MisanthroPlay Season 4 - Episode #61 The Year is 201X

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We kick off MisanthroPlay Season 4 the only way we know how: hurriedly trying to cram 35 games of 2017 into an hour and forty-five minute podcast. Happy New Year, from us to you!

The Games of 2017: ARMs, Assassin's Creed Origins, Cuphead, Danganronpa V3, Dead Cells, Destiny 2, Detention, Dropmix, The Evil Within 2, For Honor, Hellblade, Golf Story, Gravity Rush 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Injustice 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, NieR Automata, Night in the Woods, Nioh, Observer, Persona 5, Prey, Pyre, Resident Evil 7, Ruiner, Shadow of War, Super Mario Odyssey, Tekken 7, WhiteDay: A Labyrinth Named School, Wipeout Omega Collection, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Yakuza 0, Ys VIII

Listen to it here, and be sure to check in with episodes 58-60 if you haven't already!

October Terror Story #15 Super Mario Bros. 3

by Alva Chua

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Super Mario Bros. 3
Nintendo Entertainment System

The Super Mario Games are tautly structured sets of rules. That’s what makes them enjoyable and even beautiful at times.

You see objects you can jump over them. Blocks you can smash. Enemies that affect other enemies. Within minutes, the order of things is set.

You’re bounding through a world of systemic cartoon beauty. Every symbol is clear to you--if something has eyes, it’s probably sentient, and although that’s disturbing in its own way, it fits into the world and you move on.

It’s a desert. You can tell it’s a desert because of the sun that is literally glaring down at you, frowning. You can tell the desert is hostile because even the sun hates you. Cartoon logic made manifest. There are rules, after all.

There are supposed to be rules.

Rules that are willfully broken when the sun itself untethers itself from its perch in the sky, and defying perspective and logic, charges at you. It hunts you, and kills you with its deadly touch.

There are many moments of tension in the Mario games. But for the mind-bending terror of a celestial body bringing things to a personal level, few things in the 8-bit era match this moment for terror.

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October Terror Story #13 The Coma: Recut

by Robert Fenner

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The Coma: Recut
Playstation 4 / Steam

The Coma: Recut is a tough game to talk about. A Director's Cut of 2015's The Coma: Cutting Class, Recut is a Korean horror game from indie developer Devespresso that follows the misadventures of Youngho, a pretty unlikable milquetoast as he falls asleep during an exam only to wake up in a nightmarish version of his school. If that sounds similar to Detention, you're right, but only in the loosest sense. Although the two games share a common setting and prologue, they really couldn't be more different: Detention is a point and click adventure first and foremost, while The Coma is much more like a traditional survival horror game transposed to 2D.

As you make your way around your haunted high school finding keys to doors, you're pursued by a disconcertingly sexy zombie. The thing about The Coma is that it's oddly fetishy; female NPCs wear sky-high stilettos or have bandaged arms, while the ghosts who chase you have heaving bosoms and legs for days. I guess it's Youngho's teenage libido run wild, like a wet dream James Sunderland.

You can hide from your vivacious pursuer in filthy toilet cubicles and closets, or you can attempt to crouch down and hold your breath, but that last one never seemed to work for me. Eventually hiding in closets stopped working for me too, as occasionally a bug would pop up that would lock the controls when exiting a closet and force a restart.

As The Coma progresses, a theme begins to emerge that attempts to critique the pressures of the Korean school system. Admittedly I don't know the first thing about that, but the quality and tone of the writing muddy the message into coming off more like teenage angst than a pointed evaluation of social issues.

You might get the impression that I'm not too hot on The Coma: Recut, and you'd be right. That said, running around the hallways of a dilapidated school always ticks the horror box for me, and it can be genuinely chilling and stressful when it wants to be. It's no Detention--few games are--but it doesn't have to be. If you previously bought The Coma: Cutting Class on Steam, you're entitled to a free copy of Recut, which was nice of Devespresso, so go check if you have it.

 

October Terror Story #11 D E A B I R T H - R E A L

by Robert Fenner

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D E A B I R T H - R E A L
Get it at Itch.io

Sharing D E A B I R T H - R E A L with you tonight gave me pause; not because I find it objectionable, but rather because I found it when randomly browsing Itch.io. That is the optimal way to experience this type of game, rather than curation, but hey.

Brought to us by a glitch-heavy creator by the name of LOVE MERCHANT DEAD GHOST,  D E A B I R T H - R E A L is a short game about childbirth. A nightmarish childbirth. In the form of a rhythm game. Press Y in relation to the positioning of the text on screen to push; push hard enough and you'll be the proud mother of a bouncing baby something! Essentially,  D E A B I R T H - R E A L is a dissociative marriage of Rosemary's Baby and Beatmania, cheating on each other with the aesthetics of Hotline Miami and the Guinea Pig film series. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, toss LOVE MERCHANT DEAD GHOST a couple of bucks and see some technicolor babies in your dreams tonight.

October Terror Story #10 Detention

by Robert Fenner

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Detention
Get it on Steam

From Silent Hill, to Corpse Party, to WhiteDay, horror games set within schools--whether exclusively or partially--are fairly well represented. If one were to simply look at Red Candle Games' debut Detention, one may think, unique art style notwithstanding, that the game would fit easily into this category, in which an everyday space is transmuted into a nightmare. And they could not be more wrong.

What puts Detention head and shoulders above its contemporaries is its setting, and by extension, its message. Set in 1960s Taiwan in the midst of the White Terror, Detention tells the story of Wei and Fang, two students who've found themselves trapped within Greenwood High School following a typhoon warning. The player is tasked with helping these two find a way out, but as the situation progresses, the solutions to progress require crueler and crueler actions. Although fairly linear, Detention asks just how far its characters will go to achieve their goals.

I admit I did not know much about Taiwan's history nor the White Terror before I had played Detention, but the story presented an informative and easy to follow portrait of a country under extreme nationalism; a place in which those who do not tow the party line--even if this means something as innocuous as reading the "wrong" literature--are punished severely. While you may think I am suggesting that the horror of Detention comes from the nightmare of life under a repressive regime, this is only partially true: the real horror of Detention comes from the observation of how ordinary citizens behave within such environments, and how easy it is to twist an already-twisted situation to achieve one's desires at the expense of others.

Detention is quick, sad, and one of the best horror games of 2017.