Hellblade on a Gloomy Monday is Perfect

I had heard so much about Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.   I finally caved and bought it on Saturday.  I played it for about an hour and was sucked in immediately.

There might be spoilers and I’m not wearing a condom.

I should’ve been writing and doing things for websites, recording podcasts or something to that effect.  But no.  There I was… playing Hellblade… taking breaks to accomplish tasks and then going right back.  I’m close to the end.

Anyways, here it is… Monday and I have nothing to show for anything because of that game.  Here’s why:

I talk to myself. Occasionally out loud but mostly in my head.  It helps me think. Sometimes it is even healthy for me to say something out loud and see how it sounds.  When I play video games I will talk to myself about the game. Hellblade shut me up immediately.   I usually take a whole bunch of screenshots when I play video games but during the entire intro sequence and all the way up to the first boss challenge I sat there silent, arguing with the in-game voices.

Yeah, you heard me.

The voices are pretty consistent throughout the game but are very aggressive during the early stages of it.  I was prepared for them to some degree by reviews and impressions that I’ve read but I really wish there was some indication to how constant they would be.  Adding to the pressure is the fact that each death or failure allows the darkness to consume Senua more and more leading to her mind. The darkness is up to her shoulder now.  I was trying to keep it below her elbow.

So, About those voices… The game is best played with headphones.  Not wearing headphones with these is like eating melted ice cream or a cold hamburger.  The headphones are which make the whole experience worth it.  You have to hear what the voices are saying so you can decide what you want to listen to or what you want to try to ignore.  They constantly comment on and question what Senua (by proxy you) is doing when more often than not, she seems to be doing the right thing or going the right way.  But there are times where she is doing the incorrect thing or going the wrong way and the voices are trying to steer her on the right path.

Sometimes the voices discourage progress or advise you to give up your quest because you are too weak to accomplish it.  But dig down deep, find a way to prevail under pressure and you find that the same voices that antagonize you and try to get you to turn around will tell you that you are strong and can handle the fight.  It is bizarre.  I’ve taken the approach of simply trying to block them out.

The combat is simple, a heavy, light and melee attack with an evade and block button for defensive measures.  The voices will help you in battle by letting you know when other enemies are about to attack you out of camera frame and how close to the end of the fight you are.  Each enemy type has a way to be attacked and defended against so nothing (so far) has been overwhelmingly difficult the first time I faced it.  Though some battles go on just long enough to make you think you have no chance of winning.  Those are my favorite battles to win.

One thing to point out about the combat, you have no indication of how much damage is being done to you other than screen filters and Senua’s speed.  Senua can heal from near-death but it requires near-flawless fighting. When Senua is injured her attacks will slow down significantly and even the voices may comment on her being injured.

Finally, the visuals are excellent. These are the only screenshots I actually took because I was reminded of the great detail.

The game is pretty.

The level design is excellent because it is simple enough to get though but has enough nooks in each level that you could get lost so even though the game travels in more or less a straight line, there are enough forks and dead ends to make things interesting.

I’m just eager to finish this thing off so … gotta go.

J

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Justin Bieber beats Hitler in a fistfight – But it was close.

The Jaded Gamer

Depending on who you ask, Justin Bieber is either a mischievous heartthrob singer or a vile douchebag no matter what he does.   His voice can pump you up, soothe your soul or reacquaint you with the lunch you had earlier.  Hello, ham sandwich.  But I digress…

Bieber has done a lot recently to clean up his image.  He yearns to go back to the days of innocence and wholesomeness. However, the move has done absolutely nothing to dissuade his haters. He gathered the media in the lobby of his 10.8 Million dollar Los Angeles Mansion to speak on this recently;

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“It really stinks, yanno.  I did my hardest to clean up my image, you know what I’m sayin, I’m reborn. Know what I’m sayin’? Big ups to J-Star who died for our sins.  I ask myself every day ‘What Would J-Unit Do?’ and he told me to do what he…

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Janky Ass Arizona Sunshine

This is not a review.  OK. Maybe it is. Kinda.

Fuck this game.  I hate this game.  No I don’t.  I play the campaign over and over but the game wants me to hate it.  Playing with the Move™ controllers can be done but it is just annoying moving. You’ll bump into invisible walls, you’ll have trouble turning around and get stuck clipping to a wall, you’ll open a drawer or a door and awkwardly maneuver your way around them. It’s all manageable but it is a pain in the ass.

The ONLY saving grace is the fact that you can dual-wield weapons. Mini-shotgun in your left hand, uzi in your right… LET’S DO THIS! … It is poss— oh hang on, I’m stuck on a corner.  Now I gotta back up to turn around and… Ok.. I’m good. LET’S DO THIS!

Playing Arizona Sunshine with the Move™ controllers, oddly enough isn’t the ideal way to play this game.  PS Aim™ is the way to go.  There is an entire mode dedicated to holding two handed weapons as opposed to dual-wielding.  So instead of pistols, there’s rifles, instead of the one handed shotgun, they are two handed, no more heavy magnums, just straight up assault rifles.  This game only works because traversing through the environment is much less a pain in the ass.

This game should’ve been semi on-rails with the wands, anyways.  The game progresses almost in a straight line with deviations being tiny.  Using the Aim definitely works but you lose twin-fisted bad-assery.

The absolute best thing Arizona Sunshine ever does is send you into the mines.  It is fantastic. Oddly enough and almost divine comedy ironic, this sequence is best experienced with the janky ass Move™ controllers.   You’re going to be moving slow and methodical because it is dark, so, it almost works. ALMOST.

You have one hand holding the flashlight and the other with the gun and you just TLC Creep (ask your parents) through the mines, flinching at every groan.  The muzzle flash illuminates your environment briefly, you see a Fred (that’s what the dickhead protagonist calls them) and you put a slug through its brain.   This whole sequence is basically perfect.  It is one of the few sequences in the game where you actually feel vulnerable.

As much as this game says you will scavenge for ammo and food… you probably wont have to after the mid point.  You will have a lot of ammo and you can just go guns akimbo alllllllllllll the way up to the finale.  The level in the mines makes you feel vulnerable because you REALLY have trouble seeing in the dark, even with the flashlight.

Finally Horde mode is garbage with the Move controllers so avoid that unless you are really comfortable.  I don’t have much experience with Horde mode because it was really claustrophobic and I think I’d much rather do that co-op with a friend.

To be honest, I’m glad I own Arizona Sunshine, but I’m disappointed that I bought it. It definitely wasn’t as long as I was expecting and had some fun sequences but it being so linear and short was a letdown. Given that Move is a limiting control system, I find Horde Mode too constricting to even feel comfortable playing.  Maybe if the game was $29.99.

Games like Resident Evil 7 and the upcoming Skyrim VR prove that you really don’t have to dumb games down for VR.  Arizona Sunshine is a simple zombie shooter when it doesn’t need to be. There is more puzzle solving and exploration going on while you creep through the mines than you do mowing down Fred after Fred after Fred simply hitting checkpoint after checkpoint after checkpoint.

Ultimately, this game isn’t terrible.  I have had a lot of fun playing it and I’m sure I’ll run through the campaign a few more times… WITH THE AIM!.  I just wish Horde Mode would let me stretch my legs a little further and the controls with the Move were a little more intuitive.

J
@IamFN2K
PSN/XBL: IamFN2K
IamFN2K@gmail.com

 

 

Mortal Blitz (PSVR): Stumbling into fun

Anybody who has been inside the PSVR section of the PSN Store has bound to have seen Mortal Blitz at one point.  If you need to refresh your memory, this is the store icon.

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I bet you remember it now.  More specifically, you remember that mascot.  Her name is Rachael, by the way and she doesn’t need your judgement right now because lives are at stake. Anyways…

Every time I saw that mascot, I kept thinking; “What the fuck is up with her battle attire?” and then my Gamer-self takes over; “Shut up, Jay. It’s Fantasyland!”

I decide to buy it.  If I’m disappointed, nobody has to know and it isn’t too expensive. Why not? There aren’t a ton of VR titles available so I decided to pick it up.  Here’s what I thought.

Mortal Blitz is one of those stationary Move™ controller games where you teleport around.  The game is essentially point and shoot for the first three stages.  What makes this game fun is the Bulletstorm-esque tether you have to pull dazed enemies towards you (in slow motion) and unload on them for a nifty multiplier that gives you bonus health and points.

While moving from point to point, it is wise to utilize the cover mechanics given to you. If you can physically put yourself behind an in-game object, that’s probably the wisest choice because enemies charge in and bombard you with bullets. While in cover, you can utilize a bit of blind fire to take care of pesky heavily armored soldiers.

The last two stages are where the game shines a bit more.  Are you ready to get physical? Cover only helps out so much now.  You’re going to have to enter the Matrix™ and channel your inner Neo because you’re going to now have to dodge projectiles.  Get ready to lean and duck, Baby!

You’ll need to find a nice groove to survive the later stages or else you’ll end up getting roasted. There are four other weapons that pop up along the way but once you deplete their ammo, they are gone until you find them again.  You’ll come across shotguns, miniguns and rocket launchers to spice things up.

Once you are finished (or before you start) the campaign, there are 50 training missions for you to tackle.  You will probably crush the first 30 and then want to rip your eyes out at some point during the last 10. But… still fun.

You could easily spend a dozen hours or so simply playing the campaign on repeat.  It’s just silly fun with nothing huge at stake other than messing up a potential high score.  I’ve completed all 50 training stages and I’m midway through my 3rd run of the campaign so this little game does have replay value in it.  Additionally, the developer made an in-game promise that updates would also have additional gameplay content at some point so … fingers crossed.

But as you play Mortal Blitz… one question will always haunt you.

“What the fuck is up with her battle attire?” “Shut up, J! It’s Fantasyland.”

J
@IamFN2K
IamFN2K@gmail.com

Special Delivery (PSVR) is all about avoiding Death

First thing: Ask yourself; “Did I play this game without the PS Aim controller?” If the answer is “Yes. I played this game without the PS Aim controller.”, then either play it with the PS Aim controller or kill yourself.

Having said that, I wish to make it absolutely crystal clear that this game should only be played with the PS Aim controller until something can be done to improve the throwing arc linked to the Dualshock 4 controller, which is absolute garbage.

Second thing: There need to be some sort of accessibility controls to move using the control sticks instead of leaning to one side or the other.

Now that I’ve gotten the prerequisites out of the way..

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Welcome to Special Delivery (Stealth Paper Boy VR), an arcade style game where you play as a newspaper delivery-person with short hair and a baseball cap.  The goal is to deliver your stash of papers to all the subscribers before you die.

Look, we can pretend that getting hit by a car or sucked up into a tornado is all fun and games but we need to be honest… you’re dodging death at every turn on your paper run. A stray dog starts chasing you as a rogue protester forces you to detour in the path of a tornado as a building collapses.  That’s when you see it… Death, complete with scythe and hoodie.  Death is on your ass Paper-kid. DEATH IS ON YOUR ASS!

Avoiding getting killed is a little difficult.  I recommend going slow.  Ride the brake and stick to the sidewalk.  You will die.  OH YES! YOU WILL DIE! Touching anything, kills you (except picking up newspapers) so avoid touching anything.  OH, did you hit that fire hydrant? Well don’t let the water touch you because you will die.  It is difficult staying alive.

If you manage to avoid the obstacles and deliver enough papers the first week, your reward is a ridiculously hard “boss battle” and a route expansion for another week with more death chasing your ass!

The key, is getting good enough to survive long enough to deliver enough papers.  The key to getting good is the PS Aim controller which allows for more control.  Do you have the PS Aim controller and need another game to use it on now that you’re done with Farpoint? I can recommend that you give this a shot.  $9.99 is definitely a fair price if you’re willing to put in enough effort needed to develop the basic skills needed to complete each level.

Yes the game is tough but it is rewarding.  Cheating Death always is.

J