Week In Review #2

(January 7th-January 13th) This post will be updated as my week (in entertainment) continues!

This week, I’m expanding my 2019 horizons by reading, watching, and writing as well as continuing last week’s indie gaming theme. Here are my thoughts and recommendations, from my heart to your…eyes. Enjoy:)

Screen Shot 2019-01-07 at 7.36.25 PM.pngLast week, I played a few games like this (What Remains of Edith Finch, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture) and was actually close to removing this from my playlist for some reason that I can’t recall. It’s a huge sigh of relief that I played this, however, because I can’t imagine skipping out on this experience. Haunting, chilling, expansive, and rewarding, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is the first game I’ve gone out of my way to 100% in 2019. Granted, only two trophies were needed for 100% completion statistic, but the passion for continuing the game was present all the same. Just how open and free this game felt was mesmerizing, and even though there wasn’t actually that much story in the game, you can milk this narrative for hours. Three to five, to be exact.

screen shot 2019-01-08 at 10.34.54 amAfter playing this game, I have to edit something I firmly debated in last week’s Week In Review: that the term “walking simulator” is pretty much an abomination. Dear Esther showed me that no, it’s not inherently derogatory; this game is exactly that, and it’s really good, too. Unlike Ethan Carter, Edith Finch, or Rapture, this game allows you to do nothing at all besides walk and look. Other games had “interact” functions but this game only allows you to “interact” by walking to certain locations and then walking some more. And that’s how the story plays out: you walk, and it talks. It sounds unappealing and I can see why people would think so, but I am a fan of this game. I enjoyed the first two chapters “enough,” but the third chapter was visually stunning, and the final chapter was nothing short of beautiful and heartbreaking poetry.

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 1.25.29 PM.pngIn the last few days, I’ve played a number of these “walking simulators” (yes, I’m embracing it now) that range in theme, style of storytelling, pace, subgenre, tone, et cetera; I think that of all of those elements, Gone Home is my favorite one. I felt most attached to Katie as a character compared to the other protagonists (save for Edith Finch), and that really allowed me to feel more invested in the story. The way you walk around, find letters, listen to Sam talk about Lonnie, and learn about Katie’s family was not only enjoyable but truly mesmerizing, and even exciting. It looks like a mystery, feels like a romance, sounds like a coming-of-age drama, and hints of horror at times too: Gone Home is a great experience worthy of your time.

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 6.43.53 PM.pngHe can read too? Yes, yes he can. Somewhat. The first story I’ve read this year is from the Poe: Stories and Poems graphic novel by Gareth Hinds, a collection of classic Edgar Allan Poe tales with images to enhance the poetic macabre. The Masque of the Red Death fascinated me simply for how it was written, which I would have imagined a different way than how it was pictured. Having these two complement (possibly juxtapose) each other drew interesting ideas; this may not be metaphorical at all, and Death itself may have ascended to take the lives of the fortunate that thought they were invincible from the mortality of man. It’s definitely one worth pondering, and rereading, as it’s very nature is difficult to pin down.

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 6.37.34 PM.pngFirewatch is the last game I have on my playlist that is considered to be a “walking simulator,” but is definitely the least like the others. This seems more like a first-person adventure game that really doesn’t have much downtime at all. There is nearly constant dialogue between Henry and Delilah, and the story itself is really fantastic; throughout the game, I wondered if this whole experience was metaphorical and that Henry was simply imagining all of this stress out of regret. The game opens with text that explains how his wife has early-onset Alzheimers and moves to Australia so her family can care for her, and Henry now finds himself in the middle of the woods in an attempt to clear his head and discover what he wants to do next. My favorite part of this game is that it offers enough choices to make me feel as though I was telling the story myself– I felt more included in the narrative but also that I was just a spy, intruding on the relationship between the two main characters. It’s really good, but I was pretty let down by the last 30 minutes or so of gameplay.

Screen Shot 2019-01-09 at 12.28.24 AM.pngAnd for my first “new viewing” of 2019: Jonah Hill’s Mid90s, which I’ve been eagerly anticipating for probably close to a year now. I always love when an actor makes the leap into behind-camera filmmaking such as writing or directing, and to see Hill do this was very exciting for me (especially since he gets better with the more serious he gets). This movie is about a kid who finds solace from pain with a group of lost-soul skateboarders. Inspired by Hill’s own life, Mid90s offers a tale that is so lovingly hand-crafted that it’s next to impossible not to feel the passion woven into each and every frame. For me, it ranks up there with the best indie coming-of-age stories, and this makes me look forward to seeing what else Jonah Hill has up his sleeves. 1 and 4/5 Thumbs Up from this guy.

Screen Shot 2019-01-13 at 4.27.55 PM.png

When I posted on r/playstation how much I’ve enjoyed playing Indie titles, Reddit user Batnigg -_- said simply “Hollow Knight, treat yourself.” As soon as I read that comment, I looked up the game (as I didn’t know what the hell it was), and decided to buy it blindly since I’m trying to play as many small indie games as possible. As you see above, this is no small game. Actually, I’m going to save my review of this game until I get the Platinum trophy. By the time the credits rolled, I had 105% completion but I’m going for the 112% trophy as well as the challenge rooms (which are all I have left now). So, I will have that review up soon!

I’m probably not going to get around to reading or watching too much else this week until Hollow Knight is “complete” complete, but my week 3 diary will be up as soon as I start reading, watching, or playing this week. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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