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Review: Visage

Visage

Developer: SadSquare Studio
Publisher: SadSquare Studio
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Early Access Release: 10/2/2018
Expected Full Release: 2/2019

What’s it about?
Visage is an indie psychological horror game from SadSquare Studio. Funded by Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight, Visage is one of the many spiritual successors to Silent Hills P.T. 

Visage can be considered a haunted house game. You are exploring a rather old and large house, attempting to uncover the terrible things that have happened there. As the game is in early access, there is only one chapter available thus far.

What did I think?
After playing through the demo, which is currently available on steam, I can tell you that Visage is a phenomenal game so far. You can certainly tell that the developers have put a lot into this game and have used their Kickstarter funds wisely.

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This game gets intense very quickly. The opening scene can be triggering for some, so proceed with caution. After the jarring beginning, you find yourself in a giant house with almost no direction. You’re meant to explore, to find your own way, however there are tutorials on how to use necessary items.

Visage takes an excellent approach on managing your character’s sanity. You can do one of two things to keep yourself from going insane: take pills or stand in well lit places. The pills are easier to find than well lit places. You also have to find lighters, candles and lightbulbs to help manage your sanity levels.

The story of the first “Visage” is compelling, terrifying and sad. You are uncovering the story of the brutal death of a young girl without a jaw. But you need to be quick about it, or else she’ll kill you for snooping. Your only sign that she’s anywhere near you is her labored breathing.

There are some jump scares in the game, but my favorite thing about Visage are the fake outs. You can hear something and be absolutely certain that it’s right there, just inside the next room. You have no choice but to go in there, terrified. And, when you do, the noise stops and you’re alone. I love the build up of suspense, especially when it doesn’t end in a jump scare.

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Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes, I very much do. Visage is the first horror game to actually frighten me in years. It didn’t just make me jump or feel tense, it actually lingered with me long after I finished playing. I can’t wait to see what the final game looks like. For now, though, check it out on Steam and tell me what you think in the comments below!

Review: To The Moon

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You may or may not know this, dear reader, but part of the VanriTheRogue persona is the fact that I don’t have emotions. At least, I don’t have strong ones.

In an effort to see my emotions, a long time viewer decided to take matters into his own hands. Randomly one day, I received a gift on steam. One of my friends and our long time viewer, Plottrig, had sent me a story-heavy indie game called To The Moon. He wanted me to play it on stream, so that I could feel the feels.

What’s it about?
To The Moon follows two scientists who work for a company that grants dying wishes to dying patients, for a price. The game begins with the scientists arriving at the house of their patient. We meet his caretaker and her two brat children. We find out that the patient is in a coma upstairs and his final wish is to go to the moon. The scientists set up their equipment and prepare to enter the patient’s mind. Their plan is to rewire his memories so that he thinks he’s gone to the moon.

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What did I think?
The game doesn’t have much gameplay to it. You walk around a bit, find things that are important to the patient as memory points, and solve small puzzles to jump from memory to memory. It’s in the retro, 8-bit style that I love so much. The detail in the artwork is amazing, I wish I could have explored more.

The story itself is powerful and sucks you right in. I completed the whole game in one sitting because I just couldn’t bring myself to exit out of it. There’s no voice acting, but the soundtrack creates the perfect atmosphere for a story as heartbreaking and heartwarming as To The Moon’s.

The only problem with games like these – not just this one, but all of them – is that there’s no replayability. The story is the same every time. The items and the puzzles are the same every time. If you go through it once, you could go through it a hundred times. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but I do like my choices games and my multiple endings.

Do I recommend it?
Yes. I recommend you go and buy it right now. Play through it and feel the feels that I felt… and showed… on stream. (I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING!) Go and be as scared about the outcome as I was. Go and experience the amazingness that is To The Moon.

Thank you, Plottrig!

Review: Narcosis

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We all know how much I love me some horror games. I’m always looking for new games to play, especially from amazing indie developers. I was ecstatic to get a review copy of Narcosis from indie developer, Honor Code, thanks to my fellow Mixer streamer and friend, Rorifett, who put me in contact with David, one of the writers and the marketer for the game.

What’s it about?
A hundred leagues under the sea lies several research facilities. Narcosis follows a nameless man as he attempts to find his way back to the surface after an earthquake destroys these facilities and kills almost everyone else down there. He must find his way to the single escape pod, while avoiding aggressive squids, bloodthirsty fish, and terrifying spider crabs. All the while, the game is being framed and narrated by an interview, possibly on a talk show.

What did I think?
This game is visually stunning. The detail in each chapter was so painstakingly realistic, both visually and atmospherically. Each piece of floating debris made me jump. Each spider crab injected a new nightmare into my brain. Each squid caused a mini panic attack.

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The story was slow building and kept me at the edge of my seat. What happened to the other survivors? Would we ever get out of here? All questions were answered in the end, which is extremely satisfying in a horror game. I don’t want to be left with more questions than I started with. I want to be left wanting more content, not answers. Narcosis accomplished this in bounds.

The most important thing – to me – is that this game actually terrified me. My stress level was so high throughout the entire game that I had to take my anxiety meds. Not only am I terrified of the ocean as it is, but the creatures in the deepest, darkest reaches also fuel the worst nightmares. If I never see a spider crab again, it will be too soon.

Do I recommend it?
Highly. If you like horror games, this game is for you. If you like deep sea exploring, this game is for you. If you want to be afraid to go into the ocean for the rest of your life, this game is for you. (That last one’s a joke, of course, I was already afraid to go into the ocean!)

Narcosis can be found on PC and Xbox One.

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10 Self-Care Tips for Streamers

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I started my streaming journey three years ago on the RealWomenOfGaming Twitch channel. I didn’t know much about streaming, but it seemed like fun being able to hang out with people while playing games in the privacy of my own bedroom. I remember the day well – which is saying something, considering I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.

I lived in Los Angeles at the time. It was a Tuesday afternoon. I played Funcom’s The Park for the first episode of a horror series called “Wanna Don’t Wanna.” I finished the game in about an hour, then I ended my stream.

Three years later, I still stream horror games for Real Women of Gaming. I’m on the Mixer channel now, with occasional appearances on Twitch. I also stream on my own 3-4 days a week under VanriTheRogue.

In my time streaming, I’ve come up with some self-care tips that help me. I’m really hoping they can help you too:

Read the rest of this entry

Zenkaikon 2018: Bullying in Fandom Panel

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The Knights of Fandom are a Tumblr-based group that fights bullying in fandom groups online. It was started by Lady Norbert, who found that a lot of her Tumblr community was experiencing bullying. Naturally, she got mad about it and decided to do something about it.

I discovered The Knights of Fandom at Zenkaikon 2018. They gave a panel on Bullying in Fandom that I just had to attend, given our own work in anti-bullying. The panel outlined what cyberbullying looks like in fandom groups, the difference between bullying and constructive criticism, and what we as fandom members can do to prevent bullying, stop bullying, and show support to the person being bullied.

It was a short panel, but full of insightful information. Lady Norbert was funny and entertaining, touching and knowledgeable. She wanted nothing more than to unite the various fandoms of Tumblr against bullying. Her tips included:

  • Spread kindness. Reach out to those who are bullied and show them love.
  • If you’re going to criticize, make sure it’s constructive and not destructive.
  • Defend others, speak up – stick together!
  • Remove yourself from toxic online situations.
  • Make friends with other members in your fandom, especially those who are bullied.

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You can find the Knights of Fandom valiantly protecting the Tumblr fandoms here. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Zenkaikon 2018: Overcoming Con Anxiety Panel

IMG_2836The lovely Aniyah Lyszt and Levy Cross of Pleasant Nightmare Entertainment gave a wonderfully insightful panel on overcoming con anxiety. It’s no secret that I have a decent amount of anxiety. This anxiety is a big factor in why I became a part of the gaming/nerd communities. I rarely have to go outside or be around people to enjoy my hobby. Fewer people equals less anxiety. Perfect.

While Zenkaikon is not the biggest con I’ve been to, it still produces a crowd bigger than my anxiety can handle. When I saw that there was going to be a panel called Overcoming Con Anxiety on the very first day, I jumped at it.

Aniyah and Levy had a wealth of knowledge on the subject. They turned the panel into a discussion, which helped those anxiety-ridden panel audience members to participate. They were funny and had relevant stories that made me laugh. And to speak to their experience, they carried on despite the extremely loud Steven Universe sing-a-long next door.

A highlight was definitely Aniyah Lyszt asking the staff member if they were sacrificing a baby next door and to see if they could wait until she got over there so she could join the party.

Reminds me of someone…

ANYWAY!

The panel was full of tips and tricks to help yourself handle a lot of the anxiety that comes along with conventions. The majority of their advice was to basically stay on top of the things you can control, which will make the things you can’t control far less overwhelming. Some of their advice included:

  • Give yourself plenty of time, don’t rush!
  • Don’t set high expectations – be realistic!
  • Stop thinking of the worst case scenario.
  • Research the con prior to going (ie. size, location, reviews, etc.)
  • DO NOT PROCRASTINATE!

 

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The panel helped me to get through the rest of the con simply because I felt more prepared for it. Yes, the constant droves of people still produced a bit of anxiety, but I took a few minutes to sit down and plan out my con. I circled the panels I wanted to go to, figured out which times I would be in the Exhibit Hall and which times I would be meeting up with Crymson and/or Thia. We planned when we would give ourselves meal breaks and figured out where we wanted to go. We were more prepared than usual, which did wonders for my anxiety levels.

If you ever have the chance to go to one of Aniyah Lyszt’s panels, do it! With boob jokes, cursing and sex talk mixed in with some serious advice, I promise you won’t regret it.

You can check out Pleasant Nightmare Entertainment here.

Zenkaikon 2018: FOOD

If there’s one thing I’m pretty sure I know well, it’s food. The weekend of Zenkaikon 2018, I was able to try several restaurants in the Lancaster, PA area. From Asian restaurants to cafes to Irish Pubs, we ate very well during Zenkaikon 2018. Here are my thoughts on the food:

1. Issei Noodles

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Miso Ramen from Issei Noodles

Crymson mentioned that there was a ramen place nearby that she didn’t have a chance to try the previous year. Of course that was the first place I wanted to go. We got to the restaurant and had a bit of a wait, though not as long as the ETA they told us when we checked in. Our hostess and our waitress were both absolutely lovely. They explained anything we didn’t understand and were attentive to our needs as patrons. A+ Customer Service.

The food was great! We started off with some fried gyoza, which are basically pork dumplings. They were crispy and well seasoned, though I think they could have used a bit more meat. Next came our ramen. Crymson and I both got the miso ramen, which included miso, pork, fish cakes and leeks in addition to the noodles in a soy/pork broth. The soup was flavorful and not at all like the instant ramen we get at the grocery store. We ended our meal with some matcha and turon. Even though my stomach was threatening to explode at this point (after eating all of my soup and some of Crymson’s), I devoured the semi-sweet desserts we ordered.

I highly recommend Issei Noodles if you’re ever in the Lancaster, PA area.

2. The Rabbit and the Dragonfly

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Cute book corner!

I have never seen a cuter cafe in my entire life. We found ourselves here twice, once for a coffee to keep us awake so we wouldn’t miss Cosplay Burlesque and again the next morning for brunch. While I wasn’t that much of a fan of the chai tea latte or the iced coffee I got, their food was a different story entirely.

I ordered fish and chips, a British classic, and some chili cheese fries, which are a personal favorite dish of mine. The battered and fried cod was mildly flavored and cripsy, just like it should be. The fries were nice and crispy as well, which always make for good fries. They’ve definitely got themselves a quality fryer.

The chili cheese fries were also amazing. The cheese was mild and the chili was chunky, but not spicy. The fries held up nicely under their dressings. The flavors mixed together perfectly. A+ food.

It’s also important to note that the cafe is themed like a bookshop. They pull their inspiration from JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis, two talented authors who created two of the most well-known fantasy worlds out there. The ambiance was calming and warmed my little book-worm heart.

3. Annie Bailey’s Irish Pub

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Irish nachos

Food-wise, Annie Bailey’s was my favorite. Naturally, the Irish pub had Irish inspired food. They had Shephard’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, and even Irish Potato Nachos. The pub had the lighthearted feel that you would expect of an Irish bar and restaurant.

I ordered fried pickles for an appetizer. While I’m used to pickle chips, I was given pickle spears, which was an experience. The consistency was different than what I’m used to, but I didn’t complain as I gobbled them up. They had a bit of a bite to them, which I enjoyed immensely.

My main dish was the Irish Potato Nachos. They took waffle fries (my favorite) and topped them with three different cheeses, tomatos, scallions and a dusting of brisket. This was way more than I could eat in one sitting, but they gave me sour cream AND ranch, so I tried the best I could.

I had a bite of Crymson’s Bangers & Mash and just WOW. The sausage was perfectly cooked and the mashed potatoes were so creamy. I can’t even describe the gravy they used as anything but delectable.

Finally, I had a bite of their dessert Dark Side of the Moon. It was bascially chocolate, topped with chocolate topped with chocolate with some whipped cream. It was the best thing I’d ever tasted. The chocolate cake was cooked with coffee liquer, making it melt on your tongue. Chocolate mousse was the cake filling, making it light and fluffy. Finally, the frosting had chocolate chips in them, giving it a bit of a crunch.

If you ever have a chance to go to Annie Bailey’s Irish Pub in Lancaster, PA, then make sure you get there. You won’t regret it in the slightest.

All of the restaurants we went to had quality food. While these were the three big ones we went to during our days in Lancaster, there were tons of others that we didn’t get a chance to try. If you have any other Zenkaikon food suggestions, let us know in the comments below!