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Aspiring writer/game journalist.

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stories by Justin Davis

A girl named Luka…

I ended up being pleasantly surprised by Lightning Returns.  The previews for it looked strange, almost indecipherable.  Everything from the combat to the tone of the story seemed radically changed from the past games in the series.  It looked like an entirely different kind of game, one that might not contain what I had liked about the last two games.  I bought it with no small amount of trepidation, wondering if I had just wasted my $60.

Gone Home (PC) review

This year in games has been absolutely fantastic.  There have been some great games that are fun to play and appeal to a wide audience, sure, but 2013 has also brought some unmatched examples of why indie games are the future of the medium.  Indie developers are willing to take a concept or idea that might not be widely accepted, something new or exciting in a way that we haven’t seen before, and risk a year or two of development to make it happen.  They are the ones that have the commitment to the stories they want to tell or the feel of the game they want people to experience and are not willing to cave to a large publisher’s pressures to change them in any way.  Gone Home is a perfect example of one of these games.  Made by The Fullbright Company, a small team featuring members with impressive credits (particularly the Minerva’s Den DLC for Bioshock 2, a contained but excellent story add-on), Gone Home is one step further down the path that games should be taking, focusing on creative experiences and meaningful narratives..

Evoland’s creative concepts take players through a history of RPGs

When Evoland begins, you find yourself in a very constrained area that is also in black and white.  Your character is between two chests, one to the left and one to the right.  Trying to go left reveals that your only form of movement is to the right.  Picking up the right chest grants you leftward movement.  When you then pick up the other chest, you can now move in all four directions.  This trick is what Evoland is all about.

A Gamer’s Lament of April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day.  Probably one of my least favorite days of the year.  It doesn’t affect my life at all in reality, at least not with my current social relationships I have.  In fact, if I didn’t go online, I would most likely forget this day exists every year.  Unfortunately, I am quickly reminded of what I like to call Liar’s Day every year when I venture online to some of my favorite sites.  It is the one day a year where game companies believe they have the ability to lie outright to their fans and have no consequences afterwards.

Why backwards compatibility isn’t that important

With new gaming consoles looming on the horizons, speculation is spreading throughout the Web.  How powerful will they be?  Are the controllers going to be the same or change dramatically?  Will I need to overcharge my credit card in order to afford one?  This buzz is pretty intense, especially with Sony’s event in just a few short days.  However, I don’t really want to talk about that.  The main reason I bring all this up is to talk about one such discussed feature that is always mentioned when new consoles are about to hit – will they have backwards compatibility?

Tutorials have gone a little overboard

Tutorials, as many of you have probably experienced, have gotten a little out of control in the last generation.  Not just tutorials but the constant guiding hand of the game creators leading us through the game.  Assassin’s Creed games are my go-to example for this conundrum, as they are easily the worst I have seen.  Every game takes around 5-10 hours reiterating all the stuff you remember from past games.  During this time, you cannot really freely explore, and the game slowly opens up its various parts for you to access.  It is the main reason I haven’t bothered playing AC3 yet, because I’m dreading that excruciatingly slow build-up until I’m given free reign.  No matter how many games there are in the series, each of them still does (and most likely will continue to do) this.

The Wii U’s Major Problem

Nintendo’s Wii U is having quite a gaggle of problems in its first few weeks of life.  A games library made up almost entirely of games easily found on other platforms and are worse on the Wii U.  Egregiously long load times that rival the early days of CD-based consoles.  Extremely common full hard-locks of the system, requiring the power plug to be pulled to shut it off.  Created accounts being locked to the system they are created on.  USB devices formatted for a Wii U being tied to just that Wii U, preventing save moving.

Stop Hiding Scenes in the Credits

I really hate it when games hide scenes after (or sometimes even in the middle) of their end credits.  Oftentimes, this scene is crucial to what will happen next in the series and is cool to see.  The problem is that the credits isn’t the right place for it.  Why can’t these scenes just exist at the end of the game BEFORE the credits begin to roll?  I don’t really see any reason for it, other than to annoy us. 

Halo 4 Review – An Interesting New Direction

Halo 4 has a hard job.  It has to convince us that a new trilogy of games is worth it.  It also has to make us want to play yet another Halo game on the Xbox 360 hardware, even though waiting probably would have been a better idea.  Most importantly, it has to convince us that 343 Industries is a worthy successor to the mantle that Bungie passed onto them.  Not only did they manage to make a game that feels unquestionably Halo-like, they also gave it a unique feel that makes it their own and moves the franchise in some potentially interesting directions.

How Being A Teetotaler Inspired My First Immersive Gaming Moment

I am a staunch non-drinker.  In fact, I’m not a fan of anything that alters or limits the way my body feels, even something as simple as Novocaine at the dentist.  I’ve been putting off getting my wisdom teeth pulled just because the thought of being gassed makes me shaky and nauseous.  Those kinds of things just don’t interest me and even frighten me a little.

Some of Ubisoft’s PC piracy is its own fault

Gamers widely regard Ubisoft as one of today's worst PC publishers. The company's games have implemented horrible digital-rights management (DRM) in the forms of install limits and forcing users to maintain a constant connection to a central online server in order to play. When complaints come in from paying customers, Ubisoft's response is always that DRM is meant to combat the piracy that plagues the PC platform.

The Duldrums of an Interminable Gaming Backlog

My backlog is absolutely massive.  Thanks to Steam sales and Amazon daily deals, I have more games then I know what to do with (and this is as an unemployed part-time college student).  Most of my gaming time is split between playing something I can’t really “finish” (Battlefield 3, MMO’s, etc.) and working my way through that backlog.


“Zanarkand” is the first song that plays upon booting Final Fantasy X.  It also plays when players start a new game.  It appears regularly throughout the game as well, in rearrangements and it its most iconic original form.  While “Suteki da ne” is considered the game’s main theme by the composers, I can’t help but think of “Zanarkand” instead.

Commercials in My Video Games? No Thanks.

I don't usually get up in arms about things.  My temperament is pretty calm and I can usually see both sides of any argument.  I find it hard to review books or games because I find myself being too understanding of the things that are wrong.  For example, the Mass Effect 3 ending didn't really bother me too much.  I do think it was a bit lazy at the very end but I still enjoyed the game as a whole.  The whole debacle with Diablo 3's online servers didn't really irk me either (although, I did get that game for "free").

Gamer entitlement is becoming a problem

Dark Souls was a surprising hit for From Software last year. The game that came before it, Demon's Souls, was well-liked, but it just did OK in the sales department. Dark Souls was a more well-received release, and it almost seemed like everyone played it. I definitely enjoyed it as well. The game even ended up on my top-10 list for 2011.

Time to Party Like It’s 19…No, I’m Not Going to Make That Joke

The late 90's were a hell of a time for gaming. PC games were in their prime, consoles were on the up, and good games were coming out left and right. One of the most widely-accepted "best years of gaming" is 1998, a year that brought Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Starcraft and more. For me, as well as a lot of people, it is one of the most nostalgically pleasing times of my life.

Shadows of the Damned – A Unique Experience

Suda51 is fucking crazy.  If you’ve played any one of his games, you know that he comes up with the most random but creative gameplay scenarios in video games today.  Unfortunately, those creative ideas usually come with a bit of iffy gameplay, proving that you can’t be a jack of all trades in the gaming industry.  When he announced Shadows of the Damned a few years ago and said that Shinji Mikami would be onboard as the gameplay producer, gamers everywhere rejoiced.  Standards were unbelievably high.  While the game maybe didn’t quite live up to its potential (what game does?), Shadows of the Damned is still an engaging shooter with an unmatched sense of humor.

I Heard A Rumor…

Human nature is responsible for many things – why we keep starting wars, why people feel the need to be dicks on the Internet, etc. One particularly vicious part of this is rumors. As a people, we seem to feel the need to know things we aren't supposed to know yet or at all. How many times have you heard someone say "I know this guy and he heard from a friend that…" in your life?

Two Personas For the Price of One

The quality of a game or story's characters can make or break the whole thing. A good character is a wonderful thing, perfectly encapsulating the marvelous thing that is a human being and making you feel like this fictional person really exists. They have strengths and flaws and are complex individuals (at least, when they need to be). A bad character is stereotypical or at best, boring.

When Hate Gets In The Way

I Am Alive is a game that many thought had been canned until just recently, when a flood of information about the game surfaced, including the fact that it is a downloadable game coming to Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Not PC, you ask? According to a Eurogamer interview with creative director Stanislas Mettra, a PC version would be a silly idea since pirating is such a big deal on that system.