait to actually get into the meat of the story.

Cheers,

Starchip13

LET’S PLAY Alien Isolation

Twisted Tales Presents:

Let’s Play Alien Isolation

It is a new month and that means a it’s time for a new Let’s Play. I have been a fan of the Alien franchise ever since I was far too young to be allowed to watch them. When I found the game Alien Isolation at the store a couple of weeks ago I knew that this game would be the perfect fit for my channel.

For the first two episodes of Let’s Play Alien Isolation visit my Youtube Channel!

alien-isolation

For those of you who are not familiar with this game, Alien Isolation is a survival horror video game developed by Creative Assembly and published by Sega. It is playable on PC, Xbox and Playstation platforms.

As the name would suggest, Alien Isolation is set in the world of Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and it’s subsequent sequels. The story of this game occurs between Alien and Aliens; approximately fifteen years after the end of the original movie.

The main protagonist is Amanda Ripley, henceforth known in my Let’s Play as Little Ripley, who is the daughter of movie protagonist Ellen Ripley. Determined to find closure on the disappearance of her motherLittle Ripley is approached by a representative from the Wayland-Yutani Corporation when the flight recorder from the Nostromo is discovered. Little Ripley travels to Sevastopol station to investigate only to find the station damaged and no sign of the crew. The few scattered survivors claim there is a monster on board killing the crew. If that were not bad enough, the stations androids, a force of Working Joe’s, have also turned on the crew.

Can Little Ripley make it safely back to her ship the Torrens and discover what really happened to the crew of the Nostromo?

Alien Isolation focuses mainly on the survival horror aspect of the original series. The alien is the perfect hunter, and Little Ripley is definitely not a Colonial Marine. Huge emphasis is put on hiding or running away because if that monster finds out where you are … well let’s just say it does not end well for Little Ripley.

A feature of the alien enemy worth noting, as I will likely fall prey to it a few hundred times, is the AI. This game has gained some notoriety for the fact that there are no pre-scripted paths for the alien. The most terrifying enemy in the game travels the environment in a randomized pattern. Crossing paths with it in one place does not mean a repeat performance when the game reloads. Now that is terrifying.

Another exciting addition to this game is the use of the Kinect peripheral. Linking the tracking of the Kinect allows the player to peak around corners and turn the camera while hiding from enemies. The microphone will also tip off the aliens if they player makes too much noise. Unfortunately, for the purposes of my let’s play I will not be using the Kinect because A) I do not own a Xbox One version of the Kinect and B) I need to be able to talk during a let’s play. If I happen to get my hands on an Xbox One Kinect I might do a separate mini-series with this function on. In that event I will give my two cents on this feature.

Stay tuned on a post-game review once I have played this game beginning to end.

For the official Alien Isolation website click HERE.

Cheers,

Starchip13

 

Fungi Study 2 – The Last of Us Cordyceps

Fungi Study: The Last of Us

Basis in Reality

As teased in the last post, I have been continuing my fungi study, and this time I am actually tying it back to something nerdy … and totally creepy. Today we are looking at cordyceps.

Imagine breathing in spores and having something has taken root in your nervous system. Soon your body is no longer your own. You begin to act erratically and experiences convulsions. Your nervous system is hijacked, and you go where the parasite wants you to go in order to find optimal growing conditions. You as the host will probably die in this location of natural causes such as dehydration. Meanwhile, the parasitic fungus grows within your brain and will begin to sprout from your head as it matures. It is in this stage the fungus begins to release its spores in order to infect more individuals, and the cycle begins again.

cordy

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a species of cordyceps that specifically affects ants in rainforest and subtropical climates, and is one of the more well-known varieties. There are over 300 other varieties of cordyceps which are also parasitic. Each type affects its own niche species of insects and other invertebrates, such as shellfish, and some even feed off other species of fungi.

Cordyceps are also widely used in traditional Chinese remedies, and even a few modern medicines. Some varieties are useful for treating coughs, bronchitis and other respiratory issues. Some people also believe that cordyceps supplements will increase vitality, improve performance in high intensity sports, and help increase virility in men.

The Game

The-Last-of-Us1

By now we are all familiar with the hit game from Naughty Dog, The Last of Us. For those of you who have not played the game … go do it right now. I am serious, step away from the computer, go buy the game, and play. Then, come back and continue to read this post. I will wait …

Done? Cool. This article won’t have any major plot spoilers, but The Last of Us is a game everyone should play at least once. Plus, I wouldn’t want to spoil the joy of discovering how unfortunate it is when you have to clear a room full of clickers.

In a world where the media is now so saturated with zombie TV shows, movies and games, it is hard to think of a new or original spin on the concept. Each franchise has its own version of the zombie virus and its origins, but as far as I know The Last of Us is the only zombie story featuring parasitic fungus.

This game is A) amazingly animated and B) heavily story driven in a way that is second only to giants like Bioware. All of that aside, today we are just here to talk about the morphology of the zombies.

The universe of The Last of Us a new species of cordyceps has entered the field, and its host of choice is the human brain. This variety of cordyceps transmits via both the traditional zombie bite, as well as by spores in the advanced stages. The introduction of spores by itself makes this new species of zombie incredibly dangerous because the disease has the potential to be airborne. Depending on the placement of the corpse, a single cordycep infested zombie could potentially infect dozens more humans at the end of its life cycle than when it was moving around trying to feed.

last-of-us-01

Within a few short days after infection a victim of the fungal spores will begin to exhibit the same symptoms as the ants mentioned above. Twitching, convulsions and erratic behavior are signature of a cordycep infection. It is also highly likely that, in humans, a drastic spike in body temperature would occur as the body tries to fight off the foreign invader. High fevers may contribute to the unpredictable behavior and screaming, especially in the early stages when they are classified as “runners”.

Clicker

According to the Last of Us Wiki, it takes between 1-2 weeks for the fungal infection to go into the next stage of development.  Since the human skull is a little tougher to break through than the exoskeleton of an insect, the stocks of the fungi begin to grow out of the eyes. Eventually the host loses all vision and must use a form of echo location in order to move around its environment. At this stage they are called “clickers” or “the bane of my existence”.

It is stated that in this advanced stage of infection clickers possess higher strength, speed and durability than the earlier stages. This is potentially a nod to the real life cordycep use in old Chinese medicine to increase stamina and virility.

Bloater

In insects, the late stages of infection include the stroma (the stalks/tops) of the fungus growing out through the head, and other points of weakness such as the joints. Human bodies are far more … malleable, which results in the final stage called “bloaters”. As the fungus matures the body expands and the fungus begins to produce mycotoxin. Mycotoxin is a natural defense mechanism specific to fungi, and is toxic if ingested by humans. While mycotoxin is not necessarily found in cordyceps, points to the creators for keeping it in the fungi family.

After looking through the stages of development, and observing the different types of stroma, the fungal infection of this universe appears to be a combination of at least two or more real-world species. The fungi ability to produce toxins also suggests traits from other fungi families. Mycotoxin is commonly found in mold which grows on foods such as corn, which is in line with the game’s suggestion that the infection started out growing in crops.

All in all, what we have here in the world of The Last of Us is a near perfect parasite. Just think about the scope if this infection. It is a fungus that feeds on the human brain, rendering all forms of logic and higher cognitive function inactive, and a single infected individual can infect an entire crowd of people once it begins to produce spores. In its infancy, this species of cordyceps can survive and thrive on crops such as corn and wheat, which increases the rate of infection exponentially. Could this new deadly species of fungus have been manufactured as a biological weapon…? Given the evidence and the sheer efficiency of infection it seems to be a likely scenario. Maybe I will revisit that thought in a later article, or maybe I will leave that to the Game Theorists.

For a completely fictionalized species of corcyceps, the game developers did their research, and the result is a completely unique take on zombies in a time where the trope has grown tired. If it is not clear by this point, I 100% recommend this game, not only for the zombies … ok maybe mostly for the zombies … but for the real tug it will give your heart strings as well.

Well, now that I have finally finished I definitely need to go play Last of Us now. Survival mode anyone?

All my information for the game and medical research references are listed in the links below!

LINKS:
Cordyceps Wiki Page - LINK
Web MD - LINK
Last of Us/Naughty Dog - LINK
Last of Us WIKI - LINK

Cheers,

Starchip13

LET’S PLAY – Unravel

I finally found a game that combines two of my loves in life: gaming and crafting. Unravel is a platformer game developed by Coldwood Interactive and published by EA.

My first thoughts starting up this game were “gosh darn it this game is pretty”, which is an accurate description. High quality of the animation aside (it deserves to be said again that is is amazing) the art style of Unravel is eye catching. The environments are so saturated with colour I wish real life was this lovely every day.

I will of course be doing a full review on the game play aspect once all parts of this Let’s Play have been posted, so stay tuned.

Also, new idea for a drinking game. Every time I say “ok” take a drink. I can’t guarantee you will live to see the end of the episode.

Starchip13

LET’S PLAY – Alan Wake

An isolated mountain town, an mystery author with writer’s block, and an unspeakable evil darkness infecting the forest. Sounds like a recipe for a fun Friday night.

So i decided to put my money where my mouth is and actually record myself playing video games before I review them. For my first video I am starting with a game I bought around the time it was released, but never got around to finishing.

After about a week of trying to fix technical difficulties at every turn, here it is! My first ever posted let’s play! There were still a few hiccups such as my facecam cutting out at a couple points, but I think I fixed the problem now, so it should not be a problem in future videos.

Let me know what you guys think, and any pointers you might have. I am very new at this and I know I need to work on being a bit more vocal, but overall I am happy with this first attempt.

I will have part 2 out soon hopefully now that I know how to set up my workflow for these projects.

Starchip13

Game Review: Outlast

Game Review: Outlast

Outlast clip
Outlast clip

 

Outlast is a new survival horror video game published by Canadian game company Red Barrel Studios.

The overall plot of the game centers on Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist who receives an anonymous tip of illegal activity and abuse of patients at Mount Massive Asylum. Upon arriving at the asylum Miles discovers the staff are missing and the building in near shambles. The patients are left to wander around to their own devices, and some of them react violently to outsiders.

The object of the game is to investigate the atrocities of Mount Massive armed with nothing but a video camera and a reporter’s note pad. Miles is not a cop or marine, although even if he was the player quickly discovers that the SWAT team who arrived before did not fare well even with their guns. Your only options are to hide and use your camera’s night vision functions to navigate past hostile patients and crazed cult members.

Overall, this game as received positive reviews across the board, and its reputation is well earned. There are many elements of horror which Outlast does perfectly. Now, I played Outlast almost immediately after playing The Evil Within and it made me realize the fundamental difference between a horror survival game, and a game with gore and elements of horror survival included.

First off, atmosphere of the sprawling Mount Massive Asylum is terrifying, and large portions of the building are out of power. The range of the camera’s night vision is limited, which means an enemy could be hiding around any corner. Sometimes the best thing a game can do is let the player scare themselves because whatever we conjure up in our own imaginations is probably worse than they could ever hope of achieve.

But not all the inhabitants of the asylum are inherently hostile. Some of them sit in their drug induced stupors or wander around babbling nonsense. Some of them will only turn violent if Miles happens to walk too close and triggers the most horrifying jump scares in the game. Then there are the small handful who are plain and clearly out to get you, and they are a consistent threat throughout most of the game. If enemies happen to catch Miles there is little margin for error. It does not take much to trigger one of this game’s brutal dead cut scenes. Have you ever imagined seeing through the eyes of a man as his head ripped from his body by the bare hands of a psychopath? I’ve seen it … and it sticks with you.

Above all, what players of this game are going to find most terrifying is simply the fact that they are completely and utterly helpless. In my mind, this game is clearly a call back to games like Fatal Frame where the protagonist is an unassuming person with no combat skills. In both games the player is armed with nothing but a camera, but the main difference is that in Fatal Frame the camera also functions as a weapon, and encourages the player to let the enemies to get close in order to deal more damage. Miles does not even have that advantage. In fact, I highly recommend that players do not let the patients of the asylum get that close, or you will die.

There are a few flaws of course, some of which are caused directly by Outlast’s core gameplay mechanic. Towards the end of the game objective can begin to feel tedious as very few new elements are added along the way. Outlast lacks the excitement of unlocking new weapons, abilities and mechanics. In an effort to have Miles remain a passive observer and “witness” the joy of discovery runs dry quickly.

The same three main antagonists persistently dog Miles on his journey through the asylum, which can begin to make Outlast feel like a never ending game of cat and mouse. The game does shake things up later in the game when Miles loses the camera, and therefore the ability to properly navigate his surroundings, but it is briefly and also towards the tail end of the game.

The ending is also a point where I feel many fans will be divided. I will not spoil the game for anyone, but know that it is somewhat bittersweet.

Overall, the virtues of Outlast far outweigh its downfalls. It was the first game in years that had me feeling genuinely terrified even when there was not one jump scare in sight.  For the full immersive experience, pick up a pair of surround sound gaming headphones, turn out the lights, and let the magic happen. There elements here for every fan of survival horror to enjoy.

Cheers,

Starchip13