Review: Telltale’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled up in a Long Title

After a few stumbles in their latest outings, Telltale’s Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled up in Blue (“GOTG” from here on out) harks back to their last truly excellent offering of Tales From the Borderlands, with the familiar action-comedy setting of the latter to tell… a tale.

These things are episodic, so any review at this point may not be necessarily useful. For what it’s worth though – it’s pretty good. If you’re a fan of Telltale experiences or Guardians of the Galaxy, then you’ll probably enjoy this, as I certainly did.

However, there’s enough here to get me pedantically analysing the thing, and that’s always fun!

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Begin Again: Stylised Sincerity

Last year my wife and I watched a movie called Begin Again (2013). It has a loose romantic-comedy-drama framework but was produced by Judd Apatow, so all the characters say “fuck” and the leads don’t get together in the end. The movie is fine, but would otherwise be forgettable if not for it’s own internal contradictions with the themes it’s trying to convey. It stars an actual pop musician in a surprisingly subversive, self-parodying role that borders on performance art, and for this reason I find this movie really fascinating.

While my esteemed colleague Adam is playing with his new VR-gadget and no doubt preparing some more riveting articles about his experiences in The VR Zone; I’m going to recount the story of a forgotten movie and critically analyse it for no-one’s enjoyment but my own.

Begin Again stars Keira Knightley as a Real Musician™ called Gretta, who at the start of the movie is on a stage in a noisy music bar playing an acoustic guitar and doing that whispering-her-lyrics thing, in that style that’s really popular on corporate indie radio and Youtube. This movie exists in an alternate reality though, and no one is paying attention to the beautiful musician playing popular music at a bar for watching live music, except for Mark Ruffalo; here playing a down-and-out music producer called Dan, who is captivated by Gretta’s Real Music™ performance.

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Don’t Blame Me – I Had No Choice!

An irresponsible splurge recently had me picking up one of those HTC Vives and so I’ve been lost in a wonderland of Virtual Reality. I’ll write up an article some time about my experiences with VR but for now I’d like to write about one particular game, the recently-released Accounting by William Pugh (of Stanley Parable) and Justin Roiland (of Rick and Morty). Don’t consider this to be a review, but rather a jumping off point for a discussion about decision-making and player responsibility in games. Actually, no wait, I’ll give a short one-sentence review of Accounting right now. It’s very entertaining and terribly fun, but I don’t know if I would even call it a game.

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I Don’t Trust these Goddamn Guys

The game begins with your return to Dunwall and you are soon met by the ugliest man in the world. “Corvo, two days early,” he says in a weedy yet arrogant voice, “Full of surprises, as usual.” I wonder what the chances are of this man turning out to be a villain, and estimate it to be around one in one. Two minutes later he has guards arrest you next to the body of the slain Empress. I don’t think this is a spoiler, since it happens in the opening minutes and, really, is the premise that begins the game. This article will be full of other spoilers, though, so don’t read on if you plan to play Dishonored. It really is a truly excellent game. After you’ve played it, read on as I bitterly criticise it.

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The Language of Puzzles

Hello. This is my first post on the site and unlike other posts that are funny and readable and interesting, I’m going to write long-winded garbage that have titles like “The Language of Puzzles”. In fact, I’m unafraid to be so pretentious that I start this post with a quote from Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel Escher Bach, as follows:

Next, one opens the bottle and examines the marks on the paper. Perhaps they are in Japanese; this can be discovered without any of the inner message being understood – it merely comes from a recognition of the characters. The outer message can be stated as an English sentence: “I am in Japanese.” Once this has been discovered, then one can proceed to the inner message, which may be a call for help, a haiku poem, a lover’s lament…

What Hofstadter is saying is that every message is really two messages. The inner message has the content the writer was trying to convey, but then there is an outer message that tells the observer “Hey, there is a message here!”. That there is some meaningful information in the message, not just random noise. These marks on the wall was someone keeping a tally, not just scratchings. These modem signals serve a meaningful purpose, not just annoying screechings. Maybe you encounter a message and you can’t decipher what it means, but at the very least you are sure that it is, in fact, a message. Let’s make this post about games before I forget why I’m here and start reading Wikipedia articles about linguistics.

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Firewatch: Personal Pronouns and Inhabiting Idiot Characters

Firewatch is a great little game. It’s an interactive drama, with literal exploratory elements, that doesn’t overstay its welcome because it only takes 3-4 hours to complete. The voice acting is great, the art-style works well with the beautiful scenery, and the atmosphere of the game that is built through a combination of its writing, conversation-system, and exploration-mechanics, makes for a thoroughly gripping experience.

If that sounds like your cup-of-tea, then don’t read on too far, as I really recommend Firewatch as a unique, fun, narrative experience. Before you play though, it is very important to turn OFF the navigation marker, which is ON by default. I also highly recommend turning OFF the game music, and this is a point that forms a strong part of my criticism of the game.

While I did really enjoy this game by the end; just after it started – I hated it. I think it will be interesting to explore why I felt this way.

Minor spoilers after the jump. 

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