These past few weeks, I’ve been playing around with Twitch and YouTube, trying to stream games to them. This has not worked out well because our internet connection is pure shit. We’re working on getting that fixed, and today we signed a contract with another provider who in theory will be installing a fiber optic line in the next few weeks. (I say in theory because transitioning from one provider to another in Italy can sometimes take several months.) In the meantime, I can’t really stream without the video quality being horrid.
However, I got in my new PC, and I can record videos to the hard drive and upload them to both Twitch and YouTube. The quality is much better, and now you can see me play games instead of just talking about them in my reviews. I’m starting off with Dark Souls because I apparently still haven’t gotten tired of it.
You can watch my videos on Twitch or YouTube, but be aware that Twitch archives only last for 14 days. Also, if you want to know what I’m playing and when, it might be a good idea to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t already. Continue reading
Dragon’s Dogma is yet another game that I initially balked at playing due to near unanimous reviews talking about how difficult it was. I have always considered myself a mediocre gamer at best, so buzzwords like “insanely difficult” have always turned me off. But in the last two years, I’ve discovered that most of the games billed as “insanely difficult” really aren’t. It’s not that my skills as a gamer have gotten better with time. I still suffer from wrong button syndrome with most controls schemes, and I can screw up even the simplest missions by going the wrong way for upwards of an hour or two. But what I’m discovering is that I’m in pretty good company in the mediocre gamer wagon, and a lot of these people talking about games as “insanely difficult” are just really bad players.
Having conquered all the Dark Souls games as well as dusting off some older games and cranking the difficulty slider up to maximum, I now feel more confident in choosing titles, and so Dragon’s Dogma became a viable choice.
As far as Western Fantasy goes, Dragon’s Dogma doesn’t take any risks. You create a character who is a simple fisher, but destiny pushes them to become “the Arisen,” a fighter of monsters and slayer of The Dragon. Only, you’re not really slaying it so much as giving it a dirt nap before it comes back again. This same story keeps playing out every few years, so your character’s role as the chosen one isn’t all that special.
Similarly, the story playing out isn’t anything special. It’s a serviceable plot, sure, but there’s only one major surprise, and the rest is just your stock standard fare. Continue reading
Amnesia as a starting point into a story is a trope so often used that it is mocked for being a cliché, but there’s a reason so many stories return to it. That’s because amnesia is the perfect unreliable narrator. Someone with amnesia can’t tell you if they’re good or evil. They can’t tell you who is friend or foe, and so every connection they make is viewed with the same nervous tension. Amnesia can make even the most mundane character instantly more thrilling.
Days Long Dead uses amnesia to bring the reader into an event that could have been far more terrifying if it had been allowed to expand into a full-sized novel or even a novella. Julie Travis wakes up from a car crash and discovers her passenger is dead. Closer inspection reveals that he has been dead a long time, and Julie must trace her path away from the crash to find help. At first, it seems she has, but then the people she encounters are just as suddenly long dead for no explainable reason.
It’s hard to explain more than that without spoilers because this is a short story that explores three locations very briefly before revealing the truth. It’s not a bad way to finish the story either, but as I said, the main problem is, it’s not nearly enough running time within this world to properly build a sense of terror or even dread before the final revelation. Normally I’d say this is the best kind of complaint, that I want more, but in this case, the story doesn’t have enough time to explore its setting before the finale. It desperately needs more time to develop a connection to Julie so that I as a reader feel invested in her well being. I’m not, so when the truth is revealed, I can only react with a shrug and, “Well that was a thing, I guess.”
Days Long Dead is still a pretty good story, so I’ll give it 4 stars and recommend it to fans of mysteries and ghost stories. It could have been a great horror story with more time to build tension, but maybe the author wasn’t aiming for the full horror show.