noir

Indie Game Review: Gemini Rue

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What makes us who we are? Is it our jobs, our friends, our dreams of the future, or our memories of the past? Could you hang onto the smallest fraction of our history together if your memory were erased? Would you even know yourself (who you are and where you’ve come from)? Are you happy with your life or would you do anything differently? These questions are the driving theme behind Joshua Nuernbergers Gemini Rue. Gemini Rue is an independent solo project released by Wadjet Eye Games on Oct of 2011 for digital platform STEAM. Gemini Rue is a futuristic cyber-punk / noir  point-and-click adventure game, similar to that of Blade Runner and Beneath a Steel Sky. The point-and-click adventure style has long since faded into distant memory (irony), yet for many fans of the genre it still holds true to being one of the best and most compelling storytelling platforms in gaming. Gemini Rue takes us on a journey through our most enjoyable memories of the genre with a dark film-noir edge.

Brief Overview:

Gemini Rue starts us off in the shoes of ex crime syndicate turned assassin Azriel Odin, who in a very Blade Runner fashion, is on the most daunting case of his career: to find the whereabouts of his missing brother Nathaniel. Alongside your partner Kane, you set off onto the planet Barracus looking for clues and trying to retrace Nathaniel’s steps to uncover the mystery of his disappearance. Barracus is a dark, rainy, drug inflicted and crime rampant planet, which is mainly controlled by a syndicate group called the Boryokudan. The game gives the player two perspectives, that of Azriel Odin and that of Delta six, which at a few points in the game you are able to switch perspectives and play whichever one you’d like. Delta six is an inmate aboard a criminal “rehabilitation” facility called Center 7. You find that this facility was designed to recondition criminals by erasing their memories. With past memories of deviant behavior washed away, and no sense of self, the scientists are able to reprogram the inmates minds and create a new past for them, ones of decent members of society. During the play through of the game both stories crossover and uncover many questions about both Azriel, Delta six, and Center 7. I wont spoil anything, but a major plot twist occurs that really puts the game up there with other great point-and-click adventures.

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Gameplay:

The game play and atmosphere of the GR are only amplified by it’s music and 16-bit graphics. The graphics are comparable to Flashback for the Sega Genesis and PC with slight refinements here and there. The music is minimal and often times the sounds of rain or footstep echoes are all you have. This minimal approach however, does add to the overall dark tone of the game. Upon action sequences the excitement level is cranked up with gunfire and high tempo tunes that keep you on your toes. The general atmosphere and tone of the game is dark and rainy mixed with a sense of solitude, as you are on your own for many of the games play sequences. This is where the fun lies in the adventure genre. Searching for clues and tools is challenging and necessary in uncovering the plot. Exploration also yields quite a few hilarious Easter egg cameos by other “bounty hunter” types, so keep your eyes peeled!

Overall:

Gemini Rue is a breath of fresh air to the futuristic cyber punk universe, with a heavily cerebral story line that strikes a philosophical chord that only Philip K Dick would appreciate. Who would you be, if your whole existence had been wiped clean?

Shadowrun Returns!

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I just caught wind of the gamer funded classic cyber punk rpg: Shadowrun Returns. This 2012 project is a modern cyberpunk remake of the original game with a new spin and a ton more content. This project has also relied entirely on the funding of fans and supporters of the game and genre. Shadowrun is a dystopian cyber punk pen and paper rpg (also on the SNES and SEGA GENESIS) where you and your friends play the roles of shadowrunners: hired scabs who do the dirty work of the ever competitive and monopolizing corporations that strive to control your world. Fusing magical fantasy and high tech, Shadowrun allows the players to assume the physical forms of humans, orks, trolls, elves, or dwarves but in a darker neo-noir futuristic environment. Shadowrun allows you to be basically whoever you want. Weather you envision yourself as a brutish Orc bouncer, or a highly intelligent hacker stealing information for credits, Shadowrun has everything for fans of sci-fi. I originally got my taste of the Shadowrun universe back when renting video games in a store was still popular. The games noir storyline, sinister-city vibe, futuristic world and characters drew me in like a moth to flame, and i was obsessed. Apparently they have been working tirelessly to meet a deadline project kickstart date of April 29th 2012, setting up goals and planning to create a genuinely enjoyable, modern (yet true to the original games style) experience.

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I am very excited to see the progression of this fantastic way to get behind a project and gladly we are starting to see a lot more of this happening lately. Fans of certain creative property becoming not only benefactors/consumers but also stakeholders in the projects they would like to see created. This gives the consumer a real sense of influence in the product they would like made, because without the funding of larger video game companies, it would be rare to see a great project like this see fruition. I can only hope in the future we see more grass roots creative projects backed by fans because then we will actually get the games WE want made, instead of getting another generic first person shooter that sucks chewbacca’s dick.

You can donate directly on the site and each donation you give comes along with a certain reward level attached to it. Long story short the creators of shadowrun want to make the shadowrun game they’ve always wanted to make (and that the fans wants!), and with your help, they can.

highly excited for this, check out the trailer!

You can also check out their blog here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1613260297/shadowrun-returns

DONATE NOW!

Syndicate Trailer: Feb 2012

Today I was pretty excited to find out (and maybe a little late on the news) that one of my favorite games from childhood will be coming out with a follow up to the SNES classic Syndicate! SYNDICATE is a cyberpunk cooperative tactical action game, that put the players in a futuristic dystopian world where corporations rule and criminal syndicates carry out the will of big business. This modernized version, released on xbox360 and PS3, is more of a first person shooter experience (as opposed to a birds eye view 3rd person style), but has taken the idea a lot further then the original. In 2012’s Syndicate, you can hack computers and even other humans who have had chips installed in their bodies and even have them do things for you (ex: commit suicide, cause distractions, kill your enemies). The action in Syndicate looks fast paced while also maintaining that tactical feel required to make it through missions like in the original. As you progress through the game breaking into your competitors technological laboratories, hacking and sneaking, you can extract chips from the heads of some important enemies, and in doing so, can utilize the technology from the chips to give your character bonuses and extra traits that will help you throughout the game. Judging by the trailer alone, the game looks pretty interesting. It has a very similar look to that of Bladerunner and the PC game Deus Ex. Being a huge fan of the original, i am certainly excited for this games release on Feb 21 2012. If your a fan of futuristic games this may peak your interest…. business is war!!!

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

I have been obsessed with this game since its release back in August 2011. It was praised by basically every possible gaming website and I love it for its challenge, fun factor, thought-provoking story, social commentary, and emotional attachment to the ideas and characters. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a science fiction first person shooter role-playing game. Like the games predecessors, it’s setting takes place in a neo-renaissance styled Detroit, where political and ethical concerns involving human augmentations and cybernetic enhancement have brought about social unrest, prejudice, conspiracies, and power plays for control. Deus Ex falls into the cyber-punk genre, which usually involve futuristic societies and cities and political conspiracies where corporate influence has more power than government. The main theme of Deus Ex: Human Revolution deals with the trans-humanism movement, and like the mythological story of Icarus, who with wings made of feathers and wax, flew too close to the sun only to fall to his death, the game carries an overarching message of humanity’s reach exceeding its grasp.

You play as Adam Jensen, an ex swat team member, now working as head of security for Detroit’s largest bio-tech company, Sarif Industries. Adam’s past is revealed through hacking computers, reading emails, and interactions with other characters in the game. As it is told,  Adam was once a member of the Detroit police department swat team, but was put in a violent situation and disobeyed a direct order involving a threatening augmented child. His disobedience of this order caused one of his friends to follow through, and to live his life with the guilt that decision cost him. This guilt follows Adam as well. Shortly after leaving the Detroit PD, Adam begins his time working for Sarif Industries, whose facility is attacked by terrorists. Adam is brought to the point of death, and to save his life, undergoes surgeries with revolutionary cybernetic augmentations. Upon his return after the attack, he finds himself immersed in the politics of the augmentation movement and a much larger conspiracy. Adam then begins his journey for the truth and to hunt down his attackers. As the game progresses, you find out a lot more about the importance of Adam Jensen and how he is a pawn in a much larger chess game then he could have ever imagined.

 The game puts Jensen in many different environments. One situation calls for him to investigate Sarif’s largest bio tech competitor Ty Yong Medical, whose believed to be the cause of the attack in order to capitalize on the augmentation market, and destroy Sarif Industries….but the rabbit hole goes much deeper than Ty Yong Medical and Jensen finds himself continuing his search.

     My favorite aspects of the game-play experience involve the freedom of choice and it’s effect on the outcome of the story. You can choose to play D-EX, as an action game and run into rooms guns blazing, or you can choose a stealthy approach. Taking enemies down silently (or violently) is challenging, and using your augmentations intelligently is important in order to get around security drones and cameras. At times, these stealthy situation may make you sweat with nervousness. Whichever style you choose, both grant the player an enjoyable and engaging experience that doesn’t feel tailored to one or the other.

     I feel that Edios captured the classic feel of past Deus Ex games but added a much-needed modern spin on the franchise. The story is phenomenal and is reminiscent of conspiracy/espionage style Tom Clancy writings. The cut scenes get to the point and are not long-winded like in the more recent Metal Gear Solid games. The action and gun play is  realistic and customizable with weapon mods. The player becomes Adam Jensen by creating a world they can interact with. You can blind fire from behind walls, toss different grenades, throw boxes, read newspapers, read e-books, hack computers (addictive as hell), and augment you body to make Adam more than human. The augments you can obtain include, cloaking system (invisiability), Icarus landing system ( fall from any height w/o taking damage + attack), various take downs, x-ray vision, the typhoon (military grade weaponry which is totally bad ass), hacking, and tons of other augments to make it easier and more effective for you to accomplish tasks. I love the character designs in the game and how supporters of the  augmentation movement dress in futuristic ” late medieval” garb, while neutral or those opposed fashion themselves in more contemporary swag.

     I think the most important thing you can walk away with after playing this game is not only the realistic nature of the argument that the story presents; that of trans-humanism and potential future problems as a result, but also that of the power play that lies beneath the surface of our society (control of information as power).  Through the game Adam is one step behind the conspirators who, through utilizing many different control mediums, attempt to shift popular belief about the augmentation movement. Weather it is large corporations fighting for control of their product market, the media spinning stories in favor of a higher agenda (which makes for an entertaining read while in the Picus facility), or the Illuminati pulling the strings, Deus ex shows us a reflection of our own society.

     Will people live in fear of those with mechanical augmentations? Will humanity destroy itself by continuing to playing God? Is humanity ready for the singularity that awaits us in the future? With the exponential progression of technology, these are questions that we may be asking ourselves very soon. Deus Ex: Human Revolution forces the player to become a free-thinker and puts each of us on our own quest for the truth.