Video(games) killed the storyteller: ‘Dishonored’ by Arkane Studios

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

Voice acting & dialogue: 6/10

Story: 8.5/10

Digestibility: 10/10

Video games that involve puzzle solving, ingenuity, and clue driven storytelling are my preferred gaming fare. I will admit that most of my favorite video games are somehow related to Bethesda Softworks. The following game is not exempt from my “favorites” list. However, no game is without fault, or criticism.

“Dishonored” was developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks in 2012. “Dishonored” has received numerous gaming awards—most of the rewards were for mechanics and visuals that the game offers, but I’m interested in the story overall. “Dishonored” is a game that automatically throws the player for a loop in regards to narrative and storyline, as well as plays with the ethics of “good” and “evil.”

The game begins from the perspective of the main character, Corvo Attano, the Lord Protector of the Empress of Dunwall—a fictional plague ridden city similar to that of Victorian England. After bringing news of his journey to the Empress, Corvo and she are attacked by assassins. The Empress is murdered and her daughter, Emily, is kidnapped. Corvo is accused of being responsible for both accounts and thrown into Dunwall Prison.

Six months pass. Corvo has been tortured and interrogated for the entirety of this time, but the game chooses to have a time lapse. This is interesting, as it allows the player to accept the Dunwall has fallen into chaos and ruin because the Spymaster has taken over in the absence of the Empress, and he is far from ideal to rule. After receiving a letter from a “friend” Corvo breaks out of prison and the game officially starts up.

Starting off with the voice acting, I took away points for a stoic and absent main character voice. Corvo never talks. This is a problem for me, especially when numerous characters interact with him. I’ve docked points for this dilemma in my review of “Bioshock” and I stand by it being a problem in regards to storytelling. I give the voice acting, in absence of a main character voice, a 6/10. I’ll be honest and say that I bumped the voice acting up one point because of the “Outsider,” a godlike being who gives Corvo powers.

The story in “Dishonored” is intriguing. The game allows you to play the game anyway you choose— kill everyone for revenge, peacefully take down every enemy in the game, or avoid them entirely by being stealthy. If you are peaceful for most of the game then you get a happy ending, if you choose to go on a spree of “revenge” then you are likely to receive one of the number of “bad” endings.

This type of storytelling is by far my favorite, especially when the game plays with the idea and gives you “environmental storytelling” which means that by reading items around you and listening to conversations by sneaking, you are given hints to quests and missions. This is immensely helpful, and makes being sneaky worthwhile. I give the story an 8.5/10. I feel that the developers could have had more stock placed into the high chaos aspect of the story; it felt less fleshed out than the “good” ending.

Lastly, let’s look at the digestibility of this story. I believe it earns a 10/10. I give the story a solid ten for a number of reasons. The main reason being that it is rather straight forward. ‘Here is a mission, complete the mission any which way you see fit, go on to next mission.’ This is not a hard or new concept to grasp and is rather easy to accomplish, even when playing a “high chaos” play through.

“Dishonored” surely holds up, even after five years, and has a sequel as well as many ad-ons. Has “Dishonored” killed the storyteller? I don’t think so, although it did take the storyteller out for “whisky and cigars.”


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Short-track speedskating champion Charles Hamelin relaxes with video games

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

When Olympic short-track speedskating champion Charles Hamelin isn’t training or racing, chances are he’s in front of a video game console.

The 33-year-old from Sainte-Julie, Que., says it relaxes him.

“It helps me to focus on my skating when I need to and kind of forget about it when I’m back at the hotel room or when I’m back home,” Hamelin said in an interview. “To make sure that I think about something else than only speedskating.

“Sometimes when you think too much about what you do, you can get burned out and not like it anymore. That’s my way to free my mind and think about something completely different.”

Back from competing on the World Cup circuit in Asia, Hamelin will be training at home until the Olympic Games start Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Hamelin says he plays all kind of games, with first-person shooters like the “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty” series among his favourites. “Diablo 3,” “World of Warcraft” and “Destiny” are also in his rotation, as are the latest “Super Mario” titles.

He games on his PC, PlayStation 4 and just got a Nintendo Switch. Most of the time he plays online, saying he enjoys the competition.

This week Hamelin is serving as the official ambassador for MIGS17, the 14th edition of the Montreal International Game Summit.

“I’m honoured to be there,” he said.

Hamelin, who often takes a console on the road, has been gaming since he was a kid.

“On the short-track team, there’s a lot of people gaming. And there’s people who are gaming more than me,” he said.

Pyeongchang will be Hamelin’s fourth Olympics.

He won gold in the 1,500 metres in 2014 in Sochi. Four years earlier in Vancouver, he was Canada’s only multiple gold medallist, winning both the 500 metres and the 5,000-metre relay within a 30-minute time span.

In Turin in 2006, he won silver as a member of the 5,000-metre relay team.

While Hamelin is an avid gamer, he says partner and fellow speedskater Marianne St-Gelais does not share his enthusiasm.

“She is the opposite of a gamer, I would think,” he said with a laugh. “Marianne will watch 10 movies before playing a video game with me.”

She will play the Lego-themed video games with him, however.

He plans to take both the PS4 and Switch consoles to South Korea where the speedskating will be held at the Gangneung Ice Arena, some 60 kilometres from Pyeongchang.

He competed in the venue at a test event last year.

“The facility is great. The rink is awesome,” he said.

And it should be rocking.

“They love (speedskating),” Hamelin said of South Koreans. “They don’t love only the Korean skaters but they love the history of short-track and I’m a big part of it right now … They’re going to want a big show and our goal is to give them the best show we can.” 

Hamelin says South Korea will likely mark his Olympic swan song.

“My mind is already ready to do something else after my skating career,” he said.

Already planning for the future, he’s involved with a company called Nagano Skate which markets both short and long-track speedskating equipment.

“I’m not that old but for a short-tracker I am kind of old,” he said with a laugh.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press


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Charles Hamelin uses video games to escape pressures of speedskating

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

When Olympic short-track speedskating champion Charles Hamelin isn’t training or racing, chances are he’s in front of a video game console.

The 33-year-old from Sainte-Julie, Que., says it relaxes him.

“It helps me to focus on my skating when I need to and kind of forget about it when I’m back at the hotel room or when I’m back home,” Hamelin said in an interview. “To make sure that I think about something else than only speedskating.

“Sometimes when you think too much about what you do, you can get burned out and not like it anymore. That’s my way to free my mind and think about something completely different.”

Avid gamer

Back from competing on the World Cup circuit in Asia, Hamelin will be training at home until the Olympic Games start Feb. 9 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Hamelin says he plays all kind of games, with first-person shooters like the “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty” series among his favourites. “Diablo 3,” “World of Warcraft” and “Destiny” are also in his rotation, as are the latest “Super Mario” titles.

He games on his PC, PlayStation 4 and just got a Nintendo Switch. Most of the time he plays online, saying he enjoys the competition.

This week Hamelin is serving as the official ambassador for MIGS17, the 14th edition of the Montreal International Game Summit.

“I’m honoured to be there,” he said.

Hamelin, who often takes a console on the road, has been gaming since he was a kid.

“On the short-track team, there’s a lot of people gaming. And there’s people who are gaming more than me,” he said.

St-Gelais doesn’t share gaming enthusiasm

Pyeongchang will be Hamelin’s fourth Olympics.

He won gold in the 1,500 metres in 2014 in Sochi. Four years earlier in Vancouver, he was Canada’s only multiple gold medallist, winning both the 500 metres and the 5,000-metre relay within a 30-minute time span.

In Turin in 2006, he won silver as a member of the 5,000-metre relay team.

While Hamelin is an avid gamer, he says partner and fellow speedskater Marianne St-Gelais does not share his enthusiasm.

“She is the opposite of a gamer, I would think,” he said with a laugh. “Marianne will watch 10 movies before playing a video game with me.”

She will play the Lego-themed video games with him, however.

He plans to take both the PS4 and Switch consoles to South Korea where the speedskating will be held at the Gangneung Ice Arena, some 60 kilometres from Pyeongchang.

Olympic swan song

He competed in the venue at a test event last year.

“The facility is great. The rink is awesome,” he said.

And it should be rocking.

“They love [speedskating],” Hamelin said of South Koreans. “They don’t love only the Korean skaters but they love the history of short-track and I’m a big part of it right now…They’re going to want a big show and our goal is to give them the best show we can.”

Hamelin says South Korea will likely mark his Olympic swan song.

“My mind is already ready to do something else after my skating career,” he said.

Already planning for the future, he’s involved with a company called Nagano Skate which markets both short and long-track speedskating equipment.

“I’m not that old but for a short-tracker I am kind of old,” he said with a laugh.

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Watch video games on your Amazon Echo Show with Twitch skill

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

amazon-echo-show-product-photos-1

Insert your favorite video game stream here.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you like watching video games in action, the screen on the Amazon Echo Show just became more useful.

Twitch launched an Alexa skill on Monday that will let you tune into your favorite video game streams and use Amazon’s digital assistant to find new streamers and games to watch. The skill will let you search for channels by game or category, and it can even notify you when your favorite streamers go live.

Twitch is a video game broadcasting service owned by Amazon. Participants broadcast themselves playing popular video games, and you can tune in to watch skillful, insightful or otherwise entertaining gamers in action. While you watch them play, most broadcasters equip a camera with a microphone so you can also see and hear them react to the game.


Now Playing:
Watch this:

Amazon Echo Show review: Alexa’s new touchscreen needs…

2:16

The skill will work on any Alexa-enabled device. Listening to a broadcast on a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo might not be quite as useful as watching it on the screen-equipped Show, but any Alexa device will be able to take advantage of Twitch’s notifications, which you can fine-tune in your Twitch account.

We were a little underwhelmed with the capabilities of the Show’s screen when we reviewed it, but this skill will hold a lot of appeal for the increasingly popular world of video game streaming.

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Watch video games on your Amazon Echo Show with Twitch skill – CNET

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

amazon-echo-show-product-photos-1

Insert your favorite video game stream here.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you like watching video games in action, the screen on the Amazon Echo Show just became more useful.

Twitch launched an Alexa skill on Monday that will let you tune into your favorite video game streams and use Amazon’s digital assistant to find new streamers and games to watch. The skill will let you search for channels by game or category, and it can even notify you when your favorite streamers go live.

Twitch is a video game broadcasting service owned by Amazon. Participants broadcast themselves playing popular video games, and you can tune in to watch skillful, insightful or otherwise entertaining gamers in action. While you watch them play, most broadcasters equip a camera with a microphone so you can also see and hear them react to the game.


Now Playing:
Watch this:

Amazon Echo Show review: Alexa’s new touchscreen needs…

2:16

The skill will work on any Alexa-enabled device. Listening to a broadcast on a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo might not be quite as useful as watching it on the screen-equipped Show, but any Alexa device will be able to take advantage of Twitch’s notifications, which you can fine-tune in your Twitch account.

We were a little underwhelmed with the capabilities of the Show’s screen when we reviewed it, but this skill will hold a lot of appeal for the increasingly popular world of video game streaming.

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Kids As Young As 11 Are Gambling In Video Games, According To UK Gambling Commission

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

In recent times there has been controversy surrounding video games and some of its features, such as being able to buy and trade items for real-life cash, like loot boxes which some authorities are claiming is the equivalent of gambling, and an upcoming report from the UK Gambling Commission is expected to shed more light on the issue.

However based on the gist of it, it seems that the regulator has made some disturbing discoveries, such as how certain video games allow children as young as 11-years old to “gamble”. While we don’t mean “gamble” like in a casino, some features do come across that way.

The Commission has singled out Valve’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as such a title, where gamers can wage skins from the game for real-life money via third-party websites, a problem which Valve has attempted to curb. The BBC has spoken to Bangor University student Ryan Archer who claims to have gotten involved in skin betting when he was 15, losing more than £2,000 since then.

Archer was quoted as saying how easy it was to get into it. “It’s hard to ask your parents for £1,000 to buy a knife on CSGO […] it’s a lot easier to ask for a tenner and then try and turn that into £1,000.” He adds, “You wouldn’t see an 11-year-old go into a betting shop, but you can with this, there’s nothing to stop you.”

Filed in Gaming >General. Read more about Legal.

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Games Inbox: Will Ready Player One be the first good video game movie?

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

Games Inbox: Will Ready Player One be the first good video game movie?
Read Player One – yes, that’s Tracer and Chun-Li

The evening Inbox has some tips for pre-ordering the Bayonetta 2 special edition, as one reader advises Nintendo on the Switch 2.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

PLEASE NOTE: We are currently getting content ready for the Christmas and New Year break, and since the calendar makes it a particularly long one this time we need as many Reader’s Features as possible to fill in while we’re away. So if you’ve been meaning to write a feature but not quite got round to it, now would be a great time to send one in – as described at the bottom of the page.

Ready for Spielbergo

Has everyone seen the Read Player One trailer with Chun-Li and Tracer out of Overwatch in it? I didn’t spot all the cameos at once but there’s also the Battletoads and I’m willing to bet a lot more. Gundam at least, which is sort of video game related. And of course the whole premise is very video game-y, with the quest to find an Easter egg by playing VR games.

The original book is terrible really, and yet if you get all the 80s references it offers up some of the tastiest ‘member berries you could ask for. So the question is: will Read Player One be the first good video game movie? I think it has a chance, not just because it’s by Steven Spielberg but because by making something that’s about games and not a direct adaptation makes a lot more sense.

Video game characters as cameos makes a lot of sense (Wreck-It Ralph was also good in this regard) but I don’t think they can hold their own when it comes to their own movie. They’re like the Hulk in that respect.
Tolly

Bad company redemption

I hope that news is right about Battlefield: Bad Company 3, because that is exactly the sort of pitch I would be looking for from the new game. I don’t know about everyone else but I was quickly bored with Battlefield 1, not just because of the setting but also the lack of destruction effects and generally boring combat. I’d seen it all before and usually much more interesting.

Then add on all the controversy from Star Wars: Battlefront II and EA in general and I’m suddenly wondering whether I really want to give DICE my money any more. I do if the game is good, but they’ve really got to hit out the park this time.

My priorities are: the best destruction effects ever, by a large margin; slightly smaller maps; and a decent campaign mode that features the same guys from the first game. I’m not sure if that’s feasible with the setting but just something funny and likeable instead of a Call Of Duty wannabe. EA need to make things up with people and this could be their way to do it.
Keef

Keep with it

Great news about the Switch hitting 10 million sales already! It’s actually doing slightly better than the PlayStation 4, too because Sony’s first nine months was starting in Christmas. Whereas Nintendo’s started in March and has taken in all the dead summer months. So it’s done just as well but at a harder time of year.

Not that I think it’s going to outsell the PlayStation 4 or anything – Nintendo consoles are designed for longevity but it’s a great achievement. I hope this means that whatever the Switch 2 turns out to be it’ll be more or less the same thing but more powerful.

I’m not usually one to say don’t innovate, especially with Nintendo, but they’ve struck gold here and need to double down on it, not just reinvent the wheel. Release a Super Switch in two or three years’ time and they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Onibee

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Next gen VR

A bit gutted, as although Fallout 4 VR runs on Oculus Rift the Touch controllers don’t. Have proper support currently resulting in a frustrating experience that I’m not going to preserve with until it’s fixed. The game still thinks you’re using Vive wands, so when the thumbstick snaps back to the central position in menus the game reads it as a downward movement on the Vive Wand trackpad, meaning menu navigation is almost impossible with it yoyoing up and down. You also have to click on the thumbstick many times for it to register in-game when manipulating items.

I’ve no doubt it will be sorted and I hope it’s quick, as what I’ve played so far is very impressive. After the excellent but deeply technically flawed Skyrim VR I’ve been keenly looking out for pop-in and the like. Fallout 4 is not perfect and the resolution of the headset is still the biggest limiting factor, but thanks to the more powerful host hardware it a massive leap over Skyrim VR. The whole environment just feels bigger, more solid, more detailed and as a result more immersive.

I did wonder if the next gen of consoles could provide next gen VR. But Fallout 4 VR running on my 6 teraflop 1070 (admittedly with a very powerful i7 7700k 4.2GHz CPU) has me convinced an 8-10 teraflop PlayStation 5 with improved CPU and higher resolution headset would provide spectacular VR worlds. I don’t think VR gaming will be any cheaper next gen, but I do think it will look amazing.
Simundo Jones

Self-inflicted wound

I am going to laugh so hard when publishers bring the governments of the world down on them, and they will have no-one to blame but their own greedy selves. There’s clearly going to be major new legislation, both here and abroad, and for the first time in my life I’ve got to say it’s entirely justified. Encourage kids to gamble, especially for something so meaningless as a gun skin is disgusting and EA’s whole attitude lately has just stunk to high heaven.

I hope the rumours of them being scared off from microtransactions in the next Battlefield are true, but I don’t believe it either. The way their execs have been talking to investors they haven’t given up at all on their plans, they’re just trying to work out a way to sneak it past people.
Gordaq

Good answer

While it’s not yet available for pre-order on the Nintendo website it looks like the Bayonetta Non-Stop Climax Edition is getting a UK release and I’ll be keeping a close peeper on that! Lots of people (myself included) have questioned how Nintendo can follow up a stellar 2017 in 2018 but Bayonetta 1 and 2 playable on the move with 3 to come is a very decent start.

I only got my Switch a couple of months ago, putting it off until Mario’s release. And then after buying Zelda, Doom, Skyrim, Sine Mora, and L.A. Noire. Had I not completely underestimated how much the ability to play anywhere/anytime would bring so much to the table I would have got one release day.

On another awesome year ahead note, it looks like my Mad Catz Street Fighter arcade tournament fightstick is going get dusted off thanks to… well… Street Fighter! While I’m half decent I’ll probably still get my ass handed to me by someone controlling with a dance mat.

If I don’t get any of my ramblings printed and in turn read before Santa then I’d like to sincerely wish all at GC, all the level-headed readers that makes this site a morning and evening ritual, and last but certainly not least the skeletons.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Mr.Saveloy

GC: It’s up on GAME and Amazon for £69.99. It’s worth pointing out it’s not exactly the same as the Japanese version though, as Bayonetta 1 is still only a download code.

‘Ignore Scotland’

Regarding msv858 and warm weather games why not try Far Cry 1 to 3, Resident Evil 5 (if you’re brave enough to put up with Sheva!), Uncharted 1, 3, and 4 (ignoring the Scotland level!), inFamous 2, the Just Cause series (there are snowy areas but also lots of jungle and desert), Assassin’s Creed Origins, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
LastYearsModel09 (PSN ID)

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Xtremely pervy

As a suggestion to msv858 regarding summery games, you’re going to hate me for this, but me and Edge magazine did like the first Dead Or Alive Xtreme Volleyball on the first Xbox.

I know you guys hated it, and there’s every chance any player new to it will too – it being a very Marmite experience – but it captured the spirit of a summer holiday quite well. I’m not suggesting for a moment that you wouldn’t be better served by Super Mario Sunshine, it is the superior game in every aspect – even visually. But, for me, it does succeed at being a relaxing, chill game.

I liked the volleyball mechanics, though I concede they are too simple – dependent and how hard you. I sympathise with any who find it creepy – bribing girls with gifts for their friendship? Goodbye Tomonobu Itagaki, you will not be missed. The girls also look better the more clothes they have on, so the idea of it having pornographic value is moot.

But that was clearly the intention, which is a shame, as the idea of girls going out on a holiday together on a tropical holiday and having a friendly volleyball tournament on the beach and then enjoying the night life should have more universal appeal. It didn’t even have to include playable male characters – girls like socialising with one another, right? It’s been known to happen, right? Had the friendship system been, you know, actually genuine and naturalistic instead of so shallow and tacky that could have been something intriguing.

Even the idea of just playing for costumes had universal merit if it weren’t all just string thongs and bunny girl suits. Like I say, the Dead Or Alive ladies have always looked better the more clothes they had on. There is a huge variety of women’s beach wear out there that would appeal to everybody’s hankering for a bit of dress-up. Instead of just titillating 12-year-old boys.

But as girls will be given the very correct impression that the game is more concerned with catering for the male gaze I doubt it has any female fans. Though if you’re out there, do come clean. Nobody will judge you. Also, if you guys ever meet me in real life, don’t throw stuff at me over this. Especially not those first Xboxes. They were deadly.
DMR

Inbox also-rans

Hello, first time commenter. Love the news, reviews, and interviews. You all do a sterling job. Just wanted to say I got a free code for Assassin’s Creed Unity if anyone’s not got round to playing it. Keep at the good work.
R2Ball2 (gamertag)
Current playing: Little Nightmares and Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

GC: Thanks very much, we’ll pass on the code to whoever sends in a useable Inbox letter and asks for it.

Is Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection coming to the UK and Ireland?
Anon

GC: Yes, as both a boxed copy and download.

This week’s Hot Topic

With the final preview event of 2017 now over this weekend’s Inbox asks what was your favourite new video game reveal of the year?

Taking into account showings at E3, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, The Game Awards, Nintendo Directs, and all the others, which new announcement did you think was handled the best – regardless of whether you were interested in the game itself? Which did you find the most surprising and which new game are you personally most excited about?

Were there any major announcements you were expecting to see but didn’t, and where there any reveals that you thought dropped the ball in terms of what or how much they revealed?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

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[Top]

Watch video games on your Amazon Echo Show with Twitch skill

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

amazon-echo-show-product-photos-1

Insert your favorite video game stream here.


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you like watching video games in action, the screen on the Amazon Echo Show just became more useful.

Twitch launched an Alexa skill on Monday that will let you tune into your favorite video game streams and use Amazon’s digital assistant to find new streamers and games to watch. The skill will let you search for channels by game or category, and it can even notify you when your favorite streamers go live.

Twitch is a video game broadcasting service owned by Amazon. Participants broadcast themselves playing popular video games, and you can tune in to watch skillful, insightful or otherwise entertaining gamers in action. While you watch them play, most broadcasters equip a camera with a microphone so you can also see and hear them react to the game.


Now Playing:
Watch this:

Amazon Echo Show review: Alexa’s new touchscreen needs…

2:16

The skill will work on any Alexa-enabled device. Listening to a broadcast on a smart speaker such as the Amazon Echo might not be quite as useful as watching it on the screen-equipped Show, but any Alexa device will be able to take advantage of Twitch’s notifications, which you can fine-tune in your Twitch account.

We were a little underwhelmed with the capabilities of the Show’s screen when we reviewed it, but this skill will hold a lot of appeal for the increasingly popular world of video game streaming.

Go to Source

[Top]

Gorogoa review: Video games now have their first classic children’s book

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

Enlarge / Look into the eye of the incredible Gorogoa.

After my last click of the mouse, the screen went to black, with only the word “Gorogoa” flashing. Those seven all-caps letters exploded out of the emptiness I’d just exposed by solving the final puzzle.

I nearly doubled over in my chair, overwhelmed with the emotion I felt trying to make sense of what had transpired. The game gave me some breathing room to do so, with a solemn song playing while credits rolled. After those, a single panel appeared. The game had begun again. Flipped to page one.

I describe this “ending” moment because it answers a critical concern about the puzzle game Gorogoa, which has been in development for an astonishing six years and was made almost entirely by one man, Jason Roberts. Gorogoa is, quite frankly, short. At the end of six years of development, Roberts has produced a little over two hours of gameplay.

But that’s like saying your favorite illustrated book is only 24 pages or your favorite children’s movie is only 70 minutes. Like those kinds of art, Roberts’ creation stands out because it absolutely works as a “play it again” dive into spirituality, loss, and rebirth. Gorogoa‘s clever gameplay tricks and gorgeous, hand-drawn art will stay with you for a long time.

Panel placement

Roberts’ creation raised eyebrows back in 2012 when he released a free, playable demo of its opening puzzle. Much of that original version still exists in the final Gorogoa, which starts out feeling like a successor to Myst. You see a hand-drawn boy studying at a desk, flipping through pages, until he pauses, awaiting your input. Aim your mouse until it turns from a cursor to a finger-shaped pointer, then click and prod the scene along.

What makes Gorogoa different from something like Myst becomes apparent almost immediately, when the panel you’ve been clicking shifts to the top-left of the screen. As it turns out, Gorogoa‘s playfield is a two-by-two grid of four panels. And now, when you click on that original panel, you lift its outer edge. Click-and-drag to drop that frame elsewhere on the grid to continue.

This trick is Gorogoa‘s alpha and omega. Sometimes, you’ll pull a frame or border off of one panel to reveal an entirely new landscape underneath it, which you can click through to expose new puzzles. Other times, you’ll realize that some of the panels’ contents line up perfectly, perhaps in the shape of a door or a window, and you can combine them to make a new path. Still other times, you might notice that one panel’s left edge is covered in symbols… which line up perfectly with another panel’s right edge. Maybe you should arrange those panels to sit side-by-side in the two-by-two grid and see what happens.

Those are just a few of the awe-inspiring tricks that play out when clicking on panels, moving panels, combining panels, and more. Gorogoa‘s rules of engagement change at a moment’s notice, and entire, elaborate scenes can vanish with a single puzzle-solving click, leading you to an altogether new mechanic and new panel-shifting rules.

Base camp

Gorogoa‘s best moments come when you click around the exact way Roberts intends for you to, at which point his illustrative handiwork explodes. 3D effects occasionally play out to punch up the transitions between his major puzzles, but for the most part, Gorogoa is all drawn by hand material. Roberts’ artistic approach loudly resembles the works of children’s book illustrator Graeme Base (Animalia, The Eleventh Hour), in that every scene is packed with intricate line work and hidden details. In many of its scenes, Gorogoa adds the bonus of exposing more art simply by clicking on a scene.

Roberts’ use of hidden doodads can be slightly obnoxious if you’re dead set on solving puzzles and not admiring beauty, as some of the click-to-zoom moments do nothing more than linger over an incredible piece of art. Gorogoa‘s “play it again” appeal helps here, as Roberts tells quite a story through his hundreds of unique panels. In the course of gameplay, Roberts does a remarkable job summoning older motifs and archetypes, like the chorus of a song, which works to ground the game’s visual cornucopia. Still, the second (and even third) return to Gorogoa is nigh essential to understand its story and its characters. (Or is it just one character?)

At its worst, Gorogoa expects you to click through certain puzzles in an exact order and not necessarily with rhyme or reason as to why. In my first run-through, I ran into two “pause and come back” stumper points in which I already knew the solution, but not Roberts’ preferred clicking path. These were annoying but tolerable. Otherwise, the game lays out plenty of clues and organic nudges to guide you through its ever-changing rules and systems. Part of Gorogoa‘s brevity is that its puzzles rarely get in the way of appreciating Roberts’ visually rich world. (He’s also careful to reduce clutter and over-complication; you won’t find an “inventory” menu or any other outside system. Just click to navigate.)

Should you rush along, feeling like a puzzle-solving genius, that’s OK. Gorogoa will flip its own pages back to the beginning when you finish. And you should definitely play it again.

The good:

  • Arguably the prettiest hand-drawn, hand-illustrated video game ever made.
  • Panel-sorting system pays off as much with clever puzzles as it does with wonderful story-related revelations.

The bad:

  • Those moments when certain puzzles’ solutions are obvious, but the exact clicking order isn’t.

The ugly:

  • Even as a short-and-sweet game, it’s hard to say goodbye to Gorogoa‘s story so soon.

Verdict: Buy.

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Loot boxes and skin betting in video games: What are they, are they gambling, and should they be banned in the UK?

Posted on December 13, 2017  in Video Games

Even before Electronic Arts’ recent Star Wars Battlefront II video game launched on November 17, there was a huge controversy rising out of its release.

Players of its early access demo reported that the state of the game’s purchasable loot boxes effectively made it a ‘pay-to-win’ experience, with the outrage that followed eventually leading to EA temporarily removing all in-game purchases .

Other reports have followed of so-called “skin betting” where children as young as 11 have used third-party websites to attempt to trade the in-game items for real-world cash.

The debate has roared on, with politicians even beginning to enter the fray. Belgium’s Minister of Justice called the mix of gaming and gambling ‘dangerous’ after Belgium’s Gaming Commission opened an investigation .

Hawaii State Representative Chris Lee announced action to address ‘predatory practices at Electronic Arts and other companies’, saying of Battlefront II that ‘we shouldn’t allow Star Wars to encourage kids to gamble’.

A French senator penned a letter to the gambling authority in response to the game, saying that it could be seen as gambling.

Earlier this year, the UK government responded to an online petition calling for the loot box system used by Battlefront II to face increased regulation to prevent children from gambling.

Of course, many of you may be asking what loot boxes are, and how they may affect you or your children while playing video games.

Here’s what you need to know.

What are loot boxes?

Overwatch loot
Overwatch is another popular video game that features loot boxes

Loot boxes are virtual in-game items that can be bought with real-life money by registering your bank account details to your gaming platform of choice.

Purchasing loot boxes will reward you with a randomised selection of in-game content, which can range from cosmetic-only content, like new outfits for a player’s character, to game-changing content like more powerful weapons and items.

Some of these rewards may be rare, useful and much-sought after, while others may be incredibly common and useless. You could end up spending £10 and get exactly what you’re after, or spend £1,000 and have nothing worthwhile.

In some games, these rewards can be traded or sold for in-game currency, while in others you’re stuck with them.

For certain games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offense (CS:GO), there are external real-world marketplace sites like Loot Market , where players can sell their unwanted virtual goods, with some items going for as much as £1,206.

Are loot boxes a form of gambling?

Loot Market
Sites like Loot Market let players sell their in-game content for real-life money

This ‘feature’ popped up in video games as early as 2007, but has been popularised with the success of last year’s Overwatch. Loot boxes appear in free-to-play games as well as full-priced games.

Currently, there’s no age restriction or warning on video games featuring loot box microtransactions. Star Wars Battlefront II currently has a PEGI age rating of 16 on its box, but there’s no warning anywhere on the box mentioning its inclusion of loot boxes.

While loot boxes are currently regulated under gambling law in some Asian countries, there’s no such regulation here in the UK or in much of the Western world. As well as being seen as an anti-consumer practice when included in full-priced games, they’re debatably a form of unregulated gambling- although not yet legally considered as such.

Due to the nature of Star Wars Battlefront II’s loot boxes, which were criticised for giving players who paid an advantage due to the sheer amount of time it’d take to earn the weapons, the game has ended up being something of a scapegoat.

It was also heavily criticised for its decision to allow players to pay to unlock characters, such as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and Chewbacca, whereas doing so through in-game progression could take days.

What about ‘skin betting’?

Skin betting is less well-known but still a form of video game gambling.

It involves players (often children) attempting to gamble in-game weapons, costumes or characters (known as skins) either for real-world cash or for other, more powerful, skins. Third-party websites exist to feed the demand, which can quickly spiral into a habit.

Sarah Harrison, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, told the BBC: “Because of these unlicensed skin betting sites, the safeguards that exist are not being applied and we’re seeing examples of really young people, 11 and 12-year-olds, who are getting involved in skin betting, not realising that it’s gambling.

“At one level they are running up bills perhaps on their parents’ Paypal account or credit card, but the wider effect is the introduction and normalisation of this kind of gambling among children and young people.”

Is Star Wars Battlefront II the worst offender?

Star Wars Battlefront 2

Although Star Wars Battlefront II is certainly the worst recent example of loot boxes, it’s by no means the root of the problem. While it’s understandable to use it as a scapegoat, it’s important to take a look at the damage that loot boxes can cause as a whole.

It should be obvious to most just by reading a description of the monetisation method that loot boxes could certainly be classified as a form of gambling, by it’s the way that they’re ingrained in video games that really causes harm.

In-app purchases, better known as microtransactions, have long been the go-to monetisation method of mobile games, with the feature finding its way to console and PC games in more recent years.

Online video games with any form of in-app purchases, including loot boxes, obviously want to encourage players to spend as much as possible. Whether it rewards players with a gameplay advantage or a shiny new outfit that will make other players jealous, the effect is the same.

Players that already have poor impulse control or addictive natures are mostly at risk here, with the carrot dangled in front of them at every given opportunity. Though the majority of players may be able to avoid purchasing the predatory loot boxes, the more vulnerable will have more difficulty in doing so.

The recent Call of Duty: WWII game even has players open their purchased loot boxes in front of other active players after they drop from the sky onto the beaches of Normandy, which encourages them to purchase content themselves when they see someone earn a rare reward.

Should loot boxes be banned?


The psychology at play here is why games with ‘cosmetic-only’ rewards, like the far less criticised Overwatch, should not be exempt from the criticism that Star Wars Battlefront II is facing – even when the loot can be obtained without paying.

Though defenders will claim the video game industry needs the profits of loot boxes to remain sustainable due to increased budgets, I’d argue that we should not allow unethical practices for the sake of profitability.

If the industry really does have a profitability problem, a better solution should be found, like a less damaging monetisation model (in-game advertisements, for example), lower budgets, or the rise of video game prices.

Loot boxes should be banned in the UK – or in the very least, properly regulated like any other form of gambling, given appropriate age restrictions, and clearly display the percentage chances of its rewards.

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