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The Cat Lady review

Haven’t written anything here in a while. Been busy. But when my partner gave me a lovely gift last month (the flu), I finally got around to playing The Cat Lady. So now I write a review, just for funsies.

Cat Lady 1

Unusually in the world of games, The Cat Lady begins with a suicide attempt, and concludes with some general ponderings on the topic of depression. This indie adventure takes great pains to explore the psyche of those on the edge. But despite where its intentions may lie, it’s in between these psychological bookends that the game really shines.

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In which Lewis Denby and Lauren Wainwright review The Last Remnant

Lewis: The last JRPG I played was The Last Remnant. I still want my hours back.

Lauren: Haha! Last Rem. I gotta finish that. I’m so near the end too.

Lewis: You mean it ends!?

Lauren: Yup. It’s like a real videogame.

Lewis: I’ll give it that much. It is quite literally a videogame.

Lauren: You can literally put it in the console, and load it up.

Lewis: Fucking hell. It’s a revolution.

Lauren: Literally.

Lewis: Indeed. It is quite literally revolting.

Digital: A Love Story

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The clock’s ticking ceaselessly onwards towards 2AM, and I planned to go to bed over an hour ago. I didn’t, and now I can’t, because the urge to write something about Digital: A Love Story has completely overtaken any fragment of sensibility that might consider the fact I have to be up to work in the morning. This evening, I’ve spent a genuinely brilliant hour in the company of this genuinely brilliant indie game, which… well.

It needs not to be spoiled. Like, at all. The sensible part of my brain says I should just stop here, throw a link on the table, and let you discover the whole thing for yourself. That’s how I played it, and that’s really how I think you should play it too. Know only that it’s a free PC game set in the late 1980s, and you’re presumably a teenager, and you’ve just got hold of your first computer. And know that from this point onwards, because two paragraphs really doesn’t feel like enough to write about this game, spoilers (which I really will try to keep minor) may lurk.

It’s here! Download it. And then come back. Or, if you’re really not convinced, read on, but in the knowledge that your experience may be slightly sullied, and it’ll be no one’s fault but your own.

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Still Life? Still not finished.

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I have reviewed a computerised video game on the personal computer.

Sequel to 2005’s Still Life, the peculiarly named Still Life 2 had the opportunity to be as stylish as its predecessor while actually finishing off the story this time. And it did. But, y’know, forgot to finish everything else. So I’m mainly critical, saying things like this:

The inventory system is difficult and clunky. For no discernable reason, its background churns and jitters away like a bad animated gif, nauseating and horrible. In an incredible disregard for common sense, it prevents you from picking up even the tinest object – say, a strand of fibre – if the inventory’s full, while quite happily letting you cram a double matress into a small cabinet. Elsewhere, the fonts look like bad Word art, pushing out dialogue that would be better suited to a parody than a serious thriller. The voice acting’s no better – only Victoria’s actress, reprising her role from Still Life, provides respite from the high school drama club nonsense.

And you can read the whole thing here.

Nur-nur-nur-nur-nur-nur-nur-nur-BATMAN!

harleyquinn

I’ve been a-reviewin’.  Over at Resolution, a couple of days before the game’s big UK release, I talk about why Batman: Arkham Asylum has the potential to go down as one of the year’s best games.

I articulate my opinions using words such as these ones:

BioShock’s a name that’s been bandied around a lot during the discussion so far.  Though the comparison’s crude, it does go some way to capturing the essence of Arkham Asylum.  Despite the difference in perspective and Batman’s focus on melee combat, the two games share a gritty comic panache, a heavily twisted and expertly delivered narrative, and a cohesive, crippled beauty to their worlds.  They’re also not a great deal apart in terms of quality.

It’s a good game.  A very good one.  Though it’s not without its problems.  Arkham Asylum’s one of those titles that, when broken down and analysed in the most sober manner, probably wouldn’t fair as well as you’d think.  One section becomes a little repetitive, the ending is weak, it infrequently but infuriatingly strips away its variety of combat approaches, and the story – while excellent – is never as infectiously clever as I’d have liked.  Yet at the same time, I played through in two solid days, and barely looked at the clock.

It’s a thoroughly engrossing game, and an impressively varied and open one, which the demo didn’t do a right lot of justice to, but that I secretly hoped it would be.  And the world design is right up there with the best.  I’ll whole-heartedly recommend this one to anyone with a fondness of good games, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re a rubbish soul.

Something I didn’t mention in the review as it’s not even slightly important, but for the sake of feeling I’ve done my job will mention here: the camera’s occasionally awkward.  If you hate rubbish cameras, you might love Arkham Asylum ever-so-slightly less than I did.  But you will love it.  Or I’ll break your brains off.

Deus Ex revisited.

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A couple of weeks ago, HonestGamers UK-ed Gary Hartley mentioned the site was running retrospective reviews of what the site users had rated in the top 20.  He asked if I’d like to write something about Deus Ex.

People often assume I’ve written about it before.  I haven’t.  I’ve always kind of wanted to, but then, what do you say about it, you know?  It’s one of the reasons I’m not always keen on writing about games I love.  You have to pick them apart too much, treat them as scientific works instead of soaking in the glory of the game.

I accepted the assignment, obv.  And I wrote this.  I’m quite pleased with the result.