Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the category “PC”

American McGee’s Alice (Amazon Store)

Requested by BloodRoseRed

After surviving a house fire that murdered her parents, young Alice finds herself locked up in an asylum.  

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Her only escape is through the mythical Wonderland, corrupted by her own experiences. Now she must fight her way through an evil land in order to reclaim her own sanity.

Those of you who’ve watched the Disney movie will be in for quite a shock.  It’s definitely not the Alice in Wonderland from your childhood. However, the game is also not a darker re-telling.  It takes place after the events of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Therefore, it’s more of a sequel to the original events, which I think works in its favor.  In the past, Wonderland has always been a place of mythical adventure that Alice could escape to when life became too much for her. Which, considering the first book ends with the Queen of Hearts wanting to chop off Alice’s head, wasn’t that happy go lucky either.  Now that tragedy struck Alice and she’s in a Victorian Asylum, which was not a place you wanted to be sent to, she needs this one escape to cope with her situation. The beautiful Wonderland she knew and loved transformed into a twisted nightmare due to her own experiences.  However, even in this hell Wonderland transformed into, Alice still has friends in the form of the Cheshire Cat, The White Rabbit and The Griffin.

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They’re the ones that help her through this nightmare world and guide her on her quest.

As I said, the game is a gritty sequel to the Alice in Wonderland books.  I first saw it at a store when I was in Middle School but, since I wasn’t old enough, I couldn’t get the game. I’ll admit, I thought that it was just a tale of needless violence thrown in to make a beloved children’s classic cooler and more adult.  Then BloodRoseRed requested me to review both this and Alice: Madness Returns and, I’ll confess, I was happily wrong. Yes, this is more violent than what you’d expect from something set in the Alice in Wonderland universe.  However, it’s not needless violence thrown in to make the game cool, as is often done in these situations. The game explores deep elements such as mental illness, trauma, and survivor’s guilt. When Alice was seven years old, she witnessed her family die in a fire and was too busy having a make believe tea party to pay attention to what was going on.  Minor spoiler alert, her guilt manifests in Wonderland as villains, such as the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen, as they call Alice a selfish and spoiled girl. According to them, she didn’t deserve to survive and, if she had paid attention, she could’ve warned her parents and saved them. These are feelings Alice has herself echoed through the words of the game’s villains and, in order to conquer them, she has to kill the villains that represent her guilt.  This is actually very symbolic of her fight to keep her sanity and it’s something that the game play reflects, which I will discuss in a later paragraph.

The game comes with an instruction manual that has a diary of one of the doctors of Rutledge Asylum giving his accounts of treating Alice in the real world while she battles her own metaphorical demons.  Unfortunately, the copy of the game I bought didn’t come with a casebook, so I had to look it up on the game’s wiki, which you can read here. I’m sure many of you who know the history of Victorian Asylums think the doctor is some sadistic man deriving in the torture of an innocent young girl.  I actually have a book called Women of the Asylum and it documented cases of women who refused to submit to the patriarchy finding themselves committed to the asylum for a mental illness.

However, this is not the case.  The doctor is actually a caring man not sure what to do about Alice’s condition.  He talks about how he had to treat other patients and seems remorseful that the treatments result in death far more than they do in curing mental illnesses.  Little by little, this becomes normal to the doctor but he still wants to do his best to help the people in his care, even if the “treatments” are barbaric by today’s standards.  Yes, Asylums in Victorian London were hell on Earth, but the Asylum was a recently introduced concept to curing the mentally ill. Many of the horrors were less from evil and more from the ignorance of the time.  It doesn’t make it any better and I’m sure it’s making Alice’s mental illness worse, but it does make us more understanding. In addition, you can tell that the makers of the game did their homework when writing the book, even if they did get one detail about Victorian London wrong in the game, which I’ll discuss later.  You also get to see the difference between Alice in Wonderland who, in this version, is a real badass you don’t want to mess with, and the Alice in the real world, who’s a passive patient. The doctor is actually rooting for Alice, even if a part of him wants her to stay in the Asylum with him.

The game takes place entirely in Wonderland with only a few mentions of the real world. In it, you take control of Alice who must defeat the corrupted and nightmarish versions of the Wonderland characters we know and love.  These enemies represent Alice’s insanity trying to consume her and she must destroy them to keep what sanity she has left. Like many games, this one has an HP bar and an MP bar.  The HP bar represents her sanity, which she regains by killing enemies such as the playing cards that attack her and must consume the essence they leave behind. Try explaining that to a psychiatrist and see if they don’t put you in a home.  The MP bar is for magic you need to defeat the enemies but, thankfully, the essence found throughout the game to restore HP also works for MP. Boss’s have their own level and they must be defeated if you want to advance through the game.

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However, Alice is not alone as she has friends who guide her throughout her journey that represent her sanity.  One conversation she has with the Cheshire Cat about taking Gym Class contradicts schooling in Victorian London, due to not having Gym Class back then. They had Drill Class, which was the closest you could get, and it was for boys. Girls whose parents were rich sent them to Finishing School to learn how to become proper ladies and there was no Drill Class for them.  Still, historical inaccuracy aside, these conversations and help she has from those few friends represent what little sanity she has left. Spoiler alert, these characters die trying to help Alice, which feeds into her own survivor’s guilt about how she should’ve died in the fire with her family. It also shows that, for a brief moment, Alice’s insanity is winning. Having the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen accuse Alice of being selfish and spoiled represents the most powerful obstacle that Alice has to overcome if she wants to rejoin society, her guilt.  So, in many ways, the game play is made almost entirely of symbolism, which is actually very creative. You can also collect weapons throughout the game and complete puzzles in order to advance through the storyline. The most powerful weapon is the Jabberwocky eye staff, which you can use to beat the final two bosses, but my favorite for dealing with the regular enemies is the Ice Staff.

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It knocks them out just like that. The puzzles can also be difficult and, more often than not, you’ll find yourself consulting a walkthrough.

As for the horror element the game tries to represent, I admit that I didn’t really find it that scary.  I found it interesting from a psychological perspective, as I already discussed, but I wasn’t really trembling in my seat.  I did find myself on edge when I managed to play it at night but the only incident that made me slightly jump out of my seat was when a fish pops out of the lake and eats you.  Then again, I am a tough sell and I haven’t been properly scared since the recent IT movie.

This game is intriguing and fun.  I give it 9 out of 10, a creative take on a classic story and mental illness that really made me think.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 5: Don’t Stop Believin

Hala’s wreaking havoc all across the galaxy and only the Guardians can stop her.  There’s only one issue, the Guardians broke up.  Can Starlord get the gang back together and stop Hala?

Any true Guardians fan knows that the answer to the last question is yes.  I’m sure you also remember the death that broke the Guardians up in the last episode. Turns out that the writers didn’t go through with it, but I think that we can all figure that out.  I’m not going to give much away but I will tell you that two of the Guardians are miserable.  After all they’ve been through; I can’t really blame them.  This time, they’re actually upset about events in their life that matter.  The final Guardian, Groot, gets his time to shine in a flashback about how the Guardians met.

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It’s similar to the movie with a few humorous moments that makes it the Guardians of the Galaxy.  That’s what I love about this franchise; the writers know how to blend the perfect amount of darkness and light that makes Guardians of the Galaxy shine.  It’s something Batman Forever failed at miserably.  You also get a scene where you can listen to Starlord’s awesome music.

The game play is typical of any Telltales game, with you picking dialogue choices for Starlord and, at one point, Groot.  During action scenes, you have to press the right key at the right time.  Let me tell you, those scenes really sneak up on you.

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At one point, you get to assign a task to each Guardian during the final mission to take out Hala.

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Rocket came up with the plan, so you can bet that one of these tasks is useless but still funny.  There’s another scene where Mantis takes you inside Peter’s head and you can determine Peter’s thoughts and relationships with the other guardians.  It’s fun and heartwarming at the same time.  When you’re finished, you can compare your choices to those other players made and get a sneak preview of what’s to come in season 2.

This game is addictive and amusing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a brilliant finale for Guardians of the Galaxy Season 1.

Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 3: More Than A Feeling (Steam Store)

When the Guardians rescue an eccentric alien name Mantis, she claims to hold the key to the Eternity Forge’s power.

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Now Starlord’s left with one decision, destroy the Eternity Forge or unlock its full power.  Either way, the fate of the universe rests in his hands.

I have to admit, my original impression of the game was that each episode would be about someone each of the Guardians lost in their past.  It would also give a reason for why each one of them wants to use The Forge.  Instead, only two of the Guardians want to use the Forge while the other two think Starlord should destroy it.  If you want to know who wants what, remember Drax’s reason for going after Thanos.  Then remember Rocket’s origin story from Episode 2, the one that sent me spiraling into depression.  After that, use the process of elimination to figure out which two Guardians want to destroy The Forge.  If you feel that I’ve turned a complex plot from a fun and yet serious super-hero story into a boring math problem, you couldn’t be more right.

Each episode delves into the past of one of the Guardians.  In this one, it’s Gamora’s turn.  Unlike the last episode, this one doesn’t insist on taking a break from the plot at large to delve into a Guardian’s back-story.  During the game, it’s clear that Gamora and her sister, Nebula, have issues.  Considering that they’re both the adopted daughters of an evil overlord who turned them against each other as part of their assassin training, it’s not hard to believe.

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Now we get to see what drove Gamora and Nebula apart.  In the interest of not giving anything away, I’m just going to tell you that it’s a very deadly Three’s Company plot.  Whether they make up or not is in your hands.

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

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There are times when you will have to participate in QuickTime events that require you to press the right button at the right time.  Like many other Telltale games, they sneak up on you.

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In the previous episodes, you had the option of checking your codex and mail and you can do so in this one as well.  If you chose to give Thanos’s body to NovaCorp, let me tell you that Rocket’s right, they are d*cks.  In the last episode, they refuse to stand down and let you handle Nebula.  These so-called cops won’t even listen to you when you claim that it’s to save the galaxy.  In fact, they won’t even give you the bounty and proclaim you the enemies of the galaxy.  It makes you want to replay the game and give Thanos to the Collector.

Some choices will affect the game play and, as I said earlier, there is one choice that will set the stage for future episodes.  At the end of the episode, you have the choice to either use the Eternity Forge or destroy it.

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I’m sure many people who’ve lost a loved one can sympathize with Drax and Rocket when they vote to use the relic.  However, consider that the relic can only bring someone back from the dead if someone else takes their place.  Also, remember that Hala wants to resurrect the entire Kree race and she will murder whoever stands in her way to accomplish this.  Would you take away someone else’s life and risk ruthless people using this power for evil just to get the people you lost back?  Trust me when I say that it’s the most difficult decision you’ll ever have to make in the game.  No matter what you do, this decision will test the bonds of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

This game is addictive and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10, the perfect combination of light and dark elements.

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.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Part 2: PC Version

After finishing the Playstation version I concentrated on this one.  Ironically, this one was actually the first version I ever played.  Like the Playstation version, this also gives you the feel of being a student.  However, there are differences in this version.

In the Playstation version, Harry Potter is the silent protagonist save for when he’s casting spells (think Link from Zelda or the 10-year-old trainers from Pokemon), but in this version he says very little.  The thing is, Harry only reacted in the first book, so it actually makes perfect sense.  You also have to collect beans for Fred and George, but instead of collecting a certain type of bean you just collect 25 beans and trade them for Wizard Cards throughout the game.  You have to collect all the Wizard Cards in order to see the secret ending and like the book, Dumbledore’s the first card you get.

You also get to attend classes and learn spells.  In order to learn the spell, you have to trace a symbol provided by the Professor.  As fun as it is, there’s a ticking clock that can make you very nervous and your hand can be unsteady because of it, so it’s hard to pass the final tracing lesson.  After that’s over, you get to participate in a challenge where you try to collect all the stars hidden throughout it.  You earn points based on how well you traced the spell and how well you completed the challenge associated with it.  There is one spell you learn from Hermione called Alohomora and you even get points from her, which brings up one question.  How is Hermione able to give points?  I have no problem with her teaching a spell, but actually giving points?  Couldn’t she have just given you a Wizard Card or something?  That would have made a lot more sense.  Another problem I have is that you never have a Transfiguration Class.  I understand not having History of Magic in the game, but Transfiguration?  The only time you even see McGonagall is when she tells you that you’ve made the Quidditch team and then she just disappears.

Like the book, Cerberus is still guarding the stone (yes I know his name is Fluffy, but I’m calling him Cerberus) and you have to put him to sleep by playing the flute.  However you never talk to Hagrid about any of this, so you never find out how to put him to sleep.  You never even find out the dog’s name.  All you know is that there’s a three-headed dog guarding the door and you were never told how to get past it.  Unless Harry gained the deduction skills of Sherlock Holmes, there’s no way he would be able to figure out how to get past Cerberus.  It also makes Ron’s line about how “Only Hagrid would call this monster Fluffy,” very out of place.

Again, we have Quidditch in this game and it even gets its own separate section, but they didn’t even try with this one.  In this version, there is a mention of an opposing Seeker, but you never even see your opponent.  The rings produced by the snitch don’t even serve a purpose, except to show you where it is.  Like the Playstation version, the only way of losing the game is to get knocked out and this time you don’t have armor protecting you.

Like the Playstation version, the game is relatively easy except for the Wizard Cards.  The difference is every part of this game plays some role in the overall storyline and you even find out why Fred and George are collecting beans.  I give this game a 6 out of 10.

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