A stone cold killer
I’m honestly at a loss with words from Until Dawn, a title that was admittedly on my radar but exceeded my expectations entirely. For the next few minutes, I shall sing its well-deserved praise as I feel many will overlook this underrated title; it’s not the greatest game ever made, undoubtedly lacking innovative qualities in the gameplay department and will be a polarizing topic in the discussion on what constitutes as a game, but when perceived with the right intentions and understanding its true nature and intent, Until Dawn is an amazing title that successfully achieves what it set off to do, it’s engaging, thrilling, intuitive, and most importantly, it’s scary. Until Dawn is a successful homage to the tried and true formula of the stereotypical slasher film genre, mirroring the likes of the iconic Scream series, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and the recent classic, Cabin in the Woods. Every single trope, stereotype, plot twist and staple that are affiliated with the genre is present and developer Supermassive Games flaunt each idiosyncrasy with the utmost confidence which in return shows that game is, in and of itself, aware of these idiosyncrasies and further enhances its success. Until Dawn impressively weaves player choice into the overarching narrative with a unique “Butterfly Effect” system which will have small or, what would seem to be, insignificant decisions affecting certain outcomes of the story and determining the fate of corresponding characters. All 8 main characters can be killed or saved based on the vast number of decisions you make throughout your experience, and unlike many other games with similar intentions, Until Dawn’s decisions bare significant weight as the results are extraordinarily haunting and can shift relationships and interactions into multiple directions. Yes the story and characters can be one-dimensional and predictable at times, but this campy nature is part of Until Dawn’s identity and instead of desperately trying to justify it, Supermassive Games just owns it, not second guessing their intent for one second. Until Dawn is not a game for everybody though, at its core, it’s an interactive horror flick merging with the ideologies of a “choose your own adventure book”, the only instances of gameplay are the interactions which create those decisions. If you strongly detest the interactive gaming experience, then this title won’t change your mind, but if you’re a little more open-minded to its intent, then Until Dawn might surprise you. Although it may be too presumptuous of a statement, Until Dawn is the Heavy Rain of this generation and collects all the best parts from its inspirations, creating a wonderful experience.
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2015 most certainly had its ups and downs and even though the year’s been relatively steady, I for one am looking forward to its more promising future. 2015 introduced us to some fantastic new IP’s that stand gloriously in a tiresome trend of sequel-itis; titles that come to mind are the masterful Ori and the Blind Forest and the hauntingly beautiful Bloodborne, even the nuanced shooter Splatoon made a significant imprint. Fall 2015 is honestly so jam packed with such high production value and will prove to be a substantial final quarter to an already great year. With titles that range from Super Mario Maker to Fallout 4 to Star Wars: Battlefront, this sheer amount of quality, up until this point, has been unprecedented. If you haven’t jumped onto the next-gen bandwagon, then now is the time as more promising titles are being released each month and if you’re an early adopter like myself, then these releases will further warrant your purchase on your beloved hardware. There’s one undeniable fact that arises when analyzing on what’s left to come: it’s a great time to be a gamer.
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Making a mess has never been this much fun…
Splatoon has always been an interesting project ever since its inception in 2013, not in the sense that its obtuse or abstract, but more by the defining manner of how Nintendo rarely ever set their foot in the shooter space of the gaming ecosystem. I’ve never once thought that they were incapable of crafting a competent shooter, it’s just that the idea had honestly never crossed my mine. For better or for worse, Nintendo has constructed a family-friendly persona, ripe with imagination and innovation like no other; shooters are an oversaturated genre that implore the excessive use of violence and are stubborn for their inability to change. These two statements adherently contradict one another, so I never thought the two would ever merge. Splatoon is Nintendo’s take on the traditional genre, adhering to the common standards of the online shooter while simultaneously adding their own flare to spice up the formula, resulting in one of the most original gems to have ever graced the online gaming community. Splatoon’s pleasantly surprising emphasis on team-oriented, objective based gameplay is a shining feat that is not commonly attempted nor explored in the over-arching realm of the online shooter. The game is just oozing with unparalleled charm, a fantastic colour pallet like no other, and its moment to moment gameplay is fast, frantic, and houses an addictive nature that very few shooters have the potential to reach. Just like any new IP or first entry in a series, there are clearly a few kinks that need to be ironed out, and even though Nintendo constantly updates the game with free weapons, maps, and new modes, the game unfortunately feels a bit sparse which is evidently apparent after playing a few online matches. There’s obvious room for improvement with Splatoon, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s one of the most original shooters in recent memory, an addictive joy to just splatter your enemies, and to be accommodated for, what honestly seems to be, vandalism. Splatoon is a reminder that Nintendo are the rightful kings at what they do, creating the most fun and entertaining games that the medium has to offer; Splatoon wholeheartedly continues this legacy of theirs and in doing so, brought life to an aging genre. Simply put, Splatoon is a breath of fresh air and the best online shooter I’ve played in a long, long while.
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