Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Some Flawed Games Which Nonetheless Showed Promise

So right now, I'm listening to the best of Rainbow. Rainbow, in case you lived in a cave or were born after the 80s, were an awesome band who had the late, great Ronnie James Dio as their lead singer, and mostly wrote fantasy rock. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, by the way, although tabletop players will be happy to know there's a series of adventures based on Dio's work on DriveThruRPG. It's pretty easy to find, and pretty cheap. I may well give it a go at some point.

But today, I just want to ramble a bit about some games I've had for a while that, while disappointing, definitely had something that makes me come back to them every now and again. We're going to start with Gentrieve 2, by Phr00t.

Doesn't look inspiring, does it? And overall, it definitely isn't. Enemies are a collection of geometric 3d shapes, mostly cubes, spheres, and cylinders, it's hard to see what they can do to you without them going active and attacking you, bosses are a bit random as well (and can mostly be defeated by hiding behind walls and playing popamole), and, worst of all, certain obstacles are such a pain to pass in the area transition rooms that it's better to just go for a customised world and disable certain weapons, so you're guaranteed never to find them (physics gun, I'm looking at you!)

But it at least fulfills part of its mission statement, which is to make a procedurally generated MetroidVania. In fact, many of the weapons are pretty much identical to the famous Metroid franchise. And, masochist that I am, I go back to it every now and again.

Deep Black Reloaded is another one, and I actually did a Let's Try of this game a year or two ago. What does it do right? Underwater. It does underwater combat fairly well, it looks good, and the grappling hook/hacking device idea is a nice one in theory. But it's bogged down in some truly awful writing ("Wait, this is a wetworks mission? FUCK THAT"... "Nope, you're doing this, even though I lied to you"... "Oh, okay... But don't expect me to be happy about it" sums up one of the most retarded early game exchanges), some extremely frustrating cover combat, and, our old friend, fucking Quick Time Events. Good luck dodging those, or the surprise mines that sometimes pop up.

Games like this make me sad, but what also makes me sad is that many of these experiments won't be refined or continued. Deep Black, for example, Biart, while still around, have gone into underwater hunting sims that cash in on the Oculus Rift), and another promising, but flawed start, Hydrophobia, will never see a second part that refines the game, because the company went under due to shitty sales of Hydrophobia and the mostly improved PC port, Prophecy. That one also used water in clever ways, but was marred by a shitty endgame with, surprise surprise, a mechanic that relied on Physics (a tricky proposition at best) and somewhat iffy controls for the SUPER WATER POWER you had.

There's really no winning state there, sadly. Sword of the Stars 2 proved, among many other games, that letting a flawed studio produce big concepts is not a winning recipe, and a different studio with the same license/idea will often produce things in a very different way.

Okay, that's enough rambling from me for today.

No comments:

Post a Comment