What a magnificent bastard. Hannibal, you're the undisputed champion of television this year.
If you haven't been watching this kick-ass series, you NEED to get down with it. Whether you're a fan of police procedurals, horror, psychological dramas, or just needy woobies and the psychopaths who love them, there is something for you in this show.
It isn't often something around my home makes it to the "must-see-TV" list. My usual viewing habits mostly consists of "must-eat-this-pork-sandwich-is-anything-on-TV?-TV" and "oh-I-missed-an-entire-season-of-American-Dad?-TV." But Hannibal sliced open a hole in my chest wall and slid it's way into my heart.
Anytime I watch a really great crime show, I'm just reminded of what a bummer L.A Noire was. Look, I get it. It's hard to make a real "police game." There is a delicate balance that's hard to achieve. It has to be gamey enough to be a game, but deep and plot driven enough to mean something. Player choice should always be respected, but there has to be a limit on how far the player can stray from the investigation, or at least a firm nudge now and then to get them back on track.
It's how we end up with ridiculous multiple-fatality car chases and gun fights plopped awkwardly in the middle of an insurance scam case. It's how we end up with multiple-choice dialogue that consists of one right conversation chain, and a bunch of others where Phelps screams like a madman.
But I still dream of a detective game that does it right. Maybe it's a matter of inspiration. L.A Confidential and Two-Fisted pulp novels don't mesh into a great game apparently. You get a weird stew of GTA meets Dudley-Do-Right. But maybe something taking it's cues from Silence of the Lambs with the larger than life personality of Dr. Lecter or the modern remake of Sherlock with Benedict Cumber-face and all his pissy inhuman behaviour would be a better fit.
A plot and world that lends itself to narrative jumps and nearly supernatural criminals. Where the protagonist has a reputation for being unstable, at the fringes of law enforcement. Tolerated only barely by the more professional and conventional investigators. Make it believable when the protagonist doesn't act exactly like a by-the-book lawman instead of constantly nagging the player about it.
That said, Deadly Premonition might be the best detective game out there. Yeah, the controls are garbage, the characters bizarre, and the plot often nonsensical, but it all makes sense in the context of that world. I never felt it was out of line for Agent York to waste a day creeping around neighbourhood windows or chatting with the regulars at the bar. When he got into a gunfight with ghostly moaning apparitions, I could take it as a matter of fact part of his life. Of course he's going to fight ghosts, this is Agent York we're talking about, a man who gets his best leads from his morning coffee.
You might laugh, but as an audience we're willing to put up with some crazy stuff so long as we like a character and the logic of a show or game stays consistent. It's not all that realistic that Will Graham is able to reconstruct a crime scene and intuitively know the killer's motives and likely next move based on an "empathy disorder" and a keen eye. Sherlock proves himself to be damn near psychic, or even a fraud, because of his superlative deduction abilities (to the series credit, this actually becomes a major plot point). Hannibal gets away with an awful lot of murder without ever leaving any nasty bloodstains on his clothes or picking up any defensive wounds that might betray his criminal actions – but hey, we love the big ol' cannibal too much to call him on it.
I want to see another detective game. It would break my heart if L.A Noire and the troubled Team Bondi managed to strangle the entire genre while it was still in its crib. But maybe the direction isn't to go bigger or more real, but stranger and more surreal.
That, and Wendigos. Always feature a Wendigo killer.
It feels like it's been a decade since we've seen the rise of the crowdfunded game. I'm always surprised when I remind myself that crowdfunding has been a thing long before the first crowdfunded video game, but nowadays a crowdfunded game seems like a dime a dozen.
Of course such a phrase is an incredible disservice to some of the great games that have come out thanks to websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Games like FTL, Shovel Knight, and even Undertale are around thanks to crowdfunding; thanks to people gathering around and literally putting their money where their mouth is, a game they want gets funded and inevitably the greater landscape of gaming benefits from it. Most of the time the landscape gets to benefit from it anyways.
Don't worry though, this month's bloggers wanted prompt isn't an exploratory thesis on the effects of crowdfunding on video game development. We just want you to talk about your favorite games, as long as they were crowdfunded. This topic can be simultaneously broad and narrow, because you can talk about whatever game you want, however you want, as long as it was crowdfunded.
For me, FTL is the original crowdfunded game, and it was great. It was somehow minimalist and incredibly detailed at the same time, and it was all done because a man wanted to do it, but needed the money, and thousands of other people wanted to see where his idea would go. Shovel Knight to me feels like this natural evolution of the classic 8-bit gaming of yore without also throwing myself back to a time when gaming was honestly comparatively archaic. And everyone's talked to death about Undertale, so we all know where I'd go with that.
To participate in this month's bloggers wanted, just start a blog! Oh, and title it "Crowdfunded: [your blog title here]." I bet this month is going to be pretty diverse, since it's basically writing about your favorite crowdfunded game. So I hope to hear about some good games revisited or amazing games no one has heard about.
Remember: Persona 5 was not crowdfunded, but excuse me as I plow through it.
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