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.
No matter what the experience was or which game or genre left that strong first impression, such experiences have the potential to open our eyes to the rich history of a series or genre. With any luck, we might find even more to love or something better. A great first experience with RPGs could lead to an undying love affair.
Sometimes a first kiss can be so impactful that the game gets placed on a pedestal and enshrined as a gold standard, which has its own pros and cons. I mean, it is nice to have a basis for comparison, but some folks take it too far. There are people who loved Half-Life, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Final Fantasy VII so much that nothing after them really got a fair shake.
So first impressions matter -- they can shape and inform our gaming habits. I grew up on arcades, Nintendo, handhelds, and eventually into RPGs, so much of what I play will be influenced by how I acquired my tastes. I probably like Overwatch a ton because it has a passion for RPG roles, but contextualizes them closer to older shooters focused on objectives more than gear builds and grinding out perks for better killstreaks.
So for this month's Bloggers Wanted, we'd like you head over to the community blogs write about your first kiss, the games that positively influenced you or maybe biased you a little too much for a time. What turned you on to a series or genre? Was it love at first sight? Did it set any expectations in stone or possibly lead you to something better?
Whatever the case might be, remember to use the title "First kiss" and place "Bloggers Wanted" in the tags!
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