A game about how writing a book sucks out your soul

Bucket Detective

Writing is hard. Maybe hard enough to want to do anything to make it easier — like helping a weird cult that is up to their necks in some evil business.

That’s the premise of Bucket Detective, an hour-long dark-comedy game about a crummy writer who, desperate to finish his (terrible) book, agrees to help a cult in exchange for divine inspiration. It’s $4 on Steam or Itch.io, and … yeah. That’s kind of awesome.

I wish there were more games about the writing process and the insane lengths authors sometimes go to, honestly. I didn’t particularly care for The Novelist (a game about a novelist and his family struggles), and I’ve heard mixed things about Elegy for a Dead World (a game about writing fiction).

Alan Wake is a decent game about an author — and while it doesn’t focus on writing per se, it’s a fun Stephen-King-esque thriller about a guy whose wife goes missing, and pages from a book you don’t remember writing start showing up as you search for her.

Are there any games out there about writers/writing¬†that you’ve played? Were they any good?

Afterword: Remember Me

Remember Me

I gave Capcom’s new game Remember Me a 70/100 over at GamesBeat if you care to read my review.

I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts on a game after mine are out there, and it seems like, despite minor differences, much of the consensus is the same. Remember Me is kind of bland but fun and innovative at times even if its quality wavers. It doesn’t always maximize its potential.

I enjoyed Remember Me, but not so much that I feel like everyone has to play it. You will miss out on some cool stuff that is worth experiencing, though, if you don’t.

It seems I’m one of the few people who found the memory remixes boring to actually play. They’re cooler in concept than practice.

So — any gamers out there have any questions about the game or points in my review that I can answer for you?

Tomb Raider: Savagery, legacy, and survival

Tomb Raider

On the island of Yamatai, everything can be conquered with fire. Really unrealistic fire.

March’s reboot of the long-running Tomb Raider video game series takes Lara Croft back to the beginning — to her first real adventure. She’s young and pampered, but she loves archeology. She convinces the team aboard the Endurance to brave the Dragon’s Triangle, where she believes the hidden island of Yamatai is located. Then their ship crashes in a curiously violent storm and, well, welcome to the jungle.

The whole point of the game is to show how Lara transforms from naive girl to hardened survivor. She takes the life of a man to save her own, hunts wild animals for food, and fends off wolves. She overcomes her fears and kicks a lot of ass.

Tomb Raider is also a game in love with fire. Lara lights torches, huddles around campfires, burns salvage and blockades, shoots flaming arrows, explodes oil barrels, and so on. It’s a foolproof solution to almost every problem and scenario, and it burns neatly, igniting only what it’s supposed to before putting itself out.

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BioShock Infinite: Hyperviolence, smart storytelling, and parallelism


(No spoilers until the very end! With ample warning.)

The months leading up to a video game’s release often serve to accomplish one goal: increase interest, which improves sales.

Most of the gaming world was excited about BioShock Infinite, which launched on consoles and PC on March 26. Many were happy to have another BioShock to play; others were thrilled to see developer Irrational Games return to the first-person adventure series it started in 2007 and pioneered years before with System Shock.

The wait was worth it. BioShock Infinite has a 95 aggregate score on Metacritic, and people can’t stop talking about it.

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Dissecting review scores: Too high, too low, and too soon

review scores anger

Ah, review scores. They’re the flame that draws the moth-like lazy readers who want anywhere from 500 to 2,000 words summed up in a single number. If that sentence doesn’t convey their inherent problem — and years of watching the Olympics or receiving grades on exams haven’t clued you in — then consider how much grey area exists between one and 100.

Any form of media, from books to games, is not made of the same stuff as a 100-point exam, either. If each test question is worth one point, then figuring out the grade the student deserves is an easy enough calculation. It’s when the teacher starts awarding half points and quarters-points that you storm over to her desk and demand an explanation.

As a reviewer of various things, I assign scores. Outlets tend to use their own criteria, forming a total out of 10 or 100, for example, or maybe even adopting letter grades. Even so, what a “9” represents on one website is not the same somewhere else even though we like to qualify it as such on aggregate sites like Metacritic.

I’ve switched over to letter grades (A through F) when reviewing for pleasure because it’s familiar and refreshingly straightforward. I don’t have to worry about how a 9 is minutely different from an 8 when a 6 is in a separate league of awfulness. Ironically, the grading system we turn to for simplicity has poisoned how we measure quality. (And worse, I can’t seem to stop throwing in pluses and minuses. Help!)

Continue reading “Dissecting review scores: Too high, too low, and too soon”