Tag Archives: Episode One

2017 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Batman: The Telltale Series, Episode 1 “Realm of Shadows”


Batman and Bruce Wayne
One man, two lives–each in strife
Expose his parents

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #79 – Blue Toad Murder Files, Episode 1 “Little Riddle’s Deadly Dilemma”


Little Riddle, home
To a murder, mystery
Solve puzzles, not crime

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #31 – Game of Thrones, Episode 1 “Iron from Ice”

2016 gd games completed game of thrones episode 1 iron from ice

House Forrester falls
Must do everything to thrive
Ramsay Snow, the worst

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

2015 Game Review Haiku, #38 – The Raven: Legacy of a Master Thief (Episode 1)

gd 2015 games completed the raven episode 1

Catch the art burglar
As Zellner makes for Egypt
Beyond tedious

From 2012 all through 2013, I wrote little haikus here at Grinding Down about every game I beat or completed, totaling 104 in the end. I took a break from this format last year in an attempt to get more artsy, only to realize that I missed doing it dearly. So, we’re back. Or rather, I am. Hope you enjoy my continued take on videogame-inspired Japanese poetry in three phases of 5, 7, and 5, respectively.

Gordon Freeman loves exploding Striders and collapsing portals

half-life 2 ep 2 overall thoughts gd copy

Well, looks like I’ve finally caught up with the videogaming community, having to now join the hordes of many waiting for Valve to release Episode Three for its Half-Life 2 series. Or the hordes that have given up waiting. Take that, you sneaky headcrabs, bullet-sponge Hunters, and dozen-plus Striders from the final battle. No, really, take it, and never bother me again because that final fight was a bit overwhelming.

Yup, that’s right. Over the weekend, on a random whim–are there really any other kind?–I popped in The Orange Box, loaded up my last hard save for Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and remembered why I walked away from that game some many months ago. First, for those keeping score at home, I played through maybe fifty or sixty percent of Half-Life 2, but ended up getting stuck on the “Nova Prospekt” level due to a nasty switch glitch. Bummed out on that, I simply skipped over to Episode One, and burned through that adventure rather fast, enjoying it quite a bit, especially for its bite-sized aspects. I don’t remember when I started Episode Two, but it probably wasn’t directly afterwards. I’d check Achievement dates, but I’m too lazy; now there’s some stark honesty for y’all.

According to my last manual save, I stopped playing at the part where two large and very aggressive antlions are attacking Gordon, Alyx, and one of those Resistance-friendly alien dudes. If he/she/it had a name, I no longer remember it. Gorbak? Zymla? Naaaah. Anyways, took me three attempts to figure out how to kill both antlions effectively without losing too much health and ammo. Once they were out of the way, the path was pretty clear, and Freeman and Alyx hurried down it, eager to reach White Forest and pass on the data they had, which could help in closing the Combine’s looming sky-portal. Along the way, there was a bridge puzzle, some seriously great zombie sniping by Alyx, a short bit of sneaking, really bad driving from points A to B to C, and then a pretty tough final fight with a lot of to and fro and frantic shooting. I had to try that final fight two more times before I got it right.

Despite being released about six years ago, Episode Two still holds up extremely well, mostly from a story and pacing perspective. The graphics are fine though clearly dated to what most current gen titles can produce, like how boxes break into large, polygonal chunks. Some gameplay elements like no third-person view for driving and a lot of first-person platforming feel stiff and unfriendly. Also, you can’t zoom in with all the weapons and shoot, which is a bit weird, considering every FPS these days at least lets you look down ironsights. Also, this is one of those rare games where I actually used the shotgun more than any other firearm, and that’s because it can take down enemies wielding headcrabs in one clean shot. Pistols were complete junk, as was the Gravity Gun, surprisingly. The Magnusson Device, which is introduced during the final fight, is not easy to pick up, especially since you mostly have to guess how to arc the sticky bombs; I would have appreciated getting it earlier on to test it out on the field against live, moving targets. Oh well.

Thanks to Alyx, D0g, and Alyx’s father, the story is emotionally engaging, which makes the adventure to White Forest feel burly and vital, and like I mentioned, once I got past those two antlions, I burned through the remainder of it all, having to see it through. I appreciate that for most dialogue, Freeman is free to walk around and explore the area while still listening to whoever talk. Sometimes, like with Alyx’s father, I just stood there, locked into his words, but it is nice to know that you are not forced to. Shame the whole story ends on one crazy big cliffhanger…

Maybe one day I’ll go back and see how Half-Life 2 played out, though I kind of already know from Episode One and Episode Two. And now we wait…

2012 Game Review Haiku, #37 – The Walking Dead, Episode 1 – “A New Day”

2012 games completed walking-dead ep1 a-new-day

Lee in a world of
Zombies, must make hard choices
All for Clementine

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

2012 Game Review Haiku, #9 – Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 1

Disgruntled Hector
Full of brill commentary
Stop that sniper arse

For all the games I complete in 2012, instead of wasting time writing a review made up of points and thoughts I’ve probably already expressed here in various posts at Grinding Down, I’m instead just going to write a haiku about it. So there.

Not your typical hero in Hector: Badge of Carnage

I don’t remember when exactly, but there was a sale on Steam recently, and for the low, low price of $4.99, one could get all three episodes of Hector: Badge of Carnage, a smarmy point-and-click adventure game from Telltale Games. That price seemed absolutely right, and my curiosity had already been flicked upwards after watching Giant Bomb do a Quick Look. Unfortunately, at that point, the wife and I were knee-deep in helping ghosts move on to the afterlife with the Blackwell games–and I just couldn’t sneak away to anything else until all four of those mysteries were solved. So I bought the package, downloaded all three episodes, and promptly ignored them for the time being.

But we finished those ghosty chronicles up, and now I’m ready for my next set of adventure games. Trust me, I have plenty to choose from: Gemini Rue, Jolly Rover, Beneath a Steel Sky, basically everything from the recent AGS Bake Sale, and a number of miscellaneous projects from Ben Chandler (City, Airwave, Heed, and so on). Whew. That’s uh…a lot of adventure games–and counting. I am sure I missed a few. In fact, I know it for certain; I am just too lazy to name ’em all. But the glory of being played next goes to Hector: Badge of Carnage, mostly because the tone and vulgar humor is the polar opposite of everything I’ve been playing recently, not counting Saints Row: The Third. It’s a refreshing if inappropriate breath of fresh air.

Originally, I began this post as a means to get some early impressions out, but  I didn’t finish writing it until today, and I went ahead and beat Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” over the weekend. So, yeah. This is now kind of a mix of impressions and final thoughts, with a magical haiku review to follow soon.

Hector: Badge of Carnage (Episode 1, “We Negotiate With Terrorists”) is, besides a really long title, a point-and-click adventure game set in the seedy spot of Clapper’s Wreake. A terrorist with a sniper rifle has locked himself up in some building and taken hostages, and it’s up to Detective Inspector Hector to fulfill the crazy man’s demands. And they are as so:

  • Fix the clock tower
  • Help tourism flourish
  • Close down the local porn shop

Actually, those aren’t terrible things to want from a place one might call home. I think we were all expecting something more akin to a boatload of money, a helicopter to escape on, and the promise of being set free. This terrorist is trying to make the world a better place; shame he keeps shooting cops in the face whenever they creep near. But anyways, off Hector goes to solve these many mysteries, and the answers aren’t too difficult to unravel so long as you remain open-minded and try everything. And I mean everything–giving a blind guy a doped-up homeless man as a sexual bribe is not as far-fetched as it sounds. At least, not in this game.

If you do get stuck, Hector: Badge of Carnage features two hint systems, both of which are fantastic. One is Lambert, a fellow T.W.A.T. member, who you can ask questions at; the other is an actual hint menu, which can literally tell you what to do or be as vague as you’d like, with nudges in the right direction. I used both of these, and they really help to keep the player immersed in the game without feeling like one is cheating using a blatant walkthrough guide. I had particular trouble figuring out how to demolish the porn shop until the hint system showed me that I had missed doing something specific with an item I had picked up earlier on. Thanks, hint system. You saved me from getting frustrated and never coming back.

Besides the crude and sometimes confusing humor, the other aspect of Hector: Badge of Carnage that really appealed to me is its look. There’s a sharpness to the animation and art style, and the cutscenes are nicely put together. Reminds me of Penny Arcade, with bold lines and quirky character designs. As is always the case with point-and-click games, discovering a new screen or place to click around on is always a treat, and here it is no different. Upon finding the porn shop, I literally stared at the screen for a few minutes, soaking it all in, all the nasty visuals.

The only negative I can really throw at Episode 1 – “We Negotiate With Terrorists” is that it ends on the worst of worst cliffhangers. There is literally no conflict resolution after meeting the terrorist’s demands, which works for the episodic format, but bugs the bleep out of me. But I’m in for the long haul, and have already begun Episode 2 – “Senseless Acts of Justice”, which is going well so far and keeping up the tradition of toilet humor and toilets as plot devices. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Games Completed in 2011, #38 – Half-Life 2: Episode One

Much to my disliking, I was unable to finish Half-Life 2 due to an annoying switch glitch, and had to move on to the next adventure in the series in a non-traditional manner, with large gaps jumped and story bits left behind. Upon starting Half-Life 2: Episode One, I was pretty confused plot-wise and spent the first hour or so trying to piece everything back together, much like Gordon and Alyx were doing in-game.

However, I think that was my favorite aspect of this bite-sized experience. Not that it was straighter, stronger, and had less driving sequences, but that it paired Gordon and Alyx together for nearly the whole time, and she’s one of the better AI companions I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Her dialogue is believable and delivered emotionally, and it made going forward a less lonesome affair. Plus, y’know…appropriately punny jokes. A digital woman after my own heart. Gameplay still involves shooting enemies until they fall down and solving some light puzzles, mostly involving the Gravity Gun. It’s all very polished, much like in the former Half-Life 2, but just condensed into a nicer-sized package, perfect for running through in a single afternoon.

I think it took me about four hours to complete Half-Life 2: Episode One, and those four hours were amazingly strong, save for a tiring elevator sequence that saw me trying and trying and trying over again to not let falling debris crush Alyx and Gordon to death. Eventually I solved it, but man–it took a handful of attempts. Otherwise, it’s generally clear where to go and what to do next, something I’ve struggled with in Valve’s games up to this point.

At some point, I’ll give Half-Life 2: Episode Two a spin. And maybe even see if I can get past that broken switch in the larger, original game. Maybe. I dunno. I really don’t want to play the majority of that game again, naming the driving sequences and shooting down those attack choppers. Seeing as the Internet is constantly salivating over any and every slip about Half-Life 2: Episode Three/Half-Life 3, of which are constantly turning out to be red herrings, I’m in no rush.

Also, this is the final videogame I completed in 2011, bringing the total number to thirty-eight. Not too shabby, I guess.

Switch glitch in Nova Prospekt level brings Half-Life 2 to a halt

I keep running into these horrible glitches, but this one’s the worst. Mostly because I can’t seem to find a way around it save for starting Half-Life 2 over entirely, something I’m not interested in at all. Especially considering how long it took me to get to the Nova Prospekt level, which I’d estimate is about three-fourths of the way through it all. Let me explain the problem though.

In the Nova Prospekt level, Gordon Freeman has a bunch of antlions on his side, which make fighting off armed soldiers a lot easier. You just toss this weird, alien ball at a group of them, and the antlions pounce like it’s feeding time. Well, for them, I guess it really is. We’re indoors, at what looks like a security prison of sorts. You eventually stumble across an alien that was tortured to death, and a switch upstairs that opens the main gate, which I assume leads to the level’s exit. I assume because I don’t know. The switch won’t switch on. It just stays red. When it’s on, it should turn green and open some doors. But it does nothing. I even tried throwing a computer keyboard at it.

The worst is that the game autosaves a millisecond before approaching the switch. And unlike Fallout: New Vegas and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I do not make a thousand and seven saves. I figured my journey through a linear shooter wouldn’t need it. So, I have a hard save from the beginning of Nova Prospekt and an autosave moments before the switch is to be flipped; reloading neither worked. The switch will not turn on, and after looking around online, I found some other Half-Life 2 players frustrated with the same problem. Sigh…

So, I did something I hate to do: I skipped ahead. Without knowing how Half-Life 2 concludes, I quit to the main menu and started up Half-Life 2: Episode One, and boy was I confused. I guess, in some manner, I know how the previous game ends, but the opening cutscene with the aliens, um, making sexual gestures with Alyx was particularly disturbing. Also, looks like the world has gone to rubble. And dark clouds. And crazy electric storms. Gordon and Alyx, now armed with some vital computer data, have to make it out alive. Episode One plays just like Half-Life 2, but–to my happy surprise–is much more focused and direct, with little room to get lost. Just runnin’ and gunnin’, with no more driving sequences (so far).

Popped a couple of Achievements that I liked, too:

Watch Your Head! (5G): Make it to the bottom of the Citadel’s main elevator shaft in one piece.

Grave Robber (5G): Steal a Zombine’s grenade.

I think this came up shortly after Alyx’s Zombine joke, which was adorable.

Attica! (5G): Destroy the gunship in the hospital attic.

There’s more, but I’ll save ’em for the next edition of Achievements of the Week. Looks like I’m actually on the last level of Episode One, trying to safely get some citizens on a train, which is a little shocking, seeing as I’ve only logged about three hours of gameplay, but probably a good thing. Small chunks of Half-Life 2 are okay with me, especially when I can get through them sans glitches. Think I’ll move on to Episode Two next, and then spend some time reading the Internet on what I missed at the end of Half-Life 2. Because I’m not going back and playing that thing over again; you couldn’t pay me money to drive that horrible airboat or take down that hunter-chopper again. Well, wait. That depends, I guess. It’d have to be a lot of money. Throw down your best offer.