Developed by Grimwood Team
Available on PC through Steam
Suitable for ages 14+
If you’re under the age of 30 and a self-described nerd, chances are you have taken part in a debate on whether or not video games are “art.” It’s one of those pointless, inapplicable debates, decided in the court of public opinion and without any lasting consequence. Anyone that takes it really seriously is just wanking about, as it’s been generally decided that yes, games can be art. Now it’s just up to the bespectacled meganerds to hash out the details for all eternity. Before you think I’m being needlessly harsh and overly critical, I actually taught a class on the topic for a few years. While I’ve written several dozen papers about the merits of various styles, titles, and modes of expression, I do realize that ultimately it doesn’t really matter.
Not to say that gaming shouldn’t be taken seriously. There are some beautiful games out there that can move hearts and change minds with the best sculptures, paintings, and films. What is a waste of time is valuing a game just because it attempts to be art. Enter stage right, World of One.
I think we need a term for games that are banking on their indie art cred to move copies and hoover up positive reviews from wannabe critics. In the german tradition of just smashing clauses together to make something new, I’m going to coin the term “feelscore.” A feelscore game is one where actual gameplay is secondary, glaring design flaws are expected to be overlooked, and game breaking bugs come stock standard. But for some reason we are supposed to forget all this, because the game has an edgy subject matter and quirky art style. Sorry, am I showing my hand too early, World of One?
I suppose I should actually tell you what World of One is before I start taking shots at it from my ivory tower. World of One is an atmospheric hardcore puzzle-platformer brawler with planet-based physics and a grim papercraft artstyle. In a nutshell, it’s Super Mario Galaxy mixed with Dark Souls and Limbo all smeared in blood.
How could an indie game that’s only $7 deliver on all of these promises in equal measures? Well of course it doesn’t. The physics are inconsistent, combat terrible, and puzzles confusing. Even the blood gets a bit silly when it is decorating the same patch of land for the billionth time. Which it will be, because World of One is very very hard.
Now take note that I said hard, not challenging. I’ve had considerable debate with people over the difference between “hard” and “challenging,” and boy oh boy if I don’t have another bullet in the chamber for that argument. Games like Dark Souls and Counter-Strike are challenging, where the onus of failure is entirely up to you for just not being good enough. Games like World of One are hard because they are broken. From the intolerable combat to the game breaking bugs, I struggled to get through World of One for all the wrong reasons.
I’ll just go through my issues in the order I already arbitrarily brought them up. The physics in this game are unforgivably shoddy. On face value it makes sense: you are on a circular world, so you jump on a little curve. Smaller planets and competing gravitational pulls will lead to longer jumps. It works in an incredibly fluid game like Super Mario Galaxy, but in World of One it just feels like I’m trying to nudge a medicine ball around with an oar. I got killed several times because—while I could properly factor in the rotation of the planet, the hang time of the bounce, and my own personal momentum—I couldn’t account for just how long it would take for my command to move left to actually compel the character to move left. And let’s not even get into the three times I had to restart a level because I got locked into a fall animation on a ledge like Wile E. Coyote in his own personal purgatory.
The combat is ass. It’s a whole portion of ass slapped between two loaves of ass slathered in ass and served up with a side of ass. You have two attacks: a light attack that you will never use, and a heavy attack that stunlocks almost everything. Sounds easy enough, but that’s when the shit actually works. So many times my attacks would go sailing through the enemy because the tip of my shovel didn’t connect with the few pixels that made up their actual hitbox. You die in one hit, so any kind of fuckup makes you go back to the last checkpoint. The checkpoints are in their own separate category of ass, and when I died because the lords of hitboxes weren’t properly satisfied with my morning sacrifice it’s just constant servings of crap being forced down my throat.
The puzzles are the game’s high point. Most of the time. Overall, I was pleased with how simple and intuitive most of it was. There isn’t much in the way of hand holding, so you feel genuinely clever when you figure out some of the harder ones. There’s one puzzle in particular that requires you to die, and it made me giddy in that oldschool way where games weren’t afraid to make you think way outside of the box.
That being said, there is outside of the box, and then there is taking the box, mailing it to Spain, changing your address, and filing a restraining order against the box. There are two puzzles in particular that I am thinking of. One involved guessing a number, which was solved with the most obtuse clue imaginable. It was nowhere near the puzzle, and had absolutely no indication it was related. I actually had to message the devs and ask for a solution. Another time, the solution to the puzzle for some reason spawned outside of my visible range. I’ve seen previous versions of the game in videos, and apparently the hint at some point was moved. This must have been a mistake, as I cannot possibly imagine why they would put the hint you need behind the door that the puzzle opens. Either it’s terrible design or completely broken.
But we’re all supposed to forget this, right? World of One is ART after all. There are plenty of games I love that make up for severe mechanical shortcomings with storytelling. Hell, I just gave Get Even a 4.5/5! I know that the decent visuals and edgy vibe are going to make this game call out to the souls of some particularly hxc teenagers, but World of One is not art.
From the get-go, it’s clear that the actual world of World of One is a metaphor. You play as some dude with a haircut straight from a Tim Burton inspired anime fan film, who’s traveling between these perilous planets in pursuit of a mysterious shade. Symbolic journeys through the soul are pretty standard for feelscore games, and a lot of them do it well. The problem is that World of One just has nothing to say. If you’re going to do an introspective look into tragedy and the nature of guilt, you have to have a plot twist that people can relate to. I won’t spoil anything, but the big reveal at the end feels like it was ripped from a high school edgelord’s blog.
The best thing about World of One is that it’s $7. They have mostly fixed the bugs at this point (I’m reviewing it so late because there was one glitch that prevented me from finishing), so if you’re really bored and set your expectations low enough you can easily get your money’s worth. It’s bad, but it isn’t cancerous. And it certainly isn’t a soulless cash grab. It’s obvious that Grimwood Team wants to make something good. They just didn’t. Better luck next time.
Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review
Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne
Directed by Charles Martin Smith
I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.
Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.
Now let’s get to it.
First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.
Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.
I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.
Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.
It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!
And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.
Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.
This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.
And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.
Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!
In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?
That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.
Rockstar lighting for days.
Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.
Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.
More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.
Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcorn, and if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.
Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.
All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!
Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!
Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.
AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters
Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill
Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk
** NO SPOILERS **
It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.
To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.
That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.
Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.
Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.
Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.
Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.
But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.
But let’s backtrack a bit here.
Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).
And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.
Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.
With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.
Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.
I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.
Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!
Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.
Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?
On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.
That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.
In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.
While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.
Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.
Bring on season 12.
The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.
The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror
Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro
Directed by Nicholas Woods
The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).
The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.
The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.
The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.
The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.
The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.
- Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
- Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
- If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
- “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
- The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
- As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
- “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
- The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
- Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.
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