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Friday, 18 August 2017

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Senua's Sacrifice

Was ... Was everyone except me aware of this game? I swear, I'd never even heard of it before it was already out and getting reviewed, and even then, I only actually heard about it because of the controversy over Jim Sterling's initial low review score for it. Were it not for that, this game would have completely gone over my head, possibly for months.

Which would have been a shame. A perfect game, Hellblade is not -- it's nowhere even in the vague ballpark of perfect -- but a meticulously researched, artistically driven game that clearly had a lot of passion and care put into it by developer Ninja Theory it is, and it's one of the most devastatingly realistic portrayals of psychosis in fiction, and certainly the most realistic in video games. It was only able to achieve that feat because Ninja Theory consulted heavily with neuroscientists, the Wellcome Trust, and people who suffer from schizophrenia.

It's also worth mentioning that this game was worked on by just twenty people, a comparatively tiny amount for a triple-A game.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Dark Shadows (2012) (Review by Reecey.)

Dark Shadows (2012)
(Review by Reecey.)

Let’s start with this basic fact about the film Dark Shadows: Everything that happens in this film is Barnabas’ fault.

Everything and absolutely.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E7: Where Freedom Lies

Episode 7
Where Freedom Lies.

So, in last week's review, I said that we were now set-up for a battle between Mordred (Saber of Red) and Chiron (Archer of Black), which despite being a totally random match-up, is at least a potentially compelling one, given that they're the two most sympathetic Servants in the cast by quite a wide margin. Similarly, I said we were set-up for a battle with Sisigou on one side, and Fiore and Caules on the other, which is -- less compelling, but never mind.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Teen Wolf S5E13: After Images

Teen Wolf
Series 5, Episode 13
After Images

As we head into the thirteenth episode of Teen Wolf, we all have a very tense, suspenseful question on our minds: Will anything actually happen in this episode?

Well, the answer is yes! Or sort of. I'm beating an old drum here, but Teen Wolf has a terrible problem with not being able to decide between episodic and serialised storytelling, and that's a problem because while each form of story has to achieve a similar goal with its episodes -- telling a discrete arc that builds to a climax -- the methods they use to do so are very different.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E5: Eastwatch

Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 5

We are now officially in the second half of this series, and man, it has flown by -- and yet, oddly, it almost feels like not a lot has happened, even though this series has, objectively speaking, been jam-packed, with several engagements between Daenerys' and Cersei's forces, Jon going to Dragonstone to negotiate with Daenerys, Sam learning some vital information, and Bran and Arya both returning to Winterfell.

Fans who aren't suffering from anterograde amnesia will remember that last week saw Daenerys and the Dothraki kicking Jaime's behind up and down the Reach in what was probably the biggest battle of the series so far; Sansa being understandably upset that one of her siblings is an assassin and the other one hasn't even the most basic decorum; and Cersei meandering around with Mark Gatiss, one of the two showrunners of Sherlock, and promising him cash.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within E1: The Enigma

Telltale Games' Batman: The Enemy Within
Episode 1
The Enigma.

It's no secret that Telltale Games' first Batman-related outing failed to impress me: Not only was it aggressively more of the same (if you've played one Telltale series, you really have played them all), but its story was horribly mishandled and had a terrible tendency towards trampling over canon -- and not in a cool, transformative way, but in a 'rakish, ex-prizefighter Penguin' sort of way.

Well, the bad news is that I'm already predisposed towards not liking this series, either, largely because it was released alongside the reveal that another Tales from the Borderlands isn't on the cards right now. Still, let's do our best to put that aside and, with eyes unclouded by hate, take a good look at Telltale's second Batman series.

Friday, 11 August 2017

What We're Watching 11/8/17

What We're Watching

Jikan no Shihaisha.

Jikan no Shihaisha has just hit the end of its first arc -- an arc which rather bafflingly functions like an accelerated version of every shounen battle anime ever made -- but still insists on being frustratingly vague about things. Is Aisrehdar good or evil? Who knows. Is Mina really Victo's wife? Who knows. What are the Horologues? Who knows.

I don't even think the writers know.

Still, we're embarking on a new arc, now, as Victo, Kiri, Mina, and Blaze are all heading off to try to regain Victo's lost time. I admit, the little family unit the show has made -- with Kiri as the youngest child, Blaze as his older brother, Victo as the father, and Mina as Schrodinger's Mother -- is pretty cute, so I'll forgive it a lot of its sins.

Which are many, incidentally. So very many.

A family unit.

The Mist.

With just two episodes to go, this series has finally revealed the plot twist we all saw coming from, like, episode two: That Adrien, professional demisexual dude (and that's -- that's actually basically the sum total of his personality), was Alex's rapist all along. The show laughably presents this as if it's a shocking twist, and to be entirely fair to it, it was trying really hard to make it shocking, primarily by not foreshadowing it at all, ever, until the five minute expository sequence where we're told.

I suppose that, also, is an achievement of sorts: To not foreshadow a plot twist at all, and yet have it be entirely obvious to everyone watching.

In other highlights, we have Nathalie, previously the only interesting character in the show, losing all semblance of depth; Eve locking Jay in a cupboard; and Shelley showing some delightful hints of turning into a compelling character, seconds before she's clubbed to death. Good going, show! It's what Stephen King would have wanted, if he was alive today, which he is, so good for him.

Good for him.

Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi.

Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi no Togi has, some five episodes in, finally revealed the backstory of that waifish green-eyed girl who follows Hell Girl around, even though none of us care about said girl's backstory, none of us care about girl, and actually her backstory is more confusing than anything, since she seems to suddenly and unexplainedly manifest crazy fire manipulation powers four minutes from the end.

It's odd, because the green-eyed girl (she has a name, I just never learned it or any of the character's names) is clearly an attempt to inject a plot into a show that doesn't really need or suit a plot, since it's main mode is a series of smaller stories about the people who use Hell Girl to get revenge, rather than necessarily being about Hell Girl, her team, or any of the supernatural shenanigans surrounding them.

Still, we get that backstory, and said backstory is 'sometimes people are murder-y.' Honestly didn't need to spend a whole episode on that.

I will never learn any of these character's names. You hear me? Never.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Darkside Detective [Reecey]

The Darkside Detective.

(Review by Reecey.)

I like American style detectives.

You know the kind, shabbily dressed, trench coat, crappy office, bad jokes, looks like they’ll talk about a dame being obviously trouble from the moment that she walked in …

One day, the law allowing women to marry fictional robot men will be passed.

... the whole Noir shebang. Maybe it’s because I watched Who Framed Roger Rabbit a lot as a child, or maybe I’m a reincarnated pair of legs with a cigarette holder, but whatever it is, it just speaks to me.

So when I see a game that has a shabby trench coat wearing detective called McQueen in it who is fighting supernatural crime on Steam, it’s a match made in heaven.

I was not disappointed, I can promise you that.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Teen Wolf S7E12: Raw Talent

Teen Wolf
Series 7, Episode 12
Raw Talent.

The early episodes of a new series (half-series?) of Teen Wolf are always awkward to review, on account of how basically nothing ever happens in them. Honestly, I'd challenge anyone to point out where this episode actually moves the plot along, because to my eyes it seems to be forty minutes of people pottering around being foreboding at things. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E6: Knight of Rebellion.

Episode 6
Knight of Rebellion.

We're kicking off the second act of this utterly ridiculous, terrible show this week, and we're doing it the only way Fate/Apocrypha knows how -- by jumping the shark. Again. Several times over. Because why wouldn't it? Why would it even bother at a pretense of quality.

With orders from Shirou and the rest of the Red Faction, Sisigou and Mordred (Saber of Red) head to Sighisoara, chasing down rumours of a serial killer that has murdered every magi to enter the town, and who has been stealing and eating hearts, with Sisigou guessing that the serial killer is a Servant. Meanwhile, Fiore and Chiron (Archer of Black) are also dispatched to investigate, with Caules setting out after them. Elsewhere, Avicebron (Caster of Black), Vlad (Lancer of Black), and Darnic plot to use Gordes -- now useless to them after the death of Siegfried -- as the core of Avicebron's Noble Phantasm, while Shirou's Servant, Semiramis (Assassin of Red), completes hers: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Game of Thrones S7E4: The Spoils of War

Game of Thrones
Series 7, Episode 4
The Spoils of War.

So, we've now officially reached the halfway point of the series. Well, ish -- by my reckoning, we've watched about two-hundred-and-fifteen minutes, and there should be about two-hundred-and-seven more to go. 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Voltron: Legendary Defender S3

Voltron: Legendary Defender
Series 3.

Fandom's proclivity towards confusing what they want, what they think, and what they know is a curious thing. Prior to watching this series, I encountered a storm of seeming-spoilers online, as people rambled about a plot twist late in the series -- only to discover when I actually watched it that that plot twist hadn't even happened, it was just a fan theory that people had seen and taken as hard fact.

A peril of the post-facts world, I guess, and although it leaves me in the odd position where I'm reviewing yesterday's canon rather than today's reworked, re-filtered canon, it does at least mean I wasn't spoiled, so that's nice.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Editorial: 4 Really Good Visual Novel Openings

Editorial: 4 Really Good Visual Novel Openings.

Today was nominally going to be a Castlevania review, but as focusing today is basically impossible, I'm here to instead offer you some really good visual novel openings, because I've spent today watching visual novel openings and because this blog's remit is open enough for me to just do whatever.

Go figure.

Dandelion - Wishes Brought To You.

Dandelion - Wishes Brought To You is a game about a bunch of cats and rabbits that are transmogrified into a gang of attractive young men, and also there's a wizard, and some kind of deal where they vanish after a certain amount of time? It's been a while.

What it's definitely not is a dramatic enough story to warrant this slick, fast-paced opening, which includes its very own Standard Anime Villain Shot, of all things, and seems intent on convincing you that this is a story that is heavy on intrigue, action, and drama. Also, photographs. Also, small furry animals.

This is a pattern that's going to be showing up a lot in this editorial, and I think the only conclusion we can come to is that the otome market is just not playing around when it comes to openings.

Collar x Malice.

I've never played Collar x Malice (which is only on the PS Vita, which I don't have, and not yet available in English anyway), but apparently it's about detectives, and some mysterious incident, and people in animal masks, and all those other things that scream 'intriguing psychological drama' despite the fact that it's probably not an intriguing psychological drama.

The opening certainly makes it look like a psychological crime drama, though, with a heavy tilt towards surreality, mystery, and people angrily pointing guns at each other, overlaid onto a song that wouldn't sound out of place on a Psycho-Pass soundtrack, and shot through with plenty of imagery involving flowers, coins, cats, and so on, and so forth.

Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel.

The only opening on this list that doesn't come from an otome game, this is coincidentally also the worst opening on this list -- although that probably has more to do with it being a Type-Moon property and with Type-Moon being just terrible.

Still, it's a decently dramatic opening, with lots of people looking ominously at the camera and/or charging big energy attacks, and it even has some genuinely pretty good visual moments -- such as the very beginning, which depicts shadowy people loping through a drowned Tokyo -- to create a sense of intrigue.

Unfortunately, it's a Type-Moon game, and so terrible. Just so we're all clear on that.

Yuukyou no Tierblade - Lost Chronicle - .

Full disclosure: I have very little idea what this game is about.

It's post-apocalyptic, apparently, and sort of fantasy-y, and there are giant robots involved, and the main character is from before the apocalypse, and there's a bunch of dudes with different giant robots, and they're all doing stuff.

You know, the usual stuff.

The opening is gorgeous, though, promising soft, gentle, pretty fantasy shenanigans, and would have single-handedly convinced me to play it if this game had ever been released in the West and if it wasn't on the Playstation Vita, a handheld console that neither I nor anyone else I know even owns.

Still. Super pretty.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

What We're Watching 3/8/17

What We're Watching

My Hero Academia.

So, I've finally caught up on My Hero Academia, and I have to say, I've really enjoyed it so far -- but I admit I enjoyed the first series more than the second.

It's not that the second series was bad, it's just that it had a stretch of episodes (specifically, the ones covering the one-on-one battles in the School Festival) that just sort of dragged, with the show trying to pack in a lot of one-on-one battles (I think we had Midoriya vs Shinso, Iida vs Hatsume, Bakugou vs Uraraka, Midoriya vs Todoroki, and Bakugou vs Todoroki getting a heavy focus, and a good dozen more briefer battles) that never really felt that distinct from each other or that interesting.

The show picked up pretty sharp-like with the internship arc, an arc focusing squarely on Midoriya and Iida, with a kind of mini-villain detached from the main plot in the form of hero-murdering ninja Stain, and that was exciting enough that I ended up mainlining that entire arc all in one go.

I'm actually kind of disappointed that I have to wait a week between episodes now.

Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones is nearly at its halfway point for this series, and it's actually been really good so far: Cersei, now queen, has been set up as a significant threat to the ambitions of both Daenerys and Jon; the White Walkers are nearly at the Wall; and we have strife in the North with various fraught family reunions, including Bran having apparently forgotten that it's rude to casually remind your sister of her violent rape.

Good going, Bran. You know everything now, except basic common sense, apparently.

In just a few days, the show will hit its halfway point proper, and it seems determined to do so with a bang -- and by 'bang,' I mostly mean 'dragons causing problems for Cersei.'

Speaking of, man, I thought Dragonstone was near Storm's End, but it's apparently literally right next to Kings Landing. That's convenient, I suppose, if not also rather dangerous.

Teen Wolf.

Teen Wolf has started again, and it's just as incoherent and poorly thought out as it was when we left it -- although this time it appears to have a villain more terrifying than 'some men with horses.' What that villain is isn't clear, but it seems to be some kind of spider-related fear creature.

(We know deities exist in some form in this universe, so you may as well bring in a god and go out with a bang, Teen Wolf.)

The series is slated for nine more episodes, but a reboot has already been announced and is presumably well into production at this point, so one way or another, it seems unlikely that this show is going to be off our screens for very long.

And Now, A Word From Reecey

And Now, A Word From Reecey.

Sorry, there won’t be a proper post from me today, I’ve had something of a hectic week and a stressful day.

I will, however, offer you a list of the things I plan to review over the next month as penance.

For your consideration:

The Darkside Detective 10/8/17

Dark Shadows 17/8/17

Old Magic 24/8/17

Old Harry’s Game Series Three

Starting a schedule seems like a good plan, and this is a good first step in achieving this. Who knows? Maybe I can eventually contribute -gasp- multiple times a week.

I’m looking at you, Sundays.

So, again my apologies, and I look forward to sharing these reviews with you!

Have a nice day!

Editor's note: Stay tuned today, though, because we'll have a What We're Watching up before long.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E5: Will of Heaven

Episode 5
Will of Heaven

We're now officially one fifth of the way through this accursed hellshow. Hooray. It also marks the end of this story's first act, with a major change in status quo, at least one reveal as to what on earth is even going on, and the two factions set to clash in Sighisoara, which is an actual city -- one that we even mentioned before when we were talking about how traveling in this series makes no sense.

All of that makes the episode sound much more exciting than it is, so let me be completely clear and up-front: This episode is boring. Like the entirety of this series thus far, it's just twenty minutes of nothing. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Teen Wolf S6E11: Said The Spider To The Fly

Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 11
Said The Spider To The Fly.

What an unwieldy title.

Anyway, hello, everyone. Teen Wolf has returned for its final stretch of ten episodes, and since we've been reviewing it as an ongoing almost since the creation of this blog (way back since series four, I think?) it seemed only right that we return to covering it for the duration of its swan song, however much of an unforgivable mess that swan song will be.

And oh, man, it will be a mess. Hamstrung by the same problems that faced the first chunk of series six (having Dylan O'Brien, one of its main stars, busy with other commitments, having several of its other more interesting cast members having peaced out, and struggling to combine the serialised storytelling it really needs with the episodic storytelling the showrunners clearly want), the second act of series six also has to deliver both a satisfying conclusion to the story and plenty of fanservice (of the wholesome 'having old characters return' type, with Derek, Stiles, Jackson, and Ethan all confirmed to be returning -- although not Kira, unfortunately). Interestingly, MTV has already announced that they intend to reboot the series very soon, so I guess that's a thing.