Oxenfree borrows from a number of other recent narrative-driven games. The way it introduces its characters is reminiscent of Until Dawn, its exploration and coms towers call back to Firewatch, and its horror elements crib from any number of recent indie horror titles. However, despite its influences, Oxenfree is very much its own experience, perhaps because of its stripped down approach to gameplay and stylization.
Of the four face buttons on Oxenfree’s interface, three of them are devoted to selecting dialogue options. That leaves only one button for physically interacting with the environment, along with a shoulder button to bring up a radio (which is crucial for many of the game’s puzzles and events), and another shoulder button for the map. Given the limited and seemingly wasteful control scheme, it would be understandable to assume that Oxenfree is poorly designed or, at the very least, under-engaging.. However, because half of the game’s buttons refer specifically to dialogue and character interactions, they end up emphasizing that portion of the game and re-orienting the player away from traditional game elements and toward narrative and conversation.
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I’m not quite sure that the movie “Frank” is about any one thing, in particular. It engages with a lot of ideas that struggling and aspiring musicians deal with, such as inherent genius, hard work, tragic beginnings, and what it takes to be creatively successful, but it doesn’t have anything specific to say about any of them. Unlike most films, though, Frank doesn’t suffer from its shotgun approach to the complexities of the creative process. Instead it feels like an artist venting about said frustrations through a quirky, compelling yarn centered around a man in a paper mache mask.
Despite the marketing focus on Frank (the masked man) himself, the protagonist of the film is actually Domhnall Gleason’s Jon Burroughs, a struggling keyboardist who lives with his parents and spends much of his free time “writing music,” or more accurately, people-watching on the beaches of Ireland. The film’s first act is strangely similar to another Domhnall Gleason movie, actually; like in Ex Machina, his every-man character is swept away to a remote location with a genius figure who hand-picked him as a collaborator. From there, though, Frank takes a much different path.
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For three entries now, the Uncharted series has established itself as the best in the video game industry at spectacle and set-pieces. What Naughty Dog achieved over the last console generation was largely unmatched, and their blend of explosive action, great dialogue, and tight mechanics is carried forward in their latest, and supposedly final, Uncharted title. But despite its similarities in form, Uncharted 4 is operating on a different level than its predecessors. After their landmark title The Last of Us, Naughty Dog was no longer content to simply do action movie tropes very, very well. For the final entry in the series, they really want to say something about Nathan Drake, his relationships, and his addiction to adventure. What they accomplished is not only more spectacular than most of Hollywood’s biggest summer films, but far more substantive and meaningful as well.
This approach does come with a price. Uncharted 2 is perhaps one of the greatest games of all time, largely because of how brilliantly paced and constructed it is. No sequence feels like it outstays its welcome, and the transitions between the various types of gameplay are perfectly orchestrated. But because story is so important to Uncharted 4, and because Naughty Dog really wants to nail every element of the series one last time, the game’s segments can run longer than in previous games. This has led to complaints from a number of game critics, particularly due to the game’s first and final acts.
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(This article will contain spoilers for Game of Thrones, A Song of Ice and Fire, and George RR Martin’s supplemental material. It will also cover potential plot points that could very well turn up in the future of the series. You’ve been warned!)
Last week on Game of Thrones, we were teased by the “Tower of Joy” sequence and unceremoniously yanked out of Bran’s vision before we could enter the tower with Ned Stark. For casual viewers, this was just a cool fight scene with a hint of mystery, but to those who have been reading and theorizing about A Song of Ice and Fire for years, it was a somewhat irritating stalling tactic for a reveal that we’ve been expecting for a long time. The R+L=J theory is so well-known and well-supported at this point that it’s essentially canon, so holding out of the reveal feels less like suspense and more like prolonging the inevitable.
But there’s another theory that is less widely accepted by fandom and, I feel, almost as likely to be true as R+L=J. If you’re paying close attention to the supplemental material and the scenes included in the TV adaptation, there’s a strong reason to believe that Tyrion Lannister is, himself, half-Targaryen.
Continue reading Game of Thrones: Fun with Theories – Tyrion Lannister
In case you’ve missed all of the news and rumors so far, here’s the gist of the situation with the Playstation Neo. Sony is reportedly working on a new version of the Playstation 4, with improved CPU and GPU components. In theory, this console will be able to handle 4K video output and VR gaming more capably than the current version. However, the new system’s improvements will not be relegated only to these particular functions. Starting in October, all Playstation 4 games will be REQUIRED to have a “Neo” mode, with improved resolution, visual effects, and framerate beyond what the original Playstation 4 can provide.
As you might expect, this has caused something of an uproar in the Playstation community. The PS4 has sold roughly 40 million units to date. That’s a lot of owners who are now seeing their highest-end console as obsolete. Of course, in Sony’s supposed documentation, they insist that this is not the case. The Playstation Neo is meant to coexist with the base-PS4 unit, with all games playable on both consoles, just better on the Neo.
Continue reading Why the Playstation Neo is Bad News