By the Horns: My Beef With the Iron Bull Romance

Inquisitor by Michi
Inquisitor by Michi

Sometime in my early teens, I set the background on my mobile phone to a picture of handcuffs with the phrase “naughty but nice” written underneath. It was pink, it was cute, and I liked it. My mother was horrified when she saw it. I couldn’t understand why. For me, I felt the phrase “naughty but nice” represented the duality of human nature — how we are neither wholly good nor bad. She told me it had something to do with sex. I didn’t understand. What in the world did handcuffs have to do with sex?

These days, in popular culture, awareness of BDSM is pretty high, but the public perception of it is still characterized by the same kind of confusion and bafflement that I felt when I discovered it was a thing. For some people, the practice is seen as dangerous or shameful. Others see it as a punchline.

God help the people who find it hot.

In such a world where Fifty Shades of Grey is a major talking point, portrayals of consensual BDSM relationships come like rain in a desert. The writing of Iron Bull in Dragon Age: Inquisition has received huge amounts of praise from some quarters because, in the romance, Iron Bull gives you a safe word and plenty of chances to back out. The potential romantic relationship with him and the Inquisitor or with him and Dorian is definitely and refreshingly consensual.

I imagine at this point your senses are tingling. Like, what’s my point here?

Continue reading “By the Horns: My Beef With the Iron Bull Romance”

Desperately Looking for Meaning: Reviewing ‘Dreamfall Chapters’ Book Three

Dreamfall Chapters Episode 3

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

The latest installment of Dreamfall Chapters: Realms is probably its most puzzle-intensive yet. The episode opens with a fetch quest, which I had a minor quibble with because it assumes the player has knowledge of the first game in the series, The Longest Journey. So, some might find the prologue a bit slow. Moreover, whilst the start screen for Chapters offers a recap for the second game, it offers no such information on the first game.

I had another gameplay issue that I found was rooted in how the game was inspired by point-and-click 2D adventures of the past. In 2D adventure games, you spend a lot of time searching for objects, but there are, ordinarily, few screens to be dealing with. In a 3D game, it can take an awful lot longer to find the relevant object to progress gameplay. You spend less time actively in problem solving. For the most part, Realms circumvents the problem with subtle sign-posting and a focus on using the resources available to you, rather than finding them.

For the most part.

At any rate, you know how I went on and on about the map system? Well, I’m going to eat my words—again—on that matter. In Zoë’s section, Propast has become such a police state that Zoë is only permitted to go to one location. A small, mocking arrow appears over a bot’s head as it directs you to the only place you’re sanctioned by law to visit. Suddenly, I appreciated all the times I got lost because at least then I was free. Good gameplay and story integration.

Continue reading “Desperately Looking for Meaning: Reviewing ‘Dreamfall Chapters’ Book Three”

Not Exactly a Fairy Tale: How Game Mechanics Affect ‘Her Story’

Her Story

Her Story places you in front of a whirring police computer terminal from the nineties. Through it, you can access old videos that pertain to a murder case that happened some years ago. The story focuses on a woman and whether she killed her husband. It’s strikingly minimalistic, as the videos just feature one woman and her voice. You don’t even hear the questions that the police detectives ask her.

In it, players are prompted to use their search engine skills to find new videos and uncover the story. These videos are quite short, rarely running longer than a minute, and there are hundreds of them. The results are capped at five per each word, so you have to do a bit of digging to access all the videos. You’ll have to listen carefully to the videos in order to find words that you can use in your queries to further your search. It’s best to play with a notepad close beside you. As for myself, I ended up covering my hands with words that I’d hastily scrawled in pen as I played through.

The gameplay amounts to little more than this searching process, so if you’re looking for more of a multi-faceted detective simulator, you might be a little disappointed. Personally, I am unsure about its structure. It is innovative—that’s for certain—and very accessible. On one hand, the non-linear manner in which the narrative unfolds means that twists can be uncovered very suddenly, and so the first hour is very gripping. However, it’s in the nature of the format that this game eventually gets diminishing returns. Quite literally.

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E3 2015 Hype Masterpost: The Games That Already Stole Our Hearts

Mass Effect: Andromeda

You totally saw this coming, didn’t you? While everyone is (rightfully) discussing the ladies who swept E3 this year, I asked both our writers and awesome community what games they’re most excited to actually play, and hell, did I receive an enthusiastic response. From a tiny, unraveling creature made of red yarn to a gigantic, feathered friend shaped much like a griffin, it was unsurprisingly Mass Effect: Andromeda that swept the board for our community as the most anticipated, popular pick following the conference. Here are just some of the enthusiastic responses you sent us when asked about your favorite games presented on the E3 2015 floor:

earfy said: UNRAVEL mass effect andromeda BUT UNRAVEL MY HEART

ophiuroidea answered: Mass Effect Andromeda (seriously I need a new Turian romance in my life XD) and The Last Guardian (finally!)

ianblackport answered: Horizon: Zero Dawn was totally unexpected but looks spectacular. Plus another look at Mirror’s Edge was welcome.

zombioro answered: mass effect andromedaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Ready for more waxing lyrical about new games on the horizon? Of course you are. I’ve rounded up all the responses from our lovely writing team here at FemHype along with a parade of gratuitous screencaps. Not all of us could attend the big E3 2015 event, but by our collective excitement, you would’ve thought we were that guy shouting “THANK YOU!” during the Kingdom Hearts 3 gameplay reveal. More power to you, friend. ✊ We feel that love, too.

Continue reading “E3 2015 Hype Masterpost: The Games That Already Stole Our Hearts”

Fathers, Daughters, & The Gender Politics of Skellige: Analyzing ‘The Witcher 3’

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

[Heavy spoilers for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and The Last of Us.]

The Witcher is a series that hasn’t, historically, been noted for the respect it shows its women characters. Plenty of people have mocked the first game for the romance cards you could obtain every time you had sex with a woman. I will join the mocking here—that was funny. Kinda depressing, still funny. As such, I expected the third game to be a bit like that.

The first few hours did nothing to eradicate my assumption. There’s this questline you come across quite early on in Wild Hunt that references domestic abuse and the abuser in question is portrayed moderately sympathetically. It involves a man who’s beaten his wife for years. He even killed the man she left him for and took her back home. Then he had the gall to claim that her insults were too much for him to take. Eventually, the wife left him again. He sends Geralt to track her down. The Witcher finds her living in a swamp in the thrall of a coven of monstrous crones. The relatively ‘good’ resolution to this story involves accompanying the Baron to rescue her. The Baron then takes his wife into the mountains in search of a healer.

What moral am I to glean from this? That sometimes one ought to go back to their abuser if they appear contrite? I left feeling sympathetic to the wife and the Baron, who did appear apologetic and pitiful, but annoyed that their daughter hadn’t left the Eternal Flame to care for her mother. That’d be a better ending in my view. Still, the world sometimes provides you a choice between two unideal options.

I was willing to accept the received opinion that The Witcher 3 was a good game, but that its treatment of women was a bit terrible. Then I went to Skellige. The islands did nothing to dissuade me of that notion, but there’s more to the story than that.

Continue reading “Fathers, Daughters, & The Gender Politics of Skellige: Analyzing ‘The Witcher 3’”

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