Bottle: Pilgrim, A Journey of One Man’s Loss

I feel that, as individuals, we often tend to get caught up in the stresses and anxieties of our daily lives. Whether we’ve lost a family member, gotten a hard-earned raise at work, or sank deep into the depths of depression, there’s an alluring feeling that nothing matters when we do anything with our lives, good or bad. Things in life just seem to flow from one event to the next, the current stopped only by an underwater boulder that catches us by our swimsuit and rips apart the fabric upon which we’re swimming.

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Stellaris. Or, Taking Over the Galaxy, One Star System at a Time

Welcome, Star Slime! For that is what you shall henceforth be known as while I address this letter to you and your budding strategists for conquering the galaxy.

First things first, who likes unemployment? Yes? Me too. I love not working. Or… no? Okay, you might not like this game. And I’m not just talking about unemployment in the real world, because that’d be too easy to sum up this review letter! No, you’ll also experience unemployment on the planets that you colonize and conquer throughout your journey to become the greatest space-faring civilization in your randomly generated galaxy’s history!

WOOOOOO! Unemployment!!!
  1. There are Fallen Empires. These are ancient civilizations, thousands of years old, that rapidly progressed in technological progress before falling off the deep end and stagnating for several hundred to a thousand years.

There are also empires that somehow developed and progressed to the point of FTL travel at the exact same time as your empire in the year 2200 on 01/01/2200. How exactly every regular empire in the game managed to acquire FTL travel at the exact same time as your civilization is beyond me, but hey, this game is customizable and interpretive. Write your own narrative for it! You can choose among the pre-made empires and races, or you can create your own, giving them their own copious backstory and other minuet details to create not just the basis for a perfect galactic species, but a perfect galactic empire filled with many species.

So many buildings and things to see… so little work to do…

Ultimately, I play my empire fairly standard. I’ve been trying to get as many Steam achievements as possible, so I play on Iron Man mode right now, which is great fun and hard because you can’t just save and go back when your empire is getting crushed by a 5x more powerful crisis.

I modeled my empire after the Roman Republic and called it the Triarian Republic. Parallel to Roman civilization, my galactic civilization began as a republic, then transformed into a full-blown imperial empire after I acquired Psionic traits and contacted the Shroud (basically mental telepathy equivalent to the battle meditation ability in Star Wars KOTOR II, but way cooler and the whole species can use it). I am accepting of all the galaxy’s species as long as they are subservient to my Empire’s will. The big difference between my empire and the Roman one? Mine is led mainly by a venerable group of bipedal lizards and my God-Empress is immortal (please don’t get the drug abuser trait, God-Empress! I love you, live forever).

So, Star Slime, are you ready for the worst? Because you’ll also have to fight endgame crises! Invaders from other dimensions, inter-galactic devourers, and sentient AI that tries to take over the galaxy as well!

Doesn’t this all sound like fun? Are you feeling it now Mr. Slime? Are you feeling it now Mr. Slime? Are you feeling it now? Are you feeling it…

… the grind of exploring a randomly generated galaxy. The rising unemployment of a diverse empire. Developing your species to be mental telepathics. And ultimately taking over a galaxy filled with mortal dangers that could destroy your empire at any moment and cause you to cry at all the progress you lost in-game?

Does this all sound like fun? Yes! Look, I know I’m painting out this game to be more of a time-sucking bore than it is a great strategy game, but I’ve sunk over 280 hours into the game since May of last year. This is an incredibly relaxing and slow-going game up until you get sucked into a war with a Fallen Empire you can’t beat. But the game is equal bits empire management and equal bits space-battles. And it’s entirely in real time, which is an awesome way of saying that you get to watch your empire conquer other empires without having to wait for the AIs next moves. Your empire will constantly be progressing, and the reward for picking the right technological, warfare, and economic upgrade is that you develop your empire faster and faster until, before you know it, you’ve conquered the entirety of the fictional Andromeda Galaxy! If that’s what you want to call it, of course.

Next time I’ll talk about Death Stars… ahem, I meant The Colossus.

Destroying planets full of life! Hurray!

Score: 9/10

Rome: Total War, the Greatest War Video Game Soundtrack Ever Made

Music is Best, Even During the Loading Screen

The slow, deep and brooding horns of Rome: Total War that play shortly before the loading screen segues into the start menu is one of the best ways to introduce a player to a video-game focusing on the conquest of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa during the late BC era. Of course, the intro showing the nowadays poorly rendered preview of the real-time battles is equally as inviting and stirring for the war generals in us all, but the real fun begins when you finally get to choose your first of three Roman factions (Julii, Brutii, Scipii) and enter into the immersive conquest mode.

And then the song for the loading screen before starting the campaign enters. Another slow and mystical entry of sound, with bells, big drums, and heavy-end stringed instruments plays together, an imitation of the slowl turn-based commencements of diplomacy and trade coupled with the intense excitements of real-time battle awaiting us players shortly after the wars really begin.

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Wintersun’s The Forest Seasons Album Review (Retrospective)

Wintersun’s third album The Forest Seasons was released July 21st, 2017 after a five year lull in time from when Time I was released. Given the expectation that Time II would be released instead, concept album The Forest Seasons is musically a change of direction for the band, although it still retains the orchestrations from their previous album. The album goes through each of the four seasons, bringing a musical mood and theme to each one. The Forest Seasons also has a vastly improved organic sound when it comes to mixing orchestrations right beside and underneath the layers of droning guitar riffs, artificial drums (which still fit the nature of the album), tight bass lines and vocals that range from heroic to terrifying and include an ensemble of singers on “The Forest That Weeps (Summer)”.

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Shazam! Review (Spoilers)

DC Comics for the last six years has been known for having various pitfalls within its EU movies, and after the critically acclaimed Dark Knight series, the release of Man of Steel began a 2010s trend of movies with dark, neutral, horribly bad undertones that continued through Zack Snyder’s reign over the movies. Superheroes yelling “Yeah!” and “Alright” (looking at you Aquaman) clearly hasn’t been the best idea for DC to keep following up on. Now, however, their movies are truly starting to find their own identity, one separate from Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Batman V. Superman movies and that can rival even Marvel’s EU going into the next generation of superhero movies. The switch that’s helping DC? Giving each new movie an equal mixture of its own identity while creating a fun and comedic atmosphere and having the dark undertones from previous movies (being an orphan looks like it’d suck, to be honest).

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FM’s Direct to Disc, Album Review (1978)

Imagine yourself stranded in a desolate spaceship, looking down the long hallway of a metallic gray corridor. Five doors on each side surround you, and in order to escape this spaceship and find your way back to safety, you have to go through each door in order to find the exit. Some of the doors are locked, some of them aren’t locked but won’t budge, and only two of the doors will open.

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