Crab Rave

So, I finished Another Crab’s Treasure, and it has changed my life.

When I wrote about it last week, I thought that I was nearing the end of the game. I was wrong. I was only about 2/3 of the way done, and that last third went hard. Remember how I kept bangin’ on about how Another Crab’s Treasure is such a silly, funny game? Yeah, that kinda goes away once you hit a certain event. In retrospect, there is a serious tone lurking under the surface from the very outset of the game, so it’s not complete tonal whiplash, but there’s definitely a major shift in tone for the last couple areas of the game.

Now, normally I would be slightly perturbed by a funny thing dramatically shifting into a serious thing. But what sets Another Crab’s Treasure apart is that it started to evoke feelings that I know (too) well, and I think it kind of goes without saying that that emotional resonance made it really work for me. Being able to relate to all the complex feelings that Kril has to sort through along his journey was sobering, to some degree. I’ve been to those dark places. Some of them I still see on a semi-regular basis. And while I’m sure that a wealth of fictitious characters have been written with similar arcs, this one hit me particularly hard.

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Feeling Crabby

2024 has been a good year for video games. Probably. I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve kind of stopped paying attention to the scene and have just been playing games that interest me. And one of the things that interests me very much is crabs. You may not know this about me, but crabs are my second-favourite animal, right after turtles. I guess I have a thing about shells?

Anyway, I’ve been playing Another Crab’s Treasure very enthusiastically over the last couple of weeks. It’s an indie action/adventure game from developer Aggro Crab that plays a lot like Dark Souls and looks a lot like Spongebob Squarepants. In text, it might sound like there’s a pretty gnarly disconnect there, but it actually works out very well. To put the horse before the cart, I’ve got a very good feeling that Another Crab’s Treasure will be one of my favourite games of 2024.

It all starts with a short, fake documentary clip about how resilient and resourceful the creatures of the sea are, which then segues into the beginning of the game proper. It’s a great way to make sure that players know they’re about to be hit with very heavy-handed environmentalism themes. Not that I have any issue with that. While Another Crab’s Treasure takes every opportunity to suggest that humans dumping all their trash in the ocean is a bad thing, it’s never patronizing or condescending about it. In fact, it’s usually very good about using humour to help make its point.

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Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: April 2024

~ Game Over ~

Princess Peach: Showtime! (Switch) – Cleared the game, enjoyed it. I can’t see it landing on anyone’s GOTY list, but it was cute and fun, and I certainly don’t regret putting in the time and effort to hit the 100% clear (though the post-game content is another story entirely).

Final Fantasy XVI (PS5) – Booted it up for the last(?) time to play The Rising Tide DLC. It was good! More substantial than Fallen Echoes, but the boss fight wasn’t quite as awesome. I like the new challenge mode too, though I’m not nearly good enough at the game to earn a leaderboard-worthy score.

There’s Something in the Ice (PC) – Indie horror. Vibe is a little like a cross between The Thing and Amnesia: The Bunker, but the gameplay is very much a basic walking simulator. Sound design and atmosphere were really good, but it doesn’t really stand out in its genre otherwise.

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Absolutely Not a Book Review

Early this year, I decided to write a little list of things I want to accomplish throughout the year. Not resolutions, per se, but just a few things that I would like to do. Things that may or may not improve me or my life. I even wrote them out on a sheet of paper, checklist-style, and stuck it to my fridge so that it’s always at the forefront of my mind.

I won’t share the whole list, because quite frankly, it’s none of your damn business. However, one of the items on that list is to read six books. Not a lofty goal by any means, but a goal no less. Something small to strive for. And of course, me being me, I dove into this task by choosing the most difficult book that I own: Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing by Ian Bogost.

Now, I have read this book before, several years ago, and I remembered it being a very intellectually challenging read. My line of thought here was that I’ve become much more interested in philosophy in the intervening years, so maybe it’d make more sense to me this time around. I don’t think it worked out quite that way! In all honesty, I thought that I’d written something about this book the first time I read it, which I was planning to pop in a link to and call it a day. But I hadn’t written about it before! Oops!

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Immaculate: A Film Review

I went to see Immaculate with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law yesterday afternoon. I wasn’t terribly interested in it, but they invited me along and I figured I might as well. I hadn’t watched any movies in probably about a month – it was time.

For a movie that I was expecting to be less than enthused by, I ended up enjoying it somewhat. Not that I think it’s a great film or anything, but it was perfectly watchable. I was never bored and it moved along at a good clip – I was more than a little surprised at how quick it seemed to go by.

Immaculate is the story of a young American nun who joins a convent in Italy. Some odd/spooky things happen, and then she mysteriously ends up pregnant despite being a virgin. That’s really as much as I can say without spoiling the rest of the plot, though it’s not particularly shocking. There’s some very clear foreshadowing, and I can think of at least a couple other movies with quite similar denouements. I’m not accusing Immaculate of being derivative, it’s just that a lot of movies exist and wholly original plots might not even be possible anymore. Well, I say that, but also Poor Things exists, so… I don’t know.

If it wasn’t already clear, this is a horror movie. But what sold it for me was that a couple cursory Google results told me that it’s actually an art film with horror elements. Which is not especially true, but Immaculate is a little bit above your typical horror schlock. A little bit. In some ways. That is to say, it’s more suspenseful than stabby. I guess. Look, it’s been a while since I’ve written something, okay?

I want to say that there were two main things that I disliked about Immaculate. Firstly, a woman dies by falling off a second-story roof at one point. This scene bothered me because we get to see the post-impact body and it is smashed all the way to Hell. There’s simply no way that such a short fall would cause anywhere near that much damage. I honestly only buy that she died because she fell head-first. The second problem was that there are a couple of really cheap jumpscares, which felt out of place in this movie and were probably only there because… that’s how you make modern horror movies? The most egregious one is when the main character is telling the story of how she nearly drowned in a frozen river, and there’s this smash cut to a frame of her under the ice, backed by an ear-piercing scream. It was maybe one full second long, and came in the middle of an otherwise quiet conversation. It felt so artificial, forced, paint-by-numbers… Just didn’t need to be there at all.

Oh, I thought of probably the worst part of the movie: the characters are all super flat. I think they all max out at about two personality traits. Even the main character! Who we’re supposed to be empathizing with! But I literally could not tell you anything about her other than she almost died and then because a nun because she believed that it was God who saved her. Otherwise, she’s kinda boring and just does what the plot needs her to do. But I guess you could generally say that about nuns? At least the stereotypical nun. I’m sure there are plenty of real-life nuns out there who have lived rich and interesting lives.

So one of the things that I did like about the movie is the score! I’m not a big movie score kind of person, but I liked a lot of when there was actual music set to a scene. The spookier scenes generally had by-the-book horror ambiance, but the actual music was surprisingly good. Good enough that I really paid attention to it, which I almost never do.

I’d like to pretend for a moment that I’m a person who actually knows anything about filmmaking and criticism, but I’m just not that good at bullshitting. I think that despite the flat characters, the acting was generally quite good. Sydney Sweeney really gave it her all, and I found Alvaro Morte to be quite charming even at his most sinister. I like to think that the camerawork was also quite good – there were a lot of shots that I felt were interesting, at least. Something about framing and symmetry? I don’t know. I know absolutely nothing about cinematography except for words that I’ve heard actual film critics say.

The violence in Immaculate was also quite notable! For one, it was much gorier than I had expected, with some really gnarly shots. What really really surprised me, though, was the number of scenes that I had to avert my eyes from. I’ve watched a heck of a lot of horror movies in my time; I’ve seen it all and am highly desensitized to violence. So you’ve gotta hurt a character in a very specific way to turn my stomach, and Immaculate managed to accomplish that three times. I’m impressed!

At the end of the day, I don’t think I’d ever really recommend Immaculate. If it sounds like something that you would appreciate, then by all means, give it a shot! But it’s not particularly special in any way. It was fun, and I did really appreciate how brisk it felt, but it didn’t leave a mark. I’m going to forget it completely by the end of the week. I certainly don’t regret the time I invested into this movie, but if you wanted my opinion, there are a lot of better ways to spend those 89 minutes.

Month End Video Game Wrap-Up: March 2024

~ Game Over ~

Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (PC) – Finished it, thought it was pretty good. Much better than Episode 1, at the very least. Now that I’ve played all of the (non-VR) Half-Life 2 games, I can more clearly see why the wait for Half-Life 3 has been such a big deal for so many people.

~ Progress Notes ~

Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth (PS5) – Chapter 9

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Even Crazier

I’ve been slowly plugging away at Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth lately, and -no surprise to anyone- the soundtrack is hecking incredible. But that’s not why I’m here today!

Nope, I’m just here to post a mashup of music from the original Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII: Remake. This compilation is awesome and I’ve been listening to it pretty much daily over the last few weeks. The energy just gets me so fired up! It’s a great to put on repeat for a while to help push through a long work day.


You know what’s a great feeling? Picking up a random video game that you’ve never heard of and proceeding to have an absolute blast with it. That is the one-sentence story of my experience with Steelrising, a 2022 action RPG that takes a lot of cues from From Software’s Dark Souls family of games. But there’s so much more that needs to be said about this game!

Right from the get-go, Steelrising establishes a very unique tone, being set in Paris during the French Revolution. Yeah, not a lot of video games have used that particular period of history as a backdrop. But it’s not all aristocrats and baguettes. Steelrising adds a little zazz (and video gamey-ness) to this setting by adding robots. So many robots. The clockwork contraptions make up all the enemies in the game, as well as your main character, Aegis.

Aegis is a lady-like robot that has the unusual ability to think and act of her own volition, unlike the mindless automats that have overrun Paris under the command of King Louis XVI. You’re given a handful of options to customize Aegis’s look (7 each of “skin” colours, hairstyles, and faces) and then get to pick from four starting classes. Which class you pick isn’t really important, it just defines your starting weapon and stat distribution. I picked the “bodyguard” class, which is built for defense and begins the game with a slow-ass hammer weapon.

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