Wednesday, 8 June 2016

"So did this guy die or something?"

And the answer is no, no i did not.

Though i would not blame you for thinking i did.

 So shit, long time right? over half a decade if i'm right. So what happened? Well to cut a long story short google bought blogger, it was a huge rigmarole to get into my account back then and with so many university related things to occupy my time i simply forgot.

 If i am honest the declining quality of Survival Horror games at the time certainly did not help i will admit.

 In the meantime i've been the Admin of a popular .Ning site though this died off when it made a transition to a pay to use service, and while i am active on my twitter @dope_danny (shocking choice of name im sure) and on youtube now and again as on the whole i have not been an avid participant in my old online haunts -the survival horror community in particular.
 So what reminded me of the place? Well honestly its as simple as Massivelyop writing an article about a 'new blogger initiative' which prompted my reaction of 'didn't youtube vlogging kill those off?' and to be honest for a lot of old blogs i visited it did and in turn this also lead to my abandoning of forum usage too. Still it reminded me of the RCT and all the good times i had, the people i met and even the rare times developer senpais noticed me.

So i decided to see once again if i could reclaim it and was pleased to see google now has a much more streamlined process to do so. Upon logging in i saw there were 172 unmoderated comments, a couple saying i was a complete monster for disliking amnesia as you would expect and far too many enjoying writing which on rereading as an adult i find kind of cringe worthy in places.
At the end however was one from a few weeks ago on my last update for the announcement of The Last of Us simply stating "So did this guy die or something?" which is some theoretically heavy shit.

 It struck a chord with me because -again on the topic of ultra niche circles online- a fair few years ago i discovered a youtube channel about films that at that point was the rare treasure: a guy not trying to be another "angry critic" which was something not easily found back then. His name was Rodger Swan, a teacher who moved to Japan to teach English to high school kids and he had a series called "Swans Japanese Horror review" which was an excellent source of recommendations for 'j-horror' which was at its all time height of popularity in the west at the time. He was informative, concise and entertaining.

 Then one day he stopped uploading videos. People can get bored, people move on, people forget. It happens. However the info below the last video was changed a while after simply stating "Rodger has passed away". I forget his exact age but he was younger then than i am now and mid 20's is no age for anyone to go. I never knew Swan personally but this stuck with me, though i admit the tone is far to serious my dumb 2spooky videogames blog. However seeing something online left without a conclusion is never satisfying is it? So here i am.
 No i am not dead. Is the blog coming back? honestly probably not. I dearly love survival horror but in the age of the "slender em up" where innovation has fallen to the wayside in favour of making the next youtube screamer streamer darling i find myself returning to my old classics time and again yet only viewing new releases with the low expectations of a man about to play what will be either a jump scare corridor crawler like Amnesia or an action game Masquerading as horror like Resident Evil 6 and i dont think anyone wants to see someone be a bitter old shit about how 'horror games were better back in my day' do they? because A: that would just be an exercise in being a massive asshole on my part and B: you never know when someone might make the next revitalising release in the genre, gaming trends can change like the weather after all.

 Honestly i have been considering starting a new blog to accompany The Delicious Mystery Youtube Channel for the times when i have some longwinded topic i would rather write about than vlog about, for the time being however i feel The Raccoon City times has been over for a long time, i just never added "The End" to it. So i would call this a tentative final update and retirement of the blog.
I dont even know if anyone would read this and how could i blame you? but i still felt i needed to cap this off. My time from my teens to my 20's spent in the survival horror community was a time i remember fondly. Websites like Chris' survival horror quest keep on chugging along and i keep reading them. Even if i disappeared from the respective forums long, long ago.

 So thank you. Anyone who ever read this and enjoyed it. I'm happy that in whatever small fashion i could i have entertained you and maybe sometime soon i might get the writing itch again, because my love of videogames is as strong as ever even if my genre of choice has been on the decline in terms of my own tastes in it. So no i am not dead, but i guess The Raccoon City times is.
 Expect maybe one more post to link to a new blog if it should happen and in the meantime thank you very much for reading.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

THE LAST OF US: VGA announcement trailer

in a word WOW, so this is how good console games can do plants and water when they actually try? thats impressive if its all actually in game like it says. Coming from naughty dog i would not be surprised.
So what is it?
Its the road meets i am legend meets those japanese survival games that never get popular over here. Starring Ellen Paige. Fighting fungal zombies in a ruined new york.

Personally i am very excited for this, i wondered why nobody tried to use the real world zombifying cordycepts fungi as a plot device before.

heres hoping its very tough makes survival more important than fighting and going one man army on it.

ALAN WAKE: American Nightmare VGA announcement trailer

Welp, guess we know what the next instalment of the Alan Wake series is all about. No longer named night springs apparently. I adored the first, beat it about 8 times last year so im sure i will get this too. Interesting that it features more about mr scratch, an idea in the first game many just dont even know was in their after they beat it. That and new kinds of taken.
All in all it looks like Alan Wake may actually be leaning more towards the survival horror influence of its roots than its action thriller ones.
So lets see how this pans out- and relates to a full retail 'second season',

Monday, 28 November 2011

Silent HIll back on the EU Playstation Network store

Well this snuck by most gaming news sites i visit.

Browsing the PSN store for some ps one classics i spied the original Silent Hill is back on the store for £5.79 in the UK.
The game was up for a couple of days in 2010, but hastily taken down when it received unanimous reports that the game would crash at the moth boss and never go any further for anyone, not just one or two players but the game itself was broken.

Well its back up now and i just finished downloading it. I'm not one for reviewing the classics- because they either aged so badly they arent a fair comparison to todays games or they are just so well known, and well regarded that a 'review'- However i may give a little follow up to see if this ones worth your money- that and the psn parasite eve 2 i was browsing the store for at the time.

Still, if your willing to risk it it is there and ready to go.

Saturday, 17 September 2011


I tried to ignore the nu-mettul. God help me, i tried.

So yeah, here is the latest, unfortunately put together, trailer for silent hill downpour. My opinion? my early thoughts about some inspiration from the suffering and alan wake seems like it was right on the money. I'm gonna hazard a guess that they may even try the alan wake/ alone in the dark route and make it more like an episodic horror tv series. Which i cant say i would be adverse to. Both of the aforementioned examples, regardless of overall game quality, pulled it off quite well. I think it would certainly help in a game like this to have a "previously on silent hill" when you load it up after a while without continuing.

Am i expecting a good story? possibly. Maybe a little cliche' in that 90's american horror kind of way but i enjoyed that schtick with Obscure so it could keep me entertained here. What about the gameplay though? the brief fashes we see between all the cutscenes showed what looked like a 3rd person clunky movement thing that reminded me of deadly premonition. Which let's be honest was dogshit at its best, however its story carried it through. Will this be able to do the same? Honestly i kinda doubt it.

We're gonna have to wait and see. After all it's not like we aren't going to play it when it's released.

Right now i'm tentatively excited for it, its showing a lot of influence in its direction from resident evil 5, alan wake, the suffering and silent hill homecoming so maybe it could be a perfect storm of influences. Or just the accumulated crap of all its touchstones combined into one terribad package. Time'll tell i suppose.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011


So i have been tremendously busy.

Though i have, in my spare time, been working on some stuff for here including video reviews now i can capture footage from consoles to my Mac and got some sound equipment set up thats higher than youtube vlog calibre so please, bear with me folks.

-also, still playing horror games, just beat dead space 2, expect thoughts on that soon.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Amnesia: The Dark Descent - The Review

Developer: Frictional Games
Publisher: Frictional Games
Platforms: PC, Mac OS X, Linux
Release date: September 8th 2010

Well bugger me, only a week or two after my post about trying the demo to finally silence all the requests for it my birthday came around and some generous mate had gifted me a copy of amnesia on steam.

Whilst the demo left me a bit cold I gave it a go, being a freebie and a gift after all, and in a brisk 6 hours I was done.

What is amnesia? Well if you haven’t played it the game is an indie developed action adventure horror game with light puzzle and stealth elements.
You are Daniel, a man who wakes up in a dark, seemingly very recently abandoned mansion with no memory of how he got there and only a note from his former self to guide him.
Unfortunately for Daniel said note directs him not away to safety but deep into the bowels of the castle to kill a man who put him in this situation. Sort of. It’s difficult to explain without spoilers but basically Daniel was at an archeological dig and discovered some artifact of a lovecraftian style origin and now a sentient ‘darkness’ is after his soul and has killed anyone associated with him. He came to castle brennanburg for help and unfortunately for him the help came in the form of another evil which in its own way is far worse than the darkness chasing him.
Essentially Alexander, the castles Baron. Has made Daniel do terrible, unspeakable things in attempts to ‘cure’ him of the darkness. Things that will literally come back to bite him as he makes the trip from the upper castle to the deep bowels beneath it.

The game itself is a first person physics interaction game.
To begin with you can pull and push open doors and draws, pick up items like chairs and rotate them and throw them and the game eases you into the mechanics of it.
A major mechanic being the lack of weapons and sanity.
As Daniel progresses the game becomes darker, both in tone and literally. Staying in this dark allows Daniel to creep about but at the cost of his sanity which can only be restored by completing the puzzles required to progress.
OR he can use a lantern with a finite amount of fuel or tinderboxes to light candles and torches to create light and keep him calm and sane.
-but also make him easy to spot for the castles residents.
Said residents are the remains of Alexanders experiments. Mutant hulks like a cross between Frankenstein’s monster, a cenobite from hellraiser and the average walking fleshsacks from silent hill.
They stalk the halls of castle brennanburg with purpose. To kill you. They are filled with supernatural strength and fighting back is utterly futile. All you can do is hide, either in the dark or in cupboards or closets and wait for the monsters to pass or dare to brave the pitch black darkness and lose sanity whilst you attempt to sneak away from them.
The castle itself is experienced through a series of connected hubs with a puzzle that you must solve to progress and items key to the puzzles solution hidden in side areas all connected to the hub. The first of which is a fleshy growth covering a tunnel entrance and the lab, wine cellar and storage rooms around the hub allow you to concoct an acid to allow you to melt it away and progress further to Daniels final goal.

As with the demo my experience was marred by its nature. Though not to the point of the demo which is not exactly like the final product mind you, but I found it hard to immerse myself in a game so requiring of your voluntary engagement with the world it tries to paint out.
Again the blurry jelly vision, the spawning of a monster behind you in your way as you go down a one exit room to get a key item or the many times it wrenches control away to show the character getting scared instead of letting the player become scared repeatedly enforced the notion that it isn’t real. The flawed attempts to jerry rig scares in what they felt needed to be expressed as scary rather than shown pulled me out of the game with its irritatingly uniform and obvious choices for placement and points for such things to occur at.
This is a poorly done way of not allowing the scares to come naturally but foisting them up your audience and then dashing your hopes to do so because of the very forced nature in which you attempted and failed to scare them.
Honestly at many points I myself could have been scared If only I wasn’t told I should be.
Case in point.
In one scenario I am in a dark room, my torch is out of fuel and in the murky dark I see a humanoid figure walk through a doorway down the long black hallway.
At this point my jimmies where fairly rustled.
In another scenario as I walk down a hall there is a torch at the end that bursts into flame all on its own- which has nothing to do with the plot or any reasoning and never occurs again or has any relevance- and the camera is wrenched out of my control as Daniel appears to experience severe spasms, or something.
All I could do was roll my eyes at the cheesy attempt and sit, arms folded, as I waited for the game to have the good nature to give me control of the character again.
For all the artificiality of the repeated hub layouts or lack of major story this is amnesias weakest point and makes many tense moments redundant. So surely it is a failure as a horror game, right?

Well not really.
One thing this game does well, for the most part, is ambience. The grimy, dark castle that leads onto rotten prison cells, a flooded sewer and worse is a well paced and well thought out path of an increasingly dark and oppressive location that truly makes you feel as though you do not belong there.
The is an almost effervescent creepiness that permeates every moment of this game that may come and go between little well lit areas that allow the player to catch a breath but the feeling of ‘wrongness’ about the location is constant throughout.
The music in particular is well done. It is a subtle undertone that allows the developers to alter the mood of a location at a moments notice and it’s a shame some of this subtlety did not go into the scripting of events as well.

Gameplay wise its actually pretty good. My only minor gripe is that you may be running from a monster and get ‘stuck’ on a flat surface of terrain, a common problem with many physics heavy games and no different here.
The puzzles are actually pretty easy. You collect a series of items with only one solution and you just cannot progress until you search all the off-rooms of that hub and collect them all. Simple as that.
On the whole the very nature of the gameplay is shallow. Either you are safe in a well lit room and you spend the time pulling open draws or doors to find items or you are crouched in the dark hiding from enemies that- due to a constant auto save and respawns with no progress lost- are not really much of a hindrance anyway.
Shallow is really the term for amnesia. The scares are there, the ambience is there, there is enough story, character and design genius to draw you in and get you going.
For most though its constant hammy attempts to try and force you to evoke emotion rather than naturally draw it out makes it not last longer however.
Perhaps its just a sign of its indie nature but not only are you always aware this is just a game, but the tiny budget and inexperienced design team means you can see when and where things will occur as surely as a teenager in a slasher film saying “I’ll be right back” being singled out as the next to be killed off.
It has the setting, I felt very much alone in the castle, but never truly at risk and only through design choices which hampered the experience. The pacing in particular is excellent. Many games would ram monsters down your throat but only in one instance did i ever encounter more than 1 at once. In fact i do not think i saw a monster- at least more than a shadow in the doorways for the first 2 hours of the game. It eases you in and allows you to build up to the reveals of monsters which makes there limited appearances all the more impacting. It is just a shame that this pacing is completely countered by the artificial scares put in place by the level designer.

On the whole I played through in a single sitting in which I died 3 times and was never more than mildly spooked- mostly when there was no scripted events or monsters and just me alone in the dark, empty rooms of castle brennanburg.
I felt slightly dissatisfied with the time spend during the game. The was no real change in the experience from the first hours play to the last and I never really cared for the faceless blank slate of a character as i progressed.
Don’t mistake me for out and out disappointment with the time spent. Amnesia is a unique experience that I had not played the like of before and it was certainly a memorable one.

I just cant consider it truly scary. Certainly not anywhere close to either my top horror games of all time or just as a notably great videogame because in the end, it’s kind of a dull videogame that has squandered its potential as either a fun game to play or as a terrifying experience.

I finished the game, described it to my friends with a funny wavey hand motion followed by an ‘eeehh..’ escaping my mouth but a funny thing happened the next day.
I sat down to get some work done ay my desk and as I stared at the imacs screen the amnesia icon was luring me in, making me want to revisit the experience again already even though it offered nothing new.
Doe’s that mean against all my criticisms it is a great game? Not really. An enjoyable experience you will sit through more than once however? I think that that’s probably closer to the mark.

I was not left overwhelmed with Amnesia. It has certainly been overhyped by word of mouth. However any aficionado of horror games would do well to experience the game much in the same way i would point to D's dinner table, koudelka or nanashi no geemu. None of which are truly balls to the wall scary or a truly stellar videogame experience but as an experience they are note worthy due to there unique nature and as such i recommend these oddities as something for any horror fan to play through at least once and in this respect amnesia is no different. Hell even if you are looking for cheap thrills the more susceptible players may be thoroughly spooked by it. So by all means do not let me dissuade you from this game. I would very much recommend it.

Just don't expect the be all, end all final boss of horror games most websites make it out to be.

SCORE [6/10]