Wednesday 20 July 2016

Within the Fissure

From the moments after that foreboding introduction, given by the world’s weariest writer - holed up in his lonely yet wonderfully byzantine cave, you know this adventure is going to be something different, something to remember. Sure it followed one of the best selling PC games of all time that many would argue eclipse it’s place in history but I write this piece to heartily disagree with that sentiment and argue instead that in the nearly 20 years since it’s release nothing has matched this rich sequel in terms of ambition, complexity, scope, and sheer worldbuilding bravura. Riven is nothing short of a masterpiece that carved a fissure in my heart and links to a place in my imagination so singular, so enigmatic it continues to send shivers down my spine all these years later. In the forlorn words of Atrus: 
“For reasons you’ll discover I can’t send you to Riven with a way out”

Saturday 9 May 2015

A Vertical Slice of Charm

Bounding across abyssal drops as you scramble for purchase on a stark cliff face; Soaring through a cyan sky bled amber by the sunset, while gliding majestically under the wing of a giant leaf; Gazing in wonder after summiting that plateau you had long been working towards, looking out across the bubble-gum fantasy land stretching before you: Just some of the regular activities to undertake as you absorb the bright, youthful, rhythmic pleasures of Grow Home. Yes, there’s gonna be hyperbole and yes, the luminous glow of my strong recommendation already burns bright.

Thursday 16 April 2015

The Real Tonnochi Road

‘You are an unfamiliar face on Tonnochi Road.’ What a great line. Even spoken in that painful, bordering-on-racist, fake Chinese accent you couldn’t want for a more fitting introduction to that shady clu-de-sac of secrets, power play, conspiratorial triad machinations and Maggie Chow. It was a special moment within a special game, and arguably progenitor to many a great game location since - from City 17 to Colombia, not to mention a certain excellent website. Shameless self-promotion aside Tonnochi Road (The game locale) is a place that warrants a revisit. Just what was going down on that Honk Kong street? Who was really visiting who? And why for all of JC’s globetrotting adventures was that the place that stuck in my memory after all these years. Let’s break it down.

Saturday 24 January 2015


Spectacular yet ugly, pulse pounding yet hum-drum, modern yet embarrassingly outdated, but most of all and without duality, Watch Dogs is a deeply cynical game. As I type these words I already feel the tone my writing is taking on. I feel bad to judge quite so harshly. Ubisoft's latest is by no means terrible and could certainly be recognised for it's technical accomplishments alone. But ultimately I’d like to think we play games to be inspired. The trouble is that not only does Watch Dogs lack original inspiration but it actually doubles down on the hollow pleasures of familiar satisfaction, all the while drowning the experience in a sickly sauce of bankrupt ideas and ugly sentiment. Yup, this review ain’t gonna be pretty either!

Sunday 23 November 2014

On Edge

I’ve just found a neat toy. Superficially it’s a strange-looking gun – with seemingly no visual clues as to its nature. Curious. I pick it up and pull the trigger expecting, as usual, some kind of interesting projectile. But rather than bullets, it materialises a human figure. It’s me! An identical copy – a clone. Surreal, I know. As I walk, he (it?) blindly mimics my action. Hmm, so more of an empty vessel then than any kind of a real person. I shoot again – my triplicate! Again – my quintuplet! I freestyle shooting up into the air. Just as before another appears only this time he is falling. His feet hit the floor first to an audible crack of bones. His limp body then collapses into a heap, lifeless. Air from his ruptured spacesuit hisses out. I stare into the middle distance. Suddenly I don’t feel quite so playful.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Keep calm and avoid the killer robots

Having recently finished a ritual slog through the rebooted ‘Thief’ (How I forced myself to play through the entirety of that dross I can only attribute to some kind of rabid frothing loyalty to the genius of the original) anyone could be forgiven that thinking that stealth – and I mean real stealth (Forgetteth not Original Thief, Hitman: Blood Money, System Shock etc.) was surely dead. Perhaps the harsh unforgiving landscape of the original hard-core PC genre is simply too much for the AAA studios of today to stomach - given how most of their output has become about as creatively impotent as Michael Bay directing the latest Transformers snore-fest. Well it turns out not all is lost as once again an indie darling swoops in to save the genre with the excellent (if not perfect) Sir, you are being hunted.

Sunday 17 November 2013

To go boldly...

You may have studied it in Physics lessons or dreamt about it after an episode of Star Trek, but that starry expanse has never quite felt as vivid or captivating as this before. It may be a stretch for some, but trust me when I say that with a little perseverance and a grand spirit for adventure, Kerbal Space Program can take you into realms of your imagination you never thought possible through this, our humble medium.