MICRO-REVIEW: DRAWFUL

Just about every time I've drawn a drunken room's attention to play a so-called party game (maybe the card-based Ultimate Werewolf or the mobile-based Spyfall), interest has run dry before the game even begins. I guess they can't be blamed; party games are meant to be ice breakers, and I think our drunker selves all find login URLs and convoluted deception strategies rather icy. But personally, I'm sentimental for the partygoers' toast, that moment where many scattered discussions unite under one central focus. I have found that party games lure even the unassuming wallflowers up to the social surface to make their contribution, and that's why they interest me. Among party games, Drawful draws the room together more quickly than any other I've played. It's hosted by console, displayed on TV, and played from smartphone. Open your browser and enter the code displayed on the screen. Bam. You're there. Then, each player privately illustrates a random prompt. Some prompts are cute, like "tables vs. chairs"; some are downright horrid, like "peahen eggs," or, gods forbid, "Dignity." In the next stage, each drawing is displayed for all to see, one round at a time, and players submit their anonymous guesses as to what the drawing is of. Then, players vote among the submitted answers, which are indistinguishable from the truth. The artist-player earns huge points if their drawing distinctively matches the real McCoy, while the guesser-players earn half points if they can bait out votes for their lies.

It's Pictionary-Balderdash, for witty players will quickly realize that if they can't deduce the true clue (your guess is blocked if it's exactly correct), their best chance is to submit a phrase sounding true-...ish. Other times you can win votes by charm alone, though the real test of skill lies in conceptual camouflage. I've witnessed one mild-mannered beginner absolutely wreck in this game. When I asked him what his secret was, he told me, "I guess I just know how to think like a robot." Above all, Drawful succinctly motivates a room full of idlers to entertain the hell out of other. For the simple efficiency with which it coaxes laughter, eureka's, and outrage from a diverse group of players, Drawful sets my standard for game of the year so far. 

Drawful: Always-hilarious smartphone Pictionary, on PS3, PS4, XBox One, Android TV, Apple TV, and Steam! Half-hour rounds, with a bottomless well of questions.

P / H : PARAGRAPH & HAIKU

                                                                                                                If I could turn back time...

                                                                                                                If I could turn back time...

Very few of us have the time to play every video game we start all the way through to completion. It's just a fact of life, and the sooner you accept it, the sooner you will be at peace. This doesn’t necessarily mean these games are bad, or not worth playing, it just isn't in the cards at the time. We at Evade Gizmo are not immune to this phenomena, and want you to know that it's OK, it happens to everyone, including us.  We do, however, want to recognize the games that we have sunk some time into, anywhere from 2-20 hours. Think of this column as our version of a quick look. And of course as one would obviously expect, the best way to objectively express our feelings about a game we haven't taken the time to complete, is through the use of ninth century Japanese poetry.

Yoshi's Woolly World
Wii U

Hours played : 10

                                                         goddamn is this game bright.... you may need sunglasses if you are hung over

                                                         goddamn is this game bright.... you may need sunglasses if you are hung over

Yoshi's Woolly World is a vibrant, charming and polished 2-D platformer released last fall for the Wii U console. The latest in the series is evocative of a personal favorite of mine, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, and tends to succeed in hitting most of the same notes that game hit back in 1996. The main issue i have is that this game came out in 2015, and if it weren't for the updated art style and visual fidelity, you might think you were actually playing a Super Nintendo title from 1996. Yoshi shoots eggs, flutter jumps, pops question clouds to reveal hidden paths, and tongue fucks everything and anything in his path. Indeed the whole routine is back, but now in yarn form! There are 5 worlds to explore, each with 8 stages and plenty of bells and whistles to unlock, but ultimately the whole package feels underwhelming as a full blown $70 title in today’s market. If you are really hungry for a great side scroller on the Wii U, pick up Shovel Knight or Super Mario Maker instead for unmatched value and incredible developer support.

Design recycled
Yoshi Plods through the motions
The wool looks super
                                                     “ Remember Alf (Yoshi)? hes back, in pog (woll) form!”

                                                     “Remember Alf (Yoshi)? hes back, in pog (woll) form!”

Facry Primal
X1/Ps4/PC

Hours played: 6

                                                            I found myself kneeling to pet my steel-eyed wolf friend after every encounter

                                                            I found myself kneeling to pet my steel-eyed wolf friend after every encounter

By now most everyone has heard all about Farcry Primal, as the game has been scrutinized to death in the media over the last few weeks. Much of the reason for the exhuberent amount of coverage can be blamed on the slower game release schedule in January and February, as well as the multi-million dollar marketing push by publisher Ubisoft. However, a lot of the attention the game is receiving seems to be over the speculation that Primal started its life as a Blood dragon-esque add on for Farcy 4, and somehow evolved into a full priced retail product, leaving gamers to question the value in purchasing Primal at full price. On that note, I have little new or groundbreaking to offer, instead, I echo many of the statements already made about the latest Ubi open world romp; it's a solid game for those who yearn for more Farcry. Its brutal, visceral and finds some truly unique ways around the old guns and helicopters model of the last couple games (the beast mastery is easily my favorite addition). There is very little story to speak of, you will be seeking out and killing other humans using spears, arrows, and plenty of melee combat, which can feel jerky, imprecise and unsatisfying at times. The increased focus on hunting, gathering and crafting makes Primal feel more like a survival-lite game than a true story based open world experience that we would come to expect from a full-blown $70 Farcry title. Proceed with caution, and if your on the fence, maybe pick it up used in a few months, as I would expect a short single player campaign with no multiplayer will translate into a plethora of used copies at your local game shop. 

Explore the wild
Tame your inner animal
charge less for this game

Life Is Strange
X1/PS4/PC

hours played: 3

                                                              And suddenly a picturesque picnic on the train tracks turned into a nightmare.... 

                                                              And suddenly a picturesque picnic on the train tracks turned into a nightmare.... 

Every now and then when I play a video game, I catch myself in the moment and stop to think; why am I enjoying this? What is it about this that is appealing to me? That happened to me a couple times in the opening hours of life is strange, the story about Max, a young, gifted photography student trying to fit in after getting accepted to a prestigious art academy in the eerily named Arcadia Bay. Max finds its hard enough to fit in, but when she discovers she has the ability to manipulate time, things get understandably more complicated. Early on in the first episode, there was a sequence where I had to persuade the local group of 'mean girls' to vacate the front steps of our shared dorm (they wouldn't let me in, the bitches). After exploring and observing the details of the area, I fiddled around with a nearby custodians paint can and a set of automatic sprinklers, I hid nearby making sure I had a good view of the area and used my ability to rewind time. Success! The sprinklers expectantly went off on the janitor, who dropped the paint can, which splashed onto the rude girls dress. Eureka! As the Zelda chime went off in my head I strolled up smugly and pretended to be concerned for her, earning some brownie points with the cool group to be cashed in at a later date. The satisfaction set in and I couldn't help but grin sheepishly. I sort of felt like Agent 47... if he were an awkward teenage girl with the ability to rewind time and a penchant for photography. Which brings me back to my original point… why the hell am I enjoying this so much? I'm not exactly sure what it says about me, but the combination of lovely visuals, ultra cheesy dialogue and a budding sci-fi mystery to explore is enough to keep me coming back, at least for now. The game is worth checking out for fans of adventure games, and you should be able to get all 5 episodes packaged together on sale, I picked it up on the PSN store for $10. 

Clouds toil about
We dance in the storm of time
Bitches get dealt with

Thats all for now! Stay tuned for more masterful poetry and ultra-poignant commentary!

EG.

EVADE GISMOS FAVORITES OF 2015

2015 happened, whether we wanted it to or not, for better or worse it's finally reached the pinnacle of its decadence and is ready to die. Happy new year you wannabe christians (following this particular calendar year), its time to reflect on where we spent our time and what ended up being worth all of the whiles.

Myself and my little brother transcended drunken promises into a literal website that we are both quite proud of. At the very least it's given us excuses to hang out together and play video games for a greater cause. We started a podcast because its easier than writing. We destroyedall the online hurdles that got in our way and leveled up in our writing game. It was a good year and we want to thank you all for spending your precious time with us. We've said it before and well say it again so don't go rolling your eyes. 

Podcasting is not as easy as assumed. Talking about something your passionate about doesn't seem like work. Until you revisit a seemingly cohesive and reasonable conversation of yourself you can not understand how hot the threshold of hell can become. I sound like a whiny idiot who has no clue what hes talking about. My own voice cuts through me like a rusty dentist drill. When i speak- i fill the air with run on sentences. If i played a drinking game for every time i said "uh, ummm, like" id be dumpster drunk in 10 minutes. Editing the podcast caused me to approach my wife; shake her asking "I feel like i'm Hugh Grant! Tell me i'm not Hugh Grant...tell me im not a bumbling idiot!" She told me so and i didn't feel any better about myself. "Just keep doing it" i say, "it'll all fall into place and if i keep listening to myself talk ill learn why i sound stupid."

Point is here's a new podcast and thank you.

NYCC RECAP

A gods eye view of 'the block' section of NYCCC

A gods eye view of 'the block' section of NYCCC

Comic Cons are no joke. They are usually arduous in a way. If done properly your whole body should ache. Your heels should be throbbing in your shoes or goofy sized Anime boots, your lower back should be screaming for any horizontal action it can find. This last weekends New York Comic Con was no exception with upwards of 170,000 attendees it was a nerd army the likes of which the east coast has never seen before and Evade Gismo was right there in the shit! Even our wallets were hurting.

This was a new year for us. Usually myself and my wife are in the artist alley waaaay the fuck away on the other side of the con. With all the cosplayers;  Deadpools and Sith lords in the way it mid-as well have been on the other side of the city. If Spider-man was actually there no one would ever know. So usually we don't get much of a chance to go exploring. But this year we were on the front lines. "The Block' is the designer toys and small indie company wing of the con and it was busy as all hell this year. Thankfully we were a D-20's throw from the bathrooms and hotdogs. I barely had time to run off and 'work' for the blog. But i did manage to wait in line and play a few demos to share with you. 

Getting there was not easy or quick and the distractions along the way were numerous and went as follows

"30 seconds no more Dick"

"30 seconds no more Dick"

Dick fucking Tracy was there...finally. I've seen hundreds of thousands of costumers but never Dick Tracy. I let him know how impressed i was and got a fist bump out of it. Now where are those videogames?

 

Fool Marty!!

Fool Marty!!

Morty? I mean Marty? I mean M.J Fox? Is that you. I seriously had to look really close at this guy. From a distance he looked exactly like McFly. As i approached for a closer inspection i noticed that he was actually posing still. So NOT Michael J Parkinsons....i mean Fox. Doc didn't look so terrible either. See they were promoting the 30th anniversary of the film and the date that was entered into the Delorean all those years ago. October 21 2015. In celebration the promoters were giving away those future Pepsi bottles from the second movie. I wanted one, and i don't even like Pepsi. Of course, i couldn't have one. Despite my immaculate Marty impression i was not dressed in a life preserver or resembled Marty in the slightest. To get a Pepsi you had to dress like Marty McFly and wait in line for hours. 

Still no games in sight so i kept moving. But whats this?

James Jeans Ninja Turtles 

James Jeans Ninja Turtles 

And some more awesome shit that i don't need . These Ninja Turtles from the 'Good Smile Company' were so badass that i almost bought them all right then and there...but i didn't cuz it would have cost me $520 turtle bucks. They were non articulated figures but so awesome anyways. There was motion and style all over the place here. The poses had attitude and the colour of the skin was an awesome teal blue/green. One of our favorite artists did this image that the toys were designed from. Still no games though.

But so close. I was about to walk by this but im glad i didn't. Audible had a booth demonstrating there new interactive comics software. If you havent read 'Locke & Key' do it. Its a great series and was written by Stephen Kings son under the pseudonym Joe Hill. The line was short and i got to check out the first chapter of the story. The Oculus dev kit 2 was the vehicle for the story. The headsets were being stressed to the max so the screen tearing was pretty bad and the frame rate was shit- almost unwatchable. But the demo was so engrossing and cool that i stuck it out and really enjoyed the experience despite the shortcomings. Below is a video that was captured from my experience. Naturally i look like a jackass doing it. Deffinately a memorable experience. When i get my headset i cant wait to experience stories with the VR medium. 

Inevitably i stumbled into a few game demos on my way back to the booth. I got to play 'Dark Souls 3' and 'Mirrors Edge: Catalyst' both were underwhelming and had me questioning the whole sequel thing.

MIRRORS EDGE: CATALYST

I didn't play the original when it first came out in 2008. I was told and told to play it by friends but was never really inticed to try it or just never found the time. Well i did get around to playing it on Steam last year and had a really good time. The story wasn't for me so i didn't really care much for the characters but the visual style was beautiful. When i got my Oculus Rift DK1 in the mail a few summers ago i setup Mirrors Edge and realized way too late that this game and vr = barftown. After a big jump Faith will dive roll out of it and keep the momentum forward. During the dive roll the entire world spins out of control and i could feel the sweat beading and my salivary glands squeezing. Barftown.

So i was willing to endure the one and one half hour lineup to try the sequel Mirrors Edge: Catalyst. It was a fifteen minute demo, which was nice, and we got a small demonstration by ipad while in line which setup the demo and story so far. This was a surprise as most companies are not willing or even consider preparing a user for a quick gaming experience. The demo wasn't my favorite thing. All i wanted to do was fuckup a few security guards but i didn't manage to get that far. During the tutorial my game locked up 5 min into the demo and i was more or less exited from the experience. It looked amazing! Keeping the same aesthetics as the original game. One thing i noticed was that the movements were sluggish. Faith is a bit out of shape here and i found myself leg twitching as i held the run button for her to just hurry up and get to the next wall run. Of course its just a demo and no one should ever judge an incomplete title. I wont buy it on release day but i will be playing this come next year. The schedule release is February 2016.

On my way to the Bandai/Namco booth i found the myth himself. He seemed not very interested in moving all that much. Way to slip into the roll. 

DARK SOULS 3

 

The simulated nightmare of Dark Souls 3 was calling my name from the end of a very long lineup. Usually the conversation in the lines i wait in it quite lively. I was waiting in line with a friend and fan of the series; talking about the game and how i love and hate it. Usually this is when you might get a few thoughts from the fans in lone ahead and behind you. Often all at once. But here. Nothing. Nobody said shit and when it was my turn to play i tried my very best. 

The guy ahead of me had done this before. The girl at the booth commented: "oh, you again huh?" Why would you play the same demo twice? and wait in line hours to do it? Fans of this game are literally fanatical. I watched him play before my turn; he chose the knight class and bombed through the entire thing just so he could have a run at the boss. Which, spoiler alert, was a giant skeletony ethereal monster with a flaming sword and semi predictable albeit terrifying attack pattern. He died. Just like i did about 11 times.

Me, i just trotted along trying to remember how to block and counter. I played 'Bloodborne' in the summer and i loved it so. It's greatness caused me to forget Dark Souls entirely. So needless to say i sucked bad at this demo. But i did notice how beautiful it looked. So pretty; shiny armor, amazing views and an impossible labyrinth of undead monks. It must have been very painful and boring to watch me play. I parried a few attacks and had a lot of trouble with the camera angle. If you weren't positioned behind the character then he wouldn't hit the way you wanted him to. Most likely a user error. One thing i did notice was that it was strikingly similar to the last game and the one before that. Its the same shit. Its hard, really pretty and frustrating as hell. If your willing to work your ass off just so you can stab a boss in the ass 20 times to win then this game is for you. I really appreciate this series but i don't think i need to do this again, and so soon after there last game. I would love to see a few new mechanics that would reinvent the game though. 

In short i saw what i expected to see. Sequels that retained 80% of what made them popular from the start. I can't fault a publisher for maintaining consistency but i'm no longer content with the expected. 

Thanks New York for another eventful year. I hurt all over, got a nerd flu and fell asleep for 12 hours when i got home. 

VR-CADES

Prediction: VR-cades will be a thing in the coming years. Arcades as we know and love them have all but gone to the rapture, replaced by stale internet cafes or one dollar pizza places. An Arcade game should be so lucky, to find a loving home this day in age is rare, like finding a baby unicorn. Whether your PC's are ready for it or not, the VR train is steadily approaching. This coming fall the HTC Vive will be first out the gate and available publicly. But this wouldn't be the first time for a virtual reality peripheral. History tends to repeat itself. 

Way back when arcades were nefarious dungeons and the old Chinese guy at the quarter counter cut you short and there was a 9 kid line to play Mortal Kombat, VR was born. You probably don't remember it, because a human brain can only take so much nonsense before detouring shitty memories of empty promises. Enter 'Virtuality'. Introduced in the early 90's (and showcased in some theaters showing Terminator 2 in America) this 'VR' console attempted to capture the hearts of gamers. It didn't, the marketing was all flash, the games looked terrible and they made people sick. But hey, the user looked kind of cool ( for the 90's) wearing the gear. And that was the hook; games were shit but you got to sit in a 'vr pod' and wear a heavy, sweaty helmet for 3 min. Yes 3 min, Virtuality charged $5 bucks and let you play 3 miniutes. Which, in the early 90's was enough cash to get a six pack and crush it in the alley. This was a huge fail for any company trying to make a buck off a lie and when consumers began sharing there experiences amongst themselves Virtuality flopped, hard. Unfortunately, the technology at the time wasn't anywhere close to realizing the potential of our creativity. Until this Fall

 

In a year or two what will be happening will be a resurgence of the Arcade and Virtual Reality proper. VR is a different beast completely. Watching videos and trailers simply doesn't achieve the immersion level you keep hearing about from users these days. The only way to understand it is to experience it in person. It deffinately wont be for everyone so why would anyone throw $500 at something they might not even like? The HTC Vive uses a peripheral called 'Lighthouse'(the boxes on the right.) Essentially they are placed in a room and they map the space your physically standing in into the  virtual environment your experiencing. So your going to need a dedicated room for this already. Online the suggested size for the lighthouse tracking system is a 15x15 ft space. The headset itself will require no less than 3 separate inputs into a CPU: power, USB  and HDMI. The intelligent thing to do would be to have a tether on the ceiling with a swivel for these cables. If a company wants to injure their users then they should cause them to be blind and create tripping hazards, so when they throw up from nausea it'll be while tripping over said cables and falling against a wall; landing on an otherwise perfectly good and functioning computer. Childproofing resurgence is another prediction not suited for this particular article, but you heard it here first. Safety is going to be an issue here.

Problems are emerging rapidly.

HTC Vive, lighthouse and controllers.

HTC Vive, lighthouse and controllers.

Other very interesting and innovative peripherals are revealing themselves as well, some less recently than others. One of the most utilitarian and predictably ubiquitous being the Virtuix Omni. It's a stationary tread mill you might have seen on "Shark Tank" in 2013. They didn't get the bid. This seems like the most practical and natural extension to the VR experience. Allowing you to physically walk and run through the game environments safely (note the 'safety ring'). It's amazing... and expensive. Not to mention cumbersome. This unit costs $699 dollary-doos and the shipping costs alone will be insane if you don't live in the States. Also you need special shoes for it with plastic soles. You might be able to take them bowling! Were just not sure yet but keep your bowling fingers crossed.

Virtuix Omni

Virtuix Omni

Contrasting the size of the Virtuix Omni perfectly is the 'Gloveone.' A hepatic feedback system attached to gloves that the user wears to experience tactile response in a virtual world. Oh and it's wireless! Hands down (pun intended) the most intriguing and technologically mind-fucking peripheral created so far. At $395 bones for the pair its not going to be a spontaneous purchase for many people. 

So to for full immersion and the complete VR experience were going to need some things. Valve in there wisdom has not yet revealed the price point or points for there HTC Vive headset but lets call it a comfy $500 US.  Then the controllers which who knows if they will be included. Lets say they will. The lazer-emitting lighthouse which may or may not come as a package with the Vive lets call that $150 US. Your going to need a 15x15ft room for the experience which can't really be priced. It would be fair to say none of us have a free room ready for VR dedication. Your certainly going to need the Virtuix Omni for running like a caged rat that's going to be $699. Lastly and not leastly you'll need a great PC if your a console gamer exclusively your going to have to wait another 6 or so months. As of now no big news about console VR peripherals has come. The latest PC specs from 'Road to VR' is suggesting:

  • NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater
  • Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
  • 8GB+ RAM
  • Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 or newer

So that's, what? $2000 US. Finally you'll need those badass gloves mentioned earlier for $395. Now your ready, after spending about $3,750 before tax US for the full experience. For now, the Virtual frontier will more than likely happen through a business, hopefully near you.

 

The reality for the gamers at home though will be more modest. A consumer will be told by friends that they have to get a Vive or a Oculus or simply act on there curiosity and buy one for themselves. Most players will be contented to stay at home and add it to there entertainment arsenal forgoing the expensive 'add-ons.' But there's no way to truly understand the experience of full immersion until its been witnessed first hand. Hence the VAR-CADE! Remember that soft neon glow of the neighborhood arcade and now imagine it with rooms instead of video cabinets. Sure you might see 'quarter man' Jonny with a new job; dedicated to mopping up jizz off the 'porn room' floor or blood off the walls in the 'fighter room,' or Yak off the floor in the 'vomit simulator room.' Man this is gonna be exciting! Alternatively you could also be much less adventurous and make an incredibly elaborate long distance phone call (see below) totally your choice.

Keanu knows internet!