Random Potshot and Obligative Review: Quivering Lips

Someone who was not Dragon’s Blaze left a counter-review on The Two Colors, Pink and Blue:

“Ok first off don’t listen to this idiot below me Elmo. He rags on every new writer and only targets people with smaller stats. If you look at the stories he’s written well let’s just say he doesn’t practice what he preaches.

I hoped I could get some reviewing out of them or at least an explanation of what sucked about my stories, but alas this was not to be.

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The Witcher 2 and 3

…in Sword of Destiny, Geralt and a side character have a conversation about how obvious it is women have the right to terminate pregnancies and it’s so weird anyone could ever have been against that.

In Time of Contempt, the pregnancy plotline involves a young woman wishing she had chosen to have an abortion earlier so she could continue on her journey.

In Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, there’s a questline that involves aborted and miscarried babies coming back as gremlins to brutally murder women because they never received the love they were due from their mothers.

And that should really tell you all you need to know about the Witcher video games as adaptations.

As wRPGs, both 2 and 3 are thoroughly mediocre.

The Fall

In The Fall you play as ARID, a combat suit’s operating AI. Your pilot is shot out of the sky and is knocked unconscious in the titular fall, thus activating your control of the suit. You have to navigate the facility in which you’ve crash-landed and find medical treatment for your injured pilot.

This review will be spoileriffic, as I’ll be going over the entire plot. If you want the cliff notes: don’t buy this, it’s one of those “to be continued!” scams and is essentially just the origin story for the real game. The controls are also awful and it’s full of bizarre frustrating adventure puzzles. Watch a playthrough on YouTube if you’re interested. The story does some interesting things with AIs, but I found the execution very lacking. It also does the “we’re going to force you to do something horrible and then insist you’re horrible for doing it” thing, which is just so lazy and trite and I am so numb to it at this point.

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Catherynne M. Valente

Now for Part 2 of my two-part squee series. Despite her weirdly fanficcy name, Catherynne M. Valente is possibly my favorite modern author not just because she’s so talented, but because she’s so prolific. I’m not even halfway through her huge catalogue, and every single thing is equally as good as everything else, no matter when she wrote it. It’s hard to believe she’s just one person; I can’t imagine being this good of a storyteller for this long with apparently zero fuckups.

Valente’s main genre is mythofantasy. Her works have tackled Christian, Arab, Russian, Japanese, Nordic, and a whole bunch of other mythologies with grace, nuance, and aplomb. She’s written for children and adults and always manages to say things that I need to hear when I’m reading her work. If someone wanted my worldview summed up in one author, I’d direct them to Valente.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything but gush about these books but oh well.

Also, if you do nothing else with this post, read The Refrigerator Monologues. It’s a series of vignettes about the fridged girlfriends of superheroes and it is this blog condensed into novella form.

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Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis

A grungy soft sci-fi post-apocalyptic RPG! That’s… really the best description I can give of this, as the particulars of the plot and setting aren’t anything particularly noteworthy. The story is a bit cliched and has a lot of weird animesque characters and twists, but I overall found it to be really enjoyable even if it wasn’t anything spectacular. The most notable thing about this game is that it bucks a lot of RPG Maker trends in terms of presentation and gameplay. Exploration is done in sidescrolling platformer-like maps, and cutscenes are shown through comic-like panels. I found both of these things to be really original and well-done — exploration was sleek and straightforward without being simplistic, and there are in fact many fun puzzles to be had. The cutscene style was also really well-executed and made scenes feel much more vivid and dynamic than I’m used to in RPG Maker games. The gameplay, too, is honestly one of the best and most elegant RPG battle systems I’ve ever seen. It has a lot of rough patches (an engine goof apparently led to enemy defense being completely useless, completely wrecking the balance of weak speedsters vs. big hitters) but also provides a lot of fresh new ideas and produced some really snappy, enjoyable battles.

It’s also a great example of how to make a self-contained story while also providing an enticing sequel hook. As so often happens the promised sequel went up in smoke, but unlike SOME GAMES I don’t mind, because the main conflict and mysteries are adequately resolved and I don’t feel like I need to know the answers to the remaining threads for emotional satisfaction.

In general, I recommend this to aspiring game devs in particular — while it’s not the greatest at everything, it forwards a lot of clever and original ideas I’d love to see gain wider use.

(This is also a remake of an earlier game, just titled “Alter A.I.L.A.”, that contains the same characters and similar plot elements but is ultimately very different. If you liked Genesis and have time to spare I’d say it’s worth checking out for its alternate take on several characters, though I would say it’s a less enjoyable experience overall.)

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