Try-It Tuesday: GOD OF WAR

This week I played GOD OF WAR, an award-winning action-adventure video game developed by Santa Monica Studio and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment in April 2018. It’s the eighth installment in the God of War series.

My husband played some God of War years ago, on the PS2 or PS3, but I’d never played a God of War game before. I rented this one from Redbox for the day and now I want to purchase the game to continue playing in the future.

It surprised me how quickly I became deeply engrossed and emotionally engaged in the story. I loved the graphics, music, gameplay, voice acting… everything. Yes, GOD OF WAR is played in third-person, which isn’t my favorite, but Kratos is easy on the eyes so I’m okay with it. Totally okay.

GOD OF WAR is a PlayStation exclusive rated “M” for mature audiences, due to blood and gore, intense violence and strong language.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: KINGMAKER Rise to the Throne

KINGMAKER: RISE TO THE THRONE is another single-player puzzle game by Artifex Mundi. I tried the free PlayStation 4 demo this week. The game is also available on PC, Xbox and mobile.

Usually, games by this developer feature female protagonists, but KINGMAKER is about two knights, Edmund and Randall Ulmer, who are framed for the murder of the king. The brothers must restore the honor of the Ulmer family and find the real killers.

The medieval-themed puzzles were fun and interesting but the demo lasted less than half an hour. Some reviewers on Steam said that the entire game took them less than two hours to complete. By comparison, other Artifex Mundi games have had hour-long demos and four to six hours of full gameplay. So, I don’t know if I’ll pay full price for KINGMAKER but will wait and see if it goes on sale.

KINGMAKER is rated “T” for teens, due to some violence, blood, and use of alcohol.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: TRUE FEAR Forsaken Souls Part 1

Many thanks to one of my long-time viewers, Celtic Granny, who suggested I try TRUE FEAR: FORSAKEN SOULS PART 1, on sale this month for only $3.99 or just $2.99 for Playstation Plus members.

TRUE FEAR is a point-and-click puzzle game where the player is Holly Stonehouse, a young woman in search of her sister and information about her family’s dark and mysterious past. There’s all of the hallmarks of psychological horror — haunting soundtrack, ghostly whispers, nightmares, corpses, and something terrible happening in an asylum.

I generally don’t like horror, whether it’s games, movies or TV, but I can handle atmospheric, Gothic stuff like Stonehearst Asylum or Crimson Peak. I found TRUE FEAR more creepy and unsettling than outright frightening. The few jump scares could be seen a mile away, but there’s an option to skip the cutscenes, if you prefer.

I enjoyed TRUE FEAR so much, I continued playing on Wednesday and finished Thursday, unlocking the bonus chapter, which appears to be a sneak peek at the next game in the trilogy.

True Fear: Forsaken Souls Part 2 is already available for PC and mobile, and should be coming to PS4 soon, according to the developer’s Facebook page. I can’t wait!

TRUE FEAR: FORSAKEN SOULS PART 1 is rated “T” for teens, for violence and blood, but the Nintendo Switch site labels it “M” for mature. It’s available for PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch and mobile.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Illogicon 2019

This weekend I’ll be at ILLOGICON VIII, a convention for science fiction and fantasy in books, live action TV and movies, animation, comics, the visual arts, pod casts, video games and more. I’ll be on a panel about live streaming and another about cats and CatAngelsNC.org.

4pm Saturday JAN 12 – Twitching to Stream: Live Streaming 101

So you’re thinking about live streaming? There are a lot of things you should consider before hitting that Go Live button for the first time. Whether you’re looking to stream on Twitch or YouTube, this panel will discuss basic hardware and software recommendations, how to choose your first game, and what you can expect from streaming. Spoiler: it’s way more than just playing games!

Panelists: Emily Wolf aka RamenWitch (Moderator), J.L. Hilton, Rich Sigfrit

11am Sunday JAN 13 – Cat!!! Imma Kitty Cat and I dance dance dance

CatAngelsNC will lead a discussion on cats in movies, TV, video games etc. Will also talk briefly on how one can help cats in your community and what Cat Angel does.

Panelists: J.L. Hilton (Moderator), Elizabeth Towns (Cat Angels representative), Michael G. Williams, Tracy Holt, Alex Matsuo

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Try-It Tuesday: FALLOUT 76

This week I tried FALLOUT 76, the infamous online multiplayer RPG developed by Bethesda Game Studios and released last month amidst tremendous hype and player backlash.

Viewers of my YouTube channel are split between those who think FALLOUT 76 is garbage and those who enjoy it. I’ve been asked about a hundred times if I would play and even had some very generous people offer to buy the game for me.

Despite being a huge fan of Bethesda’s Skyrim and Fallout 4, I’ve had little interest in FALLOUT 76 because I don’t like multiplayer online games. Same reason I didn’t get around to trying Elder Scrolls Online until just a few months ago, though it came out in 2014.

To satisfy my curiosity and the requests of my viewers, I decided to stream FALLOUT 76 when I discovered I could rent it from my local Redbox kiosk for the day. It took me about 40 minutes to download the required update before playing, but I have high-speed internet so your mileage may vary.

I discovered that FALLOUT 76 is not only multiplayer, it’s a survival game, with elements similar to others I’ve played like 7 Days to Die, Minecraft, No Man’s Sky or Don’t Starve. Bethesda might have been better off calling it Fallout Survival. Players have to worry about eating, drinking, diseases, and the weight of ammunition, as with survival mode in Fallout 4. Also, weapons and armor must be constantly repaired, as these items have a “condition” bar similar to Fallout: New Vegas.

The multiplayer aspect didn’t have much of an impact on my experience. I saw very few people, and they were either friendly or ignored me. No one seemed to be able to harm me or steal my stuff. I didn’t miss the presence of NPCs and enjoyed the little notes and stories I found scattered about. Like this one I found in an outhouse:

I don’t think FALLOUT 76 is horrible, but I’m not all that excited about it, either. If I wanted to play a survival game, I’d already be playing 7 Days to Die, since that’s my husband’s favorite. But I’m not into survival games right now and putting me in a vault suit isn’t going to change that.

FALLOUT 76 is available for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. Rated “M” for mature audiences, for blood and gore, drug references, intense violence and strong language. Online interactions and in-game purchases are possible, which are also not appropriate for younger audiences.

My livestream was interrupted by loss of internet on my end, not a problem with Bethesda’s servers, so here’s part two:

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: OMENSIGHT

I had a pleasant surprise this week when Spearhead Games emailed me a keycode to play OMENSIGHT on Playstation 4.

In OMENSIGHT, you’re the “Harbinger,” a magical warrior who appears in times of crisis. As the game begins, you witness the end of the world but have the power to relive this final day, again and again, while investigating what happened and making decisions to change the course of events.

It’s a cool idea for a single-player game, and what really piqued my interest was Chris Avellone on the writing team. He worked on Fallout: New Vegas, Prey and many other games, and is narrative designer of the upcoming Dying Light 2.

Gameplay is third-person isometric, somewhere between a side-scroller and a top-down game. The only isometric game I’ve played at any length was Diablo III years ago with my family. I’m currently playing Horizon Zero Dawn, which is third-person, but it’s not isometric and I have more control over the camera angle. The uncooperative camera made OMENSIGHT frustrating at times, especially during battles and when looking for hidden chests. Veterans of this type of game might be used to the quirks but I’m not.

Graphics were my least favorite part of OMENSIGHT. For me, the clashing primary color palette and anthropomorphic animals just didn’t gel with the cataclysmic seriousness of the story. Or, as my oldest daughter put it, “What’s with the neon furries?”

The voice acting and general audio were good, from what I heard, and the fighting reminded me a bit of Kingdom Hearts or NieR: Automata, with pretty standard controls — jump (X), hit ([]), heavy hit (hold []), dodge (O), etc.

If you like the idea of playing a button-combo, isometric, neon furry Groundhog Day where you save the world, this is the game for you.

OMENSIGHT is available for PC and PS4. A Nintendo Switch version is available for pre-order Dec. 6 and release Dec. 13.

Rated “T” for teens for blood, violence, mild language and use of alcohol.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: DOOM

This week, I tried DOOM, a reboot of the game I played about twenty-five years ago. Doom (1993) wasn’t the very first “first person shooter” (FPS) game, but it had a huge influence on subsequent shooter games and video gaming in general.

The 1993 and 2016 versions were both developed by id Software and the 2016 version was published by Bethesda Softworks, which also publishes the Elder Scrolls, Fallout and Dishonored franchises, three of my all-time favorites. So, when I found the free Playstation demo of DOOM, I just had to try it.

This game is all run and gun and a ton of fun. I loved the music, composed by Mick Gordon, who won a bunch of awards for the game’s soundtrack and also worked on Wolfenstein and Prey.

DOOM is rated “M” for mature audiences, for blood and gore, intense violence and strong language. It’s available for PC, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: ENIGMATIS The Ghosts of Maple Creek

In ENIGMATIS: THE GHOSTS OF MAPLE CREEK, I searched for a missing girl in a mysterious Vermont town. This 2011 point-and-click game is another by Artifex Mundi, like several I’ve tried in the past year.

It’s available for Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC and mobile phones. I tried the free demo on PS4 and enjoyed it so much, I bought the game and finished it a couple days later.

ENIGMATIS: THE GHOSTS OF MAPLE CREEK is rated “T” for teen, for blood and mild violence. My teens played through it with their friends and had a lot of fun hunting for hidden objects, finding clues, and solving puzzles together.

After playing the main adventure, I unlocked the “Last Chapter” bonus level that tells the story of Jim Gibbons, the knife thrower trapped in the mirror world. I played through on Halloween and it was an excellent epilogue.

~ J.L. Hilton

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Try-It Tuesday: FOUL PLAY

Victorian daemon-hunter Baron Dashforth and his sidekick, the ninja chimney sweep Scampwick, recount their thrilling adventures in FOUL PLAY, a 2013 steampunk-style side-scrolling brawler developed by UK-based indie studio Mediatonic.

Single-player or two-player shared-screen couch co-op. The game plays out across an endless stage, and the object is not only to defeat enemies but to thrill spectators. Characters do not die but it’s curtains for them if they cease to entertain the virtual audience.

The story is told via dialog boxes that must be read by the player(s). There are exclamations — “Gah!” “Oh!” and such — but no voiced protagonists.

FOUL PLAY is rated “E+10” for everyone 10 and up. I thought it was great fun and will continue playing at my leisure with family, but not for my YouTube channel. I’ve already got my plate full with Horizon Zero Dawn, Skyrim, Fallout 4, Fallout Shelter and other games this month!

~ J.L. Hilton

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Mixtape #4 – 1991

I found a box of tapes I made in the 80s and 90s. This one is straight from 1991, the year the Gulf War ended. It’s also the year I moved back to Los Angeles and dated a guy named Ron in college. Most of the music is sampled in bits and pieces, as so many full-length songs wouldn’t fit on one tape otherwise.

Who Wants to Live Forever (Queen, 1986)
Princes of the Universe (Queen, 1986)
It’s a Kind of Magic (Queen, 1986)
Englishman in New York (Sting, 1987)
Children’s Crusade (Sting, 1985)
Hotel California (Eagles, 1977)
Bring Him Home (Les Mis, 1985)
Red & Black (Les Mis, 1985)
In My Life (Les Mis, 1985)
One Day More (Les Mis, 1985)
Empty Chairs at Empty Tables (Les Mis, 1985)
Castle on a Cloud (Les Mis, 1985)
Blowing in the Wind (PP&M, 1963)
If You Leave (OMD, 1986)
Remember the Feeling (Chicago, 1984)
The Search is Over (Survivor, 1985)
Evening Falls (Enya)
Turn, Turn, Turn (The Byrds, 1965)
I Dreamed a Dream (Les Mis, 1985)
Somebody (Depeche Mode, 1984)
Guinevere (Camelot, 1967)
If I’d Ever Leave You (Camelot, 1967)
I Loved You Once In Silence (Camelot, 1967)
Sailing Ships (Whitesnake, 1989)
Take My Breath Away (Berlin, 1986)
Part of Your World (Little Mermaid, 1989)
Cuts Both Ways (Gloria Estafan, 1989)
If You Want (Depeche Mode, 1984)
In Time (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Robbie Robb, 1989)
Scarborough Fair (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966)
Take On Me (A-ha, 1984)
My Love I’ll Always Show (Stryper, 1986)
Twilight (ELO, 1981)
All for Love (Nancy Wilson, 1989)

Ron’s Songs:
The Ghost in You (The Psychedelic Furs, 1984)
Little Wing (Sting, 1987)
America (Simon & Garfunkel, 1968)
Scandalous (Prince, 1989)
Julia (John Lennon, 1968)
Twin Peaks theme (Angelo Badalamenti, 1990)
Falling (Julee Cruise, 1990)
One of my Turns (Pink Floyd, 1979)

~ J.L. Hilton

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