MisanthroPlay 2018: The State of the Podcast

Folks, I know you were expecting your bi-weekly episode of MisanthroPlay on Friday, but unfortunately we need to take a few weeks off due to last minute scheduling conflicts. Don't worry, nothing's up, and the show will go on--the beginning of 2018 has been stupid busy, and it's just getting busier/stupider.

We hope to be back on track by March, and we will be squeezing in a couple of bonus episodes before then. But for now, here's a few things you may have missed.

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The Supergiant Deep Look

We recorded a suite of episodes over December that showcase all three of Supergiant's games. Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre are three unique hybrid RPGs that each explore a world in flux, and what it means to put things right. You can find all three episodes here, and we hope you check them out because we think they're all quite good. Beware of spoilers, though.

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Appearances on Retro Encounter

Robert made a few appearances on RPGFan's Retro Encounter this month, too. The first of which is an episode on OFF, Mortis Ghost's postmodern cult hit that ponders the nature of the Hero's Journey. He also took part in a round table on Chroma Squad, Behold Studios' Super Sentai send-up.

 

Thank you for bearing with us during this busy period. Be sure to check in on Friday for a mini-episode in which Alva and Robert discuss their first few hours with Monster Hunter: World.

October Terror Story #09 Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner

by Robert Fenner

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Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner
PlayStation 2

There's no argument that the majority of the Shin Megami Tensei back catalogue can be classified as horror. However, special mention must be made to the dreary, existential dread of Digital Devil Saga.

The Junkyard is a warzone of broken concrete and twisted steel, upon which and endless rain falls. Upon this battlefield battle five tribes, locked in an endless battle of supremacy. However, all of this changes one day when a biomechanical lotus blossom falls from the sky, giving birth to a young woman with pitch black hair. But that's not all: The girl's appearance brands all present with a black sigil, turning each of them into an insatiable demon. Friend and foe devour each other in an attempt to sate their hunger, leaving the battlefield in a horrifying state of pure id.

After the carnage has passed, the girl, Sera, comes under the protection of the Embryon, a gang led by a young man named Serph. Serph and his crew vow to keep her safe until they can find out who she is and where she came from, but the Junkyard's governing body, the Karma Temple, promise to grant passage to Nirvana to the gang who brings Sera to them. As the plot begins to take shape, Serph and his comrades begin to question what the Junkyard is, why they're there, how long they've been there, and what existence is.

Existential crises and inhuman action is de rigeur for Shin Megami Tensei, but Digital Devil Saga adds a truly nightmarish flare with its setting. The Junkyard is a a desolate ruin of modern civilization, stripped of its context, and accented in a mix of cyberpunk technology and Indo-Aryan iconography. Mechanical lotus flowers recur, as solid steel fortresses are adorned with bas reliefs of Hindu deities. It adds an unplacable nature to the worldbuilding--especially as there are so few games with Indo-Aryan-inspired settings.

Furthermore, the level of existential dread is multi-layered. Characters are devouring each other; it's horrifying, yes, but even more horrifying is that the characters are horrified as well. And not only horrified, but feeling the emotion of horror for the first time in their lives. This is an existential crisis in the truest sense.

Be sure to check in with RPGFan's Retro Encounter Podcast on Thursday, where we'll be talking about the game at length.

RPGFan: Persona 5 Review (Excerpt)

by Robert Fenner

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The Persona series has always held a special place in my heart. The first three entries released over the course of my adolescence; a tumultuous period during which my time was divided between parents who lived on opposite ends of an ocean. No matter where I was, I chased after unattainable acceptance as I grappled with teenage awkwardness, existential angst, and my own sexuality. Things were messy. When I immersed myself in "Lunarvale" or Sumaru, I took part in narratives that seemingly understood just how messy these years could be. It was as if the overarching theme of these titles was "There's no magic fix to your problems, but it's OK to be you." 

I was an adult by the time Persona 3 & 4 set the world ablaze. Both games were excellent: tightly-paced marriages of dating sims/visual novels with compelling RPG systems. Navigation, combat, and fusion were all at their most speedy and accessible, while individual characters had endearing personalities and lengthy story arcs over which to flourish. While I enjoyed both Persona 3 & 4, I couldn't help but feel that something had been lost. These protagonists were the most important people in their respective worlds; popular and charming saviors who served as all things to all people. They were too perfect. The aspects that resonated so loudly to me had been replaced with a recontextualisation of adolescence as fun and flirty escapism into an idyllic unreality. 

Now, a full eight years after Persona 4, Persona 5 has arrived to tell the story of a delinquent student's year under probation. Would this entry bring a little nuance back to this series? The answer is, no, not quite — though that doesn't mean Persona 5 isn't a great time. 

(read more at RPGFan)

Writing Round-Up, March 2017

by Robert Fenner

As always, I've been awfully slack about sharing my work here. But that doesn't mean I haven't been working away. Check out what I've been up to, even if it's not front page news.

Writing Round-Up, August 2016

by Robert Fenner

It's safe to say that, outside of your bi-weekly MisanthroPlay episodes, I've been pretty lousy about keeping MisanthroPop subscribers updated with what I've been up to over the past few months. But that's all set to change, starting now! Below you can find the latest writing I've done from around the web.

Hardcore Gaming 101: Paladin's Quest / Lennus

  • Remember this B-Tier RPG from Copya Systems and Enix USA? The one with the weird colors and character designs not unlike a Moebius comic? Mechanically it was a snooze-fest, but its world deserves a closer look. So that's just what I gave it, along with its Japan-only sequel.

RPGFan: Oxenfree Review

  • Night School Studios sent me a review code for the PS4 Director's Cut of their inaugural character-driven horror adventure, and I fell in love with it. You'll see why in my review, but fans of well-written narrative simply must play this game.

RPGFan: The Silver Case Preview

  • I love old-school Suda 51 -- Y'know, back when his games were messes of subversive postmodernism, and before he stepped away from the director's chair to slap his name on a bunch of derivative Robert Rodriguez rip-offs -- so I'm hyped for this autumn's release of The Silver Case. That said, its Steam demo hasn't set my world alight. Read and find out why not.

RPGFan: Magical Eyes: Red is For Anguish Review

  • Between its slipshod writing and its male Mary Sue protagonist and his doe-eyed obsessive girlfriend, Magical Eyes is a fart of a doujin visual novel. Ya failed the Bechdel Test harder than most, buddy.