Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekly Shlockness with John Mikula

                Oh man! It was a game playin’ kinda week, I’ll tell you what. Not only were Mike and I were able to finish recording our Sly Cooper escapades (which are being edited upon as we speak) but I also got to watch my partner in slime stumble and guffaw his way through a sizable chunk of our next Youtube series. I’m not sure if it’s a secret so I’m keeping my fat ass shut for the time being. Beyond that though, I was able to finish a couple more games in my ever growing backlog. Remember that Silent Hill game I was playing? What about that little indie game that’s kinda like Silent Hill? No? Well, let me take a sip from my analytical punch bowl and I’ll tell you all about it.
This is what the game looks like if your graphics card is good enough. But you wouldn't know anything about that would you?
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                Earlier in the week I finished up Lone Survivor. You remember this game; I mentioned it like a month ago, it’s the 2D pixelated survival horror game that I got in the humble bundle. If you don’t recall, feel free to read through every single Weekly Shlockness up until this point. I’m sure you’ll find it eventually and it’s totally worth it to read all of my funny picture captions, I’m not just saying that. But yea, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this game, it’s that cool. As of late, I’ve been spending a lot of my time on the Silent Hill Wiki (trust me, this isn’t a nonsequiter) because I love looking at all of the weird symbolism behind things and why the town manifests the way it does. For instance, did you know that Pyramid head supposedly represents *SILENT HILL 2 SPOILERS BIG TIME* James’ guilt for killing his wife as well as his own sexual frustration (mannequin rape scene explained). There seems to be a lot of weird esoteric meaning behind Lone Survivor as well. Why does ‘The Man Who Wears a Box on His Head’ wear a box on his head? I have no idea! And I’ve been trying to look at forums/web pages to find an answer to this unanswered question but there’s nothing. What was the deal with the pale faced guy? Who was Chie? Is there any benefit to playing your Gamejoy? I love asking these questions, but what I love even more than that is reading all the crackpot theories and assumptions that people post online; but sadly, it looks like no one is going to indulge me, which is a shame.
The cat actually represents disdain for over pixelated indie games
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                I do recall saying in my last post about this game that there are a lot of gameplay elements that aren't very apparent as to what their purpose is in the overall game. However, after my play through this week I have been able to piece together a lot of the goings on under the hood. Take the food mechanic for instance. I found out that food will heal you and the level of enjoyment gotten from a particular food item results in more health being restored. I’m still not sure what happens when you starve completely, but I assume that you start to take damage and eventually die. There is also a neat pill mechanic that I really had no idea existed. If you go into your bathroom within the game you can find an endless supply of different colored pills. The red ones will perk up your character so he doesn’t get tired (I still don’t know how being tired affects your character) but the blue and green pills will take you to crazy dream lands where you meet the crazy dream people. The green pill lets you talk to the man with the box on his head (as I mentioned before) and he’ll ask you some very philosophical questions that apparently have right and wrong answers. Either way, he’ll give you some food if you need it which is good. The blue pill does basically the same things except you get to go see this normal looking dude in an armchair and he give you ammo if you’re low.
The controls weren't very responsive
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                There are multiple endings to this game (I got the red ending) and I’m really not sure what the criteria for achieving these endings are. When you beat the game, you’re treated to a ten page list of all the things you’ve done in the game. How many pills you’ve popped, how many bad guys you’ve killed, how many times you talked to your plush kitty cat. It’s really interesting to read how I ‘slept without being tired’ 8 times in my play through, even though it all seems pretty pointless. There is also a crazy Silent Hill esque twist towards the end that I totally saw coming. It really isn’t a surprise at all but it’s still vague enough that internet crackpots from all over could still interpret all sorts of nonsense from it. Too bad I wouldn’t know anything about that.

                All in all, I adored this game. It’s so wonderfully atmospheric, so wonderfully psychodellic, so wonderfully…Silent Hill like. If you’re into survival horrors/Silent Hill like I am, I would highly recommend that you pick this up.
Don't let that rack mislead you, her face is pretty bad. Trust me.
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                This game on the other hand, I can’t speak so kindly of. Now, in my last article, I say something along the lines of how Homecoming is a natural evolution for the Silent Hill franchise; however, after finishing the game, I was able to see scar tissue that’s been left from its western development. Parts of the game cease to feel like a Silent Hill game. Some of the cutscenes are needlessly gory, there’s a cheap romance, and even a black guy dies for Christ sake. There is also too big of an emphasis on the combat which can be described as clunky at best (but I talked about that last week). These are staples of western horror which is fine if you’re making a western horror game; this however is a Silent Hill game. There was very little psychological horror here and overall the game just wasn’t as thought provoking as the previous entries in the series. Don’t get me wrong, the game is perfectly ok. Within a bubble this game is a very mediocre survival horror with some neat story elements; however, if you insist on comparing this game to something like Silent Hill 2, then you’ll find that Homecoming is a vastly weaker game.
Don't let that face fool you, her rack is pretty awesome.
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                Another thing that this game did horribly was the ending. The actual ending movie itself was alright, but the criteria for getting the different endings are blatantly obvious. There are three points in which you’ll be prompted to make some sort of decision and it is through these prompts that the ending is determined. There’s not even any gray middle ground to the decisions, it’s always triangle for the good path, square for the bad path. Come on game, at least make it a little ambiguous. I got a bad ending in Silent Hill 2 by looking at a knife in my inventory too much. Why couldn’t it have been more like that?

                There is good news though, I just ordered Silent Hill 3 from Amazon and it’s on its way right now. In just a few short days I’ll be able to crack open into what has been called the third greatest Silent Hill game, then I’ll be able to change the name of my blog post to Weekly Silent Hill. Until then, I’ve been John Mikula and this has been your Weekly Shlockness.

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