Ugly duckling reviews usually cover games that have a potential to be something amazing, but for one or the other reason fail to reach that goal. Which might leave you wondering — why am I covering Vanquish under this category? Well, there are reasons for that.
Deus Ex is one of the rare examples of gaming franchises that managed to return from a long sleep with an entry that achieved almost the same amount of love and admiration as the first game, that was an instant classic. While Human Revolution had weaker story and a far more simplistic real world social and political commentary, in everything but that it felt like a game that was not just a strong return from a quite disappointing and hated by many Invisible War (which I like, fyi) but something that was almost better than the original. Stealth, action, social and exploration mechanics, most levels, most situations were so smart and solid, it was a joy to replay, taking a different approach each time around.
So it is to be expected that hopes for Mankind Divided, the sequel to Human Revolution, were high.You’re most likely aware of the reception the game has gotten instead. So let’s explore the game a year later and with all the DLCs. And let’s see what happened with the game that, it is currently rumored, has killed the franchise once again.
My O tempora posts tend to be about older titles, than 2009, the year Bayonetta was released originally in Japan. But Bayonetta became a milestone release, a new classic that ushered a new era of «stylish action» games and gave the Capcom alumni at PlatinumGames a much needed boost, despite the lower than expected sales. In addition, the core gameplay has been evolved and perfected so much since then it’s interesting to look back at where it started. But now on PC, with a surprisingly solid port.
And now for something completely different.
I went on a short 3 day trip half a month ago, which, along with my busy days at work and a week of slight cold, postponed some of the posts I planned to do. But after the trip I found myself wanting to write something about it and, maybe, give an excuse to post photos of it here in addition to all the other places that I post pictures to. I suppose, it’s a bit pointless to do a write up about travelling, given that there are countless amazing services today with good hints about where to go and what to do, but in case someone who reads me decides to go to western Ukraine, maybe they can find this at least somewhat helpful. Or maybe just turn on some travel tunes and go on this road with me anyway.
It might seem strange for me to pair these two quite different adventure/exploration/puzzle games into one post, but there’s a good reason for that, I feel. That is, apart from me playing them one after the other and not feeling like making separate posts. They’re both beautiful but flawed games. Flawed at the execution of the key ideas they aim to shine at.
Wadjet Eye Games has become somewhat of go to publisher/developer for story-driven point and click adventure games resurgence. With both their own developed games, and games they produce and publish they’ve shown how the seemingly outdated low res pixelated point and click adventuring can tell stories better than some of the high budget newest technology based titles. The quality of the games they publish is also mostly consistent and to this day I only missed a few projects due to rather mediocre reviews of those. Technobabylon was a game I heard good things about, while Shardlight reviews seemed a bit lower, yet still praised the game, so I was quite interested in checking both projects for a while now. Let’s see what Wadjet Eye Games helped build this time.
I’ve been interested in Yoko Taro’s work for a while… despite not actually finishing any of his games until now. I gave Drakengard an honest try a while ago and the gameplay felt a bit too rubbish, so I didn’t get to experience the amazing concept of constantly updating story as you unlock more and more story paths after you finish the game once. I gave NieR an honest try, but didn’t have time or desire to finish it because, as a game, it felt pretty boring. So I didn’t get to experience the amazing concept of the story of the whole game being pretty much turned upside down on the second playthrough, just on the basis of you now understanding the opposite side of the conflict. But I read it all, watched it all. Because it felt like something not a lot of games try to do. A different approach to storytelling, lack of fear in exploring risky topics or «boring» the player.
So, without trying to downplay the work of Cavia or (for Drakengard 3) Access Games, I’m incredibly happy that PlatinumGames were selected to partner with Yoko Taro to work on NieR: Automata. I cannot think of a better choice of developer.
When i reviewed Dark Souls III (sorry, it was Russian-only) a year ago, I described it as a best of compilation of everything that worked in all «Souls» games, aimed at creating the best possible adventure in a dark interesting world. Which suffered from being a compilation, however, at not really feeling that interesting or defined in terms of it’s own voice. And not really feeling like a new interesting chapter in the strange world created back in Dark Souls 1. So me, along with many others, hoped that DLCs will fix this issue and bring a very interesting story, expand on fantastic ideas of the game world and bring closure to the series.
The first DLC didn’t really do that. So how about the second one?
You know that feel when you’ve invested yourself in a story that has multiple parts and then the newest one comes out and everything points out that it’s going to be terrible, but you feel like you have to check it out anyway? Dragon Age: Inquisition is a bit like that.
Dragon Age: Origins, and a much better Awakening, were games that I enjoyed, but at the same time found rather boring. They’re attempts at being tactical didn’t feel like classic Infinity Engine RPGs, and were more like Neverwinter Nights aRPG-ish boring fights. But the game had a really good world, a lot of interesting characters and stories. Even the usual framework BioWare story about visiting different places to get allies and then fight some great evil had some curious changes to it, that made it so much better. Dragon Age 2 had extremely simplistic, but very cool to look at and experience combat, a lot of copypasted locations and some other issues. But at the same time was a fantastic story with very memorable characters, being, probably, the best story BioWare ever made.
You’d think Dragon Age: Inquisition will be the combination of the best elements of the above. A game that will finally make Dragon Age as good as it always deserved to be. You’d think.