Life is Strange: Before the Storm Review: You have no choice, because Chloe and Rachel have no chance

TLDR:

Overall–9.5/10

Graphics–8/10

Story–10/10

Action–9/10

Sass–11/10

 

SPOILER ALERTS for Life is Strange and Before the Storm

Every so often, a game or game franchise comes along that makes you say, “Oh damn,” then reevaluate your whole life. Life is Strange was one such game. The follow-up prequel story, Before the Storm, doesn’t have the same twists and turns, is such an endearing, compelling snapshot of the life of Chloe Price, who’s still reeling from her father’s death two years later, that it became an instant hit. Fans of the original and newcomers alike loved episode one–but many hated episode three for feeling like it rendered their choices irrelevant.

That’s part of what makes Before the Storm so great: You never had a chance, and your choices never mattered.

Given that Before the Storm is a prequel to the five-episode cult classic where Max Caulfield helps Chloe Price uncover the murder and hasty burial of Chloe’s girlfriend/arguable soul mate, this installment’s ending was obvious from the beginning. Of course it had to end the way it did. Whether you reunite Rachel with her birth mother, or help Chloe bridge the emotional divide between her and David, you never had even a slight possibility of really fixing any of their problems.

Why? Because you’re playing as a sixteen-year-old girl who’s trying to help a near-stranger (Rachel Amber) reconnect with her birth mother, avoid being murdered by a violent drug dealer, and keep Rachel’s mother from being murdered by that same drug dealer after her father paid him to kill said mother.

All this happens while Chloe is (potentially) expelled from school, while her mother’s overbearing boyfriend moves into their house and tries to exert authoritarian control over her, while dealing with the guilt of almost burning down the entire state of Oregon, and while assisting a low level dealer (Frank Bowers) in not ALSO getting murdered by the violent career criminal mentioned above.

Not to mention Chloe is still clearly dealing with severe PTSD and depression regarding her father’s death, and no one appears even remotely aware of the storm still ranging in her head. Mental illness, at the best of times, can be a crippling burden, bringing the most resilient and well-adjusted people to their knees.

Chloe, a teenager with no support structures, few friends (if any, really), and a slight drug problem (which I say only because pot’s still illegal in OR at the time of BTS), who is bullied at school by Victoria (and likely others), couldn’t have been expected to navigate the events of Before the Storm well on her own. The fact that she even SURVIVED is a miracle on par with Max’s ability to go back in time every six seconds to prevent saying something awkward during pretty much any given conversation.

So, despite that I, too, was disappointed by how restrictive the choices were throughout episode three, and the fact that the choices I made ultimately didn’t matter, that’s how Before the Storm had to end. Because you’re a sixteen-year-old freshly expelled from high school dealing with untreated mental illness, and that shit is god damn hard.

People go through less than her every single day, and not all of them make the right choices. Not all of their choices matter. Not all of them survive.

So yes, Life is Strange: Before the Storm ended with some stiff moments and unanswered questions (I still want to know how Rachel wound up involved with/taking semi-nude pictures for Frank), but that’s how it had to be. No teenager ever has full control over their life. Even less so, in a life full of drug dealers, schemers, and general criminal activity.

Chloe wasn’t trying to save the world, or even Arcadia Bay. Leave that to Max. Chloe just wanted to save Rachel, because she knew that was the only way to save herself. When Chloe found herself in a mental tempest, Rachel came along as the only ship to offer her a chance at keeping her head above water. Every action Chloe undertakes isn’t an attempt to calm the seas. She just wants to plug the holes threatening to sink her only boat. Rachel, likewise, isn’t trying to be a good person, or even keep Chloe afloat. She’s just trying to figure out why people keep lying to her, and what consequences the truth might bring.

So, in short, this is the one time I’ve played a visual story and felt it was actually good we didn’t have more choices. The fact that the ending locks Chloe into a specific path, beyond being necessary for original Life is Strange continuity, is the end result of her circumstances. She’s just a kid, fighting like hell against overwhelming odds to survive day-to-day existence, even though we, as the players, knew exactly that Before the Storm was leading to The Dark Room.

That’s why Deck Nine was right to not give us real choices: Chloe and Rachel never had a chance.

***

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Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.31.17: A review of 2017

Another year gone

But how can I measure change,

or quantify me?

–“Calendar Shift” A Haiku, by yours truly

 

2017 is pretty much over, and most people won’t read this. That’s okay–I’d actually prefer you didn’t, if you’re busy celebrating, meeting up with family, and all that fun stuff. If you skip my blog just to skip it, well, that’s okay too. Go live life as you see fit.

All things considered, it was a wild ride for me. I graduated Monmouth University with my Master’s, worked for the real NCIS (which, by the way, is not like the NCIS show, but was a lot like The Office), and had three novels accepted for publication in six months.

I am BEYOND excited. This January, I didn’t have resolutions, I just thought to myself, “This is going to be my year.” I thought maybe I’d get ONE novel published, but not three.

To recap:

My first was The Nightmare King, coming from Siren’s Call Publications. I got my start with this crew, and it’s an absolute pleasure to be publishing with my debut novel with them (ignoring the woeful self-pubbed novel I put out several years ago). This is a supernatural-psychological horror novel set in an overarching macroverse I like to work with, not unlike King’s repeated use of Castle Rock.

A month later, I followed up with At the Hands of Madness. This Lovecraftian-Kaiju Military horror-comedy romp (I can’t think of a shorter genre classification) is hopefully the first in a trilogy, assuming it sells well. We’ll see!

And, less than a week ago, I signed for my NaNoWriMo 2017 novel, These Walls Don’t Talk, They Scream to be published with HellBound Books, who I worked with for The Shopping Listan anthology where each story begins, literally, with the writer’s typical shopping list. My story, “The Cadenza,” featured a gay man who lost his arm due to a hate crime. Needless to say, by the end, he found a way to release his pent-up rage.

I also had work accepted to The Horror Zine, The Mad Scientist Journal, Worth a Thousand Words (An Ekphrastic anthology being independently edited/published by Delphine Quinn and company), Pleiades, The Digital Fiction Publishing Company, Rain Taxi, and a variety of anthologies.

Of things that came out this year, we have Sci-Phi Journal (237), Solstice Literary Magazine (Skin Music Review), Deadman’s Tome (Where the Missing Go), Transmundane Press (On Fire), Radiant Crown Publishing (Gaslandia), Mighty Quill Books (Dead of Winter), Siren’s Call Publications (Wicked Deeds, Monster Brawl), Fossil Lake (Fossil Lake IV: Sharkasaurus!), and Thunderdome Press (Dread State).  I got published alongside Ray Bradbury in that one, which is super cool. A number of shorter pieces also got picked up by The Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear and SCP’s The Siren’s Call.

I even got to work on a screenplay! Co-writing Human Report 85616 alongside Kevin North Ruiz was really fun. It’s currently wrapping production, and I’ll update more when it’s viewable.

So, what’s coming in 2018, you ask?

  1. I aim to get to 100 short story publications (reprints count).
  2. I’d like to have a book of short stories accepted for publication (doesn’t have to come out next year, just slated for release) (I have two leads on this).
  3. Ditto to a book of poetry (I have a lead on one, Painting the White City Red, already…)
  4. I’d like to revise and send out Before My Eyes, a slightly older novel set in the The Nightmare King macroverse (I have a publisher in mind).
  5. Same goes for Amphibia Maxima, a novella about ancient, car-sized, man-eating frogs (not in the macroverse) (got a publisher in mind here, too).
  6. Have a solo-written screenplay accepted for production.
  7. Appear on a podcast.
  8. Get my Twitter verified
  9. Branch out into noir and, maybe, extreme horror. We’ll see.

I have some fitness/cyborg goals, too, of course. I want to get back into routine yoga to fix my overly-tight legs/shoulders, then run a 5K at some point before June (deadlines, as we all know, are important). I’ll be considering the Freestyle Libre, as it comes highly recommended by a bunch of my cyborg friends on Instagram, but no promises. Insurance has to cover it. If it works out, I’ll update.

Naturally, I need a job. Gotta keep the lights on.

I’ll be crossing these off as I accomplish them, updating the list throughout the year. I’d love to hear yours, too! Drop a comment on your goals below, if you have them. Either way, thanks for stopping by. Have a great NYD and 2018!

Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.24.2017: Tattoos, glucometers, RFIDs, and Bloody Fingers

It’s Christmas Eve, and as always, I’m balancing the line between one type of survival and the other. Diabetes, formerly known as The Sugar Disease, was once only treated by fasting. Insulin hadn’t been made into a medication yet, so staving off fatal hyperglycemia meant ingesting an obscene amount of water and not eating for long stretches of time. For me, that means making sure my holiday food choices don’t lead to stubborn high blood sugars–hardly as serious a situation, but still a pain in the ass. Eat too little, and I’ll starve anyway; eat too much, and glucose issues will ruin the next day or two. Really bad choices, or innocent mistakes, will still kill me, no matter how advanced technology gets.

There are those even today who maintain a raw food vegan diet can “cure” type one diabetes. For a while, I believed this to be true, and even went vegan, though not fully raw. My insulin requirements dropped significantly, but I gave this venture up. A strict diet like this isn’t a cure–it’s a treatment. I won’t settle for anything less than a full cure, whether through stem cell work, viral vector transmission, or cybernetics.

In the meanwhile, diabetics like myself are all too familiar with glucometer use. You load a fine gauge needle, a lancet, into a penlet, then pwang, a spring quickly jabs into the the soft bed of your fingertip (print side, of course, not by the nails).

The likelihood of developing an easier, cost-effective solution is unlikely, so long as the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to keep lobbying for their preferred regulation. Diabetes is, after all, a very common and very profitable disease, so why make things easy for us, if we can all coat some company’s bottom line?

The closest we’ve come so far to avoiding fingerpricking altogether is a sensor, i.e. the Freestyle Libre, which is worn like a cross between an insulin pump infusion site and a nicotine  patch. I’m on the leaner/fitter side, so as I frequently tell my doctor, I don’t have the real estate for ANOTHER techy needle-patch-tube device. I’ll still consider it, but for now, I’m holding off.

What would’ve been really cool is if we could get the RFID implant off the ground. Not a lot of money goes into funding that research, but imagine implanting a grain of rice in your forearm, or the soft tissue between your thumb and forefinger, and poof, no more needles! Well, none for your fingers. Cool, huh?

MIT researchers also recently developed biometric tattoo ink that changes colors based on blood composition, but it has no plans for testing and trial. With all due respect, why the hell not?

While I’d love an Outsider-style, color-changing/light-up tattoo that could broadcast, “Hey, bro, eat a banana so you don’t die,” this sort of future seems far off. Whether because of a lack of profitability, lack of research money, or lack of interest, these developments all take a backseat to something like the Libre. An RFID or Biometric tattoo would (ideally) be a one-time investment, while a Continuous Glucose Monitor only lasts 1-2 weeks, providing consistent recurring payments for the duration of, well, the patient’s life.

Will we see a future where someone (*cough, me, cough*) could augment themselves to the point of either not having diabetes, or barely noticing it? Probably. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Chronic illness is a marathon, and every other runner is a grain of sand passing through the sieve of your hourglass. Move too slow, and time will run out.

Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.17.17: Phoenix flames, net neutrality, writing, and other current events

Those who burn the world,

And keep boots upon our necks,

Will choke on their smoke.

–Comeuppance, a haiku, by yours truly

I may be one of the only people around who enjoys tinnitus.

Now, that doesn’t mean I LOVE it, just that I don’t find it as inconvenient as others seem to. In fairness, I don’t hear a high-pitched ringing, so much as a rapidly oscillating pulse. I’m not sure what the frequency is, but if I had more time, I’d perform some experiments to find out. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Fortunately, it’s not the same tone as my insulin pump, and the sound only goes off intermittently anyway, so it’s not like this little plastic pancreas will run out of batteries and I won’t realize until my glucose hits 400. Even in sleep, I’m pretty good about hearing it. When health and survival depend on a single shrill tone, or the hum of an artificial ‘organ’ against your hip, you learn not to sleep too deeply.

Yet, for all my restlessness and insomnia, that steady wubwubwubwub in my ears lulls me to sleep. Good thing, too, because Net Neutrality has me–and, from what I understand, 83% of America–worried.

As a freelance writer, a lot of my future depends on my ability to get work out there. I’m not the only one, and I’m lucky, in the sense that my livelihood doesn’t depend on this yet. While I’m trying to build a Patreon page, sure, representation looks like my most assured path to making a career out of what I love to do. Until then, I keep the day job, which offers a slightly livable wage and, more importantly, insurance.

All I can offer those who might see their income impaired is pity and prayers. As someone who would’ve died at the age of two if not for scientific advancement, I know prayers only take you so far. I do believe in something, but I believe it helps those who help themselves. No one’s getting cured by accident or miracle. We develop, adapt, and overcome, or we succumb.

Maybe I’m cynical, but come hold my pancreas for a moment, then tell me your worldview.

Let’s see, writing and reading news: I read through Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters this week. An admirable collection of giant monster fiction. It does contain four works by the two editors, but three of those four are fairly original, and pretty good. A few other names repeat. If you like kaiju and can’t wait for Pacific Rim Uprising, you ought to check this out.

I’ve also been hired to narrate four audiobooks. I’ll post more info when they’re closer to release, but long story short, they’re sci-fi works set in an android-ridden, drug-fueled, capitalist hellscape. I suppose my tech interests and gravelly voice made the writer think I’m a perfect choice, and hey, it’s been a lot of fun. Writing’s fun, too, but getting to contribute to another’s work, while getting me back into performing at the same time, has been great. I’m glad to have this opportunity.

Final notes: I sent out new flash fiction work to a contest, as well as to a Santa themed anthology. I don’t discuss details on non-accepted work, but “Maul Santa” will be appearing in Shades of Santa, a charity anthology put out by Things in the Well.

Soon, you’ll also be able to catch “Body and Soul” in the next issue of The Siren’s Call, a story about a man who dies in his sleep, and wanders his house as a ghost while his reanimated corpse wreaks havoc. If you just can’t wait, check out “Weighing Feathers” in the current issue. No spoilers, but let’s just say, I love reanimation–you’re just not always going to get zombies.

I’ll hopefully have more news soon. I’ve got poems out in a few markets, a few short stories being considered, a novella, two novels, and two short story collections being considered. I’d slow down, but I’ve lost interest in video games, so what else am I going to do with my time?

Besides, I’ve got a database to keep my head straight.

Obviously, life stands to change quite a bit soon, and that might impact all of our work, not just my own, but don’t any of you give up. There’s still plenty of time to sue to FCC, or have Net Neutrality pushed through via Congress, regulated by our federal legislature instead of a 5-person committee headed by a former Verizon lawyer.

Remember: if you can’t stop the world from burning, bring that fire into your heart, and scorch a path to a better tomorrow. Get out there, protest, and by all 5,000 of human kind’s gods, vote! Vote in every single election. Show the incumbent their positions are not secure. Show corporations that they do not get to dictate what is best for this nation.

The future is not decided by one person, by five, or by 535. It’s decided by all of us, every day. So get out there and make a choice.

 

#Videogame #review #Hellblade @NinjaTheory #horror

Let’s get it out on the table: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the type of game I would’ve wanted Silent Hills to be. Not the exact game, mind you–I’d expect an SH installment to have more endings–but the degree to which Ninja Theory lovingly, carefully dropkicks the player into Senua’s broken mind is nothing short of majestic.

A significant degree of Hellblade’s marketing focused on capturing psychosis correctly (and, of course, the beautiful graphics). It’s great to see a game developer put so much care into the construction of a game’s plot, setting, and characterization that they consulted with psychologists and the mentally ill alike.

This care pays off quite well. Hellblade is full of both subtle moments of psychological tension, and direct freight-train-to-the-face moments of genuine horror, where the player doubts not only reality, but Senua herself.

Most are already aware of this, so I’ll address the most obvious element: the warning in the beginning of the game that repeated failure will result in permadeath, erasing the save file. Some were angered by this announcement, while others were angered by the fact that, apparently, no such system exists. You can die many times, but as far as anyone’s been able to figure out, nothing will permakill you.

That’s actually one of the most genius parts of this game. By terrorizing the player with such a deception, Ninja Theory instills the same existential dread Senua herself feels at all waking moments: that her failure will result in the destruction of Dillion’s soul, and her own being dragged down to Hel, her existence erased by the fact that there’s no one left to mourn or miss her.

Granted the savvy player might realize this very early on, because the warning says ‘failure,’ not death, will result in her destruction, and the black rot that symbolizes this failure grows during plot events, not so much after deaths. It took me roughly four deaths–all at the hands of the God of Illusion–to deconstruct this otherwise brilliant device and remove a significant amount of my own tension from the experience.

Hellblade, as a game, is broken into two parts: combat and puzzle solving. Ninja Theory is known for precise combat, but those who were a fan of their take on the Devil May Cry series will be a little disappointed. While the combat here is rendered well and feels very realistic to Senua’s characterization, those who fell in love with the fluidity of DMC’s action-packed, bass-thumping, mayhem-driven combat system will find Hellblade a bit formulaic and repetitive.

The puzzles are very interesting perspective-based events that fit well into the story, but unfortunately, the long puzzle-solving stretches, limited combat variance, and intensely narrative nature of this game limit the replay value. That first run through, though, is god damn amazing. 

Ultimately, how much value you get out of subsequent playthroughs will depend on whether you want to turn the ‘auto’ combat difficulty to hard, if you have any collectibles to round up, and if you played with headphones on the first time (In the words of Shia LaBeouf: DO IT!).

However, this game’s first run through alone is worth the thirty dollars it currently costs. Between the graphics so beautiful you’ll literally stop playing just to look around, and the heart-stopping moments of Senua’s descent into madness, Hellblade is easily one of the most ambitious and well-executed games I’ve played in my entire life. While I’ll be waiting for a DMC 2 (unpopular opinion, I know), I sincerely hope they get license to make the next Silent Hill. They’d nail it. No doubt at all.

Three reasons #TheBindingofIsaac might be the most #zen #game ever @edmundmicmillen

Life is suffering, and death is inevitable. Buddhism (as well as many other eastern philosophies) teaches that these two statements are parts of the, if not the entire, core of the human experience. After all, nothing is more certain than the fact that, eventually, the universe will self-destruct and everything we know will be erased.

Let’s avoid nihilism, at least for a moment. For those of you not familiar, The Binding of Isaac is a phenomenal game with high replay value. It’s also one of the most shockingly adult games I’ve ever played, with an all-too-brief story of a boy names Isaac whose mother has a psychotic episode and believes God is telling her that Isaac has become corrupted/sinful/impure.

She takes his toys and clothes, and shaves his head, but the voice commands her to kill him, much like how God commands Abraham to kill his son, also Isaac, in The Bible. Our Isaac, though, finds escape through a strange trapdoor in his room which basically leads to an ever-changing hellscape full of monsters. “Mom” is a boss, as is “Mom’s Heart” and “It Lives,” which is basically a vengeful fetus god (lookin’ at you, Silent Hill 3).

Given that your main attack is to shoot tears at the enemies until they die, and many pickups hurt Isaac (by actively damaging him or causing him emotional/bodily distress, making his tears larger/more powerful), it’s clear to see that this game isn’t for the faint of heart. But, despite its incredible learning curve and difficulty scale, it’s the most meditative gaming experience I’ve ever had.

Death is Inevitable

Sticking with this for a moment, I go in expecting to die. Did I get blown away on the first level? No problem! I figured that might happen. Die at the final boss? Well, heck, at least I made it that far, and I know better for next time. I’ve gotten blasted at the last second so many times that I recently had a perfect run (no damage) during the battle against Mom’s Heart, generally known as a Bullet Hell.

Steam user Lunick says, “**** this game,” but I say, “If I’m still alive in twelve seconds, I’m eating a whole victory cheesecake.”

Life is Suffering

The Binding of Isaac uses a couple different sacrifice mechanics, ranging from donating health to get money, which can be donated (for unlockables), spent at shops, or given to beggars (for gifts), all the way to actually sacrificing yourself by impaling Isaac on spikes in given rooms. (Brief note: he’s, like, five. Maybe younger. This game is brutal.)

 

Why is this zen? Because it teaches you not to be prideful by holding onto all that extra health, especially if you’ve left pickups behind in other rooms. Sure, if you’re on your last heart container, I recommend visiting a Great Fairy getting some more health before forking over the rest to a Demon Beggar, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve given away most of my life force only to surge back and obliterate all before me.

You are One with Everyone

Isaac is technically the only character in the game, but he takes on the forms of different Biblical characters, like Azazael, Samson, and Lilith (in the new, disgustingly-perfectly-named Afterbirth expansion). He’s always Isaac, yet shares the collective knowledge and experience of these other figures (doubly so, considering unlockables and donations carry across all runs in a given save file).

Buddhism teaches this very same concept: that we share in the collective experience of all mankind. Good things that happen to one of us happen to all of us; trauma and danger–like a child’s mother trying to kill the child–harm everyone, hence why all these other figures are trapped in the magical door to hell too.

Those are my thoughts on this game. What are yours? Give me a shout in the comment section!

Some things @theevilwithin did right, and some it did very wrong #videogames #horror

I’ve been replaying The Evil Within on my PS4 and, as I did the first time, really enjoyed some of the gameplay. Since I’m a pretty critical gamer, I can’t help but praise it–and chastise its creators for some glaring oversights and easily avoidable flaws. Let’s check this out.

Good: Run for your Life

There aren’t a lot of games out there with quality chase sequences, but when done right, those games deserve a thumbs up. The Evil Within is one such game, offering several “Run or you’ll die” moments, many of which are complicated by traps, offering even more ways to get brutally torn into a thousand pieces.

Bad: PS2-Grade Controls

Between a white-knuckled grip on the shake-cam and controls that feel more at home in Silent Hill than a PS3/PS4 title, you’re likely to slam Detective Castellanos into so many walls you’ll wish he was locked in a padded cell so he didn’t keep hurting himself. I’m not suggesting it should’ve been an Assassin’s Creed-style “turn so fast your legs skitter out to the sides” sensitivity, but god damn, this guy turns slower than a cruise liner.

Good: Interesting Monsters

Between the variety of disfiguration the main enemies suffer, The Keeper, The Four-Armed Teleporting Kayako, and the grotesque bosses, there are quite a few baddies to look at while the Detective gets murdered.

Bad: The hell do they look like?

Between the aforementioned herky-jerk camera, intentionally grainy screen, and the background environments, there’s barely any time to actually see what you’re shooting, and when you do see it, it blends into the background. Fuzzy texturing and an over-emphasis on gritty world-building left the creatures feeling lack-luster.

Good: Atmospheric Tension

Some of the early environments do a great job of capturing that survival horror feel, especially if you’re low on green gel and haven’t bought many upgrades.

Bad: They Completely Forget About Tension Halfway Through

Call of Duty style shootouts and an increasing reliance on bosses or subbosses to keep the game challenging cause atmosphere to go right out the window. Bonus Bad: Survival horror ammo scarcity, massive shootouts, and a camera that shakes harder than a fault line during a volcanic eruption gets frustrating very fast.

Ugly: The Main Character is a Moron

I was pretty disappointed with Det. Castellanos’s character. He spends half the game asking obvious questions, and the other half making idle, unthinking remarks. At one point, he even refers to “that red liquid.” …That liquid is called blood, detective.

However, the acting is very well done, and kudos for bringing in Jennifer Carpenter for Nicole Kidman. As a huge fan of Dexter, there’s a certain appeal to having her in the game.

Ugly: Too much Resident Evil

I love Resident Evil, and I’m all for homage, but between Evil being in the name, the final boss getting blown away by a rocket launcher, and the fact that it uses the iconic “zombie hunkered over, eating someone, then turning around slowly while the lights flash” TWO TIMES, I found myself wondering why I didn’t just play RE.

Even the subbosses are copied straight out of RE4, including fighting two giant troll things at basically the same time (El Giganto), a water-dwelling beast that you can’t directly kill (El Lago), and a subordinate of a major boss that uses ground hazards and extreme physical power (Salazar’s Right Hand).

But, when the game actually tries to be its own experience, rather than a fan-service clone, it handles really well.

Ugly: Troped-up Female

There are only two women in the game. Kidman plays the damsel in distress and the femme fatal, while Ruvik’s sister, aka Four-Armed Kayako, is the woman-as-monster. There’s no redeeming element here, and I’ve knocked a full point off its score for that.

Do I recommend this game? Yes. I wouldn’t say I love it, but I definitely enjoy playing, and have bought it twice. It’s not perfect–six and a half out of ten, at best–and it won’t give any seasoned horror fans nightmares, but it’s worth a few playthroughs. If you haven’t tried it, and you’ve got a little spare time/money, give it a look.