Shallow Depths has been quiet for a long time but I'm finally back with a new site and renewed enthusiasm. The old posts have been transferred over, in most of their embarrassing glory. The comments didn't survive the trip, but I never liked you people much anyway.
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.
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.
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.
[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.