Category Archives: Games

Strippers versus Evil

Strippers versus evil

There are some games that make me purely ashamed to call myself a gamer. Every entertainment industry has its share of tripe, but in gaming, some of it can be really easy to spot.

The quality of a game is generally inversely proportional to the quantity of breast tissue visible in its advertising and promotional artwork.

It ain’t always so, but that’s sure the way to bet.

Traditionally, Deep Silver’s Sacred 2: Fallen Angel was the go-to example of that, for me (it’s not the only offender, and not even the worst, but I’m singling it out, here). Scantily-clad female characters with breasts as large (or larger) than their heads, bouncing and jiggling their way around the countryside to save the world in ‘armour’ (and I use the term advisedly) that would hardly be out of place in a strip-club, and that just seemingly gets scantier and more lingerie-like as its protection increases.

Puh-lease!

Because heck, a woman can’t go out to battle evil unless she looks like an itinerant underwear model, right? I mean, who is going to face giant spiders or a goblin shaman without stocking up on thigh-stockings, suspender belts and high heels?

To be fair, starting out, at least you get to look like a high-school-girl cosplayer, but it doesn’t take long before the mini-skirt has to go, to be replaced by a g-string.

Worse, I actually liked the game to which this was the regrettable sequel. Quite a bit.

Now, I don’t have an issue with the human body – like most people, I’m pretty fond of them, and I like looking at them, with and without clothes on. I think I can confidently say that you and I both, dear reader, are happy with the overall idea of seeing more naked human bodies in future. That’s all a part of being an adult and having an endocrine system, I’m sure.

That’s not really the problem that I have here.

It’s not even like X-COM: Apocalypse, the third iteration in the X-COM series, where there must have been some bet going as to just how many depictions of female and male genitalia that the art department could work into the in-game artwork without the publisher … errr … let us say “cock-blocking” it (congratulations are in order, I suppose, because it was a lot!).

And even that isn’t my problem.

What the problem is, is that it is demeaning.

Not just that it is demeaning to women – which it most obviously is – but that it’s demeaning to Deep Silver, to (the now defunct) Ascaron who developed it, to the artists, marketers, producers, designers who worked on it, and especially to the games industry (as a whole) and to gamers, to whom they apparently thought this sort of thing would be of broad appeal.

If I had this game in my work history, I’d leave a gap in my CV. I wouldn’t want anyone to know.

Now that I’m done singling out Sacred 2, additional exhibits are – alas – not nearly as uncommon as I’d like. Scarlet Blade comes immediately to mind, or League of Angels.

Now, I’m not saying that demeaning crap like this can’t be made. Freedom of speech and expression cuts both ways. It’s easy to grant that right to speech and expression that we like, agree with and approve of.

It’s when you find the speech and expression to be appalling, offensive and antithetical to your very sensibilities that you have to take a breath and remember that that kind of speech and expression has all the same rights.

That said, I’d like it if some of the people responsible for this sort of thing were to just sit back, take a breath of their own, and consider having some darned respect for women, for gamers, and for the gaming industry.

For a change.

Katawa Shoujo

Review: Katawa Shoujo

A red-headed girl with short hair in a boy's school uniform sits on a table. She has no arms, her sleeves are tied off, and she lifts a forkful of food towards her mouth with her toes.

I blinked back tears, my heart aching in my breast, deeply affected. I opened my post-editor and then I began to write this, dabbing occasionally at my eyes with a tissue.

Katawa Shoujo (translation: “Disability Girl”) is a free, English, Visual Novel game by Four Leaf Studios, which is a collection of talented people scattered around the world. Five years in the making, the game is among the best of its breed, in my opinion.

There are dozens, nay, hundreds of ways this Visual Novel project could have gone awry, turning to mere pap or horribly insensitive trash; instead it is remarkably well thought-out, smart, sensitive, emotional and insightful.

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Miasmata

Play it now – Miasmata

Alice Liddell with a flamingo and the words "Play it now!"Day four

This-morning, I had climbed a rise to take bearings on some landmarks, to see if I could figure their precise locations. One distant spire (what is it? A lighthouse? One of the primitive statues, perhaps? I do not know) was obscured by some trees, and I took a few steps sideways to try to get a better view.

That was a mistake.

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Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Play it now – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Play it now! Or maybe don’t play this one, actually. I likes me a good horror game, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a very good horror game. It’s so very good, in fact, that some of you will probably hate it.

It’s from the folks who did Penumbra, so I pre-ordered this without much in the way of hesitation.

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Gaia Online Delivers an Epic New Eco-Adventure with Frontier Skies

Apparently the folks at Atomic PR have their eye on me, because they just sent me a copy of their latest press-release. I actually quite like getting press-releases, since certain companies have been quite… erratic about sending me their releases at all.

Anyway, this is from the Gaia Online folks who don’t take themselves too seriously, which I definitely feel is a beneficial trait.

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Play it now — Thief

Before there was Sam Fisher, there was Garrett.

An orphan in a sprawling ancient city that teeters on the uneasy knife-edge of steampunk technology and magic, Garrett grew up on the streets picking pockets and cutting purses. One day, he tried to cut the purse of a Keeper.

The Keepers are a secretive organization that strive to maintain a balance of the various forces and factions, their own powers revolving around mysterious, powerful glyphs, and a jumbled series of prophecies foretelling what is to come. The Keepers have a substantial complex within the city, but it is guarded by their glyphs, and nobody ever notices that it is there.

Likewise, a skilled Keeper may pass unseen through a crowd, not invisible, but unnoticed. So, that Garrett saw the Keeper at all, let alone got close enough to try to snatch his purse, it was remarkable indeed.

The Keeper lured Garrett with the promise of a better life, and Garrett became an acolyte in the Keeper order.

There, he was trained, was subjected to the Keeper’s strict rules, learned little of their secrets, and heard much of their lies.

Garrett abandoned the Keepers and returned back to the streets, exercising his new skills as a professional thief. An amateur steals for themselves, a professional steals for another, and the decadent old city was full of intrigue, and jealousy, and all manner of things that people with money wanted for themselves, but that could not be bought.

Garrett delivered. When he was hired to acquire something through his network of fences and contacts, that thing softly vanished from its place. Walls and guards and locks and hiding places did not stop him.

He was, as some said, the greatest thief the city had never seen.

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Play it now — Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online (Aeria Games)

Yesterday, Kerry Johnson was fishing around for alternative MMOGs and asked me what my favourites were. Well, top of my list right now is Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online, operated by Aeria Games.

SMT:IO (which everyone more or less just calls Megaten) is a free-to-play/freemium Eastern MMOG based roughly around the console games of the same name (Shin Megami Tensei). It’s post-apocalyptic, a few humans struggling on in what was once Tokyo, in a world now infested with spirits and demons.

Right at the moment it’s on my every-day playlist, though – as you’ll see – it isn’t for everyone.

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