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by Erik Kersting

1 Sep 2015

A few weekends ago a few friends and I went to a live-action version of the “Escape the Room” genre of video games. This one was called Trapped in a Room with a Zombie: Still Hungry. For the uninitiated, “Escape the Room” games are a form of puzzle game in which the player is locked in a room and must escape. Often times the room will at first appear normal, but over time and after exploration of the room, the player finds clues and riddles that will lead them to a means of escape. The live-action equivalent, which I had not heard of until a friend told me about it early this summer, is very similar, but instead of being set in a virtual space, it is set in a physical one.

What makes the live-action version much more tense is that there is a time limit and often the puzzle is far too grand for a single person to solve in a reasonable amount of time. Thus, a group of players must work as a team if they want to escape. The extra twist in the version that I experienced, Trapped in a Room with a Zombie: Still Hungry, was that the room included a guy dressed up as a zombie who would remove any player from participating (outside of standing in the corner and talking) in the game if he touched them. He was chained to the wall, but his chain would grow longer every five minutes. So, the players had to not only solve the riddles but avoid the zombie in the process.

by Erik Kersting

12 Aug 2015

Twisted Fate from League of Legends

Chance has had its place in gaming since its beginnings. Board and card games either rely on it partially or entirely for their gameplay. Luck can be so fundamental that in games like poker, a player’s real skill comes in making deductions about chance, not in the actual “gameplay”. Even in pre-video game narrative games like Dungeons and Dragons, luck plays a huge role in what happens, determining the results of nearly everything that the player does. Today luck plays a part in many video games, from narrative-based games to competitive ones, but is that a good thing?

Roguelikes are a great example of “chance” based video games. While player skill still influences the outcome, in most roguelikes luck can change the amount of skill needed to win. As this very long video shows, even a very skilled player can have trouble completing every run of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. In the run, NorthernLion, perhaps the most famous Isaac player, had a string of very bad luck, and while he made it very far into the labyrinth before he died, even his immense skill and knowledge could not save him from a doomed run.

by Erik Kersting

4 Aug 2015

Time has a way of changing one’s opinions. A year and a half ago I reviewed Dark Souls 2, and I gave it a perfect 10. A few months after the review, I played through the game again, and even more recently, I started yet another run. Exploring the game’s damp corridors, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is this a perfect game?” Is it a good game? Positively. A great game? Probably. A perfect game? No.

I was undeniably hyped to play Dark Souls 2. Dark Souls is probably my favorite game, but in my excitement in playing Dark Souls 2, I too easily overlooked its flaws, which, once fully explored, reveal clearly how the lack of Hidetaka Miyazaki, director of Dark Souls and Bloodborne, lead to some small, but significant errors. These are errors that gnaw on the player and bring down the experience, especially upon replay.

by Mark Filipowich

27 Mar 2012

In case the title of this article hasn’t made the contents obvious: there are spoilers about the ending of Mass Effect. If you haven’t played any of the games in the Mass Effect series, go do that. There are three very different but very good games to be enjoyed. If you don’t have time, make the time. If you aren’t able to play the games even at the lowest difficulty, find somebody that can play them and watch them go through it. Seriously, these games may be the most important works of science fiction of the decade so get on it. When you’ve done that, return for a spoiler-ridden commentary on the fan-engineered “controversy” surrounding the ending.

There, now that it’s just us N7 veterans, we can be candid. Many of you are apparently upset with how the story concluded. But I hope that with a little reflection you’ll be able to appreciate that conclusion as the best possible way that it could have wrapped up. The final mission of Mass Effect was extremely heavy and dark. Shepard’s final goodbye to her past and present squads, the push through the smouldering apartments and cafes, the desperate stand against overwhelming forces while a reaper destroyer inches its way closer, the culminating charge through the destruction, only to be blasted away a few meters from the objective, all of this is enormously powerful and vindicates what the game has been saying all along: you won’t make it, but you have to try anyway.

by Sachyn Mital

22 Mar 2012

Activision’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventures was one of the hottest trends at the end of 2011 and is gearing up for another possible season of success in late 2012 with a sequel called Skylanders: Giants. In the meantime, Activision will be expanding the current release with the addition of new characters, but unlike a lot of video games these days, the new characters aren’t available as downloadable content. They are physical, and they are fueling a buying spree. It’s a new take on the “gotta catch ‘em all” fever that Nintendo evoked with its Pokémon franchise.

//Mixed media

Robert DeLong Upgraded for 'In the Cards' (Rough Trade Photos + Tour Dates)

// Notes from the Road

"Robert DeLong ups his musical game with his new album In the Cards and his live show gets a boost too.

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