Saturday, September 26

Pets and pariahs

The Beautiful Sing
First Lady of Leeson pets
May your garden grow

The Grey Ghost, Kaylee
Vibrant, rebellious cat
Eternally small

Matriarch, Elaine
Ageless and always regal
Please sleep well, my Queen

Constance, the Fragile
Mother's most precious creature
In our hearts always

Carefree Millicent
Naturally peerless white
Grimey pariah

Cautious Adeline
Selfless, quiet, Addy Pie
Love and peace to you

Friday, September 25

Destiny: The Taken King reviewed

I got commissioned to review the latest expansion to Destiny, The Taken King for If you're interested in hearing my thoughts on Bungie's latest triumph, be sure to check out:

If you're not one for scrolling, you can also read my reviews of:

Tuesday, August 25

Volume: Trilogy


The staggering blow
The staggering blows
Every triumph met with defeats
Nothing is gained in this constant attrition
The number subtracted is always greater
No noise can be heard above the screaming
The maddening howl of consistent grief
I will love you forever
Can you hear me?

Volume II

I would rather not speak
I would not control the flow
The careless sound
I would only speak truth

My version of it is loud with blame
My version has lots of details
There'll be no chance to jump in
My version must be heard

You consider protesting
You know this requires energy
The silence is victory for me
You don't need us anymore

Your version is soft and pointed
Your version cuts and runs
Too bad it won't be played
Your version keeps you here

They know we will end
They sense broken trust
I know the damage irreparable 
They will have to meet us half way

Their version is not final 
Their version spans space and time
You know them better than I
Their version would take years to hear



Saturday, August 22

Listen to your heart

She presses against his face
That lost look in his eyes digitised
Immortalised in high definition 

I've seen that face at home
In other countries
It speaks of hurt
That you want to run
"You might as well rip my heart out"

You answer quickly
I can hear your shame bounce off her cheek
You'll return at once

"You might as well rip my heart out"
A lost vocation 
A locked shed
A set of keys
A single name on a policy

"You might as well rip my heart out"
Reminders of what's been taken
By disease and with the passage of time

Saturday, July 18

Batman: Arkham Knight Review (PS4): About a Batmobile

Batman: Arkham Asylum was a good game. It was also a good licensed game; which meant that people -- particularly people with an affinity for the Caped Crusader (like myself) -- may have been a little prone to hyperbole when discussing one of the better games of 2009. Still, there was no denying that it looked amazing, the punching and kicking felt appropriately hefty, and the boss fights did justice to the Rogues Gallery.

Fast forward to 2011, and Arkham City seemed to lack everything that made its predecessor a revelation. A large environment with a lot of dead space, featuring unlikeable interpretations of some of my favourite characters, and strung together by an absolute fizzer of a story. What stuck with me most, however, was the feeling that Bats had almost too many gadgets. I would often forget how to use or find the gadget I needed to progress. Compounding this was the near necessity of integrating gadget use into the previously enjoyable combat system. It was a big, forced, flop. 

Arkham Origins felt like more of the same, and it was the first game in the series I failed to complete. A similarly dreary environment, a painfully slow start, and the most powerfully frustrating boss fight I've endured in years was enough to force a premature exit. 

Why the history lesson? To give a little bit of enthusiast games press-style context, and to show that my expectations for the series followed a classic bell curve (low, high, low, lower). On the topic of the games press, I'd also witnessed a litany of complaints about the omnipresent Batmobile's role in Arkham Knight.

I was ready to have my expectations met. I was ready for another tedious stroll through Gotham.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed Arkham Knight. More than that, I actually liked the Batmobile-based combat sections.

Don't get me wrong, the game is far from the embarrassing hyperbole of "Next-level next-gen..." (yes, someone actually wrote that sentence). Much like Arkham City, Knight suffers from an overabundance of gadgetry. Worse still, some of the items in your inventory seem to have no use outside of cinematic sequences. Control of everything from the UI, to Batman himself, to the combat (mainly in the later stages), to the Batmobile is overly complicated. This is a feature-bloated romp that could've done with some editorial wrangling.

More troubling is the role of women in the video game version of Gotham. They exist to be saved or to be killed. They exist for titillation and motive. One of the game's many elaborate, multi-stage side quests exists solely for the purpose of rescuing one of the comic book's stronger women characters (by that I mean, she hasn't been immune to the damsel in distress trope, but she can kick buttocks) from a gruesome, explosive fate. The story as a whole is pretty unsatisfying and, much like the recent 'Death of the Family' arc, major punches end up being pulled.

Batman's motto of never killing bad dudes and dudettes is also mind-bogglingly adhered to through the Batmobile electrocuting people on impact, rather than crushing them. Moreover, the ragdoll physics produce some God-defying body crumpling.

Most of these are minor quibbles, but if you go in with lower expectations, I can guarantee you'll have fun with Bats this time around.

What I loved most about Arkham Knight was its near wholesale abandonment of boss fights. In Asylum they looked and played well, but in City it was all sizzle and no steak. This time around, the focus is primarily stealth (with a refreshing lack of insta-fail segments), and the usually satisfying one man army brawling.

As mentioned previously, the Batmobile also gets its fair share of the spotlight. Batmobile combat is super agile tank against more fallible, less agile tanks and I actually found myself going out of my way to shoot shit. The racing and tailing sections are less compelling, but by the end, I was still happy to press L1 and jump in that iconic hulk of an automobile.

One final note on the Batmobile: mixing up rooftop traversal with vehicle segments worked really well for mine, as I found it tedious grapnel(ugh) hooking, bashing X, and maintaining glide after a few hours in the last two sandbox affairs. I realise it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved me some Batmobile (unless the Riddler was involved).

I liked Arkham Knight. I'm pretty sure I won't revisit it, but I found it far more entertaining (and less tedious) than the last few iterations. This is a fitting end to the Arkham series, and well worth playing if you've previously enjoyed Rocksteady's brand of awkward stealth and solid fisticuffs.

Learning to walk again

Having conquered all of Destiny's Year One 'Moments of Triumph' and hoarding max level gear for two character classes was almost enough for me. Last night, after having helped a friend through a Prison of Elders run at level 32, I felt satisfied that there was nothing left for me to do.

When I woke up this morning though, I felt a renewed sense of longing to have a max level Hunter. The final piece of my Destiny puzzle was still yet to be placed.

After a few story missions it became painfully apparent that I had made a huge mistake. The Hunter should have been my second choice after the Warlock. The class is fun to play, and the Golden Gun super is infinitely more satisfying to use than the Titan's dome shield or Fists of Havoc (basically an Incredible Hulk-style ground pound).

What's also been humorous, if nothing else, has been witnessing the careless bravery of new Guardians taking on some of the game's early challenges. I was playing the Nexus strike on Venus, and more than once saw different players walking out of cover with an uncommon rocket launcher thinking they could topple Sekrion with a single shot.

Example scenario:

Teammate: [walks into the open] It me, bebe. [fires rocket]
Sekrion: [takes minimal damage, shreds player to death in seconds]
Me: lelz [revives fallen, courageous teammate]

Won't be long now before I can take my third Guardian into the endgame. I already have the coveted Celestial Nighthawk ready to plonk on her head too. What a time to be alive.

Image source:

Tuesday, June 30

Her Story (iOS) Review: Her Benevolence

Some of my favourite games from my childhood used full motion video (FMV) to create some narrative context for fantastical violence. Crusader: No Remorse, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, and the original Command and Conquer are just some of the games that made "cinematic" a staple adjective in modern games writing. Looking back on the aforementioned examples though, it's hard to see these hammily acted scenes as anything other than kitschy. 

Her Story is anything but kitschy. 

I can't say much for fear of spoiling any revelations, but know that Viva Seifert, the sole subject of Her Story's multitude of film clips, puts on a chilling performance. Her efforts, coupled with a melancholic, unsettling score, had my heart racing long after shutting down the app. The clacking of a worn keyboard and humming of a monitor long past its prime serve as punctuation for short punches of powerful dialogue. 

I made the mistake of starting my playthrough in bed, late at night, just after receiving an SOS from a family member. I had an hour to kill before I was needed, and started searching through the 90s era database for clues as to what her story was really about. Within minutes I was hooked, and by the close of the first hour I was well and truly spooked. 

I hardly slept that night, and I didn't dare restart my investigation until daylight hours. The crazy thing is that your sole means of interaction across 2 hours is typing in search terms. Picking the right keywords brings up clips that provide additional vital clues. There'll be those who try and argue this isn't a game, but who would pay that any mind when the results are so compelling? 

My only complaint is that even after viewing the majority of the clips, I didn't get a satisfying resolution. I just heard some scary shit and had trouble sleeping for a couple of nights. I mean I know what happened, but there are loose ends that are killing me!

For me, in the Year of our Lord Luigi 2015, the sole measure of a game is whether or not it can pull my attention away from Destiny. Her Story is so captivating that I forgot about upgrading weapons and plundering vaults for days. Now go. Go pay the paltry price of admission, turn off the lights, and make sure your doors are locked tight.