Beyond Rated-M: Finding Comedy in Liyla and The Shadows of War

Liyla 2 from Official Website

Liyla and The Shadows of War* is a roughly ten minute-long mobile platformer about a father attempting to keep his family alive in the midst of a warzone. To be honest, it’s a short story that could have worked in any medium it was presented in. However, by virtue of being a game, the relative lack of production values could be off-putting to those accustomed to higher-fidelity projects. You might even laugh at the obvious use of simple, rocket-shaped sprites to clear new paths, kill you unexpectedly, or blow up a conveniently placed truck.

That was my reaction.

I was being a jerk. Looking down upon the heartfelt efforts of first-time developers thousands of miles away because I’m the journalist, right? I’m the important one.determine what someone hears about or doesn’t, right?

That’s about when my in-game daughter, Liyla, asked if we could help a group of boys playing soccer at the end of a beach.

As the timer for the decision ticked down Telltale-style, my eyebrows went up in surprise. A moral choice component? Maybe the father could be a hero, and adding children to your party would result in increased difficulty as you tried to save as many as possible? I had barely made my decision when the same, simple rocket sprite I was mocking moments earlier shrieked down from the ashen sky and slammed into their tiny bodies.

The father and daughter started running, every potential place of refuge going up in a fiery blaze just as they reached it–just as they began to believe such a thing as safety was possible. A school filled with children was reduced to smoking rubble in a single strike. Liyla’s screams raked across my brain like nails on a chalkboard as I struggled to save her dad again and again. Even the ruins left behind went unspared–the father ducking behind a cart to avoid the burning light overhead, and the drone swooping in beneath.

Liyla 1

That’s what’s funny, isn’t it? How true to life it is? How senseless, brutal, and easy modern warfare has made killing thousands of people? How you can ruin people’s lives with a push of a button, and never know who you affected?

A river of blood, unseen by all but a few unblinking drones and God himself.

Liyla 4

It’s strange how much power a headline can have. How, even while promoting something, it can distract.

Looking at the headlines generated by games like The Witcher 3, Dark Souls, or Liyla and The Shadows of War, it can be easy to wrongly define them by a single word.

Sexy. Difficult. Controversial.

You probably clicked on this article because of its title, too. After all, what kind of monster would play a game about families dying in a warzone, and find something worth joking about?

*click*

This isn’t that kind of article. Sorry.

And, no, Liyla isn’t just that kind of game. When you get beyond the headlines and reduction, Liyla and The Shadows of War isn’t about controversy, or making some grand political statement.  It’s about a father and daughter, running, illuminated only by the white phosphorus burning under Gaza’s night sky.

Liyla 5

I’m not laughing anymore.

Play Liyla and The Shadows of War (Free on Android)

Play Liyla and The Shadows of War (Free on iOS)

*Liyla and The Shadows of War was NOT received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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Brigador: Indie Cyberpunk Syndicate Neon Badger of Awesome

I just got the chance to play newly-launched tactical cyberpunk action game, Brigador*. Featuring a stellar 80’s-synth soundtrack, fully destructible environments, and insane amounts of replay value, I was more than impressed.

BUY BRIGADOR (PC–STEAM)

*Brigador was received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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Beyond Rated-M: How The Wolf Among Us Makes You Bigby

Hi! Nelson here.

As you might have seen already, I’m stepping back from game journalism to focus on making stories and games of my own. During this time, I’m looking for work, as well as catching up on games and movies that I might have missed. One of these titles has an incredible storytelling trick that impressed me so much that I feel I have to write about it.

For my Christian readers, The Wolf Among Us has a number of potential issues. Nudity, witchcraft, and profanity; explorations of the dark side of human nature, morality, and compromise…The works, basically.

I will not be depicting these elements, so if you’re willing to learn from a perhaps unlikely source, hit the jump below.

TWAU Header from Steam Store Page

Continue reading

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Beyond Rated-M: A HITMAN for Everyone

Developers IO Interactive use a streamlined UI, refined mechanics, and options for increased guidance to make the newest HITMAN an experience anyone interested in the franchise can enjoy.

Christian gamers will be pleased to know the new HITMAN* (at this point at least) removes elements of sexual innuendo present in previous entries. If this is a particular concern for your family, it is also possible to purchase HITMAN episode-by-episode to make sure you don’t get an unfortunate surprise.

Buy HITMAN 2016 (PC–Steam)

*HITMAN was received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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Star Wars: X-Wing & Star Wars: Tie Fighter Streams

Thanks to GOG (whose Bundleopolis sale I covered in our stream of LucasArts FPS Outlaws), I played revolutionary flight simulators Star Wars: X-Wing* and Star Wars: Tie Fighter* for the first time.

If you’re interested in the design, history, and legacy of these games, or just want to see a grown man squeal after shooting down a Rebel Fighter, you can watch these streams below:

Buy Star Wars: X-Wing (GOG)

Buy Star Wars: Tie Fighter (GOG)

*Star Wars: X-Wing and Star Wars: Tie Fighter were received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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Beyond Rated-M: 4 Reasons Hitman GO and Hitman: Blood Money Are the Same Game

I dived into Hitman: Blood Money and puzzley spin-off Hitman GO to show how they’re remarkably similar experiences–appearances notwithstanding.

Buy Hitman GO: Definitive Edition (PC–Steam)

Buy HITMAN 2016 (PC–Steam)

I’m happy to say this video marks the beginning of my transition to focusing on my own creative work.

This means the majority of Video Games and the Bible’s content in the future will be streamed video. In the meantime, I’m focusing on creating my own stories – not just covering games.

For details, check out my Support page.

*Hitman GO: Definitive Edition was received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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Parkitect Early Access Impressions (Alpha)

The independent developers behind Parkitect* succeed in building a modern, isometric sequel to PC classic RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. Join me and Video Games and the Bible composer Elijah Elmarsi as we get our minds blown by the level of detail and polish already present in the Early Access version of this fantastic game!

You can determine how much ice goes into the sodas you sell.
How cool is that?!

Support Parkitect (Steam–Early Access)

*Parkitect was received for review/coverage. See our statement of ethics here and game review criteria here.
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*Do you want to be saved?

*Do you want to make sure that you are saved?

*Support Video Games and the Bible

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