Meanwhile at Blizzard

Year after year, World of Warcraft has lost its popularity. There’s always been negative people but their voices were lost in the ocean of positivity that was surrounding the game. Expansion after expansion, the game has lost its identity, trying to satisfy too many different types of gamers. Victim of its own success, WoW entered a slow and painful descent, no king rules forever.

Keeping a good PR when only haters can be heard is a difficult job, especially when your product so heavily depends on its community. So, when a developer publicly calls one of the last big streamer “an a**hole”, it’s time for damage control. It never happened and, ultimately, the streamer left for another game, taking with him hundreds of thousand followers.

As one’s misfortune often benefits another, FF14 reaches now a total of 22 millions accounts. The store even has to place people in a queue, only to purchase the game.

As if it wasn’t enough, California sues Activision Blizzard over a culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’. I’m not gonna quote the entire lawsuit, but we’re talking about lack of support by HR to the victims, encouragement of this behaviour by the CEO, J. Allen Brack, and even Alex Afrasiabi being called the Bill Cosby of Blizzard. It goes as far as the suicide of an employee after a week-end/relationship with her manager and her bullying at a company meeting.

From in-game protests, massive unsubscribes and tons of flaming forums, I can tell you, internet reacted accordingly to the gravity of the situation. There can be no compromise toward this kind of attitude, there’s no place for frat boy culture in this world.

Since the departure of its former CEO, the Californian company has only shown disregard for its community and its employees. I remember the last Blizzcon of Mike Morhaime, when he said about J Allen Brack “You think you know him, but you don’t”. I often wondered what he meant… I think that I know, now.

I know that Blizzard isn’t the only company with an horrible behaviour towards women but, if we want the world to change, examples have to be made and Blizzard prepared its own gallows by first angering its own crowd.


The Darkside Detective

Inge found this little gem on Steam and we had a lot of fun completing the first 6 cases. The bonus cases, however, were less logical and required to exhaust every dialogues and click several times on objects that unlock later in the story.

I love point-and-click games and their crazy sense of humour but I really don’t like when they stray too far from logic. Using a key on a lock to open a door is ok, giving a tinfoil hat to a monster so he feels protected from mind reading governments is ok, using a stick on a frog to unclog toilets to get a password easily gets tedious. So far, The Darkside Detective has managed to stay on the right side of this line. Let’s hope it’ll stay that way in the second chapter “A Fumble In The Dark” which we’ve already purchased and installed…


Life Is Strange 2

We actually played this game a few weeks ago, but I kind of slacked with writing the post…

Being already fans of Telltale games and the two first Life is Strange, there was little doubts that we would enjoy this chapter. What I didn’t expect was to enjoy it this much, we both got hooked from the first minute. The journey of the Diaz brothers through a racist America was fantastic and filled with a lot of emotions. I know that these situations are made to provoke extreme reactions like injustice and anger but the result was an amazing journey where we met amazing and also horrible people.

Some episodes were a bit too hard on Sean though, I’m especially thinking about the fourth, which kinda filled me with a lot of frustration. Also, Daniel is a brat! Even at 9, I would have never acted half as selfishly as he did. If you think about it, everything wrong that has happened in the game, from start to end is the direct consequence of his actions. Never once does he think about his brother who’s constantly trying to protect him.

My favorite episodes are the first and the third. The first because I really didn’t expect things to turn out that way, we went in completely blind and got very surprised. The third episode introduced Cassidy which is probably the best thing that happened to Sean in the entire story.

If you play the game, you’ll probably notice the amazing soundtrack, but there’s one song in particular that we both enjoyed. In the first episode, when you visit Sean’s bedroom, you can listen to the music on his MP3 player, the song is titled “On The Flip of a Coin” by The Streets. It’ll forever be the song that will remind me of this beautiful moment.


Valheim: The Elder And A New House

We’ve both killed The Elder. The fight wasn’t really hard and we both killed him with a ton of fire arrows. Soforah had a bit more difficulties because her keybinds acted strange in the middle of the fight. Anyway, he’s dead and we’re getting ready to move on to the swamp.

Also, I’ve built a new house, mine was getting to small, especially with the fermenters and the upgraded forge. One of the greatest features of Valheim is physics. If you don’t pay attention to the way you build your fundations or your roof, everything could collapse. Since I’m not an architect (yet) or like my wife says: “you’re not Ted Mosby”, I’ve followed a great Youtube video from Zeroster. I am very happy with the result, it is cute inside and outside, very sturdy and it has a lot of storage space.

It is located in the meadows and I’ve surrounded it by a big moat, which resists the attacks of the trolls, the forest and the swamp. My next step is to find the perfect location for my future ship…


Valheim

We’ve both been playing Valheim for a month and we’re having a blast. I can’t believe how deep and huge the game is, for only 16,00€ and a single Go of disk space. Combining survival, crafting and progression through gearing and boss hunting is brilliant. Also, we love Vikings!

Even if the two games are very different, Valheim sometimes reminds me of my vanilla WoW experience, where I had to make sure that I was packed with consumables and that my gear was repaired before going to explore a huge world filled with enemies. Sometimes, you can face a mob or two and, sometimes, you have to run to avoid a troll because your gear is not strong enough…

I must say that the first few hours were brutal… Going in blind, we had no idea of what to do and we did a lot of stupid things, like throwing weapons away when they only needed to be repaired. But one guide has change everything for us: David Allen’s Complete Valheim Written Guide. First, as the title says, it is a written guide, which is so much better than a Youtube video that you have to watch for an hour, while taking notes. You can use the guide as your companion to learn how to defeat the bosses, but also how to build your first house, how to use your first cart,… In short, all you need to know to survive your journey.

Of course, we don’t follow it literally, we also spent a lot of time increasing the safety of our main base by digging a moat. We take our time, it’s almost 100 days and we haven’t killed the Elder yet. Valheim gives us the freedom to adapt our game time to our moods. Sometimes we wanna fight and we venture in the Black Forest and sometimes we just wanna chill after a hard day of work, so we keep gathering mats, cooking food and crafting stuff.

I have the feeling that we’re going to spend a lot of time in Valheim, at our own pace.


Blair Witch – The Video Game

The Blair Witch Project is one of my favourite horror movies ever, it was only normal that I would play the video game based on the franchise.

Searching the haunted woods in company of your dog to find a disappeared child was a great idea and I directly got caught in the story. I also enjoyed the mechanic that had me watch video tapes to unlock portions of the story.

Warning: Spoilers!

I really don’t understand why they needed to add a second plot to the story. The whole PTSD thing was useless and brought a psychological side to the game that only made it heavier and broke my immersion at times.

The final scene, inside of the witch house was the creepiest, especially the scenes where I couldn’t look at the monsters, otherwise I’d die. They even had me stay in a corner, while the witch was in my back, asking me to look at her… Unfortunately, the memories of the the dead soldiers from the time the hero was still in the army broke the rhythm of the main story, making the scene too long and not as creepy as it could have been.

Even if I would have preferred a more horror, less psychological approach, it was still a great game and I advise it to any fan of the franchise.


Life is Strange: Before the Storm

This game was on the top of my bucket list for a long time, I still can’t believe that I’ve finally played it.

Before the Storm is a three part standalone adventure set three years before the first “Life is Strange”. The game is a straight forward storyline where all you do is try to make the “right” choices. This may not seem challenging, but who wants challenge when the story is this badass (btw, I hate the combo of the words games and challenging).

One thing I appreciate in any TV show or movie is character development. Life is Strange, manages to do this in a game, and it’s amazing. Chloe and Rachel are compelling characters, you just want to see them succeed in anything they do, no matter how bad the idea. I literally felt like I was on a roller coaster of emotions. Seriously, it manages to make any grown person cry (source: steam reviews).

Also, the visuals are stunning, I sometimes stopped to enjoy the beautiful landscapes. If only we had such views in real life.

I may be forty something, but “Before the Storm” made me feel like a teen all over again. Having this said, I’m off to play another teen adventure in Life is Strange 2. Something tells me that I should keep a box of tissues at arms reach…


One Year Later

It’s been a year since the confinement has started. One of the games that has entertained us the most is Animal Crossing New Horizons. It has constantly brought good mood, relaxation and sunshine in our lives.

Yesterday evening, my island, Lonestar, has finally received a 5 stars rating. I still have to upgrade my house twice and my museum collection isn’t complete but I’ll happily spend another year running around my happy place.


Little Nightmares

Since I had so much fun playing the demo of Little Nightmares 2, I’ve been willing to try the first game of the franchise. I completed it earlier this week on PC and it was really fun. It took me a bit more than 5 hours to reach the end of the adventure.

The creepiest place to me was the kitchen, probably because the cooks look terrifying. I may be wrong, but I don’t think that the people at Tarsier are meat lovers…

The game was smooth and I haven’t encountered any frustrating moment. When it comes to gaming, my favourite rule is “A good game is like a good joke, it requires no explanation”. While I love the design of the game and the gruesome ambiance, it’s especially the gameplay that I enjoy, it’s simple to handle and is a perfect compromise between puzzles and action.

I’ll probably play the second Little Nightmares 2 very soon, unless I’d play this one again, to collect all the dolls and jump on all the mattresses. Because, yes, there’s even an achievement for that.


Gibbous – A Cthulhu Adventure

From crazy cultists to a talking cat, Gibbous takes you on quite an adventure where you explore a Lovecraft inspired world as three protagonists.

Like most adventure games, some puzzles defied all logic, which made me sometimes have a peak at a walk-through guide. Even though, I must admit I’m not always the most patient, and probably would have figured it all out by contemplation and time. Nevertheless, Gibbous was quite fun with a mostly freed game play, and an unexpected ending.

One of the things I love most is the art style, it’s hand-painted and gloomy, perfect for a Lovecraft inspired story. I’m also glad that it was Cthulhu heavy, unlike some stories that are supposed to be Cthulhuesque but miss out on all the elements. From the order of Dagon to Curven to the tentacles, and the insanity, they didn’t miss a thing. These guys in Transylvania got it all right.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

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