Game Review: Hades (2020)

Game Review: Hades (2020)

Defy Hades, the god of the Underworld, as you hack and slash your way out of his domain in order to reach the surface. Aided by the Gods on Olympus and other denizens of the underworld, Zagreus is hellbent on making it out of his father’s domain. 

Listen carefully, says the narrator, as the player, young Zagreus, gracefully lands outside the House of Hades, sending his last goodbye to his father. With only a sword, you venture into the depth of Tartarus, the first biome. There you must defeat a variety of enemies: wretched thugs swing their clubs, the witches cast a damaging projectile and brimstone’s energy beam can stack up damage fast. Each completion of a chamber rewards you a variety of goods and, more importantly, access to the aid of multiple Greek gods, Zagreus’s uncles and cousins. They root for you as make your escape. Each failed attempt sends you straight back home via the Styx.

Oh, how a random fanart that ended up on my timeline led to me discovering one of my favourite games ever. Here I was thinking nothing could top the sheer joy I felt playing Breath of the Wild, but Hades comes quite close. Hades is one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. From music to gameplay, Hades is a visual and audio treat. 

“Beyond the present chamber lies the outermost perimeter of Tartarus, promising terrifying dangers far beyond the Underworld Prince’s reckoning.”

The Narrator

As Zagreus, I play it simple, my trusty Stygius is my weapon of choice for the first ten or so runs. That is until I received enough keys to unlock the rest of Zagreus’s armoury, which range from a bow, shield, spear and my favourite, the Twin Fist of Malphon, a pair of armoured gloves that have carried me through over ten successfully attempts in the underworld. Hades is made with replay value in mind. Each run is almost unique and dependent on the player’s choice. Completing a run was never really on my mind as the journey making it there brings just as much joy. Unique chambers on each biome reveal a shade to befriend and a cause to help, further along, you receive the aid of an old friend who isn’t all too happy to see you leave. (Thanatos, I would die for you.)

There are no difficulty settings in Hades, which had me, an easy mode player, sweating a bit. But God mode was extremely helpful to combatting any problems I had. You are not invulnerable, but it does reduce the damage you take from enemies, each death will increase your resistance by 2%. The music of Hades is amazing. I found myself way too focused on my runs to really appreciate it until I made it to Asphodel, the second biome of the Underworld, where you have the chance to meet Eurydice who gifts you treats that can boost the Boons you have acquired. When you enter the chamber, it is silent and then comes the gorgeous voice of Ashley Barrett. A song dedicated to her carefree life in the afterlife, now unbothered by her worries of mortal life. There I was compelled to listen to the soundtrack on its own and genuinely felt its effect. 

The art style truly had me scrolling through Twitter to find any and all fan art I could find. I had initially seen pictures from the game in development where most of the major characters were given placeholder images. In its official release, you see the gods, Chthonic and Olympian, in all their glory. Hades towers over you in his seat as he scoffs at your return. Nyx, the personification of Night, is your adopted mother who guides you in your journey, offering wisdom and advice. One of her sons, Hypnos, watches over you and greets you in your return. His hilarious quips and unhelpful advice (“Maybe try killing [the enemies] beforehand, I don’t know!”) makes each failure almost worth it. You also meet Zagreus’s mentor, famed Achilles, who taught him everything he knows, who stands strong within the halls of the house of Hades, far away from the man he once knew.

Image: Supergiant Games. From left to right: Zagreus, Meg, Hypnos (in red), Thanatos, Achilles and Zeus

Hades is ridiculously addicting. A completed run would take me around thirty minutes at most, I’ve slowly shaved off time in each run, but it appears to be my average time. Loss is nothing in this game because each failure brings a new path. The heart of the game resides in Zagerus and his interaction with the various mythic figures. Each reinterpretation stole my heart and broke it at the same time. By the time the final credits roll, the game is not done, new storylines and challenges appear that will have you returning to the House of Hades in no time. As the game eerily proclaims with each death, there is no escape.


DEVELOPER | BUY ON: STEAM | SWITCH

Ranking Every Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

Ranking Every Colossi in Shadow of the Colossus

As always during the most stressful moments of university, I find myself latching onto certain games as a form of comfort. My first year of university it was The Sims 4, where for the first time I actually bought an expansion and stuff packs. The second-year was replaying Nintendo’s newest addition to The Legend of Zelda series, Breath of the Wild. For the third year, I feel like it’s a juggle between Stardew Valley and Shadow of the Colossus. My childhood gaming experience was exclusively being a backseat spectator to my older brother, and Shadow of the Colossus was a game I remember fondly as a child. I didn’t even mean to pick up the game. I was scrolling through my brother’s PS4 games, deciding what I was going to play once I had finished my final assignments. I had decided on the Kingdom Hearts series, another game franchise where my entire experience of it came straight from peering over my brother’s shoulder. I was even considering just starting the game right there and then, but knowing my tendency to fixate on games once I get hooked, I didn’t want to risk it when I’m buried under paperwork. So, there on the bottom of the list was Shadow of the Colossus. I had ignored it initially, mainly because I recall it looking rather challenging to play but when you’re stressed from multiple essays and deadlines, all coherent thoughts go out the drain, and I started a new save file. (I would say thank God for easy mode on the PS4, but even I struggled at times.)

My first thoughts playing the game was how much I remember and how much I’ve forgotten since the days of watching over my brother’s shoulder. The plot of the game stayed with me long into adulthood, but my terrible memory was a saviour at this moment because everything still felt brand new. Even though I played on Easy mode, I still struggled and to be honest, that is just who I am as a player. Even in the moments of frustration when I accidentally let Wander fall from the top of a colossus, and I swear that I won’t play this game again when I finally completed it, I still found myself opening the game the very next day to repeat the process all over again.

So, this post isn’t a review of Shadow of the Colossus and, like my BOTW post, I want to showcase what I liked about the game, but I couldn’t bring myself to list certain aspects definitively. So instead, I decided to rank my favourite colossi. This isn’t a list of worst to best (since I don’t think any of them as actually bad) but more a ranking of how much I enjoyed fighting each other. Also, if you haven’t played the game before, you primarily traverse across barren land to revive a girl named Mono by defeating sixteen massive beings (Colossi), aided only by your horse, limited weapons and the voice of a mysterious creature.

Note to anyone reading this post and hasn’t played the game: of course, spoilers but I’ll also be referring to the colossi with their fan-given names.

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Young Muslim Writers Awards 2019 (vlog highlights!)

Young Muslim Writers Awards 2019 (vlog highlights!)

Last month, I was invited to attend this year’s Young Muslim Writer’s Award. This is my fourth year attending, and my second attempt at vlogging the event. I really enjoy filming and editing but I get really anxious doing stuff publicly which is why last year’s vlog was voiceless but this year, I decided to bite the bullet and record a short voiceover as well. It was quite daunting, and I feel like I stumble over my words a lot but this was a big step for me. Especially since I don’t like listening to my voice 😂

If you don’t know what #YMWA2019 is, it’s annual award ceremony to showcase and celebrate young literary talent within the UK’s Muslim community. A Muslim Hands project in association with the Institute of English studies and the School of Advanced Study (University of London).

I absolutely love going each year and celebrating the nominees and winners of each category each year. The first time I attended, I actually brought my younger cousin as a guest, and she was inspired to actually submit her own pieces every year after.

Anyway, this is a small head-up about the vlog (?) I made about the event. I hope you enjoy my shaky voice and hopefully, this is a step forward to making more visual content because I absolutely love filming and editing videos. I hope that once I graduate I can make more videos. For now, enjoy the video!

My Favourite Things About Breath of the Wild

My Favourite Things About Breath of the Wild

Just over two years ago Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BotW) on the Nintendo Wii U and the Nintendo Switch. And almost five months ago, I bought the Switch version and fell in love. Please note: This post will have spoilers from throughout the game.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to play games. The closest game I could play as a kid was The Sims. And even then, my parents hated that I spent so much time on it. My older brother, on the other hand, has grown up with the privilege of being the first son and that meant he was allowed to play whatever he wanted. And that meant excluding us, the younger siblings, from playing anything because it would cut into his game time. So, my experiences of games as a child was always through the view of a bystander.

I had watched my brother play most of the Zelda franchise and when I grew out of being the bystander, I turned to YouTubers who would post their walkthroughs online. When we had first bought Breath of the Wild (BotW), it was on the Wii U. I remember being captivated by getting to experience a Zelda game for myself, with me in control and not someone else.

But then school came first, I couldn’t play much and by the time, I got around to picking it up, my brothers had decided to sell all our Wii U games in order to buy the Switch. I had, of course, played games on the Switch but most of them were either shooting or platform games. It wasn’t until last year December that I came across a BotW video and I realised that I had to play it again. Now that I’m older, and with a job, playing games is a little easier now. Sure, my mum would cuss me out for spending money on games, but I didn’t care. So, I bought it and I cannot explain how captivated I was by the game. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against platform or shooter games, but it just wasn’t my style. Most of the ones I had played, I found them too fast paced and I didn’t enjoy the speed.

BotW was truly the game made for me. It was adventurous and fast-paced in a way that didn’t overwhelm me. The way the entire world was unstructured allowed me to move in a pace that worked for me. The beauty of BotW was that there was no one set pathway. I’ve seen hundred of videos ranging from people finishing the game 100% to people waking Link and rushing straight to Ganon. I’m over 150 hours into my gameplay and I still feel like I haven’t discovered everything in the game.

But, in honour of the games two-year anniversary, I wanted to share some of my favourite places and parts in Breath of the Wild, whether that be a side quest, location or person. My initial list went well over the twenty mark, so I decided to whittle it down to just ten, which was hard enough.

A Gift of Nightshade (Side Quest)

This side quest is located in the Faron Region and I found it by accident. It’s a pretty simple quest, you basically become a matchmaker for a Hylian and a Gerudo by giving the Gerudo woman a flower. I only climbed up this mountain because I was making my way to Faron Tower to unlock the map, and a Yiga clan members was on my tail and I did not have the hearts nor food to deal with him, so up I went. And there I found these two people standing at opposite ends of a river. At first glance, I was wary because I had expected something bad to happen to me. But then I went up to the Hylian to find that he was just being a chicken and couldn’t work up the courage to talk to a girl he liked. It made me laugh. The game, for those who don’t know, is set years after Ganon had ruined the Kingdom, villages and safe spots were sparse with Guardians and camps of enemies in most of the world. At first, I found it so odd, but I instantly loved it. And it’s a prime example of what makes BotW so good. There was something good to be found in even the strangest of places.

source: Nintendo (gif made by me)
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ASTRO (아스트로) 2ND MAKESTAR PHOTOBOOK UNBOXING

ASTRO (아스트로) 2ND MAKESTAR PHOTOBOOK UNBOXING

Today’s post is going to be a little different. I’ve decided to do an unboxing review of ASTRO’s Second Makestar Photobook. For those who don’t know ASTRO, they are a six-member K-Pop boy group, and they are my absolute favourite!

I became a fan around the time the first photobook was happening. But I never bought it because of 1. I hadn’t yet realised how much I would love them and their music yet 2. I actually couldn’t afford the photobook at the time. So when the second time came around, I knew I had to purchase one!

I will include a youtube video I made of me unboxing the photobook, the toy stamps and the extra goodies we received every time we reached a stretch goal. (We received photo cards, postcards, bookmarks and then a poster) I also do a little flip through of the book. (Not all of the book though, it’s pretty massive and would’ve made the video twenty minutes long) I did intend this to be a speaking unboxing but I, unfortunately, was sick at the time of filming but imagine me fangirling as I go through the goods because I was!

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