Into the Badlands: Season 1

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I’ve just watched the first season of this on Amazon Prime, and I found a lot to like in it.

Especially the first episode had a great first-hand impression. Here Sunny arrives, an Asian Neo only in red instead of black and without sunglasses. He encounters a camp of an evil gang and proves this show has an excellent fight choreography.

If only Iron Fist had been anything like this.

Sunny finds the kid M.K. and brings him back to the fort of his master, the baron Quinn. M.K. have secret superpowers whenever he gets cut, something the show wisely keeps rare to begin with. The show opens up to present several feudal baron monopolies, each living in a mansion surrounded by their clippers (fighters) and cogs (slaves). Not surprisingly the barons really dislike each other and Quinn frequently clashes with some of them, especially the redheaded Widow.

Sunny also have a love interest now illegally pregnant and begins toying with the idea of leaving the baron, taking his chances in the Badlands together with her and M.K.

The fighting choreography always mixes “wire fu” martial arts occasionally with blades. Turns out the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where some commodities have been exhausted. Apparently all the ammo for guns and rifles have been depleted forcing everyone to fight the way they do, but we still see a few motorcycles and cars driving around.

So, all the ammo is gone, but the gasoline is still aplenty? I see.

Farscape: Season 1

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The television show Farscape originally premiered back in 1999, and I bought a couple of season boxes around the same time and binge-watched every minute of them.

It was an vexing experience at the time.

For some odd reason the season boxes had no subtitles and I often had trouble keeping track of what everyone was saying. I had watched all the seasons of modern Star Trek on VHS without subtitles and it was fine there. Patrick Stewart and his acting colleagues spoke so clearly that I never lost the thread. Farscape, on the other hand, sounded more muddled. Maybe they spoke faster, or the music was louder. Either way, I gave up after those two seasons.

That’s why it was great news when Amazon Prime announced that they had picked up this old science fiction show. And now with English subtitles too? Excellent!

I have now rewatched all of the first season. To be honest it doesn’t hold up that well today. It’s nowhere as bad as e.g. Space: 1999 or Blake’s 7 – both of which are quite excrutiating to watch today – but there are still a number of issues now 20 years later.

Associations: Teleporter Spheres

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In Obduction, the excellent first person adventure game I completed last month, teleporting between domes replaced the matter in the shape of a small sphere. This explained when discovering other spheres of solid rock with crevices in them – even if some of them didn’t have a teleporter device in them.

Here are two examples from the game.

Refunct

Developer: Dominique Grieshofer | Released: 2015 | Genre: Platform, First Person

If you want a game with small and relaxing sessions to do once in a while, this is a great choice.

I did one session that took just a tad below half an hour, and it was easy and delightful. It’s a first person platform game with no story attached to it. Usually platform jumping doesn’t always work that well in first person, but it actually works reasonably fine here. Also, you can’t die in this game.

The purpose is to jump on a few pylons and step on a big red button to raise a set more from the sea, including another red button among them. Sometimes another pylon has a red cube to munch up. There are sometimes yellow elevator platforms or jump pads, and the wall jumping from pylon to pylon feels right. It is also possible (and sometimes necessary) to dive down into the water.

When all red buttons are activated, stepping on the last yellow one zooms up the camera for a view of the entire cluster. And if you also touch all the top surfaces (marking them with grass) you get fireworks.

To spice things up further, there are sometimes tubes that can swoop you to the other side of it, and some red buttons may be slightly hidden and require crouching or swimming up from below. However, they always have a red beam pointing into the sky so they’re always easy to spot.

The game is designed to be replayed. Maybe I’ll do it again later.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Refunct
2015 Dominique Grieshofer~30m 1
2019-06-07
2019-06-07
8

35MM

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Developer: Носков Сергей | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

This game was full of surprises. It started out with a way too long slow walk through a forest, me and a buddy of few words, making it look like a boring walking simulator facile adventure, but after the almost six hours it took to complete it, it had also been a real adventure game with objects to find, puzzles to solve, a railroad trolley to ride, and at times even a genuine FPS with a gun or an assault rifle.

Sometimes the game reminded me of I Am Alive, sometimes of INFRA.

It was a bleak first person adventure with a notebook for keeping tabs of inventory icons. Damage or fatigue had to be fixed with medikits or food and a flashlight needed batteries. My buddy usually dictated the direction to walk, but I was free to break off and explore the areas for loot. I could cut ropes on door handles for access or take completely pointless pictures with an old camera.

Sometimes a rare QTE made me mash buttons to complete a cutscene, like winning a fist fight.

The game honestly had too much exploration of areas for way too little loot. There were sometimes several houses or even floors in buildings where I had to search dark rooms for loot, yet too often it was rarer than finding visitors for this blog. There were also traps. After a few exploding deaths I learned to look for wires in door openings that could be cut with my knife.

After a few levels of solitude, my buddy and I started meeting people. There were no dialog trees, but there were often small talks, letters to read, a puzzle, or a task like finding a car battery to power something.

Then evil people started showing up.

Red Trigger

Developer: Maxime Vézina | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

This was a free first person puzzle game akin to the genre that Portal and its sequel gave rise to. Just like Parallax, the also excessively white first person puzzle game I tried last month, it was devoid of any story and just felt like a series of training levels. I was actually contemplating leaving it for the same reason, but before I knew it, it was all over. It barely took even an hour to complete its eight chapters.

Each challenge room had a set of red piston surfaces I could shoot for them to slide out. Some I had to walk on, some could push me into the air and maybe onto a platform, another might give me a sideways boost. I had limited energy too, meaning that not too many red pistons could be out and about. Sometimes I had to look back and shoot a few to contract them.

The challenges were quite diverse. Some had me thinking about how to arrange the red pistons for me to traverse the room. Some blocked lethal red lasers. Other challenges had a timer for e.g. resetting doors or pistons, and those were of course my least favorite type. Especially a nasty room with a slowly rising grid of red lasers had me fumbling and dying repeatedly. I almost left the game at that point.

It was clearly the worst room in the entire game.

In the later chapters, a swirling corridor could turn the previous room upside down, although this was barely used twice. And as the game was about to end, a small smattering of a story suddenly appeared by having to shut down a reactor and then flee the electronic lava rising everywhere. Again dexterity was required, but it actually wasn’t that bad. After two or three retries I was past it, and it was often fun. The game also started having checkpoints in the middle of some challenge rooms.

I just wish the developer had also added one in the room with the rising grid of red lasers.

TitleLengthDatesDiff / ChtSaveScore
Red Trigger
2016 Maxime Vézina58m 1
2019-05-31
2019-05-31
7

Obduction

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Developer: Cyan Worlds | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, First Person

This was a non-linear first person adventure made by the creators of Myst and its many sequels. I was a backer when it was announced as a Kickstarter campaign a few years ago. Although Obduction has its own story that doesn’t have anything in common with Myst, it didn’t take long before I discovered that it was very much a spiritual kinsgame. Cyan Worlds didn’t stray away from their field of excellence.

In this game, the big domes replaced the ages (or islands) in Myst, but they were just as environmentally diverse, and the world got bigger and more prone to me getting stuck, the more doors I unlocked.

After a quick abduction I arrived in a sandy canyon with bubbly pieces of human structures from various points of recent human history. A cute network of trolley rails were intersecting it all, and there were a lot of locked doors. No humans, except C.W., who only mentioned very broad tasks through a door window whenever I had made substantial progress. I had to figure out almost everything on my own.

It took me about 20-21 hours to complete this game. It could have been done in about 12-15 hours, but I was stuck for several hours on a couple of occasions. The world got quite enormous when there were three alien domes to navigate between. After unlocking a few doors and getting the trolley running on the rails, the general puzzle mechanic was almost always finding and opening more stuff.

Californium

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Developer: Darjeeling | Released: 2016 | Genre: Adventure, Facile

This exploration game – or walking simulator as some would call it – was estimated to be ~3 hours long, and that’s exactly what it took for me to get complete it.

The art and color scheme of this game was out of this world and certainly worth the price of admission all on its own. Each of the four levels had a its own time period and distinctive colors to set them apart, and all humans (and later androids) were old-fashioned 2D sprites always turning the same side to you – albeit sharply drawn like were they cut straight out of a comic book. I really enjoyed this lovely style.

Being part of the genre it was, the game itself was light on interactivity. A level typically had 4-5 “rooms” plus the streets in which to find a television showing a roman numerical of white icons to find. Depending on the size of the “room” it could be about 3 to 6 icons. The icons themselves had to be spotted and then activated by holding left mouse button on them for about one second.

Yeah, the good old game of getting warmer.

Associations: Outcast vs Farscape

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If you ever played the fantastic open world voxel masterpiece Outcast from 1999, do you remember when you entered the green and lush rice fields of Shamazaar, the first world you enter after the snowy tutorial? This was a place where our wisecracking hero, Cutter Slade, ran around crossing the rice paddies that had farmers at work while wearing pointed coolie hats.

All very inspired by real Asian rice fields.

The 5 Most Vertigo-Inducing Games

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I never thought I’d be writing a clickbait post like this one day, but here we are. Thing is, I think these kind of posts are actually fun to write. They also work quite well at my origin of inspiration; I Played The Game!

Another reason why I’ve decided to start writing these posts is that I am in a great position to do so, having completed more than 500 games with lots of diary sessions, blog posts and screenshots to draw from.

But please, be gentle. This is my first time.

As for vertigo-inducing games, there were a lot to consider. As soon as it’s first or third person, 3D and you get just a bit up into any kind of structure, it’s easy to create a sense of vertigo. To reduce the pool of games I had to research, I made the rule of not including 2D or fake 2D games (2.5D like puzzle platform games viewed from the side) as well as MMO games of any kind. I also excluded all the Spider-Man games.

The five games I’ve chosen are not sorted in any particular order.