[Game] Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler

Game

Octopath Traveler started strong with eight relatively interesting characters beginning their adventures, which I thought would intertwine and mold into one epic story like a fantasy novel, but they somehow never do. The characters go through their individual quests (that don’t even acknowledge the presence of other party members and grow more and more formulaic by every chapter) and that’s itthey only somewhat come together with the secret final boss and even there, just barely.

I feel like the fantastic localization was kind of wasted on such a weak story, but then I might’ve dropped it, or at least skipped the text, if it wasn’t so beautifully written (or if I played it in Japanese which, as I could tell from the voices, was just as generic as the plot), so I guess it wasn’t completely for nothing.

That said, with its flexibility at party building, and always keeping you on edge with all sorts of nonstandard tricks, I really enjoyed the game-play, especially the secret final bossit reminded me why I like turn-based games.

Positive:
Negative:
Fantastic soundtrack
Outdated visuals
Relatively interesting, likable characters
Dull, formulaic plot
Satisfying, well-balanced turn-based game-play
Weak story that barely connects the eight adventures
Satisfying secret final boss that pushes you to the limit
Character overworld abilities just needlessly convolute town interactions
Fantastic localization

[Novel] The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins)

The Moonstone

Book.jpg

The Moonstone is an interesting work in that it’s both a Victorian and a mystery novel, and pretty much offers the best sides of both worlds with Jane Austin like drama and Agatha Christie like mystery.

Positive:
Negative:
Beautiful, old-fashioned prose
A couple of parts might feel too slow
Interesting, likable, relatively profound characters
Though the mystery is good, it doesn’t exactly blow your mind
An enthralling plot full of twists and surprises
A solid story that’s based around a pretty crafty mystery

[Game] Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space

Sam & Max - Beyond Time and Space

Game

The second season of Telltales Sam & Max follows a similar formula to the first, but the episodes are a little bit better defined and the plot is actually more coherent and interesting this time around.

Positive:
Negative:
Well-written dialogue
Loses some of its charm by shifting to 3D
Genuinely funny humor
The episodic nature makes the game feel a bit repetitive, though less so in this season
Likable characters
Lacks the sense of genuine adventure the Hit the Road had
Relatively interesting, if a bit over the place, plot

[Novel] A Deepness in the Sky (Vernor Vinge)

A Deepness in the Sky

Book

A fascinating science-fiction novel about two extremely different factions of space-faring mankind observing and hoping to capitalize on a planet of intelligent giant spiders.

Positive:
Negative:
An imaginative, well thought-out space opera setting
The conclusion feels kind of simple and predictable in retrospect
A fascinating premise of contacting extremely alien intelligence
Doesn’t really delve too deep in the contact difficulties with alien beings
Interesting, likable, relatively profound characters
Enthralling plot full of twists and surprises
A solid story that explores intergalactic politics and nonhuman intelligence
Thought-provoking on space society and contact with intelligent species

[Game] Tropico 6

Tropico 6

Game

A good if not particularly mind-blowing satirical city builder with some obtuse mechanics that I think I still didn’t fully figure out by completing its campaign.

Positive:
Negative:
Exotic, Caribbean setting
Doesn’t offer anything particularly exceptional
Hilarious satirical humor
Could use ironing some bugs
Addicting city-building game-play
A couple of obtuse mechanics that could use more explanation
The game-play gets repetitive relatively quick

[Novel] Needful Things (Stephen King)

Needful Things

Book

I haven’t heard much about Needful Things compared to other Stephen King’s books, but it might have actually turned out to be my favorite of his as the main boogeyman here only plays people and their already prevalent frustrations against each other to create a grand spectacle of horror.

It feels a lot more grounded in reality and plausibility than his other books.

Positive:
Negative:
Flowing, pleasant prose
Doesn’t really offer anything particularly mind-blowing
Spooky, unnerving atmosphere
Interesting, likable, relatively profound characters
An involving plot that consists of the whole town going nuts
Thought-provoking on the fragility of society

[Game] Serious Sam: The Second Encounter VR

Serious Sam 2nd Encounter.jpg

Game

Though it’s fascinating to play a full game in VR, and Serious Sam is actually very well calibrated for it, you can’t help but see how outdated the game is–both in visuals and game design. It doesn’t take long for the game-play to become painfully repetitive, and there’s little else the game offers.

Positive:
Negative:
Ridiculous, but uplifting humor
Outdated visuals
Lots of monsters to kill with a whole variety of weaponry
Repetitive, dull level design
VR is awesome for shooters
Repetitive game-play
The narrative is insulting to one’s intelligence