Review: Dead Cells (PS4)

Dead_Cells_PS4Bordeaux, France based developer Motion Twin’s absolutely superb Dead Cells ($24.99) is exactly the sort of game that belongs on a disc in a case with a manual you can whip out and peruse as you play. I’m tossing this out there because the game truly feels like one of those instant classics you want to come home from a long workday and unwind with. As in walking through your front door, kicking off your shoes, tossing your bag onto a chair and going through the whole ritual of opening a game case, popping that disc into your system (or game card if you’re a Switch owner) and settling in for a solid play session.  The game blends its influences marvelously and (as much as I despise the term) is indeed one of the finest “Metroidvania” style games to date. Actually, the developer calls it a “RogueVania” which is a bit better, but whatever – this one’s a must buy no matter what you prefer calling it.

(Thanks, PlayStation!)

In a nutshell, you’re playing a rather dead but reanimated (and excellently animated) immortal character who needs to survive a treacherous trip through a sprawling series of randomly laid out themed levels. Before you get all twisted out of shape thinking of games that get this randomization wrong, this is one case where the dev team nails it. When you die (and you will die early and often), the game sends you back to the beginning of the map you bought the farm on and upon restarting, you’ll notice the layout has changed but you’ll face off against the same enemies while retaining learned skills.  It’s a dash of what you’re expecting (Castlevania, Metroid, Demon’s Souls, assorted roguelikes and roguelites) with some nicely implemented dark comic touches that add some great humor to the game. No checkpoints means you’ll need to learn to survive by playing and replaying sections in order to die less (or not at all). But each death ends up meaningful for a few reasons you’ll eventually discover.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Love Of A Woman

TLOAW_AA015I’d never heard of director Jean Grémillon (1898–1959), but thanks to Arrow Academy, I’m now well-schooled in one of his great films. While not flawless, The Love Of A Woman works just about perfectly if you’re a fan of the pot-boiling tear-jerker romance genre. Granted, it also works fantastically as an example of fine film work as Grémillon was a master behind the camera and there are some striking images here to behold.

When Dr. Marie Prieur (Micheline Presle) decides to take over the job from a well-aged doc at the end of his career on the small island of Ouessant, she’s met by wariness from the locals and made fun of by a part of a crew of men working on the island. After a practical joke by the men on their supervisor, André Lorenzi (Massimo Girotti) ends up in a fight where the doc has to show up to fix a broken nose, Lorenzi begins calling the doctor incessantly asking for a date. After some nudging by a never-married older schoolteacher (Gaby Morlay), The good doctor agrees to André’s request, but their date is ruined after a local child falls gravely ill.

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Just Feel: A Little Indie Action on Hump Day

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enjminlogoLet’s talk about s-e-x for a hot minute. Most popular videogames act like it doesn’t exist or it’s made essential to a story as a “relationship” deal where it’s mishandled like a giraffe trying to juggle watermelons while playing the bongos. Boo to most of the AAA game industry and it’s primarily clumsy pawing of a subject that should be gently approached and touched in just the right places.

Meanwhile, over in France (where the heck else?), seven first-year students at Le Cnam-Enjmin took three months to make Just Feel, a very short, FREE, and let’s just say “educational” game about…

Well, let’s just see what the game page says:

The goal of this project is to mention sensuality and the pleasure in a poetic and subtle way.

The idea is to show a form of sensual relation without taboo and vulgarity.

In this experience the player personifies a caress metaphor.

This project is focus on the flow feeling.

Relaxation and surprise.

This is a 10 minutes experience.

 

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While this one’s a bit too easy to describe how to play and the overall goal, you still kind of need to play it and see…er, feel for yourself what the deal is. In fact, BEFORE you play, watch the let’s play video for a bit of hilarity as the guy playing can’t quite figure out where he’s at on the figure. Some girls and guys will get a chuckle and “It figures…” head shake while watching. Hey, some of us need a lot of practice. Yeah, me included.

Anyway, you may blush a little before the game times out, but it’s tastefully done (quiet back there!) and abstract enough to indeed be called art. So, um. Go give it a try, I say.

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I guess I should score this, right? Okay, 1 point a minute makes this a perfect 10.

-GW

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PC Review: Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders

The ABC Murders B 

ABC_jaquettesPlatform: PC (also on PS4, Xbox One)
Developer: Artefacts Studios
Publisher: Microids
#of Players: 1
MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B+ 85%

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In Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders, you play Hercule Poirot, the dapper detective with the well-trimmed mustache whose “little grey cells” got him through plenty of crime solving tales made famous by the author and represented in books, on stage, screen and yes, videogames. Developer Artefacts’ decision to make their Poirot so close to the source leaves exactly no room for intentional player error or many non-Poirot like affectations to mess with the formula. While this results in a game that’s impossible to “lose” because you’ve made a serious error in judgment or otherwise, it does deliver the proper feeling of the man at work as a series of not so random alphabet-related murders unfold.

Part of what makes the story and game so intriguing is the killer’s choice of Poirot as the person to mail clues to each crime to before he commits them. The killer’s confidence in taunting and tasking Poirot to track him (or her) down means there’s a certain sort of methodical insanity at work that’s somewhat fascinating. In this modern information age where under some circumstances, electronically sending death threats like that would (or should) lead to a suspect most likely being caught before they got too far into the alphabet, the 1935 setting means those mailed letters give the killer time to plot and Poirot time to think. The unfortunate side effect is a new crime scene and recently killed body to pore over for evidence, but as they say, nothing is indeed perfect, mes amisContinue reading

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders Hands-On: “Little Grey Cells” Get A Nice Workout


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Microids‘ upcoming Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders hits European retail and digital outlets next week for PC (via gog.com or Steam) and US online and retail a few weeks later. Some hands-on time last week with the demo reveals mystery fans will have a fine time indeed playing dapper detective Hercule Poirot as he takes on that clever killer with the alphabet fetish and a talent for leaving clues galore. The demo features Poirot investigating the first murder (a shopkeeper found dead in her tobacco store) using his “little grey cells” in some simple to learn gameplay that should please casual to expert gene fans. Continue reading

Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders: Get Yours Before Someone Else Gets Theirs

ABC Murders cover logo 4Mystery fans on the trail of the whereabouts of Microids’ upcoming Agatha Christie: The ABC Murders now have a fresh clue as to the location of the game. This latest trailer shows off more nicely stylized visuals and Hercule Poirot doing what he does best.

The game will hit retail and digital outlets for PC/Mac, PS4 and Xbox One February 4, 2016 in Europe and February 23, 2016 in North America. Pre-orders for the PC version are being taken on gog.com and Steam, both at a temporary 20% discount off the $29.99 retail price.

ABC allpacks ESRB Final 

The King of Oddball Asides wants me to note that Monsieur Poirot wears his gloves all the time in that trailer and that makes him a suspect as well. But The King of Oddball Asides is indeed an oddball himself. Anyway, Microids would very much like it if you crept up on them one of these days and got all nosy like a certain Belgian detective. In English, follow them using the links below:

Website: http://www.Microids.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/microids

Twitter http://www.twitter.com/Microids_off

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/microids

Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders: Kill Some Time With Poirot in February

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packshot%20illustration_SMALLFrench game publisher Microïds and developers Artefacts Studio are putting the final touches on what’s looking to be a fine mystery/adventure game, Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders, set for release on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac February 4th, 2016 in Europe and February 23 in the U.S. on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. Microïds obviously knows the universal appeal of Christie’s work as the game is going to be dubbed in English and French and subtitled in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish and Russian. As you’ll see below he jump, the development team is really going above and beyond the call to make Mr. Poirot look and play excellently to a wide variety of gamers interested in the character and story (which happens to be one of Christie’s greats)… Continue reading

Blu-Ray Review: Cemetery Without Crosses

Cemetery Without Crosses AV014Yet another stellar Arrow Video release through MVD Visual, Robert Hossein’s 1969 western Cemetery Without Crosses is a great, grim and gloomy slow-burner of a revenge tale that’s short on dialog but delivers its message almost flawlessly.

Hossein (who also stars in the film and co-wrote it with Claude DeSailly) makes his take on the spaghetti western a memorable one with some excellent set pieces and a mean set of twists that make the film worth repeat viewing. This is one of those films with no real “likable” characters to root for – you’re dropped into a little spot in their personal hell as an audience and get to see what happens as things play out. Par for the course, Arrow also delivers the goods when it comes to a quality HD transfer and some fine special features. Continue reading

Random Film of the Week: My Life to Live

my life to live_MPYou know all those easily forgettable modern quasi-romantic melodramas that try so hard to pull at the emotions at every turn and only fool the easily manipulated thanks to the usual tired plot points repeated over and over again? Well, Jean-Luc Godard’s 1962 masterpiece Vivre Sa Vie: film en douze tableaux STILL spits all over their graves thanks to the director’s remarkable technique and the simple, powerful performance given by Anna Karina as a young woman trying and failing to achieve anything resembling a happy life.

Presented in twelve scenes, each one chock full of what looks like first take genius, this look at one woman’s life and fate isn’t at all your run of the mill tearjerker at all and in fact may almost seems like a documentary at times. Karina’s naturalistic acting is flawless as she plays a character who uproots her own life in the pursuit of some kind of evolving dream that devolves as the film progresses to its abrupt finale. This is one you’re not going to walk away smiling about, but it sure as heck makes for a greatly depressing conversation piece… Continue reading

Random Films: Two From France I Can’t Watch…

made in franceOK, some stuff from the vaults with a goofy story behind them. My late dad gave me a box of VHS tapes around 15 or 20 years back and these two were ones that I couldn’t play on my NTSC tape player (they’re both SEACAM format). I recall telling him this later when he called to ask if I liked the movies and he said he’d “get back to me” later on this. I knew what that meant, so I told him he didn’t have to go looking for a player here at all because even if he DID find one, I’d still need a TV that could play it. If you ever knew my dad long enough, you’d know he had a sort of single-minded pursuit of the great deal mindset to him that was fascinating and slightly pesky once in a while when he’d end up with multiples of some items if you’d simply asked for one. I had to stop him from looking for a VCR and TV on that occasion because I knew he’d somehow find both in his travels and I really didn’t want him to spend that money just so I could watch two movies, one of which I’d already seen…

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