Podcast: Scratching the Itch



This Thursday, if all goes to plan, the first episode of Scratching the Itch will be available for your eager ears.

Every two weeks, Luke Kear, Gareth Monk and a lovely guest will delve into a free or cheap indie game – you know, those games that just about scratch the proverbial itch.  Feel free to play the games we play so you can completely disagree with our opinions!

In the first episode, we’ll be joined by the delightful Jessica Thomas to talk about Robert Yang’s The Tearoom.

See you then!

Prey is Gay (and that’s bloody fantastic)

By using a little common sense and a lot of strong writing, Prey absolutely hits the nail on the head in its representation of gay characters.  The folks over at Arkane Studios are proving to be one of the most capable storytellers in the business with genuinely inventive twists.  Even the mimics, Prey’s lowest level enemies, defy their skittish facehugger-like appearance with the ability to mimic any object in the vicinity.  As collecting objects is essential, this makes every interaction unsettling.

It’s not that Prey is particularly inventive or even subtle in representing its gay characters but it avoids dimwittedly making a fuss about it.  Sexual orientation isn’t of particular importance to the central sci-fi narrative, so it is appropriately not overplayed.  That said, Prey is far from coy about its gay characters.  They are simply present.  Frankly, it’s the finest approach to the woefully unrepresented and misrepresented issue of sexual orientation. Continue reading

Horizon Zero Dawn: What’s that on the Horizon? Wait, what’s that in the foreground?

Horizon Zero Dawn is a very beautiful game.  Whether you’re walking through a lush valley, hunting in a desert or scaling a snowy mountain peak, it never fails to impress with abundant detail.  But, it’s also disorienting and forgettable.  It epitomises the problems I have with more recent open-world games.  Not only is there usually too much to do but there’s too much to take in. Continue reading

The Last Guardian – Cantankerous Cats and Catastrophic Cameras

From the onset, it’s obvious The Last Guardian is a specifically designed experience.  Fumito Ueda and Team Ico are known for their deliberately sparse and evocative worlds but a failure to pay attention to the flawed gameplay undermines such meticulous craft in The Last Guardian, creating a serene world that is equally horrific, beautiful and unnecessarily frustrating.

Continue reading

Watch Dogs 2 Makes an Impression

A quick glance at how the world and story of Watch Dogs 2 are connected; it’s all about making an impression

There was a moment playing Watch Dogs 2 when I wrestled with the god-awful handling of a tiny car and audibly questioned whether it needed to be an open-world game.  The appeal of the series was originally its go-anywhere, hack-anything premise, but the apex of the latest game is its characters and off-kilter story.

All I wanted was to experience this without the drudge of getting from A to B.   Continue reading

Naked Fun: PC Building

Last week, on a fairly typical Thursday, I spent five hours totally naked.

Let that sink in for a second.

At 10.40, there came a loud knock at the door. As I stumbled across my landing, there quickly followed the obnoxiously loud vibration of my phone. I opened the front door to be greeted by a slightly flustered courier with two rather large brown boxes.

I couldn’t have been wearing a larger grin and I couldn’t have thanked the courier with more sincerity. I possibly could’ve been a little less quick to shoo him away, but I was child-at-crimbo excited.

I was about to build a PC. Continue reading

Nature in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I will only warn you once: Spoilers. 

So The Force Awakens was released in the UK today and yup, it’s still pretty good but flawed (seriously, not one member of the crew realised that it would be a little weird for Leia to walk straight passed Chewie and hug Rey after Han dies?).

Something the film does right is its use of nature as a force unto itself.

In the original trilogy, a few notable scenes show nature as an intimidating force or threat.  These scenes remain pretty iconic.  Luke and the tauntaun succumbing to the harsh blizzard on Hoth.  Han navigating through the Hoth asteroid field with approximately three thousand seven hundred and twenty to one odds.  The x-wing being swallowed whole by the Dagoba swamp.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these three examples are from The Empire Strikes Back, often regarded to be the best of the series.

In the Force Awakens, three great moments stand out. Continue reading