Monday, November 29, 2021

What If An A.I. Wrote Your Favorite Games

You've probably heard that the machines are coming for our jobs … and eventually our bodies. But what does this strange, machine-run future look like? To gain a sneak-peek into that world, we asked the A.I.-based text generator InferKit to rewrite some of our favorite games, and the results ranged from hilarious to outright eerie. Below are the A.I. rewrites – the seed text is in bold, and everything else is machine-generated. Batman: Arkham Asylum The inmates of Arkham Asylum have been set free – and it's up to Batman to bring order to the chaos and take back the asylum. Along the way, he reunites with some old allies and discovers an even deeper secret: he isn't the only one with a destiny, and this time, his isn't a fairy tale. What you don't know? It was designed by God to save his people. It has the power to send every human back to Heaven and reunite them with God. So why does the Great Spirit keep it locked away? And what's with that smell, anyway?  The Last of Us Joel and Ellie, brought together by harsh circumstances, must survive a brutal journey across the U.S. in a dangerous post-pandemic world. Two best friends, Joel and Ellie, survive the end of the world in a semi-ancient survivalist park. Traveling across the United States in search of food and water and finding more unexpected friends along the way. Endlessly imaginative, inspiring, and sometimes terrifying, this is an original survival adventure, like no other. This is the first book in a trilogy. There are four books. Super Mario Bros. The Mushroom Princess is being held captive by the evil Koopa tribe. It's up to you to rescue her before time runs out. The green plumber's missions also include helping a doll-like Princess Kameeze find the Unicorn Rod. Going back to the original Super Mario Bros., Yoshi's sidekick is Super Mario Bros. 3's Yoshi. And in Super Mario World, the mushroom-shaped dinosaur is the gamer's little brother. These companions give Mario new abilities when he picks up the controllers or stomps on certain power-ups in games. Copyright 2017 WTVM. All rights reserved. Alan Wake A dark presence stalks the small town of Bright Falls, pushing Alan Wake to the brink of sanity in his fight to unravel the mystery and save his love. Based on the comic book series If I Hadn't Met You Eduard, a husband and father who loses his family in a tragic accident, travels to parallel universes to seek a better fate for his beloved wife. This drama series tells the astonishing true story of Israel's most prominent spy who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s.  Red Dead Redemption II America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun. After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. But at every turn, the traveling robbers find themselves faced with unintended challenges. Deep in the wilds of Iowa, they encounter the terrifying Mandrake, whose head is a hive of ravenous monsters … and who are on the lookout for fresh bodies. One by one, the members of the gang are picked off, revealing the truly terrible fate that awaits those who cross the Mandrake. Despite his unstable nature, Arthur is a gifted con man, as well as an expert marksman, skilled guitarist, master carpenter, and above all, a man of extraordinary cunning and resourcefulness. Trapped in a world where he never seems to fit in, can the mysterious detective help the dark-haired, blue-eyed half-Irish half-African boy realize his destiny, or will he become another statistic? Half-Life: Alyx The loss of the Seven-Hour War is still fresh. In the shadow of a rising Combine fortress known as the Citadel, residents of City 17 learn to live under the rule of their invaders. But among this scattered population are two of Earth's most resourceful scientists: Dr. James Vega and John Baxter. Dr. Vega builds a time machine and contacts John, offering his assistance and guaranteeing his safety. Together, the two of them make a plan: they will travel back to 1984, to try to convince then-President Elizabeth Shower to negotiate with the Combine. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt This world doesn't need a hero. It needs a professional. Enter the witcher, one of the last monster slayers for hire. Joslyn Mael: Most famous for the notorious Hollows murder case. I will not get too much into my life and profession. You'll have to make your own judgments. It's a long story and a very long time ago. Suffice to say, I grew up as a very strong child, and even though my parents were terrified of me, they also wanted me to know how to defend myself and use my right hand for good. I grew up, bought my own gun, got a job, and the rest is history. BioShock Infinite Indebted to the wrong people, with his life on the line, veteran of the U.S. Cavalry and now hired gun, Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. Escape the dark lands of Borderlands, a politically unstable nation in the not-too-distant future and repair his marriage before it's too late. His target? The mysterious anarchist villain Cipher. The result was Titanfall, a rebooted brand-new shooter where different modes could be combined together seamlessly. Set in the city-sized spaceport of Forward Operating Base, the map editors allowed for a dozen ways to play the game, from quick engagements to mission-based battles. Halo: Combat Evolved Bent on humankind's extermination, a powerful fellowship of alien races known as the Covenant is wiping out Earth's fledgling interstellar empire. It is a fight for survival. For their children's future. For the survival of the entire universe. A fight they are counting on you to join. In the original Halo, Master Chief leads a team of expert Spartans – along with an armored knight from an alien civilization – to face the Covenant in an epic struggle that will test your abilities, test your brotherhood and test the fate of the entire universe. Final Fantasy VII In Midgar, a city controlled by the mega-conglomerate Shinra Inc., the No. 1 Mako Reactor has been blown up by a rebel group, Avalanche. Avalanche leader Taiki Masaki has been seen walking amongst the ruins and filming the wreckage. In the Shinra Control Room, Shinra Corporate Executive Officer Hiroshi Amano tries to stop Shinra's CEO Tetsuya Tojo from starting a catastrophic weapon of mass destruction. Founded by three children born of Digimon-like monsters, Avalanche was believed to be destroyed when Mako Reactor 1 exploded, but the video footage proves otherwise. What do you think? Will we be playing A.I.-written games next year?
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    Death's Door Review – Reaping The Rewards

    Publisher: Devolver Digital
    Developer: Acid Nerve
    Release:

    July 20, 2021
    (Xbox Series X/S,
    Xbox One,
    PC), November 23, 2021
    (PlayStation 5,
    PlayStation 4,
    Switch)

    Rating: Everyone 10+
    Reviewed on: Xbox One
    Also on:
    PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Switch, PC

    Death is one of the few things we all have in common. We all experience death sooner or later, and that can be terrifying because we don’t truly know what awaits us on the other side. Salvation? Oblivion? Death’s Door offers an amusing interpretation of death by framing it as a boring, day-to-day business run by crows. While some of the crows may not find much enjoyment in their work, playing Death’s Door couldn’t be further from their dull reality. It’s an entertaining and engrossing action-adventure romp that you’d do well to enjoy before your time is up. 

    As a young crow and a rookie reaper working for this morbid organization, your task is to retrieve one particularly large soul. Once you do, however, it’s promptly stolen by a mysterious figure. The soul’s recovery is paramount because while the crows are immortal in their home dimension, traveling to the living realm leaves them vulnerable to aging and death, and they can’t return home for good until the job is done. While this recovery mission of why your soul was taken is a good hook on its own, the story quickly expands into a larger, more compelling mystery revolving around figures who have cheated death for ages and the true meaning behind your work.

    Relieving bad guys of their souls is a fun, strategic dance of dealing simple close-range combos and rolling to evade, all while chipping away at their health from afar using your bow and ranged spells such as a fireball. When it comes to attacking at a distance, you have a limited number of shots, but ammo refills with every successful melee strike. I love this system as it kept me from leaning on ranged attacks as a crutch and forced me to get my hands dirty. It also rewards that aggression by renewing your chances to back off. Tight controls allow for smoothly dealing attacks after making split-second dodges, and that maneuverability becomes swifter by upgrading your abilities. 

    That sense of risk versus reward extends to refilling health. Throughout the environment, you collect flower seeds, and when you plant them in scattered pots, they bloom into permanent health stations. However, you have a limited number of seeds, depending on how thoroughly you explore, so deciding which pots to plant requires serious thought. The choice of healing now or waiting until I visit a pot I’m more likely to frequent gives the design a fun element of risk and improvisation as I’m effectively creating my own safe zones. 

    You can mix up combat by finding hidden weapons such as daggers that trade power for slightly speedier combos or a mighty hammer that channels electricity. While these alternatives feel fine in battle, the differences between them and your standard sword are negligible. I happily stuck with the sword for much of my adventure. Thankfully, the same can’t be said for your arsenal of spells, all of which feel useful. A chain hook attaches to foes so you can quickly zip in their face and close the gap. I smiled every time I lobbed a bomb-like fireball and watched it obliterate multiple targets in short order.

    Combat encounters are often challenging, especially when an assortment of baddies swarms you, forcing you to use every trick you have to survive. That includes using their own abilities and the environment against them. Many projectiles can be deflected back to the sender or to their buddies. Arenas sometimes contain hazards such as laser turrets or plants that fire mortar-like exploding gas bubbles that, with the right positioning, can easily clear entire mobs. Death’s Door does a great job encouraging players to work smarter and not harder to overcome its occasionally overwhelming combat challenges. 

    The handful of major boss battles against beings who have lived far beyond their natural life cycle are fantastic and are my favorite confrontations in the game. These epic bouts pushed me to use my full suite of abilities, and the giant armored frog who gradually destroys your small platform with each hop was a particular standout. The final boss battle, in particular, plays out as a neat amalgamation of every obstacle you faced before, offering an entertaining final exam of everything you’ve learned. In a great touch, enemy bodies accumulate scratches and cracks to indicate damage status, which is way cooler than a plain old health bar. 

    Your journey to retrieving your wayward soul involves exploring pretty, visually distinct areas such as seaside docks, an eerie-yet-opulent mansion, and a forest-covered temple. I also like how the living world’s color contrasts with the noir-esque greyscale of your otherworldly headquarters. Areas are littered with enemies, tons of secrets, and hidden paths that lead to goodies such as new weapons, flower seeds, collectibles, and vital souls used to purchase stat upgrades. You can even find hidden bosses that bestow powerful upgrades to your spells. 

    Many areas are ability-gated; I’m sure you can connect the dots on what a cracked wall or unlit torch requires. Other environmental puzzles and secrets require more observational skills, such as spotting discreet hedge maze entrances or using a bathroom floor’s reflection to find a concealed door. Death’s Door’s world feels like a living puzzle that I was always chomping at the bit to fully unravel. Plus, some of its coolest mysteries don’t reveal themselves until after the credits roll. 

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    Despite their long association with death and the macabre, crows are clever animals known for their funny behavior; the game’s tone sports a similar playfulness. Your quirky co-workers include a typing-obsessed data entry worker elated to generate all of the paperwork your adventure creates. A passionate bard tags along for a period in search of inspiration for a wacky song, the quality of which I’ll leave you to judge. A jovial knight cursed with having a stewpot for a head is bluntly, but hilariously, named Pothead. 

    Death’s Door is more lighthearted than it looks, and that’s to its benefit. These amusing moments complement weightier themes about respecting the dead (no matter how terrible they were in life), the fear of death’s inevitability, and whether anything we accomplish truly matters when our time is limited. Death’s Door isn’t the most profoundly written story, but it handles these sensitive topics well. My favorite moments, outside of the moment-to-moment action and exploration, are when it reminds us that death isn’t something to be feared. Rather, it’s just a necessary step in the cycle of life; a cycle that cannot exist without it.

    Score: 9

    Summary: Death’s Door marries fine-tuned hack n’ slash action with a cool world ripe with secrets to unravel. The result is an entertaining, densely-packed trip to the other side.

    Concept: As a reaper of souls working for an organization of crows, you must recover a stolen soul while unraveling a mystery surrounding figures who’ve lived for centuries

    Graphics: The black-and-white headquarters contrasts nicely with a colorful world, and Death’s Door biomes are distinct visual treats

    Sound: Pleasant piano melodies and epic boss music perfectly suit the ebb and flow of combat and exploration

    Playability: I love the strategic loop of executing melee attacks to refill ranged abilities, and exciting boss fights push an otherwise simple combat system to enjoyable limits

    Entertainment: Death’s Door presents a compelling world begging to be explored until every secret is found alongside satisfying combat and intriguing lore

    Replay: Moderate

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