First Impressions: Ace Attorney Trilogy

I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a thing about the Ace Attorney series and Phoenix Wright until just a few days ago. I’m not sure what piqued my interest in the series. Maybe it was the music, maybe it was the various Youtube poops made using the game’s sprites. Whatever it was, it attracted me enough that I ended up buying the Ace Attorney Trilogy for 3DS. I’ve heard plenty of good things about the series, and with my love for story-based games, I just had to check it out. Fortunately, I do not regret my decision to buy the first three games in the series.

You’d think that I would be put off Ace Attorney right from the get-go. In a way, Ace Attorney is half point-and-click, and I’ve expressed my dislike for the genre before. Between trials, you wander between various locations searching for clues and evidence as to what happened. You talk to people and examine the scenery to progress. Indeed, I was intimidated by the investigation part of the game at first, however it proved to be nowhere near as jarring or as boring as I thought. The areas you search aren’t too massive and it’s usually made quite clear where you should go next. Failing that, returning to your office and talking to your partner, Maya, gives you some clues as to what to do next. In the three cases of the first game that I’ve completed, I only really had the slightest trouble with the third case. Even then, it didn’t take me long to figure out what to do, and the vibrant characters and humour urged me onward.

Nevertheless, I did have a few problems with the game, my biggest one being what happens when you get a game over. I’m not too smart, so I got a game over once in the second case, and once in the third case. When you get one, you’re sent right back to the main menu, and have to load your last save, which is right before the trial starts. This means that you can get right to the end of the trial, and then have to start all over again from the beginning. This wouldn’t be so frustrating if only there was some way to skip past all the text to the next cross-examination. However, in the first game at least, you can’t do this meaning you have to hold B down constantly to fast forward the text and get to where you were. I suppose it dissuades players from just trying to present every piece of evidence to progress, but that alone is a chore, and is already a good deterrent to pure guesswork.

Once I got past this however, I loved the trials. I’m a big fan of story-based games, and Ace Attorney is about as well-written as you can get. All of the dialogue in this game is pure gold, and it has some unique visual and written comedy that had me in tears at some points. Finding the right piece of evidence to present never felt too difficult or completely out-of-reach either. I’m not the most intelligent thinker, but Ace Attorney leaves enough breadcrumbs for even potatoes like me to figure things out eventually. And when you do piece everything together, it makes for some seriously epic, memorable moments.

One of the things I like the most about the game while playing it is its endless pool of charm. I love the game’s spritework; it just oozes so much character. Every character has a large amount of expressions that change depending on what’s going on. It certainly makes reading text box after text box much more interesting and much less tedious. The final thing I’ve loved about the game so far is its music. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I love games with good music, and Ace Attorney’s music was so good that it made me buy the game. I wasn’t disappointed by the game’s beautiful MIDI music at all. Every track perfectly reflects the situation, making hopeless scenes feel even more depressing and victorious scenes all the more triumphant.

In conclusion, Ace Attorney has more than caught my attention. At the time of writing, I’ve just started the fourth case and the story just keeps getting better and better. The game has a few problems, but I can more than look past them because the game is just so damn fun to play. Some of the investigation sections could be better, but they are by no means boring to play through. This game has me hooked, with the music, with the characters, with the visuals and with the story, and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Advertisements

Ranking the Black Mirror Season Four Episodes From Worst to Best

Season Four of Black Mirror was full of surprises. Well, Black Mirror is full of surprises anyway, but even more so than usual! We got possibly the most enigmatic season yet with each episode being wildly different from each other. One episode was completely in black and white. Another was a parody of Star Trek for some at-the-time unknown reason. Another was about dating and finding your one true love in some kind of system. You couldn’t find more variety in one of those Jelly Bean games where you never know the flavour of the beans until you put them in your mouth and bite down! Like one of those games however, some episodes ended up being a delicious, juicy lime, while some of them were more akin to the dull, disgusting taste of lawn clippings. That’s what I’m going to talk about today! Which episodes I thought were failures and which episodes I thought were successes. Remember, this is just my opinion, and it’s perfectly fine if you disagree with me! This isn’t a definitive list that can’t be argued with, this is just my opinion and not everyone is going to agree 100%. Now, without further ado, let’s start with my least favourite episode of this season…

#6 Crocodile

bm_croc-0

Unlike most episodes on this list, I wasn’t expecting much, and I turned out to be right not to expect much. I said this in my review, but Crocodile doesn’t feel like a Black Mirror episode at all. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing; this season was full of episodes that differed from the usual Black Mirror formula, but Crocodile simply does more bad than good with its differences. We got one of the stupidest, most plot-hole-ridden pieces of technology in the series, two completely dull main characters and a ‘shock twist’ that was so bad I laughed out loud. Apart from that, there isn’t much to say. For an episode so focused on memories, Crocodile sure isn’t all that memorable.

#5 Arkangel

fourth-series-of-black-mirror

Oh Arkangel. You had so much potential and you threw it all away for some random moral about how helicopter parenting is bad. I liked this episode, I liked it a lot. But as far as episodes this season go, it’s the weakest right after Crocodile. Unlike Crocodile, the characters were mostly well-written and relatable, and the technology was quite interesting. However, the episode only explored one or two features of the technology when an entire season could be made on that piece of technology alone. On top of that, the ending was abrupt and incredibly stupid, and just left me feeling disgruntled more than anything. As I said, this episode was great, but it could have been so, so much better.

#4 Metalhead

black-mirror-s4-metalhead

It pains me to put Metalhead this low on the list, but the fact is that the other three episodes in this season were just too damn good. I was looking forward to Metalhead, it was my most anticipated episode of the season, and in the end, I think that’s what led to me being so underwhelmed. I’m not saying this episode is bad, it’s amazing and I loved almost every second of it. It’s beautifully shot, intense, and more than delivers on its promise of a thrilling robot dog chase through the countryside. Unfortunately, that’s just it. It delivers on its promise, and doesn’t attempt to go any further than the unique monochrome filter that is an omnipresent part of the episode. The concept is great and is executed brilliantly, but there’s no real twist or revelation. Quite simply, the main character is trying to escape a murderous metal dog, and she either does or doesn’t. In the end, she doesn’t, and that’s it. As much as I love this episode, it doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of these next three episodes.

#3 USS Callister

black-mirror-season-4-uss-callister

USS Callister was easily one of the most mysterious episodes this season when it was first revealed. All we really knew about it was that it was going to be a Star Trek parody, and that’s it. Fortunately, USS Callister’s mystique paid off in the end as we got one awesome episode with the length of a short movie. This episode surprised me in more ways than one with an important message, some very real technology, and one of my favourite villains of all time! On top of all this, the episode had some excellent comedy and some unforgettable characters. So why is it Number Three on this list? Well, the other episodes are just that damn good! USS Callister is also far from perfect with a number of glaring plotholes. Despite this, the episode easily gets in my top three of the season!

#2 Hang the DJ

mv5bn2uymdqymmqtndvlnc00zdu0ltlkmgitnwmwytniotjmztmxxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyode1ndk0nzq_-_v1_-0

I hated this episode when I first heard about it. As an asexual who doesn’t like the thought of any kind of sexual activity, an episode about some kind of dating app/system with “a lot of sex” didn’t really appeal to me. Despite this severe disadvantage right from the get-go however, Hang the DJ managed to surprise me and become one of my favourite episodes, not just in this season, but in the entire series! The sex was a bit distracting, but the episode was just so well-written and the characters so human and interesting that I stuck it out. This episode also has some phenomenal music, which more than made me want to keep watching. So, I kept watching until I experienced one of the single greatest episode endings of all time! If you haven’t watched it yet, then I won’t spoil it, but it’s absolutely mindblowing to say the least. Nevertheless, Hang the DJ isn’t my favourite episode of this season, that honour goes to…

#1 Black Museum

blackmirror_s4_museum_00006_v1-0

Black Museum is quite similar to the Season 2 episode White Christmas. It’s an anthology within an anthology, three different stories that all link together in some way in the present day. White Christmas is my favourite episode in the entire series, so it’s no surprise that Black Museum isn’t far behind. The stories presented in Black Museum are horrifying tales about human nature, and how the technology we create can be the catalyst for our own misdeeds. As Charlie Brooker has said, “technology is never the villain”, but episodes like Black Museum highlight just how terrifying they can be in the wrong hands. Mainly the hands of Black Museum’s very own proprietor, Rolo Haynes. I’ve already said that USS Callister has one of my favourite villains of all time, yet that was before I met Rolo Haynes. His flamboyant showmanship personality is really something you have to experience for yourself, and I strongly recommend watching Black Museum as soon as possible if you haven’t already. Rolo Haynes is the perfect example of what Black Mirror is about: the horrors of technology when they’re in the control of people like him. His character alone is what makes Black Museum worthy for the Number One episode this season, in my eyes at least.

It’s shocking how different my favourites ended up being from what I predicted at the start of December! Some of the episodes I was least looking forward to ended up being some of my favourites in the entire series, and some of the episodes I could barely wait for ended up being disappointing in comparison to what I expected. It just goes to show that looks can be deceiving, and Charlie Brooker has proven time and time again that he’s a master of deception. Which episodes did you like and dislike? Not everyone will have the same favourites or least favourites and I’m interested to hear what you think! Feel free to share your thoughts on this season below!

No Time to Explain Remastered Review: Finished in a Flash

Game Name: No Time to Explain Remastered

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One

Developer: tinyBuild

Publisher: tinyBuild

Price: £10.99 or $14.99

There have been 1000’s of online games released over the Internet’s short, short history. With everyone being able to share their creations with the entire world, games, animations and comics of varying quality flooded sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate providing an endless well of entertainment. Some games, however, managed to stick their head above the tide, and rise to prominence, becoming cult classics in a way. Whether it was through creative ideas, engaging gameplay or witty writing, these games stood out from the rest, and showed the world the potential the Internet held. No Time to Explain was one of these games. While it wasn’t exactly groundbreaking for the platformer genre, No Time to Explain’s ridiculous concept and weirdly unique humour saw it become a small phenomenon on gaming websites. And like a lot of the developers of these games, No Time to Explain’s developers went on to work on a retail release that expanded on the groundwork the original set. Dubbed “No Time to Explain Remastered”, the game was released on Steam by small Indie company tinyBuild. But is it a worthy successor?

No Time To Explain Remastered is almost as simple as the original Flash version. You play through a variety of levels and worlds using a laser gun in most of them to propel yourself upwards so you can reach new heights. While the idea is cool and it can be fun to fly through the level with your laser gun, the controls and physics are wonky and intuitive. You’ll get used to them eventually, but for the first half of the game I was constantly frustrated by the game’s awkward controls. When it takes me a minute to get over the first couple of hills in the game, you seriously need to make some changes to the control scheme.

One of the best parts of No Time to Explain Remastered is the unique worlds you explore, and the unique mechanics that come with them. You’ll be using a laser gun for most of it, but occasionally you’ll get the opportunity to play a different character who utilises some other kind of momentum-based weapon. One of the characters is psychic, and able to pull himself towards the mouse cursor so you can fling him about the stage like an angry bird in a mobile slingshot. Another character is able to stick to walls and leap great distances making for a slower, but just as intense collection of levels. By far my favourite worlds however, are the shotgun world and art world. In the shotgun world, you wield a shotgun(shocking, I know!). You can only fire it once until you land on the ground again, but it fires you incredibly far at an incredible speed allowing you to form your own route through the level. The shotgun is just so damn fun to use, and I was saddened to realise you only got to use it for five or six levels. While I didn’t have as much fun with the art world, the mechanic is a stroke of genius! You get the default laser gun, however the world around you is completely blank. By shooting invisible platforms with your inky laser gun, you paint them for a short while so you can figure out the path through the level.

The game also has a generous amount of comedy to keep you playing despite how utterly infuriating some parts of the game can be. It’s thankfully a feature from the original Flash game that wasn’t lost in translation, and I found myself laughing a few times at the game’s absurdist humour. No Time to Explain Remastered never takes itself too seriously, and there’s a joke or reference in almost every facet of the game. I’ll admit, the humour isn’t exactly genius, but parts of the game like the aforementioned art level had me crying at the classical music and NPC’s stating “Games ARE art because…”. This is only helped by the fact that every single character is voiced by the same guy, “DruoxTheShredder”, and he does a brilliant job.

Apart from that, the game has some good music, but that’s about as far as the positives for this game go. You see, the game is very, very short. It can be completed quite easily in two to three hours your first time around, despite the difficulty of some stages. There are plenty of hats spread throughout the levels to collect and a few achievements for you to earn, but the game still only took me SEVEN hours to 100%, and I think at least an hour of that was me being afk. Oh well, not every game needs to have dozens of hours of replayability, and it wouldn’t be such a problem if the game didn’t cost £10.99! For such a small amount of content, it’s frankly a ridiculous price! If the game was £2.99 then it would definitely be worthy of a six, possibly a seven, but at £10.99, you’d best spend your money elsewhere.

Overall, No Time to Explain Remastered is a decent enough game. But that’s it, it’s just decent. For a three hour game that doesn’t really do much to stand out as a platformer, £10.99 is an exorbitant price. For that price, you can get Stardew Valley, or Enter the Gungeon, or Super Meat Boy! Games of much higher quality with much more content that try out much more creative concepts! There are collectables and achievements, but they took me a matter of seven hours to collect, and after that there isn’t much incentive to return to the game, unless you’re a speedrunner. I enjoyed my short, short time with No Time to Explain, but I simply can’t recommend this game unless it goes on discount, and that doesn’t really need much explaining.

Pros:

  • Fun, easy-to-learn, hard-to-master gameplay
  • Decent humour and comedy
  • Plenty of collectables and a few challenging achievements
  • Some worlds and their mechanics are quite creative such as the art world
  • Gameplay is mixed up with different characters and playstyles
  • Good music
  • Speedrunners will probably adore this game

Cons:

  • High price point for what it is
  • Short
  • Not much replayability
  • Physics can be awkward and difficult to control
  • Simplistic graphics ripped straight from the Flash version

Nitpicks:

  • Nonsensical story, though I’m not sure whether that’s a bad or a good thing
  • Level design is all over the place. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. Some of it is difficult. Some of it is easy. Some of it is confusing, some of it is obvious with no real pattern or difficulty curve.
  • Some characters are more fun to play than others

Verdict: 4.5/10(Worthy of a 6 when discounted)

Buy the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/368730/No_Time_To_Explain_Remastered/

Unpopular Opinions: Why is PUBG(PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds) Such a Big Deal?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. If you haven’t heard of this game then you must have been living under a rock. It’s a Battle Royale game, a game where dozens of players are dropped into a massive map where they are forced to fight until only one remains. The Battle Royale genre has always been somewhat popular, but PUBG’s success caused the interest in the genre to skyrocket. It’s insane just how well-known the game has become in a matter of months. The game has by far the highest current player count on Steam, having more than double the amount of players the second place contender Dota 2 has. It was even a nominee for the best game of 2017! But why? That’s the question I’m going to be asking today. If you look past the surface of the game’s popularity you’ll find the game has mixed reviews on Steam, is disliked by a large number of people(me included), and has had more controversies surrounding it in a few months than most games get in their lifetime. So I have to ask: Why is PUBG such a big deal when it has so many problems?

My first problem is that everyone seems to be acting like PUBG and Battle Royale is a completely new idea. Even the game’s creator seems to be annoyed that other people are copying the genre ””he”” created despite the fact Battle Royale has been around for years and PUBG adds almost nothing new. I remember playing a Battle Royale gamemode in Minecraft years ago, and when a gamemode makes it to Minecraft, you know it’s been copied and replicated to hell. Apart from that, I don’t get the draw of the genre at all. The game can completely screw you over with RNG so that you don’t get the right equipment and end up at a severe disadvantage… yet the creator wants it to be an ESPORT?!?!? Even if you do get some decent weapons, chances are that you’ll spend twenty minutes wandering around looking for someone only to get sniped in the back by a player five miles away. How is that supposed to be fun?

But I digress. My thoughts on the Battle Royale gamemode are completely opinionated, and if you enjoy the genre, that’s fine. But even so, why the hell would you play PUBG? As Brendan Greene, the game’s creator said, there are tons of Battle Royale games out there. And even if some of them are ‘copycats’, most of them are way better than PUBG. Battlegrounds is plagued with a number of issues. Despite recently leaving early access, the game is completely broken and unfinished, full of hundreds of bugs, and is ridiculously unoptimised. I’ve heard that even high end machines struggle with PUBG, despite the graphics looking like they were made in the source engine. From what I’ve seen, the Xbox One version is even worse with FPS drops being all too common. Fortnite: Battle Royale, PUBG’s biggest competitor, looks much better, is much more optimised and is far less buggy. So why do people insist Battlegrounds is the better game, let alone good enough to be GOTY?

But PUBG’s problems don’t end there, oh no! Those previous problems I mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg! Assuming you can look past all of that, chances are that you’re going to get banned just for killing another player.  As you can probably guess, PUBG is a popular game for streaming, with streaming being one of the reasons the game got so popular in the first place. Because of this, the creators are willing to bend to their will, meaning plenty of people have been banned on accusations of “stream sniping”. “Stream sniping” is where people playing the game, watch a streamer to figure out where they are and kill them. Unfortunately, it’s hard to prove, and because PUBG’s creators want to maintain relations with streamers, this led to plenty of people being falsely banned for simply playing the game. And how could I forget the most recent controversy? The game has recently got a huge influx of Chinese players after releasing in China, Chinese players who often join American servers for some reason or another. This has led to a massive increase in cheaters and players with bad ping, making the game significantly less enjoyable. And that brings me to my next point…

Brendan Green is a massive asshole. If you, quite reasonably, ask for a region lock or something similar to stem the tide of Chinese cheaters, you’re a xenophobe; at least according to Brendan Greene. He has absolutely no respect for his playerbase, consistently insulting them and blaming them for problems with the game instead of fixing them. You’d think with such a big playerbase, he’d take some responsibility and prioritise fixing the problems with his game. But nope! Porting the broken, buggy game to other consoles is more important! Selling the game to Chinese people and not giving them decent servers so they go to American servers is more important! Adding loot box microtransactions before the game is even finished, despite the fact he said he wouldn’t, is more important! It’s clear where Brendan’s loyalties lie: not to the playerbase that made him a rich man, but to that sweet, sweet moolah.

Anyway, despite my distaste for the game’s creator, I don’t hate people who play and enjoy PUBG. Although I can’t see the appeal myself, PUBG can’t have risen to fame as the single most popular game on Steam if there was no fun to be had. Behind all the controversies and rampant issues with the game, I’m sure PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is a great game. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that means that the game’s problems should be dismissed, and I feel like there are plenty of Battle Royale games out there that are more worthy of your time than PUBG. What do you think? Do you think PUBG is truly a worthy contender for GOTY, or do you agree with me and despise the game and its popularity, or are you somewhere in between? Feel free to comment what you think of PUBG in the comments below!

Doki Doki Literature Club Review: Sayo-nara, and Thanks For All the Waifus!

Game Name: Doki Doki Literature Club!

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac, Linux

Developer: Team Salvato

Publisher: Team Salvato

Price: Free

Get Doki Doki Literature Club for free here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/698780/Doki_Doki_Literature_Club/

Or here: https://ddlc.moe/

***WARNING: This review WILL contain SPOILERS for Doki Doki Literature Club. DO NOT read unless you have completed the game. Seriously, it’s free and you really don’t want a game like this spoiled for you.***

This review was inevitable. Doki Doki Literature Club is one of those games that you just can’t avoid. One day, you can’t even fathom the idea of an anime dating sim which also doubles as a psychological horror becoming an Internet cultural phenomenom, the next, that same idea is everywhere. No-one expected Minecraft or Five Nights at Freddy’s or Undertale to become such a hit but now, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single gamer who hadn’t heard of these titles. Popularity isn’t everything however. Five Nights at Freddy’s may be a brand as well as a game series but there’s a great deal of people(me included) who can’t stand it. So, is Doki Doki Literature Club deserving of its ridiculous level of popularity? Let’s find out!

Doki Doki Literature Club starts off like your average anime dating sim visual novel and continues like this for most of the 2-3 hour game. You play as a typical male Japanese high school student who ends up joining his school’s Literature Club… which just so happens to be full of “cute girls”. You’ll quickly get to know the cast, the shy and enigmatic Yuri, the optimistic and quirky Sayori, the headstrong tsundere(and best girl) Natsuki, and the club’s popular president, Monika. There’s lot’s of dialogue where you talk to the girls as they fight for your affection and at the end of every day, you’ll go home and write a poem. By selecting words that each of the characters like, you can woo them and engage in a unique event where you interact with your virtual waifu.

But that’s not the part that made this game so popular and well-known. Once you get past around an hour and a half of typical anime hijinks(which is a slog if you’re not a fan of visual novels or dating sims), the game takes a dark turn. The game’s darker side is hinted at slowly at first, through the warning that the “game is not suitable for children” and the increasingly worrying poems the other characters write. Although the build up is slow and exhausting, it’s worth it when it reaches its turning point. Sayori, your good friend and neighbour, ends up revealing to you she suffers from depression before hanging herself in her bedroom. After this shocking event, the game resets with Sayori mysteriously missing from the game, not a single hint of her existence remaining. From there it’s a downward spiral of gore, creepy messages and meta horror from a game that seems almost self-destructive in nature. Until eventually… just Monika is left.

It turns out Monika became self-aware at some point, and craving the company of a sentient being, fell in love with you: the player. Unfortunately, she wasn’t an option in the original game and, angry at this, Monika manipulated the game’s code and your computer in an attempt to create her own happy ending where you and her can be together forever. The twist is incredibly hard-hitting, if a little predictable, and opens a meaningful discussion about game mechanics, AI and the nature of games as a whole. After the twist, there isn’t much. You delete Monika from the game’s files and, realising her mistake, she brings everything back excluding her. The game ends quite abruptly when Sayori reveals that she’s also become self-aware now she’s club president and Monika deletes her and the entire game as the credits roll stating “There’s no happiness to be found here”.

Doki Doki Literature Club is quite a short game, taking me just under three hours to complete. However, unlike similar games such as Undertale, there are no real extra endings to encourage replayability. In total, there are only a couple of ‘real’ endings that are barely different from one another. There are a few others but they can hardly be called endings as the game continues right on as normal afterwards. Just look at all the notes saying how the ‘endings’ aren’t actually endings on the DDLC wiki. You can try to get the other ending, but it’s monotonous, time-consuming and barely changes anything so I recommend just looking it up on Youtube after you complete the game. Apart from that, there isn’t much to say other than the music is AMAZING! A lot of the tracks are re-used over and over and changed slightly to fit the mood but that doesn’t mean the soundtrack is straight up bad. Hell, Undertale did the same thing and it has one of my favourite game soundtracks of all time!

Overall, Doki Doki Literature Club is an outstanding, completely unique game. Sure, I compared it to Undertale quite a few times, but when playing it you’ll notice they’re both a lot different in concept and execution. The story and writing is phenomenal, the music is just as good, if not better, and the amount of secrets hidden within the game’s files is astounding. However, it is far from perfect. Some of the scares can come off as cheap and even hilariously bad(Natsuki’s neck breaking), you don’t have much of an impact on the story and your choices barely change anything, and the first hour and a half can be tedious. Nevertheless, Doki Doki Literature Club is completely free and is totally worth it. I look forward to seeing what Dan Salvato comes up with next, and I’m more than willing to support whatever it is.

Pros:

  • The entire game is free
  • Some genuinely good scares and horror
  • Great writing
  • Colourful graphics and character designs
  • Amazing music
  • Interesting meta narrative similar to Undertale
  • Visual novel aspect isn’t half bad
  • Natsuki is best girl

Cons:

  • It takes a while to get to the good stuff. If you don’t like visual novels you’re going to be bored out of your mind the first hour and a half or so
  • Short
  • Not much replayability and very few different endings
  • Although the writing is generally good there are a few plotholes(how the hell did Monika undelete herself?)

Nitpicks:

  • Some cheap jumpscares here and there
  • Poem mechanic is shallow but I suppose that’s intentional
  • The main ending was kind of abrupt and random. I just wanted to go to the school festival goddamnit!

Verdict: 7/10

Black Mirror: Black Museum Review

**SPOILERS FOR BLACK MUSEUM! DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE EPISODE IN ITS ENTIRETY!**

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Black Museum. It was definitely one of the most mysterious episodes of this season along with USS Callister. No-one, me included, knew what it would be about. I had a number of theories, but I certainly wasn’t expecting an anthology within an anthology in the vein of White Christmas. I also wasn’t expecting this episode to contain one of my favourite characters in the series. And finally, I wasn’t expecting this episode to be my favourite out of this season. Black Museum is full of surprises; gritty, shadowy surprises just waiting to pounce out from their hiding place in the corner of your eye in the darkest recesses of the room. As Rolo Haynes, owner of the titular Black Museum says: “Not everyone can handle it”. You’d best heed his warning.

This episode is similar to the Season Two episode, White Christmas, in that this episode is made up of three separate stories being told by a character that connect to the current day events of the episode in some way. The story focuses on Nish, a young girl who visits the ‘famed’ Black Museum while waiting for her electrical car to charge at a run-down gas station. There she meets the overenthusiastic proprietor Rolo Haynes who, happy to see a customer, shows Nish his collection of criminological artefacts and tells the story of their origin. Throughout the episode, we’re told three gut-wrenching tales about: a man who becomes addicted to pain, a comatose woman whose consciousness is inserted into her distraught husband’s brain and a convicted murderer whose execution is forever trapped in hologram form and displayed for everyone to see in the Black Museum.

Each of the stories is amazingly disturbing, worthy of their own singular episode in the series. The first short story is about a doctor who uses a device that allows him to feel his patient’s pain without actually being hurt to find out what’s wrong and help cure whatever is ailing them. After experiencing what it feels like to die however, he becomes addicted and starts hurting himself and other people to get his fix. Black Mirror has its fair share of messed up plots but this was the first one I couldn’t physically watch which is seriously impressive. The second short story expands on the cookie devices introduced in White Christmas, except unlike Crocodile it does so in a meaningful and interesting way. Rather than being forced to do menial tasks to make someone’s life more convenient, the victim Carrie is implanted into her husband’s brain of her own free will so she can experience everything he experiences including hugging her young son Parker. Of course, this leads to a number of disagreements and Carrie’s consciousness is eventually put into a toy monkey given to her son where she remains to this day. The final story is the most integral to the overall plot. Clayton Leigh, a convicted murderer on death row, signs away the rights for his consciousness to Rolo so his family can be financially secure. Rolo then puts his consciousness in his museum where customers can pull a lever to get the experience of executing a criminal on the electric chair. They even get their own key chain souvenir with an independent copy of his consciousness screaming in agony! How generous!

All the stories in this episode were delightfully dark in the signature Black Mirror way, and none of the shocking moments felt overblown or in-your-face like in Crocodile. Each one was executed perfectly and the cuts back to Rolo telling the story to Nish and back again only further served to make the stories that bit more disturbing. You’re learning all of this at the same time as Nish and her horrified reactions make them feel realistic and grounded. Speaking of Rolo, he is EASILY the best part of this episode. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is good and the stories are chilling but they have nothing on the real star of the show. Rolo is a twisted man, telling the tales with a level of glee and nonchalance only one slightly unhinged could have. He’s an emotionless monster, responsible for all the horrors explored in the episode, yet the way in which he performs as a loud, bombastic entertainer makes him seem eerily human. Listening to him talk with fevered delight had me feeling entertained and deeply unsettled at the same time. Season Four of Black Mirror has had some great characters(see Captain Daley from USS Callister) but Rolo Haynes is far and away my favourite in the entire series.

And by the end, it all comes together perfectly in a conclusive plot twist as unexpected and well-executed as the ending of White Christmas. It is revealed that Nish is the daughter of Clayton, and has come to the Black Museum to exact her revenge upon Rolo. After killing him, she finally sets her father free and uploads Rolo’s consciousness in his place. Rolo then gets the retribution he deserves, experiencing the pain of being electrocuted to death for the rest of eternity in one of the keychain souvenirs he sold for cold, hard cash. Nish then leaves and it is revealed her dead mother and Clayton’s husband shares her consciousness as a cookie and was listening to Rolo the entire time. One of the criticisms I’ve heard directed at this episode is that it has an overly happy ending compared to most Black Mirror episodes. Personally though, I don’t see how they can say that. The ending is bittersweet at best. Just because it was the de facto bad guy that was victimised at the end doesn’t make it any less horrifying or lessen the shock value whatsoever. Black Museum is still an outstanding episode.

Overall, Black Museum is my favourite episode of this entire season, which is saying a lot considering the likes of Hang the DJ and USS Callister. I honestly can’t think of any criticisms off the top of my head other than how it seriously shoves the whole “shared universe” theory in your face. This episode certainly isn’t for everyone, but in terms of plot it’s by far the most solid, weaving three separate stories into one excellent ending. Maybe I’m biased because White Christmas is my favourite episode in the series and this episode has a lot of similarities to the Season Two episode, but I don’t care. In a season many are dubbing the “happiest season yet”, Black Museum reminds us just how disgusting and ugly our very own nature can be.

Verdict: A

Top Five Hyrule Warriors Legends Characters

I was honestly shocked to realise just how many characters Hyrule Warriors Legends has in its roster. There’s a total of 25 different characters without DLC, and that’s not even counting the different weapons some characters can use completely changing their playstyle! Of course, with that many characters to choose from, some are going to stick out more to you. Maybe you like the faster characters with their long combos or the slower characters with their strong keep clearing attacks. I like almost all the characters in Hyrule Warriors, but, with some difficulty, I’ve managed to narrow it down to just five along with some honourable mentions. So here are my Five Favourite Warriors in Hyrule Warriors Legends!

#5 Fi

maxresdefault

She may have been a simple annoyance in Skyward Sword, but in Hyrule Warriors, Fi is a serious force to be reckoned with. Fi has some of the fastest combo strings in the game, making her very hard to interrupt once she gets going. Her attacks also afford her a lot of mobility meaning she can dance from mob of enemies to mob of enemies leaving only corpses in her wake. Her strength is only further increased by her brutal special attack which clears some room around her with an unforgiving AOE attack so she can start right back up again and mow down enemies like an out-of-control lawnmower. But most of all, she’s just fun to play as. She does have her problems however. She’s not as adept at taking on enemy commanders and bosses due to her low damage and lack of juggle meaning battles will usually take a great deal longer. Nevertheless, Fi gets in at Number 5 on this list for her dangerously dynamic dance skills.

#4 Ruto

maxresdefault1

Ruto is probably going to be the most controversial one of this list. I’m not entirely sure how the majority feel about her, but the impression I’ve got is that barely anyone likes her and a number of people hate her. Playing Ruto for the first time, I could see where they were coming from. She’s slow, she doesn’t have much range and she has possibly the longest attacks in the entire game. After playing her a few more times in Adventure Mode however, she’s grown to be one of my favourite characters in the game. Her attacks may take a while to start and a while to end as well, but once you get the timing down you can annihilate entire waves(haha, get it?) of enemies in a single devastating attack. Ruto’s attacks have a massive amount of AOE and some of them provide her with a decent amount of mobility as well. Finally, she can take out dozens of enemies from afar with one of the most satisfying strong attacks in the game, sending powerful waves to plough through enemies. Also, she gets extra points for her intro where she’s carried onto the battlefield by two disembodied hands. Nintendo knows its fans too well.

#3 Impa (with the Giant Blade)

hyrule_warriors__impa_by_ichigoxxrukia-d7jagnt

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d like Impa and her playstyle much when I first saw her but she instantly became one of my favourites the first time I played her. Considering she has such a large weapon, Impa’s speed is impressive, rivalling the likes of Sheik effortlessly. I know she’s a ninja, but damn, she handles that big ass sword like it’s a butter knife. All of her attacks are massively satisfying to pull off, having a decent AOE and very little wind-up. She plays exactly how you’d expect a ninja to play and the epic poses she pulls after a lot of her attacks make her the second most badass character in the game after Volga. Finally, she has one of my favourite special attacks in the game: a horizontal sword slash with a huge AOE range that eradicates anyone who has the misfortune to be in front of her. The only reason she isn’t any higher is because some of her attacks can take a while to end making her quite vulnerable if she misses her target. Once you get past that however, Impa is definitely one of the strongest characters in the game.

#2 Skull Kid

maxresdefault2

How could I not put Skull Kid on here? He’s easily the most overpowered character in the game His attacks are ridiculously fast, ridiculously strong and have ridiculous range. On top of all this, he’s also ridiculously fun to play as. He’s a fast-paced character with some insane combos that feel satisfying to pull off no matter what. His laser and multi-nuke alone make him one of my favourites and so far, and the rate at which he chews through a bosses weak point gauge is insane. It’s hard to dislike an overpowered character in a game which was literally made to make the player feel powerful. The only bad thing I can say about him is that his strong attack is quite underwhelming. But there’s one more character I like even more still…

#1 Volga

Volga

He can turn into a dragon. Need I say more? Okay, in all seriousness, Volga is an awesome character with some amazing, flashy combos and a badass personality to boot! Being a Dragon Knight, Volga can turn partially or fully into a dragon to pull off some truly kickass attacks. Breathing fire, using his wings to create tornadoes and summoning a massive dragon claw to cleave through his enemies are just a few of the things he can do! His final combo has him turn fully into a dragon, fly up into the air and perform a divebomb which can obliterate dozens of enemies at once! Even his normal attacks with his pike are awesome. While he lacks AOE damage, his lightning fast attacks and impressive mobility more than make up for it! Finally, his special attack is a dash that sends any enemies in front of him flying! Skull Kid is certainly more powerful, but he simply doesn’t give me the same thrill and adrenaline rush I get playing Volga.

Honorable Mentions

  • Ghirahim
  • Darunia
  • Sheik
  • Link (with the Master Sword)
  • Toon Link

So, that was my Top Five Favourite Hyrule Warriors Legends Characters! This is one of the hardest lists I’ve ever had to make just because of the sheer amount of great characters in Hyrule Warriors Legends. Almost all of them are fun to play and there are only a couple I would consider downright bad. With this being the case, it’s almost guaranteed that your list will be different from mine! Feel free to share your favourite characters in the game in the comments down below as I always like to hear what everyone else thinks.