Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

A little bit late so I apologise but it is finally time to discuss the end of the Carrie Saga with the novel which started it all, the book was released in 1974 and was the first published story by Horror writer Stephen King, it sold tremendously well after the first movie adaptation in 1976 and is known to be one of the most banned books in schools due to its violence, underage sex and the use of fowl language and drug use. I will also point out here the use of racism which would be frowned upon today I wont say what the racism was but its context was used to describe how fat someone’s lip was after being punched so you can figure that one out for yourselves!. Times were different when the book was written so while it its still isn’t right we wont be criticising King or the publishers over it.

We are comparing this to the adaptations I have reviewed so there will be heavy spoilers !

Carrie White is a very unfortunate person, she is overweight, covered in spots and is bullied relentlessly by the other girls in her school, in a very famous scene she has her first period (very late) and freaks out while naked in the girls locker room, Chris Hargensen the schools Queen Bee gets all of the other girls to join her in mocking Carrie “Plug it up” they all shout as they begin to pelt the poor child with female sanitary products laughing and cruelly mocking her before they are stopped by the Gym Teacher Miss Desjardin.

This bullying is an everyday occurrence for Carrie and she never gets a break after school she has to face her over religious mother Margaret White who forces her to pray and abuses her power by locking Carrie in a cupboard when she thinks she has sinned, the period is one of these moments as her mother believes that she has turned away from God and committed sexual acts, tasting the forbidden fruit similar to the story of Adam and Eve.

The relentless bullying and abuse causes Carrie to become emotionally distraught eventually leading her to discover a Telekinetic ability she has had passed down from her father, her mother knew about her powers from birth and resents Carrie as she believes she is a curse from God after she committed adultery by having sex before marriage.

Margaret Whites character is given some backstory in the book being outcast by her family due to her intense religious views, she is also described as much older in the book and as we have discussed previously is killed by Carrie stopping her heart. The way this particular murder is written is actually quite creepy with Carrie whispering that she will send her to the darkness to be judged by whatever God she finds there.

Carries powers are explored in more detail in the book including a scene where as a little girl she causes giant rocks to fall from the sky destroying her family home, this was shown in the 2002 TV movie as well which I will give that adaptation some credit for even though I really didn’t enjoy it.

Speaking of characters I wasn’t huge on Sue Snell in the book, there isn’t many differences between her role in the films and the book but in the novel she is definitely a little bit more self-centered and while she is the only girl to feel bad about how she treated Carrie there is definitely a vibe that she only sent Tommy to take Carrie to prom to ease her guilt more than to make Carrie feel less like an outcast.

The prom massacre in this is actually quite quick and a little disappointing considering that she kills almost everyone by electrocution and finishing off the remaining few by setting the building on fire.

Chris Hargensen and Billy’s death is much more satisfying in this similar to the 2013 film the car is lifted from the ground and flung into a building (the road house hotel) and blown to smithereens, both characters in the book are pure evil Billy is a real bastard who beats Chris and even tries to rape her at one point, Chris is known to be quite the psychopathic bully and not only to Carrie, it is mentioned in the book that she once hid a fire cracker in another students show blowing off two of her toes and she only got out of any legal trouble thanks to her fathers position as a very well respected lawyer.

Chris and Billy actually fill two buckets with blood in the book and one is meant for Tommy Ross who neither have any problems with so they only really did this for no reason at all just going to further show how neither of them care for anyone and are just very sickening individuals.

The books ending sees Sue Snell finding Carrie White dying and she holds Carrie in her arms as she takes her final breath, I really liked that the book continued after this to show how the events affected the town having a lot of the store owners taking out insurance claims to give up their shops and the local bar becoming quiet as the town folks are all shaken up after the events of the massacre.

The book also uses a lot of character interviews through police investigations which was a nice touch and it also has chapters from the perspective of other characters such as Sue and Chris.

I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, it is a very easy read due to Kings writing style and how he doesn’t focus on many unnecessary elements, he is telling the story of the events of Prom Night and does an excellent job of documenting this while keeping readers engaged and wanting more.

I have come to the conclusion that the closest adaptation is the 2002 TV movie, it has the most parts from the book but doesn’t offer too much more compared to the 2013 film and we all know which of those I would recommend.

The original 1976 film is still the best way to watch Carrie which is odd because compared to all three movies and the musical it is actually the least accurate with its story telling, my recommendation would definitely be to read the book as it is very good and then watch the 1976 version as that holds up very well on its own and is genuinely an excellent Horror Movie.

I am very eager for some more Stephen King so the next book I will be reviewing is his second novel Salem’s Lot so please look forward to that.

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Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)Review

Cyberpunk 2077 is an open world, action, role playing game set in a futuristic City. In the game players create and personalise a mercenary named V who is on a desperate mission to become the King/Queen of Night City while also trying to remove the personality of long Dead Rockstar Johnny Silverhand from her brain.

The game was developed by CD Projekt Red and Published by CD Projekt, it was released in 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One and PC, the original release was a notoriously broken mess and barely playable, the game was so bad that Sony removed it from their store for 6 months until the game was patched with better development and bug repairs.

In 2022 a free upgrade for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S was available for download, this is the version I played which also is the fixed version of the game, I will however keep in mind the original release for my criticisms and final score.

The gameplay is very similar to what you might expect from the Grand Theft Auto series, you play a fairly ruthless character who will break the law relentlessly to get what they want, stealing cars, hiring prostitutes and all out murder, it does add the ability purchase multiple homes and vehicles, it even uses skill trees and body modifications to help increase character attributes and abilities. The skill trees will help you gain more strength, stamina or hacking abilities while the Ripper Docs offer the modifications allowing you upgrades such as a double jump, better scanning, Gorilla strength, armoured skin and so much more.

But one thing this game does amazingly well is that it manages to be LGBTQ+ supportive in its gameplay and character developments.

Throughout the game you get the chance to have a lot of sex including LGBTQ+ you can even start romantic relationships including those of the same sex (My female character was dating another female in the game). During the character development you can be woman with male private parts or vice versa which I believe is in support of the trans community, If that statement is incorrect please educate me as I don’t mean to offend anyone.

I just think its amazing to see a triple A title like Cyberpunk take time to recognise the LGBTQ+ community in a way that isn’t overblown and is accepted as part of the society of Night City, Cyberpunk may have had its problems initially but the way it handles these areas is a testament to how far video games have come over the years.

In 2022 the game plays almost flawlessly, it has good controls and it has a good mix of side missions and other content to keep you coming back, the side missions are really diverse too you could be stealing an artefact in one mission, then aiming to be the city’s boxing champion before trying to come first in a street race

I did experience some problems though, my main gripe was when ever I finished a Johnny Silverhand Segment a blue rectangle would be stuck on my screen until I rebooted the game, another common issue was general crashes while loading missions, again making me reboot the game and hoping for the best when trying again. The game runs well enough but these rare bugs really did get annoying at times, I understand that they did patch the game to fix most of the problems but in reality the game never should have been rushed to release like it was, you shouldn’t sell people a broken product, its practically a scam and the developers and publishers ought to be ashamed of themselves, its all well and good fixing the problems but they never should have been there in the first place.

The game has seven possible endings which I wont go into detail on because of spoilers but each one can be reached depending on player choices throughout the campaign.

The soundtrack is pretty fun, it uses a lot of rock music to fit the atmosphere especially around Johnny Silverhand and his band Samurai, Samurai is actually really good and I’m surprised this isn’t a real band, throughout my college years I listened to a lot of rock music and screamo and this reminded me of those tracks, it was quite nice to get nostalgia like that.

Two years ago I would have told you to stay far away from this game and save your money on a practically unplayable scam and to simply make a point to the developers that gamers wont support this type of disrespect even if they did get Keanu Reeves to play Johnny Silverhand.

However as of now the game has been financially successful and its a long time since that first release, the fixed version of Cyberpunk is one of the most creative and wonderfully directed games I have played in a long time, you tell your own story here and apart from the Johnny Silverhand stuff there isn’t much that keeps you on a single path. The game is open to all types of gamers and celebrates a wide range of communities, it also has a great number of bad ass females in the game to help narrow down that issue with the video game industry as well. Cyberpunk is worth your time and is fairly reasonably priced to pick up cheap, it is also free on Playstation Plus if you want to check it out. I had a blast with the game but I cant give it too much praise, its still broken in some areas and while not to the degree it was previously its still bad enough to effect the flow and take you out of that atmosphere. I think the game is well deserving of a 8 today but this is not the original game that got released so I think a 7/10 is a fair score which a still represents the games past versions but can also celebrate those more playable versions as well.

And to CD Projekt Red I want to ask if you make another Cyberpunk please try and learn from your mistakes, next time I don’t want to be discussing broken releases.

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They made a Carrie Musical?

No I’m not joking they really did try to adapt Carrie into a Broadway Musical and it failed hard.

Inspired by the opera Lulu, Lawrence D. Cohen the original writer of the 1976 movie worked with Michael Gore to adapt his original film script into a musical format. The Musicals went through tons of rewrites before finally hitting the stage in 1988.

The musical was a mess to say the least during multiple Stratford shows technical errors completely ruined the experience for the actors and audiences, Linzi Hateley’s microphone would malfunction because of the blood during the prom massacre, Barbara Cook was almost decapitated by a set piece in the White house living room and multiple songs had to be removed or rewritten before its Broadway release.

During its broadway run Betty Buckley who played the gym teacher in the 1976 film joined the cast. Even after the changes were made the musical was hit with mixed reviews, during the curtain call some actors got booed but standing ovations were given to Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley who played Carrie and Margaret White. Even with fully sold out shows the financial backers pulled out after only 16 previews and 5 performances, the show cost more the 7 million dollars and is now forever known as one of the biggest f*ck ups in broadway history.

The show did get various re productions over the years although with a much smaller budget but it never hit broadway again and unless you are a lover of the theatre most people still don’t realise that this even existed.

So here’s a special treat, I’ve only managed to find a copy of the original Stratford recording on YouTube and best part is it’s the one were the blood clogs the microphone!

So without further ado please join me in watching the original Carrie the Musical

I apologize for the video quality due to this being recorded in 1988, but it is really cool that we got to watch this version and to be honest I really enjoyed the show and I don’t really understand what the big deal is?

The show is a lot of fun and has a great cast that all give off heartfelt and emotional performances, the highlight of the show was definitely the relationship between Carrie and Margaret White, of course unlike most media domestic and emotional abuse is quite hard to portray in a musical, but as the two duet the atmosphere is hauntingly beautiful and at times will chill you to the bone.

The rest of show is pretty high pace and loud, I think this might be one of the biggest issues regardless I really enjoyed the show but I think the majority of it is maybe a tad too energetic for this story, it doesn’t feel right and is out of place in a sad tale such as this. The majority of musical numbers are a good listen but are also forgettable and don’t have you looking them up on music providers afterwards.

The outfits are also quite bland and forgettable none stand out enough to leave an impact. The choreography is wild and a little bit too in your face at times but is one of the more memorable directorial choices, the acts between Chris and Billy are where this really shines like a sadistic ballet, its sexual, sensual and absolutely brilliant.

The grand finale of the show was a little lacking but that was to be expected on stage compared to film, the prom night massacre happens under a red light with very little visibility and is over very fast, the final act is all a bit disappointing but overall the show was pretty good and I wouldn’t mind seeing the original version re-designed and updated, I see a lot of potential in this show and it is a shame that it never worked out, I’ve seen worse shows than this and those were successful which only leaves me forever puzzled with this production and the negative response it garnered.

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The Carrie Remakes 2002 Vs 2013

Well here we go back to the original story and this a back to back review of both Carrie Remakes starting with the 2002 TV movie directed by David Carson and starring Angela Bessis in the title role.

The movie uses police interviews after the events of the massacre, I have been told that this is very similar to the book but we will find that out when I read it.

The movie is pretty weird in areas there is a flash back scene where a younger Carrie causes meteorites to fall from the sky and attack her mother’s house and the effects are pretty awful as to be expected on a low budget TV film, I am assuming this is in the book as it would probably come across as less silly on paper, another interesting fact about this scene is that it was originally meant to be in the 1976 film but was cut.

The opening credits also used the meteorites CGI so the developers must have been quite proud of the effect. One CGI choice I did like however was the furniture floating around Carrie as she anxiously waited for Tommy to pick her up for the prom, it helped to portray her feelings during this buildup and was just a nice to touch in general.

Alongside the bad effects the movie is riddled with bad acting performances, the majority of the cast seem bored when delivering their lines and when they do try to portray more emotional dialogue most of the time it comes across as forced.

The movie takes place in modern 2002 so internet, computers, CCTV and mobile phones are seen and used throughout the film, a nice choice in my opinion as it helps the movie differentiate itself from the original.

Our two main baddies Chris and Billy are this time played by Emilie de Ravin and Jesse Cadotte, de Ravin does a decent job but Cadotte’s version of Billy was just a little bit psychotic for me he gave a very over the top performance which in parts reminded me of Jared Leto’s abysmal attempt at the Joker.

A performance I did actually enjoy in the movie was the portrayal of Margaret White. This time around played by actress Patricia Clarkson who did a fantastic job of the overbearing mother without chewing the scenery too much and while she is not as good as in the 1976 movie I feel she needs some credit here.

I’m on two pages when it comes to the prom massacre in this movie, some parts are actually quite creative, I enjoyed director choices such as having Carrie move the water away from herself when she electrocuted the gymnasium, also shots of people trying to escape in various ways was a great choice, we had people trying to break though windows, climbing up ropes and even trying to crawl through the ventilation system although none of this really worked, apart from this the kills were quite uninspired and happened way too quickly, apart from one or two people everyone died from electrocution. It didn’t help that Angela Bessis couldn’t pull off the fear factor in her facial expressions and again just looked a bit bored a major issue throughout the majority of this adaptation

I loved that Carrie continued after the prom to massacre the entire town even though the effects were really bad it was nice to see her destruction continue further on from what seen in the original film. Also Chris and Billys death is much more satisfying by having them crushed to death with the car being wrapped around a tree.

Overall I didn’t like this one too much but as I mentioned it does have some good qualities especially in its creativity and story telling and it’s just a shame about how boring the film is before that final massacre but from my research a lot of major fans of Kings work prefer this version overall. In the end of the movie Carrie actually survives as this was meant to lead into a TV series but due to bad ratings that never happened and to be honest I’m glad to just move into the 2013 remake to see how that holds up. There has been word on the street that a new Carrie mini series is in the works so we can discuss that when and if it ever happens

2013 gave us the most recent film adaptation of Carrie and this time starring actress Chloe Grace Moretz.

I won’t go over much of the plot here as unfortunately this version doesn’t offer much new material that we haven’t seen in the 1976 and 2002 movies and while that isn’t a bad thing it does make the film kinda pointless.

Carries birth is worth mentioning as a great opening scene with Margaret White, this time played by Julianne Moor attempting to stab the newborn with scissors of course she fails but it is left up to the audience to decide whether this was a change of heart or baby Carrie using her telekinesis.

Moretz is far to pretty to play Carrie White in my opinion and while I do really admire her as an actress she doesn’t do too well in this, she does come across as bit of an outcast but her performance wasn’t genuine enough for me to consider it one of her best.

Moretz and Moor to work really well together in this film mostly due to changes made to Margaret Whites character, in this version she isn’t so crazy and abusive towards Carrie but has genuine love for her and does show that she cares. She does still lock her In the closet and blame her period on Sin so the warped religious views are still present but in much less violent ways.

Speaking of good duo’s the characters of Sue and Tommy are a great mix here as well, this was the only movie to really show more of their relationship on screen, there is a wonderful moment when the two are discussing how bad Sue feels after she mistreated Carrie White and Tommy goes on to explain how he was horrible to someone once to try and make her feel better. In fact it’s actually Tommy in this movie who convinces Sue that she should try and make it up to Carrie since Carrie had never done anything bad to deserve how she was treated .

I have mixed feelings on Chris and Billy in this movie and when you look past the over the top sadistic qualities in the characters there isn’t much left that stands out. Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell give much more villainous portrayals of the characters especially Chris who has the stomach to slice open the pigs throat and actively encourages Billy to try and kill Carrie White before both characters demise but apart from this there isn’t much to differentiate them from other versions of the characters and they are quickly forgettable especially when compared with the superior 1976 movie.

One thing I can say that the 2013 version does better overall is the final prom night massacre. This whole sequence which was a mixture of CGI and physical effects is fantastic, the kills are more creative and it shows Carrie White as more in control of her powers especially when she chooses to save the gym teacher and of course Sue Snell right at then end of the movie.

The kills are some of best we have seen in the Carrie movies having people crushed by bleachers, Tina Blake catching on fire and of course the amazing kill of Chris and Billy which has Carrie crack open the road, Smash Billy’s face into the steering wheel and lift up the car before dropping it and sending Chris flying into a gas station which traps her face in the broken glass of the windscreen before blowing up the gas tanks for good measure!

Carrie 2013 is a very similar adaptation to the original film and apart from a few changes especially in its characters and finale it is definitely an unnecessary money grabbing remake. I did however really enjoy the movie, the actors all did a great job and in some areas I actually prefer this one, the kills are more satisfying and the relationships seem more realistic, even though I haven’t read the book yet I am well aware that the 2002 version is the most accurate adaptation of the original story and for a lot of people that why they vastly prefer that film over both of the others but for me 2013 is definitely the better remake if not simply because I never got bored with it and I would quite happily watch it again, it wasn’t a masterpiece but it did a decent job and could have been a fantastic piece of cinema if they remade the TV movie to give us a more enjoyable adaptation that had more in common with Kings book.

I would still choose the 1976 film with Sissy Spacek over both movies but if I had to re-watch a remake for me its 2013 all the way.

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The Rage:Carrie 2 (1999) Review

The Rage: Carrie 2 is an unexpected sequel to say the least considering that the original story never had a continuation.

The film had originally began as a completely independent film but after the studio noticed the similarities to the 1976 film it lead to it being redeveloped as a sequel with returning actress Amy Irving reprising her role as Sue Snell.

In the movie the new lead is named Rachel and she is seeking out revenge on a group of School Jocks whose cruel game of sleeping with the most girls lead to the suicide of her best friend.

The casting for the movie is definitely one its highlights the entire cast is a lot of fun on screen and I think the choice of taking this movie much less seriously than the original definitely works in its favour.

Our lead actress Emily Bergl is fantastic in her performance, she is really good at showing emotion and realism in her role. She manages to handle the female taking revenge on men much better than I have seen in other similar films of that genre.

Emily Bergl having an intense interaction with Amy Irving (left) in a scene from the film ‘The Rage: Carrie 2’, 1999. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)

The return of Sue Snell was a nice touch and I think making her the school psychiatrist was a really good choice as it makes sense since she obviously would have had psychiatric help herself due to her nightmares after the events of the 1976 prom.

Another great detail added to this movie was that the telekinesis Gene that came from the father of both Carrie and Rachel, the mention of Ralph White was appreciated because it made it more believable that both girls could display the same powers.

One thing I really didn’t enjoy though was the weird black and white edits that were thrown in during occasional moments when Rachel was using her Telekinesis, I first thought that maybe this was meant to represent what she sees when using the power but this theory soon didn’t make any sense because in other moments the powers were used without the Black and White filters.

I also thought it was a bit cheap to make the mother crazy, this only really showed even more similarities between the two movies.

When you think about it they are almost the exact same film, a female with telekinetic powers and a crazy mother uses her abilities to take revenge on her high school bullies..

There is a love interest in this movie who isn’t encouraged to pursue Rachel, this is Jesse who is played by Jason Landon. Jesse wasn’t a particularly memorable character but I did enjoy seeing someone who was actually decent as person in one of these movies.

Yes the first movie did have the Gym teacher who showed care for Carrie but the difference with Jesse is that he actually thought highly of Rachel because of her personality and did genuinely have a romantic connection with her.

My biggest issue with the film is actually something that really bugged me and that was Rachel. It wasn’t her character that bothered me, she came across as fairly normal and actually quite cool which begs the question why would she be bullied or even so despised in the film.

Nothing about her character gives any reason what so ever why she would be targeted and again I have to compare with the 1976 film. Carrie White was odd and shy, she didn’t have a clue about the real world and came across as weird it made sense why she was bullied, it still wasn’t right for her to be tormented and cruelly bullied but you could in a way understand why she was, but with Rachel its just a bit dumb and they should have done something with her character to make this aspect of the film more realistic.

The Rage: Carrie 2 left me surprised because honestly I dreaded watching this and I thought it would awful but you know what its actually pretty decent It does not hold handle to the original but if you can look past how unnecessary it was to make this, it is quite a fun time and not once was I bored, the actors all do a great job and again this is taken much less seriously making for a decent popcorn flick to watch with friends just for the heck of it.

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Carrie (1976) Review

Welcome to my first ever Stephen King deep dive, over the next few weeks we will be discussing his first story Carrie by reviewing the original movie, the films sequel, the two remakes, the failed Broadway musical and finally the original novel!.

The only version I won’t be discussing is the Riverdale Special as I have never seen the show and if I do ever watch and review the series I will discuss that version then.

I am going to begin this series starting with the first adaptation of the novel and ending on a review of said book this will allow me to actually read through the story but also to have lots of material to look back on when I review it and to have a better picture of how accurate the various versions are to Kings.

This is the first film adaptation of any of Kings books it was released only two years after the original publication and is actually the preferred version of the story by King, in fact he actually has started that he thinks that it is better than his novel.

The film really is excellent mainly due to its cast and the directors decisions for specific camera shots and realistic effects

Carrie was portrayed by Sissy Spasek who had to be convinced to go for the role by her husband, another prominent actress in the film Amy Irving was originally chosen but was swapped with Sissy Spasek who was more comfortable with being naked on camera. She is also terrifying at the end of the movie when she gets her revenge.

Irving was instead given the role of Sue Snell originally a bully of Carrie who sees remorse in her actions and tries to make up for it by asking her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom.

In the movie Carrie is portrayed as a shy girl who hasn’t been made ready for the real world, the scene where she gets her first period and doesn’t know what it is and panics thinking that she is being punished by god is very well done, it gets us rooting for Carrie in the films closing moments due to how the girls treated her in that scene.

The main villains in the movie are Chris and Billy played by Nancy Allen and John Travolta in his first major film role. These guys are pure evil and while the other girls are also really horrible it’s Chris that is the main leader who sets up the awful plan to drench Carrie in the pig blood during the Prom, Billy plays along and actually beats a pig to death to get the blood which is really messed up and leaves viewers with no remorse for these characters when Carrie fights back.

Carries mother is a religious nut played by Piper Laurie, she has brought Carrie up with Bible and has forced her to pray and obey the laws of god, one of the main reasons she does this is actually due to a fear of her daughter becoming evil, Carrie was born with the ability of telekinesis a power to move things with her mind. These powers only really come out when Carrie is in an emotional state of mind so in her mother’s eyes shielding Carrie from sin is the best way to help prevent Carrie from going to hell.

The movie is really good and while at times it can seem a little bit silly in its premise, it manages to maintain a serious tone and leave a feeling of uneasiness and chills.

There really isn’t much I can criticize with this one, I would say I wish the school was portrayed a little more alive, perhaps with more background actors to help fill the scenes as it does seem rather small for what is meant to be a High School but apart from that this is a perfect horror film in my eyes and if you haven’t seen it or are a fan of pychological horror then Carrie from 1976 is definitely a movie to check out!

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Ghostwire Tokyo (2022) Review

Ghostwire Tokyo is a 2022 Action, Adventure/Horror game developed by Tango Gameworks and Published by Bethesda, it was released in March 2022 for PC and PS5 as a timed exclusive, it will be coming to other systems at a later date.

The game begins with a ghost KK desperately crossing a spirit ridden and desolate Tokyo City, the Human Race has been been turned into spirits thanks to a mysterious fog. KK finds an unconscious human who is yet to be hit by the fog and possesses his body.

The Human wakes up in complete control of his body minus his right hand, this human is named Akito he is saved from becoming a spirit thanks to his possession but he now has to help KK defeat the fogs mastermind Hannya in order to return the city back to its usual form. Akito agrees as long as he can check in on his little sister Mari in the local hospital, when Akito arrives unfortunately Hannya beat him to it and takes Mari’s comatose body away to perform a ritual giving Akito more reason to save the city and hopefully his last remaining family member as well.

The game is open world and allows players to explore a large chunk of Tokyo City, but with vast amounts of land to explore this also means there are plenty of enemies that will try to prevent you from surviving as you traverse across the eeire and ghost ridden city.

There are many different ways to destroy these specters from shooting them with arrows to stealing their spiritual cores, by far the best means of attack is the Dr Strange like magic you can cast. There are three main elemental spells in the game Wind, Water and Fire. You can build these powers up via your skill tree, wearing spiritual bracelets or by finding the Jizo statues.

Speaking of Jizo statues they are one of many collectibles in the game, the side content makes up the bulk of the game considering that without it the main campaigns story would be extremely short.

Compared to the main campaign the side content doesn’t differ too much in fact its more of set list of things to find around the city than it is anything all too interesting. Now of course I am not referring to the side missions in that statement which can be fun but again there isn’t really anything that stands out about them.

Throughout my play through I had the most fun trying to find the hidden tanuki’s, an ongoing mission in the game where red pandas have disguised themselves as everyday objects across the city. It was also one of the only collectibles that offered a reward for completing it that being a tanuki costume.

Visually the game is stunning, it primarily takes place at night and uses the dark and emptiness of the abandoned city to its advantage. Not only can we really appreciate the vast area we can freely explore in the game but the smaller details in its graphics such as light reflection in the water and the use of different textures to increase realism such as adding shine to cars or glow effects on the billboards really helps to make the games visuals one of the best parts of the game and offers a realistic and creepily beautiful city to explore, in fact this is the main reason why I stuck around to commit to the side content as I really was left in awe at the games graphics.

Also I have had my Tokyo vacation pushed back by two years so perhaps I made the most of visiting Tokyo virtually, it does leave me wondering how accurate the actual city the maps are in the game but I suppose I will find that out when I can eventually visit.

The game plays fine and is genuinely really fun to explore but there are things I want to touch upon in a more critical light. First of all there are way too many spirits to collect in the game and they are spread out sometimes in very well hidden places, in all there are 240,300 in the game with each spirit giving you around 100 each time and by that logic then in reality there are still 2403 you need to save. Saving all the spirits does give you some story dialogue but no cutscenes and to my knowledge no rewards but trophies and bragging rights.

My final criticism is also related to the spirits, when you get a cluster of spirits you have to perform a ritual by running your fingers across the touchpad (mouse on PC) or the analog control stick, I could never get this to work and I don’t know if its the PS5 version that has calibration issues or it was just me, thankfully there is an option to just have K.K do it for you which I did eventually choose to do each time, I didn’t notice any repercussions from doing the rituals this way but I still had problems trying to do this the way the game intended, did anyone else have this problem on PS5?

Music

The games composition fits the tone perfectly, all of the music is eerie and simple, its has an empty feeling of sorrow and being lost, the sounds used help to build on the atmosphere of death and being in another world, while walking the desolate streets of Tokyo with nothing but ghosts to keep you company is something this soundtrack pairs with perfectly to help create realism and a feeling of uneasiness.

Overall I really enjoyed this game and I think it has alot going for it as a starting point in this series. The story is outstanding and takes clear inspiration from Japanese Manga and anime, I also really enjoyed the obvious call back to Japanese and pop culture creepypastas and folklore, there are clear inspirations in the enemy designs to the Slender Man, Ningyno, Yahiki Warashi, Tanuki. Yuki Onna, Tengu, Kappa, Oni and Kuchisake-onna among many more.

Visually the game is absolutely stunning and its perfectly crafted soundtrack is one of the most unique examples of how less can mean more especially when you are trying to imply certain feelings and emotions to match the atmousphere.

The only real issues I had were of course the spirits which I previously mentioned and that game feels repetetive throughout, there isn’t much to mix up the gameplay and at times it can drag a little bit but apart from that we have a great starting point here for what I believe could be the next big franchise. The PS5 version did not sell as well as it did on PC but the PC sales are definitely a telling sign that a possible sequel could be coming in the future, the game ends on a cliff hanger which would lead into a second game but it is cleverly directed to be a nice closing scene if a sequel wasn’t to happen as well.

The game is pretty cheap at the moment only costing £30 brand new, so if you get chance to pick a new game I would recommend considering this one as a cheap pick up worth it for the story and call backs to folklore alone 6.7/10

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Movie Games: Wallace and Gromit – The Curse of the Were Rabbit

Welcome to Movie Games a new series where I take a look at videogames that were released to promote new and upcoming movies of the past. In this edition I will be diving into a game I recently got sent in, the game in question is of course the Curse of the Were Rabbit a Wallace and Gromit title released to help promote the 2005 flick of the same name, the game was developed by Frontier Developments and published by Konami. What I will be trying to discover in this series is not only the quality of the title but also how accurate it is to the plot of the movie it is based on so without further ado a very quick and might I add spoiler heavy recap of the movie.

In the movie everyone’s favourite inventor and dog due Wallace and Gromit are running a rabbit catching vegetable protection agency, they watch over the neighbourhood and protect the local gardens from cabbage munching menaces in preparation for the annual vegetable growers competition.

After building up such a good reputation with the neighbourhood they are both called upon by Tottington Hall which is ran by the lovely Lady Tottington, the area is overran by rabbits and Wallace and Gromit humanely manage to capture them all. This is also where we meet the films villain Victor Quartermaine, he is the competitive love interest of Lady Tottington and he wants to shoot all the rabbits to help build his reputation as the towns best hunter.

During the sub plot of the film Wallace tries changing the brainwaves of the rabbits to dislike vegetables so that all of the rabbits they have captured can be released back into the wild without chance of veggie reoffending, however the test goes wrong and while one rabbit does become non interested in healthy foods Wallace gets his brain changed as well ultimately becoming the films main threat the Were Rabbit.

It doesn’t take long for Gromit the figure this one out as he tries his best to hide the secret from the neighbourhood but unfortunately for him and Wallace, Victor soon clocks on and sees an opportunity to become the town hero and take out his competitor of Lady Tottington at the same time making Wallace the next target for his shotgun.

In the films final act after the inevitable “break up scene” between Lady Tottington and Wallace we see Gromit chasing after the Were Rabbit through the festival while taking part in an airborne dog fight with Victors Pup and ultimately taking a bullet for Wallace, Wallace jumps after Gromit’s Plane protecting his beloved dog while also sacrificing himself and ultimately killing the Were Rabbit before returning to human form and waking up thanks to the smell of Stinking Bishop. Victor is defeated by being placed into a female Were Rabbit Suit and being beaten by the local community.

The film ends with Lady Tottington opening a rabbit sanctuary in her Estate for all of the previously captured bunnies including the humanoid Bunny Hutch who still has the personality of Wallace.

The film is very good and maybe one day I will give the movie a full on review and analysis but for now my main question is how did the videogame adaptation hold up?

So to begin I want to point out that’s the games plot is pretty accurate to the film with only a few exceptions to make it work as a videogame, the main difference is that the villain Victor has a more prominent role and actually steals Wallace’s technology to make other Were Creatures.

There are also multiple maps you can explore making the terrain and areas of the game more expansive than the movie and overall in my opinion more realistic to actual British town compared to what was only shown in the flick.

After the final battle Victors fate was left the same although they never opened the bunny sanctuary and the remaining rabbits just kinda live in Wallace and Gromits house.

So with the major differences out of the way lets discuss what this licenced movie game has to offer.

First of all the game is actually pretty good, it is a puzzle platformer where you need to swap between two characters (either Wallace and Gromit or Gromit and Hutch), during the day time the missions you complete are mainly based around gathering items and capturing the little animals that are overruling the local gardens.

At night the gameplay becomes more action based and the missions here need players to defeat the various Were creatures and help protect local residents as they travel between areas.

There are arenas in the game which is something I actually really disliked as they didn’t really feel like they needed to be there and didn’t provide much more than the regular gameplay since they maintained the same general goals of defeating enemies and catching the loose animals.

There are collectable cards to get, you get one for each mission you complete and some others can be found throughout the world maps by completing timed puzzles.

The puzzles were some of the best parts of the journey as each character had different abilities, Wallace was the most diverse as he can use tools such as the Bolt Cutters and the screw driver (Hutch can also use these) Gromit on the other-hand felt a little lacking in his capabilities and didn’t seem to have much to make him stand out apart from the umbrella which allowed him to hover over distances.

Gromit did however have a side game where players could try and grow his marrow for the vegetable competition, you could buy items in the game to help the growth of your marrow as well as decorate the Green House. I really struggled to actually do any good at this side content so I never got to see it too completion.

The game looks pretty impressive for a low budget licensed game and the character designs do suit the Wallace and Gromit universe. That’s not say that the graphics are any special though considering that for a late PS2 game these are quite uninspiring and only really get a pass due to this not being a AAA title.

The game controls very well and I had very little issue with bugs or bad game design.

The games soundtrack really suits the nature of the franchise extremely well with its light hearted and non serious tones, these casual melodies make this feel like a real Aardman project and it wouldn’t surprise me if these were actually tunes from the Wallace and Gromit franchise.

Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit the videogame left me in shock, I really didn’t think I would enjoy the game at all and while it isn’t phenomenal in any sense of the word, for a movie game this is actually one of the better ones, its more creative, expansive and fun than it ever needed to be and if you get the chance to pick this up cheap I highly recommend you give it a go as you may be left pleasantly surprised, it does get a little stale as its gameplay drags around the half way point but with the 2 player co-op the campaign becomes 10 times more bearable and is the best way to play.

6/10

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A Plague Tale: Innocence (2019) Review

A Plague Tale Innocence is the first game in a new video game series from developers Asobo Studios, It was published in 2019 by Focus Interactive for the PS4, Xbox One and PC with a PS5, Xbox Series X/S releases coming out in 2021 Cloud based releases also came out for the Nintendo Switch and Amazon Luna. I played the PS5 version of the game so my opinions are mostly based on that version of the game.

The game takes place between the years 1348 and 1349 in France during the Black Plague and the 100 year war. You play the game as Amicia De Rune who is trying to escape the French Inqusition who want to take away her sick 5 year old brother Hugo so they can run experiments on him due to something in his blood. Since the game also takes place during the plague outbreak avoiding infected rats is also a major key to survival.

The game has a very high focus on stealth, in fact I would argue that this is almost the entire game, I dont mind stealth but I have always struggled with it and normally die a whole bunch which was no different here. I was surprised with how much I actually really enjoyed the stealth gameplay though.

I like how the entire experience is like a puzzle, you can attack enemies with your slingshot to kill them but throughout your journey you do unlock new ways to use your sling with a crafting system, you can make fire, extinguish flames and do an attack that forces soldiers to remove their helmets.

You can even find other ways to get rid of enemies such as throwing rocks and pots to lure them away from your location or you can create a sleeping solution to knock them out, the goal of the game is not to avoid violence but to avoid being seen and it is really fun to figure out different ways to achieve this. Hugo makes this difficult because he is only a child and gets upset if you go too far away from him so for the majority of the game you are holding his hand and need to be sneaky while also making sure to keep him safe as well.

The way that rats work is they only attack in the dark and always come out in groups that will eat you alive. You need to stay in the light or find other ways to distract them, I don’t want to spoil too much but one way to distract the rats is to encourage them to eat the enemies, you can do this by extinguishing enemy fires or by throwing a smelly solution at the French Soldiers to over-empower your own scent. As for Hugo’s secret blood and abilities I wont discuss them in this review as that would be a major spoiler for the game but I will go into a lot more detail when we discuss the upcoming sequel.

Sometimes during the game you have allies that you need to command to help you take out enemies or finish puzzles, this doesn’t happen too often but whenever did happen the game was clear with its hints and I didn’t have too much trouble.

The game looks great visually it fits the theme of desolation, loss and fear that a lot of people had during the time period, the abandoned villages and mass hysteria of certain groups reminds me of the early days of something we all had to suffer through recently and I want to make it clear that in my spare time I am a massive history fanboy. The Black Plague is something I have researched a lot over the years and while of course this is a video game so it does over exaggerate certain things it is what I would expect from a game based during those troubling times. It even makes an effort to be somewhat historically accurate, above you can see white crosses on the doors and in the game Amecia explains that people in those houses have been locked in as they have caught the plague and this is actually true to historical evidence although the crosses were more commonly painted in either red or black.

The soundtrack for the game was composed by Olivier Deriviere a French videogame composer best known for the Alone in the Dark Series. The Music here is very eerie and gives off chilling vibes of loneliness and an odd sense of calm. There isn’t really a lot of big action in the game so the music tends to fit the slower pace with it’s composition and while I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to listen to it I do appreciate what we were given and I look forward to seeing if the composition changes much in the sequel.

A Plague Tale Innocence is best described as a great experience but not one you would really want to revisit straight away, the core gameplay is really good and it works to tell a fantastic and emotional story of two struggling siblings during one of the most horrific pandemics in History. The biggest issue with the game is that it is much too linear, there are collectables but for the most part you are on one path with very little room for exploration, I wish there was more too it perhaps some side quests or morale choices that effect the outcome of your journey, maybe the possibility to play the game in co-op would have been a good addition considering that out of the entire story only a handful of chapters focus on one character.

The game is one of the more affordable options for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, in fact I got this sealed for a measly £20 and for that price its a bargain, I just hope the next chapter in the adventures of Amecia and Hugo just offers a little bit extra and that big reveal at the end plays a much bigger role next time.

7/10

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling

The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter franchise, it was written by J.K Rowling and released in the summer of 2003. This will have spoilers so if you don’t want to see those you may want to skip this

In the book Harry is facing the ministry of magic in a wizarding court after he casts magic outside of school to save his cousin Dudley from the dementors kiss.

Before the hearing Harry is collected by a group of wizards and witches known as the Order of the Phoenix who take him to number 12 Grimmauld Place the childhood home of his god father Sirius Black. The Order of Phoenix is a secret organisation created by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore with the goal to fight against Lord Voldemort and his Army. The order has gained many members over the years but some of the most recognisable names are Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Abefore Dumbledore, Mad Eye Moody, Lily and James Potter, Arthur and Molly Weasly and Nymphadora Tonks.

After the trial a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher called Delores Umbridge was hired at Hogwarts, as a member of the Ministry of Magic she believes herself to be of a much higher hierarchy and while she puts on a sweet natured appearance she is actually one of the most sadistic and evil characters in the franchise.

Of course Harry does eventually manage to get his name cleared when evidence that he was defending Dudley is brought to light but its quite clever how this trial plays into the beliefs and emotions of other characters. Some students start to believe that Harry may have killed Cedric Diggory during the Tri Wizard Cup and due to strange dreams he is having which all end up becoming true even Headmaster Albus Dumbledore keeps his distance for the majority of the school year even though it was for good reasons explained much later into the novel.

Delores takes a particular dislike to Harry Potter during detentions she make him write lines that would then cut into his arms and wrists leaving him bleeding and in pain, she even goes as far as to attempt the cruciatis curse but is quickly stopped. For those who don’t know the cruciatis curse is one of the most dangerous illegal spells due to its intense pain and eventually turning its receivers to insanity, the most famous case was how it was used to torture and destroy the minds of Alice and Frank Longbottom.

Another character worth mentioning here is Grawp the half brother of Hagrid, Grawp is a full blooded giant but is still considered short in stature for the species, in the book he lives in the forbidden forest and is being taken care of by Hagrid, Grawp has some serious communication difficulties and struggles with understanding his own strength and peoples personal boundaries.

Of course the book also very sadly gives us the murder of Sirius Black who was killed by Bellatrix la strange in the department of mysteries. This death always hits me quite hard since Sirius Black is easily one of my favourite characters in the franchise.

Some of the differences to the movie worth highlighting are that once again in the movies I think the fact that in the book both Ron and Hermione become prefects is worth mentioning, of course Sytherin gets Prefect Draco as well giving the bully even more power than hes ever deserved.

In the film Neville steals one of Dobby the House Elf’s biggest moments that being the discovery of the Room or Requirement where Harry eventually teaches students how to produce protronuses and other difficult spells as he build Dumbledores Army.

A change that really caught me of guard was that in the book Cho Chang is not the person who told Umbridge about Dumbledores army and infact it was actually another Ravenclaw student called Marietta Edgecombe.

Another detail left from the movie was the reveal that Umbridge sent the dementors after Harry Potter as the Ministry didn’t want the return of Voldemort to become public knowledge, just going to show how evil she really is and how messed up the Ministry can be as well.

Overall I did enjoy this book but so far it has been my least favourite and it just never grabbed my attention like previous titles in the series. Coming back to Harry Potter from the last book this was disappointing in the sense that it just kinda drags in places and is a little hard to follow, it just seems like so much is going on and its hard keep track at times. It does have some great action sequences and one of my favourite villains being Umbridge, also the scenes that show Snape’s past with Lily Potter are very well written and show the potions master in a much more sympathetic light. I also think its important that James Potter was shown to be a bully to Snape as it does really explain his hatred towards Harry since his birth practically brought on James death along with Lily leaving Snape heartbroken.

I would argue that this is a really good book but I just much preferred the Goblet of Fire and just hope that the 6th book in series manages to become a new favourite of mine.

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