Cyberpunk 2077 Full, Spoiler Free, Thoughts.

Cyberpunk has a lot to offer in it’s deep, emotional and treacherous journey around Night City. You might find yourself waiting a little bit before hopping on the next bus there.

First off I feel it’s obligatory to state that I played on PS5 and I played majority of my playthrough after 1.05 was released (about a week after release). I gave it a little while because I was drawn in by the not very good looking state at release. I know that CD Projekt will come through with this game.


The types of bugs I ran into. Thy were just funny most of the time. Crashes were regular though.

Anyway, I don’t want to speak about that because Cyberpunk has a lot more worth talking about.

First of all I want to talk about its, and by extension CD’s biggest strength, the story. Before this game was released there was a lot of expectation that this would be a generational shooter or a sandbox similar to GTA.

If you followed the devs you’d know their strength is in the story and the details. In Cyberpunk you play as a character called V. V is your creation (and we’ll come to that later) but none the less a scripted character especially for Cyberpunk.

As V you can choose one of three backgrounds. These honestly matter very little bar a few scenes at the start and some dialogue options as you move through the game. What is important is where V goes. After some time as a hired merc you take on a contract to steal from one of the most powerful organisations in Night City, the setting for Cyberpunk.

As this job starts to go off the rails, the asset you have stolen needs a home, It’s a biochip and in Cyberpunk’s futuristic setting you are cybernetically enhanced and biochips can be inserted into you for data or abilities.

This particular chip begins to overwrite your own brains neural network. You’re then in a race to survive the takeover by removing the chips data, which isn’t as simple as ‘have you tried turning it off and on again?’.

I bought into this story and I felt like I was influenced by the characters and my own actions when I made decisions. It certainly wasn’t mindless point and click to advance. I genuinely cared for some characters (looking at your Judy) and cared less for others.


Judy is one of the highlights of this game.

Not many games are able to draw you in this well throughout it’s main campaign. As V I was seeing my actions ripple across the city, whether it was in a news report or a radio in the background. There was a commentary on what I was doing which felt like the story was bigger than me.

To help me through the story I chose the combat that I personally always choose, where possible. Cyberpunk offers a lot of ways to play. None of them are particularly innovative but they do work well.

In my case I went for a stealth build. Building up crit chance on my handgun and utilising snipers with the odd katana kill thrown in. I loved it. When I finally started to bring my build together it felt like I was playing my way which is probably the best thing I can say.

Other options offered were to use ‘quickhacking’ in a variety of ways from deafening, stunning, distracting and even outright killing enemies from a distance. I could go full on brawns over brain with a punch ’em build or just regular ol’ soldier. The choice was mine.

To help me with my build was a variety of weapons, clothing and mods. I would say the pool to choose from wasn’t massive but it didn’t need to be I guess. There were a few ‘unique’ types but they were mainly just reskins. It’s an area I do believe this game can grow in.


My build and highlighting the silly looks available if you choose stats over style.

I mentioned the customisation earlier and CD have almost got this well done. At the start the character customisation is good. But you can never change it afterward. Like in Night City they don’t apparently have any hairdressers???

They do have clothing stores but there’s a catch that each item of clothing has an armour attachment to it so then you end up seeking the best stats over customisation. For a game like Cyberpunk that allows you to live a life through V I think it is important to offer a flexible choice of customisation during your play time. A quick solution for me would to drop the armour values from clothing and add them to the mods. Rarity would then come from the number of mod slots that you should be able to upgrade. This way the item is cosmetic and you can choose to improve it or not.

Mods are never really explained but most items can house them They’re small passive bonuses that you just need to find and then see if it works. Again some info for items would help to let me understand when and where I can use it.

Night City is dense and alive in some areas and others it’s a ghost town. Exploring it is a real good time but there’s always something out to get you or for you to get.

Ultimately though, given the first person perspective you play in, is it really that important? That’s what I think they asked themselves. If there were some really cool, truly unique, items I would spend extra hours looking for them, but in the end I kinda didn’t feel the need to.

What there is an abundance of is lore and backstory. Everywhere you go there’s little chips of data you can collect and read. They contain everything you need to know about this world. It’s where the strength of the world building is hidden.

Most of the good ones will come from missions with side characters. Some of these mission are as good, if not better in some cases than the main campaign. It makes exploring the world that much better. The main stories with Panam, Judy, Claire, Rogue or Johnny are all crafted with care, rather than a quick fetch quest or something.

You can romance these characters and they message you throughout your time with little bits they’ve been getting on with. I would say, as much as there is a 20-30 hour main plot, if they made you do these missions it would only add to the experience, there’s no draw back to them.

A few other bits that can be improved is the driving, boss fights and the NCPD Scanner missions. Clearing the map would become VERY repetitive as almost every icon is the exact same thing. Some are worthwhile as they give skill points or legendary items but it’s the same activity and there are hundreds. Also while clearing the map you realise that sometimes Night City is quite hollow but this is probably a technical choice.


Night City. Always a view to capture in photo mode.

The boss fights generally come out of nowhere and the bosses are then way above your level, meaning your damage output is heavily reduced. Also the ones I came across were really melee focused and that wasn’t my strongest area. They had really quick gap closers so running and gunning wasn’t the easiest option.

Lastly my biggest quality of life option that is missing, is the area levelling. You can explore all of Night City once you’ve completed the opening sequence. But you can’t do everything and there are ‘levels’ attached. They’re not marked by levels but like a danger rating… It’s level gating hidden behind a weird system that makes it sound like a challenge. It’s not a challenge as you’ll just get one shot, or the item you pick up is like 20 levels higher or something. Just add in the levels and that way I know what I should and shouldn’t attempt or what’s in store.

It’s a loot based RPG whichever way you look at it, and when I’m looking for loot or jobs to do I don’t want to pick up level 1 or level 25 armour because they both say ‘moderate’ on the difficulty.

Overall Cyberpunk is a great game. Right now if I were to rate it (which I tend to stay away from, but this is to illustrate my point) I would say it’s around a 7 with the potential to be a 10.

CD will get this game to where it needs to be. Sure it’s been about as bad as a launch could be but not all of that is about the gameplay (it’s a biproduct such as lawsuits and refunds) but all games deserve a chance to make it good. I’ll play this game again once we’ve had a whole host of patches and DLC content. Until then, the game runs steady and should be given a chance. It’s not GTA, Uncharted or Sims it’s Cyberpunk and it’s a hell of a ride.

Wonder Woman 1984: SPoiler Free Review

Christmas Day provided us with two big hit releases, Wonder Woman 1984 and Soul (technically for me Wonder Woman came out on 16th but pshh). The latter was Pixar at their best, the first is somewhere that only Wonder Woman is in the DCEU, reliable entertainment.

As I was constantly navigating Twitter to avoid any Wonder Woman spoilers, I was getting rather annoyed. This film seemed to blow people shit hot or fucking freezing. There was no in between and it seemed the negativity was louder than the positivity, as it normally is.

As a big fan of the first film I really wanted to make up my mind on this one so I tuned in as soon as I could and sat through it’s lengthy two and a half hour runtime. What I found was that Patty Jenkins understands the world she’s created and is able to provide fun, action and a solid universe for her stories to live in.

Wonder Woman 1984 builds on the first by exploring Diana a lot more and Wonder Woman a bit less. The whole film feels much more grounded in a sense, from the god fighting we had in the first film.

Wonder Woman 1984 takes place quite a few decades after the events of the first film. We’re in the bright and colourful 80’s and Diana (Gal Gadot) has found her place in it. She’s taken a job at a museum and stays pretty detached from forming relationships. Her morals mean that she is unable to leave behind the sense of being a superhero but she does it as discretely as possible.

Part of her job allows her to meet Barbara (Kristen Wiig), a typical geeky girl with lots of underlying quality features. Barbara is asked to take a look at some artefacts that were part of an attempted robbery. One of which is a stone (yes, we back to the stones) that comes with a message about granting wishes.

I know I said this film feels more grounded, and despite this film being about wishes, it is. Naturally, Diana is suspicious but doesn’t realise what the museum holds. Barbara is in awe of Diana, being everything she wants after a life in the shadows.

There’s also a third player, Max (Pedro Pascal). He’s a failed business tycoon but is after the stone, being the only one who knows anything about it. He manipulates Barbara into getting it and absorbs it’s power. From there he can grants wishes.

Dian’s throwaway wish is granted and we see her reunite with Steve. Her only friend, it would seem, Barbara has a new sense of power and Max starts to build his ideal world. These three stories become closely linked but then start to go in their own direction. These narratives are interesting but 84 does struggle to manage them, meaningfully.

Like I said, we spend more time exploring Diana’s world as a normal person. Her relationship with Steve drives her need to find out where he came from and how to stop Max. We see her at her most mortal. Her relationship with Steve brings out a side to Diana that a lot of superheroes tend to lack. I could only compare it to Captain America and Bucky. The connection is genuine and it throws away all powers and just explores how emotion drives need.

As things get worse for each character it dawns on Diana exactly what is happening and what needs to happen in order to prevent any further influence from Max and his wishes. The story or morality and consequence is explored quite a bit in this film. I don’t think it means to be political at all but it does mean to expose our reliance on a higher power.

84 is lengthy, it does suffer from this, slightly. The 3 main characters are developed but not too deeply. We see more of Max than Barbara, which is a shame because Kristen is really good. Barbara seems to have a more complex personality that would be great to explore, but she’s cast to a power hungry type of role.

When we do see the Wonder Woman side of Diana it’s truly magnificent. I think that the team at Wonder Woman, guided by Patty Jenkins make her feel so cool without any cheesy girl power. The action is really top tier and well choreographed.

Some of the CGI could be worked on, and I find that a strange thing to say because it would appear any delays didn’t allow for any extra post production.

Wonder Woman is a colourful film, and it does feel like a comic book film but it doesn’t take full advantage of the 80’s setting. I know it would only get slated for copying the style of Ragnorok but I think more could have been done. It definitely plays set design and score safely, but maybe they need safe.

Overall Wonder Woman 1984 is able to deliver a well made extension of Wonder Woman’s character. It isn’t syncing up with her first appearance in Batman v Superman or Justice League but I think that’s for the best.

It feels like Jenkins is steering the DCEU and not Snyder. Her level of work should be emulated and I don’t blame Warner Bros for wanting her on more projects. I don’t think it would happen for a while but I’d love to see what Patty would bring to a third.

Where to Watch: Theatres (Europe), HBO Max, Rent (from 13 Jan).

Runtime: 2h 31m

Starring: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal & Chris Pine

The Top Records of 2020

As we begin to close out the year I wanted to take a look back at the highlights and I am choosing to start with music, purely because I don’t think there’s any releases left.

If you follow this blog, or my Instagram you’ll come to expect something more alternative that what you’re likely to hear on the radio or trending on Youtube. I

It’s been a tremendous year for releases throughout the rock scene. We’ve been treated to heavy hitters like Bring Me the Horizon, Architects, A Day to Remember, Foo Fighters and even some Corey Taylor stuff.

Here’s my roundup of my best bits from the year.

Lets kick of with the best. Vukovi’s Fall Better was their second album that released right at the top of the year. For me it is the best record of 2020 and possibly my favourite ever. It sums up my music taste in 11 records.

Janine was able to pen some beautiful lyrics, whether it’s about her OCD, grief or mental health. At the very start, they promise some heavy fucking riffs and they do deliver. Tracks like White Lies, Play with me cos I can take it and Aura showcase Hemeish’s excellent riffage.

Best Track: Violent Minds

Best Lyric: ‘When I dream of you I always wake with a smile’.


Poppy’s I Disagree and I Disagree (more) were records I welcomed with open arms. As a guilty pleasure the end of last year I was looking forward to see what Poppy would do. The result is a mix of genres, but a heavy crash none the less.

I Disagree is perhaps one of the strangest things you could listen to. Poppy’s high pitched, playful singing is blended with grungy guitars and energetic drumming. It’s like pop mixed with metal with k-pop influences. Bite Your Own Teeth shows she can mix it with the heaviest but Sit/ Stay shows she still has a pop influence.

Best Song: Anything Like Me

Best Lyric: Stop, you’re making a scene, you’re coming at me with blood in your teeth.


Manic is a superbly written, well produced record from Halsey. It doesn’t just feel like another conveyor belt pop record but feels crafted in Halseys own studio.

The lyrics always feel personal and it’s clear they were written by her own hand. The mix of music you experience throughout shows Halsey’s creative but unfenced side.

Tracks like Graveyard or Without Me bring the energy with 929 & Ashley bring the honesty. The use of pop culture references is a great addition along side the features. Halsey has had a great year and this record is just the tip of the iceberg.

Best Song: 3am

Best Lyric: ‘I really was born at 9:29 on 9.29… and I’m a fucking liar’


I think this record was the biggest surprise this year. Not that we weren’t due a record but the style they came at us with.

Post Human: Survival Horror from Bring Me the Horizon is a standout. It features the likes of Babymetal, Amy Lee and Yungblud. I watched a reaction to one of their songs and they said ‘who pissed Oli off?’ That’s the tone of this long EP. Heavy, energetic and so well made it cements my thoughts that BMTH are one of the best at making music around.

Best Song: Kingslayer (Feat. Babymetal)

Best Lyric: ‘God is a shit head and we’re his rejects’


Honourable Mentions

Bloxx – Lie Out Loud. The pop rock album that is such an easy listen was a great addition late in 2020.

Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to my Downfall. This almost made it to the big ones up top, but alas it just falls short. It’s such a revival for pop punk and I hope Kelly brings more. Forget Me Too ft. Halsey is top 3 songs of the year.

Yours Truly – Self Care. Anyone that tries to be pop rock will always get the Paramore comparisons. Yours Truly feel different and I love their sound. Self Care is another brilliant easy listening record.

Stand Atlantic – Pink Elephant. Another pop punk, female led record. Another banger. Like That is an amazing song but Stand Atlantic are truly great crafts people.

Code Orange – Underneath. If you want metal, look to Code Orange. This is probably the heaviest record I’ve been listening to at the moment, but I just love it. Its full of great riffs and breakdowns but it is well put together to.

Next Year

In 2021 we’re going to be treated to more Vukovi, Against the Current, Architects, A Day to Remember, Hot Milk, While She Sleeps, Wargasm and I’m sure a whole lot more. It’s going to be a treat and I look forward to see a few of these live, hopefully!

Crunch, Bugs & Game Devs – Are we too critical?

What is crunch? Is releasing a game full of bugs a bad thing? Is critic based bonuses a bad thing? All these questions have been subject of scrutiny recently following the hotly anticipated Cyberpunk release.

Unless you have been living under a rock, with apparently access to this blog, you’ll have seen that Cyberpunk released recently. If you’ve been following it then you’ll know that CD Projekt Red have been under a lot of shit for various reasons.

Cyberpunk is probably the most hyped up game, ever. I think the next release to garner this much attention will be GTA VI (which Cyberpunk is no where near, btw) or Half Life 3, if it ever happens (I will forever include this (even though it probably won’t happen)).

Due to that the expectations kept being lifted, lifted and lifted until eventually it was on a pedestal that wasn’t realistic. It was supposed to be the best, action, adventure, open world, scifi, crime, do what you want, fps, sims rpg thriller that there ever was. There was no way it could meet these lofty expectations. What is could do was get the journey and release right, for whatever happened, but did it?


Cyberpunk, subject to a lot of abuse recently both in the game and behind the scenes.

Captain Crunch

Before it’s release and for any major game release we’re constantly updated with how it’s cooking. Whether it’s at E3, press conferences or direct communications we are usually aware of whether or not a game is coming along well.

The closer we get to release we expect one of two things, crunch reports or a delay report.

What is crunch? If you’re unaware it’s the term given when a game is in it’s final stage of development, usually around a month of so before release where the devs tend to work very long days to get it out on time.

This has been going on for years, it’s not a new thing but with social media and everyones ethical compass all over the places we all have an opinion on it. Cyberpunk was subject to crunch, meaning that people behind the scenes were likely working longer. The details of which we will never fully know or understand. However we still look on CD currently (and other devs) badly for it.

Crunch is nothing new to gaming or anywhere else. If you’ve been in retail think of it like Christmas. You’re usually expected to work more days or longer hours to help facilitate the increase in demand.

If you’re a student you’ll have put time in before a deadline to finish a project. Movie stars have to do extremely long days during press tours and the same for musicians.

For Cyberpunk streamers have been putting in 16+ hour streams, if not more (and the same for other games). None of these are acceptable but they are accepted as part of the ups and downs of that industry. For some industries, this isn’t even considered a difference from day to day (nurses etc).

We’re too harsh on quickly pointing the finger when we don’t agree with the outcome of the company. If Cyberpunk, like Last of Us, released immaculate then we probably wouldn’t even think about the crunch.

Bugs in the System

First of, some games release with too many bugs, it’s part of the industry. However there’s only a limited amount of play testing that can go on in a closed environment. 10 people playing for 10 hours won’t find as much as 100 people for an hour each.

Early access is a way around this, and potentially why it’s more common than ever for games to release in early access. However not every game makes sense for early access and sometimes needs to be given benefit of the doubt or a small window of time to allow for repairs.

If one popular person has a bad bug, that normally equals a whole host of opinions and downvotes on that issue. It can spread like wildfire and unfortunately it will tarnish a games reputation.

The Devs Behind it All

Games are probably held to the highest standards for any entertainment product. That means the devs are the ones that face the music one release.

We often don’t consider the effort it takes to bring us 30 hours of entertainment and we can be quick to trash it and the work behind it. I know I have done it in the past.


The Last of Us wasn’t without it’s share of abuse towards the creators.

Some games can take a while to make, Cyberpunk was 8 years and I think the average AAA game is around 5 years. That’s a mammoth effort, even with the size of the team. Indie games are a little less, but it seems they’re not as harshly critiqued due to their size. It’s a bit like that Gordon Ramsey meme.

On a side note, CD Projekt recently revealed that bonuses where due to be based on review scoring. Naturally this was met with uproar, but lets stop and think for a second.

The developers were due to receive a bonus due to making a good product. This isn’t new. Some say it’s not fair, out of their control, subject to trolls.

I once worked in a shop where my yearly bonus was based on sales and random customer feedback. As a frontline member of staff I had zero say in the sales and a minor influence on feedback. In fact no one had a grip on it. In our first year I basically didn’t get a bonus as no one knew out shop existed, Is this fair, no? But it’s performance based, like most other bonuses.

Yes review bombing is a thing and people choosing to buy a product could not happen but it’s no different from anywhere else. I’m glad they changed the structure and awarded bonuses anyway and tbh, some of the review scores probably meant the criteria was met anyway.

In Summary

So, are we too critical?

Absolutely.

We hold games so close to our chest we over analyse everything and take it out on the people behind the game. Not all gamers are the same and we aren’t all sending death threats over some female muscles, but we should try and appreciate what was put into these products and the Game Industry works just like any other.

Immortals Fenyx Rising Review

A release that was largely dwarfed by those around it might actually be the brightest light from Ubisoft. A surprisingly exceptional game that shouldn’t be overlooked.

I always talk about what it is an arrow straight to my ‘want pile’; Greek mythology, open world, collectables etc. Any combination and normally I’m sold. So when ‘Gods and Monsters’ was debuted at E3 last year it was like a lighthouse pointing only at me.

Unfortunately for them the energy drink Monster decided they didn’t like it and sued them, in a real dick move. So they changed the name to Immortals: Fenyx Rising. It was a bit more on the nose as to the idea behind the game, but it hurt it’s entire release campaign.

Title aside though, what was delivered was an incredibly well built game with a refreshing injection of puzzles, clean combat, vibrant open world and a story to buy in to. The sum of all these parts makes Fenyx Ubisoft’s best game for a while.

The plot

So Fenyx Rising is the story of a character called Fenyx that needs to restore the essence of 4 major gods to save the Golden Isles from evil titan, Typhon.

As a plot it is very basic. It’s all about a ‘mortal’ learning how to become a hero by overcoming tasks they normally wouldn’t. However what makes this particular version of the story is the way it plays out in the game.


You can customise Fenyx (left) in many ways, so it’s weird to see the promo shots with red hair!

As you’re playing the game, it’s actually a retelling of Fenyx’s adventure by Prometheus to Zeus. The entire time you’re running around the Golden Isles these two will be narrating your events. The exchange between the two is full of humour.

Fenyx Rising doesn’t take itself too seriously for the most part. The humour included isn’t clever or slapstick it’s mostly kinda cheesy, dad joke like quips from either Zeus or Prometheus, like those muppet dudes. It will either irritate you or actually add to the enjoyment of the game. For me it massively added to it, it made me feel like the idea was to have fun.

As fun as the game was, it also had it’s moments of reflection and seriousness as Zeus had a lot to reflect on, as well as the gods. Fenyx’s morals are in the right place and make the story feel fleshed out and full. I could buy into the whole thing and in the end it paid off, I loved it.

The World

The game is set on an Island called the Golden Isles, essentially a little haven for some of the gods, that they let some mortals wonder around on. Fenyx is an open world game, and by open it really doesn’t shut you out at any point (bar a few mission related buildings or arenas).

I was free to explore to my hearts content without the fear of being level gated or story gated. You have 4 main areas, each dedicated to a god, Aphrodite, Athena, Hephestos and Ares. Then there’s like a Mount Olympus and Underworld areas.


One of the earliest views of the game.

Sure some areas included harder enemies, but I could, with some tenacity or patience, overcome them. Generally the game levels up with you that allows you this freedom to explore.

This was an excellent decision from the development team as they created a world that not only looked the part, but was filled with so much wonder that I could spend ages running around the map curious what was around the next corner.

It was never long before it was a new fight, puzzle or collectable within my reach. The world feels alive and dense with things to do. I had a mount and the ability to glide, should I need to cover longer distances but I didn’t want to.

The puzzles they included were excellent, I read before going into the game that they were simple, but they’re certainly not. They’re full of imagination and at points challenge. Whether that was arrow skill, combat skill, using my imagination or platforming. All the puzzles felt ‘doable’ so I was never turned away for not having a ticket at the entrance.


Although this is promo, it’s literally how you can fight…

Combat in this game is nothing new, it doesn’t innovate in any way. However it takes a simple formula and does it well. You have a light attack, heavy attack, dodge and parry. There’s a few god skills thrown in for utility or damage and it all combines to feel smooth, responsive and gratifying. I had enough tools for each fight, to fight in a way that suited me but also not to be overpowered one shotting everything.

Summary

Fenyx represents what you can achieve when you take a few simple or overused formulas and do them really well. Ubisoft are kind of becoming a conveyor belt for generic open world ‘points of interest’ game. It’s led to things like the third AC game in the recent formula feel generic. The guys in Quebec however have injected life into it. They seemingly learnt from what AC Odyssey did well and what other games did well and brought it all together for a game that should not be overlooked.

It launched with more or less no bugs or issues, plays and looks good for both generations of console and is still at the older ‘normal’ price tag. It provides a 25-30 average playthrough with the likelihood of 60+ for platinum or completionists.

As I write this we’ve just had the release of Cyberpunk, which has received a lot of stick for it’s buggy release as well as a few more comments for the company behind it. Valhalla is being praised for looking the part, but as more people get their hands on it, it’s hard to ignore the bloated scale of it.

Amongst all of this Fenyx isn’t suffering from any of that. For me it’s a top 5, maybe 3 or even first on my list for this year, I really do believe that. It’s a shame that at the time of release everyone’s attention is elsewhere because they’re missing out.

Demon’s Souls Shows it’s True Colours When You Finish the Game.

I’ve spent the best part of the last 2 weeks playing Demon’s Souls and I’ve achieved my first Platinum PS5 Trophy as a result. What I realised when going after this landmark achievement was that Demon’s Souls will punish you, just when you think you’ve got your hold on this game.

Demon’s Souls Platinum joins a very specific, but small list of games I have collected all the achievements for. Having bounced from PS2 to Xbox back to PS5 my trophy cabinet is slightly spread around. Demon’s Souls joins the titles Destiny 2 & Harry Potter Lego Years 1-4 so you can totally see my ‘type’.



Most of the time I avoid playing several takes of a game or a FPS on hardest difficulty as I know my skill level. Demon’s Souls and action RPG’s that are similar are my wheelhouse and I had a lot of fun running Demon’s Souls nearly 4 times to get Platinum.

For anyone unfamiliar, Demon’s Souls is the first in the ‘Soulsborne’ series of games. It set a precedence for being a brutal but a blast to play through with its methodical combat and difficult boss encounters. Originally made in 2009 Bluepoint remade it with stunning graphics for PS5. Combine this with it’s extremely fast load times it’s a direct improvement in every area from it’s 2009 birth.

Demon’s Souls Place in the Soulsborne World

The Souls games don’t have a difficulty marker, the learning curve is just set to punishing with no way to change it. Even in my experience I attempted Dark Souls 2 a couple of times before I understood the game, Bloodborne took me 3 attempts to eventually complete. Dark Souls 3 is my favourite but I was ready for it’s challenge.

Demon’s Souls I felt however, on my first playthrough, was a lot easier in comparison. Especially to my time in Bloodborne. I would reach a boss and would never die more than once before it evaporated into souls that I claimed and moved on.

My journey to the boss was plagued more with deaths as I would navigate the corridor like levels and facing of against the, in some ways, more difficult enemy types. Overall though, I felt I had managed the game pretty well.

I took the time to grind so I could be a katana wielding hunter type character. It was fun to curate the build and felt good once the last Pure Bladestone dropped as I knew Ed the Blacksmith would do me a solid and add the last upgrade. Mind you this was a RNG grind that needs a tweak.

From there I had fun as my damage was increased nearly 50%. I saw to it that I would go onto complete the game with little difficulty. Due to this I wanted to play more and go after the trophies.

New Game +

I found a guide that would let me be somewhat efficient but also try a new character, with a magic build, something I had never done in the Souls world before. My first go through was laughable. I knew these streets and magic was over powered.

Then I went into New Game+ the ‘endgme’ for Souls game. This game doesn’t allow you to clean up the world you left behind and instantly puts you in NG+ unlike the later additions. I however didn’t mind, it’s just the game again and not much harder right?


This game is visually stunning.

I was wrong. So wrong. I strutted around Boletaria Gates like I was fucking Jesus reborn. No one could touch me and I would just walk through collecting rings and spells that I needed.

Once I got to the second boss, good old Tower Knight, I had my shit kicked in. Then I tried to fight back before realising I had clearly bought a feather duster to clean the armour because my sword did nothing.

Once on the back foot I realised how hard everything was hitting me. I wasn’t used to being faced with this much resistance. All of a sudden each tiny little encounter was a threat to my life and I had to make sure I was on my guard.

The bosses had way more health and defences, the enemies hit much harder and my progression level to level was minimal. I was kind of excited originally at the thought but then I got a bit frustrated, as you do.


The Penetrator – Says it all really.

My biggest issue with New Game + and Demon’s Souls is that it exposes the narrow, corridor, maze like level design. When each enemy poses a genuine threat and you have to think about your position and opportunity, having no room to move becomes the biggest enemy.

This game is gorgeous and very accessible on first playthrough. The levels do feel linear but it gives a greater sense of direction and any deviation is rewarded. However when you have room for error it works well. When the difficulty increases it becomes a hinderance.

New Game+ is perhaps Demon’s Souls at it’s best and worst at the same time. The game has very, very few faults. When reaching a boss it’s a relief that pressing L1 once won’t kill it. It should be a challenge and you should have to earn it.

I strutted around like I was jesus reborn, no one could touch me… then i had my shit kicked in.

However if being pushed of a cliff because you can’t roll or having your stamina fully depleted after a block and 2/3 of your health along with it by an enemy that fills the screen doesn’t grind your gears you have more patience than me.

The bosses seemed to feel like more of a challenge, despite being set up with a clear weakness (unless you’re Old King Allant) you could expose. The game takes for granted that at this stage you have certain items and if you don’t, well, good luck or bring a friend.

This combination of difficulty increase is drastic and it will knock you back if you’re not ready but, for me, it needed some of it so that it didn’t feel like stroll or easy.

Considering all this I overcame the challenges, dabbled in some online play and got the last ding I needed before my next gaming adventure. It felt good to platinum a game like this as it really is a reflection of my love for these types of games.

If you haven’t, check out Demon’s Souls or any of the Souls game (3 is my favourite) as they absolutely some of the best games out there.

Godfall: Full Thoughts

Godfall does the wrong things right and the key parts wrong to bring a forgettable experience to PS5, but there’s hope if they make a second title.

Godfall’s opening cinematic is a stylish dive into the relationship between someone and their brother in a war torn world. The combat that is shown of looks brilliant giving you a sense of what is yet to come.

You wouldn’t believe that this is only one of two cinematics in the game. Looters aren’t known for their game changing stories but this one forget to put a story into the game at all.

The God in Godfall.

I don’t want to focus on what frustrates me most in this game yet, so let’s talk about what it did best.

Godfall truly makes you believe you’re playing a ‘next generation’ game through it’s excellent graphics, 60 FPS performance mode and haptic feedback. It’s an incredibly nice to look at game. When you visit the different areas of the game you can see the work that was put in to making this game look truly amazing.

The character models, the weapons, armour and everything else have a lot of thought and design into them. As you move traverse through the open like worlds the 60 fps performance ensures that there is no glitchy areas or enough blur to make a Song 3.

Can’t complaint at views like this.

Along side the graphics looking and performing well I came across relatively few bugs. the final product that was released seemed to be well polished so at least you couldn’t say anything against that ruining your experience.

Another strength of Godfall is the player combat. There is a lot of variation in the way you can play this ‘slasher’. The work that went into making sure each weapon class played in a style different to the next paid off. The combinations you can weave as you carve through enemies feel good.

If you choose to use a hammer that wouldn’t be misplaced in a Final Fantasy game it feels heavy and each hit knocks you away. If you go for the speedy dual blade you get a sense of mindless swinging as though you’re going to kill them with 1000 cuts.

You also have a shield for deflecting and slamming into foes. It can be thrown in Captain America style to give you your only ranged option in the game.

It felt curious as to how I could bring these together, I aimed for a dual blade/ bleed build. Kind of a get in, get out build. The early signs were promising as the perks were there and the skill tree offered things to back me up, but I was never really able to make that build a reality.

The Fall in Godfall.

I’d grab some water here, cause it could take a while. I’ll try to keep it short.

Continuing with the strength of Godfall the builds that are offered are hindered heavily by the combat AI that was chosen in this game. Godfall aims to put you somewhere between Devil May Cry and Dark Souls. It offers quick combos and techniques but wants to punish you for getting greedy.

The end result was that the combat is too much brute force and not enough finesse. The enemies, in particular the tougher ones would have no way of staggering them (bar 1 quite rare ‘blue’ attack). They would have quick attacks that would combo together to stagger you or knock you down. A lot of the tougher melee enemies were relentless.

I felt that I was playing the game well (hard mode with only struggles at boss battles) as I would dodge into good positions but then the enemy would let out a delayed shockwave that would knock me down to prevent me taking advantage of my well timed doge.

Godfall aims to be somewhere between Devil May Cry and Dark Souls but offers combat that is too much brute force and not enough finesse.

So I went with the parrying instead. I’ve always been pretty naff at parrying but Godfall is pretty generous with it if you spec right. A perfect parry at best will offer a seconds grace, which if the parry doesn’t stun you, there’s a chance you can attack but most of the time it was unlikely as the enemy would recover in time.

Then you have the majority of the other enemies, ranged types or spellcasters that would do a good job of running away from you. As Godfall doesn’t really offer any good ranged options apart from a slow cooling shield throw this was a nightmare. Some weapons had a gap closer on cooldown to help but for a hack and slash game they made a lot of enemies fight at range.

I liked some of the big boss designs but again, poor choices made them feel gimmick-y. One boss near the end of the game is often surrounded by damaging fire, that adds a 15 second damage of time. Melee range was almost always a trade of. All boss range moves will typically track and track well at that. This boss in particular opened with a move that I must have seen 50 times (I purposely started again after getting hit by it) that would almost guarantee you start the fight with 50% health. I still don’t know how you actually avoid it. I tried running, dodge, block, parry with all different timing but no luck.

So yeah the combat you’re offered as a player feels good, but when you get in the later stages of the game there is a lack of reward for learning and executing the combat well. The game is just out to punish you at every single opportunity. This makes it frustrating and quickly not fun.

Another effort that I don’t think hits the right notes is the loot. I realised after about 1 or so hours I had seen most of the loot bar some legendary items. Apart from 1 or two stats, there aren’t that many assets in the game. Every item can be made legendary (so is there really any legendaries?) The 12 Valorplates (static sets of armour) ensure that the amount of loot offered is actually a small pool.

My very best at Artorios

It also just never felt great as typically for the campaign you’ll be over-leveled until the last mission in the game (or at least I was and I didn’t grind). So the loot you end up finding is based on the level of the mission which is often 3-5 behind and therefore not relevant.

Finally, the campaign/ story is paper thin. You get an opening cinematic and then you have to rescue two other characters. The rest of the story is played out in lines of dialogue between these two in a small room (your base essentially).

The missions based on the story are VERY repetative. There was boss fights or ‘break the seals to proceed’. That’s it, that was the mission variation. So it was just hopping between them. Then endgame comes along and it’s just replaying old missions until you take on the tower of trials that is just a horde like mode to see how far you can get.

Anything else? Oh yeah, there’s no animation cancelling and missions will have you run 1000 meters just to start.

In Summary

Truth is there are some small changes they can make to have the game feel ever so slightly better. Adding a notification to the slots you have new pieces in (and get rid of the armoury), mass salvage, unbinding items from Valourplates, mini-maps and get rid of the hidden stamina mechanic when running ( or spawn me closer than 1000m from my first objective),

But a second game could work extremely well. If they are ale to flesh out the story/ campaign more to keep you invested that would be a good start. Mission variety would naturally come when they do that and potential level variety.

Small tweaks to the combat AI would bring the combat to a level that would rival the greatest out there (God of War. Bloodborne for example). Adding more ranged options or ways to close the gaps is sorely needed.

Having more loot or scrapping the static Valourplates to give even more cosmetic freedom. I chose a plate that looked like Artorias that offered a weak-point buff because it looks like Artorias but weak-points was a good feature and allowed me to maximise one of hits.

Overall I want to feel like I’m still optimistic for Counterplays’s efforts and that they have some good things to build on and I’ll keep an eye out for the future of the game. For now this one will be forgotten it ever released with the best console I’ve played on.

Top 10 Playstation/ Xbox games of the Generation

As we move into a truly new generation it is the perfect time to reflect on the highs that the now previous generation brought us.

The PS4/ Xbox One generation felt like it lasted a lifetime which is why there were so many games to choose from. No one really knew how far these consoles could push or where the industry would turn to but we saw a lot of things I don’t think we could have anticipated.

In this list I have considered not only the quality of the game but also the impact to the industry it had. As the title suggests I’m only focusing on Playstation and Xbox so if you’re hoping to see Breath of the Wild on here, think again.

I also won’t be posting exact remasters of a game, which means that Last of Us would likely be atop the list, isn’t, as it really was a game for Playstation 3. I’ve tried to be objective as possible and consider the experience, the production, the additional content and the value.

10 – Celeste

Celeste is a wonderful 2D side scrolling game that tackles a big issue for so many people, depression. It’s bold story that is so elegantly told it makes a claim for having a story that doesn’t fit the mould a normal occurrence, or at least relevant. Hopefully more writers take a chance on a topic that so many can relate to but struggle to talk about.

2D side scrollers are still very popular these days and celeste takes advantage of that to bring a top of the class performance showing that straying from the path works wonderfully well.

9 – Spider-Man

After seeing the MCU get so much screen time and success it was brave for Insomniac Games to attempt to recreate that as a video game. Spider-Man is the worlds most popular hero so it was a safe bet there but recently superhero games weren’t hitting the right notes.

This game however was composed correctly. It marked a new height for the best way to traverse an open world. The web slinging alone brings as much fun as much of the rest of the game. But they didn’t cheap out there, the story is well written, the combat is comic book fun and the open world is borderline copy and pasted but in the right way.

It looks great, plays great and is a credit to the way Marvel have been doing things recently.

8 – Fortnite

Remember when I said I would consider impact? Fortnite probably changed the gaming industry for the better, for good. Epic were a successful company before Fortnite but post Fortnite they are massive. This allows them to put massive resource into Unreal Engine for all developers to use.

In addition to that Fortnite introduced a truly successful free to play, pay to stand out model. It introduced the season pass that so many have adopted and brought battle Royales to the top of the Twitch views. They also have big name collabs and live events and keep making strides. Fortnite, whatever your view is one of the greatest of this generation for so many reasons.

7 – Overwatch

It seems that since Overwatch Blizzard have lost some of their integrity and way. However when Overwatch came out, it once again proved that when Blizzard set their mind to it, they make the best game.

Overwatch is an excellent example of a game anyone can pick up, learn and put down and come back to later. It also has a lot for competitive players to master with it’s well crafted balances and team play mechanics.

It was an instant hit on the scene, crushing Battleborn on release, and rising to the top of the e-sports scene. It’s wonderful art style and decent loot box system are examples they themselves need to continue following.

6 – Bloodborne

Bloodborne took me 3 attempts to really play and eventually complete. The first two weren’t down to it being a bad game at all, but that it was just so punishing. I realised that on my second play through I had sold an item that was crucial in providing me with resistance to a boss.

It’s truly gothic horror setting, fast paced combat and brutal difficulty make it a game for gamers. Every little map design makes you feel the need to explore it in the hope of a precious item or a blade to the face, but nevertheless as challenge to overcome.

5 – Final Fantasy VII: Remake

Those guys behind the Final Fantasy games always come up with a new game that really takes our breath away. As a later entry into this generation Remake sought to bring back what some would consider the best game ever.

Remake isn’t just a remaster of VII graphically or an overhaul of systems for better gameplay. It actually takes the story and tells it again, from a similar yet different perspective.

It’s moment to moment combat, gorgeous cut scenes and excellent story make it for one of the best ways to spend 40 hours of your gaming time on Playstation. I also consider this not to break the rules as the game is different to the original.

4 – Red Dead Redemption 2

Okay. this is my least favourite on the list, but objectively I appreciate what Rockstar made. As possibly the first game that said ‘look what we can do with this software’ Red Dead is graphically comparable to anything out there.

Taking us to before the events of the first game, It tells a lengthy story that we’re used to from Rockstar. It’s a story the seems to be worth playing through that is if you’re not distracted by the world around you.

It’s setting isn’t quickly copied either, probably because of the fine job Rockstar did on this, the bar is set a bit too high.

3 – Uncharted 4

Nathan Drake takes the bronze medal on this list. If I could give it a gold I would because this game is a masterpiece. I don’t think there’s a game that does intense, action packed cut-scenes as well as this game.

Uncharted 4 gets your heart racing and is so incredibly immersive in it’s story it’s hard not to get attached to it. Combine that with excellent gameplay mechanics, challenging puzzles and a seamless story continuing from the previous entries and Uncharted would make any list.

If you need anymore reason take a quick look at some of this games screen shots on Google and you’re probably going to wonder if it’s real and be amazed at how gorgeous it looks.

2 – God of War

I really wanted to put this game top, but you’ve probably guessed why it is not. God of War is worthy of a best year, decade or ever title. It sums up all of Playstation’s achievements in gaming, pretty much ever.

The first remarkable thing of note is the way it goes from gameplay to cutscene and back to tell it’s story. You really are a part of every single aspect of this game. The story is so full of emotion and conflict that it’s a wonder they were able to tell it with remarkable execution.

The combat is brutal and fluid and rewarding all at the same time. Hainge a combination of loot systems, skills, weapons and companion brought so seamlessly together to make you feel every blow is a feat not many games share.

Other than Last of Us: Remastered this is THE game you should play on Playstation.

1 – The Witcher 3

As I said before you’ve probably guessed this entry. The Witcher 3 as a whole package is the best the generation had to offer. First coming out in 2015 it showed how you could build a massive but immersive world with this software.

Each mission is relevant in moving it’s touching story of fatherhood, growth and responsibility on. It’s decisions impacting you in ways you won’t realise for days. Each side mission feels like it has a place within the story of Geralt and feels so relevant to complete. The voice acting for as many scenes are is really something that should be celebrated.

It’s combat systems are truly wonderful to get to grips with, offering you many ways to play the game as the same character. Everyone that plays this game will have a different experience.

It’s additional content are some of the best pieces of additional content you can get your hands on. It’s not often that the DLC is equal to the game itself but for this game they are.

I hope that if you haven’t yet, you give this game the time to really grab you in. I can pretty much say that once you meet the Bloody Baron after around 10 hours this game will start to soar after your initial estimations.

The best game this generation had to offer. Even in my objective opinion.

Honourable Mentions for various reasons:

Horizon Zero Dawn

Forza Horizon 2

AC Odyssey

Last of Us 2

Sekiro

Witcher 3: Blood and Wine & the lost value of video games.

After 4 years since it’s release I have finally completed The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine DLC. It was a fitting end to the current generation as a hat tip to possibly the best value I’ve received from a triple A game for a long time.

As I prepare to grab my Tim Hortons breakfast and queue to pick up my Playstation 5 with the 2 games I’ve chosen to play at release on Thursday (Demon Souls and Godfall), I think about how much it has set me back, and will continue to do so.

Both of those titles are a hefty £69.99 from Game, a theme that distributors seem to be anticipating to continue through this generation of gaming. I then think of the next to come along the conveyor belt of releases, Immortals: Fenyx Rising and more importantly Cyberpunk. Another three figures needed to gain access to their potentially game of the year status.

When playing Blood and Wine, a DLC that on release would have cost £16.99 standalone or cheaper as part of a ‘pass’, I think a how much of a full game this is on it’s own. This DLC is probably bigger than a Resident Evil game or the new Miles Morales game.

This makes me think about the value of video games and the inflation we are seeing. It certainly isn’t correlated. What makes The Witcher 3 such good value and why aren’t we seeing it more often?

The Witcher 3 & good value

On release The Witcher 3 was so incredibly well received. When loading it up on my birthday 5 years ago I remember seeing it had 21 or so free dlc content items. These items are small things like outfits, haircuts but also some pretty decent missions and an armour set.

CD Projekt Red didn’t feel the need to charge it’s customers for these items but also didn’t feel they were needed as part of the base experience, something that is so rarely seen these days.

For most publishers these items, insignificant as some of them are, would cost you a ‘deluxe‘ or ‘collectors‘ edition to gain access. Something that doesn’t feel like a micro transaction but is. In the same way your pre-order is a micro-transaction (to help investors see their return quicker).

In addition to this, the Witcher 3, as a base game is HUGE. Like one of the largest but also dense and rich worlds with plenty to do. You might say that games such as Skyrim or GTA have big maps, but what do the maps actually hold, looking at you GTA?

They built a game that not only had a great campaign, that admittedly is long but great for it, has side missions equally as good and plenty more for achievement go getters. Then they released a DLC that is more akin to an old school expansion for £8. Yes 8 fucking quid, that included a 8-10 hour campaign, new systems and characters.

In perspective that’s a few FUT packs, a new Fortnite skin or some COD crates. I’m not saying how to spend your money but it’s funny what developers can do for the same cost. To just look like this dude it’s nearly £20.

Then they released Blood and Wine, definitely an expansion this time, that features a casual 20 hour at least campaign, new map, gear, missions and more. At £16.99 it’s the same price as a few more of the above.

Again perspective is great, Destiny recently released its much anticipated Beyond Light expansion and as some that has put in 1250 or so hours into Destiny 2 alone (probably 2000 with Destiny 1 included), I was confused with how little they added.

To look like a burger in fortnite costs the same as experiencing blood and wine

How did it come to this?

The expansion is around £35, again as a standalone and features 1 brand new location and 1 from the old game. Some new armour and weapons and 1 strike but a new subclass (or way to play the game of you’re unfamiliar). There’s a campaign of around 6 hours if you’re casual with it. All in all it’s a days worth of ‘new’ content (until the raid releases) before you’re playing the base game again.

So why the difference?

How has it become normal that a DLC is nothing more than a reskin of existing content or a minimal addition to the game?

Gone are the days that you would add another 25% of the game for a cost equal to that. It’s frustrating to see DLC passes cost £30 with little added. At this rate COD and FIFA are yearly dlc’s that equal a full price game.

Not all companies are as guilty as EA or Activision but there is certainly a trend to sell cosmetics as DLC content rather than make additional content. I know I would rather wait a year for a good DLC (or 4 years in my case) than 6 months to play the base game that looks different or 1 or 2 worth additions.

Blood and Wine btw, excellent. Great story, looks beautiful and the new bits to do and collect are time worthy (if that hasn’t come across already).

Lets hope with the inflation and hardware available that the passion returns and DLC’s become more meaningful to the games they are attached to and we throw away the high expectations and low delivery.

The Boys Season 2 – What Makes This Show So Good?

As Homelander stands there wanking off the highest perch he can find you think about this show and just the kind of cringe, rude, disgusting and quite frankly brilliant scenes it takes you through.

What’s really hard to do however is place your finger on the thing that makes it one of the best around at the moment. We talk about other shows and we say ‘how great is Dark’s story?‘ or ‘the acting in Game of Thrones is amazing‘ but with the boys you just *shrug emoji*.

Frenchie (left) is my favourite and he should be yours.

Season 2 is well aware at this stage of exactly what the show is and what it is not. In fact the show creator was quite vocal in placing it opposite the Marvel Universe and claiming that Marvel don’t do enough politically and make everything nicey nice.

Personally, I think fuck that opinion. Marvel do superhero, The Boys do head implosion or explosion and we like them all the same.

Season 2 of The Boys sees the gang continue to try and take down Vought through any means possible. The unlikely band of ”heroes’ mission includes working with Starlight, ex government officials, A-train and anyone they can find to release dirt on Vought to the media. After all Vought is largely a social media group that depend on publicity and acceptance so it’s the best way to expose them.

Their journey also becomes quite personal for different members. We explore more of the gang in particular Kimiko & Frenchie.

I hope Karen gets more in Season 3. She’s great, even without a character name.

In Vouhgts mission to make money and earn government support they try to rebuild the Seven that is now 4? (Black Noir, Homelander, Maeve & A-Train). Starlight is kinda an in between, so we won’t count her. They’re also making a movie because where would they be without Marvel, right?

To bolster the ranks they add Stormfront, an electric powered, Thor inspired bitch, sorry perfectly normal person. We are supposed to hate her, and it’s quite annoying how they go about it. Without throwing spoilers think of the horrible things she could be and she ticks most of them…

Her place is to make Vought popular which she is good at doing. As a good public speaker and down with the kids she is quickly making Homelander uncomfortable and complacent. He also has kid issues to deal with as well which puts him against Butcher pretty directly.

For however many episodes this show moves along being all gruesome and shit as it does. It’ll make you turn away for a different reason each episode and lets not talk about Doppleganger. But it is good.

Everything clicks in this show like well built Lego. Where some shows are gruesome they sometimes over do it. Some shows struggle to do rude without being cringe and this show is cringe. There’s humour and action and sex and sadness, it really has everything in the exact dose that it needs.

I would love to explore the powers more, but this show isn’t that and I don’t think we’ll understand Starlight’s power and Butcher summed that up for us perfectly.

Well that’s a shit power ain’t it.

Should you watch The Boys? Yes. Do you know why? Not really, but just do it, because it’s probably *right now* only second to shows like The Witcher or The Mandalorian.

The Haunting of Bly Manor

The follow up to Flanagans Haunting of Hill House shares a gothic love story that does well to be it’s own show and provide a story that’ll bring you to tears different ways.

The Haunting of Bly Manor takes us to a creepy manor house set in Bly, England as part of a ghost story told the night before a wedding in a castle. The narrator promises something captivating based on the fact that ghosts stories with a child are always more, but this one has two.

Bly Manor’s narrative is focused on Dani (Victoria Pendretti) taking the job as the new au pair for Bly Manors two resident children Flora and Miles. As Dani decides to walk into Bly Manor we are slowly introduced to the Manor itself. A creepy, old English manor house in the middle of nowhere. Although there is nothing to separate it from the countless of mansions set into the English countryside, this one still welcomes you with a shudder.

In the first episode the feeling of dread is quick to set in. Flanagan (the shows director and writer) does this with excellent work on framing the house and its gardens to feel gothic and through the children’s demeanours.

Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) is a pleasant young girl with her catchphrase of “perfectly splendid” at anything she likes. As she takes Dani on a tour it always seems that Flora isn’t quite the young girl she’s introduced as. Miles (Benjamin Ainsworth) on the other hand isn’t shy in hiding his all to adult posture and mannerisms. His forever pissed off facial expression will ensure you keep an eye on him.

We are also introduced to Hannah (T’Nia Miller) who is never really there and always caught staring off into the distance.

As Dani’s time in the Manor lengthens so do the creepy disturbances. However unlike Hill House, Bly isn’t trying to scare you at every turn of a corner, rather just creep you out. The scares are dialled right back in comparison to Hill House’s bent neck lady or Boiler Hat man for example. The kids are never set running from demons but more we are greeted by a shadowy figure lurking in the background.

The Manor, as it’s own character, forms a relationship with each resident that is unique. Whether it’s Dani unable to look at a reflection, Flora’s fascination with talking to ghosts or Mile’s shifting personalities and violence towards the residents, Bly makes sure that whether night or day the haunting is always present.

Bly Manor carries the horror in a different way than Hill House does. It’s not long before you realise that the relationships are what’s important to this story. Hannah and Owen (Rahul Kohli) in particular share a lot of chemistry and eventually so do Dani and Jamie (Amelia Eve).

One of the only struggles I found was tying in Henry’s story to Bly Manor. Henry, the child’s uncle played by Henry Thomas, deals with his own story of grief at a distance from Bly. Flanagan does his best to show us how someone’s grief can’t always be confronted and Henry’s performance is excellent but it always feels like a spin off.

Underneath all that Bly Manor has to offer is a love story, a dark, emotional love story of heartbreak. It’s biggest strength is the way that Flanagan tells the story of Bly Manor. Bringing back his time hopping from Hill House, he slowly reveals each characters actions and their reasoning. In particular Episode 5 showcases T’Nia Millers talents along with Rahul Kohli as they turn the storytelling upside down and reveal more than we’ve seen previously.

Episode 8’s black and white historic telling fills the final gaps that were left by Flanagan. The ensemble all have excellent acting throughout Bly Manor and do an excellent job to bring out the gothic tone of the original story Henry James wrote.

Verdict

Although the scares are traded for emotion, punctuated by Dani’s story, the show has just as much to offer as Hill House does. It carves it’s own story not to be weighted by the lofty expectations of Hill House and shows us that horrors are as diverse as they come.

The tears shed at the end are equal to those that you’ll have hiding from the Lady of the Lake but you might feel more comfortable to watch this story unfold than you did at Hill House.


Where to Watch: Netflix

Starring: Victoria Pedretti, Bejamin Ainsworth, Amelie Bea Smith, T’Nia Miller, Rahil Kohli, Amelia Evans, HenryThomas

Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller

Written By: Mike Flanagan

Directed By: Ciaran Foy, Mike Flanagan, Liam Gavin, Axelle Carolyn, Ben Howling, E.L.Katz & Yolana Ramke