Toronto Comics: Yonge at Heart ( Toronto Comics #4) by Steven Andrews

Ever since I’ve started Game Warp, I’ve been on the prowl on avenues to check out new games and Kickstarter is a great place to find all kinds of cool projects. It was through this channel that I landed on this project to fund a comic anthology based in Toronto. Although I don’t live in Toronto, I do go frequently and lately, its been at least once a year for the last two years for Toronto Comicon and such. Its great to see Canadian artists working hard to show off Canada and that is why I backed this project. Also, because I thought the art style and concept behind setting it in a city was really great. The comic book arrived sometime in July if I remember correctly and finally, I’ve sat down to read it and take a break from that huge novel that IT by Stephen King is.

Let’s check it out!

Toronto Comics: Yonge at Heart (Volume 4)
by: Steven Andrews (editor)

Yonge at Heart

From world-saving TTC controllers to secrets hiding between the shelves at Honest Ed’s, from giant robot battles over overpriced condos to the true heritage moment of the Clown Brothel Riot, this anthology celebrates everything we love about Toronto (and some of the things we don’t). – Goodreads

I have read any of the previous volumes of Toronto Comics however these are anthologies so are separate from each other. Yonge at Heart is a fun little compilation. It tackles many issues which is endearing to those familiar to the landmarks and setting but does embrace a general spectrum of issues that people tackle whether its sexuality or immigration and some light-hearted ones as well. Yonge at Heart has 21 stories in it all from different artists and writers and each hold their own unique style. I would like to say there’s a little bit for everyone.

The top 5 favorites of the book go to the following:

Signal Problems: A fantastic way to kick off Yonge at Heart as it takes us into a world filled with monsters and the headaches of public transporation may amount to something more fantastical like the workers being city protectors of monsters.

My First Slice: Being born in Canada, we never had to wonder what pizza tastes like but what about those that immigrate here? I’m guessing the story here is before the world was so multinational but it shows an immigrant family finally decide to go get a pizza and we may relate when we go to a restaurant that is ouside of our culture. Its a fun one to read. Especially since I can relate from the final reactions from the kid and his parents.

Dundas & Dragons: Get it? Instead of Dungeons and Dragons? This one is really fun. Plus, I love the art style for it where it gives a fun twist of aliens playing as earthlings through a game and its about friends going away. That true bond of friendship that can be developed through gaming.

Con-Text: Con-Text is a cool selection. There isn’t really any dialogue but the artwork here shows a cosplayer immersed in their world as there is also a contrast of reality outside of her vicinity. Its not so apparent until she reaches the event.

Home and Country: Yet another immigrant story. However, this one is very nice. The drawings are more sketch-like and I also enjoy that style quite a but. Its about two sisters that separated in two countries because one immigrates to Canada to get married and then the sister falls suit but in the end, its about a home is where you feel like you belong. What defines a home versus a country, right?

There are 21 stories here so I can’t review them all but as an overall experience, there were some stories I was not too intrigued by however, that definitely was a minority. I enjoyed this comic anthology a lot and it has me curious to look for the previous volumes.

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Double Feature: Embers (2015) & Free Birds (2013)

Next up in the double feature quite a mix. First is a 2015 independent drama called Embers, which I’ve heard nothing about before but post-apocalyptic sort of stories appeal to me so I wanted to check it out out of curiosity. Second is probably one I should’ve watched in October for Canadian Thanksgiving however, what the heck, right? We have 2013 animated film, Free Birds.

Let’s go!

Embers (2015)

Embers

Director and co-writer: Claire Carré

Cast: Jason Ritter, Iva Gocheva, Greta Fernandez, Tucker Smallwood, Karl Glusman, Silvan Friedman

After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint where Embers falls. In one sense, it talks about a world that actually would be pretty scary and it looks at both spectrums of living in a post-apocalyptic world where you create new memories every single day or even more frequent than that and really not knowing anything. Isn’t that what some of us would hope for? Complete bliss from all knowledge? You wouldn’t remember your problems a few hours later but then you also wouldn’t have that long lasting human relationship because you wouldn’t even be able to build or think about those fleeting moments, let alone remember them. Is it emptiness or bliss in that case? However, on the other side of the spectrum is the quarantined who do remember but they don’t have the freedom to live outside the routine. They have memories but they are merely surviving and not really living.

Embers

 

Embers takes on various perspectives from its scattered characters in this area. There’s a young child wandering aimlessly, a teacher who is researching something endlessly, these two meet and they form a bond as one of the endearing moments is him teaching the child how to ride a bike. There is a couple who is together but then their lack of retaining memories separates them. There is an angry rebellious young guy who runs around wreaking havoc to be caught up in something more but not retaining that memory helps him to not even know what happened just moments or hours ago.

With that said, Embers has some decent performances and some nice moments and the shots and setting are filmed very nicely, however, the story itself is disjointed. Is it to match the world that they have created or maybe the story just skims the surface too much to have a resounding feeling? There is some thought-provoking depth that you can see but it never feels enough to feel immersed into the movie.

Free Birds (2013)

Free Birds

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Cast: Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, Dan Fogler, Amy Poehler, George Takei, Keith David

Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history – and get turkey off the holiday menu for good. – IMDB

Free Birds is the perfect example of how some movies just don’t work and have no humor because its not my thing. However, according to the 17% Rotten Tomatoes score, I’m actually not the only one. First off, the voice acting here is fine as expected with Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson and Amy Poehler at the helms. Its really the content of what this is and the jokes and dialogue that doesn’t work for me. In many levels, it was just really dumb. I have a peculiar humor so sometimes things like this just aren’t my cup of tea. I turned on Free Birds has background while I was working on something and its all so weird and feels rather unoriginal.

 

Turkeys going back in time to stop turkeys from turning into a tradition for Thanksgiving dinner seems a little odd. There might be some chuckles here and there but for the most part, I spent a lot of time just hoping it would end because it felt really boring and uninspired. I’m going to keep this short. It didn’t grab my attention all that much and the premise isn’t all that interesting to me. Its rare I feel so indifferent about animated films. I guess it was bound to happen eventually, right?

Have you seen Embers and/or Free Birds?
What are you thoughts?

Podcast: Game Warp Reviews Firewatch (2016)

Game Warp’s August featured game was Campo Santo Game’s debut title, Firewatch.

Firewatch is a first person mystery adventure set in the forests of Wyoming. We play Henry, a man who has suffered emotionally due to personal issues and has taken up a job as a summer ranger to help look out and prevent fires while maintaining the safety in the forest to hopefully forget about his problems. However, things take a mysterious turn when  certain events start happening. With the help of fellow lookout companion, Delilah via their walkie-talkie, they get through the summer. Maps, hiking and a few story arc is what Firewatch is all about. Its been highly praised last year and has been nominated and received many awards.

Here’s our thoughts and whether it met our expectations!

That’s it for this episode! Hope you enjoyed!

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Book Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

As I try super hard to stay on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge this year, I find myself finally jumping into the virtual world created in Ready Player One, especially since San Diego Comiccon brought us a trailer and I’m super excited to see that film. Both myself and my darling Game Warp co-host was and is reading it, however, we’re starting to think about expanding to game-related content once in a while so we may be doing a quick review discussion of Ready Player One when he has wrapped it up as well. I’ll share it here if and when it happens.

Ready Player One
By: Ernest Cline

Ready Player One

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune — and remarkable power — to whoever can unlock them. … – Goodreads 

Ready Player One has been praised by the masses. Almost everyone who reads it seems to love it. Ready Player One has a captivating if not depressing dystopian future set in 2044. It has great adventure and takes us to a world where everyone finds more joy in the virtual reality world of OASIS and what makes it more appealing is that for those with the right knowledge, they can possibly find a treasure. Treasure hunts, virtual reality mixed in with video games and an 80s love, Ready Player One has a great looking formula. The idea and concept of it all was truly great and while I really wanted to love it, I unfortunately only can say that I wished its execution had been better.

Ready Player One’s strength is its treasure hunt adventure. It let us be exposed to the wonderfully detailed OASIS and all that it could do. Being a video game lover, who doesn’t want to live in one, right? Solving riddles and figuring out puzzles and the whole process was fun except everything from the hunt to our characters and their development and the immersion was lost in its excessive desire to refer and elaborate on all the 80s culture. Whenever I hit a multi-page description (or it felt that way) of a certain 80s culture, I would just have this desire to skip over because it makes the treasure hunt and our main character’s quest lose its value and appeal. Also because of these descriptions, it would ruin the mystery of how a certain key quest would be achieved, turning what could be an exciting segment to something that only had two lines. While this might sound confusing, what I mean is that the main action doesn’t get as much description as the tangent stuff. The third act does pull itself out and focuses on the treasure hunt primarily however it seems to have lost the beginning excitement.

In terms of the characters, the characters are really quite good. Our main character is Wade, also called Percival. And he ends up befriending more of the society as they fall in place and also follow his suit and finds the first key. These characters themselves also are quite fun. One of the best parts is the awareness that these are all real people but in a fake shell and for the most part, we do forget about this virtual reality aspect. We see the events through Percival and because of that, it leaves some unknown factors for us to discover such as learning about his friends and competitors. Why do I not say enemy because the enemy is the evil corporation and the leader of the team they call Sixers. Their leader is an evil man and we soon see that he is quite the ruthless and possibly heartless villain. Pity is that their run-in isn’t frequent enough to make him a valuable enemy. He’s always just the looming danger but not enough the present one and we soon feel that this book could only end in one way and the dangerous feeling soon deteriorates as the treasure seems to be closer which probably shouldn’t be the case.

Overall, Ready Player One is a great concept with an okay execution. The descriptions are not focused on the right things and falls too much into a fan-boy chat about the 80s instead of focusing on building the story. No matter how central the 80s are as a foundation, it won’t be through reading 300+ pages that someone with not enough knowledge would get it. It would be through seeing how these games and movies play out that will boost the interest instead. While the book doesn’t appeal to me as much as the general public, I however still see it having a high possibility of getting a great movie execution because with the right approach and a focus on the main story and not the many tangents, this could be a fun virtual reality treasure hunt adventure which I believe Steven Spielberg is more than capable of pulling off.

TV Binge: Orange is the New Black (Season 5, 2017)

Next up in the overdue TV Binge recaps is the newest season of Orange is the New Black. I saw this some time before Fantasia Festival so it got backed up but here we are.

As usual, if you plan on watching Season 5 and haven’t yet or haven’t caught up with Orange is the New Black, this is a spoiler warning. The content itself will fall into some spoilers.

Orange is the New Black (Season 5, 2017)

Orange is the New Black

Creator: Jenji Kohan

Cast: Taylor Schilling, Kate Mulgrew, Uzo Aduba, Danielle Brooks, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Nick Sandow, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Lea DeLaria, Adrienne C. Moore, Laura Prepon, Jackie Cruz, Natasha Lyonne

 Orange Is The New Black has come a long way from what it was. Last season took away Poussey and had the Black Lives Matter theme while giving a riot the grounds to start with the new guards coming in place and showing their true colors. Whether it was from inexperience or from their brutality, they all contributed to the rebellion and with all that has been going on, Daya ends Season 4 holding a gun to the despicable Humphrey’s head. The questions that lingered over their heads were plentiful. What direction would this take?

Season 5 has 13 episodes however the show’s time frame is the processes of a riot or prison shutdown that the prisoners enforce over three days. With the different groups in Litchfield, the prison falls apart. The main powers now go with the Latinas as Daya uses her gun to stay in control. Daya however is also controlled by Maria. However, the power shifts eventually turn to Leanne and Angie. While the powers shift, we have groups dealing with the trapped but not able to escape in time celebrity, Judy King who is now being turned around for others to bid. Taystee and her crew are trying to use this riot to make it mean something and get justice for Poussey’s death. While there are peacemakers outside that are happy to sit this one out to not increase their sentence with Alex. Unlikely friendships and alliances, unsolved or repressed issues that has surfaced and many of how to approach this riot and lockdown on Litchfield is what makes this season what it is.

orange is the new black

My main issue with this season was the slow start. I know some of my friends enjoyed the entire season. I’ve been feeling this way about Orange is the New Black for a while now where it stumbles on finding its footing and its starting to get lost in what made it great in the first place. However, somewhere around episode 4 or 5, I remember something happening that truly changes the pace and from there on, its emotional and funny and quirky and odd. The characters find where they stand and what they want. We start seeing characters from outside the facility and the balance of those trapped inside also. This seasons’s heavy hitters had a change of pace, giving more spotlight to Taystee, played by Danielle Brooks. While she was always one of the main characters, this season gave her more emotions to deal with as well as inner conflict and finding her strength. At the same time, the girls who play meth heads or drug addicts or whatnot, Angie and Leanne also get more space as their stupidity takes the spotlight when they end up miraculously having the power and abuse it in the oddest way. Boo also has something of a stronger story arc which links to Linda, Caputo’s girlfriend who gets caught up in the mix from being at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the same time, the highlight definitely goes to Red and Blanca forming an unlikely alliance.

Orange Is The New Black Season 5

That is really all I have to say about the latest season of Orange is the New Black. Overall, it takes a few episodes to find its footing, then its a crazy ride to the finale. We tackle the characters trying to find peace with the death of Poussey as well as focusing on a few other relationships and how this whole situation may have brought out the best and the worst in everyone. There are some fun, funny, stupid and a lot of over the top moments. Its not my favorite season but it definitely won me over as we got to the end. The finale was pretty satisfying and it’ll be interesting to see how the next season will go with how its all turned out.

Book Review: Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

In celebration of The Wolf Among Us FINALLY getting a sequel, I decided to also finally start reading its source material.

Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile
Written by: Bill Willingham
Artists: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton

fables

When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile. Disguised among the “mundys,” their name for normal citizens of modern-day New York, these magical characters created their own secret society that they call Fabletown. From their exclusive luxury apartment buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, these creatures of legend must fight for their survival in the new world. – Goodreads

Wow! Fables may possibly be one of my favorite graphic novels to date. I played The Wolf Among Us before I had read any of these books and I loved the play on the traditional characters and Bigsby Wolf being a detective and how being a wolf he links into all these stories. Its kind of like what TV series Once Upon A Time does. Changing up fairy tales are one of my favorite premises and Fables does it so well. Actually, Fables was everything I expected and so much more. Bigsby Wolf is a great character and a detective and gives off something of a more rugged Sherlock Holmes feeling where he does a lot of things that helps him deduct a situation but the finale turns out to be a huge reveal that wasn’t apparent but makes so much sense.

This first case was definitely a mystery and it was a nice introduction to the wide cast of fairy tale characters that we are all familiar with from the famous Snow White and her Prince Charming to Belle and Beast as well as one of the few scenes used in The Wolf Among Us where a pig from the Three Little Pigs try to make Bigsby Wolf guilty for being the one who took away their house. At the same time, we do have some play on other characters like Red Rose which turns out to be Snow White’s sister and also the victim in this case making it close to our hearts. The key characters are generally introduced here and they are all dynamic and full of possible character development.

This 10th anniversary edition includes the first five issues of the Vertigo series and includes a short story which really was a great reading experience altogether. The visuals/art style was fantastic and honestly, I’m into the tone and the detective investigation story here.

What did make it much more surprising in a great way is that Telltale Games did truly adapt the character of Bigsby Wolf well in its game while switching up the story and mystery however still retaining most of the characters and their personalities. The tone was great. I actually did an episodic and overall recap over at That Moment In so feel free to head over there to read it.

Reading this has made me even more excited about The Wolf Among Us 2 while still hoping to get my hands on Fables Volume 2 soon.

Game Warp Podcast: The Darkside Detective (2017) Review

Happy Thursday everyone!

I’ve been feeling a tad under the weather lately so decided the last minute to change my original plans and post something simple.
If you don’t follow us on Facebook or subscribed to our Youtube Channel, we actually do small reviews of newer games. Our latest was released today for this point and click paranormal detective game called The Darkside Detective.

This episode marks something very special for us and says quite a bit about this game. Hope you check it out and enjoy! 🙂

Thanks for watching!