WOTH: Platinum #31 – Tales From the Borderlands

I’ve been a pretty big fan of Telltale Games, ever since I first played The Walking Dead when the complete first season was released. I didn’t know what to expect, but after playing it, I felt equal parts utterly moved by the story, and also terrible for all the seemingly wrong choices I made, leading to death.

But where The Walking Dead dealt with hopelessness and mortality; and The Wolf Among Us dealt with conspiracy and inner demons… Tales From the Borderlands has a much lighter tone with it’s absurdity and comic value. That doesn’t detract from the game, though, as this is easily now my favourite Telltale game to date!

From the title, you’d be right in guessing that this takes place in the Borderlands universe, developed by Gearbox Software and published by 2K Games. They were gracious enough to lend the IP, even so much as making sure that Tales is completely canon to the franchise. More on that later.

This game starts off some time after the events of Borderlands 2, where you meet Rhys. He’s you. A Hyperion lackey, working away on Helios, that giant H in space. A promotion doesn’t go to plan, so he finds himself on the run while trying to screw over his manipulative new employer. Eventually, while down on the bandit-ridden planet Pandora we all know and love, me bumps into Fiona, the con-artist (also you). They, each with their sidekicks, run into deeper trouble as Rhys comes to terms with the evil living inside his head, and Fiona keeps everyone alive. You meet a lovable LoaderBot, see some very familiar faces, and travel to familiar places.

I’m keeping this all purposefully vague, as the story is simply the best one I’ve seen in a long time, with brilliant cliffhangers set up at each of the 5 episodes. I’m not ruining a single thing for you. The dialogue is incredibly witty and unmatched, with very high profile voice actors in the mix. The choices you make here are very real, and there never was a time where I didn’t like any of the lines given to me.

And if you’re familiar with the well-crafted opening credits from the original Borderlands game – they’ve done the same for each episode of Tales, but even better – they’ve knocked them out of the park! Seriously some of the best cinematography I’ve seen, and it pairs well with the music track playing in the background. You know that, after playing some time in a new episode, and you hear some funky tunes kicking in, things are about to get badass.

While there is some incredible humour, they don’t ease up on the serious side of the story either – not all of those you meet come out of this alive, and it’s good to know that the poignant scenes are strongly written too. It is a roller coaster though, and you might find yourself completely grief-stricken only to be smacked in the face with laughter straight after. It takes a gifted team of writers an artists to pull that off.

Because several of the events permanently affect the Borderlands universe in a big way, it’ll be interesting to see how they weave what happened in Tales into the upcoming Borderlands 3 – whenever that arrives.

As with most Telltale games, trophies are secondary to the story experience, as they just happen.

If you’re a big Borderlands fan, a Telltale Games fan, or even a fan of brilliant writing – this is definitely for you.

 

WOTH: Platinum #26 – The Deadly Tower of Monsters

Were you a fan of the early 70’s B-movie craze? The era when action and horror films were mostly showed in groups of three at the cinemas at super cheap prices?

Well I missed that boat (born too late), but I can experience a space opera B-movie in all it’s glory with The Deadly Tower of Monsters!

This is a very unique style of game – a top-down platform shooter, with vertical progression, all wrapped in the format of a DVD commentary from the director of the film – which is the game itself. In-game, you are controlling the main actor – Dick Starspeed (played by Jonathon Digby). You’ve crash landed on a foreign planet, ruled by a tyrannical emperor. Along the way, you will find allies whom you can also switch between as playable characters, allowing you to further climb the Deadly Tower of Monsters (insert dramatic booming voice here).

There is a great amount of satire and humour injected all throughout this game, poking fun at the antics on a typical B-movie set. The director commentating on the film/game will reveal trade secrets such as the horrible way the extras in monster suits were treated, or even how to save on the budget some “monsters” were simply dogs with vacuum cleaner attachments on their heads – and when said monsters are revealed to look exactly like that, it’s hilarious. Also, this film/game was set in the height of using stop-motion clay animation for those less anthropomorphic monsters, and watching the obvious stop motion dinosaurs lumber around is a brilliant touch. Even towards the end of the game, you can see birds bouncing around clearly tethered to strings to hold them up.

The controls are pretty standard for a twin-stick melee/shooter, with options to upgrade your weapons and character using collectibles scattered around the area. Again, there’s great satire in some of the weapons which are given fancy space-names, but are quite clearly just a car antenna or something mediocre. But hey, a tight budget is a tight budget!

Towards the end, when you find out more about the film, it takes an even greater turn, cranking up the meta-references to 11. It doesn’t just break the 4th wall, it blasts it with its space laser.

This was incredibly fun, and if you were lucky enough to grab it during it’s free month for Playstation Plus, it’s an added bonus! I would still pay $10 for it if it were on special, so keep an eye out for it.

Regarding platinum difficulty, it is actually pretty easy with a guide – but perhaps just cruise through and enjoy the ride for the first time. Even if you do that, you’ll find it only takes 6 hours to complete. Most of the trophies come from progressing through the game, and from the various collectibles on the map.

Definitely give this a go, even just for an amusing afternoon.

WOTH: Platinum #24 – Goosebumps: The Game

In this installment of the Well Overdue Trophy Hunt, I stepped back in time to the glorious 90’s, and relived the amazing Goosebumps universe – much like I had done with the recent movie starring Jack Black, generic American boy and girl combo, and Screamy McPubertyface.

There are no live actors in Goosebumps: The Game, however, as it has gone for the classic painted 2D Point and Click Adventure approach. This feels like it gave the source material the best possible justice, as every scene you move through looks like it came straight from the cover of one of the many original books.

And because there is so much source material, there are so many references to discover, which is always the fun part of these sorts of games. Some of them are obvious, like Slappy being the main antagonist, while some other little gems will be just as fun to find, like the jar of Jellyjam found when you open a fridge.

Regarding the content and difficulty – I used a guide, so it inevitably was super easy. There are a few different endings you need to obtain the platinum trophy, but as long as you follow the guide well, and save when asked to, the platinum trophy shouldn’t take longer than 5 hours to get. If you go into it blind, you may find quite a few points where you become stuck, but just try to pick up every item you see – most of them are useful in some way.

It’s very young adult humour, but hey – what could you expect!

WOTH: Platinum #23 – Amnesia: Memories

At first glance, Amnesia: Memories appears like quite a departure from the well-known horror franchise sharing the Amnesia title.

I guess perhaps the horror in the third title comes from the boys' choices in hairstyle?

I guess perhaps the horror in the third title comes from the boys’ choices in hairstyle?

In reality, other than the title and perhaps a few horror themes (why the hell would a college guy have a cage in his room?), these games are nothing alike.

Amnesia: Memories is a genre of game I have never played, nor had I ever conceived of playing; Otome. Basically, it is marketed towards females, and involves the central character (you) developing relationships with a selection of potential guys.

… Yeah.

But, being the platinum trophy collector I am, knowing that this one would be rather easy to obtain, and that it was one of the monthly free games, I figured it would be a quick fix while slogging through 120+ hours in Witcher 3. I could have skipped all of the dialogue while following a guide… but in the end, I decided to give it a chance.

The basic premise in Amnesia: Memories is this; you’re a college girl, doing probably normal college girl stuff like complaining about Starbucks cups then BAM! A spirit collides with you somehow, pushing out all of your memories. Sucks to be you, the otherworldy spirit says in perfect Japanese, but it will assist you in regaining your memories so you return to normal, and so the spirit can go off and do spirit-things. You then choose what possible world you could have been knocked out of (since here, parallel worlds exist, I guess), each of which is centred around dating or getting to know one of four guys – each with very different personalities.

As you bumble through life, forgetting how to be a waitress, or how to talk to people you knew, you slowly uncover the nature of your relationship with this guy who seems to be hanging around. You’ll make many dialogue choices, and this will eventually determine what ending you get for that storyline – good, bad, neutral, or even stabby. Yes, there’s a mysterious other guy who is a bit of a madman.

I followed the “good” ending for each of the worlds, then skipped dialogue for all the other possible endings. A couple of the stories were actually pretty interesting; they were more than just figuring out the relationship, but uncovering some dark pasts. One storyline stands out as a compelling mystery plot, while another just went… weird (a cage? really?), which made it hard for me to accept the “good” ending as really morally good.

I wouldn’t say this game genre is for everyone, but you can detach yourself from the main character, seeing it as more of a passive “movie”, which makes it less intimidating if you’re weirded out by the dating premise.

If you do want a pretty quick (~5-8 hours) platinum, and have it in your list, then go for it.

 

WOTH: Platinums #21 & #22 – Arcade Game Series: Galaga & Dig Dug

The first video games I associate with my childhood mainly come from the shareware hard disks found at computer swap meets. I’d be taken around there, find a few to pester Dad to buy for me, then ask nicely (read: whining) for him to install it on our trusty MS-DOS home PC. Those games ranged from the ported classics, such as Frogger or Rockwell, to the (at the time) newer games like Wacky Wheels, or Rise of the Triad.

I never encountered any versions of Galaga or Dig Dug, however. Playing these as part of the Arcade Game Series collection was quite a new experience, given they were before my time. Sure, I’d seen probably countless knock-offs of the originals. Certainly regarding Dig Dug, Rockwell had similar mechanics and felt like a modern take on it.

So what was it like spending a few days as an 80’s kid?

It felt great to meet the grandparents of contemporary games – while playing them, you could think about how the very basic mechanics evolved over time to become what they are today. The old shoot but don’t get shot of Galaga, and the strategic path-finding of Dig Dug really had given rise to countless current game mechanics and designs.

But, of course, there was the distinct feeling of out-datedness. The very discrete responses when giving inputs from a modern controller is the most jarring – especially when, say, you try to turn while going in one direction, and the game cannot recognise the input until your sprite lines up with the row it’s turning into, often resulting in no recognition or even turning back towards an enemy. Little things like that, however, didn’t phase me in the long run. Given these were relatively short experiences, it was something I could easily put up with.

Regarding platinum difficulties, these two games are ranked pretty similar to the Pac-Man games. As long as you appropriately abuse the game-saving exploit offered by PS Plus, you’ll be fine. You may get frustrated with the longer trophies, such as Rambler (destroying 1000 spaces in one game) for Dig Dug, or getting perfect scores on 5 of the Galaga levels, but after following a few Youtube guides, the platinum trophies should come to you in 3-4 hours each.


Currently playing:

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)
  • Amnesia: Memories (PS Vita)
  • Little Deviants (PS Vita)
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (PS4)
  • Borderlands 2 (PS4)

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?