Robert Wm. Gomez's

Vertigo by Hermann, Bernard (6/10)

Format: 
CD

In my limited listening experience, all Bernard Hermann scores sound pretty much the same. I got this mostly based on Laika and the Cosmonauts' cover of "Scene D'Amour." Along with that track, there are a few exciting moments on this CD, but for the most part this is forgettable and samey.

A Chinese Odyssey (Parts 1 & 2) (6/10)

Long before he directed Journey to the West, Stephen Chow starred in this version of the Monkey King's story. The story is divided into two movies: "Pandora's Box" and "Cinderlla." I enjoyed the first part which felt like a lighthearted Chow film with fun characters, slapstick humor and a simple plot. But the second part is a confusing mess of time travel and body swapping. By the end, I literally had no idea what was going on.

Machinarium on PC (7/10)

Macinarium

Okay, first things first. Machinarium is a beautiful game with excellent art direction, sound and music. However, something about this point-and-click adventure just didn't... er... click for me. It could be the fact that the game erased my save files halfway through my first attempt. I didn't pick it up again for at least a month after that. But I think this is just a little too puzzley for my tastes. At times I really didn't have any motivation other than there was a guy who had an object that would obviously be useful somewhere.

The Wave by Todd Strasser (5/10)

This short novel tries to show how it was possible for normal German's to just sit back and let the Nazi's take over. Apparently all it takes is for one history teacher to treat his students like a drill instructor would and you have an instant fascist movement. I never really bought the whole concept. It was kind of like reading an ABC After School Special.

Teenagent on Ms-DOS (3/10)

Teenagent

You can download and play Teenagent for free from GOG.com, and, because of my obsessive-compulsive nature when it comes to completing games I own, I felt obliged to give it a whirl. It took about 45 minutes of frustration for me to realize that this point-and-click adventure really wasn't worth the logic-defying effort. This game commits all the puzzle design sins of 90's adventure games. It's the type of game design that pretty much killed the genre.

Outlast on PC (8/10)

Outlast

Outlast is one of the most nerve-racking games I have played. The game delights in distracting your attention then blasting you with a heart-stopping jump scare. The first couple of hours, when you don't really know what to expect, are the worst. This is a stealth game in which you have no weapons, no means of defending yourself. Your only tool is a video camera with an infrared mode to help you see in the darkness. Other than that, the available options to avoid being killed are either to hide or to run. As the game progressed, I realized that running was far more useful than cowering under a bed or in a locker.

Shadowrun Returns on PC (7/10)

Shadowrun Returns

I was initially drawn to the isometric art style of this turn-based RPG. My hope was that it would play like Wasteland 2 but I wasn't sure what to expect. The combat is similar, but it has nowhere near the depth and strategy. I some ways that's good. Shadowrun Returns feels much more casual and less nitpicky with things like ammo and inventory management. But, even though it's party-based, you only really control the development of your one character. The other combatants are just expendable hired hands with little to no backstory.

Home on PC (3/10)

Home

At first you'd think Home was a retro-looking point and click adventure, but that would be giving it too much credit. It's really one of those trendy, arty indy games that supposed to be a deep meditation on interactive storytelling. In other words it's a bore.

Bulletstorm on PC (8/10)

Bulletstorm Kick of Death

I went into Bulletstorm not knowing anything other than I heard there was a lot of cursing in the dialogue. Well, that much was true. This is a first person shooter based around the mechanic of building elaborate kills in order to score points. The points can then be used to buy ammo and upgrade weapons. Higher scores can be had by utilizing your grappling tether or your powerful kick to throw enemies into the various sharp objects that litter the landscape.

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth (8/10)

Billed as a travelogue, this book covers the culture, politics and history of the Nordic countries from the perspective of a British ex-pat. While overall the book is positive about the region, it does a good job pointing out the consequences of the much lauded welfare state systems. The key take away is that, in exchange for cradle to grave comfort, you lose the spontaneous and unpredictable character of wild west capitalism. Gone are the weirdos and visionaries. In its place is bland food, suicide, unemployment, and an economies teetering on collapse should the price of oil change...