7 reviews liked by kumashock

There's something intrinsically beautiful in games where dying is a mechanic in itself, but no game will ever get close to Romancing SaGa 2 where death is not only expected but enforced by the mere passage of time. If you wanted the videogame mechanics version of Snake's lecture at the end of MGS2, this is definitely the best you can get.

The inheritance system makes it clear that bloodline does not matter at all in the grand run of Empire sucessors. What does matter is everything your last emperor could pass on to their friends, family or perhaps children, in this case, stats, skills and magic proficiency. They never make it a point that this is one big lineage of the same bloodline, but rather that they all work towards a common goal: the expansion of the empire with the objective of amassing power to defeat the Seven Heroes. The very first showcase of this mechanic is your father dying against one of them so that his son can learn how to counter a very powerful spell via his inheritance, which is an ability you do keep for the rest of the whole game. It's deeply and silently powerful, because that's what you do in your (collective) journeys, get stronger so that the next generation can thrive.

This is game is also one of the games apt to be The Videogame Of All Videogames. Yes, the one fictional characters in other media will make comments about all the time and that we feel deep down how alien what they're describing is because most of our games have specific flags for events and a very predictable progression system. This game, however, is so open-ended that it's quite hard for two people to have the same experience, barring the use of a guide.

For example, I had to help a village with their monster problem, due to the fact that their band of protectors, some sort of martial arts monks, couldn't defeat a slime due to it being immune to physical damage. These monks specifically asked me to let them deal with the other big monster so that they wouldn't look so useless compared to the empress. That's fine, it's just that I absolutely forgot this was a SaGa game, and when I saw more dungeon to explore after beating the slime (and kinda expecting some kind of quest flag or cutscene, naive as I am) I just went there and kinda killed the other boss, which then made the monks furious, so their leader challenged me. I crushed him mercilessly and what happened is that their band lost any reputation they had, including the departure of every disciple that was inside their cave before, and I effectively wrestled control of the town out of their hands so that it would be empire territory. Whoops!

It's also infinitely interesting how this game has the angle of you being the emperor or empress of a perpetually expanding empire. Of course most of it is justified to you wanting to save the world, some tribes just give your their land as thanks and mostly you're seen as a good and benevolent empress (except the few times you have the choice to be terrible). But the brutal feeling of this expansionist crusade is not lost on many of the cities you visit, some that are afraid of being just lapdogs for the Empire. I'm pretty sure Kawazu took a look at FF4 and just wanted to make you be the Empire instead. (Although the payoff at the ending is pretty sensible)

All in all, this is one of the most impressive games on the system, terribly ahead of it's time for 1993 too. Yeah the final boss is infamously hard, so maybe read a guide on leveling and playing through the events so you don't suffer like me. But then again, playing this blind and not worrying if you'll be able to see every event or not creates a very special vibe to it just like the first game. One that sometimes would be nice to have in our current Game Design zeitgeist where everything must be available and experienced by everyone on their first playthrough.

Incredibly accurate simulation of living in London

How can something be this terrible and this good at the same time



Siren is probably one of the most progressive and bravely designed video games I have ever played - especially in the genre of survival horror, which, for a brief time was very expressive but became rather conventional. Siren, however, wields the familiar genre conventions in a terrifyingly strange way that places all of your training into question. There are only so many transferable skills from Resident Evil, Silent Hill, the other classics.

Siren comes at you with a sword - a seemingly familiar enough combat encounter, this should be easy- but you slowly realize something about it is so fucked up because Siren is holding that sword by its blade and still looks at you like a bloody dead monster who wants to KILL you. There is nothing like Siren out there. You would need to be brave to be like Siren, and Siren was far too brave for its own good. It is an extreme game. And using a walkthrough can only alleviate some of its stress because theoretical knowledge will take you just so far when you actually have to perform well to survive.

Even as a survival horror connoisseur Siren still managed to make me feel powerless and scared in the way I remember feeling at the start of my horror gaming career. And personally I loved the British voice acting.

If you like cool games then Siren is an absolute must.

the video game equivalent of asking you to spell "icup" out loud