Sunless Sea

a24Officially, I am a war vet, setting out to find the bones of my father in a tiny vessel seemingly designed to sink and deposit my own bones in the nearest puddle.Unofficially, I am the smartest captain to have ever sailed the Sunless Sea. Since I received word that my coming journey would involve a lot of reading, I did some writing of my own before embarking. Well, not writing so much as editing. Editing a config file. Not enough to break the game, mind you. I simply changed certain values enough so I wouldn’t simultaneously run out of fuel, have my crew eat one another, and succumb to horror-induced panic immediately after leaving shore.

What should you know about Sunless Sea? London’s a mile below ground, in a very big and very damp cave. Everyone’s super weird. There you are.

It may seem like you can travel from port to port, making enough money through trade and battle to upgrade your ship. This isn’t even remotely the case. Everything hates you. There’s no profit to be made.

The currency you’re most likely to encounter is the written word, often in the form of secrets, news, reports, and choose-your-own adventure sequences. The writing in all of this is greatNot just “good for a video game, I guess”, but genuinely clever and atmospheric and playful. If it pulls you in you’ll spend hours uncovering the entire map just to wring the stories out of every creep and haunted mushroom lighthouse.

Combat is relatively straightforward. You target an enemy. You wait for your men to get a targeting solution. You tell them to fire. You slam the boat into reverse and repeat your curse word of choice, realizing you’ve just shot a living iceberg that is going to eat you.

To feel better about yourself, do what I do. Avoid everything. Except bats. You can kill bats in one or two shots, so blast them at every opportunity and pose heroically. Be prepared to flee if anything challenging like, say, a crab or a starving man in a rowboat sees you.

Back to my journey. You know, Dad’s bones. How’s that going?

I’ve hired a shitty one-handed magician as my ship’s engineer, a decision almost entirely based on my curiosity to find out if either of his distinctive qualities could possibly apply to his new job. I’ve transported a mummy in a casket to a distant port without knowing whether they were passenger or cargo. While scouting a strange building I’ve accidentally spied on a trio of perfectly nice sisters, one with bats living in her hair.

So it’s going pretty well. Obviously.

Multiple Sentence Review: Pillars of Eternity

When I begin a new RPG I like to take my sweet time absorbing the details. Every stat description is carefully read. “Ah, yes,” I declare as I thoughtfully rub my chin, “it seems that having more Dexterity will allow me to swing an axe faster.”

Lore is savored. Please, tell me more about these blood dragon priests of which you speak. Do you have some more names, locations, and political factions in store for me? I’ll take them all at once, thank you.After a few hours the magic inevitably starts to fade. I begin to realize that I’m probably putting more effort into the story than the writers. That was definitely the case with Mass Effect, when I realized that every compelling plot setup was lifted whole cloth from Revelation Space.

Even when a game is mostly original and good, my painstaking approach still gives way to Finish This Game mode long before the halfway point.

That didn’t happen with Pillars of Eternity. Exploring, finding out about the world, and tinkering with the combat mechanics never got old. It always felt like there was enough substance to justify my ridiculous playstyle of slowly absorbing the entire game like a gross nerd blob. My patented Finish This Game mode never kicked in. I spent – and I’m well aware that this is shameful – seventy hours with the game. None of it (well, maybe a little) felt like filler.

With all that time in Pillars of Eternity under my belt, I can definitively say two things.

1. Pillars of Eternity is the best RPG since Fallout: New Vegas. It combines that game’s intricate world building with the best elements of classic isometric CRPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment and the original Fallout, then drags the whole genre forward with a ruleset and user interface that manages to make sense most of the time.

and

2. This video game is primarily about stealing books.

I stole a lot of books, man. Read them all, too, because they were good. And when Obsidian is on point, “good writing” isn’t “good writing for a video game” but “good writing”.

So I stole all those books. Sometimes people just left their books out in the open. Sometimes I had to sneak past a guy. Once or twice I might have unlocked a guarded chest then killed several people who caught me in the act. In the end, I’m proud to say that I got all the books.

I felt particularly pleased with myself at the halfway point of one particular dungeon. After crawling through several trap-ridden floors I had managed to collect a dozen glorious books. A great haul, to be sure, an adventure worthy of any campfire tale. Then I happened upon a library. In the dungeon. There were so many books in there, you guys. Thankfully I always walk around in scouting mode, which puts your entire party in stealth and makes it possible to spot hidden stuff. In this case I found something tucked away behind one of the library’s bookcases: A secret stash. Of books.

Later I obtained my own keep. By investing money to rebuild individual buildings and defensive structures within the ruins, I was able to restore this shithole to its former glory. For example, I restored a library. with books in it. That I was able to pick up and put in my inventory.

This game is the greatest god damn thing.

Witcher 3 Tips, Which Windows 10 Edition Is Best For Games?

Here’s the surprising thing about Witcher 3: It’s sort of big.

We managed to get Witcher 3 review code a few days before release, but we’re still nowhere near done. This means our big stupid review will have to wait until next time.

In the meantime, my expert analysis of the game has uncovered a handful of pro tips that will make your Witchering much easier.

GREAT TIP: If you die, navigate to a save file and choose to load it. Voila! Now you’re back in the game. This is known as Witcher magic, an innovative feature unique to the series.

EVEN BETTER TIP: Do not turn off the system if you want to keep playing. When the power is off you can’t play the game, because it is not cloud computing enabled.

EXCLUSIVE WORLD PREMIERE TIP: Hold the controller so that the top is facing towards the tv and your thumbs are on the sticks. If you’re using a keyboard and mouse, make sure they are turned upside down.

TIP SPONSORED BY DORITOS MAX URGE FLAVOR BLAST: If Geralt’s voice isn’t tough enough for your tastes, you can gargle a handful of fish tank gravel while he’s speaking to double the effect. Obtain currency.

POSSIBLY TOO GOOD TIP: Trust every word that comes out of every character’s mouth. When given a decision, always choose the very obvious good thing.

JUST AN AVERAGE TIP: You can give Geralt a shave and haircut. I haven’t been able to pull it off yet, but just stand in a field and spin around while swinging your sword real fast. Eventually it should happen.

Which Windows 10 Version Is Best For Gaming?
Last week Microsoft finally unveiled the exciting, not at all overwhelming range of Windows 10 editions customers will be able to choose from:

1.Windows 10 Home
2.Windows 10 Park
3.Windows 10 Desert
4.Windows 10 Trapped Inside A Whale
5.Windows 10 Business
6.Windows 10 Pleasure
7.Windows 10 With Holographic Notepad and Calculator
8.Windows 10 Enterprise (Not That Enterprise, or the Other One)
9.Windows 10 Hyper Burst Ultimate Anime Form
10.Windows 10 Non-Chemtrail
11.Windows 10 Operating System of the Year Edition
12.Windows 10 Extremely Rare Foil Icons
13.Windows 9 If You Really Want to be Pedantic About It
14.Windows 10 For Dogs
15.Windows 10 Tiny: The Future in 4 Pixels
16.Windows 10 by Dre
17.Windows 10 Multicultural w/ All Your Nonsense Languages
18.Windows 10: The Origin of Spider-Man
19.Windows 10 Just the Start Menu and Nothing Else
20.Windows 10 The Disc Is 3,000,000 Copies of RegistrationKey.txt
21.Windows 10 For Left-Handed Users
22.Windows 10 Bing: Everyone’s Using It, Really!
23.Windows 10 With 1001 Pickle Screensavers
24.Windows 10 Snarky and Abrasive and Doesn’t Play by the Rules, But It’s The Best Chance You Have of Finding Your Daughter Alive
25.Windows 10 With Keyboard + Mouse Support
26.Windows 10 What Is This Screaming Sound How Do I Disable It
27.Windows 10 But Instead of a Glass UI It’s All Butter
28.Windows 10 This One’s Got Two Copies of Photo Viewer

So if you primarily use Windows as a platform to play games on, which edition of Windows 10 should you buy?

I know what you did

Anyone who doesn’t believe comedy and tragedy can exist side by side in a series and do so in harmony should watch tonight’s episode of iZombie. And yes, there are people who still need to be convinced darkness and lightness can exist in the same show. “Dead Rat, Live Rat, Brown Rat, White Right” brought the most laugh out loud moments of the season — Ravi’s “It’s not alive!” killed me — but also scenes right out of a horror film and one of the heaviest interactions we’ve seen. The balance this show consistently achieves is impressive.

Much of the humor in the episode came from the personalities Liv took on. Thanks, teenager brains! The cheerleader and stoner versions of Liv worked, but they leaned towards the overdone side. It’s tricky. The post brain eating transformations have to be obvious enough for the viewers to pick up on the differences but not so overblown that it relies on gags and stereotypes. Some measure of subtlety is necessary. The portrayal of these brains could have been dialed back and still hit the mark — especially the stoner.

As hilarious as Rose McIver was in cheerleader mode, Malcolm Goodwin’s reactions to peppy Liv in the interrogation room with Tate might have been better. Clive isn’t a jokester and is probably the most serious character on the series, but Goodwin brings the right amount of humor with his facial expressions. Clive is still a touch too accepting of Liv’s erratic mood swings, but perhaps this case will make him start asking questions The case of the week was a twist from the usual because it involved three deaths. Well, four if you count Sebastian. It served to introduce another mystery and killer — this late in the game, the threat could be saved for next season — and brought Sebastian back into the picture. His return meant big things for Liv. She had to wrestle with the fact that she accidentally created a zombie and was indirectly responsible for the death of at least one innocent person, then she had to kill him, and she had to tell Peyton the truth about what happened to her. It’s another string of events to drive home the point that being a functioning zombie isn’t easy.

Peyton has been getting more screen time and becoming more likable so it was hard to see her learnLiv’s secret. But her reaction was on point and happily different from Ravi’s and Major’s. Everyone is going to take the news about zombies existing in his or her own way, and most people probably won’t be as accepting as Ravi. In fact, I find Peyton’s initial response to be the most “normal.”

Major’s gone in an extreme direction, but then again, zombies killed innocent teenagers in his life. He has a different perspective. He’s not being so bright about his revenge though. He’s smart enough that he should have known to wear a disguise to Meat Cute. What if Julian was there when he stopped by as the health inspector? Actually, why hasn’t Julian gone back to Major’s place to take care of unfinished business? That subplot isn’t as tight as it could be. Bringing Liv’s little brother into it isn’t going to help — with one episode remaining, I’m concerned about how they’ll tie up the loose threads and really curious about how many people will end up with platinum hair before the Season 1 finale’s over.

Education Is for the (Angry) Birds

Many people believe that learning should feel like work. Often when families move to Finland from other countries and put their children in day care, they worry that the schools are not teaching them enough. They say, “The kids are not learning anything. They’re just playing.” But that’s the whole point: humans learn by playing, and that philosophy is built into the Finnish school system. My kids have a short school day and little homework, yet Finnish students earn some of the highest scores of any nation on international tests.

What can games really teach you? There is a well-known example in Finland. Researchers have noticed that Finnish boys speak better English than Finnish girls. The reason for that observation—which they documented in a number of studies—is that boys play more video games. Because the games are in English, players have built larger vocabularies. The point here is that the boys did not set out to learn English, but they learned it while having fun.

We have never seen ourselves as exclusively a games company, and now we are doing more and more with education. Last year we partnered with nasa on Angry Birds Space, which teaches kids about microgravity. We are also working with CERN to develop games and animations to teach the principles of quantum physics to children as young as four and six years old. Angry Birds already has physics: you learn about trajectories even without thinking much about it. We are taking the same kind of approach with CERN but taking it a bit further so you can get more deeply into math, physics and science in a fun way. Finally, we are branching out into languages, and we have developed an English-learning game for the Chinese market based on the Moon Festival, which has enormous cultural significance there.

I do not believe that the future of education is all digital. It is very important for kids to get to do real things, to work with objects that they can touch and feel. In a few years I believe that more than half of our business will be physical. Already we have a burgeoning publishing business: we have storybooks and activity books based on our video game characters, and we are working on a line of educational toys. What has been done so far to combine the physical and the virtual has been very limited, which is where I think the greatest opportunity lies. There will be tremendous innovation in that area in the years to come.