Tag: Single post review

Dororo

So, let’s continue to talk cartoons.

I’ve been really enjoying the anime Dororo. It is very gory, and the lion’s share of that gore is the suffering of innocent people. I found it tasteful in that its focus is clearly to show sympathy/horror while samurai getting diced was just artful splatter because fuck them but it’s pretty intense misery all the same.

The pitch for Dororo is that this guy makes a deal with demons as a result his son loses most of his body parts to them an instant after being born. To regain his missing parts the son, Hyakkimaru, must go on a quest to slay each of those demons, and also he gets a small child following him around for comic relief. And this is true for the original manga and the original anime adaption.

The modern one, though, when considering the important question, “how would you tell a blind deaf quadriplegic kid this or, really, anything?” realizes the answer is “you can’t” rather than “telepathy!” And that’s how we get him wandering around running into monsters, murdering them for trying to murder him, and then being intensely distressed when sometimes, for reasons he can’t understand, that means he regains body parts and senses he didn’t know he ever had, with reactions varying from wtf??? :( to GREAT HOW DO I UNINSTALL IT. As a result, spunky kid sidekick Dororo turns out to really earn having their name be the title, as they’re the one making everything happen while Hyakkimaru is tugged along behind them.

An interesting then vs now comparison of a scene from the opening episode:

And with all that said, I’d now like to have a spoilerific chat about the character Mio and the roles (and fates) of women. (more…)

Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems

So, Steven Universe.

Steven Universe is an experience.

The opening episodes are generally regarded as poor, to the point of people making “How to Watch SU” Guides designed around reordering the episodes to get new people to stick around. I believe the general consensus is it takes 10+ episodes to pick up, which isn’t quite as dire as it first sounds due to them being eleven minutes long.

After it picks up, though, it really picks up!

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Pierced Heart, by Robert Laws

Over the Edge is a classic TRPG that’s getting a new edition soon. The game revolves around Al Amarja, a fictional tiny island nation that survives by virtue of basically having zero regulations on anything and being able to provide tourists with what they cannot find elsewhere in the world as easily: drugs, experimental medical treatments, exotic sex, etc., etc.

It’s also infested with various conspiracies, remnants of prehistoric human races, aliens, real mages and other things They don’t want you to know about.

Basically, think Naked Lunch (more the movie than the book since it’s actually coherent).

Recently, I’ve decided to revisit the game, maybe pick up some stuff I didn’t have. While doing that, I’ve learned about the existence of Pierced Heart, a novel set in the world of Over the Edge.

It’s reasonably good.

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Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Hong Kong

You know how long-running horror franchises would inevitably have an installment set IN SPACE in a desperate attempt to cling to life by introducing a superficial new element that doesn’t actually fit the genre? Well, Shadowrun is an old TRPG that can be accurately described as cyberpunk but WITH MAGIC. In 2012 magic came back, a large percentage of people turned into various fantasy races, many animals mutated into mythological beasts, people learned to summon and bind spirits of nature, dragons awoke from their millennia-long slumber and decided that running corporations is a good substitute for hoarding gold. Meanwhile, technology advanced in a classic cyberpunk fashion: prosthetics enhancing your abilities beyond human limits, cybernetic implants allowing full-immersion link to cyberspace inventively called the Matrix, etc.

These events resulted in a weakening and sometimes outright collapse of governments, with corporations essentially taking their place and running the world in an orgy of wild capitalism.

The game takes its name after shadowrunners, the presumed PCs, who are essentially freelance black books operatives hired by various corporations, organized crime syndicates and individual clients as deniable assets to do various shady jobs.

Honestly, my knowledge of the setting is rather limited, and I would appreciate someone chiming in on it. From what I’ve seen of it, it feels that sometimes Shadowrun strikes gold in its design (like how it has literal lizard people dragons – a classic metaphor for greed and malice – essentially running the world through corporate proxies) and other times it’s content to just throw “awesome” concepts together (Magic! Cyberware! Matrix! Samurai!) with little regard to creating a thematically-coherent whole.

But anyway, apparently there are three relatively new RPGs set in this setting, and I’ve decided to check them out. They are… pretty solid, actually.

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Shadow of Mordor

Here’s the story of Shadow of Mordor – You are a ranger guy. Orcs kill your wife and son, then you, in a ritual designed to bind a dead elf’s spirit to your corpse. It works. You resurrect with bonus ghost powers, like ghost arrows and ghost teleporting between ghost buildings and ghost respawning after being killed so you can never really die, in a clever melding of videogame and story.

You proceed to gruesomely murder your way through your surroundings. (more…)

Bastion

Bastion is a hack-and-slash, button-mashy action RPG with very nice art and absolutely gorgeous music bogged down by mediocre gameplay and a story that ranges from boring to bizarre. And I don’t mean bizarre as in strange, I mean as in wtf were the writers thinking.

The final choice in the game is you deciding whether to wind time back a few weeks weeks to prevent the genocide of two peoples or destroying the undo machine and running away, and this is presented as some kind of extreme moral quandary.

Spoilers inside for Braid, of all things, which is an excellent game you should go play.

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Stasis

I generally interact with horror games through the medium of youtube. Sometimes I make ill-advised forays into actually loading a live game on my computer, but that generally ends with me retreating back to someone else playing – I like horror settings but don’t like being startled, and I really don’t like trying to detach myself from it enough to not be startled.

Stasis followed the opposite track. I started to watch someone play and became so engaged with the game that watching someone else play was intolerably frustrating. This is a point and click game with gorgeously bleak atmosphere and even more gorgeously bleak prose popping up whenever you mouse over things. The opening is absolutely perfect, so much that, as soon as I’d seen a few minutes of the game, I knew I’d recommend people play it just for that alone even if the rest didn’t live up to it.

…which, it turns out, is good, because the rest did not. I’d still strongly recommend checking it out, and if you’re good at just kind of coasting on lovely horrific atmosphere without getting caught up in putting things together the whole game might be fun, but if you hit a point it feels like it’s gotten bad, just quit, it’s not going to get better and you don’t really want the answers. You can also check out the demo instead – it doesn’t have quite the polish of the finished game, but it’s of the best section of the game. Definitely do one of those two things before continuing, because most of my complaints are the most spoilery parts of the game. (more…)

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