I Hate Final Bosses

Posted by Cha

Hydrophobia: Prophecy is the most mundane game I've played in a long time. The water physics are impressive, but not utilised in interesting ways. I was expecting more sophisticated physics puzzles based on manipulating water flow. At the very least, I wanted to feel like water was something to be afraid of.

When I first heard about the concept I imagined Hydrophobia would seem cold, dark and dangerous. Survival horror where you stay just one step ahead of being submerged or swept away. It's nothing like that, of course. It's mostly a game about shooting exploding barrels and scanning for invisible-ink graffiti. It's full of grey corridors, cult-crazed soldiers, and crystal clear water sloshing from room to room. The main character is an inhumanly strong swimmer, and water is a handy tool more than it's a hindrance. There is absolutely no sense of fear.


Introductory Souls

Posted by Cha

In Dark Souls and Demon's Souls stories emerge naturally from the environment, or from scattered information. It's a puzzle with many pieces missing, but there's enough information to see the basic image. Occasionally, a small revelation will make me smile or gasp. A few lines of dialogue have more impact than I've seen in half-hour cutscenes elsewhere.

The Souls games are beautiful examples of organic and restrained storytelling. There's room to discover my own sense of the world, but still plenty of scripted elements. Finding information in a natural way lets me feel the story instead of just understand it.


What Do You Play?

Posted by Cha

It probably shouldn't surprise me when someone asks about the sorts of games I like to play, but the question stalls me. Not because I'm the least bit uncomfortable about my game-habits, but because it's a surprisingly complicated question.

I can talk about genre labels, but they tend to be both broad and fuzzy. And honestly, I do play a lot of different games. I'm tempted to use the word eclectic, but I'm pretty sure there's only one hentai game in my back catalogue so surely I can't be all that eclectic. Something to work on, maybe.

If you've asked me about the games I play you probably would have been happy with a simple answer. "Mainly wRPG and action-adventure", perhaps. Maybe I could list some favourites. Accurate, as far as it goes, but I often prefer to discuss the genre overlaps and difficult-to-classify oddities.


Game Lettering: Tale of Tales

Posted by Cha

[Spoiler warning for FATALE, although I'm not sure FATALE spoilers count, really.]

Indie developer Tale of Tales tend to polarise opinion, but I have a crush on their work. One of the things I appreciate is their use of lettering as an art form.

The logo for The Path was hand-crafted by Marian Bantjes. She's a famous typographer and graphic designer, the kind who wins awards and attracts labels like 'innovative'. It was a commission borne out of a desire to work with gifted artists, not expediency. A small thing in the scheme of game development, but rather beautiful.


Asylum Hopping

Posted by Cha

I'm slightly ashamed to admit to how much I enjoy games featuring mental asylums (and similar locations). I suppose it goes with the territory when you appreciate dark themes, uncertain layers of reality, and an ominous atmosphere.

Pervasive ideas about mentally ill meaning creepy, dangerous, subhuman and so on... those aren't so cool. I know I'm treading through problematic territory on this one. I suppose I find creepiness here which has more to do with how patients are treated than the patients themselves.

Barbaric treatments for mental conditions are some of my top nightmarish-fears, with the additional frightening element that 'barbaric' doesn't always mean 'in the past'. Not having asylums anymore doesn't mean everything's rosy. So, I disturb myself by playing around in virtual asylums, then worry about the treatment of (and respect for) people with mental illnesses in the real word.