Gravity Rush Remastered Review

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Writing this a few months after finishing it so the experience isn’t as fresh as it could be so I’ll keep this brief, but nice to have a record.

Gravity Rush is a 3rd person anime-styled adventure with a load of charm, that is well-executed, looks great and benefits from an Eastern cultural essence that provides an unusual and enjoyable element to a Westerner like me.

The character you play is a young girl called Kat who wakes up in a town where weird baddies and storms have appeared, and the appearance of a magical cat gives you supernatural strength and powers. The game is you restoring the town to normality by finding parts of it that that have been eaten up by the storm, and defeating the baddies.

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The standout element of the game is the ability to ‘shift’ gravity, allowing you to essentially fly (technically skilled falling!). You point at the surface you want to ‘fall’ to, and gravity shifts to make it so, and you go flying towards your direction. Shifting mid-fall allows you to navigate around in 3D space, uncovering hidden areas, exposing weaknesses of enemies etc. Its really fun to do and never gets old.

Much of the game plays like many others like it. Alice: Madness Returns springs to mind – long story missions with repetitive enemies and battles, slowly evolving as you earn better abilities, but unlike Alice, Gravity Rush manages to keep the balance enjoyable (Alice became a slog as it was far too long and repetitive). For each story mission, there are a few side quests and races to undertake, which are all quite fun and not overly numerous.

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The overall game atmosphere left a really pleasant mark in my mind. Each area of the city has its own unique look and feel, as well as ‘theme tune’ that plays while you’re there. There are a number of weird and wonderful other worlds you visit, each with their own environmental challenges and skills required to navigate. The various areas complement each other really well and I’ve been left with a real fondness when I think back about this game.

I found the most interesting part the character Kat. Her lines, relationships and even risqué scenes provided an insight into Eastern culture that is quite new to me as I haven’t watched/played any anime-type things before. It had this weird mix of innocence and sexuality; a balance that perhaps isn’t seen that much over here in the West. Kat is simultaneously vulnerable, sexy and endearing.

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The game was quite long, I think due to the addition of DLC content in the PS4 version I played. I definitely wouldn’t want it to be any longer, and I was aware it was long, but it was fun the whole way through.

A quirky and fun adventure with a few unique abilities and charms that leaves a really positive imprint; definitely recommended.

My score: 8/10

Batman: Arkham Knight Review

Its almost as if this blog is turning into solely game reviews…. ok yes that’s exactly what this has become I’m afraid. I like to document it when I complete a game, so why not put it here (don’t answer that)?

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So, Batman: Arkham Knight. Number 4 in the ‘modern’ console releases of Batman, but number 3 in the ‘official’ Rocksteady series, as Arkham Origins was made by a different developer and goes off-canon a bit (as far as I’m aware). Each of the games evolves from the previous one, starting from the very successful Arkham Asylum. Each introduces a new fundamental game mechanic – Arkham City opened up the environment to a much wider area with more focus on gliding (after the claustrophobia of Arkham Asylum), and Arkham Knight introduces the Batmobile as a primary method of travel, and further increases the play area with roads and different whole districts of Gotham city to explore.

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The Batmobile is pretty awesome really

Other than these key evolutions, the rest of the game mechanics have remained unchanged. You get a few new gadgets in each game to earn, but the combat, baddies, style and pretty much everything else is the same as before. That’s not necessarily a bad thing I suppose as the game concept is really good, but I did let out a small sigh starting the game, seeing what I was getting myself into.

Overall the game was very enjoyable. Batman’s voice acting was great (if a little OTT), the graphics and environment were incredible, the batmobile was fun to drive, and combat remained satisfying and challenging.

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Combat and tactics remain thoroughly enjoyable

The plot itself was a bit mediocre. There’s a few main enemies (namely Scarecrow and new guy – “The Arkham Knight”, who flip-flop between who is the one you’re actually after and who’s in charge of who, and the eventual defeats are bit bland. Then there’s all the other baddy characters like Two Face etc, who each get their own little side-story (read: side missions), but some are so short it feels disjointed considering the historical significance of some of these characters.

As with all these games, the decision of when to progress the story or pursue side missions is left up to the player, and while some side missions are witheld until certain points of the game, this player-led progress means the pacing of the game is left entriely down to the player. I find this almost always doesn’t work very well – either you spend too long on side quests so you lose interest in the main plot, or you focus on the main plot and then don’t upgrade enough through side quests to enjoy all the powerups. Only the developers know in advance what the best ‘pace’ should be, and there’s no way for a player to know this, so it is pot-luck and entirely driven by each player’s personal play style.

Then there’s the Riddler. Everything to do with the Riddler was basically awful, and it significantly reduced the quality of the experience for me. The game employs the same old concept – Riddler has hidden a load of clues, items breakable objects etc all over Gotham and how have to find them all before you can progress his bit of the story. There are about 250 of these!! Collecting them involves enduring his endless inane childish babbling, all the while being acutely aware that the actual implementation of a set of traps on this scale would be an enormous undertaking and not just be dreamt up at a moment’s notice as seems to be the case. The whole concept of chasing down glowing question marks is downright demeaning to a character like Batman, and the whole exercise was just unrewarding. Even the final battle with Riddler was rubbish and forgettable. This is some of the worst artificial extensions of game time I’ve seen, and was just completely overdone. I don’t know why they went so mad with Riddler stuff but the devs should be embarrassed.

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Lots of things get blown up

One brilliant aspect was the Joker sub-plot. I don’t want to give too much away, but basically Joker, despite dying in the second game, features heavily in this one, in a unique way and fairly intrinsically to the plot. His demise in this game is the most interesting of all the baddies, his acting is fantastic and he gets some hilarious lines. He’s been the best bit of the Arkham games for sure.

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Joker and “Bats” hanging out on a rooftop 

Getting to 100% on this game was a slog. There were so many ‘things’ to find, just to tick them off, that didn’t really add to the game itself. I think the balance was too skewed in that direction, but considering these are optional (to a degree), I suppose only the completionists like me are going to be annoyed! I clocked up 47 hours on this one which is pretty high, and I feel a lot of those hours weren’t particularly good value for money.

That said, there were plenty of really enjoyable aspects to the game, especially if you are a fan of the genre, story etc.

My score: 7/10

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – Review

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I think I’ve just finished this game. It isn’t really very clear whether I’ve finished it or not, which I will explain.

MGSV is an open-world military/stealth/espionage game, where you spend your time using a combination of stealth and endlessly novel weapons and gadgets to infiltrate bases, rescue prisoners, capture outposts and defeat baddies, all while uncovering a mysterious plot involving worldwide nuclear threats and… paranormal experimentation.

Whereas usually in games the plot and the gameplay are intertwined, with MGS the two are so dramatically different that they can almost be considered completely independently of each other. The gameplay, game mechanics, level progression, base building etc on one hand, and a cut-scene heavy elaborate and mindblowingly confusing and extravagent plot and set of characters on the other. You could basically play the game without the cutscenes or story and have a great time, and similarly you could probably just watch all the cutscenes and enjoy a movie, albeit one that probably doesn’t make any sense.

So to look first at the gameplay itself, which is outstanding. As a long-time Splinter Cell fan, when I heard that this game was about ‘stealth’, but then saw screenshots in open sunny deserts, I was dubious. Stealth to me means creeping in the shadows indoors at night, not racing around in choppers and Jeeps, but MGS won me over – it really is brilliantly done.

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Sneaky sneaky

You are Big Boss, general badass and leader of guns-for-hire Diamond Dogs and you have a wealth of weapons, gadgets and other tools available to you, all of which can be upgraded throughout the game. You can choose how to play the game, but you are rewarded by using stealth and not killing people (so, silenced tranquilliser guns, sleep and stun grenades, distractions and generally sneaky sneaky approaches, knocking out enemies one by one until you’ve secured the area), or you can just as easily go loud, deploying a tank and using rocket launchers, landmines and grenades to obliterate anything with a heartbeat. Both are fun, and both are completely equal in execution quality and options.

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One of your buddies – D-Dog, who can sniff out baddies and other useful stuff

Not only are you a one-man-infiltration-machine, but you can call in “buddies” who can help you (a sniper, a dog who can sniff out enemies, a mechanical walking machine or a horse) and you can call for airdrops of anything from ammo to full-size tanks or other vehicles that you have acquired.

This endless array of options led to some really great gaming experiences. Sometimes I’d be infiltrating a base with a stealth load out, and then I’d be completely blindsided by a plot twist that meant I needed to go loud, so I’d call in a loudout drop from the chopper and completely change my tactics, sometimes even swapping out buddies as well. I might then steal a vehicle and go to the next mission or side mission, or call the helicopter to take me there. Sometimes the helicopter would come and help me with some air-to-ground barrage, but I’d have to make sure I hunted out any ground-to-air artillery first and take it out with some C4. Perhaps I would interrogate a guard and find out there’s a prisoner nearby which might mean a change in plan, or maybe I’d get caught and suddenly need to resort to drastic measures to survive. The game has a brutal (but rewarding) checkpoint system where you can lose a lot of progress if you die, so you really don’t want to.

Then there is a whole behind-the-scenes base-building aspect to the game, where the enemies you extract from the battlefield become your new recruits who help research items for you. You can visit your “Mother Base” and explore it, unlocking some hidden cutscenes. As it grows, so do the weapons and item upgrades that become available to you. You can even micro-manage which teams each staff member resides in, to maximise the base efficiency, but I just used the auto-manage option the whole time unless I needed a temporary boost to a particular team to meet a particular upgrade’s requirements.

The AI is intelligent and challenging, adapting to your playstyle. For example, if you always infiltrate camps at night-time (the game has a day and night cycle), soldiers will start wearing night-vision goggles and using torches, or if you always use gas grenades they might start wearing gas masks. This makes you adapt your approach, always keeping you thinking. You can even send out some of your mother base staff on behind the scenes missions on your behalf to disrupt enemy supplies of gas masks etc to try and turn the odds back in your favour.

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The cutscenes are numerous, long and overly dramatic

That’s just a fraction of the gameplay, which is totally immersive and excellent and I had a blast playing it. There’s so much to it, and its all really well balanced and makes for one of the best 3rd person stealth/combat games I’ve ever played. On the flip side, there’s the plot and other theatrical elements which really mess with the formula. The plot alone is completely nuts and makes little sense unless you do a lot of background reading and listen to all the tapes that you collect throughout the game. It references huge amounts of back-story which went over my head because I’d not played any previous MGS games. It was quite enjoyable but I just got the feeling they went overboard. Every cutscene includes dramatic slow-mo moments, lens flares and climaxing music, as if this is some mini-movie. Every mission starts and ends in a full credits sequence (spoiling half the twists in missions because it tells you who is ‘starring’ in the mission before you’ve played it). The game designer Hideo Kojima’s name appears every time you finish a mission or do anything. The cutscenes are really long too; I wouldn’t be surprised if there was at least 2 hours of cutscenes in this game. There’s also an embarrassingly overly-sexed character with huge bobbing boobs in a tiny bikini, with a far-fetched plot device created to explain why she dresses that way. I think it is related to the culture of Japan etc, where this sort of thing might be normal, but it sticks out oddly in the game. The theatrics of the game are basically over the top, and I did find myself getting fed up with the long and bizarre cutscenes. Also your character, voiced by Keither Sutherland, is weirdly silent for most of the game, despite being pivotal to almost every scene. Then way he just doesn’t say anything ever is really strange. There must be a decision behind it, but the result is odd.

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“Quiet”, a very useful but ridiculously ‘gifted’ woman

The only significant negative about the game is the pacing, although this can be counter-acted with some fore-knowledge. Essentially, the game is split into two chapters, but there can be no other explanation for the quality of chapter 2 other than they ran out of money or time. It is a mishmash of a few cutscenes, a handful of new missions and side ops and a load of replaying of old missions on a harder difficulty level. When you complete Chapter 1, you feel like you have legitimately beaten the game – the pacing up to that point is perfect, there is a decent finale etc, and then the end game credits. Then it says “End of Chapter 1”. The player is then left to believe that they are half way through the game, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The slow realisation of how awful and non-existent Chapter 2 is makes for a real comedown after the climax of Chapter 1. I’ve read up on it and there are plenty of rumours about budget and time constraints fighting against an overly-grand vision by Kojima, but there is simply no excuse for this terrible execution. Chapter 1 should have been the end, leaving the rest of the side ops etc open for playing casually. What’s infuriating is that there are a few ‘secret’ missions in Chapter 2, unlocked only by achieving certain things (which you aren’t told about), which then explain the entire plot. There is no hint that these missions even exist (I just researched on the web and stumbled on it), but they explain a LOT. To bury something of such significance inside an otherwise pointless chapter is crazy.

Overall, this is a fantastic game that I highly recommend. The gameplay is brilliant, the missions and side ops are varied enough to avoid monotony, the plot is totally mad but intriguingly unusual and unexpected. There are a load of culturally-inspired decisions made that are confusing and unnecessary but they can be ignored. I would advise all players to consider “Chapter 1” to be the full game, to avoid disappointment, although I would recommend playing the important story missions in Chapter 2.

Going back to an analog watch after Apple Watch

I wore my 42mm Apple Watch Space Grey Sports daily for about 6 months. I pre-ordered it the minute pre-orders came available and was very excited to receive it. I am an early adopter and a general fan of Apple design (although less of a fan of their software these days).

I’d worn a Tissot wristwatch for about 15 years, but once reading about the Apple Watch, it made me ask a few fundamental questions about the purpose of a watch. I started to understand how watches were at least 50% a fashion item as opposed to being purely a utility to tell the time (which is why I wore mine). The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to me to give a smartwatch a try – if I am going to wear something on my wrist and I’m not that fashion-conscious, I may as well make the most of it and get as much use from it. I also realised that my current watch was really showing its age.

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch did not live up to its hype or the expectation I had for it. I don’t actually blame it for this; it is literally a 1st generation product and I can’t think back to many 1st gen digital products that lived up to the expectations of a modern digital consumer – our standards are exceptionally high! However, the future is called that for a reason and I can only wear on my wrist what is available today, and today the Apple Watch is not worth wearing (for me).

(The enjoyment of any watch is, I now understand, a very personal thing. The following assessment is therefore true only for me, but I’m just going to say that once rather than appending “in my opinion” after every sentence that follows…)

Form

If a product is comprised of form and function, the Apple Watch doesn’t deliver on either. While the design is modern and well executed, and probably some of the highest quality hardware engineering you can expect for £350, the design lacks any form of emotional quality. It simply doesn’t evoke any response in my heart when looking at it, unlike almost any normal watch. I can’t quite put my finger on why; maybe it was just too black, too metal, or too flat. Rather than looking and feeling like a watch that also does smart things, it looks like an Apple computer that happens to tell the time, and that wasn’t what I wanted to see when looking at my wrist. The fact that almost every single UI element was a circle but the physical watch shape was a rectangle never quite worked for me either; I started longing for a round watch.

I actually tried to reduce the gadgety look of the device by buying a 3rd party leather strap from Pad & Quill, which was great and made a huge difference, but a strap can’t save the watch from itself.

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Before and After: Standard Space Grey Apple Watch Sports and with Pad & Quill’s leather strap

 

This is the thing I didn’t anticipate or appreciate about buying a smartwatch; that it needs to feel right. The desired feeling is specific to each individual, but for me I realised I wanted to feel like I was wearing a watch, not a computer.

Function

This one is easy to critique. The Apple Watch needs to mature before the functions it provides will be more useful. Some basics are limiting it off the bat – namely speed and reliability. Apps are painfully slow to load, and sometimes don’t load at all. As I read once, computer interactions are measured in hours, smartphones measured in minutes, and smartwatches measured in seconds. I.e. if doing something on your watch takes longer that it would take to do on your phone, there’s no point, and that was the problem with the Apple Watch. Using it for anything that involved any interaction with it was an exercise in frustration as you sit there staring at the spinning wheel.

Other niggles made it annoying, like having to make an awkwardly-horizontal wrist movement just to get the screen to light up and tell the time, and playing cat and mouse with the home button as you could never quite tell if it had recognised your press, then it would but only after you’ve pressed it again so you’d go back and forth endlessly. And don’t even get me started on Siri, which worked about 1 in 10 times. If Siri doesn’t work 100% of the time, it is worth trying.

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Get used to this

 

As many others believe, I think the Apple Watch simply tries too hard to do too much, probably because Apple don’t really know how people are going to use it, so they want to give people options to see how it pans out.

What this meant was that the trade-off between form and function (sacrificing form for increased function) didn’t balance, because the function wasn’t there. So I was left with a smartwatch that didn’t feel very smart.

(Just to re-iterate, this is my personal experience. My wife absolutely swears by her Apple Watch, mainly because of one of her use-cases – her phone remains in her handbag and she can now see notifications, messages and calls without having to find her bag).

So what next?

I made my mind up and sold it, and had started reading and learning about mechanical watches. I started to appreciate the thought and work that goes into a lot of watches out there, and how in fact the function isn’t necessarily that important – there is something about watches that appeals to our vanity above all else. I used to think I liked an understated watch because I wasn’t into fashion, but that’s probably not true – having an understated watch is still a fashion decision like any other.

I knew I wanted to wear an analog watch. I was happy to forego the smart capabilities – in fact, I had come to realise that I didn’t want to get closer to my digital life, but in fact the opposite. I struggle enough to maintain a balance between being engrossed in digital and real life, and I didn’t need another device making it harder. The Apple Watch managed to remind me of how increasing my digital interactions wasn’t always a good thing.

The only brand I fell in love with was Nomos. They are an independent German watch manufacturer making waves as they build their own movements in-house and strike a difficult balance between minimalism and unique design (minimalist watches are all the rage right now but they generally look overly bland and lack subtlety). This is quite unusual as most watchmakers, even the big players, buy movements from only a handful of Swiss manufacturers. The Nomos design is also unique and right up my street. Unfortunately they start at about £1,500 and the ones I like are about £2,500, so a Nomos was out of the question – there simply is no justification for spending that sort of money on a watch, for me.

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Nomos Tangente Neomatik

 

I then nearly bought a Tissot Luxury Automatic – a mechanical chronometer (very accurate) with an innovated movement giving it an 80 hour power reserve (how long it stays ‘wound’ when not on the wrist), but at £650 and with quite a bland design, again I couldn’t justify it.

Tissot Luxury Automatic Chronometer

 

I then kind of gave up for a few weeks until I stumbled upon Farer. They are a UK-based watch designer whose style I immediately liked, and when I showed my wife the Stark watch, it was the first one where she immediately said she liked it, which was a significant moment!

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Farer Stark

 

So I ordered it! And now I am a proud owner of a ‘dumb’ wristwatch. It doesn’t have the aficionado appeal of a mechanical watch (it has a battery), but it is really well designed and presented, and at £380 was much more affordable (although granted still pricey for a Quartz watch).

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My Farer Stark which arrived today

 

So for now, I am having a dumb wrist, and it feels great. There was something about the Apple Watch that was trying to solve a problem that didn’t exist. There were moments of genius that I think will evolve into something in due course (for example, customisable complications and tap to turn navigation), but these are bogged down by unnecessary feature bloat and poor performance.

Give it a few more years to evolve and, just like the iPhone, I’m confident it will mature and live up to its own lofty standards, but its not there today, and today I feel much better wearing a normal watch. I’ve accepted my own levels of wrist vanity and am pleased I have found a solution that allows me to tell the time and feel good about it.

Firewatch – Finishing Thoughts

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Quite a short but very enjoyable game. A “walking simulator”, like Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, the game is essentially an interactive story told through the conversations between you and your supervisor. You are a guy who has chosen to escape from the troubles of your personal life (wife with dementia) by accepting a job in an American national park on Firewatch duty, holed up in a lookout post for the entire summer.

You start of doing some errands at the instruction of your supervisor, who is also stationed in a distant lookout post visible on the horizon, but soon it becomes apparent that all is not what it seems. A mystery unfolds, and although it ends up not being as ‘mysterious’ as all that, it is fun to go through the motions to uncover what is going on.

The strength of the game really lies within the conversation that takes place between you and Delilah, your supervisor, and the relationship that brews between you. The dialogue is really smooth, natural, and funny, and was really fun to engage in.

My two complaints are firstly that the game was too short – the early stages of casual exploration were fun, and a bit more roaming would have been nice before the plot kicked in, which then drove a very linear story progression. The second was that the game was a bit buggy on PS4; two freezes in the 5 or so hours it took to complete, the girls at the lake simply vanished when the conversation was over, and other weirdness.

All in all, highly recommended.

[Playstation Store link]

Gone Home

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[Includes Spoilers]

Just finished. Another ‘walking simulator’ but probably took less time to complete than the already-quite-short Firewatch that I finished yesterday (yes I have a lot of time on my hands – I’ve broken my ankle!).

In Gone Home you play the silent role of Katie, a 20-something woman who returns to an empty home after a year travelling. You decide to then pry around the house, opening every draw in every room to discover where everyone is. The main story that unfolds is that of your sister Sam, and the relationship that she develops with another schoolgirl Lonnie, eventually culminating in them running away from home together.

The only voice acting is from Sam, played back through triggered out-of-the-ether audio journal entries. In addition, you discover notes, letters, school report cards and other clues around the house. You learn that your mum works for the forestry commission and recently was promoted after successfully dealing with a controlled burn in a national park. Your dad is a struggling author who has been dumped by one publisher and saved by another, after turning to soul-destroying product reviews for a magazine. In addition, there are hints towards some marital struggles and a ‘pyshco’ ex-owner of your new house (your dad’s deceased uncle).

This game was recommended to me and has had really good reviews, but it didn’t click for me. Part of the problem was that the story unfolded in a very linear fashion, so there was no ‘puzzle’ to work out – I didn’t have to piece anything together to work out what had happened, instead the areas of the house you can go to are manipulated in order so you have to hear the story in order. This is different to something like Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture, where you can explore the entire story in any order and there is a feeling of accomplishment when you eventually put it all together.

The other issue I think was that the only real story involved a single character – your sister. The three other family members (you, your mum and your dad) don’t really have much to do with it. You learn a little bit about them all here and there, but it is inconsequential to the plot. I would have enjoyed piecing together some intertwining story arcs but there were none.

I also never really got emotionally involved in Sam’s story, and I’m not sure why. I usually love these games (I welled up in Firewatch during the opening credits before the game had even began, and I cried in EGTTR), so it isn’t like this isn’t just my sort of game because it is, but Sam’s story was very unexciting and most of all, predictable. There were hints at a same sex romance dropped very early on, so there were no surprises when that was unveiled, and even then so what? I guess perhaps I was hoping for some sort of drama to unfold, when in fact this game just lets you peek into the life of an ordinary family going through ordinary dramas. I’m a new parent and find myself emotionally reacting to anything about parenting and kids these days, but even so nothing touched me in this game. There was only one small mention of the reaction Sam’s parents had to her coming out, and only from Sam’s perspective – nothing from the parents’ perspective (or Katie’s).

In smaller things, I didn’t like the fact that none of the lights in the house were capable of lighting any of the rooms they were in, and why were there no mirrors!? Ok I know why, because that would have meant having to code in a 3D human being to show in the reflection, which would have cost time and money. I would have liked to have seen myself in the mirror, as it would have brought some presence to the character I embodied. Also, if I had just returned home to an empty house, why wouldn’t I speak? I kept thinking I would have expected my character to react to things she read etc, but the only hint at her reactions was in some of the on-screen texts that changed after looking at certain items. It wasn’t enough, and further reduced the realism.

On a positive note, the soundtrack was great, and the sounds were atmospheric. Unfortunately though not even the graphics were that interesting, using a very ‘boring’ game engine that did nothing to spark the imagination.

So I think all in all the linear storytelling, the lack of depth of any characters but one, the lack of feeling of embodiment of your own character, and the lack of any more depth to the interactivity in the game mechanics, left me wanting more from this.

I certainly won’t be remembering my time playing Gone Home, unlike The Vanishing of Ethan Carter or EGTTR, which I still remember to this day, and can hear the music in my head (in fact I still get chills turning on my PS4 as I still have the EGTTR dynamic theme with the choral music playing eerily in the background – amazing!).

Taking a break from Twitter and other digital distractions

This post is about my own personal account of a journey of self-assessment I have been undertaking, which has resulted in a decision to take a step back from some of the digital ‘inputs’ that have become so prevalent in my daily life. Perhaps that comes across as a bit melodramatic, but it is what it is and I feel it would be useful, if only for own future reference, to document this here.

I have become acutely aware of a loss of focus within me. I spend my commute idly scrolling through hundreds of RSS feeds, reading only a handful, and even then only partially. I browse through Twitter all day thinking that somehow I am interacting with others, and every thought I have invariably ends up as a tweet that probably doesn’t get read. I’m always refreshing, looking for new content to keep me occupied, but it never does. It is a common problem I’ve read plenty of other people face, and I have decided it is time to do something about it for myself.

For me, I came to realise that Twitter was potentially playing a slightly destructive role in my life. By giving me the ability to voice my opinions and thoughts with no moderation or consequence, it was giving me the illusion that my tweets had purpose and meaning. It was almost as if I considered tweeting to be a form of human interaction. For many, I’m sure it is, but I would say I get about 1 reply for every 100 tweets (if that), so it was absolutely not a decent form of human interaction for me. I would think that by being active on Twitter, I was somehow engaging with others, but the truth is the opposite. The more I engaged with Twitter, the less I engaged with reality, where the real humans are.

So what’s the problem with that? Well, for various other reasons, I am on a personal journey of self-assessment to ensure that I am conducting my life in a healthy and productive way, and re-connecting with myself emotionally and spiritually is a key part of that. So to then realise that I’m investing a huge amount of my effort in a tool that pretends to provide human interaction but actually doesn’t, was a significant realisation. I need to be living a balanced life, and I think that Twitter was skewing that.

Then there are of course the usual complaints about the service. The fact that it is full of negativity and judgmentalism. The fact that tweeting is easy, requiring little to no thought, so tweets are often pointless, negative or downright wrong. And the fact that it generally promotes an obsession or reliance on ‘content overload’ as a form of drug, rather than providing controlled, meaningful content that requires consideration and time.

Of course there are benefits, and the balance of pros and cons is different for each individual. I enjoyed getting timely updates on events and news that I was interested in, and there were plenty of people whose tweets I found interesting. However, for me, those benefits do not outweigh the potential negatives.

So I am starting to focus again on the ‘offline’ me. Building an online persona is no longer a priority. I have signed out of Twitter on my devices and removed the app. I will concentrate now on more wholesome use of my time. I am also going to be addressing the RSS feeds situation, hoping to replace it with a tighter list of curated news and articles that is manageable. I want to value quality over quantity and ensure I am only ingesting decent content. I have bought a Kindle and hope to resume reading books again instead of going on the internet, on a device without distractions.

And yes, I know, going ‘cold turkey’ is regarded by many as an over-reaction to this very common problem we have in our fortunate lives, and that all this is perhaps a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I’m not doing it to make a point and I’m not looking for validation or approval. I don’t think anyone else should do it unless they feel it is right for them. But, I want to remove the distractions and start from scratch, to work out what is really important to me and what isn’t.

It’s a bit of an experiment. If I end up going back to Twitter, so be it, but I feel it is important to give this a go. I am setting myself a target of 90 days before I consider changing; I feel that is long enough to give this a chance to make a tangible difference.