Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the category “steam”

The Lion’s Song Episode 2 Anthology (Steam)

At the turn of the 20th Century, a young aspiring painter named Franz struggles to make a name for himself.  He has the ability to see the different layers of people, yet has trouble bringing them to life in his paintings.  Can Franz discover that one element he needs to bring his paintings to life?

Once again, we have another story about the struggles of an artist.  Like Wilma, Franz is struggling to find himself and develop his work.  However, while Wilma had to isolate herself in a cabin to develop her next song, Franz needs to go out and explore the real world to be able to bring life to his paintings.  On his journey, he takes advice from an art critic, Grete, and has a session with real life historical psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud. I don’t want to give anything away but, at the end, there’s one painting you help Franz with.  Whether he completes it is up to the choices you make.

Like the last episode, you get to see references to early 20th Century Germany and, as mentioned earlier, Sigmund Freud makes an appearance.  You get to see history in the making from the fashions to the farmer’s market.

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Slight spoiler alert, Franz not only knows Wilma but actually painted her.  If that’s not enough, you get to hear Wilma’s song on the gramophone.

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For those of you who explored everything the cabin had to offer, the Grete in this episode is also the same one who sent a love letter to Arthur.  You also see another hint for what will take place in Episode 3 when Franz has the opportunity to paint a Mathematician.

The game play is similar to the last episode, with you making dialogue choices for Franz.

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As I said in the second paragraph, you get to explore more in this episode than you did in the last one.  In the first episode, you had little to no control over where Wilma went next. She stayed in a cabin, listening to the sounds around her for musical inspiration and only left in dreams.  With Franz, you could explore the city and actually talk to people to learn how they view the world. You also get to see how Franz views people by the white silhouettes representing the layers of each person’s personality.  You even get chances to paint people and ask them questions. What you ask determines how the painting will turn out.

This game is insightful and intriguing.  I give it 9 out of 10, it somewhat made me think and managed to get a chuckle out of me at certain points.

The Lion’s Song Episode 1 Silence (Steam)

Wilma’s a promising young musician in early 1900s Austria who’s having trouble coming up with a new composition.  Her professor offers to let her stay in his cabin for the week, hoping Wilma can find inspiration. Will she be able to write her next piece in time for the weekend concert?

As you can see, this game is historical fiction and it has a retro design to drive that point home.  This chapter is about Wilma and her struggles with her own insecurities. This shows itself in symbolic dreams, her crush on her professor and her conversations with Leos over the telephone.  I’ll admit that Arthur is a bit of a selfish jerk, trying to force Wilma to come up with a composition so he doesn’t lose face. However, Wilma’s crush on him is realistic as he is an accomplished professor.  Leos is a man who calls a random number to test out his new telephone and ends up talking to Wilma about his problems while helping her in return.

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The dreams are also very symbolic of the pressure Arthur put Wilma under and her very own insecurities.  Wilma even finds herself weird for caring more about her musical career than she does about starting a family, something she briefly talks about with Leos. In other stories, I’d consider this sexist but, in this game, I actually thought it was a clever nod to the role of women in that time.  Another aspect of the time is how remarkable Leos thinks the telephone and its ability to communicate with people from different parts of the world are. People of our time have the same reaction when we try out virtual reality for the first time at Best Buy.

The game play is simple point and click with you also picking Wilma’s dialogue options.

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You choose what Wilma will say to people and you click various objects to help her find inspiration.  Many players might find this confusing, but keep in mind that Wilma is a musician. She can hear music from the drops of the rain to the swinging of the lantern.  Wilma also gets ideas from reading books and letters that help her decide how to write her composition. Not only is it your job to click on the various items. You also have to find them in the right order.  Whether the audience thinks Wilma’s song is a masterpiece or run of the mill classical depends on you.

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This game is insightful and intriguing.  I give it 8 out of 10, a compelling psychological study on how musicians create.

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 4: Who Needs You (Steam)

After making your choice about the Eternity Forge, Hala buries you underground.  Meanwhile, the Guardians find themselves at odds about your decision.  Can you stop Hala while repairing the damaged relationships among the Guardians of the Galaxy?

I’m sure you remember that decision you had to make in the last episode that I talked about being the strong point of the story. Now be prepared to find out that whatever decision you made doesn’t matter in the slightest.  If you destroy the Eternity Forge, Hala sucks up all of its energy and uses it to bring her race back.  So all that time you spent mulling over what to do with the Eternity Forge is useless.  Even Rocket takes the time to point that out to you, in case you didn’t come to that conclusion yourself.  This is what we in the story business like to call lazy writing.  To top it all off, everyone’s so busy fighting each other the Guardians forget that the issue is that Hala is out there committing mass murder.  Unfortunately, you don’t get a dialogue choice to remind them of this either.  Say what you want about the Final Frontier, which is a guilty pleasure for me, but the characters had enough sense to realize that they need to focus on the major problem.  Let me explain that, in the movie, Sybok takes over the Enterprise and uses it to cross a deadly barrier to find God, or Sha Ka Ree.  Spock talks about how Sha Ka Ree is not real and Kirk tells him that the present issue is a mad man took over his ship and could possibly destroy it in some mad quest.  When Final Frontier beats you in a story aspect, you really need to re-think your writing.

The story does have its strong points, such as Drax’s flashback.  I have to admit, I’m not really a big fan of Drax.  However, his flashback is one of the most well done I’ve seen and it doesn’t take away from the story.  It’s a short and yet memorable scene where Drax talks to his daughter before she has to go away for training.

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Your choices determine how Drax’s daughter thinks of him.  It also leads to scene where Drax makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the Guardians in a scene that’s almost a tearjerker.  I have to admit, it took me by surprise.  While the scene is sad, the episode is not without its funny moments.  Some of the humor can get juvenile and, at one point, the game makes an unnecessary fart joke.  However, when a giant worm eats you in a plot point similar to Star Wars, you have to make the decision about whether you want the creature to vomit you out or poop you out.  I went with the former and, in this case, I’m glad the writers realized how silly this sounded.  One of the aspects of Guardians of the Galaxy is that the writers know when to take the plot seriously and when to embrace the silly.  The CW show, Supernatural, also uses this writing technique.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can ignore the story’s weaknesses.  In the second paragraph, I talked about how everyone forgets about the threat Hala imposes on the universe.  This doesn’t change by the end where, depending on how you handle Drax, people are mad at you.  It gets so bad that people leave the group, starting with Mantis who can’t take having to deal with everyone’s extreme emotions.  Never mind that the Eternity Forge is her responsibility and still causing havoc around the galaxy because of Hala.  Then, depending on whether you let Drax sacrifice himself or not, different people get mad at you and leave the group.  They just momentarily forget that Hala is committing mass murder across the galaxy because of what they did.  No, it’s all about them; how they can’t cope with all of the drama in their lives.  I understand that your main characters need to have flaws and that no one can agree with each other all the time.  However, the moment when your heroic group breaks up is not supposed to be when the world or, in this case galaxy, is in serious danger.  These characters act like spoiled children who throw a tantrum the minute things don’t go their way.

The game play is typical Telltale with you making dialogue choices for whatever character you currently play.  However, your choices make no difference except to determine who stays with you when the Guardians break up.  There is one impact in the game about whether you get to have a sandworm companion but that’s about it.

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The game comes with its own quick time events that are addictive as always without sneaking up on you.  You also get to explore the inside of the giant worm in order to collect engines to fix your ship and talk to the Guardians while you do so.

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The game is disappointing yet fun.  I give it 6 out of 10; not the best story but still a nice little diversion.

Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story (Steam)

After deleting Sam’s phone, you find another one that belongs to a girl named Laura.  Can you discover who is she and help her?

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While the premise is the same as the last game, the plot couldn’t be more different.  I should tell you that I’m about to give major spoilers to the plot, so proceed with caution.  Unlike Sam, Laura is an adult and doesn’t struggle with who she is.  However, Laura is not without problems and hers involve her boyfriend, Ben.  I’m just going to tell you that Laura’s in an abusive relationship.  Ben has her send her GPS coordinates to him regularly.  He goes through her phone on a daily basis.  He even deleted her birth control reminders off her phone so she’s forget to take her pill.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.  His worst offense is sending a sexy video Laura made for her ex-boyfriend to her co-workers and putting the blame on her ex-boyfriend.  This also leaves Laura open to sexual harassment from her co-workers, none of them believing that she didn’t send this video.  Unfortunately, there’s truth in fiction with this situation.  During the High School Musical craze, the lead actress, Vanessa Anne Hudgens, faced slut shaming due to someone posting naked pictures of her on the internet.  No one considered that she might have taken the photos for her boyfriend and someone posted them without permission, making her the violated party.  As in the case of many people in abusive relationships, Laura’s too blinded by love to see what’s going on.  Then finds herself craving the moments when Ben’s nice to her, insisting that he can change.  However, the game does have unfortunate implications.  This time, I’m not just talking about the game play.  When Laura attends a seminar for people in abusive relationships, she mentions that everyone at the meeting is a woman.  Even now, people fail to see that men can also be the victim in an abusive relationship.

As I said earlier, the game play comes with unfortunate implications.  Let me put it this way, it’s another story about respecting someone’s rights as a human being, while violating their rights as a human being.  You can see the contradiction.  Only, this time, you don’t send messages or post pictures pretending to be Laura.  I’ll admit that the game play is intriguing with you having to search through her phone and use deductive reasoning to figure out her passwords.  However, you can easily change the plot of how you got the phone to make it less invasive.  You could have the story be about Laura reporting Ben to the police for domestic abuse and handing her phone over to a cop to present as evidence.  It would erase the issue of violating someone’s privacy and it’s believable.

This game is fun but uncomfortable.  I give it 7 out of 10; a great game but needs to be better thought out.

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.

Life is Strange Episode 2: Out of Time (Steam Store)

After Max discovers her rewind powers, she finds herself in more trouble than she bargained for.  Not only does Max not know what her limits are, but she finds herself caught between Chloe and Kate.  To make things worse, the school’s psychopath, Nathan, is out to get Max and even her rewind power might not save her.

Spoiler alert, which I try to avoid, but it’s difficult not to talk about some video games without mentioning them.  First, I’m going to talk about Kate, the religious friend of Max’s who found herself on a viral video.  I’m going to tell you what I’m sure you’ve already figured out if you played the game.  Kate when to a party and Nathan drugged her.  As a result, she unintentionally starred in a sex video and has no memory of what happened.  People hassle Kate for it with Victoria in the lead and her mother and aunt disowned her.

According to them, Kate’s disgraced the name of God by starring in that video and, either they don’t believe that Nathan drugged her, or they feel that it’s her fault.  First off, I would think that people that raised Kate would know that she would not do something like this voluntarily.  Another thing is that, as tragic as the situation is, I’m glad that they chose Kate to give it to rather than Victoria.  I’ve seen rape used too poorly in many fictional franchises where the victim is usually a provocatively dressed party girl.  What many people fail to get is that rape is about power and ugly people can fall victim to it.  By having this happen to Kate, who preaches about abstinence and wears conservative clothes, you demonstrate that this can happen to anyone.  Doesn’t matter how pretty you are, how modestly you dress and how much you preach about God.  Anyone can be a victim and it is not your fault.  Kate’s storyline also shows how evil Victoria is and yet the game shows hints that she’s not pure evil.  Yes, she does spread Kate’s viral video around, bullies Max and even films something at the end that I won’t give away because I have to keep some mystery.  However, Victoria is there for her friend, Taylor, in her time of need and, at the end, even feels remorse over her actions.  Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t redeem Victoria but it makes her a more complex character.  Nathan, on the other hand, seems closer to pure evil but the game hints at a troubled family background in the first episode.  I applaud that they’re not using this to excuse him and it doesn’t look like he’s getting a love redeems plot.  That’s something that happens quite often in these types of stories.

Now, I’m going to talk about Chloe.  Right now, I don’t know what to feel about her.  I do like that she’s not pure evil as society would portray most female characters like her.  Chloe can also be rather tough and I can sympathize with her situation.  In the last episode, we learn that Chloe has an abusive step-father her mother married after her real father died.  This episode does give the step-father depth but it doesn’t excuse him beating up Chloe and harassing Kate.  Chloe dreams of leaving Arcadia Bay and making it out on her own in the big city.  However, some of her actions are very questionable, such as attempting to exploit two insane people who could kill her if she so much as makes the wrong move.  One of them, Nathan, actually did in the first episode.  Chloe also encourages Max to use her powers as much as possible, which causes Max’s nose to bleed and for her to pass out.  If that’s not enough, Chloe plays with guns and lays on train tracks, the latter nearly getting her killed.

When you save her in a destructive way, Chloe does thank you but asked if you could’ve found a less destructive way to do it.  I don’t know if this is a Final Destination Paradox, meaning that Chloe’s fate is to die, or if she’s just too dumb to live.

The game play is similar to TellTale with no QuickTime events.  You pick dialogue but you don’t have to pick it right away.  You explore different areas, talk to people, examine various items and take pictures.  If you discover certain information about people, you can rewind time and use it to get closer to them.  You can also rewind time if you don’t like the choices you made.  Sometimes, the game play is rather frustrating on the PC if you can’t line the camera right.  Other times, the mouse refuses to cooperate with you.  You have no idea how many times I had to rewind time until I could get my mouse to cooperate.

As you play, Max will automatically fill her diary with character profiles and her version of what happened in the story.  You will also receive text messages from various characters that Max will automatically answer if you press the right button.  There will be a point where you get a text message from Chloe during Jefferson’s class and, if you try to look at it, he’ll scold you.  I mentioned a scene that’s very tragic.  However, you can prevent that tragedy if you say the right things.  You won’t be able to rewind time in that scene, so be very careful.  It’s frustrating but, I have to admit, I’m glad that they’re giving Max limits with her powers.  It makes her more human.

This game is tragic and yet addictive.  I give it 9 out of 10, it gave me a bit of an emotional reaction but not strong enough to get the full ten.

Fables The Wolf Among Us Episode 5: Cry Wolf (Steam Store)

Bigby’s finally solved the murder of Faith and Lilly.  Now he only has to bring the Crooked Man to justice.

The last episode ended on a cliffhanger with Bigby meeting the Crooked Man.  T

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hose of you still interested in finding Faith and Lilly’s killer might be disappointed in the resolution.  Thankfully, the game is more about the huge conspiracy in Fabletown than it is about that.  Which, if you ask me, is a little more interesting.  As for who the killer is, it’s the one the fans most suspect.

Be warned, I have a few more spoilers to discuss.  One is about the social commentary on prostitutes at the end.  For starters, I should tell you that the one who killed those girls and the one who put their heads on Bigby’s porch are not the same person.  The latter is Nerissa, The Little Mermaid, and this is where the social commentary enters.  She talks about how the world considers prostitutes like her to be disposable.  If one of them dies, people won’t bat an eye.  It’s something Nerissa refuses to let happen to her friends, so she stuck their heads in front of Sheriff Bigby’s office to get his attention.  This is something that separates Wolf Among Us from other video games.  Don’t get me wrong, prostitutes are quite common in adult video games but this is the first time I’ve seen a prostitute treated as a person and not window dressing.  Let me explain that, more often than not, prostitutes are what the main character pays for on the side being little more than sexual fantasies.  In this game, the prostitutes may be victims but one manages to take an active role.  In the second episode, it’s Nerissa who leads Bigby to Crane by insisting he pretends to be a regular customer.  In this episode, if you bring the Crooked Man to trial, Nerissa will speak against him by pretending to be a witness.

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Truth be told, she wasn’t actually there but she didn’t expect the Crooked Man to remember her and she was right.  I’ll admit, Nerissa does dress a bit revealing when on the job and it is partly fanservice.  However, remember her profession.  When she’s finally free, Nerissa dresses casually.

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Personally, I don’t think putting a woman character in revealing attire is sexist.  It can be, if done poorly but, if you analyze each of your characters and you feel at least one of them would dress like that, you can pull it off.

The game play is typical of TellTale games.  You pick Bigby’s dialogue options, you have to make important choices and you have to press the right button for Quicktime events.  In this game, you get to fight Bloody Mary and it is awesome!

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Yes, the original Bloody Mary from the urban legend.  She can walk through mirrors, make copies of herself and is a real match for Bigby, in his original wolf form.  That’s right, Bigby completely wolfed out!  You even get to see Bloody Mary in her original unglamoured form and it is terrifying!  This is a woman who kills the children playing Bloody Mary in front of a bathroom mirror for kicks.  Even the Magic Mirror is afraid of her, I am serious.

As for the Crooked Man, you can either bring him to face judgment or kill him.

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Either way, it’s rather anti-climatic.  For instance, everyone at the Crooked Man’s trial is against him.  Tim claims that people in Fabletown rely on him, yet we see no evidence of that.  Speaking of Tim, he is also absent from the Crooked Man’s trial which feels like a major cop out.

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As the Crooked Man’s biggest supporter, he could have spoke on his behalf giving Bigby a true challenge rather than only convincing the people who hate him.  Speaking of copping out, I discussed Snow’s reasoning to have Toad and Colin sent to the Farm, which I did not approve of.  It doesn’t matter if you stick up for Colin or give Toad money, Snow still sends them there.  Then again, Toad could have been lying about Snow claiming the money didn’t matter.  This is a guy who complains about the cost of glamour and has a sports car parked in front of his home.  He probably screwed over himself and TJ, the one I really feel sorry for, and blew the money on expensive watches.

This game is intriguing and a little disappointing.  I give it 7 out of 10; good ending yet a few wasted opportunities.

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.

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.

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