Tag Archives: Mystery

Review: Stranger Things

stranger things poster
via Following the Nerd

Stranger Things (2016)

Netflix / TV14

Drama / Horror / Mystery

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard

Creators: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer


Netflix’s Stranger Things just screams 80’s nostalgia.  Literally every single corner of the show is just dripping with love for the era.  The show merges psychological thrills with horror, something that would fit perfectly in the 80s.  There’s even influence from guy like John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and Stephen King…in more ways than one.  In its concise eight-episode season, Stranger Things manages to layer on depth with every episode, delivering one of the most intriguing and mysterious stories of the year.

stranger things 1
via Dread Central

Mystery begins upon the disappearance of a boy named Will (Noah Schnapp) after a night of Dungeon and Dragons with his friends.  His friends, Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) are a group of AV-club misfits that gave me strong Goonies vibes.  After the disappearance of her son Will, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) starts to go mad, calling upon the help of town sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) to help investigate the strange disappearance.  It’s only a matter of time before shady government agencies and supernatural events start to make an appearance, cementing the fact that something deeper and more nefarious is taking ahold of the peaceful town.

Making matters more interesting, the boys stumble upon a peculiar girl, simply named Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), who seems to be the answer to everything that has been occurring.  She’s scared and keeps to herself, but her powers go beyond all understanding.  Her background is something of an enigma.  Over the course of the show we get flashbacks to her past which involves a lot of lab experiments and a dark past.

stranger things 2
via IGN

The best part about Stranger Things is the layered story that it piles on every step of the way.  The premiere episode is crazy by itself, but things take a plunge with each episode, whether it’s a new reveal or element key to the events taking place.  The show goes places, for better or worse.  Overall, the show does a good job at delivering a thrilling story but some of the supernatural elements are left out to dry with little explanation.  The various characters give some convoluted clarifications towards the latter half of the story, but they don’t always feel satisfying.  When I say the show goes places, it goes places.  Sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief in order to fully enjoy the story.  Despite this, the events wrap up brilliantly, yielding a satisfying conclusion, albeit a little predictable.

Winona Ryder is by far the stand out performance here.  She plays a distressed mom that is crazy about finding her lost son.  She starts off just like any other worried mom but as time goes on she plunges down a dark road of hysteria that involves talking to Christmas lights and putting holes through walls.  It’s not a good look, but Ryder does a fantastic job at portraying all of these emotions.  There’s also David Harbour’s performance as Sheriff Hopper.  At first I wasn’t sold as he seemed like he didn’t really want to apart of what was happening, but when we discover his backstory, things start to fall into place his performance gets better with time.  Even the child actors did a good job with their roles.  With child actors, their performances can be hit or miss, but Bobby Brown, Wolfhard, Matarazzo, McLaughlin, and even Schnapp did really well.  It’s also worth mentioning that Mike’s sister Nancy (Natalia Dyer), her boyfriend Steve (Joe Keery), and Will’s brother Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) all did fine jobs as well.

stranger things 3
via Dread Central

The presentation elements of the show are what make Stranger Things so appealing.  As I mentioned before, there’s a lot of nostalgia elements that give the show 80’s flair.  The title screen is an obvious callback to Steven King’s novels, mimicking the same font and look of any of his titles.  Jaws movie posters adorn the walls and songs like Toto’s “Africa” play in the background.  Speaking of music, the show’s soundtrack is on point, all the time.  The music is super synthy and the unnerving audio cues amp up the thrills.  Stranger Things is an example of perfect sound design.  Even the visual effects feel like they’re fresh out of the 80’s, which is good and bad.  The monster animations are cheesy and strobe lights apparently mask some of the effects-heavy scenes.  Perhaps it adds to the show’s character, but the effects feel out of place and kind of lazy in 2016.

What we have with Stranger Things is a love letter to shows of its ilk.  The 80’s influence is real and ever present.  The Duffer Brothers, directors of the show, have a great piece of television on their hands.  There’s already been a lot of talk surrounding the show, which makes a second season a good possibility.  I’m all for another trip back into Stranger Things but I don’t want the show to carry on past three seasons at most.  There’s value to shorter and more concise TV shows that tell one-off stories.  Stranger Things, which might be my favorite show of the year so far, has me dying to see more.

stranger things score

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Review: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

ethan carter coverThe Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: The Astronauts, Nordic Games, EuroVideo Medien GmbH

Developer: The Astronauts


Never have I felt more alone while playing a video game than I have in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.  The game literally throws you straight into the world with no guidance or hand-holding.  I’m serious, the game straight up tells you that from the very beginning.  There was a lush landscape in front of me that was just calling my name.  The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is game chock full of discovery, beauty, mystery, and sometimes horrifying imagery.  There’s some weird things going on and it’s your job to investigate.

ethan carter 1
via Push Square

Players assumes the role of a nameless detective who’s tasked with finding a missing boy.  As a detective, you have the power to rip holes in reality, giving you visuals of horrible crimes that have taken place within the game’s world.  It’s necessary to go around and put these visuals together to solve the mystery of the missing child.  A lot of this legwork involves stumbling upon a rift in reality in the environment and then proceeding to investigate the rift.  A lot of these investigations involve piecing together the events of crimes and forming a clear picture of what took place.

The game sets a tone of loneliness as there is no one to be found as you roam around the gorgeously lush world.  The sense of discovery that the game provides is immense.  The game doesn’t tell you where to go…leaving the exploration to the player.  There’s forests, lakes, cottages, and caves that you will end up exploring.  Each of these environments are beautiful and look wonderful on the PS4.  I haven’t seen the PC version but I can only imagine that the visuals are heightened on the platform.  Sometimes it’s a little tough to figure out where you need to go next, but you’ll most likely stumble upon the places you need to go without having to worry about it.

ethan carter 2
via New Game Network

The amount of interaction you have with the world is limited, but the game does a good job at enticing you to move forward.  Most of the gameplay involves pressing a button to open up a visual of a previous crime or walking around and piecing together different events of a crime. There’s also some lite puzzle solving, but nothing that will drive you crazy. That’s about it.  There’s not much to be found in terms of gameplay, but the exploration more than makes up for the lack of interaction that you have with the world.  There was a multitude of times where I just wandered away from my objective and just took in the sights and sounds.  There were many vistas and landscapes that seemed screenshot worthy.  In fact, 98% of the game is screenshot worthy.  98% is an arbitrary number…there’s no science behind it.

Remember the game Everybody Has Gone to the Rapture?  Yeah, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is basically that game but better in almost every way.  (Graphics wise, the two are comparable) In both games you are walking around the environment piecing together the events that took place prior.  There’s a sense of mystery and intrigue in both games, but TVOEC captured my interest way more than EHGTTR.  The story in TVOEC is a lot more interesting and gave me more incentive to explore and dig deeper.

ethan carter 3
via New Game Network

I feel like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game that passed everybody by.  It didn’t make a big splash when it was first released and the talk surrounding the game waned as weeks went on.  Hell, I even passed up the game when it first came out.  I remember looking at it and having interest in playing it, but I never went back to it.  I am glad I finally visited this short and unique experience.  Its full of interesting ideas and intrigue-driven exploration.  The game also looks fantastic, probably one of the prettiest I have seen in years.  It’s an extremely immersive experience that is worth sinking some time in.

ethan carter score

Also available on PC.

Review: Firewatch

firewatch coverFirewatch (2016)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Panic

Developer: Campo Santo


What is Firewatch?  It’s a question that has been asked multiple times leading up to the game’s release as a joke, but also in seriousness as well.  It’s because the game, developed by Campo Santo, was largely a mystery.  Details on aspects like the story and gameplay were scarce and hard to find.  Demos were shown and previews were written, but there was never a good sense as to what Firewatch was actually about.  The game is now upon us and after playing it, I now have the answer to that question.  Firewatch is a narrative-driven experience that delivers a memorable experience along with some frustrations.

firewatch 1
via Super Gameplay

The game follows the story of Henry, a man on retreat from his issue-ridden life.  His wife is struggling with the effects of early onset dementia, which devastates Henry.  As an escape, he decides to move out to the wilderness of Wisconsin to work as a fire lookout.  He’s alone for the most part, aside from a handheld radio that connects him to fellow fire lookout Delilah, who is serving in another lookout tower farther away.  On the first day, Henry is tasked with investigating the usage of illegal fireworks in the forest, which leads him on a walk through the beautiful and lush Wisconsin forest.  However, what seems like just an ordinary job turns into a deeper and more involved mystery as you start to run into some strange things.  Henry’s normal fire lookout duties are put on the backburner as he and Delilah work to uncover the strange mystery clouding the wilderness.

The game starts off very strong, beginning with a text-based sequence serving up the backstory on Henry and his wife.  It’s an emotional wrecking-ball that slaps you pretty hard.  The game then throws you into the forest where you are introduced to Delilah as well as your duties.  As the game goes on, the story starts to trail off.  I was hoping that the story would dive deeper into Henry’s motivation for leaving his problems behind as an act of escapism, but instead, the game goes places that I did not expect.  Luckily the ending picks things back up a bit, but the journey to the conclusion was a little weak and aimless.  With that being said, the story was still memorable but it could have used some work.  It had the potential to be something so much more.

firewatch 2
via Only SP

Dialog between Henry and Delilah was witty and generally fantastic.  You never meet Delilah in person during the short duration of the game, but I still felt like I knew a lot about her.  As you walk around, Henry and Delilah talk about their lives and you start to realize how similar the two actually are.  They’re both dealing with their struggles and problems and their relationship starts to grow as the days go by.  There’s a bunch of jokes and sarcasm thrown around, but some of the jokes don’t land.  However, I found myself laughing more than shaking my head.  Some of the best moments include Henry’s confrontation with a pair of skinny-dipping teenagers…because how would you deal with something like that?

The game shines in its environmental storytelling.  Roaming around the National Forest was a therapeutic and breathtaking experience.  The game’s visual style, designed by artists like Olly Moss, is fantastic and really makes the game stand out.  The amount of interaction that the game gives you makes the experience more immersive as well.  I found myself getting lost in the world, stumbling upon secret caves and little valleys.  The game is short so the map isn’t as big as most open world games, but it felt large.

firewatch 3
via Thumbsticks

The downside of having an immersive forest to explore is the chore of navigating the world with a compass and a map.  I understand Campo Santo’s decision to exclude an interactive map screen and waypoints, but the actual task of walking around with a map in one hand and a compass in the other made me realize how bad at directions I am.  The game’s characters do a good job at telling you what direction your next objectives are, but I still found myself going down the wrong pathways or running into trees.  The fact that there is some backtracking doesn’t help the case either.

I had a fun experience with Firewatch.  There are a ton of things to like about it.  It’s just too bad that things like an in cohesive story and some frustrating mechanics put a blemish on the final product.  Despite the frustrations, the game is still worth a look.  It’s a short game, taking around three to four hours to complete, so there is no excuse not to give the game a try.  I’d also suggest teaching yourself how to read a map before playing Firewatch.  You’ll thank yourself later.

firewatch score

Review: Life is Strange Episode 4

via Playstation Lifestyle
via Playstation Lifestyle

Life is Strange (Episode 4) (2015)

PS4 / Rated M

Adventure

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: DONTNOD Entertainment


Things are starting to get pretty serious at Blackwell Academy.  Perhaps even more serious is what is going on in Max Caulfield’s life as she continues to learn and grasp her new found powers of time manipulation.  The third episode of Life is Strange ended with an event straight out of left field.  It was completely unexpected and the fourth episode, titled The Dark Room, picks up right after the credits of the third episode.  Before I go on, there might be some spoilers littered to and fro, but I will try my best to keep it as clean of spoilers as possible.

via Giant Bomb
via Giant Bomb

At the end of the third episode, Max discovered that she could go back in time just by focusing her attention on a photograph.  She went back and saved her best friend Chloe’s dad from getting into a car accident.  This might seem like a blessing, but Max’s actions back in time had its ramifications in the present day.  Because she saved Chloe’s dad, Max’s friend group has changed as a new Vortex Club member.  More importantly, Chloe was saved from the brink of death, rescued from a pretty damaging car accident.  The accident has rendered her paralyzed and in a wheelchair…and much different than the type of person we have come to know from previous episodes.  This was the major bang that episode three closed its curtains with.

This presented us with the exciting prospect of a totally new direction for the story.  Unfortunately this was not exactly the case.  The first third of the episode featured Max’s time with Chloe after the effects of her actions back in time.  It’s kind of depressing and somber as Max deals with the consequences of her actions.  She saved William, Chloe’s dad, but at what cost?  Chloe is pretty much a vegetable, captive to a tangle of breathing tubes and monitors.  Her life has been prominently changed because of what Max has done.  After a shocking choice that is presented to Max (more on this later), Max transports herself back in time once again to reverse her actions and return everything back to the way it originally was.  This was the last we see of these extreme powers.  I am sure that this type of time travel will rear its head again in the final episode, but I was kind of disappointed that I was not able to spend more time in that altered reality.  (There was a refreshing lack of misguided teen lingo in that new reality due to Chloe’s distaste for the word “Hella.”)

via Giant Bomb
via Giant Bomb

Instead, the majority of the episode was spent in the original variety.  Things are still pretty bad at Blackwell as Max and Chloe continue to investigate the mystery behind Nathan, Kate’s untimely death, and the disappearance of Rachel.  The episode puts the detective hat on Max as it gives you a set of clues that you have to connect to get your next lead in the investigation.  The game puts all of the clues in front of you in the form of a billboard and makes you connect them all to find similarities.  It was a cool idea in theory, but it turned out to be quite frustrating as some clues where pretty hard to connect with others.  After the long slog of connecting the dots, you figure out the next location you need to investigate is an old run down farmhouse, which Max and Chloe are led to believe contains some dirt on Nathan and the Prescott family’s mysterious dealings in Arcadia Bay.

In terms of decisions, this episode did not deliver.  I have been pretty pleased with the types of decision that you have had to make so far, but the fourth episode went for “shock value” instead of actual quality decisions.  Every decision that you had to make was engineered in such a way that set you up for some gut-wrenching moments.  This might be exciting for some, but I would have liked more thought put into these decisions.  It felt like the developers met up the night before and were like, “alright guys, what extreme decisions should we put into the game to shake up the plot?”

via Connected Digital World
via Connected Digital World

With all this being said, the episode ended in such a way that sets up the last episode to be a toss-up.  It could be a very enticing and gripping episode or it could be an incoherent mess in terms of plot direction.  It’s hard to tell at this point, but I still consider my interest to be piqued.  The episode covered a lot of ground in terms of the mysteries surrounding Nathan and some of the other events that have been taking place at Blackwell Academy, but The Dark Room can be considered the weakest episode in the series yet.  The last episode, which will wrap everything up, has either everything to prove or everything to lose.

life is strange e4 score

  • I should note that this review was based upon my decisions that I have made in the previous episodes.  The experience could have been a lot different depending on the type of decisions that you made throughout the course of the series.
  • Also available on PC, PS3, and Xbox One

Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

via Proyector
via Proyector

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

PG13 / 105 min

Action / Mystery / Thriller

Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley

Director: Kenneth Branagh


Tom Clancy’s character of Jack Ryan has become pretty popular among readers.  Clancy has written numerous books and series covering the life of the man.  He hasn’t had too much of a career in the realm of movies.  The last time we saw Jack Ryan on the big screen was in 2002, when Ben Affleck played the part in The Sum of All Fears.  Last year was the year that we finally got to see the back story of Jack Ryan, and how he came to be.  Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit finally chronicles the story, but not with much fervor.

Chris Pine plays Jack Ryan as he makes his transition from a Marine to a CIA advisor following a nasty plane crash that starts off the movie.  The effects of the crash lead him to an early retirement, but this didn’t stop Ryan from serving his country.  During his stint in rehab, Jack Ryan comes under the eye of Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), who persuades him to join the CIA as a financial advisor working behind the scenes on Wall Street to uncover any fishy deals that are happening behind closed deals.  Ryan eventually agrees to the opportunity.

via Out Now
via Out Now

Jack Ryan also meets and falls in love with one of the orthopedic doctors named Caroline “Cathy” Mueller (Kiera Knightley), who he later goes on to marry.  However, due to his position in the CIA, he is forced into silence about his job, often leaving poor Cathy in the dark.  This leads to a couple rough patches in their relationship as the movie progresses.  It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t much there in that relationship for me to care.

Fast forward a couple of years and we see Ryan start to uncover what he hypothesizes to be an anomaly.  Some of the accounts that Ryan works with are owned by a Russian man named Victor Cherevin, played by the director himself, Kenneth Branagh.  Some recent activity involving the accounts leads to the idea that there might be a terrorist attack on the US, causing harm to our economy.  Ryan convinces the CIA that he needs to give a visit to Moscow.  He needs to investigate what is really going on with Cherevin.

via Cinema Blend
via Cinema Blend

It was by this point that I started to look at the time.  The movie has a really slow start, and it was a slow burn up to this point.  We get the much needed back story, but I feel that it could have been done in a much more engrossing manner.  This was an action movie, but it didn’t feel like an action movie up until the movie’s third act.  By that time, it was too late.

The movie also doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of content.  Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is your general by-the-numbers political thriller involving some highly unlikely scenario that puts the US as we know it in danger of financial pandemonium.  The events that were taking place and the scenarios that were unfolding before me just seemed like they were done before.  Nothing seemed new or refreshing.

via Film Blerg
via Film Blerg

The performances by Chris Pine and Kenneth Branagh were something that you could clap about, but the rest of the supporting cast?  Well, I didn’t have any claps left for them.  There just seemed like a lack of enthusiasm.  Everything seemed robotic and rigid.  It’s hard to get into an action movie and be drawn into it if everything about it just seemed systematic.

I wish that there was more I could like about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, but it was all pretty boring.  My attention perked up a bit during the last couple of scenes, but by then I really could care less either way.  The movie didn’t have a strong start, causing a slow simmer that burned a little too long.  It’s a shame because Tom Clancy’s stories are usually held with high regards.  This movie tarnishes the kind of quality that we come to expect from Clancy’s work.  It’s hard to know how involved Clancy was with this project, but it didn’t seem too inspired.

jack ryan shadow recruit score

Review: Orphan

orphan posterOrphan (2009)

R / 123 min

Mystery / Thriller / Horror

Starring: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra


 

Movies that feature evil, demon-possessed, children are abundant in the horror movie genre.  It’s a common trope that has been done numerous times before.  With that being said, Orphan, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, already stands at a disadvantage.  Collet-Serra had to keep things fresh in order to get people interested in Orphan.  So did he succeed?

The premise behind Orphan is that of a family who has lost a child through childbirth, and they want to adopt a kid to fill in the gap.  The mother, Kate (Vera Farmiga), and the father, John (Peter Sarsgaard), both have their fair share of problems that they are dealing with.  Kate is an alcoholic, and because of this, there youngest daughter, who happens to be deaf, Max (Aryana Engineer) almost died while playing in an icy pond.  They also have another son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) who seems to have his troubles too.

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The story begins with Kate and John going to an orphanage in order to search for a new adopted child.  They end up finding a peculiar girl painting by herself named Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman).  At first sight, she is completely adorable and acts like an innocent little angel.  They all grow a connection to each other and they decide to take her home and make her a part of the family.

It’s when Esther arrives at their (rather large) home that we begin to see the the quirks that surround her.  She is always dressing proper, begins to grow an odd attachment to Max, and she seems to be clinging to a little black bible.  It’s immediately clear that Esther is not the prim-and-proper girl that everybody thinks she is.  There is something different about her, and it’s easy to see that things are only going to get bad.

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Unfortunately, it takes a long time for things to star kicking in.  It’s a slow climb to the third act of the movie, where things start to go down.  During these slow parts, we see Esther’s transition into the family, and the weird relationships that she builds with everybody.  She has an attachment to Max (as stated earlier) and John.  She, for some reason, despises Kate and wants to go out of her way to break her down.

This is probably the point where I should point out the acting in this movie.  The kids pretty much steal the show.  Jimmy Bennett and Aryana Engineer are probably the stars of the show, as well as Isabelle Fuhrman who plays a chilling performance as Esther.  Probably the more chilling part is the things that the little kids had to do in the movie.  Esther is manipulating them to her will and she really forces them to witness some pretty brutal things.  There’s just something about watching a little kid have to witness a cold-blooded murder that makes for some disturbing scenes.

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Both Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard didn’t do their jobs as well though, especially Sarsgaard who really seemed like he didn’t put any life into John.  Their characters are largely uninteresting and they just don’t seem to put that much into their characters.

The third act of the movie was probably the highlight of the whole experience.  This is when we see Esther really start to go crazy and reveal who she really is.  She’s brutal, cold-blooded, and basically a manipulative little brat.  You end up hating her by the end of the movie and the most satisfying scene is when we see the final confrontation between Kate and Esther.  I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say Esther deserves what comes for her.  The movie probably would have been better if they kept a couple of scenes from the first part and then left the third act like it is.  The movie was pretty long, probably longer than it should have been given the dragging first half.

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I should also mention that the twist that comes towards the end comes out of nowhere, and just seems ridiculous.  However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that it is still surprising as ever.  It throws the story for a loop, and it also makes for a darker story.  It also makes sense when you look back on previous events that take place in the story.

Orphan provides a chilling and creepy story that really gets enriched by a dark twist at the end.  It’s the twist that keeps the overused horror trope of the devil child interesting.  The movie suffers a little bit from some acting and length, but this doesn’t take away from a great ending that builds tension and nervousness.  There is some great moments in this movie that still warrant a watch.

orphan 5

 

Why Tomorrowland (The Movie) is Exciting

There is something about Disney World that excites me.  This is probably due to the numerous experiences that I have had with the parks.  There’s just something about the place that makes me enthusiastic.  Simply, it is a magical place.

If I had to pick a favorite park in Disney World, it would probably be Tomorrowland.  It’s the ride Space Mountain that really does it for me.  There is nothing more iconic about the theme park than the futuristic looking structure that holds the thrilling coaster inside.  The minute you enter Tomorrowland, all you see around you is futuristic buildings and structures.  It’s just a place of wonderment, especially when I was a kid.

space mountain

A couple of years back, Walt Disney Pictures announced a project entitled 1952.  It was a mysterious announcement and not much was known about it at the time.  Then, as time passes, casting announcements were made, including George Clooney and Hugh Laurie.  It was also announced that Brad Bird would be the director of the project.  Recently, however, the project received a title switch, and transformed into Tomorrowland.

tomorrowland posterThe movie, slated for a 2015 release, received a teaser trailer that was just put out a couple of days ago.  The trailer prominently features Britt Robertson, who plays the part of a teen brimming with curiosity over a pin she finds that takes her to an alternate world known as Tomorrowland, a place where “nothing is impossible”.  The trailer also gives us a glimpse of George Clooney’s character, who is a grizzled inventor who was a former boy-genius.  The movie looks like it will be about the two of them exploring this world of Tomorrowland.

As you would expect, I am pretty excited for 2015.  I am a sucker for movies that feature the Disney parks.  It’s unknown whether or not Tomorrowland will be based on the Disney theme park but judging by the looming futuristic structure in the teaser (that bares some resemblance to the Space Mountain structure), things look promising.

tomorrowland 2

The movie Escape from Tomorrow was a film that was shot in the Disney parks without Disney’s knowledge.  As weird an interesting as it was, it was still cool to see the familiar world of Disneyland cast in a dark light.  Now, I am not saying that I want Tomorrowland to cast the Disney park in a dark and gritty spotlight, but I am interested to see how the park will be represented, given that the movie is being made by Walt Disney Pictures themselves.

My guess is that Disney will follow suit of movies like Divergent or The Hunger Games and make a movie that will largely appeal to the teen demographic.  This can come to be expected given that Disney is making the movie and they probably not willing to make a darker movie about their own theme park.

tomorrowland 1

Still, my excitement level for this movie remain high in the coming months that will lead up to it’s release, considering that more information will likely get released.  I have always had a thing for Tomorrowland, and a movie about this park will be exciting for me, no matte what sort of form it will take.

The Mystery of the Sabotaged Led Zeppelin Concert

clue boxOne mechanic that is used in a lot of games, old and new, is the concept of imperfect information, that is, information that is concealed from the player either at the beginning of the game or any other time throughout gameplay. Taking away information from a player is an extremely good way to change how a player plays a game.

The game of Clue probably uses the concept of imperfect information perfectly. For those unfamiliar, the game is a classic “who-dunnit” game which pits players against each other in order to find out who murdered Mr. Boddy, the games murder victim. The players roam from room to room of a big mansion in order to scope out clues as to who committed the murder, where the murder took place, and with what weapon.

At the start of the game, all of that info is put in a classified file that is only revealed at the end of the game, after everybody has made their connections. The remaining cards that contain the different players, rooms, and weapons are distributed to players evenly. The players play the roles of the suspects, who will deduce and take notes on the different clues that they find. They can only make accusations in the rooms, not in the corridors, and the weapon in question is moved to their room. The other players can disprove the accusations because they may have a card that contains some of the information that the player poses. The point of all this madness, is that it pits the players against each other, to accuse each other of information in which they have no knowledge of. clue characters

A murder mystery like this one would be no fun if the player knew all of the information before the game even started. It would probably just end up with the other players cornering Mrs. Peacock in the Dining Room and killing her for killing Mr. Boddy. It would be a horrible mess of a game. Keeping the important murder information from the players keeps the game grounded and it in general makes it more fun and meaningful.

With that being said, lets relate this example of Clue with a Led Zeppelin concert. Now, your probably wondering how the heck these two things are even remotely related. However, when you really start to think about the possibilities that can arise from a mix of the two, you can see why this may be a good idea.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbHLets go back in time to January 1975, back to a time where Led Zeppelin was performing at Chicago Stadium. It is a big night for them and the concert is going to be huge. Lots of people have bought their tickets and it looks like it is going to be a sold out concert. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. But, the big news surrounding the event is the sabotage that has taken place the day before the concert. It turns out that someone on the crew has destroyed all of the sound equipment for the show. This could end up being a disaster considering there is no point to a concert if there is no sound.

Can you see where I am getting at? This situation could be the background behind a new video game. The game will put the player in the position of a private detective that has been hired by Led Zeppelin to investigate the situation and quickly solve the mystery before the big night. The answer to the mystery will be withheld from the player as they go around talking to people backstage and around the stadium about the mystery.

You can interview people, asking them questions about where they were during the time of the destruction, or a plethora of other questions. The player can also snoop around for objects or specimens that could somehow be related to the mystery. This would continue up until the point of the concert. Chicagostadiumnight150

By this time, the player would be asked for their accusation. They will have to give their insight as to who destroyed the equipment, where it was destroyed, and how. If the player gives the correct information, the sound equipment can be fixed and the concert will go on just as planned. But, if the player accuses the wrong person, the concert will be successfully sabotaged. And most likely the blame for the disaster would be put on the master detective, you. You don’t want a stadium’s worth of angry fans after you, that’s for sure.

Additionally, to improve the replay value of the game, the information can be changed up every time. Not only would this game provide the players a chance to go back in time to the golden age of Led Zeppelin, it would allow you to learn the history behind them and what went into making the Chicago Stadium concert a reality.

When you think about a game about going back in time to a Led Zeppelin concert, a game based of Clue is probably not what you expect. But the mechanics that make Clue work so well would make for an interesting game about Led Zeppelin, one that is totally unique from anything else out there.