Quarantine Circular | Se7en | Blackadder II
Many cunning plans...
Game Review - Quarantine Circular
Game summary: A group of scientists interrogate an alien discovered at the heart of a global pandemic. Work with your team, make decisions and uncover the alien’s true intentions. (Steam)
If there's one thing you can count on with a Bithell game, it's that it'll be well-written and that very enjoyable trend continues here, with a 'sequel' of sorts to Subsurface Circular, which I played on the Nintendo Switch and enjoyed. This time, though, you're dealing with the arrival of an alien (rather than a society of robots) who happens to have arrived on Earth in the middle of a global pandemic.
No, this game wasn't written in 2020 (2018, in fact), so it's staggering how much of what gets discussed applies so very much to this year, even if the lethality of the in-game virus far exceeds COVID-19 by being an extinction level event. Why the alien claims to have come to Earth at this particular time is for you to find out, as well as whether you actually believe them or not.
I've only played it the once despite its short length, but it's clear that there are a variety of ways the story can unfold - the still-unearned Steam achievements help give that away - and I'll definitely be playing Quarantine Circular again at some point, but maybe after things have got a little better in the real world. That's the problem with good, well-written and researched games that reflect the real world (even if unintentionally): they don't make for great escapism, even if there's a bloody big alien in the middle of it all.
But don't let the short length put you off, as this game is really cheap, even when no sale is on, and you won't regret playing through it at least once. The only real downsides are that the gameplay is limited to conversations and reading notes, and those conversations aren't voiced either. It's not that big a deal because of how good the rest of the game is, so Quarantine Circular remains a definite recommend.
Movie Review - Se7en
Movie summary: Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives. (IMDb)
It had been a long time since I last watched Se7en and it was great to be reminded just how much of this film is truly outstanding, but it was also the first time I finished it feeling somewhat unsatisfied. I don't think it was from over-familiarity as there was so much I hadn't remembered, just an unquantifiable feeling of 'there's something missing here'.
Ultimately, I think it might be that it was the first time this movie had felt truly 'artificial' to me, with the unnamed city feeling like a construct existing solely to house characters to help along the stories of Somerset (Morgan Freeman), Mills (Brad Pitt), Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) and John Doe (Kevin Spacey). Every other role feels more like a broad archetype to help serve the plot rather than characters in their own right.
It's not that any of the supporting cast are bad in any way, and the central quartet are all on top of their games, but it's just that little something that stops Se7en from being an all-time great. Otherwise, it looks and sounds as incredible as you'd expect from a David Fincher film, with the story never dragging and it being highly enjoyable to watch from moment to moment.
Se7en is a truly excellent movie that I'll happily watch again at some point in the future, with an ending that still holds up even if huge amounts of people know what happens without ever having seen the movie. It's not what you'd expect, but it works so well that a lot of movies that came afterwards tried to replicate it in all the wrong ways possible.
TV Review - Blackadder II
Series summary: In the Tudor court of Elizabeth I, Lord Edmund Blackadder strives to win Her Majesty's favour while attempting to avoid a grisly fate should he offend her. (IMDb)
Yep, I'm skipping The Black Adder because it really doesn't fit with any of the three seasons that came after it, with this second season one of the biggest upturns in quality I can remember a show having so early on in its existence. Hell, this might actually be the single most comedic season of Blackadder ever made, although the later shows have their own additional strengths.
Rowan Atkinson is exceptional as the lead, with the rest of the cast all proving memorable in their own ways. Despite period-set shows these days spoiling audiences with grand sets, you don't ever really get a chance here to notice just how cheap it must've been to make this show thanks to the non-stop hilarious dialogue or, when the talking does stop, some great physical comedy and facial reactions too.