What’s Up 2020: Week 3

Week 3 of 2020 has come to an end and its been something of a weather bomb. Luckily, we didn’t lose any power so things proceeded as it should..mostly. I’m having some other issues that is somewhat hindering some writing and whatnot so its been a slower week than usual. Not to mention, the desire to sit in front of the computer has been a little less as Chinese New Year preparations started as well. Let’s see what’s going on!

READING

archie vol.6

  • Archie, Vol.6

Currently reading: Buried In My Past

After a few reading rushes, I decided to take a little break and read a graphic novel. The reboot Archie comics set like a graphic novel and with a somewhat darker story (still not quite as dark as the TV series) has been one that feels like a refreshing update to the characters, making the more modernized. There’s a lot to like about it as it is helmed by Mark Waid. Volume 6 is the last one that will be helmed by Mark Wait for these Archic comics but will be handed over to someone else for the next one. Review for this one coming up!

PLAYING

glass masquerade

Currently playing: Overcooked 2, The Pedestrian

Wrapped up the base game of Glass Masquerade on the weekend and have been debating getting the DLCs but its been kind of getting in the way of the actual gaming that I need to do to record the next Game Warp podcast. You can check out the review for Glass Masquerade as that’s already done. Its a bit short but the game isn’t too complex either.

The husband and I are still working on Overcooked 2. We usually stretch it out quite a bit as we only play on the weekends. I think we’re more than halfway done at this point. At the same time, I started up The Pedestrian which is an indie puzzle game that I had backed on Kickstarter 2 or 3 years ago which is finally getting released on January 29. As backers, we got the game in advance, which is great. I’ll be playing that and hopefully getting a review out for next week or something.

WATCHING

godzilla king of the monsters

  • Short Term 12 (2013)
  • Mike Birbiglia: Thank God For Jokes (2017)
  • Leslie Jones: Time Machine (2020)
  • Deep Blue Sea 2 (2018)
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

Its been a tad stressful at work so I’ve been honestly just busy with that and not watching a ton of movies as they don’t work in companion to work as much, especially first time viewings. With that said, I like to watch/listen to stand-up comedies. I can’t say the two I chose were really my cup of tea but they had some good bits. While Short Term 12 got added into viewing list as it left Netflix Canada and that review is coming up in a double feature. Other than that, Deep Blue Sea 2 literally just got added to Netflix and of course, I had to see how bad it was. I’m not being negative but the original is one of my favorites so its best to keep the expectations low and it became as a monstrous weekend as we also caught up with Godzilla: King of the Monsters which is a kick-ass movie. It was so awesome!

BINGING

The Circle

  • The Circle (Season 1, 2019)

Currently binging: Who’s the Murderer 5, Ashes of Love

The Circle’s 3 week competition finally ended. I’m working on the TV binge for it as its an interesting little social media competition to talk about, both as a structure, the contestant choices as well as the mechancis as well as the concept of this being a social experiment which all has elements to talk about. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be opposed to another season of these. TV is fairly calm right now as I’m trying to do some wrapping up on different things and Who’s the Murderer 5 is currently ongoing so only updating an episode a week and Ashes of Love is over 60 episodes and I’m pretty much halfway and things are getting really good, so I’m focusing on that.

However, focus will be cut short when Eternal Love’s sequel, Three Lives Three Worlds: Pillow Book (also titled recently Eternal Love of Dream), starts up next week and well, Handsome Siblings got acquired by Netflix and is releasing new episodes on weekly basis. All very exciting things!!

That’s it for this What’s Up for Week 3!
What have you been reading/watching/playing/binging?

TADFF 2019: International Shorts After Dark

Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Compiled as 8 short films from various international locations, a few of them from the USA and screened as the International Shorts After Dark, here are 6 of the 8 shorts reviewed. One of them called Bar Fight was paired with a feature during Fantasia Festival in July so the review is linked at the bottom.

Maggie May (2018)

Maggie May

Director (and writer): Mia Kate Russell

Cast: Lulu McClatchy, Katrina Mathers, Sophia Davey, Ditch Davey, Don Bridges

Maggie May is about a sister who stays back to help out after their mother dies to end up in an accident which leaves her dying but her sister Maggie May simply ignores it. Sometimes, the scariest thing is not what someone does but in some situations, what someone doesn’t do. That is what powers the horror and unsettling feeling in Maggie May.

While the short itself is done fairly well, there’s this over exaggeration (perhaps deliberate) of the character of Maggie May and that makes it too over the top to make it feel as horrifying and more just a loathing in general to watch. What does work for the concept itself is the whole idea of passivity being more dangerous than the other way around in some cases. However, what does balance it out is the whole process of dying with the sister and the both the psychological and physical changes that she goes through hoping for help but also noticing the pieces around her fading away.  There’s a decent amount of blood and gore that somehow balance with the psychological elements of the whole story and pulls through a fairly effectively little short.

Puzzle (2019)

Director: Vincenzo Aiello

Cast: Marie Wyler

In a fairly concise story, Puzzle is a rather creepy one as it is based on the premise of a woman finding puzzle pieces around her home. As she pieces them together, it reveals something frightening. This one is very well-executed. It keeps its setting confined in a room mostly while using the puzzle pieces to each lead to the next one and it having the final unveil of what and possible who is responsible and yet, it still manages to keep some mysteries, mostly because its less than 5 minutes and the ability to craft something rather unnerving is already very impressive.

Eject (2019)

Eject

Director (and writer): David Yorke

Cast: Elena Saurel

Eject is about a woman that finds her arm has a USB port and proceeds to plug it in and ends up in another place where she can sort through files of her life. There are some fairly horror elements here and yet, characters finding too good to be true situations and using it to their advantage is not a new concept although this one for being a short did leave a fairly precious deeper message (in my mind but I might be overthinking) about the impossibilities of casting everything bad out of life as that isn’t reality. Its the mechanics of how this dimension works that becomes the mystery and the horror all wrapped up together. Its not a long short, less than 10 minutes and yet, long dark tunnels and empty room with a cabinet and a mysterious door leading to who knows is the unknown factors that add to this short film.

La Noria (2019)

La Noria

Director (and writer): Carlos Baena

La Noria is a Spanish animated short with no dialogue about a grieving boy who sees creatures in his attic who ends up showing him compassion.

La Noria is possibly the best short so far in all of the shorts shown at the festival. The animation is absolutely brilliant. On a visual level, the color palette is beautiful. The creature designs are also incredibly creative. There’s something of a Christmas holidays setting but somehow its the tint of light that works here. What starts off as failing to put together a ferris wheel and remembering his father turns into an intense walk through  his home festering with all kinds of creatures, all different in their appearance and having their own characteristics but all takes a surprising turn of events to something very touching. This one shows off the concept of being able to deliver an effective story with the power of visuals and sound effects and score to give it all it needs. Even the ending credits are done fantastically.

The Haunted Swordsman (2019)

The Haunted Swordsman

Director: Kevin McTurk

Cast: Jason Scott Lee, James Hong, Franka Potente, Christopher Lloyd

In terms of uniqueness, The Haunted Swordsman is a short that definitely fills that criteria. Its a ghost story puppet film that takes a horror adventure following a samurai in a world of witches and creatures. Made with 36 inch tall bunraku puppets and in live action, The Haunted Swordsman is a lot of fun filled with sufficient amount of horror, fantasy and adventure.

The story itself is a lot of fun as it starts with a samurai on a quest with a severed head, The Navigator as his companion guide, whichever it is in search of the The Black Monk, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. The samurai being voiced by Jason Scott Lee and The Navigator voiced by James Hong. The score itself blends well with the samurai tale elements and for a puppet film, the action is incredibly on point. A lot of compliments go to the attention to detail given to the puppets and how great it all looks as well as the puppeteers who make it all come to life convincingly. Its definitely a realm well worth looking at. While this is a short animated film at about 15 minutes or so, the samurai is sent on a quest, giving this concept and story a lot of potential to explore further and hopefully, director Kevin McTurk will do just that in the future.

Place (2019)

Place

Director: Jason Gudasz

Cast: Emily Green, Nick Hurley, Stella Edwards, Emmanuelle Roumain, Willy Roberts

Place is a short about a couple the goes into their new home to find the electrician dead in a freak accident to find that something seems to also be inhabiting it.

Place is about a family adjusting to all the ghosts in the place. While the ghosts never quite reveal itself, it does take over the family one by one. It gives them a rather edgy character and each of them change in their own way as they each take on a different oddness to them, whether its their change in how they talk. A lot of it is rather deliberate and possibly in a fairly dark comedy sort of way. Each of them interact with it in a different form as well. The character changes are a bit abrupt for a short, it needs to be paced fairly quickly. However, the daughter in here does bring in those little details of giving out clues of what legends are in the equation, inhabiting their place. Place is quite odd but then its meant to be that way with those little details which adds to the story plus it does have a rather good twist at the end.

Other shorts in this showcase not reviewed here:

Bar Fight (Fantasia Review)
Your Last Day on Earth

Short Film: Paradox – A Rusty Lake Film (2018)

For those who don’t know, I backed the Cube Escape Paradox project on Kickstarter a few months ago which was paired up with the both a free game (available on mobile and Steam), a sequel after 12 puzzle escape games sort of thing. Rusty Lake has created quite the world. The distinct part of the project was not that there was a game with one free access and the second chapter which is premium, meaning you need to pay for it, but also that it also included a short film set in the universe. Rusty Lake’s world is so fantastic that I had no doubt that it would work as a short film as well. Of course, making a game and making a movie are very different things (even if some games are very narrative and would translate really well or looks like an interactive movie aka Until Dawn).

I don’t think that you really need to know the game to appreciate the short film so here it is:

However, if you want to check it out. All the Cube Escape games are free on mobile so its very accessible and they are really good. I’m still working on the last few for Game Warp.

Anyways, I always like to see the projects I backed with final products to distribute. So I decided to do a quick review of this short film.

Review

Director: Sean van Leijenhorst

Cast: David Bowles, Elena Kejvalova, Bob Rafferty (voice)

A detective must solve increasingly challenging puzzles as part of a bizarre game orchestrated by an old foe in order to escape the room he’s in. – IMDB

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cube Escape, its essentially a somewhat twisted puzzle/room escape sort of deal. The premise of the game itself and the story that it tells about the detective throughout its different game might never be the heavy focus but its present enough for it to matter. Because of that, it does feel like the vagueness makes this like an official start to the story and creates a solid foundation. At the same time, the game elements of moving by flipping through screens in somewhat of a point and click style translates well enough to make it feel like its keeping to the theme of the game adaptation. It replicates by the camera through the eyes of the character looking from one room to the next. Its a nice touch to add that in. The source story itself has its own mystery which is always a good element to add into this one. As a film, there is a tighter knit of things so it works that the detective figures out the puzzles at a good pace but at the same time, it also highlights the main elements of the mystery.

There’s a lot to think about for Paradox. The main thing is whether the non-playing audience has a good entry point here or will it feel like you are dropping into someone else’s story and get confused. In my opinion, I think it does a fine job in that respect. The story in the game was vague but present. It answered some questions but there was never a big picture (take note that I am 3 games behind from this one). However, the main characters are here, the atmosphere and style are comparable and the short film style works well enough to be a stepping stone into this Rusty Lake world and man, is this world intriguing and mysterious? They did a good job here. I would be down to see them do more of them and see where its headed for the story. Its a great idea to pair it with the game.

Game Warp Podcast: The Cave – Review

And we are finally back on track.

Well, everything is kind of relative, right? The little detour because of our mostly technical (but other issues did occur) situation finally seems to have been caught up. We’re only about a week later than usual for the featured reviews and that is pure awesomeness in my mind at least.

With that said, 2013’s puzzle platformer The Cave, developed by Double Fine Productions was our March featured game. Its one that I dabbled in years ago in the demo and kept waiting for a discount and always forgot or just missed it. Whichever it was, I finally got to check it out.

In this podcast, we review it and discuss what works and what doesn’t.

Thanks for watching!

Have you played The Cave?
Subscribe to the channel if you enjoyed and not miss any of our future reviews & playthroughs or feature pieces!

Game Warp Podcast: ‘Seasons After Fall’ Game Review

The next Game Warp episode is our review of Seasons After Fall, developed by Swing Swing Submarine. Seasons After Fall was released on PC primarily and recently released on console. Seasons After Fall is an exploration platformer with hand-drawn art style. It uses the concept of seasons and utilizes nature to become a game mechanic.

Join us as we discuss this game from its mechanics to its art and the story.

Thanks for watching!
Hope you enjoyed!
Have you played Seasons After Fall?

Remember to subscribe if you enjoyed to not miss our upcoming videos!

Game Warp Podcast: ‘Inside’ Review (with guest reviewer)

Welcome to the next episode of Game Warp Podcast! This time we are reviewing the recently released game, Inside by Playdead to round out our double feature. Continuing from last time, our guest reviewer Greg from The Debatable Podcast and All The Pieces Matter join us as we talk about Inside: our thoughts, theories and Elwood even pitches a great idea for Playdead’s next game.

Thanks for listening! Hope you enjoyed! 

Game Warp Podcast: Interview with Maitop Games

The new episode of Game Warp is here! This month we were lucky to invite an independent gaming company Maitop Games to join us. One of the developers, Jonathan Gelineau joins us in this interview to talk about his latest mobile puzzle adventure game, Bomb Conflict as well as his previous game, Gravity Bounds. However, we didn’t only about his games and also discussed with us about the mobile game market and more specifically the indie game market. We even have a chat about the retro inspiration behind this game.

Bomb Conflict is a mobile game where you play as the God of Gravity which has descended upon the invaded world to try and aid the citizens in detonating the scattered bombs in different areas to rid the world of danger. Enjoy gameplay footage of Bomb Conflict and Gravity Bounds as we have our chat.

Thanks again to Jonathan for accepting our invitation to the interview and sharing his thoughts! We wish him the best of luck and look forward to what else to offer in the future.

In the meantime, let me get back to beating this next puzzle on Bomb Conflict. 😉

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

It finally arrived! YES!

It just gave me an excuse to take pictures of my “prized” possessions of MINE.

Lets see (looks around my room):

1) My Security Blanket (featured in a previous Weekly Writing Challenge)

2) Nintendo DS Lite

This is MINE! Regardless of all the new technology or newer models that came out, this was the first handheld console that I bought for myself.  Even though now its a little broken (and I`m sad), I still can’t give up on it just yet.

3) My Little Pony Collection

This is only part of my collection and I mean this is the original.  None of that big buggy eyes and gigantic head ones that they have now.  They only one you see here thats in the new one is the small one.

4) Puzzles

Puzzles are the one activity where I really don’t enjoy help with.  I like them to be MINE, my accomplisment, my work of art completely.