Review: Doom Eternal

This hurricane of light, noise, and extravagant violence is the most demanding shooter I have played.

I consider myself very comfortable with first-​person shooters. They’ve been a staple of my game diet since I started out as a fledgling gamer many years ago, and my spatial awareness and reaction times are more than adequate for blasting my way through most shooters on hard difficulties.

Doom Eternal, however, pushes my capabilities to the limit.

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Database as public API between microservices

A single database may be the right choice, even in a microservice environment.

If you have been reading about microservices and databases, most sources seem to (loudly) agree that each microservice should use its own database. This ensures that each service owns its own data, and helps keep the services decoupled. The services then typically communicate with one another using a service bus, with the messages being part of the services’ public API.

However, having separate databases is not a necessary requirement for achieving decoupling. Given some prudent design decisions, a single, shared database can alleviate a lot of the pain points of multiple databases while still allowing control over a service’s public/​inter-​service API.

What ensures a good separation between services is data ownership (data is only modified by one service) plus well-​defined, contractual public APIs. A database can be just another inter-​service API, not too different from service bus messages.

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Review: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

An extrinsically motivated hellscape of tolerably good times

There’s a famous 70’s psychology experiment, replicated many times since, where a bunch of kids were told to draw some pictures. One group were told they’d get a reward, while another group got no reward. After a couple of weeks, scientists observed an interesting pattern: Compared to the no-​reward group, the kids who got a reward were significantly less interested in drawing, and their pictures were worse.

This is called the overjustification effect, and if you wonder what this has to do with a 2018 triple‑A video game, I promise it will become relevant soon.

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Review: Control

An X‑Files style Metroidvania may sound compelling, but how is the execution?

Any review of a cultural work will inherently be subjective. You can, and to some extent should, strive for a modicum of objectivity when arguing for your opinion, and you should try to step outside your initial impression of the work and recognize strengths and weaknesses you may have overlooked. Still, your opinion is what it is, and at least on a non-​professional blog such as mine, I have no illusions that what I present is anything other than my own opinion.

I say this because I will now go very much against what I perceive as the “consensus”, as it were. Control has won plenty of awards and has been widely lauded as a technical marvel and an artistic achievement, an unforgettable adventure, and a game we’ll be talking about for generations. And yes, while it is both technically impressive and artistically delightful, it is also feels unfinished and soulless, and – to put it bluntly – I just don’t feel it.

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Review: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Despite several issues, it has never felt this good to Jedi the heck out of the Empire.

It has been a dark time for fans of single-​player Star Wars games. After EA secured the rights in 2013, the only games released have been the two multiplayer Battlefront games, only one of which offered a short single-​player campaign.

To the rescue comes Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment with Jedi: Fallen Order, a single-​player Star Wars game combining the lightsabers and Force powers of ye olde Jedi Knight games with Soulsborne combat, Tombcharted exploration and environmental puzzles, and Metroidvania-​style (semi)-open ability-​gated level design. Is it enough to restore peace and order to the galaxy?

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Review: Snake Pass

How about a 3D platformer where you can’t jump?

No matter your taste in games, it would not be an overstatement to say that every year, we are inundated with a deluge of fantastic experiences. Overstatements abound, however, in the odes penned by marketing departments, aggrandizing their subject with claims of ground-​breaking, innovative features that redefine a mechanic, a genre, nay, gaming itself! In reality, of course, as with any cultural expression, most games walk down well-​trodden paths and offer only incremental improvements in familiar genres.

Occasionally, there comes a game that truly is novel. It may defy genres, or mix them in a new way. It may present a fresh take on a well-​known genre by bring a new mechanic to the table, or by removing one of the genre’s central mechanics. Snake Pass is of the latter kind, being a 3D platformer where you’re a snake and must slither your way across obstacles and hazards, notably without being able to jump.

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Review: Doom (2016)

Doom is a well-​executed breath of fresh air in an age of morally ambiguous, cover-​based shooters.

The status of Id Software’s Doom (1993) as a legend in the history of video games is undisputed. But what would it look like if it was created today? How would the mechanics translate to modern game design? And would it be as fun?

The series’ most recent instalment, Doom (2016), may provide the answer.

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F# tip: ToString considered dangerous

Beware weakly typed APIs when you are used to strong compile-​time safety.

Weakly typed APIs can bite you, particularly when you’re using a language like F# where you’re for the most part blessed with strongly typed APIs. Thankfully, strongly typed wrappers are often one-liners.

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Review: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hell is oneself when you’re struggling with the living nightmare that is psychosis.

Turn back!” cries a voice. “She never listens”, mocks another one. “She must go on!” a third demands. The cacophony of voices reaches a crescendo as you stretch your arm toward the door. Your vision starts to blur. Swirly, dark shadows slithers across the landscape. The sky darkens. You open the door.

The Darkness subsides. “She’s not… dead”, whispers a surprised voice. You may yet be consumed by it, but you escaped this time.

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Review: The Talos Principle: Road to Gehenna

A witty commentary on forum subculture makes this much more than just a good map pack.

What is an online community? How do information and misinformation inform common beliefs and dogmas? How do those beliefs again inform art? And how does all of this interplay with roles and relationships in the community?

Writers Tom Jubert and Jonas Kyratzes return for story duty in this expansion to The Talos Principle, meaning Road to Gehenna sports another rewarding and masterfully crafted narrative.

That, and the most devious puzzles yet.

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