Sundays are for hoping for cooler days after an often scorching week. Let’s hide from the sun for a while longer by gathering some links to the week’s best games writing.
It’s a short this one week because I didn’t read much and didn’t enjoy much of what I read.
First-person scifi adventure game Cradle seemed to pass everyone by except for Adam at the time, but now Joel Goodwin has taken up the mantle of writing about its strengths and, mainly, its weaknesses.
Cradle is much closer to an observation deck. You go through a lot of sometimes laborious motions to figure out who you are, who your companion is and what’s up with the world. Yup, not only are you suffering from amnesia but also your companion – and for entirely different reasons! Amnesia often feels like a heavy-handed way of gating story and driving progress but it doesn’t have to suck. I’m sure a good portion of the readership here has been through Planescape: Torment (Black Isle Studios, 1999) whose revelations provide plenty of shock value.
You might also enjoy Joel’s recent spoiler-y spoiler-filled video, The Unbearable Now: An Interpretation of The Witness, which has spoilers for the very end of the game. Spoilers! Massive spoilers! SPOILERS.
Kate Gray writes on Games Radar about videogame animals’ weird obsession with humans, whether it be carrying our spare swords or going out of their way to bite us.
The Witcher 3 and Far Cry 4 are prime examples of this inexplicably hostile animal behaviour. Sure, The Witcher is set in fancy magic medieval times, so it’s not completely out of the question that a world in which one man can see smells and hear time is also a world in which dogs loathe everyone except other dogs. (In fact, there’s also a great, in-game reason why The Witcher 3’s wild dogs are so grumpy.) But Far Cry? Why do all the eagles hate you so much? Will there ever be a DLC story where you discover that the main character committed some kind of nest-related faux pas, thus cementing his infamy as a Very Bad Man in eagle lore? We can only dare to dream.
PC Gamer got a long hands-on Deus Ex Mankind Divided. I’m not bitter. I just think the game sounds great.
As the game’s lead writer, Mary DeMarle, tells me six hours later. “It’s not an open world; an open world is vast. Instead of going vast, we’re going deep. Literally, from the rooftops to the sewers.” My sample of Mankind Divided’s beginning reflects that—rather than push for the core story, I spent most of my eight hours exploring futuristic Prague in depth. I climbed out of windows, explored the rooftops and billboards, and went wading through sewer gas. I followed up conversations, deliberately rode in the non-Aug underground carriages to see what happened, and drunk every last bottle of booze I could find (roleplaying a typical foreigner in Prague.)
I haven’t played Myst or its sequels and so have no opinion either way as to their quality, though others of this parish feel very strongly. I did enjoy this retrospective of sequel Riven however, once it gets going.
Riven expected a scholarly attention to detail from its players. You literally had to study the history, understand the power structures and judge character motivations in order to unlock that culture. This was a ‘game’ where to crack a code you (almost intuitively) needed go to school and learn the local numerical system; a game where understanding the spiritual importance of animals to the indigenous population would allow you to make contact with their underground movement; a game where studiously reading the journal of a complex ruler and his prodigal son ultimately informs your judgement when you are tested in a pivotal encounter; a game where within the fiction of it’s world, the lever puzzles actually made sense.
Music this week is Neil Cicierega’s PokéRAP. Which is your favourite Poké?