Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday venting

Much to discuss, most of which is not good. It is a Monday, after all.

Prey, in spite of me knowing its twist, managed to stay interesting up to the point it tried to resolve anything. There are, I believe, three possible endings. Spoiler for a several month old game now, you have been warned! Also, I will take any chance possible to throw shade at Nier: Automata, so thank you Prey for having a modern, not dumb as shit save system so I could see all three endings without having to play the game three times.

Ending number one can happen several hours prior to the actual end of the game. By following a set of side quests 'Morgan' can leave the station early. He doesn't accomplish either of the two competing main quests, destroying the station or destroying just the aliens, but he does survive. After Morgan flies off into space the screen goes black and Alex, his brother, states to shut it down, that he is not the one. This only makes sense if you know that 'Morgan' is an alien running through a simulation designed to teach him empathy, something that the player should not know at that point.

Endings two and three are a simple choice: destroy the station (and shoot Morgan's brother in the chest) or destroy the aliens (and shoot the AI based on a previous version of Morgan in the chest). One would think that they would be different in some way. No, they both end up with 'Morgan' in a chair and Alex and several AIs going over his performance, trying to decide if the alien was human enough to let live. At the end of several minutes if info dump the player can decide to shake Alex's hand or kill them all.

I did both and it did not make a difference.

The point of this is unclear. There may be some deeper meaning that I did not uncover. Then again the developers may have just run out of ideas, thrown the credits up on the screen and then fucked off to the bar. Either way, between the bland combat and this nonexistent resolution, Prey was an experience that I will not remember for long.

Prey is a forgettable game about forgetting things. What as I talking about again?

...

Hellblade is awesome.

Senua is a believable, broken character. She started out hearing voices, something modern day medicine would diagnose as schizophrenia that is, in her day, grounds for being locked in a house or kicked out of a village, and it just gets worse for her from there. She finds someone who helps quiet the voices, falls in love, he is killed in a terrible, terrible way (of screen, thankfully) and she goes on a very norse quest to reclaim her lover's soul from Hel. This is Orpheus in the Underworld, viking style.

The game is divided, less equally than I would like, between puzzle solving and combat. Combat is simple, consisting of three different attacks, a block and a dodge, but gets more complicated as more enemies are added. Two at a time is tough and three is just nasty, especially when the camera stays locked on one and his friends sweep around behind. The voice's in Senua's head are not all for show, thought, as they will warn the player when it is time to dodge a swing from off screen. It is not DmC but it works.

Hellblade is shit.

The rest of the time finds Senua wandering through liner environments that are frighteningly well rendered. They don't look, they look dream like, and later nightmare like. In these environments there are about two different kinds of puzzles. The first, and the not shit one, sees Senua switching back and forth between version of the same environment. Think the light and dark worlds from Soul Reaver, only not that good.

And the second kind of puzzle? The shit ones? Doors are locked by runes and Senua must find those same shapes somewhere in the surrounding area. Hellblade does throw the player a bone by at least indicating when the player is close but even so, these are unintuitive needle in a haystack boring ass searches that take up far too much time and are never, ever fun.

These puzzles are so bad that it almost ruins the rest of the game. Each time I came across a door locked in this way I groaned audibly. Last light I swore to noone in particular that if I did not find the rune I was looking for in the next 5 minutes (after having spent 30 fruitless minutes on the task) that I would send malicious and offensive tweets to Ninja Theory.

It was only one. They did not answer.

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