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Mansion of Hidden Souls

A bit of a follow-up on my tweet from earlier:

First, yes, I had a Sega CD (also a 32x!), and it was fine.

Second, to the matter at hand, I’ve been playing through The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Redux, and it reminded me, somehow, of Mansion of Hidden Souls, which was released in 1993 for the Sega CD.

I say “somehow” above because, frankly, I don’t remember much about Mansion of Hidden Souls, but it seems to me that it was Ethan Carter-like in the sense that there wasn’t much in the way of outright bad guys wandering around attacking the player. It was more about exploration, puzzles and 1993 video-game atmosphere (someone please correct me if I’m wrong on that – it’s been a while).

Not entirely, though. See, there’s a reason this game sticks out with me – it gave me one of my first all-out, god-forsaken, video-game jump-scares (can’t say for sure it was the first – that Commodore 64 Aliens game seems like it would be a likely candidate for that particular honour).

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NWO Sasquatch stories wanted

And not by me this time (actually, scratch that, because I want to hear them too).

I’m actually referring to Red Rock filmmaker Dee McCullay of Thunderstryker Films, who’s begun work on a documentary titled Sasquatch on Lake Superior.

Here’s a story I did up about the whole enterprise for the CBC. Long story short, he’s willing to travel throughout the Northwest (within reason, of course – it’s a big area) to talk to people who’ve got Sasquatch-related stories to tell, and he’s hoping to have the project wrapped in a few months.

Dee’s an interesting guy, and if anyone reading this has anything to share, do reach out to him. Contact information can be found at the links above (and feel free to cc me via kris@spooklight.ca – I’d love to hear your stories too).

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Northern Ontario Sasquatch

Well, sort of.

This is the new T-shirt design from the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority. It’s a bit of a departure, isn’t it? Bigfoot is one of the last thing you’d expect to see on a shirt released by an agency that does scientific work.

But as the shirt’s designer, Ryan Mackett, says in the story, it’s all meant as a tongue-in-cheek way to promote what the LRCA does. The good news is that the shirt seems to be doing its job already, as interest in the shirt has been bringing people to the LRCA offices.

I bring it up for two reasons – first, this is a story I did for our local CBC station, and I had a ton of fun with it (read it here). And second, I’m curious about the state of Sasquatch sightings in the Thunder Bay area these days.

Mackett, in the story, is quite clear that the LRCA has not received any reports regarding hairy, bipedal cryptids roaming any of its conservation areas.

In fact, it seems that sightings are pretty rare in the Thunder Bay region. There are a few stories out there, sure – this Sasquatch Canada page lists a few from various spots in Northern Ontario, including Red Lake, Grassy Narrows, Sioux Narrows and Sioux Lookout.

However, the ones I’m turning up seem to go back a decade or more, and are few and far between besides.

If anyone has any sightings or other links/info to share, please drop me a line at kris@spooklight.ca.

And if you’re interested in the T-shirt, they’re available now at the LRCA office in Thunder Bay. The cost is $20.

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Under the Sea

I’ve had a fear of water as long as I can remember. It’s not tied to anything traumatic from my childhood – I just don’t like deep, dark, cold lakes with muddy bottoms and slippery, darting fish. It all makes me very uneasy.

Therefore, trying to play Subnautica is quite an unsettling experience. The difference is, of course, Subnautica is make-believe. Having said that, it’s also very, very atmospheric – there are terrible things down in the depths, and they’ll try to get you.

It’s definitely worth diving into, however, despite any lingering uncertainty over the words “early” and “access.” At its heart, Subnautica is a deep-sea survival game, focussed on an unnamed person (?) who crash-lands (that’s your ship up above) in the middle of a vast ocean … somewhere.

You can gather things, craft tools and gadgets and sea-floor bases and submarines, scan colourful little fish, hope you don’t come across toothy giant fish, and generally try and figure out where you are and, I assume, how to go back home (maybe that part’s not in the game yet. I don’t know).

The colours!

And it all looks wonderful. The colours, the swaying plant life, the sunlight rippling through the water, the oppressive nighttime darkness, the varied underwater beasties – even at relatively-low graphics settings (my card isn’t top-of-the-line), swimming around and exploring the sea floor is immersive and tense and exciting (and it’s probably a really, really good reason to get a VR setup).

You can’t really see everything at once, you understand. It’s dark. There are caves and great forests of various plants and weeds. You need to keep an eye on things like depth – not too deep! – and your oxygen supply. These things out there with you, meanwhile, aren’t always friendly. Some are small and harmless, going about their business, but others are large vicious and territorial.

Not alone

Here’s how it tends to go. You’re exploring, searching for fragments to scan or wrecks to search. It’s dark – your little light source is helping, but it’s only pushing the darkness back, giving you a little bubble of visibility.

From somewhere out there, you hear a growl (or, in some cases, a deafening roar). You frantically spin your mouse around, searching for whatever just made that noise, hoping to get out of its way. If you do see it, it’s really, really big and right beside you and you jump out of your chair as your screen flashes red. Then you respawn back in the life pod, lootless, another victim of the beasts that roam the depths.

Crafting better things makes it all easier, of course, but I’ve yet to discover a way to actually fight back against these things (and I’m assuming there are bigger ones out there in the deeper places).

In any case, Subnautica is a lot of fun, and worth checking out. As mentioned, it’s still in early access, but new content is coming regularly, adding new places to go and story bits to find and general things to do.