Selling and Killing and Killing what you Sell (again and again)

Retail work can be hell. Especially when you run your own business shop. There’s ordering, pricing, displaying, selling, keeping customers happy; Keeping track of trends, supply and demand, influx, stock, reorganizing, running the register. To some in Japan that in itself would be a good game. I’m sure that game even exists, but imagine if on top of running the store you also had to go and get your own supplies and products to sell? What if those products could only be procured by fighting monsters and getting strong enough to get more and more product to sell while also helping see your surrounding village and merchants grow and succeed as well? What if you had a dream of escaping the duldrum life of running a strom and just adventuring and discovering mysteries without the worries of that store work life? Yet, the only way to ever reach that dream was to actually make the shop so successful your adventure becomes everything it entails.

 

That is what MOONLIGHTER from developer Digital Sun (published by 11 bit studios) is a fanciful nutshell. Yet, that is a narrative painterly description of the game. While the game is ambitious, and very ice to look at, it definitely doesn’t reach the platitudes I have presented. That is not to say the game isn’t worth your time, as it definitely is.

Before I get to any of the praise let me discuss some of the “downfall” the game suffers IMHO.

Moonlighter is a grind if you’re not a seasoned and never fail gamer. I have seen speedruns and videos showing folks getting through this game easily, I am not one of those people, nor will I ever be. There is a lot to keep track of as you attempt to make money by selling your wares, yet keeping aware of what you have as items you procure are equally needed to upgrade your armor, weapons, and spells. The combat isn’t inspiring, there are no combos. You dodge and you hit, you remember patterns and you hope your fingers are fast enough to follow those patterns as you press buttons. Yes, that is like much combat but it offers no variety or ingenuity, but it does look good.

The store management is not as exciting as one would hope. The reactions from customers, knowing if an item needs to go up or down in price or kept the same, placing the items in a four grid, how many of an item, not accidentally selling an item you need to get the better word so you can survive longer in dungeons to get better items. None of it as actually fun. It can even be aggravating at times. I found myself yelling out loud at the customers, but they can’t hear me cause it’s actually just me yelling at my computer screen. Yet somehow it’s still fun. There’s something inherently fun about it.

That’s the big thing. Even when frustrated the game is a lot of fun. Helping that happen is the excellent pixel art along with an incredible soundtrack and sound design. These two things and the concept propel the world of Moonlighter into being a game you don’t mind having to go back to dungeons and to the store and to the dungeons over and over and over. If life in retail had a soundtrack and visual appeal like Moonlighter even more people would love it. It’s that feeling that makes me recommend the game to pretty much anyone who seeks a gaming experience both familiar and like nothing they have never had. Give it a spin… you’ll get sucked in even as you want to quit, which is a strange but great feeling.

MOONLIGHTER is available now on Windows, PS4, Mac, Xbox One, and Switch.

You can also get the OST on Bandcamp.

 

 

Phoenix Online is Going To The Stars

Adventures games are rarer and rarer these days so when one comes along, especially beautiful. indie and from a quality publisher I take notice.

The debut game of Spanish developer Risin’ Goat, A Rite from the Stars is a fun and clever point & click adventure game about Kirm, a young mute boy chosen by the Stars to undertake a mystical rite of passage to become a legend among his people.

In this coming-of-age story, players will explore the Mystical Island of Kaikala, home to the Makoa tribe, and pursue the three paths of Wisdom, Courage, and Spirit in any order they choose. Each path introduces new mechanics to solve unique challenges, ranging from action sequences to musical puzzles, with Kirm’s playable meerkat companion Mirk and guiding star Hoku on hand to collaborate on puzzle solutions and lend insight along the way.

A Rite from the Stars features beautiful 3D environments, a fully orchestrated soundtrack recorded with a live chorus, and a complete original Makoan language developed for the game! A Rite from the Stars will be released for PC, Mac, and Linux, and feature French, Italian, German, and Spanish translations on release. Learn more at www.risingoat.com.

The game is releasing later this year on direct download, Steam as well as other channels from Phoenix Online Publishing.

We will walk with Clementine one last time

Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season

Premieres August 14, Pre-Orders Available June 8

Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey. After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while still watching over AJ, an orphaned boy and the closest thing to family she has left. In this gripping, emotional final season, you will define your relationships, fight the undead, and determine how Clementine’s story ends.

  • Emotional, Gut-Wrenching Story – See Clementine’s journey through to the end. As she builds a new life, you will have to grapple with new types of choices and live with the consequences as AJ looks on, learning from your every move.
  • More Control, More Tension – A new over-the-shoulder camera system, greater freedom to explore detailed environments, and scenes with unscripted combat capture the fear of living in a world overrun by the undead and create the most engaging The Walking Dead game yet.
  • Striking New Visual Style – The all-new Graphic Black art style rips the ink from the pages of the Eisner Award-winning comic book series and brings the world of The Walking Dead to life like never before. Supports 4K resolution and high dynamic range on compatible devices.
In addition, The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be fully dubbed in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. It will also be subtitled in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and both traditional and simplified Chinese. Episode one voice packs and translations will be available for download on launch day.

Episode one of The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be available for download starting August 14, 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One across all regions. The Final Season will also come to Nintendo Switch later this year.  Starting June 8, players will be able to pre-order the game on PC, PS4, and Xbox One for $19.99. All players who pre-order The Final Season will receive download access to each of the season’s four episodes as they become available. Players who pre-order on PS4 and Xbox One will also receive immediate access to The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection, which gathers all 19 existing episodes of the award-winning series into a single package.
PC players who pre-order on Steam, GOG, GamersGate, or the Humble Store will receive 10% off the full retail price. Win10 pre-orders through the Microsoft Store will unlock season one of The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series. All pre-order offers expire August 14.

The Incident is Unforeseen but Completely Worth it

Traditional point and click 2D third person adventure games at high levels with excellent voice acting are a rarity. Especially in 2018. Unless of course the publisher is Application Systems Heidelberg, who this year are also publishing an HD remake of the first Nelly Cootalot game and the new detective story from Grundislav Games where failure is an option to completion.

In Backwoods Entertainments story, Unforeseen Incidents, things seem pretty innocent at first. You step into the life of a likable, charismatic layabout named Harper who is living in an alternative universe. You quickly learn that things aren’t as simple as they seem though and soon you’re propelled into a conspiracy and mystery of possibly mythic proportions. There’s a group of colorful characters you meet along the way, fully voice acted with a performance showing care and concern for each line and even stupid joke. Visually, it’s really great, especially the backgrounds. The character designs are definitely an aesthetic that will be hit or miss with each person. Art is subjective after all, but the details in each location are impossible to be amazed by.

 An important part about a quality point and click game outside story is game play. How are the puzzles? Do they make sense? Are they too easy? Too difficult? Too illogical? Does lateral thinking apply or out of the box. A combination of obvious and trying to actually have just try things is such a difficult balance, yet the writers and programmers of this game definitely found it. While some thought processes definitely get lost in translating the games native language of German to English, nothing in my playthrough ever felt impossible. Did I get stuck? Of course I did… did it ever frustrate me? Not once, and there were many reasons for that; As stated the art, which I personally find to be extremely enjoyable; The subtle music and sound design are also superlative.

What really kept me going was the plot and the characters going through this intense adventure that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Harper is just a perfect protagonist. In a film he’d be Val Kilmer, Matt Damon, Jake Gylenhaal, Paul Newman, Mel Gibson, Gérard Depardieu or any number of everyman actors. Someone who is good looking but not too good looking, intimidating without being fearsome, someone you can relate to in a variety of situations and want to see succeed no matter the odds. He has great co-stars as well in an older best friend and genius, a no nonsense journalist, a former boss, a tough as nails park ranger, and a cadre of individuals along the way that just add something to the entire environment, each created with as much care and consideration as our protagonist so none feel one dimensional even in their simple roles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suffice to say I highly recommend Unforeseen Incidents and consider it worth your time, brain process and appreciation.

The game is available now (released May 24th, 2018) and can be purchased on Steam, GOG, Humble, or direct from the publisher at a cost of $20 usually.

Looking Ahead to 2018 Part 2 (Video Games)

GAMES
Telltale Games The Wolf Among Us-Season 2 & The Walking Dead Final Season: Telltale does a lot. Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Game of Thrones, even original stories based in Minecraft, but their FABLES prequel and their Walking Dead sidestory are definitely the two that have truly made fans excited. Knowing there are new stories from both those universes coming in 2018 is fab.

Knights and Bikes: A Double Fine Presents publication. I wish I had gotten on the Kickstarter at the time but couldn’t. Hand painted, bikes, islands, action, adventure… what more could you want?

Ooblets: Pokemon, Animal Crossing, but in an all new bundle of cuteness and specialness. Glopters is making something that looks super cute.

TUNIC: Top down cartoony action that looks super fun and adorable.

Unavowed: The newest from Wadgeteye and Dave Gilbert. An RPG point & click with multiple characters, multiple endings and more.

A Way Out: 2 player only (Local and Online), but the team up concept of breaking out of prison looks really exciting. Hopefully I’ll find a steam gamer with a rig powerful enough whose up for playing this with me when time

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine:
Discover stories, talk to interesting characters. I love art games and this is super artistic and lovely.

VAMPYR: Third person action-adventure with vampire powers and it looks beautiful.

TRAVIS STRIKES AGAIN-No More Heroes 3: A Nintendo Switch exclusive but it’s still super exciting to have another Suda 51/Grasshopper Manufacture leap into the sword slashing, mini game, manical world of Touchdown.

The Gardens Between: This beautiful little game seems to be a simple puzzle games using a time travel mechanic to tell a sweet story, another art piece as interactive game. I love them when doing it right.

Lamplight City: The latest from Grundislav Games, an old school style point and click period piece detective tale with some supernatural elements.

The Adventure Pals: Co-Op Local platformer of insanity which seems you can also play single player. It looks absolutely bonkers.

Left Alive: Third person action survival shooter developed by folks behind Armored Core, MGS and Gundam. What little that has been shown looks wildly brilliant.

Psychonauts 2: Possibly/probably pushed back to 2019, there’s still the chance Double Fine can finish this epic sequel to action adventure platformer classic that put them on the map so long ago. No matter when it comes out I’ll care.

These last three are PS4 exclusives, but are definitely games I seriously want to one day play or just watch people play.
DETROIT-Become Human: The newest David Cage/Quantric Dream masterpiece. The future of AI, androids, multple decisions, multiple characters, multiple replys and playthroughs and their most ambitious title to date.
GOD of WAR: The latest incarnation of the long running PS tale of Kratos continues and this time has his son with him. My favorite genre too in third person action-adventure .
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Insomniac‘s attempt at Spider-Man screams Arkham in it’s feel but with Spidey instead of Bats. Although I feel it’ll also be a lot like Beenox’s Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions which was excellent what despite game reviewers said and who I generally disagree with.
There’s plenty more games coming but those alone could keep someone properly busy I feel.

The Bit Awards of 2017 Experience

I was very excited to attend this year’s The Bit Awards. From the pre gaming, to the being there for the show live and the after party.
It did NOT disappoint. There was plenty Monster, donuts, pizza, drinks, etc. before and after. Tons of camaderie and I got to meet some excellent people, including a developer I’ve been a fan of for quite awhile. I really need to find time to get more involved in Playcrafting.

Before the show I got to check out a couple of tabletop games and video games, some of them nominees, a couple just showing off for fun and excitement. At table top I got to check out Someone Has Died, which looks and feels and sounds like my kind of game. I don’t do tabletop gaming, but it seems much like it’s more an improv prompt party game but with much more structure, balance and rules then the the traditional party game. The art is fantastic as well. On the “floor” was also Fabaraz’ tennis like awesomeness Spiritsphere DX. I only played it for a second in a Nintendo switch beta build but it was fun and kids loved it! In another room there were plenty of games from nominees for mobile, style, and best of game such as Mama Hawk, Perception, Battery Boy. There was also a display of independent fighter Punch Planet currently on early access of Steam.

After all the pre-show festivities it was time to sit down inside Tischman and just take in the show. There were some trailers (including one for Francisco Gonzalez’s Lamplight City which got me right in the I want this game feels)  and news that got me excited. A few segments were just super fun. Some of the speeches really warmed my heart. It was just an amazing experience and while being there live is a totally different feel, you can watch and appreciate the show yourself in its totality.

The VIP after party took place at ESC Games and it was a thrill talking games, life and fun with a variety of developers.  Playing some silly games and just remembering I love video games.
Also here’s some photos from the pre-show and during the show.

The Pop-Culture Spectrum Preview of PLAY NYC

On August 19-20, 2017 NYC game creation and education group Playcrafting hosts the first major video game convention in NYC combining PAX and GDC as best they can.  While New York has hosted game conferences and major panel talks and New York Comic Con has hosted major publishers such as Square Enix and Ubisoft, there has yet to be something for the very powerful indie market that exists not only in NYC but nationwide and at a cost and set-up to be enjoyed by newcomer, experienced player, and developer.  PLAY NYC gears to change all that.

Many websites like Polygon and others have reported or interviewed the organizers of this awesome show.  They’ve focused more on the larger picture though, which is very important, but here at Pop-Culture Spectrum while we do enjoy all facets of entertainment there are still specific parts of the entertainments we enjoy.  That also applies to video games.  So upon that, we shall take a closer look at the talks being conducted on both days that are compelling to us.  A few developers have also done pre-contact of their games being displayed so I shall be give a mini-preview via that of the diversity to expect at the show.

The main convention/exhibit hall shall be held at Terminal 5 on W 56th St. (b/w 11th and 12th Ave.) with hours on 10-6 PM on both days while the panels & talks will be just around the corner at John Jay College on  W 59th St. (b/w 10th and 11th Ave.) with panels running from 11-5 on both days.

Day one has a lot of amazing panels on the state of the industry, working in the industry and being press in the industry… all truly compelling, but exceptionally exciting are that that Mark Roos, followed by Zac Zinger shall be discussing the importance of music in games.  Both men have interesting pedigrees in the music industry as well as in the video game music industry so hearing from them shall be fascinating.

The Saturday evening panels will end with a performance from Greg Heffernan, who my research states is Cosmo D, developer of The Norwood Suite.

On Sunday the writer of point n click adventure, The Long Road, Leif Oleson-Cormack shall discuss working in game narrative.  Leif is also a playwright and standup so this has the promise of being very entertaining.

Dreamsail Games, a VR developer will have a later after noon talk in which they might be announcing a new project.

On top of these awesome panels which this is just a sample though there’s that show floor.  Here’s just a sample of some games featured on the floor that shows the diversity of the show and gaming itself.

 Vidar is a create your own narrative within the old style JRPG graphical style, it’s Steam page is at http://store.steampowered.com/app/355370/Vidar/

Cutthroat Gunboat is 2-4 player party game in which stylized ships attack each other.  Steam page here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/661220/Cutthroat_Gunboat/

Hero’s Crossing is a strategy board game about running an RPG town.  This is an actual table top game but is based in Video game mechanics.  It’s really different, check out the page link in the title.

Mama Hawk is a mobile game developed by Computer Lunch that is also being developed for PC/Mac in which you catch animals to feed your baby birds.  I tried out their Android beta and it’s really cool and super cute.

and of course as the games writer shall have a speak, The Low Road will also be on the floor being presented by XGen Studios.

and there’s your “quick” look.  There’s so much more though.  3 floors of games, and all kinds, VR, FPS, puzzle, tablettop, Alternate Reality, ones that use real humans and even other panels as well.  A not miss show for anyone who loves games.

Give Me Some of Those Funky Fresh Beats

What if I told you a game could truly deliver almost everything and deliver it in package that explored almost every visual style that video gaming has used? What if I told you this same game could use recycled jokes, tropes and find brand new ingenious spirited ways to make them feel new and inspired and make you laugh with joy & excitement all over again?

What if I told you in 2017 the adventure game point n click scene was still alive and flourishing more then before and thistime it was being kept alive by Germany or some other European country but that America, the UK and other countries where they speak English… like… um… erm… Australia.

Well it is and they do… this time I’m talking about a post apocalyptic mutant genre bending humor escapade called Paradigm, an eponymous title of the hilarious adorably gross disgusting cute lead character you will “control” throughout this adventure (does one ever truly control or do we just guide them through predetermined conclusions of the dressing of puzzles and interaction to deliver a story but in an interactive environment? A discussion for another time perhaps.)

Jacob Janerka, ALMOST solo creator of this brilliant, stupid, silly, wonkers, what am I doing here, I love this, oh my god I’m going to throw up art project is an amazing illustrator and designer. Every painting in this is lovely even when it’s showing a super weird creature, every pixel piece lovingly developed and boy is there a lot of 2D pixel goodness, but not in the point n click game genre. The way the game used 2-D is so almost mind-bending because it’s unexpected and needs to be experienced to truly appreciate it utter ridiculousness yet perfection.

Just one of the ugly pretty mutants you’ll meet.

To get a really good idea of how wacky, wild, weird, funny, silly and also how awesome an artist he can be, other than Paradigm one just needs to scope the proposed Seinfeld point n click he started developing while finishing the game. It went a tiny bit viral and Nerdist featured it last year.

The fact alone that Jacob wants/wanted to bring a show about nothing, in which you’d basically do nothing and yet for some inexplicable reason laugh at things that aren’t funny gives you some hint into maybe how his mind works… or maybe doesn’t work.

An example of Janerka’s amazing painting skills. Look at this vastness. Look at that crazy pigeon.

There are some “what are you serious?” ideas in the game where you wonder if he’s crazy with skills or just really talented. Here are some ideas you usually don’t expect in a point n click without actually spoiling the game itself.

  • Multiple Endings
  • Pay Window
  • Beatboxing
  • Boss Battles
  • Computer Crash
  • 2 Headed Cat (oh wait… nevermind)
  • Art in the corners that looks awesome and adds enjoyment but has nothing to with the game….wait… nevermind. Still it really is done well, I personally found myself staring at every corner.
  • You actually can TALK, PICK UP, and USE every sincle interactive item. Maybe not in the way you expect, but you can. Especially the TALK and… Pick Up? Well, if you don’t try to pick up EVERYTHING and I MEAN EVERYTHING? You are not giving yourself the fun.

    Just on the 2D bits in the game and an example of how the game goes unexpected places.

Another great addition which will having you play multiple times so as to not ruin your immersive experience the first time around, or maybe you will ruin your immersion and just do it on every screen, but you’ll probably forget so you better make saves or yes, you’re playing all over again is the Developer Commentary. These are thing that have existed throughout time but traditionally only remastered games (like the ones Doublefine has done of LucasArts) get them. Very few games have them on release of a brand new Intellectual Property. I honestly can only think of the games by Wadjeteye/Dave Gilbert to have done this. Jacob takes it another step though and does it is as a visual treat on top of the audio. It’s just a thing… a very artsy thing. There’s commentary also from the game’s musician Jonas Kjellberg (which I haven’t even brought up… it’s another layer all together).

Jonas Kjelberg created sounds, beats, synthwaves, guitar hooks, belly slaps, snores, boops, blips, and more. The music in this game is so wonderful it needs an entire article of its own to be truly explored. Luckily there is a soundtrack coming at some point, as it needs dissemination, deconstruction and reverberation. To be truly appreciated. Each piece works within the construct of the game, but also sound like they’d be amazing on their own.

Another piece of 2D pixel work. Here you are dating a toaster. Yes, you read that correctly.

One of the things I really love about the game is how original it is while doing BLATANT tributes, self deprecating itself to what came before, while acknowledging how different and special it is, while at the same time being ludicrous and a waste of time. Yet isn’t what all entertainment is? Something to appreciate and waste time? What else would we do? Be productive? To what end? To the end to be able to sit down and waste time with others creations and then be inspired to make our own creations and then the cycle begins again. Mundanity, Insanity, Back to 1 till we die. Yet till that comes, take some time out of your schedule to play PARADIGM.

Paradigm is currently (released April 5th, 2017) on Steam for $14.99.
You can also get it at GOG.
Or if you prefer The Humble Store.
And if you’re reading this week of April 5th, it’s 10% off… if not… it’s more and still completely worth it.
It’ll run on PC and MAC (Linux is in the pipeline). Jacob Janerka also wants you to know that he unironically listens to ABBA regularly and thinks about if dogs have internal monologues.

Population 81 (strike that) 80

In 1987 at the tender age of 10 I had owned a Commodore 64 for a few years, falling in love with Infocom, Sierra, Tellarium and other individual games in the adventure genre. It was in October of that year that like many others my mind became warped, disturbed and happily pushed on a path of no return with the release of Maniac Mansion. The SCUMM system developed Ron Gilbert, Garry Winnick, David Fox and the rest of the team at Lucasarts changed gaming as we know it so many ways. My love for adventure games and point and click grew from that day, getting my hands of everything from LucasArts as it came out, but I’d actually follow Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick as closely as I could as they moved onto other works. Humongous Games was for kids, but dang it if you couldn’t find enjoyment in Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam and Spry Fox you didn’t like fun. Especially fun, while less a Ron Gilbert game and more Dave Grossman, was Moop & Dreadly. The Cave was definitely something new, different and unexpected, but Ron’s concepts were still clear. His out there thinking for puzzles and his abstract writing. Yet still nothing he had done ever felt like it captured the spirit of his early work.

That all changed with Thimbleweed Park; and not just because it literally feels like a lost Lucasfilm game from say 1992 (the game takes place in 1987 but Pixel art was definitely not at this level yet) right after Lechuck’s Revenge but before Day of the Tentacle with Double Fine’s Tim Schafer. Having the team that developed Maniac Mansion come back together to devise a truly new, but old classic point and click adventure born from the new fundraising and therefore self publishing platform of Kickstarter has allowed for something that was probably just like Broken Age was once envisioned into something bigger, prettier, more vast and more impressive then ever imagined when originally conceived. In fact as I played through the game I could not believe how epic it became. While only taking place in a small town, the scope of the story and the way it is told will blow you away and catch you off guard in surprising and wonderful ways.

Thimbleweed Park is beautiful. Every inch of it despite being pixels is dazzling. The characters truly become alive with powerful animation, true detail and grit. Helping this is of course the scripting of Gilbert and David B. Fox. Making these characters truly real is the amazing cast though. Thimbleweed Park is through and through a true puzzle game in which hard mode, your brain will get twisted and twizzled to the point of maybe being fried, but at the same time, you are never truly stuck. The solution is probably staring you in the face. You must remember this a game of five distinct characters and you play them all and can switch between one. Like Maniac Mansion you rely on each other to solve certain puzzles. It’s a fun and exciting thing that can really only be experienced in a video game. Helping yourself out by helping yourself but as two people? In the real world or in most video games that involves another actual human, but in adventure games, you get to be both people. It’s amazing… and as I said while it’s a game through and through, the cast really brings it to life.

Acclaimed voice director Khris Brown put together some amazing folks for this. Nicole Oliver, an anime American adaptation legend, who most recently is known for her work My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and has worked on another Ron Gilbert game in Death Spank plays the tough as nails FBI agent. Ian Garret, the most popular voice of Dragon Ball’s Goku and the voice of multiple characters on Ninjago and a long list of roles brings Ransome the Clown, the game’s most interesting, funniest, and wildest character to life invoking a bit of Norm MacDonald, Gilbert Gottfried, Bobcat Goldwaith and Sam Kinison to create a guy you can’t but love to hate and hate to love. Our wayfaring ghost without a chance, who whines and whimpers but is a joy to play as is given a bit of gravitas and sympathy by Alex Zahara, a longtime character and voice actor of stage, small screen, anime, games and most recently Amazon’s hit series Man in the Highcastle as Diehls. Rounding out our main cast are Javier Lacroix, a Spanish actor with a long list of commercials to his credit as deceptive to his actual age, as he sounds perfect as the young, seemingly mysterious other FBI agent and Elise Kates, a sound designer who has worked on Girls Makes Games The Hole Story as what could be considered our lead protagonist Delores, a game developer who returns home to Thimbleweed Park just as the mystery begins who is right in the middle of it all.

One of the cooler parts about Thimbleweed Park is once it’s said and done there are so many reasons to go back, especially on Steam as there are a few wonderful achievements. Yet, on top of that, unless you plan to sit through them all on a first play-through drastically causing pacing to the story to go to a crawl there tons of books to read as well as phone messages to listen to for the completest in you. They just add another layer to the actually to the game and it’s creation from day 1 to release and should truly not be skipped to feel fully immersed in the town and world created.

Thimbleweed Park is available for $19.99 on Steam, GOG, Xbox Live, and Mac App Store as of Launch, with other platforms coming in the near future.

(This review was built from an advance copy of Thimbleweed Park, which I finished days before launch and has kept my mouth shut about even though I want to talk and hear from everyone about it. Go play it folks, beat it, then talk talk talk talk talk and then talk some more)

 

2017: A Look Ahead

2016 is near its end or it’s over based on when you read this. It was a rough year in many respects, but it gave us a ton of excellent pop-culture. 2017 as of now promises to do the same. There’s SO much to look forward to. To list it ALL would take forever so I thought I’d just focus on a few things here and there.

NETFLIX is hitting hard with a multitude of shows debuting or returning. Amongst them:
Degrassi: Next Class Season 3 – Available January 6, 2017.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1 – Available Jan. 13
Santa Clarita Diet: Season 1 – Available Feb. 3
Marvel’s Iron Fist: Season 1 – Available March 17
Sense8: Season 2 – Available May 17
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later- Date TBA

In terms of Network television I can highly recommend the 12th and final season of BONES on FOX premiering Jan 3rd. I’ve seen the first three episodes and they are very hard to comment on without spoilers, but plot twists, reveals, robots and one of the greatest actors of any generation Hal Holbrook are involved.

The reimaginging of the L. Frank Baum saga by Matthew Arnold finally happens with David Schulner (creator of Do No Harm) and so far poorly reviewed but keeps getting work Tarsem Singh at the helm. If anything NBC’s Emerald City looks like it’ll be definite event TV or fail drastically and get cancelled before all 10 episodes even air. One or the other should be fascinating to watch.

legobatman

In terms of films I’d have to say LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is high on my anticipated list. Sure it’s not by the actual writer/directors of Lego Movie (they’re busy making Lego Movie 2) but it has a good pedigree and every teaser and trailer has me excited.

I’m also intrigued by Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. For his first follow-up to Instellar to be a WWII flick is fascinating. It’s also his first SOLO project since Inception as brother Jonathan was busy creating and developing the excellent Westworld. Equally fascinating is the amount of work put into this film. It’s not a remake of the late 60’s film, so it’ll truly interesting to see what stories Nolan chose to build upon to coney emotion, gravitas, and character even when the lead character is still the operation and Dunkirk itself (the film was actually filmed there).

Also pulled in by the adaptation of Dave Egger’s The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks. James Pontsold makes visually enticing, perfectly paced films and chose the easiest and simplest yet not simple Eggers novels to turn into a film.

There’s a ton of amazing video games coming 2017 too but this site is still without an XBoxOne or PS4 so the focus is on PC games but those that will not require a $5000 rig to run.

First up on the excitement board is Full Throttle Remastered the next rebuild of the classic Lucasart’s games designed by Tim Schaeffer which Double Fine was able to get the IP rights back for. I’m really curious to see how they update some of the worse parts of the game like the combat and the maze puzzles. I’m not completely sold on the art actually but I’ve been happy with DF so far, so I’m in.

Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead Season 3: A New Frontier (First Chapter out, but the rest hits 2017) is awesome. I already reviewed it and I’m excited for the rest.

thimbleweedAlso excited for platform point & clicker A NIGHT IN THE WOODS.
Third person action adventure co-op player TROLL AND I.
2-D Shooter with old school animation CUPHEAD.

and most especially, Ron Gilbert, Gary Winnick, David Fox and teams’ THIMBLEWEED PARK, the pixel point & click dream of a game I think many thought Broken Age would be. I loved Broken Age, always will, but Thimbleweed Park is looking bigger and better then I ever imagined it could be. I didn’t get to back when I wanted to, but I wouldn’t been able to back what I wanted anyways. This is probably number one on my experiences for 2017 I look forward to.

There’s a share of BOOKS coming out as well.

First up two genius female writers tackling heroes from Marvel and DC.

Shannon Hale (with Dean Hale) does The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Meets World and Gwenda Bond comes forth with a third in her awesome Lois Lane series with Tripleflaminglips Threat.

There’s a really cool STEVEN UNIVERSE ORIGINAL GN coming out called TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL by the show’s co-creator Ian Jones-Quarterly, Jeremy Sorese, Asiey Barbie and Josceline Fenton

Michael Crichton’s never before published posthumous novel DRAGON TEETH comes out May 23rd. It’s a Western during western times but about dinosaurs!

Neil Gaiman ventures into both old and new territory retelling the tales of Odin, Thor, Loki and more in NORSE MYTHOLOGY scheduled for February 17.

George Saunders first ever complete novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO comes out February 14In music I’m mainly excited for one album.

The new The Flaming Lips titled Oczy Mlody. AFAIK I believe I’m seeing them live in March as well so that makes 2017 awesome.