The First Tree Review

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Title: The First Tree
Genre: Adventure/Exploration, Walking Simulator, Drama
Developer: David Wehle
Release Date: September 14, 2017

The First Tree cover

System: Nintendo Switch


The First Tree is a gorgeous, atmospheric game where you play as a fox hunting for her lost cubs through various seasonal landscapes.  In truth the fox and her search are the dream of the narrator as he attempts to work through childhood trauma culminating in one final blow.  As you, the player, control the vixen, the unseen storyteller talks to someone we assume is his wife about his father and childhood in the Alaskan wilderness, which the fox now explores.

Screenshot from The First Tree

Draped over the exquisite environment, the story intertwines with the vixen’s search in the dream.  Man-made artifacts and castoffs are strewn about, many of which the narrator will comment on if they hold some significance such as his sketchbook.  Others might be mentioned and discovered later like a lumberyard or abandoned police car, the latter which recalls a particularly offensive escapade.

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Oxenfree: Review and Analysis

More video game reviews and analyses can be found here.

Note: Source for banner artwork can be found at this site discussing other potential media adaptations of the game.

Title: Oxenfree
Genre: 
Adventure/Exploration, Puzzle, Mystery, Horror
Developer: Night School Studio
Release Date: January 15, 2016

Oxenfree coverLet’s Player: ChristoperOdd
Date Started: 9/2/18
Date Finished: 9/5/18


A supernatural thriller about a group of friends who unwittingly open a ghostly rift.


With a heavy Stranger Things vibe and a female MC who’s a person of color, I couldn’t help but be drawn into this paranormal tale that starts out (like most) normally enough with a group of teenagers participating in a high school rite of passage that turns into a supernatural mystery involving secret subs, a lost crew, and a government cover up not dissimilar to The Philadelphia Experiment and Montauk.

Oxenfree, developed by Night School Studio and the brainchild of former Telltale and Disney employees, was released on January 16, 2016 accompanied by developmental documentaries and an alternative reality game (ARG), which allows players to interact with it in the real world, lending a creepier air to an already eerie narrative.   The atmospheric music, composed by scntfc, adds the perfect accompaniment to Alex and company’s exploration of the abandoned Edwards Island.  Along with the music, Morse code serves an integral part to understanding what happened here, though, as usual, the internet provides for those of us not savvy enough to be knowledgeable.

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Rakuen

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: RPG, Adventure – Drama, Fantasy/Magical Realism
Developer: Laura Shigihara
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC

Let’s Player: Cryaotic


Note: Per my addition of Let’s Player information, I watched this game and did not play it myself, so I won’t be talking much about gameplay mechanics.

The era of the poignant, indie video game is in full swing, and Rakuen is ahead of the curve.  Another masterpiece made with RPG Maker, it ties together two settings: one depressingly real and the other beautifully fantastic in order to fulfill a child’s dreams.  You play as the Boy in the paper samurai hat whose favorite story is eponymous to the title of the game.  From the Japanese for “pleasure garden,” Rakuen splits its time between the hospital populated with characters colorful despite their infirmaries and its fantasy counterpart populated by leebles (little cat people), talking animals and animated plants.

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Valiant Hearts: The Great War

More video game reviews can be found here.

Genre: Puzzle, Adventure, Educational
Developer: Ubisoft Montpelier Studios
Release Date: June 24, 2014
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Network (PS3), Xbox 360 Games Store, Xbox One

The cover of Valiant Hearts: The Great WarLet’s Player: Cryaotic

Some spoilers for the beginning.


“War makes monsters of us all.”
-George R. R. Martin “A Game of Thrones”

“I was never a hero.  That’s just how they justify war.”
Northern Lights


There is nothing great about war, but there is something to be garnered from its portrayal.  Inspired by letters found during the First World War, Valiant Hearts is nothings less than a a bittersweet masterpieve.

I actually wound up watching this game by accident; I thought I was clicking on Vandal Hearts, but even when the realization set it, I was already hooked.  Valiant Hearts: The Great War manages to be entertaining, funny, heartbreaking, and educational.  I learned more about the first World War than I ever did in history class.  I knew about the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (hell there’s even a street near me named after him), but I didn’t know about the treaties France had signed prior that drew them into the conflict, nor was I informed about what they did to their German residents, though I’m sadly not surprised.  It’s not without its precedence, nor have we presently learned.

Karl, a farmer living in the French countryside with his wife Marie and their son Victor, is forced to leave and return to Germany where’s he promptly drafted (like…seriously?  Why would you do that France??  Obviously any able-bodied men sent back are going to be conscripted!  I mean…I understand the “logic” behind it, xenophobic and paranoid as it is, but I don’t understand why they didn’t realize that someone like Karl would be loyal to the land where he and his family resided and ousting people like him from the country is a bad move since it only served to augment their enemy’s ranks *sigh*).  Not long after Karl’s forced departure, Marie’s aged father Emile is impressed as well, leaving the young mother alone to tend to the harvest and care for her son.

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Ori and the Blind Forest

More video game reviews can be found here.

Series: Ori
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer, Adventure – Fantasy
Developer: Moon Studios
Release Date: March 11, 2015
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360 Games Store, Xbox One

The cover of Ori and the Blind ForestLet’s Player: Cryaotic

Some spoilers for the beginning.


Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful Metroidvania game that had me weeping within the first ten minutes.  That beats Up’s record.

A screenshot of Pixar's Up with Ellie and Carl lying on a blanket in the grass

I was a mess five minutes later though.

The moment the game starts, you’re sucked into another world, and everything about it facilitates this journey: the painting-like scenery of forest, the ethereal music, and the instantly endearing relationship between Ori, who fell out of the Spirit Tree during a  storm, and his adoptive mother Naru who could’ve stepped straight out of a Miyazaki movie.

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The State of the Gamer: 2/21/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 2/14/17          The State of the Gamer: 2/28/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.
I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!
Original source of the banner art is located here.

Title: Journey
Genre: Adventure, Art
Developer: Thatgamecompany
Original Platforms: PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: March 13, 2012
Current Platform: PlayStation 4
Current Platform Release Date: July 21, 2015
Date Purchased: January 21, 2017
Date Started: February 11, 2017

journey-cover

No progress on this one this week.  I decided to start another game by thatgamecompany (discussed below), but I”ll probably play more of this tomorrow (Wednesday).

Title: Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square/Tose (GBA)
Original Platform: NES
Original Release Date: December 18, 1987
Current Platform: Gameboy Advance
Current Platform Release Date: July 29, 2004
Date Started: November 20, 2016

dawn-of-souls

Nope again.  I just can’t seem to find time to fit this into the rotation.

Title: Final Fantasy IV
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square
Original Platform: SNES
Original Release Date: July 19, 1991
Current Platform: Game Boy Advance
Current Platform Release Date: December 12, 2005
Date Started: October 24. 2016

final-fantasy-iv

Yes!  I finished the Tower of Zot and am currently in Baron with the Magma Stone in my possession.  My next stop is Agart and the underground.

Title: World of Final Fantasy
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Date Bought: October 21, 2016
Date Started: November 5, 2016
Date Finished(?): February 19, 2017

world-of-final-fantasy

So I’ve seen the real and official ending credits, but there’s still more game to go.  I don’t think this is too spoilery, since I”m not giving any story elements away, but after you complete the second (real) ending, three new gates appear in the Girl’s Tearoom.  They’re optional dungeons with a boss fight at the end of them, and that boss fight is the “dark” versions of the Shiva, Ramuh, and Ifrit mirages.  All of them.  You fight a stacked version of “dark” Shiva, Mishiva, and Babliz; Ramuh, Zaphyr, and Zapt; and Ifrit, Affrite, and Fritt.  You can only catch the the littlest mirage in each stack (receiving mementos for the other ones), and the largest mirage will restack immediately if toppled once their turn comes back up.  Of course there’s a trick to it lol.  I’ve managed to catch dark Bablizz or Brrblizz so far, and I’m going to go after at least Joult (dark Zapt) tomorrow.

Since I’ve seen the (actual) credits, I think I can count this as a finish, but I’ll put another date once I finish off all the extras and have every single mirage.  This could also be my way of putting off writing a review lol, which I’m actually looking forward to doing.

Title: fLOw
Genre: Life Simulation
Developer: Thatgamecompany & SuperVillain Studios
Platform(s): Adobe Flash, PlayStation 3, PSP, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date:  April 14, 2016
Date Bought: November 12, 2016
Date Started: February 20, 2017
Date Finished: February 20, 2017

I decided to give this game a whirl yesterday, and it’s not really my cup of tea.  I think the main reason is my utterly horrible sense of direction.  You have to guide your little creature by turning the controller this way and that, and I’m not good at that.  I believe it’s the same controls in Journey, but I’m better able to navigate that more two dimensional plane.  So in terms of TSN’s playing of fLOw, I’ve gone with it, and I’m done.  I’m not going to rate or review it, because it’s mostly my bad sense of direction that stymied my playing efforts, and it’s not fair to judge a game because of my foibles.

I do count this as a “complete” for my Four in February since I am done playing it, and with WOFF done (at least technically), I’ve finished two with seven days left to go.


Games Currently Watching

Title: Ys: The Vanished Omens
Series: Ys
Genre: Action RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Nihon Falcon
Original Platform: Multiple
Original Release Date: June 21, 1987
Let’s Player: Hungry Goriya
Date Started: February 13, 2017

Whenever the next update is, I’ll be watching.  The field music is so epic, and I’m enjoying the experience of different RPGs and alternative battle systems.

Title: Mass Effect III
Series: Mass Effect
Genre: Action RPG – Sci-Fi
Developer: BioWare
Original Platform(s): Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: March 6, 2012
Let’s Player: Olizandri
Date Started: January 23, 2017

The next episode is going to contain Wrex, so I’m excited about that.

I’m also going to need to start watching an LP of the first ME again, because AmbiGaming is now playing it.  You can check out her Let’s Play here 🙂

When I start watching it, I’ll include it in my Watch list, but I wanted to provide the info so that you all can beat me to it hehe.


Games Added to Playlist: 5

My “drug dealer” strikes again, and he’s not sorry.  He admitted it in the comments!  I don’t remember what post, but he knows who he is!  But I’m not sorry either.  I want to broaden my JRPG and RPG horizons, and the best way to do that is to play non-Final Fantasy JRPGs.  Now FF is always going to be my favorite (we all already know that), but I do love me some sweet compare/contrasts, and I’ve never been one to complain about experiencing new stories (though you will hear me constantly bitch about not having enough time).

  1. Blue Dragon
  2. Lost Odyssey
  3. Magna Carta: Tears of Blood
  4. Infinite Discovery
  5. Tales of Vesperia

I already have Tales of Berseria on my list, but Vesperia was suggested, too, so why not.  All the RPGs!


What are you currently playing and/or watching? Is it something new or old?  Is it a first time run or a replay?  What’s the genre?  Would you recommend it?  What’s on your radar to play next?

<–The State of the Gamer: 2/14/17          The State of the Gamer: 2/28/17–>

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The State of the Gamer: 2/14/17

<–The State of the Gamer: 2/7/17          The State of the Gamer: 2/21/17–>

A weekly post updated every Tuesday detailing my current gaming projects.  I have quite a backlog of games to either play or watch, and I’m hoping a weekly article will assist with my progress as my other accountable posts have done with reading and writing.
I have an account at Grouvee, which is a essentially Goodreads for gamers, so please feel free to friend me there!
Original source of the banner art is located here.

Title: Journey
Genre: Adventure, Art
Developer: thatgamecompany
Original Platforms: PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: March 13, 2012
Current Platform: PlayStation 4
Current Platform Release Date: July 21, 2015
Date Purchased: January 21, 2017
Date Started: February 11, 2017

journey-cover

I started this last Saturday as part of my Four in February project.  Even though I watched one of my friends play it on Twitch, I wanted to go on my own journey.  I played for about an hour, but then I ran into the same problem I had with Banjo Kazooie and many other Nintendo 64 games: the camera movement.  I’ve never experienced motion sickness for actual movement (or if it has happened, it’s been rare), but when it comes to one of my major passions, if the camera is overly erratic, it causes me to feel nauseated and dizzy.  Initially, I was confused.  I thought I’d eaten something disagreeable, then I remembered this particular issue.  The funny thing is I can watch games that have the spinny camera, probably because I don’t have to focus my sight in one particular place.  When playing, though, you need to keep your eyes on your character, and the camera turning around them is what throws me off.

So I only played for an hour, but I did run into a “friend,” which was nice.  My scarf is still really short, and I’m hoping to play more tomorrow.

Title: Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square/Tose (GBA)
Original Platform: NES
Original Release Date: December 18, 1987
Current Platform: Gameboy Advance
Current Platform Release Date: July 29, 2004
Date Started: November 20, 2016

dawn-of-souls

Nope!

Title: Final Fantasy IV
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square
Original Platform: SNES
Original Release Date: July 19, 1991
Current Platform: Game Boy Advance
Current Platform Release Date: December 12, 2005
Date Started: October 24. 2016

final-fantasy-iv

Alas also a nope.  I still need to return to Troia to start my adventures in the Tower of Zot.

Title: World of Final Fantasy
Series: Final Fantasy
Genre: RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Date Bought: October 21, 2016
Date Started: November 5, 2016

world-of-final-fantasy

So I sort of finished the game last Wednesday, but I really didn’t.  It’s not the real ending, and I started giggling uncontrollably when I realized that Final Fantasy did a false “finale,” because that’s what they’ve been doing for years.  The credits roll and everything, but you know there’s no way in hell it’s the end.  I’m currently in postscript, which I thought was the only postscript any of the tip videos were mentioning, but there’s another postscript after what I’m assuming will be the real ending, and you can collect even more Mirages and do even more side quests.

I have more thoughts about the first ending, but I’ll leave them for when I review the game, as it’s spoiler city all over the place.


Games Currently Watching

Title: Ys: The Vanished Omens
Series: Ys
Genre: Action RPG – Fantasy
Developer: Nihon Falcon
Original Platform: Multiple
Original Release Date: June 21, 1987
Let’s Player: Hungry Goriya
Date Started: February 13, 2017

Imagine my delight last night as I finished watching an episode of Mass Effect III, and I check my email to find a notification about a new LP by Hungry Goriya!  Like Miracle Warriors, this is another game I’ve neither played nor heard of since it was released for the Sega Master System.  Another RPG, more familiar in aspect (to me) than Miracle Warriors was, but with some features I haven’t seen before..Ys utilizes the “bump attack” system.  It’s not turn-based like Final Fantasy, nor do you swing a sword like Legend of Zelda.  Rather, you “bump into” your enemies at an angle in order to defeat them.  It makes leveling up quicker and more streamlined, but you still have to avoid foes that are too powerful, otherwise you might be bumped off (nope, I’m not sorry for that).

I have to mention the awesome music, because music is such an important aspect of any media that will allow it.  It’s interesting how music is a medium all on its own, but it’s also used to enhance and enrich other media.  I thought the music in town and store was good, but the field music is just epic.  Not only that, this game predates Final Fantasy (the first game in the series) by half a year.

This would make some epic horse riding music #truestory

Title: Mass Effect III
Series: Mass Effect
Genre: Action RPG – Sci-Fi
Developer: BioWare
Original Platform(s): Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
Original Release Date: March 6, 2012
Let’s Player: Olizandri
Date Started: January 23, 2017

Shepherd ran into Thane, the drell assassin and her former companion in Huerta Memorial Hospital (the story behind the name is extra creepy btw).  Sadly, the terminal disease he mentioned in ME II has caught up with him, and to be honest some of his symptoms sound a lot like what I’ve been experiencing o.O  Either way, I have a feeling his death scene is going to be heartbreaking ;_;

Games Added to Playlist: 1

  1. Tales of Berseria – I have to thank the Evil Wizard, Esq. for this RPG addition to my backlog.  I already have the first Tales game on my list, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that each of the games is standalone (like Final Fantasy), but still interconnected (also like Final Fantasy).  Berseria is available for the PS4, which makes it very accessible.

What are you currently playing and/or watching? Is it something new or old?  Is it a first time run or a replay?  What’s the genre?  Would you recommend it?  What’s on your radar to play next?

<–The State of the Gamer: 2/7/17          The State of the Gamer: 2/21/17–>

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