Tag Archives: mystery

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 – 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

Comic Book Review: Morning Glories

Comic Book Review: Morning Glories

Morning Glories Cover
Morning Glories Cover

This week’s Comic Book Review is Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma, and published by Image Comics.

This comic series wins the award for most misleading cover art ever. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the clean white background and illustrations of students in prep school uniforms. This is not a high school drama series … unless your high school drama’s happen to involve being held against your will in said school and seemingly senseless murder.

When I decided to purchase this series I asked a number of my friends what this series was actually about, but none of them could give me an accurate summary of the premise.

“You just have to read it for yourself,” was the constant frustrating answer I would always get from anyone who read the series. Even though nobody could give me an accurate description of the premise everyone who has read the books seemed to be hooked, so I thought why not give it a try.

Thus far, I have made it through the first two volumes of the series, and I have to say that it was actually an accurate description. I honestly still cannot accurately describe what is happening in the series so far. It guards its secrets well.

Here is what I have gleaned from Morning Glories so Far:

This series follows six students of Morning Glories academy: Casey, Zoe, Hunter, Ike, Jun, and Jade. They are all exceptional and troubled students who share a common birthday. They all receive invitations to attend the prestigious school and soon discover that they will never be allowed to leave.

The school has many secrets which include but are not limited to: ghosts, human experimentation, murdered students, murdered parents, kidnapping, arson, time travel, etc.

In the first couple of books the number of elements introduced is a mixed bag, and can be hard to follow at times. Some of the main characters’ motives are also questionable at best, and at worst I found myself wishing them harm (I’m looking at you Ike).

Despite – or maybe because – of these things I find myself wanting to read more and find out what the heck is going on. Why are these students important? What is the school’s end game? Does the mystery of the school have a scientific explanation or is it purely supernatural? Both volumes I have read so far leave a lot of cliff hangers and unanswered questions. Two books in I could not even begin to predict how Morning Glories will end.

As frustrating as this answer is to hear, this is a series that is difficult to summarize without giving major spoilers. You really do have to read the books for yourself to decide whether or not this is your cup of tea. The only thing I can say about recommending Morning Glories is that if you like supernatural, horror or thriller series you will probably like this graphic novel. There is some gore and other mature themes, so if that bothers you then I would avoid this series.

What I can say about this series is that is is crazy suspenseful, and the art style is fantastic. I guess if I had to make a recommendation I would say that if you got hooked by Lost (before it sucked) then this series will also catch your interest,

Thank you for reading. My next book review will be Porcelain: A Gothic Fairy Tale by Benjamin Read and Chris Wildgoose.

Cheers,

Starchip13

Book Review: Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Welcome to Twisted Tales Studio’s book review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities: My Notebook, Collections and other Obsessions.

Guillermo Del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities
Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities

To the shock of nobody, I have a rather large collection of books about my favourite directors, odd crafts and building techniques sitting on my shelf at home. I thought it might be fun to start including some reviews and recommendations on books and comics that fall in line with the theme of my blog. Where better to start than the book from the director of some of my favourite movies?

Unless you haven’t seen a movie in the past few decades, you have probably heard of Guillermo Del Toro. Some of his more well-known works include Hellboy (2004), Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), and The Strain (2014). These are only a few examples, and each of them has Del Toro’s signature style. Much like Tim Burton, Del Toro films tend to have a look that is immediately recognizable.

Immediately when shopping for this book the title caught my attention. Completely by coincidence my blog has a title with a very similar flavor to Del Toro’s book, so of course I needed to order it on the spot. It is amazing how unconsciously we are drawn to other artists with similar sensibilities, even if we do not think about the reason why.

Moving onto the meat of the book, this one is more of a director’s notebook than an art book, so expect more text and interviews and less full spreads of pictures. Through a series of essays and interviews, this book is a comprehensive explanation of Del Toro’s inspiration and techniques he uses to create atmosphere in his films. There are tons of interviews that talk about the creative process behind the production of Del Toro’s movies, and the experiences in his life that influence his creative decisions.  If you are like me and you watch every single extra included on a DVD or Blueray disk, then you will enjoy this book.

Sample Page
Sample Page

As far as the visuals go, this book contains a lot of scans of his notebooks, and some concept art made for the movies are also included. The concepts drawn by Del Toro reflect the visual style that comes out in his movies. Every design element of each film is meticulously planned out, and there is tones of well hidden symbolism if you know where to look. As the reader, you get to see how a few pen and ink sketches scrawled with and endless sea of notes ends up as the final product in a film.

There are also some gorgeous photos of Del Toro’s house and work space. It is filled top to bottom with items collected from around the world, and of course memorabilia from his film sets. Seriously everyone, if I had the funds my home would also look like this. I am a firm believer in artists surrounding themselves in an environment that encourages their creativity.

For fans who love books about movies this is a good one to have in your collection, and it is certainly a must-have for all fans of Del Toro movies.Its easy to pick up and flip through for all the pretty pictures, but I honestly encourage everyone to sit down and actually read the articles. Its not a difficult read, and its an insightful look into film making and the creative process.

The book is bulky, and the price point is high, but this is to be expected with a full colour hard cover, so you really do get what you pay for. I was able to get an excellent deal when I ordered it off amazon and combined the shipping with other books, so I regret nothing about this purchase.

Now if you will excuse me I suddenly feel like digging up my Guillermo Del Toro movie collection and binge watching all of them.

Next up for consideration: The Advanced Art of Stop Motion Animation by Ken A. Priebe.

Among other things, I am in the planning process for making a stop motion puppet, and I like to hoard reference material for things I’ve never made before. Its pretty heavy reading, so hopefully I can get through enough for a proper review soon.

Cheers,

Starchip13