In this horror game, a group of teenagers who kind of hate each other travel to a secluded environment with no mobile reception and only one safe passage in or out (because that’s always a foolproof plan for fun). Tension is high because they’re mourning the loss of the sibling(s) of one member of the group, and people are blaming each other for their death. Two characters kind of have a thing going on and the player has the opportunity to get them together or keep them apart. Spooky things start happening, the group gets split up, and what began as a sweet fun high school romp becomes a quest to survive the night and get safely home. Is it indie ghost story Oxenfree I’m describing, or my Problematic Fave Until Dawn?
These are actually two wildly different pieces of media, but on reflection they had enough similarities that I felt a compare-and-contrast could be interesting, if only because of the first thing they have in common: supposedly I don’t even like spooky fiction, weak soul that I am, yet I loved both of these games and find myself still thinking about them enough to write another thousand-or-so words months and even years after first picking them up. The second thing these two have in common is that it feels kind of incorrect to call either of them “horror games”: Until Dawn is more of an interactive horror movie, complete with a fully-loaded arsenal of stock characters and predictable tropes from horror cinema around which it builds its existence; and Oxenfree is more of a ghost story in the traditional sense. It’s this atmospheric shift that makes comparing them so interesting, since they both manage to be fantastically engaging and frightening despite the very different ways they build their worlds and attempt to scare the pants off you. Continue reading
In the turbulent era between the end of the First World War and the full swing of the Roaring Twenties, a cunning and aloof gangster must navigate a treacherous criminal underworld to rise in power, while being pursued by a staunchly religious but morally grey police officer and trying (unsuccessfully) not to fall in love with a timid girl who’s more of a badass than she seems. Shall we visit this case in Birmingham or Atlantic City?
Basically, everyone’s got a bit of a hype for period drama gangsters right now, leading to the existence of both Peaky Blinders, which follows the English gang of the same name, and Boardwalk Empire, which follows the rise to power of a corrupt politician in Prohibition era America. They both bring up questions of morality, power, religion, corruption, family, and a lot of slick dialogue as they play with the intricacies of criminal politics. After watching the first season of each (a while ago, in Boardwalk Empire’s case, and in the case of Peaky Blinders, I watched all of it in the wee hours of one night, so I apologise for any inaccuracies in referring to either) I’ve decided to have a poke at both to see if one of them wins this proverbial turf war for our viewership. Major spoiler free! Continue reading
Innnnn this corner we have the BBC’s latest phenomenon Sherlock, an adaptation/homage to the world’s most famous fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, transplanted into modern day London. Innnnn the other corner we have CBS’ Elementary, which is… the same thing, but in modern day New York. The two face each other off grinding their heels into the ground. Now taking bets! This is a no-holds-barred smackdown match event! This opening would have been a lot punchier if I had a better grasp of fighting sport lingo.
If you follow this website in which I blog into the void, you will know that I very much enjoy Sherlock (as well as admitting its critical flaws). Naturally, as one of many who went about this, I was quick to side-eye CBS’ announcement of their Elementary project. Yes, I’ll admit it, I was brutally sceptical. Which, in my defence, was warranted given how many organ-failure-inducingly awful American remakes or knock-offs have been made of British television shows. It simply wasn’t enough for the American market to enjoy Sherlock, they had to go and make their own. It grated upon me. But not so much anymore, I am joyful and actually pretty surprised to admit.
Is one better than the other? Does it all come down to another little rivalry between the UK and the US? Let’s step back and look at this objectively. Having recently finished season one of Elementary and waiting (c’mon, Win network) for Sherlock season three, here is my personal notes of critique, comparison and congratulations (It’s even relatively spoiler free!) Continue reading