#WeeklyGameMusic: Unreasonable Behaviour (Off)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

This week, we listen to yet another sad music, although it’s a rather different kind of sad compared to Gone Home. I’m also going to be unconventional, and select a dark track, Unreasonable Behaviour by Alias Conrad Coldwood for this week’s cult hit freeware game, OFF. Compared to the more popular Peper Steak — an offbeat swing music that plays during the normal battle sequences — Unreasonable Behaviour brooding tone better fits with the actual mood and narrative of OFF: dark, twisted, and a terrifying deconstruction of JRPG tropes.

Developed by yet another one-man team, OFF is a very French take of JRPG (FRPG?). You, the “puppeteer,” are suddenly dropped into an unusual world where you take control of the Batter. A quick walk leads Batter to a Cheshire cat named Judge, who politely introduces both the Batter and the player to a world composed not of earth, plants, wind, and water, but rather, metal, meat, gas, and plastic. What is there to do in such a bizarro world? Simple: do what the main character says, and purify the world from evil, first starting with the ghosts, and eventually to the violent guardians of this universe.

Much like the older Final Fantasy games, OFF uses random encounter and an archaic turn-based battle system where the party attacks after their cooldown time is over. This does mean that while selecting an attack, enemies can attack your party as well. That said the battle system isn’t exactly known to appeal the fans. Rather, it is the fourth-wall breaking story that progressively gets more complex and violent that turned this game into a cult hit. Much like Spec Ops: The Line, the player’s action is constantly in question as he or she blindly follows the Batter’s direction…and watch in horror as the world steadily loses its unique colors.

OFF is a free PC game that was originally written in French. A translated version is freely available at Starmen.net.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Gone Home (Journey’s End) (Dust: An Elysian Tail)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

Oh man! I’ve been dying to tell about Dust: An Elsyian Tail, a game made by a single Korean-American. But first, the music: from Hyperduck Studios comes a touching credits music called Gone Home (Journey’s End). Can you hear all that rain pouring from your eyes?

The game’s story starts with Dust waking up in a forest, and having a terrible case of amnesia. For one, there’s a floating, talking sword flying towards him, vaguely informing him the journey he must overcome. For another, there’s a squeaking nimbat following the sword, claiming it’s hers. And lastly, they’re surrounded by monsters. You know, a typical video game hero’s morning.

As it turns out, the game has a lot to give. For one, the game has very tight combat and platforming controls. Outside of the quick one-two-three combos, Ahrah, the talking sword, can also pull out the dust storm that sucks everything in and hit them multiple times. Fidget, the flying nimbat herself can cast magic, which combined with the dust storm creates devastating attacks. Outside of combat, the map is organized in a Metroidvania fashion. Unlocking new skills also allows Dust to traverse places he hasn’t before. And the story of Dust is surprisingly pure, which despite having only a few twists, is endearing on its own.

Dust: An Elsyian Tail was originally released as a downloadable on Xbox 360. It is currently available on Playstartion 4 as a downloadable, and Steam for PC, Mac and Linux.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Life is Beautiful (Deadly Premonition)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

This week’s music is…the creepiest…most haunting…and downright scary music track in horror games’ histor- AH HA HA HA! No, sorry, I can’t do this. I mean, this horror game, Deadly Premonition is famous for being so bad, it’s good. So of course this week’s music is the one that hilariously breaks this game’s serious mood, Life is Beautiful by Riyou Kinugasa, Takuya Kobayashi and Hiromi Mizutani.

Deadly Premonition should hit the Twin Peaks fans’ funny bone with its story. Greenvale is currently housing the mysterious serial killer, the Raincoat Killer. His first victim, Anna Graham, was found pinned into a tree in a T-pose, with her stomach cut open. Naturally, a crime so deliberate would attract FBI agent Francis “York” Morgan attention, as he investigates various clues at the crime scene to profile what has happened. But first, York needs to pass through the red room. Because Twin Peaks.

Despite being labeled a horror game, Deadly Premonition is mainly an open world game with lots of side quests. It shares a lot in common with Majora’s Mask in that each citizens has their own schedule, and taking on side quests involves knowing when, where, and who to talk to. Honestly, these open-world portions are where the game shines the brightest, with distinct characters, funny dialog, and lots of bugs to make fun of. Action sequences are clearly indicated when the world suddenly darkens with a purple haze, doors no longer lead to the same place, and violent “shadows” (zombie-like creatures whose dialog often flip-flops between whether they want to die or not) start appearing. In this mode, weapons are utilized similar to Resident Evil 4, where any long-range weapons requires stopping in-place and aiming. In comparison to the open world portion, these parts are frequently panned.

Deadly Premonition was originally developed on the Xbox 360. The improved versions are available on Playstation 3 and PC via Steam.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Following Stanley (The Stanley Parable)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

Today’s music is an upbeat song of excitement and adventure! It’s also 10-hours long. So…Let’s hike with the game, The Stanley Parable, with jolly cooperation! We’re Following Stanley (composed by Blake Robinson)!

Now, where to start with The Stanley Parable? Hmm, well, it’s about Stanley, that’s for sure. A man who happily pushes buttons as instructed by a screen monitor. Perhaps due to his tedious job, Stanley doesn’t operate well by himself, and even gets lost in his dreary, featureless office. Naturally, fate would have it that one day, he receives no instructions. On top of that, all of his coworkers disappears. And Stanley, not sure what to do, decides to venture out of his office, and into the depths of his company. Or so we are told…

The Stanley Parable is a walking simulator, a mid-life crisis simulator, a not-game, and a philosophy. The game shines best on its narrative, or more precisely, the awareness of the narrative. As you, the player plays the game, the game is playing you.

So I won’t mince my words when I say the game has minimal action. The enjoyment one gets from the game is entirely out of its narration, and holy cow does it feature one of the funniest, darkest narrator in the gaming history. The Stanley Parable is a rare gem that delivers a story in such a way that very few other mediums can properly portray. It stands as a shining example of how to tell a story when your main actor, the player, doesn’t have to follow the game’s directions.

The Stanley Parable is available on Steam for PC and Mac.

#WeeklyGameMusic: Ryoshima Coast (Okami)

#WeeklyGameMusic: New week, new music.

This time, we visit ancient Japan from this brilliant piece from Okami. Make way for the epic music, Ryoshima Coast by Hiroshi Yamaguchi! It’s a wonderful composition most fitting for a game that re-tells numerous Japanese fairy tales.

Okami starts with feudal Nippon (“Japan” in Japanese) getting swarmed by monsters and other evil spirits. With the country in peril, the guardians summon the sun goddess, Amaterasu, to rid of all evil. The problem? She’s a lazy wolf, and since the citizens of Nippon doesn’t have faith in their gods, she’s also very weak. Alas, it’s up to (?) the one-inch-tall Issun to wake her up, and encourage her to beat up monster to save the day!

Okami is an action-adventure game, frequently compared to the Legend of Zelda series, that not only manages to stand on its own, but even excel beyond its original inspiration. The game features tight combat system and dungeons with puzzles that even left a Zelda veteran like myself scratching his head. Special to this game is the brush power-ups: “items” are spawned by literally drawing them into the world. Not only does this make puzzle quick to resolve once a solution is found, it also makes the said powers convenient for use on combat. A lot of experimentation is possible in this vast, oriental fairy-tale world.

Okami was originally developed for the Playstation 2. It was also ported on the Wii, complete with wand-based drawing controls. Lastly, a HD remix is downloadable on the Playstation 3.