Tuesday, June 27, 2023


I found This is the Zodiac speaking browsing across discount games in a Playstation store sale. Didn´t know it existed before that. What called my attention was the use of the name of a real serial killer (The Zodiac murdered 5 people between 1968-69 and was never arrested). That is uncommon in videogames. Digging into it, it's a reconstruction of two of his real-life attacks, as part of the game´s main plot about a journalist obsessed with those crimes

What I found interesting is that there is an existing sub-genre for similar works in TV and movies. It´s called True crime, and it´s fairly popular (just some months ago Netflix ran Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story with great results). But there are no similar products in videogames. Why?

Probably because in the VG industry we still have genres to discover, mostly those falling outside of the “family market”, which is the preferred environment for the big consoles (Playstation, Microsoft and definitively Nintendo). There are rarely any political games, no true crime or anything involving real people, and barely any erotism

I believe we play too safe in videogames. We tend to pivot around existing genres and rarely venture away from them. That´s why I found interesting This is the Zodiac speaking: They took a shot. It was made by a small group of Polish developers, and it´s plagued by small issues: Some obvious visual bugs that even affect gameplay, control issues (it was obviously developed for PC/mouse, it´s difficult to aim precisely with a console pad), some achievements could not be completed and the killer sections could use a better user experience

But still, they tried something new, and I value that. You definitively feel it´s unique, and that´s something that rarely happens nowadays. We need more of that

Monday, June 26, 2023


Yet another game I completed last month and forgot to write a review. AC Liberation came on the same package than AC3+DLC, I wouldn´t have bought it separately but since it basically came for free I thought why not. Luckily, I enjoyed it better than its “big brother”. The game was originally developed for PS Vita, and it´s noticeably simpler and less demanding than a big console AC: Objectives are straightforward, secondary objectives are fairly easy to achieve and overall the game experience is less “polluted” with side activities, unrelated to the assassin´s fantasy

Overall it felt as an easy and satisfying game. Most developers forget the value of making products you can actually complete without too much trouble. Specially for “series” titles, since that inclines you to buy the next one. Liberation has some novelties, being the most notorious an outfit mechanic that splits world activities depending on what you´re wearing (mixed feelings about the results, but overall it´s good to try) and a new city, in this case New Orleans (equally non-impressive as AC3) with the additions of the swampy Bayou and Chichen Itza (weird location tbh and also underused, but /shrug/)

The story is as inconsequential as it´s common in the AC series. The main twist is that you play as a black woman, but otherwise it´s the same “Templars are bad because of reasons, so you´re entitled to kill hundreds of human beings to stop them but that doesn´t make you evil at all”. I welcomed the possibility of fighting Spaniards – me being one – but their barks were strangely European when they should sound more American-Spanish speakers

In sum, it was a nice experience but not memorable. But thumbs up for easy games, I even went for the platinum! 

Friday, June 23, 2023


Ok, so I forgot to add this game to the list, although I finished it more than a month ago. It was a good deal, I got AC3 plus The tyranny of king Washington DLC AND AC Liberation at a discount. Black Flag was also on sale, so I bought it as well. To be honest, maybe it was more Assassin´s Creed in one take that I actually could deal with. Years ago I got AC Unity and Syndicate copies, but they´ve been waiting on the shelf since… because I play AC chronologically. With this purchase I was just trying to fill the gap quick, so I could jump to the latter. I didn´t expect Liberation and a DLC to be on the same package, but what the hell

But let´s focus on AC3. Mixed feelings, mostly. It´s one (if not the most) NOT loved Assassin´s Creeds. After playing it, I understand why. To start with, the game world (XVIII century US colonies) is not visually striking. Basically wooden houses and forests. Not precisely what you would say “I want to be there”. Think about previous or later titles: Rome, Istambul, Paris, London… Second, the historical time is somehow limited in its impact on potential audiences. It will surely resonate on the US audiences, not so sure in the rest of the world

On top of that, the game feels less responsive to the controls than previous titles: You press the stick to go in one direction and goes into a slightly different one, it´s not easy to chain parkour jumps, while moving around the city very often the character feels irresponsive and the game takes you in a direction completely different… Inherited from the Ezio series, this AC has a lot of side missions that don´t necessarily fit into the assassin fantasy (village recruitment / management, ship missions, hunting…), so many times the game experience is blurry. The story is very uneven (weird decisions, strange alliances, things that happen because the script says so) and the protagonist is consistently angry, often behaving like an asshole for no real purpose. It´s kinda difficult to empathize with him. It was also plagued with bugs, crashes and blockers, a number of times I had to restart the game because I was stuck, or the UI prevented me to achieve the current objective. Really frustrating

I honestly finished it out of stubbornness, but it´s still a great deal of content if you have the patience to overcome all obstacles. AC games are normally comforting in the sense they´re not difficult to complete, and they offer so many things to do that it´s relaxing to get yourself lost in the world and let the hours pass by. It’s just that AC3 makes it harder than it needs to be (or other games of the series did)

Monday, June 19, 2023



One of my guilty pleasures are Bud Spencer and Terence Hill movies. Particularly Watch out, we´re mad! and the Trinity ones (I wonder if they would work with today's audiences). They are part of my childhood, and I will always have a little corner of my heart for them

Some years ago a small Italian dev team ran a kickstarter to buy the IP rights to make this game, and eventually released this Beat’em up. I liked the idea and if I would´ve known of the campaign I would´ve certainly contributed. However, I´m not a fan of that genre and full price didn´t help either. But recently I learned it was on an 80% discount, and I thought “it is time”

So last week I finished the game. It´s not long, probably 3 hours if you´re skilled in that type of games (it took a bit more than 4h to me). For the most part, it is a good game: The spirit of those movies is well-reflected, they re-use a lot of scenarios and character types from them, and a beat’em up is the logical genre choice. The 8 bit visuals also fit well in a nostalgia product such as this, and the actors’ trademark fighting styles are replicated into the player actions nicely - most punching animations are taken directly from the movies. Even the music soundtrack is made by the same composers!

On the minus side it´s not a particularly refined / complex game. Combat options are the same from beginning to end, most enemies are cloned archetypes across all levels, and although minigames pepper the playthrough, it feels a bit repetitive overall

Still, the game achieves its goal of transporting you to the physical comedy/optimistic mood/good guys vs bad guys/just have fun spirit of those 70s movies. Since there is a sequel coming on, it sounds like I´m not the only one who thinks that way :D