Saturday, 19 May 2018

Asylum Reviews; Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice [Xbox One].

We recently got Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice for Xbox One. We had been intrigued by the game since it was first revealed, but had never gotten round to playing it. Being big fans of Ninja Theory's previous games, including Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and DmC: Devil May Cry, we were definitely interested upon hearing of their latest production: a game with the main character hailing from Scotland (Orkney, specifically). It was bound to grab our attention. The emphasis on Mental Health, with Senua experiencing psychosis further piqued our interest, as it is a subject not often tackled by video games - or at least, not in any great depth.

The game begins with Senua rowing on her quest, passing by corpses displayed on the route to Helheim. The imagery is completely, beautifully creepy, and is utilised well as an opening credits scene, with crew members names displayed along the sides of the river (similar to Inside which also began with you being dropped straight into things while the credits show in the background). There's no tutorial, which we really liked, instead you learn as you go with Senua's auditory hallucinations. These hallucinations, which Senua calls "Furies" both encourage and demotivate her: some warn when an enemy is approaching from behind, whereas others will tell her she's useless and will die. You learn to read the Furies, and adapt from being mildly uncomfortable having these voices in your head, to being grateful for their presence. Wearing headphones is said to make for the best experience, however having the volume up slightly louder than normal also helped.

One thing I was completely worried about from the beginning was the inclusion of a Permadeath mechanic. I love games, but I must admit I'm not the greatest (most of the time), so this left me feeling paranoid that I'd never get to play the game in its entirety. The permadeath feature is explained to you by the "rot" slowly creeping its way up Senua's arm, with a description on screen describing how this will grow each time you fail, before eventually ending everything upon reaching her head:

. By the first "boss", where you have a choice between Valravn and Surtr as for who to fight first (I chose Valravyn), which is where the rot is explained to you, it was located around my/Senua's hand/wrist. I died once in the main fight with Valravyn (mis-timed a parry) and was instantly like "oh my God, how many times can I die before my save is gone!?" so I made the effort to be super careful... and then I died again. Once I'd defeated Valravyn, I was calmer - he wasn't as difficult as I'd anticipated, but with two deaths under my belt I had the absolute fear about what was to come. After completing the game (and never triggering permadeath), I Googled to see if it was actually achievable. You can Google to find out more info from the articles already out there - I found this one to be quite informative. I actually like Ninja Theory's reasoning for this, as it made the game more tense and definitely made me more careful - but ultimately did not run the risk of ruining my entire playthrough (and experience of the game).

The combat was fluid and felt fantastic, despite the game being a walking simulator in most senses. But the fun combat, combined with the interesting story and fantastically immersive sound design (not to mention the stunning graphics) made this by far the best "walking simulator" I've ever experienced.

I returned from the Valravyn fight to then make my way through the other door to go fight Surtr, but was unexpectedly attacked by a bunch of Northmen. Death three. When I restarted my return to the doors, I carefully inspected Senua's arm. I'd died three times now, just what would the cut off point be? Have I got one death left? Two? Seven? I managed to make it quite a bit further in the game with no additional deaths. By the time I'd reached the four Shard Trials, the rot had grown much darker, and was as far as my elbow - yet I hadn't died again. Or had I? I was starting to question myself, and then wondering if this is what the devs wanted us, as players, to feel.

Along the way, you'll see collectible Lorestones. These Lorestones give you further pieces of insight from Druth, a man Senua once knew (known by many to be a fool) - now reduced to just the memories and voices in her head. There are 44 Lorestones to collect in total, represented by runes around a dial shown on the stones themselves. There is no chapter select, or continuation of the story after completion so if you miss one in your playthrough, you'll simply need to start over if you want to collect them all. Frustratingly, I missed one around half-way in to the game. I debated starting again (as collecting all 44 triggers an additional cutscene at the end of the game), but I was too engrossed in the story to want to restart - at least not yet. By the end, I was missing two Lorestones - thankfully these carry over through playthroughs, so my second playthrough will just be to claim the missed ones and then complete again for the final scene. Druth's voice actor, Nicholas Boulton is fantastic in his role, although I am partial to an Irish accent!

All throughout the game, I was astounded by the performance given by Melina Juergens as Senua. Not only had she been the physical embodiment of the character (as she did the motion capture for her) but her voice-acting was tremendous. She fully committed to the character, and the emotion required to play the role convincingly. The pain in her voice, near the end of the game as she shouts "fuck the Gods" - it was just so real. You could feel every bit of pain and torment that Senua was experiencing, and you believed it all. Definitely excited to see what else she has to offer in future.

As I got to the end, I was desperate - as Senua was - and had grown weary of all of these seemingly never-ending battles. Her sword, Gramr by now was glowing blue, and her Focus power was much stronger, lasting far longer than before. This allowed me to just mow down enemies, in a completely cathartic and satisfying release, before you finally come face to face with Hela - and have Senua finally come to terms with her grief over Dillion. It was an emotional ending, one that I'll freely admit had me sobbing my heart out. The music playing over the ending and credits fit so perfectly with the theme of everything, as well as that final moment, that I could have sworn it had been written specifically for the game itself. It wasn't - VNV Nation's Illusion was in fact released back in 2007, but was just perfectly chosen for this final moment.

All in all, I'd have to give Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice the Collecting Asylum rating of:


I'd highly recommend anybody to play (and have been struggling to not talk about every single moment of the game with friends/family!) as I really connected with and enjoyed this game more than I have for any other game in quite some time.

Have you played Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice?
What did you think about it? Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 30th April 2018 - Sunday 6th May 2018 [Week 18].

Lots of new arrivals this week again :) Working on a review for Hellblade currently so you can expect to see that here shortly :) Looking forward to watching/rewatching everything that has arrived this week!

Monday 30th April 2018

- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild OST First Pressing Limited Edition [CD].

Tuesday 1st May 2018

- Street Trash Collector's Edition [Bluray].

- Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! Steelbook [Bluray].

Wednesday 2nd May 2018

- Digimon Adventure Tri Part 4: Loss Collector's Edition [Bluray]. 
- Flip Flappers Complete Collection Premium Box Set [Bluray].

Thursday 3rd May 2018

- Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice [Xbox One][Digital].
- Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies Limited Edition [Bluray].

Friday 4th May 2018

- It Follows Replacement Steelbook [Bluray].

- Cheech and Chong Up In Smoke 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition [Bluray/Vinyl].

- Deadpool 2-Year Anniversary Edition [Bluray].

- Unravel Collector's Edition [Xbox One].

As soon as I opened the box, Yarny went off on a mini-adventure!

- Mighty No. 9 Signature Edition [Xbox One].

- Escape from New York Steelbook [Bluray].

- The Fog Steelbook [Bluray].

- They Live Steelbook [Bluray].

- Psychotica [Bluray]. 

- Wolf Cop [Bluray].

- The Dark Below Horror Pack Limited Edition [Bluray][Signed].

Lots of goodies this week! And have done a bit rearranging of the collection, to try and free up some space (especially as Majora's Mask Ex. will be here soon!) so all of these are actually on shelves, rather than being relegated to the floor for a few months haha.

What new things have you received this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 23rd April 2018 - Sunday 29th April 2018 [Week 17].

Quite a busy week for new arrivals, albeit the majority of it all came over the span of just two days! Lots of bluray editions, definitely happy we managed to get a lot of these. Another massive thanks to the amazing Cinemuseum for helping us out with some of these :)

Friday 27th April 2018

- Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 2 Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies [Bluray].
- Cure/Kyua Special Edition [Bluray].
- Berserk: The Golden Age Arc Movie Collection [Bluray].

Saturday 28th April 2018

- Ghost in the Shell Only at Blufans (OAB) Limited Edition [Bluray].

- The Incredibles MondoXSteelbook Edition [Bluray].

- The Grey Novamedia One-Click Edition [Bluray].

- John Wick Novamedia One-Click Empty Box [Merch].

- Assault on Precinct 13 Cinemuseum One-Click [Bluray].

- My Hero Academia Season Two Part One Collector's Edition [Bluray].

- Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 01: Variety Kit [Switch].

- Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 02: Robot Kit [Switch].

- Nintendo Labo Bonus Pencilcase & Pens [Merch].

- Deadpool 4K Steelbook [Bluray].

Sunday 29th April 2018

- Nintendo Labo Customisation Set [Merch].

Loving the Nintendo Labo stuff so far, and the kids are enamoured by it too. Nintendo is known for their gimmicky products however, so it will be interesting to see how long the love for Labo lasts.

What new things have you gotten this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 16th April 2018 - Sunday 22nd April 2018 [Week 16].

Not a lot of new arrivals this week, however it included some pretty amazing bluray releases so I'm happy with that! Thanks to Carlo over at Cinemuseum once again for all the help <3

Thursday 19th April 2018

- Fight Club MantaLab One-Click [Bluray].

- Reservoir Dogs NovaMedia One-Click [Bluray].

Bad photo - should have taken one after I removed the cellophane!

Friday 20th April 2018

- It Follows Steelbook [Bluray].
This came absolutely mangled. It stated "Acceptable" in the description, but does this look Acceptable to you? Looks okay from the front but the back is off entirely!


Luckily we've got a replacement on the way now :)

So what new things have you received this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Asylum Reviews; A Quiet Place.

We’ve always been big fans of John Krasinski. Loved him in The Office, and were very glad when he started to break out from the comedic roles as we would get to see this whole other side of him. When we saw the first trailer for A Quiet Place, we were really intrigued and excited to see the film as not only is he in it, but he has directed it (and done work on the Screenplay too).

A Quiet Place focuses on a family surviving in the aftermath of strange creatures basically wiping out most of humanity. They have to scour abandoned shops and buildings for supplies, whilst remaining silent, as these creatures hunt based on sound. This can prove to be quite a challenge for them since they have young children – we’ve got kids ourselves and suffice to say we’d be totally fucked in this situation as they have no concept of quiet, at all.

The threat of these creatures is very real, and you honestly are completely on edge throughout the entire movie, waiting for something bad to happen. You see these parents, Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) being taken to their absolute limit in trying to protect their children, and how they would do anything in their power to do so.

The raw emotion displayed, as well as the bond between all of the characters as a family feels very true to life, and gives a lot of credibility to everything they do. The tiny little changes they've had to make in their life (alongside the big ones) in order to survive, is very believable - a lot of work definitely went to the planning of every minute detail.

This movie has a lot of quiet moments. Yes, that should be obvious to most that have either seen the trailer, or read anything about the movie at all, but evidently it wasn’t obvious to those in the audience with us. Within minutes of the movie starting, the sound of people ripping open packets of crisps, and rummaging through their popcorn was deafening. It was like they weren’t even trying to be quiet. I think everyone must have glared at the offenders though, as they all quickly stopped and I don’t remember hearing it much afterwards, haha. There are a few fairly loud moments in the movie (such as when they are near running water), so most people took advantage of these parts to quickly open things or cough – both me and Allan were suffering from a pretty bad cough/chest infection when we went to see it and had to desperately hold our coughing till the loud parts – which we somehow managed successfully. Regardless of the slight irritation of these noises going on directly behind us, I would still recommend seeing A Quiet Place in cinema, as we both agreed that the cinematic experience really adds to the movie, as the noises completely envelop you, as does the silence. If you’re reading this by the time it is no longer available in cinemas, then go grab yourself a copy of the movie on Bluray and watch it in a dark room, with the sound up and no distractions.

The movie truly was phenomenal. The cast worked brilliantly together, and were very believable in their respective roles. With Krasinski and Blunt being married in real life, this probably helped contribute to the chemistry of their characters. Their relationships to their kids in the movie was so genuine, you could really feel the maternal/paternal instincts in everything they did. Without going into too much detail, as I really, really don’t want to spoil the movie (and instead highly recommend that you go see it ASAP!), we thoroughly enjoyed it and it hit all the right notes in terms of tense-ness, as well as the emotion. The sound (and lack thereof) was fantastic, and really made you aware of how quiet things have to be to stay hidden from these creepy things hunting you.

In the end, this gets the Collecting Asylum rating of:

It’s a Belter!

Have you seen A Quiet Place? What did you think of it?
Let us know in the comments below!

 -V x

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Entries to the Asylum; Monday 9th April 2018 - Sunday 15th April 2018 [Week 15].

Quite a few new movie releases this week, as well as The Adventure Pals for Xbox One - which is fantastic, might I add - and some merch from Captain Disillusion!

Monday 9th April 2018

- Assault on Precinct 13 Steelbook [Bluray].
- Prince of Darkness Steelbook [Bluray].
- The Adventure Pals [Xbox One][Digital].

Wednesday 11th April 2018

- The Villainess Steelbook Edition [Bluray].

Friday 13th April 2018

- Friday the 13th: the Game Signed Slipcover [Xbox One].
This finally arrived! And we got number 043/100! :)
- Captain Disillusion T-Shirt [Merch].
(another one on the way for Allan)
- Captain Disillusion: Fame Curve Collection [DVD].
- Captain Disillusion Pin [Merch].

Saturday 14th April 2018

- Killer Klowns from Outer Space Limited Edition [Bluray].

The package I received on Friday with the Captain Disillusion merch was missing Allan's t-shirt. I've had quite a few packages (from various retailers) arrive recently with an item or two missing, that of which I've had to chase up myself, so was a little gutted that this was another to add to the list, until I spotted the little handwritten note on the order receipt explaining that the t-shirt will be following soon, from Captain D himself :)

So what new things have you picked up this week?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Shenmue I & II Announcement.

So Sega have announced the upcoming release of Shenmue I & II for Xbox One, PS4 and PC, with a an expected 2018 release. Whilst not a full "from the ground up" remaster, Sega have implemented a few new things to keep the series fresh, and keep us going until the release of Shenmue III.

In Shenmue, you play as a character called Ryo Hazuki, a young martial artist seeking revenge for the murder of his father. It was released back in 1999/2000 for Sega Dreamcast, and while the sequel eventually received an Xbox release, this marks the first time that people can play the full series on a non-Dreamcast console. We've still got a Dreamcast, but sadly no longer have our original copies of Shenmue or Shenmue II, and Allan had been desperate to replay them before III comes out, so we're so glad that this is coming out.

Releasing as an all in one package, this will be the perfect chance for players old and new to work their way through both titles before Shenmue III is released. The slight changes incorporated are an updated user interface (UI), the ability to switch between modern and classic control schemes, scalable screen resolutions as well as being able to choose between English or Japanese voiceovers for the characters.

The Shenmue I & II collection will be available both digitally, and in physical form, which we're really happy about. Currently we don't have an official release date locked down, but with Shenmue III expected to drop in Q3/Q4 of this year, it will need to be fairly soon in order to give people time to complete before then.

Allan is a massive fan of Shenmue, and has been dreaming of a current-gen re-release for years. With the announcement (and Kickstarter) of Shenmue III, he really hoped we'd see this happen, so he's over the moon that it is finally confirmed. Definitely think we're going to have to organise a space on a shelf for Shenmue stuff, as currently our Ryo Hazuki Exclusive statue from First4Figures is just on our Dreamcast shelf, but with the Shenmue III Kickstarter rewards for the tier we backed, Shenmue definitely deserves a shelf of its own.

I expect we will hear more details at E3 regarding both this and the release of Shenmue III - I am betting that they'll show this at E3 and do the whole "available now!" shtick, and then confirm a December release date for III, giving everyone a few months to fire through these, or they'll give us a date for this and announce a delay on III.

During the 2015 Kickstarter, we pledged for the $600 tier:

Which includes: 
- "Put your name and a 140 character message in the guestbook of a Choubu Inn. Write your witticism/aphorism/Shenmue-ism for all to see!"
We haven't yet decided what we want in the guestbook, but surveys haven't been done yet anyway, so no worries on that!
- Get all four figures: Ryo, Shenhua, Chai and the Forklift
- Illustration signed by Yu Suzuki
- Signed Collector’s Edition
- Backer-only Arcane Technique Scroll (in-game item)
- Skin-change feature for Ryo’s Jacket (in-game item)
- Physical CD Soundtrack
- Printed Artbook curated by Yu Suzuki
- 20 Capsule Toy Tickets (in-game item)
- MP3 download of original soundtrack with unreleased tracks
- Digital artbook
- Shenmue 3 T-shirt
- International phone card (in-game item) to call Nozomi, Guizhang Chen, Ine-san, Joy, Fuku-san or other characters from Shenmue 1 & 2 (item will unlock phone conversations and flashbacks, exclusive to Kickstarter backers).
- Physical Copy in an exclusive backer-only case
- Your name in the credits

So the physical stuff included will look great on a shelf alongside our Ryo statue, and we will then need to track down the UK Dreamcast copies to join them all. 

Are you excited about Shenmue I & II being released?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Asylum Reviews; Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice [Xbox One].

We recently got Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice for Xbox One. We had been intrigued by the game since it was first revealed, but had n...