Lady Bird is my spirit animal

On a whim, I went to watch Lady Bird in theatres last night after my first exam. I was already stressed, so I wasn’t going to get much studying done anyway. Might as well do something I enjoy to relax and get ready for the next day. I hit a friend up and we drove downtown at 9:30 PM and bought tickets to this movie that we had absolutely no clue on what it was about. The theatre we were in was completely empty. Perfect.

Let me tell you something about Lady Bird: don’t expect it to be a AAA polished film. Lady Bird is a low-budget gem of a movie that will defy your expectations. The story is riveting, the characters are amazing, and the videography is stunning. The movie tells the conflict between a mother and daughter as well as awkward teenage life very realistically and well. It is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and the only way to relive that experience is to watch the trailer on Youtube over and over again. Please send help.

As a writer, I want to write stories that are strong and compelling like Lady Bird. The film’s producer and team did a lot of things right: A+ character development, A+ story telling, and A+ visual images. There’s so much substance and emotional value in this film, and Lady Bird holds a special place in my heart. There are parts that I find absolutely hilarious, awfully cringy, and emotionally gut-wrenching. The producers portray Sacramento through the lens of a young woman accurately, morphing her views of herself and the world depending on her circumstances. They didn’t even need a giant budget to do that. Lady Bird is aesthetically pleasing and emotionally full of substance for a movie with only $10 million in their pockets.

There’s a reason why this movie has a near-perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, but of course there are some nit-picky things that bothered. Some of the minor characters seem two-dimensional and bland, but it makes sense. Greta Gerwig is telling a story through Lady Bird’s eyes, who is biased and highly opinionated but also naïve and innocent. The two-dimensional minor characters classifies this movie as a traditional feel-good, quirky, and stereotypical high school flick. Despite Lady Bird’s stereotypical teenage-ness, the rest of the characters were so well written and developed that I’m willing to negate this negative aspect of the movie.

If you’re bored and want to watch a film with a lot of substance and beautiful writing, Lady Bird is for you. If you prefer more suspenseful movies, watch it anyway to open your horizons a bit. Greta Gerwig produced a stunning debut film, and I look forward to see what she has to offer in the future. I am giving this film a 4.5/5.

Let’s dive into the pits of hell

How well will you fare if I put you in a dungeon with 3 other people, give you weapons, and tell you good day? What if I told you that the dungeons have creepy crawlies and other monsters? Well, you probably wouldn’t last long, but for the characters in Darkest Dungeon, this is their profession. Darkest Dungeon is a rogue-like, turn-based dungeon RPG heavily based on dungeon crawling. It is a unique, Middle Age-based game with fantasy elements. The catch? They are all humans just like you.

Here is a game that has grabbed a lot of the gaming community in its clutches, intrigued interested viewers on Twitch, and interested indie lovers around the globe. Here is a game that has been critically acclaimed and played by thousands. Twitch was filled with streamers who either had early access to the game or bought the game because of its rising popularity. A few months later and this game is still gaining high ground within the industry.

I was honestly surprised at how successful this game was. When I was first introduced to it as a Kickstarter, I thought it was going to flop for 2 reasons:

  1. The art was rough, and didn’t appeal to me the first time around.
  2. I thought classic RPGs with only humans weren’t really popular.

Obviously, I have learned to love this game. The game’s aesthetics grew on me: its black and red theme fit perfectly with the concept and game design. Additionally, the game is challenging, something that I have been craving for a while. Straying away from high fantasy concepts and designing only human adventurers has made the challenges exciting to play, and I have to rethink my strategies every time I start a new dungeon. Even if I’m not nearly to the end of the game yet, I think Darkest Dungeon warrants a review. There is so much amazing-ness here that I couldn’t wait until I finish to write one.

But sadly, this game isn’t perfect. The gameplay and its logistics can be quite difficult to learn. Don’t expect to jump in and start playing immediately: Darkest Dungeon is relatively hard to get into at first and will take a while to plant a seed of interest in you. You will grow frustrated at yourself, your adventurers, and your game, but remember that frustration is why the game is so appealing to many.

If you’re seeking a challenge, try Darkest Dungeon. You won’t be disappointed, and it will want you to come back for more. If you just want to try something new, download Darkest Dungeon anyway. You will have something to talk about to your (hopefully) game-loving friends, and you will understand Twitch streamers a lot better. In my mind, this game deserves a good 4.5/5. Have fun, and happy dungeon-crawling!

 

Game Review: Undertale

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Undertale. Oh, Undertale. A wonderful game with adorable pixel graphics and an incredible story line. Good job, Toby Fox. This was an amazing experience and a half.

In Undertale, you play as a human girl who has fallen into the Underground, a large secluded area underneath Earth’s surface, protected by a magical barrier. You have to battle monsters through a unique battle system, but also make friends along the way. Be careful, though; you can also choose to spare your opponents, and your choices will affect the rest of the game.

What I liked

Undertale is an amazing storytelling experience. The characters are likeable and display a relative good amount of character growth. The plot is riveting, but also filled with emotion and action. It’s can be a roller coaster ride, and that’s my favourite part of the game. There are no flat characters, and the story makes you feel something. I really liked seeing the game evolve and revolve all the different characters of the game.

The combat system is original, and actually quite difficult and complex. While you have the chance to murder someone, you also have the chance to spare someone from death, which I thought was pretty neat. Dodging attacks is a lot harder than you think, especially as you go deeper into the game.

What I didn’t like

I wasn’t a big fan of the pixel art. It does give the game its flair, but I found it distracting and a bit annoying to look at. I know a lot of friends who really like the art, though, so it really boils down to your personal preference.

Final verdict

If you have this game sitting in your Steam account, or debating whether or not to get it when it comes out for the Switch, please don’t make it into a complicated debate. Play it. I’d love to see how the story goes for you.

Game review: Bastion

Overall rating: 4/5

Bastion is one of Supergiant’s popular indie games, and it’s not hard to see why. With its wonderful graphics, colourful art, and sassy narrator, the game has garnered much attention in the gaming world. The game has received amazing feedback from sites such as IGN and PC Gamer, and a lot of gamers have recommended this game on Steam.

What I liked

Bastion’s graphics is one of the most aesthetically pleasing things to look at. While not mind blowing, the art is stunning. The colours compliment each other well, and everything doesn’t seem too cluttered at any point during the gameplay. This is amazing for games of this genre, and I commend the artists who made the scenes come to life.

The music and narration were near perfect. The scores aren’t too distracting. In fact, they bring out the atmosphere really well, and gives each stage a distinct feel to them. The narrator has a soothing voice. I can listen to him talk all day. Seriously, it’s that good.

Bastion’s story is well written. There is a clear conflict, climax, and resolution, but don’t expect everything to go your way. There are a lot of hidden surprises, and there will be unexpected turns when you play. The story is interesting and will keep you on the edge of your seat. I love how interactive it is: the narrator will become sassy sometimes if you do something wrong.

The gameplay was smooth and so fun. The stages were challenging, and there are some stages that almost made me want to throw my mouse across the room.

What I didn’t like

Honestly, there really isn’t too many problems in the game. The only major thing I can really talk about is the gameplay. The controls can get a little while to get used to. It can get confusing at times when things get too hectic in the game, but nothing too major. That’s part of the whole point of the game.

Final verdict

Please, please, PLEASE buy this game and play it entirely. It’s amazing, wonderful, and I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do.

Game Review: Kentucky Route Zero

Overall rating: 3.5/5

I got this game as part of this year’s Indie Bundle 2017. For those of you who don’t know Humble Bundle, I highly recommend that you get your games from this site. A lot of the games are DRM-free, and a portion of your purchase will go to a charity of your choice. Their bundles are great and they offer good games for a fair price.

Kentucky Route Zero, according to the Steam store page, is a magical realist adventure game about the underground caves of Kentucky. Developed by Cardboard Computer, the game is split into five acts, each contributing to an overarching story. The song features original scores by Ben Babbitt and blues music by The Bedquilt Ramblers.

What I like 

The game has a unique art style, and certainly has a one-of-a-kind design. Kentucky Route Zero is heavily focused on storytelling and atmosphere, and their unique art style certainly brings that out. A lot of their scenes were based on theatrical set design according to the Steam store page, and it shows: a lot of the background and scenes pan around like I’m participating in an interactive play. That being said, the game in its entirety is absolutely stunning.

I also really like the music. Babbitt’s score and The Bedquilt Ramblers’ music helps bring out the southern Kentucky atmosphere, and also helps me to immerse myself into the game. The scores are original and quite enjoyable to listen to.

What I didn’t like

The main reason why this got 3.5 stars instead of 4 is because of the story. I really wanted to love the story, but it was just too slow paced for me to enjoy. The first two acts were okay and fresh, but the rest started to become the same. It seemed like the same storyline, plot, and people over and over again. Plus, there doesn’t seem to be a climax, and the overarching conflict is bland at best.

Kentucky Route Zero is also pretty confusing to play at first. I didn’t know I could choose which direction a conversation was going through prompts at first, and it wasn’t until halfway through Act I did I finally understand the game mechanics.

There is just too much text. It was fun to read at first, but I found myself skipping through a lot of the dialogue later in the game.

Final verdict

If you have a problem with walking simulators, don’t buy this. If you want a laid-back game, this is the one to go. I’m more for action-packed games, so this isn’t the one for me.