I See You – A Movie Review?

Yesterday evening -or at least, at some point prior to this post going live- I watched a movie called I See You.

This was largely spurred on by the fact that I’ve spent too many nights watching let’s plays of horror games on YouTube over the last six years, and as such I’ve been completely desensitized to them. I decided that to slake my thirst for terror, I’d need to turn to professionally produced content, and so Netflix. I clicked on the first movie that seemed even vaguely interesting, and so I See You.

A 95-ish-minute-long film released in 2019, I See You is not a movie that I had so much as heard the title of previous to the evening in question. But, it was described as a dramatic film wherein a detective is investigating murders and spooky things begin happening, so I was like, yeah, okay, I can dig on this. Little did I know!

As I sit here typing, and pondering what I am about to type, my mind is weirdly overcome by the thought of how my ex-wife’s eyes would have lit up at that plot summary.

I am a sad fellow. But pay that no heed. This is a movie review!

I See You follows the story of a small, dysfunctional suburban family. The husband, a cop on the trail of a child abductor. The wife, a therapist (I think?) who has recently cheated on her spouse. The son, trying to cope with the breakdown of his parents’ marriage. We learn these details pretty much right out of the gate, and that’s basically all that that they are for the entire duration of the film.

I may have made a poor selection.

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TE’s Top 10 Video Games of 2022

Well, another year is behind us, and as usual, I frittered away a huge chunk of it playing video games. To help justify spending all that time on viddygames, here’s a big, long list of the ones that I liked most.

If this is your first time reading one of my Top X Games lists, I don’t make them based on games released in the previous year, but rather, games I played in the previous year. There is one constant rule: I must have played the game for the first time in the last year. And I added a new criteria for 2022, which is: no two games from the same franchise. Helps to keep the list a little more diversified. Oh, and the games are listed in the order that I played them. No playing favourites among the favourites.

Okay, that’s the preamble. Let’s go!

In 2021, I played most of the games in the Ys series, and most of them were really good. Ys: Memories of Celceta even managed to secure a spot on my Top 10 list for 2021. So the only video game “goal” I had going into 2022 was to finish off the Ys series by playing through the two games I had outstanding: Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana, and Ys IX: Monstrum Nox. Needless to say, they were also really good.

Lacrimosa of Dana in particular gets to adorn this list because it is definitely my favourite game in the series. It takes everything that was great about Memories of Celceta and makes them even better. So really, you could probably just read what I wrote last year and it would mostly still apply, and I could skip writing another paragraph here. But I suppose that I should at least go over some of the highlights. Specifically, I enjoy how the combat is exciting and very speedy, exploring is more fun than ever with map and treasure box completion percentages for every area, the metroidvania-style way that the world slowly opens up as you gain new traversal abilities is always appreciated, and I think that this game has the best cast of party members in the series.

One thing that I cannot praise enough about Ys VIII is that it has one of my absolute favourite video game soundtracks of all time. All Ys games have phenomenal music, but Ys VIII’s in particular really stands out to me. Not only did I get an imported physical copy of the soundtrack, but I also bought the Ys VIII: Super Ultimate arrange album, and I listen to both of them quite often. Sunshine Coastline specifically is straight up one of the best video game songs I’ve ever heard, and multiple official and cover versions of it live on my phone so I can listen to them all the time.

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The Sinking City

Do you know Cthulhu? I’m sure that you probably do. He’s a very popular figure in nerd culture. But here’s the real question: do you know much else about the works of H.P. Lovecraft? Seems less likely, as while Lovecraft’s greater oeuvre is also popular with nerds, it’s not quite as ubiquitous as ol’ squid-head himself.

I’m no exception to that assumption. I have a giant tome of the collected works of H.P. Lovecraft, but I haven’t actually read a page of it. However! I do appreciate the mythos he created, and I’ve spent plenty of time engaging with other media that is based on said mythos. The most direct source would be the time I’ve spent falling down the rabbit hole that is the Lovecraft Wiki. But also people like to make video games that are strongly influenced by Lovecraft’s stories! Video games like The Sinking City!

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Vampire Survivors: A miserable little pile of unlocks

I randomly tuned in to a Twitch stream last week, because the notification on my phone said the streamer in question was playing “the new Castlevania game”. I didn’t know there was a new Castlevania game!!

There isn’t. It was… somewhat misleading. The game being played was, in fact, a $3 indie game called Vampire Survivors. To be fair, this game does rip a lot of ideas (and maybe even sprites) directly from the Castlevania series, but it doesn’t really play like them at all.

And me, I turned around and immediately bought the game and sank most of that evening into it. Then I kept playing it pretty much every day after that. But more on that later!

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Ys II: Another Video Game Review

First off, apropos of nothing, I’d like to vent a little bit about how friggin’ difficult it is to get a Wii U pro controller to sync up to a PC. I get it, I do. Nintendo sells their controllers to be used with their video game machines. But, it’s nice to play PC games with a high-quality controller too, you know?

Anyway! Ys II Chronicles+: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ The Final Chapter is another title that maybe in retrospect could have been simplified a little. Calling it “The Final Chapter” is overselling it just a bit when it’s part of a two-chapter series. Don’t even get me started on how it’s not actually the final chapter.

Title woes aside, however, Ys II is a very excellent video game! It’s just like the first one! Except it’s a whole lot bigger, and all of the issues I had with the first game have been addressed! Which is not really saying a lot, because I had like, two issues with the first game.

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Ys: A Video Game Review

I’ve played a lot of video games with stupid names. Boktai, Tactics Ogre, Irritating Stick, Dissidia: Final Fantasy. The list could go on, but I think we have a new champion here. Ys Chronicles+: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen is one heck of a mouthful and basically says nothing at all about the game. Well, it sort of does, but do you think that someone who’s never heard of the Ys series before will have a hot clue how to parse it?

I mean, Average Joe wouldn’t even realize that the word “Ys” is pronounced “ease.” And even I only know that because I’ve been hearing people say it on podcasts for years now.

But that’s all besides the point. Ys is a video game. The first in its line, in fact! Well, not the one I played, though. I played the remade version of Ys. But I also watched a speedrun of the original version, and it’s actually surprisingly faithful to the original, while adding a bunch of extra stuff and making some little tweaks here and there. Not unlike the remake of the original Resident Evil. So I guess what I’m saying is, it’s more or less the “ideal” kind of remake.

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TE’s Top Games of 2020

2020, as I’m sure you’ve heard many times, was a heck of a strange year. And to cap it off, I’ve got a heck of a strange Top 10 Video Games list for you.

Longtime readers might know that I don’t always play by the same rules for this annual listicle. The rule for candidacy this time around is simple: It must be a game that I played for the first time in 2020. That is it. That is the one and only criteria that I’m using to decide which titles are eligible. I’ve also decided to do away with the “must have beaten it” rule, because it seems unnecessary.

My selection process was this: I made a big spreadsheet of every game I played in 2020 (total of 118), removed any that didn’t meet my specification (47), and then narrowed it down to 28 frontrunners. From there, I simply looked at the list and picked the ones that I had the most positive emotional reactions to while reading their titles. By some wonderful coincidence, that left me with a clean list of 10 games. Neat!

And here are my selections, presented in the order that I played them:

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FNAF Sister Location: A night-by-night review

Most of the games in the Five Night’s at Freddy’s series have been ported to the Switch over the last while, and as a huge fan of the franchise, of course I had to do a little double-dipping. While I own FNAFs 1 through 6 on Steam, I decided that I wanted to play Sister Location (FNAF 5) again, but from the comfort of my couch instead of hunched over a keyboard at my desk. Ironically, this is the only FNAF game that I’ve successfully played from start to finish, and thus had the least reason to purchase a second time.

Well, you could make a case for it when you consider that it’s also my favourite game in the “original” series. That was a big part of the decision. And also Pizzeria Simulator (FNAF 6) isn’t on Switch yet, and that one’s the closest competitor for the top spot on my list.

Anyway, the point is that even before re-buying and re-playing Sister Location, I’d been thinking about it a lot for some reason that I just can’t quite put my finger on. Playing it again will probably get it out of my thoughts for a while to come, but since it’s fresh in my mind, why not spend some time writing about it? I did say it was my favourite, after all. I ought to show it a little blog-style love.

So what I’m going to do is go through each night, and go through the main features of each one and what I think about them. What parts are strong, which parts are weak, and which parts drive me absolutely bonkers. Mild spoiler: there are two. That said, let’s mosey on into it.

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Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance

The Kingdom Hearts franchise and I have a… complicated history. When the first game came out in 2002, I was in a very angsty teenage phase; I had little interest in anything Disney that wasn’t a theme park, and my passion for Squaresoft was burning out quickly. I was far from the target demographic at that point. I tried playing it a bit, but it never really clicked.

Two years later, somehow the card-battling sequel for GBA, Chain of Memories, grabs my attention. I fall hard for it, and wind up obsessively playing both the original game and Kingdom Hearts II when it releases in 2006. I was deep into the franchise at that point, totally immersed in the lore (despite/because of the fact that it was completely bananas) and then… I completely fell off and didn’t play any other KH games until the PSP prequel Birth By Sleep on a whim in 2013. I don’t even remember why I picked that one up, other than giving my PSP a reason to exist.

Very recently, I found myself eager to catch up on the series. What spurred this on? Well, I purchased a copy of Kingdom Hearts III for very cheap, and thought that I had better play any important games that I had missed along the way. The good news is that the only one I’d missed (that matters) was Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS. The bad news (as I would find out) is that I would have to play Dream Drop Distance for the 3DS.

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