Just Tricks...No Treat.

Happy Weekend TAY!

A big thanks to spikespeigel for covering for me last weekend. I was at my folks’ place for Thanksgiving and there was much food to be had...I think my pancreas is still working overtime. While at my parents I went to a VR arcade and played around with some VR for the first time at any length and I’m totally sold. I was so happy I didn’t experience any sickness (though I had a bit of a headache after) but my wife felt like fainting after a minute with the headset on. My son made it through with only a bit of a headache afterwards as well, so I’m hoping to visit another VR arcade in Toronto as soon as we can (sans wife).

I finally picked a game to play after Grand Theft Auto Five. I decided to play someone’s slow and surprisingly unfun version of Bioshock...better known as Soma.

I don’t like walking-simulators for the most part. I appreciate the storytelling that can take place, but it just does nothing for me. Maybe VR will make that better, but at this point, I’d rather watch a movie. Soma isn’t quite a walking-simulator, but the interaction and gameplay definitely take a back seat to the storytelling and the exploration. Problem is that exploration without interaction is ultimately boring.

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I appreciate the concepts Soma is addressing and it seemed somewhat apropos after the UN news about unstoppable climate change in 2030. Soma does a nice job of making the user think about what it means to be human and how much we want to let technology into our lives. It was SO boring though...I really would have rather watched the movie.

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Soma’s engine is nice enough, but nothing spectacular. There is even a good set of controls that work well and might work very well in VR (sadly, Frictional Games seems to have cancelled that experiment). Soma’s problem is that there is rarely anything to do but walk around. There is a little bit of stealth that is almost never challenging and some puzzles that a dumb-monkey like me had no problems with...and that’s it. The rest of the time is spent wandering from place to place, being forced to stand still while listening to recordings or reading computer terminals.

I had heard Soma was a great horror game and offered some real scares, so getting into the Halloween season, I thought it was a good candidate to play. I know there is a lot of variance in what people find scary, but rarely did Soma even raise my heart rate. I think if you struggle with scary games, then Soma might be a good pick, especially if you rather it be an interactive experience rather than a game. Otherwise, if you are looking for a game with thrills, you would be much better off playing Outlast, Prey, System Shock 2, or Alien: Isolation. Soma was my first full experience with a Frictional Game’s title and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m not at all impressed enough to explore their back catalogue of titles any time soon.

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My wife and I finally finished watching HBO’s Boardwalk Empire which fell apart in the fifth (and final) season and have now moved on to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It’s ok so far. It looks very pretty and I like the Norse mythology mixed with the mental illness angle, but it seems a little more plodding and cumbersome compared to Ninja Theory’s amazing Enslaved: Odyssey To The West that I played not so long ago. Oh well, it’s WAY better than Soma, so I can’t really complain.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get in some Breath Of The Wild with the boy this weekend, it has been a while since we have been able to play. Grade 7 seems to have ramped up the homework quite a bit.

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I’ve just finished tweaking The Evil Within (on PC)  and I’m leaving on my Halloween hat to play that next. The scariest part so far was how awful the opening cutscene was...I hope this gets better.

So what are you playing this weekend?