Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Fables The Wolf Among Us Episode 4: In Sheep’s Clothing (Steam Store)

After discovering Crane’s sick pastime, Bigby continues the hunt for Faith’s killer.  What he didn’t know is that he’s uncovering a plot that not only involves Faith, but all of Fabletown.

That’s right, there’s a huge conspiracy in Fabletown and it involves the Crooked Man, the same one from the nursery rhyme.

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You don’t see him to the end, so I’ll discuss the Crooked Man more in my next review.  However, I do want to take a moment to applaud Bill Willingham for his creativity.  For those of you who haven’t picked up any Fables comic books, it has a similar premise as Once Upon A Time.  Many people call the latter a rip-off of the former, but Bill Willingham himself said that’s not the case.  I will admit that I feel Once Upon A Time has the easier job with adding new characters.  That show is on ABC, which Disney owns, and believe me when I tell you that Once Upon A Time takes advantage of this.  Bill Willingham does not have the Disney Company to fall back on, so he must improvise with characters from poems and nursery rhymes.  Which is why Georgie Porgie is a pimp, Bloody Mary is a gleeful murderer for hire and the Butcher runs a shop near the Baker and the Candlestick Maker.

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I am not kidding about that last one.  You have to admit, for a man who doesn’t have Disney to fall back on; Bill Willingham is very creative with what he does have.  I do remember King Louie in the comics, who many people know originates from the Jungle Book Disney movie and had no role in the original book.  I actually took the time to research that, and I could find no record of Bill Willingham facing copyright trials for it.  However, I did come across a statement from the author saying that you need to do proper research before you publish.

I should tell you that Bill Willingham is conservative and, while I don’t agree with his views, I do enjoy his writing.  He himself admits that he never intended for Fables to be a mouthpiece for his political agenda.  All he wanted was to tell a story about fairy tale characters living in the modern day.  His views accidentally popped in as he wrote, which is something that happens to me as well.  This story is no exception and, I should warn you, I will give away spoilers as I write.  So skip the next paragraphs if you haven’t played the game and wish to go in fresh.

One of the Crooked Man’s operations is at the Butcher Shop Bigby visits and he’s been enslaving Fables to make cheap glamour.  For those of you who don’t know, glamour is a magical substance used on animal fables to make them appear human.   It’s rather expensive due to being difficult to mass-produce and the animals that can’t afford it must live at the farm.  Bigby makes a statement about how people are so desperate get stuff cheap, they’ll do anything without realizing the cost of it, which I rather agree with.  However, I do not agree with how Fabletown treats their animal citizens.  I understand that the citizens must lay low, but that doesn’t make it right.  The first act Snow White enforces when she takes Crane’s place is that all Fable animals must go to the farm.  Something both Colin and Toad take issue with because the city is their home.

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Even in the comics, the animals call it a prison sentence because the government won’t let them leave.  In fact, the Fables go as far as to appoint a human to control the farm.  Is it any surprise to see many people choose not to send Colin and Toad to the Farm? However, that doesn’t do them any good.  Another thing I will talk about in my next review.

As for what the Crooked Man has on the Fables, I never discussed Faith’s situation in previous reviews.  She is the princess from Donkeyskin married to Lawrence in the original Kingdom.  When the Adversary took over, Faith and Lawrence were a couple of the lucky, or unlucky, people able to escape.   In the fairy tale world, Lawrence is Faith’s Prince Charming, able to rescue her from her father and give her a comfortable life.  In our world, he can barely hold down a job forcing Faith to prostitute herself so she can support them both.  Nerissa, the original Little Mermaid, is in a similar boat, as she must prostitute herself to survive.

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Then there are Fables such as Beauty and Beast who live comfortably by our standards yet have expensive tastes.

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This leads them both to be indebted to the Crooked Man similar to how Corrine found herself indebted in Flowers in the Attic and resorted to cruel measures to keep the life that she’s accustomed to having.  While Beauty and Beast haven’t done anything that drastic, they both have expensive taste and they’ve paid for it.  Playing as Bigby, you are free to call them out on this, which I’m sure many people will.  I don’t know about you but, after seeing how Fables such as Faith and Nerissa live, it’s rather hard for me to sympathize with Beauty and Beast.

Speaking of Fables who have it worse, Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol is in this game.  He’s all grown up and still handicapped as the mundies remember him.  Let me explain that, in the world of Fables, the character’s strength is dependent on the memories of the mundies.  This makes some Fables invulnerable and others as weak as any normal human, called mundies in this franchise.  In the case of Tiny Tim, while the mundies remember him, they see him as the handicapped child in A Christmas Carol partly responsible for Scrooge’s redemption.  It’s speculated that this is why Tim will always be handicap and there’s no cure for his condition.  Either that, or there is a cure and he can’t afford it.  Since the Crooked Man gave Tim a job, he speaks in favor of him.  However, he’s not against the Fabletown government.  When talking to Bigby, he claims that Fabletown needs both the Crooked Man and the government to survive but a war is the last thing the town needs.  While Tim does not agree with everything his boss does, he points out that Bigby doesn’t agree with everything Crane does either.  I loved this interaction because it talks about the shades of grey underlining what seems black and white.

The game has other character interactions that make it worth playing, and even show former enemies becoming friends.  Colin, for instance, is one of the original three little pigs and he sleeps in Bigby’s apartment.  If you haven’t figured it out, Bigby is the Big Bad Wolf who tried to eat them.  Yet Colin regularly visits Bigby with no fear and even sticks up for him.

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Another interesting case is The Woodsman from Red Riding Hood, the first suspect in the murder of Faith.  At first, the roles changed to Bigby being the one enforcing the law and The Woodsman being the suspected perpetrator.  In the first episode, The Woodsman reveals that he originally intended to rob the old woman Bigby ate, but ended up saving them instead.  It’s not until you go to the pawnshop and see the Woodsman trying to get his ax back from the Jersey Devil that you team up with him and he encourages you to bring Faith and Lilly’s killer to justice.

The game play is typical of Telltale with you picking various dialogue options for Bigby.  Sometimes, you have to make choices that supposedly influence the story, but I haven’t seen any evidence of that yet.  You also have to participate in QuickTime events that don’t sneak up on you as badly as they did in Game of Thrones or Guardians of the Galaxy.

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This game has an extra feature where you can collect a profile on a Fabletown citizen as you play.  Let me warn you that does mean you’ll have to replay a bit of the game if you want to collect them all.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, an adult take on classic fairy tale characters.

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Game of Thrones Episode 6: The Ice Dragon (Steam Store)

This is the final chapter for the Forrester family.  One of the older brothers died in a campaign to free Ironrath from the Whitehill Occupation; forcing the living brother to pick up the pieces.  Gared’s found the North Grove, but he’ll have to work extra hard to gain the trust of the inhabitants.  Meanwhile, Mira’s scheduled for execution in King’s Landing unless she marries an evil man.

The Ironrath plot goes one of two ways depending on which brother you killed in the last episode.  As Rodrick, your goal is to negotiate with the Whitehills to prevent war and save your brother, Ryon.  If Asher survives, he must take Rodrick’s place as Lord of Ironrath and convince the Whitehills that the war is not over.  Since Asher survived in my play through, I’ll be reviewing that one.

First, I should tell you the terms of Ramsay Snow’s deal.  In the last episode, Ramsay told you that the Boltons would stay out of the Whitehill and Forrester conflict.  They will resolve this through war and the last house standing wins.  Personally, I feel that Roose Bolton would side with the Forresters.  No, I don’t mean that he would do so out of the goodness of his heart.  Remember, the game points out that the Forresters are the better artisans and take care to chop down the trees they need.  The Whitehills, on the other hand, are not only shoddy artisans, but reckless in their endeavors to harvest Ironwood.  Roose Bolton may be evil, but he is also practical.

If Asher survives, Ludd Whitehill feels that his house is victorious.  However, Asher refuses to bow down to the Whitehills.  In this plot, you see a new side of responsibility in Asher as he tries to hold the reins after Rodrick’s death, refusing to let him die in vain.  You also see a hint of a romance between Asher and Gwyn, the reason for his exile to Meereen.

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Yet, despite his exile, Asher still loves his family as they do in return.  Talia is someone you do not want to get on the bad side of.  She may be as refined as Sansa, but she shows a spirit similar to Arya.  Let me give you a little spoiler, if you choose to poison Ludd Whitehill at dinner, Talia volunteers to pour the wine.  Elissa isn’t shy herself because she’ll offer to drink from the glass first to save Asher when Ludd insists Asher take the first drink.  However, Gwyn’s character is still lacking in my mind.  I get that she needs to side with her family but if the Forresters submitted to the Whitehills, that would just make things worse.  Therefore, Asher has to fight with everything he has.

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Another spoiler alert, Gared is the only character who will survive no matter what you do.  This is ironic, because he’s not a true Forrester.  He himself must gain the trust of the inhabitants of the North Grove.  As for who they are, let’s just say that Lord Forrester had a few lapses in honor.

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However, Gared does face one important decision.  In the previous episodes, Cotter’s wounds are fatal.  It doesn’t matter if you tended to the wound, he will still die.  As Gared, you have to decide how you will end his suffering.

Mira’s plot in King’s Landing is rather strange because, to me, she always felt the least like a Forrester.  I get that Mira’s in King’s Landing because Elissa signed her up to be Margeary’s handmaiden.  She wanted her eldest daughter to learn to behave like a southern woman.  However, she’s never truly interacted with The Forrester family.  Yes, I get that would be a little difficult since she’s in a different location.  Asher also had the same issue but we get to see him interact with his family and show affection for them.  In the case of Mira, all we hear about how much she loves her family is through letters she gets and that her actions at King’s Landing do contribute to Ironrath in small ways.  I realize that the Forresters are supposed to be like the Starks, separated through tragedy but still trying to pick up the remains.  In the show, we see the Starks interact with each other before tragedy falls, giving us a sense of family and sorrow as they’re torn apart.  Since the situation in the game is different, it would’ve been nice to provide some flashbacks to show happy family times, making Mira a true Forrester in my eyes.  However, considering what happens to her, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.

As I said in the first paragraph, Mira has to choose between death and an abusive marriage.  Remember that Lord who helps you out in King’s Landing, Morgryn?  Well, spoiler alert, he’s evil and wants control of Ironrath through Mira.  Let me admit, I accidentally read a spoiler about Mira’s fate in the Game of Thrones Wiki and I knew she would live or die depending on my choice.  I’ve grown rather attached to Mira so, at first, I was going to choose marriage.

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Then I decided to have her die rather than marry Morgryn and have Tom, the coal boy who helped her, die in her place.

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For those of you who don’t know, Telltale’s working on a second season and, considering this outcome, I don’t think we’ll be playing in King’s Landing anymore.  This means that the plot will have many unanswered questions, such as why Tom wanted to help Mira in the first place.  It’s what TV Tropes would call shoot the shaggy dog.  Then again, considering how things usually turn out in Game of Thrones, maybe it’s not that much of a shock.

The game play is typical of TellTale with you picking various dialogue options for the characters you play.

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Some choices will have a huge impact on the story and, this time, I actually mean it.  During fighting scenes, you have to press the right key at the right time in order to live.  At the end of the game, you can compare your choices with that of other players.

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Since this is the true final episode, you can watch an epilogue of the Game of Thrones characters talking about each of the Forresters and their thoughts on them.  Ramsay talks about Ethan and Rodrik, Margeary talks about Mira, Jon talks about Gared, Daenarys talks about Asher and Cersei gives her opinion of the Forresters as a whole.  Let me tell you, it’s beyond awesome.

This game is depressing and yet addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, had me a bit shaken up but I didn’t like the King’s Landing story.

Game of Thrones Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers

Things are finally ending for the Forrester family as Asher returns to Ironrath with an army.  Meanwhile, Mira found the Whitehill’s contact in King’s Landing and Gared gets closer and closer to finding the North Grove.  Can Rodrick still manage Ironrath with all this craziness and a traitor?

I’m going to give a slight spoiler for those of you who haven’t played the game.  There is a traitor among the Forresters and it all depends on who you picked to be your Sentinel in the first episode.  That’s right; the guy who doesn’t get the job throws a tantrum and collaborates with the Whitehills.  This just makes me believe that neither one of them can be trusted if they turn on you the minute they don’t get their way.  I will give some credit to the writer’s for Talia’s character, since she shows some real moxie in this episode.  She tells you about the traitor and recommends killing him.  However, if you choose to have Rodrick comfort Eleana in this episode, Talia walks in on the two of you having sex.  I have to say, Talia took it pretty well for a highborn girl from a medieval setting.  However, she’s not quite as adept with handling Ramsay, not that I blame her.  That’s right, Ramsay Snow makes his final appearance in the game and it’s definitely a memorable one.  He makes his first appearance at the end of Episode 4 and stays for the beginning of Episode 5 to tell you the good news.  You read that right; the terror of the north with no regard for life whatsoever is the one delivering good news.  Ramsay is still as terrifying as ever to deal with, but I’m still happy to see him due to having mixed feelings about his character.  I am both afraid of and attracted to Ramsay Snow.

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Don’t judge me.

Asher’s plot is my favorite, partly due to Daenarys and partly because you get to fight in the pits.

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Spoiler alert, Daenarys will not give you any of her Second Sons, but she will give you gold so you can hire your own sellswords.  She also offers to have Malcolm work for her, claiming that an alliance with House Targaryen will be beneficial to both families.  I said in an earlier review that Asher reminds me of Han Solo and it still shows.  Some of the speech options show his own sense of humor and I do like Asher’s dialogue with Beshka.  You can also win over the slaves in the fighting pits by either sticking to their rules or showing them a new way.

Since not much happens in Gared’s or Mira’s plots, I’ll have to combine their stories into one paragraph.  Gared is still trying to find the North Grove, but he’s come across a slight detour with Cotter and his sister.  I’ll admit, I did enjoy hearing Cotter’s back-story and learning that the Free Folk can be every bit as prejudice as the rest of the Game of Thrones world.  As for Mira’s story, she’s lost every contact in King’s Landing and things don’t look well for her.  This poor girl can’t catch a break.  However, I did like her conversation with Tyrion at the end.

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The game play is typical of Telltales, with you picking various dialogue options.

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You also get to participate in QuickTime events, my favorite being the fighting pits, as I said earlier.  As Gared, you also have the opportunity to hunt rabbits.  Some choices you make have a huge influence on the story because this is the first episode where you get to decide who lives and who dies.  At the end of the episode, you can compare your choices with other players.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 7 out of 10, some of the storylines felt a bit weak.

Game of Thrones Episode 4: Sons of Winter (Steam Store)

Westeros falls on dark times and the Forrester family is no exception.  Gryff rules Ironrath and Rodrick must fight for his right as Lord.  Asher goes on a mission for Daenarys in exchange for some of her sellswords.  Mira discovers that the Whitehills have a spy in Kings Landing while trying to get back in Margeary’s good graces.  Gared faces execution at The Wall for murdering a fellow brother.

I’m going to talk about the story that really upset me first and that is Gared’s adventure.  As I said earlier, he faces execution at The Wall.  The real kicker is I went out of my way to not murder Britt and remain true to my vows.  I even recited the oath aloud as I clicked on each sentence.  I am not lying.

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Doesn’t matter if Finn vouches for you, Frostfinger still doesn’t believe it and has you sentenced for execution.  Therefore, according to The Wall, you can’t defend yourself against other people who try to kill you.  Better to let them murder you or the Watch will do it themselves.  When I had to pick a dialogue option for Gared about the Watch, you can bet that I had him say they betrayed him.  Jon Snow gets one little scene before he leaves for Craster’s Keep.

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If you tell him it’s an accident, he’ll believe you but he’s powerless to stop Frostfinger.  Those of you who watch the show might see the irony in this.  Those of you who haven’t might want to skip this next part to avoid spoilers.  The Night’s Watch betrays Jon himself when he ascends to Lord Commander.  His aim is to unite the Watch and the Free Folk against the true enemy, the White Walkers.  However, many of the more old-fashioned members don’t like this new turn and trick him outside, stabbing him one by one.  Mysandra resurrects Jon, but it destroys his hero worship of the Night’s Watch.  If Telltale makes a second season, it would be interesting for Gared and Jon to meet and bond over their shared betrayal.  Gared breaks out and continues his search for the North Grove.

In order to give a proper review, I need to discuss what happens at Ironrath.  This is when Gryff’s rule becomes intolerable as he uses brute force to assure his position.  It’s very similar to how a bully will use fear to rule over those weaker than them.  Therefore, Gryff is little more than a thinly veiled Joffrey, which is the closest we’ll get to seeing him in the game.  To ensure their position, the Whitehills demand that Eleana, betrothed to Rodrick, marry Gryff.  Again, we have an obvious love triangle between a hero and a villain with Eleana having no affection for the villain whatsoever.  However, I will applaud her for taking matters into her own hands.  Needless to say, this gives Rodrick more allies in his fight for Ironrath.  However, the trouble isn’t over when you deal with Gryff.  Ludd Whitehill wants to make a deal with you and let me tell you something The Whitehills suck at making ironwood, so they have to threaten the Forresters into helping them.  While Roose Bolton is an evil and ruthless man, there is no way he’d still side with the Whitehills after seeing their horrible work.  The meeting at their estate does show one key difference between the Forresters and the Whitehills.  Ludd Whitehill cares nothing for Gryff due to being his fourth born son.  Rodrick, on the other hand, loves Ryon, despite him being fourth born, and will do anything he can to bring him back.  Did I mention that, when you leave Ironrath, you have the option of leaving Talia in charge?  I didn’t care for her, at first, but her biting Gryff in the third episode and openly rebelling against the Whitehills shows that there’s more to this young girl than meets the eye.

However, Talia still has a long way to go to catch up to Mira in my eyes.  Margaery might fire her and she still risks her life to discover who’s working for the Whitehills in King’s Landing.  Mira’s plot is about making a deal with her fellow handmaiden, Sera, and snooping around Tommen’s coronation to discover who works for the Whitehills.  I love how the dialogue options can demonstrate that she’s not to be underestimated.  You can also give Mira sweet dialogue options, though whether they’re genuine or she’s playing innocent to get what she wants is up to you.  There is one scene I found rather funny.  When Mira asks about Lyman, a fellow nobleman says that her ears are too delicate to hear such things.  Keep in mind that, as a handmaiden, Mira cleans chamber pots, which are old-fashioned toilets.  Yet she is far too delicate to hear of subjects such as sex, violence and drug addiction.  That logic astounds me.

Last but not least is Asher’s plot, beginning with when you have to explain to Daenarys how you found her dragon.

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I’ll admit that dealing with her can be rather intimidating.  I’m just glad Joffrey or Viserys, Daenarys’s brother, never got dragons.  It’s best not to think about it.  Anyway, you have a hard time convincing her to lend you her sellswords until you agree to go on a stealth mission for her.  You also get to find out about Beshka’s past and, let me tell you, the mission Daenarys sends you on is a conflict of interest.  I won’t give too much away for fear of spoilers, but you do have to stop Beshka when she gets out of hand.

The game play is typical of a game made by Telltale, but executed quite well.  You have to pick dialogue options for each character you play, as I said before.

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You also get to experience quick time events and, let me tell you, they sneak up on you.  My favorite part is when you get to go on a stealth mission for Daenarys as Asher.  That, and beating up Gryff, but it was a little more personal on that one.

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This is the one episode where the items you collect actually play a role.  For instance, if you collected medical supplies when you were at the Maester’s in Episode 1, you can now use them to heal a fallen comrade.  At the end of the episode, you can match up your choices with that of other players.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10; fun but didn’t get a true emotional reaction out of me.  Being upset over stupid decisions does not count.

Hollywood U: Rising Star (iOS Store)

A mysterious benefactor offers you enough for Hollywood University, the most prestigious college for anyone who wants to make a living in show business.  Will you attend as a movie star, fashionista or a director?

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Even though Pixelberry abandoned this game for Choices, you can still download it on your smart phone or handheld device.  This game does have a story attached to it, such as finding out whom the mysterious benefactor is paying your way through Hollywood University.  You also have your own enemies to deal with in the form of Bianca and her father.  The MC and Bianca have a rivalry similar to Jem and Pizzazz from the 80s cartoon show.  However, there are two differences.  For instance, Bianca knows how to turn everyone against the MC and make herself look like the innocent victim.  This is something Pizzazz could never pull off.  The other difference is that the MC doesn’t get everything handed to her as Jem did.  He or she has to struggle through various obstacles in order to succeed.  Let me tell you, it gets rather tough.  I can’t recall how many times I’ve empathized with the MC and actually felt frustrated or upset with what he or she goes through.

The game does not shy away from certain issues found in Hollywood.  For instance, one of the characters, Addison, used to be a movie star until she had an affair with a director.  The director in question lied to her about leaving his wife and, when the affair became public knowledge, he lied by claiming that Addison seduced him.  However, if you ask me, even if his version turned out to be true, he’s still at fault.  These incidents happen in Hollywood with one example being Kristen Stewart’s casting as the title character in Snow White and the Huntsman.  The news reports revealed that the reason the director cast her is because of an affair.  Many people slut shame her though, since I don’t know the whole story, I won’t pass judgment.  I do know that it cost Kristen Stewart her job while they still kept the director.  Some people call a double standard but, personally, I believe that it’s because Kristen Stewart was more expendable.  I’m sure you can find many other stories of such instances all throughout Hollywood but, more often than not, people blame the woman and it ruins her career.

Another instance from real life the game drew inspiration from is Miley Cyrus in order to create the character of Lisa Valentine.  She is a former teen pop star who played the main character in a children’s show called Lisa Mermaid.  Now that Lisa’s all grown up, she goes out of her way to remind everyone of this, something her mother and manager disapproves.  While most works would portray Lisa’s mother as the sympathetic one and Lisa as the evil slut, this game does not fall victim to such thinking.  Instead, Lisa is the one in the right and the game implies that, if she wants to be a party girl, that’s her choice.  No one has any right to judge her for it.  As I said, the game drew inspiration from Miley Cyrus for this after her Hannah Montana days were far behind her.  Except I always suspected that her father encouraged her to act crazy in order to stay in the spotlight.  Now that Miley Cyrus is voicing one of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t think she needs to act crazy anymore.  I am not kidding; she voiced the robot in the credits teaser showing the original Guardians.

The game play is that of a typical smart phone game, with you assigning characters to task.  It can take up to 24 hours to finish tasks, so you’re free to clean house, do homework and take care of anything else while you wait.  I call it the video game version of the Crockpot.  You can also throw parties to attract certain character types and go on dates.  You can hook up various characters in Couples Corner and send the MC on dates in the Amour.  You can also purchase buildings and collect money.

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Oh, and those character types you collect from partying each come with their own side quests.  The game comes with many extras, such as A-Listers and side quests, but you have to pay in diamonds, which costs real money to purchase.  Let me tell you, the game is very addictive and you’ll want to see everything it has to offer.  After you’ve collected all the characters and done all of the side quests, the game loses most of its appeal.  By then, you just want to continue playing to see what happens in the story.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  It deserves 9 out of 10, emotionally affective but not enough for a full mark.

Telltale Games: Summer 2017 Update

Once again, I didn’t have anything to post today.  So, enjoy this video.

The Wolf Among Us: Season 2 – Telltale Summer Update

After a grueling two years, Telltale finally tells us that they’re working on Season 2.  As someone who’s been a fan of Fables since I read the first comic book, I’m definitely excited!  Even if I’m way behind on the actual series.

Telltale Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 2: Under Pressure

After the resurrection stone brings Starlord back from the dead, everyone wants to find out its deal.  Meanwhile, Nebula’s back and she’s ready to take vengeance for her father’s death.

This story picks up where Episode 1 left off, with Starlord’s resurrection and everyone wondering what happened.  You can bet that the Guardians are not going to believe that Starlord came back from the dead and, when they finally do, they’ll want to investigate the relic that made it possible.  To do this, they have to go to Yondu.

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That’s right, our favorite blue-skinned pirate finally made his appearance.  The meeting even brings a few funny scenes, such as Yondu and Rocket meeting for the first time.  That’s what I love about Guardians of the Galaxy; it can be humorous without undermining the tragedy in the story.  Believe me when I say that there is some serious tragedy.

The main plot of the game is Nebula retrieving Thanos’s corpse from either Nova Corp or the Collector, whomever you gave the body to.  However, there is a side story involved with Rocket, should you choose to take it.

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Yes, when I said the game involved serious tragedy, this is what I meant.  The side story explores Rocket’s past and reveals that he once loved, and still loves, a female Otter named Lylla.  Even though her character is, to use a common saying, stuffed in the fridge, the story of how the scientists treated living beings as science experiments is still a serious tearjerker.  Add what happens after we meet her and it gets worse, much worse.  Just watching this scene and seeing Rocket’s emotions afterward made me cry.  Even after I played the game, everything about Rocket’s side quest put me in a seriously bad mood.  Even as I write this, I feel like crying.  Despite the effect the scene had on me, I still recommend that you take a break from the main story and explore Rocket’s side quest.

The rest of the story involves Gamora trying her best to fix things with Nebula and failing.  Unlike Rocket’s back-story, Gamora’s plot actually ties in with the main story.  The language of the relic is Kree and only Nebula can speak it.  However, it’s tough luck getting her to cooperate.  I wish I could give a more detailed review of the main plot but the problem is that I still find myself affected deeply by Rocket’s side quest.  Therefore, it’s a little hard for me to focus on everything else going on in the game.  I will tell you that Yondu has the hots for Gamora which, considering Starlord, who Yondu raised as a son, and Gamora’s ship tease in the movies, I find a little creepy.  However, there doesn’t seem to be a ship tease between Starlord and Gamora in the games, more like a deep friendship.  Then again, I could be wrong.  I will admit that I kind of like the hint that Yondu and Starlord’s mother might have been involved.

The game play is much like your average Telltale, picking dialogue options for Starlord being the main aspect.  However, I’ll admit, from the description of the episode and having not seen the trailer before playing, I thought that you’d play Rocket for the whole episode.   Since Rocket’s my favorite character, you can bet that this excited me.  While you can play as Rocket if you choose to take the optional side quest, you mostly play as Starlord.  The game also features QuickTime events requiring you to press the right key or button in order to survive.  Let me warn you, it will come when you least expect it.  You can also explore the ship and, once again, check your monitor.  However, the second part didn’t feel quite as fun as I found it in the last episode.  Mainly because you learn nothing new about the characters or places in the codex, save for a few places and characters that the game adds.  In addition, you can’t respond to email people send you; you just read it.  However, it is a bit cute to discover that Groot believes in chain mail.  At the end of the Episode, you can compare your choices with ones from other players.

This game is tragic and a bit of a disappointment.  I give it 7 out of 10, two points added for Rocket’s side quest.

Game of Thrones Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness (Steam Store)

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Forrester family.  The Whitehills occupy Ironrath, Cersei reveals Mira’s alliance with Tyrion, the Lost Legion pursues Asher as he looks to hire sellswords and Gared must choose between saving the Forrester family, or staying true to the Night’s Watch.  Can the Forresters survive this entire struggle and win back their livelihood?

So far, there seems to be one serious problem with this plot and it’s that there is not one single likable person among the Whitehills.  Every single one of them has been made cartoonish to the point of being a Power Rangers villain.    They go so far as to re-enact the death of Ethan Forrester and run the land as if it is their own, chopping down trees needlessly to make ironwood and causing deforestation.  The only exception is their daughter, who I will talk about more in the future.  While the original Game of Thrones had your classic evil villains, such as Joffrey and Ramsay, there were plenty of smart villains to maintain the balance, Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton being prime examples.  As the lawful evil characters, they were both responsible for keeping the chaotic evil characters in line.  Another thing that separates the show from the game is that, while Rob is clearly on the side of good and Joffrey on the side of evil, both have people of good and evil who fight for them.  For instance, Barristan Selmy is a member of the King’s Guard and, as such, shows loyalty to whoever the current King may be, whether his intentions are just or selfish.  The only reason Barristan sided with Daenarys is because Joffrey had the man thrown out.  Davos is another example of a good man who is on the wrong side, loyal to the insane Stannis due a lordship granted by him.  The prime example would be the episode where Stannis tries to siege King’s Landing to take his rightful place as heir to the throne.  Even though Joffrey is the villain, we still see the women and children huddled up in a shelter and know that, if Stannis is successful, his soldiers will rape and murder them.  Later on, Margaery Tyrell introduces herself to King’s Landing by helping the orphaned children, one of them living in these conditions due to a war Joffrey started.  Not only does it show the horrors of war, how it destroys lives and how, no matter which side wins, innocent people when die, it also serves to make Joffrey more despised as a character.  Those of you who’ve seen the show know that the War of the Five Kings started because Joffrey refused to show Ned Stark mercy when he pled guilty.  So many innocent lives lost because Joffrey acted through anger and hatred.

Speaking of Joffrey, the lengths this game goes to not show him borders on downright ridiculous.  At the beginning of Episode 3, Cersei forbids both Mira and Sera from attending the wedding, which contradicts the original show.  For those of you who don’t know, the designers based Mira Forrester’s look on that of an extra who played a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell.

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Now, I might be wrong about this but, in the show, I distinctly remember that extra being at the wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a little pointless to remake The Purple Wedding for the game, but it feels a little strange to contradict the show like this.  The only point this scene plays is that Tyrion Lannister, at first played as a valuable ally to Mira, is now a liability due to Cersei suspecting him of Joffrey’s death.

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This is what motivates her to take action.

Asher Forrester’s character seems incredibly similar to Han Solo from Star Wars. Lovable rogue who makes wisecracks, manages to make time for money and even gets a scene with an old friend similar to Han and Lando in The Empire Strikes Back.  For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Han goes to see Lando when there’s no one else for him to turn to.  Lando, at first, greets Han with hostility but then laughs to reveal that it was little more than a joke.  Then he betrays Han to Vader.  Thankfully, Asher’s friend works for Daenarys, so it doesn’t play out exactly the same.  He also has his own little conflict between Malcolm and Beshka who don’t really trust each other.  Beshka is Asher’s partner in crime and I do appreciate that she’s not a love interest as so often happens when fiction teams a man and a woman up.  However, the game does imply that she’s a lesbian.  Malcolm is the brother to Lady Elissa Forrester and, in Episode 2, sent by her to retrieve Asher for extra muscle.  He is Asher’s only connection to the Forrester family.

Meanwhile, Gared continues serving in exile at The Wall.  His job is to locate the North Grove, even if it means breaking his vows.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, when you join the Night’s Watch, it’s for life.  Desertion is punishable by execution, as seen in the very first episode.  Therefore, you can bet that Gared’s uncle Duncan is asking too much of him.  It doesn’t help that Britt, the man who murdered Gared’s family, has also taken the black.  Jon is the one who reminds Gared of his vows that he would never harm another member of the Night’s Watch.

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Regardless of whatever crime they committed. Those of you who’ve read my previous reviews for Game of Thrones know that Jon Snow is the love of my life.  I even have a T-shirt that reads Run like White Walkers are chasing you and Jon Snow is waiting for you at Castle Black that I wear often.  However, this is one of the instances where Jon is being too naive to see the big picture.  While he does remind Gared to uphold his vows and not kill Britt in vengeance, it doesn’t occur to Jon to give the same lecture to Britt regarding Gared.  I doubt it would’ve done much good, but Britt seeking out Gared and trying to murder him never even crosses Jon’s mind.  Spoiler alert, that’s exactly what Britt does.

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Earlier, I mentioned the Whitehills committing deforestation and the only good member being their daughter, Gwyn Whitehill.  However, what I have yet to tell you is that she arranges a meeting between herself and Rodrick, the current head of the Forrester household.  It’s Gwyn who wants to see peace between the feuding families while, at the same time, still loves her family.  She goes against her family’s wishes and sees Rodrick in secret.  Those of you who have read my review for Guardians of the Galaxy know the problem I have with Gamora’s character and I take the same issue with Gwyn.  While I appreciate that she expects Rodrick not to trust her, going as far as praising him for bringing a knife with him, once again the story tasks the only woman with being the good and reasonable one of the group.  This scene also takes the time to give an environmental message by showing the destruction the Whitehills have done to the forest.  Let me point out that the source of the Forrester family’s income is Ironwood, which they get from the trees in the forest.  While the Forresters also chop down trees, they are not so reckless in their endeavors that they destroy every tree in sight.  If they destroy the forest, then there is no more ironwood.  Such a move will destroy their business, something the Forresters take into consideration, and the Whitehills do not.  It’s similar to the message in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, where reckless chopping for thneeds puts the Onceler on top for a while but, in the end, destroys his business and livelihood when the last truffula tree falls.  However, considering that the Onceler only needed the leaves, it was stupid of him to chop down the trees for his product in the first place.

In my last review, I talked about how amazing the ending to episode 2 was with the switch between scenes as Talia sings.  This ending, while not ending on a song, does not disappoint.  The scenes pan to Rodrick and Talia talking about how to handle the Whitehill occupation while Mira destroys the document Tyrion had not yet signed before Cersei arrests him.  Gared also faces trial for the murder of Britt and Asher meets the one and only Daenarys, who is my second favorite character on the show.  Each of them, in their own ways, is doing what they can to help House Forrester.  Even Mira, who is not combat proficient like her brothers are, but is still risking her life retrieving Tyrion’s unsigned document in order to make another deal to save her family.

The game play is typical Telltale with you getting to pick dialogue options for the characters you play.  Some choices are more important than others though, let me tell you, they don’t really matter in the end.  For instance, there is one point where Tyrion wishes to talk to you in private but Margaery, who tells you that she will fire you if you continue to associate him, won’t allow it.  She gets mad at you whether you go off with Tyrion or not.

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There will be times when you have to press the right button for QuickTime events or end up dead.  Other scenes will have you walk around with the character you play while examining certain items as you explore.  When you’ve finished the episode, you can compare your choices to that of other players.

This game is fun but, so far, seems like wasted potential.  I give it 6 out of 10, a must if you’re a Game of Thrones fan.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled Up In Blue (Steam Store)

Thanos is on the rise and it’s up to the Guardians of the Galaxy to bring him down.  Can they save the galaxy and still make a profit doing it?

Many people might play this game thinking that it’s set in the movie timeline and they couldn’t be more wrong.  Others might suggest that the game is set in the comic book universe and I’ll admit to having a very limited knowledge of the comics.  Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to confirm that.  However, I have heard that, while the game draws inspiration from the comics and the movies, it actually takes place in its own universe.  For one thing, and this is a huge spoiler, Thanos dies in the first episode of the game.  There are also other hints, such as Starlord admitting that he never met the collector, Starlord’s tape being called the rad mix rather than the awesome mix and the flashbacks to Starlord’s past being different than what they were in the movie.

As I said earlier, this game takes place in its own universe.  For starters, I doubt setting the game in the movie universe would allow them to kill Thanos so easily.  Just in case you’ve been living on Mars for the past decade, Thanos is not only the Big Bad of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but also features in the Avengers movies behind the scenes.  Rumors claim that Thanos will be the Big Bad in the Avengers: Infinity Wars movies, resulting in the Avengers and the Guardians teaming up to defeat him.  In the video game, the Guardians kill Thanos in the very first episode and the rest of the story is about life for the Guardians after the one enemy who brought them together is defeated.

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Despite not being set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the characters are still true to form to their movie counterparts.  Starlord is still the smartass leader, Drax the literal-minded vengeful warrior, Rocket the greedy tech genius with an attitude, Gamora the former assassin turned voice of reason and Groot is just… Groot.  Each of them even go through their own little subplots.  Starlord has to deal with his team falling apart, Rocket considers leaving and living off his fame, Drax is wondering what to do now that his quest is complete and Gamora has to make things up with her sister, Nebula.

As I mentioned earlier, there are flashbacks to Starlord’s past in the game, but what I didn’t tell you is that it’s the case of a new artifact known as the Eternity Forge.  This device is capable of bringing life back but at a strong price, you have to murder someone.  Therefore, you can bet that this device is trying to tempt Starlord to bring his mother back and he’s not the only person who wants it.  Hala the Accuser wants to use it to bring back the Kree race and is willing to kill billions in order to do so.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the smurfette principle, which is one token woman among men.  The Guardians are no exception with Gamora being the single woman among a whole group of men.  I’ll admit, I actually love Gamora’s character.  She’s a tough as nails former assassin gone good, she doesn’t take any crap and she actually lives up to her reputation.  Unlike most arrangements where you see the man with a sword and the woman with a gun, Starlord usually handles the guns and Gamora fights with her sword.  Since Starlord is a former space pirate and Gamora a trained assassin, it makes sense that the former would specialize in ranged weaponry while the latter is more proficient in close range combat.  Gamora also has her own past and problem and, despite being what tvtropes calls a Green-Skinned Space Babe, there’s more to her than being an exotic beauty.  If the Star Trek writers plan to bring Orion women back, they need to watch Guardians of the Galaxy and take notes.

However, there are still some problems with Gamora’s character.  More often than not, she is the voice of reason and morality.  When the Guardians discuss what to do with Thanos’s body, it’s Gamora who suggests bringing it to Nova Corps while Rocket wants to sell it to the Collector.  There is another situation where you have to choose whether to bring Drax or Gamora on a mission.  Drax is the one that wants to kill every Kree they come across while Gamora feels that it would be best to sneak in and not draw attention to themselves.  Maybe this wasn’t intentional but, to me, it feels like they purposely made the only woman on the team the mature and responsible one.  Which, as a woman myself, I am neither one.  Not to mention that, once again, a franchise makes a hot alien woman for men to gawk at but women don’t get exotic fan service.  Yes, I am well aware that Starlord is hot but keep in mind that he is also human.

The game play is your typical Telltale style.  You take control of Starlord and pick his dialogue.

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There are some scenes where you make important choices and you have to be fast to respond to quick time events.  Let me tell you, they will sneak up on you when you least expect it.  However, there are some differences.  One is the ability to use a communicator to contact people who aren’t with you.  You also get to explore the ship and can check the terminal for codex info and your email.

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I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for games that let you do the latter.  Don’t know why.

The game is intriguing and addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, a good take on the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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