Try-It Tuesday: UNRAVEL

This week I tried UNRAVEL, a side-scrolling puzzle platformer made by the Swedish company Coldwood Interactive and published by Electronic Arts in February 2016 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. As of this writing, it’s on sale for $9.99, or $7.99 for Playstation Plus members.

This is a very sweet game with a soothing soundtrack that reminded me of Journey and Flower. Similar to Little Big Planet, you play as a little doll. This one is made of yarn, aptly named “Yarny,” who unravels as you travel through the world. Yarny’s yarn is an important part of the experience, used to lasso, climb, pull weeds, swing, and build bridges.

My 13-year-old fell in love with it right away and we are planning to livestream the entire game in the future.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: Disney’s FROZEN Free Fall: Snowball Fight

My youngest daughter joined me for Try-It Tuesday on my Youtube channel this week. We played Disney’s FROZEN Free Fall: Snowball Fight, a two-player puzzle game available for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC, that promised to turn our living room into an “epic puzzle matching battle.”

Think head-to-head Bejeweled or competitive Candy Crush, with each player’s game board taking up about 1/2 of the TV screen. After you make crystal combos, characters throw snowballs at each other — or water balloons if you choose the summer environment instead of winter — and additional combos can result in a block or a dodge.

The game is free to play, so long as you only want to be either young Anna or young Kristoff. Grown Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Marshmallow or any other characters, require in-game purchases. Single-player mode also available, with 195 free levels.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: NO MAN’S SKY

This week, I tried out the epic 2016 space exploration game that disappointed everyone.

Honest trailer
Angry Joe review
No Man’s Sky trailer vs reality

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: PREY

I played the free demo of PREY, the first-person shooter and sci-fi survival horror game developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game was released in May 2017 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and I recently downloaded the free demo on my PS4.

I’m not usually a fan of horror games, but I enjoyed PREY. It seemed more creepy than horrifying, more atmospheric than outright gory, but it may ramp up with further play, I don’t know.

PREY delivers jump scares disguised as loot (my weakness) via alien “mimics” who can take the form of innocuous items like coffee cups and trash cans. There’s also an element of crafting, breaking down various bits of trash to create new items, though I didn’t explore this much in the demo.

The controls and game mechanics are similar to the Dishonored games (also by Arkane Studios), which involve a lot of stealth, climbing, jumping, reading in-game content, and somewhat clunky first-person combat.

I might consider playing the full game, after I finish Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and if I ever stop playing Fallout 4.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: inFAMOUS Second Son PS4

This week we meet Delsin Rowe in inFAMOUS Second Son, the 2014 action-adventure game by Sucker Punch.

While I’m not usually a fan of cutscenes, third-person perspective or games that rely heavily on climbing/jumping mechanics, for some reason it works for me in the inFAMOUS franchise. I might just continue playing this one, after I’ve finished Dishonored 2, my second playthrough of Fallout 4, and Death of the Outsider (coming in September).

~ J.L. Hilton

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PS3 game giveaway: Assassin’s Creed II & IV

In honor of Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, the game featured in yesterday’s Try-It Tuesday, I am giving away my own PS3 copies of Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

If you’re in the U.S., find me on Twitter & Facebook, like & share my giveaway posts for a chance to receive both games, free shipping, no purchase necessary.

Winner announced during the next Try-It Tuesday livestream on my Youtube channel JEWELSMITH, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, the comments of the Try-It Tuesday Youtube video, and on this website on August 15.

Please note: These are used region one games. I’ve personally played the AC2 disk, no problems, but never used the AC4 disk myself. It was purchased pre-owned from Gamestop and appears to be clean and undamaged, but I make no guarantees.

~ J.L. Hilton

UPDATE: Click here for the winner

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Dishonored 2 begins August 2

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Next month, I return to Dunwall with Dishonored 2, streamed via Youtube and Playstation Network.

I’m giving away an official Bethesda Softworks Dishonored 78-card tarot deck during my first stream August 2, 2017. This is the original promotional deck, offered with pre-orders of the first Dishonored game in 2012.

Subscribe to my channel JEWELSMITH and click the bell icon to be notified when I begin the stream, or you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates.

Viewers who comment “A Game of Nancy” in the chatroom during the Wednesday livestream will be entered in a random drawing. The winner will be announced in the comments section of the Youtube video after the end of the livestream and must contact me within 48 hours to claim the prize or another winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary, free shipping to anywhere in the world.

Only one entry per person, regardless of how many times you say “A Game of Nancy” during the livestream.

Click here for how to play an actual Game of Nancy. 

~ J.L. Hilton

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A Wasteland Orange

I found an interesting guy near Walden Pond, during my second playthrough of Fallout 4.

From what I’ve read online, the trader who spawns there is usually a woman and players assume she’s just a crazy cat lady.

My trader spawned with a harness and a bowler hat. Considering this scene from A Clockwork Orange, it might seem as if this location is referencing the 1971 movie.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Fallout 4 fanfiction: “A Home No More”

Part two in a fanfic series based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4.

“A Home No More” is about Fiona, sole survivor of Vault 111, adjusting to life in the Commonwealth wasteland.

Language and light romance.

1,700 words

Chapter One: MacCready’s Lucky Cap
Chapter Two: A Home No More

Chapter Three: Coming soon…

Wanton Wasteland: Hangman’s Alley

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Chapter Two – A Home No More

Fiona walked to the cemetery with its crosses made from the white picket fences of Sanctuary Hills. She read the painted names.

Herbert and Cordelia Able. Mr. & Mrs. Callahan. Andy and Maria Whitfield. Gino DiPietro. Cindy Cofran and her parents, Gordon and Angela. Jim Russell. 

Nate.

Preston Garvey and his Quincy refugees helped her lay the victims of Vault 111 to rest in a field beyond the edge of the neighborhood. Then they’d piled furniture, fallen trees, tires and scrap metal between the houses to keep out anyone or anything might do them harm. But all the junk walls in the Commonwealth couldn’t help her sleep at night, not after seeing her husband killed and her son taken.

She reached into her pocket and touched his gold ring, too large to wear but she kept it close.

What the hell do I do now, Nate?

Several thuds and sickening wet crunching sounds interrupted her thoughts and she jumped, drawing a 10mm she’d found in the vault and kept by her side ever since. A few yards away, Sturges brandished a pipe wrench, a couple of dead radroaches at his feet.

“You gotta watch out, these things’ll sneak right up on you.”

Fiona holstered her pistol and crossed her arms, so Sturges wouldn’t see her hands shaking. “Roaches were a lot smaller, back in my day.”

He returned the wrench to his tool belt. “These are big’uns. You wanna join me for lunch? There’s enough here for you, me, and Mama Murphy.”

A few months ago—actually, a few months and 210 years ago—she would have laughed at the thought of eating giant, mutated bugs. But the threat of actual starvation wasn’t fucking funny. If she wanted to find out what happened to Shaun, she had to survive, and the Super Duper Mart in Lexington where she used to get her groceries might as well be on the moon.

She picked up the dead radroaches, one in each hand, and fought the urge to gag. “I’ll see if there’s any wild mutfruit in the cooler.”

“Sounds good. I’ll fire up the grill.”

The “grill” was a scavenged piece of wrought iron on cinderblocks over a campfire, and the “cooler” was an ice machine from the nearby Red Rocket station, powered by a wind turbine that Sturges built out of scrap. He’d also built a water purifier, which he stopped to inspect on their way back to the settlement.

“I really wish you wouldn’t come out here by yourself. You can always ask me or Preston to come with you.”

Fiona tried not to notice that one of the dead roaches still had a twitchy leg.

“I wanted to be alone.”

“Yeah, I get that. But at least take Dogmeat. Or even Codsworth would be better than nothin’.”

He was right. She couldn’t take safety for granted, not even in her own backyard. There were radroaches, bloatflies, wild dogs, raiders and worse, like that thing she encountered in Concord, emerging from the sewers like a demon from hell. A deathclaw, they called it. A nightmare.

“Just say it, Sturges. I need to stop being so damn stupid or I’m going to get myself killed.”

“You aren’t stupid, you’ve been through a lot and still getting your bearings, that’s all. It doesn’t hurt to have someone watch your back.”

For what seemed like the millionth time, she felt grateful for Sturges’ wasteland wisdom. Codsworth was programmed to help her clean a house, not survive a nuclear holocaust. Preston seemed perpetually distracted by the dissolution of his Minutemen organization, when he wasn’t patrolling the settlement and listening to radio messages. Mama Murphy spent her time sitting in a chair and talking to Dogmeat. The Longs kept to themselves, though she understood only too well the haunted look on Jun’s face and Marcy’s constant anger. They’d lost a home and a son, too.

Sturges had shown her how to identify edible plants, butcher radstags, plant tatos, mix Radaway, and improve the weapons they looted from dead raiders. He gave her a crash course in everything her comfortable 21st century life had allowed her to ignore.

When he finished with the water pump, Fiona followed him to the carport of the old Hawthorne residence, across the street from her house. A home no more. She couldn’t bring herself to live there, or to touch the broken crib in the corner of Shaun’s room. So she slept in the Hawthorne’s former kitchen with Mama Murphy nearby in the dining room and Sturges just down the hall.

“Hey, before we eat, I’ve got something to show you.”

She left the radroaches on the grill, where they’d be boiled like lobsters in a big pot of water, and followed Sturges inside. God fucking knew what fresh hell he had in store.

He greeted Mama Murphy as if she wasn’t a crazy old woman who mumbled to herself, then headed into the bathroom.

“I made us a shower.”

At least it wasn’t another two-headed creature or some weird-ass survival skill, like making bombs out of bottlecaps and lunchboxes. Just a shower head with some pipes and handles.

“Does it work?”

He tapped the brim of her hat with a playful flick of his fingers. “Now, why would I make something that didn’t work? I tried it out this morning, so you tell me. Do I smell better’n usual?”

She readjusted her hat, leaned close and sniffed, imitating Dogmeat. “You smell like soap and duct tape.”

“Well, isn’t that better’n than smelling like a mutant’s meat sack? Looky here.” He turned it on. “It’s even got hot water.”

“No shit?” She rinsed bug juice off of her hands in the warm spray.

“I wouldn’t shit you, you’re my favorite turd.”

His grin was contagious. She turned off the shower and shook her wet fingers at him. “What the heck does that mean?”

He made an exaggerated show of wiping the water drops from his face, but didn’t stop smiling. “It’s something my old man used to say.”

“Your old man’s a goofball, just like you.”

“That he was. Now, you gotta haul water from the river to keep the tank full, I don’t have it connected yet, but I’ll get around to it one of these days, if I can scavenge a little more pipe from some of these houses. You like it?”

“I love it. I can’t believe the things you come up with. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Wash with a bucket of cold water and a rag, like everybody else.”

“I mean it, Sturges, if it wasn’t for you, I’d be…” Like the turn of a handle from hot to cold, her mood turned suddenly from laughter to tears. “I’d be dead.”

“Hey, now. Don’t talk like that.” He pulled her into his arms and she cried into the bib of his overalls. When she cried herself out, he offered her a frayed Jangles bandana from one of his pockets.

She accepted and wiped her nose on an unstained corner. “I’m sorry.”

“For what? For being human? Happens to all of us, now and then. Let’s get lunch started, then you and I are gonna work on another one of those gun turrets.”

That night, by the light of a single bulb hanging in the hallway, she took her first shower since the bombs fell. The water ran out in ten minutes, but she felt almost normal while it lasted.

She pulled on a flannel shirt and a clean pair of underwear. Well, as clean as they could be after boiling and hanging them up to dry. Then she gathered the leather clothes and armor she’d been wearing ever since she pulled them off a dead raider in Concord. Not her finest hour, but she’d be damned if she ever wore a vault suit again.

When she reached to turn off the light, she saw Sturges in his room, laying on his side with his back to the door. Not that the rooms actually had doors, not even the bathroom. Privacy seemed pretty low on anyone’s list of priorities. He’d ditched the tool belt but slept in his overalls. Blankets and pajamas, like privacy, were luxuries of the past.

She tugged the cord and the light went out, but moonlight spilled in through holes in the walls, illuminating his broad shoulders. So tired and lonely, she crossed the threshold, left her clothes bundled on top of a bureau with a missing drawer, and climbed into bed behind him. The old rusty bedsprings screeched. 

Without a word, he found her hand in the dark and drew it to his chest, pulling her close to spoon against his back. For the first time in weeks, she fell asleep quickly and slept past dawn.

Sturges wasn’t in bed when she awoke to the miraculous smell of coffee. As she dressed, she heard Preston talking to Mama Murphy.

“Where’s Fiona?”

“She’s in Sturges’ room.”

Preston found her buttoning her leather vest and lowered his gaze to the floor.

“Everything all right, Preston?”

“I … uh… heard that something happened… out at the Abernathy place. Thought we might head over there, see if they needed our help.”

He stepped aside to let her pass and she poured herself some coffee from a rusty pot. Like the shower, she felt almost normal as she lifted the cup to her nose, closed her eyes and inhaled. Then she opened her eyes and saw the stained mug with its broken handle, the sickly yellow sky through the crumbling roof, and Preston with his weird colonial getup and laser musket. So much for normal.

“Sturges made coffee,” said Mama Murphy. “He found the tin when we arrived, but I guess he was saving it for a special occasion.”

She ignored Mama Murphy’s insinuation and offered Preston a cup. He declined.

“I’ll wait outside. We can leave whenever you’re ready.”

Whatever Mama Murphy thought had happened, and whatever Preston suspected with his averted eyes and awkward pauses, hadn’t happened. To be honest, sex was the last thing on her mind at the moment. They were just two people in a crazy, fucked up world, trying to get through the night.

Nate would’ve understood. Hell, if the tables had been turned, if she’d been the one clinging to Shaun… No, she couldn’t think about it or she’d need the Jangles bandana again.

It broke her heart to imagine Nate wandering the wasteland alone. A small part of her was glad he’d been spared the horror. She didn’t know what she believed in any more, but if she had to believe something, she believed in finding out what happened to Shaun so Nate could finally rest in peace.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Fallout 4 fanfiction: “MacCready’s Lucky Cap”

This is part one in a series of fanfictions based on my first playthrough of Fallout 4.

“MacCready’s Lucky Cap” describes how MacCready met Daisy and left the Gunners.

Language and violence.

1,300 words

Chapter One: MacCready’s Lucky Cap
Chapter Two: A Home No More 

Chapter Three: Coming soon…

Wanton Wasteland: Hangman’s Alley

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Chapter One: MacCready’s Lucky Cap

As he squinted through the scope of his rifle, MacCready felt the familiar pattern of the bottlecap’s fluted edge inside his cheek. A blue Nuka Cola Quantum cap. A lucky cap.

Laying flat atop a high rock, warming his nuts on the hot granite and hoping a radscorpion didn’t sting his ass, he waited while Winlock moved the team into position. He’d cover their retreat, if retreat became necessary, but Gunners always picked easy targets. Hell, most targets were easy, when you had more guns, ammo, robots and combat armor than anyone else in the Commonwealth.

He’d tried to convince Winlock to pick off the ghouls from a distance, but he got the usual bullshit about following orders, chain of command, if he wanted to eat he’d do as he’s told, blah, blah, blah. With the Gunners, everything had to be an “engagement” with “protocol,” and something always had to get blown up. They were almost as bad as the Brotherhood, out to prove they had bigger grenades than anyone else.

Making mental notes of the wind speed and direction, MacCready rolled the cap around his tongue. He swallowed hot spit and imagined sweetness, a bit of soda still clinging to the metal. Wishful thinking. His stomach growled.

Drawing a long, slow breath, he scoped the cluster of wrecked railway cars for lurching shapes, thinking maybe he’d thin out the herd a little. Only he didn’t see a herd. He saw nothing. He adjusted the brim of his hat, exhaled, and heard the pop of gunshots, joined by the distant but unmistakable hum of the assaultron powering up to fire its deadly laser.

What the hell are they shooting at?

He grabbed his binoculars and spotted a settler returning fire from behind a stack of crates on the station platform, another crouching behind a tree several yards away, and the outline of a head in the upper window of the depot.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit. He promised his little boy he wouldn’t say bad words, never promised he wouldn’t think them. Ferals, he could kill all day long. But these were people, damn O’Brien and his lousy recon.

Grenades sent up clouds of blood, dirt and shrapnel, obscuring his view, and the exchange ended before he could fire a shot. When the dust settled, he saw a couple of settlers drop their weapons and raise their hands in the air.

Barnes and Milo shot them, blowing their heads open like festering bloatflies.

MacCready gathered his rifle and pack, shoved the blue bottlecap in his pocket, and climbed down from his perch.

Jogging to the train station, he yelled at Winlock. “These aren’t ferals! Ferals don’t surrender!”

“A ghoul’s a ghoul.” Winlock planted his boot in the back of a wounded settler who tried pitifully to crawl away. Winlock ran him through with a bayonet. Cheap bastard wouldn’t use bullets unless he had to. “Why the hell am I even talking to you? You’re s’posed to be on that ridge.”

“This is bullshit. Synths, mutants, ferals, sure, but I didn’t sign on to murder people for no reason. What are we, raiders now?”

“Ghouls ain’t people, shit stain.” Winlock jabbed a finger in MacCready’s face. “You’re on notice. Keep it up and you’ll be busted down to private, and I’ll bust a few teeth outta your smart-ass mouth.”

A demotion meant a smaller cut, so MacCready clamped his mouth shut. Worse than a demotion, he might just up and disappear, like Zachariah. Gomez said he’d bugged off, Barnes called it AWOL, but for all MacCready knew, the guy was dead in a ditch somewhere, a bayonet in the back.

Winlock started delegating. “Jansen, Gomez, perimeter. Milo, Trash, scavenge. O’Brien, corpse duty. Be thorough, but don’t spend too much time with your finger up their asses or I’ll start thinking you’re a sick fuck.”

He paused for the laughter that MacCready didn’t join, because O’Brien was a sick fuck.

“MacCready, lookout. Barnes, with me.”

“Yes, sir.” MacCready hated calling anybody “sir” but most of all anybody who didn’t deserve it, like this lunatic.

He walked around the depot, found a ramshackle catwalk. One thing about being malnourished as a kid, he might not be strong, but his skinny ass could be quiet. Without a sound, he climbed the scaffolding and peered across the flat rooftop.

A ghoul crouched behind a row of metal barrels, her back to him. She still had a full head of brown hair, but he could see peeling, blistered hands loading a 10mm.

He crept close, aimed for her heart, and waited a whole three minutes before she glanced over her shoulder and saw him.

She sighed, shaking her head and lowering her weapon. “Can’t believe I let a smooth-skinned kid get the drop on me. What a way to go.” She had a softer voice than most ghouls, but still sounded like she’d smoked two packs of cigarettes a day since the war 200 years ago.

“I don’t want to kill you. Just tell me where to find guns, food, ammo. Something to keep them busy, and I’ll forget we ever met.”

“You’d do that for me? I was gonna shoot your friends.”

MacCready crouched, lowering his rifle. “Yeah, well, they shot your friends, first.”

“Was getting sick of those assholes, anyway. Couldn’t keep their hands to themselves and never paid their bills. There’s a boxcar with food and ammo, over there, the one that’s on it’s side, near the water. We good?”

“Yeah. And… uh, those Gunners, they’re not really my friends, either.”

Unlike most ghouls, she still had lips, which curled up in a smile. “What’s your name, kid?”

“MacCready.”

“Well, then, MacCready, you oughta leave that outfit before you get yourself killed. Would be a terrible waste of a good-looking man.”

It had been a while since anyone said he was good-looking. He tried real hard not to think of Lucy. His wife was the only person ever said anything nice who wasn’t trying to weasel something out of him.

“You don’t need to butter me up, I already said you could go.”

She looked him up and down, thinking. “Why don’t you come with me? I wouldn’t mind having another gun around, and you’re not like the rest of those goons.”

“I need caps, lady. I…” The Gunners had no time for sob stories and it was eating him up inside. “I got a sick kid.”

“I’m real sorry to hear that. I am. How about you make sure I arrive in Goodneighbor and I’ll make sure you get 200 caps.”

“You offering me a job?”

“And I’ll put in a good word for you with the mayor. He’s an old friend.”

“You know Hancock?” Everybody’d heard of the notorious leader of the Commonwealth’s second largest city. Even the Gunners wouldn’t mess with him.

“Is there another mayor? C’mon, sugar, we gotta get while the getting is good. Is it yes or no?”

Maybe she was full of crap, maybe she wasn’t. Goodneighbor wasn’t exactly safe, but neither was running around with the Gunners. There was no telling when another operation like this one would lead to killing more innocent people, or another reprimand would lead to disciplinary actions. He didn’t know how much longer he could control his “smart-ass mouth,” and he certainly didn’t trust these clowns not to get him killed on one of their “special ops.” Then there’d be no one to find the cure for his son.

“Alright, I’m in. Who am I working for?”

“You can call me Daisy. You get them busy with that boxcar, I’ll take the road east and wait for you under the first bridge. Don’t let me down.”

She left the way he’d come up, after he warned her to avoid Jansen and Gomez. He went to the edge of the roof and shouted at Winlock.

“Sergeant! I can see another boxcar, past the tracks, by the river.”

Barnes answered. “Thanks, shit stain! I’ll grab all the good stuff before you can get there!” He laughed with that stupid, snorting guffaw that grated on MacCready’s nerves.

Fishing the blue bottlecap out of his pocket, he popped it in his mouth again and went after Daisy. Man, the Gunners were gonna be pissed.

~ J.L. Hilton

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