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Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

So, the cake wasn’t a lie after all.

I’ve known about the existence of the Portal board game for a long time, but yesterday I was finally able to play it.  It had everything one could ever want from the famous Valve video game: test subjects, GLaDOS, a turret, Ratman and Wheatley cards, portal guns and portals, and of course cake.

Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

Set-up took some time – a lot of it was spent being very excited over things like the Companion Cube and the incinerator.

I would say it took us a good half an hour at least to get into the flow of the game.   Even though each turn had only four steps – deploy, move, activate and recycle – additional rules were added quite often with the presence of character cards, or when the Companion Cube or Turret were in play.

The aim of the game is to have the most pieces of cake by the time another player’s test subjects are all incinerated.  This is really difficult to do as the board is constantly changing and moving like a conveyor belt, and like I said above, the rules are often being changed too.  It is also really hard to keep hold of your cake, as it naturally moves towards the incinerator as the pieces of the board are activated and recycled to the back of the test chambers.

One game lasted about an hour in the end, though it easily could have gone on for much, much longer as the friends I were playing with were evenly matched with me in terms of skill and strategy!  And it very much is a game built on strategy – you’ve got to really plan ahead, and there’s very little in the game that is down to luck, so that can’t be used as an excuse.Portal: The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game

Overall, fans of the original video game will find the board game adaptation very aesthetic, especially with the slices of cake, Turret and Companion Cube models.  Even for those who aren’t familiar with the story, this is still a great strategy game to play with friends – just be careful not to incinerate your friendship.


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February 26, 2017

Alice Isn’t Dead Podcast Review

I’m sure many Welcome to Night Vale fans felt varying degrees of excitement and apprehension when it was announced that Alice Isn’t Dead, a new series by Night Vale write Joseph Fink, was on the cards.  Welcome to Night Vale is one of the most original and creative works I have ever had the pleasure of discovering, so Alice Isn’t Dead had a lot to live up to.  Thankfully, the series has exceeded all of my expectations, and I’ve been dying to write a review about it!

So, what’s all the fuss about?

Alice Isn’t Dead is a free podcast about a truck driver searching for her missing wife as she makes deliveries across America.  Very quickly she finds herself being hunted by a carnivorous supernatural force – the Thistle Man – who is just the first in a long line of secrets that Alice left behind.  Desperate for answers, and ignoring the Thistle Man’s threats, this dangerous quest soon throws up the biggest question of them all – how well did she really know Alice?

I thought the podcast was written and narrated beautifully – it’s very much like listening to poetry.  Narrator Jasika Nicole was easily on par with Cecil Baldwin (narrator of WTNV) in terms of quality of voice acting, and offered an emotive and truly engaging performance.

In some ways, I actually felt that Alice Isn’t Dead prevailed in areas that WTNV didn’t quite succeed in.  For example, Alice Isn’t Dead had a definitive linear storyline, which made me desperately want to listen to the next episode to hear the next part of the story.  This gave me a much closer connection to the characters and made the horror elements all the more frightening.

On the subject of scary, Alice Isn’t Dead isn’t for the faint hearted.  Episode Three, ‘Nothing To See’ was one of the most frightening, and involved a scene where our truck driver gets attacked.  Due to the way the narrator does the recordings, listeners get a very personal perspective of the events – it is like sitting in the passenger seat of the truck.  As a result, I found the attack scene really quite disturbing, which I think shows how well-written and performed the episodes are.

Another episode like this was Episode Two, ‘Alice’.  In this episode, the narrator drove her truck through the same town again and again as she became stuck in some kind of terrifying time loop.  It was a hugely atmospheric episode that really had me on the edge of my seat!

I struggled to find any criticisms of the podcast, which is quite unlike me!  At a push, I would say that in the first couple of episodes the narrative was very jumpy (a stylistic choice by the creators, I think) and I found this a little bit irritating.  On the other hand, it did add an element of authenticity, making it feel more likely that our narrator really was making the recordings in her truck.

Although the podcast is a mere ten episodes long at present, I highly recommend checking it out.  I think it is very much something that needs to be listened to rather than explained – the mystery that is Alice is revealed to us only when her wife finds out the facts, making it really intense at times!  I think for Night Vale fans, it is hard to listen to this new podcast without making comparisons, but for new listeners to Joseph Fink’s work, an incredible experience awaits you.  If you’re interested, you can listen to the podcast for free here.

Meanwhile, I’ll just sit here and eagerly await the next episodes…


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September 12, 2016