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by Ethos

Limbo

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Still an awesome game

No, not talking about the game this time. I’m talking about this website, and the current state it happens to be in.

I’m here not to apologize, but to inform you all that things will be back on course in due time. We still fully plan to go through with the Best Riddlethos awards. So, if you were hoping you’d be spared them, I’m sorry to crush your dreams.

Ethan’s had a difficult past week, and I’ve been working a lot. And now I’m actually somewhat sick which is just… fantastic.

Ahem. In other news, I re-bought Dead Space for the PS3. Why? Not sure, I think partly because my friend has my Xbox 360 copy, and partly because I’m becoming like Ethos.

Oh, wait, I remember now. The Plasma Cutter. If you have a Dead Space save file, then you automatically get the Plasma Cutter in Dead Space 2. And while I completed the original Dead Space on 360, I fully intend to buy Dead Space 2 for PS3… soo… you can probably get the picture.

But man, I’ve been replaying Dead Space for the first time, and it’s still awesome. I can’t wait for 2.

Although this trailer, replete with Smashing Pumpkins, sorta rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Pumpkins, but uh… this trailer kinda makes the game look like Iron Man in Space.

That’s all for now. I hope the lot of you are enjoying your 2011 thus far.

Best Atmospheric Experience 2010 – Riddles

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Limbo

Finally! Due credit can be given to this downloadable gem of a game. Mass Effect 2 and Heavy Rain both built dense, palpable atmospheres – but Limbo builds an atmosphere unlike anything seen before, through methods never used. It’s a game that truly stands in a class of its own, and it must be experienced firsthand.

With barely a backstory explaining it, Limbo throws you into a dark, uninviting wood, where you must search for your missing sister. Everything is black and white – the protagonist is a small, silhoutted boy with beady, glowing eyes – which always shine, even in the darkest surroundings. The pale white lighting flickers like a failing street sign, which adds a subtly bizarre atmospheric effect.

As you go forward, it becomes clear that this forest is the personification of a child’s nightmare. Night-shrouded woods, infested with bullies, gigantic spiders, and devious traps. In spite of its juvenile protagonist, Limbo has an unexpectedly brutal side to it – deaths are brutal and bloody, often involving beheadings or skewerings. Certain puzzles, even, display an unexpectedly macabre nature – at one point, you must drag the dead bodies of children to a lake, then use them as stepping stones.

Background and foreground layers fade and become more distinct to create different atmospheric effects. All the while, a minimalist sound design is utilized – Limbo has no musical score to speak of, and instead chooses to assault your ears largely with dead silence and footsteps. It works brilliantly.

I wish I could say more about Limbo, but I must remember that I’m here only to discuss its atmospheric merits. Limbo is unlike anything I’d played before it, and it’s easily the best atmospheric experience I had in 2010.

Runner Up: Heavy Rain

Well, anything I say here will sound a little tepid in comparison to Lameish’s recent gushing article explaining the game’s atmospheric merit. Oh well. Heavy Rain is a game that builds its atmosphere not through bizarre and fantastical fantasy worlds or heavily stylized aesthetics, but rather, through the gritty realism that permeates its world, characters, dialog, and graphical presentation. It’s well-written, well-acted interactive thrillride, but it’s real life – ¬†and it’s impressive to see a game build such palpable atmosphere through such meager conventions.

Best Game Ethos was Too Dumb to Play 2010 – Bayonetta

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This is revenge for a post Ethos wrote about six months ago to close out Sexy Summer week. If you recall, he usurped my “Vetoed Pick” article for one of the five sexiest chicks in gaming, and wrote many blasphemous paragraphs about Bayonetta – both the game and the character.

The kicker is that Ethos has never actually played Bayonetta. Now, I wouldn’t be able to fault him for this, necessarily – if not for said blasphemous article.

I’m going to take this opportunity to praise Bayonetta again, as I did in my positive review early this year. It’s the best hack ‘n slash action gameplay to be found, full stop. If the rest of the game was able to live up, it’d be the best action game of 2010 – but a certain God of War III had to go and steal that honor away. Bayonetta takes the relentless twitch-based stylized gameplay of Devil May Cry, combines it with the ferocity of God of War, dips it in a thick pool of sex appeal, and serves it up on a platter made of… uh… sexiness. Or… hair. Or I don’t know, I didn’t think that sentence through beforehand.

Point being, Bayonetta is a unique and incredibly well-designed game. In many ways, it’s the best of its class. It’s living proof that ridiculous Japanese nonsense can still, occasionally, be totally awesome. Just like it was back when we were kids. And yet, not only can Ethos not spare the time to play it, he has to go and bash it, along with its titular protagonist. Like the short-sighted retard that he is.

Also, while this is tangential at best, I have to take the opportunity to point this out: among many other things, Ethos criticizes Bayonetta’s outfit, noting the lack of back and a cleavage hole.

Scroll down two articles, and you’ll find an article where he laments the fact that I wouldn’t allow Jack from Mass Effect 2 on the list.

JACK WEARS FUCKING NOTHING EXCEPT TATTOOS

Seriously? Seriously, Ethos? Oh, and plenty of women would choose to wear that outfit if they had crazy witch powers. All things considered, it’s actually a far more “modest” outfit than 98% of female gaming characters. Also, I had a weird obsession with spiders as a kid, which has translated into a bizarre sexual arachnid fetish in my adult life so FUCK YOU.

That’s not true at all. Well, the first part is, but the second part isn’t.

I hope.

Ahem. Ethos should, uh, play Bayonetta. It’s a good game.

Runner Up: Limbo

I know Ethos has never pointedly refused to play this, or spoken negatively of it – much as I’ve never spoken negatively (or at all, really) of DeathSpank. What I’m actually trying to do, if you want the truth, is give Limbo as much relevant, timely exposure that I can with the limited time I have remaining. I played through the game right before I moved out of my apartment of 2 years and my life became a crazy piece of craziness, so I literally forgot all about it. And I regret that. Limbo will receive a more suiting, in-depth write-up later this week, so I won’t trouble you with details here; suffice to say, Ethos is dumb for not having played it. And so are you. And you. And you. And you, even.

Best Visual Experience 2010 – Riddles

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

God of War III

Kratos’ first outing on the PlayStation 3 could only mean one thing: fucking awesome graphics. And they were, they were.

Well, that’s to sell the game short, a bit. God of War III has more going for it than it’s divine graphical presentation, but the graphics are what we’re here to talk about now. So, let’s to it!

I realize that it’s actually a bit stupid to try and elongate an article when the sole purpose is to say, “I liked the way this game looked better than the rest.” I mean, visuals are a bit difficult to define and discuss in-depth, unless you’re a graphic artist of some type. Which I am not. Or not really, at least. I have a sharper eye than most, maybe.

That being said, perhaps the best way is to explain why I chose this over, say, BioShock 2. That’s pretty easy; BioShock 2, on a technical level, isn’t nearly as impressive – technicalities such as texture work and lighting are unbelievably polished in God of War III; you’ve never seen Kratos’ pasty white skin look so real. Also, BioShock 2’s art direction suffered from a case of “been there, done that.” Literally. We had literally been there.

What about, say, Final Fantasy XIII? For its varied and attractive art direction, that certainly deserves a nod. And perhaps the artwork is more varied than what’s seen in God of War III, but at the same time, it’s a bit more derivative. Let me put it this way: Final Fantasy XIII fulfills all of the required aesthetics for a JRPG. Sure, it occasionally does so with some real bravado and color, but eh. It feels too much like going through the motions, but in HD this time. Also, I hate that game.

God of War III also scores points for its unique sense of brutality. And yes, I attribute that, in part, to the game’s art direction. Like during the game’s final battle, when the screen got covered in blood spurts from Kratos’ repeated punching of Zeus in the face? Super awesome stuff.

Well, there’s three vague and arbitrary points to back up my decision. That’s enough, right? To sum up, and in all seriousness, God of War III is simply the most visually striking game I experienced this year. From the outset, when I was scaling Mt. Olympus on the back of a massive Titan moving in real-time, the visual thrills never stopped. If anyone knows how to drag ¬†power out of Sony’s machines, it’s the people at Santa Monica. I mean, hell, God of War I +II looked amazing enough remastered in HD. This shit, however, is off the chain. Yeah.

Runner Up: Limbo

Holy crap. I’ve never mentioned this game on the site before. And I’d never even considered it for this award until about 15 seconds ago, when it hit me like a ton of bricks. To think that I was even going to give an honorable mention to garbage like Final Fantasy XIII, when this gem of a game sat unnoticed.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Limbo: It’s an amazing, unique little game that you should probably play. It’s a 2-D sidescroller available exclusively over Xbox Live, made by upstart indy developer Playdead. You take on the role of a boy venturing into a frightening wood to find his missing sister – but, the most unique thing about the game is its graphical presentation. Everything is presented as a silhouette – making the game, essentially, black-and-white. You’ve never, ever seen anything like it, I assure you. Sure, it may not be in 3D or have ridiculously detailed textures or whatever, but as a visual experience it has no peer.

You all should play Limbo. That is all.

I Want This Game

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Since Ethos and I will be producing yet another ridiculous countdown list this week, regularly-scheduled features such as HLL and Scatter Storming will not be making an appearance this week.

Or HLL won’t, at least. And hopefully Ethos will follow suit so I don’t feel like a lazy fuck.

Anyway. I’m here to tell you that I really, really want Limbo. In fact, despite my tight finances, I’ll probably be downloading it tonight. (Assuming it becomes available relatively quickly after midnight).

If you haven’t heard of Limbo, watch IGN’s video review and be edified:

So much awesome.

Anyway. I’m about to start the countdown off. See you all in thirty or so.