Well, it’s that time again. It’s almost March and I haven’t written an article for this month yet. Better go over another short selection of things I hate.
Every year. Every year, without fail, I have to sit through posts on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc. all rallying around the idea that somehow, this year was the worst year of all time. “Okay no I know I say this every year. But this time for real, 2016 was the WORST. Fuck you, 2016!”
NO, FUCK YOU BRADLEY. 2016 is an artifical construct, a useful unit by which we can tell how much time has passed. It’s as arbitrary and meaningless as your corduroy jacket with the elbow patches you call your professor jacket, you irrelevant moron.
It’s not original, it’s not funny, it’s not even a good rallying cry because guess what? You’re going to say the exact same thing 12 months from now! We’re two months into 2017 and I could write an actual, full fledged, not well received novel about the horrible events from this year, but nowhere do you see “Fuck 2017!” Nah, gotta wait until you have to throw away the Thanksgiving leftovers and wrap a present for your estranged cousin who just showed back up in the family after being in a cult and we all have to pretend it’s okay. Some strange combination of holiday stress, the reminder of mortality, and the end of a time period makes people look back on that time and think “you know what, so many bad things happened this year. There’s no WAY next year will be as bad. In fact, you know what…”
“This year’s gonna be my year!”
Is it? No really, is it though? If it’s your year, how’s it gonna be my year?
Listen. Bradley. My dude. The weird importance you place on arbitrary time markers is understandable, but ultimately as useless as your “fine dining for cats” start up idea. If you didn’t make last year your year, why did you wait until it was over to try again?
And this shouldn’t be taken to discourage anyone from trying to better themselves. If you really needed something as dumb as New Year’s Eve to start losing weight, writing your novel, or quitting smoking then lemme be your Dick Clark cause I got balls to drop.
I’m just saying keep trying all the time. Go after your goals with as much fervor today as tomorrow as next week as summer as December all the way until you die. Don’t wait to go get what you want, and don’t blame the year if it doesn’t go right.
When someone disagrees with you and ends a sentence in “right?”
Me: “I don’t know man, I just didn’t like Majora’s Mask that much. It was fine, but kind of stagnant in places and the pacing was awkward.”
Them: “I mean…it had the best story, right?”
Internal me: You manipulative motherf-NO. THAT’S WHY WE’RE ARGUING.
External me: “….YOU MANIPULATI-”
If we’re in a debate about something, the purpose of which is to leave the other party with more understanding of your position and views and maybe even to convince them, the absolute WORST way you can come at me is with some “X is true though, right?” nonsense. If I thought X were true, why in Master Splinter’s name would I be actively providing evidence that it’s not?
What are you even doing? Are you trying to duck season, wabbit season my ass into agreeing with you?
You can’t Zac Efron your way into a “well okay, I guess you’re right.”
I’m just tired of making a case for something and in the middle of it, have every point we’ve both made undermined by “…buuuuut I’m right though, right? Like what you’re saying it objectively wrong and I’m just right?”
Next time I hear a sentence ended by a “right” and a condescending tone, you’re gonna catch this right hand to yer gob I swear on me mum.
Though the Yakuza series has been around since 2006, when Yakuza eventually came to the West, it had it’s share of problems. Overrun with horrible dubbing and poor marketing strategies meant that the series never received the fair chance it deserved.
Fortunately for fans of this franchise, the Yakuza series in it’s entirety was a mega success in Japan, so Sega continued to produce more games in their mainline series for the next eleven years. With this expanse of time the game finally found it’s stride, growing in quality, perfecting the storytelling and character development, and really making a name for itself in the open world genre.
While the Yakuza series takes a lot of inspirations from beat ’em ups like River City Ransom, it carves out its own identity in this 3D, open world, story focused action game. Yakuza 0 is the culmination of everything Sega has gotten right with the series, and the best part is, you don’t have to play any of the other games to appreciate this one.
In the timeline of the series, Yakuza 0 takes place at the very start of the whole Japanese crime focused epic, subsequently becoming it’s own origin story. The series always stars the gruff but easy to cheer for Kazuma Kiryu. Throughout the series, we know this character as becoming a force in his Dojima Family clan of the Yakuza. Here we find our favorite beat ’em up badass is much younger, much brasher, and not quite the Yakuza we have come to know and love yet.
Yakuza 0 takes you on a ride with Kiryu as he is set up and accused of murder on a cash collection job gone bad. The rest of the game sees Kiryu attempting to clear his name as his once colleagues turn into enemies.
In a new deviation, the player will share the gameplay time with another main character, a series favorite named Goro Majima. Throughout the arc of the series, the player never learns too much about Majima – other than he has impeccable style, he takes care of business, and it’s always incredibly exciting whenever he shows up. Now the player gets to embody the man at the start of his crime career with the Yakuza.
When we meet Majima in this origin story, he is running the hottest Cabaret in town as part of his exile from his Yakuza family due to a botched job. Though in exile, Majima is given a chance to redeem himself and with a job handed to him by a Yakuza elite, but the job is a hit, and murder just might not be Majima’s game.
The narrative in this series has always been the star of the show, filled with amazing characters and well written melodrama. It plays out in a lot of moments like a Japanese soap opera about crime. Every other chapter has the player switching between the two main characters. With 17 chapters in all and every chapter as long as you want it to be thanks to all the side missions, Yakuza 0 can easily take you over 40 hours to complete.
Yakuza 0‘s plot revolves around a piece of land called the “Vacant Lot.” This piece of land is important to the rival Yakuza families as whoever ends up owning the lot will get a big break in the overarching Yakuza family. This begins a series of back stabs, betrayals, and switcheroos, that will keep you constantly guessing as to who is friend and who is foe. It is a long time before you even realize that Kiryu’s and Majima’s stories will even intersect. They seem so vastly separated that you would never guess that they would meld together so seamlessly by the game’s end.
While the player can take control of both Kiryu and Majima, the two characters play completely differently, both with their own styles of fighting. Kiryu and Majima each have three distinct styles that they can switch to on the fly, and all six of them are important to use at certain times depending on the type of enemies you face. These battle quickly become a dance of calculated stance swaps as you bring the pain to all that approach you.
The difficulty, while never hard, is always fun; especially as you are able to interact with items in the environment to use as weapons. You see a parking cone? Pick it up and slap somebody. Want to go a little bigger? Try picking up an entire Vespa and slamming it into your foes.
The moment to moment action is always present as “random encounter” populates the screen. You’ll notice gang member, delinquents, and men in black all over the streets waiting for you to interact with them, or sometimes they will run up to you and pick a fight. Maybe you actually want to brandish a blade or bat by taking them off incoming baddies or accumulating them through stores and the black market weapons trade.
When you are not fighting, you are exploring the 1988’s versions of fictionalized recreations of Tokyo’s Kabukicho Shinjuku Golden Gai areas, and Osaka’s Dotonbori areas. Kiryu is in the Tokyo area, while Majima is in the Osaka area. Each town feels different and has their own assortment of side missions that are called “Sub-Stories.” These stories have you interacting with a collection of interesting characters, ranging from perverts in their underwear, to arguing couples in need of third party advice. Yakuza 0 is filled with over 100 of these Sub-Stories, and each of them range everywhere from hilarious to heartwarming.
You can also participate in a series of mini games, such as karaoke, dancing in a club, buying and selling real-estate, running a cabaret club, going to a video girl club (as creepy as it sounds), among so many other little activities to lose your time in. None of these things are required to progress the story, but they all offer a nice respite away from all the drama of crime lords.
Sega has a very strong franchise on their hands, and it seems with each passing entry it gets a stronger reception in the west. This is no Grand Theft Auto clone, this is a game series that has made its own mark, and deserves all of its accolades. If you have never played the series, there is no better time than now, as Yakuza 0 is the first event to happen in the timeline. Later this year will see the release Yakuza Kiwami, a completely remade version of the first game.
Yakuza 0 is a fantastic beat em up game, with a bevy of RPG elements that help differentiate it from other open world games. So if you need a strong crime drama story, with excellent action mechanics, then look no further to the Yakuza series, and make sure you start it here with Yakuza 0.
There are independent games everywhere you look at PaxSouth and for fans of multiplayer madness, we tried out a couple of the best!
While I am not a fan of the fighting genre, I engaged in a few rounds of Brawlout due to the eye-catching character designs. They’re animated and dynamic, and kept me interested, long after my fingers became sore from mashing buttons. Watching excited con-goers pummel each other round after round definitely gives the idea that Brawlout can be the next big mainstay in the pro gaming circuits.
Brawlout is a competitive fighting game mixing the precision of violent fighters, with a gorgeous animated style. Up to 8 players can go at once in a match, along with ranked tourneys, a story campaign, and local party mode. Characters are based on different cultural deities, complete with unique combat styles, and can be customized for better abilities and special attacks. It’s perfect for fans of Smash.
Brawlout is currently scheduled for release in late Srping 2017 for XboxOne, PS4, and Steam.
Australian studio SMG markets Death Squared as a multiplayer puzzle game about cooperation, communication, and robot explosions. However, I am pretty sure this game is going to be how my friendships with the other Sub Cultured writers end. I found the four robot characters adorable (and they have a backstory!), and the levels challenging. If you liked all the minigames in other friendship ending games like Mario Party, this will be right up your alley.
Death Squared boasts over 120 levels with more on the way, ranging from intense problem solving with your teammates to simply maneuvering your character onto a button to finish the stage. A bit of warning: deaths are hilariously catastrophic and surprisingly meeting your end is very, very easy.
The game releases March 14, 2017 on XboxOne, PS4, and Steam, but keep an eye peeled for our Twitch stream where we will be giving out keys. There’ll probably be lots of swearing.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Prisma and The Masquerade Menace, Sundered, and RiME
Minit, Beat Cop, and Strikers Edge
Arms, Splatoon 2, and Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Monster Boy, Warlock’s Tower, and Has-Been Heroes
Gorogoa & What Remains of Edith Finch
PaxSouth is a hub for intriguing and inventive games, and the first two video games from movie studio, Annapurna Pictures, are no exception.
Gorogoa caught my eye because of the art. It looked like a coloring book brought to life, like a dream you could wade through via computer. I spent a solid half hour diving into the story, figuring out some puzzles with lightning speed and stumbling through others while feeling judged by the character when I got stuck. That said, I can’t wait to get my hands on the entire game!
Designed, developed, and illustrated by Jason Roberts, Gorogoa is a completely unique game. The overall story is equal parts myth and magic as a boy sees a colossal monstrosity in his city and decides to unlock the secrets to finding it. Each gorgeous scene is split into four panels that you can explore through a simple point and click mechanic. Solving each puzzle reveals more of the story. Elegantly simple and perfect for fans enamored of lovely storytelling.
Gorogoa is scheduled to hit mobile devices and Steam in Spring 2017.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a collection of short tales about a family in Washington state. As Edith, the player will explore the colossal Finch house, searching for stories. Each story you find lets you experience the life of a new family member on the day of their death, with stories ranging from the distant past to the present day, and culminating with that family member’s death.
In the 20 minute demo, we experienced the final moments of two different family members. The macabre interactive narrative is completely fresh in its storytelling and the attention to detail reminds the player that this title isn’t suited to the run-and-gun. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you picking it up, but prepare yourself for some feelings. Oh, and remember to breathe.
What Remains of Edith Finch is due out Spring 2017 on Steam and PS4. Check back here, because this is the standout title that we absolutely cannot wait to get our grubby little hands on and review in depth!
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!
Devolver Digital’s been on the forefront of publishing interesting indie titles and their latest is no exception.
Minit is about as minimalist as you can get — NES level fidelity, black and white colors, and chiptune sounds. In this game, you only have one minute to live and must complete tasks within that one minute before dying and respawning at your house. Any key items you collect in that time will stay with you, so you’re able to unlock more and more of the game each time, but you still only have one minute.
It’s an adventure puzzler — think Link’s Awakening — with a cool twist that’s definitely worth watching.
Coming to PC and “maybe consoles” mid 2017.
Beat Cop is the story of Jack Kelly, a detective who has been disgraced and thus demoted to a beat cop.
The player will write parking tickets, catch petty thieves, and try to make the neighborhood a better place. Or you can take bribes, encourage dissent, and get rich off of the suffering of the community all while trying to find out who framed you for murder.
The gameplay is like a point and click adventure game, except the game is always running even if you aren’t. It’s totally possible to be called to be in two places at once and just have to make a judgement call on which is more important. It’s a really interesting game that’s part Papers, Please, part LA Noire.
Beat Cop is coming to PC this spring.
Striker’s Edge is a game with a simple concept — throw projectiles at your opponent until they die.
The system is reminiscent of Windjammers in that there’s two sides separated by a barrier and you have to use your reaction time, prediction, and special abilities to try and outplay your opponent. There’s not a tacked on story mode, no city building side quest minigames, just intense 1v1 or 2v2 action.
Striker’s Edge is coming to PS4 and PC in 2017.
Want more PAX South 2017 coverage? All you had to do was ask!