SS2: Episode 3 - Lunchbox Fury

Posted on September 13, 2017 .

SS2: Episode 2 - Lost & Frowned

Posted on September 6, 2017 .

Cultural Complicity: Matt talks at Gamescom Congress

Hello! Something a little different for you today. Off the back of the piece I wrote for The Guardian at the start of this year, I was asked by Gamescom Congress to come and give a talk in Cologne this year. They also very kindly let me video the presentation too - which you can watch above! Apologies that it's audio only for the last few minutes!

You can see full slides for the presentation here.

Thanks as always for your time! New Cool Ghosts stuff coming soon  - watch this space.

Posted on August 24, 2017 .

Breath of the Wild: The Best Game Ever

As promised, below you'll find some additional thoughts for after you’ve watched the video! Thanks so much to everyone for being patient over the last few months - it’s very much appreciated. Enjoy! x

Bonus thoughts! So! First of all, weapon degradation is a really interesting one - I’ve personally had no issue with it. If anything, I’d say it’s an integral aspect of the game’s longevity despite being largely, wonderfully aimless. One of the main reasons I grew tired of Skyrim was that the lure of loot gradually wore off. Once you were seriously geared up, the world suddenly became a landfill of metallic junk.

Weapons that break give Zelda’s treasures a more constant sense of purpose, and help remove the need for a smooth curve of balanced difficulty. You find bits that make the game too easy - they serve a purpose - and then they break. Players always seem angry at having things taken away from them, but treasure without risk or loss isn’t really TREASURE.

Big quests tend to leave you entirely out of arrows and with your best weapons gone, but - providing you aren’t rushing to finish the main plot - this only adds to the texture of the experience. You chill out, you explore, you find powerful stuff, and then you embark on a serious adventure that will see you expend the resources you collected. It’s such a fresh and wonderful flow that truly embodies the nature of adventure - much more exciting than the traditional model of Exponentially Always Getting Stronger Because Games.

Most importantly of all though, it’s clear that Breath of the Wild isn’t meant to be a game about fighting. It’s punctuated with battles and conflicts that ramp up with delicious drama, but there are clear clues about the way the game is intended to be played: enemies frequently drop near-worthless loot, and your weapons rapidly degrade and break. Meanwhile, the world constantly respawns ALL of the enemies. By the rules clearly embedded within this world. fighting is frequently framed as just being a waste of your time. Run, my boy! Run!

And do you know what? I think that fits. This isn't a game about being a warrior, it’s a game about being an explorer - a scientist. Most beautiful of all is that more frequently than not, weapons double up as tools. Most of the weapons I treasure and love will never go anywhere near a fight. Why would I use these things in combat? These are precious! They’d break!

It really isn’t the weapon degradation that feels jarring to me - it’s the quantity of combat trials you face in the game, creating a barrier of challenge and frustration that feels oddly out of place.

That said, it really is fair to say that the inventory management system is poor - although arguably a side-effect of this is that players won’t use it unless they really have to, keeping the game residing in the world whenever possible. Weak silver linings, admittedly - but I can’t rag on the inventory system too much, as there’s beauty hidden within this mess.  

The game’s insistence of lumping almost everything together in one big box of stuff leaves it unclear which items hold real value, and which items might hold interesting secrets. This thrill of feeling like you exist in the world comes down to the elements I explored in this video, but it’s this gradual discovery of the world’s physical properties that truly pops into life. Science, man! Baked apples! It's good!

Finally, despite the great efforts of the game’s design to keep you present and immersed in its world, eventually it really does start to falter - especially with regards to the classic mechanic of Fast Travel. It’s too easy sometimes to find yourself zapping between fast-travel points as if cycling through a small stack of postcards: grasping for that instant gratification of glimpsing a new adventure in the distance, rather than taking the time to stick with one direction until you find one.

But gosh, if it isn't The Best Game Ever. What an absolutely wide-eyed, wonderful treat.

Posted on July 12, 2017 and filed under Best, One Off.

Daft Souls 92: The Signal From Tölva, Stories Untold, Jill of the Jungle

Daft Souls YT Header 92.jpg

We briefly follow up about Stories Untold, jump into The Signal From Tölva, touch on The Sexy Brutale (which we'll revisit) and cap off this episode of the podcast with a chat about Jill of the Jungle and the delights of Shareware gaming. Thanks for listening!

COOL REMINDER: If you want to hang out and chat with lovely like-minded folk, do pop along and check out the Cool Ghosts Discord Channel.

Jill of the Jungle: Don't Step on my Child

The tennis ball of fate is back in Matt's court of law, and he has sentenced it to DEATH. This time we've got Jill of the Jungle - a shareware treat from 1992. We'll be chatting more about games of this era on Daft Souls later this week!

Posted on April 18, 2017 .

Stories Untold: The House Abandon

Another SIDE DISH for those a little peckish for more - this time you can watch Matt squirm as Quinns encourages him through part one of Stories Untold. We don't spoil the finale here, but obviously it's us playing it - so do know what you're getting into. And bear in mind that as mentioned in Quinns' practically spoiler-free vid from earlier this week, what you see in the video above is fully available as a free demo. So maybe try it yourself first? Do what you want. WE HAVEN'T GOT ANSWERS, WE AREN'T YOUR DAD.

COOL REMINDER: If you want to hang out and chat with lovely like-minded folk, do pop along and check out the Cool Ghosts Discord Channel.

 

Posted on April 13, 2017 .

Stories Untold: The Best Game Ever

The 1980s are coming into your house now, please be ready. Quinns is up with Stories Untold - a game that he wants to tell you about whilst largely not showing it.

Posted on April 11, 2017 .

Daft Souls 91: Nier Automata, It Came From The Desert

We have to tell you about ROBOTS, and also GIANT ANTS ARE COMING TO KILL US ALL YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE US PLEASE. Also: Thanks for listening! We should have 5 questions with a developer for next time - it turns out it's quite hard to wrangle human voices into the correct place at the correct time. Be sure to pop back later this week for our video of us playing It Came From The Desert.

And heck, while you're here - reviews on iTunes are ALWAYS awesome. You look lovely today as well, did we mention that? It's something about your hair. Sort of floofy? Or maybe sleek? Whichever of the two you were going for, your call.

Posted on April 5, 2017 .

Dark Souls III: The Best Game Ever

This time on THE BEST GAME EVER, Matt talks about a game that he didn't even really like that much to be perfectly honest. Anything is possible: be the eagle you want to see in the world.

Posted on March 29, 2017 and filed under One Off.