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  • Pete Davison 9:29 pm on October 26, 2012 Permalink  

    Re: Kickstarter, this is a cool story, and a project I feel at least some of us should get behind!

    I actually haven’t pledged to that many overall. I threw some money the way of Carmageddon and Republique but nothing else as yet. Will probably toss some money the way of the Coles, though. It’s Ken Williams-approved!

  • Pete Davison 5:13 pm on October 25, 2012 Permalink  

    Those of you talking strategy games may be interested in the latest Indiegala bundle, which is a veritable cornucopia of strategic goodness, and also features an asymmetrical multiplayer action game in which one side plays the army and the other plays a GIANT FUCKING SHARK MONSTER.

  • Pete Davison 3:33 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink

    @redswir1 waaaaaaay ahead of ya: http://gamesareevil.com/2012/10/news-corpse-party-book-shadows-coming-europe-winter/


    Those of you who own a PSP, BUY THAT GAME. It’s amazing. (EDIT: and here’s why: http://gamesareevil.com/2012/09/readme-darkness-scissors-horror-corpse-party/ )

  • Pete Davison 2:08 pm on October 19, 2012 Permalink  

    Anyone interested in reviewing the upcoming Painkiller game? Hit me up if so — I have the potential for a review code, but won’t request it unless anyone’s up for it.

  • Pete Davison 2:32 pm on October 17, 2012 Permalink  

    PMJI, I know I haven’t been around much, but is anyone interested in reviewing this new point-and-clicker for Games Are Evil?


    Let me know if so — pete [at] gamesareevil [dot] com.


  • Pete Davison 1:48 pm on October 11, 2012 Permalink  

    “Much like ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2, you will purchase the PC game and pay no recurring subscription charges.”

    So… like a normal game then? 🙂

    It looks cool. I haven’t pledged anything yet, but I will certainly be keeping an eye on it.

    I have no intention of touching XCOM and/or Dishonored (probably just XCOM — not feeling Dishonored for some reason) until I finish some of the stuff I have on my plate at the moment. I’m coming up on the end of Persona 3 FES: The Journey, which means The Answer must follow. Then I have the whole .hack series for PS2 that I’ve been meaning to play through for ages. And I’m currently playing through the surprisingly good visual novel/strategy game hybrid Aselia The Eternal in preparation to write about it in the near future. So I’m pretty busy.

    What are we playing for Halloween then? 🙂

    My suggestions:

    • Amnesia (PC)
    • Corpse Party (PSP)
    • Fatal Frame (PS2)
    • System Shock 2 (PC)
    • those things Beige mentioned
  • Pete Davison 10:28 pm on October 6, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , Sierra,   

    SquadCast Mission: Quest for Glory 

    Listen now!

    Direct link

    The Squad tackles Sierra’s classic RPG/adventure hybrid series Quest for Glory. For nearly four hours. Featuring Pete Davison, Mark Whiting, Calin Grajko and Alex Fisher.

    Be sure to leave a comment below!

    Music credits:
    Late Snows of Winter (by OCRemix user jmr)
    Quest for Glory 4 Remix (by YouTube user mofojungle)
    Quest for Glory 4 Castle Theme (OST)
    Quest for Glory 1 Medley (OST)
    Erana’s Piece (arranged by YouTube user NRGFORCE)

    Subscribe via RSS
    Subscribe via iTunes
    Episode archive

    • Pete Davison 10:32 pm on October 6, 2012 Permalink

      Apologies for the shaky sound quality in portions of this — technical issues! It’s (hopefully) listenable, though. 🙂

    • unmanneddrone 9:31 am on October 7, 2012 Permalink

      Holy moley, what a mission! SoS dominated my Sunday afternoon. A great effort, even if some of the incredibly brief aforementioned technical issues gave us insight into the last hours aboard the Kursk submarine.

      Loved it. Well done, lads.

    • Pete Davison 10:22 pm on October 7, 2012 Permalink

      Thank you, sir! It was an epic discussion and no mistake. Hopefully we did the noble series justice.

      Now we need to get on to thinking about the next mission.

  • Pete Davison 2:26 pm on October 5, 2012 Permalink  

    Who else has Borderlands 2? A friend rather generously gave me a free copy on PC this morning, so if anyone’s up for playing sometime, hit me up.

  • Pete Davison 10:12 am on September 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @UMD I will keep an eye out. You would be the ideal person to review that game, I’m sure. Did you play the Atari ST/Amiga original?

  • Pete Davison 9:46 am on September 27, 2012 Permalink  

    @UMD Perhaps it can get a second wind. One of the preorder tiers nets you all Introversion’s back catalogue as well as Prison Architect, which looks potentially very interesting. (I have a couple of friends who have been playing the alpha and say it’s great — and very dark.)

    In other news, TOKYO JUNGLE. Shit. I had a feeling I would love this game, and I was right.

  • Pete Davison 12:44 pm on September 24, 2012 Permalink  

    @unmanneddrone I know I bloody well would! Jesus H. Christ on a bike. What I’m finding utterly infuriating is how much praise it’s getting. But I shall resist ranting on the subject further. For now, anyway. Perhaps a cathartic blog post is in order later.

  • Pete Davison 11:17 am on September 24, 2012 Permalink  

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I GIVE YOU… GAMES JOURNALISM: http://www.freezepage.com/1348485294CEBRHKSEHK

    (I’ve used FreezePage because I don’t want to give this monstrosity any more traffic.)

    I have talented people over at Games Are Evil working their arses off to produce quality content purely because they love what they do (and because I don’t have a budget to pay them with), and this gets published by one of the biggest sites in the UK?


    sigh. There’s probably a clever “joke” in there somewhere that I’m not getting, but still.

    In other news, apologies to anyone expecting a SquadCast this weekend — seems we’ve run into a couple of technical issues, but hopefully nothing that can’t be resolved with the help of RecorderBot. Those of you who haven’t yet uploaded your audio files where applicable, please do so and let me know where you put ’em. Thank you kindly!

  • Pete Davison 1:47 pm on September 23, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Deus Machina Demonbane   

    Self-pimpage: I wrote a piece on Lovecraftian/giant robot (yes, really) visual novel Deus Machina Demonbane. Would be delighted if you read it, even if you have no intention of playing the game. Thank you kindly!

    Linky: http://gamesareevil.com/2012/09/readme-thou-art-innocent-blade-demonbane/

    Anyone up for Torchlight II later?

  • Pete Davison 9:08 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink  

    @cgrajko Well, the new game isn’t QUITE a new Quest for Glory. It’ll be a more traditional top-down RPG, but will apparently have a focus on managing time and social interactions (with characters, not SHARE COINS ON FACEBOOK LOL) rather than grind, grind, grind. The website’s here if you were curious. 🙂

  • Pete Davison 4:08 pm on September 18, 2012 Permalink

    Relevant to our interests.

    Also, you should check out @unmanneddrone‘s latest column, too. BAM.

  • Pete Davison 11:42 am on September 18, 2012 Permalink  

    Hwaugh. Sorry about that, babe!

    *pause slightly too long to be natural, loads other camera angle*

    I thought you were one of ’em!

  • Pete Davison 9:10 am on September 18, 2012 Permalink  


  • Pete Davison 9:09 am on September 18, 2012 Permalink  

    @redswir1 RE2 is literally only about two hours long so you can get through before RE6 no problem. Even if you want to do all four of the main routes (Claire first, Leon second, Leon first, Claire second) you’ll be done in less than 10 hours, not counting deaths.

    Be interested to hear how well it holds up. I used to dislike those tank controls even when it was originally released, so I can imagine they’ll just be painful now. The plot is highly enjoyable nonsense, though, and there’s some good spring-loaded cat scares throughout.

  • Pete Davison 4:18 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink  

    @feenwager It’s me, @bluesforbuddha, @shingro and @cgrajko. We talk. A lot. And somehow manage to stay on topic. For about four hours. But then we were covering four games. 🙂

  • Pete Davison 4:10 pm on September 17, 2012 Permalink  

    Announcement that I forgot to post yesterday: New SquadCast is in the can. Expect our longest ever podcast, on the subject of Quest for Glory, sometime… soon. Ish. Probably next weekend.

  • Pete Davison 11:58 am on September 16, 2012 Permalink  

    @bowlisimo Yeah, I remember that shit. I liked DA:O, but that shit was just silly.

    You’re right though, EA don’t have any franchises I really give a toss about any more. I liked Mass Effect until the BS surrounding the launch of 3; I liked Dragon Age but am quite worried about the rumours surrounding 3 (multiplayer? NOOO.) I don’t give a toss about Dead Space, any of the sports games and don’t play The Sims anywhere near as much as I used to. I may be tempted by Need For Speed: Most Wanted when it comes out, but that’s more interest in Criterion than any love for EA.

  • Pete Davison 11:48 pm on September 15, 2012 Permalink  

    @redswir1 I don’t have a particular issue with episodic content if it’s handled well. By that I mean something like Telltale does — spread out the story and/or allow people to play it a bit at a time. The “first chapter free” approach is good, too. I’ve always disliked the piecemeal DLC approach that groups like BioWare have been doing since Mass Effect 2, though. By the time Mass Effect 2’s DLC came out, I’d already finished that game and moved on to something else and had no intention of returning for some time — and certainly not if I had to pay for the privilege of getting more content. I prefer to play games that I know are complete and aren’t going to mysteriously expand for a fee two months down the line. For one of many reasons, it screws with the pace and structure of your story. It’s “beginning, middle, end” not “beginning, middle, end, WAIT NO WE FORGOT A BIT”.

    What I also dislike with the fire of a thousand suns is when the “business” side of things starts to interfere with the immersion factor of the game. Part of the whole shtick of, say, an RPG is working hard to achieve things — grinding for money, XP and the like. Not everyone likes that and it’s arguably an outdated game concept — but the second you start putting “BUY MORE GOLD!” buttons in your main menu you’re not making a creative work any more — you’re making a product and/or a service. One of the reasons Persona is so effective is because you really have to WORK to make it to the end. It’s a gruelling experience, but because of that you feel GREAT when you make it to the end of it. Same for Demon’s/Dark Souls — all the meaning of those games would be completely destroyed by “GET MOAR SOULS” buttons. Because the moment they’re added in, the game inevitably gets skewed in order to encourage people to pay more — it always happens, in some cases worse than others. Jetpack Joyride handles it quite well, as you say, but is far from guiltless.

    This “freemium” strategy is starting to spill into full-price games now, too. I don’t know how many of you played the recent SSX game, but that featured an incredibly obnoxious mechanic that I didn’t see mentioned in any reviews. Basically, there was an in-game equipment shop that allowed you to purchase various items to boost your riders’ stats. The most expensive of these were ludicrously expensive — and conveniently only tended to appear in the shop’s random inventory when you didn’t have enough money to afford them — thereby encouraging you to take advantage of EA’s “Exchange Microsoft Space Dollars For EA Space Dollars” program. Because by the time you had grinded (ground?) your way to affording them without paying, they were no longer available in the in-game store. A friend of mine tested this extensively and found that it wasn’t just coincidence — it really was fucking with the player in an attempt to squeeze money out of them.

    There are three types of games around at the moment — games as creative works designed for the love, games as standalone products designed to sell in the short-term and games as ongoing services designed to make money in the long-term. All three have their place, but it’s when they start crossing over that it gets messy.

  • Pete Davison 11:26 pm on September 14, 2012 Permalink  

    Amid all the Obsidian goodness, I hope any fans of SPACE! have taken a good long look at the new Bundle In A Box and then thrown some money at it. Some great stuff in there, particularly if you beat the average price.

  • Pete Davison 2:50 pm on September 14, 2012 Permalink  

    The FTL code has been taken!

  • Pete Davison 1:11 pm on September 14, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: HELP WANTED   

    Ranting aside, would anyone like to review FTL: Faster Than Light for me at Games Are Evil? I can get a review code for it, but won’t request it unless someone expresses an interest. It’s right up the alley of at least a few of you, though. 🙂

  • Pete Davison 11:24 am on September 14, 2012 Permalink  

    Read this and try not to throw up in your mouth a little bit.

    Keep your business out of my narrative-based games. Monetize the fuck out of the sheep who play shitty tap-tap-tap nonsense, but destroy my interactive narratives with “YOU CAN’T GO THIS WAY UNLESS YOU PAY $5” and I will BURN YOU TO ASHES.

  • Pete Davison 4:49 pm on September 12, 2012 Permalink  

    Huh. Interesting. I didn’t know integrated graphics had got so good — there’s people claiming that some of those mobo solutions have similar performance to the 550Ti I have in my machine. Nice.

    This is kinda neat, too — how to attach a computer to the VESA brackets on the back of your TV to keep it out of sight. Obviously this won’t be that practical if you’ve got a fat-ass case brimming with high-end hardware, but if you’re making a low-cost Steam Box in a dinky case it’s a neat idea.

  • Pete Davison 4:31 pm on September 10, 2012 Permalink  

    @beige Huh. I found MMoJ to be derivative shite. Didn’t find the Double Fine humour enough to redeem it. No strategy, no fun and incorporating most (though thankfully not all) of the worst aspects of social/mobile freemium gaming. Fair play to them for trying something for a different market, but that market just doesn’t do it for me personally. (Obviously this doesn’t stop me reviewing shiz like that professionally, but I would never specifically choose to spend my free time playing something like that.)

    Conversely, if you have an iOS device and like banging your head against a brick wall repeatedly, you should download Terry “VVVVVV” Cavanagh’s Super Hexagon, which perfectly understands 1) how to “hook” a player and 2) what makes a good mobile phone (note: different from “handheld”) game.

  • Pete Davison 11:45 pm on September 9, 2012 Permalink  

    Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last week and a bit playing a game where aliens crash-land on “Nippon” and replace the government with a teenage girl President whom I just want to hug for-frickin’-ever. Full story here!

    Those of you who like music may be interested in the new Game Music Bundle. The last one was great, incorporating some quality game soundtracks (including Frozen Synapse and Terraria) as well as some other works from chiptune/electronica artists. This one seems to mostly focus on mobile games, but fans of Journey may be interested to hear Austin Wintory’s soundtrack to Horn. The Super Hexagon EP is some head-thumping mayhem, too — as is Super Hexagon itself, if you haven’t yet played it. (Infuriating/addictive iOS game from Terry “VVVVVV” Cavanagh.)

  • Pete Davison 10:10 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink  

    @bowlisimo Saints Row The Third is good times. I had such a blast with it, and it also provided a rare opportunity for me to play an online game with our @unmanneddrone here — I have very fond memories of screeching to a halt in my Tron car to pick him up and then us hooning around the city on an absolute rampage of magnificent cooperative destruction.

    Also a great use of licensed music, particularly in the final mission.

    Walking Dead is sounding great. It’s actually sounding very visual novel-y from what everyone is saying, which pleases me. Were I not in the middle of My Girlfriend is the President (yes, that is a game that exists) I’d jump right on it. Interested to compare and contrast Eastern and Western approaches to narrative-centric games.

  • Pete Davison 2:06 pm on September 4, 2012 Permalink  

    Pardon the interruption, but y’all should check our our boy @unmanneddrone‘s latest piece over at Games Are Evil: http://gamesareevil.com/2012/09/tactical-tuesday-question-control-stormrise-demise/

    While you’re there, give our other columns a read, too, willya? THANKS! http://gamesareevil.com/category/features/columns-features/

  • Pete Davison 9:13 am on September 4, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    I have tried numerous times to get into Halo, mostly prompted by our friend George’s love of the series’ lore, but have failed to be excited by it, ever. The fact that most of the interesting lore is nowhere to be seen in the game is — to me, anyway — to the games’ detriment, as it leaves the games themselves as rather hollow-feeling experiences where you’re just another dude in heavy armour with a gun. Master Chief isn’t interesting as a character, I still have literally no idea why the Covenant and humanity are fighting and I don’t think I could name a single supporting character other than Cortana.

    In short, I couldn’t care less about Halo 4, but given my general attitude towards triple-A now, that will probably come as no surprise. And I’m cool with that; I know the “mainstream” has absolutely no interest in School Days HQ and My Girlfriend is the President, both of which I’m playing at the moment. Makes them all the more special for those of us who do enjoy them. 🙂

  • Pete Davison 1:09 pm on August 31, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Gotham City Impostors   

    Squaddies! Gotham City Impostors just went free to play on Steam. Considering it was already fairly heavily monetized for those who wanted to tweak and customize their characters to a greater degree, this isn’t all that surprising.

    Anyone interested in giving it a try sometime? It always sounded like fun, but I didn’t like the idea enough to want to pay for it.

  • Pete Davison 8:21 am on August 31, 2012 Permalink  

    @UMD Yeah! I’ve only played a human character so far but apparently if you delve into the weirder races there is some truly gorgeous art. May have to try one of the plant people.

  • Pete Davison 12:12 am on August 31, 2012 Permalink

    For those curious about Guild Wars 2, I have been playing it:


    • No questgivers standing around like lemons. You wander around and come across Shit Happening and can pitch in if you so desire. This leads to a much greater feeling of playing with other people. Largely because you are.
    • Combat and questing isn’t the only way to level. You gain XP for everything — crafting, exploring, finding collectibles.
    • GOOOORGEOUS graphics with modest system requirements.
    • An excellent map and fast-travel system.
    • Brilliant character creation system, in which you establish your character’s background as well as their race and class. This ties in to the game’s “personal story” system, where you are the lead character in a story that revolves around you, you, you.
    • Jennifer Hale and Nolan North.
    • Fun combat where you actually have to move around and dodge rather than stand in place pressing number keys until someone falls over.
    • L4D-style “last gasp” system where if you get knocked down you can use some special skills to attempt to kill something and “rally” yourself.
    • Neat progression system — most of your skills are tied to weapons, and using them more unlocks more skills for that weapon. But you can switch and combine weapons at any time. And purchase “miscellaneous” skills for specific slots. It’s kind of like Diablo’s skill system, only better.
    • Cross-server grouping, guilding and communication.
    • No subscription fee, so the game is paced much “quicker” than MMOs which need to retain their users for as long as possible.


    • Server capacity issues. You’ll often find yourself shunted onto an “overflow” server and put in a queue to enter the “real” instance. You can still run around and do stuff and even interact with other players, but these servers are often a bit laggy.
    • The game doesn’t do a great job of explaining its systems. It has a bunch of irritating tutorial popups, but few of these are actually particularly helpful. If you don’t like “learning by doing”, this might annoy you.
    • While the dynamic events are cool, some are still a bit “kill x ys”.
    • That’s honestly about it.

    It really is. I read a review recently that described it as an “MMO that respects your time” and it’s absolutely right — there’s no need to log in and play for 3-4 hours at a time to feel like you’re making progress, because the game is super-generous with its rewards and continues to provide you with a string of awesome things to do. Plus the lack of subscription fee is something which should be celebrated.

    It’d be great to play with some Squaddies but I appreciate a lot of you aren’t MMO types. Even if you aren’t, though, I’d urge you to give the game a look, as it dispenses with a lot of the reasons you probably aren’t MMO people in the first place.

  • Pete Davison 9:55 pm on August 29, 2012 Permalink  

    @redswir1 That’s cause Jetpack Joyride is actually a decent game and doesn’t gouge you for money to actually play. It’s got a bit heavy-handed with the currency purchases since it launched, but it’s still perfectly playable without any in-app purchases. Compare and contrast with the new iOS version of Pitfall, which charges you in-game currency to activate a checkpoint when you first reach it, then charges you a different in-game currency every time you want to continue from it. ENDLESS MONETIZATION AVENUES, YO

    I hate energy systems the most, though. Yet they still seem to be the de facto method of monetization for a lot of social and mobile games. MAKE YOUR GAME WORTH PAYING FOR THEN I WILL PAY MONEY FOR IT. STOP TRYING TO THROTTLE MY ENJOYMENT OF YOUR GAME UNLESS I PAY YOU.

    @unmanneddrone There is a degree of crossover in titles like Jetpack Joyride, like Red mentioned. But the ones that these devs specifically try and market at so-called “core” gamers are inevitably absolute travesties. If you’d like to see what I mean, try something like Dragons of Atlantis or Edgeworld from Kabam. Kixeye’s Backyard Monsters and Digital Chocolate’s Galaxy Life get closer but still miss the point of what strategy game fans are interested in. You know, strategy.

  • Pete Davison 4:50 pm on August 29, 2012 Permalink

    Re: F2P titles — one game, known as CSR Racing, which is essentially the drag racing events from Need For Speed Underground with an energy system, earned $12 million in its first month. TWELVE. FUCKING. MILLION. They describe it as a “triple-A” mobile game and while the production values are good, it’s still shallow bullshit that expects you to cough up money for energy… sorry, “gas” every so often. The devs behind it (who include some “mainstream” industry talent) made a rather wishy-washy defense of it here in response to this article, which I agree 100% with.

    As Alex says, though, F2P isn’t universally the devil. F2P PC games are consistently pretty good now, and I can think of very few examples that I’d describe as “exploitative”. I’d consider the fact that you can play pretty much all of the base DC Universe Online experience without paying a penny to be pretty fucking generous, actually.

    Facebook and mobile games, though? Those ARE the devil. Every time I play an otherwise good puzzle game that offers to sell me solutions, or any game that invites me to “get more coins!” I die a little inside — especially when this system shows up in games that are otherwise brilliant like Hunters 2.

    One thing I’ve noticed in my current role is that mobile and social developers have no idea what the words “hardcore” and “strategy” mean. They seem to think that both mean “boring” and “poorly presented”, which means that their “core gamer” offerings are also among the worst games I have ever had the misfortune to play. I fail to understand why this is, given the quality of talent at some of these studios. I guess it’s easy to make something on the cheap then monetize it out the wazoo, though.

  • Pete Davison 1:13 pm on August 26, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    Gratuitous pimping ahoy! I wrote a column on the subject of School Days HQ over at Games Are Evil. Please check it out if you have a chance, even if you’re not a fan of the genre. I think the idea of wildly divergent narratives is an interesting one, though one that is probably not cost-effective for us to see too much in “mainstream” gaming. That game continues to astonish me with how different its endings are, though.

    Do also check out our other new regular columns if you get a chance, including Alex’s excellent Tactical Tuesday piece and the distinctly Squad-appealing “The Vault”.

  • Pete Davison 9:27 am on August 24, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    @pepperized Just read up a bit on Song of Saya. Yeah, that sounds super fucked-up… but kind of awesome at the same time. Would be interested to hear if it’s more than just shock value.

    @anyonewhocares I’ve finished four playthroughs of School Days HQ now, and each has been significantly different from the last. I haven’t had a “bad” ending yet (and still don’t know what the supposed fuss is about them, so don’t you dare spoil it if you know what it is) but each ending I have had has been definite food for thought. I won’t spoil any here on the offchance that anyone reading might want to play it, but suffice to say that on a number of the paths, there’s some real bona fide The Feels going on. The one I literally just finished nearly had me in tears. A fine example of true love not being an easy ride at ALL.

    Highly recommended for anyone who values deep, meaningful stories about interpersonal relationships… and who doesn’t mind some fairly graphic sex scenes in service of the story. (Only one ending out of the four I’ve seen so far could even be faintly described as “sex as a reward”, and even then it was tinged with more than a hint of extremely bittersweet discomfort.)

    I’ll be writing about this in more detail for my VN column on Games Are Evil on Sunday, so watch out for that. Further enthusing will probably also follow on my blog, too.

  • Pete Davison 11:25 am on August 23, 2012 Permalink

    The only thing I don’t like about Ultima Underworld is the bizarre and ridiculous control scheme, which tends to see you stumbling around like a drunken idiot most of the time. What I wouldn’t give for a modern remake with WSAD controls…

    That said, they’re great games with wonderful music and questionable voice acting.


  • Pete Davison 7:54 pm on August 22, 2012 Permalink  

    @impynickers I feel this is probably going to be Black Isle in name only. Most of the key talent behind that team’s games are elsewhere now, having become BioWare, Obsidian and inXile, among other things.

    Still, will be curious to see what they have in mind.

  • Pete Davison 8:49 am on August 22, 2012 Permalink  

    This is the complete flowchart for School Days, for those curious — click to embiggen. The blue circles are decisions I’ve made/bits I’ve seen. This is correct as of two playthroughs, which had very different endings despite starting quite similarly. And you thought Katawa Shoujo was complicated.

    Consequences in games!

    I wonder how difficult it would be to do a branching narrative that was this complex in something a little more “interactive”, though. Not easy, I imagine. I mean, for all the praise BioWare’s titles get for allowing you to make meaningful choices, all paths through each game still follow the same basic story arc. The Witcher 2 does it slightly better, with two distinct story arcs. Bethesda titles follow about a million smaller paths but don’t deal so much in “consequences”. Heavy Rain did it quite well, but that was closer in structure to a visual novel than anything, so it’s perhaps not surprising.

    The reason we probably don’t get something of this magnitude in triple-A games is, as we’ve discussed before on several occasions, in most cases developers want players to see all their content. Why bother making assets, animations, cutscenes and whatnot for story paths that are likely to prove “unpopular”? Why not just Shepard (sic) the player down a single path towards an inevitable conclusion? Much easier to develop — and plan, for that matter.

  • Pete Davison 8:58 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink  

    Ah, you beat me to it, Mark! I was going to drop by and pimp that myself today. 🙂 It’s a great piece, you should read it, but I’ll save the fine Mr Connolly’s blushes further.

  • Pete Davison 9:41 am on August 21, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , Trails in the Sky   

    Meanwhile, I have been playing three games on rotation recently: Deathsmiles, School Days HQ and Trails in the Sky.

    Deathsmiles I’ve probably talked about before. It’s possibly my favourite of Cave’s shooters, not coincidentally because it’s one of the more accessible ones. I’ve rediscovered it thanks to my new arcade stick, but man that game has a wonderful soundtrack and a gorgeous art style. Hope the sequel makes it to Western audiences sometime.

    Trails in the Sky is an excellent RPG, offering plenty of meaty exploration, fighting and questing wrapped up in a deliciously well-translated bun peppered with memorable characters. There’s a fabulous “will they, won’t they” relationship at the core of the party right from the get-go, so I’ll be interested to see how that develops.

    School Days HQ, meanwhile, is a remastered visual novel/interactive movie that is extremely fondly regarded by fans of the genre. It does an excellent job of emotionally engaging the player and drawing them into the intricacies of its seemingly rather mundane plot, even with a relative lack of interaction. Japanese school drama and love triangles ahoy. If you’re interested in Japanese cultural norms and the concepts of “omote” and “ura” (public and private faces of society) it’s fascinating. Omote: holding a school festival where each class and club makes a display to show pride in their culture and school; ura: at least one of the stalls having a “break room” hidden in the back where couples can go to, uh, spend some “alone time” together.

    It’s also interesting in that it’s one of the few games where not making a choice is a valid option — any time there are two dialogue options on screen, there’s also the secret third option to “just wait”, which can lead in a different direction altogether. It’s shockingly divergent, too — I finished the game once last night (with what was ostensibly a “good” ending but which still felt somewhat bittersweet, impressively) and was helpfully informed that I had seen just 12% of what it had to offer. There are supposedly 20 different endings, so I’m curious to check those out. There’s explicit shagging in it, yes, and it could probably have told its story without being quite so graphic about it (and in fact the original version saw a 15+ bonk-free rerelease on PS2 in Japan), but eh; it is what it is, and these scenes at least appear to serve the story rather than purely acting as a “reward” for the player.

  • Pete Davison 4:03 pm on August 19, 2012 Permalink  

    Oh hell yeah, I loved me some Ehrgeiz. Wish I still had my copy.

    That “Quest” mode was so weird. It was completely separate from the rest of the game and had absolutely nothing to do with anything, but they just thought they’d bundle it in there anyway. (Didn’t you get to play as the Quest characters in the fighting game if you beat it though? I forget.)

    So far as recent roguelikes go, you’re best off looking at the freeware scene, stuff like The Binding of Isaac or I believe Baroque on Wii is a full-on roguelike. I don’t believe any fighting games have done anything like this for a very long time, though, presumably due to budgetary constraints. Why make two games when you can sell one for $60? (Hell, if there was a roguelike mode for something like Soul Calibur as DLC, I’d happily pay cashmonies for that.)

    Happy Eid!

  • Pete Davison 10:11 am on August 17, 2012 Permalink  

    @feenwager I know. It’s just a fairly prevalent attitude on the Net, not just from your comments, and it’s getting a little tiresome. Gaming is so much more than whatever blood and guts game monopolises the front page of IGN at any one time, and it’s frustrating how relatively few places seem to accept that as a possibility, and how few take great titles like The Last Story seriously purely because of their graphics and/or platform.

    Sorry, it wasn’t intended as an attack on you. Straw that broke the camel’s back and all that.

  • Pete Davison 9:28 am on August 17, 2012 Permalink  

    @feenwager Your loss. Interestingly, regarding what you were saying recently about wanting to play and RPG/go on a “quest” — RPGs have very much moved to the lower-tech platforms (Wii, PSP, DS), presumably because it’s simply cheaper to develop for them, so if you want to continue to enjoy new releases of that kind of game, you will have to swallow your pride and use these “children’s toys”. I’d be very surprised if Wii U didn’t find itself home to some quality quests, too — that tablet will be ideal for menus and battle interfaces, and given the choice between developing for brand new, expensive tech and a system that is closer to being a known quantity, those wanting to make a 30-100 hour game will pick the “safer” option.

    The point is, you shouldn’t dismiss something because of what platform it’s on or what resolution its graphics run at. That may not be what you mean, but it’s what’s coming across. Is The Last Story worth buying a Wii for? Probably not, but there is a ton of quality games — including The Last Story — on that platform that no-one ever talks about just because “it’s the Wii”. Instead it’s stuck with an admittedly not entirely undeserved reputation as a waggle machine, a children’s toy. And that’s just kind of sad.

    My favourite experiences of this year (that I’ve PLAYED this year, I should say) have all run at considerably less than HD resolutions — The Last Story (Wii), Pandora’s Tower (Wii) Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2), Fortune Summoners (PC) and my current RPG jam, Trails in the Sky (PSP). To ignore games like these is to do them a great disservice, particularly if you’re a fan of that genre.

    On the other hand, though, I’ll freely admit that there’s enough stuff coming out for the HD consoles that it’s easy to let lesser-known stuff pass you by. It’s no longer possible to “play everything” — you have to make some decisions. For most of my interactive entertainment these days, I’ve chosen to forgo the blockbusters in favour of the smaller, lower-budget titles I find more interesting; you’ve clearly gone the other way. And that’s fine — just please, please please don’t imply that those of us who choose to play games on, say, the Wii are somehow “lesser” or “children” for choosing to do so. As I say, I appreciate that may not have been your intention, but it is what comes across.

    Peace out.

    EDIT: I realise my “you are BAD PEOPLE” comment could be taken the same way, and for that I apologise. Regardless, I do believe that titles such as The Last Story should be supported rather than ignored.

  • Pete Davison 11:42 pm on August 16, 2012 Permalink  

    I’m up for some Endermen-killin’. Give me a shout any time it’s hap-hap-happening.

    Also, any of you North Americans who have not bought The Last Story yet are BAD PEOPLE. BAD I SAY. Go and buy it and play it and love it.

  • Pete Davison 5:30 pm on August 16, 2012 Permalink  

    Unrelated to below discussion: TF2’s co-op patch is now live, but apparently getting hammered as everyone tries to play right now. Anyone up for playing this weekend? Co-op is the one thing that might get me to actually enjoy TF2.

  • Pete Davison 3:56 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink  

    @cgrajko To play Neotokyo.


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