7:15 PM on 03.24.2015
I meant to post this much earlier and just came across it, and since my previous blog was so slapdash, here's a freebie.
ACTUAL BLOGGING COMMENCE!
Expectations have a tendency to sully even the most impressive efforts by game designers. I'm not just referring to the obvious hype machine of huge AAA sequels, but any game that at a glance looks like something you've seen before.
Take Betrayer, an indie offering from a small group of developers who hail from top notch studios, most notably quite a few of the F.E.A.R. guys.
Already there's an expectation: "Oh, they made F.E.A.R.? Spooky shoot 'em up then!"
But then you look at the trailer and screen shots. It is loaded with atmosphere, set in the 1600s with a mostly monochrome aesthetic. So you take the setting, the first person viewpoint, and the overall style and probably come up with "action survival horror" or something.
Betrayer has gotten quite a few 'mediocre' to 'bad' reviews and what I get from a lot of them is that the game wasn't what they were expecting.
But Betrayer is a beautiful game.
Starting off on the shore of some mostly abandoned colonial village, you start off into the colorless world not knowing what to expect. A dash of red gets your attention. Is it a note? A treasure chest? A friend? A foe? Blood?
You explore the world and interact with its inhabitants, ghosts mostly, to find out what happened. And here lies an important aspect about Betrayer: the story is really good. It unravels in weird spools only to revisit itself later in different contexts, showing you not what you thought was going on, but something else entirely.
Does it have action? Yes. There are weapons, and they're fun and the mechanics all work great. The "enemies" change and grow increasingly difficult. Does it have exploration? Indeed! There's plenty to do and see, and the mechanic of finding your objectives via sound (aided by a visual set of bars for those minus surround sound or for the hearing impaired) is fantastic.
But these mechanics are not the point. They all work well and are fun but they're there to hold up the characters, the world and the story.
If you only play games as "games", I'll concede that it could get a bit repetitive, but that's mostly on you. That may seem unfair, but the thing is it's only repetitive if you don't care about the story. However if you look at games the same way as books, music, movies, or just art in general, you'll find this is a fine example of using a somewhat conventional game format, and bending it to the needs of a tragic, layered and engrossing story.
If you allow yourself to get lost in Betrayer, it will take your breath away. Simply put, it's fantastic. I can't wait to see what comes next from these utterly talented developers.
1:08 PM on 03.24.2015
ok so I'm a big dork. I saved up and got me a decent PC, a PS4, Wii U, and an Xbone, cuz damn if games aren't my favoritest thing after makin music (tho sometimes I get the feeling games may have a distinct advantage). And I've been enjoying the ride, which is always a mixture of excitement and disappointment when it comes to early adoption. But I guess I just need to vent a little cuz
holy amazeballs Bloodborne is awesome.
I just had to say it. Some games just have that Je Ne Sais Quoi that makes you all tingly inside and boy-oh-girl is this game that.
But being a ranter I will of course try to decipher why I love the way I love.
I played a bit of all the souls games but they never stuck. I really wanted to like them mostly because the worlds that they existed in were so awe-inspiring. And it wasn't so much the difficulty, I appreciated the deliberate and thoughtful pacing of the combat, I just, I dunno. Got distracted.
But ever since the first Bloodborne trailer I was excited. The world was so riveting to me, and the combat actually looked a bit more fun. I also realized after a bit that it reminded me of one of my all time favorite games: Nightmare Creatures. That was such a great game, right?
So I got up early today and went down to my gamestop and grabbed my copy, and did my ritual of making sure everything is perfect, got all my snacks and drinks and made sure the lights were all just right and finally popped it in and
Gah! I'm on my way to work now, and my girlfriends sister is coming over tonight so there will probably be some mario partying happening but I cannot wait to get back to it. It rekindled some magic for me and made me excited about games again. And there's not much more you can ask for.
Til next time ( which might have something to do with Axiom Verge or Titan Souls ) peace, love and gender rights,
7:10 AM on 03.21.2015
I am sitting here on a bus. Writing this down. I just turned 31 yesterday. Treated myself to chinese food and a cheap copy of Katamari Damacy. Brought me back just seeing that game's name. Good ol' playstation 2.
Playstation 2 was when I felt like I came into my own as a game player. I'd played games all my life but I remember getting the ps2 and popping in Onimusha and Devil May Cry and just being floored. I didn't have a memory card for a month so I played the first 5-6 hours of those games over and over.
This was the generation where I learned to follow the Developer and not the brand or publisher. I'd been a huge Spyro the Dragon fan on ps1 and had decimated all 3 games. I couldn't wait to see a next gen Spyro. And when it came out, damn did that sting. What happened? It was all wrong, it lagged, it was slow and Spyro just didn't feel right.
Then I learned that the Developer, Insomniac games, had moved on to a new project called Ratchet and Clank. Hmmmm. Well I thought better check it out. Sure enough, brilliant.
Naughty Dog started getting more serious with its Jak games as well. This was the GTA 3 era and everything was changing.
I bought a GameCube. Sure Windwaker was amazing, and Viewtiful Joe and Resi 4 blew me away. But one game, one little game that changed my life came out.
I would spend hours days months going over and over every detail of that universe, trying to get everything I could out of it. But that's for another blog.
I also got an Xbox, ho boy. And while Halo was great at first and the hard drive and increased power were all fantastic, the most important thing about Xbox was that it introduced me to the world of The Longest Journey, via Dreamfall. And I will always be thankful for that.
Voodoo Vince was amazing too.
Beyond Good and Evil, Sly Cooper, Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia, all 3 GTA 3s, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, Tekken, Soul Caliber, Call of Cthulhu, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Soul Reaver 2, Indigo Prophecy...
And seriously I'm going to get an old Xbox just to play Voodoo Vince again. You can't play it on anything else!
That was half a life ago. And I'm still waiting on Beyond Good and Evil 2, Mr. Ancel.
So anywho. Just saying hi. And I feel old. But a game made me feel young again. And that's beautiful. Happy Spring everybody.
1:51 PM on 02.20.2015
i really like The Order: 1886.
Wait! Don't go! That's not all I'm here to talk about! Please stay and indulge my blogginess for a moment.
You see, the reviews for The Order have been quite divisive and I'm trying to figure out why exactly. And yes I understand everyone has different opinions but this game has had adjectives as different as "Masterpiece" and "drab", or "Brilliant" and "mediocre" thrown at it.
So what gives? Part of me believes the general public will like this game more than reviewers as reviewers have been playing little snippets of it for a while and have grown weary. But then the press has mostly had an apprehensive opinion of the game from the start, claiming it to be just a 'pretty cover shooter'.
What I'm wondering, is where did these expectations come from? I don't believe Ready at Dawn promised anything more than 'cinematic', 'exciting' and 'gorgeous'. They weren't trying to invent a new genre, simply take an existing one and polish it to hell.
Kotaku said it was like "Gears of War if Gears of War had been a bad game". Well well, that's a painful comment. However, I thought Gears of War was really fun, really pretty, but had an absolutely pitiful, nonsensical story. So the mere fact that The Order has a pretty decent story already puts it one up on Epic's, er..., epic.
I just don't see how after getting a slew of supposed AAA games that were damn near broken, not too mention another round of Call of.... [yawn] Duty and 2 (TWO!) more Assassin's Creed variations, why a game as polished, pretty and fun as The Order becomes an example of how bad a game can be.
Now, I know I've gotten a bit opinionated here, but I'm just already excited to see what RAD does next after finishing their latest. Any thoughts? Preferably not vitriolic? Let me hear it! Opinions are good! As is open discussion.
Who am I kidding, nobody reads this. But it's fun to pretend!
Til next time, love, peace, and women are people too
10:23 PM on 11.24.2014
Reew Games appears to be a small, independent video game developer out of Russia. They have never released a game, to my knowledge. Their first game is in development, and it's called Reverse Side. It utilises Unreal Engine 4, is set on the dark side of the Moon and appears to be a sci-fi survival adventure game.
And it was supposed to come out over a month ago.
That alone isn't that big deal, but the method in which the game has been delayed has been quite strange.
I first stumbled across the game's page on Steam while checking out what new items were coming up. It looked intriguing and I am someone who often puts down money on indie games just to see what's out there and support the development community. I quickly added Reverse Side to my wish list, and waited. When I checked back, the release date had come, but the game had not.
There seemed to be a lot of confusion about what was going on, exacerbated by the fact that the developer wrote mostly in Russian and didn't have very good english translators. (One of their trailers had the tag "Welcome to Moon.")
Soon the release date was pushed back a week. Ok, no problem, it's rough for a small developer, I get it. So I came back a week later and...
After a while the developer left a slightly awkward post about "Now the game is to be checked. If all goes well, it will be immediately downloaded and available in the store". And the wait continued.
In good faith, it seemed, Reew Games decided (though they REALLY shouldn't have) to release a free demo to appease the interested gamers waiting for the release. And it seemed there were people (myself included) who were really curious about this game. After the demo was released, however, I was even more curious.
It contained barely any options, a ridiculouly long opening shot (it sits on the title for about 30 seconds) and a very strange game underneath it all. The camera was uncomfortably situated over the shoulder, but in a way that your character's barely-detailed head blocks about a third of the screen. The camera also has a filter that makes it look smudgy and has more lense flares than a JJ Abrams movie. All of this would be forgiveable if it worked.
Upon loading the first level I found that none of my objective markers led me to anything useful. This it seemed was because I couldn't find a workable "action" button to open any doors or activate any objects. Some people said "E", some said (strangely) "Tab", I tried them all, including mouse buttons and nothing worked. But I did notice it had a console option.
I explored the console commands, desperately trying to find a way to proceed, and eventually I found a way to skip the opening level and get to the Moon. Finally I was playing something that seemed remotely like a game. Not a very good one, but a game nonetheless.
It seemed as if the demo was not meant to be released, but that in order to keep people interested they had to release something. I'm still not sure why they thought this would help. The mystery was way cooler than the demo. (The demo was also described as merely a "tech demo" though I'm not sure that helps its case since "technically", it's broken.)
Since this demo the game has been delayed on an almost weekly basis, with no real explanation. Russian translations of some of the comments bring up talk of the developers being unprofessional and having used people without paying them. It's all circumstantial however and also hindered by the terrible quality of Google Translate.
Today the game was supposed to come out. Today it was pushed back a week. Another handful of "WTF?" comments have made the rounds on the message boards, and the developer has again barely said anything in its defense.
I am completely fine with delays. I would rather have a great game later than a broken one now, but it's this constant carrot-dangling that I find mystifying. Why not delay the game a month? Why not go early-access? And what exactly is the problem?
A while back I bought a game on Steam called "The House". It was horrible. I won't get into it here but you can read all about it in the user reviews. That game was released and has continued to be supported on Steam. So what could be so bad about Reverse Side that Steam won't release it?
That one comment, though: "Now the game is to be checked. If all goes well, it will be immediately downloaded and available in the store." It makes me think that every week Reew Games sends its latest version to Steam and every week Steam says "No."
And Steam said yes to "The House".
What is going on here?
I should give up. There is no reason to follow this game at all anymore. And yet, I'm sure on Dec. 1st, the new release date of the game, I will be logging on and checking it out. Most likely it'll have a new release date, and a new handful of exasperated/humorous comments about the developers ineptitude.
But maybe one day we'll get to see the dark side of the Moon. And maybe, just maybe... it won't suck. Here's hoping.
12:14 AM on 05.26.2014
7:18 AM on 04.15.2014
4:22 PM on 04.03.2014
4:25 PM on 04.02.2014