[Game] Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number

Hotline Miami 2 Wrong Number

Wow, I loved the first game to death, but novelty sure wears off when you just do the same thing again and then copy-paste it three times to artificially extend the length. Also whoever wrote the story this time must’ve been on LSD.

Positive: Negative:
Awesome gore SNES level graphics
Great techno soundtrack Story is a jumbled mess
Disturbing dark atmosphere Overstays its welcome, starting to feel repetitive
Good, responsive game-play
Instant and convenient restart after death

 

[Novel] Beowulf (R.K. Gordon)

Beowulf

This might be the manliest book I have ever read; I couldn’t help feeling like one of the characters would eventually bite my head of. Still, for all the literary cred this epic poem has, like most myths, it offers very little in terms of story — it’s just a lot of burly mean killing dragons and monsters, and then feasting on raw meat and drinking mead from the skulls of their enemies (okay, maybe it doesn’t go that far).

What’s most interesting about the work, however, is its historical background and the aesthetics of its writing (parts of which are probably lost in translation). In any case, an interesting read if you want to learn how badass medieval warriors were, or if you want to test your skills against some seriously hard to penetrate, complex writing (in which case R.K. Gordon’s translation written in Early Modern English is probably the way to go; pick Seamus Heaney if you’d rather not struggle though… or you could go really medieval and read it in Old English).

Positive: Negative:
Fascinating, high-level writing Predictable, and not particularly interesting story
Fascinating historical background One-dimensional characters
Enlightening on the culture of medieval people

 

[Game] Call of Duty: Ghosts

COD Ghosts

Contrary to its futuristic setting, there is very little new in this yet another tried installment of Call of Duty.

Positive: Negative:
Good visuals and spectacular action scenes Hard to follow the story when it keeps jumping through barely connected locations
Good, shooting game-play Even if you can follow it, the plot only alternates between dumb and generic
Feels hardly different from the previous games
Surprising lack of a challenging difficulty for CoD title

 

[Game] The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us

It might not be quite as exciting as the Walking Dead, but the Wolf Among Us is still one of the better Telltale adventure games that has you investigate a murder-mystery in a very fascinating world.

Positive: Negative:
Beautiful visuals, especially the expressive character designs Story turns out to be pretty underwhelming in the end
Good, atmospheric noir-like soundtrack Your choices don’t really matter that much after all
Interesting setting of fairy tale characters looking to make a living in the mundane modern world
Absolutely lovely, well-written dialogue
Interesting, likable characters
Engrossing murder-mystery plot
Good at creating the illusion that your choices matter

 

[Novel] The Stars, Like Dust (Isaac Asimov)

The Stars, Like Dust.jpg

Although the book offers a couple of clever twists, it kind of falls flat compared to Asimov’s other contemporary work set in the same universe, mainly due to the lack of interesting characters and scope (at least compared to Foundation).

Positive: Negative:
Interesting space-opera setting Boring, bland prose
A couple of cool twists Dull, generic characters

 

[Game] The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Wind Waker

I’ve been enjoying Wind Waker more than Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask, mainly because it wasn’t as cryptic and tedious to get around from one dungeon to another in this one, but the game still lost me when it sent me on a quest to blindly stumble around the world collecting triforce shards like some ocd garbage-man.

Positive: Negative:
Nice, “oceanic” atmosphere Outdated visuals
Good dungeon design
No story to speak of
No characters to speak of
Everything other than dungeons themselves is more tedious than it is fun
Not good at telling you what to do to advance through the damn game
Plays the same like all the other games in the series

 

[Novel] The Necromancer (Jonathan L. Howard)

Johannes Cabal - Necromancer

A witty take on a Necromancer’s job — no doubt inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — that starts strong, but soon deteriorates into a collection of disjointed set-pieces and cartoon level moralization when the necromancer suddenly discovers that selling the souls of innocent people to Satan is *gasp* bad.

I couldn’t shake the feeling this was written as a plot to TV series or a game.

Positive: Negative:
Witty prose Despite the wittiness, the overuse of adverbs feels a bit amateurish
Likable characters A collection of set-pieces rather than a coherent story
Genuinely funny humor Feels a lot like a saturday morning cartoon when is trying to be serious

 

[Game] Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest

What do you get if you combine Super Meat Boy’s platforming, Castlevania’s exploration, and Odin Sphere’s visual design? One amazing game, and that’s precisely what Ori is.

Positive: Negative:
Beautiful, artistic visuals Story is nothing special, although still above what you can expect from most platformers
Beautiful, grandiose music
Well designed maps
Fantastic platforming controls

 

[Novel] The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss)

The Name of the Wind

“I don’t know if it grows around here,” I said with the proper amount of uncertainty in my voice. “No harm in looking,” she said sensibly.

Apparently, the genre of modern fantasy is in peril, as The Name of the Wind is considered a well-written book, and Patrick Rothfuss a real writer. And while the guy has a certain vocabulary, and from time to time is able to paint a beautiful image, his book is riddled with more redundant adverbs than a piece of a twelve year old’s fan-fiction — we have smiles fading imperceptibly, voices of random characters ringing beautifully like bells for no reason and all sorts of other rubbish that successfully destroy any sort of flow the book could have ever had.

And it doesn’t help that even apart from the ridiculous adverb spam the whole narrative is almost completely “tell” rather than “show”, to an extent I had to actually call out bullshit on the narrator obviously being delusional. No, Kvothe’s smile doesn’t look like that of a man who has killed an angel — all I know is that he’s some sort of village idiot that works as an innkeeper and talks like a teenager trying to act cool — for all I know he’s making all this shit up (which would actually explain things). Anyway, I got the feeling that Patrick Rothfuss was hoping thesaurus would turn him into Jack Vance, but all he succeeded in writing was a sequel to Eye of Argon; a touch of proper editing would leave this book 1/4 of its original size.

I’m not usually this picky about the prose of the books I read, but since The Name of the Wind lacked both a plot and characters  — its only voice of mock sentience being the protagonist whose sole personality trait is being better than everyone else in any situation  — the only way I could find to entertain myself was to count the fallacies it incurred on the craft of writing, until I eventually dropped the whole thing mid-way through.

Positive: Negative:
Clunky prose describing every redundancy imagine-able
Generic, forgettable world of standard fantasy
Stilted, bland dialogue
The only real character is the protagonist, and he doesn’t even have a consistent personality
Almost nothing happens in the entire book — most summaries of its plot have 3-4 sentences
Reads like a power fantasy of a teenager whose only concept of being cool is being praised by adults for being better/smarter than other kids

[VN] Tokeijikake no Ley Line

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A nice mystery visual novel set in a Harry Potter-esque world.

Release: 2013-2015 (UNiSONSHIFT:Blossom)
Writers:  Kazama Bonanza & Nishinomiya Yuuki
                    Neko – 1/5
                    Tsubaki – 1/5
                    Adelheid – 1/5
                    Fuuhito – 1/5
                    Rito – 1/5
                    Ushiyo – 4/5
Japanese difficulty: Easy
English: None
Ratings: VNDB (8.31); EGS (8.30)

ley-line

Continue reading “[VN] Tokeijikake no Ley Line”

2015 Retrospective

BloodborneBeat 66 games (1136 hours) this year.

Game of the year: Bloodborne
Runner-up: Undertale

Sakura no UtaRead 16 visual novels and 17 nukige (745 hours) this year.

VN of the year: Sakura no Uta
Runner-up: Soreyori no Prologue

GormenghastRead 91 books (1087 hours) this year.

Best book I’ve read this year: Gormenghast (Mervyn Peake)
Runner-up: The Stranger (Albert Camus)

One-Punch-ManWatched 65 movies (127 hours) and 5 anime (27 hours) this year.
All time new low for my anime watching since I first started over a decade ago, seems like I can’t get into it these days. T_T