WOTH: Platinum #19 – Orc Slayer

Shame – /ʃeɪm/

Noun – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour.

There are times when desperation emerges out of addiction. You become so accustomed to the little dopamine rush dispensed from your vice, that you begin to only care about where and when the next little rush will hit. And, if you behave wrong, or foolishly, you’ll only feel a deep sense of shame afterwards. In this light, collecting platinum trophies is no different to scoring meth in the shadowy lane next to the remote 7-11 at 2:25AM.

Anyway, I would like to introduce Orc Slayer! You’re a warrior, probably. You wander around and slowly swing your unimpressive axe, or shoot from your un-trusty steam crossbow, to kill the same 3 blocky vaguely orc-shaped enemies until you can walk through a gate to the next area. Oh, and there are chickens. Gameplay wise, this is a very shallow experience of swinging something sharp and hoping the random hitboxes align. Regarding style, this looks like a C+ project for a high school game coding project, where the orc designs were borrowed from the student’s 3-year-old brother’s chalkboard.

Orc Slayer is a game where word of mouth presents it as a turd cupcake. “It’s the worst, unpolished and boring game I’ve ever played”, they say. “But the platinum is ridiculously easy.” And there is the icing on top. You will sit there, hovering over the PS Store screen, as two opposing thoughts clash in your mind.

“I want a platinum trophy. I need that rush.”

“The game is terrible, and you’ll waste 3 hours of your life. Also is it even worth $7.55 AUD?”

You’ll find out what type of person you are, depending on whether you click Buy or not. I’m preparing my defense for this purchase based around the fact that I have only big AAA games currently underway, and I missed the sweet ping of a platinum trophy. Dropping 120+ hours into a game with no ultimate reward does that to a man.

If you decide to give in to temptation, it will only take 2-3 hours and one playthrough – as long as you don’t forget some missable trophies near the end. If I had to play through to the later levels again, I’d probably be wanted for a murder-suicide combo.

Currently playing:
  • Lemmings Touch (PS Vita)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
  • Borderlands 2 (PS4)
  • Ultratron (PS4)

Are you ashamed of any trophies?

WOTH: Platinum #18 – The Wolf Among Us

“You’re not as bad as everyone says you are…”

The Wolf Among Us is an episodic Telltale game, centred on the enigmatic Bigby Wolf, perhaps better known as the Big Bad Wolf from the old fables. He’s somewhat unrecognisable from those fables, since he along with every other fable character, moved to an area called Fabletown in the Bronx in the mid-80’s, and needed to blend in with the local population by appearing human. For some characters, such as Snow White or Ichabod Crane, that’s pretty easy. For others like Mr. Toad, or the trolls, it requires the constant and expensive use of glamours – a method of appearing human via magic.

Bigby, the Fabletown sheriff, stumbles upon an argument which later turns into a gruesome murder. As he digs deeper into the case, with Snow White at his side, he uncovers an intricate web of corruption and deceit. Almost nobody can be trusted in this unique spin on an old detective noir genre.

Very few video games capture my interest as much as The Wolf Among Us  did, for two major reasons. First of all, this is an immensely interesting universe that has been created – answering the question of “What if the old time fables coexisted in the present day? How would they interact?” And wrapping this premise up in a genuinely thrilling detective noir plot makes it all the better. This gives countless chances to meet new characters, but characters that you faintly recognise from old fables you’ve read as a child. It brings me great pleasure when Bigby mentions someone, for me to go “oh man, I know who that is!”

Secondly, Telltale’s story-driven and narrative choice gameplay really shines here. Looking back at their major game The Walking Dead, that focused more on your emotions when faced with life or death choices. It’s mostly heart-breaking to know your choices affect the mortality of your friends, but there are some rare happy moments. With The Wolf Among Us however, it is less about mortality and more about deciphering what is ultimately a continuous morally grey area. Are your actions just? Do you know enough to accuse individuals of crimes they may or may not have committed? And are the punishments fitting for what you know at the time? After you’ve dealt justice, only to learn new facts about the accused, that makes your choices all the more painful.

Morality and justice are very subjective topics, and they are handled extremely well in this game. Are you the type of person who acts first and thinks later, setting an example for others? Or do you play the long game, waiting until you know more before accusing people? The ending is crafted particularly well, forcing you to scramble and decipher what the very last and unexpected piece of the puzzle means, especially after you’ve already acted upon what you thought you knew.

This is definitely a good game to pick up, especially if you enjoy narrative-driven games. There are also many quick-time action events, to break up the dialogue. I only suggest you play this on the PS3 or PS4, since the PS Vita version struggles to run smoothly, and it might break the experience.

Currently playing:

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
  • Borderlands 2 (PS4)
  • Lemmings Touch (PS Vita)

What are you playing?

Humble Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I must admit, I was pretty late to get on the Harry Potter bandwagon, having only started the series when I was 25. I missed out on all the hype that had been generated from the public with each successive release until the supposed final book ,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Imagine my surprise when I recently visited a random store, and on the shelves was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, supposedly the eighth book in the series, if you believe GoodReads. Yet again, the hype had eluded me.

Well, there’s a good reason – this is not really a continuation of the series in the traditional sense. This is the Rehearsal Script Edition of a West End play with the same title, penned by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling herself.

The story of the play revolves around one of Harry’s children, Albus Severus Potter, who is now old enough to attend Hogwarts. He finds a friend in Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, and the two of them try to come to terms with being outcasts. Soon, they find themselves in trouble after trying to prevent an untimely death. Harry, who finds that being a good parent is his most difficult challenge yet, counts on his own friends to save his son, and the damaged relationship with him.This book is difficult to judge, since it isn’t technically a book at all. Being a rehearsal script, you only get the dialogue of each character, and a few sentences describing the scene or major actions within it. You don’t get the subtle nuances of style, the creative metaphors, or the larger painted world in your mind. Therefore, this format only works if you know the characters and settings already, which is precisely why it has only been seen for a series as popular as Harry Potter.

The story itself is okay, with a good mix of fresh and returning characters. It moves at a lightning pace, which can be expected from a script format. The choices of Albus and Scorpuis have weight, and greatly influence the events from the past books. Arguably, the main point of the book is to show the life of Harry as a parent, and his struggles with a normal life as a parent, which is dealt with relatively well.

Unfortunately, what this ultimately feels like, is a dabble at fan-fiction for a beloved series. The characters feel a bit two-dimensional due to the script’s restrictive format. Of course, it would be much better to watch the actual play than to read the script, to make up for this gap.

If people go into this, thinking it is the 8th Harry Potter book like GoodReads portrays it, they will be disappointed. To avoid this, if possible, it would be much better to go and see the play for yourself.

WOTH: Platinum #16 & #17 – Arcade Game Series: Pac-Man & Ms. Pac-Man

I was never any good at classic arcade games.

I was a 90’s kid, and for the most part, I missed out on the very 80’s experience of going down to the local arcade and spending a few coins for some 8-bit entertainment. Instead, my first gaming experiences came from the Sega MegaDrive, and the original Playstation.

What I’m trying to get at, is this; I absolutely sucked at Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.

The main reason I picked these up as part of the Arcade Game Series Collection, was because I had heard they were pretty easy to get, and they were super cheap – maybe $8 all up for 4 easy platinum trophies. But throughout the relatively short experience, at about 4 to 5 hours each game, I was immensely frustrated. I would have been infinitely more frustrated, if it had not been for two saving graces that I know many others used to it’s full potential.

First of all, the game was “modernised”, in the sense that when you run out of lives, instead of starting all the way back at level 1, you could choose where to start, from levels you’ve already beaten. Oh – and you can give yourself a couple of extra lives. Very handy when you are a ghost magnet like myself. These modern spins on the game were very handy for reaching the later stages you need to beat for some trophies.

Second, Playstation’s ever-so-useful game save backup feature was abused to the full extent. The hardest trophy in the game – eating all 4 ghosts with each of the 4 super pills in one stage – would have taken forever if I hadn’t cheekily saved the game state after each successful feast from a super pill. The amount of time it takes to quit the game, re-load the former save and try again, eventually became the major source of frustration.

I lumped Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man in the same entry, because the trophies are near identical to each other, and present the same troubles. The only real difference gameplay-wise, is that in Ms. Pac-Man, the layout changes every couple of stages or so.

If you love your retro gaming classics, or are good at these kind of games, then there are some easy platinum trophies up for grabs here. Otherwise, just abuse the same “exploits” as I did, and you’ll begrudgingly get there.

Currently Playing:

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
  • The Wolf Among Us (PS Vita)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
  • Borderlands 2: (PS4)
  • Lemmings Touch (PS Vita)
  • Arcade Game Series: Galaga (PS4)

What trophies are you hunting this weekend?

Humble Book Review: Rose Madder

From the late 80’s to early 90’s, King ventured away from his modern twists on classic supernatural tales and claustrophobic encounters with psychotic individuals, to explore the dark and hidden horrors lurking within the walls of the unassuming home. Rose Madder marks the end of this informal “domestic horror” era which included Gerald’s Game, Dolores Claiborne, and arguably also Needful Things.

With this final entry, King really drives home the message in a very blatant way, within the realm of an engaging cat-and-mouse story.

At the beginning, we see Rosie Daniels suffering from a horrifying case of domestic abuse, brought upon by her psychotic police detective husband, Norman. Flash forward another nine years, and Rose is still married to this beast, while turning more submissive from his continuous abuse. However, one day she discovers one small drop of blood which causes her to mentally snap. She then leaves the house with nothing but her husband’s ATM card.

What follows is a dangerous escape into an unknown world, one she has felt disconnected from for 14 long years. As Rose loses herself in a new city and is taken in by the kindness of strangers, Norman slowly loses his sanity while trying to locate his lost “possession” in utter disbelief that he didn’t see it coming.

Initially, I regarded this as a standard thriller, with the usual high stakes of death if Rose was caught. And there are some very close calls to keep you hooked. However, there was a certain point which brought a fresh twist, marked by Rose’s discovery of a particularly alluring painting, aptly namedRose Madder. The other-worldly properties of it created a very interesting sub-plot, which I found myself far more interested in.

Then came a moment that all Stephen King followers love; the allusion to one of the other books in his multiverse. This wasn’t just any reference, but a direct reference to the ideology of the centrepoint of all universes – Midworld. Ka is a wheel.

Through strange means, you get to know the main figure in this strange painting, and she alludes to herself as being even more mysterious and dangerous as any other King character I’ve met. I believe there are strong connections between Rose Madder and the Crimson King, but I haven’t been able to find anyone else’s thoughts on the matter. She seems like too big of a player to only appear in this one novel.

Once Rose is established in her new city, and Norman reaches it to look for her, you can quite easily draw upon the metaphor of the Minotaur in the maze, blindly hunting down the victim. Well, King doesn’t mistake upon this, as towards the end of the novel, the metaphor slowly but surely becomes so blatant that it almost mimics the ancient Greek mythological story to the point of absurdity.

Perhaps the only drawback, and it is a quite major one, is that the psychotic husband Norman has absolutely no redeemable traits at all. As a character, he was very one-dimensional, trying to get back what is his. Although he does slowly slip into insanity, and you can gradually follow it, I did not care for him at all. Rosie, on the other hand, does transform quite well into an independent woman. You can’t help but also feel excited when she’s happy to do the things we disregard as routine or mundane.

I’d call this one of King’s hidden gems, depending on whether you care for those King cross-references to the larger multiverse or not.