How Telltale Games Plays with Expectations in Their Superhero Series

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*80s pop music playing in the distance* (via Den of Geek)

I don’t have to tell anyone reading this site that we’re living in a world saturated by superhero media. Between the hundreds of movies, TV shows, Netflix originals, video games, and of course comics, how does one stand out from the crowd? Especially when you’re one of many adapting/rebooting something as ridiculously overdone as Batman? Well, you do what Telltale Games does: you acknowledge that media saturation and the fact that your title character is a pop culture icon, and you decide to use that to do something different. You accept that your players will be bringing some knowledge of the superhero franchise—be it Batman or, more recently, Guardians of the Galaxy—you’re adapting to the table. And you use that knowledge as a foundation to play on audience expectations and take the opportunity to toy, fanfiction-style, with some “what if?” scenarios to create innovative and intriguing new takes on the familiar stories. And you do it all while exploring and giving agency to sidelined women characters, too!

Spoilers (mostly minor, but major ones are tagged) for both Batman: The Telltale Series and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series beyond the jump! Continue reading

Trailer Tuesdays: Life is Strange: Before the Storm

I’ve been hearing whispers about a new Life is Strange project for a while, though I couldn’t figure out how the developers would do it. A sequel was out of the question since the ending of the game is set up deliberately to take the story in two completely different directions, so making a direct Life is Strange 2 would surely be impossible unless they wanted to make two completely different games. Lo and behold, it turns out the new Life is Strange game is a prequel, focusing not on Max and her time powers but on Chloe a few years before the events of the original story. This is, all things considered, the sensible choice, though I’m intrigued and cautiously optimistic about how it will turn out.

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“This Town Is Full of Ghosts!”: The Power of Atmosphere and Landscape in Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods bike

(via ZAM)

You first meet the protagonist of Night in the Woods, twenty-year-old Mae Borowski, when she arrives at her hometown’s bus station after dropping out of college. She remarks that the bus station is probably the newest and fanciest building in the town of Possum Springs, all the better to give people coming through the best first impression possible. However, we soon see that the bus station, with its shiny floors and glorious sunny mural advertising prosperous life in Possum Springs, is just a façade, and as soon as Mae arrives in the town proper, we see that it’s crumbling inside and out.

As Mae explores her childhood home, the game’s use of color, landscape design, character dialogue and atmospheric music all help to build a rich, vivid, sensory picture of this once-great but slowly dying coal town, injecting so much personality that the setting almost feels like a character. Which not only makes it a fantastic backdrop for the unfolding story, but a neat metaphor for what’s going on with Mae herself. And… also a little bit of something deeper and darker.

Spoilers for the end of Night in the Woods ahead!

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Cute Demon Crashers Set to Return with Cute, Comfy and Consensual Queer Content

Cute Demon Crashers start menu

Screencap of Cute Demon Crashers’s main menu (once you’ve completed all the routes… which I did, because I love)

I don’t normally seek out erotic visual novels, but if I did, I doubt I’d leap to describe them as “delightful”. But Sugarscript’s Cute Demon Crashers proved the exception in both of these, by not only getting me to play a sexy dating sim but leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling that (you’d think) would be uncharacteristic of the genre. If you look at the creators’ mission statement, though, you’ll realize that was the point:

In our team, we felt there was a need of consent and safe spaces in 18+ VNs for women, and NaNoRenO 2015 was the perfect excuse to make a game to fit those needs!

Consent and comfort is a massive, integral part of Cute Demon Crashers. College student Claire (who the player can rename) accidentally summons three incubi and one succubus who sense that she’s lonely, and over the course of the game she can bond with them and learn about them, and, if she wants to, pick one to have sex with that night. Whichever adorable sexy demon she picks, the ensuing sex scene is sweet, gentle, sometimes funny, and each demon is lovely in their own unique way. Because consent is an integral part of the development team’s mission, it’s an integral part of the gameplay: plenty of options pop up throughout the scene, with Claire’s lovers asking her if she wants to do this, or that, or stop. And indeed, a big stop button is available in the corner of the screen at all times. If you hit the button or want to back down, the demons never make Claire feel bad about it, and they do everything they can to make sure she’s physically and emotionally comfortable throughout the whole process.

There are no bad ends in this visual novel. It’s entirely about having a good time and exploring sexuality in a fun, safe, and comfortable way, with the magical love demon aspect managing to be adorable rather than skeevy like it could be. The whole game was a delightful and fun experience, which is why I’m super excited that Sugarscript has announced that they’re working on a “Side B” sequel/spinoff for the game.

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Assassin’s Creed Movie

This is the trailer that got me to jump right into the Assassin’s Creed fandom, and I am so excited to go see it. That said, as much as I want this movie to be amazing, a really big part of me worries that it won’t be. The movie is supposed to premiere in December, right around the time Rogue One comes out—with that kind of competition, I can’t say I have too much hope the movie will do well. Mostly, however, while the Assassin’s Creed movie looks awesome, game-to-movie adaptations are rarely good, and I’m concerned the same will be true this time around as well.

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Flirting With Danger in Undertale

Even though I’m not an avid gamer, my brother always keeps me up-to-date with any indie games he finds interesting. The newest game he’s told me about is called Undertale. Unfortunately it’s still in development at the moment, but you can play the demo to get an idea of what the game will be like. There are numerous reasons I’m excited for this game, one of them being the lack of detail to the main protagonist. There’s a unique gameplay that allows you to fight or befriend characters, and the style of the game is very reminiscent of other games like Earthbound. Everything about this game is precious; I’ve even re-watched the trailer video to death at this point:

Spoilers ahead! Seriously though, check out the demo, it’s free!

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Sexualized Saturdays: Discussing Gender and Genre within Portal 2

Glados_AwakensI love the Portal series, especially the sequel. The gameplay is solid, the narrative is pretty funny, and it has a great atmospheric soundtrack. But I always thought the series had a little more to it. I found the games’ takes on gender to be interesting and subversive.

Spoilers after the jump. Continue reading