This War of Mine: From Sarajevo to Syria

While playing Fallout 4, I’ve been left with the feeling that, for a game that is purportedly about the effects of war, there was little real depth to it. This War of Mine (free on Playstation Plus for January) is the exact opposite, and probably has the emotional impact Fallout wishes it did.

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This War of Mine was inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the 90s – this was the longest siege of a city in modern warfare, lasting almost 4 years or 1,425 long days. It’s estimated that over 5,000 civilians died during this time. Sarajevo was blockaded, limiting food and supplies entering the city, and under constant shelling. Snipers set up around the city making movement difficult and dangerous for citizens. I cannot image living day to day for years in a city where this was the norm.

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Level 1 RPG Player: Dungeon World

Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are becoming cool these days, or at least they’re being viewed as more acceptable and less niche that they once were. I’ve been listening to The Adventure Zone almost non-stop for the last month, and it’s shown me a side to D&D I didn’t think existed. The McElroys make tabletop gaming humorous, irreverent, and most importantly fun. So with this is mind I decided I wanted to try my hand at roll playing games.

Lacking enough irl friends willing to play with me, I turned to Roll20, a website that allows tabletop games to be played online easily with others. Pretty quickly I managed to find a newbie friendly game of Dungeon World, which we played over 3 1/2 hours yesterday.

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My Games Of The Year – 2016

It’s the end of the year and time to choose the ‘best’ game that was released in the last 12 months. So, in spirit of this, here’s a list in no particular order of the games which may not be the best, but which I enjoyed playing the most:

Stardew Valley (Developed by ConcernedApe; Published by Chucklefish Games) I’ve written about Stardew Valley before, so I’m sure it’s no surprise I’m fond of this gem. In case you missed the hype at the time, Stardew Valley is a tiny indie game that rocketed to mainstream acceptance. The farming sim has had one major update since its release, and I think it’s likely we’ll see another. I’ve played this game for over 150 hours so it was guaranteed a spot of my list of favourites from this year.
Play if: You want a relaxing, farming games with a town of mystery and fantastic characters.

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ISLANDS: Non-Places

If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place.

-Marc Augé (transl. by John Howe) in Non-Places, Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity.


ISLANDS: Non-Places is a game by Carl Burton and is officially described as: ” A surreal trip through the mundane. Reveal the hidden ecosystems of ten unusual environments. Unlock an atmospheric experience while exploring strange yet familiar scenes.”

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Virginia, The Uncanny and Lynchian Dreams

“There’s always fear of the unknown where there’s mystery” ~ David Lynch

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I played Virginia this week and to the surprise of no one, I loved it. However, I’ve been struggling to think of something coherent to say about it for a review. I’ve decided instead to discuss the game through the lens of ‘the uncanny’, and compare it to the work of David Lynch. Virginia has been compared to Twin Peaks a lot, and I’ve no doubt the developers are Peaks fans. In stating this comparison so often without explaining it, I feel we lose a way of understanding the weirdness of this game, especially for those too young to be aware of the TV series or its cultural impact. Please note, I’ll try to avoid it, but there may be some Virginia *spoilers* here, so you have been warned. Also I highly recommend listening to this while reading this post, taking a break every so often to sip your coffee, stare off into the distance and click your fingers along with the music. David Lynch would approve.

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The Valley – Review

The Valley is a first-person game about exploring a valley, funnily enough. Your character -apparently some Indiana Jones wannabe type – sets off in a canoe to find The Lifeseed. It turns out the protagonist isn’t actually good at canoeing and ends up washed on the shores of some mysterious valley, which just so happens to be the home of The Lifeseed. A little further on they find an army proto-type for the LEAF suit. It doesn’t really matter what a LEAF suit actually is because all you need to know is it gives your character the ability to run super fast and jump super far. Nice, nice, nice.

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The first thing to say about this game is that it is beautiful. Seriously, seriously beautiful. My screenshots really don’t do it justice. 2016 has been a really good year for breathtaking games, and The Valley could be up there with them. The idyllic setting has dramatic skies, gorgeous mountain ranges, incredible detail. It’s one of those games that I think I will go back to, just to wander around the landscape. Looking at this game is pure joy.

The second thing to say about this game is that the movement is also pure joy. The running and jumping feels so smooth and so powerful. The best moments in this game are when the landscape gives you steep downward slopes and huge gorges to jump. I image this game may appeal to speed-runners for this reason, but everyone should reveal in this movement dream. And given the huge open spaces of The Valley, when you first start playing the game it’s perfect, like a beautiful song you don’t want to end.

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Layers Of Fear: Inheritance DLC – Review

Layers of Fear recently released a new DLC, Inheritance. I only know this from browsing the Xbox store. Now, I consider myself pretty in the know about games happenings (surprise, surprise I consume a lot of gaming news content), but it seemed like I completely missed any chat about it. Still, that’s not a negative, more of a curiosity, and since I enjoyed Layers of Fear I picked it up.

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