Little Nightmares Episode 3: The Residence Review

Little Nightmares – Secrets Of The Maw Episode 3: The Residence Review [PS4] – Is This The End?

Never-ending darkness. The only safety is from a small ray of light coming from your tiny flashlight. A creaking sound comes from behind you. You turn around, but of course, there’s nothing there. Your heart skips a few beats as you hear a child laughing in the distance. They’re watching you. Then, you start to hear small steps. Slow. But then the pause between each step becomes shorter. Someone’s coming…

The last and final episode of the Little Nightmares’ DLC is out, at last, and is titled The Residence. As the world of Six and The Runaway Kid has unfolded, we have eventually gotten more horrifying insight into what might exist in the Maw. However, there is one character left that has yet to tell her story; the Geisha.

Some say that a person’s home describes a lot about their personality. We get to explore the residence of the Geisha, who surrounds herself with creepy-looking dolls and plenty of books. What exactly this says about her we never fully know, but I am sure that there are several possible theories to why she’s so interested in literature and porcelain figures. All I can do is make an educated guess and say that there must be a quite uncomfortable and scary story behind her character.

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Hello?… Hi. Nice place you got here.

The episode starts out eerily silent, but it doesn’t take long before you hear a song coming from a small music box. The song fades away as we explore further into the house, and the player eventually encounters a new enemy: small, dark apparitions with small masks. What makes them even more creepy is the fact that they have the look and laugh that resembles children. The only way to attack them is to shine at them with your flashlight, so hold on to that thing, because it is going to save your life. With that said, the mechanic instantly reminded me of Alan Wake, where you have to focus your flashlight on the ghosts to weaken them.

In contrast to the previous episodes in the DLC, The Residence gives you a greater illusion of a more open-world. We are much more free to explore, as there is not necessarily a given way to go. The puzzles don’t have to be solved in a certain order, and they feel more intricate and detailed. Roughly, The Kid has to find dolls that are scattered around the Geisha’s residence and put them in their proper place.

While this might seem simple at first, the complexity of finding each doll easily swallows the time. There is also a stronger action element, which is interesting and refreshing compared to the previous episodes in this DLC. As if my stress levels weren’t high enough playing this game!

Looking at the episode from the puzzle side of things, The Residence was definitely one of the more challenging ones. It is also the shortest, where I used up approximately 2 hours at a relatively slow pace. However, in those two short hours, we discover the terrible fate of all those who have suffered the wrath of the Geisha – with a pretty huge twist at the end… well, of course, I’m not going to reveal this now… play it for yourself and find out!

Little Nightmares Episode 3 Review
The eye sees everything.

What Little Nightmares masters is the continuous suspense of not knowing what is in the next room. It gets really intense at times, and I love it: I had to remember to stop once in a while and take a breather. However, this universe’s definite greatest strength is its take on the concept of fear. As we have seen before in various shapes and forms, The Residence wants to see our reaction to darkness, masks, and creepy inanimate objects such as mannequins.

The Little Nightmares universe will always hold a special place for me. I followed the game when the working title was “Hunger,” and I remember going to a lecture where the narrative writer of the game told the audience how the game would play on people’s nightmares, and I thought, “There’s no way that I’m going to miss out on this game!” The borderline between horror, thriller, and uncanny valley is unique, and I have yet to see games that use these elements the same way that Little Nightmares do.

At the end of the episode, I got an achievement that said: “we’ll meet again.” And I cannot help but wonder; is this a suggestion that it might not be the last of Little Nightmares? Are we truly finished? There might not be anything special behind it, but it certainly peaked my curiosity. Even with all these questions, I don’t know if we will ever receive an answer.

The Runaway Kid’s story has come to an end. With beautiful scenery and masterful storytelling, this has been a memorable experience. What the Little Nightmares universe is so good at doing, is to tell my brain to be ready to hit the emergency panic button, and then cranking my anxiety up to the maximum. It starts out in uncomfortable silence before increasing to a horrifying crescendo.

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Little Nightmares – Secrets of The Maw Episode 2: The Hideaway Review [PS4]

Even though the universe of Little Nightmares has created a tendency to play with fears (some I did not know I had) I nevertheless jump into the second episode of the Secrets of The Maw DLC with both arms and legs, ready to take on whatever it might throw my way.

In the new episode, appropriately titled The Hideaway, the story of The Runaway Kid continues. Just by looking at the promo picture, it already tells us a lot of what the episode is about; and as you can see, we encounter the Nomes once more. If you’ve played the original game (if you haven’t: what are you doing here? Go and play all the other stuff before reading this!) you might be familiar with the Nomes: tiny, white creatures that hide in every nook and cranny. When we played as Six, they were pretty much only functioning as huggable collectibles. Now, they serve a much greater purpose. As we have done repeatedly in these two episodes of the DLC, we encounter familiar rooms from the original game. As before, I believe they are filled with nods to how the old story might connect with the new. In addition to that, Mr Long-armed-grabby-hands is back. Yes indeed, with even longer and grabbier hands than before… Or, at least, that’s what it feels like.

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Together forever!

Even though the nomes aren’t much larger in size, they certainly are in numbers this time around. Upon encounter, you hug them (as we are familiar with from the original game) and they start following you – and actually being your adorable little companions for this episode. They are important to the different puzzles – which is new, unexpected and a good surprise. And they also serve a purpose in the bigger picture; which is the heart of the ship, the engine. They remind me of the soot-creatures from the movie Spirited Away, the way they are loyal and hard-working in order to make everything function, because that is their role: they bring coal to the furnace that drives the ship. This is how we, perhaps, learn their function, as we all were probably wondering about earlier in the storyline. At the end of the episode, I feel like I turned The Runaway Kid into The Lord of the Nomes. Which was pretty cool.

Continually, this is where my major problem arrives: the graphics and textual bugs. The nomes would get stuck on things, even though they were moving. Because of this, they would automatically stop following me which is central to progress – it’s a very frustrating bug.

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This way!

The Hideaway continues the story of The Runaway Kid with minor succession. What I thought would be an interesting episode with more of the elements I love in this universe would turn out to be a rather disappointing affair. However, it offers some intriguing elements like the opportunity of travelling different roads to reach your goal

Very early on in the game, I encountered an audio bug too, which made the speakers on my TV sound as if they were broken (they weren’t). However, restarting the episode made the bug go away and it didn’t reoccur. Apart from that, the sound feels much more intense and powerful in this episode, which leads me to the use of the horror elements – they were not as present as in the first episode, but this episode definitely used the contrast between darkness and light to its advantage. It’s a creepy touch and creates a sense of paranoia we all know so well from this universe.

Even though I am still a bit confused when it comes to the story, the ending of this episode was… Intriguing. Let’s just say that my interest is piqued, and I’m excited to see where it ends. So, grab some popcorn and sit down with me for the last episode of Little Nightmares: Secrets of the Maw – this is going to be juicy.

A final score will be given for Secrets of The Maw at the end.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds Review [PS4 Pro] – An Icy Return for the Nora Warrior

Enter the dangerous lands of The Cut

Earlier this year, Guerilla Games launched their new IP set throughout a vast and gorgeous postapocalyptic world in Horizon Zero Dawn. The adventure/RPG took players on an enduring journey 1,000 years into the future where humanity has devolved back to tribal living conditions – only to find themselves an outcast in a world overrun by the many ravenous and hostile machines. Months later, the gaming community uncovered the sacred hidden truths about the ancient world before the fall of civilization and craved more from the Nora warrior, Aloy. Meet The Frozen Wilds.

The icy region of The Frozen Wilds glitters the screen with heavy snowflakes and tundra-like conditions. The Banuk tribe has settled up north in Song’s Edge, a village just before The Cut – a snow-covered territory ravaged by never-before-seen machines, frozen peaks, mountain ranges, and the looming threat known as Thunder’s Drum. A billow of smoke suffocates the sky on the far edge of the map, but reaching the volcanic mountain comes with its own string of both physical, and spiritual, challenges.

The snowy peaks of The Frozen Wilds is an impressive sight, even with the billowing smoke of Thunder’s Drum.

Within the frigid lands of the Cut, Aloy will spend her time completing various tasks and objectives, similar to what she accomplished in Zero Dawn. Along with a new area of the map to explore, new weapons, outfits, characters and, of course, tribe-slaying machines, all await in the sizeable expansion to one of this year’s top releases. Adding more depth to the complex and driven personality of Horizon’s protagonist, Aloy will dive further into the truth surrounding the confusing relationship between the rationally intelligent machines, and their curious, and otherwise unstable, human creators.

The looming threat of Thunder’s Drum

Through the main line of quests featured in The Frozen Wilds, you’ll be introduced to the Banuk settler’s striving to survive in the snowy regions. Led by the chieftain, Aratak, Aloy finds her determination to discover what made the machines so hostile at the feet of the stout and fearless Banuk chieftain. With countless Banuk warriors lost to Thunder’s Drum in previously failed missions, very little hope rests in the dwindling tribe too proud to give in. Luckily, the fierce and persistent Nora warrior sheds any doubt that may inhibit her natural instincts to discover what lies in the depths of the scorching bowels of Thunder’s Drum.

Aloy finds new companions – Chieftain Aratak and Shaman Ourea – in the Banuk settlement, Song’s Edge.

The weapons earned from proving your worth to the Banuk reflect the growth and perseverance our beloved heroine so faithfully exhibits throughout her encouraging story. The Forgefire relentlessly engulfs targets in a rage of flame dealing severe, close-range fire damage, while the Icerail freezes enemies with crisp ice damage in a short-distanced stream of frosty mist. Jolts of electric energy launch from the dominant Stormslinger, adding a useful long-range weapon to the list of cutting-edge weapons found in the treacherous wilderness of The Cut.

In addition to an arsenal of elemental weapons, a fourth skill tree has been added to accommodate the increased level cap. Focused on various travelling aspects of the game, players are now able to grant Aloy with a variety of new skills and abilities. Gathering loot while mounted on an overridden machine, or striking from the back of your travelling companion with the Dismount Strike attack are only a few examples of the added perks to Aloy’s skill tree. Many of these new abilities provide useful and tactical approaches to increase travel time, storage space and repairing your hard-earned, overridden machine mount.

The new Tallneck viewpoint in The Frozen Wilds will first need to be reactivated before climbing atop the roaming machine.
Persevere against all odds

At the core of The Frozen Wilds Aloy finds herself in the midst of a lopsided war between the Banuk warriors, and another corrupt, machine-controlling virus, known as Daemon. Located in the depths of Thunder’s Drum, the Banuk have made their courageous run to infiltrate the mysterious plume of smoke, only to retreat empty-handed, and under-manned. Aloy will be put to the ultimate test of strength and will to determine if she has what it takes to uncover the secrets that lay within the volatile mountain. With the help of the spiritually obedient Shaman, Ourea, players will traverse the frigid lands in search of the hidden mysteries that make up the world Aloy so tenaciously pursues.

The frozen regions of The Cut opens players up to a new cast of keen and colourful characters eager to task Aloy with adventurous missions and reward her with extravagant loot. New hunting missions, side quests including an exciting new Tallneck viewpoint errand, as well as new bows and outfits crafted from the rare and exclusive resource, Bluegleam, are scattered throughout the snow-covered tundra. However, with improved weapons and skills comes new enemy machines, the likes that no warrior has faced before.

Scorchers and the virus corrupted Daemonic Machines are weak but persistent adversaries, while Fireclaws and Frostclaws are enormous and agile machines that deal corresponding elemental damage, often in rapid succession. All of these machines are capable of receiving healing waves generated by the new corrupted Control Towers, which must be destroyed or carefully overridden to reverse its healing effects. These towers are sprawled across the frost-riddled Cut, typically guarded by hordes of hostile machines.

A handful of puzzles await in the Cauldron that rests in the belly of Thunder’s Drum.
Survive. Prevail. We are Banuk.

Horizon Zero Dawn has proven that the courage, confidence and determination of a young, fierce woman, who is overwhelmed with curiosity and under-appreciated by the culture around her, is enough to overcome even the most perilous odds. The Frozen Wilds expands heavily on the brave and righteous protagonist, bringing with it a tale revealing a spiritual Shaman devoted to bringing peace back to the lands in the name of her God, a chieftain too proud and mentally resilient to give in, and a sole survivor achieving everything she can to unravel the mysteries of a world overrun by unpredictable threats, and a dark, catastrophic past.

Season Pass for South Park: The Fractured But Whole is full of goodies

The sequel to the South Park RPG, – The Fractured But Whole – is now right around the corner. The new title promises to deliver a ton of content on the base game itself, but the team over at Ubisoft are relentlessly teasing with the unveiling of future DLC releases – all of which will be available separately, or in the South Park Season Pass.

New costume packs, challenges, in-game helpful buddies and brand new stories to follow are all on the horizon after the game’s official release. Here are the takeaways of what the Season Pass will include:

Takeaways:

  • Relics of Zaron – This costume pack is included as a free Day One update for all Season Pass owners once the game releases on October 17th. The beloved character Towelie will also be released as a helpful in-game buddy on October 24th.
  • The Danger Deck DLC – Enter Doctor Timothy’s Danger Deck for the ultimate challenge in combat. Unlock new and exclusive costumes and artefacts only found in the Danger Deck DLC, releasing December 2017.
  • From Dusk til Casa Bonita DLC – Introducing an all-new story, team up with the Coon and Mysterion and infiltrate Casa Bonita. Fend off against the demonic presence and unravel the mysteries of the new storyline releasing in 2018.
  • Bring the Crunch DLC – Yet another storyline DLC, not much info has been released at this point, but we do know a new class of superhero will be introduced. This DLC will be releasing in 2018 as well.

Along with the standard edition and the separate Season Pass available for purchase, players may also receive all of the downloadable content within the Gold Edition, which is available for pre-purchase now.

Look for South Park: The Fractured But Whole releasing for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC on October 17th. Be sure to take advantage of the Season Pass and the additional content coming through future DLC releases.

5 Reasons Why Little Nightmares’ DLC Episode Creeps Me Out

The eerie, yet wonderful Little Nightmares has released its first episode out of three in the new DLC, titled ‘Secrets of The Maw’. This time around they’re going to give us more information about what the Maw actually is, and what is going on there – through the eyes of a new character, The Runaway Kid. If you’re on the fence about buying the new DLC, I’m here to give you some insight. It did its job – it thoroughly creeped me out. Let me explain…

Reason 1: “Here we go again on my own / Going down the only road I’ve ever known”.

The first episode is clearly – and rightfully so – an introduction as to whom we are playing, and why we are here. The start of the game is uncannily familiar: something creepy and weird happens, and then The Runaway Kid (our protagonist) wakes up, realizing it was “just” a nightmare. Yeah, as if. The foreboding as to what is going to happen creates the same paranoia effect as the original game did. I keep asking myself “when”, “what”, “how”, and “why?”.

Reason 2: Realizing where exactly I met The Runaway Kid in the original game.

As he wakes up in his bed, I realize quickly that it is not just the dream sequence that is familiar. The bed and the room he wakes up in, is the exact same one as the room of beds that Six walks into when escaping the long-armed man: the bed with the sleeping children – and The Runaway Kid is one of those children. It gave me the chills knowing that he was there – especially as there were so few characters in the original game that were significant.

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Enter the water, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Reason 3: The familiar surroundings.

We are, after all, also trying to gather information as to how this boy meets our original protagonist, Six, and how their paths meet. That would require us to retrace our steps. Going through the same rooms, the same environment and remembering all the fears that made you want to escape that room as quick as your little legs could carry you in the first place, is ever-present.

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But why!?

Reason 4: The water.

The freakin’ water, man. It is painfully obvious that they named this episode “The Depths” for a reason. As if water doesn’t make me squirm enough in the real world, it is a prominent element in this episode. Tarsier Studios have been true to their word, because not only is the water pitch black: it also contains something that I DO NOT want to encounter. But its contents sure want me. Which leads me to my final reason:

Reason 5: The monster(s).

There is one familiarity here: the leeches, which are far worse in this DLC. They are larger, faster, and more… gross. But they are not the worst of the bunch. As the developers previously warned us about, there is something lurking in the water. Oh ho yes, sir, what jolly good fun. You don’t actually see much of the creature in the water, but what you do see is horrifying. And he’s not there to tickle your feet, that’s for sure.

I love how Tarsier Studios have created a new puzzle – the story itself. The second episode will be released in November, the third and last episode in January. In other words, we will have to wait quite a while before we receive more pieces of the puzzle. The next episode is called “The Hideaway” – and it looks like we will meet some old friends there.

Let’s hope that the next piece to the puzzle is worth waiting for…

Tarsier Studios reveals more about Little Nightmares: Secrets of The Maw

Tarsier Studios are keeping us on our toes by publishing more information on their new DLC “Secrets of The Maw”!

On June 7th they published a mini-interview with the producer Stephen Halett to give some much-needed answers to questions asked by fans.

According to Halett, there were things left unanswered at the end of the game (a statement on which I totally agree), and they are now taking the opportunity to answer some of those questions – revealing more story about the The Maw and its inhabitants. They consist of three chapters working as self-contained stories, and will be released in an Expansion Pass format.

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We get to experience more of The Maw as an underwater prison, and what happens to children that are brought there – through the adventures of the new protagonist, The Runaway Kid. We can also then assume that the speculations about the protagonist’s name being Seven has been debunked – unless they at some point change their minds.

Each chapter is set in a new environment with new gameplay features and challenges, such as more difficult puzzles and implementing water mechanics:

  • The Depths, a place that has been abandoned and flooded. Uh, I foresee an even worse version of the creepy girl underwater from Inside. Anyone else?
  • The Hideaway, where The Kid has to work together with the Nomes, our adorable minions from the original game, to solve the puzzles. I quote: “death is just a step away and only by working together can they both survive.”…Yikes.
  • The third and final chapter will involve a secret location within The Maw, and will decide the fate of The Runaway Kid.

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When asked about why they wanted to involve a new character, Halett says they wanted a different perspective when shedding light “on the darkest secrets of The Maw”. He continues to say that The Kid’s and Six’s stories will cross paths several times over the coming chapters – learning more about her story while playing another. 

The three chapters are ready to be pre-ordered on Steam and the PlayStation Store, and will respectively be released in July, November and January.

This should be interesting… I feel dread and excitement at the same time… I mean… *cough* LET’S DO THIS.