Unavowed | WandaVision, Episode 6 | The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Demonic rumblings abound...
Game review - Unavowed
Game summary: A demon has possessed you and used your body to tear a swath of bloodshed through New York. You are now free, but life as you knew it is over. Your only path forward is joining the Unavowed - an ancient society dedicated to stopping evil. No matter what the cost. (Steam)
I get that Unavowed's art style may put off those used to modern AAA titles and the graphical wizardry on display, but put it aside if you can because, much like Disco Elysium, the world and the characters here are so well-written and fun to spend time with that what the game looks like won't really matter. And I'd say it still looks pretty great at times thanks to some brilliantly atmospheric art direction too.
Mandana (voiced by Sandra Espinoza), daughter of a djinn and an Irish pirate queen, was my favourite of the main characters, but I have to admit that KayKay (Violet Young) was my favourite and wished we got to spend more time with her. By the way, KayKay is the ghost of a ten year old girl - yes, it's that kind of game and it's brilliant.
I would've reviewed Unavowed sooner, but thought I already had! I will have to be honest though, and admit that some distance has actually made me grow fonder of the game than I was on completion. This might not seem fair, but this doesn't happen normally and I think it's a testament to the characters that I look back on my time with the game so fondly.
To continue the honesty, I will say that the reason I had a lesser opinion of the game was due to a minor problem that I just couldn't get my head around until near the end of the game and most likely won't be an issue for most. You see, there are times in Unavowed where the feedback to the players about what to do next isn't great and it can feel like you're wandering aimlessly.
Now, the game has a certain logic to how its world and the people in it behave, which remains consistent throughout. The problem I had is that, even after I'd worked out how the game worked, I kept forgetting and frustrating myself before remembering and being able to move on with the story. Fortunately, it had finally sunk in before the ending so at least that section flowed just fine.
The thing to be aware of with Unavowed is that it's not great at giving feedback to the player, with the characters often knowing or realising something, but only revealing that when the player actually triggers it in conversation or by taking a specific action. There'll be some who like this approach, having to figure it out entirely for themselves, but it did feel strange to be controlling the characters, yet have them withhold information from me.
It can be jarring at times, especially when the same characters effectively keeping secrets from the player are stressing how urgent things might be. Like I said, there's ultimately a certain logic to how the game works that means this isn't that big of an issue, but it feels like a bit of an oversight to have to figure it out at all rather than have a character say "I've worked out X, maybe we could try something like Y?"
Not wanting to end on a negative for a game I did end up enjoying a lot, I will repeat that the characters, story and world created for Unavowed are just brilliant and I'd love to revisit this setting if a sequel is ever made. The ending especially makes that the case for me, as it was surprisingly bittersweet and left me wanting more - if a game can get into double-digit hours and get that response then you know it's pretty damn good.
Unavowed is a great game filled with amazing characters that I wish I could've spent more time with, even if the ending does make that a little tricky. Despite some issues communicating feedback to the player, it's easy to get caught up in the story and how the characters move through it, making the just over ten hours playing through it seem like a lot less than that.
TV review - WandaVision, Episode 6, "All-New Halloween Spooktacular"
Episode summary: Disturbances on Halloween separate Wanda from Vision, who looks into anomalous activity in Westview. (IMDb)
After the very unexpected ending to the previous episode, we don't get as many answers here as I'd like, but Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) really pushes things at the end here and it'll be interesting to see how Vision (Paul Bettany) reacts to her alarmingly aggressive behaviour again. Then again, it'll be interesting to see how Billy (Julian Hilliard), Tommy (Jett Klyne) and Pietro (Evan Peters) react too, especially the latter as we still don't know really who/what he is.
He's a strange one, as he has differing memories to Wanda of their childhood, but seems to know how to speak to her and get her to open up to him, but also seems to be aware of events that occurred after the MCU's Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) died in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He also displays no apparent knowledge of the life Quicksilver had in the Fox series of X-Men movies.
One of the benefits Marvel Studios has is the sheer number of characters he could be: a resurrected MCU Pietro with the face of the X-Men Pietro; the X-Men Pietro pulled from a different reality and given the memories of MCU Quicksilver; or any number of villains: Mephisto, Nightmare, D'Spayre, Mojo have all been brought up as possibilities, along with him potentially being an avatar of the Kree's Supreme Intelligence.
Whatever/Whoever he is, he's definitely having an affect on Wanda and it's going unnoticed by Vision, who seems to be turning into another MCU parallel to Superman with Steve Rogers now gone. How? Just think: the love of his life has resurrected him, created a dream life and family for them to be together in peace and his only concern is the safety of the innocents caught up in whatever's going on. Complete and utter selflessness even if it does take away what should be a paradise for him.
As for all these mysteries, I really hope we get some of the bigger answers soon as the trickle of clues is beginning to grow frustrating. It makes for great speculation and a way to keep the audience engaged in the week gap between episodes, but I'm worried that any big reveals may come too late and be too big to not have been set up already - unless they have and we're in for a truly incredible ending to this series.
WandaVision's sixth episode effectively wraps up the second act, escalating things to the point where it feels like some kind of confrontation is now expected, especially as longer run-times (45 minutes-1 hour) are expected for the final few episodes. Some questions get answers here, but the show seems content to answer most questions with even more puzzles that will need some resolution soon.
Movie review - The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Movie summary: Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. (IMDb)
Ah, back to the days when the final part of a story became the final parts of a story instead to try and milk as much money as possible in the face of the MCU's box office dominance. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is a perfect example of why you should just make something that works first and foremost by splitting the final part of Katniss' story in half and leaving this movie without a proper ending.
The biggest frustration is that a lot of what's here is good, but it all builds to the end of a second act rather than a finale. Everything feels stretched out and padded, which was even more frustrating back when his movie was released and there was a long wait to see what should've been this film's finale. But even with the ability to simply jump straight into the next movie, Mockingjay - Part 1 just can't compare to Catching Fire.
Because the overall story has slowed down to allow for the two parts, so has the character progression, which feels glacial at times here. The performances from the cast - old and new - are all still pretty good, with Mahershala Ali my favourite of the newcomers as Boggs, but there's no end or waypoint to their development here because of how the story has been split.
And the ending feels like a weird place to stop too, which I also thought at the time having read the books by Suzanne Collins before this movie had come out. There's a great moment in the book that actually takes place in the final movie and would've been a great place to end on a damn good cliff-hanger, but ends up being just a blip as a result.
This is a great movie to have on and not pay 100% attention to, because it takes so long for major changes to happen that you almost absorb it through osmosis rather than taking in all of the dialogue or action. It's a major step down from Catching Fire, which just flew along and kept your attention while doing to, thanks to every scene and every moment meaning something.
I will spare a bit of praise for the suicide attack on the dam though, which is Mockingjay - Part 1's shining moment for me - even if it's a bunch of nameless extras and none of the main cast. Although doesn't that say it all? So little happens in the main plot thanks to being split across two movies, that a random set-piece can steal the show thanks to needing to be executed as tightly as possible in contrast to the rest of the movie
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is good, but the story really suffers from a trilogy being extended into a quadrilogy and this feels like it's missing a final act because... well, it is. Lots of 'bits' happen, but there's a lot of nothing too and it feels like the larger story hasn't moved all that much with so much shoved into its own movie.