What remains of Edith Finch : What really remains

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Indie games are winning.

In an era where major AAA gaming franchises are either strained cash cows or a mass-marketing grand fiasco, indie games are continuing to hold the benchmark flags high. Video games to me are story driven pieces of art, an amalgamation of smart level design, breathtaking atmosphere and intuitive combat. At its core is story and gameplay mechanics. Somehow this notion seems to be unknown to even accomplished studios and people helming them (Peter Mollyneaux comes to mind). As a result we end up getting a lot of games that are unfinished. Either great story, or great combat, or a memorable soundtrack, but very few times coming together to create an unforgettable experience.

Last year, Firewatch became the raging point of discussion amongst the gaming community. A walking simulator as critics labeled games like these, Firewatch told a story that was emotional and lacked any fluff whatsoever. It was blunt and extended the right amount. Conservative in its frame narration and removing any sort of superhuman notion (which games like CoD and Battlefield have been famously known for), the game provided a riveting insight into the human psyche, painting a picture that was to last quite a while. Firewatch to me was the best game of the year, followed closely by another gem, Inside.

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What remains of Edith Finch is a different take on the Firewatch genre, but it keeps the core ideas same and evolves on the concept. Telling the story of a decaying family from the perspective of its youngest member is quite a task to take on, and this game hits it out of the park. This is not so much a game as it is an experience, a soul wrenching at that. There is an unbridled joy in freedom of expression, in freedom to choose life and death and the realities that surround us, and visiting every Finch, knowing their fate through their own words is both harrowing and spectacular. The monsters that consume them eventually are their own creations : fame, desperation, despair, fear, delusion, craving — and most of all, a relentless pursuit of their realities.

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The ending to it all was not as sad as I thought it would be, but the individual stories left a deep mark on me. After I finished this short game, the haunting, minimal soundtrack kept on harping on familiarities that I didn’t want to dig up. Somewhere I longed for my family, my own bunch of loonies with their own fallacies and their own perceptions.

This is where Edith Finch succeeds in telling a story, and being an art. It makes you think : of all possibilities that could have been, and whether we maketh our destinies or our destinies maketh us. At one point I contemplated on whether I should write it all down and get it off my chest, but this in its current state is absolutely worth experiencing.

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What remains of Edith Finch ends up telling us whatever remains of us and people we care for, in a way I have never seen told before through the world of gamepads and keystrokes.

Best Game of 2017, yet.

Nothing really matters

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Ultimately, nothing matters.

All these efforts you put in to make your life happy, your loved ones content – just burns down one day, in one moment’s brisk wind, and then the ashes pile up on you and you choke. Mercy, never comes. What comes is a fourth degree burn, looking at the watery eyes and a face in so much pain that your soul writhes. Yet you are a creature of habit, a slave of conscience that is bound to make mistakes. And ultimately those mistakes form your hell, your doom, whatever you call it.

Better snuff the lights, man, it’s getting too bright in here – said nobody, yet at times the scorching rays of the sun char your skin and you can’t protest. Not because you’re mute – you’ve given it all and you’ve come short. The end result is that you’ve become such an asshole that now the world you built around you has thrown you out to the dogs. You, you alone has to fend of the harshities of life now, all alone, watching your loved ones in pain because of you and then not because of you. Both of them hurt equally, and make you bleed.

Ultimately though, nothing matters. You’re but a cosmic mistake, a blatant blasphemy on this speck of a planet, a vile scoop of soul sundae. Your arguments are invalid and out of date and shape. The long walks through the shopping malls through jungles of amused people makes you realize that they don’t matter either, that they just exist as background noise, to give your story of imperfection some color and a palette, as do you for their novels. Friends are just as convoluted messes as you are, some fake, hiding under a facade, and then some that are truly lost, believing they can save a drowning existence.

But you’ve already drowned. The tar is in your lung, the rotten carcass is already showing. You’ve just put on a new coat. You’re already dead, you just don’t know it yet.

My head becomes lighter, my visions dizzy. The water drops, warm and still poisoned with feelings – from the eyes I am watching. Those eyes mean everything to me, but I know in the end everything is going to consume me, like love does, and leave nothing but dust.

I’m slowly walking towards nothingness, and she is too.

Rust

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Lacquered in a comatose white and gray, the auburn thatched mud houses look like the ruins of a terracotta army, battered by time. But they stand hollow, their windows stolen, their doors eaten by nature.
When the vicious jungle wind blows from the dry riverbed and passes through this necropolis, a howl ensues that tears open the naked breast of the rainforest.

Guineafowls peck little mites from the bones scattered across the plateau. Skeletal hands holding rifles, books, bags.

Or other hands.

A century ago, this patch of dense green had leopards, lions, tigers, elephants, wild buffaloes. Trapped between the bullets of sixty years of ferocious monarchy and the peculiarity of human masculine pride, the animals have traveled to become busts, adorned in the living rooms of the richest.

Time has crushed the biggest of kingdoms. The Kings and Queens have died. Revolution had taken place.

Then the rebels became rulers, and the first thing they did was to put every opposing butterfly to the waiting guillotine. Carnivals were named on dead men and women, their blood gushing through the river. That river has dried up into a valley of rust, where souls without salvation wander.

This used to be a good world. But then good worlds barely lasted.


He loved light. Like the flicker of sunlight that fell on his eyes, making their way between her flowy hair and salwar-clad shoulders, while he fiddled with poetry, lying on her lap.

This city of broken bridges ate small-time love like theirs, people said. They didn’t pay heed. Reckless as the monsoon, their love was devoid of any measured steps.

Five years later, the light had returned in his life. As he was slowly watching her body being engulfed in the pyre, he thought why he loved light so much, only to realize that it wasn’t light that he loved.

On that cold November night, two souls had melted into the darkness.

Only the city remained, ravenously waiting for its next victim, throwing poetry in the air as lures.

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Let’s just start by saying I’m partly human

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Let the bionic hand that caresses a child be

more machine than motheresque. The eyes that

only see, doesn’t shine

be vermin and not

vermilion.

Tethered echoes

floating through our conscience – let them

drown in the black abyss

of the burning smell of

capacitors, resistors, transistors – silicon and steel.

The isolation, let it be

complete, man from himself, reveling

in things that he invented, but forgetting

what invented him.

 

Logan : the superhero movie that we may not want, but one that we absolutely need

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It all started with Batman Begins.

Christopher Nolan’s retelling of the rise of one of the most iconic heroes of comic book universe had won critics and viewers alike. It will be followed by the superb The Dark Knight and inspire producers to take the superhero genre seriously, something that had all but died after the atrocious barrage of Batman and Superman movies.

Sam Raimi in his infinite wisdom had created a launching pad for Spider-Man, yet after the second installment the party was over. Spider-Man 3 was a quagmire of missed opportunities and bad character choices, and sort of bucked to the trend.

A trend where the superheroes were normalized, the stories changed, their actions either over the top or simply too humane, the villains relegated to flesh and blood animations without any sort of mysterious hyperbole. The movies often felt like slick thrillers. Some hardcore comic book nerds were left displeased as a result. Essential violence was stripped off; characters mellowed down – no ferocious animosity, no vicious path for absolute justice, no ravenous appetite for destroying the world or saving it, movie after movie succumbed to a global rise of PG era nonsense that was often too comical for its own good. Even Guardians of the Galaxy, a sleeper hit couldn’t prevent it. Last year, I saw two massive chances for comic book adaptations’ return to form squandered (counting Suicide Squad makes it three). While Batman vs Superman was certainly ambitious in its premise, the rush to meet Marvel at its path ruined the sustained story development. Hollow characters, deep holes in the plot and mindless battles only fastened its sad demise. Captain America : Civil War on the other hand ended up becoming too civil, too contained – almost too safe. It was a painful reminder of how a strong platform can still be ruined if no risks are taken. For reasons purely based on business, the story was criminally changed and forced on us.

It was only natural that the ghost of all these movies were still lurking around me when I finally decided to give Logan a shot. Two hours later the things that were in my mind were a mixture of the movie’s strong points and the fact that I was about an hour and a half late for home, the latter not sitting well with my parents. But off I went, promising myself to write a review because this movie deserved one.

In many ways, Old Man Logan is Marvel’s deviation from the norm, much like how The Dark Knight Returns was for DC. Alternate universe – check. Old, aging, dying superhero – check. One last mission – check. Morality strains – check. Wolverine, often used to the point of irritation as this hot with rage killing machine cum southern biker – a shallow existence who serves as a thug with pea brain and yellow costumes is shredded to bits here. Replacing him is a degenerating hero, not wolverine but Logan, Logan of yore who has forgotten his ways of being part of X-Men. Saddled with the responsibilities of a mortal man and the depressive disorders of a schizophreniac, he lunges onto one straw from another, trying to find a safe place to die. This Logan is cornered, vulnerable, and dangerous.

A deranged Professor Xavier is his sanity clause for the moment. The movie focuses on their love hate relationship. Some scenes are truly beautiful and worth pausing and rewatching (something I wish I could do in a movie theater). The small holes in the water tank and the rays of the sun poking through them creates the illusion of a starlit sky; the flood of light on the other hand concentrates on a small batch of greenery, giving the place a stark contrast and a touch of the mundane. Xavier’s demons were to be exercised there, away from humanity, in the middle of nowhere. But fate and Wolverine had other plans.

What happens after that is a two hour long escalation of situations and emotions. Kaliban, the mutant with a Brit accent and a pale skin is interestingly put inside this story and he surprises with his quips. He seems to be the only one with a sure footing in this world that has lost its own. Xavier and Logan on the other hand are too volatile, too vibrant and too crass.

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The story changes gears and gives us flashbacks of the old Logan, both as a protagonist and an antagonist- Wolverine if you’d like to call him that. The bleeding and carrying the adamantium bullet to relieve himself of his life Logan is arguably far more interesting though, as is wave-splattering, hallucinating Charles Xavier. The old reminiscing is what is utterly fascinating, to hear and see them go about discussing events that took place a long time ago. Mutants were gone, so were their well wishers. The remaining museum samples were being hunted down like dogs.

Twenty-three, or girl with the wolverine claws shows up under a familiar trope of a circumstance, and immediately triggers a whole barrage of crap onto the hapless trio. The redneck villain is surprisingly menacing here, mixing usual goof with unusual ferocity. The girl doesn’t steal the show, and neither does the villain, because this is not about them. It was never meant to be about them.

What about that ending though? I honestly feel that there couldn’t be a better ending than what Logan gives us. A conclusion that is devoid of the There was a huge bomb blast with the hero in tow but he still survives and many years later is seen in Italy enjoying a drink bullshittery, Logan’s finale is much more grounded in reality, something that immediately connects with the audience, the ‘No more guns in the valley’ notwithstanding.

Two hours later, I have nothing but praise for Hugh Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart and James Mangold who gave us a fitting reply. This is the sort of comic book adaptation people want. A no fluff story, fewer, stronger characters and loyality to the original storyline and essence. Not the moviemaking kryptonite that kills superheroes and creates Barney the dinosaur in their places.

Now where’s that R rated Batman movie, DC?