THE BONDING POWER OF VIDEO GAMES

I was reintroduced to video games a little later into my adulthood just when I started dating my significant other. The video game that started it all was Danganronpa, a visual novel that he adored and the only one he owned at the time which I came to love watching him play.

So you can say my video game journey started with me being a backseat gamer. Little did I know that this newfound hobby would be one of the biggest things that brought my boyfriend and I closer and closer together in our relationship.  Each time we spent time together and he started up a video game, I would sit beside him and watch him smash those buttons on his computer. You can imagine my fascination as I spectated.

Fast forward the years, his video game collection grew, from visual novels (which are some of his favourite type of video game) to Japanese Role Playing Games, 2D platformers and a lot more genres. He finally bought a Playstation 4 and boy, that fed my interest in video games. 

One particular game that made me start playing video games myself was Persona 5, another game we both love. I was so amazed by the story and gameplay mechanics. I usually played while he was at work and I had the time of my life until I got stuck in a particular castle and ditched the game. Haha…I mean, I was pretty new to this. Therefore, my boyfriend noticed that I struggled with it and decided to continue having me as a backseat gamer for a while. Over time, I watched him play VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action, Zero Time Dilemma (which I also gave a shot at playing), Papers Please, Yakuza 0, Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, Horizon Zero Dawn, Metroid and many more games. 

Soon, I got into playing video games myself too. So the first game he bought for me was Okami. He took into account my love for calligraphy and decided this was the game for me. He was not wrong. I played and played and loved breaking pots and painting over enemies to slice them to death and stealing turnips out of gardens. I have not finished playing this game but I plan to do so. Later on, sometime at the end of 2018, he bought me my first console! The Nintendo Switch. A console we had both wanted to get and I was so excited.

My first games on the Switch were The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8. Zelda blew my socks off. The open world format of it and the art style were so breath taking. I put in over 30 hours of it before I got stuck again and left it for a while (I know, lol. The struggle of a filthy casual). Then I got Night in the Woods and a few other games which I still adore.

I could give a really long account of my video game journey but let me get to the point of this post. Video games made me see so many important sides to my SO. His love for puzzlers and visual novels taught me that he was a critical thinker who liked solving problems. The pace at which he played, taking his time and never giving up showed me just how patient and comfortable he was with not getting things right the first time. An attribute I strongly admire until this day. Watching him play video games also taught me how much he pays attention to detail. His ability to empathise with game characters made me aware to his compassion and empathy for others. 

Further, playing co-op video games helped us spend and enjoy time together as a couple while teaching us the value of team work. I remember our moments playing Rayman Legends. He carried me through those moments in the game (I called them demonic levels) when I got lost or frustrated. That was evident even in real life when he carried me through some of my toughest times. All these things we learned and came to love about each other because of sharing this hobby. 

We even watched video game youtubers such as Scott the Woz, Jim Sterling, Yahtzee, Yong Yea and many more. We discussed their reviews together, gave each other game recommendations and even started our own blogs where we talked about the games we played.

Video games strengthened our bond and magnified some of our greatest qualities both as individuals and as a couple. Video games strengthened my love for my partner.

I will forever be grateful for this medium that some people still view as childish and pointless for bringing my SO and I together. I really could say a lot more but video games have become so important to me because of these things I have pointed out. 

So, the next time you hesitate to get into video games, think about the opportunity that they give of bringing loved ones together while having so much fun.

FLORENCE – A Short Love Story

Soon after I got a new phone, I went to the Google Play Store and bought Mountains Studio‘s first game, ‘Florence’ and played it during a bus ride home. It was as short and as sweet as I hope this post will be. LOL

Let me just say, before I get into detail, that it is such a beautiful game that sticks with you long after you have played it. It was so difficult for me to come up with the words to describe how I felt about it.

Florence is a young, 25-year-old woman navigating adulthood in most ways that all 20-somethings do. At the beginning of the game, you notice her going through a routine we are all too familiar with: snoozing an alarm more than once when it goes off in the morning, mindlessly scrolling through social media on her way to work, and clearing daily mundane tasks such as balancing accounts, etc., and the cycle goes on each day.

Scrolling through instagram

However, one day, she meets a cellist, Krish, with whom she eventually falls in love in one of the most beautiful and artistic scenes you will ever see in an interactive game. She walks towards the sound of Krish playing the cello until she finally reaches him and sees him. I guess it is a cliche case of love at first sight (or sound, because she is initially drawn to him by the music before she sees his face). As most young couples, we see their love evolve in the wonderfully crafted chapters of the game.

Follow the music
The first time Florence sees Krish playing the cello

Florence and Krish fall in love and eventually move in together. However, like all couples, their love is tested as they have their first fight after six months of being together. The scenes are nicely curated in some sort of mini game where you put together speech bubble puzzles. I particularly loved the empty speech bubbles because they gave me room to explore and imagine the various words that Florence and Krish said to each other. Eventually, their relationship falls prey to routine and they start to fall out of love, so in the end, they break up.

Meet cute

First dates
Fight

You may find this cheesy and lacking depth but I appreciated how Mountains Studios managed to pack a punch in such a small and short game. The art style is simple yet engaging.The story is intimate, it makes your heart flutter a little (you can tell I am a hopeless romantic. Haha) Florence is cinematic. All the components in the game work so beautifully together, it is amazing. And the music! Oh, the music is enchanting!

Letting go

Without spoiling it for you, all I can say is that Florence’s story of first love and heartbreak is wonderfully told in this 30-minute game and I would definitely encourage you to play it. It is emotional, it is beautiful, easy to play and all round enjoyable. Thanks to Mountains Studio and Annapurna Interactive for this beautiful masterpiece.

Enjoy!

The Faceless Unicorn.

Dead Shapes – Night in the Woods.

I recently started gaming a little more seriously (still a filthy casual, though). My SO got me a few games and one of those was “Night in the Woods”. It is a 2D story, exploration and character focused adventure side scroller that I absolutely enjoyed playing.

The game starts with the main character, Mae Borowski, a 20-year-old, going back to her hometown, Possum Springs after dropping out of college, in the hopes of resuming her old life with her friends and parents. However, Possum Springs is changing and so are its inhabitants.


Mae going back home from college.

Mae tries to reconnect with her friends and reacquaint herself with Possum Springs, but like aforementioned, things have changed. Her friends have grown up, they have jobs, and they just cannot hang out the way they used to before. They are working so hard and trying to make their lives better while Mae seems to be falling a little behind, struggling to come to terms with the fact that she, too, is not going to be 20 years old forever. The uncertainty of it all causes her anxiety and it shows in the way she kicks away the days, trying to hang out with her friends whenever they are available and exploring the town. And this is the premise that caught my attention- the uncertainty that comes with adulthood and the anxiety it induces.

“We have jobs, Mae”

Before I go on about this, I want to mention that there are a lot of fun and funny moments in the game. The dialogue is brilliant and engaging. My favourite moments in the game are when she does crimes with Gregg. They make you appreciate the joy of young, wild and free times of our early twenties. Further, the honest and raw conversations that she gets to have with her friends, Angus and Bea, that help her understand what exactly they are going through reminded me of the importance of communication in all our relationships. (There are a lot of scenes I loved that I would have had the pleasure of sharing here, but that could end up being an entire book. LOL)

Mae riding with Gregg on their way to do crimes.


Mae does not know what to do with her life after leaving college and this takes a toll on her. This is shown through the spooky dreams she gets every night and her encounter with a “ghost”. It all progresses into an almost fatal encounter which helps Mae realise a few important things about friendship and growing up.

“Friends forever”

So, this game just reminded me how growing into adulthood can present challenges, especially mentally. Our early twenties are a fun time but also very uncertain, almost like seeing dead shapes in the middle of the night. The good news, though, is that everything all comes to an end.

“At the end of everything, hold on to anything.”

Enjoy!

The Faceless Unicorn.



PROTEUS – THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE REVIEW

One of the greatest books I read both as a child and an adult, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” is one gripping tale you cannot afford to NOT read.

A will that leaves Dr. Henry Jekyll’s fortune to Mr. Edward Hyde in case of his disappearance or mishap opens this mystery tale. As the story unfolds, we gain a little more insight into these two characters through Mr. Utterson. (Utterson is Dr. Jekyll’s lawyer. Spoiler alert? Well, quite a few of them in this post).

Utterson reveals to us in this story that Mr. Hyde is a monstrous man whom he witnesses stepping on a child and unashamedly so. As we delve further into the book, we see Mr. Hyde committing more atrocious acts that I will have the courtesy not to reveal. And on the other hand, Dr. Jekyll is said to be a benevolent and good man, who seems to protect Mr. Hyde. But why? What connects these two men?

As Utterson narrates the story through an amazing use of letters written by Dr. Jekyll, we discover the strange secret that ties the two men together!

Filled with great descriptions, this is a riveting story that hangs on two important premises: The extent to which humans are willing to stretch scientific research and the fight betwixt good and evil. (Things we face everyday.)

Without spilling out every detail of this amazing story, I would highly recommend that you all read this wonderful, creepy and mysterious tale.

Enjoy!

The Faceless Unicorn.

 

Of Years Ending And Those Beginning

The harrowing thought that I have come to the end of 365 days of every year always sets in this way:

Two hours to midnight every 31st day of December, I sit at my desk, crying and thinking of a name for a new blog  and what content to post on it, because yikes! I realise I have not done anything significant with my life. With absolutely no clue, I create a new WordPress account after abandoning another. (New year,new me, no?)

So, I end up calling this one “The Faceless Unicorn”. Why?

The past year (2017) was  the year my face (and entire self) became elusive . Taking pictures of my face was a nightmare and stepping out in public was tragic.

Struck by extreme episodes of anxiety and all round dissatisfaction in life, 2017 could be my worst year ever! I will not get into the details but unlike almost every humanoid I know, I do not have much to recount except for my nice job where I have the coolest boss and workmate! (Absolutely love working with these ladies and definitely looking forward to what the new year has in store for us).

So, yeah..I am sat here, typing away about how I do not want to relive this year and hoping the new year brings me better things yada yada. 

(Just like every other damn year end!)

Wishing you loves all that you wish for in the coming year as I stuff my face with chocolate ice cream, plan to write again (and fail all over again for the next 365 days) listen to The Wombats and create a pastiche of the few good memories of the past year in my mind.

Xoxo,

The Faceless Unicorn.