“The Eyes of Ara is an immersive, fully 3D Puzzle-Based Adventure game, inspired by genre classics like Myst and modern exploration-based storytelling like Tomb Raider. A game full of devious puzzles and countless hidden secrets!”
This game caught my attention for a number of reasons. First I always have a soft spot for Australians (for obvious reasons) and The Eyes of Ara is produced by 100 Stones Interactive, an Australian creator based in Brisbane. The second is the beautiful cinematography in the kickstarter trailer. It is always important for a campaign to capture the mind of a potential backer but it is also equally important to capture their imagination. The Eyes of Ara does this perfectly. The design lends itself to dynamic locations, striking interiors with warm lighting and an overall style that complements the storytelling. The third and most important reason this game drew my attention is the story. Solving puzzles, collecting items and exploring an old, abandoned castle are all things I enjoy as well as the personal satisfaction of discovering everything, uncovering all the secrets the game and environment has to offer. Another feature of this kickstarter campaign that I found myself drawn to was the effort the creator had put into the ‘about this project’. With over 2000 words detailing the story, the mechanics, the technology, the campaign itself and its goals, dozens of pictures and videos depicting the world and design of the game, viewers and backers become more invested in this campaign than others that haven’t put that amount of time and effort in and because of this I would (and did) support the project.
When looking for a game to review I began rummaging through the recesses of my memories past the multitude of crappy online flash games I played in high school until I stumbled across a gem. The hilariously infuriating Impossible Quiz by Splapp-Me-Do kept my art class entertained for hours when we were supposed to be on Photoshop. In my prime I could whip through the questions in minutes, challenging anyone else to try and beat my time. When starting this review I thought it best to go back and give myself a refresher course and let me tell you, muscle memory is a beautiful thing. After just one try I was hooked and spent the next two hours desperately trying to beat the game in progressively less time. For those who know their general knowledge and enjoy winning quizzes and trivia, you should know this is not the game for you.
Not only does this not require general knowledge, but it requires an intelligence of another kind. The questioned asked are not on sport, politics, history, geography, or anything to do with popular culture but bind benders that are infinitely more entertaining. The Impossible Quiz is a fast multiple choice game that encourages players to think outside of the box, way, way outside of the box. It is strangely addictive and makes you want to beat it for the sheer satisfaction of running around with your hands in the air yelling “I WIN! I WIN! I WIN!” Childish, yes but true. I highly recommend this game to all whose lives were not shaped by this game and I encourage all whose were to replay if for no other reason than pure nostalgia. The questions along with the sound effects make for many hours of frustratingly good fun.
While not my preferred genre of gaming, it cannot be denied that in the early 90’s with the release of games such as DOOM, first-person shooter games rocked to the top of the best-selling game charts and has remained there ever since, selling billions of games worldwide. But what is it that had made this genre so successful? It’s not just the first-person perspective, the three-dimensionality, the violence or the adrenaline of the fight or flight response, but rather how the first-person shooter combines these features that most games today encompass. The first person shooter game distinguishes itself from other genres by presenting a visual environment which generates feeling of nostalgia where reality falls away. This feeling of nostalgia eventually creates an absorbing experience that becomes self-reinforcing, inspiring players to come back to feel it again. If video games are about decision making, then first person shooter games takes this to a whole new level. What might be a very simple decision with time and refection becomes a difficult and stressful choice under pressure, one that stimulates players and ignites an intense emotional response.
Attaining this affect requires a balance of skills and challenges, an environment that creates a personal identity for the player and a strong sense of control. Control, compounded by first-person perspective, is the key to the enduring appeal of the first-person shooter genre. It plays into the idea that our happiness ties directly into how in control we feel. The more control we think we have, the more at ease we feel and vice versa. First-person shooter games give us the ability to control our environment, and our perception of our own effectiveness. Along with a sense of control and nostalgia, technology has allowed games to become more realistic making it easier for the player to lose themselves in the fictional world and make connections to the characters inside it. First person shooter games also have the added bonus of shooting, a compelling deviation from regular life that most people have never experienced. The violence is only one aspect of the appeal of shooting. It’s not that players want to be violent but rather they wish to have a way to release pent-up emotions and give in to base impulses in the form of adrenaline-generating decision-making.