The Exposition Break Podcast
By Exposition Break
Exposition Break is a website and podcast dedicated to video game criticism, analysis, and wild pontification. New episodes are uploaded every two weeks. Hosts: Blake Foley & Sean Gandert
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
For a change of pace, we spend the episode talking about one of the biggest games of last year, Fall GuyS: Ultimate Knockout!, which we've both been playing lately and think is… pretty fine. Let's be honest, it is not a masterpiece, but on the other hand we're both highly suspicious of people who feel they're too good for the game. While it may be just a physics-y Mario Party with killer netcode, it sure does deliver on (nearly: *cough* couch co-op *cough*) everything a physics-y Mario Party with killer netcode should, which is actually pretty sweet when you think about it. Then we catch up on what else we've been messing around with so far in 2021, which for Blake consists of numerous interesting games of varied genres such as Control, Kentucky Route Zero, and Vanguard. For Sean it consists of, err, mostly some tabletop RPG's online, so not too much.
April 09, 2021
Stepping away from our usual focus on particular games, we decided to spend the podcast talking about something much bigger: the Playstation 5. And by bigger, we of course mean in terms of size, as it's one beastly behemoth that looks weird and doesn't fit anywhere well, but Blake still managed to knab himself one despite their rarity. In our discussion, we talk about the controller, the graphics, and the ever-present "is this worth owning in a world of PC's and Xboxicals" question. Plus, Blake has some Pro-TipsTM for anyone searching for a copy of their very own, because evergreen content schmevergreen content. Afterwards, we dig into some of those hot, next-gen games Blake's been playing, gab about Sean's love for Platinum even when they're given terrible licenses, and then touch on the somewhat disturbing size of the new Bloodborne board game (it's even bigger than the Playstation 5, if that's possible). Oh, and there's even quick preview of some writing projects for the website, plus more discussion about Twin Peaks than we should've included, though we make no apologies for this, as it's just a good show.
January 29, 2021
Are you into scary games with deeply drawn characters and surprising narrative turns that will keep you captivated for hours? If so, then you should avoid Paratopic like the plague, because the subject of this episode features absolutely none of that! Instead, we talk about what it does feature, which includes pretension, boredom, and a complete lack of cohesion. It does feature some cool sound design, though, and that's something, we guess. Sort of. In all, we have more fun talking about why the game is a failure than either of us did actually playing the title, and probably do so for longer than it takes to beat the game. Does that make it… secretly successful? (Hint: no it doesn't). Afterwards, we briefly talk about the best cyberpunk game of 2020: Final Fantasy VII Remake. What's that, you want to hear our quick thoughts on Cyberpunk 2077? Well sure, but since that's only the third best cyberpunk game we're covering, first we need to talk about Luigi's Mansion 3, which features a Virtual Boy and so is therefore the most cyberpunk thing imaginable. After Blake's done punking us with his rundown of the most cyber games he's been playing, which can't help but lead us to a lengthy discussion of CD Projekt's 2077 disastrous scandals, Sean takes us to tabletop roleplaying town, though he doesn't give too much away about the upcoming campaign so as not to spoil Blake.
December 18, 2020
Remember that scammy Nintendo compilation of 3D Mario platformers we talked about last episode? Well one of us went ahead and bought it, and you know what, that ended up being a pretty good choice despite the compilation still being a pretty shameless cash grab. Turns out the worst thing about Mario Galaxy was the Wii, and the best thing about it now is that you don't have to use that janky old console to play it anymore. We dive into this game's place in the Mario platforming lineage, comparing it to both what came before and has come afterward, but more than that we celebrate what makes the game still so unique well more than a decade after its release… assuming you don't count its sequel, which Nintendo doesn't seem to so why should we? Afterwards, we chat a bit about Until Dawn, Darkest Dungeon, and those weird Persona fighting games that probably shouldn't have been made but, well, were so maybe they're worth playing, if you've got a lot of free time or something. Plus, we talk about Hearthstone's recent decision to commit suicide, and how you should really avoid Ready Player Two even if you were down with the first one.
December 04, 2020
Baldur's Gate 3 (Early Access)
We take a closer look at two games we haven't played all of… though there's a pretty good reason for that in both cases. First we shine the spotlight on Baldur's Gate 3, a game that's still in early access and looks more than likely to stay that way for at least a year. None of which is to say that it's anything but an excellent game, it's just unfinished (and not nearly as buggy as people claim). Turns out Larian has really figured out how to make a solid CRPG, so we talk at length about where it fits into the series' lineage, how the game adapts 5th edition Dungeon & Dragons rules into something logical, and why maybe it's a good thing that the game has copious amounts of blood drop onto the floor every time you so much as swing an axe near an enemy. After this, we dive into Spiritfarer for a bit, a game Blake quit before it got interesting and Sean quit… also before it got interesting, though many hours later. Does it ever get interesting? Possibly! Is it worth putting many hours in to find out? Certainly not! We try to figure out how a game with solid, bordering-on-excellent writing and downright breathtaking art and animation can be such a snooze. Along the way we talk about Skyrim, Ghostrunner, Until Dawn, and even get in some Hearthstone talk before Blake realizes he can end the show to shut Sean up.
November 04, 2020
Two years after we took a look at its progenitor, we dive into Spelunky 2, a game that's clawed its hooks deeply into our brains in the way that only a truly great title, or addictive narcotic substance, can. But don't go back to that first podcast—not just because it's bad, but also because we were completely wrong about our predictions for the sequel and it's best if those thoughts were lost in the depths of time and somehow forgotten like a Trump scandal from two days ago. After eating a pair of metaphorically gigantic hats of shame, we move onto how Spelunky 2 manages to somehow grow on the original's formula of near-perfection, the way it continues to carry the torch for freedom and player trust in a way that makes both games so endlessly inventive, and why Roguelikes still feel like a bit of a hard sell in 2020. All this, plus a bit of discussion about Baldur's Gate 3, Spiritfarer, and then more digressions about Spelunky 2 esoterica. Because seriously, what does the alien compass do, and why will no one tell us? And what's up with Vlad and his relationship to Madame Tusk? And you know what, screw this, let's just go back and play another run and maybe just figure some of those mysteries out.
October 13, 2020
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure
Proving once and for all we care more about playing interesting games than growing an audience, we took a look at the relatively obscure Moon: Remix RPG Adventure, more frequently known as Moon, and most frequently of all known as "What are you even talking about?" An influential Japanese game from 1997, the title took more than 20 years to get translated and is now available on the Switch for anyone looking to experience surreal adventure games, self-referential parodies, or learn where Undertale stole a bunch of its ideas. Along the way we discuss the difference between Japanese and Western indie titles, the Tim Rogers translation factor, and why this is a good game that Blake should still probably never play. Following this conversation, we catch up a bit on the news so as to fill everyone in about our general apathy towards the next generation of consoles. But this apathy doesn't even compare with the honest-to-goodness disdain we hold for Nintendo's incorrectly named Super Mario 3D All-Stars, which is one of the more disappointing rereleases in a long while. And just to reemphasize why we rarely talk about the news, a handful of hours after recording this Microsoft went and bought Bethesda, thereby making much of our conversation dated even before this was released. Awesome!
September 23, 2020
La Mulana—good game, or best game ever? That's the central question in this episode focused on the epic (yes, epic) Metroidvania puzzler, the name of which is apparently not Spanish for The Mulana, despite what everyone says. We discuss its place in the genre, as well as what makes it such a singular achievement, and along the way question whether this game was somehow designed specifically for Blake. Plus, jokes about everyone's favorite weirdo Xelpud, and repeated digressions from Sean to poorly disguise the fact that he doesn't know what he's talking about.
August 31, 2020
Remember a few years ago when Inside was the hottest indie title on the market and critics hailed it as the best video game since… video games? Sadly, we do too. But now, with the benefit of hindsight and a general disdain towards empty pretentiousness, we go deep, umm, inside of Inside to ask whether the game warrants so much praise or whether it's basically a middling mashup of Dragon's Lair and Prince of Persia. Along the way, we discuss modern day FMV sequences, bad block-pushing puzzles, and Inside's fascinatingly expensive/truly idiotic collector's edition that costs more than Sean's high school car. We probably digress in a few other directions as well, because that's what podcasts are all about. In all of this, we attempt to figure out why so many people like Inside so much, and generally come up a bit short—unless it's that people just love controlling blobules (it's a technical term) composed of melted and deformed human limbs, in which case we can't really blame 'em.
August 14, 2020
Resident Evil 2 Remake
We take a deep dive into Resident Evil 2: Remake, perhaps the finest remake of Resident Evil 2 to ever be released… at least, as of this recording. Blake gives us a rundown of the game's place in the series, or rather both places it occupies, and helps break apart what makes this new version so successful two decades after the original's release. Sean meanders aimlessly through the police station… err… topic, and then gets womped by the invincible Mr. X. His inevitable whining about the subject leads to a broader discussion of invincible enemies and why they're so hard to get right and make a fun element of games.
July 23, 2020
Dark Souls 3
While Blake continues trekking through the Resident Evil series, or at least the good ones, Sean has finally finished Dark Souls 3 and is ready to discuss it at length. Being the cranky pair they are, both hosts agree that the game is good, but think there's something missing that keeps it from being one of From Software's top-tier releases. Want to know what that missing special ingredient is? Well listen in and maybe we'll figure it out, or at least we'll kinda circle around what this thing is and table the matter for another day, because games are complicated.
July 14, 2020
Show Me Your Gambits
While Sean is still stuck in Miyazaki-land with Dark Souls 3, Blake has ventured onward from Sekiro: Shadows Die An Undetermined Number of Times to begin Final Fantasy XII: That One You Probably Skipped. That's right, for once Blake is playing the older game, and to keep up with this opposite-world trope it's one Sean has actually played before. What follows is a lengthy discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of various Final Fantasy battle systems, how much the world of video games has changed with social distancing in full force, and when exactly Polygon stopped sucking so much.
May 20, 2020
Do you like Hidetaka Miyazaki games? Of course you do. Everyone likes Miyazaki's games, because not liking them is to not like games at all—or at least to have bad taste. In any case, both of us have been delving into his last real (i.e. non-VR) titles, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Dark Souls 3, and we take the incredibly controversial position that From Software's games are, in fact, good. Trailblazing!
May 08, 2020
Back from the Dead
After a recording break of… well, longer than we care to think about, we’ve returned to the realm of podcasting just in time for the world to fall apart around us. Nice. Anyhow, for the first episode of our hopefully more-consistent second try at this whole podcasting business, we got down to business and spent most of our time catching up on the games we’ve been playing. That consisted of the relatively hot, new-ish release Doom Eternal on Blake’s front, and the relatively cold, two-console-generations-ago-ish release Mario Galaxy from Sean. Also in the mix were La Mulana, Divinity: Original Sin II, Death Stranding, Hearthstone, and some discussion about our differing feelings about exploration in video games. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
April 13, 2020
It's the season of the witch, so we decided to focus our entire episode on scary video games, be they traditional horror titles or simply games that gave us chills. For help with this endeavor, we enlisted the service of horror connoisseur Kate Currie, one half of The Library Ladies' blog. Along the way, we touch on Left 4 Dead, P.T., Night in the Woods, Castlevania, Resident Evil 7, and of course that paragon of horror titles, Super Mario Bros. 2. Yes, seriously. Also under discussion: whether poor controls are an important part of making truly terrifying games, the role of the uncanny in scaring us, and whether sometimes it's more exciting to play as the monster than it is to flee in terror. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
October 12, 2018
What with all the talk (and a less-than-stunning trailer) of a sequel on the horizon, we decided to take on Spelunky and give it as close to a well-rounded discussion as we could manage. It's a game that has the honor of being both one of the greatest titles ever created, and also something neither of our hosts have been able to beat despite dozens of hours spent travelling its strange caverns. Not that defeating the game is really the point of Spelunky, a game that's very much about the pure experience of play, as well as the not-quite-so-pure experience of being endlessly hurled by a yeti into the same wall for all of eternity. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
October 02, 2018
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Remember way back in 2017, when all anyone wanted to talk about with video games was how The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the best Zelda ever, the best game ever, and quite possibly the best thing ever made? Well it's now a year and a half since BotW dropped, so we felt it was about time to take stock of the title with a more nuanced, dare we say critical look, and discuss what made it both so exciting and so, in many (perhaps unpreventable) ways, disappointing. Topics include the magical first few hours of the game, how Nintendo's take on open worlds differs from other studios, and why the downloadable content falls completely flat. Plus, we consider the possibilities for where Zelda might go in the future, and our hope that Nintendo isn't simply planning a Breath of the Wild 2: Link's Boogaloo. All this, plus Blake intentionally asks Sean for more information about Hearthstone,and somehow doesn't regret it. Theme music provided by Icefields.
August 14, 2018
The Mass Effect Trilogy
In the first of our podcasts focused on a single game, we decided to outdo ourselves and actually cover three games instead: the entire Mass Effect Trilogy. That's right, we go all the way from the first game, with its terrible-yet-for-some-reason-beloved-by-Blake Mako controls, to the second game, filled with more crew members and relationships than you can throw a heaping pile of sticks at, to the third game, which featured what might be gaming's most controversial ending and also probably other things that everyone instantly forgot about because of just how controversial that ending really was. In our pursuit for truth, we also discuss such engaging topics as why people thought these games were the future of RPG's, how Bioware really doesn't know how to deal with romance, and whether that ending really was as bad as everyone remembers it was (spoiler alert: yes).
August 02, 2018
E3 2018 Wrap-Up
Well another year's E3 has come and gone, and the future looks bright indeed. With that in mind, in the latest podcast episode we focus on the games that have us the most excited, and discuss how the show seems to be growing up and moving away from its smoke and mirrors of vaporware and empty surprises. All of which is to say that we spend a lot of time talking about Death Stranding, and even some time on games that aren't Death Stranding, though often in relation to Death Stranding because who are we kidding that game still looks absolutely nuts. Also discussed: samurais vs. ninjas, the flood of pirate games, what the hell Bioware is doing with Anthem's missing AI, how Square and Nintendo secretly had great showings, and whether or not The Division 2 is worth paying any attention to. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
June 21, 2018
Pre-E3 2018 Hullabaloo
The training wheels are off as we move onto our "first" episode of the podcast. While we briefly touch on some of the games we've been playing and news from the last couple weeks, we largely focus—in our own meandering way—on E3. With no insider knowledge to speak of, we use our memory of the E3's of yore to make semi-educated predictions about what this year's big event might entail. And once that's done, we jump way off into the deep end to indulge our fantasies about what the most exciting releases would be if we could remake the industry with our whims. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
June 07, 2018
Episode Zero: Open Beta
This is the very first episode of the Exposition Break Podcast! Blake and Sean sit down to talk about Rage 2, Star Fox racer rumors, a 60fps Blight Town in Dark Souls Remastered, the new God of War, Star Fox Guard, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Then, Sean wildly misses the dates for E3 and Blake fails to fact check him. Theme music provided by Icefields. Find more of Icefields' music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Icefieldsmusic.com
May 26, 2018