Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 remake offers plenty beyond the core campaigns for Claire and Leon. Two extra scenarios, starring Umbrella Security Services operative Hunk and STARS member Tofu, are also available. But if you don’t want to put in the work or the time to unlock them — Hunk merely requires completing the game’s A and B scenarios — you can do that now for a few extra bucks.
The All In-game Rewards Unlock item costs $4.99 and grants immediate access to “The 4th Survivor” and “The Tofu Survivor” scenarios, as well as costumes, the infinite bonus weapon, and in-game models and concept art. These extras can be unlocked through gameplay by meeting certain requirements, but if you don’t feel like tackling some of Resident Evil 2’s more difficult challenges, and still want all the stuff, Capcom’s giving you the option for a small fee.
Resident Evil 2’s in-game rewards unlock is available from the PlayStation Store, Steam, and Xbox Games Store. That time-saving purchase may be a little easier to swallow with all the free content — Ghost Survivors and the ’98 costumes for Claire and Leon — that Capcom has released since Resident Evil 2 arrived in January.
DC Films’ latest flick, Shazam!, doesn’t just introduce Billy Batson and his superheroic alter ego to a wide audience. It also makes room for members of the Captain Marvel Family, a set of characters with a long, long history in comics — all the way back to 1941.
For more on all the ways Shazam! pays homage to the Shazam Family past and present, read on, but beware …
[Ed. note: This post will contain spoilers for Shazam!.]
The Marvel Family
Shazam got his first real sidekick in 1941, with the creation of Captain Marvel, Jr. In that era there were two significantly different things about Shazam: For one, his name was Captain Marvel. For another, Captain Marvel and Billy Batson were two different people who swapped places, not Billy and Billy-in-a-grown-up-body.
Captain Marvel, Jr. was a teenage boy named Freddy Freeman — just like the Freddy Freeman of the movie Shazam! — who was severely injured by the diabolical foe of Captain Marvel, Captain Nazi. The Wizard who gave Billy his powers explained that if he really wanted to save Freddy, he could share a portion of Captain Marvel’s power with him. From then on, whenever Freddy said “Captain Marvel” he would transform into Captain Marvel, Jr. — but as Freddy, he never fully recovered from his injury and always walked with a crutch.
A year later, long-time Captain Marvel writer Otto Binder and artists Marc Swayze and Mac Raboy introduced Billy’s long-lost sister, Mary Bromfield, who bore a striking resemblance to Judy Garland. By saying “Shazam,” she could become the mighty Mary Marvel.
And though Billy and Freddy scoffed at the notion that the wise wizard Shazam would give his powers to a girl — as you could imagine that young boys on the schoolyard might scoff at girls who read Captain Marvel comics — the wizard set them straight. Mary had all the same powers as them, afforded to her by a different set of six female goddesses and mythological figures, so shut up, boys, and let her play.
After the roles of “Captain Marvel, but younger,” and “Captain Marvel, but a girl” had been filled, the Marvel Family gained some strange — but beloved — additions.
Uncle Dudley, aka Uncle Marvel, was Billy and Mary’s uncle, drawn and written essentially as a W.C. Fields character. Uncle Dudley didn’t have any powers, he just shouted “Shazam” when everybody else did and whipped off his clothing to reveal the Captain Marvel costume he wore underneath. The Marvel Family let him stick around because they liked him and didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
The Shazam’s modern family are quite a bit different — but they still pay homage to the character’s history.
The Shazam Family
The version of the Marvel/Shazam Family we see in Shazam! is taken directly from Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Shazam! backup stories in 2011’s Justice League comic, recently collected as Shazam!: Origins. Their retelling of Billy Batson’s origin story was built on a lot of Captain Marvel history — but also on an alternate universe version of the Shazam family from the Johns-written Flashpoint event, which closed the book on DC Comics’ Post-Crisis continuity and paved the way for the New 52.
In the newest Shazam stories at DC Comics, Billy doesn’t adventure alone: He shares his power with his five foster siblings, just like in Shazam! the movie. Mary and Freddy are based on the classic characters of Mary Bromfield and Freddy Freeman, while Pedro, Eugene and Darla are more recent creations.
They’re a Shazam family, but just don’t ask them to tell you what their superhero names are, because if they say Shazam out loud they’ll turn back into kids. I’m not joking. This is a real problem for the group, which Johns and Dale Eaglesham are exploring in their current Shazam! ongoing series.
But whether the Captain Marvel family is six foster siblings or a big brother, a little brother, a sister, and a talking tiger, one thing remains true: The real power of Shazam has always been when Billy Batson shares his gifts with the people he cares about.
Latios is returning to Pokémon Go raids for a week, starting from April 15 at 4 p.m. ET until April 22 at 4 p.m. ET. The Eon Pokémon is returning with the possibility of appearing Shiny, similarly to how his sister, Latias, did in February.
This means that Latios will be sharing tier five raids with Origin Forme Giratina for a week. Latios isn’t the best attacker around, as he’s outclassed by Mewtwo for psychic-types and Rayquaza for dragon-types, but he’s a fine addition to any trainer’s Pokédex.
Prepare for Latios’ reappearance by stocking up on dragon-type ‘mons. Rayquaza remains an excellent counter, but Dragonite and Salamence work well. Bagon’s Community Day happens before Latios returns, so you can prepare a good dragon before raiding. Giratina, Gengar, and other ghost-types also work well against Latios’ psychic typing. While pitting his sister, Latias, against him is kind of sad, she also serves as a pretty good counter.
Start practicing your excellent curve ball throws to increase your chance at scoring him after taking him down. Shiny raid Pokémon have an 100 percent catch rate, provided that you don’t miss all your balls. For more information on raids, check out our guide here.
The 2019 Pokémon Go April Community Day focuses on Bagon, the rare dragon-type from the Hoenn region. The Community Day runs from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. on April 13, in your local time zone.
Bagons are rare spawns. There is a chance to hatch them out of 10 kilometer eggs, but it’s a small chance. If you don’t have a Salamence, this is your best bet to get one. There’s also a higher chance that you’ll run into a Shiny Bagon during this event.
How do I get a Shiny Bagon?
Bagon, Shelgon, and Salamence will have their Shiny forms debut on April 13 for Community Day. There will be an increased chance to catch Shiny Bagons during the Community Day period and shiny Bagon will be added to the game permanently starting then. This means you can hatch and catch Shiny Bagons after this, though at a much lower rate.
What’s the exclusive move for Salamence?
Community Days typically feature a move that won’t be able to be learned during any other time. Evolving your Bagon all the way up into a Salamence will teach it this exclusive move, though the exact move is still unknown. Your Salamence will learn the exclusive move as long as it’s evolved during the Community Day three-hour period or up to an hour after it ends. In short: You have until 7 p.m. in your timezone to complete the evolution or else.
How do I make the most of Bagon Community Day?
Head over to an area with a bunch of Pokéstops and get catching. Lures will last for three hours, instead of the usual 30 minutes, so plop one or two down and enjoy all the spawns. Catch XP is also going to be tripled during the event period, so if you have any spare Lucky Eggs, you can use those to get six times the amount of XP from catching Pokémon!
Salamence is one of the best non-Legendary dragon-type attackers in the game so far. Make sure you use Pinap Berries to score as much Bagon candy as possible. If you only walk out with just enough candy to evolve one Bagon, consider scoping out your collection to see which Bagon has the highest IVs and evolving that one. That way you’ll get the strongest Salamence possible.
The Division 2 already has a powerful arsenal of Exotic weapons. Guns like The Chatterbox, Liberty, and Merciless are potent tools in many different builds. But they’re also difficult weapons to come by. Some require lengthy quest lines, while others require long hours of grinding the same mission.
Thankfully, you don’t need to repeat the grind to get a more powerful version of your favorite weapon. This guide will teach you how to upgrade all the Exotics in your arsenal. This will increase that Exotic to the current maximum Gear Score.
Step 1: Buy the blueprint
When you first walk into the White House, there are two vendors in the front hall. To your left is the Quartermaster, responsible for your subclass upgrades and skill purchases. On the other side of the room is a more traditional vendor. Once you’ve unlocked an Exotic — either by crafting it or picking it up off the ground — this vendor’s inventory will change.
The vendor will start selling an upgrade blueprint for each Exotic you own. You can buy these blueprints for 1,010 E-credits. Once you have the blueprint, you’re almost ready to start crafting again.
Step 2: Upgrade your table
Now that you have access to the blueprint, you’ll be able to upgrade the Exotics you already have. However, you can’t create a max level Exotic without a max level crafting table. Use the various resources found around the world of The Division 2 to upgrade your table before you proceed.
If you hit a snag — like running out of Polycarbonate, for example — explore the open world. Take over lost control points, and use the resource farm buff to make your life a bit easier. Once you’ve upgraded your bench, it’s time to move on to the final step.
Step 3: Build your upgrade
Now it’s time to upgrade your Exotic. You’ll need an assortment of crafting materials, the old version of the Exotic, and an Exotic Component. The Exotic Component will be the hardest thing to find. To get one, you need to dismantle an Exotic. When you have all the materials, use the workbench to craft your fully upgraded Exotic.
One lucky Polygon reader’s Steam backlog is about to get a lot longer. Along with PC digital games distributor Fanatical, we’re offering the chance to win a bundle of 23 Steam keys — worth a combined value of $1,009.79.
Enter via the widget below or at the Gleam giveaway page. Extra entries are awarded for visiting Fanatical’s social media channels and for following @PolygonDeals on Twitter. Plus, everyone who enters gets an exclusive discount on Mortal Kombat 11 (released April 22), which will be applied automatically when you visit the page through our widget.
The contest ends at 7:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 30. A winner will be notified via email.
It’s no surprise that Shazam! sets itself up for a sequel. The latest installment in the DC Films universe wraps up with a cliffhanger mid-credits sequence — a pretty safe bet that we have not seen the last of Billy Batson or his heroic alter ego.
This of course begs the question: Where can the Shazam franchise go next? Thanks to his incredibly tangled comic book history, wealth of supporting characters, and roster of vintage villains, Shazam’s options for future adaptations are a little bit more complicated than your average superhero franchise.
[Ed. note: This post will contain spoilers for Shazam!]
The monsters are (probably) coming
The meatiest of Shazam!’s two post-credits stingers features Dr. Sivana, hunched over and mumbling in his cell, as he frantically sketches glyphs on the wall. Then, an unexpected savior interrupts his mania: A caterpillar wearing a mechanical “talk box” invites him to be a part of something greater.
This is a perfectly normal sentence for Shazam stories, because comics are awesome.
The caterpillar is Mister Mind, one of the weirdest and most wonderful classic villains from Billy’s golden age stories. He’s attempting to recruit Sivana for something that will likely become the cinematic version of Mind’s iconic “Monster Society of Evil,” a super villain team that traditionally mounted all sorts of grand, arbitrarily megalomaniacal plans.
In the 1940s, Mister Mind the evil caterpillar was designed to be a kid-friendly pastiche of European fascism during and after World War II, and he’s not the easiest character to fit into a modern, serious superhero universe. The comics might be classics, but they weren’t made to be all that deep or nuanced. Usually Mind and the Society weren’t really gunning for anything specific, other than “power” or “world domination,” and for no real reason other than their own inherent evilness — not exactly the most cinematic motivation.
However, Mister Mind and the Monster Society have had a few modern comics that could be remixed a bit for big screen adaptation.
The Power of Shazam
The Power of Shazam, a mini series published in 1996 by Jerry Ordway, featured a reinvented Mind who heralded the looming threat of a worm-based invasion of Earth.
Conquering caterpillars might not be the most intimidating super villains to face, especially after the Shazamily literally took down the Seven Deadly Sins themselves, but it would certainly be fun and funny — which would help keep the tone of the franchise as upbeat and heartwarming as it is now.
There’s also plenty of room for multiple different Mind stories to come into play in the movies — some weirder and sillier than the others. We can guess that Mind’s been up to no good before, as the Wizard clearly had him trapped in the Rock of Eternity for a reason. Maybe Mind’s actually had more of a hand in the history of the DCEU than we ever could have guessed. Maybe the space caterpillar invasion was already tried and thwarted, and now Mind has some different tricks up his non-existent sleeves.
In an even more recent reinvention, Mind was given a major power boost in the year-long 52 series, when it was revealed that his cartoon caterpillar form was actually just his larval state. Like a real life caterpillar, Mind made a chrysalis and metamorphosed into a giant, universe-consuming moth monster that could travel through time.
Again, another perfectly normal sentence for Shazam comics.
That particular story focused less on Mind’s formation of the Monster Society, but did enlist Sivana’s help for much of Mind’s transformation, so it could go either way. We could end up with a goofy supervillain team lead by a CGI worm, or a very serious, high-stakes cosmic adventure with a CGI worm manipulating other villains into helping him out.
Aside from Mister Mind and Sivana, the only other Society member we’ve seen was in a blink-and-you-miss-it Easter egg. As the kids run through the Rock of Eternity, they interrupt a very weird poker game between three anthropomorphic crocodiles in suits. These are the Crocodile Men, Herkimer, Jorrk, and Sylvester, who are on-again-off-again members of the Society’s sillier incarnations.
Whether or not they’ll show up again is really anyone’s guess, but at least they’re definitely around.
What about Black Adam?
Another famous DC supervillain was alluded to during Shazam!, as the Wizard told Billy the story of an “ancient champion” who held the power of Shazam but became corrupted. He’s the whole reason why it’s so important for the champion to be “worthy.”
That ancient hero is Black Adam, a name that may or may not be familiar to you if you’ve been keeping up with superhero movie casting rumors. Dwayne Johnson is reportedly set to helm his very own Black Adam movie at some point — he’s even listed as a producer on Shazam! — and that one moment was just enough to establish that Adam does, in fact, exist in this universe.
Black Adam is the closest thing Billy and company have to a Dr. Doom-like arch-nemesis. In the comics, Adam is the ruler of his own country, a frequent anti-hero and chaotic neutral force whose motivations are less about random evil than they are about securing and protecting the subjects of his kingdom or rehabbing his own villainous reputation.
It’s also worth noting that Black Adam has also been a member of several Monster Society of Evil incarnations, meaning he’s definitely up there on the list of potential teammates to flesh out Mind’s plans. So we might not get a proper Black Adam focused story next time around, but the chance he could show up after being recruited by a caterpillar remains very, very real.
This all sounds really weird
Superhero movies have long since abandoned slavish devotion to their source material, but Billy Batson’s history takes it all a step further: It would be nearly impossible, given the current landscape of both DC’s comics and cinematic universe, for future Shazam films to directly adapt any one comic plot reliably. But weirdness is what makes Shazam so fun.
Any Shazam! sequel could develop the magic side of the DCEU even further. It could even completely sidestep Monster Society build up (maybe creators will tease that out Thanos-style, who can say) and go a totally new direction. The most recent line of Shazam! comics has dealt with the family exploring new realms of magic entirely separate from our plane of existence.
Billy Batson is the sort of character who has the flexibility to flit from cataclysmic, existential stakes to slapstick humor and back without missing a beat. The sky’s the limit for the future of the franchise.
“Despite the immense and continuous support from our players, the sales for Starlink: Battle for Atlas fell below expectations,” said the Starlink development team. “Consequently, we recently made the decision to not release any additional physical toys for the Spring update and in the future.”
Starlink arrived in October 2018, well after other toys-to-life products had already exited the market. The game featured space-based and terrestrial flight combat in the style of Nintendo’s classic Star Fox games. The Nintendo Switch version even included Star Fox himself and an articulated model of the iconic Arwing fighter, as well as a series of exclusive themed missions. Despite favorable reviews, including here at Polygon, it appears that the physical toy line was not sustainable.
The end of the Starlink physical product line is maybe the final nail in the coffin for the toys-to-life business model, which was popularized by the Skylanders series. Starlink’s most recent competitor, the Warner Bros. multiverse-inspired Lego Dimensions, was wound down in 2017. Nintendo is still creating its amiibo line of figures, but they aren’t tied to a specific game or franchise.
Luckily, Ubisoft hedged its bets with the design of the Starlink. While the reconfigurable toys do confer some benefits, they aren’t actually required to play the game. That means the digital product can live on without a line of physical products on store shelves.
“We are currently hard at work on our biggest update to the game so far and are pleased to tell all of you that there will be new digital ships, pilots and weapons to collect,” the team stated. “Additionally, there will be a ton of free content to expand your games such as additional missions, challenges and new activities to engage in throughout Atlas, including content that was inspired by community suggestions, such as Outlaw Racing.”
Digital versions of Starlink are still available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One. They all currently retail for $59.99, and only the Switch version comes with the additional Star Fox content.
The fourth episode of part 2 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina shakes up the traditional hour-long formula. Like part 1’s fifth episode “Dreams in a Witch House”, which showed the characters’ individual nightmares framed by a dream demon preying on them, “Doctor Cerebuses’ House of Horrors” is made up of short, character-specific, horror-filled segments, each framed through a tarot card reading.
Generally, the cards fit to the stories that unfold, though most of them seem to be chosen as visual cues over their actual meaning. Anyone steeped in tarotology will notice a few glaring disconnects between the chosen symbols and their actual meaning, especially in the way mysterious tarot reader Mrs. McGarvey describes them and in the way the witches react. These characters are masters of the occult and … should probably know their tarot.
So what do these card spreads actually mean? And do they fit in with the story at hand? Or is Mrs. McGarvey — revealed to be Madame Satan in disguise — trying to deliberately mislead them?
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part 2, episode 4, “Doctor Cerebuses’ House of Horrors.”]
The basics of tarot
Before we begin, some rudimentary tarot. Tarot cards are separated into the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana is made up of 21 cards, each assigned a symbol or figure (The Fool, The Sun, The Wheel of Fortune) and usually indicate bigger life events. For instance, the Sun indicates a time of prosperity. The Minor Arcana is separated into four suites (Cups, Wands, Swords, and Coins) and represent more everyday situations.
The Magician – The Tower – Three of Swords
Sabrina has doubts about the loyalties of her new boyfriend Nick, because of his promiscuous past. Mrs. McGarvey pulls out The Magician to describe him as a “handsome trickster that few women can resist.” In a literal sense, Nick is a magician, but the Magician card symbolizes resourcefulness, putting a plan into action, as well as knowledge and capability. There is an aspect to the Magician that involves impressing others and the reversed meaning (the “bad” aspects of the card when it’s upside down) does involve a sense of manipulation, but when right-side up it’s less about charming tricksters and more about carrying out new plans.
In general, the Minor Arcana court cards (Page-Knight-Queen-King) usually represent people more often than the Major Arcana cards do. The romantic and flirtatious Knight of Cups would have been a better choice for Nick.
Mrs. McGarvey doesn’t comment on the reversed Tower card she places down, but that’s one of the biggest YIKES of a tarot reading. The Tower card is pretty ominous: it represents sudden, disastrous change and upheaval. The reversed card means that it’s one of internal growth and change versus one that comes from external factors. This actually doesn’t seem far off from Sabrina’s newfound affinity for the “dark side,” but it’s not addressed.
Finally, the Three of Swords is used to literally depict the three Weird Sisters coming after Nick; in reality, that card symbolizes heartbreak and emotional pain.
If we look at the spread without the narration and accompanying short, it fits Sabrina to a tee: Sabrina herself is on a quest to take charge of her life and change the institution of the Church of the Night, this will require massive personal transformation, and the end result might be sorrow. Pinned to Nick — Mrs. McGarvey says that this means Sabrina can trust him, but not necessarily the others — the cards don’t add up.
Knight of Swords – Wheel of Fortune
The Knight of Swords fits just fine for Theo, who is most curious about his own transition. Knight of Swords represents an individual on a mission, a quest. But the Knight of Swords also represent a desire for success and assertiveness, which doesn’t quite line up with who Theo is. It does, however, mirror who he wants to be.
The Wheel of Fortune meanwhile represents karma and life’s constant changes. Upright, it urges you to have faith in the way the wheel turns, so to speak: what goes around will come around.
Mrs. McGarvey tells Theo not to resort to stealing, which fits in line with the karmic message of the Wheel of Fortune, and to have faith in how it turns. Also mentioned, though, is reaching out to others for help — a message not reflected by either card.
Roz’s dilemma revolves around whether or not she should go through with a pricey operation that will restore her sight, but will rely on donations from her father’s parish. The Justice card pops up when people need to make an important choice with long-lasting repercussions — there is more going on here than the fact the Justice card is blind. Unfortunately, Roz only gets one card without any indication of the future, but Justice asks you to trust your inner sense of morality, which Roz ends up deciding to do in the end.
The High Priestess – The Hermit
Zelda is set to marry the High Priest Father Blackwood, so on the surface the High Priestess card looks enticing. Her big question is about the secret she’s harboring: she kidnapped Father Blackwood’s infant daughter because she feared what he would do to her if he found out he didn’t have a son. She wants to know if this is something she should reveal.
The High Priestess’ meaning represents intuition, but reversed it represents secrets and repressing intuition. Literally every bit of the world is telling Zelda that this marriage is a bad idea, but she’s ignoring her gut in the pursuit of power. Additionally, the High Priestess symbolizes tapping into the Divine Feminine; Father Blackwood wishes to suppress the female influence of the witches.
We’re told the Hermit physically represents Desmelda, the outcast witch who Zelda gave Father Blackwood’s infant daughter. In reality, the Hermit symbolizes isolation and self-reflection. Perhaps the cards actually urge Zelda to take a moment to think about this rushed marriage, trust her intuition and eventually realize that she should not marry someone who thinks femininity is inferior. But Mrs. McGarvey reads the spread as if Zelda needs to continue to keep her secrets. Much like Sabrina’s reading, the cards could make sense when applied to the situation, but the way Mrs. McGarvey delineates them misleads Zelda — whether this is on purpose is still up for question.
The Fool – The Hanged Man – Ace of Pentacles
Harvey wants to know if he should go to an art program in Rhode Island. The Fool fits pretty well. It represents a youth at the start of their journey, a new beginning.
Though Mrs. McGarvey uses the Hanged Man to foreshadow Harvey’s potential roommate’s suicide, the Hanged Man actually reads another way: It represents a period of reflection, figuring out what you need to let go of in life to move forward. Another key facet of the Hanged Man: clarity comes from discomfort. Harvey should shake off some of the comfort he’s grown accustomed to in Greendale in order to grow as a person and an artist.
But Mrs. McGarvey tells Harvey that this means he should stay in Greendale. In actuality, it looks like the cards are urging him to let go of Greendale so he can move onto new horizons.
This is further confused with the last card, the Ace of Pentacles, which symbolizes new career opportunities. But Harvey’s a clueless, foolish mortal who doesn’t know better, so he listens blindly to Mrs. McGarvey.
The Hierophant – The Devil – Death
Ambrose specifically wants to know where his boyfriend is. The first two cards in the reading do indicate something is up. The Hierophant points to Father Blackwood, as it represents tradition and conformity. The Devil, meanwhile, points to limitation and addiction, as well as binding contracts (a la “selling your soul to the Devil”). In the vision Mrs. McGarvey relays to Ambrose, he makes a disastrous deal with Father Blackwood.
It’s the Death card — and more importantly the reaction that the characters have to it — that throw a wrench in things.
Mrs. McGarvey holds it close to her chest, unwilling to reveal it to Ambrose. When he finally gets it, he stands up in alarm and flips out — and quickly learns that his boyfriend Lucas died.
But the Death tarot card does not mean death. Death is not a bad card. Death looks scary, but the card is about transformations and rebirth. Unlike the Tower’s violent, sudden changes, Death often indicates the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. It could very well be that there is a big change coming for Ambrose, but the way everyone reacts when the Death card is weird, considering they’re all, well, witches and presumably know their occult.
At the end of the episode, some of the characters get pretty accurate readings that will help them — but the others are distorted, their meanings blurred a bit. It could be Madame Satan deliberately misconstrued the meanings of the cards in order to play into her grand scheme, but one has to wonder: why don’t the witches know any better?
Photographsis a narrative puzzle game that journeys through five tragic stories. Each vignette explores how doing the right thing can lead to loss, heartbreak, and devastation. The game’s charming pixel art aesthetic drew me into each story, but it was how the game used simple puzzles to further its storytelling, that broke my heart each time.
Each of the five tales you play through in Photographs begins with an optimistic introduction to a main character. Their lives start simply enough: The alchemist studies cures alongside his plucky daughter; a young man inherits a local newspaper from his father; a mage studies the magic that will allow her to prevent tragedies. I get glimpses of their life through photographs and voice overs that help me learn about their motivations and ambitions. As I learn more about them, the backdrop for each level evolves. The alchemist’s shop grows in size or the mage turns her former school into her new home. Each evolution in their story is accompanied by a unique type of puzzle.
These puzzles are custom tailored to the individual story of the characters, often mirroring what their story is about. In the story of the young athlete, I follow along as she trains to be a successful diver. To solve her puzzles, I must carefully aim and shoot a ball to ricochet it into a pool of water. As she becomes more skilled, the solutions to her puzzles get more complicated. When her teammates become a part of the story, I also need to shoot a ball into a pool for them as well. Since they are all at different skill levels, some of them are harder than others.
Photographs’ puzzles ease me into each of these stories and act as vehicles to help me understand each character. Eventually, the puzzles begin to mimic a looming tragedy.
An early and subtle example happens during the tale of the alchemist. To advance that narrative, I need to solve puzzles that require me to slide icons that represent him and his daughter around a grid. I control both of them at the same time and I have to figure out how to get both of them into their individual goals. However, in the middle of the alchemist’s story, his daughter gets sick. He rushes to create a cure that works in the short term, but has devastating effects on her down the line. She isn’t sick anymore, but she’s not the same. In the next puzzle I play, I can control the alchemist normally, but his daughter’s controls become reversed. It’s a slight twist to the mechanics, but my heart broke when I realized why.
All five stories manipulate their puzzle’s mechanics to further that tale’s message. They are all cruel twists of fate, but I had no clue that the final trick was going to be played on me. Throughout my entire time playing Photographs, I thought I would just be a witness to each story, solving small puzzles along the way. What I didn’t expect was how the game would use my time with each character against me in the end. The final task felt cruel at first, but in the end, left me with a bittersweet ending I was happy to take part in.
Photographs is short; each tale lasts about 30 minutes, but its impact is lasting. Each story explores how a simple decision, especially one made with the best intentions, can go wrong. It examines how circumstances can cloud our better judgment. Each story shows the painful consequences of trying too hard to be right. While I may never experience the same dire situations this game’s characters face, witnessing their tales as a third party taught me a valuable lesson. In dark moments, we may rush to the first solution that might fix it all. However, it may be helpful to step back from the situation and view it objectively, much like a photograph of someone else’s life. Given time, we may learn that the tough choice, not the most immediate choice, is the right one to make.