What have we all been playing recently?

Discussion in 'Fan Town' started by ironicBonds, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    I've spent about 1/3 of the last week playing Stardew Valley. Fairly fresh game, now entering summer of year 3, made a ghost happy and have a fair few magic assistants making harvest time way easier. Also, first time discovering that horses are great and dinosaurs are a thing that still exist
     
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  2. anthers

    anthers sleepy

    I've been playing through Gris, which is an absolutely gorgeous game centered around grief and recovery.

     
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  3. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    Gris was the game that first began to solidify a number of my very specific personal game pet peeves, but not because it isn't a good game. The art is breathtakingly gorgeous for one thing. Basically, the things that bothered me would not have made much of an impact if the good parts weren't so good.
     
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  4. anthers

    anthers sleepy

    Can I ask what they were?
     
  5. chthonicfatigue

    chthonicfatigue Bitten by a radioactive trickster god

    Shapez.io scratching all those good organisation itches while being simple enough not to melt my laptop, and no combat to distract from the building.
     
  6. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    Sorry, I realized I needed a bit more processing time before wordsing, then it totally slipped my mind! But yes, certainly! I’m gonna spoiler it in an effort not to harsh anyone’s buzz. I know I’m not always interested in critique when I’m trying to just have entertainment.

    Very long, artistic intro scenes that don’t accept any user input and also don’t communicate that to the user. I was torn between the fear of ruining things by pressing buttons and a growing uncertainty about whether I hadn’t pressed enough buttons and the game was waiting for me to do something. I even vaguely wondered if there was something wrong and the game had become unresponsive.

    The platformer version of pixel hunting. Platformers generally don’t expect the player to accurately guess exactly when they’ve reached the edge of a ledge. If you run up to the edge and press the jump button a moment too late, this is usually accepted by the game as a successful jump. This is not just compensating for imperfect judgment on the part of the player, it’s also a way to compensate for the ambiguity you inevitably introduce with graphics. The player character isn’t visually identical to their hitbox, and run cycle animation gives the player an inaccurate and constantly shifting gauge of the state of their contact with the ground. It’s not just a matter of playability, it drastically changes the way gameplay feels. Without it, games are not just a lot more frustrating, they feel very stiff. I felt like it undermined the gorgeous flow of the character animation and the delicate, precise look of her run cycle. If the movement felt the way it looks, oh that would be the highest form of magic.

    Clumsy, uninviting handling of the sometimes unfortunate traits of players. Players are unpredictable and sometimes do wrong or ridiculous things. This game dealt with it with methods that made me feel like the game wasn’t sure it wanted me there at all. Like completely taking control away with no warning or indication. When I approached the first star I think it was? the game suddenly jumped the character up the ledges for me. It was very alarming. I was instinctively trying to counteract all these unexpected moves by moving the other way so I wouldn’t fall, and it totally ignored me. After the confusion subsided, I felt cheated. It took that moment from me. Because I couldn’t conceive of a game that thought I was such a complete idiot that I wouldn’t work out that I was supposed to jump up there and get the thing, it felt like it had a very specific vision for how that moment ought to look and didn’t want me the player to interfere. It felt like the game didn’t trust me. I never shook the impression that it didn’t really need me to be there. That I wasn’t fully a part of the artistic vision, and it had never completely adapted to accommodate my presence so much as I had become a known issue that was being managed. Basically the story seemed fundamentally uncomfortable about being a game, or at least a little ambivalent at points.

    Overall it feels to me like a promising early career game by talented but inexperienced developers. A lot of the story choices seem like they were made in a vacuum. There are so many themes that have nothing to do with each other. They’re mostly really good themes, they just aren’t as effective as they could be because they’re pulling the story in slightly different directions. It’s not that I don’t notice or appreciate gorgeous art, but I don’t think it connects with me as powerfully as the average person? So everyone else is soaking in the emotionality of watercolor goodness and I’m in the back going, but what on earth do swarms of birds have to do with crumbling statuary or losing your voice?
     
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  7. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    This is not something I played, but something I watched another streamer play. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. It's about a young Pict woman, a warrior, on a journey to challenge Hela for the soul of her lover.

    Senua is psychotic. Her thoughts, her doubts, her fears, and even her tenacity all whisper around her during her journey to literally face her demons. This could have been extremely unfortunate, but one of the very first things you see is a credit for mental health consultant. The game was developed with lots of input from people who have experienced that kind of psychosis, as well as relevant experts. What posts I've seen online from people who have had that type of auditory hallucination have overwhelmingly stated that the portrayal is accurate.

    The game is unnerving at the best of times and terrifying in places. I was not at all surprised, given their fighting style, when the streamer said they had a lot of experience with Bloodborne, and even so the fighting was absolutely brutal. (The difficulty is adjustable, thank goodness. Auto-difficulty does not fuck around.) You get a limited number of deaths and then, as I understand it, the game starts over from the beginning. It really raises the tension. I could see it being extremely frustrating if you're not that comfortable with very high stakes close combat.

    But it's also an enthralling story. I was deeply invested before the credits were even over. The cinematography is very interesting, and the storytelling is canny enough that you can piece together certain things before you're told without diminishing the power of the moments of revelation.
     
  8. Lazarae

    Lazarae You won't be the death of me

    The Darkness will actually never go above certain points depending on where you are in the game, player experimentation shows. Someone died over 50 times trying to get Senua killed. The game bluffs you, but it does it well and even without the Actual Permadeath each death adds to the tension.
     
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  9. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    That makes so much sense thematically! Heh, I vaguely wondered, but that's not the kind of bluff you just call.

    The streamer I was watching was good enough at the combat that it wasn't obvious until the very, very end that the game was helping. That by itself doesn't prove a damn thing, because that's quite common in games. If you pass a point of no return to get to the climax, the game may make it impossible to lose, or it may help you more subtly. You could get more time, more resistance to damage, faster recovery, etc. If the game has a story, this is the big moment. The game probably doesn't want to jar the player out of that moment by suddenly changing the way basic interaction works, but it does have to recognize that even the best player isn't perfect, most players aren't the best player, and the added stress can really throw people off their stride. Delivering a satisfying story experience for people who played through the whole game may be more important than making them prove one more time that they have a functional mastery of the game (which, if not, how are they here?) while accepting a potentially devastating hit to tension and emotional investment.

    But yeah. She was never rotting. I felt that was made explicitly clear at the end if you hadn't already started to call bullshit. It seemed like a manifestation of an idea instilled by abuse, that there was something horrifyingly wrong about her that would eat her up from the inside. There's something beautiful about seeing the mounting evidence of the lie in that, even if you can't shake the vision. If Senua dies over 50 times and gets back up every time despite the apparent state of her arm, she is so much stronger than she knew, than she was told, than she could ever have dared to believe. That in itself is a little scary because it's truly the unknown. And it's absolutely wrenching every time to see her fall, let alone die. It doesn't stop hurting. But she isn't rotting. She's mentally ill and traumatized, not metaphysically necrotic. She's had a psychotic break, not an arm infection.

    Illusion is one of her main themes.
     
  10. YggiDee

    YggiDee Well-Known Member

    I've been playing the hell out of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, because it's great and this time I beat IGA and OD and now I'm just fucking shit up in Randomizer mode.
     
  11. vuatson

    vuatson [delurks]

    been playing some endzone over the past couple days! it's a post-apocalyptic colony sim, currently in early access, with very customizable scenarios. it feels a little like Frostpunk, but more challenging and with some better QOL stuff. my colonies have crashed and burned (or rather, dwindled down to nothing from radiation-induced infertility) twice now on normal settings so I might give it a shot on easy mode lol
     
  12. TheMockingCrows

    TheMockingCrows Resident POTSie potato.

    i got 7 days to die and im addicted. im playing baby mode alone where i lose nothing when i die but it's still a thrill.
     
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