Gaming Omnivore Art Gallery

One of my goals for 2020 was to keep pushing forward and continuing to progress in not only my writing ability(hey, it could happen…) and also to experiment with new ideas and formats on my blog site. For today’s post I wanted to highlight some of the captivating visuals found in games I’ve played over this past console generation.

The quality and complexity of game visuals is light years from the simple pixelated images produced in the early days of gaming, like the Atari 2600 or even the NES a handful of years later. Video games have also grown more complex and capable of not only providing an interesting gameplay experience, they can tell stories on par with any Hollywood film and can instantly transport players anywhere from real-world locations, distant planets, or places we could only otherwise see in our own imaginations. Video games have in more recent years finally become accepted and recognized, Roger Ebert notwithstanding, as an artistic medium similar to music or movies, with many games featuring the same level of production as many films. Games are more than able to convey ideas and emotions to match other mediums and today I’m going to showcase some of wonderful visuals found within them.

One of the options featured in a vast number of games this past console generation is Photo Mode which allows you to briefly suspend play and not only take a snapshot of everything on screen, but also giving some rudimentary camera controls or filter options to further color the mood of your digital playground. This comes as a nod of recognition to the painstaking level of detail and effort put in to create such impressive world. It’s become almost an afterthought in most open-world games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Assassin’s Creed(nearly every Ubisoft game, actually) and is frequently the reason I feel I’m not progressing through many areas of the game as I find myself stopping every so often to jump into Photo Mode and save a quick picture. Here’s a guided tour of five pieces that I love, along with the feeling that comes to mind when viewing them. Please remember to stay behind the velvet rope…

Control

Mystique – The feeling of being inexplicably drawn to somewhere or something and the determination to discover the secrets behind it. We see Jesse as she cautiously ventures down an ever-changing corridor towards a carousel horse that serves as an Item of Power. I also love how the shot brings to mind the film Blade Runner as you can see the carousel horse in the background bears a striking similarity to a unicorn.

Gris

Hardship – Her voice taken away as a result of a traumatic experience, our heroine makes her way across a broken world, devoid of color. We also see the progress of her healing journey through the implementation of colors and as a metaphor for the challenges one may face in life. I love the use of beautiful watercolors in this piece.

Layers of Fear

Obsession – Here we observe an example of the sometimes too fine line between genius and insanity. Our artist has found themselves caught in-between the vision of the mind and the ability of the hands and the ensuing struggle to create. This can also be a manifestation of the artist’s internal struggles as well.

Death Stranding

Death – Sam nears the end of his destination, his journey has been on a personal as well as physical level as he courageously faces death itself trapped between the plane of the living and dead. The ominous BT whale in this sublime, otherworldly shot serves as the Grim Reaper; awaiting us all at the end of our lives.

Far Cry 5

Serenity – Seeing this shot leaves me with a peaceful, calming feeling as I can just about smell the mountain air or the warmth of the sunlight reflecting off the water below the falls. This can represent the tranquility for some in simplicity of life and being in touch with nature as we gaze upon its majestic beauty.

This concludes the tour for now! I kind of like the idea of showincasing different shots and a short description of the feelings accompanying it. This is more or less what I’ve used my Instagram account for as I primarily post screenshots of random games I’ve played. There’s many more screenshots I’ve taken in games that are better than anything I’ve ever photographed in real life. What are some games that feature worlds that you can completely lose yourself in? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Comfort Food Games

You know those days where you just want to relax and feel comfy? You don’t have to worry about work or any other responsibility of “being an adult” so you feel like kicking back in your pajama pants and Doctor Who slippers in front of the tv while eating some of your favorite comfort foods. For many people comfort foods are something usually like mashed potatoes or mac and cheese, or if you’re anything like me, pizza is your go-to comfort food. Also, if you’re anything like me, you may want to accompany your favorite comfort food with some video games; the games that you’ve maybe played a hundred times but still find yourself coming back to as you settle into bed or your living room. Having had a few of these type of days recently I came up with the idea of writing a post of my own personal “comfort food” games that no matter what kind of day I’ve had I always enjoy playing. Also, with Thanksgiving, a day of calorie-laden indulgence coming this Thursday, it seemed fitting to share my video game equivalents of a heaping plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.

Super Metroid

I wouldn’t be able to write a list of go-to games without including Super Metroid; there’s never a time in which exploring the planet Zebes and blasting a few Space Pirates along the way doesn’t appeal to me. The game after all these years is still considered the pinnacle of the Metroid series. I have loved this game since I was a kid and regard it as my favorite SNES game.

Far Cry 5

A more recently released title on this list, but since first playing Far Cry 5 I have been absolutely hooked. Far Cry 5 at its core is the over-the-top action movie as you run around the rugged Montana landscape with your rocket launcher, but you can kick back and enjoy some fishing or go for a relaxing(?) drive through the mountains.

Resident Evil 4

While it may not seem like the most “relaxing” game to some, the first scene in which Leon fights off a horde or villagers is anything but. Resident Evil 4 has been one of my favorite games to play since I first bought it at the Kmart I worked at in January of 2005. It’s a game that I usually run through about once a year. It’s also one of those games that I’ve purchased multiple times….you’re welcome, Capcom.

Tetris

A game that I can always sit down and play whether for a few minutes or an hour, Tetris has always been one of my favorites, along with most other puzzle games. Since Tetris 99 was released for Switch Online subscribers earlier this year I have spent 60+ hours in what, in all seriousness could be my favorite battle royale game.

Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country recently celebrated(well, not really) its 25th anniversary since being released in November of 1994 and with it, Rare brought back Nintendo’s aging primate to mainstream relevance. Everything about this game brings warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia rushing back to me and the platforming gameplay, sound and visuals have held up exceptionally well. I still remember the first time I cleared those mine cart levels…

Super Mario Bros. 3

Since childhood, I have probably spent more time playing Mario games than any other and Mario 3 is probably my favorite game of all time, with Super Mario World following closely. I still remember every level and shortcut of the game. Similar to Resident Evil 4, I have purchased this game in multiple forms for many different consoles as I’m still in love with this timeless NES classic. For me, Mario 3 is as close to a perfect game as I have ever played.

That’s it for now, what are some of your “comfort food” games? Let me know in the comments. I know there’s plenty I’ve probably missed, but it’s a start. If you’d like to compliment your gaming meal, I recommend checking out a post that Kim from Later Levels recently did suggesting wine pairings with video games. Here’s hoping everyone out there has a great Thanksgiving and will hopefully get some time to relax and play some games!

Random Gaming Music Post

As I seem to have hit a bit of a rut over the past week in terms of writing on my blog site, I decided to take a bit of a detour from my regularly scheduled content(and I use the term “content” loosely…). I’ve also spent the last couple days not feeling entirely down about anything, but don’t feel necessarily…engaged or inspired. So, for today’s post I decided to share some music from various video games that I’ve been listening to lately or just whenever I feel like reverting to something less melancholic. I’ve arranged the music in order from more somber to lighter and more upbeat as you would envision the sunrise breaking over the dark horizon…

Keep Your Rifle By Your Side – Far Cry 5

The soundtrack from Far Cry 5 has become one of my favorite video game soundtracks, with several different arrangements of the “cult songs” you hear in-game. The song Keep Your Rifle By Your Side by the band Hammock who recorded an album of alternate arrangements of the original songs featured in the game starts slow and maintains a spa-like ambience that sounds as spacious as the Montana rockies.

Legend of the Eagle Bearer – Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Another track that begins slowly and then keeps a steady relaxed pace, Legend of the Eagle Bearer is the main title music and over-arching theme for Alexios or Kassandra’s epic journey through ancient Greece in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I love the loose, slightly buzzy timber of the strings to conjure the Mediterranean vibe of the theme.

Fodlan Winds – Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fodlan Winds is used as the main battle theme during Fire Emblem: Three Houses with an “airy” lightness in the string section that uplifts the (mostly)sober feel of the game. The entire soundtrack of Three Houses is wonderful and is one of many aspects that contribute to what may be my favorite game of 2019.

Press Play – Firewatch

I’ve always loved 80’s sounding synth-pop, so I naturally loved the song Press Play featured in the wonderful indie title Firewatch. The song is performed by fictitious 80’s band Cheap Talk and is featured early on in the game which is set in 1989. The song sounds eerily reminiscent to early Madonna – before the Pepsi Ads and Like A Prayer…

Pop Virus – Death Stranding

Hideo Kojima’s newest(and weirdest) game Death Stranding released this previous Friday and was one of the game I spent the weekend consuming. The game itself has proven quite divisive in terms of “fun” or “what the hell is it?”, but the game features some wonderful music, both licensed and original score. The catchy J-pop jam – Pop Virus by Gen Hoshino is a bit of sunshine in the gorgeous, yet desolate Death Stranding and has been one of my favorite songs to while I “play” as Norman Reedus relaxing and chugging Monster energy drinks in one of the Private Rooms.

That’s all for now, I always like seeing and hearing the pieces of music that others enjoy in their favorite games. What are some of your favorites on your “gaming playlist”? Let me know. Thanks for reading!

Geek Out Challenge – Day 2

For Day 2 of the 30 Day Geek Out Challenge we will be switch to the opposite of yesterday’s question “What was your first fandom?” and ask…

What is your most recent fandom?

I must admit that recently that of all the movies, tv shows, comics, or video games that I have been spent my spare time consuming, the only series that I would consider “new” as in I just hadn’t really gotten around to it yet would have to be the Far Cry game series. I played the first Far Cry game back in 2004 when it was first released, but for whatever reason just never really played any of the sequels. It wasn’t until this last January that I finally got around to playing Far Cry 5, which since then has become one of my favorites of this console generation. I have since that time played all of the other games in the franchise with the exception of Far Cry 2. This has also been a game series that has provided hours of enjoyment playing together with my wife in the evenings, as one of the greatest aspects of any kind of fandom is being able to share and enjoy with others. We have spent many hours talking about what exactly is it about the games that we enjoy so much, whether it be story, music, or simply the fun of running around blowing stuff up in an open-world setting fitting in an 80’s action movie, which clearly have provided much inspiration for the tone of the games. Ubisoft has done a great job in creating games that are all over the place in the best ways: nonsensical, serious, challenging yet fun to casually play all within the same game.

My favorite of the series…

That’s all for round two of the Geek Out Challenge, I didn’t have a ton for today’s question but I’ve had fun so far! Here’s looking forward to the next question…

My 5 Favorite Current-Gen Games

The current generation of gaming has been an incredible time for players with video games being bigger than they have ever been before. Today, I’ve listed what I have narrowed down to my 5 favorite of the games offered on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, etc. These are not in any particular order, and may change as there are some excellent games released just a few months into 2019. We also have not received much news as to when the next-gen consoles will be released.

Far Cry 5 – I have lost track of approximately how many hours I’ve spent running around Hope County’s gorgeous landscape in the fight against the Eden’s Gate cult. I have completed the game a few times and seem to keep coming back with how much I enjoy the mayhem the inevitably seems to follow me wherever I go. The rush of chaos and explosions is some of the most satisfying I have ever played in a game. Far Cry 5 and the entire Far Cry series for that matter are essentially being tossed into an action movie from the 80’s. Side note – Far Cry: New Dawn was released a month ago and I highly recommend that as well.

Red Dead Redemption 2 – There isn’t much I can say for Red Dead Redemption 2 that hasn’t been said already. Rockstar’s open-world wild west masterpiece will be discussed and played for years to come. The game is a very heavy, slow burn that certainly pays off in the end. The story is very nuanced, with new detail that I notice every time I play it. The in-game environment is easily the most impressive I have ever seen, with a landscape truly seems alive. The game conveys desolation, loneliness and at times hopelessness as well as the beauty and brutal struggle of life in the Old West. This game is a bucket-list worthy experience for anyone.

Super Mario Odyssey – When Super Mario Odyssey was announced, I admit I was mildly skeptical. So…Mario is running around a metropolitan looking world inhabited by humans…and he’s throwing a hat on things to transform into them? I mean…that is pretty accurate, but I absolutely loved this game! The main story itself is a little on the short side, but I invested 90 hours into this game going through and collecting all 999 power moons and different outfits for Mario. This aspect of the game along with the heavy dashes of nostalgia is where the most memorable moments of the game were for me. Going through the different worlds and collecting all the power moons and purple coins was reminiscent of the old “collect-a-thon” games on the N64 that I spent my childhood years playing. Super Mario Odyssey was the most fun I had playing a Mario game since the first Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.

Horizon: Zero Dawn – Giant. Robot. Dinosaurs. That’s all I really knew going into my first play through of Guerrilla Game’s newest ip Horizon: Zero Dawn. There is so much more to this game than what may be first apparent. The gameplay itself is as good as it gets for an open-world sandbox game. The hours flew by just exploring the post-catastrophe world with terrain from snowy mountains to lush green open areas to vast expanses of rocky arid desert. The story is great and protagonist Aloy is one of my new favorite game characters as she is looking for answers to the world’s history as well as her own. An excellent brand-new series entry in a crowded space of remakes and remasters.

God of War – Another game that doesn’t need much else said about it, the most recent(and best) entry in the God of War series is as good as gaming gets. Kratos’ journey this time taking place with his son Atreus at his side. The game is this time around set in Norse mythology rather than Greek. The journey Kratos and Atreus embark on is as much personal as physical, as the story deals with grief, loss and allowing yourself to move on. Game director Cory Barlog stated he wanted to create a more mature Kratos whose past still weighs heavily on him. Everything about this game is excellent, and showcases what games can do as an artistic medium. The only thing left to say is…”Boy!”