Archive | October, 2020

Berserk Chapter 362 Review

29 Oct

As Halloween arrives, and all of us get our popcorn and look at the recently uploaded chapter, spanning over a forty year decade to reach a final conclusion to old and new fans alike. The telling is again further appreciated as the Berserk armor Guts wears is tested, and Guts is meant to see something he shouldn’t. “A blood memory.” What is surprising and not to most Berserk fans is that we have a look at a character, Skull Night, confirmed as King Geiserick, in the memory Guts sees. What he proclaims is what fans of the series long questioned for years. Skull Knight is King Geiserk, and now we have proof.

Skull Knight’s admission.

What’s also shocking is the next panel.

Void: The Fifth God Hand.

We see as Void betrayed Geiserik to become a Fifth God Hand. This is monumental in the arc of Skull Knight, and to Berserk as a whole. What we see is very clear as the Godhand that brought Void into existence, and this is important. What we see is that much of Berserk is based off cyclic nature of time. It seems that the Godhand are stuck in a loop of endless leaders, but it’s far more inviting to see that Miura is showing us that Void is the key player of the God Hand cycle. But the next panel introduces us to long held belief and cannon of the Ideal of Evil.

The Idea of Evil.

What this panel illustrates is that the Idea of Evil is now making its presence known, as Guts has never seen this before in his time in the Berserk cannon. It also illustrates that cycle that the hole represents. An idea of evil has no form. It shares no gender. It has no beginning, middle, or end. It’s what is permitted by the fate of causality. If we are all faced with causality, our wounds are never healed. It’s meaningless to try and find our way if Guts is forced to do the same. What we can say is that our perceptions are far more open than we think. Miura is aware of this. The panel of the idea of evil in full view to Guts is when Guts is privy to what Griffith knows when he’s becoming Femto.

The problem is twofold. Griffith, just like the Godhand, seem to be on the cycle of causality, which they accuse every single character who is chosen to become an Apostle Demon, as we know in Chapter asdf where they rely on anger to coerce the characters to make a sacrifice, that would transcend there mortality, or gain such power. As in Volume Three, or if you read the reddit version, Berserk Chapter G0, the Count makes calls on the Godhand, as he screams, “I don’t want to die.”

The limits of Sacrifice.

But the problem is, the count can’t sacrifice Guts, but what he has to do is give up his daughter Theresia. Again, this brings us back to a cycle, as Void is and was someone close to Skull Knight, and Void. Only time will tell what this means for the journey for Guts, but this will play apart of the narrative in the future chapters. 

What we know is clear, is connection with all of Berserk, is that when a sacrifice is made, it’s made out of emotional instinct to live forever, and taking away what we love in the process. It’s the only series that makes me consider that this is about what men will do to live forever, other than Hellraiser, which it draws heavily on (but that’s for another essay), but the whole of Berserk is clear. Void must have made a sacrifice as this is reflected back in Chapter 362, where we get without words, and Void staring down at Skull Knight, is that sacrificing your loved ones for the sake of power is still at the heart of Berserk. 

            A theory, which is not a new one, is that while we understand that Skull Knight is not in control, loses all and becomes corrupted, which is why he plays a valuable role, or a Deus Ex Machina, a God out of the Machine, that saves the hero’s before they suffer a cruel fate. What is undetermined is how the sacrifice will be used later on in the story. Griffith, as we know, is a God that will ultimately betray all he sees that will get him to the throne. He has created Falconia, but will he bring it down with him? But there might be a redemption in Griffith. He might have some other ulterior motives that the GodHand don’t know will happen. The Godhand are not all powerful entities who can predict when such plotted events take place, such as when Skull Knight saves Guts and Casca in Volume 13, sparing there lives. But this begs the question that if Skull Knight was saved before, who saved him? There’s another question that has to be posed too: If Griffith pulls a 180 as they both destroy the Godhand, only to leave the two standing, Guts and Griffith, for the final showdown, that’s an unknown variable, another question that might be answered. Another idea is perfectly clear: If Griffith in that final moment kills all the Godhand and raises his knights to GodHand status? Hopefully, it is the long suspicion confirmed, but the nature of Berserk is still rooted in the world of a sacrifice, and Void’s sacrifice is still one tale that we might yet not know. As all the Godhand are left for speculation, as always. And is the Idea of Evil showing himself to Guts now because the tide of the final battle is turning? All good questions that will be answered in time. 

            Rating: 10 out of 5 

Sources: 

https://readberserk.com/chapter/berserk-chapter-362/

 

Ibitsu: A Hidden Gem of Manga

25 Oct

When the anime and manga scene for my taste relate further into the hardcore, of Berserk, and Lone Wolf and Cub, Alita, Blade of the Immortal, Neon Genesis, the horror of Junji Ito, and his branch of horror becomes a curious fascination, I picked up Ritsyu (2018) being unknown and unaware of any story related to it. I was taking a risk at Second and Charles, where they order manga most bookstores would never want to hold, but here, the story presented is an oddball choice for me. Published by Yen Press, Ibutsu, is a story of a young demon Lolita who preys on victims asking if her victims would want a “little sister” as it creates a nightmare that would make any reader shit there pants. Most people ignore horror, but it’s where we can unleash all our pain on, and feel great after we are reading. Do you talk to the girl, or just walk by when she says, “do you want a little sister?” But it’s more than just enough for such a scary story to take place. In Salo: 120 of Sodom, based off the notorious Marquis De Sade book, the villain exclaims, “We should feel for both victim and aggressor” which was probably the director, Pasolini’s take on horror, in general.

            What seems as such an innocent perspective turns hostile, as Kazuki Itou has to find a way to calm the Demon Lolita, but with each moment he tries to fight back, her power grows stronger, as he’s held hostage and the world around him crumbles. She kills all who love him, trying to isolate him from his family. Taking away the demon story this would be some strange indie story about a woman taking her abuse out on men while wanting to be loved, but it’s here, we buy this story because the horror genre creates value over these stories. What makes the manga a chilling story is the Demon Lolita chooses indiscriminately, and the world in an unknown town, makes the manga far more terrifying. It’s far worse when the world is simpler and the vision of the manga powerful is the will to punish her victims as she had before. 

            Maybe the demon Lolita is lying, but if she wasn’t, then why would she harbor such hatred on the innocent who did nothing to her? It’s her chilling love that makes her a force to be reckoned with as you go “aww” when you realize the Demon Lolita is only reacting against the innocent as her brother had done to her. But does it make it right?

            What is interesting if you peel away the horror aspect, is a young girl who takes out her aggression on men as she had been done before, but somehow, the simpler meaning can get carried into the manga, and help the horror shape the simpler meaning. It’s a weird little stand-alone book that looks like the same manga, but it’s hard to coincide with many other Manga’s, as I wouldn’t put this in my top ten, it’s a curious little collection that mixes Junji Ito with a grunge romance story that has charm and a bit of a sexual tension to boot. 

            Is it creepy and it will make you gag? Is it Junji Ito, no, but many can agree it served its purpose. Yes. So it’s a winner, in my book. The art is not on Junji Ito or Kentaro Miura, but it’s a nice little collection in a middle of a huge overdeveloped market. What is fascinating is that I had never heard of it before, and however I sit here writing this, it’s like a growing threat. Somewhere out there, there’s a demon Lolita taking her anger out on anyone who would dare love her. 

            It’s not quite a masterpiece but an artist and writer finding his own path out of the world of heavy hitters in the manga world. Ryo is a promising talent among a crop of talented artists in the field.

            Final Rating: 7 out of 10 

Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 1 Review

22 Oct

Another day and another eight months has passed since March 20th, 2020, the day Doom Eternal came out, and while the year, for posterity reasons, is abysmal, the wait for the DLC for Doom Eternal finally arrived on October 20th, 2020. From Id Software and published by Bethesda, it is an allowable excuse to give Ancient Gods a fair play since I had my bloodlust (and broke two controllers) in the process, Ancient Gods seemed like a safe bet. It wasn’t a long DLC, topping at three hours, nor did it feel like Id was taking a break from the critical acclaim and positive player reception they have received this year. 

What makes Ancient Gods a turn-off is that it stops at such a point in the story, that it will answer for the release of Ancient Gods Part 2. What is harder to fathom is the deception of how seamless and fluid the controls are, and even on the easiest difficulty, Id is not trying to stop short. What can be said is that the story, as bare bones, continues to thrive on the combat first, and story second, but it does feel light when the DLC is only 4 hours in total.

The overall level design of the Atlantica UAC base, the demon swamp, and the poisoned Urdak, is Id once again showing off their top expertise at level design, and proving that they can create something beautiful while delivering a narrative, which falters, since it is dependent on the part 2, which is not scheduled to release any time soon.

Questions are answered: what happens at the end of Doom Eternal. What became of the Seraphim who helped the Doomslayer in the past? What can be said is the flare that Doom Eternal can still possess. While the Atlantica UAC level is remiscent of a Joseph Conrad story, while the Demon Swamp follows the Slayer to his inevitable meeting with the Dark Lord to resurrect after destroying Urdak, and then following with his battle with Samur, the Seraphim who gave the Doomslayer his armor and heavenly power.

It does feel like a long time ago that Doom Eternal came out, but it does manage to throw every villain you didn’t encounter along the way in the first game. It’s willing to test your limits even if you just want to have some fun. It does break the cardinal sin as this should have been the following for a sequel and not just part of the DLC, which shows that Id is not going to stop as they can do more with the technology than the 90’s could permit them. 

But since this is not a full game and only DLC I only rate the DLC 1-5, since it is only DLC. Overall, the graphics, the tone, the consistency in the narrative, straight forward levels, and “push forward” combat can make the DLC an interesting play, but it is only one half of the narrative. The negatives are noticeable, as on an XBOX ONE S, it can show the game chugging along as my 4K captures a few glitches here and there, but it’s a sight to behold. There is a difference in the graphics in the PlayStation Pro and the S, but the XBOX does seem to bring out the rich textures, while the PS4 can be brighter, but that’s just one experience I have had, playing both games separately. Another noticeable difference is the music. After the controversy surrounding the soundtrack, Mick Gordon is not present, and it shows, but the replacement, is not so bad. But it’s slightly off, but composers Andrew Hilshult and David Levy, are fit for the job, since they are behind the hotly anticipated Proteus, which sounds great either way.  

Overall Review: 4 out of 5 

Tenet: A Film Ten Years Too Late

18 Oct

            Sorry it took so long to review this film, but with the increasing social pressure to not go outside, Tenet (2020), directed by Christopher Nolan, is the epitome of a mediocre film that doesn’t boil too hot or low. The plot is about a character named “The Protagonist” who becomes romantically interested in a Russian crime figure’s wife, as he is moving to end the world, as he’s dying from slow pancreatic cancer. If this was a spoiler for you, it’s not, because it’s already been googled, and researched, but the execution of having time play with characters moving in and out of time to make the past and the future work together, is what La Jete and Twelve Monkeys, and Terminator, explored better, and smarter. 

            To be honest, the film looks like a Christopher Nolan film, but it seems like it should have come before Inception, because it’s the dream that the Leonardo Dicaprio’s character, Cobb, dreamed of, but was a small bubble inside the Protagonists head. It’s a film that deconstructs itself and internalizes all the films and televisions that came before that have studied time travel stories, and with Avengers: Endgame, being the most lackluster time travel film ever made, Tenet at least wants to take itself seriously, and study the idea with a fervent eye that only Christopher Nolan can deliver. 

            But the film seems late. It’s a film that should have happened after Inception, but the reality is the film is so complicated it bored me. As I could see everything, there was no mystery to the film, and easy plot points that come together, were ultimately standard for what Christopher Nolan can deliver. What the ordinary might seem intelligent, I found it like watching a racquetball game in reverse, as the points are often predictable as every time travel story can be. 

            If it took him ten years, it was ultimately not worth the wait. It’s like being disappointed in later Kubrick films, but at least with Kubrick, there was always a man behind the camera. That used to be Christopher Nolan for me, but here, it was like watching re runs of a show you used to know, but it’s long been overdone. Every Time Travel story is about changing the past, or saving a loved one, when it doesn’t seem to inhabit the world long enough for people to ponder all the implications. When a character in a film tells you “don’t worry about it” that’s code for “I don’t know how to explain this, please like this.” 

            There should be some enjoyment when watching a Christopher Nolan film, but there seems to be a pattern with Nolan films. His overcomplications are getting easier to spot. Even the trickery of the camera, as the window is moving back and forth, to show that when the boat is moving backwards, it gives the trickery that the film needs. All Christopher Nolan is…is trickery. 

            Honestly, this is the best writing Christopher Nolan has done so far. It’s like he got the critical attention he deserved, but now no one needs him anymore. Video games are the form of expression, and while film is rather plain, you know there’s a puppet master, and I could see the strings holding the film together. 

            It’s like when you watch the making of a horror film and you know what the film makers did to make it real, but the destruction of this movie is what makes it so painfully, woefully, bland. For a film about time travel, it seems to regurgitate the “grandfather theory” which everyone else has done, specifically, the Terminator (1984). But while the film seems like a love letter to the style of film we all would have enjoyed ten years ago, it’s a film that proves highly predictable. 

            And I thought I would never say this about Christopher Nolan. But there still leaves room for the Protagonist, as his name is in the title credits, and we’ll definitely see more. Although the actors do a fabulous job with the middle ground work Christopher Nolan gives them, which I would have asked for rewrites. I think and know Christopher Nolan was not making a film that leaves something to be desired, but ultimately if you picked your night of which Christopher Nolan film to watch, this would be last on the list. 

            Overall, it could have been promising but as long as filmmakers and artists don’t try to reinvent the wheel, they are just hamsters spinning around in there farts and urine, never allowed to do anything new, then people might never go to films ever again. And if critics keep praising Christopher Nolan’s middle ground garbage, or lackluster visions that should be viewed on appletv, I hope the theaters close down forever. 

            Pro’s:

            Stellar Acting.

            Best written movie out of Christopher Nolan’s career.

            Disregards cheesy Marvel film humor.

            Negatives:

            Insanely vanilla. 

            Bland. 

            A film that has been done before.

            Predictable.

            Final Rating: 5/10

My Friend Pedro: A Revolution for Side Scrollers

17 Oct

For anyone who doesn’t know me, side scrollers are not impressive enough for me to play, as side scrollers were apart of my childhood, as my bar for side scrollers is Mario 3 and Sonic 2, for me at least. Developed by Devlover Digital and running on the Unity engine, I didn’t expect to like My Friend Pedro, but the trailers were interesting enough, but I never got around to it until the XBOX Games Pass made it available. And who doesn’t like free shit? What can be said is that My Friend Pedro seems to be aware of what it is. It’s like someone read Deadpool’s journal or psychological evaluation, and then slapped it on a side scroller. But also, it’s hard for me to say it, but this game has really made me remember side scrollers as valuable to games, when my side scrolling days resides in the dust bowl as third and first person are my choice for game perspectives. For anyone who doesn’t know what side scrollers are, they are games highly recognized from the 80’s, where the characters move left and right, before the arrival of 3D games in the late 90’s.

            There’s the story, as our hero, who remains nameless, is guiding by a banana named Pedro, as he’s kidnapped, and he has to escape, and no surprise, murder his way out of a mobster’s restaurant. He begins on a journey that takes him through dingy neighborhoods, shooting at targets on a motorcycle, shooting up haters in Pedro’s dream, and all the way to the Internet, where he finds a shocking revelation, where his psyche is pushed to the brink, and a sequel from here, might be pointless. I wouldn’t have expected a side scroller like My Friend Pedro to be as epic as it sounds, but for 2D scrollers, it does respect the history of side scrollers, internalizing it, and performing John Wick acrobatics into our memories. 

            If playing on a system, put on your stereo because music will be the primary narration tool for how our masked friend and Pedro move through the world, replacing voices with text reading that you start to ignore and accept as part of the game’s presentation. While this would otherwise annoy me, the pacing is fun so that you don’t have to question the logic of the game’s narration, which is all over the place, tricking you to like it, without actually doing much work to convince the player My Friend Pedro achieves. What is fun is learning the mechanics and finding out how to use the focus mechanic, as it allows the player to slow down time, and perform flips in mid-air. 

            Enemies peer out of doors and each time they die it’s returning your brain back to a place where Mario is probably having wet dreams thinking about My Friend Pedro. The weapons all have a meaty kick in the sound system and it will definitely make your neighbor hate you. I think there should be a way to lower the game’s music because it can ruin your regular televisions sound system. 

            While this is the case, the overall fun factor behind My Friend Pedro is why it caught my attention anyway. Weapons range from pistols, Mac 10’s, Shotgun, AR-15 with a grenade launcher, and a Sniper rifle, which helps when you can restart the game with all your weapons after you complete one playthrough of the campaign. All have their perks as far as weapons go, but the weapons are best at times when you aren’t put into the middle of the fight. 

            The best feature to master is the dual lock on system which is a must as you have to fight your way out of impossible odds. It’s tricky at first but it’s a nice feature the player doesn’t expect to have. Also can use pans and barrels to kill enemies, as the bullets hit the pan, the crisp satisfaction of hearing bullets ricochet off it is close to summoning spirits on a Ouija board. Also, the skateboard is a nice functionality that pushes the level into a tricky playthrough, as you have to kick it so that you aren’t surrounded by enemies and can keep you moving. 

It’s the replay-ability factor that helps My Friend Pedro as it shouldn’t be addictive, but the presentation and the love for 2D scrollers, is nostalgia on acid but a next step for the 2D scroller. What makes the game enjoyable is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, as the game gives far more in the second playthrough, allowing you to rank up on the leaderboards. 

It’s a masterpiece because 2D games have become a sign of nostalgia for older gamers, but the evolution it brings is akin to how Doom (2016) found its niche among the old “boomer shooters” as it catered to both old and new gamers. My Friend Pedro does this masterfully, and is definitely a game that is as fucked up as it is fun.

With graphics, paired down story, thumping soundtrack, combat that can give John Wick an erection, My Friend Pedro is an elevation for the side scroller medium and a must play for anyone interested in side scrollers, or those who have lost faith in the medium.

Available on PlayStation, XBOX, PC, and Nintendo Switch at 19.99, but free with the XBOX Game Pass, at a reduced price if you buy it with your game pass. 

Final Rating: 10/10  

Ryse Son of Rome: Retrospective Review

15 Oct

While the year 2020 has sunk into chaos, the news of XBOX Gamepass, and Bethesda being bought by Microsoft, rejuvenated the urge to try and see what XBOX offers compared to Sony, which if Playstation 5 is backward compatible for all there library, it was time to see if Sony or XBOX would get my attention for the future of console supremacy. It’s when all who fight for domain are left sunk into the battle of digital fury, but seeing a forgotten gem like Ryse: Son of Rome, on XBOX, included on the Game Pass, plus an XBOX Live exclusive included, for 14.99 a month (as of 09/15/20 this may change in the future and package contents may vary), is well worth the price for the library included, with Bethesda’s catalogue entering the Game Pass, a well. Overall, both systems are graphically at the same level, but the only difference is choice of games. Do you want the moody Academy award cinematic approach that Sony offers or competitive multiplayer experience that XBOX has to offer, but somehow, Ryse: Son of Rome, is appealing since it does combine both a PlayStation experience in an XBOX console.

            Ryse: Son of Rome, sticks with a very simple premise of Marinus, is retelling his story to Nero, whose father is killed by barbaric hordes, and he begins his journey in the Roman army fighting the Saxons, and returning to Rome, realizing that most enemies “don’t always draw there swords” as Commodus killed his parents. Through eight succinct chapters, the confidently short story telling is a gem for those who want God of War, Assassin’s Creed, mixed with Gladiator style visuals and storytelling, only make the cult classic a force to be reckoned with, that Assassin’s Creed could never do in one game, let alone ten. Ryse: Son of Rome impressively combines all of the above into one game that a sequel would have proven pointless to Crytek’s superb story telling efforts.

            Ryse: Son of Rome is visually stunning for Crytek studios, which should have catapulted Crytek into the stratosphere of fame and fortune, but the game proves that a story and a game can be married with visuals without lengthy chapters that doesn’t seem to overstay its welcome, leaving a vast impression of Marinus and the life he leads as a soldier in the Roman Army, learning valuable lessons of mercy in the battlefield, such as when he spares a Saxons generals daughter, Boudica, but also realizing his time spent searching for vengeance was a ruse played by jealous Gods that would enrage Kratos, but Crytek balanced Marius with a relatively even temper, with subtle efforts from the voice actors.

            The gameplay is a little frosty, as such finishing moves require the player to touch certain buttons, and if you pressed X instead of Y, would repeat the same finishing move, and that was repetitious, and it could be fixed with a few patches, but after all this time, it doesn’t seem likely. But it is fun to commit such acts of violence in Ryse: Son of Rome.

            What also needs to be mentioned is that some scenes, where I wanted to hear what the characters were saying was drowned out by the music, which seemed odd at times, and it did pull me out of the story.

There was a cool feature of holding the L1 trigger, to command your army. Also, invading a bridge in a Spartan like effort, with shields to protect you from oncoming arrows, was fun and broke up the combat. 

            The impressive visuals, paired storytelling, but with a repetitious execution moves, make Ryse: Son of Rome, a very interesting yet mixed bag of a campaign. I did not play the online multiplayer, which Assassin’s Creed: Origins must have copied in there multiplayer arena mode. What is assured is that Crytek achieved a masterpiece that they can’t follow up, and will be remembered as long as Ryse: Son of Rome is available to play on the XBOX Game Pass or a cultish few remember it for years to come. Hopefully there could be a sequel, but the story works well on it’s own. As far as Ryse: Son of Rome, is a superb but relatively short visual masterpiece that most companies can not live up to.

Does the GamePass change my perspective on XBOX, yes, and the console war may help Sony in there future consoles as they want to win over new customers but also give XBOX players a reason to pick up a system as well, but as far as it goes, the two companies have a long way to go to win the console war.

Rating: 8/10