Posted by The Lam | May 29, 2013
Punk Rock Jesus!

Punk Rock JesusThe title alone caught my eyes.  Then I saw the plethora of positive reviews.  And then I read the synopsis.  I knew quickly that I needed to read this book.

Written and drawn by Sean Murphy, Punk Rock Jesus tells a fascinating story about a corporation who is able to clone Jesus and shepherd him (or Him?) to become the world’s biggest reality TV star.  Like all good corporate sequels, the whole event and his show is dubbed as “J2”.  He is birthed by a young virgin teenager named Gwen Fairling, who was chosen from a worldwide full of hopefuls.  She names him “Chris” as it’s pretty close to “Christ”, she explains.  We follow Chris as he grows up before the eyes of the world and see all the trials and tribulations that he goes through, as a corporate “Christ”.  As he becomes a teenager, he begins to reject all things religious, becomes an atheist, and joins a punk rock band to fight the religious, societal and corporate powers alike.

I think this is the first comic book where I can say that I felt uncomfortable reading, but not in a necessarily negative way.  Rather, the book was able to push some of my buttons in a way that comic books haven’t done for me before.  That feeling of discomfort was outweighed by intrigue in seeing where the story was going and how the conflicts would be resolved.  The story is full of twists and turns to keep things lively.  Murphy does an excellent job of crafting believable characters, and although you might not get behind every single one of them, you can clearly see where they are coming from.

As I was reading PRJ, it was evident to me that this was a really personal story for author Sean Murphy.  There’s just so much dialogue that you can tell is bleeding from a real world conversation.  And perhaps that’s why the story seems so intriguing.  The book ends with an afterward by Murphy explaining his personal faith journey, and how he ended up where he is today as an atheist.

As a Christian, although I don’t personally agree with some of the sentiments he expresses, I can respect where he’s coming from and appreciate that he would feel challenged by faith at all.  I’ve always believed that one experiences the most growth when they are challenged or feeling doubt.  Granted he’s become an atheist now, but I would hope that he wouldn’t stop asking questions about faith and even challenging himself.

The whole experience of reading PRJ made me appreciate the comic book/graphic novel medium even more.  Not only can you read fun and pop-titles about superheroes battling super villains, but there’s also engaging stories full of real life stories, conflicts and scenarios.  If you’re the type of person only into superhero books, I can encourage you to explore other realms and avenues within the medium.  There are truly some great stories out there.  Until next time, later geeks!

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Posted by The Lam | May 21, 2013
Evil Dead the Remake!!!!!!!

Evil Dead.  The beloved franchise.  Was a remake necessary?

Evil Dead (remake) follows a bunch of 20-somethings as they gather at a cabin in the woods for a getaway weekend.  The getaway is not without purpose, for you see, Mia, one of the girls in the group is battling drug addiction, and it’s with hope that she would overcome her demons (!) surrounded by friends and ridding herself of the poison.  But they are not alone in the woods.  And when the group finds the dreaded Book of the Dead, conveniently located in the cabin, and reads aloud its sacred incantations, the woods become alive.  And then our friends become dead!  But then they become alive again!  EVIL DEAD!!!

I didn’t like this movie.

The movie incorporates elements from the original Evil Dead, but the spirit of Evil Dead wasn’t there.  Everything was slick.  In any other horror movie this would be fine, but I think as an “Evil Dead” movie, there’s a pedigree that it needs to live up to.  The movie is more about gross outs than it is about scares (or laughs in a sick way).  And it IS overtly violent.  Maybe I’m getting old (well, I am), but it’s all pointlessly violent.  And perhaps this is a parallel to the excessiveness in our North American culture nowadays.  Excess without an end goal.

Or maybe altogether this was all too personal for me.  Evil Dead 2 is still my favourite movie of all time and it’s what introduced me to Sam Raimi, who has been my favourite director since.  So at least for myself, I can partially cast the blame on that self-hype that I was building up.

Sometimes I wonder if in this generation of movies where everything looks slick and cool and well-done, can a campy horror movie open in mainstream theaters, let alone succeed and make bank.  My first thought is no, that can’t happen anymore, standards have changed.  But then I look to last year’s Cabin in the Woods, which did modestly at the box office, and was pretty much positively reviewed all around.

So there is hope.  There is hope that a proper Evil Dead sequel will be made, with a return of an aging Ash battling the deadites and with Sam Raimi at the helm.

Us geeks, we just need to believe.  Until next time, later geeks.

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Posted by The Lam | Mar 19, 2013
A Peace of Work and the Work of Peace

“If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies.  Turn away from evil and do good.  Search for peace, and work to maintain it.  The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.”

-1 Peter 3:10-12 (NLT)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece of scripture since I read it a few weeks back.  Something about the way that the scripture speaks of peace just really resonated with me.

To me, peace is something that I’ve never really given a thought about.  If I had to boil it down to a process, there’s a moment when you hit peace, you realize it, you pump your fist and you carry on.  Or at least, that’s the way I’ve always perceived it.

The scripture says that we must “work to maintain it”.  It may sound nerdy, but I started thinking about the science behind ‘work’.  From a physics standpoint, work is the dot product of a force and a displacement.  The displacement implies that there must be some movement behind it; some change between where you’re at and where you’re going.  Peace is something that’s dynamic; it isn’t something that’s just achieved.  Peace is something that must be maintained and it needs work.  It isn’t something passive, but rather something that is active; it’s moving, it has life.

I think about the relationships I have with the people around me, both family and friends and I believe I’m a peaceful person. 

I think about growing up at home, my relationship with both my siblings and parents.  If I look at the big picture, we hardly fought.  I can count on one hand the number of major arguments I’ve had with my parents.  There were always disagreements, but never “fights”.  The same goes for me and my siblings.  In fact, I don’t know that we’ve ever fought (if they’re reading this, maybe you can remind me if we did?).  I think it’s why whenever my friends tell me that they get into arguments with their siblings, I get curious.  How does that come about and what sort of things would you argue about? 

Then I look at the relationships I have with my friends, and the arguments are even less than the ones above combined.  But if anything, I’ve probably offended people by things I’ve said, opinions and thoughts prematurely spouted.  So if I’ve ever made anyone feel “unpeaceful” with me, I am sorry.

And then I have to think about the relationship with myself.  You know that place where the head, heart and soul collide?  This is the area in my life with the most unrest, the most fights and the most wars.  This, dear reader, is where I can say that there isn’t as much peace.  Between these three parts, one is always battling another, or, there’s a handicap match, or, there’s a triple threat match.  The internal struggle is like a prowrestling dream!

So how shall I bring peace amongst these rivals?  And what can be done to maintain it?

I’m thinking that something that needs to be maintained would require consistency, and when I think of consistency as a Christian, the first thing that pops into my mind is prayer.  Prayer needs to be continual.

And when I look at myself, it makes sense, I think that’s why there’s that feeling of unrest lately – I haven’t been praying as consistently as I used to.  It’s been playing second fiddle to the iPad or a Batman book (note: I can only hope that by realizing this, that God won’t smote the iPad or the Batman books… I’m learning my lesson, no need for drastic measures, God).  So I’ve been changing my prayer habits recently.  Rather than praying one large prayer at a certain time, I’ll pray shorter prayers throughout the day, when I’m reminded that there’s something that I need to pray about. 

Either way, I realize that I need to strengthen this part of my spiritual life.  I need focus and I think that focus will bring about peace.  But again, it’s something I’ll need to work at.

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Posted by The Lam | Jan 26, 2013
The 2012 Holiday Movie Round-Up!

So I saw a crapload of movies during the holiday break and just wanted to write a short bit on each one!

The Hobbit

I watched The Hobbit in 3D and at the high-frame rate (HFR) screening.  Did NOT like!  The high-frame rate takes away from the cinematical magic feel with the traditional 24 fps frame rate.  As a result, everything moved too quick (and in some cases more jerky, because you can see every little motion) and seemed more live than what you’re used to seeing in a movie.  It makes it all very disconcerting and it feels like you’re watching soap opera style filming.  In addition, as a gamer, the HFR really reminded me of something that I’m used to seeing out of a video game and not from a movie.  So in my head, it was almost like a translation or processing error.  “Wait a minute, I’m not supposed to see that there!”.

The one benefit of the HFR though is that the 3D was less straining on the eye.  Compared to the trailers that they played in front of the movie, the 3D in The Hobbit definitely looked more crisp.

And then there’s the content of the movie.  I thought the characterizations were not affecting.  There wasn’t really one dwarf to give a shit about!  After seeing this first movie, they can all be dragon fodder as far as I’m concerned.  There were just too many of them.  And besides Thorin Oakenshield (the main dwarf), you weren’t really given time to know the other dwarves.

You can definitely feel as though the movie drags.  Scenes are clearly extended to expand the 300 page novel into 3 movies.  The pacing is a huge issue.  I think it would have benefitted from a trimmed down and tighter cut.  Instead we’re going to be seeing 3 movies that will be nearly 3 hours in length.  Plus, we’ll have to pay 3 times.  Good for you New Line Cinemas.

Django Unchained

Cinematic bliss.  This was awesome.  It was almost equal in runtime as The Hobbit, but because of its excellent pacing, it moved quick.  Not too much more to say, but you know what you’re in for when you see a Tarantino flick.

This is 40

This is 40 is the spin-off from Knocked Up, featuring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters and helmed once again by Judd Apatow.  From the trailers released earlier this year, I thought it was going to be a rip roaring good time of movie watching, but it just didn’t have the punchiness and wasn’t as memorable as Apatow’s other outings (pre-Funny People).  It was more entertaining than Funny People, but just felt like it was short maybe 2 or 3 major laughs.  Though it might have been short in laughs, it was definitely long in runtime, so the laughs per minute ratio was really skewed.  The movie ran for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, much like The Hobbit, I think it would have benefitted from having a shorter runtime.  I’ve talked about 3 movies so far, and I’ve mentioned runtime in all 3.  That seemed to be the Christmas trend.  Long fucking movies!  It doesn’t have to be long to tell a good story!

Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty is the follow-up to Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker.  To me, it felt like a longer episode of Homeland.  And that’s not to say anything bad about either as they are both quite great pieces of work.  However, in comparison on an entertainment level, I didn’t find ZDT as engaging as the Hurt Locker.  There are more slower and dramatic scenes in ZDT, whereas Hurt Locker was filled with more suspense and intensity.  I suppose there lies the difference in a story with authored events versus a story that is portraying a real life scenario. But perhaps viewing ZDT as a piece of entertainment is the flaw.  I don’t think it’s meant to be a popcorn affair.  Its portrayal of a real life event is perhaps more educational than entertaining and no doubt will be an important piece of cinema to America in the future.

The Impossible

Of all the new releases that I saw during the holidays, The Impossible is easily the most emotionally charging of the lot.  The Impossible is based on a true story of a family vacationing in Thailand around Christmas 2004.  If you’ll recall, a massive and devastating tsunami hit southern Asia on Boxing Day of that year.  The story follows the family as they struggle to find hope and the will to survive.

The film was directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, who did the awesome and affecting horror movie, The Orphanage.  It is a great ghost story and one day I’m sure, it will be a classic.  So when I learned that he did The Impossible, I was surprised at first but then it made sense.  Bayona knows how to drive characters and bring out the best of the individual stories - central to both movies.  I can’t wait to see more from him!

What really made the movie work for me was the score.  The score perfectly complemented the emotional narrative.  And I guess that’s the key with this movie.  The subject matter alone is emotional.  This was a devastating incident.  There were lessons to be learned and as I was watching the movie, there were several moments where I pumped my fist.  Truly, the movie was a good reminder that sometimes humans aren’t shitty; that we have the capacity for so much goodness.  But we don’t need a disaster to strike to bring that out.  There are even very simple moments in the movie that feel so exhilarating.  It’s like a reflection of real life; sometimes the best moments are the quietest ones.

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Posted by The Lam | Jan 13, 2013
The Billionty-Oneth Pod Blaast: Episode 2 - Marriage and Relationships: Tips N' Tricks

It's the first annual, January ever 2013, Billionty-Oneth Pod Blaast: Episode 2. Entitled: Marriage and Relationships - The Tips N' Tricks Episode.

In which we dive into all sorts of nonsensical things regarding gaming and marriage. Two of life's greatest things, order to be determined.

Recorded on January 12, 2013 in Hamilton (no), Ontario.

Hosted by the Jeff Lam (Geek), Kevin Makins and Matt Burrows.

Covered in this cast: marriage, relationships, tips, tricks, The Walking Dead, To The Moon, goatees.

See link here:

Stream Below:

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Posted by The Lam | Jan 3, 2013
Gaming and God: An Ongoing Conversation With My Pastor (Part 4)

It has been nearly a year since the last time I've posted to this topic!  Wow, the letters that myself and Matt have exchanged have been queued up.  I wish that I could fast-forward to what we've been talking about now, but alas, it can wait.  The following letters were originally written in Fall of 2011, so a while back!  That's pre-Gangnam Style!  Much has changed since then.  But please enjoy the conversation.

If you're missing out on past letters, you can find part 1 (here), part 2 (here) and part 3 (here).

My response letter to Matt:

Hey Matt,

I have to do a big rewind, I need to get on top of this as I feel it was a meaty discussion!  It’s been many months since our last correspondence on this topic, with different discussions sure to sprawl.

I already addressed your first paragraph in person, but let me rephrase/re-explain.  What I meant was that I wouldn’t want to do anything on my own sort of accord, independently from anything the Bible says, and then after the fact, tack on the Bible as my reason.  The Bible, the Word, God, should be my first reason and not as a supplementary source.

I agree with what you say, good art doesn’t exactly translate to strong sales. The biggest games seem to be first person shooters, which I’m getting sort of bored with.  But there is hope for something different!  I mean, earlier this year, they released LA Noire, with a gameplay that is totally unconventional.  Jon Gunner was telling me last week that he basically watched the whole game via Youtube.  It’s such a cinematic and story-driven experience that he didn’t need to even play it to get into it.  Now, I doubt that many games will head this way, but I still think it’s an intriguing entry and a way of expanding the way that games could be.  By just watching the videos, he got just as much out of it as if he had seen a movie.  And despite the atypical style of gameplay, the game still received strong sales.  So there is hope.  And even more artful, is the upcoming Journey for PS3.  Which isn’t just aesthetically different and pleasing, but mechanically and technically; it strives for something different, deep and enriching (from what I’ve heard and seen). We’ll have to see how well it’s received publicly though!

I think I told you on Sunday that I recently finished Assassin’s Creed 2. Although I enjoyed the gameplay and some of the technical aspects of the game, admittedly, a lot of the time when I was playing it, I felt more like I was just going through the motions versus being captivated by the story.  Part of the problem was that my playtime was so sporadic because game time was so limited.  Often I’d forget why I was doing what I was supposed to do (in game), but instead, I just followed the beacons and markers mindlessly.

Which sort of relates to iPhone gaming as you brought up.  Although I don’t own an iPhone myself, there isn’t a day when I’m on the subway where I don’t see someone gaming on it.  It’s almost the perfect pick-up and play device. Now, I’m not too familiar with its offerings, but it’s my understanding that at least the most popular games on it are the pick-up and play type games (i.e. limited story).  I don’t know if you can get an enriched experience out of it, but it does provide a quick fix right?  Which brings up the next point you raised...

...Perhaps in me there is some mild form of addiction.  Since I returned from my trip to Costa Rica almost exactly 3 weeks ago, I think I’ve had perhaps 3 days maximum, where I was at home for the evening.  That is to say, gaming has been extremely limited!  This past Saturday was the first time I was able to hunker down and game the way I wanted to.  I’m pretty sure I played Hard Corps Uprising for 3.5 hours straight.  For me, that’s a long session.  USUALLY, I don’t play more than in 1.5 hour of chunks.  But you know, it felt great!  It satiated that hunger.  But at the same time, I’m not dying for a fix!!

I was talking to a friend of mine at my old church 2 weeks ago.  He’s happily married and has 2 kids.  He too enjoys gaming, but at his current stage in life, he was saying it was tougher to start new games that demanded so much time and investment.  He said that it was the reason why he enjoyed downloadable titles so much.  They’re pick-up and play, demanding less attention to the story and more towards the gameplay.  And that’s perfectly respectable.

So although you and I demand more out of the experience, we can’t ignore that it’s about what the individual wants out of it.

In regards to achievements?  I’m starting to care less.  When I look at the list of achievements, I now have to weigh out what’s reasonable to strive for.  For example, in Hard Corps Uprising.  There are a slew of achievements that are ridiculous (e.g. finish the game without losing a life or finish the game without killing more than 50 bad guys).  Like... what the heck!?  On the other hand, although fewer, there are some achievable achievements (e.g. purchase all purchasable items, kill 5 soldiers, etc.).  It used to be my general rule to try to attain 50% of them as much as possible, now I just aim for what’s physically, spatially and timely do-able.  I might be only able to get 100 GP out of 1000 GP, but y’know, it’s all I can afford.  *sigh*

Now, do they matter?  In the grand scheme of things, of course not.  But could it be viewed as similarly to a baseball player’s batting average or a runner’s timing stats?  And then, do they matter?

I’ll end with the God factor.

What does God want from and for me?  Betterness, growth... Love.  How can we use gaming to demonstrate love to each other?  The opportunities seem limited.  The only way that seems practical I think is something we already touched upon, co-operative or Wii gaming.  I think they’re both strong at facilitating the gathering of people (at least at some point the Wii was).  If we look at it as another facet of getting people to be together, I think it can be seen in a positive manner.  But yes, God does want more from us, so we can’t spend all the time glued to the controller.

I think I’m at a happy medium right now.  My game time is still short nowadays, but I’m spending pretty much all that time with others.  But I must admit, there was a time or two this past week when I was with friends and in the back of my head I was saying to myself, “man, I wanna play some Hard Corps Uprising!”.  Har, har, har!

Your turn sir!

Love ya bro,



Matt's response letter:

You should play Limbo.  What an eerie, addictive, fun and mesmerizing experience.  I wish they would make more games like that.  I actually felt like it was an "inspiring" game, it's style, charm and creativity challenged me in some ways to think differently about the world and whatever I set my hands to do within it.  Obviously it wasn't monumentally life-changing ... but what is?  Even a good sermon often only makes a faint impression and leaves us with one or two (often vague) feelings of - hey, I think that will help me.  But Limbo is probably the most recent example of what I'd call "gaming done well".

I totally feel you on the whole Assassin's Creed 2 thing.  A lot of the things you "do" in that game are just so that you can say, "I collected them all or I completed all the quests."  But very few of the things you collect or the quests you take on really "inspired" or satisfying.  They are just barely related to the main storyline if at all and they are often predictable and repetitive.  Yet still kind of fun, no?  Keeps me playing anyway.  But that's where I've been changing a bit in terms of my gaming, I've been quicker to just say "screw that" and not even do them.  If they truly are optional and I don't feel they are worth the time and effort then I have been pretty much just playing games for the main storyline because its the only thing that i feel someone put some time and thought into.

L.A. Noire I think is pretty cool. I played it for a couple hours at Kevin's house while he was working on a sermon.  I was totally captivated and I've been wanting to play through the whole thing, but Kevin did warn me that - even though he loved it - it gets tired and the last few missions are "uninspired" and you feel like you're just slugging through them to end the game.  That's disappointing, but the game certainly is a step forward into some new ideas which is exciting.  Basically, and you might know this already, the coolest thing about it is that you have to watch people talking to you and decide if they are lying or telling the truth.  You do this by watching their body language and facial expressions (eeriely real looking!  new technology or something it says on the box) and you listen to what they are actually saying too.  But most of the time you don't know enough and you just have to go on body language and facial expression and its really fun because the graphics and the tech is so good.  It gives you the impression that more and more games are going to come out that include this new way of playing, it helps immerse you in the game and you are literally on the edge of your seat focusing on every little thing an NPC is doing while talking to you.  It's so cool.

But yeah, the public is another thing but i was pleased to see L.A. Noire's success, but that might be because of good marketing and the fact that its still a GTA feeling game (steal cars, shoot guns) but in the 40's (or 50's?) which is just awesome.

As for the pick up and play stuff, I totally get that.  Isn't that why we all love Mario?  I mean, how much depth can you squeeze out of a plumber in overalls?  But it's just so fun and satisfying to play - which is partly what games are and need to be ... it's why i love sports ... throwing a frisbee or shooting a basketball ... it never really changes but it's just FUN (and good exercise, suck on that video games!).  But I guess games have an edge because they can include amazing and unforgettable stories, characters, music, etc. Often they don't but they CAN.  Sports on the other hand, I feel, are better for relationship building, the LOVE thing you mentioned.  Last Tuesday we had some street involved folks come out to CHristie PIts from Light Patrol ... i was a bit nervous because i wasnt sure how'd they would connect, they are shy and can be awkward.  But as soon as we broke out the frisbee and soccer ball, it was ON.  We all played together, over a dozen of us, and really bonded and had a great time.  I feel like it was a really meaningful time, people who often feel alienated and left out felt included and genuinely valued.  I know that video games can be relational and can bring people together like you mentioned, but i wonder about their power to do so, it seems very limited. i feel like sports (just as a comparison point) are much more universal and have more power to draw people IN and draw things OUT of people so that people lose inhibitions, drop their guards and really connect and bond.  Video games can be okay for bringing people together but i feel like my actual video game sessions with people are often shallow and i end up feeling like we DIDNT connect and i often feel like we should have chosen something else to do.

so lately i've been finding video games best played solo.  i'd rather use it as a way to spend some of my "alone" time and i think we all need alone time, so i think that can be a legitimate use.  but all the factors are still at play ... how long, what games, why, etc.  in my opinion, trying to make video games about love or about advancing the kingdom is a stretch ... i think that's its weakness.  but i think talking about it in the context of "Sabbath" or the practical need to sometimes just sit down, shut off the noggin and have some fun after a long days work ... that makes more sense to me.  and thats usually when i play.  if i try to make games about something "bigger" i usually find they let me down ... what do you think?

maybe that's the key, just recognizing they have a relatively small and limited space, limited usefulness, but that they can be enjoyed as long as they are kept in their place ... just like anything ... anything can become an evil when it is misappropriated or ascribed value or worth that isn't in keeping with its nature.

I'll end here and let you fire back but let me summarize the two main things i think i've hinted at.

1.  Inspiration.  I think too many games are uninspired but still sell well and suck up a lot of peoples' time.  Same with TV, movies and some books, it's sad but a reality.  But I think as Christians we should push people (and ourselves) toward things that are truly life-giving, inspirational, things the Spirit can use to make us better people.  So, if we like video games I think we should be selective, discerning buyers and wise with our time.  Not that playing some 99 cent apps here and there just for fun is a bad thing, but we should always push ourselves to grow and expand our thinking/experiences.  This is a part of worship I think, recognizing that God has made a fabulous, limitless, endless and mysterious world for us to explore and enjoy and "inspired" stories, movies, games, music, etc., can help us go about doing that.  We should look for true examples of inspiration in the world and appreciate them and feed off of them, and when we see that something has just been "pooped out" to make a dollar ... we should treat it like the poop it is and walk away.  har har.

2.  Perspective.  Basically the last couple things I was blabbing about.  I think games can have a place but it has to be a place proportionate to their (very limited) value; they need to be kept in their place and seen as good, but not Great.  i'm saying that because of things like the Love factor, or their limited ability to actually bring God's kingdom to the earth.  we're both at a loss in trying to explain how video games can do that, save for a few truly rare exceptions.  but, ever since human beings have been around it seems we have been making games, toys, sports and things to have fun with and enjoy ... but these have always needed to be balanced with other things such as work (which back in the day was more like, if you don't work the soil now you're going to starve in the winter!) and then the human pursuit of the Divine ... our need to search for God and find Him and make Him our treasure ... the games, toys, sports and things have never been bad so long as they don't keep us from being active and fruitful in the other major, more important spheres of our existence.  so i think we just need to keep games "games", where they belong, and be happy to play our 1.5 hours a week or whatever it is ;)

but even 1.5 hours can be negative if we choose the wrong 1.5 hours, such as when we should have been doing something else, but that's another discussion ...

your turn

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Posted by The Lam | Dec 23, 2012
To The Moon!!!

When I first saw the trailer for To the Moon, I was floored.  Its 3 minute promo elicited more emotions in a game than anything I’ve played in the past 3 years.  And it was a 16-bit RPG!  From everything I saw, it was a win.  But did it meet those fanboy expectations?

In To the Moon, you “play” as two memory scientists who are part of a company called the Sigmund Corporation.  The Sigmund Corporation specializes in diving into patient’s memories and changing their attitudes and aspirations by changing their memories.  They are hired by a dying, elderly man named Johnny Wyles who’s one dream in life was to go to the moon.  Our scientists travel back in time through his memories to find out more about this aspiration and make his dream come true – at least in memory.  Through this journey back in time, we are taken through a drama that involves friendships, romance and relationships. 

To the Moon is a storied experience developed by Freebird Games and released in the latter part of 2011.  To call To the Moon a game would be a very loose and arguable statement.  It is not really a game in the conventional sense.  You’re never really challenged and there are no odds that you’re to overcome.  It is more of a storytelling experience, under the guise of a 16-bit RPG.  The experience is heavily authored.  Those looking for an in-depth and challenging gaming experience need to turn away, this isn’t for you. 

Story here is the goal, not gameplay or mechanics.  You move, point and click at things.  Once in a blue moon, you need to solve a picture puzzle to progress further.  That is pretty much the extent of gameplay.  The vast majority of the game is watching characters and reading text.  Early on in the game, it even teases the player that there might be combat (but there is none to be found).

I’m at odds with how I feel about the experience.  I mean, when I sit down to game, I want to game.  When I want to read a book, I'll read a book.  When I want to see a movie, I'll see a movie.  I don’t know if I was bamboozled, but I didn’t get what I expected.  But the story, although sort of Inception-y, was interesting.  As a game though, I wanted more and unfortunately, there was not a hook.

That said, the soundtrack is delightful, and to me, is probably the most memorable aspect about the game.  For a game that spans around 4 hours, they do well in establishing a memorable theme that’s intertwined with the story as well.  The soundtrack is a wonderful homage to the 16-bit era.

For me, overall it was thumbs in the middle experience.  I can’t give it a hard recommend, but if you’re curious enough with what the story is about, it wouldn’t hurt.  I guess on the plus side, it’s only $10 (I got it for $8 on sale on Steam though!) and will only eat up 3-4 hours of your time.  Til next time, later geeks.

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