Monday, April 18, 2016

In the nick of

Stories ended just in time. I had seen all of the levels, upgraded all of my swords, broken the combat by combining two different skills and generally run out of things to do. There was still one more truth do find, one more correct run before I could make the final run. Instead of forcing me to find the right combination of levels (and risking that I just walk away) the game acknowledged that it had just about run its course and told me what I needed to do.

How novel. It made an attempt to keep the player engaged even if that meant bending its own rules a bit. After the last truth was obtained I had to do one more run through many of the same levels but once again the game made it plainly obvious which was the right way to go.

I do not have a problem with the gaming going out in this way. With a ton more content, more weapons and a more interesting skill tree I could play a choose your own adventure style game with branching story paths, most of which end in hideous defeat, for quite a while. That is not what Stories is, it probably didn't have the budget for that, so instead of forcing the player through hours and hours of boredom to get to 'the end' after the game is basically done it clears the path to its finale.

Not to gloss over its problems too quickly...

Combat was broken by the inclusion of one ability that was far too powerful: upon reaching a certain hit chain all enemies are killed in one hit. The first level of this skill requires 20 hits, which is a little high, but the second only required 10. In combination with a skill purchased much earlier that doubled the value of precisely timed hits I could get this rolling in 5 attacks and then mash to my heart's content. It removed all challenge, all fun, from the combat.

And the voice acting... I cannot find the gentleman's name who was tasked with reading some of the silliness required for this game but I do not envy what he was put through. His voice is not great but it is not offensive either. What he was tasked with saying, though, is often unbearable, including pop culture references that have no place not just in the game, but anywhere at all. The script tripped over its own attempts at cleverness.

This is not a bad game, it is a limited game, and it is aware of these limit, making what good it does have much easier to appreciate.

...

Republique? Kickstarted episodic game originally intended for iOS and Android devices and later ported to PS4? Plays like the (more) boring hacking section of Watch Dogs? Im understandable dubious.

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