Playlist: August 23rd

Fun fact: Scanline Media has had a growth in views every month since we launched it. Not mindblowing, but a little thing that we’re proud of. August might be the first month where that’s not the case. Granted, we been slack- I was out of town for a week, so I wasn’t posting anything then, and when I came back it took me a while to hit my stride again. But still, wouldn’t it be nice if we could beat our previous record again? So we’re gonna push for that, and see if we can put up enough content that you guys can’t help but visit.

Here’s our media consumption this week:

PLAYED

Betrayer

Betrayer-LogoBen:

I’ll have a more in-depth look at Betrayer’s Early Access next week, but for now, I want to talk about its color, or lack thereof. The whole world is rendered in black and white, with no greys or lighter shades to balance your perception (save for a few hints of red here and there). For the first few minutes, I had to struggle with my stomach as my brain did its best to adjust to the alien environment. Even after my first one-hour session, it feels off-putting to exist in that space.

Rather than turn me away, this uncomfortable style pulled me in deeper. Much like the ghostly Spaniards and Englishmen that haunt the land, the world is intentionally making itself feel as unwelcome as possible. I always feel like an intruder in this hauntingly beautiful slice of Colonial America (if this land even belongs to the same continent anymore), and even though it’s always light outside, I’m always on edge, waiting for the world to catch me with my pants down and tear me asunder.

I can’t wait to dive back into this high-contrast colony and trudge through the constant sense of oppression. Horror fans are a weird bunch, aren’t they?
Black Mesa

blackmesaBen:

Yes, this mod is almost a year old by now, but I was busy at the time and quickly forgot that this sat on my hard drive until two days ago. It’s certainly an impressive piece of work; every inch of Half-Life 1 (save for the dreadful Xen bits) has been lovingly restored or reimagined in the versatile Source engine, giving the game a shiny, modern coat of polish. I no longer have to suspend my disbelief as I talk to the exact same scientist I ran into an hour ago, or try to guess what an ancient 3D model was supposed to represent. They even managed to make Black Mesa feel like a thriving research facility instead of a sparsely populated soundstage!

The only thing holding me back from truly enjoying myself is the knowledge of the game it’s based on. The high-definition polish and extra effort to breathe new life into the 1999 classic highlights all the lessthan-perfect parts that were ironed out by other games in subsequent generations. Timing delicate jumps onto small platforms is still a hassle, and the whole “tentacle monster” chapter doesn’t do a great job at letting the player know where they need to go. It made me wish that the team went the extra mile and made its own game, instead of hewing closely to a decades-old blueprint.

Maybe the few who never played Half-Life 1 will be more forgiving of its status as a legacy project, but assomeone who watched the FPS genre evolve beyond the more contrived elements, it’s frustrating to see these old contrivances reemerge and keep Black Mesa from its true potential. This is one rare instance where straying from the formula would have been welcomed.

Gunpoint

gunpoint

Colin:

Giant Bomb’s interview with Tom Francis reminded me that I still needed to get around to playing his indie puzzle platformer. Boy howdy, I should have gotten to this one sooner. Francis spins a fantastic tale that only gets better in the remembering. Reflecting on the part where I was hired to investigate myself, I can’t stop the slow grin from spreading across my face. The events are amusing enough, and the dialogue is an absolute delight, but it’s the gameplay that really stands out.

The simple hacking mechanics combine with tight, acrobatic platforming to make a genuinely delightful experience. Rewiring systems to progress through the level is interesting, at times challenging, but never frustrating. Connecting a lightswitch to a door to an elevator to activate a sound detector to cause a guard’s gun to fire… it isn’t necessarily that elaborate, but it sure is fun when it is. A little short, but I’d rather love every second of a game than think it was wasting my time.

Divekick

divekicklogoColin:

The One True Game is out, and it’s just as glorious as I’d hoped. Ben’s got a full review coming, but in a more informal context let me just say WOOOOOO!

It is so good to play a fighting game where ranked matches are less than a living hell. It is so good to fight without worrying about links and combos. And it is so good to fight with a casual friend and have him be able to play evenly. I’ve been loving Markman, but almost all of the cast is fun in one way or another. Just not Stream. That dude is fucked up.

I don’t see myself stopping with this one any time soon. I’m also trying to talk as many friends as I can into picking it up, with the hope of running a tournament down the road. It seems like any character is basically viable- even the supposedly crappy Jefailey is absolutely deadly in the right hands. One hit kills are the great equalizer, I suppose. But as for me and mine, I’ll be sticking with my KickBox. Precision control!

Ben’s Response:

With a dedicated controller, 10-15 games and one screen tuned to EVO every year, it’s fair to say that I’m a fan of fighting games. I hold my own against inexperienced friends and family, but every time I try my luck online, my bones are ground up and spat back out. The competition studies frames, knows every combo and can smell scrubs from a mile away. I don’t have the time or skill to play on their level, so the game goes back onto the shelf and the fight stick collects dust.

Everything changed with Divekick. With the simplistic two button layout, I can easily comprehend and execute every basic and special move for every character. The barriers that were holding me back have melted away, and in the online arena, it shows. My pink-clad Mr. N racks up more wins than losses, and when I DO lose, it feels justified. When I miss a jump or fall into a trap, I don’t get angry; I file the results into my brain and bring my lessons into the next match.

My love for fighting games burns brighter than ever, and it’s all thanks to Divekick.