Horror gets visceral in ‘Neverending Nightmares’

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Neverending Nightmares' monochromatic cartoon art style clashes with the violent and gruesome scenes you will happen upon in it.

Neverending Nightmares’ monochromatic cartoon art style clashes with the violent and gruesome scenes you will happen upon in it.

When it comes to horror, movies and video games tend to fall somewhere on a spectrum between “startling” or “disturbing.” Jump scares are cheap, but effective ways to give the viewer a temporary jolt of adrenaline, while a psychologically unnerving experience is longer lasting, more intricately crafted, and harder to come by. Neverending Nightmares falls far more toward the “disturbing” end of the scary spectrum. Continue reading

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‘Costume Quest 2’ is more trick than treat

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Costume Quest 2 is the sequel to Double Fine’s 2011 RPG where on Halloween, kids are the heroes, their costumes are their powers, and candy is the currency. The original was noted for its unique premise, funny writing, and kid-friendly approach to the RPG genre. But it seems the sweet presentation may be lacking in substance this time around.

Costume Quest 2 lets players go into combat wearing classic Halloween costumes, such as a wizard, a superhero, or the ever-popular Thomas Jefferson.

Costume Quest 2 lets players go into combat wearing classic Halloween costumes, such as a wizard, a superhero, or the ever-popular Thomas Jefferson.

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The rhythm game genre is stayin’ alive with ‘Dance Central Spotlight’

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Spotlight is being supported by routines from a stream of recent hit music. We have our fingers crossed for a playable version of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky."

Spotlight is being supported by routines from a stream of recent hit music. We have our fingers crossed for a playable version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

One of the hardest parts about transitioning to the new generation of consoles was giving up my beloved rhythm games, and Harmonix was king in that field. There’s no game that utilized the Microsoft Kinect better than Harmonix’s Dance Central series, and that tradition continues with the new “Dance Central Spotlight.” As someone who played the first three Dance Central titles for exercise purposes long after their release, I’m thrilled to finally have a way to dance on the new generation of consoles. Continue reading

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Call your friends on their fabrications in ‘Fibbage’

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Fibbage may be the single most fun experience I’ve had lying to my friends.

Fibbage challenges good friends to lie to each other, and happens to be the funniest party game to surface in years.

Fibbage challenges good friends to lie to each other, and happens to be the funniest party game to surface in years.

Fibbage, a new Xbox One game from the makers of You Don’t Know Jack, came out of nowhere when it was introduced on Amazon Fire TV earlier this year and has become my go-to party game. Between two and eight people can play it at once, but controllers are not necessary. Instead, each player uses a smartphone or tablet to log into the Fibbage website once the game is set up. No complex networking is needed, each player only has to enter a code displayed on your TV screen to join the same game “room.” Then the fun begins. Continue reading

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‘Journal’ explores sketchy memories

This article was originally posted on The Oakland Press.

Just like in real life, your day-to-day choices may impact people's view of you, but may not radically change your life either.

Just like in real life, your day-to-day choices may impact people’s view of you, but may not radically change your life either.

As a medium that values player interaction as a way to tell a story, video games tend to send the message that the choices we make are tremendously important. In some, a singular binary choice could mean the difference between saving the world and destroying it. We tend to look back on our decisions and say, “If I hadn’t done this a certain way, things could’ve turned out different.” “Journal,” a story-focused PC adventure game, explores the idea that our memories are fallible, and the novel idea that sometimes, our choices don’t amount to anything. Continue reading

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‘Shovel Knight’ digs up classic gaming memories

This article was originally published on The Oakland Press.

Shovel Knight feels like a game that was made in 1990, buried in a time capsule, and unearthed in 2014.

Many games have tried, but few have been able to accurately replicate the look and feel of a classic NES game. Yacht Club games seems to have nailed the limited color palette, chiptune music, and even occasional slowdown for platform games on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. And even more important, Yacht Club understands what it was about those games that made them fun.

Shovel Knight's pogo stick manuever is crucial for getting past the game's massive enemies.

Shovel Knight’s pogo stick manuever is crucial for getting past the game’s massive enemies.

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‘Drakengard 3’ is a weird, bloody mess

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Drakengard 3 is destined to be a cult classic. If video games had midnight screenings, this would be playing at art theaters to fans in costume as the characters.

In terms of story, Drakengard 3 is definitely one of the weirder games I’ve ever played, somewhere between Persona and Bayonetta on the number of “huh?”s per second. The story revolves around Zero, a woman with a flower growing out of her eye whose goal is to kill her five sisters, each named with a number. The sisters are all Intoners, siren-like beings that command the power and loyalty of their followers through song. In order to murder her sisters, she has to cut through swaths of nameless soldiers who whine about being put up against such impossible odds, and she has to get very bloody in the process.

Zero fights with a variety of weapons, including her bare hands while in Intoner Mode.

Zero fights with a variety of weapons, including her bare hands while in Intoner Mode.

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‘Transistor’ reboots the action game

This article originally appeared on The Oakland Press.

Like a powerful computer, ‘Transistor’ from developer Supergiant Games is a complex and fascinating machine capable of feats of beauty on a high level, but based at its core on a solid foundation.

Transistor 4

Transistor stars Red, a musician who’s had her voice stolen, and the Transistor, a sword-shaped object containing the personality of her talkative companion.

Players control Red, a popular singer in the retro-futuristic city of Cloudbank who has lost her voice for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. She’s come into possession of the Transistor, a large sword-like weapon that has a voice and personality of its own. The Transistor becomes your companion, providing a running commentary and explaining certain details of the world of Cloudbank, as well as helping Red fight The Process, a malevolent virus entity that’s tearing the city apart.

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Absurdly-named ‘Drunken Robot Pornography’ features fast, funny jetpack action

This story was originally published on The Oakland Press.

First of all, it’s not what you think.

You'll use your jetpack to fight robots over the futuristic city of Boston.

You’ll use your jetpack to fight robots over the futuristic city of Boston.

 

“Drunken Robot Pornography” is the ludicrously titled newest game from developer Dejobaan, who have something of a penchant for ridiculous titles. In fact, the title “Drunken Robot Pornography” is a bit reserved from Dejobaan’s previous efforts “AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity” and “3! 2! 1! KICK IT! Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby.” Continue reading

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Octodad: Dadliest Catch review — Becoming father of the year

This article was originally printed in The Oakland Press.

Imagine you’re a man just trying to live a normal life, being supportive of your wife, playing games with your children, and doing household chores. You love your family, but you’re harboring a secret that you can’t let them find out — a secret that, if discovered, could bring your whole idyllic life crashing down.

Now, imagine that secret is that you’re an octopus.

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