Author: Steven Riley

My name is Steven Riley (it says that above so you’ve probably guessed as much). At the time of writing, I’m 24-years-young and live in London, having done a degree in English Language and Journalism at De Montfort University in my home city of Leicester.

After university I worked for a few years at a local school. While I enjoyed my time there though, I found less and less time to write and decided to pursue new horizons, like a really cheesy film.

I tried to think of a witty name for the blog but nothing came to mind (probably not a great sign). I was going to go with just ‘Working Title’ but this seemed more apt somehow.

So that’s what this is; a work barely in progress. I can’t (and certainly won’t) promise it’ll be hard-hitting, or funny or even remotely interesting, but I can promise there will be words. And some of them might even be in the right order.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barelyworkingtitle/
Twitter: @SpeltWithAV

Movember Week 2: “What have I done to my face?”

Movember Week 2: “What have I done to my face?”

As November edged into its second week, I transcended from Movember novice into a fully-fledged slightly-better-than-novice.

Those who read my last entry will have noticed I had the beginnings of a slither of a – dare I say – almost trendy moustache on the way. In order to cultivate this I wore my sheepskin jacket and check shirts approximately 90% of time time – even to bed.

Over the next few days the moustache – with the help of my clothing choices and what can only be described as a 4 o’clock shadow – developed into something so hipster that it’s bought its own flat in East London and now owns an independent coffee shop.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t to last.

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As the stubble around my face threatened to suggest to people that my facial hair was intentional rather than a side-effect of peer pressure I knew I had to shave it off. Work photos were the next day as well and the idea those taking part have to look as ridiculous as possible would not be lost on anyone.

I briefly toyed with the horseshoe-esque style you can see above but had to shave the sides off after my housemate projectile-vomited at the sight of me and two police cars were called to the scene. It was not to be.

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So as I enter the second half of my Movember challenge I’m left with this unwanted tenant on my upper lip – a hairy caterpillar clinging on and making me look like Ned Flanders’ creepier and more sinister brother.

I’ll never own a coffee shop.

***

If you would like to donate to my Movember page and leave requests for facial hair that I’ll probably ignore, click here!

A Barely Working Guide To…Dating

A Barely Working Guide To…Dating

Dating can be a minefield at the best of times. Sure, you might think it was easy enough to get the date using your smooth robot dance moves, Pokemon card collection or intimate knowledge of the extended Star Wars universe (I mean, who could resist?), but actually undertaking one is a whole new game with its own rules and pitfalls.

Thankfully, this post is on hand to help. Consider it your guide through stormy seas, your trusty steed in the battle of love and your mini-map in a pixelated 90s RPG – because if you follow these simple rules, you’ll be moving from awkward smalltalk to holding hands by the third date…

Barely Working Tips for Dating

1) Being prompt is extremely important. Arrive at least two hours early and inform your date via text/email/fax.

2) Before you are seated, take as much cutlery from other tables as you possibly can. Everybody knows the more sets of cutlery at a meal, the classier said meal is.

3) Show you’re willing to fight for your date. Order flowers from a “secret admirer” and then punch the delivery boy in the face to assert your dominance.

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Credit: @CB_Matt_Varnish

 

4) It’s important to let people know you’re not afraid of commitment, so carry a wedding ring in your pocket at all times.

5) Bring a coat to romantically drape over your date’s shoulders. A fluorescent cagoule works best.

6) If meeting someone from a dating website or app, be sure to wear a t-shirt with your display picture to avoid any confusion or awkwardness.

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Credit: @CB_Matt_Varnish

7) Keep the conversation fun. Clowns are fun. Talk about clowns.

8) Hand your date a feedback card at the end of the evening.

9) Show your sensitive side by bringing up Mufasa’s death in The Lion King and crying uncontrollably.

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Credit: @CB_Matt_Varnish

10) Demonstrate your impulsiveness by leaving without saying anything and not contacting your date for a week.

11) Do not speak more than your date. If your date waits for you to initiate conversation, a light whisper is considered acceptable.

12) People often look for a partner with good family values – bring your Mother on the date to demonstrate this.

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Credit: @CB_Matt_Varnish

13) Offer to pull out your date’s chair and immediately pull it away as they sit down to demonstrate authority.

14) Modern science suggests that even complex romantic choices are pre-determined by an inexorable chain of chemical reactions. Remind yourself of this often – dismissing the illusion of free-will will help take the pressure off.

15) New partners are often insecure about past lovers. Keep a detailed table of performance so they can accurately compare.

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Like this post? Like Barely Working Title on Facebook.

Like the pictures too? You can follow @CB_Matt_Varnish on Facebook and Instagram.

Movember Week 1: Hot Fuzz

Movember Week 1: Hot Fuzz

As someone who hasn’t been clean-shaven in four-and-a-half years, undertaking Movember was something that left me nervous, emotional and with a trembling – yet at the time, still furry – lip.

Not since before I was locked in my room and embroiled in battle with my dissertation had my chin seen the light of day and this was something I was hoping to maintain for as long as possible.

Which is why when it was suggested at work I did my best to hide my face in my coffee and pretend I’d temporarily lost my hearing until the conversation subsided. That was before someone said the words I’d dreaded to hear.

“You’ll do it right, Steve? You can grow one no problem.”

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Me, rocking the facial hair since June ’13.

 

It was true. There was photographic and inescapable evidence that I had the capability to  allow hair to appear in and around my mouth and cheeks. But this was something I had cultivated over the period of four years, not four weeks.

Questions started to surface in my mind. How many times would I be IDed at the bar? How many tannoy announcements  for lost children would there be while I was the only customer in the store?

Still, the suggestion turned to expectation and expectation turned into submission on my part. I reluctantly agreed.

Part of the reason is obviously that it’s a great cause. As many people know, Movember isn’t just about people sporting some impressive (or embarrassing) facial hair – it exists to raise awareness for men’s issues like prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health.

Another reason is that I don’t do too much for charity – generally the limit of my generosity is an annual Big Issue and offering change to whichever homeless man is outside McDonalds on a Friday night – so I hoped the cold feeling on my face would be combatted by a warm feeling of doing my part for a good cause.

I was also intrigued as to what I would actually look like without a beard. That was probably what settled it.

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The state of that.

At first I had fun with the shave, first giving myself questionable handlebars, then some farmer’s mutton chops. After several selfies and inappropriate comments in WhatsApp groups however, I went the whole hog.

It’s a strange feeling looking at a face you’ve not seen for nearly five years. It’s an even stranger feeling when its your own.

It got a mixed reaction from the people around me as well. Some laughed immediately, while others genuinely didn’t notice for about half an hour. A few even said I looked better clean-shaven (these are people I know longer trust).

Now, a week on, I have recovered the amount of upper lip hair normal associated with a 14-year-old eyeing up the Wilkinson Sword.

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One week on. Seriously.

So, at the end of my first week as a Mo Bro, I thought I’d share some experiences:

  • People appreciate your sense of humour; colleagues at work have laugh at lot more at the things I say – sometimes before I’ve even opened my mouth.
  • I’ve not been IDed for alcohol, making me seriously question the Challenge 21 policy in South London supermarkets.
  • The ladies love it – I’ve noticed some women can’t even look me in the eye, presumably at the risk of blushing at my raw, animal magnetism.
  • It’s a lot easier to navigate the tube and getting a seat to myself has become a lot more common. Even better, parents that have seen my moustache have been considerate enough to move their children out of the way to let me pass, often at great speed.

If you enjoyed this and want to donate, you can do so here. Alternatively, if you would rather wait until you’ve seen my facial travesty in a fuller form, come back this time next week!

Ed Sheeran Plans Change to Gas Form with Next Album

Ed Sheeran Plans Change to Gas Form with Next Album

Ed Sheeran has confirmed rumours he will change his physical state from a solid to gas form when his next album is released in order to reach as wide an audience as possible.

The musician has enjoyed an incredible year with latest album ‘÷’ reaching number one, a headline performance at Glastonbury plus an appearance on Game of Thrones.

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Ed Sheehan in his current, solid form.

But Sheeran has new plans for his next release after claiming he has gone as far as possible in humanoid form.

He told NME in a recent interview: “I feel like there’s no room for me to progress as just a man with a guitar, so I’m experimenting with some new things at the moment and hopefully taking a different direction.

“It’ll be a lot of hard work, rearranging my particles to reach a gaseous form, but I’m looking forward to reinventing myself and getting out into the atmosphere.”

When quizzed about the difficulties of playing live shows without any hands, limbs or tangible body, Sheeran seemed unfazed, simply responding: “You’d be surprised how much you can manage with a loop pedal nowadays.”

Industry expert Jamie Bridges claimed this move could make Sheeran the biggest popstar of all time and that he wouldn’t be surprised if others soon followed suit.

“By leaving his body behind and changing fully into gas form, Ed would be able to reach people’s homes in a way nobody has managed before.

“We hear his music all the time and have obviously seen him on the tele. But imagine smelling him, even tasting him at his gigs. Kanye West has actually tried turning himself into liquid himself recently, but gas is what everyone should be aspiring for.”

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Kim Kardashian West helping Kanye into the car ahead of the 2017 Grammy awards.

Sheeran’s has teased a clip of his latest single ‘Shapeless Form of You’ on Instagram and also hopes to continue his television career by collaborating with a gas cooker on The Great British Bake Off.

 

Dorian Gray-Esque Painting of Phillip Schofield Uncovered

Dorian Gray-Esque Painting of Phillip Schofield Uncovered

The secret to Phillip Schofield’s eternal youth has been revealed as a mysterious painting was discovered in his Oxfordshire home yesterday evening.

The 55-year-old presenter – dubbed a ‘silver fox’ by his legions of fans – has long confounded viewers and experts alike by seemingly halting the ageing process since the early 2000s.

It has since transpired that the Lancashire-born TV personality has a magical picture locked away in a similar vein to The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Schofield, who famously presents ITV’s This Morning alongside Holly Willoughby, revealed at a party that there is a painting in his cellar which draws a lot of parallels with Oscar Wilde’s famous book.

A guest at the party said: “Phillip told us it had originally been sent by a fan during his days presenting the National Lottery.

“Initially he didn’t even like the painting and tossed it away in the attic of his old house. It was only a decade or so later when wife was moving house that he noticed the picture had aged nearly 10 years while he looked fresh as a daisy. He decided to take it with him after that.”

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Schofield in 1996, aged 34

The creator was Barry Curran, a 52-year-old car park attendant and amateur artist from Grimsby, who revealed he has since been asked by other celebrities for help in prolonging their careers.

“The response has been unbelievable. I only sent it in as a fan of Phillip’s during Test The Nation, and I didn’t really expect it to come to much. I never even knew he’d seen it.

“The phone’s been ringing all morning with agents and celebrities asking if they can come round for a portrait. I’ve already got a few irons in the fire.

“The only one I’ve said I won’t do is Noel Edmonds. I can’t stand the bloke and won’t contribute to him being on TV for a second longer. If he asks I’ll say “No deal, Noel!”, and how we’ll all laugh at the car park.”

ITV have confirmed that the revelation of Schofield dabbling in the dark arts will not see him removed from his role as presenter of This Morning, although there may have to be some changes should more news come to light.

In a statement earlier this morning, an ITV spokesperson said: “As far as we’re concerned, Phillip has only done what anyone else in his position would do and shouldn’t be punished for trying whatever he can to stay relevant in the modern television age.

“Obviously the only thing we’re worried about is that this could be some weird kind of Benjamin Button scenario where he’s actually getting younger; we could potentially have a child hosting the show.

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Schofield and Willoughby presenting This Morning after the 2016 National Television Awards.

“It would be all cutesy at first, having a kid presenter, and it would be great for social media. But you saw them after the morning National Television Awards; they were both p****d as a fart. You can’t go having a child presenting in that state, not on my watch anyway.”

We have reached out to Mr Schofield for further comment.

 

Game of Thrones S7E3 Recap: The Queen’s Justice

Game of Thrones S7E3 Recap: The Queen’s Justice

This synopsis contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season 7, episode 3: The Queen’s Justice. If you haven’t seen it (and don’t want important plot points butchering like Theon Greyjoy), watch it before reading this recap!

Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3: The Queen’s Justice Recap

The start of episode three, The Queen’s Justice, offered Game of Thrones fans something they’d been waiting to see since the early days of the show – ice and fire being brought together.

If fans were hoping the two would become friends overnight (or more if you consider Jon’s possible heritage and what you hear about Targaryen dating circles) you were to be disappointed however as relations between the North and Dragonstone got off to a spiky start.

It looked as if Jon would be in for a warm reception as hand of the king, Tyrion, greeted him and began to lead him towards the keep. We soon saw the former-Lord Commander was in for a tough time however as he and his crew were relieved of their weapons, saw their transport taken away and Jon was subjected to Tyrion’s awkward revelation that he had never consummated his marriage to Sansa (didn’t cross my mind until you told me, Tyrion, but thanks for the image).

After Missandei reeled the long list of Daenerys’ titles and Davos responded by introducing Jon like a university coursemate, the pair got to discussing a potential alliance. Unfortunately, the queen’s demand that Jon bend the knee and the King in the North’s stubbornness in talking only about the White Walkers meant talks were less than constructive. They were also brief, as Varys delivered the news on the Ironborn’s terrible loss at sea.

As Theon washed up on a ship of fellow Ironborn, we saw his sister being paraded through Kings Landing as a traitor by Euron Greyjoy. A worse Uncle than one who steals the last green Quality Street at Christmas (you know who you are), the Crow’s Eye revelled in the adulation of the cheering capital crowd as he pulled poor Yara along by a chain along with the Sand Snakes. He was duly rewarded for his victory at sea by being named commander of the Crown’s navy, as well as being given free reign of where his finger goes once the war is won (as long as it’s not near the Quality Street).

Cersei strikes major victory in the Game of Thrones

We were then left to see how Cersei enjoys her “gifts”; the captive Ellaria and Obara Sand. While at first it seemed like the real punishment was having to witness an alarming shade of lipstick, we soon saw it was part of the Queen’s vicious plan to poison Obara with a kiss and force the chained Ellaria to watch as her daughter died in agony before rotting away before her very eyes. It was a emotional scene, particularly thanks to Indira Varma’s powerful turn as the devastated mother, and the fact that such feeling came from what is most likely one of the final Sand Snake scenes shows how much potential was missed in that story arc.

Cersei is soon back in her love den with Jaime – a little too quickly after wearing that lipstick for our liking (we don’t need another Theon) – and seems to have no longer have any qualms flaunting her incest before a meeting with the Iron Bank. Speaking of true love, Sam’s squeamish procedure on Jorah seems to have done the trick as the Archmaester pronounces him cured, and the grizzled Set Friendzoned immediately heads back to his Queen.

Returning to Dragonstone as well, we finally see the beginnings of a relationship between Jon and Dany. After Tyrion practically plays Hangman with Jon about what he should ask for (“DR_G_NGL_SS” – ask for a bloody vowel, Jon!) the Queen of Dragons allows him to mine the island for the weapons as Sam had told him and help turn the tide in the war against the dead.

Sansa, meanwhile, is looking very at home leading Winterfell as she organises provisions and armour for her people before she is distracted by the return of her brother, Bran. No doubt haunted by his journey and his task as the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran appears a bit detached from the situation, going as far as reciting Sansa’s horrific wedding night with Ramsey by telling her how pretty she looked. As his creeped-out sister retreated, Bran said he’ll stay a while – as if he has a choice in the matter.

The attack on Casterly Rock

As we enter the final act, Tyrion reveals his master plan to take Casterly Rock by revealing what can only be described as a ‘love sewer’ for Grey Worm and a splinter team to sneak up on the Lannister army and open the front gate. It’s an interesting five-minute scene with the most action in the episode, but we can’t help but wish the taking of such an iconic area had been given more screen time despite the budgetary and time constraints. Grey Worm is successful but realises it is a trap as he finds less resistance as expected while Euron and his ships close in from the outside.

That’s because Jaime has taken his troops to take Highgarden, winning a large reserve of gold and capturing one of this lovers’ enemies, Olenna Tyrell, in one fell swoop.

Olenna Tyrell has the last word

Even as the defeated Olenna drinks the poison Jaime gives her to spare a painful death, the Queen of Thrones gets one last burn in and tells him she killed his son. It’s another heartbreak for Jaime, who seems to be doomed to be hit with tragedy rarely through no wrongdoing of his own throughout the series.

It’s an interesting scene not only for the death of a major player in the Game of Thrones, but as it shows a potential arc on another character who’s development has stalled over the last couple of seasons. Not only did he show humility by learning from his defeat to Robb Stark at the Whispering Wood to prove himself a capable commander, but it may also be the first signs of disillusionment in his toxic relationship to Cersei after years of pining after her like a lost, one-handed puppy.

With all the victories and crush enemies Cersei is savouring at the moment, she may want to keep her eye a little closer to home should she want to stay on the Iron Throne.

Arcade Fire @ Malahide Castle, Dublin: Gig Review

Arcade Fire @ Malahide Castle, Dublin: Gig Review

Arcade Fire Gig Review – Malahide Castle, Dublin

Arcade Fire seem determined to pull out all the stops to make their ‘Everything Now’ tour one to remember.

Rather than the usual offerings of multiple nights in London before a sprinkling of dates around the UK, the Canadian outfit have instead broken the template treated those fans slightly further out to their latest offering first.

From the Bath Halls of Scunthorpe to a park in Belfast, there’s been something a little different about each of the indie-pop’s gigs over the last couple of weeks. The cloudy, atmospheric field amongst the backdrop of the picturesque Malahide Castle in Dublin was no different.

Photos courtesy of Helen Windle.

Despite many undergoing the trek to the castle from Dublin city centre (and possibly further afield), the crowd of tens of thousands were in good spirits on the walk down, with the electric rhythms of the Colombian band Bomba Estéreo keeping the feet moving even as the sun began to set ahead of the main act.

When Arcade Fire came out to a slowed down version of ‘Everything Now’, they received a rapturous applause before settling straight into the title track of their new album.

Initially the crowd was slightly static but they soon got into the groove of the Abba-like tune. The real treats were set to come however as Win Butler and the rest of the talented band launched into the extensive back catalogue of hits.

Fan-favourite ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ gained an electric reception as tens of thousands shouted the “Lies!” reply back during the chorus. It was so catchy and infectious that the singing along didn’t stop as the versatile band members changed instruments; a theme throughout the night that meant there was rarely a lull even with the necessary stoppages.

Any fears of the band over-indulging on unknown new material were unfounded as Régine Chassagne led the rendition of ‘Haiti’ (always a heartfelt moment as a song about her beloved homeland, and one not-too-long-ago struck by tragedy) before launching into an almost greatest hits compilation including ‘No Cars Go’, ‘Neon Bible’, ‘The Suburbs’ and ‘Ready To Start’.

Photos courtesy of Helen Windle.

The peak came in the middle, with old favourite ‘Tunnels’ whetting the appetite for ‘Afterlife’ and ‘Reflektor’ – undoubtedly the two highlights from their last album – with the crowd still swaying as they entered the end of the set.

‘Signs of Life’ from the new album followed and unfortunately didn’t seem to strike the same chord. Perhaps because previously the fans had been able to listen to new songs for a month or two before they came out live (like with Reflektor before the Canadian band headlined Glastonbury in 2014), the crowd seemed more intent to listen to the new material than dance. Latest single ‘Creature Comforts’ was slightly better-received however as the show hit its final stride.

Any concerns this slight dip in excitement would curtail a great set were cast away as the band finished with a crashing rendition of the classic ‘Power Cut’ and the catchy sing-along ‘Sprawl II’, before finishing with their best-known track ‘Wake Up’ for an encore – interestingly only the second time this has ended a gig in this tour.

All in all, it was another strong showing from one of the best live bands on the planet, although one which perhaps would have been improved had the new songs in the middle been a little better-known by the eager crowd.

For further information about Arcade Fire and future events, visit here.

Watch the video for ‘Everything Now’ here:

Attack of the coffee cups – Steve barely plays: Prey

Attack of the coffee cups – Steve barely plays: Prey

Prey Gameplay

Having already had a productive Saturday morning, I decided to kick back and have an hour on my Playstation, which has sadly been neglected over the last month or so.

Upon booting it up, I was immediately greeted with a chime telling me that the Prey demo had finished downloading. Having only played a bit of the original back in 2006, I wasn’t really sure what to expect as I started a new game.

If you were to have told me an hour before that one of the greatest enemies in the game was a coffee cup, I might not have believed you. As it turns out, making you distrust ceramics isn’t the only trick Prey has up its sleeve…

A Prey of Sunshine

The beginning of Prey starts out like a normal day, although a slightly futuristic version. The curtains open to allow rays of sunshine to flood our sleek apartment and we wake up and immediately grab your ringing phone. Our brother, Alex – who also appears to be your boss – tells us to get our uniform on and head to the roof so we can begin your new job.

This being a video game of course, there is no chance of that happening. Instead I poked around every corner of my bedroom, sifting through emails, picking up bits of metal tubing and banana peel (if there’s one thing games like Fallout and Skyrim have taught me, it’s to pick everything up) and drinking the bottle of wine that had been left on the side. What else am I supposed to do at 9am?

After testing out the physics engine by flinging all the objects I could around the apartment and trying to block my sink with towels, I headed to the roof where a chopper was waiting for me.

Preytime is over…

After a scenic helicopter ride, it’s time to get to work. Alex – who seems to have been at the pies – gestures us towards a testing room where you are given a series of simple tasks to get us used to the control scheme. There’s even a questionnaire, which appears to be geared around finding out if we’d push a fat man in front of a train to save a group of people. Nice try, bro.

Alex did not appear to have kept to his New Years’ Resolution.

Unfortunately, the test is interrupted as an strange creature seemingly made form black fluid masquerading as a coffee cup, leaps onto the head scientist and appears to literally suck his brains out. We then see someone with a shotgun take out the assistant before the test chamber is flooded with nerve gas. What a first day!

Groundhog Prey

The next day, we wake up in our apartment with everything appearing the same as the previous morning – except some things appear to be amiss. The date is still March 15th, 2032, the emails all read “DANGER. LEAVE NOW” and someone appears to have moved the wine. Suspicious.

Nonetheless, I down the bottle.

I’m glad I did when we open the door – right outside the apartment, the friendly caretaker lady has had the same brain-sucking treatment as Mr Scientist man. To pay our respects, we do what any friend would do and steal her wrench for alien-bashing purposes – it’s what she would have wanted. Probably.

A voice comes on my phone – somebody called ‘January.’ Having never met someone called January, I immediately reach to key in ‘New phone, who dis?’ before she tells us we need to get out the apartment. Instinctively, I smash through the window with my trusty wrench and am amazed at what I see…

There goes the deposit…

It’s all a simulation. The apartment, lifts; even the helicopter ride. I find a console which has been simulated the sound of pigeons outside and realise I’ve been living a lie.

Things soon go from bad to worse. As I enter the same test area, I see the monster who killed Mr Scientist man is still at large. January tells us this species is called Typhon cacoplasmus, AKA a ‘mimic’. New species or not, I hit it with my wrench until it’s Typhon splatmus and move on, now feeling very weary of my surroundings…

Don’t trust the coffee cups in Prey

The mimic’s main ability, we soon find, is to well…mimic any miscellaneous object in the game. Stationery, bins, lampshades; they can be nearly anything. It keeps us on our toes, trying to stay vigilant for anything out of place.

Having seen what rogue coffee cups can do, I hit every single one I came across, and couple of times this revealed enemies hiding and gave me bonus sneak damage. As an unfortunate side-effect, I now have an innate fear as mistrust of coffee cups. I’m also no longer allowed within 50 yards of a Costa coffee shop.

As we move through the world, it is soon revealed that things are even more different to how I’d imagined. The next area of the game shows you are in fact in space, while there are more dangerous enemies lurking about. Even more intriguing, there are clues littered around the game’s terminal that your brother may be responsible, leaving me desperate to piece things together and advance the story.

Another great thing about Prey is the variety in ways you can approach it. Rather than being limited just to guns, you have a Gloo Cannon to freeze mimics, a stun gun and many more weapons to defeat your enemies, as well as a host of powers from neuromods. It not only allows you to customise a character to fit your play style but also lends multiple ways to approach levels. Can’t find a keycard? Just make a glue bridge and climb onto a pipe and let yourself in. Or hack a computer. It felt a lot like Dishonored or Deus Ex and left me wondering how many areas I might have missed on my first playthrough.

The only criticisms I have are that the combat can sometimes feel a little clumsy – especially when cycling through weapons – and after a while tying to sneak up on mimics felt a lot less rewarding. Once you start facing multiple enemies, all hopes of rooting out those pretending to be furniture go out the window and it soon seems more efficient to run around the room so they reveal themselves rather than unmasking them. Perhaps this is something that changes at higher difficulties, but it soon began to take the fun out of a more subtle approach.

Nevertheless, I was really absorbed in the futuristic, simulated space world before the game prompted me to tell me the demo was finished. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with regards to the story, and I’m curious to explore some more and find out what the hell is going on.

Just don’t trust the coffee cups.

Rick and Morty: Season 3, Episode 1 review!

Rick and Morty: Season 3, Episode 1 review!

April Fool’s day is normally a time for trying to get one over on the general public or cruelly tricking your friends and family before mocking the shell of a person cowering before you.

So imagine the world’s shock (and scepticism) when Adult Swim dropped the first episode of the long-awaited of Rick and Morty season three without any prior announcement.

The 22-minute episode, titled ‘The Richshank Redemption,’ had a lot to live up to after the season two cliffhanger – and it did not disappoint.

Header image created by Joe Bramley. See more awesome designs at @BoredOnPShop!

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This review contains SPOILERS for Rick and Morty season three, episode one. So if you haven’t watched it go and do so. GO NOW.

Rick and Morty: Season 3, Episode 1 Review

Rick and Morty season three is one of the eagerly awaited shows of 2017 after the ending of season two left things a bit up in the air. For those who missed ‘The Wedding Squanchers’ (which aired nearly 18 months ago!) Rick, Morty and the rest of the family narrowly escape a massacre at Bird Person’s wedding as it is revealed that is fiancée, Tammy – actually an agent of the Galactic Federation posing as a high-school senior – is on the hunt for Rick and his accomplices for crimes of galactic terrorism.

Rick, Morty, Summer, Gerry and Beth end up as fugitives from the government but are struggling to adapt to life on the run; especially when their choices of new home planets are only a few hundred square metres in size, feature a screaming sun for the 42-hour days or have the interesting caveat of everything resembling a corn-on-the-cob.

After overhearing the family arguing over what to do with Rick, the hyper-intelligent scientist decides to turn himself in to allow his family safe passage back to Earth, which is now being treated as a tourist destination for the galaxy’s aliens to ogle at their leisure.

How does Rick and Morty season three kick off?

We start off the episode with Rick and the family sitting in a Shoney’s diner, with Rick boasting about how he skilfully disposed of jail guards and escaped from his galactic prison. This is soon to be revealed to be a trick, as the galactic government are now desperate to gain intelligence from Rick by tricking him into think he is speaking to his family via a simulation as in the ‘M. Night Shaym-Aliens’ episode in season two.

Rick recognises this ploy but agrees to give over the information, and we are treated to what we believe to be an origin story (featuring Beth and Beth’s mother). We soon find out however that Rick has fabricated the story in order to upload a virus and aid his escape. It’s both touching and amusing at the same time and also allows the writer’s to create a tragic back story while subtly mocking the idea, allowing them to have their cake and eat it (most likely topped with the McDonald’s Mulan Szechuan dipping sauce Rick now seems obsessed with).

The show is now about more than just Rick and Morty

Back on Earth, we get to see how the Smith’s are faring under the galactic government. They all seem jaded (apart from Gerry who, in a typically ‘Gerry’ way, is loving his new employment while remaining oblivious to what is happening around him). Beth is understandably heartbroken after being left by her father once more and with Morty seemingly fed up of being caught in the middle of his simultaneous worship and distrust of his grandfather, it is left to Summer to champion his cause.

It is in fact Morty’s older sister – a character who continues to grow from strength-to-strength after being fairly one-dimensional in season one – who hatches a plan to rescue Rick by digging up the corpse from an early episode in a clever (if very dark) callback. Using Rick’s portal gun, both Summer and Morty travel through dimensions to rescue their grandfather and set the real events for season three in motion.

While Rick’s crazy adventures and questionable motives will probably be the centrepiece of the new season, it appears as if characters like Summer and Beth will be taking a greater role in upcoming episodes. Based on this offering, that can only be a good thing.

So how is Rick and Morty season three shaping up?

On the evidence of this episode – very well.

There were questions on how Rick and Morty season three would deal with the cliffhanger ending and kick the series on, with more than a few worries that this is what was causing delays in its production.

Thankfully show creator Dan Harmon and the writers haven’t gone for the easy cop-out and played the ‘it was an alternate dimension’ card as other shows may have done, and have instead provided the best season premiere of the show to date.

Episode one has everything you need from classic Rick and Morty – Rick’s brutal one-liners, clever sci-fi ideas and even a superbly animated cosmic space battle (which could have taken a year to put together alone) – while addressing the season two ending and almost putting things back into place for season three without feeling forced.

There were a few more clever call backs to previous episodes (the last scene before the credits echoes season one but with a darker twist) and has the show feeling familiar while at the same time throwing a major curve ball which is sure to affect each character’s story arc and keep the show feeling fresh.

There aren’t many shows that are able to reset the pieces at the end of each episode and still manage to give their characters depth and development on an almost episode-by-episode basis, yet Rick and Morty seemed to have nailed it.

The only downside is we’ve now had the taste of season three we were waiting for but have to wait until the summer to see what happens. Someone should be thrown into galactic prison for that!

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Draft Punks – Why Draft FPL Is The Best FPL

Draft Punks – Why Draft FPL Is The Best FPL

Have you hit a rut with Fantasy Premier League? Already tired of your average performance while your mate has tripled captained a Harry Kane hat-trick? You ain’t seen nothing yet – welcome to your new hell…

Why You NEED to play Draft Fantasy Premier League

As we finish Gameweek 28 and head into the final ten games of the season, most Fantasy Premier League players are in similar boats. The mini-league has gone to Johnny ‘I don’t even watch football’ from work, you’ve used your wildcard and almost everyone is sporting a template team with Chelsea’s defence and Alexis Sanchez or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

A number of Fantasy Premier League players (known as ‘casuals’ among the die-hard community who inexplicably know that Tom Carroll is worth £4.3m or that John Stones is somehow owned by 16% of players) have usually given up by now after forgetting to set their lineup or drunkenly transferring in Nathan Redmond thinking he was going to be anything other than a useless turd who will only score during the gameweek you benched him.

What you need is something that will keep you invested for the whole year and have fun with your mates on the way, while also making their life a misery. Welcome to draft Fantasy Premier League – your new hell…

How draft Fantasy Premier League works

Nearly four years ago to the day, my friend and I had an epiphany. We were tired of playing Fantasy Premier League against old friends from college who didn’t have any interest in football – or the random acquaintance we didn’t even know who had joined our league and turned out to be the FPL equivalent of Rain Man – and seeing the same old teams with Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie and Clint Dempsey (Clint Dempsey once scored 200 points in a season! I shit you not).

After binge-watching The League while we should have been finishing our university work and looking for jobs like functioning members of society, we decided we needed to shake up Fantasy Premier League and get our mates in on the act.

For those who have never seen The League and are wondering just what the hell I’m talking about, draft FPL is simple – instead of being able to select any player like in the normal Fantasy Premier League game, only one person is allowed to own each player. You can then choose whether to play for total points or have a head-to-head league.

But how do you decide who gets which players and ensure everybody doesn’t jump for Alexis Sanchez or Sergio Aguero I hear you ask? Well, read on…

Draft day

The simplest and fairest way to do this is to have a draft day. As anybody who has ever seen NFL probably knows, this is when each person picks, in order, a player for their team from the Fantasy Premier League roster.

Deciding the order can be done in a number of ways: picked out of a hat, through who finishes where in an intellectual or physical challenge or chosen at random by the surly Wetherspoon’s waitress wondering why you’ve torn up a beer mat and scrawled your names on it. This year we did by writing the numbers on the bottom of cups in beer pong. It took bloody ages.

Draft day itself is one of the highlights of the draft Fantasy Premier League year, and the summer if you’re as sad as I am. We’ve done it prior to a barbecue, at friends’ birthdays and once at a house party while a group of girls were waiting to go to a club. League priorities meant they were sent on their way while we decided which West Bromwich Albion to choose.

Every decision counts in draft FPL

Unlike in Fantasy Premier League where you can pick anyone, you have a finite number of options in draft FPL. Players get snapped up in the thick and fast and before you know it, you’ll be scraping around the promoted sides looking for any striker who might play 60 minutes or a defender who once scored five goals in the Belgian league.

Often the bold are rewarded – when a bandwagon player starts to hit form like Riyad Mahrez and Dele Alli did last season, you have to act fast to snap them up before someone else does. Wait until the deadline and you risk someone else grabbing a player about to hit form.

Similarly a new dimension is added when it comes to hanging onto players. Is your star player out of form or injured? Let them go and they may well bag all the points for someone else, or worse, come back to bite you…

Trading players

Another thing you’ll experience with draft Fantasy Premier League that you wouldn’t see otherwise is the option to trade players. There’s nothing better than getting one over on your mate as that player who had hit a purple patch for you suddenly gets dropped, and nothing worse than letting a player go who goes on to hit double-figures against you a few weeks later.

One of my crowning glories in draft FPL is when I convinced a friend to take Enner Valencia for Harry Kane when he had just broken into the Spurs side. Kane went on to bag 21 goals that season, while the Ecuadorian got injured after losing a battle with a tea cup.

You’ll become a Fantasy Premier League expert

 

With less choice you’ll be forced to get creative with your picks. Finding that next player who will unexpectedly hit it big becomes all the more important and can potentially win you a gameweek on its own.

A by-product of this is that you will start to do your own research. A lot of it. I’ve spent more than one evening scouring the weekend fixtures and finding out who’s had the most shots in the box when looking for a new midfielder and which defence is looking shaky when choosing a captain.

As a result, you’ll become a much better Fantasy League player – the season after I started playing, my other team made for fun finished 13,000th after finishing outside the top 250k the season before, while one of our group was once in the top 1k for half a season.

It’s a great way to get into Fantasy Premier League

For those who don’t follow football religiously, getting into Fantasy Premier League can be a bit daunting. Most would only go as far as joining a work league, playing for two weeks before forgetting to set their lineup and giving up for the season.

In our current ten-man league, we have at least four members who didn’t take a blind bit of interest in football or Fantasy Premier League and thought Per Mertesacker was a name for waxing your testicles. The saps.

Now they are fully-fledged FPL gurus who could give you Bournemouth’s starting lineup from the weekend without breaking a sweat. In draft Fantasy Premier League, everyone generally starts on a level-playing field. Even if they don’t finish on one…

Make forfeits for your draft Fantasy Premier League loser

As anybody who has seen The League knows, the person who finishes last suffers the indignity of being labelled the ‘Sacko’ and given a series of degrading forfeits over the season.

Being the creative, punny and witty human beings we are, my group decided to dub the bottom player in our league, the ‘Sakho’ after Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho (currently at Crystal Palace).

Currently we’ve been rather lenient with our punishments, although we never did see the reaction of the last Sakho’s new wife when we left a message at their wedding…

You’ll never look at Fantasy Premier League the same way

Each member of our group agrees that changing to a draft Fantasy Premier League format has been one of the best – and most stressful – decisions we ever made. There are highs, there are lows, there are disgustingly crude photoshopped pictures of other participants in crude sexual positions. There are even times when Jonathan Walters will only play 58 minutes meaning you lose your place in the final after a 63-63 draw (I will never forgive you Mark Hughes).

And you’ll love every minute of it.

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