The Black Glove
Be a good samaritan and go to the church in this game. That part has quite a wonderful sermon, where as Emily Short writes, "The loaves and fishes weren’t multiplied because God miraculously violated the law of the conservation of mass, but that the people in the crowd were shamed or persuaded into donating their own food which they had formerly been selfishly reserving for themselves". As the priest in Zest says - "That instead of an audience, they had become a community". Let's top it off with a nice prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Bernband (Tom van den Boogaart)
It fascinates me how lo-fi experiences such as this and Slave of God can immerse and mystify me so strongly. At the surface level, there doesn't seem very much to these experiences, yet just walking around there - no aim in sight, exploring stuff - can feel more compelling and exciting than exploring a town in a high-end RPG, say Wasteland 2. Well, for some time at least - I guess making larger areas with more substance is where it gets really tricky to sustain my attention. Immersion in these walking simulators (paradoxically?) probably has something to do with the lack of objectives, lack of "agency", lack of pressure put on me as a player to perform, lack of uncanny valleys, lack of too high expectations on what the game might be simulating and how finegrained the system is for that simulation. It thus probably has something to do with simulation fever. By painting in broad strokes, it leaves more to the imagination. This reminds me of Chris Bateman's Imaginary Games, and some ideas there: "The movie dictates almost everything about the accompanying game of make believe, and thus the movie is more intrusive in the viewer's game than for example a book, the authorial vision stronger. The props (things mandating specific imaginings in games of make-believe) do not leave much room for the imagination of the player, which explains why the experience of a movie can be quite unconvincing and non-immersive when the props are of poor quality." Yes indeed, and the psychological locks upon you may be as such that you deem the movie to be of bad quality ("at the surface it seems like nothing much, really"), to be cliched or stupid, and you could still be moved emotionally by it, or in this case, immersed.
NaissanceE is all about architecture and atmosphere. Shadows cast on white and grey. Well, not only - it is also about breathing, and running, and jumping. But without any context. Sort of. What do I know, I only played it for an hour and watched the last chapter on youtube. The soundscape is very unsettling and wonderful too. It's like an alien Blade Runner running around in the abstract love child of Tarkovsky and Kubrik.
I'm hoping when these darn walking simulators flood the VR-market people will become too seasick to jump around, and instead just opt for, well, walking. Or autojumping. Or something.
A City Sleeps
I've been a fan of Harmonix ever since FreQuency and Amplitude, and although their kickstarter video pitch was awesome, the game pitched seems to be the same game which was released almost ten years ago, only with new songs. This interests me as little as yet another Rockband, and the music video game genre in general lays dormant for me right now. But Harmonix seem to be trying some different stuff too, both in Chroma and A City Sleeps. Shmups are another genre which I've been a big fan of, but which I'm really not into these days, so the music game-shmup-breed that is A City Sleeps comes at me from a very specific angle. I didn't expect much, and after the initial hour I was very pleasantly surprised, only to be disappointed when venturing further. I've come to the conclusion that the shooting and scoring in the game isn't very deep. The potential was there to let the music guide your dodging, to let your secondary weapons be placed in different areas of the screen and let your dodging follow a natural rhythm since you'd want to be at specific places when the beat hits or whatnot, but I just couldn't find any good flow at all while playing. When the game was at its easiest it also felt the most relaxing and rewarding, graphics and music in unison with the cool backstory. But soon enough things started to get more difficult, and I quit because nothing made sense to me. It just didn't feel graceful. I thought I'd just play breeze through the game to get the really good writing and story out of the way, but realized that quite fast the game became too hard for me, like 3/5 difficulties in! Seems I'll be waiting for a playthrough to get the rest of the story. A real shame. Seems to me the universe they built up (and mostly allude to) for the game is a very interesting one, but I just can't progress much further due to sucking too much, which says a lot considering I've played these types of games a significant amount of time...
Sidescrolling beat em ups are awesome. And yet, where are the really good ones? Where are the Turtles in Time, Super Double Dragon and Final Fight of our era? Or Streets of Rage, or Three Dirty Dwarves, etc? I remember Alien Hominid made a splash, yet I didn't find it very appealing. Well, Devil's Dare plays a bit like Streets of Rage and feels very old-school, in the sense that movement is quite limited. Disappointing, but since there is the possiblity of co-op play for up to four players, I will definitely return to this when I have the friends available for it.
I played this back when it was a prototype in a homemade arcade cabinet, and it was as awesome then as it is now. Aw hell yeah. The roster of action-packed party games keeps growing. Towerfall, Nidhogg, Samurai Gunn, Laza Knitez, Starwhal...
Dragon Age 2
I started playing it! Suddenly I'm anticipating the third installment, because I realized I have a friend who will play it and it seems quite cozy to sit beside hir and watch hir play, even though I'm skeptic to the game and probably won't be seeing it through to the end. Maybe that will be the case with Dragon Age 2 - it all depends on the characters and the story...
Pulling all these tools together, we have a flexible system for authoring Ice-Bound stories that lets them adapt to the particular context the system decides to use them in, without becoming overwhelming for us as authors.
Like so much horror, Silent Hill 2 is about the failure of things – of nerve, of compassion, of organs, of machinery, and of mind and body as a whole. Everything is in a process of decay, a town that has aged decades overnight and still carries traces of lives continuing just around the next corner or through the next door. It’s unclear if James himself is the ghost, walking through lives in process but failing to see them through the shadows of his own state.
I still can’t play certain sections without company – I am the world’s most cowardly horror fan – but the lasting sense is of sadness rather than spooks. Tragedy requires flaws and the game’s narrative of decay is built upon human failings of every kind. It’s a more sorrowful experience than a stack of melancholy ‘art games’.
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