Thursday, October 13, 2016

It's been bottled up for a while

Caution! This is going to be a very, very bitchy post.

In spite of its issues I was enjoying The Technomancer. It had the same kind of charm as watching MST3K riff on ancient Gamera movies. I knew it was bad but it was still appointment playing. Combat had settled down to a more manageable morass and I was all set to sick forty plus hours into a generic version of other excellent games.

Last night, after cleaning up all of the side missions, I attempted to advance the story. My parties rover had finally been repaired and I was instructed to talk to the pilot. There was a big star on my radar, I walked there, talked to her and nothing happened. There was no option in the dialogue tree about the rover.

Broken quests are not a new thing, they happen all the time, especially when your game has 'scrolls' in the title. I had seen them before and usually leaving and coming back, forcing the area to reload, gets things moving again. So I left, quick travelled away to a different corner of Mars. And then I came back, and it was still broken.

I quit the same and started it up again. I uninstalled the game, deleting my save and loading it from the cloud backup. Nothing worked and I did not have any backup saves from before the quest broke. Frustrated, I entered 'technomancer broken quest' into the google machine and the first five fucking entries were about the same exact quest that I was stuck on.

From the PC version. From four months ago.

Uninstalled, sent back, pissed off.

...

In the midst of this debacle I played another hour of Thumper and have decided that I have been misled. Someone out there vouched for the quality of the game but that someone did not venture past the second level and therefore was not exposed to the games real problems.

Rhythm games need to have good mechanics, look interesting and have good music, not necessarily in that order. Mechanically Thumper is fine. It operates on the same 'push button in time with things flying down a track at you' as every other rhythm game, ever. There is nothing special here, nothing like the brilliant Gitaroo Man or Elite Beat Agents, but it works.

Visually the game is an absolute drag. Yes, it runs smoothly, but that is because there is nothing going on. And when the game does turn on the fireworks it obscures what it really important. There is a boss at the end of each level, which is a good idea, but after four levels I have yet to see a new boss.

All is not lost, there are many very good rhythm games that are not much to look at. Rock Band had never been better than serviceable and the Guitar Heroes were outright offensive after the first three. Audiosurf has a very similar look to Thumper, similar mechanics as well, but these are all saved by the good music.

The music in Thumper is little more than white noise with a beat to it. Worse still, starting with level five (as far as I have made it due to a vicious difficulty spike) what the player has to do has less and less to do with the beat. If it is playing with off bears of syncopation I have yet to discern it, meaning that game is less and less about reacting and more about memorization.

Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing. No one site read the end of Green Grass and High Tides or Free Bird, they memorized the movements. The same is true for Thumper, starting with the fourth level. This is where the final nail in the coffin hits: the levels are way, way too long and the individual sections repeat.

I do not like it and wish I would have spent that money on Rez instead.

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