Thursday, February 18, 2010

My brain hurts.

Well it will have to come out!

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom is going to draw comparisons to Braid, and rightly so. They share a similar look and a similar game play, at least on a rudimentary level. Winterbottom lacks the unbearable sense of self importance that put me off of Brain for months; it's about cloning yourself to steal sentient pies, not stalking a girl who wants nothing to do with you and feeling sorry for yourself when it doesn't work. It is also, after an hours worth of head vs. wall, much more difficult. Levels are limited to a single screen filled with all sorts of obstacles that you need to duplicate yourself to get past. These duplicates will repeat their recorded actions in a loop, unless you disturb them (hit them with your umbrella), at which point they angrily shake a fist and fade into the aether. It starts out simply, with the extra Winterbottoms acting as platforms or pulling switches, but very soon there are pies that must be obtained in a specific order within a very strict time limit, pies that only the clone can get, moving platforms bathed in deadly fire, and anything else The Odd Gentlemen could think of to make pastry purloining more painful. I am reminded of Splosion Man in that I can only play it for about an hour before breakable objects within reach begin to fear for their lives. It certainly warrants being finished, but it may take me quite a while to do so.

As per the yesterday's warning, BioShock 2 spoilers ahead.

While nothing could surpass the 'would you kindly' reveal from the first game, BioShock 2 pulled out two very surprising moments just when I was starting to get bored of nailing splicers to the wall. Delta, one of the first big daddies, has been urged on telepathically by his 'daughter' for the entire game. When he finally finds her she is suffocated by her own mother right in front of him to prevent their reunion. This nearly kills him because of the big daddy - little sister bond. Delta falls, his daughter lands in front of him, staring into his helmet with dead eyes, and the screen goes dark. For the first time it what had been an incredibly predictable game I did not know what was going to happen next. It even crossed my mind that I had screwed something up and was getting a really bad ending.

It turns out that neither of them are all dead, just mostly dead. Delta is strapped to a table, being allowed to die a natural death (which apparently circumvents the automatic resurrection that I had been abusing for hours) and his daughter is once again locked away. A new little sister appears, climbs up onto him and jabs a giant needle into his chest. I thought I was being harvested for adam, instead I found myself looking through the little sisters eyes and guiding her through a small mission. Seeing the world through her drug addled, emotionally conditioned mind was easily the highlight of the game. Finally it was something new, disturbing, and unexpected. It really makes me wonder if these events were actually unused ideas from the first game. Nothing else here proves that the development team had this in them.

Of course, even bad games get lucky once in a while.

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