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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I'm so sorry Hollow Knight. Please take me back.

Thanks, Overheating!

The biggest mistake I've made this year, gaming wise vs. career wise, was inexplicably dropping Hollow Knight just before it really took off. I had thought I was 2/3s of the way through, hit a nasty boss I didn't feel like adapting to, and just... moved on. I forgot how charming it's world was, how deceptively deep it's combat could be, and underestimated how much more game there was. I was only actually halfway there. To say nothing about it's massive secret areas, it's free DLC, and the hours it will take to track down all the different charms.

After that boss everything starts to feed back into itself. The disparate levels connect, new charms enhanced my old favorites, and I can't believe I haven't written a review yet. I'm pretty damn sure this is going to be my game of the year. When was the last time a boss fight made you laugh out loud, not because of anything specifically funny he does, but through what I can only describe as... strength of character?  Dude's a dung beetle and holy cheese does he love his job. And I, him.

We could have been friends...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Into the Darkwood.

I learned something today. I learned that there's a way to engineer stereo sound to make me think there's someone in my kitchen. This is a game that sneaks up on you. Sure, there's some jumps involving traps and roving bands of dogs but it reeeeaaaaaly takes it's time getting under your skin in other ways. Which, considering it's top down, sprite based, look I didn't know that was possible. How much drama or mystique can you create from a satellite's perspective?


It's a survival game, so you've got errands to run in this otherworldly nightmare forest. Scavenge wood and fuel/assorted eldritch goodies, then board up your safe house to wait out the night. That's when the sound design truly shines. It goes for the obvious scares first. Heavy footfalls and shaking chains. Disembodied whispers and angry sounding shadow monsters. And then... just when you think you've got Darkwood's number...a polite, continuous, knock at your front door. Knock, knock, knock. Knock, knock, knock.

F**k you, Darkwood. You're amazing.

That feeling when $300 magically appears in your account...,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/193y9mwpptjm1gif.gif

Apparently I had been so well behaved, credit card wise, I got my deposit back. Ladies and gentlemen... I REALLY needed that.

We should all play Bioshock Infinite one more time.

*Politics Abound*

I once lost a debate when I used the factions of New Vegas as a metaphor for America. Mr. House was the cold, unfeeling, oligarchy. The New California Republic the beleaguered, but well intentioned, democracy. Caesar's Legion... the end game of the republican party. Back in 2011, I was essentially calling republicans proto-fascists and it did. NOT. GO. WELL.

My, how the worm has turned.

It's been a hell of a few weeks. I try my best to keep my political animal locked away from this blog but I just can't right now. I am appalled. No administration shakeup is going to restore any amount of  my faith in the executive branch because fish always rots from the head. But my mind keeps turning to why this has all happened and funnily enough, video games had the answer. Infinite was in production for too long and it's plot gets away from it in the end. But it did something truly special before becoming the Booker'n'Liz show. It saw the future.

Republicans aren't villains. Or rather, they didn't used to be. They were rural folk with different ideals. They wanted a hands off, low maintenance, approach to government. They wanted to vote for their team and go back to their lives. It would be wonderful if that's all it took to make a government by the people, for the people. Wouldn't it? But a wise man once said "The price of peace is eternal vigilance." So times changed. The tea party was swept into power and the only thing they had to do to get reelected was yell at the other guy.

The sad fact is, there are mountains of power to be gained by burning our republic down. When you only check into politics during election time you run the risk of begin taken in, not by civil servants, but by carnival barkers. People who fan the flames of prejudice with half truths and vicious lies just to get what they want. An iron coalition of the faithful.

When you close your eyes and just believe everything will work out, you wind up with dictators. People who abuse and starve their citizens because an attack on their tyranny is an attack on their ego. It has happened here and you bet your ass it was wrapped in the American flag. But back to Bioshock...

Colombia is a wonderful place until you peak around it's corners. Indentured servitude, a militant police force, toothless propaganda trussed up as news, and active repression of intellectual curiosity. What I always loved most about Infinite is that it only appears to be republican heaven from a distance. The soft focus and fantastical elements only obscure the real history tearing it's way out. A "better" time never existed. Not for all Americans, anyway.

So anyone who tries to tell you this current administration is making America any better, they don't want a representative democracy. They want a cruel, hollow, imitation with them back at the top. They want Colombia:

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Crackpot Book Club: Jingo

I've been tearing through the work of Terry Pratchett for the last few months. I've become a huge fan bordering on disciple. He's so charming and so understated. He waits for you to get lulled into a false sense of high fantasy satire then BAM. He dumps a bucket of ice cold humanity all over your head and you love him for it.

America has had a rough week and I think I have just the thing. A proverbial mug of calming tea with a bitter aftertaste. I'm only a few hundred pages into Jingo (city watch) and from that title you can guess where it's going. It's about being good police in a time where citizens are taking up arms for selfish, deluded, causes. It stares racism down and laughs in it's face the way only the English can. So polite... yet so brutal. It's helping me through a difficult time in the American south and I'm going to shut up now and let it speak for itself:

It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was Us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things.

-Terry Pratchett