[Spoilers] Before the Storm: Episode 1

So before the non-spoiler review for Episode 2 comes out, I decided to publish my notes that contain spoilers after each new episode comes out.

These are as they’re written in my notebook: bullet point, and very train of thought.

So here are my thoughts, containing massive spoilers!, for Before the Storm Episode 1: Awake.  These will be expounded upon as I do have a plan for exploring the fuck ton of symbolism in this series, both the original game and BtS.


Continue reading [Spoilers] Before the Storm: Episode 1

[NO SPOILERS] Before the Storm: Episode 1

Okay, let me make things very clear what I mean by that giant “NO SPOILERS” I put in the title.

There will be no spoilers for this game, Life is Strange: Before the Storm.  Per request I’ll make two separate entries, one non-spoiler, and one with spoilers.

That said, if you are playing this game, I assume you have played the original Life is Strange.  There will be spoilers for that game.  If you haven’t played it, stop right now and do so.  Your experience will only be enhanced by playing that entry first.




Continue reading [NO SPOILERS] Before the Storm: Episode 1


When talking about videogames as an art form, one of the first games that springs to mind has always been Shadow of the Colossus.  What makes that art has been explored by many, and even has its own website dedicated to uncovering mysteries.  If you’re curious, there’s a great Pop Fiction episode discussing the game and how grand its scope was compared to what we have now.  Regardless of that scope, it is universally accepted that Shadow is a huge influence on the gaming world with its ability to make you feel sorrow and wonder simultaneously, combined with determination and disgust.  It’s sparked many a conversation on the nature of the main character, Wander, and what alignment his motives truly fall under.  Again, there have been an incredible amount of articles and speaking of the game itself could take up an entire review, so that’s not my point here.

I was listening to an in-depth analysis of the RPG maker series Lisa by a YouTuber I happened to stumble across, as the video was in my recommendations.  (That’s another series I have on my list and I’m saving for later).  But he said something that’s not… uncommon, but still profound nevertheless:

I think the truly fascinating power about really good games is they leave people with ideas about what they could do next.  They spread the ideas and concepts further by being so good, even if sometimes they leave you wanting, or perhaps even by leaving you wanting [. . .] Some games are just excellent at spawning this desire to add to them, to create something using the ideas it leaves with you[.]

i.e., some games are so profound they inspire fan-games, which can turn into their own projects.  Again, I can do an entire other article on this, so I’ll just cut to the chase.

Shadow of the Colossus was a very obvious, very heavy-handed influence on the game I’m about to review, Submerged, but also took ideas from some unexpected places, such as the Grand Theft Auto series.

So click the cut below, and let’s submerge ourselves.



…just.  Just click for more behind the cut.


Continue reading Submerged

Mission Statement

Videogame journalism these days is a joke.

I say that a lot, researching new titles, and I mean it.  I don’t trust reviews anymore.  My favorite thing used to be to pick up a videogame magazine and read reviews, or to coast websites to see what a reviewer’s opinion of a game was.  Now, it seems like whoever pays you the most money gets the best reviews.

I’m sure there’s more that goes into it.  My degree is in Creative Writing, not Journalism, and I know there’s a distinct difference.  So what I’ve just said is a broad, sweeping statement, but it is my opinion.

Do I expect to change or revolutionize anything?  Nah.  Do I still want to do this because I have a lot of feelings about gaming, since I’ve been playing videogames since I could properly move around?


Here, on my blog, I will review whatever I want.  I’ll review something new.  I’ll review a blockbuster that’s been done a hundred times.  I’ll review retro games and cross-post that to No BS Retro Gamers, where I go under my handle Val.  This is my space to do whatever I damn well please.

Originally, I had this planned out for when I had a more “stable” career like many of my friends, and had time to pursue what I deemed in my head “the fun path.”  When I move out, settled in to a new job, get my new PC tower built, etc, as I let all these projects pile up in my head.

Then I met a friend at Panera Bread for a business meeting and explained the concept of this to him, and he stopped me with my fork full of mac and cheese halfway to my mouth.  “You need to get on that,” he said, all seriousness, and it dropped on me like a ton of bricks.  If I didn’t start it, at least, it would never get started, all these ideas would keep getting pushed back.  So I have Plans.

This will be a place where I also liveblog, or chronicle, my experiences playing games: I take a long look at my friends Kevin and Jake here, who have been on my butt to play the Soulsborne series for over a year now.  HERE’S THE BLOG, GUYS.

Some ideas I have to put into motion:

  • Earthbound-esque games: A Study.  It’s a descriptor I hear a lot.  “This game is really Earthbound/Mother-esque.”  It’s a good descriptor, sure, what what really makes it that way?  Citizens of Earth and Undertale especially are the two I hear most often compared, which is why I haven’t played either game yet (and just in time as Undertale is up for preorder on the PS4 marketplace).  Luckily for me I have a copy of Earthbound — the real deal, on my SNES — and the WiiU eshop.  And the 3DS.  And the uncut reproduction cart.  And the translations of Mother 1 and 3.  So I plan on going through all of the Mother series, taking notes about what makes them so unique, then going through the other games and seeing if they really do hold up; how they hold up as their own pieces versus being “Earthbound-esque.”
  • Soulsborne Chronicles.  Per Kevin and Jake’s request, I will be starting with Demon Souls, working my way through Dark Souls, and playing Bloodborne, and chronicling my adventures in doing so, since their passion for the series is pretty much what I have for Kingdom Hearts and Zelda.  Plus they just want to see me suffer.
  • Final Fantasy Challenge.  My friend Kevin posed a question, as he has, to this day, never completed a Final Fantasy game.  “How long would it take someone to complete the entire Final Fantasy series?  Each main entry.  Besides the online ones.”  I decided to take that challenge since there are some entries I haven’t played yet, or in years, versus the ones I can quote from memory.
  • PT-like games.  This is one that would be a lot less research-oriented and more observational.  I watch quite a few YouTubers, a couple of whom do horror, and have described a lot of games as “a PT experience” which has aggravated me to the point where I’ve started yelling at the screen, even though it is the best way to describe the game and I hold the YouTuber in question zero ill will.  Allison Road, for example, should be its own thing and should stop being compared as the “spiritual successor to PT” because then it won’t be seen as its own game, but rather how it stacks against the “original.”  I hate that.  It’s a tricky topic and a fine line to walk, so this is one that will take some careful forming.


I have quite a few other ideas, but as I write this out it’s getting really late and I’m exhausted on physical and emotional fronts so of course all the bloody ideas leave me.

Essentially, I’m covering whatever I want.  No restrictions, except for one:

I will not be giving number scores.

To me, games are arbitrary.  Example: Dear lord I hate Final Fantasy XIII.  I hate Lightning.  I have friends who love the game, and someone who I consider a brother who adores Lightning.  I’m not here to tell him he’s wrong.  I’m not here for 7/10 Too Much Water in a game that takes place in an archipelago kind of bullcrap.  I’m here for my opinions on games.  “If you like x, then you would probably like y and z” is more along the lines of what the conclusion will be.  Or “this game isn’t worth this much money, but probably more along the lines of this much money.”

The layout needs to be tweaked, I need to add more info and pretty things up, I have a lot of things to shake off and jot down in a notebook.

But, triumphantly, here it is: my videogame review blog.  If you’re curious as to how the posts will play out, a good example would be the review I did for No BS a couple years ago (jeez) for Kendo Rage.

Insert catchphrase here.