To my surprise, I’ve completed the first Dead Rising today, now that it’s on PC. To my surprise, because I felt (and still do) that this game isn’t really “for me” and because I attempted playing Dead Rising 2 before and didn’t enjoy the experience much. I still feel like I cannot write this as a “proper review”, especially since I cheated in a few places to speed things up and didn’t redo the same things proper, so my perception is a bit off. But I do have a few words to say about the game and what I’ve seen of the series so far.
Ninja Theory have established a reputation for making games that are solid, if average mechanically, but really memorable in terms of storytelling. With one glaring exception being DmC: Devil May Cry, where the game had solid and fun (if weaker than previous DMC games) gameplay, but unbelievably terrible story and script. With Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, their first fully independent production, things looked a bit different from the announcement. And I’m glad to say, that what we got is a really unforgettable experience.
The art of point and click adventuring can be tackled in many different ways. Some focus on story, some on puzzles, some on comedy, some just try to create an unexpectedly deep adventuring via a simple mouse-based controls interface. The Silent Age, Mr. Pumpkin Adventure and Four Last Things, however, are of the simple sort. The story, the puzzles and the comedy.
Three first person view games with heavy focus on exploration and open-ended maps. Three completely different approaches to that concept. Survival, drama and comedy. Done to varying degrees of success.
It is time again to write about a bunch of games I played, some of which I finished, but which didn’t really require a full on exclusive review for them (or even the dual/triple review post, for that matter). The games I will cover here are these: Pony Island, Refunct, Deus Ex: The Fall, Layers of Fear, Dream Machine, Hidden Folks, Clustertruck, Superhot, 2000:1 A Space Felony, Goat Simulator, Environmental Station Alpha, Ori and the Blind Forest and Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Yep, that’s a lot of stuff that piled up over the course of about half a year. Let’s get to it.
For the past 10 years or so understanding of what can be achieved with videogames in terms of storytelling has changed quite a lot. From feeling too dependent on the gameplay mechanics to “be successful” which was then crushed by several titles like original Dear Esther mod or strange experiences from Tale of Tales we came to the almost opposite reality of games trying to brush off gameplay as unnecessary and trying to be as non-game as possible to tell their stories. But this whole movement seems to have finally matured in recent years and we’re getting more an more titles that try to mix gameplay and storytelling in ways that naturally complement each other, rather than compete with each other. And two new interesting examples of that are Stories Untold and What Remains of Edith Finch.
When you think Double Fine, you usually think adventure games, either point and click or action adventures. They do have attempts at strategy games and even simple jRPGs, but it still feels a bit weird to see something like Headlander pop up. Because Headlander is a metroidvania… At least, Pixel is consistent in his love of cutely drawn action platformers, even if, unlike Cave Story, Kero Blaster is linear. So, let’s take a quick look at these two games.
The golden age and return of the adventure games. At least, that’s how a lot of people might think about Day of the Tentacle and Broken Age. Day of the Tentacle has always been considered one of the best examples of point and click adventures and was the first game with Tim Schafer having a leading role in development (after the first two Monkey Island games where he was a co-writer). Broken Age was the first huge gaming Kickstarter success marketed as the glorious return of adventure games, also from Tim Schafer and his current team at Double Fine. Given that I personally never liked Day of the Tentacle much and there were some really good adventure titles in the late 00s (especially those from Wadjet Eye) to make the Broken Age’s claims to “return” to something not make a lot of sense, I was really interested in playing those games back to back. The result was amusing, but not particularly exciting.
I recently completed Wasteland 2 Director’s Cut and had a blast with it. But with the recent Fallout: New Vegas DRM-free re-release on GOG it made me think about something that felt missing from quite a few RPGs of recent years, something that was so common in both jRPGs and cRPGs that it was arguably one of the minor defining features of the genre – the overworld map.
It’s been a while since I could write anything in the blog. Whenever you have a job that takes most of your day, playing long titles takes much longer than whenever you have a lot of free time. And apart from open world titles, most of which I tend to ignore nowadays anyway, RPGs tend to take most of your gaming time. Luckily, Wasteland 2 was that particular type of an RPG that was a joy to return to, no matter how long it took.