GOD OF WAR: The Jötunheim Wall of Prophecy

I recently finished the main story in GOD OF WAR. Near the end of their journey, Kratos and Atreus enter Jötunheim and discover a wall carved with runes and images. Some depict Kratos’ wife and Atreus’ mother Faye. Others show scenes from the game. Some, crumbling away or partially hidden beneath a red curtain, seem to hint at things to come in a sequel.

The writing on the wall is made up of symbols from the Elder Futhark. Dating back more than 1,500 years, versions of this alphabet were used for centuries by Norse, Germanic, Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian people, including Vikings, and inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s Cirth script.

When I started playing GOD OF WAR and met the Stranger, I saw that the red runes across his back spelled the word “cursed.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elder_Futhark

So, I thought it likely that the runes carved in Jötunheim would also say something and were not just random decorations. Here are some I’ve managed to translate.

This section of the wall shows the final battle between Kratos and Baldur. One side says “Baldur,” but the runes beside Kratos spell “Farbauti.”

In Norse mythology, Farbauti was the husband of Laufey and father of Loki. One translation of the name Farbauti is “cruel striker.”

There are some runes above a carving of what looks like Faye’s funeral pyre. But they don’t translate into English, like Baldur’s “cursed” tattoo. Plugging them into Google translate tells me they are Icelandic and say “in death comes defender finally back to Jotunheim I have a war.”

According to notes in the game wiki, they are supposed to mean, “In death, the guardian will finally come back to Jötunheim in the hands of the einherjar.” However, there’s not actually an “R” at the end of “einherja” on the wall.

In Norse mythology the “einherjar” (with an “R” at the end) are those who die in battle and are taken to Valhalla by valkyries. The einherjar prepare for Ragnarok when they will join in a huge battle between the gods and the forces led by Surtr, a fire giant from Muspelheim.

But using Google translate with just the word “einherja” (without the “R”) translates to “champions.” Kratos and Atreus? So maybe a better translation is “in death, the guardian returns to Jotunheim in the hands of (her) champions.”

There are some phrases just above the red curtain (in the blue area of the picture below). These can be translated to “blood of fathers blood of gods” and “secret summit errand found.”

This seems to refer to the journey Kratos and Atreus took to the hidden summit in Jötunheim. But does “errand found” refer to the quest they completed or to a new mission – to vanquish the enemies of the giants?

I wonder if the entire journey was not predicted by Faye so much as set up by her, to show them not just who she really was, but what happened to her people and why Kratos must do what he does best – kill gods.

Beneath the red curtain we are given a glimpse of what looks like Atreus holding a fallen Kratos, though the man is wearing a different garb than the “Farbauti” we saw earlier.

The word above Atreus is “andlat” which translates to “death” in Icelandic. The runes to the top right spell “foður” which means “father.” Another word near the pair seems to be “hormui” which translates to “mourned.”

Slightly hidden by Kratos, near the bottom, are runes that spell “svik” which translates to “betrayal.”

Words spiral from Atreus’ mouth, possibly a song, spell or lament. I’ve read online that some players think this is the birth of the Midgard serpent, flowing from him. Others think it’s not Kratos at all but Odin, also known as the “All-Father.” But why would Atreus mourn the death of Odin?

In a game that offers resurrection stones, it doesn’t make sense that Kratos would actually die. But after battling Baldur, there is a conversation between Kratos and his son, where he admits that he would die if it meant that Atreus would live.

It’s also possible that Kratos chooses to die for some other reason, such as being with his wife Faye or being taken to Valhalla by the Valkyries to face Odin himself. Or — like Faye’s death — to set necessary events in motion.

If we move past the red curtain, the rest of the wall seems to be damaged and crumbled away. This could simply be a way for the developers to hide what’s to come. Or it could be symbolic of the idea that the future is not “set in stone” and that Kratos and Atreus may still change their fate.

From the bits of runes that can be made out, there’s a portion that refers to “Laufei” (aka Faye or Laufey) and seems to repeat, in three ways, the idea of trusting her and doing what she wanted them to do. This is similar to Atreus’ lines in the game when he stands in front of the red curtain and says, “If she had a plan for us… I trust it. Whatever it is.”

Then we have a little area that shows Atreus aka Loki with his bow and quiver, traveling with three wolves. The runes are hard to make out, thus hard to translate, but could be referring to war, fate, anger and wolves.

In Norse myth, Loki is the father of the wolf Fenrir, who is the father of Skoll and Hati, the wolves who devour the sun and moon at the beginning of Ragnarok. This carving could be a reference to Atreus’ in-game ability to summon three wolves with the magic of his Talon Bow or it could suggest that Atreus will have three actual wolf companions in a sequel.

When Kratos and Atreus defeat Baldur, snow begins to fall. When the two re-enter Midgard after leaving Jötunheim, the world is covered in snow. Brok the dwarf calls it Fimbulwinter. In Norse mythology, this is a harsh season that heralds the end of the world.

Ragnarok, the doom of the gods, is coming.

Here’s another interesting item of note, nothing to do with the Jötunheim prophecy wall but the shrine to Bergelmir. It shows a man with a long, pointed beard and a spiral on his left arm, similar to Kratos.

The runes above his wife’s head spell “Nal,” which in Norse mythology is another name for Laufey.

GOD OF WAR doesn’t follow mythology exactly, so it could be that this Nal is supposed to be an entirely different person. Or…

Is it possible that Faye is the mother of all giants? Is Kratos actually Bergelmir? Will he go back in time, find Faye, and become the parents of all frost giants? Did Faye know who he really was when she met him, because she knew him from her past?

There may be a deeper meaning in Bergelmir’s shrine being the last and final shrine, found in Tyr’s secret chambers beneath the Realm Travel Room, to complete the More Than Myth labor.

According to one fan theory, Kratos will turn out to be Tyr, not Bergelmir. Tyr is depicted in a tapestry sporting a beard similar to Kratos’ and accompanied by a woman who looks similar to the image of Laufey (Faye) in the Jotunheim mural.

In Tyr’s vault, there’s pottery decorated with an image of Kratos. References to various lands – Greece, Japan and Egypt – visited by Tyr are seen during the ride down into the vault and again on the missing panel of Tyr’s Jotnar shrine, found in Odin’s chamber (see below, clockwise from top right: Greek omega, triskele, Japanese tomoe and Egyptian eye of Horus).

The triskele or triskelion is sometimes called a “Celtic spiral” but spirals carved on the megalithic tomb of Newgrange in Ireland, built around 3200 BCE, appear before the Celts are thought to have arrived in the area. Spirals and triple-spirals are also found on ancient Greek and Maltese vessels as far back as 4400–3600 BCE. But symbols of three, such as the triple horn and the valknut, are common in Viking artifacts, so I wonder if the game devs represented Midgard with the triskele symbol – implying that Kratos began in Greece (omega), moved to Midgard (spirals) and that the next game will take him to Japan (tomoe).

There are rumors that the game developers want to take God of War into Egypt and other lands. Could these be hints to Kratos’ future/past as Tyr?

GOD OF WAR suggests that time travel is possible. Mimir mentions that during Ragnarok, the serpent Jörmungandr will fight Thor and get knocked back in time before its own birth. Past and future is “a matter of perspective” he tells Atreus when they find the Jotnar shrine to Surtr in Muspelheim.

But, based on the lore in the game, Tyr is the son of Odin and Mimir seems to have known him. Kratos is the son of Zeus and, as far as I know, Mimir doesn’t recognize him. Though, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because we know Mimir can be bewitched, as he was by Freya, and not be able to talk about things.

The idea of being a “good god” is a significant theme in GOD OF WAR. I think it would be an incredible story arc for Kratos if, after all he’s done, he becomes beloved Bergelmir, king of giants, or Tyr, who brought peace and justice.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Now streaming GOD OF WAR on Twitch

I tried GOD OF WAR in January (watch here) and I loved it! But I wanted to finish Horizon Zero Dawn, my husband needed back surgery, and then we moved, so it took me awhile to get back to the badass dad and his boy.

I’m streaming on Twitch every week, Monday through Thursday, in the afternoon. Broadcasts are saved on my channel (JEWELSMITH) and can be watched anytime. I also upload edited videos to my YouTube channel (JEWELSMITH).

I hope you’ll join me for some boomerang axe action and kayaking!

~ J.L. Hilton

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Fallout 4 fanfiction: “Cold, Cruel World”

This is part of a series based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4. These stories don’t include the entire quest of the Sole Survivor but are a collection of significant moments in my role-playing, headcanon and backstory.

In this one, Fiona finds Mary Abernathy’s locket, decides to be a Minuteman, and hooks up with Sturges. It also includes some of the reasons she stopped using Preston as a traveling companion.

I really did try to have Preston as a companion in the beginning of the game. He would often sit there and do nothing when shit hit the fan, and he couldn’t hit the broadside of a Red Rocket with his laser musket. I don’t know if he’s programmed that way, but I decided he had PTSD and that’s why I started using other companions instead.

Language, gun violence, romance.

2,200 words

Cold, Cruel World

Fiona went with Preston to a nearby settlement for bullets and seeds but they returned with some terrible news.

“Raiders attacked Abernathy farm,” Preston told Sturges when they got back to Sanctuary Hills. “Robbed them and killed their daughter Mary.”

“That’s a damn shame.” Sturges shook his head. “A damn shame.”

Fiona had thawed out in a cold, cruel world. “Why? Why would they do that?” She paced the narrow carport that had become Sturges’ workshop.

“Because they’re raiders,” said Preston, with an impatient edge to his voice. “Scum like that prey on the hardworking people of the Commonwealth. The Abernathys needed the Minutemen.”

“Better make sure we’re ready if those raiders head our way.” Sturges put out his hand. “Lemme see your gun.”

She gave him her 10mm. He inspected and cleaned it at the workbench while they talked.

“The Abernathy’s should move here,” said Fiona. “There’s plenty of room.”

“Is there room for everyone in the Commonwealth?” Preston asked and then answered himself. “No, we need to help people defend their homes. The only way to do that is to rebuild the Minutemen, and that means showing people that they can count on us when they need us. Will you help?” Preston looked at her.

“Help you do what?”

“Find those murderers and Mary’s locket. Bring her family a little justice.”

The justice she knew involved due process, a court, law and order. Those things didn’t exist any more.

“I believe in justice but I’m no Minuteman.”

“There’s a dead deathclaw and some dead raiders in Lexington that say different.” Preston tugged on the lapels of his colonial style duster. “You might not have a uniform but you came to our defense at a minute’s notice.”

“Who’s going to look for my son if something happens to me?”

Preston and Sturges exchanged glances. They didn’t think she’d find Shaun alive, if she found him at all. She refused to give up hope. Hope was all she had.

“And what if something happens to you because we don’t deal with the raiders?” said Preston.

Images played in her mind, like a movie reel she couldn’t turn off, of the scarred man who killed her husband and took their son. Gunners killed Jun and Marcy’s son. Raiders killed Blake and Connie’s daughter. Too many children gone, too many families torn apart.

She realized she had more than hope. She had hope and fury.

“Fine. I’ll go. But we’re taking Dogmeat and the Cryolator.”

Fiona picked up the strange weapon from Vault 111.

“Remember to aim a little high,” said Sturges. He’d improved and tested the weapon on a wild mongrel sniffing too close to the settlement. Froze the animal to death. There were only a few dozen cryo cells and he hadn’t figured out how to make more, but she wanted any advantage she could get.

They still had the ridiculously-named “minigun” from the crashed vertibird in Concord. Nothing “mini” about it, the military had used the huge Gatling-style weapon during the war and it was almost impossible to heft without power armor. The T-45 suit from the roof of the museum had just enough juice to move to Sturges’ workshop but wouldn’t get far without another fusion core. So the minigun would have to stay behind.

“According to Blake Abernathy, the raiders came from a satellite station,” said Preston.

“There’s one to the east, not far from here,” she said. “Or at least there used to be, a couple centuries ago. That might be it.”

“We’ll check it out. Grab what you need and meet me across the bridge.” Preston rushed off to update Mama Murphy.

She gathered ammo and the few stimpaks they had. Sturges handed back her gun.

“Be careful, alright?”

She holstered the weapon. “I will.”

“Ever since Quincy, I don’t think Preston’s been sleeping much. If a body can’t sleep, it can’t think straight. Don’t let him get you killed.”

“I don’t plan on it.” Fiona rubbed a dark smear of something off his stubbled chin. “Grease monkey.”

He smiled. “Popsicle.”

They’d slept in the same bed the night before, held each other, nothing more. She put her hands on his shoulders.

Carpe diem, right, Nate? Seize the day. Or…

“Carpe homo habilis.” Seize the handyman. She laughed at her own joke.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing, just the language of a useless education. Kiss me.”

“You sure about that?”

“Yes.”

Sturges wrapped his hands around her waist. He moved slow and careful, just the way he’d fix a generator or clean a gun, not in a rush but doing the job right. It felt good to be held close, to feel his mouth on hers. He smelled like gun oil and sweat.

Fiona recalled Nate’s frozen hand, the one she held when she removed his wedding ring, and pushed the thought from her mind. That wasn’t the way he would want to be remembered.

* * *

She walked with Preston and Dogmeat through the eerie ruins of her old life. They followed the edge of the lake without hearing a single bird, voice, radio or car, just the sound of their boots in the dirt. He acted like he had a patrol of Minutemen behind him, confident as a security guard in a parking garage with his shoulders back and his two-way radio clipped to his shoulder.

Fiona followed, pistol drawn and neck swiveling like a deranged owl scanning for signs of movement. Without power armor, she only had road leathers and a few bits of metal to protect her, so she wanted to be quiet and careful.

They climbed the rocky hill at the end of the lake and crouched behind some brush. She could see the huge satellite dish and a crashed military vertibird nearby.

Preston looked through the scope of his laser musket. “There’s two guards and a dog.”

“Are you sure they’re raiders? I don’t want to shoot innocent people.”

“They’re raiders alright. I’ve seen enough of them to know.”

“And not Gunners?”

The tone of his voice changed. “Seen enough of those, too.”

Fiona touched his arm in a small gesture of comfort and Preston flinched.

She removed her hand. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m just… tense, I guess.”

Fiona heard shouts and gunfire. Preston raised his musket and peered through the scope again.

“Looks like they’re fighting … molerats.”

She’d met a few of those at the Red Rocket fuel station where she found Dogmeat. They were big, hairless rodents with a mean streak.

She saw a flash and heard an explosion. “What was that?”

“I don’t know. Maybe they have molotovs?”

“Oh, Jesus H. Christ. C’mon.”

Preston and Dogmeat followed her, keeping the trees between them and the distracted raiders. She crouched behind cover, aimed the 10mm, fired several shots and reloaded while Dogmeat dealt with the last of the molerats. Silence fell as the sun dropped below the horizon.

Preston kneeled beside her. “See? You did great.”

She wiped her sweaty hands on her pants. “Don’t start handing out medals, we still need to get inside.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

While he searched the exterior, she checked to make sure the raiders were dead. They dressed like the assholes in Concord, but with burlap hoods covering their heads, and smelled like a sewer.

Preston found a door into the facility and they headed down a ramp covered in debris and filth. Dogmeat whimpered and she rubbed his neck for reassurance as they inched forward. Then she saw a glint of red light and grabbed the tail of Preston’s coat.

“Don’t move,” she ordered in a whisper.

He backed away from the laser tripwire at his feet. “Thanks. That was close.”

He crouched and fiddled with something on the wall. Her heart leaped in her chest when she heard a click and the red light disappeared. She held her breath for a couple seconds and only exhaled when she didn’t hear an alarm, get blown to bits, or see any raiders running toward them.

“They’re easy enough to disarm so long as you see them before you set them off. Probably connected to this.” He pointed to a device in the ceiling.

They entered a room with some broken filing cabinets, a desk and a working computer. Preston approached a metal security door.

“Could be something useful in there.”

She spoke in a whisper and wished Preston would, too. “If it was useful, wouldn’t the raiders be using it already?”

“Only if they could get in. We should try the terminal.”

“Or we might just do what we came to do, before we get ourselves killed.”

She gestured to three windows, without glass, through which they could see catwalks suspended above a large command center. They crouched and crept forward. Peeking over the windowsill, she counted three raiders.

From the hallway to the left she heard a barking dog.

“Shit.” She raised her pistol as Dogmeat ran to intercept the other animal.

A raider rounded the corner, gun drawn. He spotted them and shouted, “Oh, hell, no!”

Fiona aimed at his chest and fired twice. The raider fell.

“They know we’re here now.” She shot into the main room. The raiders shot back. Preston just sat there. “Preston! A little help?”

“Right. I’m on it.” He cranked his laser musket and fired a wild beam of red light that hit a filing cabinet.

She heard shouts from the hall to the right and darted over to take a look. More raiders at the bottom of the stairs.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Dogmeat ran past her and jumped down the steps, snarling as he locked his teeth around the arm of a guy wearing little more than stained long johns and duct tape. She used her Pip-Boy’s targeting system, emptied a clip and ducked back behind the wall to reload. Preston continued shooting and she wondered if he hit anyone at all because they were still shooting back.

She heard the fierce patter of a rapid-fire weapon and Dogmeat yelped. Poking her head out again, she saw a woman awkwardly toting a minigun toward the stairs.

Must have got it from the crashed bird outside, same way I got one in Concord.

Fiona holstered the pistol, swung the Cryolator off her back and pelted the pig-tailed asshole with ice crystals. The minigun’s spray of bullets chipped the walls in bursts of plaster around her and hit Fiona’s right leg like a jackhammer. She retreated behind the edge of the wall and blood pooled at her feet.

This is not where I die!

Her head spun. Fiona clenched her jaw, yanked a stimpak out of the pouch at her belt and slammed the needle into her thigh. The pain eased, replaced by a kind of tingling feeling, similar to the fizz of carbonation in a Nuka Cola. Her head cleared.

The raider was frozen for the moment but not dead, struggling to move but still swearing at her. Fiona switched to her 10mm and unloaded as she limped down the stairs.

The minigun hit the ground with a heavy, metallic crash.

“That’s for Mary Abernathy, you piece of shit.”

She used a stimpak on Dogmeat, who ran off to help Preston while she wiped her bloody hands on the raider’s coat.

They searched the facility and found Mary’s locket, a fusion core, and a few stimpaks. Fiona took an army helmet off the skeleton of a long-dead sergeant and put it on. They loaded up their packs with weapons, ammo, food, and anything else they thought they could use, and hauled it back to Sanctuary Hills.

Preston gushed the whole way about her shooting skills, the tripwire she spotted, the key she found to unlock the storage room, and the future of the Minutemen.

Fiona said nothing until they reached the settlement. She promised Preston they would take the locket to Abernathy Farm in the morning, dropped her loot in the middle of Sturges’ workshop and went straight to the bathroom, where she washed away the blood with water and tears.

She didn’t cry for the killing. Killing got easier every time. It was either her or them, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be her, that’s all there was to that. She didn’t cry for the pain. The stimpak took care of that and her limp was already gone.

She cried for the death of the person she used to be and the world that was gone forever. Who was she now? Who would she have to become to survive, to find Shaun and kill the bastard who took her husband’s life?

Not just a lawyer anymore but judge, jury and executioner. A fighter, like Nate.

A Minuteman.

The tears came harder and faster, until the shower tank ran out of water. She was wet, naked and shivering, and she didn’t care. Everywhere in the wasteland desperation stood bare, why should she be any different?

When Sturges wrapped a blanket around her, Fiona kissed him. He was solid and warm and she kissed him all the way to the bedroom, where he shrugged off the straps of his overalls and she pulled his t-shirt over his head. He was broad and muscular like Nate, but he made love gentle and quiet, and not like Nate at all.

* * *

~ J.L. Hilton

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Part 1: MacCready’s Lucky Cap – MacCready meets Daisy & leaves the Gunners
Part 2: A Home No More – Fiona adjusts to life in the Commonwealth wasteland
Part 3: MacCready Meets the Mayor – MacCready arrives in Goodneighbor
Part 4: Cold, Cruel World – Fiona finds a locket & joins the Minutemen
Part 5: MacCready & Hancock visit a brothel. (unwritten)
Part 6: The Mayor Meets His Match (unwritten)
Part 7: The General Helps MacCready (unwritten)
Part 8: MacCready’s Wooden Soldier – Fiona & MacCready’s first kiss
Part 9: Wanton Wasteland: Hangman’s Alley – ADULTS ONLY The ghoulified mayor of Goodneighbor indulges in whiskey and voyeurism
Part 10: Happy Birthday, Fiona – Hancock deals with unrequited lust that just might be love
Part 11: Last Goodbye – Fiona rides a molecular relay & leaves her friends behind (unfinished)
Part 12: The Eve of Destruction – Hancock helps Fiona cope with the stresses of leadership

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Try-It Tuesday: SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS

I played SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS this week because my daughter had a copy of the 2018 remake for PlayStation 4. She bought it because she’s studying video game design in college, and the original 2005 version is considered a classic, influencing many games that came after.

Critics loved the remake but I have to wonder how much nostalgia influenced that reception. SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS enchanted young players a decade ago, so they grew up to write about the game with rose-colored glasses.

Having no nostalgia of my own, ignorant of exactly what place it holds in the annals of video game history, and not being a 12-year-old, SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS quickly grew boring and repetitive for me. Climb up the hairy back, stab the glowing tattoo. Over and over and over. The beasts try to shake you off so you have to hold on, but you only have so much grip strength. When that runs out, you either have to find a place to rest or you fall and have to climb again. That’s about it.

There doesn’t seem to be much else going on in SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS but expansive vistas with a whole lotta nothing. No characters to talk to, no chests to open, no explanations, no lore. I never even found out the protagonist’s name or why he wanted to revive the dead girl so badly he was willing to be bathed in black brain juice.

The colossi probably get more challenging, and they are really cool to look at, but considering how far I have to travel to each one — on the worst horse-riding simulator ever, with an impossibly clunky camera — I have zero interest in finding out.

SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS is rated “T” for teens, due to blood and violence.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: FE

FE is a 2018 release from Zoink, the makers of Zombie Vikings and Flipping Death. I loved Zombie Vikings and played all the way through last summer. I wanted to like Flipping Death but did one live stream and couldn’t get into it. So I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play FE but it went on sale for $4.99 and I decided to try it.

In the style of Journey or Flower, it’s an experience of moody environmental storytelling without dialog. While the other two Zoink games were side-scrollers, FE is more of an open world adventure.

The main character, controlled in 3rd person POV, is a small creature similar to a fox or squirrel who can jump, swim, climb trees, pick up objects, ride larger creatures, hide in bushes, and sing. Singing, and learning new songs, seems to be the core game mechanic.

While there aren’t hidden object games or literal jigsaw puzzles to solve, FE is a puzzle game. It is very much about exploring, finding clues and figuring out how to use the environment to achieve goals.

The graphics are also very different from the other Zoink games. I loved the art style in Zombie Vikings and Flipping Death but I don’t really care for the visuals in FE. Not just because of personal taste but because I found the geometric angles and “black light” color scheme difficult to navigate.

A word of advice if you’re going to play FE, the title screen says “options” but doesn’t offer much more than volume controls. Press the “options” button on the PS4 controller while actually playing the game and you’ll get a bigger menu. If you’re like me and need to invert the Y-axis, this is where you’ll do that.

FE is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Origin for PC. It’s rated “E” for everyone. The only ESRB warning is “mild fantasy violence.”

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: TITANFALL 2

This week I played TITANFALL 2, a first-person shooter developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts. It’s a 2016 sequel to the game Titanfall (2014), available for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

I spent most of my time in the tutorial, learning the game controls, trying out various weapons, and collecting batteries for my Titan, a souped-up version of power armor with its own AI.

This stream was my first ever on Twitch and I later uploaded an edited video to YouTube. I may continue following this format for all of my Try-It Tuesdays in the future.

TITANFALL 2 is science fiction, if you hadn’t already guessed, with multiplayer modes and a single-player campaign that follows the story of Jack Cooper, voiced by Matthew Mercer (MacCready in Fallout 4). He’s a rifleman in the Frontier Militia, which seemed similar to the Browncoats of Firefly and Serenity.

I had a really good time and would play the hell out of TITANFALL 2 if it didn’t have all the parkour platformer double jumps and wall-running. I know a lot of players love that stuff but it’s not something I enjoy. Oh, well.

 TITANFALL 2 is rated “M” for “mature” adults, due to blood and gore, language and violence.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Some sad news

Please note, this post contains references to domestic violence, child abuse and animal cruelty. 

My dad died today, on his 74th birthday. Ten days ago, on my birthday, he fell, hit his head, and went into a coma from which he never woke.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, my dad introduced me to science fiction, computers, kung fu, video games and Dungeons & Dragons. He bought a Darth Vader helmet and made a costume by dyeing his old army fatigues black and making a chest piece in the garage. He used to play the princess game with me where I would run down the hall, lose a shoe like Cinderella, fall into bed like Sleeping Beauty, and he would wake me with a kiss on the cheek.

He had an incredible imagination and a great sense of humor. He gave me treasure hunts, art lessons, board games, card games, haunted houses, dances and songs. He loved to sing. He taught me to read and write before I entered kindergarten. He brought home pieces of colored wire from work so I could make bracelets and rings when I was 9 years old.

In so many ways, I am my father’s daughter. But not in every way.

I wish I could say I’ll miss him but he was an abuser who also collected guns, Nazi paraphernalia and anti-Catholic comic books along with his Star Wars memorabilia.

As a kid, I had black eyes, bruises, and a broken ear drum. I’ve watched him hit my mom, beat my yelping dog, knock over my sister in her high chair, kick his mother, and threaten to get a gun and shoot us. He was highly controlling, always right, and accepted nothing less than perfection and total obedience. To disagree or disappoint him was to risk a beating and/or setting off a tantrum that would result in family members and pets being abused and household objects broken. He could be enraged by something as small as a scrap of paper on the floor, a towel folded incorrectly, or not eating every bite on your plate at meal times.

“You’ll understand someday when you have kids of your own,” is the old saying. Well, I have kids – one of whom is an adult now – and I still don’t understand my father. I would never treat my kids the way he treated his and I have a spouse who’s never behaved like that. Before I married, I dated plenty of people who didn’t terrify me, throw temper tantrums or break things, no matter how bad their day might be or what they were going through.

This is not a eulogy for him but a message for anyone who’s experienced something like this and needs to know they’re not alone.

If you or someone you love is being abused, please seek help. If you think your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

If you hurt the people you love, if you use anger and physical violence to control others, please seek help.

If you have experienced abuse in the past and have depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidal thoughts, IBS, risky sexual behaviors, addiction, autoimmune disorders or other difficulties linked to abuse, I hope you are getting the help that you need.

If you’re not sure where to start, try MentalHealth.gov or talk to your doctor.

I’ll also write this for anyone who thinks “he can’t be an abuser, he’s such a nice guy.” It’s not fun to think that someone you know is capable of doing bad things. But I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely possible to be both kind and cruel, humorous and horrifying, friendly and an utter fucking shithead. It is possible to be a co-worker, a friend, a family member AND an abuser.

“I know there is good in you,” Luke Skywalker told his dad. Unfortunately, as far as I know, my dad never had a Darth Vader moment of redemption. The last thing I remember him saying to me was “fucking bitch” and we never spoke again. That was exactly 23 years ago.

I don’t need to hear that he’s the only dad I’ll ever have, I should forgive him, I should have kept in touch etc. I’ve done the therapy with professionals and I’ve spent my entire life dealing with this, in one way or another. I know he struggled with his own demons and he wasn’t healthy in mind or body. Doesn’t mean I should have subjected myself or my own children to an abusive person.

Something else I don’t want or need is sympathy and I don’t want to be told how “strong” I am. I’m not. Yes, I got through it, but what choice did I have? This bullshit weakened me, weakened me badly. I left as soon as I could, when I turned 18, and I survived because I’m lucky. Some children aren’t.

Five children a day die in the United States from child abuse and neglect.

If you feel compelled to act in some way, to respond to what I’m saying, please contact organizations that help victims of domestic violence and work to prevent child abuse. Don’t contact me. I am not comfortable talking about this. Most people, even my friends and family, don’t know the extent of what I’ve been through.

But if I can stop the cycle of abuse for one other person, if I can help someone else get through the day knowing they’re not alone, if I can prevent someone out there from being an asshole to their own kids, if I can raise a $1 to help the estimated 10 million people who are abused by an intimate partner every year in the U.S., then it needs to be said and it might as well be today.

Happy birthday, dad. Rest in peace.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: FISHING MASTER

This week’s game is dedicated to one of my viewers who’s become a good friend, “Michael” aka Jesikebiking. He has a YouTube channel where he shares his real-life steampunk bicycles and his Fallout 4 settlement builds.

I know how much he likes fishing so I wanted to show him FISHING MASTER where he can fish right in his own home. There are 200 different species of fish with unique behaviors and more than 50 fishing tools. In the free demo, I fished under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay. The full game adds the Alps and Arctic Ocean fishing spots.

FISHING MASTER is rated “E” for everyone but the PSVR is not for use by children under the age of 12. PlayStation®VR, PlayStation®Camera and one PS®Move controller required to play.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: THE CURSED HEART

This week I played another gem from Artifex Mundi, NIGHTMARES FROM THE DEEP: THE CURSED HEART. This is the first game in the Nightmares From the Deep series, released in 2012.

In THE CURSED HEART, modern-day museum curator Sarah Black stows away on a haunted ship to rescue her daughter from the fearsome centuries-old Captain Remington. There are various puzzles and hidden object games, all with a lovely ghost pirate theme rich in skulls, treasure and sea creatures similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies that spanned 2003-2011.

I played the free PlayStation4 demo. The game is also available for PC, Xbox One and mobile phones. Rated “T” for teens due to alcohol references, blood and gore, mild violence, and use of tobacco.

Try-it Tuesday NIGHTMARES FROM THE DEEP 3: DAVY JONES

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: BLUE ESTATE THE GAME

BLUE ESTATE is a “darkly funny on-rail shooter,” based on the graphic novel from Viktor Kalvachev, developed by He-Saw, and published by Focus Home Interactive. It looked interesting so I played the free demo this week on PlayStation 4.

The full game offers story and arcade modes, a two-player local cooperative option, and “normal,” “abnormal” or “crazytrain” difficulty settings. BLUE ESTATE uses the gyroscopic features of the PlayStation 4 controller and Kinect sensor on Xbox One. On PC, it’s played with the keyboard / mouse, traditional USB gamepads, Leap Motion or light guns.

“On rails” means I couldn’t control my path through the environment. Like riding a roller coaster or train, I could look around and sometimes grab things — like ammo or health packs — but couldn’t back up, explore or choose my own path as the game moved me forward. The main elements here are story, shooting, and occasional quick-time-events where I swiped the touchpad on the PS4 controller.

BLUE ESTATE earns its “M” for mature rating, with lots of blood, violence, drug references, crude humor, sexual themes and partial nudity.

~ J.L. Hilton

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