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    Feb 13th, 2018 at 00:08:33     -    Firewatch (PC)

    Things have gotten pretty wild out here. Being toyed with by the researchers definitely had me feeling spooked, but the rails of the game keep breaking my immersion. The decisions the game forces upon the player are starting to feel a little bit like bad horror; heading toward the danger? While my character is thankfully more indignant about being stalked and assaulted than he was about being miss-characterized by two bratty teens, it doesn't feel the decisions actually match the character's emotions. They walked out here, after all, in 2 days. I understand a 2 day hike is no small feat but, I'm not buying that the characters are as helpless as they make out to be.

    I left off right after finding a backpack trapped with an alarm. They gave me the keys to the mysterious cave introduced earlier, but I can't image what exactly they'd want me to experience in there. Regardless, that's where I'm headed next.

    The notes on the desk of the scientists camp left me less concerned about the nature of their research. Even though it's extremely creepy, I feel like they're all playing a big prank on me. The assault moment was obviously over the top, but maybe their handy man is just a little heavy handed? At times I'm doubtful that the girls are even missing, and suspect this might just be part of the ruse. How did 2 teenage girls make this 2 day hike with 4 cases of beer? To its credit, this game sure keeps you guessing.

    I found enjoyment in the scientists descriptions of Henry and Delilah. From the player perspective, it was humorous to see characterizations of Henry that are undeniable. "Easily manipulated," was especially clever. I satisfying that they noted Delilah's selfishness, because it was the exact though I'd had myself. Still, she is an interesting companion and I plan to continue playing.

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    Feb 11th, 2018 at 22:37:47     -    Firewatch (PC)

    The second session of Firewatch brought more twists and turns. Finding the walkie talkie and getting hit in the head was pretty tense, and definitely left me feeling a bit uneasy walking around the woods alone. Delilah's insensitivity about the ordeal was a little frustrating, and I expect she's either in on it or just a very selfish person. Her reactions to the dangerous stakes definitely changed my opinion of her as a character, and while I thought she was a little flippant and goofy before, I have significantly trust for her now.

    Both characters have been behaving a bit angsty in my opinion, and knowing that either of them are likely to snap at eachother at the drop of a hat forces me to be extra cautious with my responses. I was already disillusioned with her before she hit on me while watching the fire, but I still tried to turn her down as gently as possible, seemingly with success.

    I wonder if a development aim was to make the player attach to a character only to ultimately reject them. It's an interesting idea, and in a funny way my experience with the game feels like coming to terms with a terrible co-worker. I also wonder if my meek responses are affecting my progression in some way. If you're terrible to her, will the game attempt to make you feel remorseful? So far, I'm the one getting the rawest deal and I'm not to concerned about it.

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    Feb 10th, 2018 at 18:43:24     -    Firewatch (PC)

    The tear jerking tale framed in the introduction was pretty relatable, and some of choices directly mirrored my own life. After trying my best to support my wife through her education and illness, the game begins and the text only introduction feels neatly packed into memory. Although I feel some frustration with the narrow decision making options at times, I can already tell that there's some nuanced storytelling in store.

    I don't feel too chatty so I try to be generally polite to Delilah without coming off as flirtatious or overly excitable. She comes on QUITE strong, and while I feel the game allows me to do the same, I try to ride as professional a line as possible. I did try sharing a few of the more mundane finds I came across, but when her lack of interest matched mine I decided to stick to my gut and behave as realistically as possible.

    When confronting the fireworks girls, I carried their fireworks and felt fully authorized to do so. That was a pretty cool moment, and searching for the entitlement to mess with their stuff really put me in Henry's shoes. The dialogue options when confronting them were a little polarized, and I definitely didn't feel like Henry hit the right balance with his tone.

    The tone of the dialogue was a little disappointing when asking Delilah about her call on the other line in day 2. Henry came off overly confrontational, and Delilah quite defensive and rude. When she became "annoyed" with me and the game told me that she was being unresponsive, I definitely reflected on it as I would with a real person. "That was no big thing," I thought. "She'll be chill in a minute." Again, pretty cool moment! As I'm learning more about these character's, I hope I will start anticipating their attitudes more accurately.

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    Jan 18th, 2018 at 02:04:03     -    Shadow Of Mordor (PC)

    As I watch the player character pull his dagger through the face of an enemy, I can't help but feel underwhelmed by Shadow of Mordor. It is the type of action game where violence is the means to nearly all ends; where exploration and adventure is an afterthought. All roads lead to bloodshed. Collectibles are hardly hidden and serve only to increase the player's ability to kill.

    What's more, the character interactions of the "nemesis" system are quite superficial and uninteresting. If there were something at stake, some range of emotions to be explored, then maybe the slaughter and torture of orcs would be more ethically dubious. Instead, I yawn as yet another enemy prematurely proclaims his victory over me before I lop off his head.

    That said, I don't blame the game for being a gory kill fest. It's got some really incredible character design, some amazing animations, etc. As a media experience, I almost want to compare it to metal music. Mythic, intricate, aggressive, violent, and maybe a little beautiful. But it's also a narrow band of expression, and to me that's what is holding Shadow of Mordor back.

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