impressions: left 4 dead

•May 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

l4dpostI confess I had initial misgivings about a first-person shooter involving zombies. While, from a shooter-game-design perspective, it provides perfect premise sense for an inexhaustible supply of hostile cannon fodder, I wasn’t all that excited about mowing down the shambling, decaying undead. I suppose it stemmed from my childhood distaste of zombies in general, what with my father being a fan of movies like Re-Animator and George Romero’s classics. And no, I still have not seen the more recent films like 28 Days/Weeks Later, or even Shaun of the Dead. Yes, I know. I’ll watch them soon, especially now that I’ve gotten hooked on Left 4 Dead.

But I get ahead of myself. It was Oneal’s prompting that finally got me to try out L4D for the PC when Steam had a free-activation weekend. I was impressed enough by the game that I went ahead and bought it (on 40% sale that weekend, yay), firmly establishing my presence on Steam.

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first impressions: Aquaria

•April 27, 2009 • 1 Comment

aquariabannerAquaria is the story of a young aquatic girl named Naija, and how she discovers and comes to terms with the world she inhabits. It is a visual and aural feast that combines beautiful artwork with an evocative soundtrack, wrapped around a narrative that is pleasantly rich in familiar fantasy tropes and social commentary.

I fell in love with this game from the moment I came across its launch trailer back in 2007. The visuals, the music and the atmosphere drew me in, and I waited impatiently for the proper release to come out. When I finally did get the chance to play it, I adored it even more. Something about the way it conveyed its world and story struck a chord in me, and I was caught up in a quiet giddiness that only the most appealing games draw me into.

I was further impressed by how the game itself was made by only two people: Alec Holowka and Derek Yu, under the Bit Blot banner. They made everything themselves, from the story and programming to the graphics and music. They had no creative staff working with or under them, and no other trappings of a gaming design company. The only other person involved in the project was Jenna Sharpe, who provided the voice for the game’s lonely, restless protagonist. The whole endeavor had a romantic feel to it, and that deepened my appreciation of the game.

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