Mini-​reviews: Abzû and Manual Samuel

Two great, short and very different games for a rainy day (or a sunny one, I’m not judging).

Having “saved up” games for six months, my backlog of games has started to grow, and while I like to put my thoughts to the paper, I also want to prioritize actually playing games during the summer holidays. Since several of the games are also very short, mini-​reviews seemed to be a good solution.

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Review: Owlboy

While not perfect, Owlboy is masterfully crafted on all levels and is well worth experiencing.

Originally announced in 2008 and released in late 2016, Owlboy is a pixel-​art platformer almost a decade in the making. It’s developed by D‑Pad Studio, an indie developer based in Askøy just outside my hometown Bergen, and was very well received by the international game press upon release, with a Metacritic score of 88 – no small feat seeing that Norway isn’t exactly known for internationally acclaimed games (those of FunCom being notable exceptions).

Lest you worry that the developer’s geographical proximity to yours truly will impact this review, do not fret – I will hold this game to the same high bar for what I consider worth spending my time on exceedingly high ethical standards I always have when reviewing games.

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Olsvik church in sunset” post-​processing

Step-​by-​step development of one of my images.

I thought I’d start something new on this blog: Writing about how I’ve post-​processed some of my photos. First out is my recent image “Olsvik church in sunset”.

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Linux – I’m giving up again

Ideals and patronizing Microsoft policies be damned – I’m coming back to you, Windows.

Every few years, I have a brief stint with Linux as my primary operating system (dual booting with Windows for gaming etc.). Each time I try Linux, I hope “they” have finally fixed all the little annoying details that made me quit last time. And this time, I thought it was finally for real, and I lasted longer than ever before. But in the end, like every other time, I left disappointed.

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Review: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Like so many other open-​world games, The Witcher 3 is way too big for its own good.

I’ve long been a fan of Andrzej Sapkowski’s world of The Witcher, centering on the professional monster slayer Geralt of Rivia who tries and utterly fails to stay away from grand politics, intrigue and conspiracies. Having enjoyed Sapkowski’s seven novels and CD Project Red’s first two games in the series, I was looking forward to the much hyped third installment. To quote its product page on Steam, it boasts of a large open world “full of meaningful choices and impactful consequences”, and I’ve traditionally quite liked those kinds of games. What could go wrong?

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Why you should read 1984

1984 is the kind of book you dearly wish were pure fiction, but unfortunately isn’t.

What if the mere act of independent thought was punishable by torture and death? What if we lived in a society where you constantly had to delude yourself to keep up with the government’s public manipulation and falsification of historical records, to such an extent that you even had to forget about deluding yourself or indeed that any such forgetting ever took place?

Welcome to the dystopian world of 1984, where the constant audiovisual surveillance by the Thought Police on behalf of the all-​powerful Party is all but successful in eradicating individualism – forever.

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Review: Tales from the Borderlands

Despite Telltale’s best efforts, Borderlands is still best enjoyed aiming down the sights of randomly generated guns.

The Borderlands games have managed the impressive feat of carving out a distinct identity and firmly staying put against a tidal wave of ever more monotonous first-​person shooters. The strength of the franchise has been a core of loot-​driven, trigger-​happy run-​and-​gun FPS gameplay with RPG elements, wrapped in a generous helping of wacky humor. This makes Telltale Games’ spin on the Borderlands universe an interesting one, entirely swapping out the FPS mechanics with the now genre-​standard conversation-​driven adventure format. I’m intrigued by a Borderlands game where your strongest weapon is your wit, but while they certainly nail the absurd humor, I could to without the halfhearted attempts at adding drama to the mix.

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Fire ikke-​faglige ting du bør få ut av en doktorgrad

Om at vitenskapen er ikke så glamorøs som man kan tro fra utsiden, og et par ting til.

I forrige innlegg reflekterte jeg litt over det å avslutte doktorgraden. Jeg nevnte der at begrepet «filosofi» i graden Philosophiae Doctor ble brukt i ordets opprinnelige greske betydning, «kjærlighet til visdom». Kunnskapstørsthet skorter det sannelig ikke på her i gården, og det er jo klart at man bør trives med å ha en sterk faglig fokus når man virkelig skal fordype seg i og forske på ett enkelt emne i tre år. Men en doktorgrad bør også få deg til å reflektere over mer generelle ting enn bare faget ditt.

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Noen tanker om en fullført doktorgrad

Paradokser, klissete metaforer og hvorfor videregående var vanskeligere.

Etter tre år som doktorgradsstudent kan jeg nå, helt på ordentlig, legge bak meg opptil flere kapitler i livet mitt. Fredag 21. oktober disputerte jeg for doktorgraden min, og etter et par timer med utspørring fra to av verdens fremste eksperter på det jeg driver med, kunne komiteen meddele at de hadde funnet meg verdig tittelen og at jeg endelig kunne kalle meg Philosophiae Doctor, eller Ph.D.1

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  1. Strengt tatt vil komiteen anbefale til fakultetsstyret at jeg utnevnes til Ph.D., og med mindre månen snur oss ryggen og det begynner å snø i Sahara, vil dette bankes gjennom som en ren rutinesak. Selve diplomet blir utdelt på en felles halvårlig seremoni i januar, men for alle praktiske formål kan jeg nå kalle meg doktor.

Review: Republique

Republique completely fails to follow through on its solid elevator pitch.

Imagine a high-​tech Orwellian dystopia. A teenage girl known as 390‑H (or Hope, as she calls herself) is caught with an illegal political manifesto and scheduled for “recalibration”, an unexplained but undoubtedly nefarious process. Using a cellphone, she contacts you – the player, a mysterious entity in an undisclosed location – and begs for help. Your task is then to help her escape by jumping between the ubiquitous surveillance cameras in the strange facility, hacking doors and other equipment, and telling Hope where and when it’s safe to go in order to avoid patrolling guards.

The elevator pitch is great, but sadly, Republique completely fails in delivering a satisfying, cohesive experience.

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