Until Dawn: Review

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: This game is currently free to download of the PSNetwork!

This weekend I spent most of my Friday night doing what any respectable 24 year old should be doing…playing a horror video game. I would like to say that I only did the game in sporadic play-throughs but no…I finished the game in maybe two nights. The first night, I had only just started, the story hadn’t begun to ramp up yet and I was tired. But the second night, I could NOT put the controller down. I needed to see how it ended and how I did overall.

General synopsis

Until Dawn is a 2014 horror game that tells the story of a group of teenagers. The story begins with them all playing a prank on one of the girls, who in her humiliation runs out onto the mountain, in the middle of winter and ends up getting lost. Her sister goes looking for her, only for them to fall down the mountain to their deaths. Fast forward a year, and the same group of friends are back at the mountain to pay their respects and honouring their friends’ memories. The characters are all varying degrees of generic teenagers: there’s a lot of angst, lots of unrequited love, lots of love triangles and therefore lots of drama BESIDES impending death and destruction. This game gives you the chance to play as every character, each taking their turn to play out the story as it is happening.

The Butterfly Affect aspect

The Butterfly Effect is the idea that one little decision or action can drastically alter the future: A flutter of a butterfly’s wings could cause a horrific storm 300 miles away. While it is far-fetched to think about it is still a really interesting idea, that all of our actions and our choices shape how our life turns out: One little chance meeting with someone on a train could mean you meet the love of your life, or being a few minutes late in the morning meant you never met that person to begin with. Until Dawn made it a bit more serious than that, making it very much a life or death situation, and the fact that the choices are timed forces you to make split second decisions that can alter the course of events following it. In the case of Until Dawn, this can determine whether or not the character you are playing as lives or dies.

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Game play itself

The game is similar to a telltale series game: Lots of cut scenes, lots of time to investigate places, quick time events and of course, timed choices. I am absolutely not a good person when it comes to shooting games, because try a I might I can not aim to save my life. These types of games suit me better: They feel like I’m watching a movie that I get to interact with, rather than having to try and beat countless enemies and complete quests. The story is awesome, as it keeps you really invested in what is happening: The only reason I stayed up for so long was because I needed to find out what would happen next.

The horror

This game is indeed a horror game though. It has jump scares galore, monsters that are scary as all hell and some genuinely tense moments: One of the scariest tasks is having to remain absolutely still (The PS4 controller has a motion sensor in it!) when a huge, screaming monster is circling you. The scares are also relatively clever, and are only used when really needed to progress the story forward. While some scares are very early on and are usually anti-climactic, it all helps to create that feeling of ‘horror’ within this game: What the characters go through, you go through as the player.

Image result for until dawn gifsJust one of the horrible deaths that can occur through bad decision making

The characters

Most importantly though, the characters are multi-dimensional: One of my favourite characters actually came across as the biggest jerk in the beginning, but as the game progresses and you start to see the consequences of your actions, the characters become far more important to you…some can even become LESS important to you when you see how they react to little choices you make. This game gets you invested from the get-go and I think that is what’s so enjoyable about it. Each character has their own set of personality traits, and you can also keep track on how every character views each other: Who is mad at who, who is fond of who, and who is most likely to leave you for dead just because you chose a seemingly small option. The characters are also surprisingly vast in personalities and it is nice to see them change throughout the course of the game.

Image result for until dawn gifsSam (played by Hayden Panettiere) and Josh (played by Rami Malek)

Overall?

Well worth a play! The game itself may not be an overly long game, but with the amount of stress you go through you’ll probably be thankful for it! It is a very fun game either way, and the fact that every decision leads to a different series of events, the ending can be different each time you play it. It’s fun just to see how each decision can change things and, more importantly, which decisions ultimately do nothing even though it seems like a super hard choice.

Have any of you guys played it? Let me know below your views on the game 🙂

T xx

 

Jaws: Book vs Film

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that Jaws was a damn good movie. I saw it for the first time when I was about ten and I don’t think I took another bath ever again: Literally any body of water that I could submerge myself in was a no-go for fear of shark attack. I was ten…leave me alone. Recently in a little charity store I found the book of Jaws by Peter Benchley, and I have noticed quite some stark differences in them both.

SPOILER ALERT IN PLACE.…if you have not seen Jaws, or wish to read the book, do not read further!

1. The people

In the book, the most appealing character of the whole story is the shark. The people of Amity are seriously xenophobic: Anyone that is not from Amity is simply there for money-making. The whole town relies on the summer tourists visiting the town and the beach so much that everyone there has to struggle through the winter to afford to stay in a relatively expensive seaside town. The houses are all rented out to summer folk, businesses hike up prices, and the main beach is opened to attract everyone even though there’s a man-eating shark around. The town is also pretty corrupt: There is only one journalist who runs the local newspaper, and he is best friends with the chief of police and the Mayor. The Mayor is also funded, it turns out, by some New York mobsters before they invested so much

Even the main characters are pretty nasty people. In the film, the main characters are pretty likeable: Brody is your run-of-the-mill chief of police, keen on public safety and a loving relationship with his happy wife and happy children. In the book, he is blunt, old fashioned and, most of the time, drunk. His wife, Ellen, is bitter, yearning for her younger years of rich friends and socialite lifestyle. Hooper is a cocky and womanising young man, who’s arrogance is almost as high as his IQ. The only character is somewhat endearing in his unlike-ability is Quint, the aged shark hunter, and only because he makes no apologies for who he is: He knows he’s a bit of work, but owns it.

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2. The affair

One of the main things that the film doesn’t cover is the affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody. Having known each other as upper class children, Ellen begins to fantasise about having a fling with Hooper. He is everything that she feels she left behind when she chose to marry Brody and live in Amity: rich lifestyle, fancy dinners, big social events, and a high profile name. Hooper doesn’t say no, but throughout the book Hooper is simply your generic rich-kid: He is used to not being told what to do and so very rarely will do what is needed. He and Ellen, while it only lasts for one night, go about their affair with blatant disregard for Brody. But at the same time, Brody is such a detached husband you almost can’t really blame Ellen for wanting someone more attentive. In the end, the very brief fling makes Ellen realise how lucky she is to have Brody and how much she does love him. Plus…well it’s not like the affair could continue…

3. The deaths

While the film hit most of the key deaths – the opening scene is quite possibly iconic in the horror world – the book has a few extra ‘deaths’ that the film played on slightly. In the book, the only deaths that are really talked about are, obviously, the very first attack on Christine Watkins and then the death of little Alexander Kintner. Every other death is only simply guessed upon: When Ben Gardener fails to communicate with base while he is out on his boat, people assume he has been eaten. The fact that no body is ever found also convinces everyone that he has been eaten by the huge shark. In the film, the floating severed head coming out of the boat sort of confirms that he is absolutely shark-meat, but the book seems to try and high light how paranoid the little town is becoming. Furthermore, even when the main characters die – Hooper is actually bitten in half by the shark when he is in the shark cage, and Quint is dragged under the water and drowned when his foot gets tangled up in a harpoon rope – you don’t really acre that they’ve died. If anything, I was almost proud of the shark for ending the lives of such horrible characters.

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4. The shark itself

The book did a wonderful job of making the shark seem like the innocent victim in the situation. He is just a fish, surprisingly clever for a ‘mindless predator’, who is simply just trying to have some dinner and survive. The attitudes in the book highlight just how old the book really is: Written in 1974 the book plays hugely off of the general scariness of sharks. In modern day, and most likely due to the huge success of the film, more and more people are realising that sharks are not mindless killers, that they have intricate and complicated lives that we are still learning about to this days. The solitary lifestyle is something that the book plays on, making it seem that this fish has picked this little town to terrorise. In reality, sharks very rarely attack people, and of these attacks few are ever fatal. When it comes to sharks it is having respect for the sharks home: Don’t swim near seals, if attacked/if a shark gets to close punch it on the nose, or stay close to shore within sights of a life guard. The book (and to some extent the film) is very old fashioned in its view that sharks are nothing but viscous predators, but to some extent that’s what made this book so enjoyable to read.

Final thoughts?

The book is a great read: Story aside Peter Benchley writes in such a way that you can not put the book down. Even just reading about a dinner party he can create tension so thick that you need to keep reading to find out what horrible thing happens. The book constantly puts the reader on edge and has you reading way into the early hours of the morning because you just can’t tear yourself away from it. The film is also excellent: I don’t think I would have researched sharks as much as I have done over the years if not for this film scaring the absolute pants off me when I was 10. Both do an excellent job of telling the same story, but simply with different end goals in mind: The film wants you to cheer for Amity, while the book wants you to cheer for the shark.

Which version did you guys prefer? Let me know in the comments below and follow me for more comparisons! 

T xx

The importance of Pride

So this weekend was PRIDE weekend in London…and I feel it needs to be celebrated! July is also PRIDE month, and it is also something I feel very strongly about. I feel it’s important to acknowledge how far our society has come and how it has changed over the years.

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First off, I would like to clear the air of something: I am not gay, nor do I really fall anywhere on that spectrum of sexuality. At least, I wouldn’t say I would. I am pure hetero and so while PRIDE does not hold as significant a place in my own being, I am very proud to live in a society where everyone is welcome and where love is, quite simply, love. I do not believe that people ‘need’ labels but I also appreciate that many people like to have labels as a way of identifying themselves. Being the lovey dovey ball of equality that I like to think I am, as long as you are happy and you are healthy, then keep on doing you!

The power of PRIDE

It is no secret that the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) have had a very rough time of things throughout history: In some parts of the world this is still seen, where those who are gay are seen as ‘sinful’, ‘unnatural’ and even ‘disgusting’ by some societies and cultures. However, as people became more understanding and more accepting of these different sexual orientations, society as a whole began to view them in a new light. PRIDE is a way for society to celebrate how much has changed and every year these changes are becoming more and more plentiful. Granted, it may be a slow process at times, but as long as we continue moving forward then we are moving in the right direction!

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Why is this important?

I am a strong believer that people should never feel embarrassed or ashamed of who they are as a person. I only have two rules when it comes to sexuality: 1) It must be legal and 2) there must always be consent. Granted, these two things go hand in hand…if there is no accepted consent, then this is can not be legal, and that is when I have a problem with it. I am all for self-expression and self-discovery and I appreciate that this is not always a quick process. I am a very open-minded person and (I like to think) I do not judge people based on what their sexual preference is: You like whips and chains? Go for gold. You want to wait for marriage? Good on you! You want to dress up as a giant panda and have sex with other people dressed as foxes and badgers? You do you Boo. I believe that this is important to acknowledge because, whether we like to admit it or not, our sexual orientation makes up quite a large part of our identity and is something that should be talked about more in society. I am not saying we need to have sit down, in depth discussions about what everyone likes done to them in the bedroom, but I also don’t think that people shouldn’t celebrate their love simply because it is not considered the societal norm of the time.

PRIDE is also important because it helps to celebrate something that is very rarely seen in the news: Love. Pure and simple love. The news is always full of such horrible and depressing stories that it can be hard to see any good in the world half the time, and the media like to create panic and fear in society, because then we continue to buy papers and listen to the news so we can see if these things will ever end. But I think PRIDE allows everyone, in every nation and (mostly) every country, to celebrate all that we have in common with each other rather than the differences. I may not understand what it is like to be attracted to someone of the same gender, but I do understand love. I understand, in my hopeless romantic way, that everyone has someone out there for them and that should never be forgotten.

Can we progress more?

Absolutely. Society is always changing and with every new generation there is more discussion about what it means to be human. In recent years, the discussion around gender especially is becoming more and more prominent in society. The idea of being ‘gender fluid’ or even ‘gender less’ is no longer such an abstract concept, because we now live in a society where ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things’ are becoming more intertwined. One of the ways society lately is accepting this concept was when the MTV Movie Awards did away with ‘Best Actress’ and simply had ‘Best Actor’, even more fitting that Emma Watson who founded the HeForShe campaign won it for her role in ‘Beauty and the Beast’!

Image result for emma watson mtv gifsG’warn girl!

Final thoughts

What I would like to say to everyone, is that you should never be ashamed of who you are. I wish I had learnt this lesson when I was younger because it would have helped me avoid some truly horrific years of self-loathing and bad habits. Love should always be celebrated and no matter who it is that you love, celebrate that! I also don’t mean love in the strict romantic term, as one of my ‘Great Loves’ is actually my best friend! Love each other, and treat each other with understanding, respect and an open mind. Treat everyone how you would hope to be treated, and if peop

 

le can not do that for you, then you don’t need those kinds of people in your life.

Image result for pocahontas walk the footsteps of a stranger

What does PRIDE mean to you? Let me know in the comments, and follow me for more discussions and debates.

T xx

Does gore still mean scary?

In modern day pop culture, it seems that if something is ‘gory’ then it will automatically be ‘scary’. But is this really true?

I will be the first to admit that I am a pretty squeamish person: I passed out twice just getting my ears pierced so you can imagine what I’m like around actual blood! But that being said, I don’t find blood ‘scary’ as such. I don’t have nightmares about blood rivers down corridors, or get freaked out by Red Weddings (well, I do but not for this reason!). Grossed out, sure…scared? Not so much.

Image result for horror film gifsScary, or just plain gross?

Why is blood considered scary?

For one thing, having an actual phobia of blood is one of the most common phobias around so this may be why horror movies, scary games and Halloween costumes have relied so heavily on it to be a scare tactic. No one really knows why it’s a phobia (early childhood trauma or just something on the inside now being on the outside?) but with so many people affected by it, it is a very easy tactic to go for. Plus, it’s relatively easy to make fake blood: Any costume shop will have a fake blood pack, or failing that you can find a simple recipe online that can save you a couple of quid.

Does it still work?

Personally, I don’t find blood scary. As i said before, it grosses me out but it doesn’t scare me. Most of my friends when asked this question, they agree that blood is gross rather than scary. The reason most people don’t want to watch ‘slasher’ films is because the blood makes them feel queasy, and most chances you spend your time waiting for the gore to be over rather than paying attention to the story. Now I will admit that in some cases, blood can help a movie: The very first Saw for example, was amazing! It had the right amount of gore to keep you interested as well as lending to the story arch of increasing desperation. But everyone can agree that as the franchise went on, it became more focused on how imaginative the deaths were rather than whether it actually add to the story.

Have we become desensitised?

I like a good horror film, but I love a bad horror film. On Netflix, Amazon Prime, even some TV channels, they all have a wonderful selection of B-Class horror movies. Story aside (if there even is a story) the ‘horror’ aspect of it is normally nothing more than blood and guts. But these days, it almost seems the aim to make the gore so shocking that it is laughable…the more blood used in a death scene and the funnier it seems to become. And i don’t mean funny in a ‘haha jokes’ I mean…it is just laughable in it’s absurdity. But are we becoming desensitised to this type of ‘violence’ or is it simply because it is so over the top we automatically know that this can not be real? While blood is far more common in all films these days (especially those with some sort of violence), we as a society seem pretty sturdy when it comes to blood and guts. However because we are so used to seeing blood even in our TV shows, horror movies now have to go above and beyond with the ‘gore factor’ in order to truly scare us. It seems that most horror movies theses days though are aiming to be so outlandish that they’ll become cult classics, or have to steer clear of blood all together to even be taken seriously in the franchise.

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What makes for the best horror?

While we all watch a film to see something that is very different to our normal everyday  lives, the joy of horror movies is that they all try to play on the reality: These movie scenes have to convince us that they can happen in real life in order for us to be scared of them in the first place. The more camp the horror, the less likely we are to be scared of it. Some of the best horror films (at least, the best in my opinion) are the ones that play on our reality in order to make us fear that what we have just seen could very well happen to us.

How do you guys feel about gore in horror films? Let me know in the comments, and recommend your favourite for me to watch this weekend!

If you liked this article, please have a look at some of my other articles and make sure to subscribe and follow me!

T xx

Veganism: Common questions answered

 

Before I went vegan, I had a whole heap of health problems: I was constantly tired, always exhausted, my skin was terrible and I had so many issues with my stomach it became the norm to just be in pain with it. I was vegetarian for 7 years prior, but only after cutting out diary and eggs did all of my health problems more or less fix themselves. Yet despite my vast health improvements, my mental improvements and my overall happiness, I am always greeted with the same responses whenever I tell someone that I’m vegan. So I thought I would share these with you, and how I combat them.

Image result for vegan gifsIn case you didn’t know…this ^^^ is meant in sarcasm 😉

“Where do you get your protein?”

This is one of the most common questions that vegans are asked. All of a sudden, people become very concerned with the amount of protein that you are eating as there seems to be the understanding that ‘protein deficiency’ is something very common. It isn’t. In most cases, protein deficiency is not a real thing: Yes you can have low levels of protein, but the only way you can truly become protein deficient is when you are deficit in EVERYTHING else, or in other words, are seriously malnourished or starving. In modern day society, the only reason a person would be lacking protein is because they are not eating enough of the right thing: Beans, tofu, lentils, even certain types of vegetables have enough protein in them to meet your daily targets.

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“But our ancestors ate meat…”

Yes…meat that they hunted down and killed with their bare hands, used the skins for their clothes, and lived in caves…it’s a bit different. Your ancestors also believed that the Earth was flat, that women aren’t people and that blacks should be the slaves of white people. Your ancestors lived in times where food was scarce, where foraging for their next meal was all that they spent their time doing and would normally eat more fruit and veg than meat for the most part (mostly because berries don’t fight back when you grab them). Your ancestors didn’t let women vote until 1918, but that was only if they were over 30. Your ancestors also believed that university was for the super rich, and that the idea of premarital sex was punishable by flogging, whipping and stoning. Your ancestors didn’t think that marital rape was a crime until around the 1960s. Your ancestors, quite literally, are monkeys. When I hear this excuse I can’t help but laugh, because just as everything else in history has changed, so will our attitudes towards animals and the environment change.

Related imageOh Scott Pilgrim ❤

“But if we didn’t eat cows, they would overrule us”

I like this idea that all of the cows in the world are currently planning world domination, and are waiting for us to stop eating them to begin the uprising. It’s hilarious! I just picture cows in factory farms with little blueprints, planning Mission Impossible style. In reality, veganism is not a movement that will enact change overnight: No change has ever had effects overnight. Veganism is the gradual movement to a cruelty free lifestyle, and as such is something that will gradually over time become more normalised. Due to this, factory farms will get smaller and smaller as the demand for meat slowly declines, and as such not as many animals will be bred to keep up with these demands.

“But if you lived on a desert island, would you eat animals?”

This is another one of those unrealistic scenarios. If I am ever unfortunate enough to end up on a desert island with NOTHING to eat but a pig, yes I would eat it, as a matter of survival…as would every single other person in that situation! But how did the pig get there? Are there berries or fruits on the island that the pig has been eating that I could eat? How am i going to kill the pig? Am I supposed to wrestle it to the floor and rip it apart with my bare hands? Do I have a knife? Can I make a spear? How did I end up on this island, by myself, with no other means off of the island, with no supplies ANYWHERE to be found? This is one of those situations where context is key: Am I on a desert island now? No? Oh…well are there thousands of other alternatives to eating animal products? Oh there are…hmm…I think i’ll go the most harmless route then.

“So do you believe in complete freedom?”

Now this is a rare one, but the fact that I’ve been asked this at all baffles me. Why is this asked as though this is a bad thing?! The thing about being vegan is that it is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet: I didn’t go on this diet to lose weight (I actually think I’ve put on weight thanks to the yummy vegan chocolate and junk food I can find!) but rather to live a life that spoke to me. I went vegan so that my actions coincide with my ideology. If you want to read a bit more about this, I wrote a previous blog post about why I went vegan so feel free to have a little browse of that too! In short, you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat and as far as I have noticed, all vegans I have met are wonderfully open minded individuals who just have a lot of love to give and have a lot of care to show the world. I have also noticed them to be genuinely very happy and go-lucky people, who take everything in their life as a new experience that they are grateful for. And if that makes me a weirdo for believing in that kind of lifestyle, then I think I can live with that.

In summary…

Simply put, we are all living in a society where veganism is no longer this weird and hippy-ish ideology…it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s good for your conscious and it is now SUPER easy to live a cruelty free lifestyle, without really having to think about it. No matter what your reasons though, I would like to mention that just with this, as with all things in our world, education is the KEY to success. There are hundreds of amazing resources out there to help educate you on animal agriculture, your health and your mental well being, and even if they don’t convince you to try veganism, you’ll have definitely learnt something new…which is never a bad thing!

If you have thought about going vegan or even have some questions about it, feel free to ask away! Also, I’m trying to get into the flow of writing more often so if you want to keep up to date with me, subscribe! I would like that rather a lot 🙂

T xx

Best horror games

If you love a puzzle…

Limbo is actually a pretty simple game design, and yet somehow it just works. You play as a little boy, wondering through different areas trying to find his sister. It is almost all in black and white (or at least super muted tones) and works mostly based on shadows. Now while this game isn’t the traditional ‘horror’ game, it is definitely a game that puts you on edge and makes you feel uneasy: At one point, you hack off a giant spider’s legs with a bear trap, and at another point you lure murderous children (or at least slightly older than you teenagers) to death-by-stomping-machine…All while very little is explained to you and there is no more story than what you piece together as you go.

Image result for limbo gameSimple, yet effective

The puzzles are just challenging enough to make you think, while still being hard enough that it may test your patience attempting them four or five times. The art work is both calming and unsettling, and it’s simplicity is probably what makes it so enjoyable. It is definitely worth a play if you fancy something that’s scary while still being charming.

For the survivalist…

Outlast (1+2…so this may be a cop out…) is a survival horror game. In both games you play as some poor man who just ended up in the wrong place at the very worst time possible. In Outlast 1, you are trying to escape a mental asylum, and in Outlast 2, you are trying to rescue your wife from a mental religious cult: Po-tay-to po-tar-to. In both games however you are armed with nothing but relatively good stamina and a video camera to document your journey…and help you navigate the very dark crawl spaces. You have no weapons to fight back with and so you can either run or hide from the vast array of scary characters who want nothing more than to harm you.

Image result for outlastA little visit in Outlast

Both games are terrifying, and not only because you can’t fight back. Both games are really quite graphic with the blood, violence and mutilation that you are bound to encounter (so I suppose parental guidance should be stated!) and so is not a game for the fainthearted for that reason more than anything. The stories may be relatively flimsy – in many cases you aren’t sure why or how you even got into this situation in the first place – but the overall pace of the game is so well structured that you rarely get time to think about anything other than escaping…preferably with as many limbs as possible still attached to you. Jump scares galore, graphic violence and some truly terrifying moments, this game will definitely keep you up at night.

For the nostalgia….

Resident Evil VII was largely a success…while it may have varied a lot from the original games of the 90s, the game had a lot of nods to them for the fans. The game itself, was actually a lot of fun. While it may have been a relatively short game (roughly 8-9 hours) it was packed with everything you would expect from a horror: jump scares, abandoned houses, viruses, plagues, bugs, demon possessed families and even creepier non-possessed adults. The best thing about this game was also the high tech aspect of it all: Playing the high-resolution, wonderfully life-like animated game was bad enough without playing it in virtual reality. This game had everything you would want; decent story line, lots of monsters, lots of levels and, most importantly, lots of weapons to defeat them all with. If you don’t feel like sleeping for a long time, then have a go at this!

Image result for resident evil 7Meet the Bakers

Just because you like the scares…

Slenderman (again, a slight cop out) is not necessarily a ‘game’ in the same way the above mentioned are: There isn’t really a story passed the point of ‘Slenderman wants you dead’ and ‘find the papers’. The game, despite it’s simplicity, really is quite fun and is actually a bit of a cult classic these days. It’s surprising how scary a little bit of static on your screen can make you and I promise you, no matter how many times you play the game, it will still make you nervous when it happens. There isn’t much else to say on this game because there really isn’t much to it apart from jump scares, but if you just want a little game to play with people or because you’re bored one night, then this is the game for it.

Image result for slender manSlenderman awaits….

Similarly to the above is Five Nights at Freddy’s…because…well this one is pretty self explanatory!

For the nightmares…

While this demo is pretty hard to come across now (the game itself was scrapped before full release) it was truly scary. It was a demo released to raise interest for a new horror game made by Kojima Productions and featured the acting talent of The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. It was pretty basic in theory: You walk a long a corridor of a house, walk through a door in the basement, which then brings you out at the start of the corridor again while all the while changing to become more horrific each cycle. I think almost everyone is aware of the fetus in the bathroom sink….yeah…that’s somehow not the most unnerving of things you will see in this game. If you are looking for nightmares then just watch the game play of this because it is genuinely unsettling…and if you’re brave/stupid enough to actually play the game then be prepared for a psychological trip.

Image result for PT gameOh hey…

What about you guys? What are some of your favourite horror games?

T xx

 

 

Top 5 Books of all time

I have always been a keen reader: According to my Mom I threw a huge tantrum after my first day of nursery venues they hadn’t taught me how to read and that’s the only reason I went to school to begin with. Books for me have always been an outlet and a place to lose myself in different worlds and different stories. So I thought today I would share a list of my favourite books with you guys!

1. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This book was one of the first books I remember reading by myself. Granted I think at the time it took me about 4 months to finish but I could happily sit down and read it cover to cover in one day if I was left alone. It is just lovely! The book tells the story of a little horse and the life he leads: We join him as soon as he is born on a little farm with his mother, and follow him as he goes from house to house, owner to owner, job to job. Not every owner is nice and not every job is kind to him, but he approaches it in such an innocent way that you can’t help but share his optimism. This book definitely helped shape me as the animal loving vegan I am today, as I finally got to read a book that was from an animal’s perspective rather than as a simple side character. This book is charming, emotive and sincere and for that reason, I will always love this book more than any other.

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2. The curious case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by R. L. Stevenson

This book is terrifying. At least, I found it so! However it is not truly scary until the end of the book where we hear Doctor Jekyll’s account of everything that has happened throughout the book. The book itself is told from the perspective of one of Jekyll’s closest friends, a lawyer named Utterson, who notices that his highly moral and just friend has begun to associate with the corrupt and evil Mr Hyde. Having never read this book before this year, I had no idea what the story really was: I understood the general concept of a man having two personalities but this book takes that a step further, in that Jekyll and Hyde are two separate people. I won’t give away any spoilers (at least none that aren’t already common knowledge) but this book was more like a mystery horror than the psychological horror that pop culture would have us believe it is. It is haunting, yet charming, in the way only Stevenson can pull off. It is one of the few books that when I finished, I just say there in shocked silence for a minute or two and tried to comprehend what I had just read. If you are someone who fancies a bit of an existential crisis, then this is definitely the book for you.

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3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling

As with every other twenty-something, I love Harry Potter. I was brought up on the books and grew up with the films (I believe I was about 9 or 10 when the first one was released) so Harry Potter will always hold a very special place in my heart. But the third book was by far my favourite: I liked that it focused on the wizarding world before Harry. I liked learning about the Marauders: Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs and the entire friendship as a whole. I believe that this was something that was somewhat glanced over in the film as it helps you believe why (spoiler alert!) Wormtail’s betrayal to join Voldemort all the more heart-breaking for not only Harry, but for the remaining Maurauders as well. It was a welcome change to hear about the wizarding world at a time different to Harry’s world, and I believe this book cemented the importance of friendship on a deeper level than simply ‘Harry, Ron and Hermione = best friends for life’. I won’t go into too much detail about the Harry Potter universe (trust me, I could for days!) but recommend this book, even if you haven’t read the books at all.

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4. Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ok so this is a pretty pretentious entry I know, but stick with me! I was recommended this book by my high school English teacher, Mr Ingles, as he said it was the inspiration for so many modern day classics. So, with a summer free before university started, I decided to give it a read. My word, it is beautiful! I don’t mean that in the sense that the story is beautiful (Not going to lie, I’m still not 100% certain what the entire story really is) but rather that the words, the way they flow and the way they create an image is beautiful. This is essentially a very very VERY long poem telling the story of one man’s journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven in order to get to heaven and meet God. I will not go into the imagery and religious meaning of it all, but just as a piece of writing it is honestly the prettiest piece of writing I have read so far. The words are almost effortlessly lovely and when I read this I am instantly calmed and transported on this journey. I won’t lie to you, it is HEAVY reading…like seriously heavy reading with a lot of words and a lot of different styles, but it is worth it just to read a page at a time. I found it to be like Shakespeare, in that if you just let the words flow over you, you can eventually form a picture of what is happening and what it all means. If you are at all interested in English literature or even if you just fancy something pretty to read, I would highly recommend this!

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5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

As you can tell I am a sucker for the classics, but they are normally referred to as classics for a reason. This story, as I’m sure you are aware, is a pretty tragic one. The book is written from the point of view of Nick Carrow, Gatsby’s accidental neighbour, and describes Gatsby’s (somewhat worrying) obsession with the dim but lovely Daisy Buchanon. I won’t go into details, but if you saw the Leonardo DiCaprio film from 2013 you already know how it goes. This book is an insight into the entire 1920’s era, and probably acts as a bigger warning for the American Dream than Mice and Men ever did. There are moments when you are not sure who is the ‘bad guy’ in the story, as every character has aspects of themselves that we in today’s society would most likely frown upon. It is at times charming and funny, while at others it is harrowing and disturbing. Personally, I love this book and I love Fitzgerald. I especially love this book because I feel that it is always relevant: there will always be someone wanting to obtain the life of others. It is human nature to chase the dream that you have only seen glimpses of from afar, and I believe this books acts as a cautionary tale as to what happens once you have your first invite inside.

Image result for great gatsbyHey if it’s good enough for Leo…

What books hold a special place in your life? Let me know and I will most likely add it to my list of books to read!

T xx

Top 5 Relaxing Games

Animal crossing New leaf

To be honest, I could have picked any of the games from the Animal crossing franchise, but this one is my favourite. It is just adorable! Granted, I have not been back to my little village in a LONG time but the sentiment is always there. You play as a little Amibo character that is moving to a new little town. You can pick the name of it, its general map layout and your own personal appearance for your little character who you will soon live vicariously through. My little town, for example, was called Snorlax, it was centred right on the coast with a little stream running through it and my house with its little pink roof sat prettily on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea.

This game is so cute…and is so unbelievably relaxing. Yes there are little tasks you can do and little objectives you have to meet, but there is no real time limit on it: I played the game pretty solidly for about a year and I am still only on about 10% happiness for the town. But my town is so cute! I can spend my evenings wondering around picking fruit from the local trees, organising my flower gardens, creating statues and monuments for my little animal neighbours to enjoy, or I can simply spend the day in the ocean, swimming and fishing. Now everything you collect in your town can be sold for coins (sharks, for example, are worth about 400 of those) and as you build up your coins you can then start to decorate your little house, build extensions and design the layout as you want.

Image result for animal crossing gifsAaaaaand…relax…

This game has limited potential as there is always something to do to keep you busy. While it may seem dull to some, it is no doubt the most relaxing game I have ever played and is easy to lose endless hours over.

Pokemon Sun

Now this game goes without saying: It’s Pokemon! This game is the newest release from the Pokemon franchise and I love it. The new Pokemon are adorable and exciting, while the revamp of some of the more classic first Generation Pokemon pretty much made my life complete: Icy Vulpix is probably even more adorable than a firey one!

Image result for ice vulpix^^ Look at his little face!! ^^

The game itself is pretty free-roaming. You have little tasks to complete and battles you need to win, but there isn’t any time limit on this. I spent most of my time collecting as many Pokemon as I could, trying on new clothes and outfits in the little shops and mostly just looking at the beautiful artwork in it: The game is based loosely on Hawaii and it is very clear to see as you stroll through the different tropical islands with golden sand beaches, crystal clear waters and the warm glow of a digitally created sun.

The main reason I find this game is so relaxing is beqause it’s so easy to delve in to: The story is just enough to keep you interested in progressing, but not so complicated you get confused. The characters are likeable and, most importantly, you can now interact and cuddle your Pokemon! I would play with my team of Pokemon so much that all of them (Ninetales especially) would be absolute beats in the battle arena: I once had my Ninetales on 1% hp for 9 ROUNDS because everytime it was hit, a little bubble would pop up to say that Ninetales toughed it out so I wouldn’t be sad. How is that not the cutest??!!

I won’t get into the whole ‘Pokemon promotes animal abuse’ because I honestly think that’s a bit farfetched an idea (more on this in a later post I think!) but this game is truly a delight and if you haven’t played this before, I would highly recommend it!

Journey

Where to begin…I love a puzzle. I like to see myself as the logical, problem solver and this game is just that. Also, it is just beautiful to look at: You play as a little floaty person in a big old cape and scarf, wondering around the dessert. At some point, you find another little floaty person and the two of you have to work together to solve puzzles and complete the game. The reality of it is that each floaty person is an actual player…there are no AIs, and that in itself is quite lovely…that the two of you, wherever and whoever you are, come together to play this game.

Image result for journey game gifsIt’s just so pretty! ^^

The imagery itself is just beyond beautiful. Everything may be somewhat golden for the most of it but it’s calming and warm and based more on problem solving abilities than it is based on brute strength or strategy. The music is perfect, the game is stunning, and the little floaty fellow is surprisingly charismatic.

DC Injustice

So this one may not be on the same level as the others as it is basically Mortal Kombat with a DC skin. And I know it didn’t get much praise, but I for one love it, for no other reason than there is something strangely relaxing about beating someone up as Batman. I have used this game as a stress relief…while it is frowned upon for me to punch a rude customer in the face, it is practically expected of Harley Quinn to smash someone repeatedly with a huge hammer. As macabre as that may seem, or even unnecessarily violent, it is simply fun. It is a fun game, to play by yourself or with friends (the real trick is remaining friends after you’ve beaten them 5 times in a row as Catwoman) and you can just feel all the stress and anger of the day leave you. Also, I will point out that while it may appear violent, this game is actually incredibly PG compared to the original mortal Kombat games. There isn’t really much to this game by way of story (again, I only really play the fighting chapters) but there is definitely something relaxing about bashing your opponents into the stratosphere or exploding them with a bomb-filed cherry pie. Trust me, one little play of this as your favourite DC character (hero or villain) will make a little less stressed from the woes of working life.

Image result for dc injustice gifsGotta love a bit of Raven

What games have you guys found to be super relaxing? Let me know and I will probably give them a try!

T xx

How can you be bored of board games?!

So this weekend I had a wonderful time at a place I really didn’t expect: A board game cafe. It seems that board games are now becoming trendy again, as I know of at least two cafes that have popped up near where I live. But why the sudden increase in popularity?

Social interaction

The main thing I enjoyed about playing board games with my friends, was the sheer social aspect of it. Looking around at all the tables of people I noticed how involved they were all getting in the social aspect of the game. Board games, no matter how simple they may seem, still manage to draw you into the excitement as much as a video game would, but with your friends along with the ride. I can not believe how much I laughed at a simple game of Connect 4, nor how much fun it could be beating my friends at the Game of Life.

A recent development in the wild lives of my friends and I are the Games Nights we have held: Normally this consists of us playing various rounds of Cards Against Humanity, having a few drinks, and realising just how twisted our sense of humour is (If you have played Cards Against Humanity, you too will understand this!) and yet still managing to catch up on our lives as ‘functioning adults’. To me, it feels like we have all found a way to be childish, without being immature. We are all there, in person, playing games that we can hold in our hands. We can read each other to find out who the werewolf is, or we can send subtle clues to each other to throw off the other team as to what our strategy will be. Sneaking truly becomes sneaky and victory tastes oh the more sweeter when you can rub it in their loser faces.

Image result for simpsons monopoly episode                                                        How monopoly usually ends

Imagination and problem solving

Case and point: Cluedo. Anyone who says that they are not competitive is a liar the second this game comes out, and it is literally a race to find out not only who the murderer is, but who can do it in the least amount of moves. I have not played this game in years and yet I won (bwah ha ha!) and I must admit it was a brain workout and a half. I saw my friends concentrate more on their questions in each round than they ever did for final exams. I think that is because, any mistake they make….we remember! There is no way to erase what has just happened, the silly move you made that just cost you a victory can not be overwritten on your save file by starting again. Every decision counts as a result, it takes way more time, thought and strategy than any virtual game ever will. If your friends don’t yell at you for disproving their accusations, then can you even call them your friends?

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The lack of technology

As I’ve grown up, I have realised that while I am indeed viewed as an adult, I have very little clue as to what I am doing half the time. It worries me that my friends and I are well and truly allowed to be the ‘adult supervision’ that many packages warn children they need before playing with something stupid. Something I have noticed from spending a whole Saturday morning playing board games is that, for one brief moment in time, everyone in that cafe was transported to a simple way of life. Not a single person had their phone in their face the entire time, and I only had mine out to take photos of my friends completing challenges, or filming little plastic chairs that were stacked precariously on the table. Board games show that you do not need technology in order to have an immersive experience. In my house, almost every board game turns into a contact sport, to the point which Scrabble is banned unless there is someone acting as referee, dictionary in hand, to reach a peaceful end to the game.

What about you? Which board games bring out your worst traits? And which games have lead to some of your best memories?

T xx

 

Easiest ways to help the planet

While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.

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Recycling

This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.

Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.

For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!

Reusable items

Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.

You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!

Diet

It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.

Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.

Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.

Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.

A few extra tips

Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.

Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!

Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.

Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.

Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.

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Do you guy have any environmental friendly tips too? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

T xxx