I was overly pessimistic in my 'two or three survivors' estimate for Ginger's Until Dawn
run; there were four!( Chapters eight to ten of Until Dawn.Collapse )
Late in the game, Ginger picked up on the fact that Mike's relationship stat with Sam had increased a lot.Ginger:
They're not going to get Sam and Mike together, are they?Riona:
Breaking my heart, they are not. I 'ship Sam and Mike a lot
Sam can do so much better!Riona:
I don't care!
Another stat observation:Ginger:
Huh. Chris has become less funny.Rei:
I don't think it's possible for him to become less funny.
I cracked up. Sorry, Chris.
Ginger's playthrough of Until Dawn
continues! We're now at the start of chapter eight. Some good decisions, some very bad ones.( Spoilers for the entirety of Until Dawn.Collapse )
This is so interesting to watch! The playthrough that introduced me to this game, by the Scary Games Squad, had the controller in the hands of someone who was extremely
good at QTEs, so it hadn't really hit me that decision-making isn't the only danger in Until Dawn
; most people don't hit every QTE effortlessly, and it's easy to lose someone to a mechanical slipup as well.
My housemate Ginger is now playing Until Dawn while Rei and I watch! I robbed myself of the opportunity to play this game unspoiled myself, so this is my vicarious first playthrough. We've only just finished the first chapter, so not much has actually happened yet.
It's been an absurdly warm day, or at least it's been absurdly warm for anyone who grew up in England, so there were a lot of envious noises at all the in-game snow. 'Lucky bastards. I mean, yes, they're probably about to die, but at least they'll die cold.'
The game really can't shut up about the butterfly effect in its first hour or so. We ended up cracking up at every mention of it, which slightly impaired the atmosphere.
Ginger commented that the butterfly shown in the opening ~ooh butterfly effect~ sequence has the same colouring as the butterfly representing Chloe in Life Is Strange. Chloe Price is behind the events of Until Dawn. It all makes sense now.
Ginger doesn't get along with the controls. 'It sort of makes me want to kill all of these characters, just as revenge on the game.' Please don't deliberately kill all the characters, Ginger.
Ginger finds the first totem (showing a glimpse of a possible future event in the game). I explain the concept:
Riona: So, if the totem shows you choking to death on a pie, you turn down the pie when it's offered to you later.
Rei: I'm not sure about that. I do really like pie.
Ginger: Are you willing to die for pie?
Rei: I am willing to chew very carefully.
Mike's intro screen: Intelligent. Driven. Persuasive.
Ginger agrees. I'm not at all surprised that my housemates immediately decided Mike was a dick (I can't even say they're wrong), but I still hope in my heart that they'll warm up to him later on.
Stupid Mike. Of course the arsehole ended up being my favourite character. Not that this game is short of arseholes.
I have been thinking way too much about the deaths in Until Dawn
.( Discussion of Until Dawn deaths. Major spoilers.Collapse )
Something that struck me while I was looking up character stats for this entry: Mike's 'romantic' stat is very high, whereas Sam's is very low. Setting them up for one of my favourite het relationship dynamics, where she's just here for a friends-with-benefits thing and he's painfully in love with her. Sorry, Mike.
'To be honest, I'm glad that Google considered my search for "nude Crash Bandicoot" and concluded, "I'm sure she meant new
Here is a reaction to some E3 game trailers!Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
: I'm more excited than I would have expected myself to be! I love the shot of Chloe beating up the car in the junkyard. She's a ball of rage and bad coping mechanisms, and it's great. My relationship with Chloe had a bit of a rocky start (she pointed at me and blamed me for her weed! I was slightly outraged!), but by this point I think I can appreciate her for the absolute mess of a person that she is.
I'm glad they're sticking with the soft, sort-of painted visual style of the original.
Are we going to see [unpleasant character] in this prequel? Rachel knew him, but we're playing as Chloe, and, when she first meets him in Life Is Strange
, they don't seem to know each other. So I suppose he won't be making an appearance. I, er, probably shouldn't be disappointed by that.Hidden Agenda
: something genuinely cool and new from the Until Dawn
developers! A multiplayer
anyone-can-die decision-based crime thriller, where you all vote on decisions. It seems like a great way to ruin friendships. I'm tempted.Assassin's Creed: Origins
: come on, another
male protagonist? Not counting spin-offs and handheld titles, there have been nine main Assassin's Creed
games, and the protagonist has been male in eight and a half of them. I was really hoping Ubisoft wouldn't go, 'Okay, you can play as a woman for part of Syndicate
, we've eaten our vegetables and now we can get back to dudes.' The setting looks gorgeous, but this game isn't really sparking any excitement in me yet. I'll probably warm up to it, though.
(To be honest, I can't be too grumpy about protagonist gender when all three of the other games in this list focus on two women, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I'm so happy. You're improving, videogame industry!)Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
: this looks like so much fun! Action! Adventure! Fraught 'I'll save your life, but that doesn't mean we're friends' partnerships! (Between two women! I don't think I've ever seen that before.) I'll miss Nate and Elena and Sully, but, if you'd said, 'Okay, the central trio are off the table, but we'll make a game about any other two Uncharted
characters you choose,' I would have asked for Chloe and Nadine. I can't believe this game is actually happening.
Surely, at some point, I'm going to go 'right, I've written enough post-Until Dawn
fanfiction about traumatised teenagers and I am free
This is not that point. Here is my fifth work of post-Until Dawn
fanfiction about traumatised teenagers.Title:
Moving OnFandom: Until DawnRating:
Sam and Mike do not have the healthiest coping strategies.( Moving OnCollapse )Part Two
Hey, I managed to write some fanfiction after all! Uncharacteristically, it is entirely devoid of Mike/Sam.
Emily, it turns out, is a lot of fun to write.Title:
BarricadeFandom: Until DawnRating:
Only Mike, Ashley and Emily survived the night. There's a certain amount of strain on their friendship, particularly when it becomes clear how Chris really died.( BarricadeCollapse )
I shouldn't have mentioned Until Dawn
in my last entry, because now I've fallen straight back into it! I want to write fanfiction, but I'm completely at a loss for ideas. I've already written 'my favourite character is in love with everyone else' and 'characters are forced to question their perception of reality', which are the things I seem to write in every fandom these days. 'Everyone trains Pokémon' is also a recurring theme in my fanfiction, but I'm not sure that would really suit Until Dawn
. I haven't written any Jess/Matt, which I do think is a really cute pairing, but I'm much more invested in Mike and in Mike/Sam than I am in anything else.
I'm just going to talk about some of my favourite moments and aspects of the game, in case it sparks something off. Not including the bear trap moment. I've already talked enough about the bear trap moment.
(I'm sorry, Mike. You just suffer so well. Every so often I check out the Tumblr tag for Until Dawn
, and sometimes people are talking about how they always shove Mike's fingers in the bear trap because they hate him. It's so strange to me. I want to see Mike's fingers caught in a bear trap because I love
him.)( Spoilers for Until Dawn.Collapse )
Well, I'm not sure this has spawned any inspiration for writing fanfiction, but I enjoy talking about this game anyway. Even if, before I robbed it of the ability to surprise me by spoiling myself for everything, it freaked me out so badly that I had trouble sleeping.
I hope you like it when I talk at excessive length about videogames, because it's that time again. Ginger, old friend and new housemate, is replaying Life Is Strange, and it's got me thinking about narrative choices.
In the last year, I've experienced three games - Life Is Strange, Until Dawn, Oxenfree - in which the gameplay consists almost solely of making choices. There's the occasional puzzle in Life Is Strange, there are QTEs in Until Dawn, but fundamentally these games are about the player making choices to shape the story.
In practice, these games have a linear story to tell. You can't drag the game down wholly different paths, in the way a Choose Your Own Adventure novel might offer. There are a handful of variables, but every playthrough will hit more or less the same story points and end in more or less the same way. Even in Until Dawn, where the way you play determines who lives and who dies, it's not possible to kill everyone off in the first few hours and make the game go '???? roll credits, I guess?' - certain characters are guaranteed to survive long enough to steer you to a predetermined endpoint. Ginger is currently doing an arsehole run of Life Is Strange, making all the horrible decisions they avoided on previous playthroughs, and at moments it's painful to watch, but it's still much the same story I experienced on my own run.
I mentioned this to Ginger, and their response was something I wasn't expecting: they put forward a case for games like this following roughly the same path and ending in roughly the same way, regardless of player choice. I'd always just assumed that 'your choices have as much impact as possible on the narrative' was the ideal point for these games to reach, and the current 'your choices can change small aspects of the story without actually changing the story's direction' situation was a result of budgetary and time constraints. But Ginger pointed out the social aspect to playing games like this: when you've finished a chapter or a game, you'll want to discuss it and theorise with other people playing the same game. If your choices could make Life Is Strange branch off onto one of ten different paths, that wouldn't be possible; you'd go, 'Hey, wasn't it strange when Max drank from the magical fountain and became a unicorn?' and nobody else would be able to discuss it with you, because only 10% of players even come across the magical fountain.
Thinking about it, this applies to fanfiction as well. In total, I've written ten works of fanfiction for these three narrative choice games, most of them set post-ending. If I hadn't been able to go 'yes, I know that the reader's playthrough will have ended in roughly the same way as mine and therefore they'll be able to tell what's going on here,' I'd never have been able to write them. I feel 'we'd better make things easier for the fanfic writers' is possibly not that high on the list of game developers' priorities, but I'm still glad that I was able to create things inspired by these games.
Life Is Strange also has strong themes of memory and nostalgia, of beautiful fleeting moments, of returning to where you came from and realising you're no longer the person you used to be. Would it be possible to write a game with twenty different endings and make its themes feel coherent?
You could argue that a game shouldn't try to be a film, and, while the developers going 'we know the story we're telling here; you can nudge the tiller occasionally, but we're the ones steering' makes for a better narrative, 'the reins are entirely in your hands! go wild!' would make for a better game. But I think I've been persuaded that greater freedom of choice shouldn't necessarily be the goal of all choice-based narrative games. Maybe Life Is Strange isn't an example of a genre that needs to develop; maybe it's a genre that's exactly where it needs to be.
It could still be fun to have the occasional cinematic game where your choices really do shape the narrative. But, for the moment, with all the budgetary issues involved, that might have to remain the domain of visual novels.
I do think choice-based games could do with fewer endings that explicitly undo the effects of all your choices, though. If the entire game consisted of the player making decisions, don't render those decisions meaningless!
Here is a video of Uncharted characters dancing to Boney M's 'Rasputin'
. It is the best video on the entire Internet. Rafe never particularly struck me as a character, but he is dancing his heart out, and I can respect that. I've watched this every time I've needed a bit of cheering up this week.
THE BOOKENING TITLE #13
: The Dream Thieves
, Maggie Stiefvater (Raven Cycle #2
)Apart from ruining the Gray Man's life, the Gray Man's plan had been going exceptionally well.
I got this for Christmas, and I've been reading it in an odd on-and-off way for several months, so it's difficult to say anything particularly intelligent about it; you can't get a good idea of the pacing or of how well the plot holds together if you read a book very slowly. So, in lieu of anything intelligent, here is the urgent e-mail I sent to th_esaurus
while Ronan and Kavinsky were having their dreamathon:Are Ronan and Kavinsky going to fuck? If they're not, I'm going to stop reading.
They did not, and I was unimpressed. But the book did seem perhaps to hint at some desire on one or both sides, and that's something!
I'm puzzled by my reaction to Ronan and Kavinsky. Individually, I don't care much about either of them. Together, though, they formed one of the most interesting aspects of this book for me. (Ronan's love for Matthew also helped me care a bit about him.)
I enjoyed the Gray Man. To my concern, I sliiiiightly found myself 'shipping him with Blue on their first meeting. Sorry about that.
Speaking of pairings with Blue: Blue and Gansey had some very sweet moments, and I loved the 'complicated tug' line, but I was mildly disappointed by the 'she accepted that she was in love with Gansey and therefore she wasn't in love with Adam' bit. I don't like love triangles with neat 'oh, actually I'm only in love with one of these guys' resolutions; if you have
to have a love triangle, I want it to be a horrible mess where Blue is in love with Adam and Gansey simultaneously, and also Ronan, and Noah, and the Gray Man, and Captain Jack Harkness.
That probably isn't technically a triangle.
Stiefvater's writing style is still my favourite part of these books. If this series had been written by a different person, with the same plot, I suspect it would never really have caught my interest. It's such a lovely, warm, poetic style, but I just find ley lines so dull! The Dream Thieves
is at least slightly less leyliney than The Raven Boys
, but the tradeoff is that it focuses a lot on Ronan, whereas I'm more interested in Blue, Gansey and Adam.
That said, as mentioned, I was fascinated by Ronan's relationship with Kavinsky. Between Kavinsky and the Gray Man, this book has far more compelling antagonistic figures than The Raven Boys
, and I think it's stronger for it.
It is time for a post about JAPANESE REALITY TELEVISION, because God knows my journal could do with being less accessible. I have watched all forty-six episodes of Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City
. I'm very sorry.Terrace House
is a Japanese reality series in which six young people share a house: three boys, three girls. It's not quite Big Brother
. There's no competition element, and they're not locked in the house; they can go freely about their daily lives. So you're essentially just watching some people living normally in a shared house. Very little actually happens. It's bizarrely compelling.
There's a rotating cast; if one person moves out, someone else will move in. Below the cut I will write up my thoughts on all of the housemates. Spoilers for the entirety of Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City
I'm making this entry and nobody can stop me.( Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the CityCollapse )
Well, I definitely just typed 1,500 words on the Japanese equivalent of Big Brother
. Excellent work, me.
Anyway, if you want to inflict this on yourself, it's on Netflix.
I've run out of Higurashi
! There are three remaining instalments, and they exist
- they were first released just over a decade ago - but they have yet to be re-released on Steam with better art and a fresh translation. So I suppose I'm just going to have to live in suspense until they come out at... some unknown point in the future. Why did I become so invested in this story?
I'm deeply sad that 'Meakashi' didn't have an all-cast review session. Keiichi never got to attend the game afterparties because he didn't have character art, and when he finally does
get character art there's no afterparty!( Spoilers for Higurashi: Meakashi (and Tatarigoroshi).Collapse )
This is so frustrating! Usually, when I run out of an in-progress work of fiction I'm enjoying, I can tide myself over until the next release by reading fanfiction, or writing fanfiction, or poking through reactions online. But I can't write fanfiction when there are so many mysteries I don't know the answers to, and any existing fanworks or online discussions will be ridden with spoilers for later games. So I've played through fifty hours of this series and suddenly hit a brick wall.
In any case, this is a fine addition to my increasingly worrying collection of videogames about teenagers being horribly traumatised.
'Imagine that your favourite cosplay is stripped entirely naked because of your stupid desire. Now, think! If you take all of their clothes off, that's not cosplay anymore, is it?! That sort of video is rampant lately! It's just lamentable! Humans without clothes aren't civilised, they're animals! If only naked girls excited you, you'd be a pack of dogs.'
Direct quote from Higurashi: When They Cry
. This is a game about murder.
I love that Keiichi steps in in an attempt to save Shion and then goes '????? I've just realised this is a genuinely dangerous situation and I have no idea what I'm doing!' Keiichi, you're hopeless.
(I'm so used to being inside Keiichi's head! It's weird to see him from the perspective of a different character.)
I'm around chapter twelve of instalment five, 'Meakashi', and by this point it would probably make most sense to finish playing before posting an entry, but TOO BAD; I have a lot to say and I'm posting an entry right now.( Spoilers for Higurashi: Meakashi.Collapse )
I suppose this is making up nicely for the fourth instalment being insufficiently horrifying, at least.
Here is an entry of bullet points, because today I have nothing to say that exceeds a paragraph.
- I'm a little further in Tales of the Abyss
, and GUY CECIL IS SUCH A GOOD FRIEND. I want to be friends with Guy Cecil. Sadly, his phobia of being touched by women presents an obstacle to hugging, but other than that I think we could get along pretty well. (I'd have to accept that Luke would always be his priority, of course, but it would be unreasonable of me to grumble when his fondness for Luke is the reason I want to be friends with him in the first place.)
- Verdict on the fourth instalment of Higurashi
, 'Himatsubushi': NO KEIICHI, TERRIBLE INSTALMENT. I'm here to fondly watch Keiichi suffer, Higurashi
! I signed up for psychological horror and teenagers internally collapsing, not cop drama!
- There's also a sad lack of Keiichi in instalment five ('Meakashi') so far, but at least it's got the 'teenagers internally collapsing' aspect (and Keiichi's name appeared in the puzzling opening credits that only actually credited fictional characters, rather than any real people, so I suspect he'll show up later on). 'Meakashi' also contains a version
of a song
I listened to a lot nine years ago, and it was incredibly
disconcerting to hear it in context and go 'wait, I recognise that tune'; I'd forgotten Higurashi
was the original source! It was like seeing Troy bring pizza into the burning room in Community
and going WAIT, I'VE SEEN THIS GIF.
- Recently, I watched the first episode of a Ukrainian crime drama entitled THE SNIFFER, about a man who solves crime with his superhuman sense of smell. It contains, you'll be pleased to hear, intense CGI sequences where he draws in a deep breath at the crime scene and all the smells swirl and scurry around, forming a picture of what happened there. The killer was trying to quit smoking. He was wearing a nicotine patch; it was on his right arm. A whirlwind of scent surrounds you. There's so much blood in the air. If a cat enters the room, you will have an allergic reaction so strong you won't be able to leave your flat for three days. Your wife left you long ago; your son is involved in drug dealing. Why were you cursed with this incredible nose?
- (I said I wasn't playing Higurashi
for cop drama, but I'd definitely play an instalment in which THE SNIFFER tried to get to the bottom of the mysterious happenings in the village.)
- A recent dream I somehow failed to record here: I dreamt I met Sherlock Holmes as played by Benedict Cumberbatch and he declared with ferocious pride that he had ‘all the penises’, and he stripped off his trousers and pants in one motion to reveal he had a cluster of one big penis surrounded by lots of tiny penises, and I woke up feeling incredibly troubled.
I haven't touched Doctor Who
for a few years; I realised early in the Twelfth Doctor's era that I'd stopped enjoying it, and I didn't want to end up grumbling constantly while everyone else was trying to have fun. (The Twelfth Doctor never stood much of a chance, to be honest, because Matt Smith is
the Doctor in my heart. Perhaps even more so than Christopher Eccleston, who was the Doctor who introduced me to Doctor Who
But I thought it might be interesting to watch the new companion's debut, because 'it's a new companion!' episodes tend to take someone living an ordinary life and plonk them down in the middle of intense weirdness, which is something I enjoy watching.
So I watched 'The Pilot'. And it was fun! I enjoyed an episode of Doctor Who
! I'm excited about this!( Notes on Doctor Who, 'The Pilot'.Collapse )
Maybe I'll give the next few episodes a try. Even if Peter Capaldi continues, inconsiderately, not to be Matt Smith.
Well, well, Luke. A lovely lady on each arm?Tear:
I... I'm not... We're not...Luke:
He's not talking about you. He must mean Anise and Mieu.
Luke, you little shit
.Tales of the Abyss
is so charming! It won me over very quickly. It reminds me a little of Bravely Default
, actually, what with all the optional ridiculous conversations between your party members.
I'm curious about the fact that Guy is apparently in the habit of creeping through Luke's bedroom window to chat and fleeing before anyone else spots him there.
Below the cut are my thoughts on the first eight hours of Tales of the Abyss
! I'm just past Chesedonia.( Early impressions of Tales of the Abyss.Collapse )
I'm excited to see where this story is going! But I'm much more
excited to see what stupid conversations my party members are going to have next.