Devoid: The Void Difficulty Patches

By Kieron Gillen on May 5th, 2010 at 7:30 pm.

I had jokes about being too hard, but they were all unsavoury.

Today is a good day to be John Walker. Only joking. No day is a good day to be John Walker. Except the blessed day you die and it’s all over, thankyouthankyouthankyou. At least today is a day when things become a fraction less miserable. Remember when he reviewed Ice-Pick’s Quinns-favoured oddity The Void at Eurogamer, giving it 7/10. His main issue was that it was “It’s stupendously, unrelentingly difficult.” Anyway, Ice Pick have announced that a friendly modder called Throdax (No really) has made two patches that alter the game to either an easy or medium mode. Baddies are less bad. Sisters are more willing to open. Gardens can be more swiftly replanted. In short, difficulty undifficultiered. Problem solved! Some footage follows…

With German voice-acting!

If that interests you, the Void is available in all the usual direct-download places

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42 Comments »

  1. KungFuMassa says:

    Happy to say I bought this and extremely pleased to see a difficulty patch. Had a lot of trouble keeping my color stock up past the (I know, I suck) few initial areas. Will have to load her up again.

  2. Premium User Badge

    HarbourMaster says:

    I’m torn. Which is the real Void experience? The original or this multi-pronged version? Does it matter?

    Speaking as someone who has not yet played The Void… but has every intention of doing so.

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      Grey Cap says:

      Pretty sure Ice Pick Lodge meant it to be a very difficult game. The player IS supposed to be tense. I’m just not good enough for that…

    • cjlr says:

      I’m pretty sure I read an interview where the lead devs said they might have overdone it a little. Damned if I could say where, though.

      The difficulty shouldn’t be enough to stop it from being… well, most cases I’d say fun, but that’s not exactly the right word for the Void… engrossing? Captivating? It shouldn’t make you want to stop playing, is what I’m getting at.

    • Rich says:

      Shouldn’t it be fun? I know it’s intended as an art game, but it is still a game.

      Although now I come to think of it, Another World wasn’t exactly fun, I just couldn’t stop.

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      HarbourMaster says:

      In that case, I shall play it straight until I think it’s too difficult and frustrating. Which, by the sounds of things, won’t take me too long…

    • qrter says:

      Who cares what the devs intended, play every game as you like it.

    • Damien Stark says:

      I’d say the problem/challenge isn’t simply the quantities of health/damage/color involved, but rather the way in which that manifests… There were only a few times where I’d die from fighting and have to reload and try the fight again. However, there were quite a few times where I realized that I needed to have grown much more or different color days and days ago, requiring a revert to a much older save (others posting here mention replaying the whole game from start, not a bad idea).

      Still, I really enjoyed the game and didn’t mind reverting a ways back and learning from my mistakes.

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      HarbourMaster says:

      My fellow gamer, qrter, well-known for a hatred of Shawshank Redemption!

      All reports indicate that The Void is a unique experience and I imagine you only get to experience it once. If playing it on “easy” rips out the heart of the experience, in terms of tension and atmosphere, I’m not sure I want to go there. I’ve gone down that road before (I ruined The Cradle and will never experience it like others have – a story for another day).

      So my problemette is that I don’t know how I want to play it… but I will know if I’ve ruined it, although then it’ll be too late. I’ll be clawing out my eyes yelling up at the sky “Noooooo….”

    • Rich says:

      Interested to know how you ruined The Cradle for yourself now.
      I played it on Easy, I think. Still scared the willies out of me.

    • Premium User Badge

      HarbourMaster says:

      Ah, Rich, ’tis sad story. This isn’t actually to do with difficulty but it is of a similar vein – it’s not playing the game in the way it was intended.

      I had heard so much about the Shalebridge Cradle but no details. Which was great, just the way I like it, spoiler-clean. When I finally made it there, I had only about 15 minutes left before I had to go do something else. I think that thing was sleep, but I can’t be sure.

      I was so pumped up to see this celebrated level that I started running around it, trying to find the scares and shocks. I wasn’t playing properly. This is the way to destroy surprises in a game – run around just to see what’s out there and play properly later.

      In triple-quick time, I discovered what was spooky about the Cradle was its atmosphere and not actual elements of game play (like those bowel-evacuating tree monsters that appeared at the end of one level of Thief II, holy FRAK I hit ESC so hard when one sprinted towards me). Having thus spoiled that first *what’s going to happen* experience, the second proper play was empty and distinctly lacking in terror. I just couldn’t get worked up about it. It felt pedestrian.

      To this day, I respect the Cradle and can see exactly why it’s terrifying, but I’ve never felt the Cradle because I screwed it up. I don’t do preview runs around levels any more, no matter how excited I get.

      Ah well. At least the staircase in the Cradle still gets me every time. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. Freaks me out.

    • JuJuCam says:

      I think in the case of The Void, the difficulty and the tense atmosphere don’t necessarily go hand in hand. In fact, the most common way to die (as mentioned by Damien above) is to simply run out of colour while traversing the overworld map. It’s like dying of starvation in a roguelike. Sure, it’s an entirely valid way to die but it doesn’t contribute a great deal to the experience besides frustrating you, because once you identify that you’re in that situation there’s no way to rectify it short of loading an old save game, which as we know breaks immersion horribly.

      For my part, I can’t get past the tutorial areas because the Sister is too demanding and my stocks of colour were too small, despite feeling like I’d done the best preparation I possibly could. So I stopped playing even though I found the whole thing amazingly engaging and immersing. I’ll start over with the medium patch eventually.

    • Muzman says:

      I saw a tip about this which makes things much much much easier regarding colour consumption in the void. People might know it already, but just in case.

      Basically the more lympha you put in your hearts the faster you will process it. So before you go back into the void, make sure you empty all your hearts but one (depending on what colours you need. However since this is only really at the start that it’s a big problem you mostly only need emerald and gold anyway). It won’t look like you have as much ‘health’ but it will last a lot longer while travelling.

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    Grey Cap says:

    Hurrah! I couldn’t finish The Void, to my shame, so this is just what I need! Thanks, Throdax!

  4. TheApologist says:

    Play nice Mr Gillen, or I will tell whoever it is that looks after you. Jim, probably.

  5. Jaedar says:

    I’d say it is better in the arty sense when it is difficult, more tense, makes you connect with the atmosphere of it all in a much greater capacity.

    Can’t say how much the patch will ‘ruin’ that. The predator and sister changes probably won’t, but the ease of access to gardens to grow color might.

    I’d recommend you try without the patch and if you can’t take it, switch, it should be compatible with current saves I believe.

  6. cjlr says:

    Heh, I just cheated. Does that make me a bad person?

  7. Shockedder says:

    It’s a beautiful, atmospheric game.Haven’t finished it yet, but I’d say the difficulty is just right.
    Kudos to IcePick Lodge for this gem.

  8. linfosoma says:

    I just want them to remove the time limit, I dont do well with extremely weird games that explain nothing but expect you to do everything perfect or you’ll get to a point of no return.

  9. Son_of_Montfort says:

    Bah! I “beat” the game with no need for pathetic difficulty patches! Sure, I had to restart like three times… and reloaded hundreds and hundreds of times!

    This is a great game (and a decent erotic story) and if the difficulty patches can let more users experience the full thing, then it certainly is a good thing.

    However, the complete lack of handholding in the game may still put some people off.

  10. klo3 says:

    To make you more torn ;), something i stumbled upon while trying to decide about patching. Apparently Atari got interested and offered to not only publish the international version but also work on various changes, so probably the game you would be playing wouldn’t be the original in any case.

    More info here: http://forum.ice-pick.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=9043&p=94905#p94905

    Only just started my first playthrough so can’t personally comment on the difficulty or changes to game play.

  11. Heliocentric says:

    The Void was on sale on direct2drive a while ago for $5 america only. The cheapest its ever been on sale here is £10 (at least $15) so… Yes, i’m annoyed at regional abuse and have no interest supporting that behaviour. What can i say, no demo so i’m keeping my buying clinical.

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      Grey Cap says:

      I played a demo a (long) while back. Only problem: it was in german… but I’d assume there’s an english one floating about somewhere? Try asking on the Ice Pick Lodge forums.

  12. Alastayr says:

    It’s just ridiculous and sad that a relatively small production like The Void has vastly superior German voice actors when compared to recent multi-million dollar “hits” that rely on voice acting like Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins etc.

    • Dominic White says:

      Ice-Pick Lodge are a weird studio. Perfectionist artists one and all – apparently they were very picky with their voice-casting for each regions version.

  13. John says:

    Thank god, now i just have to bear the atmosphere.

    But… how do i go about making this work in a Steam version? I picked it up for cheap, but still haven’t played much :(

  14. Mistabashi says:

    The voicework for the English release was indeed excellent, and does indeed make a lot of those big AAA dev houses look like chumps (Bethesda spring to mind).

    Also, I wouldn’t worry about the use of a difficulty patch ‘spoiling’ your experience, if anything not having to go back and start again multiple times will enhance it. There’s no hand-holding in the Void, and making a mistake can lead you into an un-winnable situation pretty easily, so if you’ve held-off trying the game because of this kind of thing then I would suggest giving it a whirl with this mod – even if you don’t really ‘like’ the game, it’s an experience you’ll remember.

    (On an uninteresting and unrelated side-note, it took me five attempts to correctly spell the word ‘whirl’. And it still doesn’t look right to me….)

  15. mcnubbins says:

    What’s the yellow stuff coming out of her crotch and nipples?

  16. jsutcliffe says:

    I just cheated my way through via the console.

  17. Muzman says:

    The ‘art-game’ tag is a bit blessing/curse to this thing. You see the odd blog post slinging off at the kind of culture-crit notices it gets in an effort to be the everyman gamer or some rubbish.
    What if we called it a surreal first person fantasy-adventure instead? It’s just as apt. There never used to be a problem with games being like that once.

    I do admit though, I have been fairly slow advancing in it because I’m terrified I’m doing everything wrong and permanently screwing myself. If its gameplay mechanisms and so forth are some complex metaphor for life and so on, maybe we could also call it a social maladjustment simulator.

  18. vanarbulax says:

    But does it get rid of the worms/make them less mind-numbingly slow and tedious? That is the real question. I found the colour system and the brothers pretty engrossing but I had to cheat through the worm battles because I seriously cbf to collect colour and sit there waiting for each individual strike and hoping my net gets to the creature on time.

    Also in terms of people wondering about difficultly, half the challenge is familiarizing yourself with the world and it’s rules so it won’t be easy or boring by any means.

  19. Throdax says:

    What is wrong with my chosen internet name? :)

    I personally find the game better in hard mode as it adds up to the Tension (pun intended), but if an easy patch helps The Void reach a broader audience then I’m happy to have made it as certainly IPL rightly deserves our money (in my opinion)

    The easy patch as made with the intention of allowing people to explore The Void without much pressure. The medium patch was designed the ease the experience but still keep the excitement, and both were create with the help and suggestions of Halfgild and LxR as long with the community.

    Enjoy :D

  20. Angel Dust says:

    This is great! There know many people (a few of them almost non-gamers) who have been interested in this but have been somewhat hesitant to play it.

    Do not think that just because someone is playing on easy or medium that the experience will be diluted; if there skill is also lower they will experience that same level of tension that is integral to the game that us more ‘hardcore’ types did. My wife playing this on easy will be pretty much the same as when I played it on the original difficulty.

  21. Difficult says:

    For those wondering about difficulty, the problem in the original difficulty wasn’t the difficulty in fights or anything, it was the sheer planning it involved with “growing” enough colour. The problem being that was an extremely slow process, you never quite knew what you’d need to grow on how to time, and yet the margin for error was tiny.

    It was incredibly easy to get stuck in a situation where a small mistake in planting colours in a garden early on made it impossible for you to ever possibly proceed, but you wouldn’t know that for a long long time.

    And trust me that doesn’t build tension, its just frustrating to realise theres nothing you could possibly have done in ages to avert it. Thats why people talk of restarting etc, it was very common that you had no choice because your actual game ending mistake occured hours ago.

    • JKjoker says:

      i agree

      the easiest “newbie” mistake you could do is planting little color in many trees which would lock out the trees for a looong time, that one is particularly deadly early on when you only have 1 or 2 good gardens to use (the worst of this one is that you wont understand how hard you screwed yourself until a few hours later once you used up the other trees)

      also planting a lot of color can get you into trouble because if you are unable to harvest it for lack of storage space you will probably lose it to a brother and get the tree locked out as a bonus

      another problem is that you can luck out early on and not find the right color to advance or being unable to get important hearts until very late in the game making dealing with the brothers and sisters impossible, the game gets much easier (but grindy) once you open up more gardens and other methods of color gathering.

  22. DD says:

    Well that was just an amazing intro to an article, I must say.

    • Bret says:

      Ah, insulting John. Does it ever get old?

      Eventually, one assumes it will. Might as well make hay while the sun shines.

  23. Chiller says:

    You know, looking at the trailer just made me realize what a good job they did on those modern town sequences. I would totally play a game in that setting, especially considering that I loved Pathologic.

  24. The LxR says:

    Ah!
    A mention in the RPS news!
    Very much appreciated!

  25. Turin Turambar says:

    The problem with The Void difficulty, it’s not a difficulty that makes impossible to win. You need to “waste” time in making two first runs (first of about three hours, second about 9 hours) in the game that are condemned to defeat and color starving, and then in the third try you will know enough about the unique game mechanics of the game to win (or at least try it with a decent chance of success, unlik the previous two tries).

  26. Navagon says:

    Nice one Throdax! This should make the game more accessible to first time players.