Review: Mutazione

Standard

I have trouble writing about games I actually like. My excuse–yes, it is an excuse–is not wanting to spoil the experience by too much thought. Mutazione is one of those games for me, a game where I’m like, “Yeah, that was good.”

Mutazione‘s Steam page describes developers Die Gute Fabrik’s game as:

A mutant soap opera where small-town gossip meets the supernatural. Explore the Mutazione community as Kai as she cares for her ailing grandfather. Discover magical gardens, new friends & old secrets. They can survive an apocalyptic meteor strike, but can they survive their small-town drama?

Mutazione is a chill adventure whose story ruminates on loss, love, and finding a way forward from past tragedy.

I enjoyed running around the island, listening to the subtle wind chimed soundtrack.

I loved seeing Kai’s relationship with her grandfather blossom over time.

Sure there are some soap opera-like elements that I did not like, or at least, I did not feel rang true for me. But beyond those drama bits, the story’s supernatural and mysterious threads propelled me forward–much like Oxenfree did… but this is totally different than Oxenfree–.

Mutazione captures those slow summer days. Days spent with family, friends, and magical gardens? More so days spent:

  • Collecting seeds / gardening
  • Enjoying conversations, with friends, that last late into the night

Mutazione is a game about healing; a game about moving on from the past. Moving forward with new hopes, dreams, and most importantly, new friends.

5/5 – I loved my experience with Mutazione via Apple Arcade.

Title: Mutazione
Developer: Die Gute Fabrik
Platform: PlayStation 4, Windows, Linux, macOS
Reviewed On: iPad / Apple Arcade
MSRP: $19.99

Review by Bryan Hall

The Concert
Up in the trees.
Mutazione - Boat Trip
Floating
Mutazione - Meteor
Secrets
Mutazione - Saying Goodbye

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Standard

You ever play something that just hits you wrong?

My wife and I are in the process of adoption. Don’t Nod Entertainment’s The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit reminded me of our foster/adoption training classes. A chunk of the stuff that parents get their kids taken away for = present in this game. As is:

  • The parent who is trying and failing to succeed/live life.
  • The kid who is alone, even though the parent is physically present (drunk/passed out), and has to take care of himself.

The superhero story veneer and child-lens softens the blow of what is a super depressing and potentially abusive situation. I’m thankful the game didn’t last long. Sad that kids have to deal with stuff like this when all they crave is stability and love.

Snowman showdown.

Never know what is going on inside a home.

Outside of his drinking, the dad in this story clearly cares. Check out the treehouse!

Because.

Never quite figured out what happened to the mom.

Seriously, I’m good.

Stepping Out of the Boat

Standard

Life has become all about stepping out the boat. Go ahead and read Matthew 14:22-36 (NLT) and then join me below.

Jesus Walks on Water

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[b] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong[d] wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.

The new adventures of the Hall Family have required action. Stepping away from the comfortable and out into the unknown. In our first few steps on this new adventure, this has meant being exposed to decisions and situations completely foreign to us. Exploring scenarios that we were not raised around but have only vaguely heard of. Overall learning not to be quick to judge due to what might be lurking below the surface.

Our first few steps on this new adventure have made me reflect upon many things. Making me thankful for my parents, for how they raised me and my siblings. I’m also thankful for my siblings, for relationships that haven’t been blown apart with time.

Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash

Like Peter, we’ve been encountering waves as we step out of the boat. I was telling Tab, over lunch today, that it is interesting what form these waves take. God is definitely preparing us for the future.

Got thinking Sunday morning about how good it feels to be obedient to God’s calling. And maybe “feels” isn’t the best way to express this thought. Praying Sunday morning, I thanked God for my family’s obedience to His calling. I’m thankful that like Jesus in the above story with Peter, He is there walking with us through the waves.

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![c]

Grasping at Something Tangible

Standard

This is one of those days where I know I need to post because it is New Post Thursday; one of those days where I’m not sure what to share.

matthew-sleeper-124918-unsplash

Have been dealing with the thoughts and emotions of the new adventure my family is on. Trying to grasp what the unknown looks like. Wondering how it impacts my family and what life will be like afterwards. This is one of those deals where I have peace, deep down, over the “adventure”. But I think I’m trying to control all the details, trying to grasp at something tangible.

Little things, such as someone asking me to do something, feels overwhelming. I don’t like that.

I am grinding my teeth at night.

I am dreaming crazy dreams… when I can actually sleep.

 

God is teaching me that I have to push through being overwhelmed by that “one more thing” feeling. That I have to learn to deal with stress differently. He has also been reminding me of who I have been blessed with, my family, and what makes us unique.

 

I am thankful for how God prepares us for things; thankful that this new “adventure” will take time. His time.

How do you deal with stress?

Let me know in the comments below.

New Adventures

Standard

Fourteen years ago, at a college preview day for Azusa Pacific University, I was handed a brochure with the image of a rubber band ball.

Below the rubber band ball the brochure read: “Prepare to be stretched“. I had no clue how much stretching was about to occur…

But I can feel God beginning to stretch me and my family again. Preparing us for a new adventure.

God has been reminding me that being obedient to Him can be uncomfortable and exciting at the same time. Can’t wait to share more when I am at a point to do so.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and joining me and my family on this journey through life. Until next time.

– Bryan

A Friday Confession

Standard

I used to pray, God, use me however you want. I used to sing loudly, with tears in my eyes, God, where you lead, I will follow. (Tears because I didn’t want God to send me into the backwoods somewhere without air conditioning.) I prayed with a bigger picture in mind; I sang open to the will of God for my life. The subtle current of wanting adventure, thrills beyond the everyday life, thrummed beneath the surface of my prayers. As The Killers sing in their song “Read My Mind”:

I never really gave up on
Breakin’ out of this two-star town

What I was really praying was, God, I’m willing to follow you as long as it means new places, new people, and a lack of monotony. 

Photo by Camille Puche on Unsplash

When I graduated from college back in 2006, I thought I’d get married and leave Longview forever. My big plans were to go back to Southern California, get an amazing job OR start a video game ministry, and life would go on. But then economy imploded… and God has used those 12 years since graduation to shape and form me into something new. I’m not the same guy that I was, and I recognize that as being good.

Do you ever feel like Moses, living in the wilderness with his wife and father-in-law? Being prepared, by God, away from the limelight, in safety? Do you ever wonder if you are being taught to just focus on and impact those around you? I do. Our world is all about the big, the bold, the blaring Coldplay stadium anthems. Anthems that silently whisper to us that if you aren’t doing something big, in life or for God, then you are a failure.

Here is where I want to land: You are not a failure.

In the Bible, God consistently uses those the world does not know for His glory, purpose, and Kingdom. I think we have to pray that our hearts align more with Him and less with the overwhelming expectations the world and even Christian culture can put on us. You can make a difference for His Kingdom where you are, right now. You don’t even have to move. Even though Switchfoot might dare you to.

On My Rader – KURSK

Standard

KURSK has ran silent and deep off my radar up until this last week. I’m surprised at the amount of detail and even the genre of the game, which is being billed as an adventure-documentary. I’m all for historical tourism by video games. Curious to see how the adventure, narrative, and gameplay come together. Can’t wait until KURSK surfaces on the PS4.

A World of Nightmares, A World of Fears – A Night with Inside

Standard

Playdead’s Inside opens on a bleak night in the woods. Rain pours down as you, the player, guide a young boy to safety from those looking for him. In the brief moments where I have failed to evade capture, those hunting me have not hesitated to kill or send in the dogs. Strangling the life out of the boy, tearing him to pieces, and other times shooting him as if he poses a threat. Why are these government agents so angry, efficient, and deadly? Why does the boy’s life have no value, in the world of Inside, unless he is dead?

In the midst of the tension of evasion and escape, developer Playdead showcases a subtle technical prowess. For example, the rain storm that immerses the opening of the game naturally comes to an end. If you look in the background of the pictures below, you’ll see how the boy has moved through the storm to the point where the clouds are diminishing.

 

The limited color palette provides for some striking visuals. I love how the game uses natural light to highlight scenes and immerse the player deeper into the overall tone of the game.

Inside also cleverly uses light in it’s puzzles. My favorite so far (not pictured), being an unseen light overhead moving back and forth. As the light hits a pipe, the light bends around it, forcing the player to move in order not to get caught. It is as if Playdead is having a silent conversation with the player, dance with the light and death will not become you.

I have so many questions about the brutal world of Inside. My biggest question right now is: By the way the camera is positioned, is something watching me? I’ll keep playing to find out. But first, let’s end with something cheerful, shall we.

The Aetherlight Bible NLT

Standard

The Aetherlight Bible is tool, a companion piece meant to help players navigate through the fog. Presented in the New Living Translation, this Bible is easy to read for both children and adults. Built with the desire to connect players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance with Biblical truth, The Aetherlight Bible features:

  • A soft cover and overall size that feels sturdy and fantastic to hold
  • Inserted pages that tie in-game characters with their Biblical counterparts
  • A Dictionary/Concordance
  • A 365-Day Reading Plan
  • Words of Christ in scarlet
  • Footnotes, in the Old Testament, that point players towards Christ
  • And my favorite part, at the bottom of some pages, Aethasian sayings such as:

Build for others what you would want them to build for you.

AetherlightBible

From the outside cover to the smallest details found inside, The Aetherlight Bible is a video game tie-in done right. Each page, from the watermarks to the quotes, show that much time and love went into the creation of this Bible.

However, I dislike how the page numbers are situated near the spine of the book. But, I realize that this formatting choice could force readers to actually learn the Books of the Bible. Clever.

I recommend this Bible to the hardcore players of The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance and to those not familiar with the game.

Parents, grandparents, this is the Bible you want to buy your kids/grandkids.

The Aetherlight Bible’s cover is inviting. Almost begging the reader to pick it up, read it, and embrace the adventure.

I was given a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Beyond the Pixels of Minecraft: Story Mode

Standard

Minecraft: Story Mode has taken over our household. Soon after my last post, Wyatt and I beat Episode 1 – ‘The Order of the Stone’. We finally figured out that the game plays better if I hold the controller. Allowing me to read the dialogue answer options and then press the corresponding button. This setup keeps the experience frustration free. Also prevents us from calling someone an idiot, in-game, on accident.

Lukas is a good guy.

Lukas is a good guy.

Story Time:

There was a moment in Episode 1 where the characters are huddled in a hut. Rain falls outside, everyone exhausted, stomachs grumbling. Axel, the big tough guy of the group, offers everyone a cookie, except for Lukas, who he doesn’t like. The game offers us a choice:

  • Eat the cookie?
  • Or give the cookie to Lukas?

We ended up giving our cookie to a thankful Lukas. Wyatt couldn’t figure out why Axel was being such a jerk. So we discussed group dynamics and treating others as you want to be treated. A teachable moment brought about by a video game? Why not.

maxresdefault

We are now moving through Minecraft: Story Mode Episode 2 – ‘Assembly Required’. Enjoying our time with Jesse, Reuben the pig, and Lukas. Turns out Jesse didn’t have to adventure on alone.

The Red Bow

Standard

The boy and I went on another adventure last night. Once again we fought our way through a backyard filled with scary monsters (re: trees). This time though, we came across a new nemesis, the red bow.

Looks all cute and gigantic during the day.

As we walked past the bow, which had somehow been declared a “monster bow” over the weekend, my son started firing his light-up gun at it. “I shooting the monster!” Bam. BaM. BAM! I just smiled, patted his head, and thought, “good boy”.

Stargazing

Standard

Sundays are always long days for some reason. This past Sunday was no different from any other, except I took my son on an adventure.

The sun had long set when I asked my 3 year old if he wanted to go outside. He had been sitting on the couch playing Learning with the PooYoos on the PS3. He quickly said yes and scrambled to get his shoes on. Wanting to know what we were going to be doing, I told him that we were going on an adventure. So we grabbed our flashlights and headed out into the dark backyard.

Trees transformed into monsters; shadows danced along with the flashlights. We walked around the backyard on our adventure, checking out different nooks and crannies. It was then that I had an idea, so I ran back inside the house and grabbed the iPad.

*Photo by HubbleColor {Zolt}, Creative Commons

Coming back outside, I set a chair out in the middle of the yard and we sat and stared at the sky. I showed him where different planets were thanks to the Star Walk app. The entire time you could almost see the gears in his brain working overtime. He kept asking questions, wanting to know if we could breathe on Mars. He asked me if there were robots on Mars. I told him yes. He grew very concerned when I told him that we had left a robot or two on Mars due to their batteries dying. Later on, when we went back into the house, he asked his Mom how we could get batteries to the robots. Apparently robots are cooler than planets. I should know that.

My Adventure with Jon

Standard

Woke up this morning and headed out to the Gregg County Airport. My destination, the LeTourneau University Hanger.

My friend Jon works for the university as a flight instructor. For the longest time, he has been asking me to go fly with him. Finally, last night, I agreed to adventure forth into the American skies. So, we decided that we were going to spend our Saturday morning flying and eating breakfast in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Airport in Shreveport

We had a very relaxing flight to Shreveport. The weather was nice, a tad hazy, but definitely cooler at higher altitudes! Jon was a professional throughout. He constantly talked through what he was doing (even though I had no clue) and was more than willing to explain anything I had questions on. I can see why he has made a great flight instructor!

The instrument panel in the Twin Star looked insane! I have no clue how Jon knew how to do anything with it (beside the hours upon hours of training he has had)! So many buttons…

The last small aircraft I flew in was back in high school. Our home schooling group had decided to check out a program called the Young Eagles. The Young Eagles were a group of private pilots who shared their planes and time in order to stir interest in youth concerning aviation. All I remember about it was thinking that I was going to die because the old man, who was flying the plane, was going to have a heart attack or something. Wish I still had the picture I took of my terrified face…

Our breakfast in Shreveport was amazing! Jon and I had decided to eat at The Cracker Barrel. I swear the french toast I ordered had been fried in butter/ powdered sugar. Sweet Southern goodness!

30 minutes over; 30 minutes back. On the way home, Jon showed me some different flight maneuvers…and we pulled a few G’s. 🙂

I don’t think I had ever realized that one of the approaches into Gregg County was over Lake Cherokee.

The air had finally warmed up by the time we had gotten back to Longview. This made our landing a tad bumpy. Nothing like Texas in the summertime!

Jon and I, two goofballs in a plane.

Lot’s of fun to have a friend who is a pilot! Had a good time hanging out with Jon, talking, and getting to see what he does everyday. If anyone out there is looking for a pilot, Jon is your man.

Dreams

Standard

Sorry the picture is so grainy…no flash photography was allowed in this part of the game. Might scare the zombies!

I do not do well with scary stuff. Take for instance a sudden twist in the Uncharted storyline last night. Everything had been going along swimmingly, when suddenly a past Nazis influence was introduced. Poof! Cue the supernatural elements such as killer Zombies -thankfully not armed with weapons, yet!-. After battling through darkened corridors with only a flashlight, I finally thought I had gotten away from this demonic horde. I was wrong. Very wrong. The game’s developers then decided to chuck not only zombies at me, but terrorists as well. A deadly combination burrito. Without the cheese.

Jurassic Park. Apparently not a fun place considering all anyone does is run and die.

All of the above to say that I had some pretty intense dreams last night. I dreamed of a zombie apocalypse that was somewhat akin to the movie Jurassic Park. Except this time…all of the golden retrievers died.

Dreams can take us to the wildest of places. Sometimes making sense and other times not. I am thankful not to live in a dream world…the nightmares are far too intense.

What crazy dreams have you had recently?

Fridays with Nathan

Standard

Awhile back, Nathan Drake and I set out on a whirlwind trip to discover some secrets related to a relative of his. We found an ancient temple, a submarine in a waterfall, and even back tracked through the same ancient temple just to escape with our lives. Exciting stuff huh? Not really. From there our relationship, and adventure, started to get complicated. You see, the difficulty, in Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, has suddenly spiked. I went from killing a handful of goons to small jungle legions of them. Certainly not cool. For now my adventures with Nathan have come to an end…but I am sure they are only just the beginning of a long and frustrating future. Cheers!

1:50pm Update:

There is that scene in The Matrix where the character Trinity suddenly finds herself in need of being able to fly a helicopter. Almost instantly, the knowledge is given to her via download, and she is ready to fly!

After posting earlier this morning, I now realize I was having a Trinity-like moment. My gaming skills had yet to adapt to the game, Uncharted, at hand. After spending a few hours playing, I finally have the feel of the game and am flying quite nicely. Massive gun battles, crazy stunts, and a love to rescue are just the order of the day. Good times.