First pics surface of Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker

DC Comics fans are excited by the appearance of several images showing Joaquin Phoenix filming scenes for next year’s standalone Joker movie. Hollywood rumor site JustJared posted several shots of the newly-gaunt actor in the role of “Arthur Fleck”, this film’s name for the pre-transformation Clown Prince of crime.



Adding to the hype, over the weekend, director Todd Phillips posted this image of Phoenix on Instagram, with the simple comment, “Arthur”:


No one can play Batman’s nemesis quite like Heath Ledger did. But we’d wager Joaquin Phoenix will nail the performance in his own way. The new Joker movie is expected to release October 4, 2019.

His Dark Materials coming to HBO and BBC

The popular His Dark Materials series by author Philip Pullman is poised to become the next big series on BBC and HBO. The titles Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass for those in the United States), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass have been optioned for a two season order from the BBC, with HBO picking up worldwide rights. Unsure how this might go? Still hurting from the… dubious attempt at a Golden Compass movie a while back? Well, we bet you’ll forget your pain when you hear Dafne Keen (best known for her impressively believable role as Laura/X-23 in Logan) will play Lyra.

Imagine an armored polar bear underneath her. Or not.


Keen will be joined by some big names: James McAvoy as Lyra’s Uncle Asriel; Ruth Wilson as socialite Mrs. Coulter; and Lin-Manuel Miranda as adventurer Lee Scoresby. That’s just the start of a large ensemble cast, which also includes Anne-Marie Duff, Clarke Peters, Will Keen, Ian Gelder, Georgina Campbell, James Cosmo and others.


Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and James McAvoy are all onboard


Do you need a refresher on what Pullman’s series has in store for the young Lyra? This tidbit from the press release should help:

The first season follows Lyra (Keen), a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children, and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets a determined and courageous boy called Will. Together they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.


Jack Thorne (known for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) will adapt the novels for television, while the first two episodes are set to be directed by Oscar-winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech). Each season of the show will be eight episodes long.

We can only speculate if the series becomes as successful as BBC and HBO hope, the idea of optioning Pullman’s more recent Book of Dust could be entertained. One series at a time, though. We expect His Dark Materials will be quite an entertaining experience, and look forward to watching Keen continue to grow as a skilled actress.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider will look gorgeous with Nvidia help

If the scenes in the tech trailer for Shadow of the Tomb Raider (releasing September 14, 2018) are any indication, Eidos’ latest will be awe inspiring and impress us with sweeping vistas, realistic shadows, and real-time ray-traced lighting and reflections. This level of detail comes from Nvidia’s new RTX 20 series of graphic cards, on machines optimized for just that purpose. The proof, as they say, is in the results, which makes for an amazing look for a real-time game to manage.

Yes, Lara, it is impressive


Folks attending Gamescom 2018 in Cologne, Germany this week were treated to an up-close look at what the RTX line can do as part of Nvidia’s presentation at the show. Price points for third-party versions of RTX cards will start at $499, while “Founder’s Edition” versions directly from Nvidia will go for as much as $1,199. The RTX graphic card line – named for its real-time ray tracing, a technique only found in movies thus far – will be available around September 20. Only a few titles will support the RTX improved graphics at first (Eidos Montreal’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, DICE & EA’s Battlefield 5, and 4A Games’ Metro Exodus), but once the graphics card permeates the market, we could see many developers embracing the RTX capabilities.



Still, we’re eagerly awaiting Shadow of the Tomb Raider, even if the real-time ray tracing might be a bit down the road for us. Gotta kick some Trinity ass real soon, and Lara’s the only lady for the job.

Life is Strange 2 will start new storyline

Square Enix and DONTNOD Entertainment has released some details for Life is Strange 2 . The thematic sequel will not carry on the original game’s characters, but instead will feature two brothers, Sean and Daniel Diaz, ages 16 and 9. Per the press release, the Diaz brothers “are forced to run away from home after a tragic incident in Seattle. In fear of the police, Sean & Daniel head to Mexico while attempting to conceal a sudden and mysterious supernatural power.”

For those who have yet to meet Max and Chloe from the original Life is Strange, the gameplay of the series has a very Choose Your Own Adventure feel: once you make a decision in the storyline, there’s definite changes to the rest of gameplay. If you opt not to help a character, for example, that character will treat you differently later. While some might point to Fable and other games with choices of good or evil, the Life is Strange games make the repercussions of your gameplay choices much more obvious – and therefore, satisfying.

Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 of 5 will be available as a digital release as of September 27, 2018 for Xbox One, PS4, and Steam.

Patrick Stewart will bring Picard to new Star Trek series

Captain Picard on the bridge

So, here’s what we know about the impending Star Trek return of Jean-Luc Picard: he will be played once again by the inimitable Sir Patrick Stewart; he will reprise the role in a new series for CBS All-Access, where Star Trek: Discovery has been gaining warp-speed momentum. The new series will take place 20 years or so after the last Star Trek: Next Generation movie, Nemesis (a 2002 release).
Beyond that, we don’t know much for certain yet. According to Stewart, who came on stage to announce (or rather, tease) the series at Star Trek Las Vegas earlier this week, we could end up seeing a different Jean-Luc Picard than we’re used to. As Stewart clearly stated,

“I have to tell you, he may not – and I stress, may not – be a captain anymore. He may not be the Jean-Luc that you recognize and know so well. It may be a very different individual, someone who has been changed by his experiences.”

Scripts have yet to be written, and negotiations are underway, but Jean-Luc Picard will definitely be returning to a new Star Trek show. Cue Scotty/O’Brien/other transporter room specialist to beam us up for Trekkie bliss as soon as possible.

Additional Star Trek series have been hinted at as well, including a teen-oriented Starfleet Academy series and an animated series, but details have yet to be released.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons




Directed by Josef Fares
Developed by Starbreeze Studio
Published by 505 Games
Platform: XBox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS3, PS4, iPhone, and Android
Genre: Adventure
Ages: 13+
Time to Completion: 3 hours
Rating: 9/10
$19.99 (2013)

What starts as a somewhat sad and standard fairytale grows emotionally enriched by the second chapter and becomes dark and devastatingly beautiful by the end. The characters in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons are memorable, the soundtrack haunting, and the story epic. What I originally thought to be a simple but fun game was, in fact, destined to find an unexpected home among some of my favorite classics.

Brothers was a small budget game release in 2013 that delivered gigantic quality. It was film director Josef Fares’ first videogame project and he has not disappointed. Originally from Lebanon, Fares moved to Sweden as a child, where he gained much of his inspiration for what would become the world of Brothers.


Cave drawingsThe best descriptor I’ve found thus far is that Brothers is a single player co-op, allowing you to control each brother simultaneously as they work together to achieve each goal. This Adventure game takes place in a breathtaking fantasy world strongly influenced by Swedish myth and fairytales. Brothers successfully evokes the nostalgia of games likeZelda: A Link to the Past combined with the 3D emotional experience of Ico.

The Story

Brothers begins with a flashback as Little Brother visits his mother’s grave, recalling how he was unable to save her from drowning in a storm at sea. This foundation of Little Brother’s fear of the water and lack of self-esteem is carried throughout the story, creating ample opportunity for his relationship with Big Brother to grow through dependency.

The loss of their mother places extra urgency on the illness of their father, made apparent in the first few moments of gameplay, and the boys set out quickly to find a way to save him. Over the course of their travels, they meet many interesting characters and traverse countless beautiful but treacherous terrains.

The Controls

Brothers runningI played through Brothers on a PS4. The controls themselves are very simple, with only one button (L2 or R2 for interactions) and one joystick (as movement) to control each brother. Though simple in concept, the execution of the controls was often extremely satisfying in a very challenging way. At times I felt like I was rubbing my belly and patting my head and I greatly enjoyed the challenge of engaging and keeping track of both brothers at the same time.

As an aid to the complicated nature of controlling multiple characters simultaneously, the camera frequently puts each brother on the same side of the screen as his corresponding joystick. In spite of this, sometimes the brothers switched sides. Therefore, making sure that I intentionally kept them correctly aligned helped immensely with the quality of gameplay.


The game itself is divided up into chapters. Each new chapter unveils a fresh and vastly different part of the world of Brothers, creating a strong sense of epic wonder and awe.

Brothers flyingThroughout the story, many of the people, animals, and objects are interactive, with each brother reacting differently to various stimuli. All of the available game trophies revolve around this mechanic, using achievements to tell small side stories through interacting with the environment. Some are strikingly subtle: knocking on the sides of cauldrons and attempting to open locked doors. Some moments are funny: sniffing smelly outhouses and pushing the rocking chair of an old woman. Then there are more gut-wrenching interactions that easily render the player speechless; I will leave you to find those for yourself in the interest of both authenticity and avoiding spoilers.

For me, one of the most memorable attributes of Brothers is its striking lack of both understandable language and instructive game markers. Conversations instead use both an Arabic inspired non-language and body language to engage the player emotionally rather than verbally as they navigate and interpret the story. Hints for where to go and how to solve puzzles are cleverly laid out within the environment rather than guided through unnatural markers and waypoints. Because of this, much of the game feels unbelievably organic and authentic. The innovative decisions of Josef Fares, though rooted mainly in budget limitations, had the unintentional side-effect of creating one of the greatest emotional impacts a game has ever had on me. The story bypassed my logical brain, and burrowed straight into the nonverbal part of my emotional heart-place.

In Conclusion

For such a small budget with a group of mostly new game developers, Brothers truly delivers something spectacular. I got far more than I bargained for when I picked up this game for my collection and I highly recommend it to any gamer looking to satisfy their need for a short but epic, emotional adventure. Brothers is an odyssey in its own right and a storytelling experience I will not soon forget. 9/10!

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is available on XBox 360, Xbox One, PC, PS3, PS4, iPhone, and Android.

Z-Man Chooses Adventure!

With board games becoming more story-driven, it makes sense for game publishers to look toward classic adventure stories for design inspiration. It makes even more sense to design a game around the Choose Your Own Adventure books – stories that invented the “gamebook” and captured the imagination of a generation of kids. Z-Man Games has got you covered with Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger, a cooperative board game based on the 1982 book (which was popular enough to be released in seven languages).CYOA Adventure GameDue to hit shelves in August 2018, 1–8 players will explore the aforementioned House together as psychic investigators, choosing their adventure path through story cards, gathering item cards, and hunting for clues. From Z-Man’s description:

Do you follow the noise you just heard? Do you venture down the dark cavern? It’s up to you to decide! Investigate the many narrative branches in each of the five exciting chapters, discovering hours of play and thousands of options. Face deadly challenges to find clues or increase your psychic skills. […] As you explore the mysteries of the House of Danger, new clues will guide your investigation, illuminating new paths or equipping you with useful items.

From the Z-Man announcement, the game promises skill development and item usage, two features the original books often struggled to emulate. If Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger is well received by gamers this fall, we could certainly see follow-up titles – after all, the CYOA book series boasts over 180 titles to play through. House of Danger will sell for $24.99.