Review: Bastion (XBLA)

“There’s like a kid who wakes up and everyone’s dead and the world is gone.” That was how my husband described Bastion to me.
“Ew.” Was my response. “That sounds terrible and sad and not like a game at all.”
“I guess I can see that. It is pretty sad… Meh, try it,” he said, handing me the controller.
I settled in and tried it.

Immediately I was sucked into the story of The Kid as narrated by the old man with a voice made for storytelling. The Kid and I had the same questions: What happened? Where’d everyone go? Where’d the world go? For the saddest premise in the world I jumped into Bastion feeling motivated and curious.
The controls were intuitive and the game was forgiving while I acclimated myself to my new surroundings. “The Kid just raged for a while,” The Narrator said, prompting me to move on from smashing all the boxes, objects, and general scenery as is customary in semi-similar action games. I found it easy to defeat my enemies as my ability was scaled proportionally with theirs. As the story unfolded and I learned about The Kid, Caelondia, and The Calamity that got us to the world as it is.  I fought slow moving enemies with slow weapons until I able to choose between brute force and speed. Eventually I was able to upgrade certain aspects of my gameplay using potions from the Liquor Store[1. It was called something more clever but it sold potion upgrades that were named to sound like liquor. eg.: Were Whiskey].
Your goal is to fight your way through The Wilds (levels) and collect Shards  to build up The Bastion, a mysterious situation that is the solution to the Calamity according to the narrator who clearly isn’t telling you the whole story.
The whole story is really what makes the game. While I was playing because it was a game I stuck with it because I wanted to  get to the end of the story– and I was the one who would get there. The Kid falls because I fall and he continues on because I continued on. Somehow Supergiant Games too that evocative part of books and movies and campfire stories and brought it to an action-adventure game.
All parts of the game worked harmoniously from the controls to the story to the design to the music[2. The music is unbearably AMAZING in this game. I normally don’t even notice but there were levels I didn’t want to finish for fear of never hearing the song again.] I was immersed.
I rarely finish games, I know “boo” “hiss,” I just get done playing before the game is done and if there isn’t enough of a story I don’t care if I don’t know how it ends. This game, I needed to know and I enjoyed playing. One of my few grips with Bastion was at one point I realized the forward motion of the story slight over shadowed the fact that it is in fact a video game: Once you complete a level you can’t go back to it. There was a level that I accidentally completed because the finish the level button and the attack button were the same and I happened to be standing by the exit… So i was done, never to complete that level to my satisfaction again until my second play through.
Overall, I would emphatically recommend Bastion as a game, story, or album.
[rating:4.5/5]
Check out some on the beautiful screenshots:

Book review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis



Book blurb from publisher’s website:[1. Review copy provided by Floris Books via NetGalley.]

“You think you’re a fairy godmother or something?” I asked.
“Or something,” Michael agreed.
Edda is tired of her nickname, ‘Mouse’, and wants to be braver. But when her house is burgled on her twelfth birthday, Edda is more afraid than ever. That is until new boy Michael Scot starts school. There’s something peculiar — and very annoying — about know-it-all Michael. He claims to be a great alchemist who can help Edda overcome her fears by teaching her to build a golem. But surely they can’t bring a giant mud monster to life? Can they?
Winner of the Kelpies Prize 2011.

Okay, I have a confession to make. I buy children’s books (middle grade and young adult) and use the excuse that I’m buying them for my kids. Seriously, my daughters are two and three and a half–they’re not exactly going to be cuddling with the Percy Jackson series anytime soon. But you bet your soggy winter boots in Alberta that I bought the entire set. I read them all, too. (Yes, I also have all seven Harry Potter books. Yes, I read them all. Yes, I’ve seen the movies. Well, except for the last one, the Blu-Ray of which is sitting on my desk somewhere.)
But in my defense, I’m just pre-screening these books for my kids. You know, for when they’re old enough to sit still for longer than thirty seconds and can actually read (not just recognize the alphabet and their names). Assuming they like fantasy. Because, um, yeah, that’s all I buy. (Ahem.)
When I was going through NetGalley the other day, the title “How to Make a Golem and Terrify People” jumped out and started waving its arms at me. Do you really think I can ignore a jumping golem? No, I cannot. So I requested the book.
And I loved it. I would’ve read it aloud to my kids if the giant, wailing mud-monster wouldn’t have scared the sleep out them. (Literally.) Unfortunately for me, the book is published in the UK and the print version is hard to find here (I read an e-ARC). Otherwise I would’ve bought a copy and saved it for the kidlets. (The only time I buy print versions of novels now is when they’re for my kids. If they’re for me, I get the e-book version.)
Continue reading “Book review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis”

Post-apocalyptic Reading — Impressions: THE JACKAL DREAMING by J.A. Caselberg

Book blurb, from publisher’s website:[1. Review copy provided by Musa Publishing]

A dark god is awakening and a young temple scribe holds the balance of the world in her hands.
Deep beneath the temple, young Tarith makes a discovery, one that will take her on a journey of learning and danger.  The Dreaming God is waking, and it is only Tarith who holds the balance of power within her hands.  Or is it?
Tarith’s journey will take her across vast lands and numerous encounters to try to restore the balance of power that keeps the world safe.”

I need to make a confession. I have not willingly gone out and bought an epic fantasy in a…well, in a long time. I’m currently editing a traditional fantasy (*ahem*releasesinApril*ahem*); you know, the kind with good wizards and bad wizards and lots of magic thrown around. I’m also editing two urban fantasies (ones that, thankfully, do not have any vampires in them whatsoever).
I haven’t read an epic fantasy in a long time. Probably because I’m a bit burned out on the repetitive UFs and I got tired of the whole genre.
But then! The lovely people over at Musa Publishing sent us this book for review. And suddenly I remembered why I like fantasy.
Seriously, this book was that good.
Continue reading “Post-apocalyptic Reading — Impressions: THE JACKAL DREAMING by J.A. Caselberg”

What's Better than Fallout: New Vegas?

Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition with VIDEO! [1. anninyn knows what’s up.]

What’s Fallout, and where on Earth is New Vegas?

For starters, it’s a video game set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland and where bottle caps are currency and you… Well check out the official story:

Welcome to Vegas. New Vegas.
It’s the kind of town where you dig your own grave prior to being shot in the head and left for dead…and that’s before things really get ugly. It’s a town of dreamers and desperados being torn apart by warring factions vying for complete control of this desert oasis. It’s a place where the right kind of person with the right kind of weaponry can really make a name for themselves, and make more than an enemy or two along the way.
As you battle your way across the heat-blasted Mojave Wasteland, the colossal Hoover Dam, and the neon drenched Vegas Strip, you’ll be introduced to a colorful cast of characters, power-hungry factions, special weapons, mutated creatures and much more. Choose sides in the upcoming war or declare “winner takes all” and crown yourself the King of New Vegas in this follow-up to the 2008 videogame of the year, Fallout 3.
Enjoy your stay.
(source)

Fuck YES! Amiright or amiright? Don’t you want to be there? Play there? Maybe I’m just extra psyced because I have a Pip Boy bobble-head and lunchbox incorporated into my kitchen decor. Again, anninyn knows whats up.

What’s in this so called Ultimate Edition that makes it any better than the Blah Edition?

Ultimate Edition presents the definitive edition of Fallout: New Vegas – featuring the main game and all six pieces of game add-on content: Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, Lonesome Road, Courier’s Stash, and Gun Runners’ Arsenal.
(source)

That’s like, at least, six extra missions.

Where is this video you speak of?!

Look out below:

Also, there are pictures:

Post Apocalyptic reading: Impressions – When Josie Comes Home, by AE Stanton

The New West 1: When Josie Comes Home by AE Stanton. [1. Review copy provided by Musa Publishing]
The future’s a lot like the past — the West’s still hard on women and horses.

The future’s a wonderful place to be if you were considered worthy — until a huge solar flare slagged the world computers. Now, over two hundred years later, the unworthies are all that’s left of humanity, and they’ve reverted back to the old, old ways.
Josie escapes from the forced sexual slavery of Horsetown, vowing to return with help to save her sisters. Ten years later, she’s not home — but her youngest sister, Sadie, insists Josie will return, with her Hero along to help save the day.
The Gambler’s in Horsetown for reasons all his own. Who is he? What’s he really here for? And what will happen if he’s in town When Josie Comes Home?
 
I was half way through this one before I even realised it. It’s another post-apocalyptic book where the vast majority of women are sex slaves, but the issue is treated with much more sensitivity and understanding than it is in The Last Mailman, which was my main complaint with that book.
And it’s also a damn good book.
Continue reading “Post Apocalyptic reading: Impressions – When Josie Comes Home, by AE Stanton”

The end of the world: There's a magazine for that

Last week I was putzing around Target shopping for clothes for my kids. I took a detour through the books and magazines because this is what I do every shopping trip. I don’t normally find anything–local stores never carry the magazines I want to read (Discover, Astronomy, that sort of thing) and I’m a digital reader (I love my Kindle) so I don’t get many paperbacks.
But THIS time, I struck gold. And because I’m always thinking about the apocalypse in some form or another (usually because I’m looking for possible topics to write about), my brain somehow found this one magazine, even though it was sitting in the back of the stacks.
It’s called 2012 End of the World.
I kid you not.
I’m still trying to find ways to show you guys pictures without getting a copyright violation suit slapped on me and ICoS, so you’ll have to wait a bit for screenshots. I was thinking of doing an end-times collage (using images from this and other magazines)…would that be a copyright violation? It would be a piece of art (and I use the term “art” loosely).
Anyway. I’m going to give you an overview of the magazine. And, you know, review it. Because I read this shit so you don’t have to.
WARNING: HERE BE SNARKERY. AND LENGTH.
Continue reading “The end of the world: There's a magazine for that”

Save the Universe You Love on Valentine's Day


This Valentine’s day Bioware will be releasing the demo for Mass Effect 3. Knowing how hot the gaming world is to finally know what happens between Shep and The Reapers once and for all, Bioware whets our appetites with just a taste of what’st to come in Mass Effect 3 when it launches on March 3rd.
The developed detailed the move in a press:

Award-winning developer BioWare, a label of Electronic Arts Inc., announced today that the demo for 2012’s first blockbuster game, Mass Effect™ 3 will be available beginning February 14, 2012. The extensive demo will allow players to experience the all-out galactic war against an ancient alien race known as the Reapers from multiple fronts, including the mind-blowing opening attack on Earth that kicks off the single-player campaign.  Players will go deeper into the campaign and also get a taste of the franchise’s new co-operative multiplayer mode as they preview the epic story, adrenaline-pumping action and deep customization options that lie ahead when Mass Effect 3 launches on March 6, 2012. The Mass Effect 3 demo will be available for the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and PC. Mass Effect 3 will also be one of the first pre-launch demos to support full voice recognition functionality on Kinect™ for Xbox 360.

In Mass Effect 3, players will be thrust into an all-out galactic war to take Earth back and save the entire galaxy, assuming the role of Commander Shepard, a war-torn veteran who’s willing to do whatever it takes to eliminate this nearly unstoppable foe. With a team of elite, battle-hardened soldiers at your side, each player decides how they will take Earth back, from the weapons and abilities they utilize to the relationships they forge or break. Mass Effect 3 also features a new co-operative gameplay mode that allows fans to experience the war from a different perspective. Players who want to try this new mode will be able to do so on February 17, or by qualifying for early access to the co-op portion of the demo which begins February 14. Gamers qualify for early access if they have activated their Battlefield 3™ online pass* or though other opportunities that will be announced in the near future www.masseffect.com.
(source)

Get ready to blow off that someone special so you can spend time with Shep and some Brave and Beautiful aliens.

Post-Apocalyptic Reading: Impressions – THE LAST MAILMAN by Kevin. J. Burke

Description of Kevin. J. Burke’s The Last Mailman[1. This book was provided for review byPermuted Press]

Four-year degree in business. Trained in hand-to-hand combat. 
Works well with zombies. 
This is the resume of the last mailman on Earth. It is the near future, and the modern world we knew has been overrun and destroyed by reanimated corpses who hunt humans for food. Mankind has retreated to small pockets of civilization and practically surrendered to the walking dead. But one man routinely leaves behind the safety and comfort to find the people and things we’ve long abandoned. He battles the elements. He battles his own brewing insanity. 
But mostly, he battles zombies.

Well, now, this is a bit more like it.
Continue reading “Post-Apocalyptic Reading: Impressions – THE LAST MAILMAN by Kevin. J. Burke”

Post Apocalyptic Reading: Impressions – Roil, by Trent Jamieson

Roil by Trent Jamieson [1. Bought with my own money from Angry Robot Books]
Shale is in trouble, dying. A vast, chaotic, monster-bearing storm known only as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land.
Where once there were twelve great cities, now only four remain, and their borders are being threatened by the growing cloud of darkness. The last humans are fighting back with ever more bizarre new machines. But one by one the defences are failing. And the Roil continues to grow.
With the land in turmoil, it’s up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year-old man, and a young woman intent on revenge to try to save their city – and the world.
Roil is a fast-paced post apocalyptic fantasy that drops you right into a new world from the first page. Reviewed in EPUB format.
Grade: B
Continue reading “Post Apocalyptic Reading: Impressions – Roil, by Trent Jamieson”

Play, Read, Destroy! | Prototype 2 presented by Dark Horse

Remember the game Prototype? You played as Alex an extremely powerful shapeshifter brute forcing his way through New York City. The city was overrun by the Blacklight plague, which turned the infected into crazed monsters, desprate to kill any uninfected.

Why do infected always want to destroy the uninfected? They can’t just wither and die or fight for supr
emacy among themselves?
As has been the trend, a comic will be released leading up to the release of Prototype 2. The story will bridge the time between the original game and its upcoming sequel.
Radical Entertainment, Activision, and Dark Horse announced the mini-series via press release:

The all-new digital comic series will be broken into three original stories that bridge the gap between the original blockbuster game and the highly anticipated sequel, PROTOTYPE 2.  The first entry, “The Anchor,” illustrated by Paco Díaz, continues the story of Alex Mercer, the protagonist from the first game, while the second story, “The Survivors,” illustrated by Chris Staggs, follows a small group of residents of New York trying to escape the city after it has been transformed into NYZ with the outbreak of the Blacklight virus.  The third and final story, illustrated by Victor Drujiniu, is “The Labyrinth” and provides fans a deeper look into the backstory of PROTOTYPE 2‘s new protagonist, Sgt. James Heller.  Each comic in the series will be available at  Digital.Darkhorse.com every other week beginning February 15, 2012.