A Nine-Point Guide on How to Scare The3rdPlayer

20160731192339_1.jpgI would never call myself an expert on horror. I’ve watched a ton of horror films and played my weight in horror games so I’m no stranger to the tricks and tropes of the trade, either. I’ve gained enough of a reputation to be considered an aficionado, though, somewhere closer to an expert than a layman. What I do know is that after spending probably half of my life taking in an appreciated horror media is that I know what works for me and what doesn’t.

Something I’ve talked to a few folks on Twitter and in my life about is not necessarily what is done well or isn’t but what actually works to give you the creeps and keep you entertained. When it comes to films, for instance, a solid slasher movie will keep me watching while a lot of movies with possession or vampires don’t tend to strike the right chords for me. On the other hand, I know people who have the exact opposite inclinations. Some people are claustrophobic and can’t take certain camera angles. I know plenty of folks who can’t stand when movies victimize children because it feels like low hanging fruit for the sake of a reaction.

Games are a little different, though. There’s another level of immersion because you’re the one controlling the person going through the ordeal. By extension, these things are happening to you and if you want to finish the game, you’re going to go through a gauntlet of jumps, creeps, and “You Died” screens to see the end and find salvation. How do you know which horror games are for you, though? Do certain mechanics work more effectively toward embedding that dread into your bones? Are there effects that make you roll your eyes a bit or get so frustrated that you need to put your controller down for a minute to compose yourself?

Allow me to open up my own discussion with five ways that games can creep me out- and four ways a number of games have rubbed me the wrong way while trying. As always, since this is discussing a multitude of game mechanics and situations from video games, there will be spoilers below. Nothing that will ruin a game entirely, but it may take some of the punch out of some scares you might not want ruined. Consider yourself warned!
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August in Review

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Hey folks! I’m a few days late, but it’s been a hectic beginning to September so I hope you’ll all forgive me.

So far as life is concerned, it’s mostly been work and trying to be social where I can. A lot of that involves gaming, which is nice, but I’ve also been working on getting back into reading. I’ve pretty much careened through the first book of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, The Gunslinger, in an effort to read through some of his connected mythos. It’s been nice having a book reel me back in again, and I’m hoping the reading bug catches me this time around. There are a lot of great works out that I’ve been meaning to get to.

I also featured on a co-stream with my best friend, Sparkhive (who’s stream can be caught here!) and introduced her to the game, ObsCure (which I also reviewed here). It was a blast to not only collaborate with a good friend live and in front of a bunch of fun folks, but it reminded me that I enjoyed streaming when I could for the most part before. It may be something I look into doing every so often once I have an apartment or a place to live where I can do it in peace.

Gaming itself has also been pretty erratic, though I’ve tended toward the spooky over the past month. I managed my way through the original Fatal Frame and have started up with Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. I’ve also worked through three or four run-throughs of The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, Supermassive’s follow-up effort to one of my favorite games, Until Dawn, which I’ll have some impressions of up on here shortly for. My co-op playthrough of Dead Rising 2 is coming to a close soon, too. Not to be outdone, though, my Switch has gotten quite a bit of playtime with a second run-through in Fire Emblem: Three Houses and the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered release a few days ago.

Needless to say, it’s a great time to be a gamer!

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Reviews and Posts

Keeping on my horror slant, most of the games I wrote about this month had some hand in the macabre. Exploring Castlevania 64 after all of these years was a fun romp into one of my favorite series, even if the experience is a bit lacking. The original Dead Rising left the same kind of taste but as the origin point of the series, it kind of makes sense that there were some bumps in the road. Surprisingly, DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark was a solid sequel that followed the original DreadOut (review) faithfully and kept most of what worked so well in the original.

The one deviation was A Boy and His Blob which I had wanted to revisit since I first owned it on the NES years ago. It’s an interesting little title that’s worth a peek and has made me interested in the remake that came out on the Wii some time ago.

Castlevania (N64)
Dead Rising (360)
A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia (NES)
DreadOut: Keepers of the Dark (PC)

The only editorial piece I did this month came from the “Adventures in Collecting” series I’ve attempted to keep up- though this one was a bit of a warning to budding collectors more than anything. From my advice pile to you: “make sure you read the fine print”.

(Mis)Adventures in Collecting – Fire Emblem

Looking Ahead

Aside from write-ups on Fatal Frame and some impression on Man of Medan, I’m hoping to continue on with my Dead Rising write-ups and finally put the finishing touches on my overview of Left 4 Dead. I have a few other games that I’m looking forward to but I hesitate to chat about which ones I’ll actually get to jot my impressions of down in here before the end of the month. It’s actually feeling like there might be quite a few editorial pieces upcoming for some reason.

Really, the sky’s the limit and I’m not totally sure what will be coming up in the blog for September- especially since we’re heading into the Halloween season, my favorite season of all. If my gaming habits are any indication, though, you’ll be seeing some fun horror and RPG titles over the next few weeks.

Hope you’re all having a fantastic start to your month- and I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading, watching, gaming, or just generally doing that you’d like to share!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

All’s Fair in Love and Covering Wars – XBox 360 – Dead Rising – 2006

20190706233207_1.jpgDead Rising
XBox 360
Capcom
Genre: Action Horror
2006

Zombie games are everywhere. Like the creeping undead they promote, they seem to have vastly grown in number and even when you don’t think they have made their way in, games suddenly have a new mode that has you facing off against the hellish creatures. As someone who swears by Zombie Ate My Neighbors being one of my favorite games of all time, even I have to admit that there’s a lot to look through and not much to be done to make the zombie pseudo-genre feel fresh.

Looking back a bit, though, it didn’t feel like the wave of zombie-centric gaming started to swell until popular games like Resident Evil 4 and Dead Rising hit the scene, bringing a more action-oriented approach to slaying the already slain than many of their predecessors of the era. Plenty of ground had been struck within the Resident Evil series and other one-off titles here and there to give credit where it’s due. At the time of its release, though, Dead Rising felt like a revival of a sort. It was shiny and new while calling back to similar works from film and gaming.

There’s also been about thirteen years of efforts to replicate those shiny and new feelings in a number of ways since. Some have been successful while others have paled in comparison. It only feels right to look back into Capcom’s Dead Rising series, one of the original members of the new wave, and see how it stands up now that so many other games have come around. Plenty of games make a splash and get lost in an ocean of titles and efforts to be the best.

After all of this time, does Dead Rising still hold its own in the arena?
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July in Review

3pmegamanstyleHey, folks! Welcome to my quick wrap-up of July and what I’ve been up to and writing about over the past 31 or so days.

So what’s been going on in my neck of the woods this month?

Well, in life, it’s been incredibly warm in my area so I’ve spent a lot of time outside and looking for some life improvement while searching for an apartment and generally finding my next direction to travel in. I’ve also entered into year two of the tabletop game that I’ve been running, which has been a bit of an accomplishment for me given the fact that I was terrified of running something like that for friends at all. I’ve also set myself up to try to get more reading done in the future regarding both blogs and literature I’ve been meaning to get to or revisit.

It sounds like a tall order and, to be honest, it is. I suppose working in a direction that I want to be heading toward slowly but surely is better than just expecting everything will fall into place right away, right?

So far as gaming is concerned, I started out the month on a bit of a spree across a bunch of systems, though I’m always working through my Steam backlog and collecting so the pile of games grows ever larger. Before I became hopelessly obsessed with Fire Emblem: Three Houses, I started in on Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 1, a remake of the original game (which I also never played but have heard great things about). I’ve also been looking at some fun platformers and horror games coming up- especially with Man of Medan on the horizon for next month.

It’s been a great time for games, hasn’t it?

20190629155923_1Posts in Review
This month was a pretty horror heavy month, though not without my having finished some games I’ve been meaning to for a while:

Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song (PS2)
Huntsman: The Orphanage – Halloween Edition (PC)
The Ring: Terror’s Realm (Dreamcast)

I also managed to write up a blog post on how games handle protagonists that the player probably shouldn’t empathize with but they should enjoy playing as:

The Frank West Conundrum – Analyzing a Non-Traditional Protagonist

I really enjoy analyzing and discussing these kinds of topics. They’re usually based on conversations I’ve had in passing with gaming friends in person, so bringing them to folks who I get to talk to in the comments here and on Twitter always results in some night insights.

20190706235039_1What’s to Come?
Over the next month, I’m looking forward to updating the couple of overviews I’ve started to include more of the Atelier games and to cover Fire Emblem entries that have released since like Fire Emblem Warriors, Fire Emblem Heroes, and my current obsession, Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I’ve also been working on playing through to do a review and overview of the Left 4 Dead series. I don’t think I’ve played enough first-person shooters or cooperative games lately, so I’d like to branch into that a bit more.

Of course, I’ve also got a review for Dead Rising coming up, along with another game I had been meaning to get through, Castlevania 64. I have a whole host of other games to play through, and I’ve been pretty happy with my balance of PC and console coverage as well as retro and current generation focus, so you can most likely expect more of the same from me upcoming.

Preferably a higher volume of writing, as well- once I finish up with Three Houses, of course.

There are also a lot of you that I would love to support more, and I want to make another post soon showing some love for the folks who have been actively chatting and interacting and some blogs that I’ve been appreciating and frequenting.  I want to stress that there are a lot of folks on here that I appreciate, admire, and support, despite my inability to keep up with all of the amazing content you all produce!

Have a great rest of the week and here’s to a fantastic August!

– Matt (a.k.a. The3rdPlayer)

The Frank West Conundrum – Analyzing a Non-Traditional Protagonist

20190714095151_1As I play through video games, I love to think about the characters and their motivations. I enjoy parsing through how a game- or movie, book, or any other media- represents its protagonists and their journey. Do their actions reflect any growth or movement of any kind emotionally or in their maturity? Do they come to terms with personal flaws and grow from them or, sometimes even more interestingly, do they keep their flaws and find ways to work around them? How does this piece of media engage me with a protagonist that acts as my surrogate in the world I’m interacting with?

Being a huge fan of role-playing games, I’m used to finding myself with 40 to 60 hours of time to sort through events with a small cast of characters from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. They may start out selfish and have a turning point that leads them to a life of altruism or they may be a bit too naive and harden as the plot rolls out, becoming battle-weary and keen. In shorter games, it can be easier to track a character’s progression because the story beats are so close together and they have to have impact if the game takes pride in its narrative. On the other hand, it can be harder since there is only so much time to show someone’s story arc outside of the ongoing plot and changing a character too much in that time can prove disastrous. Games like The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, and Horizon: New Dawn work to fit an immersive story in with flourishes of character growth in a relatively short time. The protagonists, though, can be relatable to many of the audience members- those characters have their own struggles from the past and striking at them from time to time to rein the player into the mindset of their avatar.

In a bid to try to write a bit about the series, I’ve been playing through Dead Rising to refresh my memory and track improvements as the games released. While I’ve been enjoying it, there is one thing I can say for certain:

No one should be able to empathize with Frank West. Continue reading