Nintendo @ E3 2018

This is it: the big collection of video game commercials that I’d been aching for since March. Okay, yeah, with that qualification, it’s obvious that I was 90% in it just for the Smash. But hey, there were other neat things, too! Let’s take a look at the sentence or two that I had to say about them!

Daemon X Machina – OOH ANIME MECHS. I LIKE. It’s like the best parts of Xenoblade X but made by Platinum and Suda51. (Except not. It’s actually Marvelous making it.)

Xenoblade 2 DLC – Speaking of Xenoblade… Hey it’s that promised story expansion DLC for the game that I’ve still only seen like 50% of. It’s a prequel with a new titan, I guess? I don’t know, the narration was Japanese and my phone was sitting on a stand that obscured the subtitles. Obviously I’m going in on it, because Xenoblade 2 is freakin’ sweet and yeah I’ll take any more of it that they’re willing to give me.

Pokémon Let’s Go – No new information here. Just Reggie pimping the lame Pokéball Plus accessory. But it does give you a free Mew, so…

Super Mario Party – I don’t have friends, so I don’t care. And even if I did, I’m sure they’d just dump all over it instead of playing with me. Dig the logo, though.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses – It’s Fire Emblem on Switch, which is so cool, which I’m down with. But I have played exactly one Fire Emblem game ever, and I have my doubts that I’ll be adding this one to the list any time soon.

Fortnite – Nope. Don’t care. I do like how not-gritty it is, though. And cool that it’s out NOW.

Overcooked 2 – I’ve heard many times that Overcooked is great, but again, with the lack of friends and all.

Killer Queen Black – Like, seriously. No friends. Okay, one friend. But that’s still not really enough to care about multiplayer party games.

Hollow Knight – Ah! A single-player game! There we go! But I’ve played it already, so… oh, what? It’s available today? And only $17? Hey, I mean, it’s not like I paid money to play it the first time…

Octopath Traveler – New demo with carry-over data… but I really don’t have time to fit that in at the moment. I don’t even know that I’ll be able to make time for the full game come July.

Sizzle reel – Mostly things shown at other presentations, or that are already out, or are getting DLC soon. Nothing that made me shriek with joy. Dark Souls still doesn’t have a release date, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate made an appearance. Hi, 5 seconds of Mega Man 11!

Super Smash Bros Ultimate – There was a lot to process here, so rather than trying to clean it up, here’s my stream-of-consciousness notes, hastily typed as I was watching: Oh Sakurai, you joker. Link has new moves!  Zelda is Link Between Worlds style!! (<3) Ice Climbers are back! Pokémon trainer! Lucas! Ryu! Ganondorf looks better than ever! Cloud! SNAKE IS BACK! Pichu! Toon Link AND Young Link! Wolf! MEGAMAN! Every fighter ever is back! This is amazing news!  BIG BLUUUUE! Daisy?? (Aw, dangit.) Inkling seems awesome, and I love the Squid Sisters assist trophy. But where’s Off The Hook? Bomberman assist trophy? Nice! Ooh and a deadly Fake Smash Ball! GOOD LORD RIDLEY MURDERED MARIO AND MEGA MAN.

Verdict: Super Smash Bros Ultimate is out on December 7 and that’s all that matters. Everything else was gravy at best, or I just didn’t care. Smash is all I wanted from this presentation. It’s all I wanted from this E3. And by God, they delivered!

Migraine Watch – June 11, 2018

After a long day of work and E3 excitement, I laid down on the couch at the end of the day to watch some YouTube before going to bed. I was drifting off a bit, and noticed that my arm was going all tingly. I naturally assumed it was because I had laid on it funny. But then the tingliness moved up to my face, and that’s when I knew that a migraine was coming.

I mean, it’s not like I had been resting on my face in a way that would make it go numb. Right? Is that a thing that can happen?

Anyway, I managed to beat this one to the punch again, as I immediately turned off the TV, popped an ibuprofen, and went to bed. As the tingling faded, I could feel my brain try to scream out in pain, but it was too late, the medication had worked. While it was still a little annoying and made me take a little longer to fall asleep than expected, all was good and I slept soundly through the night. I had a little residual pain the next morning, like you do, but nothing that would stop me from going about my usual day.

As for causes? Honestly, I’m not sure. Work has been a little stressful lately, and I’m definitely feeling worn out from class, but neither one feels really overwhelming. Diet and activity levels are about the same as ever.

It may have actually been the garbage stream of the Playstation E3 showcase, which skipped back two seconds every seven seconds, making it actively stressful to watch and difficult to follow. Or maybe the fact that I was watching it on my phone with one earbud in, with The Bachelorette on in the background and my parents talking rather loudly about the show. Sensory overload, too much for my brain to try to take in all at the same time, and then it just crapped out a couple hours later.

Hey, I don’t know. I’m not some kind of brain doctor. I’m just keeping these logs to try to figure out what my migraine trigger is. And to document the more exaggerate auras. This instance of tingly arm/face was actually pretty tame. I was weirdly disappointed.

Playstation @ E3 2018

Normally, I don’t really care all too much about E3 presentations that aren’t Nintendo’s, especially now that I have a stricter budget for video games, and I’m better off being excited by as few games as possible. That and I have a long history of not really giving a damn about most of Sony’s tentpole franchises. Despite all that, I found myself getting pretty excited to see their big show last night, and I have some very brief impressions of the commercials that I saw.

And before I actually talk about games here, I’d just like to point out that I really couldn’t stand the whole SportsCenter discussion thing they were doing for the first half of the presentation. When CEO man was up there on his own doing his hurrah-hurrahs and bad jokes, that’s okay and expected. But the between-trailer cheerleading was just blah.

The Last of Us Part II – Nope. I wasn’t even that into the first game, but this one seems to have removed all the mushroom zombies and doubled-down on mutilating humans in the most violent ways imaginable. So I just can’t even be bothered.

Call of Duty Something or Other – I don’t know, man. I literally got up and walked away while they were talking COD. But at this point, I think I’d be more into playing a COD campaign than something like The Last of Us Part II.

PSVR sizzle reel – No, I can’t afford a PSVR headset and I don’t really want one either.

Ghost of Tsushima – Another game focused on hyper-violence. But at this one has a cool samurai theme, and looks gorgeous. But I would like to say that I dislike the pre-recorded tutorial mission playthrough as a “trailer.” Just give me the usual highlight reel, please.

Control – I don’t really know what this is. I guess it looked kinda neat, but then again, maybe not?

Resident Evil 2 Remake – YESSSS. I forgot this was a thing! Then it came out of nowhere! The lead-in was a little overdone, and there was no gameplay footage, but HOT DAMN am I ever excited that this is finally coming in January! RE2 is my sentimental favourite Resident Evil, so this is a really, really big deal to me.

Kingdom Hearts III – Oh! Another new trailer! Back to pirate world! And there’s ship-to-ship battles? Heck yeah! There was something else in there that I was really into, but it’s slipped my mind at the moment. Also, did I see two Rikus?

Death Stranding – It’s so weird, and I still have like zero idea of what even it’s about. Just footage of Protagonist wandering across different biomes, with assorted things and mummies strapped to his back. Also giant ghost fetuses? And some kind of radar baby? I won’t lie, I really want to know more about it, but I’m not expecting it to end up being something I go wild about.

Spider-Man – Again with the tutorial mission playthrough trailer. But it’s offset here because SPIDER-MAN and WOW! Releasing on Sept 7? I know what I’m asking for for my birthday!

And there may have even been more that I forgot because I was so disinterested in the first half of this show. Honestly, the stream quality was terrible and totally ruined my experience, making me less receptive to these trailers than I would have been otherwise. But at least the second half was full of really cool things that I’m really interested in! Anyhow, tune in later for the rundown of the show I’ve actually been waiting for!

Square-Enix @ E3 2018

I listened to Square-Enix’s E3 press conference at work today. To say that listening to this video showcase instead of watching it took away some of the magic is an understatement; I registered so little hype from just listening to these trailers. To be fair, most of these games I probably wouldn’t have cared about too much anyway.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider – I still haven’t played either of the previous games, so I have very little stock in this. It seems an awful lot like the kind of thing I’d like, but there’s currently a 100% chance that I will never actually find the time to play it.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – Nope. Still don’t give a single flip about online Final Fantasies. The new Monster Hunter crossover content seems neat, but not enough to make me care at all.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit – So this is a free not-prologue to Life is Strange 2? Okay, cool. If it’s free, why the heck wouldn’t I try it? I liked Life is Strange quite a lot.

Dragon Quest XI – Yeah, I already know I want to play this. And the trailer did nothing for me because… it’s Dragon Quest. JRPG story trailers are all dumb cliché lines and I doubt the gameplay would be especially exciting to show off. Strange that they only showed off the PS4 version, but I guess the Switch version is just that far off.

Babylon’s Fall – I have no idea what this is outside of the fact that it’s developed by Platinum Games. So I’m definitely interested, but I’ll have to wait and see more before I invest myself emotionally or financially. (Apparently they showed no gameplay. Always a great sign.)

NiER: Automata – It’s on Xbox One now. Good for them. I love this game.

Octopath Traveler – The only Switch game in this presentation, but the only one I need to see. I am so hype for this, and it’s only a month away!

Just Cause 4 – I’m not going to start caring at the fourth game. Tornadoes are neat, though.

The Quiet Man – A mute guy who punches dark-alley punks. I’m going to need a lot of very good reasons why I should even begin to care about this. At least it’s not another sequel?

Kingdom Hearts III – Yep, mm-hmm. On board, obviously. I love the Sora & friends designs for the Monsters Inc world, and I genuinely cannot wait to goof around in the Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph worlds. I don’t know if I’ll actually buy it, though. I’ll likely just borrow it from my brother like I did with all the other Kingdom Hearts games.

And that was that! Overall: underwhelming? Yeah. 3.5/10. The three games I’m strongly interested in, I was already sold on months or years ago, and Captain Spirit is mostly getting my attention because it’s free. I really hope the Sony presentation tonight is more exciting! Nintendo’s show (which airs tomorrow) automatically gets a pass because it’s going to have Super Smash Bros, but I have no idea if whatever else they show will be enough to stand out next to Smash. I just want a Metroid Prime 4 trailer.

Last Month in Movies – May 2018

Avengers: Infinity War – Luckily, it didn’t take me nearly as long to get to this one as it did to finally see Black Panther. Because holy cow this was probably my movie of the summer. But we’ll just have to wait and see how Solo is.

Let’s start off by saying yeah, there’s a lot going on here, and you’ve got at least a dozen movies to watch if you really want to understand what’s going on with most of these characters. But since I’ve seen them all (except Ant-Man, but he wasn’t in Infinity War) it was all good for me. To give the very most basic gist of it: you’ve got three groups of super-heroes going about their business to stop the warlord Thanos from exterminating half the life in the universe. Iron Man and friends in space out to stop Thanos at his base of operations; Captain America and friends on Earth trying to destroy Vision’s infinity gem to thwart Thanos’ plan; and Thor, Rocket, and Groot out in a different part of space on a quest to forge a weapon strong enough to defeat Thanos.

Despite having to jump back and forth between several different plot lines, Infinity War never gets muddled. A lot of characters barely get any screen time outside of fight sequences, but you expect that. I was just happy that Spider-Man and Dr. Strange got to be pretty focal characters. But speaking of focal characters, I think the most important thing to take away from this whole movie is Thanos himself. They did an amazing job of giving him a ton of personality and making him unexpectedly sympathetic even though his endgame is to exterminate 50% of all life. And it’s all in the sake of bringing “balance” to the universe, because his own home planet was destroyed by overpopulation. He’s not really evil, he’s just grossly misguided and unfortunately, has the power to achieve his goals. My knee-jerk reaction is that Thanos is probably one of my favourite movie villains of all time. Right up there with Darth Vader and Freddy Krueger.

TMNT: Out of the Shadows – I was browsing through my Netflix queue on a Friday night, and nothing there appealed to me. So instead I watched this. I think I made the right choice.

It’s the second live-action TMNT movie from Platinum Dunes, and hands down the better of the two. For one, the Turtles get a lot more screen time. Secondly, it’s got wonderful, cartoony incarnations of Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady. I also quite like Tyler Perry as Baxter Stockman. Shame they’ll never make a third movie, because I really want to see what they do with his mutated form. Anyway, this is one of those “fun summer action movies” which I guess wouldn’t grade as an Actual Good Film, but certainly I don’t regret having watched it three times now.

Deadpool – No, I hadn’t seen it until now. I know, I’m the worst. I had been meaning to forever, and only finally got around to it because a friend invited me to go to see Deadpool 2.

I liked Deadpool, but I think that too many people giving it too much praise made me go in expecting too much. Like, it was really good, but it didn’t change my life. I still think the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are the best Marvel has to offer and Thor: Ragnarok is the funniest. Also, I have no idea why being in the oxygen deprivation tube thingy made Wade’s skin all gross? Maybe I missed the line explaining it, or just don’t have the scientific knowledge, but it didn’t make any sense to me. Whatever.

I’m sorry, that’s too much complaining. Deadpool is great! Watch it!

Deadpool 2 – People seem to be pretty strongly split on it, but I am firmly in the camp that believes Deadpool 2 is highly superior to the first film. Because it is. That’s a fact.

While the first one was very good for an origin story (they’re always so formulaic), Deadpool 2 goes a long way to mix things up. …Okay, it does a few things here and there to mix things up. It still follows the typical superhero formula, but at least there are a few surprises along the way. Like how the whole X-Force thing plays out. I honestly didn’t see that one coming. And now I’ve kind of spoiled it for you by even saying that something unexpected happens. Whoops!

Anyhow, this movie obvious shines brightest through its sense of humour. The jokes are fast and furious, as expected, and there are plenty of great fourth-wall breaks. In particular, I was happy that there was finally a little payoff for DP whining about how there are never any X-Men besides Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead in Xavier’s mansion. And the mid-credits scenes… ah, beautiful!  Yes, you may have heard some internet rumblings about some “fridging” issues, but to that I say… whatever. It’s not like it turned the movie into a clichéd quest for revenge. It broke Deadpool with guilt and pushed the plot along by making him be an even bigger jerk than usual. But that’s a whole other can of beans. For now, just know that I highly recommend Deadpool 2.

My Friend Dahmer – Somehow, Saturday evening has become a time where my mother and I watch movies together. Which is fine, except for our tastes couldn’t be any more different.

This is the story of Jeffery Dahmer, infamous serial killer and cannibal. Except it’s not really about all that stuff. It’s about how he was in high school. And, I wish I had know that ahead of time, just so that I knew nothing was really going to happen. My mom also wishes she knew, because she never would have even watched the film in the first place.

I don’t think it’s bad. It’s an interesting look at how this guy was before he was a monster. And he was still a big ol’ weirdo, though mostly in ways that wouldn’t make you think he’s someone to be afraid of. At least until later on when he starts being preoccupied with what people an animals’ insides look like. I do wonder how much of this is factual and how much was played up to make a more captivating movie. In either case, it made me wonder how Dahmer would have turned out if he’d had a more stable family life. You know, nature versus nurture and all that. But I guess that’s why it’s a debate; we’ll never really know which way the other path would have gone.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up – May 2018

Only two more weeks, and then I can go back to not feeling bad that I’m spending far less time studying than I should be.

~ Game Over ~

MGSV: Ground Zeroes (PC) – Completed the mission and… that’s only seven percent of the game!? Oh boy, it looks as if there’s much more to this than it first seemed!

Agatha Knife (Switch) – I thought there was going to be a stronger element of horror than there actually was. Turned out to be mostly comedic in tone. Still a fun adventure game.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4) – Even though I liked it overall, I’m mostly just glad that it’s over. Could have used a lot more dinosaur-based robots. Too many modern herbivores.

Beyond: Two Souls (PS4) – Story-based game about a girl and her ghost pal. Fairly boring and a real struggle to get through. The “Homeless” and “Navajo” chapters were pretty good, though.

MGSV: Ground Zeroes (360) – Played through again for a better rank, and was awarded an A. Then I did it again and again in a vain attempt to get an S rank. Didn’t happen 🙁

Mega Man 4 (Switch) – I bought both Mega Man Legacy Collections on Switch and this was naturally my starting point. Playing it without the slowdown or sprite flicker is a revelation.

Mega Man 10 (Switch) – Maybe it’s because I’m less familiar with it than the original sexology, but I’m not digging this as much as I did when it was new.

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A new wave of Pokémania

On Tuesday night, The Pokémon Company released a tidal wave of information on new Pokémon games. I’d been waiting for this eagerly since some rumours had leaked earlier in the month, and I have to say that I am even more hyped than expected!

Starting small, the Alolan form of Exeggutor has been added into Pokémon GO. This is somewhat surprising, as a week prior, Alolan forms were announced to be coming, but I didn’t expect them to be dropped in one at a time. Plus Exeggutor won’t answer my burning question of whether or not the candies I’ve stocked up for Kanto forms will work on Alolan forms. Guess we’ll just have to keep waiting to see how it all rolls out.

Next up is the new freemium spin-off, Pokémon Quest for Switch (coming soon to your smartphone). It’s a game with delightful voxelly graphics where you let your Pokémon run around and beat up other Pokémon while gathering ingredients for cooking and crystals for powering up. It’s reminiscent of the Pokémon Rumble series, but a little more hands-off. I’ve already put in about an hour of play, and I can’t say whether it will hold me for long, but at least it doesn’t seem too bad about microtransations (yet). But I will take this opportunity to mention that I still play Pokémon Shuffle every single day, and I haven’t spend a single cent on it.

The big news is that the first major Pokémon game for Switch is coming this November, and it’s the heavily rumoured Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in it, based on some of the rumours that it would integrate elements of Pokémon GO, but now that I’ve watched the trailer about seventeen times, I cannot wait for it.

Pokémon Let’s Go is a sort of reimagining of Pokémon Yellow Version, which is already a huge win in my book. An HD remake of Kanto? Sing me up! But the gameplay is significantly different, sort of a halfway point between Pokémon GO and the traditional style. Most noticeably, random encounters are gone, and wild Pokémon battles aren’t battles at all: you just chuck balls at the Pokémon you run into and hope to capture them. But then trainer battles seem to boast the same battle system as usual, so that’s cool. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, but in the end I think it’s a great change. Random encounters are annoying, and wild Pokémon battles are mostly just there for grinding, so I’m okay with them being trimmed down.

The other massive part of this game is that it supports a ridiculous new peripheral: the Pokéball Plus. Not only does this thing somehow function as a controller, but you can also transfer a Pokémon into it and take it on a walk to earn experience, much like the Pokéwalker that came with Pokémon Heart Gold and Soul Silver. Unlike the Pokéwalker, this thing is a separate $60 purchase with a battery life of only three hours. I honestly love how goofy the Pokéball Plus is, but it’s way too expensive and inefficient/pointless for me to ever consider actually buying.

So the end of the story is that we’re getting a full Pokémon game on Switch this year, even though it’s a little different than what most fans expected. I, personally, am 100% on board with it for now, at least until I hear about something that could be an actual deal-breaker. Besides, there was also a confirmation that a “real” Pokémon game for Switch is also in the works, and that it’ll be released next year. So even if Pokémon Let’s Go turns out to be a dud, at least we know that a more traditional Generation 8 is right around the corner.

My soul wasn’t in it

Hey kids! Do you know what time it is?

That’s right! It’s time for Ryan to complain about a game that he played for free!

May’s big (“big”) free game with PS+ was Beyond: Two Souls, by developer Quantic Dream. Perhaps you know them from the more well-known Heavy Rain. I don’t. I didn’t ever play that one. I just looked up the parts with nudity on YouTube. In retrospect, it’s weird the things one will sometimes do in the pursuit of seeing boobs.

Beyond: Two Souls is very much a story-centric kind of game. In fact, it’s really more like an interactive movie. Not unlike in that one episode of Futurama where the audience gets to choose how the next scene plays out. Also there are cubic buttloads of QTEs. Because obviously there are. And I think that these choices are really what bring B:TS down in the long run. The other thing that works against it is that it’s incredibly long for a game like this. Or at least it felt that way. I couldn’t find an in-game timer to verify how long I played it.

The plot of the game is as such: Jodie is a girl with some kind of spooky ghost named Aiden tethered to her. Throughout her youth, she lives in a research lab with Willem Dafoe, and as a grown-up she goes on a number of wacky adventures. Over time, she learns all about life, love, and the land of ghosts and monsters called the Infraworld. Gameplay usually allows you to shift between Jodie and Aiden at will, as they use their different abilities to move the story forward or maybe on occasion just to mess with people.

The game is divided into a billion chapters, which are played out of chronological sequence. However, there is an option to play a “remixed” mode where you do actually play the whole thing chronologically. I think this is probably the best way to go, as the nonlinear path doesn’t add anything material to the experience, aside from making it more artsy-fartsy. There are very few big reveals, and most of them you can typically infer pretty easily from what you’re shown in earlier chapters. Also, man, the length of the chapters is so very inconsistent. Some are like five minutes long, and others drag on forever. Not that they all need to be the same, but there are clear break points in the longer ones where they could have been split in two. It’s not like it would have ruined the pacing of the story, because thanks to its interactive nature, there isn’t any pacing. It’s all over the place. Sometimes you barely have anything to do and it forges on at full speed. Sometimes you’ll be trying to find the thing you need to interact with next, only to click on something else and Jodie sits down and watches TV for a minute.

As far as gameplay, there are basically three types. The least interesting is the “adventure” portions, where you’re wandering around and interacting with points of interest. But usually not the most interesting points of interest. The next one is “chase” where you are being pushed ahead at high speed while constantly needing to respond to waves of QTE commands. I don’t know how much screwing these up will alter the story, if at all. I never did so bad that it seemed to have any negative impact.

In much the same vein as the chase sequences -but much more fun- are combat scenes that have Jodie fighting any number of aggressors. Basically they’re just cooler, and the QTEs are different. Instead of mashing buttons according to screen prompts, you need to push the stick in the direction that Jodie (or her fist) is moving. These are pretty fun and thrilling, but oftentimes I felt like it’s not totally clear which direction you’re supposed to be pushing, and ended up getting unfairly dunked a few times. Not to the point where I ever got Jodie killed, but enough that she ended up with a few more broken ribs than was strictly necessary.

Lastly, there are the stealth sequences. Any other game would be built like 90% on these, but Beyond: Two Souls maybe has like three chapters where you do the stealth thing. They aren’t overly complicated, either. How it rolls out is you hold X to have Jodie run up the the closest cover, and then either knock out a guy on the other side or use Aiden to choke someone out. And then you repeat this about seventeen times until the chapter is over. It’s not quite as fun as the combat sequences, but at least you feel like you’re actually doing something. Personally, I wish that the stealth gameplay had been a little more complex, but hey, it’s easy enough to just close B:TS and start playing Metal Gear Solid V instead, should the itch become too much to bear.

I don’t think that the story of Beyond: Two Souls is bad, but it’s really wasn’t as engaging for me as David Cage wanted it to be. Some of the chapters that had separate sub-plots, like “Homeless” and “Navajo,” were actually really cool and kept me entertained throughout. Probably because they each had a cast of great sub-characters and told stories that were actually interesting. But I really couldn’t be bothered to care about Jodie’s internal conflicts or any of the whole CIA plot (which is roughly half the game). Jodie as a main character was kind of meh, waffling between likable rouge and whiny brat, though Ellen Page’s acting was always on point. Aiden didn’t have any dialogue or personality outside of anything expressed through Jodie, which reduced him to a gameplay feature and took away most of his significance to the story. I think the real standout characters were Willem Dafoe and his lab assistant Cole. They were both very likable, sympathetic characters, although there are massive stretches of the game where you don’t see a lick of them.

And… I’ve already gone way longer than I expected to, so let’s wrap this up. Beyond: Two Souls isn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t terribly engaging, and I didn’t feel like my choices made many meaningful differences. Maybe they did, and I’d need to do a second playthrough to really see them, but there’s no way I’m doing that. This is an interactive movie that runs at least 10 hours (according to HLTB), and that’s just way too much of a time commitment for the sake of seeing how things could have played out. I was also upset that while I kept trying to get Jodie laid, it never happened. One time she almost got raped, but that was… yuck. Anyway, it’s another experience under my belt, but not one that I was particularly fond of. But maybe I am being a little bit too critical, considering that I didn’t pay a cent to play it.

Isolation

I have a Legend of Zelda coffee mug at work, and it’s been there for some time. Most co-workers don’t bother to comment on it, though I’ve had a few remark “That’s a big mug” or ponder “How do you drink from that?” when they see it.

Recently I’ve had two co-workers actually say “Oh, so I guess you like Zelda, huh?” to which I cheerfully agree, because obviously (but I would love to have an ironic coffee mug). They both then followed up with “Is that still a thing?” To which I utter a weak affirmation and then hang my head and realize that I’ll always be alone here.

When butchery is not a sin

Something I’m learning about the Nintendo Switch is that it’s a really great machine for indie adventure games. They’re the kind of games that are good for little sessions here and there, or burning through the whole thing on a Saturday afternoon. So it makes sense to be playing them on a machine that facilitates both on-the-go gaming and living room big-screen play.

While some adventure games I’ve played on Switch have had more modern qualities, my latest conquest is closer to the classic point-and-click style: Agatha Knife. This is a story about a young girl who works in her mother’s butcher shop. But she isn’t manning the sales counter or out front in a hamburger costume trying to drum up business à la Gene Belcher. No, Agatha is the one that actually slaughters the animals and carves them up into tasty chunks.

And you might think this is a horrible vocation for a child. You might not be wrong, as many characters in-game voice the same concern. But Agatha loves her job. She loves playing with the live animals, and she loves chopping them up just as much. She’s just not a fan of how terrified they are of her once she pulls out her carving knives. So she does the obvious thing: she goes on a quest to create a religion to make the animals more willing to give their lives to become food.

This is the premise of the game: collecting sacred artifacts and whatnot to establish the religion of Carnivorism. This beefy quest takes you to a number of locations around town, and has you meeting all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. You’d better enjoy your interactions with those characters, too, because that’s the meat of the game. There aren’t any real puzzles or dialogue trees to satiate your hunger for deeper gameplay. Sure, you have to find objects and use them in the right places here and there, but that’s all just gravy to the story that’s being told. The rest of the gameplay is somewhat gristly, consisting mostly of running back and forth across town between conversations.

*Ahem.* I’ll stop with the puns now.

What Agatha Knife (the game) lacks in gameplay, it more than makes up for in charm and wit. Agatha Knife (the character) is the kind of kid I’d be proud to have as a daughter: she’s smart, independent, doesn’t take crap from anyone, and is a connoisseur of quality meats. The way she’s willing to speak her mind so plainly is very endearing, and the way it bristles other characters is usually pretty funny. A lot of those other characters are pretty wacky in their own ways, each one generally having some sort of unique character quirk. The writing isn’t award-winning or anything, but it’s pleasant throughout, and I did catch myself chuckling more than a few times. I especially liked when at one point, Agatha turns to the camera and asks the player a question in disbelief. It was cute, and fun that she sort of brings the player into the world.

I think I’d say that Agatha Knife is just about the right length for this kind of game. The Switch’s play log has recorded my playtime at a somewhat vague “over four hours”, which puts it at roughly twice the length of The Count Lucanor. I’ve noted that I did miss a couple achievements, some hinting at missed scenes/puzzles to solve, and some suggesting that there are multiple endings. It wasn’t clear to me at any point how to make the ending branch off in another direction, but at least there’s incentive for a replay down the line.

It’s easy to say that I really did like Agatha Knife. It told a story that kept me interested, and while I wouldn’t have minded a little more in terms of puzzles, at least I didn’t constantly find myself stumped by something like I was with Thimbleweed Park. The game was charming and had a very strong opinion on religion (read: not positive), and had a lot of black humour sprinkled throughout. My only strong complaint with it is that I had to spend so darn much time running back and forth across the game world. It would have been nice to have a quick travel option. Regardless, I thought it was a strong game and would definitely recommend anyone drop a tenner on it if they’re looking for a clever, satirical adventure for a rainy day.

PS: After writing this review, I discovered that developer Mango Protocol had previously released another game that is based in the same world, MechaNika. It’s not on Switch, but I tweeted Mango Protocol about it, and they say they want it to happen. Guess I’ll just hang tight!