Don’t Fall Asleep if You Want to Live

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Everyone I know loves a good night’s sleep or a quick power nap. Good thing, too, because it’s a necessity.

Without sleep, the mind crumbles under the stress of constant activity with zero rest. After 24 hours of no sleep, emotional instability and physical stress set in. After 48 hours come the hallucinations. After day 5, the body shuts down completely.

What happens if sleep is the killer, and the only way to survive is to force yourself to stay awake by any means necessary? Rooster Teeth explores this terrifying concept in their dramatic series, Day 5.

When people begin mysteriously dying off in their sleep en masse, communication goes dark around the globe, and humanity comes to a grinding halt. Survivors do whatever it takes to stay awake, from caffeine and nicotine to IV-administered drug cocktails and over-the-counter pills. While most people struggle to survive, a few search for the cause of the incident or even for a cure.

In pursuit of these two goals (survival and seeking answers), our heroes meet. Jake survived while on an all-night drug-fueled bender and bonded with Sam, an intelligent teen with ADHD. Ally took the night shift at a hospital and searches for a cure. Ellis piloted an overnight commercial airliner and is tracking down the source of the outbreak. Together, they form a mutually beneficial relationship bordering on friendship forged from their harrowing circumstances.

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I’m not saying much more about the plot, because the stories told in this are some of the most well-rounded and engaging stories created by Rooster Teeth and need to be seen to fully appreciate.

While many stories in this genre would focus solely on the survival journey and the action, the writers take an approach similar to The Walking Dead and delve deep into the characters while hitting the same action beats. Each character confronts loss, love, sacrifice, and the true edges of humanity in their own way.

The story does occasionally feel stagnant during the middle of the season, but these slower moments serve as excellent word-building moments that fit into the overall narrative.

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For people familiar with Rooster Teeth, Day 5 is an enormous departure from their traditionally comedy-driven content. It’s grounded and terrifying, with occasional moments of levity that sometimes hit the mark.

The company has also reached a point where they don’t have to rely exclusively on in-house talent, which lends itself to the high caliber of Day 5. It’s a professional choice showing that they’re a production company that can create meaningful stories, not just ‘Rooster Teeth does the apocalypse’. For the hardcore fans, don’t worry. Fan favorites still make plenty of cameos or credited appearances, and episode 4 showcases one of Rooster Teeth’s founders in a heart-warming, gut-wrenching performance that could knock in-demand Hollywood actors off their feet.

Day 5 is a dark and gritty triumph for Rooster Teeth. There are only six episodes, so stop by their website, prepare yourself for a wholly unique version of the apocalypse, and don’t fall asleep.

If you’ve seen Day 5, let me know what your thoughts are.

 I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I haven’t checked it out, I’ll add it to the list!

RWBY: Grimm Eclipse

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One of the beauties of independent companies such as Rooster Teeth is the sheer creative freedom they’re allowed. They can create things how they want, when they want.

Rooster Teeth took the internet by storm back in 2003 with the launch of their web series Red vs Blue. Since then, the show has entered its fourteenth season, and they’ve created tons of live-action shorts, a gritty miniseries (Day 5, which I’ll be reviewing in the next few weeks), and RWBY (pronounced ‘ruby’), a 3-D anime-esque web series that spawned its own video game.

Developed by their lead animator Monty Oum, RWBY takes place in the sci-fi/fantasy world of Remnant and follows the lives of four girl as they train at Beacon Academy to fight monsters born of darkness and uncover plots to destroy civilization as they know it. With over-the-top fights, well thought-out characters set to grow dramatically over ten seasons, and (especially in the later seasons) fantastic writing, I may actually be looking forward to season four of RWBY more than the next season of Game of Thrones.

***Minor Spoilers Ahead***

That being said, when I played RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, I couldn’t help but feel a bit letdown, at least by the story. You play cooperatively alongside up to three other players, investigating malfunctions in the security network, hacking and slashing at monsters along the way. Upon discovering someone’s tampered with them, you and your team are guided by your professors at Beacon to unearth the source of the mystery. Eventually you learn what’s going on is a classic mad scientist plot to mutate the monsters, and then you have to fight your way through even more of the monsters to destroy the mad scientist’s lab and put a halt to his experiments. The game ends with you and your team getting extracted from the final level, and that’s it. No final confrontation with the mad scientist or anything. It ends rather abruptly.

***Spoilers Over***

My biggest issue with the game is how hollow it feels compared to the show it’s based on. RWBY relies on strong characters who are also excellent fighters to carry the story forward, but with Grimm Eclipse the story just sort of…exists. Most of the exposition and dialogue comes from radio communication with the professors. Even though you’re playing as one of the main characters, they hardly speak outside of quips or one-liners, which isn’t what I expected from characters I know and love. The game relies on intense fighting and rapid-fire gameplay to engage people, and after ten levels (it’s a fairly short game) it can get a bit boring.

The other interesting thing is that there isn’t much of an explanation about each character at the beginning. You choose whether to play a single player game or a team game, pick your character, and dive right in. There’s no tutorial telling you what to do. I’ve never played a modern game that does that. It can be a bit jarring to people that have never seen RWBY before.

However, I love RWBY, and that’s what makes the game fantastic for me. Rooster Teeth made a game that would appeal to fans who want to play as their favorite characters, walk through setting from the show, and kill monsters. If you aren’t a fan of RWBY, this game will definitely not have as much appeal to you.

Despite a lackluster story and somewhat repetitive gameplay, I really enjoy this game and will probably continue playing it for some time. This is Rooster Teeth’s first game, after all. They created RWBY, which has only gotten better with time. I can only expect the game will continue to improve as well.

If you’ve played RWBY: Grimm Eclipse, let me know what your thoughts are.

I’m always looking for new stories, no matter the medium. If you know of any great books, movies, or video games that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments and, if I haven’t checked it out, I’ll add it to the list!