Archive for Christmas

Home From the Holidays

Posted in All the Things, Creepypastas and General Writing with tags , , on December 29, 2012 by trivialpunk

I’m trying my hand at writing creepypastas, because I like the freedom that the short, crisp narratives encourage, which clash so profusely with my normally verbose style. I’ll post my efforts here, as well. Enjoy!

Sophie slid the key into the lock with a measured sigh of relief. It had been a long Christmas holiday away from home and away from Steve. He’d been looking after her cat while she was away and, while she’d already intended to repay the favour in a number of “creative” ways, she was doubly touched by the box of, her favourite, Toffifees he’d left on her pillow.

“Sweets for my Sweetie,” he’d written in the stark, but loopy, hand that perfectly reflected his personality.

She smiled to herself. Sophie knew they’d fought a little before she’d left, mostly over his decision to stay home, away from her prying family, for the holidays. It had made things a bit awkward when they asked about him, but she’d explained that he was very sick and needed to stay home. In a perverse way, it made him seem more sympathetic, because now he was at his flat, but alone and sick, for the holidays. It helped that they hadn’t met him yet. It had been a boon as she’d scrambled to scrape together an explanation for the kind of life she’d made out of reviewing games with Steve.

“Just got in, when’re you coming round? I can’t wait to attack you when you get home… sweetie ;)” she texted him before throwing her phone on the bed with a tired sigh and shrugging off her travel clothes.

It seemed like he’d stayed the night at least once, probably last night, because the sheets and pillows were a mess, and the bathroom smelled of Febreze and too much fruity soap. Sophie had long ago stopped holding out for a man that understood how loofahs and lathering worked. He must have just stepped out, because the faucet was still dripping behind the curtain and the room held the slight damp of a hot shower.

Her phone binged from the other room. If it was Steve, then she’d need to know how much time she had before he got to her place. Maybe a shave was in order?

No such luck. He’d replied with a, “Coming right over! See you in five :3”

“Crap.”

“Alright, door’s open!” she replied.

Her legs wouldn’t be silky smooth, but it was his own fault for not giving her any time. She’d easily forgive that, though, because she’d missed him just as much. So, she grabbed a towel from the linen closet, dashed into the washroom, and pulled back the curtain, retching in horror.

A naked, masticated torso lay silently in the tub. Stretched across the faucet was the remnant of the skin of Steve’s face, with two brutally carved X’s where the eyes should be. Blood had been cleaned from each and every wound… even the cat-bites. Overwhelmed with disgust, fear, and utter bewilderment, Sophie sank to her knees with retching sobs that threatened to turn into vomit.

Not now, though. She chastised herself. She needed to focus. Call the police. Coughing, she pulled herself shakily to her feet and ran for her phone, locking the bedroom door behind her.

A new text reading, “I’m downstairs, sweetie <3” flashed across her screen and she understood, from the sounds on the staircase, that help was too far away.

Top 5 Lists and Such

Posted in All the Things, Everything Else, Game Reviews with tags , , , , on December 21, 2012 by trivialpunk

It being money-haemorrhage season, I thought I’d make a list of the Top 5 games I played this year to help you with your purchasing decisions. Then, I thought, why not make a list of my Worst 5 games so you’ll know what to avoid. Then, I thought, I wish I could download all these Steam games from the Christmas sale without destroying my bandwidth so I could write this to the soothing sounds of the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society.. a very Cthulhu Christmas… seriously, follow this link. You’ll see what I mean.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptP0OR-e7rI

So, the theme of these lists will be things you can download from Steam and the Android store, partly for your convenience, and partly because half of it’s on sale right now! Not all of these came out this year, because, while I like to keep up with games, I also like: having money in my wallet, and passing all of my courses. Besides, we’ve got all of gaming history to choose from!

Worst Games…

5. Dead Pixels – This was a game that had a lot of potential, but they tried to cram too much in. It’s a decent game when you can play it, but there’s so much faffing around trying to get to the point where you’ll be able to free-run and shoot zombies that I just can’t recommend it. It’s number 5 though, so it’s still playable.

4.Dead Island – One of those games that explains itself almost entirely in the name. You’re on an island, there are zombies, go. I started out really liking this game, but I got a horrible creeping sensation as I continued playing… this is World of Warcraft, but shallow. The weapon customization is token at best, and, while beautiful, I can’t forgive a game where wearing heels doesn’t cause extra kicking damage. The thugs suck, too.

3. Hamlet or the last game with MMORPG Elements… – I know, this game is coated in pretension. That, and it’s a cheap indie title, so why is it on here? Because, it looks and feels good to play, at first, but it’s just so short and flat. Most of the puzzles solve themselves, even without the Hint function, and the ones that don’t follow the worst kind of adventure game logic. The story is a re-hash, a badly done one at that, and the game-play is boring. It’s just… a bad game. I felt bad for playing it. Still, I finished it, so that should say something.

2. League of Legends – Some people think this game eats chocolate and shits gold, and I can see why they’d think that, but I’m putting this here as a friendly warning to anyone thinking of getting into it. The community is full of angry people. The game-play is well-executed, but the money and experience systems are incredibly manipulative. The game has so many heroes, and a constant system of created imbalance, that I’m not sure you can escape once you’ve put in the requisite hours to learn what you need to to play it well. However, the developers are pretty close to the community. If you want to immerse yourself completely in something teeth-grindingly, friendship-breakingly frustrating, then I’d recommend it, and it’s free-to-play. BUT, in terms of being fun or easy to pick up and enjoy, I’m going to say, “avoid it.” You get it on-line, that’s why it’s on this list in particular, even though it’s not a Steam game. Well-crafted, but it’s more a job than a game.

1. Will be saved for the end. Aww 😦

Yay! Now I get to talk about games I like! It’s hard for me to find games that I can’t recommend for some reason or another. Even my second-worst “game I’ve played this year” choice had its merits. It’s just that the rest of it has had such a glaringly negative effect on the people around me that it got shoved into the bin. Now, though, I get to tell you about some wonderful experiences!

5. Legend of Grimrock – This was going to be Psychonauts’ spot, but it disqualified itself because I just wrote a review on it yesterday. LoGrimrock is a really interesting take on the dungeon crawler. You walk in lock-step around a grid like a group of really intimate D&D characters. The puzzles are interesting and intuitive, while still having really simple puzzle-mechanisms. If you want to look at how to employ interesting puzzles in a game with a simplistic design, then give this a go. There are very few games out there like this.

4. Crysis 2 – If you’ve got an over-powered Atari simulator like I do, then I’d recommend this game. It’s a solid shooter with some well-implemented, basic upgrade elements. Granted, you don’t so much level, as augment your weapons and suit, but, then again, you don’t so much shoot at things as place bullets within them. It looks good, feels good and plays well. It’s solid.

3. Borderlands 2 and Diablo 3 – These games are good. If you liked Borderlands 1, then you’ll enjoy its sequel. The same goes for Diablo. If you liked Borderlands 1, then you’ll like it. They’re essentially the same game with the same problems. Re-playability, except for the rabid, is stunted, but the games themselves are marvellous. If you like collecting loot, following a linear story, and killing tons of dudes, then I’d recommend either. Diablo for the Diablo-style connoisseur and Borderlands 2 for the shooter enthusiast.

2. FTL: Faster Than Light – This game sort of came out of nowhere for me. It’s sort of like a rogue-like, but in space, with missiles, and a giant enemy craft at the end. There are unlockable ships that really switch up game-play, and an interesting universe to explore. It’s not the biggest game ever, but the price is right and the game is awesome. Painkiller Hell and Damnation had this spot locked until I noticed that I had too many shooters on the list. Sowwy!

1. Yeah, I’m doing that again.

Before we finish up and award the used-needle-filled slime-bucket to the Worst Game and the Golden Coconut-Creme-Topped Cheese Cake to the Best Game, I’m going to give you a couple other titles to think about. These games are either interesting, or well put together. Again, still available on Steam.

Alan Wake
Bastion
Deadlight
Edna & harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes
LIMBO
Lone Survivor
Psychonauts
Sequence
The Stanley Parable
XCOM: Enemy Uknown
SpaceChem

Alright, before we hand out the big awards, let’s hit up a few minor ones…

Best Interactive Story – Gaming is a primarily interactive medium, so you’d think all games could hold some claim to this title. You’d be wrong. These games are all story, and they’re good. They actually change themselves to respond to your actions without needing a morality meter. These are just stories.

Runner Up…. Home – This game almost took the title, with its branching binary paths and deliciously creepy atmosphere, but it got beat out by a stronger opponent.

A Winner Is… Dear Esther – This title had me and three of my friends sitting in front of the screen watching a fourth play through it. Then, we each had a go. Give it a try.

Most Critically Recommended – These games I didn’t hear enough about. Seriously, I’ve heard some games repeatedly recommended, so I thought that, even though I haven’t played them yet, I’d put them on this list.

Runner Up… Fallout 3 – Critics love this game. I guess there aren’t many like it, so it might be time to give it a shot… provided that you have the time.

A Winner Is… Spec Ops: The Line – I know a lot of people were surprised by this game, and it’s downloading again as we speak, so I had to put it on here. If you haven’t played it, then give it a go. Just keep an open mind.

Game I had the Most Fun With – These aren’t games that are necessarily good. I just really, really enjoyed them.

Runner Up… Super Hexagon – The pounding music and interesting difficulty curve had me coming back for more for hours, even though I lost constantly. Loved every moment of it!

A Winner Is… Symphony – I love any game that can combine my favorite songs with a fast-paced, well-balanced top-down shooter. It’s shiny, fast-paced (If you’re into that sort of music), and it just feels good. The difficulty curve ramps up nicely, as well.

Zach’s Pick! I asked someone named Zach what he’d rate as their number one game and he came up with…

Runner Up… Guild Wars 2 – If you’re not into MMOs, but would like to be, then give this a go. It might ruin you for others, though 😉

A Winner Is… The Walking Dead – fun, fast-paced interactive story-telling with adventure game elements that apparently rock so hard that the dead had to get in on it. He said that he didn’t so much play Dota 2, as play Dota 2 until the next instalment of this series came out.

Now for the Rotten Cantaloupe Sitting Out in the Sun All Day with Sentient, Evil Maggots in it Award…

The Worst Game I Played – Anna

This game seemed like it could have been good, but, while it sets a decent atmosphere, there’s no danger. There’s no logic to the puzzles. There’s nowhere to go. Hardly anything to do. One of the “masks” gave me a constant headache. The story isn’t good. It’s just a terrible game. Three of us sat in front of the computer trying to figure out this game, and we ended up groaning every time we got an answer. Give this one a pass.

Last, but so far from least, the That Hot, Rich, Successful Person You’ve Liked All Year Asking You Out for Drinks Award goes to…

The Best Game I Played – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

I love horror games, and there haven’t been many. This game fixes many of the problems that previous games from the same developers had. Its stealth mechanic works well. It’s frightening. It’s well-paced. The story is interesting. The game-play and puzzle mechanics are solid. It’s good. Just… just play it.

Thanks for reading! I hope that I helped you make a few buying decisions for the year. The Steam Sale is starting now, so there’s lot to sort through.

Happy Bargain Hunting! 😀