By now I would imagine you would have seen the first episode of the HBO The Last of Us TV adaptation of the game. When you know that scene is going to come in advance it can be hard to prepare for the emotions that no doubt will tear you up inside and give a sense of grief that you dread and at the same time look forward to. In the moment leading right up to this part my heart was slowly breaking and I became fidgety as I said to my wife “I am not ready for this again.” Where Joel who is played by the amazing Pedro Pascale carrying Sarah through the ravaged city to get to the river due to her ankle injury and (prepare for a spoiler here) get stopped by a army bloke pointing a gun at them both while asking his boss on what to do. While Joel pleading with him not to shoot as they are not infected, my heart literally stopped as he opens fire and while Joel was shot his daughter was and to see the grief, sadness, helplessness watching his daughter die in his arms made me cry inside and to see the scene fade into black. Devastating.
Now back when this game came out in 2013 and saw this for the first time I had felt sadness but I was not a parent back then. In 2023 I have a daughter who is nearly 6 and a son who is nearly 3. Seeing this moment again as a father literally broke me and I would imagine every father who saw this. If she was not asleep I would have gone and held her close to make sure she knew she meant the world to me. Even writing this I feel the raw emotion of that moment asking the question “How can you want to make a parent feel this sense of loss and sadness?” Following this part and looking at what Joel has become 20 years later with no remorse and just throwing a dead child who was infected into a fire really shows how much time can change a person who has been through a sense of loss or a huge emotional life change. It will be very interesting in seeing how this show goes forward in mirroring the game. Granted if you have played both The Last of Us games then it won’t be a surprise.
There are other games that playing again with being a father that just break me down and no doubt other parents too. I am only mentioning a few others but there will be moments in games that pull you into the emotional pit for lots of other reasons.
The next one that ties in the most emotional is Season 1 of the absolutely brilliant Telltale series of The Walking Dead. If you know then you know! You play as Lee Everett escaping a car accident while being escorted to jail for killing someone who his wife cheated on him for at the beginning of the outbreak. Coming across a little girl called Clementine who hid in a treehouse in wait hoping her parents were going to come back. That never happens so Lee takes her with him in search of her parents while meeting other characters along the way. I’ve always loved voice actors and Dave Fennoy who plays Lee struck the perfect tone and emotion with the dialogue and then Melissa Hutchinson who played the sweet Clementine is one of if not the best pairing for these characters. Lee would teach Clementine moral values and closeness of being a parent while as the player we make those difficult decisions for them.
Through 5 episodes seeing character deaths and trauma it all leads to the final episode called “No Time Left” was always going to be a tough one to prepare for. Back in 2012 these episodes were released once every few months and the previous episode ending on the bombshell that Lee was bitten by a walker it wouldn’t be too hard to presume that it won’t end well for Lee. Yup! That does come to pass but getting there is always the most difficult to process as a gamer and as a parent. You get to see even more the close bond Lee and Clementine have while Clem sees her parents as walkers but knowing Lee has not got much time left. He wanted to make sure she was safe and did everything he could to teach her on how to survive. I will never forget how this made me feel even the choices you pick to say to Clem in those final moments. I wasn’t a parent at the time but I cried like a baby as Lee gave her a choice but clearly he wanted to be shot so he didn’t become a Walker. Clementine clearly crying to feeling the grief of having to let go. His final words to Clem “il miss you” to be reciprocated back while the brilliant soundtrack tearing on the heart strings as you chose to either Shoot or leave him there in handcuffs. Still crying while realising the start of the game he was in those handcuffs and ending it the same way. It took me a long time to get over this and the first real game since Gears of War 2 ( we will get to that next) that really shook me. I revisited the whole game series when the collection was released with PS Pro and Xbox One X enhancements and my daughter was only less than a year old and boy when I got the this part again I just trembled, same feelings as before but thought about what would I want if I was in this situation myself. Obviously make sure I didn’t get but by a walker but would I want her to leave me cuffed and turn into a walker or be put out of my misery? A huge credit to the game developers in the creative decisions and giving us the choice on what to do. I think I would rather be put out my misery as long as I knew she was safe and could look after herself.
The final game for me would be Gears of War 2/3. I’m linking both these games together as it serves one characters purpose. Dom losing his Wife Maria in Gears 2 was just heartbreaking, while there wasn’t much reference while playing through the game to Dom actively searching for her when you see her in a prison tomb and see his grief all for show it is one great big swift kick in the crotch. While you play as Marcus as the main character in a band of 4, the others being Baird, Cole Train and Dom there is the passion, teamwork, humour and emotional attachment. You are left playing thinking how would we feel as Dom in that situation and as Marcus who is the leader of the Squad seeing his bestie go through it and how to keep Dom going forward. It isn’t until Gears of War 3 where this pays off for better or ultimately worse when there is a battle and clear that there is no hope unless a sacrifice is made. Yup Dom decides to take a vehicle and smash it into a bomb to blow the whole area up and kill all of the Locust. All with the plan to see his Wife Maria again in the after life. Once Marcus realises he doesn’t want to lose his friend and the game playing the instrumental of “Mad World” while Dom blows himself up and the rest of the squad hurry to avoid the blast is one of pure genius. Yes we feel grief but also I think a sense of relief that Dom can now be at piece albeit now we feel what Marcus is feeling losing his best friend.
These are just a few examples of games that hit hard, games that make us feel in scenarios where we have invested in the characters and feel the grief as the developers have wanted us to feel. Make no mistake they can hit you in ways you may have experienced yourself or can relate to but never feel alone in it, talk openly and honestly with family, friends and the community.
Guest Blogger: @BeardedGreen1/Beard's Blog
Final Vendetta is a hard-hitting action packed beat ‘em up in the vein of classic arcade titles. Featuring stunning pixel art and a thumping soundtrack with exclusive tracks from Utah Saints! Brawl with bad dudes and tough girls as you fight through dangerous environments.
In 1997 we were a couple of years into the PlayStation 1 life cycle. A lot of games had already been
released over here in the UK and across the world by this point. Certainly in the UK, we didn’t get a
lot of JRPG’s in this time, nor was the JRPG genre as prominent or as popular as it is now. Developers
Squaresoft had always had their previous Final Fantasy games all on Nintendo Systems. That all
changed. Sony managed to acquire Final Fantasy 7 to be exclusive to PlayStation. Good job too.
Square had major reservations about bringing FF7 to the Nintendo 64. There was no possible way
they could get what they wanted to bring to the game in a cartridge. The benefit of CD-ROM was
more information could be put on the three disc masterpiece that we got in 1997.
I consider Final Fantasy 7 to be one of if not my favourite game of all time. I was in awe of this game.
From the opening credits and the opening bombing mission, I knew this was going to be all kinds of
awesome. I could go on for ages about what FF7 means to me, I am sure it means the same to many
other gamers all across the world. For years around about the 360/PS3 generation, rumours had
been circulating that Square Enix was about to unleash a full remastered version of FF7 for current
It never materialised until one day June 15 2015 at E3. We finally knew that it was coming. We didn’t
get much more info than that. As later press releases came along we found out that it was coming to
is 2020. However it would not be the full game. FF7 Remake would only cover the events that
happen in the story in the city of Midgar. So in the grand scheme of things we was getting a remake
of the first six hours playtime of the original game.
When this was announced and we saw gameplay, cinematic sequences and the battle system, I was
not optimistic. I certainly had my doubts. Just because it looked good, would we miss the great
story? Would the battle system hold up to the classic turn based combat? How could they create a
massive game using only Midgar as the main and only World?
Up until this review, I had never played a Dragon Quest game at all in my life. In Japan this franchise is essentially a cultural phenomenon, it’s massive. I read articles where Enix and later Square Enix would only release a new Dragon Quest game on a Saturday. This was due to prevent kids skipping school and adults skipping work, just so they could play the latest release. I’d had the game for a while in my backlog, I picked it up on a whim and thought it may be worth a go. My inspiration for buying it and playing it was from YouTuber Happy Console Gamer.
Johnny speaks so highly of the franchise and how much joy it had given to him from his early years in gaming when the game was known as Dragon Warrior (due to a trademark issue) on the NES. So we are now up to the eleventh game in the series. All of them have followed the traditional JRPG formula over time, except for Dragon Quest X which ventured into the MMO universe. Various spinoffs have been released such as Dragon Quest Builders. But as I said this is my first foray into this IP and before I go into depth about the game, I say this. Why did I wait so long???
Before we go in depth into the review, I need to say I am reviewing the original version of the game. I am NOT reviewing the definitive edition which was released a year or so after this one. I also want to add that I will try to review this without spoilers. No one wants their experiences ruining. The old saying in life goes as follows. “If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.” That’s exactly how I feel about this game. Dragon Quest XI is probably the most cookie cutter JRPG game I’ve ever played, it feels like a pair of old slippers, that fit perfectly even after a long time. That is not a bad thing. You can play this game, leave it for a week and seamlessly go back into it where you left off. I didn’t ever at any point struggle with getting back in to it because the gameplay is simple and effective.
Nobody can deny that Marvel and all of their IP’s have been flying high in a numerous media tie in’s over the last twenty years or so, and it certainly peaked with the Avengers. I’d go on record to say that even if you aren’t a comic book fan, all of the films in the MCU have been good to fan bloody-tastic. It would make sense that for AAA films we get AAA games wouldn’t it? Now before we proceed; I was lucky enough to get the PS4 version of the game of Marvel Avengers but you get the PS5 Upgrade for free as a digital download as soon as you pop the disc into the PS5 which was nice!
The basic premise of the story initially focuses on a young protagonist, Kamala Khan who attends a fan appreciation day to celebrate all the Avengers and all they have contributed to the world. During the celebration, an attack on San Francisco occurs putting thousands of peoples lives in jeopardy. We then flash forward to a number of years later and it’s shown that during this attack and the years following that Kamala has developed powers that manipulate her limbs, such as increased reach, stretching, punching and so on.
The Avengers are nowhere to be seen having all split up as the world blames them for the recent attack. The baddies in question are intent on taking over the world and there have been a spate of missing people (who also have new abilities). Kamala decides she needs to reunite the Avengers in order to stop AIM from taking over the world and prevent its immediate destruction I would describe the game as an Action game with elements of RPG’s. As you make your way through the storyline and each subsequent chapter, collecting Avengers along the way, you will gain XP which will obtain you Skill Points which can be used to increase levels of combat and new moves to use. There is also the options to increase and modify armour and accessories along the way. Each new Avenger also becomes playable as you progress through the game, but you will realise and also learn to pick which character suits you best which is a nice touch.
Cyberpunk 2077 is arguably one of the most hyped video games since Grand Theft Auto V back in 2013. The success of The Witcher 3 on PC and all major consoles left big boots to fill when it came to CD Project Red’s (CDPR) next adventure. Fast forward to December 10th 2020, and after Cyberpunk’s multiple delays the gaming universe was finally graced with the release. Sadly that release has fallen flat on its face and us gamers are not happy. Cyberpunk 2077 has been branded “a buggy mess” and even more so on base Xbox One and PS4 consoles. It warrants the question; why did CDPR bother releasing such an ambitious game on base consoles? Why not exclusively release on the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X? I believe money is the most obvious answer. Not everyone has been able to acquire the latest generations’ consoles which would have meant a very large portion of the market not being able to play Cyberpunk 2077.
So here we are, two days after launch as I write this! I have been live streaming Cyberpunk on my PS4 Pro. The textures seriously lack, rendering takes quite a few seconds (especially on vehicles), the city feels drastically empty and the combat is very lethargic. In summary, I completely agree that Cyberflunk is a broken mess. Gamers unable to see the console performance prior to launch too. All previews and reviews showcased PC footage. CD Project Red also provided reviewers with the actual review footage. That’s right!! The embargo did not allow reviewers to capture their own gameplay. That is a red flag right there. I would go as far to say that this is very misleading in the marketing of Cyberpunk for console gamers. To cap it off Cyberpunk 2077 is rocking an eye watering and painful Metacritic score of 2.3 on PS4 as I write this. For a game studio as big as CDPR this is unacceptable. In fact I believe it is heartbreaking for gamers that are trying to play on base consoles. With most other game developers I would be worried that the game would be broken forever but as we know, CDPR are a dev team that show long term support for their games.
Days Gone is much more than a game to me. Days Gone is my perfect escape from reality. Survival is a concept that we live by everyday. Most of us do our best to look after ourselves in order to survive the strongest way we can. Days Gone is no different. Survival takes a different notion in Days Gone and in particular Deacon is guided by finding his one true love amidst a Post Apocalyptic, Freaker infested world. This is not a review of Days Gone so if you are here for a review then I suggest you read no further. If you’d like to hear about why Days Gone is an important game to me then read on.
A Dilapidated look
Days Gone’s world is immense. Broken bridges with nests flailing out of them, overgrown plants and vines consume the cemetery, tunnels that are so packed full of broken down cars you have no choice but to go slow and sketchy NERO checkpoints that lurk on corners! Days Gone delivered a vivid world that I become immersed in each time I played. I felt captivated the rain hitting the broken tarmac of the long roads! I enjoyed traveling the dangerous roads in different towns, taking risks to stop for gas at the gas station pumps whilst hearing a Freaker make ground behind you. Days Gone executed the environments in such a way that I felt continually immersed.
It’s not all gritty though. Extremely late on in the game Days Gone starts to deliver some new weather fronts that I was not expecting. Snow capped mountains produce equally as much danger as the lower broken roads that hug the riversides. The key here is the timing though. I felt intrigued by Bend Studio’s decision to introduce a more varied weather system so late on in the game? For me Days Gone was the gift that kept on giving which is one of the reasons I could not stop playing it.
Deacon was both trapped and free at the same time; bound by his mission to find his wife yet freed by the open road being able to travel between various settlements. The more missions Deacon completed the XP we could spend on improving the experience. For me I found that fine tuning my bike was rewarding!
Man of Medan seems like a long awaited title from Supermassive Games; developers of Until Dawn. Like Until Dawn Man of Medan is an interactive horror game that forces players to make timed decisions. Each decision impacts the proceeding storyline, characters and more. Man of Medan is the first chapter of Supermassive Games' Anthology series (The Dark Pictures). Supermassive Games are set to release a new chapter within 6 months of the previous. The next chapter is called Little Hope which seems to ooze Silent Hill Vibes. Once you beat Man of Medan there's a sneak peek in to Little Hope pegged for a 2020 release. It looks brilliant!
Building up to Man of Medan's release I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Horror games with nautical backdrops don't really float my boat. In fact the ending of Resident Evil VII felt flat to me as we were stuck on that damn ship! Dark, damp and dreary ships! I can think of much scarier settings for a horror game. The question remains though: did I enjoy Man of Medan? The answer is: not as much as I enjoyed Until Dawn; which for me had a much more appealing backdrop, more characters and a longer story. Man of Medan is slow to kick off. A group of upcoming divers hire a boat, which includes a confident female tour guide. With a crate of beer the five of them set sail in to the South Pacific Ocean. Without spoiling the story the five of them find themselves in a hostage situation and end up slamming directly in to a missing Ghost Ship from the 1940's The true horror seemed to start from this point in the game which was already over one hour in.
If you've played Until Dawn you will be familiar with the choice based narrative of the game. Choices or there lack of will impact on the bearing of the next stage of the game. I found the opportunity to make decisions somewhat slow and frustrating. Frustrating in a sense of there only being three choices each time. I would have preferred to have more options to choose from as this would have increased the pace a little.
Man of Medan had some surprising jump scares. Could there have been more? Absolutely. I felt that the balance was tipped in favour of Man of Medan feeling more like a Walking in a dark ship simulator rather than a pacey horror game. I would have loved to have had more jump scares, however trivial.
What is better than a game that drenches you in bone crunching nostalgia vibes that instantly transport you back to your childhood? Five games that drench you from top to toe nostalgia right?! I recently picked up the July copy of Retro Gamer Magazine and checked out a new game called 198X by a Swedish dev team; Hi-Bit Studios. What immediately struck me about 198X was just how stunning the pixel art looked. There's a luscious blend of styles ranging from steam punk to a Blade Runner-esque, Ghost in the Shell type vibe sprinkled with some Outrun on top. I reached out to Tobias Bjarneby (writer and director) and he sent me an awesome insight in to 198X the game.
198X is an ecliectic mixture of the best gaming genre's from my childhood. We have The Beat 'Em Up, The Shoot 'Em up, The Racing Game, The Ninja Game and The RPG. Let us dive deeper in to the world of 198X.
Why do you think there remains so much nostalgia for arcade games?
"Arcades used to be these magical places. There you’d find the coolest and most impressive video games, with futuristic qualities far beyond what you could play at home. These towering machines were more than just games – they were portals to other worlds.
To me, this is the perfect setting for a 1980s coming-of-age story. Of course, 198X is hardly the first game to be heavily influenced by 80s arcade games – but what we’re doing is to put those games into context, capturing the atmosphere surrounding them.
We tell a story about discovering an arcade and finding new worlds in its games. 198X is a video game about falling in love with video games."
Where did the idea for 198X originate?
"Before all this I’d been working as a video game journalist and editor for 25 years, producing hundreds of magazines and several books. The core of our development team also founded Stockholm Museum of Video Games in 2016, so you could say that 198X is an extension of our previous work with preserving and celebrating video game history."
What challenges have you faced through making 5 distinct different games?
The big challenge was defining the essence of these games and their distinct era. Why do I love Out Run so dearly when I couldn’t care less about modern racing games? How come the opening stage in Final Fight, the first deadly slash in Strider and the initial boss encounter in R-Type had such a huge impact on me?
We found the answers not merely in graphics, sounds and core mechanincs, but in the context, presentation and gameplay variation. Visiting an arcade in the 80s was all about finding new experiences, swiftly moving from one world to another. Driving your Ferrari under the blue sky, then cleaning up the streets of Metro City, suddenly soaring over the rooftops of 2048 Moscow and further out in space to face Dobkeratops. This is what 198X is all about. We are not making just another beat ’em up or ninja game – we are using these games to tell a bigger story.
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