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

Automotive

Tech in Cars: Towards a Safer and Worry-Free Driving Experience

It might just save your life

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Here at GadgetMatch, we appreciate good technology seen on the latest smartphones and power-packed computers. These improve lives and get things done more efficiently. But apart from those, we also recognize technology in vehicles that helps ensure safety and even save lives.

Automotive companies like Ford continues to find ways to make technology relevant to today’s needs of both drivers and passengers. With these tools, Ford was able to enhance not only safety but even comfort and the overall driving experience. Let’s take a look at one of their best-selling SUVs — the Ford Everest — and see what it has in store in terms of safety tech.


SYNC 3

Think back to all the vehicular accidents you’ve heard of due to texting, being on a call, or simply changing the radio station while driving. Ford’s third iteration of SYNC aims to keep your eyes on the road while still keeping you connected.

SYNC 3 is Ford’s in-car connectivity system that allows drivers to use voice commands to effortlessly control and access the Everest’s entertainment system, climate controls, and connected mobile device. By just simply reciting the name, SYNC 3 enables you to call your family and friends and listen to text messages. With this feature, you’ll be able to prevent distracted driving and commit your full attention to the road.

Active Park Assist

There’s no shame in having a hard time parking. I myself still need a few back and forth when space is really tight while parallel parking. And if you have a sizable SUV like the Everest, the driver can be blindsided in certain angles. This is where Ford’s Active Park Assist comes in handy as it basically parks the vehicle itself for you.

This technology helps you find the appropriate space for the Everest and carefully steers itself into the slot through the use of ultrasonic sensors found around the vehicle. All the driver needs to do is to simply switch the gears and take control of the accelerator and the brakes. All the maneuvering will be done by the system. Pretty useful, right?

Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert

Aiming to enhance visibility while driving, the Blind Spot Information System uses a pair of indicator lights on both side mirrors that alert you if there’s a vehicle approaching your blind spot. This way, you know when it’s safe to change lanes and when a vehicle is nearby.

On the other hand, its Cross Traffic alert system is useful for when you back out of parking. Using sensors, it notifies you in three different ways whenever a vehicle is coming from either direction.

Lane Keeping System

Long drives with the family are fun until you’re the only one awake and driving while the rest are enjoying their naps. And in case you also start to feel those heavy eyes, you’d be glad to know that the company’s Lane Keeping System will kick in to potentially save the day.

When the system senses that you’re switching lines without any indicators on, it will give you an alert through vibrations in the steering wheel. Not only that, torque is automatically applied and will nudge the vehicle back to its lane by itself if the vehicle still continues to drift into the next lane.

Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning

Cruise control is such a comfortable feature to have during long drives. Although a common scenario is the series of turning the system on and off due whenever the vehicle in front slows down. Ford addresses this with the Adaptive Cruise Control that senses slow moving traffic and returns to the pre-set speed once the road clears up.

Additionally, another common reason for accidents is when the vehicle in front suddenly brakes. When this happens, Collision Warning will activate showing a brake light warning on the windscreen and pre-charging the brakes. With this, the driver would have a bit more time to react and that split second could just save you from repair costs — or even injuries.

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Features

Huawei ban in full swing: Weekend Rewind

Pretty much everyone is steering clear of Huawei

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Here are the top stories on GadgetMatch this week.

1. Huawei Ban in full swing

This news had everyone buzzing this week: the US government bans Huawei’s dealings on American soil over potential security issues.


The first and biggest domino to fall following the ban is Google blacklisting Huawei from using its Android services. The ban isn’t immediate though as Huawei was granted a 90-day extension so it can work out a long-term solution.

The ban has trickled down to other companies with Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm reportedly staying away from Huawei. According to Bloomberg‘s sources, the US chipmakers will freeze their supply deals with Huawei for now. UK-based chip designer ARM is also following the ban since its designs hold “US origin technology.”

The ban inevitably has far reaching effects with some stores and brands in markets like Singapore and the Philippines dropping the brand altogether. This is happening despite involved companies downplaying the effects of the ban.

Huawei is continuing to work with Google for now but the company also announced earlier in the year that it is working on a non-Android operating system for its smartphones. There are no other updates on that front but you can bet development may need to be expedited.

If you’re an existing Huawei user, your device will function as is for the time being. Even if you think about trading your gadget, you may have limited options. GadgetMatch is following the story closely so keep it locked in for updates so you can make an informed choice.

2. Honor 20 launch proceeds despite Huawei ban

The Huawei ban didn’t stop its sister-brand Honor from releasing its latest flagship — the Honor 20 series including the Honor 20 Pro, Honor 20, Honor 20 Lite, and Honor 20 Pro Moschino edition.

Best of the bunch is the Honor 20 Pro whose main draw is its quad-camera setup. It has a main 48-megapixel sensor with an f/1.4 lens aperture (the biggest opening we know on mobile phones), optical image stabilization, PDAF, and laser autofocus. It also has AI tricks like Ultra Clarity and Super Night modes.

Watch our unboxing and hands-on to find out more about the Honor 20 Pro.

3. Xperia exits several markets

Sony’s mobile business hasn’t been able to keep in step with the current players today and effects are showing. Xperia will pull out in other markets including the rest of Asia, Australia, Canada, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

However, this doesn’t mean Sony Xperia is completely waving the white flag. The company, for now, is focusing on just a few markets: Europe, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Sony is taking two steps back but it has every intention to continue growing its mobile business.

4. MacBook Pro gets annual update

Apple‘s popular line of pro notebooks is getting more powerful with Intel’s new 8th- and 9th-gen Core chips.

The MacBook Pro refresh for mid-2019 greatly benefits the 15-inch model with Touch Bar. The base model now has a 6-core i7 processor and its high-end sibling has an 8-core i9 processor. It can be configured to an even more powerful 8-core i9 chip which can turbo boost up to 5.0GHz.

The 13-inch Touch Bar models also get a processor refresh with the base model now equipped with a faster 8th-gen quad-core i5. It can be upgraded to a quad-core i7 with a turbo boost of up to 4.7GHz.

5. Sony reveals more details about the PS5

Although exact details have been scarce, Sony hasn’t been shy about giving us PlayStation 5 crumbs.

Wall Street Journal tech reporter Takashi Mochizuki was present at Sony’s most recent gaming presentation and took a video of a comparison between the loading times of the PS5 and PS4 Pro. Predictably, the PS5’s was blazing fast.

We already know that the PS5, should it be named that, will support backwards compatibility ensuring that first owners of the console will still be able to play titles released for the PS4. Other than that, we’re still waiting for an official release date.

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Automotive

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo: A Stylish Speedster

It’s your everyday sports car

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One of the biggest factors when buying a new car, apart from function, is how it looks. The impact of that first glance. Something that would make you look twice. Some of us have that desire to break the norm and it seems like Hyundai took note of this demand — and made it fast.

The grille is flanked with LED headlamps partnered with Daytime Running Lights

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is the second of its generation and now has a more assertive exterior than its predecessor. The most noticeable part? Its redesigned front grille. It now comes in this meshed pattern with sharper edges and, if you ask me, this alone gives the car a more aggressive presence.


Then we go to the rest of the exterior and we see those subtle lines that add to the sporty vibe of this vehicle. From the hood to the wheel arches — these accents make the Veloster look like it’s always moving.

At the back we also have this eye-catching pair of LED tail lamps plus a rear spoiler with the third brake light. Rounding up the whole sporty look is a rear bumper diffuser to improve the car’s aerodynamics.

Other notable details include side mirrors with signal repeaters and sexy 18-inch alloy wheels. If you’re already familiar with the first Veloster, then you’d know that it’s unconventional in a way that it only has one door for the driver’s side while the other has the usual two. Some call it weird. I’d like to call it style.

In terms of features, the 2019 Veloster has the bells-and-whistles for the tech-savvy. There’s keyless entry, a mechanical seat for the driver, telescopic steering wheel, voice commands, and support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Those are just some of the things the vehicle assists you with before you start your day. And of course, there’s more for the drive ahead!

Your main hub for music, navigation, calls, and more is an 8-inch floating display. For controls, the steering wheel has buttons for Bluetooth as well as audio and cruise control.

Important driver information and settings can be accessed through the digital dash

In the age of smartphones, charging on-the-go is of utmost importance and with the Veloster, you get more than one option. There are two USB ports up front plus a special wireless charger just below it. Of course, your phone has to support this feature for it to work, but if it does, it feels good knowing you don’t have to fumble over plugging the cable to your phone — while you’re in the car, at least.

And for when you want more light during the day or when it’s simply colder at night, you can open the moonroof and let the breeze roll in. Added comfort creatures like this make the Veloster a package for those who like having fun on the road.

One of the things I love about its interior is how the black and red color of the exterior continues here. Its bucket seats wrapped in leather offer a premium feel for the driver and passengers alike.

The company is obviously keen to details as one can see in the cabin of the vehicle. From the buttons and knobs that reflect its sporty DNA to the ergonomics and materials used to make each ride as comfortable as possible.

Being a Turbo variant, it’s powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine. Power is then transferred to the front wheels through a seven-speed Dual-Clutch Transmission. Although unlike Schwarzenegger in Jingle All The Way, it’s not always “Turbo Time!” for the Veloster. It offers different driving modes depending on what the situation calls for.

There’s Normal, Sport, Eco, and Smart. Eco obviously goes for the most efficient fuel consumption, Smart mode adjusts to your driving habits, Normal is — well, normal. Sport is for Track Day or simply when you want to show off.

Of course, all that speed has to be kept in check with a couple of safety features. The vehicle comes with dual airbags for the front, plus side and curtain airbags. Adding to those are ABS (anti-lock braking system) and an immobilizer for anti-theft.

Having the Veloster as a daily driver made me realize a couple of things. One is that it’s actually fuel-efficient for a car with this oomph when it’s set to Eco or even Normal mode — averaging about 9km to 10km to a liter in the city and up to 16km/l outside the Metro. It may have slight delays when not in Sport mode but it had no shortage of power. And together with its stance and vibrant red color, the Veloster is a certified head-turner.

See more of it in this video:

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