Alex Riviello
A few words on August Derleth and The Cthulhu Mythos

I’ve been reading August Derleth’s Cthulhu Mythos stories for the first time (I know!) and really enjoying them. For those unaware, Derleth was a contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft who basically became the caretaker of his work after Lovecraft’s death in 1937, even expanding upon the Mythos in a series of stories. That Elder Sign, the five-pointed star with the eye in the middle that’s supposed to keep the Great Old Ones at bay? That’s Derleth’s. (Lovecraft’s description of it looked more like a stick.)

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Video Game Review: Dishonored

These days it’s almost refreshing to see a major new vdeo game without a large number at the end of it. Thanks to Bethesda Softworks we have a new IP from Arkane Studios (Dark Messiah), a studio who once worked on an unreleased Half-Life installment called Return to Ravenholm. It feels like they finally got their chance at something similar with Dishonored, a game that meshes the dark and ruined world of a Half-Life or Bioshock with the stealth right out of Thief. It’s just amusing that the first original game we get in a while is such a mash-up of others.

Read the rest here: 

Life! Taking Over!

Man, there’s nothing like caring for kids to sap your creative energy. My youngest is three months right now, my oldest two years and change. Working nights and watching them both a few days out of the week is incredibly draining. I’d never change it for anything- how many men can say they spend so much time raising their kids?- but it’s really getting brutal as far as my creative output. Sometimes when I sit down to do some serious writing my brain simply won’t work and I end up just staring at the screen, my mind blank. It’s frustrating and infuriating all at once, even more so when I’m content to do things I don’t usually do, like sleep, whereas before I was writing like a insomniac madman. I haven’t lost that drive but I just have less and less time to be able to let it loose.

Fortunately I’ve got a few projects in the wings, including covering beer fests and the New York Comic Con, and I’m still working steady on my weekly Tapsauce review column. That last one’s been a great gig and thanks to it I’ve played dozens of games I never would have tried, but I really need a new damn phone. My Droid X is falling apart, most recently becoming completely useless as an actual phone. If I call someone it sounds like I fell down a well. I love Android but I’m looking at picking up an iPhone 5 merely for gaming. (Google Play’s catching up but every developer prefers the app store.)

Besides that I’ve also been doing much more beer brewing and some great praise from my friends who say the beers have been getting better and better. That might be the alcohol talking but I’m definitely learning more and more about the craft.

I’ve also gotten ridiculously enamored with board and tabletop games over the last couple of years. I still play video games but for a guy who doesn’t get to go out much my best chance at socializing is by inviting people over, and I’d much rather scream at my friends over a table than over a headset. It’s been a blast to explore this new world- all kinds of games from Arkham Horror and Battlestar Galactica to Small World and Risk Legacy. I even started up a Pathfinder campaign a few weeks ago. Getting geekier in my old age and loving it.

But family takes up most of my waking hours and right now I’m looking for something to ease my schedule. I’ve been working nights for two years now and it’s starting to really get to me. We’re trying to get my wife to be able to stay home (she works part-time) with the kids, so the job search is on…

Inversion- when games copy other games.

I’ve had a copy of Inversion sitting on my shelf for a while now. I hadn’t heard anything about it and hadn’t really anticipated that changing, but a couple of days ago I decided to fire it up. It may have been late and beers might have been involved. But it was nice to find out that it’s certainly not a bad game, although it’s a familiar one. A very familiar one.

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I’m reading Catching Fire (second in the Hunger Games) which is even more disappointing than the first so far, but my buddy’s notes in the book are keeping me going. 

I’m reading Catching Fire (second in the Hunger Games) which is even more disappointing than the first so far, but my buddy’s notes in the book are keeping me going. 

Video Game Review- Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

I wrote this review before I sold it, figuring I could place it with one of the usual sites I freelance for. That week one of them decided that they’re not going to be featuring game reviews anymore and another was broke from Comic Con. So here it is- another great installment in the Lego franchise. Just when you think you’re out…

Traveller’s Tales keeps cranking out those Lego games, but it’s to their credit that they keep honing the experience. While there were bound to be a few missteps when there’s been a new installment or three every year, nearly every title adds new features that helps keep people coming back. Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 (my review) was perhaps the pinnacle of the series thus far but Lego Batman 2 manages to build on that and add some completely new gameplay experiences. (Look, up in the Sky!)

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Evil Dead 2 done in claymation. After this and his version of The Thing, can we just hire Lee Hardcastle for every upcoming horror remake?

100 Greatest Games Ever

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching and writing a massive, 101-article list for Guyspeed.

It was a ton of work, but incredibly fulfilling. Finally, my lifetime of playing videogames paid off. For about a week I walked around with a notebook jotting down games whenever they came to my mind, eventually ending up with a list of about 120 entries. After I had them all down in an excel file and had started to organize them a bit I started looking at some game ranking sites to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any obvious ones… it wouldn’t do to write a list like this and forget Pac-Man, or something. But I’d done a pretty good job, although I soon realized that I’d really stocked it up with way too many PC adventure games and obscure 16-bit titles. A few got the chop that broke my heart (I’m sorry, Chakan! Please forgive me, Broken Sword 2!) but with the help of my great editor and in the interests of making a list that represented every genre, era and system, I think I managed got a good mix.

Before I wrote the entries I replayed as many of the games as I could. I went into my closet and dug out my big box o’ games (as pictured on top), hooking up some of the old systems for the first time in years. Nomad! Saturn! N64! …Virtual Boy! (Shockingly, no Virtual Boy games made the list.) Even the Wii, actually- which according to the internal calendar I haven’t played in about a year and a half. But it was worth it to find the Wii remote just for Okami.

Really quite the trip, and it made me happy to see that so many of the older games are still readily available in downloadable form. Great games never die.

Love to know what you folks think! You can start in on the list right here - 100 Greatest Games Ever.

A great soundtrack while you’re reading this? Here’s some stuff I blasted while writing this-

Minibosses. Always. And their album Brass is a free download!

Random and Lost Perception’s Black Materia.

Adam WarRock, who just released a great hip hop soundtrack to Bastion.

Video Games Live, whose second album got played on Spotify on repeat.

Ugliest game box of all time?

Regardless of the quality of the game, this is pretty hideous. 

Oh yeah, I’m supposed to blog here!

I used to do that! I’ve been incredibly busy working a project that’s been sucking a lot of my time away. I’ve still been able to start a new homebrewing blog (New York Home Brew!) and get a bunch of reviews written, though…

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

I unabashadly love this game. I just picked up the first book from the series that inspired the game and am doubly impressed by how faithful a translation it is. Fully plan on going back through it on the harder difficulty, and I barely ever do that.
Review on Guyspeed

The Walking Dead

I’m loving that this game is finally getting some attention with mainstream press, including a massive article in the New York Times this week. It really is a great game, and both that increasingly middling tv show and Telltale’s Jurassic Park disaster seem to be convincing people not to bother with it. Their mistake- it’s one of the most exciting zombie properties in years.

Review on Badass Digest

Death Worm

Fun little game, even if there isn’t much to it. The Lite version was fun enough to earn my buck- I was just sad to find out that I’d already experienced all it had to offer. But hey, closest to a Tremors videogame we’ll ever get.

Review on Tapsauce

Sniper Elite V2

The most brutal Nazi destruction since Inglourious Basterds. I ain’t kidding when I say this one is pure, violent catharsis. I really, really need that DLC that lets you assassinate Hitler.

Review on Guyspeed.