Weekly: The Hero’s Return

An obvious fact: the Survival mode in Fallout 4 is there for immersion. One of the things I like about it is that it really makes you realise the importance of places like Diamond City or Goodneighbor. After all, they are the safe havens and beacons of civilisation amidst the ocean of chaos and violence which is the Commonwealth. But I wouldn’t have realised it without finishing a really funny but somewhat exhausting quest.

Supermutated spoilers below!

Meet the Silver Shroud, a comic book superhero from the age before the whole US-Chinese misunderstanding happened. When in Goodneighbor, you can meet Kent Connolly, a ghoul who has been Shroud‘s fan for the past 200 years and has is own radio station broadcasting episodes of the hero’s adventures. After a short conversation it becomes obvious that he wants to revive the legend – and the Lone Survivor is to play the main character. The first step is to obtain the Silver Shroud costume and his iconic weapon from the ruins of a comic book company. Then Kent, a trained radio technician, begins to transmit the names and locations of local villains who are in need of superhero treatment (which involves lots and lots of shooting). What is really interesting, when you confront the baddies, you can choose between having a conversation in your standard voice or impersonating the Shroud in a really hammy way. Eventually, after delivering justice to some lesser minions you have the chance to meet Sinjin, the supervillain. At this point, things got really interesting and led to a wonderful conclusion.

I returned to Goodneighbor after disposing of the last Sinji’s henchmen only to find out that Kent had been kidnapped. Since I really enjoyed the quest so far, I decided to do the hero part and immediately go out to rescue him. This required a rather long journey south and clearing several floors of an old hospital. The hard part began when I reached my target, Sinji and his gang of goons, holding Kent at gunpoint. Without boring you with the details, I can just say that killing the former and saving the latter required a lot of reloads and experimenting with Charisma-enhancing drugs. Seriously, it was the most frustrating experience in my Fallout 4 experience so far. Needless to say, in the end, the hero saved the day.



The hero. The villain. The author.


Then the wonderful thing happened. It was late in the night on both sides of my PC screen. The Silver Shroud finally got back to Diamond City, wounded, tired, hungry, sick, suffering from radiation – and wasn’t feeling much better than him, minus a few gunshot wounds. After crossing the city gate, we both saw this…


…at the first moment, I didn’t really realise what was happening, but I quickly checked the in-game date on my Pipboy. 25 Dec 2287. After surviving a difficult and demanding adventure, I (we?) can finally sit down, rest and have a deathclaw steak for Christmas supper.

Hey, the game even dropped a Christmas gift on me. Here’s what I found on a Legendary Raider‘s corpse shortly before getting back home.



The Ultimate Weapon.


True catharsis. The perfect union between the player and his alter ego. You play games for moments like this.

Maybe Fallout 4 isn’t a bad RPG after all.


Soundtrack: Five Songs For Dystopian Settings

The problem with video game soundtracks is that either they become too repetitive after you play for a while or they’re not so good, to begin with. One of my favourite pastimes is finding songs which fit the game’s theme and mood, becoming a new custom soundtrack. In fact, I already wrote a few posts about it in the past. This time, the topic is dystopian totalitarianism.

So you want to be a resistance hero fighting oppressive regimes in the grimdark future? Or maybe just impersonate an ordinary citizen trying to survive the boot stomping on his face, forever? Since one of my earliest childhood memories is attending a Labour Day parade and waving a  tiny paper red flag towards some fat Communist Party officials standing on a balcony, I may be the right guy to do the job and recommend you five songs which will get you into the Orwellian mood.

Our sons will be born with their fists raised up! An anarchist classic from the times of the Second Spanish Republic and the civil war. Recommended for stories set in Latin America and the Caribbean, like Just Cause or Red Dead Redemption, but also for the few games portraying the Spanish Civil War. Unless you want to feel ironic and listen to it while playing Tropico and executing those pesky revolutionaries.

Every time I about a Western rock star or another celebrity doing something supposedly brave, risky and controversial, I immediately think about Yanka Dyagileva and then just sneer. Wanna see a real punk rock rebel? The Russian songwriter and singer was a member of an underground music movement during the final years of the decaying Soviet Union. Of course, being a subversive in that time and reality could get you into real trouble, including harassment and torture by the Communist police, and all this reflected in Yanka’s lyrics. The song above is particularly haunting story about a couple of young lovers getting arrested and murdered by the StateSec for the grave crime of having a walk down the tram tracks. It works very well if you want to immerse yourself into the world of Papers, Please.

The enfants terribles of Slovenian music scene have recently gained some notoriety in the news after playing a concert for the North Korean regime, including the Glorious Leader himself. Even before this happened, they’ve been always known for using Fascist and Communist aesthetics, supposedly to mock the modern popculture and the mindless masses bowing before their music idols, or so the critics claim. Geburt Einer Nation is typical for their work: they took a cheerful song about peace, unity and understanding, and turned it into a cover mixing 80s disco with a marching song. Including a video clip which would make Leni Riefenstahl swell with pride. All this seems perfect for the new Wolfenstein games.

Since I used an image from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, it’s only proper to include a clip from that film featuring a musician who suffers from a mental breakdown and starts to impersonate Sir Oswald Mosley himself. Weed out the weaklings. A song tailored for We Happy Few.

Our courage wants to laugh. Our anger wants to sing. Lonely struggle of individuals against oppressive powers is the constant theme in the work of the Luxembourgian artist Jerome Reuters. Frankly, I have no idea which particular game to recommend for this one, but you’ll like it if you’re a wannabe rebel anyway.

How about you? Do you have any favourite songs which would sit well with games set in dystopian settings? If your answer is yes, then the comment section is waiting for you.

Weekly: It’s Good To Be a Survivor

Damn, it feels like being alive again. For the past few months, I found little joy in playing video games, constantly skipping from one title to another and finding no satisfaction whatsoever.



Maybe I’m just too old for this kind of hobby?


To my surprise, this changed after I finally got Fallout 4 downloaded to my disk.  To say that I enjoy it would be saying nothing, as I’m simply hypnotised by everything happening on the screen. So, maybe it’s the right time for little introspection. Let’s sit down and think about the reasons why I like Fallout 4 so much.

Survival of the Stealthiest

While the so-called Hardcore mode in Fallout New Vegas was a disappointment, adding only minor challenges to the gameplay, the Survival difficulty mode in F4 is something completely different. First of all, hunger, thirst and radiation are serious issues now and if you forget about them, the game punishes you by severe stats penalties. Even more importantly, even rank-and-file characters are deadly now — fitting for the highest difficulty setting — but so is the player character. If he’s careless enough, a bunch of angry Raiders can shoot him down in a few seconds, but since your basic damage is considerably higher than on lower difficulties, you can turn the tables by quietly climbing up a building or a hill and taking them out with well-placed sniper shots. Generally, sneaking is one of the most valuable skills now and I’m all happy about it.


The most important element of the Survival mode is the strategic value of beds. Since manual saving and most autosaves are disabled, you can keep your progress only by sleeping for at least one hour. That’s why it’s very important to search your surroundings for a resting place when entering a hostile territory. After all, you don’t want to lose hours of progress due to an unlucky incident with a frag mine or a genocidal ghoul. Obviously, it’s very frustrating when it happens, but it makes exploration of the wastes even more exciting.

Meet the Vault Tinkerer

Remember picking through tonnes of useless trash in Fallout 3 and New Vegas in search of Stimpaks and ammunition? Now it’s over. With the new crafting system, even tin cans and broken clocks can be real treasures. After finding a proper workshop, you can customise your weapons, armour and even the Pipboy to make them lighter, sturdier, deadlier, or simply more fancy. Add enough modifications and your weapon’s or armour’s name becomes ridiculously long, but they thought about it too and you can give it another name.



Maybe I’ll just call her Vera.


While most ingredients are common enough, some are quite rare and you’ll learn to value each piece of circuitry or nuclear material you find in the dirt. Things get even more complicated when you find out that you need the same resources to expand your settlements, but I left my settlers to their own devices so far, so let’s just leave it at that.

The Power of the Armour


There’s been a huge change in the way the game treats Power Armour in comparison with the previous instalments. Now it’s not just a piece of (very heavy and expensive) clothing you wear but rather it behaves like an in-game vehicle. The Sole Survivor enters it using that funny hatch on its back and, just like a real car, it needs fuel, the Fusion Cores, which aren’t exactly cheap but still surprisingly easy to find. Beside standard modifications increasing damage resistance, it has some new options unavailable for other types of armour, like an enhanced HUD targetting enemies or special filters in the helmet which clean your food and drink from radiation. Another minor but nice thing is that your PC sounds really badass in conversations when speaking through his power helmet. In short, for the first time in the history of the Fallout series, they really made the Power Armour something special.

Well, that’s it. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about when I spend another dozen or two of hours of playing under my belt. Meanwhile, let’s get a cup of noodles from that crazy Japanese robot and then set sail for the ruins of Boston.




Monthly: Moscow to Boston

The first months of 2018 were pretty monotonous. Radiation. Mutated dogs. Gas masks. Mutated mosquitoes. Digging through a pile of junk in search of spare parts. More mutants. In other words, I’ve been tasting two different types of post-apocalyptic fiction.


The Metro series has been on my list since I watched a full Let’s Play YT video of the second game a few years ago. After all, a game made by a Russian and Ukrainian team always picks my interest and I really loved S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl. Now, not only I managed to buy both parts of the series for a very reasonable price on Steam but also bought the original novel written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. What a refreshing and interesting experience to read a chapter, close the book, launch the game and play the same part of the story (with slight alterations). Obviously, the game is far from perfection even in its revamped Redux version and there’s a lot of wasted potential due to the absolutely linear character of the plot, but I’ve enjoyed it so far.

Sadly, I had to interrupt my adventure in the depths of Moscow’s underground system. I blame you, Bethesda.


For someone who’s been playing the series since the release of Fallout 1 in 1997, I was late to join the party. The steep price was one reason, the sad experience with freshly released Bethesda games being technical disasters was another. Most importantly, most reviews I was reading were far from favourable.  “It’s not a real Fallout game”, they said, “it’s too much an FPS and not much an RPG”. And, of course, the greatest accusation: “This is not New Vegas, so it sucks!”.

When Fallout 4 became available for a free weekend in early February, I was prepared to play it for a few hours, write down my impressions as a First Hour exercise, get bored, disappointed, and go back to Nevada. Well, I was wrong. After spending most of my weekend in the post-apocalyptic Boston, I finally paid for the game. The Fallout magic still works.

All right, the reviewers were right about one thing. It really isn’t New Vegas. I can understand that dedicated fans were disappointed by many changes, especially the ridiculous dialogue system (“yes/no/need more info/tell a stupid joke”), but the game is still more than decent. Especially when you go for the Survival mode which, unlike the previous installation, is seriously challenging and makes you doped on adrenaline every time you encounter a band of raiders or supermutants. Yeah, I’ll have to write more about it.

Just in case you played Fallout 4 before I did, I’d really appreciate hints about the DLC’s and interesting mods, since I’m still playing the vanilla version. Thanks!

Weekly: Nothing Changes On New Year’s Day

Do you have a song which makes your skin crawl? Do you feel a confusing mixture of emotions when listening to it? Here, let me share one of such songs with you.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you, night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

Under a blood-red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspaper says, says
Say it’s true, it’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one

“New Year’s Day” was written and recorded by the former rock rebels and current rock celebrities in U2 in 1983 as a commentary on the political and social situation in Poland after the introduction of martial law. Luckily, I was born too late to remember that period, but collective memory is a harsh mistress and the song still fills me with dread and sadness every time I hear it. Now, I have it stuck in my head because I decided to celebrate the first week of the new year by returning to Papers, Please.


Winter in the glorious country of Arstotzka has the grey colour of armed concrete. I’m sitting in the inspector’s booth, scanning some innocent soul’s passport for the tiniest discrepancies and quietly wondering what is my worst fear: my superiors, the so-called resistance which keeps blowing my colleagues into tiny pieces, or simply not having enough money to feed my family. Suddenly, I discover that there’s a tiny typo in the passport. “Darżewski”, it says, while the ID tells me that he’s called “Durżewski”. With a silent sigh, I reach for the big red stamp. Entry denied. Sorry, my friend, you’re not coming in today. No, I don’t care about your wife waiting behind the barbed wire.

Perhaps this should be my greatest fear: that one day I will begin to think that this is okay and my life isn’t that bad.

When one of my Polish friends asked me to describe Papers, Please in one sentence, I answered: “It is a very wise game”. That’s right, Lucas Pope didn’t receive all the applause and rewards for simply making a satire on Eastern European communism. As simple as it may appear at the first sight, this game is incredibly profound and offers a unique experience, especially for someone living in the former Soviet Bloc. Actually, I finished it a few years ago, reaching most of the game endings, but when I saw it on the Steam sale in the last days of December, I simply couldn’t resist buying. Maybe I should write a longer post and explain why I consider it a masterpiece. Before that happen (and if it ever happens), I’m planning to revive my Soundtrack tag and make a list of songs which make playing games with dystopian theme more immersive. So, now I have a goal for this week.

Looking Forward

Yesterday, I said ‘goodbye’ to 2017 by writing a post about the best game I played last year. Now, the time has become to welcome give the new year a proper welcome. What’s better than doing it by making a little LIST?

Let’s start with the simple part and draw a proper backlog of games I haven’t finished yet. Of course, the minimum to count it as finished is reaching at least one ending and publishing a proper Just Finished post.

In no particular order:

Eisenhorn: Xenos


Sunless Sea (nope, 700 hours wasn’t enough)

WH40k: Space Marine

Rain World


Volgarr The Viking


Fallout New Vegas (of course)

Verdun (it’s a multiplayer FPS so I’ll just get level 100 of experience and quit)


Mad Max


The Final Station

That’s it. Maybe I should start with the last two games because I’ve essentially finished them already and all that remains is writing damn end posts to get rid of them.

Then there are some games, mostly classics, I’m planning to try out – some of them already waiting in the limbo which is my Steam library.

Half-Life 2

System Shock

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided


Max Payne 3

This War Of Mine

Wings! Remastered Edition


So much for the list. My most important goal, however, is to completely change my attitude as a player, just as I mentioned in one of the Creative Christmas posts. I seriously need it to become less competitive, focused on score and achievements, and more reflective, enjoying the plot, characters, mechanics, visuals, and so on. Hopefully, the new approach will allow me to appreciate and enjoy games more, maybe take a new, broader perspective, and therefore become a better player. Quite exciting and so much to look forward to in the new year.



Creative Christmas: Looking Back

Kim’s festive challenge ends today. The final task she gave to her faithful followers was:

You wake up the following morning, hungover but happy – you have an entire day of gaming ahead of you. You start thinking back over the video games you played during 2017; what was your game of the year?

Well, this is not a hard question.


That’s right, 2017 was the year when I played Fallout New Vegas for the first time. A classic. A masterpiece. A monument to human creativity and imagination. This isn’t only my opinion because NV remains popular even 7 years after its release; I constantly see discussions and memes about the game on various social media platforms and new mods keep appearing almost every day.

There are so many reasons why I love New Vegas that I should make a separate post to list them all – and it would be a very long post – so just let me name two of them. First, it’s the post-apocalyptic desert setting which makes wandering through the Mojave a wonderfully relaxing experience, especially when I’m able to play heavy stoner or psychedelic rock as a custom soundtrack. Second, the modding community has been able to add tonnes of high-quality content. Just trying to find and play the best mods will probably take me another year and I’m so happy about it.

That’s it! The Creative Christmas is over. Now I would like to say it loud: Thank you very much, Kim! Your competition was an excellent idea and a very interesting experience. If you ever start a similar thing in the coming year, please let me know and I will gladly join you!