Features

Night in the Woods: Brilliant indie game you should try

Wish I’d played it sooner!

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I know, I know. It’s been over a year since the first release of Night in the Woods, but if you need little bit more than just a release and a trailer to give an indie game a try, let me tell you here and now: This game deserves to be on your must-play list and I’ll tell you why in this review.

Night in the Woods has been nominated for many awards since its release and to this day, has been earning critics’ and players’ acclaim for its story and design. It won the Writing in a Comedy award at the National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards and has recently rightfully earned Excellence in Narrative at the Independent Games Festival Competition Awards at the Game Developer’s Conference this year.

The game’s design is charmingly simplistic, the music score is unforgettable, and the cryptic story line leaves you wanting more; but when you sink your teeth into it, it will leave you feeling strangely reflective. If you let it, this game will stick to you even long after you’ve finished playing.

What will pull you in

Whether you’ve installed the game with high expectations or none at all, the game will stun you with its characters. In Night in the Woods, you play as Mae, a college drop-out who returns to her hometown, Possum Springs. Her return shifts the dynamic the town has sustained since she left for school.

And, that’s not all. When you explore the world of Possum Springs, you not only reunite with family and reignite your friendships, but you also slowly encounter strange ambiguous pieces of darkness hidden within the town.

There are a lot of mysteriously vague loose storylines at the beginning that come at you when you start off talking to people in the town. The game begins with you in a bus stop having left college behind. When Mae comes back to the town, she’s forced to walk back home — her father forgets the day she’d be back. You wander off the next day to meet her friends only to find one of them, Casey, missing.

That’s a striking contrast to the most charming part of the game which is the characters. From broad-daylight stargazing with your high school professor; to late-night diner adventures with friends; to spending time by the train tracks with a new-found friend, Night in the Woods will tug at your heartstrings with its earnest characters.

Subtleties that pull at heartstrings

Night in the Woods will reel you in with stunningly reflective moments wherein characters develop into intimate conversations. How much they tell you of their story will depend on how often you converse and hang out with them every day.

It’s good to note though that there’s more to just talking to your three friends. While playing, I highly recommend wandering around the town. The game gives you so much time and space to wander about and if anything, this is what makes this game amazing.

You can wander outside the area, hop around rooftops, and make new friends. The town definitely changes day after day and you’ll find yourself meeting surprising characters if you’re meticulous enough to notice.

Slow-paced but beautifully so

You’ll realize quickly that this game is not as action-packed as most and it can feel a bit of a drag once you get used to the town. I found myself struggling to care when I began playing but over time, I’d gotten hooked. Much to the title’s credit though, it puts so much effort on the little subtle stories within the town. You can really notice the time and effort put into the game’s storyboard and it pays off.

If you’re feeling a bit bored from the general routine you’ve built in the game, that’s fine. This may be a sign you should visit parts of the town you didn’t know you could. Even when you’re told to not do things, it’s fine to jump on reckless parts of the town — maybe even hop on the electric wires even after being told not to.

Fun games within the game

Luckily, if you’re not feeling like talking to your friends or people in the town, there are mini-games within the main title that might suck you deeper into the game. I can take back the lack of action in Night in the Woods with the mini-game, Demon Tower. It’s an arcade hack ‘n’ slash game that’s installed into Mae’s laptop where you can also have her chat with friends.

This game is addictive, and sometimes too much so, that you forget you’re in another game — game-ception, I swear.

Another mini-game you can play is a music rhythm game with your bass in Mae’s room. Mae plays the bass and aside from getting to play during practice with your friends, you get to practice in your room whenever you feel like mastering a song before performing with your friends. This one was a bit of a challenge to play on a controller — here we go with excuses again. But, really.

This game is properly tough and challenging so if you manage to perfect every song I send you all of my undoubted respect.

What reels you back into it

If you think you’re beginning to lose interest in the game, it dumps you straight back into the plot. There are moments that stick out when you go about your daily life and you think the game has had its run. Then, something happens and it kicks you back into the seeping darkness that lurks in the town. It brings you straight back into the main plot after allowing you to explore the town for a while.

There is something wrong with the town and you learn that through Mae’s dreams and little hints while you speak with people in the town. There are instances that characters around you begin to have a resounding sense of resignation to the growing troubles of the place. This, more than anything, had me running around every inch of the town being straight-up investigative and borderline paranoid.

Tears through real-world dilemmas

Night in the Woods deals with a lot of real-life and relatable subjects. From the struggles to have ends meet with financials, the wearing friendship due to unresolved jealousy, the existential crises wrapping itself around you day after day, and even the honest urge to leave the town to start anew. Much of the game is wonderfully written and it manages to throw hilarious lines from beginning to end, without making anything that happens in the world feel out of place.

You can undoubtedly feel for each character in what they’re going through and that is pretty ballsy to say seeing as most of the characters in the game are anthropomorphic animals. Night in the Woods is just an overall well-thought-out game. No character feels forced. Even in many cases, you have a false sense of control of Mae when she talks since you control her dialogue.

But, that doesn’t stop her from being the pesky brat that she is. Your choices are limited as well, and she will do things you didn’t sign up for. Even I caught myself feeling like there wasn’t much else to do besides watch and laugh at the train-wreck she’s so recklessly created.

Calls for a replay

If you’re a full-fledged completionist, I wish you the best of luck because this game is tough to complete all the achievements for. This game will require a second playthrough and maybe even more. There are so many secrets in the game and looking for them is a bit of a headache. On the bright side, you learn more and more about every single person in the town.

Night in the Woods rewards you with depth when you put the time into playing the game. The game calls for your attention without forcing it upon the player. At first, the ambiguity will frustrate you and will make you feel like creating a limp story behind all the unexplainable hints, but playing it a second time will be refreshing. You won’t run out of spots to explore in the town on your second run. I was genuinely surprised to have missed so many conversations on my first go at the game.

Is this your game match?

This game is undeniably gorgeous. It has characters that you feel for — if not relate to on a deeper level. The story is haunting, the design is stunning, and the music is catchy. It’s a game you should most definitely try out. There are so many parts that stole my heart so quickly. I caught myself relating to every character in the game — even the struggle of missed opportunities.

Although it’s slow-paced when it comes to building back into the main plot, it’s only because it’s space for you to rediscover the town you left behind for college — and that’s great. Even if exploring lore, character build, and clever design bore you over time, that’s perfectly fine. This game is still worth a try. Playing it with a friend will most definitely help.

If you want to give it a go, the game is on Steam for US$ 19.99.

SEE ALSO: Small Talk: A new beautifully engaging indie game

SEE ALSO: God of War: An older Kratos needs a wiser you

First Look

realme 8 5G Unboxing and First Impressions

Midrange game changer?

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Game-changer. It’s a bold adjective to use, especially when you’re describing a smartphone that’s situated in a competitive midrange segment. But realme has always dared to leap, and they’re doing exactly that with the realme 8 5G.

They’re calling it a 5G game-changer. It will require more extensive testing to determine whether that’s true or not, but for the meantime, here are our first impressions of realme’s newest offering.

But first, a quick rundown of the specifications for this device.

Display 6.5-inch IPS LCD display, 90 hZ 1080p
Processor MediaTek MT6833 Dimensity 700 5G (7nm)
RAM + ROM 128 GB ROM/8GB RAM
Cameras 48MP primary camera (wide)
2MP macro camera
2MP depth sensor
Battery 5000 mAh

 

The phone comes in realme’s signature yellow box. No surprises there.

Taking out the lid, you’re greeted by a short note from the brand. Nice touch!

Going through the rest of the box, you’ll find your usual set of manuals, a charging cable, and your charging brick. Realme also included a case for free out of the box. Good stuff!

It makes a good first impression, but can it last?

Out of the box, the first thing you notice is how pretty the device is. Without touching it, you’d think it was made out of glass. But in reality, they used plastic for this device. The radiant light effect is definitely a nice touch.

Outside of the fingerprint smudges you’ll definitely be leaving on the back, you’d want to rock this phone without a case.

The realme 8 5G uses a curved back for added ergonomics. The phone is well-built, and it doesn’t feel cheap even if plastic was realme’s material of choice.

That extra feeling of sturdiness matters, especially in a competitive midrange market. First impressions can make or break whether you get a smartphone or not. In this case, realme passed with flying colors. Early indications suggest that realme has a winner with the 8 5G.

That’s all we have on realme’s newest midrange offering for now. We’ll be testing the device to see whether the realme 8 5G can truly #CaptureInfinitePossibilitiesWith5G.

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Huawei MatePad 2021 Unboxing and First Impressions

The device for people on the go!

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Huawei has updated its primary tablet the Huawei Matepad. Come and join me as we unbox the new Huawei MatePad 2021.

Unboxing

Starting off, we have the box. A clean and simple look, but definitely pleasing! The front of the box shows us the branding and the name of the device.

A Huawei logo on the upper left corner, the AppGallery on the lower right, and on the lower left, the screen size of the device.

The box also has an interesting texture, only on the top cover though.

Opening the box, we have the device itself wrapped in fine paper and a pull tab to assist you when lifting the device out of the box.

Underneath the device, you are presented with two boxes. One box for the charging brick…

and the second containing the paperwork, USB Type-C cable, a 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor, and a warranty card.

Only the larger box is removable so be careful not to rip out the smaller box. Behind the larger box is the sim ejector tool, be sure to keep it safe!

Huawei MatePad

Removing the paper, we now see the simple but gorgeous Huawei MatePad in the “Midnight Grey” colorway. Be sure to remove the sticker — it’s optional but I suggest that you do.

The device itself is lightweight and easy to carry around, as a slim device it’s very easy to place it in a bag and you will have no problem carrying it around all day.

Starting off at the front, you will see the 10.4-inch screen with the camera at the top. Referring to the format at the back of the device, the front-facing camera is placed at the top.

On the left side of the device, you will be able to find the speakers along with the sleep/wake button. The right side shows you another pair of speakers and a charging port.

The top shows 4 microphones with the volume up and down button at the very left.

Heading over to the back you’ll be able to see the single-shooter camera, the Huawei branding, and an indication of their partnership with Harman/Kardon. The camera is accompanied by a flash and a microphone.

Specs

  • Display: 10.4-inch 2000×1200 IPS, 225 PPI
  • Processor: Huawei Kirin 820 series
  • Memory: RAM – 4GB, ROM – 128GB
  • Camera: 8MP front, 8MP rear
  • Battery: 7250mAh

Final thoughts

Finally, now we have unboxed the new Huawei MatePad. With this, the device itself feels good to the touch and is a good size for a tablet. Additionally, the “Midnight Grey” colorway of the MatePad is a great choice, it doesn’t collect fingerprints easily and the device is lightweight so you don’t have to worry when taking it with you anywhere.

The initial setup of the new MatePad was fast and easy, there are pre-loaded apps that are ready to use. Although I’m not sure if it’s just me or the apps change from time to time when you open the designated folders of the pre-loaded apps. For media consumption, the experience was good. Although the YouTube app was not the same as the ones we see on our devices, it works well as it should.

The screen looks good so far with the 2000×1200 IPS display, trying a few videos and films, the quality was great. Additionally, the speakers are a huge boost to the volume — loud but good quality. The MatePad also doesn’t have a 3m5mm headphone jack, luckily, they provided an adaptor. The MatePad is looking good so far, stay tuned for the next article as we are going deep and we’ll be having a full review of the Huawei MatePad 2021.

 

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Features

Virtual Assistants reimagined as animé characters

Voice assistants no more!

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Virtual assistants

What if we gave a face to our favorite virtual assistants? That’s a question that sparked among us when Virtual Assistant Sam made the Internet go nuts.

After seeing people’s reception towards an animated assistant, we decided to commission Ange Salasiban, an artist based in the Philippines. Here, we reimagine how the popular voice assistants would look like.

Google Assistant

Not a girl, and not a robot. Google Assistant is giving us Janet’s vibes from the comedy show The Good Place. After all, Google decided to give it a gender-neutral name — and multiple voice options — to make them a personality that can serve depending on a user’s need.

In a way, we reimagine Google Assistant as a femme-presenting non-binary persona, albeit looking like a cis, blond woman, who’s knowledgeable and conversational, and isn’t defined nor limited by their gender to do certain tasks. It’s a much-needed representation in our society, slowly paving the way to encourage acceptance.

SEE ALSO: Google wants Samsung to favor Google Assistant over Bixby

Apple’s Siri

Apple’s Siri is sassy, sophisticated, and definitely a trendsetter. She most likely has a million followers and built a social media empire in her teens.

A celebrity-like persona, whatever Siri does encourages her cult-like community to follow her. Whether it’s dyeing her hair with an attention-grabbing color, sporting a new style to wear for Coachella, or even eating at a hip restaurant around Brooklyn. Although, she’s loud most of the time she talks and takes a lot of mirror selfies in every mirror she passes by.

She’s giving us major Leo vibes bordering between obnoxious and self-absorbed. But what made her cult-like community love her is her ability to connect and create a conversation. People just love it when they’re a part of a story, or if the lines of communication are open. And Siri is definitely a people person.

SEE ALSO: Apple’s Siri listens to private conversations, sexual adventures

Amazon’s Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa, in our reimagination, is the resourceful friend we all have in our lives. You might’ve mistaken them as Virgo multiple times because of their ability to provide information exactly the way you needed it.

After all, Alexa is well-rounded and possesses a versatile set of skills. She’s analytical, methodical, and highly organized. She’s a reliable friend that you can trust when it comes to finding solutions, as long as she’s not busy cooking and cleaning her home filled with gadgets and smart appliances — that probably make her life better.

SEE ALSO: How Alexa wants to be your round-the-clock assistant

Microsoft’s Cortana

Miss Ma’am Cortana, step on us. Kidding aside, Cortana is that intimidating yet softie superior in your office. She’s smart, sexy, and talented that you might even question your sexuality.

She looks serious and determined most of the time, kinda like a Capricorn. Though ambitious and goal-oriented, Cortana knows how to bond with her team, sometimes bringing out dark humor due to her sardonic personality.

Nonetheless, Cortana knows how to get a job done, and knows how to simplify tasks without using too many resources. She’s the efficient team leader we all need.

SEE ALSO: Even Microsoft listens to your Skype and Cortana recordings 

Jang Yeong-sil

If you haven’t watched Start-Up, you need to rethink your life. The hit K-drama showcased Jang Yeong-sil as the superior voice assistant that enabled two-way communication for the blind through an app called NoonGil.

Though the show *spoiler alert* introduced a character in the final episode with the same voice as Jang Yeong-sil, that didn’t stop us from reimagining the virtual assistant into this hot, gorgeous guy sporting the latest Samsung devices.

He’s classy, sexy, sometimes cheeky, and definitely a looker but you won’t see him bragging about it. He can be a good friend or a chivalrous partner that you might want to introduce to your parents. Or even envision marrying him in the future.

SEE ALSO: GadgetMatch Reacts: Netflix’s Start-Up

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