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What’s in Your Box: Week of 9-12

/ Sep 12th, 2015 No Comments

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Each week, we here at Gaming Illustrated are always playing a number of different video games. However, we may not be talking about them in reviews or editorials. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth talking about, but for any number of reasons an avenue to speak on them doesn’t come up. To remedy the issue, we’re going to ask our staff (and you, honestly) what’s in your box?

What’s in Greg’s Box

Welcome cool cats and kittens to another peek inside our collective boxes. This week I’ve been getting into Life is Strange, a breathtaking moral choice based asventure game. With the ability to rewind time Life is Strange gives players the immediate option to rethink their choices, but this won’t make the game any easier.

Life is Strange

Life is Strange is breathtaking.

Having the ability to change choices directly following them makes it all the more hard to walk away. I often found myself wondering “Did I make the right call” even more so than when I have to accept the choice and move on. Life is Strange is a hard game to swallow, but well worth the ride as consequences aren’t always as simple as they may appear.
Super Mario Maker

Super Mario Maker will test your patience and abilities.

The end of my week has been taken entire by Super Mario Maker and the limitless possibilities it yields. What I thought would be a entertaining, but gimmicky, game turned out to be a truly unique experience in and of itself. Playing other players’ levels from around the world has quite an appeal especially when they can vary so differently from one another. Playing a challenging underwater level focused around timing then turned into a memory game quick because it forced you to pick the direction the enemies from the previous room were facing. It is a jarring and wild experience.

Super Mario Maker is a solid reason to pick up a Wii U for the holiday season as there will always be something new to experience and that’s not even getting into the intricate nature of the actual level designer.

What’s in Kalvin’s Box

How do you balance work and family? It is a cliche stock question on talk shows, but since moving to Portland, it has been weighing heavily on my mind. While I don’t have a family per se, moving in with your girlfriend makes you reevaluate how to spend your time. Do you spend your free time playing video games outside of review or do you spend quality time together? Is it reasonable not to make plans to do stuff on the week in favor of seeing what Skull Face and Cipher are plotting?

The answer hasn’t been easy to figure out. Especially with moving being so fresh, but a routine is getting into place. It helps my girlfriend is understanding and willing to let me take over the TV. But my daily train commutes are going to be the biggest haven for recreational game playing.

This isn’t to say I haven’t had games in my box this week. Most of it has mainly been review games with some exceptions. This week Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has kept me preoccupied for the most part. The other stuff in my box briefly have been Armello and Until Dawn.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is such a departure from what we expect from the series in many ways. Not only in terms of gameplay, but the narrative feels different. Unlike the cut scene heavy moments in previous games, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain does a good job integrating the important story beats with long stretches of uninterrupted gameplay. The mission structure allows the narrative to be organized in episodes, so the heavy story lifting can be seamlessly woven into the open-world style gameplay, which makes for a more sophisticated and compelling game.

Young Greg Johnson and I got into a bit of Armello this weekend. While we had zero clue what we were doing when we first hopped into a multiplayer game, Armello quickly acclimates players to its gameplay elements despite never explicitly stating what’s happening (at least in multiplayer mode). It is recommended you check out the prologue prior to trying your hand at a full game. The game board is split up into a hexagonal board with players at four different corners and the mad king at the center.

The goal of the game is to dipose the mad king. This is accomplished in three ways: getting strong enough to challenge him in combat (and win), be the prestige leader when he dies of corruption, raising your rot/corruption higher than him and challenging him, or gather four spirit stones to cleanse him.


Armello doesn’t keep you in the dark for too long.

Outside of the main goal, players can fight corrupted enemies called Bane, the stalwart bodyguards of the King, or each other; complete quests; or capture settlements all in the name of prestige (or loss of it depending on the action). Combat is settled by rolling dice with the winner being decided by the person whom gets the better attack to defense ratio. The interesting part of combat is both combatants can die if they roll for enough damage, so it is always a gamble to challenge someone in Armello, but there are methods to improve your chances by using traps, spells, and items. Armello is quite fun, and very easy to pick up.

The other thing I did this weekend was play Until Dawn. It marked the first time I used RedBox, which to make an aside, $3.00 a night is robbery. Like you do with Until Dawn, I played it with my friend and girlfriend hoping it’d be fun to take a group consensus on the decisions in the game. It must be stated that the game nails its horror B-movie/cabin slasher aesthetic to a T. This is a double edge sword because we know the cliche writing and overbearing acting are all choices, it still becomes grating and annoying at times. Like all good-bad horror movies after two hours with these eight teens, you want them all to be brutally murdered.

Until Dawn

If only you could willingly sacrifice these teens!

Until Dawn’s gameplay feels like a mix between the various forms of adventure games and whatever Quantic Dream is calling its games. Walking around checking out various items is not the most thrilling thing (in the first few chapters to be fair), but the decision and branching storyline aspect is hugely engrossing. The opening like all horror movies is extremely slow punctuated by cheap jump scares, but when the game manages to create an unsettling feeling through its sound and level design, it is quite scary. My initial jaunt into the cabin horror of Until Dawn wasn’t terribly unpleasant. The game is worth giving a spin if only for the amazing and terrifying psychiatric sessions with Peter Stormare.

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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