Quern – Undying Thoughts review: The closest we may ever come to a Riven sequel

Quern - Undying Thoughts

2016 was one hell of a year for Myst-alikes, eh? Straight from the source, from Cyan itself, you had official spiritual successor Obduction—a game which crept onto our Games of the Year list. Then there was The Eyes of Ara, which utilized the same sort of puzzles although in quite a different sort of setting.

But I wish I’d gotten around to playing Quern – Undying Thoughts. I don’t know why I didn’t, although it certainly wasn’t helped by a late November release nor its impenetrable title.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

I recently delved into Quern’s world though—nothing like those slow Januarys for catching up on your backlog—and it’s excellent. Like Myst of old, you arrive in an area with no idea how you got there or what you should be doing. In this case you’ve been teleported to an island by way of a massive gateway which promptly self-destructs upon your arrival.

There’s a way off the island though, approximately 50 locked doors and dozens of puzzles in your future. Puzzles involving gears and simple mechanical contraptions, puzzles involving audio cues, puzzles involving some lightweight botany, and puzzles involving a whole series of crystals each of which has its own unique properties.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

Along the way you’ll delve into the origins of the titular island, Quern. The island’s previous occupant has left behind directives, notes on the peculiar properties Quern possesses, the secrets he’s uncovered and what he’s done with said knowledge. His journal entries lead you from area to area, sometimes giving context, sometimes giving clues, and all apparently part of some plan. But what plan? And why?

It’s as close to a Myst game as I’ve ever seen from another developer. Or rather, a Riven game. Just look at the architecture here:

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

This is the first village you enter. It’s your main hub and where you’ll spend a good portion of Quern. And it’s incredibly reminiscent of the bleached-white adobe buildings that dotted Riven’s Jungle Island:

Riven

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Riven

Those huts may represent the most obvious parallel, but the game reeks of Cyan’s mid-’90s output. It has the same sense of weary isolation, the same unexpected warmth to its grimy copper gizmos, and that feeling of “Normal” and “Alien” bashed together in one place. Here, a library. There, a forge. Everyday objects, but all of it residing in a world so unique and unusual.

Between the focus on mechanical puzzles and the aesthetic nod, Quern feels like the Riven successor we never really got (and likely never will get). It’s grim and lonesome in the same way that made Riven a classic—and much closer in tone to Riven than Cyan’s actual sequel, Myst III.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

And it takes the same approach to puzzles—not just in terms of aesthetics, but philosophically. Quern loves introducing new ideas and puzzle constraints at a rapid pace and then disposing of them at will, adhering to a certain internal logic but unconcerned with building on its own foundation.

Hell, there’s even a puzzle similar to Riven’s famous spinning room.

Quern’s not nearly as bash-your-head-against-a-wall obtuse, of course. While Riven occasionally stumps me even today, twenty or so years after I first played it, Quern is breezier. Benefiting from an additional two decades of puzzle design and fully 3D environments, it took me maybe eight or nine hours to get through. Not too bad.

Quern - Undying Thoughts

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Quern – Undying Thoughts

It’s also not a perfect game. Some of its puzzles fall into the typical adventure game trap—very obvious solution buried under a cumbersome series of steps. One puzzle is just a retread of the Knights of the Old Republic puzzle where you do a bunch of column math to blow up injector pods on Manaan. (Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds.) And you do it three times here. Ugh. There are a few other stinkers, but that one’s the worst.

The game also includes a seemingly handy Notebook feature, which is supposed to function like in-game screenshots. You see something important, a clue to a puzzle, and you can “jot it down in your notebook” at the touch of a button. Quern then makes a cool little sketch-representation of whatever item you were looking at.

source”cnbc”

Apple sells more Plus phones in Q4 2016 than ever

Apple is about to reveal its financial results for 4Q 2016 and they may contain a surprise – the company sold more iPhone 7 Plus units than any of the previous Plus-sized handsets. The company decided to equip the 7 Plus with more cameras, better battery life and more RAM than iPhone 7 and the result is said to be 24 million devices sold, compared with 15.5M iPhone 6s Plus phones in 4Q 2015. That’s 55% increase solely based on improving the hardware, compared with the flagship device from the same series.

Overall demand for the iPhone 7 has struggled throughout the October-December quarter which is first in Apple’s fiscal year. According to analysts from Cowen & Co, the data Apple is going to release tomorrow will reveal that people are unwilling to upgrade as often as expected. Part of the reason might be rumors about an 10-year Anniversary phone that kept a lot of consumers back when deciding to get the new iPhone.

The financial results show us also that this is the first time users in China preferred the Plus-sized iPhone to the regular one. 52% of the Apple fans decided to go with a iPhone 7 Plus compared with 40% who bought the predecessor iPhone 6s Plus.

Source | Via

source”cnbc”

And they lived healthily ever after…

Shikha Shah| TNN | Nov 27, 2016, 12.00 AM IST

And they lived healthily ever after...And they lived healthily ever after…
The newlyweds are re-defining the concept of honeymoons. They now want to return feeling healthier, fitter and spiritually richer. Health honeymooning is all about entering the coupling phase with uplifting yoga sessions in the middle of a tropical jungle, being treated to a series of intimate couple massages and Turkish hammam and relishing gluten-free gourmet with exotic green teas. Businessman Ebrahim Chiniwala says, “To unload all the post-wedding exhaustion, we chose to unwind at a wellness retreat near Mulshi Lake. Our journey of love started with creating a tailored daily programme with our health advisor. We bonded over salsa and Bollywood dance and TRX, circuit training and ‘healthy cooking’ sessions. At the end of our 4-day retreat programme, we left feeling energised and discovering a lot more about each other.”

POST-WEDDING CLEANSE

Big, fat Indian weddings often bring along unaccounted consumption of fat-laden food, making you feel bloated. A wellness honeymoon comes to your rescue here. The food served at luxury health resorts is flavourful and appealing, sans any unhealthy ingredients like sugar, maida, table salt etc. “Since most couples visit a health retreat for complete relaxation, they don’t want to be put on a strict diet or be refused from consuming certain food groups; but at the same time, their aim is to return feeling lighter and in better shape. Hence, the trick is to serve low-calorie, organic and fresh spa food in controlled portions,” says chef Sandeep Biswas.

“People are getting married late. Most have probably been together for a while and done their bit of fly and flop holidays. Honeymoon is the perfect time to relax, detox your body and find spiritual space.” says Bob Jacobs, VP, top hotel chain.

FOCUS ON EACH OTHER

While you are continually bombarded with congratulatory messages and calls even post the wedding reception, what you are actually looking for is some precious time to connect with each other. A no-tech vacation is exactly what Dr Cupid ordered. “Health resorts ban the use of electronic devices and gadgets in public areas wanting you to unplug and swap virtual tweets with the real sound of soothing bird songs. This allows the couple to be present in the moment and enjoy the surroundings, and leaves them with a restored sense of wellness,” says Sharmilee Agrawal Kapur, pranic healer and owner of a newly-opened wellness retreat near Pune.

Most of the spa and health retreats in India and around the world are nestled in the lap of opulence and sophistication. Here, the staff will ‘kick your butt’ – and then spoil you silly. “For our honeymoon at a spa retreat, we decided to book a spacious private spa suite that comprised a private infinity pool, lawn area, gymnasium, couple spa, sauna and steam facilities, butler’s pantry, open-to-sky outdoor shower and above all, a horizon-touching gazebo for a romantic candle-light dinner. We didn’t really have to step out of the villa except for our fitness sessions which made sure we enjoyed a good amount of privacy; and this beautifully enhanced our experience as a couple,” says Chitra Shetty, marketing professional.

source”cnbc”

World warmer by 1.2 degrees, 2016 warmest year ever: WMO

IANS | Updated: Nov 15, 2016, 12.06 PM IST

World warmer by 1.2 degrees, 2016 warmest year ever: WMO (Maisie Paterson/Getty Images)World warmer by 1.2 degrees, 2016 warmest year ever: WMO (Maisie Paterson/Getty Images)
The World Metrological Organisation (WMO) on Monday said the global temperature is 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level and will set a new high for the third year running.

It also said 2016 is the hottest year on record, 2015 the second hottest and 2014 in the third place.

“Another year. Another record,” said WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas while releasing the report at the Marrakech climate change negotiations at COP22.

He said the extra heat from powerful El Nino phenomenon has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue.

The WMO on November 8 informed the parties and non-parties at the enviromental meet that while 2015 was the warmest year so far, 2016 is on track of being even warmer. On Monday, it confirmed its prediction.

The WMO said these alarming trends have resulted in ten-fold increase in “extreme events” globally, that is, catastrophic events such as cyclones, heatwaves, floods and droughts have become frequent in 10-year cycle rather than 100-year cycle.

The WMO report came as a major challenge ahead of the major goal of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement (COP21), that aims at keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial level and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees.

“On the day the WMO confirmed that 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record, it is shocking the world has been largely silent on one of the biggest-ever global climate emergencies. This year, over 400 million people were affected by the strongest ever ‘El Nino’ weather event, causing droughts around the world,” ActionAid climate change policy expert Teresa Anderson said in response to the report.

Anderson said the impacts of El Nino confirm the need for the world to take urgent action on climate change, which affects women and children the worst.

ActionAid said inspite of the huge drought, the world has remained largely silent on the crisis.

It said countries and humanitarian agencies face a funding gap of $3.1 billion to meet the needs of those still affected.

“The governments that promised climate compassion in Paris have apparently turned their back on an actual global climate crisis,” Anderson added.

The El Nino weather phenomenon helped push temperatures even higher in early 2016 but the global warming caused by the greenhouse gas emissions from human activities remains the strongest factor.

According to the 2015 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, approximately 44 per cent of the total carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activity from 2004 to 2015 remained in the atmosphere, with the remaining 56

source”cnbc”