Until Dawn – First impressions

Hayden-Panettiere-Poster-Until-Dawn
Gloom and doom. Let’s do this.

In the outro of my LoTR fan’s Fall To-Do List I mentioned a great weekend involving scary games. And one of these games has stuck in my mind so adamantly that I really want to share my impressions of it with you guys.
I’m talking about new survival horror game Until Dawn.

Haven’t you always thought that you would be so much smarter than the characters of *insert name of any major, stereotypical horror movie*?
I used to think so too but now I’m not so sure anymore. Turns out making the right choice can be seriously complicated.
(Except if your choice is to instantly disagree to crap ideas like spending a weekend on a haunted mountain with a convicted criminal on the loose in combination with no cell phone reception. That would have been a good and simple choice.)

Heading up to the cabin. I'm feeling good about this decision.
Heading up to the cabin. Feeling real good about this.

I will admit straight away that I did not touch the controller. That is still out of my league because the terror is real. But I was part of the decision-making and  watched intently for about five hours so thus I feel qualified to tell you what I think of the game so far. xD

Until Dawn allows you to step into the classical horror movie tale of teenagers isolated in a cabin in the mountains. The wealthy Washington family has built their luxury cabin on a mountain that is sacred to a native american tribe, and now an unidentified lunatic is set on bloody, excruciating revenge.
You alternate between playing as the different teenagers, who are a rather dramatic and bitchy crew let me tell you, and chose how they react in different situations and what they say.

The  game’s biggest unique selling point, in my opinion, is how one tiny action or dialogue choice heavily impacts how the game plays out- the butterfly effect. This is what really drew me in and kept me in the room even after shit hit the fan and I started screaming on a regular basis.
I had to know what happened because of the choices we made, and see if we could avoid the next death through smart play.

Which alternative will get someone killed in the next chapter? So much pressuuuuuure
Which alternative will get someone killed in the next chapter? So much pressuuuuuure!

An interesting feature interacting with the butterfly effect was the totems. Tying in with the native american theme, you can find and pick up totems lying in the snow or in dark corners of the cabin. These can for example warn about Death or Loss or give Guidance. The visions of possible events add another level to the butterfly effect, will you create that very destiny in your efforts to avoid it? The atmosphere is one of constant doom looming and frankly, I was exhausted after a couple of hours trying to cheat death and get everyone through the night and off that damn mountain.

Phew, yellow totems offers guidance.
Yellow totems offer guidance.

In between acts, we get to visit the shrink. I don’t yet know if he will turn out to be a real person or just a figment of your imagination. But he is very creepy.
This moody and gloomy character is modeled after and brilliantly voiced by Peter Stormare (swede high-five!).
For the record I think it’s awesome how it is possible to merge the film and game medium like this, letting professional actors lend their voices and even their mimicry through motion capture – another big name doing a wonderful job is Hayden Panettiere as Sam.
Anyway, Stormare’s shrink starts out semi-friendly and helpful, but soon things take a sinister turn and I have a feeling that these sessions will get very dark, very soon. I am also pretty sure that this is a clever way for the game to mold itself after your personal fears and preferences, while also giving tantalizing clues as to what will happen next.

Dr Hill is in.
Dr Hill is in.

You can’t write about Until Dawn without mentioning the graphics, because they are ah-mazing, as you can see from the screenshots I’ve included above. It’s a new, fresh game and it looks the part. Apart from a few dodgy freeze frames on too-toothy smiles when a new character is introduced, the game is eerily life-like. The snowy woods, the log cabins, the people, the gore– everything looks almost too real for me to able to cope with. And my guesses are that I’ve by no means seen the worst of it yet.

If you have nerves of steel, or back up from several friends including one that can handle the steering, I highly recommend trying out Until Dawn. I NEED to know how it ends! And then I would like to figure out how to get things to end better. Arrrgh.

/Joh

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(A LoTR-fan’s) Fall To-Do List

hobbit-trailer-landscape-mountain

He found himself wondering at times, especially in the Autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams. – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I can’t help it, I’m obsessed with autumn. And it goes (too) well with my everlasting Tolkien-fandom.
So just for fun, here’s a silly little to-do list for a Lord of the Rings-y fall:

    • Spend an entire Sunday reading, drinking tea and burning pumpkin-scented candles. Occasionally mutter “I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains!” and pretend to be anxious for adventure. Don’t leave the sofa though. [    ]
      bilbo-no
    • Every time you light a candle, shout “The beacons are lit! GONDOR CALLS FOR AID!” [    ]
    • Proceed to prance about for a while, building tension, before finally proclaiming “and Rohan will answer!” [    ]

      So majestic. ;_;
      So majestic. ;_;
    •  Take a walk through the woods and try to find a shortcut to the mushrooms. [    ]Pippin- Mushrooms-lord-of-the-rings
    • Accidentally get spider web in your hair and bird poo on your clothes but roll with it and claim you’re cosplaying Radagast. [    ]

      radagast-rabbits
      Leave the rabbits alone though.
    • See a flock of birds migrate south. Hide and whisper “Crebain from Dunland!” [    ]
    • Encourage and study with your classmates before the big exam. When they leave, mumble “I give hope to men. I leave none for myself”. Bonus points for a far-off gaze and dejected posture. [    ]
Sad aragorn is sad.
Aww.
    • Discover the sun no longer burnsss and agree to spend time outside again with the explanation “I come back to you now… at the turn of the tide.” [    ]
    • YellMellon! Meellllloooon!” at your work computer (and anything else you’ve forgotten the password to during the summer). [    ]
      How you feel the the technology fights back.
      How you feel when the technology fights back.

      The last but very important step:

  • Ignore your girl/boyfriend’s exasperated sighs. I found this to be key. [    ]

Good job! You are done and have successfully eliminated all chances of seeming like a normal and well-functioning human being. : D (Y)

Btw, I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I went to see some friends and had so much fun. We played Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes and Until Dawn and I did scream, but not as much as I expected. I think I’m getting braver. Or just more determined to not make people around me go deaf.
Anyhow, I’ll see you in a week, cheers!

/Joh

The Ultimate Harry Potter Quiz Collection

My letter probably just got Errol-ed. It's on its way. It is!
My letter probably just got Errol-ed. It’s on its way. It is!

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter universe, you’ve probably spent a lot of time imagining yourself in it, thinking about what it would be like if you were a part of it.

I know I have.

So in an attempt to do something nice for all you HP-geeks out there (and because I flipping loved doing the research) I’ve gathered the best Harry Potter quizzes I could find in one blog post. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

The Pottermore Sorting Hat Test

This is the big one for many of us. And it is Rowling’s own sorting quiz. Meaning it does not get more authentic than this so just go do it! Pretend it is finally happening.

After all these years of guessing and suspecting, turns out I'm a Ravenclaw. : D
After all these years of guessing and suspecting, turns out I’m a Ravenclaw. : D

(This quiz originally belongs on Pottermore, but the site is undergoing changes. The questions and results are identical so don’t worry.)

Want a more thorough description once you know your house? Clicky!

Slytherin

Gryffindor

Hufflepuff

Ravenclaw

What’s Your Patronus?

You know you want to know. This is an enjoyable and quick quiz and surprised me by being rather accurate.

Fun fact:
Fun fact: “Expecto Patronum” roughly translates to “I await a protector”.

What’s your Animagus?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to shapeshift? I can’t believe more wizards and witches want to attempt it, despite the risks.
Out of the lot of animagus-quizzes that’s out there, this is a rather good one. Not written-by-Rowling-herself-perfect, but creative questions and in-depth results.

If you want an even more accurate suggestion:

This Spirit Animal quiz maybe isn’t Harry Potter-themed per say but perfect for finding your true animagus form.

Minerva McGonagall. Badass since 1935.
Minerva McGonagall. Badass since 1935.

What Job Would You Have In The Harry Potter Wizarding World?

I’m really impressed with this one- fun to take and the result melted my heart:

You got: Dragon Keeper.Some people may find dragons terrifying, but you’re intrigued by the winged beasts. You get to raise them from egg to adulthood, and you’ve come to enjoy their company more than you enjoy being with other wizards.”

How to train your Ukrainian Ironbelly?
How to train your Ukrainian Ironbelly?

What Would Be Your Best Subject At Hogwarts?

Credible results and fun to know! At least for the Hermiones among us.

Which Hogwarts Professor Would Be Your Mentor?

I believe I’m not alone in wishing to have teachers like those on Hogwarts. This is a well-made and accurate personality test and I hope you will be as pleased with your result as I was with mine.

Move over Harry.
Move over Harry.

Which Order of the Phoenix Member Are You?

Why would you be in the Order and who of the original members are most similar to you? Accurate and quick.

Just for fun, or if you’ve had a really bad day and feel like exploring your evil self:

Which Death Eater Are You?

Can’t really say if this was accurate or not, but a bit fun to see who your evil twin would be. I got the Dark Lord himself and I do not really know how I feel about that. He was kinda hot when he was young though. Before all the dying and the no-nose-situation.

Always had a thing for the bad boys in fiction.
Always had a thing for the bad boys in fiction. >.>

Speaking of fictional crushes:

Which Harry Potter Character Should You Actually Marry?

Or date or you know, admire from afar. Whatever level of commitment you’re ready for. Both girls and boys in the result and decently on point.

Which “Harry Potter” Witch Should Be Your BFF?

Chicks before di… er, friends are nice to have! Who would you hang out with? Jokes aside, this was maybe the best friend quiz I found. Desperate for the possibility of a male BFF? (Not my first choice since it seems aimed at quite a young audience. Still one of the better ones, trust me. The things I’ve seen.)

We’re almost at the end now but there is one more thing we just HAVE to know. So…

Which Quidditch Position Would You Play?

Quidditch- a sport so amazing that even muggles play it without even being able to fly. (I would be a Beater! Fear me.)

Serious nerd dedication.
Serious nerd dedication.

So, that was that! I hope you had a bit of fun and got to imagine your life Potterified. I’d love to know your results if you don’t mind sharing them. : D

/Joh

Geek read (Autumn Special) – Neil Gaiman Top 3

Forestwander.com
Autumn means an overpowering need to snuggle up with good books and hot tea.

I was going to write something about how autumn is the optimal season to read in but then my mind went “oh, oh, remember how cozy it is in winter when it’s snowing!” and “but in summer you’re on vacation and can indulge for daaays”. So let’s settle for that autumn is lovely to read in, just like the other seasons (but maybe just a liiittle better?). I’m rambling.

Anyhow, seasonally appropriate or not I wanted to share some lovely reads from the rock star of the fantasy genre- Neil Gaiman.

The man himself.
The man himself.

I have been reading and adoring his books since I was half my current size (which might impress you if you saw me). Here are my top 3 through the years, and let me tell you it was not easy to choose. 🙂

3. Stardust

stardust-neil-gaiman-geekbyjoh
My favourite cover of Stardust. Unfortunately the copy I own has the movie poster on it. No further comments.

Delightfully turning all what we expect from a fairy tale on its head, Stardust’s plot looks the part of a classic “hero journeys to a fabled land to retrieve a fallen star and win a fair maiden’s hand“. But there the similarities end. Stardust is a wondrous and quirky ride of a story, at times humorous and at times melancholic.
The hero is young, awkward Tristan Thorn, who thinks himself hopelessly in love with the village belle Victoria Forester. Attempting to woo her despite her obvious disinterest he vows to bring her the star they see falling one night, landing beyond the Wall bordering their village. The Wall keeps things in, and it keeps things out.

So there are two problems with his quest. One is that no one goes beyond the Wall. Second, the star is not a lump of space rock but a woman called Yvaine.

First the light in the sky was no bigger than the moon, then it seemed larger, infinitely larger, and the whole grove trembled and quivered and every creature held its breath and the fireflies glowed brighter than they had ever glowed in their lives, each one convinced that this at last was love, but to no avail And then — There was a cracking sound, sharp as a shot, and the light that had filled the grove was gone.

Or almost gone. There was a dim glow pulsing from the middle of the hazel thicket, as if a tiny cloud of stars were glimmering there.

And there was a voice, a high clear, female voice which said, “Ow,” and then, very quietly, it said “Fuck,” and then it said “Ow,” once more.

As you can tell, the language is vivid, poetic and dryly humourous at the same time. Few authors, in my opinion, can create a language that is so easy to read and yet not at all childish, and I find it a joy to read.

The object that caused Yvaine to fall from her night sky was a strange amulet, and soon she and the amulet is searched for by our lovesick Tristan, mighty princes and evil witches alike. Tristan finds her first and the rest is for you to find out. : D

Do NOT confuse the book for a written version of the movie. While I don’t hate the movie (and especially not you Michelle Pfeiffer), it is way less edgy and whimsical and a lot more soppy and stereotypical.

2. American Gods

american-gods-neil gaiman-geekbyjoh
If you like deep, bleak, awesome stuff- go grab a copy of “American Gods”.

If Stardust is at least partly a sweet fairy tale and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike, American Gods is definitely intended for grown ups. This is intellectual fantasy at it’s finest. I find the idea behind this book so intriguing: where do forgotten gods go? When the ones who believed in them die or move someplace new and forget their roots, do their old gods die too? And what if the gods don’t want to be forgotten?

I am not a religious person, but I love mythology. This books weaves together myth and religion, present and past, fiction and cold hard reality in an intelligent and riveting way.

“You got to understand the god thing. It’s not magic. It’s about being you, but the you that people believe in. It’s about being the concentrated, magnified, essence of you. It’s about becoming thunder, or the power of a running horse, or wisdom. You take all the belief and become bigger, cooler, more than human. You crystallize.” He paused. “And then one day they forget about you, and they don’t believe in you, and they don’t sacrifice, and they don’t care, and the next thing you know you’re running a three-card monte game on the corner of Broadway and Forty-third.”

For us readers, it all begins when Shadow is being released from prison. Shadow is a big man, silent, and maybe not very talented at making good choices. But that is all behind him now and all he thinks about is going home to his wife Laura and turning over a new leaf. The day before his release he receives the news: Laura is dead. As his world crumbles he is approached by an odd, charismatic old man who calls himself Wednesday. He conveniently enough has a job for Shadow.

American Gods is raw. There is violence, regret, betrayal, sex and death– but if you can handle Game of Thrones (I need a lot of closed-eye-time for that. I’m sensitive okay) then it is nothing to worry about.

I think that while not as dreamy and charming as many of Gaiman’s other works, and frankly a more tedious read, what brings me to award it second place is how unique, grim and thought-through it is. If you, like me, are a mythology-enthusiast you will find yourself hoarding clues and going wide-eyed at “coincidents” with character names and actions. Maybe the name Wednesday already gave you a clue as to who Shadow is dealing with?

Time flies when you are reading ridiculously long book reviews no? No? >.> Here’s goes number one!

1. Neverwhere

neverwhere-neil gaiman-geekbyjoh
Disclaimer: I do not endorse storming the sewers looking for a way into London Below. But I fully sympathise with the impulse.

Style-wise Neverwhere lands somewhere in between the easy-going Stardust and the mature American Gods. This is brilliant urban fantasy– haunting, creative and bustling with life. It is also highly entertaining.

Neverwhere takes place in London and tells the story of Rickard Mayhew, a young businessman with a lovely but quite demanding girlfriend. On their way to meet up with her influential boss they stumble unto a gravely injured, tattered girl. Her name is Door and to his girlfriend’s dismay, Richard helps her and brings her home.

The next morning Door has mysteriously disappeared , and so has the life Richard knew and kind-of-sort-of-liked. He seems to have ceased to exist. No one can see him, hear him and his bank cards are being declined. He has been claimed by London Below– the city beneath the city, inhabited by creatures of shadow and magic and those who have fallen through the cracks.

He hopes to set everything back to normal by finding the person he suspects was responsible for the change: Door. Who is conveniently being hunted down by the legendary assassins Mr Vandemar and Mr Croup.

Mr. Croup turned out the lights. “Oh, Mister Vandemar,” he said, enjoying the sound of the words, as he enjoyed the sound of all words, “if you cut us, do we not bleed?”

Mr. Vandemar pondered this for a moment, in the dark. Then he said, with perfect accuracy, “No.”

Other than having that wonderfully creepy villain-duo and a lot of other equally colourful characters, the setting of Neverwhere is engrossing. I love the real London, and London Below is that with extra icing. For example, in Earl’s Court subway resides an actual Earl and his posse and Knightsbridge (Night’s bridge) is a crossway of living darkness and terrible power.
The way London Below exists underneath and in parallel with normal London and the fact that Richard is just a normal guy gives me that “Harry Potter-discovers-the-wizard-world / Narnia”-vibe. It feels realistic enough to imagine it could have been me. (Only it wasn’t. Insert sound of a heart breaking.)

Neverwhere’s balance between chilling and playful, humoristic and dark, everyday life and the utterly bizarre is what earns it the number one spot and why I think it is a perfect autumn read. 😀 (That and the matter of me being the worst anglophile in Sweden. Hehe.)

/Joh

A Brief Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – The Strategy

Running towards zombies? Big can of nope. >.>
Running towards zombies. Mmmnope.
In my first part of this guide I wrote about the backpack necessities, in the second I dealt with what weapon you should choose for effective zombie-fighting.
Now the time has come for the third and final installment of this series where we will talk strategy.
No matter how much we plan, we will never be as smooth as Brick.
No matter how much we plan, we will never be as smooth as Brick.

Anyway, say we got our backpack, we got our weapon- where do we go now and what do we do? Here are some strategies to consider:

1. The Urban Survivor. You barricade yourself somewhere, maybe on a roof, that has a way down (see, we’re already getting use out of that rope) but not really a way up for unwanted visitors.
You wait out the worst with your food reserves and can possibly still access water from a tap, or hope for rain to gather.
Once the threat to you is not imminent, you scavenge nearby building and  stores. Depending on the intensity of the zombie outbreak, you will most likely still need to fight from time to time.

This strategy is best suited to individuals in good physical shape (due to the risk of getting into combat and the possibility of a LOT of running) and who have the mental fortitude to outwit both zombies and humans gone lawless.
The main appeal of this strategy is the continued, if limited, access to houses and buildings as shelters and the (finite) wealth of human products and food.

Perfect example: Will Smith in
Urban Survivor: Will Smith in “I am Legend”. (Ps. I got that bag. How cool am I.)

2. The Woodsman. You, being alert and having read way too much apocalypse fiction, pick up the early signals of something not being right. Weird sicknesses, animals disappearing, governments claiming everything is fine and dandy etc etc.
You grab your backpack and get out of the cities, into the wild. Where instead of more than the occasional zombie and lawless humans, you will face cold nights and lack of food and shelter. If you carefully pick a location, where there are streams and lakes, you can hopefully get nature to provide you with water. Using that fishing line to create nets and snares you can get food. Once you’ve built a basic shelter and water proofed your sleeping area with those plastic bags, you could actually get through the ordeal in relative comfort and safety.

This strategy probably best suits people who feel comfortable surrounded by wilderness and are bodily able and healthy. And the main appeal would be not having to deal with the actual zombies. Because, as we have already established, they are goddamn scary.

He even looks like me! Sorta.
I’ll spend the apocalypse as a Woodsman please. Such fab, very axe. Wow.

3. The Fighter. Similar to The Urban Survivor, the Fighter stays where the action is. But instead of sneaking, planning and bunkering, you fight. Maybe alone but most effectively in a group of people. This strength in numbers-attitude allows for more leeway with the preparations because you actually stand a chance of getting to what you need later, despite zombies and whatnot.

This strategy seems to me most suited to headstrong people who want the security and possibilities that fellow people creates, and feel they wont be taken advantage of. The main appeal? That you can rely on others and don’t have to go through it alone and also feel that you are fighting back.

Good example of both The Fighter and of not having properly read my weapon guide.
Good example of both The Fighter and of not having read my weapon guide.

What strategy suits you, one of these three or something else entirely? I for one would definitely go for The Woodsman. I have read dark enough zombie books to think that what’s left of mankind would probably be as dangerous for a girl of my size and poor karate skills as the zombies. So the woods it is.

I would preferably bring my near and dear with me, so I should probably pick a location in advance and inform them. Need to make them read this guide beforehand as well so they know what to bring…

Or remember this is fictional and just “for fun”. Cough.

Just ignore the haters.
Just ignore them.
Thanks for sticking with me through this guide and I sincerely hope that it will never come in handy! Cheers : D

Tabletop Roleplaying – My First Time

“Svavelvinter” by Fria Ligan, my very first tabletop RPG D:

The idea of roleplaying in person scares me a bit. I had imagined it would feel like being back to taking acting classes, meaning being certain that I suck and that the others are just too polite to say anything.
I have imagined roleplaying with me would simply be an embarrassing experience for everyone involved. But somehow I have still been curious (it IS hard to resist fantasy worlds, pretty art and being the single hope of a doomed world), and now it is happening.

A friend of mine has taken it upon himself to show me the way of the world, and last week we sat down and started creating our characters. Which, it turns out, rocks no matter if it is a video or a tabletop game.

I’ll admit that I got a bit hyper. There were giggling, reading sneakily ahead and general shout-outs for booze (which we didn’t even have. A slight set back).

It is so weird though, that feeling of getting to choose exactly who you want to be in a world with no limits. Do you know what I mean? Not that I hate myself that much IRL, but like I can’t do pyrokinesis or anything truly useful here. I guess I also love the (imaginary) feeling of being powerful and in control. This all sounds very depressing lol.

The character I’m working on is a young woman- a bard who has a special bond with animals, is somewhat of an outcast and has dormant magical powers. Yes, I am pathetic enough to create a me-but-way-WAY-better char.

no excuse_awkvard_girl_gif
Sorrynotsorry.

The game we will be playing is called Svavelwinter, I am not that familiar with the world yet but this is what the creators from Fria Ligan say about the settings:

“It takes place in the Tracorian world, which is similar to Renaissance Europe of the early 16th century, but with notable differences. It is an animistic world where living clouds, mountains and winds coexist with dragons and other mythical beasts.”

Svavelwinter claims a groundbreaking game system, that will allow players to enjoy anything from classic adventuring to character driven drama to strategic battle. I find that freedom fascinating, no clue how they will make it work though, tabletop newb that I am. I’ll find out soon enough I guess.

To sum it up I’m stoked to continue this tabletop RPG-thing! I had a great first experience. : D (that’s what he saaaaid)
sexy_wink_paul rudd
(Give me a break, that was the least horrendous of all virginity-jokes I almost inserted in this post. Only got +1 resist to immaturity after all.)

/Joh

Get excited for Overwatch – Newest Member of the Blizzard Game Squad

I will admit to being somewhat of an RPG fairy. Meaning I like going on quests and saving the world in a peaceful-esque way (a little poison, say a bazillion arrows and a few explosions might be involved though). Anyhow, Borderlands is one of the few FPS games I steeled myself to play, and I did it all for you Tiny Tina.

But now a new challenger is entering the scene- Blizzard’s team-based shooter Overwatch.

Overwatch squad goals
The Overwatch Line up

The game is scheduled to closed beta testing this fall and you can already see that tantalizing Overwatch icon in the Battle.net client.

I am a huge fan of Blizzard, but even if I wasn’t I’d have to admit that they make some of the best cinematics around. Want proof? Get a nice cup of tea (or coffee I won’t judge) and watch this six minutes long, epic trailer.

I wish this was an actual movie. So badly.

The game play reminds me a lot of Team Fortress, I kept yelling “MEDIIIC” when I saw Mercy do her thing in the trailer. Which makes me happy because team shooters are just so much more accessible than single player ones if you’re a wimp like me, or just enjoy the strategic depth teamwork offers.

Since I’m a sucker for stylized  graphics, of course I think Overwatch looks amazing. One of my favourite parts of the aesthetics if the diversity of the characters. From gender to ethnicity (with accented voice overs that I think adds a lot of flavour and depth) to the armor designs. I felt like I was being served a buffet of funny, cool and beautiful options to play as. I can’t wait to try Hanzo, Widowmaker, Tracer or Reaper out. : D

For those who didn’t have time to enjoy the entire trailer here’s a summation of the characters:

GIF created by Redditor a_leethal_llama. Drool.

Who do you want to play as? : D

/Joh