Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thursday Impressions: And Yet It Moves

And Yet It Moves is a 2D platformer set in a world made of torn-off paper. Unfortunately, that fact is the only thing about it worth noting.

This is one of those games where you can alter the gravity in four different directions. I've played many games like this, and this one seems the least original. Everything about the game is slow, and the mechanics are horrendous. It's so easy to die again and again (by the fault of the game, not you), and every single time more and more frustration gets loaded onto your nervous system by the bale.

It's not fun, the puzzles are annoying and unoriginal, and the music is just dull. I never thought I could ever dislike something so much from my favorite genre, but this is one of the worst 2D platformers I've ever played. It's definitely not worth $10, or any price other than free. Don't get it.

Verdict: Stop playing.
There were some redeemable moments of gameplay, but it's nowhere near worth it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


A week ago I mentioned that I loved piano and I gave a link to a random example why. That garnered some great feedback, so I decided I would post a few more piano covers here for your enjoyment.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Closure

Closure is a 2D platforming puzzle game in which nothing that is unseen exists. For example, if you shine a flashlight on the ground, it's solid and you can walk on it; but if the ground is unseen by light, you will fall right through.

It's a fairly creepy game, but it's an original and quite cool concept. If you can't get past a wall, alter a nearby lamp so that it's no longer shining in that direction. Then you can just jump through the darkness where there once was a wall. It makes for cool and interesting puzzles.

The simplistic graphics style is perfect for the game. The soundtrack is very good and can be quite creepy; but when you jump into water, the music gets downright terrifying. It's kind of awesome.

Verdict: Keep playing, if I can beat that level.
It holds a lot of promise and I'm already excited to keep playing. However, I did rage-quit my playthrough, due to being stuck for too long. That could be a problem, heheh.

Monday, June 17, 2013

An Update, Just 'Cause

Some people check my blog for personal updates. How boring.

So how am I? Well, life's been decent since school got out. Not much is really happening. I've been watching Doctor Who, re-reading Crater by Homer Hickam so I can read the sequel, and waiting for the next volume of Fullmetal Alchemist to come in at the library, even though I haven't even gotten around to ordering it yet. In addition, I just finished this game called Thomas Was Alone, which was brilliant for the most part, but the ending was definitely lacking.

[There was another paragraph here at one point in time, but it's gone. Rest in peace, paragraph.]

I've been playing around on piano/keyboard recently, as always. I'm not good enough to really play in front of anybody except my direct family, but it's something I do and this is a personal update, so I thought I'd mention it. Really, though, piano is my favorite instrument. Here's a random example why.

What's the point of making this post? I dunno. Some people like it.

So, you can take note of the following, friends and foes:
-Thursday Impressions pieces still come out every Thursday, even though I don't post them on Facebook.
-I try to get another blog post in each week, be it a review or some boring personal update (though it doesn't always happen).
-I still try to keep the Status page updated, for the most part.
-We might see more giveaways in the near future. Keep yer fingers crossed.

And thus ends the personal blog update thingy. You happy? Hopefully so. I'll see you 'round the block, unless you're not there.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Proteus

Proteus is a simulation created for no purpose except to explore.

You're placed on a randomly-generated island. At first, it seems like you don't have anything to do, but that's a pessimist's perspective. Look around a bit. Go hiking. There's a lot more to this virtual land than meets the eye.

One could argue that this "game" is pointless. There's no goal, and no purpose except to walk around and explore. Honestly, though, who doesn't want their own personal island to explore? When you need alone time to think, you can just shrink into your beautiful, soothing little virtual world.

The world changes around you. Day to night, and even different seasons. There are so many things to look at that sometimes you just don't know which direction to go. Initially, I had a small complaint that you cannot go faster than a certain speed, but then I found out that walking into a swarm of bees makes you sprint. I also walked into a circle of lightning bugs and suddenly beheld an entire season passing before my eyes.

Controls are a bare minimum. Basically, you can walk around and look around, and that's about it. I would have liked a jump button to be implemented, but it's not at all needed. It would just feel right to have one.

Verdict: Approved.
I can't very well say "Keep playing," because this isn't the kind of game that you "keep playing." It's a beautiful world, to visit when you're feeling down or in need of something serene. The developers promised a different experience every time, and I can't wait to go back.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul

The Emperor's Soul is a novella that takes place in the same world as Brandon Sanderson's debut novel, Elantris. It focuses on a master criminal named Wan ShaiLu who's found herself on death row unless she can fulfill a forbidden task appointed to her.
Book Description:
When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos. 
Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days. But her soul-Forgery is considered an abomination by her captors. She is confined to a tiny, dirty chamber, guarded by a man who hates her, spied upon by politicians, and trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood. Shai's only possible ally is the emperor's most loyal councillor, Gaotona, who struggles to understand her true talent. 
Time is running out for Shai. Forging, while deducing the motivations of her captors, she needs a perfect plan to escape…
Sanderson introduces a new magic system in this story, called Forging. It has to do with the carving of "soulstamps," which can rewrite an object's history. The entire process is very hard to explain, and in the novella itself Sanderson explains it over a decent amount of time. While Forging is very hard to do successfully, if someone with the right skill works for enough time—usually over years—they can Forge something as ridiculous as a human soul.

Shai is forced to Forge the soul of the most well-known man in the entire Rose Empire in only one hundred days, which is virtually impossible. Thankfully, her captors don't know the slightest thing about Forging, so over this amount of time she can plan her escape without the others knowing what she's up to. The Emperor's Soul is about what transpires during those one hundred days.

The narrative of the book is almost entirely from the point of view of Shai, allowing the reader to get to know her and sympathize with who she is. Though the world may not approve, there's a reason she does what she does. As always, Sanderson delivers with his amazingly well-crafted world and characters. During Shai's captivity, she begins to develop a fondness of the arbiter Gaotona, some of her guards, and even the emperor himself. An emotional aspect of the story is that even if Shai truly can Forge the emperor's soul in such a short time, he won't actually be the emperor that once was. He'd just be a copy, no matter how real that copy was.

In the end, The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson is a fantastic read. For a short tale, it's very well-developed and makes the reader feel at home in the fictional world. If you can spare a few dollars, I very highly recommend it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thursday Impressions: Thomas Was Alone

Thomas Was Alone is one of those stereotypical 2D indie platformers that use shapes as characters because the creators didn't know how to draw a sprite. Or... not. Though I am a fan of the genre just mentioned, this game is not included in the category.

"Thomas was alone. Wow, what a weird first thought to have."

The player is introduced to Thomas, a rectangle who knows nothing about his existence except that he exists. Before long, Thomas discovers he could move, fall, and perform a sort of inverse-fall called "jumping." Along the way, Thomas records his thoughts, for posterity.

What makes Thomas Was Alone different from other games that look similar is the fact that the entire game is narrated by the shapes controlled by the player. Are those supposed to represent characters who live in a world of squares? Well, there's that, but the characters are exactly what they actually are: shapes, making their way through levels by the work of a player. They don't pretend to be anything else. Yet, they record their thoughts and adventures, turning this from any old adventure to an intriguing and lovable adventure.

A half an hour into the game introduces Thomas to other rectangles who can do other things that he cannot, such as jump at different heights and use various abilities. I have no idea how many characters will be introduced in total, but Thomas is certainly alone no longer.

Maybe I love this game just because I'm a platformer fan, but I think the charming narrative and atmosphere will be enjoyable to gamers of all ages. This game is something else. Something unique.

Verdict: Keep playing.
It's fun, intriguing, and actually kind of deep. The puzzle elements stress me out a bit, but to the average mind they would be no problem. Many thumbs up.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The River by Michael Neale

The River by Michael Neale is a novel I acquired a while ago because of a hype. Many employees of the publishing company had read it and very highly recommended it, so I thought I would give it a shot. While it wasn't at all a bad book, it was certainly a disappointment.

The story starts out in the present day, where a fifty-ish man named Gabriel Clarke approaches the story's narrator and tells him that he's on his way back from travelling around the world, running National Geographic's Top Ten Most Dangerous and Beautiful Rivers in the World. After exploring numerous beautiful locations, meeting tons of new friends, and encountering multiple near-death experiences, he was ready to head home. And then he tells the narrator his life story, which is the bulk of the book.

Now, that might sound like a really intriguing story, but in reality the story doesn't focus at all on that long adventure he had. It's about his childhood and early years. When he was five, he watched his father die saving another man's life in The River. For the next fifteen years he would grow up with his mom in a small town in Kansas, before eventually, after a series of events, work at a summer camp in Colarado, where he would rediscover his true love of The River.

Right off the bat, I had problems with this book. The story is supposed to be about Gabriel, but the first two chapters are almost entirely from the point of view of his parents. If this is Gabriel's story, why is it being told through the eyes of others? In addition, the writing style of this book looks like it was written by a teenager. Not that it has bad grammar or it's poorly written or anything, but it just seems like it'd be something that I would write myself, if I had the ability to stay on a single writing project long enough to finish it.

The whole book just doesn't seem at all realistic. Some would argue that that's the point of fiction, but not when a book tries to be realistic. You can tell that the author meant for it to be a story that could have actually happened, but it didn't at all turn out that way. The entire story felt forced. Like the storyteller didn't know how to tell a story.

The dialogue is written in a way so that almost all of the characters appear to have the same personality (a personality which isn't in the slightest bit realistic), and sometimes it just felt like the author didn't know how things work. Things like animal behavior and what it's like to live in a small town—you get the impression that the author thought he knew what he was talking about, but he really, certainly didn't.

There's also the allegorical elements, such as whenever any river is mentioned at any of the book, the characters refer to it as The River. And everyone thinks The River is amazing beyond anything else, to the point where you get bored every time it's mentioned. Throughout the book, The River is a very obvious and poorly-implemented metaphor for God. If the author wanted to write a good book, he should have removed all allegorical content completely and just wrote it as a story. It would have been much more enjoyable.

Another part of the book I didn't care for was that some romance elements were added in, but for no purpose. If they'd been expanded on it might have added to the story, but as they were they were kind of pointless. Perhaps they were part of the allegory, and that would be why they could have been a brilliant addition, but they weren't. And on that point, the romance was absolutely unrealistic.

However, after pointing out all these parts of the book that made it not nearly as great as it could have been, I also have to point out that these can all be attributed as minor gripes. While I had problems with the story, other readers may not. I actually found the book quite enjoyable at times, though I always got bored when the characters got started talking about The River.

One of the aspects I liked about the book—though I'm not sure they should be considered as pros—is the similes used by the author. I don't know why, but I just found them hilarious. The sad part is that the author didn't mean them to be cheesy or hilarious; he meant them to be serious. However, I might be the only person who's even taken note of them.

Regardless of all the faults, there are still great gems in The River. I enjoyed it as a whole, and I know other people who would enjoy it a lot more than I did. While it could be boring, cliché, and poorly worded at times, I can see why people would like it. However, I find it difficult to recommend a book that I would not purchase myself.

The River was published on September 18, 2012.
This book was sent to me for free from Thomas Nelson Publishing.