• The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan (2019)

    After the unspectacular Playstation VR game ''The Inpatient'' and the boring interactive Playstation 4 game with PlayLink feature ''Hidden Agenda'', I'm glad to announce that British video game developer Supermassive Games is back in the game with the release of ''The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan''. Just like this company's greatest success, the horror video game ''Until Dawn'' released four years ago, this is an interactive game. You can play five different characters and their survival depends upon the decisions you take throughout the game. The game can be played individually, by multiple players or online. This survival horror game is supposed to be the first in an anthology of eight games. The next entry in the franchise, titled ''Little Hope'' is supposed to be released in spring 2020. A new game is supposed to follow about every six months. I could see this become my favourite video game franchise ever if the series continues to keep the momentum of this first installment.

    This story revolves around five characters stranded on a mysterious ship that disappeared in the Pacific Ocean after the end of the Second World War. Positive leader Alex, his shy brother Brad, Alex' adventurous girlfriend Julia and her quirky brother Conrad travel to the South Pacific Ocean for an illegal underwater diving expedition as they try to find a plane wreck at the bottom of the ocean. Their headstrong captain Fliss criticizes the group for its carelessness but accepts to help since she is in desperate need for money. Things turn sour when a group of pirates attacks them and attempts to find gold on a nearby ghost ship. Once the five lead characters and the pirates enter the ship, they realize that its crew died terrible deaths. The five lead characters must take the right decisions in order to avoid the same fate.

    On the positive side, this game is very atmospheric. The opening hour isn't particularly gripping but serves to introduce the different characters efficiently. Once the characters arrive on the ghost ship, the atmosphere gets more intense and never lets go until the very end. The challenge level in this game is quite difficult. I played this game twice and only one character survived after my first try while nobody survived during my second attempt. The game has a lot of replay value as the story is quite variable. Characters can die or survive in many different ways and there are lots of secrets to be discovered throughout the game. These secrets will also unlock additional video clips which are very interesting to watch. The graphics and sound aren't as sharp as in ''Until Dawn'' due to a lower budget but they are overall still above average. The soundtrack of the game is outstanding and the title song ''A Conversation with Death'' by American doom metal band Khemmis is a very positive surprise. The song fits the game and its atmosphere and it's awesome to hear some great metal music in a video game.

    The game also has a few downsides. The controls are complicated and lacking fluidity. Instead of entering a room, a character might hit a wall and you have to move very carefully. The different quick-time events are particularly challenging as you almost always make mistakes and end up in very dangerous situations.

    The length of the game might seem like an initial disadvantage as it takes roughly five hours to complete it. However, the game has such a high replay value that you will spend many more hours playing this game. Plus, the game's price is very appropriate with around forty Canadian dollars plus taxes.

    In the end, ''The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan'' is an outstanding survival horror game that convinces with intense atmosphere and great replay value. It leaves you wanting more and the next entry in the franchise with ''Little Hope'' can't come soon enough. The first trailer already looks quite promising and gives you Silent Hill and The Blair Witch Project vibes. Give this overlooked new game a try and enjoy it alone at night or with a couple of friends. The game is available on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

    Detailed rating:

    Atmosphere: 9/10

    Challenge level: 10/10

    Controls: 6/10

    Game flow: 7/10

    Graphics: 8/10

    Length: 8/10

    Long-term fun factor: 9/10 

    Sound: 8/10

    Soundtrack: 10/10

    Story: 9/10

    Total score:  84 / 100

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  • Heavy Rain (2010)

    Heavy Rain is an intercative drama and action-adventure game that was originally released on Playstation 3 back in 2010 but was remastered and released on Playstation 4 in 2016. It is also available as a bundle with Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human. The video game was critically acclaimed and New Line Cinema even purchased the rights to make a movie based upon the video game even though a specific project hasn't materialized so far.

    The game focuses on a gloomy atmosphere centered on a twisted story with numerous different outcomes that guarantees that players feel like revisiting this game. A serial killer known as the Origami killer kidnaps young boys, keeps them in secret locations, drowns them and dumps their bodies with an origami figure placed on their chests.

    There are four playable characters whose actions intertwine.

    Ethan Mars is a family father who lost one of his sons in a tragic accident and fell into a coma. He awoke six months later but suffers from occasional disorientation and memory loss, wandering off at night for unfathomable reasons. Tragedy strikes again when his second son is kidnapped in a park. Ethan Mars doesn't want to lose another son and does everything he can to find his son before he gets killed. The serial killer contacts him and asks him to undergo a series of more and more twisted challenges to save his child.

    Madison Paige is a journalist suffering from insomnia and strange visions who occasionally moves to a run-down motel where she seems to be able to sleep much better than at home. She meets Ethan Mars at the motel, realizes that he seems to feel tormented and offers her help for mysterious reasons. When she learns more about him, she decides to investigate herself in order to help him save his son and uncover the identity of the Origami killer.

    Norman Jayden is a FBI profiler who is sent from Washington D.C. to support local police force to identify and arrest the Origami killer. The profiler uses a sophisticated evidence detecting system called Added Reality Interface but his unusual methods clash with his conservative partner lieutenant Carter Blake. Norma Jayden also suffers from a severe drug addiction that cause hallucinations, headaches and nosebleeds. He soon fails to distinguish fantasy from reality.

    Scott Shelby is a former police officer who was let go under mysterious circumstances. He has become a lonesome private investigator who got hired by the families of the serial killer's victims. He tries to understand the serial killer's modus operandi and soon uncovers clues police officers had overlooked. He focuses his attention on an attention-seeking playboy and son of a wealthy businessman who tries to bribe and later on menace Scott Shelby. He reluctantly pairs up with the mother of one of the victims, a prostitute named Lauren Winter, who is emotionally unstable but motivated to find her son's murderer by any means necessary.

    While the story, characters and atmosphere are the game's strongest points, its weakness remains the game play. The four characters are played from a third-person perspective but the camera angles are sometimes difficult to adjust. The game also focuses on numerous quick time events that need perfect precision and timing. This can become frustrating for occasional or less experienced players.

    Still, this clever game is very immersive and almost works like a detailed film noir that requests the player's participation. This sinister thriller is much better than numerous actual movies and television series. The story, characters and atmosphere are this game's greatest assets while the game play could have been more diversified and fluid. In the end, this intellectual video game is highly recommendable and has aged particularly well. 

    Detailed rating:

    Atmosphere: 10/10

    Challenge level: 7/10

    Controls: 6/10

    Game flow: 8/10

    Graphics: 8/10

    Length: 8/10

    Long-term fun factor: 9/10

    Sound: 8/10

    Soundtrack: 9/10

    Story: 10/10 

    Total score:  83/100

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  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2

    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 was one of the very first Playstation 4 games I bought back in 2015 and it took me a whopping three years to complete this game. There are a lot of positive and negative elements about the game even though I would overall consider it an above average to good game.

    On the positive side, the twisted story is quite interesting. It takes place in two different timelines which is an interesting concept. There are also multiple different characters to control with different objectives which adds some change and pace to the franchise. The story revolves around the events on an isolated island where an experiment has gone terribly wrong and has had grisly short- and long-term consequences. The different chapters are very challenging, detailed and long. The opponents are at times tough to fight, especially the bosses. The most recent editions even include two bonus episodes among other elements. If you purchase this game, you will have numerous hours of game play as Resident Evil: Revelations 2 truly offers value for money.

    On the negative side, I think the game is a little bit too long overall. The fight sequences are quite repetitive and fighting the bosses for hours and hours can become quite frustrating. I often played the game for a week or two, took a break of several months and then resumed playing. That's why it took me nearly three years to make it through this epic game.

    If you like the Resident Evil franchise or intense horror games in general, you simply can't get around this game because it offers high-quality long-term entertainment. On the other side, you need to bring some patience to accept the challenge to make it until the very end.

    Detailed rating:

    Atmosphere: 9/10

    Challenge level: 10/10

    Controls: 6/10

    Game flow: 5/10

    Graphics: 7/10

    Length: 10/10

    Long-term fun factor: 7/10

    Sound: 8/10

    Soundtrack: 7/10

    Story: 7/10 

    Total score:  76/100

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  • Life Is Strange: Before the Storm

    Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is a prequel to episodic graphic adventure video game Life is Strange which was released to critical acclaim three years earlier. This prequel focuses on two side characters from the original video game and takes place about three and a half years before the sinister events of Life Is Strange. It tells the story of Max's childhood friend Chloe who is acting tough, hanging around with shady people and listening to loud music in order to hide her loneliness, her lack of self-confidence and her pain regarding her father's death two years earlier. The broken teenager meets Rachel who seems to be quite the opposite: everybody seems to like her, she comes from an intact and wealthy family and she succeeds particularly well at school. Rachel however feels attracted to Chloe's craziness, honesty and spontaneity. The game revolves around the fact that appearances are not what it seems as Rachel's father has more than one sinister thing to hide from his daughter.

    If you liked the dream-like atmosphere of the original game with its unique characters, intense storytelling and floating soundtrack, you will also like this sequel. It's particularly interesting to explore some characters from the first game further and to understand how they became the way they are. The two lead characters are intriguing teenage girls with bright and dark sides. As someone who grew up with perfect parents, succeeded well at school and appreciated most of his teenage years, I have always been intrigued by people who have experienced life differently. The characters in this game are authentic, deep and unique and all these elements will make you care about them and their fates.

    There is only two minor reasons why I preferred the original game over the sequel. First of all, the original game has five episode while this one only has three. Secondly, the first game revolved around a truly sinister secret involving murder while this sequel is rather a family drama. On the other side, it was the right choice to tell a different story here to distinguish this game from the first one.

    To keep it short, if you like authentic characters, dramatic storytelling and ominous atmosphere, you will like this game as well as the original Life Is Strange.

    This game's limited edition includes some truly nice gimmicks such as a beautiful art book as well as the game's creative soundtrack on CD. 

    Detailed rating:

    Atmosphere: 9/10

    Challenge level: 7/10

    Controls: 7/10

    Game flow: 7/10

    Graphics: 8/10

    Length: 8/10

    Long-term fun factor: 8/10

    Sound: 8/10

    Soundtrack: 8/10

    Story: 8/10 

    Total score: 78 /100

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  • Hidden Agenda (2017)

    Hidden Agenda is an interactive game for Playstation 4 that requests the additional use of a mobile device or tablet. You will need to download an additional free PlayLink application to be able to play the game. You won't be using the regular controller. The game is based upon quick time events and so-called ripple effects where specific choices can determine different outcomes of the game. The game can be played by up to six people who have to collaborate to make what they think could be the right choices. In addition to this, certain players will receive additional tasks known as hidden agendas. They will have to influence decisions in order to make certain things happen and gain points. Other players can try to uncover the player with a hidden agenda. Basically, Hidden Agenda is like a mixture of a board game for multiple players and a movie where the players watch the story unfold and only react to some quick time events and make choices. There almost isn't any gameplay.

    Hidden Agenda tries to come around with a few fresh ideas but the overall execution is below average. First of all, it took me hours to download the app. I needed to create a Google Account, had to update my Playstation and it took me twenty minutes just to download the application and another ten minutes to make it work because both the Playstation and the Hidden Agenda application need to be connected on the same WiFi hotspot. Just getting this game started was frustrating. Supermassive Games should at least have given single players the opportunity to use the regular Dualshock controller.

    Another big issue are the games' numerous glitches. The cut scenes are often abrupt and harm the game's fluidity. The player spends too much time looking at black screens or other graphic failures in between scenes. After having played the entire game twice, it happened already twice that the game was interrupted due to major glitches and I had to replay certain passages. It's hard to accept that such a short game that involved so many programmers has so many glitches.

    Another serious problem is the game's length. Depending on your choices, it takes between eighty and one hundred twenty minutes to play the game. I knew this game was going to be shorter than a regular game, but playing this game for about eighty minutes is shorter than playing any elaborate board game I could possibly think of.

    The game's only saving grace is the complex story with its multiple choices but once again, Hidden Agenda is far from perfection here. You can't save the game and go back to modify your choices, even though the game is subdivided into three parts as well as an introduction and a conclusion. It's possible to stop the game and continue playing the rest of the game at a later moment but you can't replay specific chapters. In addition to this, the story doesn't always make sense. In one case, an important witness pointed out the job the actual murderer might have but instead of investigating this lead, the characters of the game focused on a completely different possibility which led to an unfinished open ending that wasn't quite satisfying.

    Even though I enjoyed the game for its main idea, there are too many problems about it, including a complicated application, numerous graphic glitches and the very short length. Ironically, the credits at the end of the game are so long that they make for about ten percent of the entire game which isn't even the case for short movies. My suggestion is to avoid this game and watch a great crime flick instead or play a board game with your friends. Supermassive Games tried to innovate gameplay but ended up failing miserably.

    Detailed rating:

    Atmosphere: 7/10

    Challenge level: 7/10

    Controls: 6/10

    Game flow: 3/10

    Graphics: 7/10

    Length: 4/10

    Long-term fun factor: 4/10

    Sound: 6/10

    Soundtrack: 6/10

    Story: 8/10 

    Total score: 58 /100

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