E3 2021 Trailers, Part Three: Salt and Sacrifice, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, Starfield, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, WarioWare Get It Together

Here are the last of the major trailers from this year’s E3!

21. Salt and Sacrifice

One of the best games of 2016, Salt and Sanctuary, is getting a sequel!  Salt and Sacrifice will be released in 2022.

22. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl

12 years after it was first announced and 5 years after development officially began, we have a gameplay trailer and a tentative released date for STALKER 2: Heart of Chernobyl!  That date is April 28th, 2022.  It’s pretty much standard operating procedure to complain about how long it can take to develop a good game but, after what happened with Cyberpunk 2077, I’m all for developers taking their time.

23. Starfield

Right now, Starfield has a release date of November 11th, 2022.  I hope they make it!

24. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

I am not totally sure that I’m interpreting the trailer correctly but I think Jack wants to destroy Chaos..  This is set to be released some time in 2022.

25. Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands

The latest game to come out of the Borderlands franchise, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands’s trailer features dragons, stallions, and, of course, Tiny Tina.  This game is due to be released in “early 2022.”

26. WarioWare Get It Together

Finally, we have the trailer for the new Wario game.  You can’t have Mario without Wario!

I know that, even though I shared 26 trailers from this year’s E3, there’s still a few that I missed or that I chose not to include that maybe others would have.  All four days of this year’s E3, with all of the presentations and trailers, can be found on E3’s YouTube channel.




E3 2021 Trailers, Part Two: Halo Infinite, Jurassic World Evolution 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wind 2, Mari + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Metal Slugs Tactics, Metroid Dread, The Outer Worlds 2, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Rainbow Six: Extraction, Redfall

Here are some more of the big trailers from this year’s E3!

11) Halo Infinite 

The adventures of Master Chief continues in this, the 6th main entry in the Halo series and the 16th Halo game overall.

12. Jurassic World Evolution 2

The thing I like about the entire Jurassic World franchise is that, even though things always go wrong with the idea of bringing the dinosaurs back to life, everyone still keeps trying to do it.  We all know it’s not a good idea but no one can resist dinosaurs.

13. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2

Watch as Link falls through the air.  This eagerly anticipated game will be released sometime in 2022.  At that time, we will also learn the actual title of this game.

14. Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope

As long as its got Mario, it’ll be a hit.  People love that guy.

15. Metal Slugs Tactics

Metal Slugs gets another makeover.  This one looks pretty cool to me.

16. Metroid Dread

After 16 years of development, we finally have a trailer for Metroid Dread!  The Alien-influenced trailer is a good one too.  Metroid Dread is due to finally be released on October 8th.

17. The Outer Worlds 2

The only game to based on an alternate history where William McKinley served two full terms as president is getting a sequel.  The trailer for The Outer Worlds 2 wins a lot of points for having fun and being honest.

18. A Plague Tale: Requiem 

A Plague Tale: Innocence was one of the most underrated games of 2019.  Judging from the trailer, it looks like the sequel will do it justice.  Requiem will be released in 2022.

19. Rainbow Six: Extraction

It just doesn’t feel like E3 without something from Rainbow Six.  This time, the battle is taking place in a San Francisco music venue.

20. Redfall

Take on cults, vampires, and probably anyone else in this open world shooter!  Redfall will be released in summer 2022.

To be continued!

E3 2021 Trailers, Part One: Advance Wars 1+ 2: Re-Boot Camp, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Babylon’s Fall, Cruis’n Blast, Dead Island 2, Death Stranding Director’s Cut, Elden Ring, Evil Dead: The Game, Forza Horizon 5, Guardians of the Galaxy

Another E3 is in the books.  After being canceled last year due to COVID, E3 returned this year as a purely virtual event.  Hopefully, next year, E3 will again be both an in-person and a virtual event.

This year, several new games were announced.  Here is part one of some of the best and biggest trailers from E3:

  1. Advance Wars 1+ 2: Re-Boot Camp

Advance Wars is back, re-imagined and rebut for the Nintendo Switch!

2. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

With a 2022 release date, this game should be coming out just in time to either capitalize or contribute to the success of Avatar 2.  The trailer looks good but it doesn’t really tell me much about the game, other than it’s a playable version of Avatar.  That should be enough for some.

3. Babylon’s Fall

This was a strange trailer for me.  It looked good up until the combat started and then it didn’t look good at all.

4. Cruis’n Blast

A good racing game is something that I am definitely looking forward to.

5. Dead Island 2

After seven years of development, Dead Island 2 is finally coming out!  Or is it?  It’s hard to tell from this Jack Black-narrated trailer, which features a lot shots but not any actual gameplay or an actual release date beyond “coming 2021.”

6. Death Stranding Director’s Cut

I still haven’t been able to get into Death Stranding.  During the lockdowns, I replayed SpiderMan, Miles Morales, Red Dead Redemption 2, and all of the Quantic Dream games multiple times.  I even replayed the old EA Godfather games (Don of New York, baby!) but, somehow, Death Stranding just hasn’t been able to hold my interest.  Maybe I’ll have more luck with the director’s cut.

7. Elden Ring

The trailer for Elden Ring looks great.  This is what I wish the Babylon’s Fall trailer had looked like.

8. Evil Dead: The Game

All the trailer needed to win me over was Bruce Campbell.  And it delivered!

9. Forza Horizon 5

‘As a fan of racing games, I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

10. Guardians of the Galaxy

If nothing else, this looks better than The Avengers game.

To be continued!

The Angst of Replaying Red Dead Redemption II

Last month, I started replaying Red Dead Redemption II and it’s been nice to be reminded of just how good this game actually is. I usually only play for an hour or two a night. Since I already finished the game the first time I played, I’m taking my time with this replay and I’m trying to enjoy all of the little details that I originally missed. After a long day at work, it’s relaxing to come home and just spend a while riding my horse through the countryside. I might stop to do some hunting or just to relax at camp. Red Dead Redemption II is a thoroughly immersive world and one of the great things about the game is just how easy it is to lose yourself in the world that it creates. Even if you don’t feel like doing the missions or following the game’s storyline, you can still just ride out and enjoy the scenery. Rediscovering the visual beauty of Red Dead Redemption II has been a wonderful experience.

At the same time, it has also been downright traumatic to rediscover just how easy it is to accidentally shoot people.

From the minute I started my replay, I promised myself that I was going to play Arthur Morgan as being a good guy. He may be an outlaw but he’s not a cold-blooded murderer. At least, that’s what I wanted to believe. Unlike the first I played, I wasn’t going to rob any strangers unless it was absolutely necessary. I wasn’t going to shoot any helpful shopkeepers. I was going to help everyone who needed help. Though the game may require me to play an outlaw, my goal was to promote peace in the wild west and to only fight when I had no other choice.

It hasn’t worked out that way, though.

It’s not intentional. It’s just that it’s very easy to push the wrong button on your controller. Over the past few weeks, there have been so many times when I’ve thought I was pushing the “greet” button just to discover that I had accidentally pushed the open fire button. Just last night, I entered a cabin. The old woman inside the cabin asked me if I was delivering her groceries. I walked up to her, fully intending on telling her that I was the deliveryman and I’d help her in any way that I could. Instead, I hit the wrong and shot her in the face. I’ve felt bad about it every since. Tragically, it’s not the first time that I’ve shot someone while trying to do the right thing. Accidentally shooting the man who just wanted someone to help find his way back to the town of Strawberry is one of the biggest regrets of my Red Dead Redemption II life. I’ve even gone back and restarted the game a few times because I’ve felt so bad about shooting the wrong person.

The big difference between Red Dead Redemption II and a game like Grand Theft Auto is that when you kill someone in Red Dead Redemption II, they don’t come back. In Grand Theft Auto, you can run over a hundred pedestrians just to find them all resurrected as soon as you turn onto a new street. In Red Dead Redemption II, accidentally shooting the wildlife photographer means that you never see him again. It can be traumatic but, at the same time, it’s also emotionally rewarding when you manage to get through an entire mission without accidentally murdering anyone.

As I said earlier, I’m taking my time with my replay so I’m just wandering my way through Chapter Three right now. I’ve been busy exploring the towns and the countryside. There’s many more chapters and locations to come. Hopefully, I’ll remember to push the right buttons and the violence can finally come to an end.

Game Review: Detroit: Become Human (2018, Quantic Dream)

Detroit: Become Human takes place in a Detroit of the near future.

Androids, built, programmed, and sold by CyberLife, have become so common place that almost everyone seems to own one.  The androids do everything from domestic work to hard labor to even dangerous security work.  Because they are viewed as just being machines, they have no rights in American society and they are often blamed for stealing jobs from hardworking humans.  Androids have become a luxury that few humans can do without.  Some try to treat their android laborers with respect while other humans are abusively cruel, secure in the knowledge that a damaged android can easily be replaced with a newer model.

Detroit: Become Human is game about three androids, all of whom the player will control at different points in the game.  Two of the androids, Markus and Kara, turn deviant and develop their own free will.  Markus ends up discovering the android community of Jericho and, depending on decisions made by the player, can end up leading either a peaceful or violent revolution against the human race.  Kara is an abused housekeeper android who, after escaping her owner, runs away with a young girl named Alice and attempts to reach Canada, where there are no laws limiting the rights of androids.  On her journey, Kara discovers a mad scientist who tortures androids, a deserted amusement park that is populated exclusively by androids waiting for their humans to return, and eventually the future’s version of the Underground Railroad.

Lastly, Connor is an android who has been designed by CyberLife to track down and destroy deviants.  Connor is assigned to work with police Lt. Hank Anderson to discover why so many androids have been turning on their owners.  Much like Heavy Rain‘s Norman Jayden, Connor is an outsider who has been assigned to aide the establishment.  Just as Norman sought refuge in a VR world, Connor finds himself summoned to an ever-changing zen garden where he is asked questions by his superior and it is up to the player to decide if Connor should tell the truth or lie.  Like Norman, Connor eventually has to decide which side he is on.  How Connor’s story progresses depends on the decisions made by the player.  Choose one path and Connor and Hank can become unlikely allies and Connor might even end up going deviant himself.  Choose another path and Connor might remain a loyal servant of CyberLife to the very end.  It may sound like an easy choice to make but nothing concerning Connor is ever that simple.

Of all the games that I’ve recently played, Detroit: Become Human is tied with Spider-Man for my favorite.  Like Quantic Dream’s previous games, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human tells a sprawling story where nearly every single decision that you make effects what happens in the game.  Like those previous two games, there are no do-overs.  If Markus or Kara dies during one of their chapters, the game continues without them.  (Connor, on the other hand, is just rebuilt by CyberLife and sent back into the field.)  Because the game follows three distinct (but connected) storylines, it is estimated to have over 40 possible endings, which makes it a game that very much rewards being replayed and experimented with.

Detroit: Become Human takes the storytelling and the gameplay concepts introduced in Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls and it improves on both of them.  Unlike the uncertain voice acting of Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human features characters played by actors like Clancy Brown, Lance Henriksen, Minka Kelly, and Jesse Williams, all of whom do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life.  The game’s recreation of Detroit and the surrounding area is visually rich and detailed and, unlike Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human does not get bogged down in quick time events.  Detroit: Big Human is a game that rewards observant and intelligent players who want to do more than just push buttons while they’re playing a game.

Of course, this is a Quantic Dream game so don’t expect any of Detroit: Become Human‘s political subtext to be subtle.  When t comes to dealing with issues, this game is even more heavy-handed than Beyond: Two Souls.  There’s barely a good human to be found in this game’s version of Detroit.  The best of them is Clancy Brown’s Hank who manages to hate everyone, human and android, equally.  (Of course, who Hank or anyone else in the film ultimately turns out to be, depends on the choices that you make during the game.)  The most interesting of the human characters, though, is Carl Manfred, the artist played Lance Henriksen.  Carl tries to teach Markus how to be human and it’s a confrontation between Carl and his real son (who is jealous of Carl’s relationship with Markus) that leads to Markus setting off on his own.  If Carl dies during the confrontation, he remains an inspiration to Markus and his revolution.  If Carl survives, his later reaction to Markus will depend on what the player has chosen to have Markus do over the course of the game.  Is Carl as benevolent as he seems or was his earlier kindness to Markus just his way of assuaging his own guilt over essentially being a slave owner?  The answer depends on how you play the game.

In the end, it’s the sheer number of possible endings that truly sets this game apart.  This is especially true of Kara.  I haven’t discovered all of the endings yet but, from those that I have reached, Kara’s story always seems to get either the best or the darkest possible conclusion.  Markus, meanwhile, can either be an android of peace or an android of war.  After everything that he is forced to endure over the course of the game, it’s difficult not to go for war every time.  As for Connor, it’s all up to you.  Ultimately, everything is up to you.

I look forward to replaying Detroit: Become Human and seeing what other endings this game has to offer.  And I look forward to seeing what will come next from Quantic Dream.

Retro Game Review: Beyond: Two Souls (2013, Quantic Dream)

In between replaying Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, I decided to go ahead and also replay Qunatic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls.

In Beyond: Two Souls you play two characters who are linked together.  Jodie (Ellen Page) is a troubled young woman who, after being rejected by her family while still a child, is raised by paranormal researcher, Nathan Dawkins (Willem DaFoe).  You are also Aiden, a mysterious psychic force that Jodie can use to read minds and move objects.  Because of Jodie’s powers, the CIA wants them to work for her.  Because Jodie does not want to assassinate progressive world leaders just because the CIA wants them dead (remember, this is a French game), Jodie goes on the run.  The game itself is told out of chronological order, with the player going back and forth from Jodie’s childhood and Jodie’s present as a fugitive.  Like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human, Beyond: Two Souls has multiple endings depending on what you do during the game.

Beyond: Two Souls is a weaker game than both Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human but, when I replayed it, I discovered that it was not as bad as I remembered.  Willem DaFoe and especially Ellen Page are amazing in the roles of Jodie and Nathan and the parts of the game that took place during Jodie’s childhood actually improved on a second playing.  (There’s nothing more fun than burning down the bully’s house.)  The nonlinear storytelling was still needlessly confusing.  Fortunately, there is an option to play the game’s chapters in chronological order.

The game’s flaws were still there, though.  The CIA stuff was heavy-handed but that is to be expected from Quantic Dream.  The main problem I had with the game is that the constant switching back and forth between Jodie and Aiden felt awkward.  You can switch between the two throughout the game and I kept pushing the wrong button and I would suddenly find myself stuck in Aiden form, even when there wasn’t anything for Aiden to do.  The game’s heavy reliance on quick time events also made me feel as if I didn’t have as much control over the narrative as I did in Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human.

Quantic Dream is one of my favorite video game developers because they are willing to experiment and take risks.  Sometimes, those risks pay off and sometimes they lead to an interesting failure, like Beyond: Two Souls.  Tomorrow, I’ll look at one of their experiment’s that worked.

Retro Game Review: Heavy Rain (2010, Quantic Dream)

When it comes to Heavy Rain, it seems that there are two schools of thought.

Some people consider it to be one of the most important and ground-breaking games ever developed, a challenging mystery where nearly every decision that you make will effect what happens next in the game.  Unlike other games, there’s no easy do-overs in Heavy Rain.  If you get one of the four playable characters killed, the game will continue without them.  At a time when people had just started to get bored with games that featured a handful of endings, Heavy Rain revolutionized the entire concept with not just a good and a bad ending but instead with over 20 possible endings.  Your goal is to both discover the identity of the Origami Killer and also to save the life of little Shaun Mars before he drowns in a cage.  Fail and the chances are that the last thing the game will show you is an image of the flooded cage with Shaun nowhere to be seen.

Other people consider Heavy Rain to be a game where the main goal is to get Madison Paige naked as many times as possible.



Madison is the photojournalist who, suffering from insomnia, checks into a cheap motel and happens to meet Shaun’s father, Ethan.  Madison seems to spend the entire game either undressing or getting threatened by men who want her to undress.  If the player chooses, Madison and Ethan can make love in his hotel room.  The bra removal mini-game is actually one of the more challenging parts of Heavy Rain.  For the record, it is possible to play the game without Madison taking a shower, stripping for a club owner, having sex with Ethan, or even getting attacked by the crazy doctor who repeatedly tries to stab her in the crotch with a surgical tool.  It’s possible but I doubt many players have done so.



How does Heavy Rain hold up after 9 years?  Surprisingly well.  The game has its flaws.  There’s the infamous and much parodied scene where Ethan searches for his son in a mall while calling out his name in a flat monotone.  Quantic Dream is a French company and, when you play the game, it is obvious that some of the voice actors were more comfortable with the English language than others.  But the the game’s rain-soaked and doom-heavy imagery all hold up well and the multiple endings make this a game that’s worthy of multiple replays.


All four of the main characters are intriguing, even the much-criticized Madison Paige.  The best of them is Norman Jayden, the drug-addicted FBI agent who uses VR technology to solve his cases.  Unfortunately, the game also seems to be determined to kill Norman.  If you can make it to the end without Norman either dying or abandoning the case, you will have truly triumphed at Heavy Rain.  My only complaint is that Lauren Winter, the prostitute who joins forces with private eye Scott Shelby, wasn’t a playable character because she had one of the most interesting storylines.  If Lauren and Scott both somehow survive the game, you’ll get one of the best endings that Heavy Rain has to offer.


Scott Shelby, the private investigator, gets some of the game’s best scenes.  He is big and slow and he always seems to need to use his inhaler but he can still handle himself in a fight.  He gets the game’s big action set piece, where he takes out an entire army of armed guards in just a matter of minutes.  At the end of the scene, he also gets to make one of the game’s biggest decisions.  Do you do the “honorable” thing or do you leave a bad man to die?  Whichever decision you make, it is one of Heavy Rain‘s most satisfying moments.

Scott Shelby

The majority of the game centers on Ethan, the father who has has to avoid the police while trying to save his son.  He is given a set of challenges by the Origami Killer, all designed to prove whether he’s worthy of being a father.  The bra-removal mini-game may be the most challenging part of Heavy Rain but the sawing off your own finger mini-game may be a close second.  A close third would have to be the diaper-changing mini-game.  It’s amazing how many different things you end up doing while trying to keep a little boy from drowning.  At the same time, I was as proud of myself for changing that diaper as I was for unsnapping that bra.  I was less proud about sawing off Ethan’s finger but it had to be done.

Ethan and saw

9 years after it was first released, Heavy Rain holds up better than I was expecting.  It’s flaws are still there and the plot holes become even more obvious with each time that you play it.  A frequent complaint that I’ve read about the game is that, in order for the mystery’s solution to make any sense, you have to be willing to accept that the Origami Killer would not only lie to other people but would also lie to himself.  The challenges that Ethan are put through are sometimes too reminiscent of Saw and even the rightly celebrated atmosphere sometimes leans too heavily on the obvious influence of Davids Fincher and Lynch.  (That Norman Jayden is based on Twin Peaks‘s Dale Cooper should be obvious to the most casual of viewers.)

Norman and Mad Jack

But, flaws and all, it’s impossible not to like this game or to appreciate the influence that it’s had on many of the games that have followed it.  Even it’s cheesiest moments are fun.  With the way the storyline branches out and changes depending on almost every decision that you make, this is a game that rewards frequent replays.  Each decision you make, you find yourself thinking, “What would have happened if I had done something else?”  Fortunately, with this game, you’ve got a chance to find out.  For that reason, Heavy Rain remains one of my favorites and a game that I’m looking forward to replaying soon.

Ethan, moping. Madison, helping.


Game Review: Night Trap (1992, Sega)

Moral panics about video games are nothing new.

Long before people were worrying about the violence in Grand Theft Auto or the nudity in Heavy Rain, they were holding Congressional hearings about a game called Night Trap. 

Night Trap was an interactive movie video game, one that was presented through full motion video at a time when that was still a big deal.  The player was a member of S.C.A.T., the Special Control Attack Team.  For 25 minutes, your job was to watch as blood-sucking creatures known as Augers attempted to launch a sneak attack on five girls at a slumber party.  Whenever an Auger approached a trap, the player had to click a button to capture the Auger.

It sounds pretty simple and it was.

It also sounds pretty stupid and again, it was.

Night Trap initially received some attention because it featured former Diff’rent Strokes star Dana Plato as one of the girls.  Plato played Kelly, who was actually an undercover member of S.C.A.T. and who searched for clues while you were busy trapping Augers.  Plato gave such an annoying performance that many gamers probably purposefully let a few Augers escape just so they could get the “bad” ending, with Kelly plunging into Hell.


However, even more than Dana Plato running around in a sports bra, it was a scene of one of the girls being stalked while wearing a nightgown that truly worried the moral guardians of 1993.  At the Congressional hearings, Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herb Kohl spent hours reviewing this scene and demanding to know whether it had any socially redeeming qualities.  The hearings also focused on Mortal Kombat and the senators seemed to be far more offended by an actress in a nightgown than they were about Kano ripping his opponent’s still-beating heart out of his chest.

Night Trap seems tame today but, of course, it was also tame back in 1993.  One reason why the “nightgown scene” got so much attention at the hearings is because it was the only scene in the entire game that could be considered the least bit racy.  There’s no sex or nudity in Night Trap.  For the most part, there’s also not any violence.  Whatever actual blood sucking that happens in Night Trap happens off-camera.  Probably the most intense scenes in the game involved Dana Plato scolding you if you let too many of the girls get captured.  Since the only thing the player could do during the game was activate a trap by pushing a button at a certain moment, this game required not so much skill as just being able to keep track of time.  Now, If you enjoyed just pushing a button over and over again, Night Trap might have some appeal but otherwise, this is a dull and poorly acted game.  Not even as formidable a thespian as Dana Plato could liven things up.

Ironically, those Congressional hearings made Night Trap.  If people still remember the game today, it’s because of those hearings.  If you want to know how a boring game like Night Trap could get a special 25th anniversary edition, it was because of those hearings.  There’s nothing like a moral panic to boot sales.



Game Review: Aisle (1999, Sam Barlow)

Image by Sam Barlow

Aisle is perhaps the greatest work of Interactive Fiction ever created.

It’s Thursday night.  You’ve had a long day and you’re ready to go home.  You just have to pick up some gnocchi from the grocery store.  You are standing on the correct aisle, with your cart.  There is a woman standing a few feet away from you, with a grocery cart of her own.  What will you do?

Choose your action carefully because this is only a one-move game.  There are hundreds of commands that you can choose from but each command will lead to a different conclusion.

Some commands will lead to happy ending.  Some commands will lead to a sad ending.  Some will trigger old memories.  Sometimes, the memories will be happy and romantic.  Sometimes, they will involve death, insanity, and horror.  Sometimes, you are a good man and sometimes you are a bad man.  Sometimes, you are healthy and sometimes you are sick.  It all depends on which command you chose.

Because each command leads to different details of the story being revealed, Aisle is a game that rewards frequent replays.  Deciding to laugh in one game led to me typing “Remember Clare” in the next game.  Even simply choosing to leave the aisle can lead to a variety of different endings, depending on how you decide to leave.  This game can be a romantic or it can be horrific.  It all depends on which word, out of the hundreds that the game is prompted to respond to, you type in at the prompt.

Aisle can be downloaded from here.


Halloween Scenes I Love: Spider-Man Goes To ESU’s Halloween Party in PS4’s Spider-Man

Not all good Halloween scenes have to come from a movie.  Sometimes, they can come from a video game!

One of my favorite missions in PS4’s Spider-Man is Back To School.  That’s where you, as Spider-Man, have to search the Empire State University Halloween Party for an Oscorp scientist named Dr. Delaney and rescue him from Mister Negative and the Demons.  Because it’s a Halloween party, you should be able to search for Delaney without anyone realizing that you’re the Spider-Man.  The bad news is that, again because it’s a Halloween party, almost every party goer is dressed up like one of your enemies.  And when Mister Negative does attack, it turns out that a drunk college student dressed up like the Rhino can be almost as dangerous as the actual Rhino!