Cafe Venosa, more than a Cat Cafe, and the importance of keeping shelters open.


A few years ago, when the very first Cat Café opened in North America, I was delighted. As a lover of all things Japan, I was already familiar with the concept of Cat Cafes, and was impatiently hoping and waiting for some of Japan’s awesomeness to reach our shores.

Café Venosa wasn’t the first Canadian Cat Café I had heard about, but it was the first that I visited. Since, I have been to a few more, but there is something about Café Venosa that brings me back again, and again, that other places simply do not have, a quiet environment that almost feels like a second home. A place filled with love, respect and cohabitation for a type of animal often misunderstood, often dismissed or assumed to be something that they aren’t, cats.  The first time that I visited Café Venosa, I went alone on a week day morning. There weren’t a lot of people, and most of the cats were either asleep or in another room. But when I pushed in Café Venosa’s first door, and then its second, my eyes widened in surprise as a small, furry and black thing nearly collided with my legs and ran off the back of the café with a straw in its mouth, that is how I first met Tarquin, one of Café Venosa’s famous resident.

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Tarquin being cute

Through a conversation with the poor employee who had just gotten their straw stolen, I learned the thief’s name, his fondness of straws, and the idea behind the café. Since that time, I have returned to Café Venosa on more occasions than I can count, brought many of my friends there, and have attempted to order beverages that come with a straw as often as I could. On all of these occasions I have had the chance to meet many of Café Venosa’s rescues, because that is what they are, and a Cat Café isn’t all that Café Venosa is. Unless you were too preoccupied by cute furry friends, whiskers or the great coffee, then you’ve probably had the chance to chat with some of the café’s employees about the purpose of the place, some of its story, and its main goal.

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I’ve had the chance to talk to Summer Geraghty, the owner of Café Venosa, on multiple occasions but we’ve recently sat down to have a more in depth conversation about the café and some of the struggles that have began since Summer 2016 when construction on Saint-Denis street lingered and stretched for so long that it began to destroy the businesses of many, including Café Venosa.  Many stores have had to close that summer, and although the café is still here as of December, it is struggling to remain open. Summer and I talked for a while, She talked about the idea behind the place, the cats, the past and the current residents, her own work outside of Café Venosa, and what makes this Cat Café like no other Cat Café in Montreal. There are a lot of things that make thiss particular Cat Café different than the others but the number one thing is: Café Venosa is a cat shelter before it is a Cat Café. You see, not only was the cafe the very first Vegan Cat Café in Montreal but it also was the first one to make its cats’s adoptable to the public.

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When you visit the place you might find some of your expectations not met. The cats of Café Venosa are not chosen due to personality, appearance, or their ability to do tricks and entertain, rather, the cats of the café are rescues, and often, rescues who have had a very difficult life. Abandonment, abuse, malnourishment, we sometimes forget that animals are just as complex as we are, and that many live lives of abuse or negligence, leading to the development of depression, anxiety as well as post traumatic stress disorder. So, when you walk into Café Venosa, these are the cats that you get the chance to meet, cats with stories, some darker than others, preferences, anxieties, fears and needs. Through the work of Summer Geraghty, the cats of Café Venosa that are rescued and cared for, and gently integrated into a new environment, get to have a home through the existence of the café. At your arrival, you are given a list of rules that are based on respect and consent, a break down of things not to do and the Café’s stance on breaking the respect that it asks you to give to its cats.

Through your purchasing of a cup of coffee, tea, or one of many vegan meals that Café Venosa offers on its menu, you directly play a role into the care of these animals our city far too often fails, and it’s working. Since it’s opening in June 2015, Venosa was able to find a forever home for over 30+ cats, and are constantly, through the help of the SPCA, integrating more rescues into the café, never discriminating, never picking a cat for its look or likability. Through my own experience of the cats of Café Venosa, I have fallen in love with all sort of furry friends, big, old, friendly, shy, grumpy, fat, partially blind, my heart does not discriminate and it has always filled my heart with much warmth to know that neither does the café, that every cat is given the possibility of healing, being loved and finding its forever home. That is the message of Summer Geraghty and her café. As she said it herself: “Café Venosa is built upon the ideals of compassion and empathy for the planet and all of it’s inhabitants, through using the most environmentally friendly practices possible and helping the overpopulation of cats in Montreal find homes and teaching responsibility in animal care.”

And this is where we have to come in, as consumers, feminists, animal lovers, fighters for empathy and compassion, however you choose to categorize yourself, whatever word you feel fits you best, there is no doubt that Café Venosa shares many of the values that I, and you, might share. While Summer and I talked, we talked about the many ways that Café Venosa can be saved. And many of those things require the direct attention and help from Café Venosa’s familiar clientele, Cat Café fanatics, as well as the every day people who most likely can all agree of the importance of rescues and finding homes for animals. So, I encourage you to visit Café Venosa if you are able to, bring your friends and families and see for yourself what it is that I have been talking about. Meet Tarquin, or Smokey, or Bandit, my latest love, in all of his one-eyed fabulousness.

As of right now, for Montrealers, I will be having a meet up on December 15th at Café Venosa ! I will be at the café starting 1pm until 6pm, the owner of Cafe Venosa is kind enough to host us so make sure to stop by, purchase yourself a warm beverage & come have a chat with me! This will be super casual so please feel comfortable to come say hi, bring a friend if you’re feeling a little weird about it, I’m sure I’ll be feeling shy too. See you on the 15th!

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Make sure to visit Cafe Venosa’s Facebook, Instagram, website, check out the place in person, take pictures and share it with the Cafe & I!

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A Woman on the Internet has P.O. Box!

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Hi everyone! Many of you have been wanting to send me letters, postcards, and some of you who have businesses have even expressed their desire to send me things, now it can be done! As of today A Woman on the Internet has a P.O. Box you can write to, send packages to, and even make orders for. The address is:

A WOMAN ON THE INTERNET
CP 83541 MTL CP GARNIER
H2J4E9
MONTREAL, QC. CANADA

Feel free to send me whatever you’d like, and if you send me a letter I will do my best to respond to as many of you as I can because letters are awesome. I’m very excited to hear from you, to see what you send me, and to celebrate the holidays with you both online and off.

Cheers! Aurelie.

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews The Lion’s Song Episode 2: Anthology

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.


<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 1: SILENCE

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 3: DERIVATION–>

A few days ago, Mi’pu’mi Games released their second episode to their The Lion’s Song series: Anthology. Similarly to the first episode, Silence, Anthology follows an artist struggling with their art and with who they are. In Anthology, we follow Franz Markert, a young painter who recently arrived in Vienna, who is looking for a new subject while dealing with, as we found out later, some dark and troubling issues of his own.

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I will be honest, I struggled with Anthology. The game itself is just as beautiful and creative as Silence was, even more so. The Lion’s Song has grown since Silence. In episode 2, you are offered a map of Vienna and a few locations to visit pretty much whenever you like, which was very nice. The game presents the concept of seeing people’s “souls” or their “layers” whichever term you prefer or think fits best, but Anthology struggle with how it presents or sees the women of that episode.

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There are many women physically noticeable/present in the game, but nearly all of them are either entirely in the background, not offered as an option of characters to interact with, almost as if to say that women are not interesting, do not have souls, or no layers. Those that Franz Markert does notice have layers I found to be profoundly shallow. They are shown to us as being either envious of other women, being in love or lustful of men (or simply lustful in general), lonely or distressed, gluttonous or old. Although it is good that women are not portrayed solely as innocent creatures unable of sin, these things are generally attributed to women, and considering that there are only 2 women in the entire game that you can actually interact with, one of which you treat in a very questionable, I found the decision and the treatment of women in this episode particularly disappointing.

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By the second half of the episode, the story of Franz seems to figure out where it truly wants to go, and what the character itself also wants to go. Although at the expense of others, Franz struggles with very real and human things, beyond simply who he is as an artist or who he is as a person, but how his art and his decisions define him, and what it is doing to his well being.

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Franz’s journey is a rough, complex and ugly journey. As his journey went on, a dislike of him grew within him. I realised that what I saw him seeing was not who people were, but rather, what he saw, with all of his ignorant, judgmental and inexperienced self.

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By the end of this episode much of how I felt turned into something else, I saw what the episode was presenting me as a complex character, a character I originally did not like, as a character that wasn’t created to be merely liked. Just as Franz realises, people and the world that we live in has layers, layers we may find simple at first glance, but never truly are. I appreciated that Anthology gave me a character that I did not hold simple feelings for due to the fact that characters should not be simple, they should have layers, and this story does.

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8/10 – Anthology was a great episode. It has complexity and is very well aware of that. The music is lovely, the world and the options it offers were expended. Yet, Anthology made the mistake of placing women in the background, defining them almost as background objects, shallow beings, or guides needed to perfect your art – rather than human beings just as complex as the men of the game. This was, I believe, a mistake, and I am curious to play episode 3.

“Great games don’t have to be big” Absolutely. Some extra info on the series.

Available on: PC

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<–THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 1: SILENCE

THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 3: DERIVATION–>

A Woman on the Internet Reviews Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 3: Holly, Jolly

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<- EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET

EPISODE 4: THE BODY ->

FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD

Note to self: when discovering a really good show that you think your partner will like, refrain from telling him about it because then he’ll check it out and gently nag you to watch the rest of the show with him, resulting in you having to write not one, not two, but ALL OF THE REVIEWS for every single remaining episode. Good job, me.

The opening scene of this episode has now become my ultimate favorite scene, As Nancy gets busy with Steve (that’s his name, right?) We watch as Barbara wakes up in some other place, but, it actually turns out not to be some other place. It is a bit ambiguous but my assumption was and still is that Barbara wakes up in some sort of alternative reality, still in/by the pool, but not where Nancy is. The creature is there and she attempts to run away, which doesn’t work and she is (highly presumably) killed/eaten. Can we talk for a second about the weird lighting in this episode, with night time scenes having daylight coming through the window…but it’s night time? This was very annoying.

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Nancy gets dressed and looks rather sad or disappointed, I can’t exactly pin point what emotion is on her face, gets dressed and leaves Steve’s house, but not before looking around a bit in case Barbara stuck around (you are a terrible friend, Nancy, and this will haunt you for the rest of your life) She goes home and her mother catches her in the act, reminding her that they had agreed on a much earlier time. Nancy is irritable, annoyed, and, again, there is an emotion, something going on with her that I just can’t put my finger on.

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Jonathan wakes up to find his mother talking to Will by herself and explaining that Will is communicating through the dozens of lamps that are in his room. Jonathan seems to think that his mother is doing so badly that she cannot differentiate reality from her imagination, he expresses his concern and presses her to get some sleep, but she doesn’t.

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At Michael’s house the boys are trying to come up with a plan to kill whatever monster is after Will. Lucas brings a pretty impressive arsenal, while Dustin brings an impressive amount and snacks. If you want my opinion, I think Dustin is very underappreciated, snacks are very important, what happens when you get lost in the woods and you’re hungry, huh? Dustin explains that most of the weapons Lucas brought would be completely useless against an actual monster, and reminds them that they have someone with actual powers right there. He tries to ask El to use her powers to make things levitate but she’s not having it because this shit is exhausting, ok? How many nosebleeds do you want this girl to have? Their meeting is cut a little short as the boys have to get to school. But Michael agrees on a time and place for El to meet them at the end of the day.

In school, Steve approaches Nancy who feels like people are staring at her and she asks him if he has told people about what happened the night prior. Steve says that nothing was said, I sipped my tea and it tasted pretty heavy with doubt. When she gets to class Nancy notices that Barbara still hasn’t arrived and asks around to check if anybody has seen her, no one has, and she continues to worry.

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Hopper attempts to bring his search to/into the institute and is turned down, I’m not sure what he was expecting.

In Michael’s home, El is bored out of her mind. She decides to wander through the house, look at the phone and then the TV. The TV surprises and shocks her, she doesn’t seem to completely understand what it is, as if she’d never seen one before. As she flips through the channels, she finds an AD for Coca-Cola and is triggered right back into another memory. Through this memory, we get to learn even more about what was done to El. In one instance she was asked to crush a Coca-Cola can with her mind, and succeeded, getting a smile from “papa”. Breathing heavily, El decides to turn off the TV. It is a very important scene and we will get many of those.

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We return to Joyce who is still at her house and has decided to hang Christmas lights as a way for Will to communicate with her. It’s kind of a scary sight, but is also a beautiful one as we are shown a mother quite simply trying to find where her son is.

Hopper is pretty certain that the missing kid came from the institute and as he watches the tape that was given to him, is even more certain that it isn’t a tape of the night he is trying to investigate. The two other police officers continue to be completely useless. Meanwhile, at that very institute, they are getting ready to send someone into a portal that it into the wall. And that’s sort of that.

El, now in Nancy’s room, is looking around at Nancy’s things. On her face lays all sorts of emotions, perhaps she’s still distraught from her memory from earlier. Perhaps Nancy’s things make her sad or envious, maybe it’s a reminder of what she never had, or maybe it’s a reminder of her loneliness. On one of Nancy’s walls are a bunch of pictures, Nancy as a child, Nancy’s friends, and there El sees pictures of Nancy with Barb and sadness (perhaps even guilt?) takes over El’s face.

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At school, Nancy asks Steve’s friend Tommy aka douche #2 if he saw Barbara leave the previous night. He says no and then they proceed to mock the fact that Nancy and Steve had sex, for some reasons.

The boys are looking for a rock. I can’t remember why. They are wondering how El got her powers through the beauty of comic books. El is still called a weirdo, other boys come by to call Will or whoever really, a “queer”, and Michael gets tripped and falls chin first on a rock. Idk, it’s cute but there’s not all that much about the scene.

Hopper goes to the library where we discover that the librarian isn’t super ok with not being called back after dates. She calls him a dick, he agrees with her, and then they move on to look through newspapers registers to find information about the institute and “the missing kid”. There they find that the institute dealt with all sorts of accusations of child abuse, off experimentations, lawsuits, and in particularly, the disappearance of someone’s daughter.

Joyce is dealing with some unexpected visitor, and comes up with some pretty reasonable explanation for the dozens of Christmas lights hang across her house, it’s surprisingly believable, even cute.  Mike’s mom seems worried and like she truly cares, but as she expresses that to Joyce, Holly sneaks off, led by the lights into Will’s room where something legit creepy happens and the wall attempts to grab her, before Joyce arrives.

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Nancy decides to call Barbara’s mother to see if perhaps she is at her home, but she isn’t, and she never came home that night. Before she gets to really start worrying, Steve and his friends decide to go after Jonathan after they’ve been told that he may have taken inappropriate or creepy pictures of Nancy. As much as I can’t stand Steve and his gang, it was a pretty reasonable reaction considering the level of creepiness, and even Nancy refrains from really stopping them. After Steve rips Jonathan’s pictures and breaks his camera (which made me a bit sad) Nancy notices something on one of his pictures, takes it and leaves.

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As El waits for the boys to meet here she has another flashback, and it is an intense one. In one of the experimentation they did on her, El was ordered to use her mind to kill a cat and she couldn’t do it, wouldn’t do it. She is tend promptly punished, as she screams for “papa”, taken into the small brown room. Before they can close the door, she kills all of the guards, snapping their necks. “Papa” comes back to her, and touches El in a way that may seem as affectionate. She cries under his touch. He carries her and El passes out, as he walks away with her in his arms.

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It is a complex memory that ends when the boys arrive while yelling her name. As the group travels to get to their destination, El asks Mike about his bleeding chin. Mike explains but gets upset at the thought of El thinking of his as weak, but she quickly clarifies that she doesn’t, and that she understands. It’s so incredibly cute I want to cry into my cup of tea.

Nancy, who previously left school in a hurry because she couldn’t get Barbara out of her head, returned to Steve’s house to, well, I’m not really sure why. There she sees that Barbara’s car is still parked in the same spot, and so she goes behind Steve’s house where they were hanging out last night by the pool. She calls out Barbara’s, which I thought was quite odd. What is Nancy thinking? What is she expecting? As she calls out Barb’s name into the woods, something runs behind her and she runs away in fear.

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In Joyce’s house, the Christmas lights go on and leads her into some sort of dresser. There she finds a set of white lights which she uses to communicate with Will. She instructs him to make the lights blink once for yes and twice for no, and the scene that unfolds was truly beautiful and emotional. She asks Will if he is alive, and the answer is yes, but when she asks him if he is safe, the answer is no. Because Will cannot tell Joyce where he is or how to find him, Joyce decides to hang the Christmas lights on a wall and paint an alphabet in order to give Will the ability to truly communicate with her and help her rescue him.

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At the library, Hooper gets a radio call and they quickly rush out. The gang, not too far, watch as multiple police cars rush down the road and they decide to follow,

Joyce, having finished her alphabet, continues her conversation with Will, and this time it is a terrifying scene that takes place where Will tells his mother that he is right there, and that she needs to run. Immediately after, the creature comes out of the walls and it’s freaky as shit. Joyce runs for her life, right out of the house.

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Meanwhile, the boys are still following the cops and they all arrive on scene, where they all find a body in the water, and it is confirmed that it is Will. Mike, in a fit of rage, blows up at El and blames her for Will, claiming that she was supposed to bring him alive, that she lied to them. As El stares at Mike and the look on her face breaks my heart, Mike bikes away.

On his way home, Jonathan runs into his mother. The episode ends with two scenes happening simultaneously. Michael arriving home and hugging his mother, and Jonathan hugging his mother in the middle of the road, as police car’s lights can be seen and heard, bringing some very sad news.

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8/10 – This episode originally started a little clumsy, a little slow, which wasn’t a problem with me at all, but the second half of the episode truly picked up with El’s flashbacks and Joyce’s construction of a way to communicate with her son. There is a lot I could say about the presence of mothers, motherhood, and women in general in the show and the way they shape how emotions are demonstrated and valued in these episodes, but I will touch up on that later.

<- EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET

EPISODE 4: THE BODY ->

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A Woman on the Internet’s Lists

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10 VIDEO GAMES WITH A FEMALE PROTAGONIST

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VIDEO GAMES WITH WOMEN OF COLOR AS PROTAGONISTS

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.

 

A Woman on the Internet Reviews ABZU

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.


There are some video games in life that cannot be compared to anything else, and most likely, will never be comparable and will remain in their own category.

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I very vaguely remember hearing about ABZU when it first was announced, and so when the day of its release arrived and all of my social media accounts were bombarded by screenshots, videos and articles about the game, that is when I realized what would make me buy this game in a matter of seconds: Matt Nava the art director behind what is hands down one of the absolute best and most beautiful game & experience I ever had in gaming, Journey, was the founder of Giant Squid, the studio behind ABZU, which is their very first game. If this wasn’t already amazing, I quickly learned that Austin Wintory, the composer behind Journey’s soundtrack (again, one of the best soundtrack of anything you will ever get to listen to), was also in on the project.

I was sold. That was it. I went on steam, purchased the game, and nearly cried at the excitement and feeling of privilege that I was suddenly filled with.

I played ABZU that very same night. I waited until everyone in my apartment complex went to bed, for the streets to go quiet, and for a nice breeze to settle and travel throughout my apartment, I wanted the right setting for what I knew without any doubt was going to be an absolutely amazing experience. After Journey, and now after ABZU, Giant Squid, and especially Matt Nava & Austin Wintory have my unwavering support in whatever project that have planned for the future. They are geniuses.

So, ABZU.

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In ABZU, just like Journey, you follow some sort of neither human not clearly animal creature who is set in a beautiful and intriguing environment that you have to explore. In Journey, the goal was to get to the tower, as you learn about your people, their culture, and what possibly could have gone down in a distant or not so distant past. In ABZU the game is similarly linear but the way the game is constructed and looks invites you to explore every piece of it, its depth, its population, and to interact with the very various aquatic life that surrounds you, sometimes passively, sometimes not so much. As you are given the option to free some various types of fish, you learn a little more about the people that used to coexist with them, your people, their past, their culture, and some other things that may or may not be all that ambiguous to you.

In moments when I thought that I understood ABZU, its setting, the story it was trying to tell, things turned up on me and a lot of the aspects of the game that was simple and beautiful remained beautiful but touched on a lot of darkness I had not expected.

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As you swim, sometimes something that was a bit challenging to do in terms of being able to control your character and move exactly like you mean to, you are surrounded by what is one of the most beautifully designed video game world I have ever had the chance to experience. The color palette, the way that fish, whales and seaweed moves, and the way that the world interacts with you, truly going the opposite direction from some sort of silent observer.

Just like in Journey, Austin Wintory offers us such an incredibly amazing, powerful and unique soundtrack, songs that brought me to tears so many times, as I smiled for very various and complex reasons: that is what video game music should be like. That is what music should be like. Austin Wintory’s compositions are the hands holding the art design of ABZU, working so perfectly well together in order to transport us into a world, an atmosphere, a place that although I expected the quality of due to the amazingness that is Journey, reached a new set of highs. Went where Journey had not excelled all of my expectations.

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10/10 – In one night, ABZU became, without any possible, even the smallest of doubt, one of the very best game I have ever had the chance to play in my life. And for this, I am so proud and grateful for the existence of video games as a medium for magical storytelling.

Make sure to listen to ABZU’s soundtrack and enjoy this masterpiece 

Available on:

PC, here & here
PS4, here

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews The Plan

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The Plan is a free steam game developed by Krillbite Studio, and a game I got for two reasons. One, it took surprisingly absolutely beautiful and quirky, second, well, it was free.

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In The Plan, you play as a fly and your purpose In life is to fly up and up, and avoid the many, MANY things that threatens to crash onto you and end your life: leaves, the wind etc

And, well, that’s it!

For a game with such a simple concept, goal and gameplay, I had prepared myself to mock it, laugh a bit, uninstall it and never thing of it again. But as it turned out, I actually enjoyed myself quite a bit in The Plan, although I can’t necessarily say that the game was challenging, I must say that it’s ending and conclusion, and, oh my god, it’s SOUNDTRACK, were mind-blowingly amazing and if The Plan had cost me anything, anything at all, I would have sat on my office chair filled with a lot of things but free of any regret for my purchase.

10/10 – Would play it again, great music, great graphics, ending that left me laughing and yelling so hard out of, well, a lot of different feelings, would recommend to anyone who wants to spend 5 minutes in a pretty sweet & simple game.

Available on:
PC (You can also just download it)

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street

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<- EPISODE 1: THE VANISHING OF WILL BYERS

EPISODE 3: HOLLY JOLLY ->

FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD

 

Directly following episode 1, Stranger Things episode 2, The Weirdo on Maple Street start as the boys are back as Michael’s house, in the basement, all drenched, asking a bunch of questions to “11”. The kids are being surprisingly adult, asking her if she has parents they can call, until Dustin makes a remark on her shaven head and asks if she has cancer, reminding me that these are kids. I giggled a bit. Michael gives her some clean clothes and the boys are freak out when she attempts to undress herself right here and there. There is a really gentle moment between “11” and Michael, he attempts to close the bathroom door to give her some privacy, she doesn’t like that and is scared, so he lets the door only slightly open in order for her to feel safe, it’s sweet, it’s gentle. I like Michael. Meanwhile Lucas throws a bunch of ableist shit that I try not to be bothered by because, well, they are kids. Michael makes a fortress for “11” to sleep in, and then gives her the nickname El. As he leaves the basement, El cries by herself and I sat there wondering about her past and her pain.

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The next morning in Joyce’s house, Joyce isn’t doing very well. Hopper stops by her house to check with her about the weird phone call from last night. Hopper is skeptical, Joyce doesn’t appreciate her word being doubted, insists that she knows her son’s breathing as he would know his daughter’s. I understand both sides, Joyce’s powerlessness and Hopper’s pain at being thrown a statement as such.

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But Hopper moves on, which I admit took me by surprise. He continues to ask her a few questions, they all find it odd that the phone was burned off when the call ended, and Hopper decides that he was waited long enough and that he will visit Will’s father, which frustrates Joyce.  Jonathan follows Hopper out of the house and insists that he should be the one to go to his father’s.

In Michaels’ house, at the dinner table Michael throws a few jabs at his sister’s about her secret late night visit last night and whether she thinks she has studied enough for her human anatomy test, which gets him a kick under the table, but their parents are completely oblivious so who cares.  After the breakfast Michael brings food to El and tries to get some information out of her, such as who is after her, if she is in trouble etc. El remains her mysterious self and gives strange but intense responses.

Back with the search, the two police officers whose names I haven’t been able to remember are discussing Joyce and making inappropriate and insensitive remarks, such as how Joyce is at the edge and basically how “crazy” she is. Hopper does the right thing and reminds them that Joyce’s kid is missing, and to have some goddamn class.

In School, Nancy and her friends are gossiping as teenage girls do (I guess) until they are approached by the “cool kids” who have decided to throw a party and think it’s hilarious how uncool Nancy is because she thinks Tuesday is an odd day to throw a ragger on. They notice Will’s brother putting up posters and making fun of him, I mean, family members who worry about a lost kid is SO uncool and weird, you guys, am I right? Nancy shows empathy, says it “sucks” which is quite the understatement but at least she’s trying to be sweet. My empathy was focused and remained with Jonathan though.

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I know your brother is missing so I’ll make the understatement of the year & say it “sucks”

Lucas and Dustin are in class but they can’t stop wondering how Michael’s mother reacted to finding out about EL, and whether or not El slept naked. Meanwhile, it turns out that Michael skipped school to keep El company (so sweet, I melted) and is showing her around his house. El came across a picture of Nancy and said Nancy was pretty with the sweetest smile on her face (girl love is the best), and then had the chance to try Michael’s dad’s chair which scared her and then amused her. I melted even further as El smiled for one of those rare times.

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Back with Jonathan who is driving to go meet his dad, he is listening to the Clash and is having a flashback to when he had Will listen to this song. Their mother was having an argument on the phone and we get a beautiful scene of the brothers bonding and Jonathan telling Will that although it’s ok to want a relationship with their dad, he doesn’t have to go to things he doesn’t want to go to. It is ok to like different things. It was touching and made me like the character of Jonathan even more.

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Joyce goes to town to the store where we learn she has been working at for ten years now, in order to buy a new phone since her previous one had been burned off by god-knows-what, her boss is a bit of a dick and actually doesn’t seem very down with giving a woman whose kid is currently missing a two-week advance so she can get a new phone in case someone calls, but I really enjoyed Joyce showing a bit more toughness and personality and not backing down. As Joyce deals with her crappy boss, the men in black are going through her house and her backyard being modern ghostbusters. They seem to find gooey stuff.

Once again we return to Michael’s house where is he attempted to show his toys to El but quite frankly she doesn’t give a fuck. There she comes across a picture of Will and it is made clear that she knows who he is. Right when this is revealed, Michael’s mom returns home and Michael attempts to hide El in his closet, which triggers some trauma for her. She reminisces of a time, in what I can only assume to be the institute, where she was brought and put into some sort of empty closet as she screams for “papa” to some man. As this goes on, Michael’s mom is listening to Michael’s explanation as of why he isn’t in school, and although he attempts to lie (badly) she disregards it and lets it go, letting him know that she can only imagine what he is feeling due to Will’s disappearance, and that she is there for him. He then returns to the closet to find a crying El, and when he asks her if she is ok, she replies that she is, and repeats “promise”. We get a short scene of Joyce returning home with her new phone and waiting by herself, it hurt.

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Don’t cry babygirl, nooo

At the dinner, Benny the nice guy is finally found. Hopper reveals that Benny was his friend and I’m able to sympathise with Hopper even further.

Jonathan finally arrives to his dad’s, Lonnie, house and a young woman opens up the door. She isn’t very friendly but Jonathan doesn’t give a shit and goes in to start looking for Will but is interrupted violently as he is pushed against a wall by his father (lovely parent you got there).

Lucas and Dustin arrive at Michael to find out that his mom still doesn’t know about El. Lucas continues on his journey to rub me the wrong way with his insensitive and ableist words, and decides that he’s going to be a snitch. El then reveals her mad telekinesis powers to them by making sure that the door remains closed. Simply stating “no”. This was one of my favorite scene of the episode.

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We learn a bit more about Jonathan’s dad, but nothing that we couldn’t have guessed before. He’s one of those sperm donors who most likely abandoned the mother of his kids, never helps raise or tend to the children whose existence he played a part in, was never present but still thinks he is the better parent. He attempts to manipulate Jonathan by talking shit about Joyce but Jonathan doesn’t take any of it and gives Lonnie one of the missing posters for Will in case Lonnie forgot what his own son looks like.

Hopper questions one of the last person to have seen Benny alive, and he learns that Benny may have not committed suicide as he hadn’t acted much different in the past days. The incident with the kid in the kitchen stealing food is revealed to him and Hopper starts to believe that this child perhaps could have been Will. As the audience, we know this to be false, but it is a very reasonable assumption, especially with the disappearance of a child and the appearance of another, and the shaved head thing (and the fact that EL can be perceived as a boy by people because…hair. Oh well.)

Nancy lies about wanting to go to the gathering for Will at her school, which, when you think about it, is quite the shitty lie considering that she should sort of want to go there out of respect but, hey, teenage girl’s hormone or something.

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I know it’s 1983 but holy shit I just want to have sex

The search in the woods continues which seems to lead the police towards the institute. I am very intrigued.

Back with the boys, a pretty damn adorable scene takes place when the boys promise not to tel anyone about El because superpowers are really cool and if they had known they would have treated her differently. El doesn’t understand the word or concept of friends so Lucas tries to explain until Michael interrupts because they can’t possibly give decent line or two to the only black kid on the show thus far. Fine, be that way. The concept of friend and friendship is explained through the concept of promises, and being there for someone. It’s cute.

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“This is bullshit, this should have been my line”

Barbara and Nancy are arriving to the cool kids only party and Barbara judges Nancy for being a teenage girl and liking boys, oh, and for having a bra that she hadn’t seen before (what?). “Cool kid” supposedly hot Steve opens the door and makes a fool out of himself as a way to seem extra cool. I gagged.

Hopper wakes up in the middle of the night, he seems agitated, anxious, depressed, and goes to smoke a cigarette. His lady friend gets up, joins him outside without any pants on and complains about the cold. Hopper talks about the fact that incidents like a missing child and a suicide haven’t happened in a very long time, but she doesn’t give a fuck about what’s on his mind because she is cold and blah blah why are you here?

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I know you’re on a missing child case & you lost a kid, but wtv, I’m cold ok

Once again back with the boys, they are questioning her about Will and whether or not she knows where he is. El, once again, gives them a whole lot of silence and single words here and there, but it is made clear that although bad men are after her, something else is after Will. She places a wizard on the table, and a creature next to him. The boys are freaked.

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At Steve’s house we watch as the “ragger” is basically a gathering of Steve, Nancy, a couple and Barbara who looked like she knew that she was the third wheel there. Steve tries to how off to Nancy by chugging a beer. Oh my, such manliness, where have my panties gone. He then challenges Nancy to do the same and she does, because teenage girls like to have some fun too, but Barbara watches with complete disdain. Nancy then aggressively pressure Barbara to the same even though Barbara repeatedly says no and demonstrate a lot of discomfort and annoyance, alas, she caves in and instead of making a hole in a beer can, cuts her thumb pretty badly. But nobody seems to care about her. As Barbara goes in the kitchen to fix her fucked up thumb, the kids start to get into the pool and have fun, nice friend you are, Nancy.

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NEVER pressure a friend to drink or smoke, that shit ain’t cool

There we get one of the final scene of the episode. Joyce gets a call but it isn’t one she was hoping for. Instead, she heard Wills breathing again, and then he speaks to her, but the creature gets on the phone again and takes over. The phone burns off again, and as Joyce cries and yells, the lights start to flicker. The music in Jonathan’s room starts to play, but Jonathan isn’t home. As she enters, Joyce seems to feel Will’s presence, the music plays, the light flickers and brighten, and then a creature is apparent within/under the wall, a la Freddy Krueger. Joyce runs out and gets in her car but her keys aren’t there,  the music starts to play again, she then demonstrate a huge amount of courage and re-enters her home.

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Finally, at the ragger that really isn’t a ragger, both Barbara and Nancy are being terrible friends to each other. Nancy follows Steve upstairs to “chill” but Barbara stops her because slut shaming your friend for wanting to make-out/have sex/or simply being alone with someone they have a crush on is a great sigh of friendship. Nancy on the other hand, tells Barbara that basically she isn’t really needed here anyone and can just go home, which is an incredibly shitty thing to do, to leave your friend behind like this.

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Tip of the day: Don’t slut-shame & don’t leave friends behind to get laid

Nancy goes upstairs and after a little bit of will they-wont they, she undresses and they begin to make out. Meanwhile, Jonathan who was taking pictures of where Will disappeared (because taking pictures at night is a very logical and great idea) is now taking pictures of the party, and then Nancy. Barbara, who decided to stay behind and wait for Nancy to be done with we all know what, is chilling by the pool. Her fucked up thumb is bleeding onto the water and something catches her and drags her in. I thought that Jonathan would see this, but he left after taking a picture of Nancy in a bra, alright.

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“Shittiest party ever”

The episode ends with me feeling kind of bad for Barbara who was only present at this party because she was asked to give a ride to a friend and was then ditched. I’ll miss you Barbara, you and your high-waisted denim jeans, and your big glasses.

8/10 – This episode was great but some of the scenes seemed to be a bit all over the place or out of order, I wish we would have finished this episode with Joyce, but alas, this was till a great episode.

<- EPISODE 1: THE VANISHING OF WILL BYERS

EPISODE 3: HOLLY JOLLY ->

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews Stranger Things Season 1 Episode 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers

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EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET ->

FULL SPOILER REVIEW AHEAD

Here I go with my second series of episodic reviews. My reviews of Game of Thrones received quiet a bit of a positive reaction and positive feedback, and although Veronica Mars and Jessica Jones are on my to-do list, Stranger Things came out of nowhere and for a week now, nearly everybody around me has been singing praise after praise for yet another of Netflix’s originals.

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The first episode of Stranger Things, The Vanishing of Will Byers, starts in Hawkins, Indiana, in 1983, in Hawkins’s National Laboratory. There, some scientist is running from something like I have rarely seen someone run, whoever this actor is either must have prepared for this one scene months in advance, or there really was some asshole running after him. He sadly doesn’t make it and is grabbed and presumably killed in the elevator.

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We then meet the four young boys who will be much of the focus of the episode and, to be very frank, who are the ones who steal the show. I personally have always adored seeing great child actors in scary movies, who are given the chance to play kids as kids should be. We’ve got Michael, Dustin, Lucas and Will, they are playing what I quickly assumed to be Dungeon and Dragons or some games of the sort, and Michael isn’t here to fuck around, he doesn’t think this is a fucking game. It’s getting late and Michael’s mother breaks their 10 hours long run to remind them that they need to leave her house asap, and so they do.

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Nancy doesn’t want your pizza, Dustin

Michael’s sister, Nancy, doesn’t appreciate Dustin’s creepiness so he calls her a douchebag. Will, being a good kid, decides to let Michael know that Lucas and Dustin were planning on cheating and leaves to bike home. Each of the boys get home, while Will remains out there, passing through some restricted area. There, the light on his bike stops working, creepy noise spooks him and he crashes through some trees. The scene that follow did give me the spookies for a while, largely because there is something quite nerve-racking about seeing a scared child run through the woods and into his house, realize he is alone, and then spots something at the edge of the woods, something that is coming towards his house, something that is coming for him. He attempts to call someone, his mom perhaps, or maybe the police, but instead the creature seems to be the one to respond, and growls at will while standing behind the locked door. Will runs to hide in the shed to harm himself with that looked like a shotgun, but it is of no help as the monster is already there and leaves Will so profoundly afraid that he remains motionless and silent, and is taken away.

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We jump to some shirtless guy who seems to be waking up front a rough night, he drinks a beer or two and it is revealing that, ta da, this is the sheriff. Nice.

Back in Will’s house, his mom played by OMG WINONA TYDER HI IT’S BEEN SO LONG and his brother, who are both wondering where the hell Will is. Surprisingly, instead of waiting around, Will’s mother, Joyce, follows her gut, and her gut is telling that something is wrong. We see the boys at school, kids are racist and ableist assholes, and teenage girls like sex GASP. Hopper, our possibly alcoholic sheriff, finally arrives at work and is a dick to his secretary who seems to be the only one trying to do her job.

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Is my missing child inconveniencing you, sheriff??

Apparently, a missing kid isn’t a big deal to Hopper, so he is quite taken aback when a worried mother is already in his office wondering why the fuck she had to wait an hour to talk to an officer. Hopper blows her off, acts like kids don’t disappear, get kidnapped or murdered, shows no concern for her feelings and instead asks her to contact her ex-husband to see if Will perhaps has run away there. She complains but promises to do so, she just wants her child home.

 

At the laboratory, a bunch of dudes arrive to inspect the section and room where the incident took place the night before, remember that scientist, the one who should have been in the Olympics? There they find some Resident Evil type monster and seem to be completely unfazed, simply wondering “Where is the girl?” Which suddenly sparks a lot of curiosity and interest for me. Who is that girl? Yeah, where is that girl? The girl in question is a young child, shaved head, androgynous look, that seems to have been running through he woods all night and has now found a dinner. Upon observing what seems to be the owner, she gets in and finds some fries to munch on before she is caught. I’m both uncomfortable and intrigued.

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Back in school again with Michael, Lucas and Dustin, the boys are playing with some sort of radio until they are interrupted by Hopper and some other cops to be questioned about Will’s possible whereabouts. The guys talk about a street with a name from Lord of the Rings, Dustin corrects Lucas that it is from the Hobbit, everyone complains, I like Dustin. The boys are asked not to go looking for Will as it could be dangerous, but everyone knows kids don’t give a fuck.

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Adults are incompetent

Meanwhile, Joyce is reminiscing about a time when she came to see Will in his secret lair. (any kid that has a secret lair and whose password is “Radagast” is one incredibly fucking cool kid). Sadly, she returns to reality and Will isn’t in his lair, I feel for her.

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In the dinner, the owner, Benny, has made a burger for our mysterious little girl, and she is hungry, which he notices. He attempts to ask her a few questions, and although I was a little nervous at his attempt to blackmail information from her through refusing to feed her, he did seem to soften a little when he noticed an “11” tattooed on her arm, and when she pointed at herself, making it clear that she is “11”. He calls the police, or possibly child services, and explains his worries that she has been abused and that someone should come to care for her. “11” reveals some telekinesis powers and stops a fan that was making the kind of annoying noise that keeps me awake at night.

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Adults are annoying

At the edge of the road where Will first fell, Hopper & some other cops find his bike, and they begin to take his disappearance a little more seriously. They go to Joyce’s house to update her on their discovery, and Hopper begins to notice some strange things around the house, holes, the dog’s anxiety as he barks at the shed, and the ammunition scattered on the shed’s desk. There, he experiences an uneasy feeling, hears things, and he decides to start a search into the woods.

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In Michael’s house, his parents continue to be quite shitty, showing a lot of apathy towards his friend’s disappearance, particularly his father who, to be honest, doesn’t seem to give a fuck about anything at all. Michael wants to look for his friend, Nancy wants to get dirty with her boyfriend, their mother just wants everyone to stay home because the night is full of terrors.

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Why did I marry you again??

As the search starts in the woods, the boy’s science teacher meets Hopper and attempts to spark a casual conversation about how much Will is a good student and a good boy. Hopper says he never liked science. Mr. Clark tells him that he most likely had a shitty teacher, he turns out to be right. By the end of the conversation, and as someone gently approaches Mr. Clark, we learn that Hopper had a child, and that she has died many years ago. I’m intrigued. The boys, as we all expected, decide to go look for Will in the woods because he was a great teammate in D&D (or whatever it was) and I smiled because friendship is nice.

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At the dinner, Benny the owner continues to be an absolutely amazing guy, letting “11” go at it on a box of ice cream, making conversation, and generally being sweet in caring. There is a knock on the door of the dinner, “11” is startled, but Benny reassures her that he’ll tell whoever to fuck off and be right back. It turns out that it is social services, which I didn’t believe for a second not only because this is TV writing, but because social services would take days, weeks, not a few hours to show up on location, but hey, whatever. As Benny leads the woman to the kitchen, she shoots him in cold blood, and two men block “11”’s passage as she attempts to run away through the backdoor. But “11” isn’t your regular kid and knocks them out cold.

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RIP Benny the nice guy

The boys arrive to the woods, Dustin gets a bad feeling, they call him some misogynistic insult as they have been doing all episode, so he decides to stay with them.

In Michael and Nancy’s house, Nancy’s boyfriend gets in her room through the window because he really cares about her grades, and then tries to pressure her into sex. Her discomfort is clear, and is present for a lot for various reasons, and he eventually backs off and continues to study. Which she doesn’t really seem to need, but hey, teenage years.

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I said no, dude, back off

Back with Joyce and her son, they boy are looking for a picture of Will to, I assume, use for missing posters. They aren’t doing too good, and it is a very touching scene. She tries to hold onto the feeling in her gut that her son isn’t far away, while experiencing guilt and regret that maybe she hasn’t been present enough in the lives of both of her sons. I empathize on a deep level, being a single mother without any help is a very hard thing, and I appreciated this look into her life, her struggles, her emotions. When the phone rings, Joyce rushes to it, and the scene that follows truly did scare me. There is a breathing on the other side of a line, an odd type of breathing, and Joyce calls out Will’s name, convinced that it is her son. There, a growl begins, deep, which then turns into a screech, Joyce’s helpless cries break my heart as the screech grows louder and more aggressive until the phone electrocutes her. It is a hard scene to watch, and a good reminder that something supernatural is going on, and not a simple kidnapping.

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This scene gave me heart palpitations

The episode ends with Michael, Lucas and Dustin watching through the woods as rain pours onto them. They hear noises, are worried, turn and turn, until they are face to face with a drenched “11”. The episode ends.

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Usually pilot episodes are some of the most important episodes for TV shows. This is how you get people hooked, this is when you spark an interest, a curiosity, this is where things start. This first episode of Stranger Things did exactly this for me, I am curious, I am intrigued, I want to know what it is that happened to Will, what happened and what is that thing in Hawkins National Laboratory, and who is “11”, what was done to her, what is she running from, and who are this people.

10/10 – For all of these curiosities, and for actually making me stop taking notes because I wanted to give my complete attention, this episode gets a perfect note from me.

EPISODE 2: THE WEIRDO ON MAPLE STREET ->

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A Woman on the Internet Reviews The Lion’s Song Episode 1: Silence

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A Woman on the Internet is an intersectional feminist community that focuses on conversations about sexism, racism. homophobia, transphobia, ableism and many other social issues. Created by Aurelie Nix, A Woman on the Internet also produces content such as Video Game & TV Show reviews from an intersectional feminist point of view. The community & blog are safe and all welcoming spaces, with a focus on ensuring the protection of women of colour & queer/trans folks. If you enjoy its content, consider supporting the space financially through a Patreon subscription or a donation through PayPal.


THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 2: ANTHOLOGY–>

When I first came across the Lion’s Song it was purely at random, but when my gaze fell upon some of the screenshots from the game, I quickly added it onto my wishlist and waited patiently for its release, until today.

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The Lion’s Song, produced by the Austrian studio Mi’pu’mi Games and whose motto is “Great games don’t have to be big” (and I couldn’t agree more), is an episodic, point & click series that takes place during the early 20th century. In the first episode of The Lion’s Song we follow Wilma, an up and coming violinist who is under a lot of pressure to finish a piece that she has been struggling to complete. When her professor, Arthur Caban offers to send her to his cabin up in the Alps where she could potentially find inspiration, Wilma accepts and arrives to find herself surrounded by her fears, insecurities and pressure from both her peers and herself.

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The Lion’s Song first episode, titled Silence, is a wonderful piece of art about the pressure we allow others to put on us, the pressure we put on ourselves, our fears and how they can be interpreted of visualised, whether through dreams or the world that surrounds us, but it also is about patience and overcoming obstacles, big or small. In the first episode, you will be required to pay attention to Wilma’s pleas and fears and help her find inspirations in the things that surround her and the sounds that will sometimes scare her, or inspire her, in order to complete her piece.

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The game allows you to learn a various type of things about Wilma or the people in her life, different games will offer different types of information, and through some events, you can shape Wilma’s will, fears, and even the ending of the episode.

Although the music is an important part of the game, a lot of it resides in the in-between, when you are searching inside of the cabin for something to spark Wilma’s attention and inspiration. Rain tapping against the window or a clock ticking, there is a surprising amount of objects for you to interact with, and the sounds, text and sometimes music that accompanies it are absolutely wonderful.

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I am extremely excited to see what Mi’pu’mi Games has in store for us, and to meet the other character that will be the protagonists of the next episodes.

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10/10 – I was pleasantly surprised to see that episode 1 was being given out for free, as I was more than ready to pay for it, but having experienced it now, I will most certainly be purchasing the season pass and wait for more wonderful storytelling.

“Great games don’t have to be big” Absolutely. Some extra info on the series.

Available FOR FREE (at the moment) on: PC

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THE LION’S SONG, EPISODE 2: ANTHOLOGY–>