Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes (240)

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python

Dishonored takes place in the plague-ridden town of Dunwall. The city looks like it is steampunk at first glance, but there is nothing here that is powered by steam. The chief power source in Dunwall is whale. This is whalepunk, and it is kind of awesome. Totally gruesome and terrible, but awesome all the same. The thing is, Dunwall is being infested by plague rats, and they inform everything about the environment. The more people you kill in the game, and the more trouble you cause, the more rats and plague victims there are. The city reflects the way you play in a tangible way. There is some serious gameplay impact, but it also drives the emotional impact of the game.

If you haven’t been reading Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman, you are missing out. The comic follows Bigfoot as he becomes a savior and conqueror on Mars. The story borrows liberally from Tarzan and Conan, with a bit of John Carter and a ton of epicness. Bigfoot has been brought across the void of space and, in this issue, we finally learn why.

This week, I have no game to recommend. I have been playing games to be sure, but I haven’t had the time or energy to spend to ensure that I have a great game to recommend. Instead, I want to share a recent revelation. So, I have been spending a lot of time watching e-sports. They are a great way to relax after a hard day of being an adult, and they allow me to enjoy games, even when I don’t have the time to really play them. The revelation is that this is exactly why normal people watch sports.

Dragonwriter is a lovely tribute to beloved science fiction author Anne McCaffrey. The book, curated by her son Todd, is a collection of essays from people involved in all parts of her life. These essays are by friends, her children, fans, and contemporaries. They celebrate an interesting woman who has written many fantastic novels and, more importantly, fostered many relationships.

I am sure that there are some people who will try to tell you that Dear Esther is not a game. Those people are wrong, but I can understand their point. There are no enemies. There are no real obstacles to overcome. There are not even any buttons. Well, that’s not entirely true. You walk and look like in most other first-person games, but every other button just focuses your view. So, why would you want to play it?

While I was at SDCC this year, I got the opportunity to play LEGO Marvel Superheroes, and I can report that it is a lot of fun. If you haven’t played one of the LEGO games, they are lighthearted action games set in popular franchises. (The first LEGO Star Wars is the best telling of the prequels I have seen so far.) These games also feature huge rosters of characters that you can switch at a moment’s notice. They are great games to play with kids, since they don’t really punish you for failure and have some great couch co-op.

I have a bit of a confession to make. I don't really like Grand Theft Auto games. Sure, I buy them when they first come out like everybody else, but I only enjoy them for about 10 of the approximately 347 hours that each one takes to complete. After that, I just drive around looking for dumb things to do and cool ways to blow stuff up. I know that is sort of the standard way to play an open-world crime game, but I don't enjoy getting caught in the loop of trying to find things that are fun to do in the video game that I am playing for fun.

Little Inferno surprised me. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I am certain that it wasn’t this. You play as a young boy who is all alone in his house playing with his favorite toy, the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace. The city where you live is anonymously Dickensian, but not tied to a real place or time. It’s just the city. The thing is, the city has been getting colder for a long time. It always snows and the only way to stay warm is to burn things in the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace.

Diva Beelze isn’t really evil, despite everyone’s wishes. Her father is a bigwig in Hell, and her mother is an attorney, but Diva doesn’t want to hurt anybody. Having been given a magical staff in the first volume, she tries to navigate high school and friends that the parents don’t approve of without letting anyone know that she isn’t really that evil. There is a nice little Buffy vibe, with Diva trying to keep her secret and figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of high school.

Think Tank is a cool, little comic by Matt Hawkins and Rahsan Ekedal. Hawkins provides the thoughtful, funny, frightening, and entertaining script, while Ekadal’s art keeps the fantastical (I hope) scenarios grounded and plausible. The premise is simple. Dr. David Loren, who is smarter than your entire graduating class combined, develops weapon tech for the US government. He has decided that he would rather not develop tools to kill people, but he is trapped in a secure base and kept under constant surveillance. The entire comic is the struggle to possibly escape, but, more likely, keep sane in an environment where science is only being used to kill.

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