A Quiet Place Review: The Sound Of Silence

Get Out, It Follows, The Witch. These are modern horror films we still talk about because of a standout premise. A Quiet Place joins these ranks with a strong hook of its own: everyday noise as something to fear. It’s a harsh, scary film that pulls no punches and makes excellent use of sound.

A Quiet Place has a simple setup, where the rules are clearly established: The world is overrun by blind monsters that track you by sound only. This leads to an hour and a half of pure tension. Common things like a toy that makes noise or a dropped bottle of pills can lead to disaster, and not just when the creatures are in the next room. It’s a smart concept that keeps your eyes and ears focused throughout the film.

In a typical horror film, you have the baseline noise–dialogue, music, background action–punctuated by the volume spike of a scare. With A Quiet Place, it’s the range in between, the innocuous everyday sounds that would be harmless in any other movie, that keep the tension flowing.

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The Abbott family is the center of attention, composed of mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt), father Lee (John Krasinski), daughter Regan (Millicent Simmons), and sons Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). These names are never actually said aloud in the movie, and it doesn’t matter. In fact, there is a miniscule amount of spoken dialogue throughout the entire thing, making those few verbal moments more intimate. The family dynamics are clear from the opening scene, and that familial warmth from everyone makes you care about them as one unit. Their performances come together to forge a believable family in a hellish world, where simply getting through the day is a silent struggle.

Krasinski pulls double duty as the film’s director, and he was able to coax out great moments from his cast. Most notable is Simmons, a deaf actress who taught her co-stars American Sign Language. This spotlights a method of communication not often seen in movies, but her performance goes far beyond hand motions, with a face that moves between expressions of happiness, sadness, and fear. She portrays a girl whose heart is also in emotional pain, largely over finding her place in this post-apocalyptic world. She thinks about the future, how best to protect her family, and how these things are made harder because of her disability. It’s far from the stereotypical moody teenager.

The Abbotts’ way of life is also clearly established early on. They walk on sand to hide their footsteps, sign to each other with ASL, and find ways to cook and clean while minimizing their audio footprint. But even during these would-be normal moments, the threat of making a sound is ever present. It adds a layer of unease to what would otherwise be dry scenes, especially in the opening act. That time is also spent foreshadowing setpieces and objects that later factor into the action in significant ways. A conversation between a father and son beside a river illustrates that you can speak aloud in this world, but only when another natural sound is louder than the one you make. The movie sets a strong tone of danger at all times, with rare moments of peace or joy.

Once the setup is complete, the plot takes a basic “survive the night” turn as a monster invades the family farm. The Abbots silently fight for safety, though there doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning to the action beyond getting out alive. That said, the movie is not afraid to constantly ramp up the danger. Brief moments of respite for the Abbotts are quickly undone, either by a monster creeping into the scene or someone making accidental sound, from the opening to the credits. Watching Blunt deliver a baby while the monsters stalk about the house is harrowing.

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The smart use of sound also leads to a few pleasant moments. At one point, Krasinski and Blunt dance to a song played through her iPod’s headphones, the only time music is heard in the entire film. The tone overall is pessimistic, but these few moments of happiness help you empathize with the Abbotts even more. They’re complemented by cinematography that uses equally warm colors, and a few striking reds during particular moments of tension.

A Quiet Place does its job well: It clearly establishes ground rules, continually ups the danger, and makes dynamic use of all types of sound. Any hope of progress or safety in this world can be crushed by a dropped object or even the soft crying of a baby. There are precious few seconds where the Abbotts–and you as the viewer–can relax. While it certainly doesn’t shy away from trying to make you jump, it’s the sonic nature of the scares and unending threat of everyday actions that make this film stand tall.

The Good The Bad
Constant threat of sound keeps you on the edge of your seat Pretty basic “survive the night” plot
Fantastic sound design
Thoroughly explores its premise
Strong performances

Dying Light Takes A Cue From PUBG And Fortnite, Adds In New Battle Royale Mode

In the three years since its release, Techland has continually been churning out content for Dying Light. In addition to a number of quality-of-life updates and tweaks to the gameplay, the open-world zombie survival game has also seen a number of new modes–including The Following DLC campaign and additional multiplayer options. And now, the developers are riding the wave of interest for battle royale with their own take on the familiar every-man-for-themselves game type. While at GDC 2018, we got to go hands-on with the upcoming DLC Bad Blood–launching later this year–which pits several players in a race against time–and the zombie hordes–to acquire enough resources and make it out of Harran alive.

In Bad Blood, six players are dropped into random locations around the map in a race to acquire enough samples from several elite infected. From the starting point, you’ll have to find weapons and support items as you go. Every player starts on an even playing field as they maneuver through the streets and rooftops of the ruined city. As you take down these special zombies, you’ll be able to collect samples and potentially level up your character–boosting their health, agility, and attack power. Of course, other players have similar goals, and they may find that attacking you while you’re being swarmed by infected is the smart thing to do. As in traditional battle royale fashion, you only have one life to live, so you’ll have to make the right choices and play smart.

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While this mode may initially come off a bit gimmicky, the actual experience is surprisingly tense. Bad Blood is a constant race for resources, with the virus samples being the most valuable. In a some cases, encountering another player felt like the last thing you wanted to happen, resulting in a mad dash to evade them. The end-game portion which focuses on booking it to the helicopter is a where things get really hectic. The player with the most samples will have to reach the evac site and wait for the chopper to land, which paints a large target on their back. Only the player with the required amount of samples can make it out alive, and some players may forge quick alliances to try and take down the lead player–only for it to quickly fall apart as they scramble to scavenge the samples to make it out alive.

Battle royale has been one of the most talked about topics for the last year, with many people wondering what games would benefit from such a mode. In the case of Dying Light, it makes some rather clever choices with how it incorporated BR into its current strengths of survival and action gameplay. With Dying Light still going strong, and with the developers experimenting with adding even more players into the battle royale mix, Bad Blood looks to be a refreshing change of pace for players looking to dive back the game, which has only gotten better with age.

’80s Nostalgia Gets Strange And Out Of Control In Pixel Ripped 1989

With many games paying homage to the nostalgia-ripe 2D-era of the ’80s and ’90s, Pixel Ripped 1989 seems like it could get lost in the crowd. But when it comes to reliving a bygone era, this strange yet surprisingly relatable throwback goes about things a bit differently, offering one of the most impressive and self-aware VR experiences in quite some time. During GDC 2018, we had the chance to go hands-on with the game ahead of its Oculus, HTC Vive, and PS VR release on May 22, while also speaking with creator Ana Ribeiro about its rather lengthy development.

“I started this as my final project in university for the master’s degree program, and it was at a university more well-known for movies and stuff [National Film and Television School], and then when I put it on Oculus share, it got a lot of press,” said Ribeiro. “People seemed to have liked it. It was more of a proof of concept to try and get a job, but then I decided to work on this game and get it a full release. It’s been four years altogether. This is the dream. It actually has a lot of my life experiences in the game. I used to be a bad student, throwing paperballs, playing games in the background–it’s all from a really personal place. “

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Set in the late ’80s, you’re placed in the shoes of rebellious grade-school student Nicola, who loves to spend time on her handheld game system. Her favorite videogame is the action-platformer game Pixel Ripped, starring the blaster-wielding and platform-jumping Dot. When the evil Cyblin Lord’s ambitions go beyond the realm of the videogame, he escapes into the real world, bringing familiar enemies along with him. To stop the main baddie, Nicola must guide Dot through increasingly difficult stages where she’ll shoot monsters and other baddies–all while avoiding the gaze of her overbearing teacher and other distractions around the school.

As a game within a game, you’ll be tasked with alternating between two different mechanics. In the world of Nicola’s handheld, Dot controls in familiar style to a Mega Man game, where she’ll blast enemies while traversing dangerous jumps and sketchy platforms to make it to the end boss. Of course, playing your videogame in the middle of class is asking for trouble, and Nicola’s teacher becomes extremely angry when she catches you looking down at your game. In order to low-key get your game on and help Dot, you’ll have to cause distractions around the classroom. Using spitballs, you can cause a ruckus to distract the teacher to keep your focus on the game.

Of course, many of these familiar tropes are mechanics wrapped up within the VR medium, which is what makes this particular game so interesting. What Pixel Ripped 1989 does well is center on the relatable experience of keeping your head buried within the game–while still trying to be aware of the real world around you. Balancing twitch-based platforming action when playing on Nicola’s handheld system with perspective-focused controls that challenge your peripheral vision, it leads to some rather tense and humorous moments where you’re trying to make a dangerous jump in Nicola’s game, only to be caught by the teacher in the classroom at the worst possible moment. Eventually, there are moments in the levels where the ‘game’ will spill out, bringing together the two parallel game mechanics as you guide Dot through virtual constructs scattered around the classroom–all the while using Nicola’s spitballs to open up pathways for the character.

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In terms of mechanics, Pixel Ripped 1989 is a relatively simple game, but it makes some rather clever choices in how it presents those familiar and relatable actions in the VR experience. One of the most striking aspects of Pixel Ripped 1989 is its vibrant style, and the sort of exuberance that comes from being sucked into a good game. Going all in with the retro-80s aesthetic, the game features heavy doses of old-school charm with neon lights and chrome decals.

Pixel Ripped 1989 replicates much of the same escapist joy that came from playing videogames as a kid, while recontextualizing it as a different kind of VR experience. It’s about what it’s like being engrossed in a game–even feeling like your success in it can have consequences in the real world. For its creator, she aims to have Pixel Ripped 1989 be the start of a series of retro-themed games that focus on different eras of gaming, while also showing different experiences of the characters that play them.

“After four years I never get tired of this game. I always have fun working on it. Previously, I had some problems sticking to things, like working longer on things, but surprisingly after all this time, I’m not tired of it. I’m happy to do four more episodes of this game–this is first set in 1989–but after the success of this release, we’ll do a Pixel Ripped 1978 set in the early arcade era with Atari graphics, 1983 will be arcades, 1985 would be the Mega-Drive, and then 1995 would be about the N64 era. We’ll try to reference all the different eras of games.”

Trailblazers – F-Zero Meets Splatoon 2

What would happen if you mixed the fast-paced futuristic racing of F-Zero with the colorful co-operative play of Splatoon 2? Well, you’d probably end up with a game that’s remarkably close to Trailblazers, a new racer that aims to combine a unique track-painting mechanic with a critical focus on strategic team-based racing.

Sounds pretty compelling right? Trailblazers is a passion project that stems from indie developer SuperGonk Games, which has an exceptional amount of talent on its side, ranging from the now-defunct studio Lionhead (Fable) as well as Codemasters and Bizarre Creations. Codemasters has rapidly become one of the most experienced racing-focused studios in the world, responsible for both the DiRT and GRID series, while Bizarre Creations brought us the highly popular Project Gotham Racing series. So when it comes to racing game experience, SuperGonk knows what it’s doing.

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Persona 5 Anime Premiere Date Announced

The premiere dates of Persona 5 the Animation and Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online have been revealed.

In a pair of posts on Twitter, Aniplex USA announced Persona 5 the Animation and SAO Alternative: Gun Gale Online will premiere on April 7. Both shows will be available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

The Persona 5 anime series was announced in July last year. A standalone anime special called Persona 5 the Animation -The Daybreakers- premiered just ahead of the release of Atlus’ PlayStation 4 RPG in Japan.

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Nintendo’s PAX East Lineup Revealed

Nintendo has unveiled the lineup of titles that will be playable for Switch at PAX East this year.

As announced in a post on Nintendo’s official website, this will be the first time a number of titles—including Dark Souls Remastered, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy—will be playable by the public on Nintendo Switch.

Here’s the full list of Switch games that will be playable at Nintendo’s booth:

Every Ready Player One Easter Egg And Reference We Could Remember

Ready Player One spoilers here!

Ready Player One is a blast to watch, and a large part of that is the endless flood of references and Easter eggs with which the movie assaults your every sense. These span movies, TV, books, video games, and music, from the 1970s up through the 1990s–and to the present day, which goes beyond what even the original book referenced.

The movie just hit theaters, so it will be a while before we can get it at home and start poring over every frame. But in the meantime, we sent as many GameSpot staffers as we could spare to the theater and asked them to note down every reference, Easter egg, and in-joke we could spot in Ready Player One.

Here are the results. This won’t be comprehensive, but we tried our best. Oh, and for your benefit, we’re skipping most of the really obvious ones, like Gundam, The Shining, and the Iron Giant. You’re welcome.

When you’re done here, don’t forget to read our Ready Player One review, find out why it’s a great movie, check out our analysis of the ending, and read our interviews with the cast and the creators.