Archive for the ‘Games Gone By’ Category:

Going Back: Antichamber

Regardless of your position on the worth, correctness, or validity of Art Games, Antichamber is a game I would defend as “An Art Game” to the death. It is, in its sense, art. It is most definitely a game, with challenges, obstacles, and mechanics. And it is a utopian game.

Wait, what the hell is a utopian game when it’s at home? Read on, and I’ll try to explain.

There's a lady who knows... All these puzzles are gold... And she's sung in the title of the puzzle.

There’s a lady who knows… All these puzzles are gold… And she’s sung in the title of the puzzle.

Antichamber is a game without a fail state beyond you giving up. Now before you think that’s boring, let me point out that that doesn’t mean you’re not going to fail to solve a puzzle. But you’re not only always going to be able to have another go, you’ll be able to travel between most puzzles without a care in the world. Nothing is going to kill you. Nothing is telling you you’re shit at the game. In fact, quite the opposite: The game’s signposts are basically life advice, generally quite chill life advice at that. And it’s often pertinent. For example, there’s a bridge of sorts, and the signpost for both crossing it successfully, and falling off it reference a tightrope. The game shows you what happens if you take that bridge too quickly beforehand, and what doesn’t happen if you take it slowly (It won’t disappear from under you unless you deliberately step off it or speed up at the wrong time), so… It’s basically an analogy for tightrope walking, which is generally best done at a relatively sedentary pace. Another has a sheep leaping off a cliff, after you followed an instruction to, er… Jump off a cliff. Something something cliff something something everyone else something? I’m sure, if you’ve even encountered fictional parents, you can fill in the something somethings there. It’s a thing parents like to say.

Antichamber owes a lot to… Well, a lot of things. Life is what the game is an analogy for, but it owes bits and bobs to Portal (As it uses a sort of non-violent, puzzle solving “weapon” with multiple functions unlocked as the game goes by), to M C Escher (As it plays with perspective, direction, and space being a bit bendier than usual), and to logic puzzles (As everything has internally consistent rules, and so you can deduce, reasonably, how doing thing A will affect problem B with at least good accuracy most of the time.) You are… Well, you, really. And you’re in a maze. A maze that is life. You start with no tools, no knowledge, and a fleeting sense that you don’t have enough time (Because, at first, it appears you are on a timer, and it’s not a long one for a sprawling puzzle game.) As the game goes on, you accrue knowledge (Certain walls go away when you do one thing, this part of the maze acts like this), tools (One of four cube guns, each one adding an ability to your arsenal, from the ability to take individual cubes and put them somewhere else, to the ability to make nigh infinite cubes, to the ability to make walls of cubes, moving them around), and, along the way, you discover… That actually, you can take the game at your own pace. Just like life, Antichamber is not a race to the end. Stop. Enjoy the flowers. Or, in this case, a picture of a man with his trousers off, and the associated life lesson.

You may be mistaken for thinking this is an easy puzzle. It still has challenge. Because everything except those crates is lava. To that brick.

You may be mistaken for thinking this is an easy puzzle. It still has challenge. Because everything except those crates is lava. To that brick.

The thing being, of course, that you are, in this game, trying to get to the end. The game tells you what a bad idea it is to try and race there. It shows you little easter eggs, misdirects you, tries to slow you down with increasingly more skill intensive puzzles… But you’re curious. There is something that eats light. Something to which doors are no obstacle. Something which seemingly eludes you at every turn. And… When you catch it… It’s all over. That’s right… The game ends, and oblivion results. That something, that nebulous, slightly ominous thing you’ve been chasing for no reason you can determine beyond the goal… Is death.

It’s rather clever. But it doesn’t stop there. Everywhere you look, there aren’t only puzzles involving perspective, there’s the overriding message that hey, maybe… Just maybe… If you look at things from a different viewpoint than the one you’re used to, think sideways? Things will go better for you. You’ll expand your mind. You won’t only get better at the game, you’ll get better at being you. It’s a positive message. In fact, the only negative messages in the game are that you shouldn’t really hurry (The antithesis of many games), and that you won’t get through things consistently by just bulling your way through (And you won’t.) Like I said, utopian. No danger unless you actively seek it out. No challenge that you have to accept (There’s often another way until near the end, when your choices narrow due to… Well, having solved everything else!), and you can always, always go somewhere else… Maybe play with an old puzzle just for the heck of it. You just have to remember how to get there.

It's kind of clever, really. Normally, this room is actually quite well lit.

It’s kind of clever, really. Normally, this room is actually quite well lit.

Finally, it’s tightly designed. There is no HUD. The options, as well as the map and your collection of signposts are all in a single, easy to return to location, and whenever a new mechanic is to be introduced, you can guarantee something’s going to either be nearby to show you how it works, or you’re going to come across something that teaches you sooner or later. Good example, Eye Walls. Eye Walls are terrible at staring contests, fall asleep, and vanish when you stare at them for a time (The time being dependent on the door.) There’s a crossroads at one point early in the game, a door that won’t open if you look at it, and directly opposite that door? An Eye Wall. Walking slowly backwards, you’re guaranteed to see it close. Or, another, sharper example happens when you enter a room with a tantalising hole in the ceiling. Inside the hole? “Don’t Look Down.”


And then you land harmlessly somewhere new. Because the game’s cool like that. And you’ve learned a new thing.

So, Antichamber is tightly designed around a theme. Good. It imitates life (Via analogy). Good. It is, indisputably, a game. Cool.

So it’s an art game. And it’s well worth checking out.

Going Back: Quantum Rush – Champions

As you may have noticed, Future Racing games are sort of a passion of mine. Which made Quantum Rush: Champions (Previously Quantum Rush Online) such a disappointment. In discussing why, we have to compare it to a close cousin, Wipeout Fusion, one of the more divisive games in possibly the biggest ex future racing franchise out there (Apart from F-Zero, yes, I know F-Zero exists, shush.)

Weaponry, How Not To Do It

This is how quickly you can die in Fusion. On the first track.

Both Wipeout Fusion and Quantum Rush: Champions erred in dealing with weaponry, albeit in different ways. In Wipeout Fusion’s case, the weapons were, in many cases, too good. Many weapons, including missiles, fired both backwards and forwards, and, throughout the game, it’s perfectly possible to explode (losing you the race) in the first fifteen seconds. Not helping is the fact that, due to sloppy coding, some of the weapons appear to work both ways, but… Actually don’t. And it’s somewhat difficult to tell. But one thing that Fusion did relatively well was that weapon placement was considered. Some tracks didn’t have as many missiles (Which do not corner well), some don’t have many plasma bolts (Which can be murderous when used in the right way)… There’s a sort of balance, although it’s not obvious. Challenges and deathmatch further refined this. Can you score enough kills using only rockets and missiles? How about quakes and shields alone?

Quantum Rush, however, has the same weapon placement for all its game modes, which doesn’t actually work. If you want someone dead in a “kill target” mission, I can guarantee you that over two thirds of the pickups still on the track are largely useless. Not helping are Quantum Rush’s own bugs, which include a weapon that, for the most part, just doesn’t seem to work: The gravity shockwave. How it’s meant to work is that it shoves racers away from the vehicle… But 95% of the time, it doesn’t do a damn thing, taking up valuable space that another weapon could use.

Track Design


Both Fusion and Quantum Rush, in slightly different ways, suffer from the same problems, and the same good ideas let down by poor execution. Both, for example, have multiple potential paths through the track, and, unlike some Future Racers I could name, none of these paths are technically bad. But in both games, some of these paths are poorly signposted visually, and some of these paths are cluttered to the point of frustration. In Fusion, this is most seen in Temtesh Bay, a track which has bulkhead doors that open microseconds before you actually hit them, a cave segment with hard to navigate rock formations, and some frankly silly track narrowing. In Quantum Rush: Champions, you see similar design flaws in the Airport, with a side path filled with obstructions and narrowings in the form of cargo-plane bays and large shipping crates. Worse, the part that isn’t a shortcut is a hard right where your eyes are telling you to go ahead.


This is approximately a third of a second before I end up going to the left, the alternate path. A second before that, you can’t see that turnoff.

Unlike Quantum Rush: Champions, however, the AI in Fusion will generally split their efforts between paths… While the QRC craft will, most of the time, stick to the main path. As already mentioned, tracks are used with no changes for other game modes, and this can hurt in the case of, say, boss battles, where the AI will always take a path, and you taking the other will lose you valuable time. More on time in QRC in a short while…


Courtesy of Wipeout Central, this is the top tier FEISAR. Like many of its compatriots, it is 90% gunmetal grey and grunge.

Courtesy of Wipeout Central, this is the top tier FEISAR. Like many of its compatriots, it is 90% gunmetal grey and grunge.

Wipeout Fusion, it must be said, mostly sinned in this category due to visual design and grind. Upgrading craft in Fusion requires money, which requires racing tracks over… And over… And over again (Although not necessarily in the craft you want to upgrade), started as somewhat crappy versions of what they were meant to be, and, eventually, went from not-so-great craft with some interesting designs, to at least fairly average craft with some interesting designs, to good craft with some mind-bendingly dull designs, usually involving gunmetal grey. Quantum Rush: Champions, however, does… Odd things. Upgrades are rewards for earning medals… But even in higher tiers, there just aren’t that many upgrades, and they become progressively harder to unlock as you go on. What are you mostly unlocking? Customisation options, only one half of which (The colours) stay between “Tiers” of craft. And they, also, require unlocking through medals.

It took something like 12 medals to get even this far. The pattern was in Tier 1, but had to be re-earned for Tier 2. The colour is the only one I have been able to unlock to this day.

It took something like 12 medals to get even this far. The pattern was in Tier 1, but had to be re-earned for Tier 2. The colour is the only one I have been able to unlock to this day.

For context, originally, QRC was Quantum Rush: Online, and was going to be a purely multiplayer Future Racer with an F2P model. It had a somewhat nice garage. It had the customisation be unlocked by buying it, rather than medals, although you earned money, obviously, by racing. Upgrades, similarly, were on a monetary basis. And all of this, along with the multiplayer (Which had mostly been going alright) was thrown out when Quantum Rush: Champions was announced. This was a mind blowing decision, to throw the baby out with the bath water, and the game suffered for it, as, since unlocks appear to be based on number of medals, you can find yourself being rewarded for slogging through a difficult challenge and getting gold with… Er… Blue #3. Thanks for the socks, Grandma QRC, but I really wanted that better armour, y’know? It doesn’t help that the customisation options, in a strange funhouse-mirror fashion to Fusion, start dull. Three shades of gray, in one colour. And every Tier, you have to unlock skin patterns all over again.


Difficulty is somewhat erratic in both QRC and Fusion, but in Fusion, at least, the main causes are obvious: The tracks and the weapons. For your first track in a tournament, you could be driving through the icy Mandrashee, a relatively simple track with some quirks, and the very next track is… The dreaded Alca Vexus, home of narrow tracks, multiple chicanes and hidden corners, and, in at least one case, a broken track.

But Wipeout Fusion didn’t require you to have a perfect racing line to get gold. Nor a good enough computer. By contrast, Quantum Rush: Champions gets harder if your computer isn’t recommended specs, and Time Trial… Requires an almost perfect line to get gold. Yes, I would like a challenge. I do not, however, want to be locked out of content because you decided “Perfect line or go home” is a good idea in the first tier of gameplay. And then there are the boss fights and “Target Enemy” modes. Target Enemy is bad enough, because it generally requires a kill a minute of (by Tier 2) up to 3 specific enemies, with, er… The same power up locations as a race would have. Now imagine that, while it’s only one specific target, it’s a vehicle of your class from the next tier up, with special abilities such as being able to drain shields from fellow racers, or leaving a burning trail behind them that makes them overheat. Then give it similar harsh timing (1 minute 30 is silver to kill the Tier 1 boss for NMW)

There’s a lot more I could say about Quantum Rush: Champions, and how GameArt Studio have dealt with the situation, or, more accurately, haven’t… But instead, I’m just going to mention two things. Firstly, Quantum Rush: Champions was ported to the XBOne moderately recently, and from what I can gather, critical reception was no less frosty than on the PC. Secondly, and I want developers to note this one…


…Global achievement stats like this… This is a warning sign. This is a warning sign that either you have done something wrong with achievements and unlocks, or you have done something wrong with playability and/or difficulty.

Listen to said warning signs.

Going Back: Black Dahlia

Mention the Black Dahlia murder, and many games players will point at LA Noire. Mention the game of the same name, however, and most often, you will get a blank stare. The rest of the time, a scream of sheer, unadulterated rage.

Black Dahlia, you see, is a game that, while mostly forgotten unjustly, had one element to it that angered many of its players beyond measure: The puzzles. Which, for an FMV adventure game at the tail end of the FMV heyday (1998, to be exact), was a sales killer.



I was one of those original sales. Now, before we begin talking about why this is worth a Going Back, let’s mention just two numbers. Eight CDs. 4.6 Gb of game. In 1998. Of course, even a “full install” back in the day would be under 500 Mb. But it’s still a pretty mind boggling number. Now let’s go into why it’s mostly a game that should be recalled.

Firstly, for its silly premise (Involving the Thule Society, the Torso Murders, the Black Dahlia murder of Elizabeth Short, and, as you might expect, occult shenanigans linking them all), the writing and the acting sells the game. It was a selling point of the game that Dennis Hopper and Teri Garr were both acting in it (And, in a relative rarity for productions like this, even the extras are named in the manual), and they were supported by actors who, while relatively unheard of, were definitely not unskilled, such as Dan Frezza (Utah Shakespeare Company), Bradley Moniz, Daniel Whelan, and Colette Schreiber. You forget its silly, because, for the majority of the game, the actors and actresses are playing their roles very well. All I’ll say about the story is that it starts with you as a new investigator for the underfunded and underdeveloped COI, checking out a somewhat dubious report of Fifth Columnists in the area, and ends with the fate of the world in your hands.

Darren Eliker really sells the role of Jim Pearson. Poor feller.

Darren Eliker really sells the role of Jim Pearson. Poor feller.

Secondly, it had an interesting system where you could not only examine objects, but move them around in their containers, such as a notepad in your desk that can be shifted back to reveal a service revolver (Itself able to be opened.) It had quite a few locations, and used not only hotspots, but items in conversation.

There are, however, two mood killers for anyone wishing to play the game today: It’s difficult to run on modern systems (and, in fact, nigh impossible if you want to run it flawlessly), and the game’s difficulty could best be described as hellish. Here’s some examples to give you some idea, all from the first chapter (Disc 1 of 8).

You’ve talked to everybody, including the irascible Henry Finster, your superior (Walter Donovan, head of the COI at the time, and later OSS), the detective working on the Torso Murders cases (Peter Meryllo), and a smarmy FBI agent called Winslow. But you’ve run into a brick wall. The game’s given you enough clues that you have a blacklist of possibly less-than-loyal German-Americans, but, due to the rivalry between Donovan and then head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, the damn thing’s encrypted and nobody’s given you the key. The key to cracking the code is in your office. But to get there, you need to find the gun in your desk drawer (Which you won’t find unless you’re clicking and dragging everything that you can interact with), open up the handle (Which, again, you won’t find unless you realise you can do that in your inventory), use the key to open a locked cabinet in your room, and copy the notes written down on paper, because the in-game note system isn’t going to help you here, buddy.

Infamously, not only is this puzzle not meant to be solved, a bug means the game is unwinnable if you try before you're meant to.

Infamously, not only is this puzzle not meant to be solved when you find it, a bug means the game is unwinnable if you try before you’re meant to.

The code is quite simple, once you realise what it’s doing. But the game doesn’t exactly help in letting you know what it’s doing, as the two sheets cannot be read together, and both have their red herrings. This one puzzle is the gatekeeper to… The rest of the plot. Equally innocuous is the shadow on your office light, only seen when you flick on your office lights, and look up. That shadow… Is important, and checking that is vital. There aren’t, to my knowledge, any truly silly puzzles (Along the order of the infamous Cat Hair Moustache of the Gabriel Knight series), but many of them are exactly this tough to discover, let alone solve. Of course, the manual helps you with a few of these early (but vital) tasks, but who reads the manual, eh?

Strangely, despite this? I’d still say the game is worth it, and due a re-release on GOG or the like. But who would be the ones behind such a game? Who would be the ones who made this intriguing, if sometimes maddening game? Why, it would be Take 2 Interactive.

I remember my reaction to this scene. "Is she flirting with him? She's flirting with him! ... She's flirting with him, and he's not noticing. Idiot."

I remember my reaction to this scene. “Is she flirting with him? She’s flirting with him! … She’s flirting with him, and he’s not noticing. Idiot.”

But you’d know them, in the modern day, as 2K Games.

The Mad Welshman also sees spies everywhere. Fifth columnists, trying to ruin his sense of fun by sending him derivative AAA games. It’s a menace…

Going Back: Musaic Box

Hidden Object Puzzle Adventures, in my considered opinion, are mostly creatively bankrupt. I’ll save the rant as to why for another time, but one of the main elements is that there is little to no consideration of where the puzzles fit. I’ve seen Memory puzzles in churches and “secret doors”, I’ve seen evil lairs guarded by the amazing security system that is… A brute forcable colour matching puzzle. The story, similarly, is often formulaic, and often has a “Tell” that conflicts with its “Show.”

Five rooms, each filled with bits of music trivia and puzzles for your puzzle box.

Five rooms, each filled with bits of music trivia and puzzles for your puzzle box.

But I have actually found a good HOPA. And I’d completely forgotten about it. Let me correct this injustice, and show people why it works, when so many others make me groan and grumble. Let me tell you about Musaic Box.

Musaic box is the tale of a woman of somewhat indeterminate age, who has an explorer grandfather with a taste for music that was passed down. She comes to visit her grandfather, on the promise of a very special birthday present. But first, she must solve the riddle of the Musaic Box, and the clues are left around the house. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? It even takes around the same time as your average HOPA (Two or so hours.) However…

You didn't really think I'd show you a completed puzzle, did you? For shame!

You didn’t really think I’d show you a completed puzzle, did you? For shame!

It’s tightly focused. One house, six rooms, and every room has something to do with music or musical history. Within each room is a collection of patterns for the Musaic Box, hidden in places like on the shade of a lamp, or on a printing press stamp, and those patterns lead to the core element of the game: The puzzles. The descriptions for the puzzles are from the character’s perspective, so we know that she was called ‘Little Figaro’ for singing the Barber of Seville at an early age, that she used to do ballet, that she skinned her knee while climbing trees… The puzzles round out her character in a way that supports her sometimes bemused commentary on Grandfather’s collection. In its small way, the story supports the game. And, because it’s in a small way, it doesn’t over-reach itself. There’s no moment to moment supernatural drama that falls apart after a slight examination here, just a young lady playing a game on her birthday. But, as I mentioned, the puzzles are the core element to the game. Let’s go into those.

Not only the core of the game, but where we get character backstory. Not a whole lot of it, but the game doesn't contradict itself.

Not only the core of the game, but where we get character backstory. Not a whole lot of it, but the game doesn’t contradict itself.

Musaic is a portmanteau of “music” and “mosaic”, and, essentially? That’s the puzzle right there. It’s a jigsaw, but a jigsaw that involves music. There’s usually (But not always!) one instrument that you can hear, and you’re supposed to piece together the short tune, making sure that matching colours of symbols aren’t on the same column. Sometimes there’s no lead instrument to listen to, sometimes there’s patterns to match up instead, but for the majority of the game, it goes like that, leading to one of my two criticisms of the game: It’s only moderately challenging until near the end. Otherwise, it does everything it sets out to do, it entertains, and everything fits together as a well designed game should. Of course, finishing the game nets you the birthday present, an “Atlantis amulet” (sic) that allows you to rearrange the tunes in the game any way you want (Which sounds horrible, for the most part: My second criticism of the game) , but then you realise “I spent a third of what I would spend on Hidden Secrets: The Horrific Jumble Of Items” , and you remember that the game has some pretty good short arrangements of classical tunes (Including a surfer rock version of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”, and a properly swinging “When The Saints Go Marching In”.) And you smile. You may not play it twice, but you have had fun.

HOPA devs could learn from this example, which goes to show that “more complex” doesn’t necessarily mean better.

The Mad Welshman smiled as he slotted the last part of the Musaic into place. Victory, as it turns out, sounds like The Entertainer.

Skyrim (Reprint, Review)

This is a reprint of an article originally published on the older version of Da Game-Boyz. It has not been edited, including the original editorial mistake, as a complement to this article. The game scored a 7.5 overall, with 7 in half the categories, 8 in the other half.

What the hell have I gotten myself into? First I got involved with some rebellion, and that led me to the headsman’s block, and then there was a dragon, and weird voices, and… now, I’m wandering through a dungeon killing some people called the Silver Hand because I didn’t realise my fellow warriors were actually werewolves! Heeeelp!Skyrim1

Okay, so that last bit may seem like a spoiler, but it really isn’t. See, everything except the werewolves happened in my first hour of main plot play, and that last bit? I’m not telling you. Skyrim, to those who don’t know (for shame!) is the latest in the Elder Scrolls series of RPGs, games with lore so deep, and so thick on the ground, that not even a +15 chainsaw could get through it all. The basic idea of this installment is that… well, after centuries of being who-knows-where (maybe having a good sleep?), dragons have come back to the land of Tamriel, and you, through the usual Elder Scrolls mcguffin of the prophecy, are the fated one. Don’t let the corniness fool you, Bethesda are good at their job of storytelling, and I’ve seen them pull off cornier premises. In the same series.



For those looking for an improvement from the last game graphically, there is… and there isn’t. See, the creatures and characters are even more beautiful to look at, although the character engine doesn’t seem to allow true obesity (if it did, my chargen abominations would have been so much more evil). So yeah, the characters look great, most of the creatures look great. Know what doesn’t look great? Watching trees suddenly pop into clarity in the distance as I run forward. On High settings. Seeing the base ground texture if I look at it in just the right way. But in dungeons, and when exploring ruins, my two favourite activities, it’s just fine, and the architecture, as always, is pretty damn stunning. Sure, the cities aren’t always great, but when you see a barrows with huge stone ribs poking out of the ground? You know you’re in high fantasy country, and the immersion skyrockets.



If you’ve heard the soundtracks of Morrowind and Oblivion, you have at least some idea as to the music. The sort of music you’d hear while Aahnold and James Earl Jones have a good staring match, or when Aragorn is kicking righteous buttock. It fits with the theme, is stirring when it wants to be (in combat), and, while it’s nothing new under the sun, it’s still pretty cool. The Bethesda Curse, as it was known in gaming circles, is also much less evident here. No more does it sound like there’s maybe 5 voice actors phoning it in. It’s definitely quite a few of them, and only one or two characters sound like their lines are being read in a classroom. Combat sounds, similarly, are slightly improved, although it’s sorta hard to improve on “BASH, CLANG, THUMP, Urrrrggh!”. They still pull it off, and even manage to make arrows swoosh past. The one thing I personally found special however? The dragons. They’re obviously the focus of the action, and… wow. Every wingbeat sounds visceral, and the sound of dragonfire is audio-coded for “This will roast you. Hard.” Even the other creatures occasionally sound cool, like a wolf howl on the plains at night. How many are there? Daaaamn, can’t tell! And that, again, adds to the immersion.



One thing you ought to know, if you’re new to Elder Scrolls games, is that they’re always pretty big, world wise. Not always full of content, but big. At the time of writing this paragraph, I’m 4 hours in, and, while I’ve completed something like 11 quests across 8 or 9 locations (and explored another 4 or 5 on top of that), I have only finished two, maybe three story missions out of god knows how many. Including the mandatory tutorial quest. One thing that old Elder Scrolls players will either take or leave, and experienced CRPG players may be a bit concerned about, is that some quests are not “take the quest and finish it when you can be bothered.” They have to be done, as far as I can tell, immediately after taking them. On the one hand, this means people going for the main quest will be rushing into situations they can’t control, and possibly moving further along than they feel comfortable with, but, on the other, it does keep that vital immersion factor going. Good example: Killing your first dragon. The military aren’t going to wait for you, and so, going seems pretty important. Even if it turns out I’m wrong, and it isn’t mandatory to follow them, it certainly puts some virtual pressure on. But, as my play time increased, I saw the cracks…

Skyrim is the first Elder Scrolls game to be designed for console accessibility, and, in places, it shows. Is this a bad thing? It’s not bad, it’s not good, it’s just different. For example, while the mouse controls for inventory and conversation choices are finicky (and downright annoying in the character creator, due to small sliders), using the keyboard is actually much simpler, and the interface itself has become a lot more user-friendly, with nearly everything do-able with just the direction keys, mouse buttons, E and Q keys. The obviously regenerating health (not ultra-speedy, we’re talking obvious to an RPG player here) feels sort of odd, but considering factors I’ll get to in a bit, it’s nonetheless welcome. What isn’t so welcome is the lack of HUD tips for things previous games told you, like the fact that you have a disease. Check your active effects semi-regularly people, because the messages are easy to miss, and I almost became a vampire, thanks to not realising I was about to catch it. Dual wielding finally came to the Elder Scrolls with Skyrim as well, and good god, it feels good… although instakills for both you and your opponent when low on stamina is a mixed blessing.

There’s too much to talk about in one sitting, so, with these examples in mind, I’m going to say that, where Skyrim gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. Argonians, for example, finally have some semi-regular use for that Water Breathing fix they had back in Oblivion, yet melee characters will quickly find themselves in large amounts of the brown stuff if they don’t also take mage and rogue skills. This isn’t much of a problem, because characters in the Elder Scrolls can learn anything they want, but pure melee characters are definitely a tougher proposition than in previous games.Skyrim5

One thing that I will finish on is the difficulty. To say the difficulty in this game is erratic is like saying ghost chillis are “slightly warm”. One second, you can be happily slaying skeletons in single hits, and the next, a Master Vampire might lay the smackdown. Or you could be walking merrily along, slaying some bandits as you go, and… you hear the dreaded wing-flaps of a dragon, the screech that lets you know it’s seen you, and… you might as well savescum there and then until you’ve got some decent cutlery. It’s also quite glitchy, crashing while screenshotting, screwing up the Steam overlay on PC, and, in one instance, hurling me 200 feet up from a giant’s smackdown, only to crash as I tried to screenshot the awesome. And then refusing to catapult me when I reloaded the game and died again to try and bring you some awesome-sauce.


Skyrim is good, but it’s a flawed good. It’s a different experience in many ways to previous Elder Scrolls games, but, at the same time, it’s still the familiar world Elder Scrolls fans know and love. It has the usual kickass story, but the difficulty curve is a bit wobbly, to say the least, and, in general, it’s a story of give and take. I’d still give this my thumbs up, but only to RPG fans, as opposed to newbies to the genre. You want a “my first RPG” to ease you in, this isn’t it. You want an entertaining, but sometimes frustrating experience? Go for it, empty your wallets, and don’t be like the douches who torrented this game with no intention of buying.

EDIT: The review was written after 33+ hours, the specific paragraph was written 4 hours in. Apologies for the confusion.