Tag Archives: games

Digital Draughts: Bloodborne with Adroit Theory Brewing Company’s BLVCK Celebration

On Saturdays through the month of October, we will be cross-posting the latest video game and beer pairings from Chip’s new blog, Digital Draughts!  Normally written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts will feature frightening and fantastic pairing posts through October as a treat for you, dear readers!

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Draughts for future beer and video game pairings, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts!


Not all experiences are inviting.  There are many of life’s little moments that are meant to challenge us; to intrigue lesser known aspects of our being.  These engagements take a bit of flexibility on the user’s part.  An open mind, a grain of salt, and perhaps a spoonful of sugar are all good tools for such experiences.

The result of these events varies.  The experience could reveal a newfound passion, or reaffirm a suspected revulsion.  But no matter what the outcome, the user and their perceptions are changed.  Recently, I challenged my palate with a game from a series universally known for its adversity, combined with a beer from a company known for esoteric brewing.

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After our delightful visit to the Adroit Theory Brewing Company, Laura and I have been on the lookout for any of their bottled brews at our local stores.  As many of their beers are small batch and limited release, the options outside of their Tasting Room are meager by comparison.  However, there are still a handful of Adroit Theory brews to be found in the wild, such as their imperial porter, Black Celebration.

Brewed as a collaboration with drum and bass DJ Damian Higgins (aka Dieselboy), Black Celebration (stylized as “BLVCK”) was brewed with maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, black lava salt, and then aged on oak staves.  From this point, some of this complex brew was bottled, while another batch was further aged in rum barrels before bottling.

At first glance, the bottles for Black Celebration seem very minimalist; clean lettering on a matte black label.  There is some flourish to distinguish each variety (gold lettering on the Oak Aged and silver lettering on the Rum Barrel Aged), but little else to make this bottle stand out on the shelf.  Upon closer inspection, the secret of Black Celebration is revealed.  A large alchemical sigil is embossed in glossy black across the label; visible only in certain angles of light and immediately apparent to the touch.

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For reasons of personal taste (both in barrel flavors and label colors), I selected the Rum Barrel Aged variety of Black Celebration.

Black Celebration matches its name in appearance.  From bottle to glass, this brew pours coffee black with a foamy mocha head.  As the beer opens up, a powerful scent of smoked vanilla and sea salt overwhelms the air.  The flavor is intense: a rich maple syrup start gives way to a smoky molasses and burnt wood body.  Finishing notes of roasted pork and spiced rum consummate the experience: bitter, rich, and powerful.

Black Celebration is most certainly an esoteric beer.  While it features the roasted malt and dark chocolate notes of a classic porter, the additional brewing components and barrel aging further the complexity of this beer.  Fans of strong dark beers may be intrigued by this brew, along with folks who enjoy the unique crossroads of savory and sweet dishes.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this powerful beer.  The slightly meaty notes and molasses flavor complement the natural roasted flavors of a porter, while the rum aging provides a welcome spicy kick.  Black Celebration is a perfect way to prepare for the challenging streets of Central Yarnham.

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In the past, I have bounced off of From Software’s Souls series.  I made a valiant effort in Dark Souls and its sequel; trying to learn the challenging ebb and flow of their intricate systems.  But in each case, I hit a massive wall of difficulty that drove me to toss my controller away in frustration (literally and figuratively).  I appreciated the nuanced gameplay and unique dark fantasy setting of Dark Souls.  There was simply something lacking that kept me from truly engaging with this series.  Apparently, that crucial element was Gothic horror and a Lovecraftian narrative.

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Bloodborne takes place in the Victorian-era city of Yarnham, where a plague has turned its citizens into beasts of varying ferocity.  Some of Yarnham’s inhabitants became aggressive maniacs, while others fully transitioned into giant wolf-like creatures.  As the Hunter, players must survive against the monstrous townsfolk while seeking out a cure-all known as Paleblood.  However, the reasons to seek this elixir are rather tenuous, as there is no clear explanation for the quest, or how the Hunter came to Yarnham in the first place.  The game simply opens with a grisly blood transfusion viewed in first-person, and visions of a horrifying creature made of viscera stalking from the shadows.

Following this cryptic prelude, The Hunter wakes up in an abandoned surgery ward; making their way into Central Yarnham on the night of “The Hunt.”

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I will be frank with you, reader: the start of Bloodborne is unforgiving and cruel.  The path leading through Central Yarnham is long and filled with mobs of crazed citizens, hungry for blood.  Any one of these maniacs has the ability to catch you in a combo that will quickly kill you, so the frequent packs of enemies typically spell certain death.   These basic enemies are often combined with ranged attackers, quick-striking dogs, plus-sized abominations, and no checkpoints leading up to the boss encounters.  In short, you will die in a regular and bloody manner on your way through this cursed city.

If this experience sounds completely unappealing, trust me- I understand.  I struggled to stick with this game in the opening hours.  Watching my Hunter die over and over again to the same frustrating enemy encounters was very disheartening, and I nearly gave up on Bloodborne altogether.  However, once I made it past the first major boss encounter, the game became exponentially more enjoyable.

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Following a frantic and tragic battle with a fellow Hunter, Bloodborne offers branching pathways, multiple character builds/options, and an engaging and mysterious narrative. The history of the once-great city of Yarnham and its Healing Church slowly unfolds as the player further explores this foreboding world.  The visuals of Bloodborne are equally haunting and beautiful.  The power of the PlayStation 4 is put to incredible use; providing gruesome details on every monster and amazing lighting effects on each surface.  I often found myself taking a moment to appreciate the grim scenery of Yarnham, taking care to clear an area of any potential threats before such respite.

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Having enjoyed both Bloodborne and Black Celebration, this combination should be an easy recommendation.  The engaging narrative and visceral combat of this game pair nicely with the rich molasses and smoky maple flavors of this dark brew.  However, the antagonistic opening of Bloodborne and the uniquely savory notes of Black Celebration prevent a universal endorsement of this challenging pair.

But if you can overcome such challenges, then a dark and delicious treat awaits you, good Hunter.

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Guest Post: Life With Spoilers

Today on GIMMGP, we have the joy of sharing a post from Cary, the talented writer behind Recollections of Play.  Outside of sharing nostalgic moments in music and gaming on her own blog, Cary also contributes to Geek Force Network and serves as an admin at United We Game.  Please be sure to check out her work at each of these sites; it’s good stuff! 

by Flickr user –nanio- (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nananio/)

by Flickr user –nanio- (http://www.flickr.com/photos/nananio/)

When other gamers learn that my husband and I, two mostly-regular gamers, don’t often play games together, the tandem question that sometimes follows is “what do you do when you both want to play the same game? How do you avoid spoilers?” My answer varies, but it generally boils down to with planning, but it depends on the game. When we get a game that we both want to play, one of us will usually “call” it first (because occasionally we’re still in grade school, haha), or sometimes we debate about it, depending on what other games we have to play at the moment.  If one of us is trying to finish a particular game, then the new game automatically goes to the other person.  And when the new game is played, the other person simply avoids watching. It’s pretty simple (mostly) and it works for us (mostly).  But honestly, that’s only because rarely do our gaming interests cross.  We have about two dozen games in the wings, and of them, there are only a couple that we’ve wanted to play at the same time.     But every now and again, games come along that one of us wants to play while the other remains on the fence. Red Dead Redemption, Sleeping Dogs, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect, Batman: Arkham Asylum…these are just some of the games that come to mind where one of us made the purchase with all intents to play while the other stayed at arm’s length. And as bristly as I can get about spoilers, I’ve learned to live them to a certain degree because they’ve often opened my eyes to great games that I might have otherwise missed.

For example, let’s take Arkham Aslyum. While it was a game that excited many, it was one that I wasn’t sure was really for me. I didn’t know much about Batman, I was unsure about the combat system.  I’m bad at stealth, and it just didn’t seem like a game that I’d enjoy. But, in my own wishy-washy way, I also didn’t want to watch the game because, what if, maybe, it was a game that I should play because everyone else said so? I didn’t just want to go and spoil it! Right? After way too much silent debate, and at my husband’s behest, I finally watched him play through a level; one that he thought wouldn’t spoil things too much. Turned out that I ended up watching him finish the game. It was so fascinating and mindbogglingly good that I couldn’t not watch. I didn’t take the opportunity to play Arkham Asylum, but I was well setup to play Batman: Arkham City, which I did quite eagerly and immensely enjoyed. And now, even knowing how Arkham Asylum ended and the Joker’s fate, I still want to play through it. The spoilers didn’t ruin anything, they just heightened my interest.

A similar thing is happening now with The Last of Us, which my husband is currently playing. It’s won many accolades and plenty of acclaim from players, but I’ve kept my distance. Though I do love a good story, I’m not a fan of survival horror. I have almost zero patience for dealing with extremely difficult situations in games — not having enough at my disposal, constant death, painful progression. Whatever that says about me notwithstanding, when we got TLoU, it seemed like a game that would constantly keep me on the edge of controller-flinging. So I started out just watching it, and this process, spoilers and all, has allayed a number of my fears. Yes, I now know Joe and Ellie’s beginnings. Sure, I know the state of the world in the game. And I know what’s expected of the player throughout. Though I’ve only been a here-and-there spectator, I now know that it’s a game I want to navigate. As I watch, I’m constantly thinking about how I would get through a particular level or what I would craft in a given moment. The spoilers I’ve witnessed don’t matter much to me because I’m pretty sure that my experience would be completely different from that of my husband’s, especially since we each have different approaches with story-driven games.

I’m not going to get to TLoU any time soon, so my knowledge of it will probably fade by the time I do, but I’m grateful knowing that it’s not a game I should avoid just because of my own preconceived limitations. I’ve come to term with game spoilers, and I generally welcome them if only because they sometimes help to expand my horizons, which is always a good thing, even when my mind tells me otherwise. It doesn’t know everything, after all.

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Community Post: Mario, You Lead and I Shall Follow

To close the month of February, a handful of writers from United We Game are going to be sharing a series of community posts focusing on the fun and fantastic levels from the Super Mario games.  Every day this week, a new post from a different author will show up here on GIMMGP.  Additionally, all of these posts will hit across other blogs like Recollections of Play, Niall’s RamblingsCheeese Toastie and Video GamesGamer Crash, and The Duck of Indeed.  Today’s post comes from cary of Recollections of Play.  So jump on in and enjoy the Mario Mania all week long!

by Flickr user ManuelSagra (http://www.flickr.com/photos/manuelsagra/)

by Flickr user ManuelSagra (http://www.flickr.com/photos/manuelsagra/)

No matter how many times Mario’s adventures are hashed and rehashed, games that prominently feature that famous plumber, his princess, and that evil dinosaur we call Bowser, remain fresh, fun, and playable dozens of times over. Mario games are level-driven games — you’ve got to make your way through stages or levels in a series of worlds in order to reach the final battle with Bowser. And only a few games, like Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG, have deviated from the platformer tradition started by Super Mario Bros. Despite that fact the games usually contain worlds of similar themes, each is unique in presentation and design. Even so, I will never cheer upon traversing a snowy/icy world because Mario is already slippery enough, no matter how many penguin suits he owns. I will never get excited for those pre-Bowser, fire worlds, as I will never have enough patience with lava and fireballs. So when it comes to my favorite Mario levels, there will be nary an ice storm or fire waterfall in site. But there will be something “big.” Curious? Read on!

Big Island (Level 4): Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

You’re going to find a recurring theme in my list — I like oversized Mario things. I really can’t explain why, but I’m almost certain that the seed for this quirk was planted upon first playing around in Big Island in Super Mario Bros. 3. So like the moniker says, everything on Big Island, is …well big. The koopas, the goombas, the piranha plants, heck, even the clouds and backdrops are larger than life. I simply find it highly enjoyable to be a little Mario running around a land of giants, and being able to squash those giants as easily as anything!

Yoshi’s Island (Level 1): Super Mario World (SNES)

Last week I wrote a post for UWG on the importance of any given game’s first mission or level or quest, and in it I mentioned how most Mario games have great lead-in levels. Yoshi’s Island in Super Mario World is a perfect example of this. Not only does this level contain a plethora of Yoshies (my favorite Mario character), but it’s a fun place to be generally. The individual worlds aren’t extremely difficult to traverse and there’s plenty to stomp on and collect. Plus, it introduces some of the best Mario musical theme renditions available.

Tiny-Huge Island (Level 13): Super Mario 64 (N64)

Following in my preference for all-large-things-Mario is Tiny-Huge Island from Super Mario 64. But as much fun as it is to take on gargantuan enemies, this level is especially wonderful because it can be played in two different ways, with or without the giants. And it’s not just a matter of choosing to play one way or the other, you must play the level both ways, often switching between the tiny and huge, in order to get all the stars. Tiny-Huge Island occurs somewhat late in the game, and after repeatedly going through static level after static level, the notion of working through a level that changes, if only through the size of the enemies, is refreshing and welcome.

The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba (Level 3): Paper Mario (N64)

I hold the two Paper Mario games I’ve played in pretty high regard as I enjoy not only the turn-based style of combat and the games’ stories, but I simply adore the graphics. It looks like the characters were all colored in and cut out of a coloring book — so cute! The “Invincible” Tubba Blubba level sticks out in my mind because it contains friendly boos. Little, ghostly boos have been haunting and taunting Mario for years, but in Paper Mario, Mario has to help save their town from the clutches of the ghost-eating Tubba Blubba. One ghost even helps you along the way! I love the role reversal, as it was something so in contrast to the traditional enemies in Mario games.

Soda Jungle (Level 5): New Super Mario Bros. U (Wii U)

Did you think I wasn’t going to end with yet another ode to the oversized?? I recently completed New Super Mario Bros. U and I think it’s the best interpretation going of Mario’s original Princess-saving story. The Soda Jungle is a perilous place with acidic seas and other things to avoid, but it’s also got one level with huge enemies and one level with an enormous wiggler that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time. It’s also a level with lots of variety, spanning from above ground to underground challenges. But by and large, that introduction to Giant Brick Blocks, Grand Goombas, and Gargantuan Koopa Troopas really made my day; and I love going back to that level simply because it brings me joy to do so.

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Getting Lost on a Straight Path

Recently, Laura asked me what was the last video game in which I became completely immersed.  A game where I would lose track of time and my surroundings; only aware of the digital task before me.  The problem is that Laura presented this query while I was playing 10000000, so I completely ignored her.

10000000KnightAfter reading a recommendation from TheDelver, I set about buying 10000000 for the GIMMGP iPad (a special thanks to my father-in-law for this gift).  Initially, I let the title languish in the virtual pile of unplayed games (along with much of my Steam queue) while Laura and I plowed through Bioshock Infinite.  After a week of being both amazed and frustrated in the floating world of Columbia, I decided to take a day off from the Xbox and get some things done around the house.  Things were going rather smoothly: I had updated my Tumblr account, cleaned GIMMGP Headquarters from top-to-bottom, and gathered up all the laundry for washing.  Then I sat down and decided to try out this retro-looking puzzler called 10000000, and all productivity came screeching to a halt.

10000000GearIt was so simple to get into this game.  There is a little pixelated hero, he needs to escape a dungeon, and you help him by playing a match-three puzzle game.  Easy enough.  I figured I could just burn through a few rounds and get back to my chores.  But as I played, the nuances of 10000000 became clear.  This was no mere puzzle game.  Each tile represented an action or item that could aid my tiny traveler.  Clearing rows of swords and staves helped him fight the monsters blocking his path, while keys would open chests and doors barring the way.  There are the resource tiles, which would accumulate and wait for me at a home castle; to provide my hero with upgrades and tonics to aid in his journey.  All of these items work toward the ultimate goal of beating the high score of 10000000 (hence the name) in order to free the protagonist from his digital dungeon.

Failure became commonplace in this game, but with each broken escape attempt I gained better resources and experience to raise the stakes.  I started to fall into a rhythm as my score multipliers increased and the enemies grew more fearsome.  Soon, I was fighting against Tyrannosaurs and netting high scores in the millions of points.  After a particularly successful run, I glanced at the clock to check the time and found that I had been playing for over three hours without even noticing.  I had just lost a chunk of my productive day, playing what seemed like such a casual game on the surface, and I did not regret a moment of it.

An excellent mix of match-three puzzling, combined with RPG grinding, and wrapped up in delicious retro-stylings, 10000000 is a great game which I highly recommend.  It is available on both the App Store and the Android Market, so unless you own a plain Jane cellular phone (don’t worry, I do too), there is no excuse.  Give 10000000 a try; what have you got to lose?  Well, outside of loads of free time, that is.

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