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    Nov 11th, 2018 at 19:33:55     -    Little Nightmares (PC)

    Little Nightmares is far outside of my normal gameplay choices and my comfort zone, so my progress through the game is quite inefficient. I am NOT a fan of horror games. I hate jump scares, I hate not knowing what's going on or who could be lurking out of sight, and I hate gore with no purpose but to be gory. Playing NieR: Automata was also pretty far from what I would normally play too, though, as I'm not big on RPG games, and that ended up being a really interesting experience for me, so I thought I'd give Little Nightmares a try. So far, it's interesting but also scaring me quite a bit. I often prefer to jump into a game without doing much research on it at all so as not to color my opinion before I've gotten to play for myself, but I finally had to look up what enemies might jump out at me during this first portion so that I'd be prepared and spend less time trying to predict what could be on the other side of obstacles and shadows. Yes, I know it's ridiculous to be so afraid of this, and my best friend is giving me some shit for it, but I've learned from having to practically be carried out of my first haunted house at age 10 that I really don't handle horror well. As a result, I've slowly dragged myself through what probably is only 10 minutes of gameplay. What I have found interesting is how much story seems to be present. I do really enjoy a strong story-driven game, and because of the nature of the other game options for this log I can guess that some of the imagery is relevant to the game and not just thrown in to make me uncomfortable. At the moment, I'm trying to determine how much of this is intended to be real and how much may just be the character's imagination or memory. The layout of the environment seems to indicate that it's all in his head, as the shapes and sizes of the rooms and their contents seem a little off. There's a man hanging in one of the rooms who seems quite long, especially compared to the size of the chair and mattress in the room with him. Perhaps this is the character's perception - Often things that are scary to us are felt and remembered to be larger. This is why the hallways often seem smaller when we return to our high school after graduation, we are no longer scared of the school like we were as incoming freshman so that perception is being altered. The fridge is also quite tall compared to the player character, the proportions wouldn't line up even if he were a newborn. Everything seems taller than it is wide, I'm just not sure if it's the character's discomfort showing through his misperception or if it's just meant to make the player feel uncomfortable. Further, who is the man who hung himself? Why does the camera shift as if I'm on a boat, but have a massive staircase and what looks like a house with a crumbling roof inside of it? Does the player character know him? What's with the slimy handprints dragged across the fridge? Who was dragged away from the fridge, by whom, why, and where are they now? I really wonder if there will be an answer to all this, since I'm guessing we're playing it due to an ethically interesting storyline, but I also know that horror games don't always explain themselves.

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    Sep 28th, 2018 at 00:51:20     -    Nier Automata (PC)

    As I continue in the game, the question of what makes a human human and whether or not a machine can meet those criteria is become explored more and more. In fact, I was just about punched in the face with that debate when I completed a quest by handing some extra parts off to a trader with a leg problem. Earlier he had mentioned he'd love to fix his leg and dance again. Now I ask him if he'll fix his leg and he says no. While this is a blatant contradiction and a bit rude because I was largely helping him because of an injury that he could repair but won't, he explains that it's the only human part of him left and he doesn't know what will happen when he loses it. This brings up more questions, too - If the people here are so scared of machines, then why are they integrating machine parts into their own bodies so much? If the man traded his last human limb for a machine, would he be more similar to a machine or a human? If a human could become a machine that easily, could a machine become human? I think back to my earlier experience with the little ones roaming around the forest. Are they more similar to machines or people? After finding their city in the sand, it's easier to answer this question. The machines have speech. They have culture indicated by clothing and makeup. They talk about emotions such as fear and their word use indicates probable sentience. They declare repeatedly that they don't want to fight, that they want to run, and that they feel compelled to attack only because otherwise we will kill them. It seems they might be protecting their city from me - It looks as if a small group of them has just attempted a kamikaze type attack on my group. This has gone from the poignant fate of the endangered creatures in Shadow of the Colossus to genocide, from somewhat subtle to beating me over the head with guilt and compassion towards these creatures that seem to check every box of what it means to be human except for the biological one. "You... Not... Human..." One of them tells me, and they're not wrong. Humanity is often defined by compassionate actions, and slaughtering a species without cause doesn't qualify for this definition of humanity.

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    Sep 27th, 2018 at 20:02:16     -    Nier Automata (PC)

    I must admit, I'm trying to appreciate this game but it hasn't come as naturally as I would have hoped. The camera angles, while often fascinating as they change my perspective and my strategy when they shift, sometimes shift too early while I'm fighting or make it difficult to see areas. The narrative is still a little weak (When I redid the tutorial I noticed why 2B's response to seeing some birds sounds so weird - It's because it's the same "Is that?..." clip used when the boss emerges, no wonder it feels out of place and is singular instead of plural!) and I still don't understand what the deal is with the black boxes. How am I not dead? Why did we need both if one should have been sufficient? Why do all the NPCs keep telling me that using my black box to kill lots of enemies was weird, why else would I possibly be carrying a large explosive device in battle? Nonetheless, I'm curious to see where the game goes. Right now it feels somewhere between The Last of Us (with the wild animals roaming an overgrown postapocalyptic city, though I must say I preferred TLOU's grungy, spooky approach to the kelly green grass here) and Assassin's Creed III in particular (with the random little side tasks spread across an environment that you have to map out yourself as you do parkour to each checkpoint, though I don't really get what these vending machines are supposed to do and why they give me geographic knowledge). I imagine I'm only just now dipping into the moral aspects of this game, considering that it's been slowly presenting me with the concept of machines as non-sentient rivals to humans. 9S already told me in no uncertain terms that machines can't think during the tutorial, and now we're seeing little ones toddle around the city with no urge to kill. Is this a glitch? Has the beauty of the environment distracted them from their purpose? Are they becoming sentient, sympathetic, maybe even rebellious beings that don't want us dead? I can't help but think that the design of the smaller ones in particular is intended to seem a little cute. Not so much when they're killing you, but I definitely feel guilt killing the lost ones in the city who do no harm. I'm wondering if there is almost a Shadow of the Colossus message in here somewhere - Just because it's different doesn't mean it isn't a sentient, emotional being worth keeping alive?

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    Sep 26th, 2018 at 23:14:57     -    Nier Automata (PC)

    The start of this game definitely feels a little slow. Maybe part of it is that you can't save the game until you finish the tutorial (On my first try I nearly finished it in an hour), which shouldn't be a problem for most people, but is highly inconvenient if you have to stop and do something else or if you, like me, get distracted by something unimportant during the first boss fight and are taken out in one hit, causing you to lose an hour's progress and forcing you to sit through the particularly slow first few minutes of narration and flight. I'm not bitter. At least I get to really solidify my understanding of the controls, as I forgot an important one about halfway through (when I had to stop and finish another assignment, which is really fun when you can't close the game because it will start over but you could really use the full use of your computer screen). So far it hasn't delved too much into the moral issues of the game, though - early game spoiler ahead! - the main character has to decide between saving her friend and protecting herself. This does seem like a bit of a weak plot point, though, as it's not an uncommon trope (character makes new friend, new friend is dorky but likable, new friend sacrifices themselves to protect the character) and we don't even have enough time to form a bond with the kid before he selflessly begs for us to leave him behind. And then, horror of all horrors, we leave him dying a slow and painful death while we go off to fight the boss again without a single bullet to put him out of his misery. Granted, this is the point where I became irritated from a narrative perspective and set down my controller to eat my snack, resulting in my character's sudden and abrupt death. A death screen flashes briefly to tell you that you've failed and robots will take over the earth, in about as many words - Despite the fact that you don't even have enough of the premise at this point to understand that you're protecting the earth from this fate. The credits scroll past nauseatingly fast and you're thrown back to the main menu, where some unimpressive UI design forces you back through several screens to find your previous game session and "continue" by restarting the game. Perhaps the goal of this is to create a stronger understanding of the impact of death. Many games have been criticized in the past for allowing too many attempts and too many deaths without consequences, maybe this is NieR's way of giving some finality to each loss of life. Still, the character we play as is impressively strong and can easily withstand hundreds of hits, so this message becomes a little blurred.

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