Comic Review – Wytches #1

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.

There were a lot of great comics out this week, but Wytches is a book I have been looking forward to since it was announced a few months ago. This is a new horror series from Image Comics written by Scott Snyder, with art by Jock, colours from Matt Hollingsworth and letters by Clem Robins. All of those people have worked on something that I have loved, so having them team up to bring this new story was pretty exciting.

Wytches. according to Snyder in the last few pages in which he recounts his inspiration for the story, involves the real witches, “No brooms or pointy hats.”, an ancient evil worshipped by those who were burnt at the stake in their place. They creep around in the darkness of the forest, granting wishes to those who bring them pledges: human sacrifices. This first issue opens with one of these pledges in 1919, before moving up to present day and introducing the Rooks family who have just moved to a new secluded home in the woods. Charlie is a graphic artist and writer, and he and his wife Lucy and teenage daughter Sailor (nicknamed Sail, an interesting name) moved to get away from some unpleasant events that took place where they used to live. Lucy is wheelchair-bound following an undisclosed accident and Sail, after months of bullying, witnesses the disappearance of her tormentor. Starting at a new school, Sail’s reputation proceeds her and everyone assumes that she killed the girl. We are shown that while Sail may have wished for it, and she continues to obsess over her potential involvement in what happened, she was certainly not the one who killed her bully. Sail may have unwittingly had an encounter with the Wytches in the forest that night and even though they have moved, the Rook family may bump into them again sooner rather than later.

Snyder is really at home writing horror, on clear display in the excellent American Vampire, but also more subtly influencing the work he has done on Batman. The actual titular evil takes a back seat in this first issue, making way for character development for the key cast and scene setting, which serves to make the world feel fleshed out while the glimpses of the threat really builds the tension and fear. Jock is an excellent horror artist, with his creepy and scratchy style a perfect fit to illustrate the dark woodland setting. The colours from Hollingsworth really accenuate and bring the best out of Jock’s art too, and while I’m used to more pastel colours from him, he shows off a really dynamic range contrasting them in calmer daylight scenes with the oppressive dark scenes taking place in the woods at night. The art all together ramps up the terrifying aspect of the story, with a few stand out panels that are certain to haunt some dreams and cause readers to look up into any trees they walk past in the darkness.

Shockingly, I enjoyed this. Wytches #1 is a great start for a horror series, living up to the hype built up around it. This first issue is bound to sell out, but Image are good at extra printings for their titles so more will be out soon. Pick this up either physically or digitally, it should be a great ride.

Score: 8.5 Pledges out of 10

EGX Round Up – Part Three: Bayonetta 2, Sunset Overdrive and Splatoon

Adam and Kii went to EGX in London on Friday. Here is Adam’s coverage.

And now for the final part of my EGX round up from last Friday, which Kii and I attended as press for the first time to check out some of the various games coming out soon. So far I’ve mostly just talked about survival horror games (see part one!) or other violent supernatural games (part two!), so I’ll finish off with some of the more light-hearted ones we had some time with.

 

Bayonetta 2

I think I’ve said before on The Weekly Rapture podcast, but I absolutely love the first Bayonetta game. Platinum Games delivered a wonderfully over the top experience, with gameplay that feels totally chaotic without a loss of control over what you are doing. The story of Bayonetta the witch and her fight against the angelic forces is ridiculous, as she wields a range of different weapons including guns attached to her heels, torture executions and hellish attacks that render her naked as she uses her hair (which makes up her latex-looking costume) to summon huge attacks that devastate her enemies. The character is imbued with a heavy dose of tongue-in-cheek sexuality and fan service, with the game knowing it is being silly and having a lot of fun with it.

Unfortunately for WiiU-less people like myself, the sequel is only coming out on Nintendo’s system and not a Sony or Microsoft platform. My knee jerk reaction to this would be to get angry at exclusivity for a game I really wanted, but reports were that there simply wasn’t the support for Bayonetta 2 and that the project was effectively dead in the water until Nintendo swooped in and saved it by acting as publisher. Understandably they would want exclusivity for this (and this hasn’t made me anywhere near as annoyed as the Rise of the Tomb Raider kerfuffle on Xbox One), and it is down to Nintendo that the sequel is actually coming out at all.

bayonetta 2

With that in mind, I still really wanted to give the demo a go. Gone are the days where I can afford multiple consoles in a generation, so I’ll have to resort to good, reliable friends to get the chance to play the game when it comes out (i.e. I’m going to go to Kii’s and play the WHOLE game in one night). In the Nintendo WiiU section of EGX, after a short queue, the attendant asked me if I had played before, and was I any good. I resisted saying ‘actually, I’ve got a platinum trophy for the first one on PS3’ because that would make me sound like a dick, and instead decided to play it down because this would be the first time I would have had my hands on a WiiU controller, playing a game I hadn’t touched in three years. We were given the option of playing a tutorial and a single verse (sequence), or going straight into a boss fight. I thought the former would probably be a good idea, lest I make a fool out of myself.

The gameplay was exactly as I remembered it, and I eased into the controls relatively quickly (I have been playing games for nearly two decades now, so I learn quickly). The DMC style gameplay, as with the first game, makes it very easy to feel like you are kicking a lot of ass, and the witch time mechanic made a welcome return as well as some more torture kills. The brief verse we got to play was fun and familiarly ridiculous, fighting members of the angelic horde on the back of a fighter jet that the upcoming boss was trying to knock out of the sky. There was a quick glimpse of Bayonetta’s BFF Jeanne, standing on another jet upside down (because witches), then your fighter takes a big hit and heads towards the boss. Then the demo was over. Despite an unfamiliarity with the controls, I still managed a silver medal for the verse too. Kii got bronze. ‘Nuff said.

The demo was a little on the short side, but this is looking like more of the same but better,which is really what you want in a good sequel. In a later conversation with one of the Nintendo attendants, while Kii was hunting all sorts of monster ultimately, I was told that Nintendo are bundling in an HD version of the first Bayonetta with the special edition of the game, and in a way that is pretty uniquely Nintendo they are including extra skins for Bayonetta to wear in the game (not sure if this was just the sequel or the first game too) using Nintendo characters, like Samus or Link, that include unique moves and actions based on those skins. This struck me as pretty cool, and interesting as usually extra skins are just that and therefore a little boring. It’s nice that Nintendo are going the extra mile with it, and while I am genuinely sad that I won’t be able to get my hands on Bayonetta 2 easily, I am glad that Nintendo are ensuring that the series can continue. It’s already out in Japan, but is due out over here on October 24th.

 

Sunset Overdrive

The only game we actually got the chance to try out over in the Microsoft section was Sunset Overdrive, an Xbox One exclusive from Insomniac Games and published by Microsoft. We queued for a while, and we were flagging quite a bit by this point in the day. Lots of wandering around with the crowds, bright lights and various demos at the end of a long week led to us needing a serious pick-me-up at this point. Sunset Overdrive looked to be that sort of game, with the trailer from back at E3 making it look like a lot of insane and colourful fun.

Sunset overdrive

While I think the game actually supports eight player co-op, we put in a team of 6 and took part in ‘Chaos Squad’, in which we had to defend vats of an energy drink from hordes of OD’d. Looking it up now, the OD’d are humans who drank too much of the newly released energy drink Overcharge Delirium XT and were transformed into monsters, and the player controls customisable employees of the company that made it to take out these monsters. You’re given a pretty decent range of weapons, from highly explosive rocket launchers, shotguns and the harpoon gun the ‘Captain Ahab’, all of which are great fun, and you move around grinding rails and lines exploding the creatures trying to get more energy drinks. Being somewhat addicted to caffeine in all it’s forms (I can quit any time I want!), this was a somewhat harrowing look at my future as a mindless zombie needing a fix. After a lot of colourful kills of the various OD’d, nearly dying myself a couple of times, we finished the mission successfully. I came last, but the other group playing at the same time failed. So I was better than them at least.

This game looks like it will be a huge amount of fun, with either online and local multiplayer. I have no idea what the single player will be like, but with a set up as ridiculous as this I’m sure it will be entertaining. The game is heavy on style, reminding my visually of Jet Set Radio and other similarly vibrant games. The team behind Rachet and Clank seem to be putting out another interesting IP here, and I hope I get the chance to play it when it comes out on October 31st (I’m going to trick Nath into buying it).

 

Splatoon

The last game we played was Splatoon back in the Nintendo section on the WiiU. There was a really fun vibe from all the folks working there, cheering on the two teams facing off against each other. On top of this, there was a Smash Bros. final going on on the big screen behind us that we kept watching too, with the emcees throwing out loads of Nintendo goodies in between events. We soon got to the front of the queue for the game we were supposed to be watching, and one of the Nintendo attendants showing off the game very patiently showed me the controls. I clearly struggled a little bit with the motion action of the WiiU controller to look around, especially as it was attached to the stand by a cable which dramatically reduced the range of movement (though I understand why they would need it secured).

In Splatoon you fire ink from what looks like a super-soaker, and the aim is to cover as much of the level with your team’s ink as possible. When you run out of ink, you can dive into sections that are your colour already, swimming around in it as a squid and replenishing your ink. You also move more quickly this way, but can only move in your ink and can’t attack. You can spray members of the enemy team with ink too and blow them up, gaining more points for your team. Covering as much as possible can also unlock a limited time bazooka, which lays down a lot of paint and devastates your enemies.

The game was extremely fast paced and animated, and was a really enjoyable multiplayer. We used absolutely zero tactics as a team, and as a result lost the round by only 0.1% ink coverage. I did get the highest score on our team, and the second highest in the game, so clearly I’m better at WiiU than I am at Xbox One. This was great fun, and I think it would be a good party game, but I am interested to see what other modes Splatoon has. I’m sure we will see more before the release early-to mid 2015.

 

 

After we we finished with Splatoon we headed upstairs to check out the indie games section. We looked around and tried a couple of games, but by this point we had been wandering around EGX for nearly seven hours and we were totally shattered. Kii and I both decided that it was time to call it a day, a real shame as we hadn’t finished our list of games that we wanted to check out, and had barely touched the indie section properly that really deserved a couple of dedicated hours to check out. However, we had managed our time through the day as best we could, so we had essentially overestimated how long everything would take. To get through everything we had wanted to get to, we really needed at least two days at the expo.

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But overall, for a first time attending a games convention like this as press, with the intent on covering our experience in various articles, I think it was pretty successful. The opportunity to play several games that aren’t out yet was great, and I really enjoyed all of them. EGX was busy without being heaving (though Saturday may have been a lot worse), and with no queue being ridiculously long (though the COD Advanced Warfare did look pretty damn long). I definitely want to go to more events like this, but I think to give the convention its proper due and cover everything we would like to we would need to be there for more than one day or take more than two of us to cover it (or both). Looking forward to the next one!

Adam