The Dark Path

Happy Weekend TAY!

I hope everyone finds some time this weekend to just have fun. It was a tiring week of watching the news and it will be a nice change of pace to get lost in a world of my choosing.

I finished Condemned: Criminal Origins last weekend and, damn, if that still isn’t one of the best games ever created.

I was so happy to finally play it on PC, 4K@60fps is the icing on one of the best cakes ever. Condemned is terrifyingly tense and never lets up, in fact, the brilliance of the game is how it slowly dials up the horror and the tension, almost without you noticing.

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Condemned is primarily a first-person melee game, though there is some gunplay that works well too...even if you need to enable the crosshair. My one complaint with Condemned is the lack of weapon sights to aim down. Having to use an ugly on-screen crosshair instead of being able to aim down the sights of the gun feels a little dated. Thankfully, most of Condemned is played by connecting objects to people in aggressive ways, so you spend little time looking at crosshairs.

As a melee fighter...oh baby! I love first person melee combat and Condemned might very well be the best. The variety in swing speeds, block timing, and the damage dealt with each weapon makes a huge difference in how you fight. My favourite, the steam pipe, is a little bit too heavy for a long block, but with accurate timing, I can deal a fairly heavy blow when I strike. It’s no sledgehammer for stopping power, but better to connect with some force than not to connect at all.

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Condemned is also a desperate and nerve-wracking horror game that still manages to frighten me after all these years. Part of it is the fear of being weak and vulnerable; if you don’t enjoy being alone and scared in games, don’t come this way. While you will grow more confident in your reactions as the game goes along, you never shake the feeling that you are a fragile and squishy thing.

You are also put on edge by the atmospheric music and it is the sound quality and overall sound design that really completes the experience. Imagine the noise of several people running on the floor above you in an abandoned mall, screaming and insane to get at you...all while you hold a piece of wood you found in the basement, low on health, and afraid to open a door to hide as their might be worse things in the dark...and you’ve got Condemned.

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There is a sublime slide into madness with Condemned, both in the story and with the visuals. In some ways, you aren’t even aware of how twisted everything is slowly becoming...all you know is that you are more and more afraid. Considering the linear design of Condemned, the masterful disorientation of the terrifying levels makes the world feel tight and compact without ever feeling restrictive. These are some of the best horror levels you’ll ever play in.

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The thirteen-year-old Condemned: Criminal Origins is possibly getting long in the tooth visually, but it still holds up well and the brilliant artistry is almost timeless. I’m so happy it continues to impress me, easily still in my top-5-best-games-ever-created. I need this game with motion-controlled melee in VR for a remake if the game-gods are listening.

Needing to slow my heart rate a little after Condemned, I started up the Frozen Wilds expansion to Horizon Zero Dawn. This game is wonderfully pleasing to the eye and the vanilla game is probably my favourite exclusive for the PS4 (no, I haven’t played God Of War yet). It is such a joy to wander through the world in Horizon, simply appreciating the breathtaking landscape...even if that landscape is dotted with murderous artificial-life.

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It took me a few hours with Horizon to refamiliarize myself with the combat and all my gear. When I first returned to the game, I spent some time with the hunting trials that I mostly ignored in my first playthrough and they were a fun and informative way to learn how to play again. I’m just cracking the new content now and it looks great so far, I love the new additions to the game.

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After some more preparations this weekend for the coming winter in real life (Snow tires on the car? Check!), I’m looking forward to more fun in the snow with the Frozen Wilds and continuing to explore the Breath Of The Wild with my kid. My weekend seems like it will be a little more “wild” than normal. :)

So, what are you playing this weekend?