So, I played through Spec Ops: The Line. Actually, that's inadequate. I studied Spec Ops: The Line: picked at it, turned it over, bit down and sucked out the gooey, uncomfortable marrow. It's all a bit too trendy, maybe. I don't usually play military shooters so I've just been following the breadcrumbs critics have been scattering for quite a while now. I was a tourist in the ruins of Dubai, not quite sure what I was looking for.
This post is part of the Blogs of the Round Table at Critical Distance, on the topic of "Challenge".
Julian Luxemburg waits anxiously in his apartment for his date to show up. She never will. We know this, and since we're sitting in Julian's subconscious he likely knows it too, deep down, but we have to go through the motions anyway. We're in a narrow kitchen with a small dining table off to one side.
Intimate, you might say.
Everything is in place and there's nothing left to do but wait. It's a simple space, but carefully tidied and arranged for this moment. The table's set for two, with empty wine bottles forming a candle holder and flower vase. Soup bubbling on the stove, crusty bread, and a decent drop of Merlot.
Because he wanted everything to be nice for her.
Because he's lonely and wants to get inside her knickers.
I'm not the sort of person who plays individual games more than once, and not just because I don’t have time for my backlog as it is. I find sticking with a single playthrough is usually the most satisfying option, even if it means missing out on content.
(Insert obvious exception for rogue-likes, or other games where repeated play is inherently important).
There are several reasons to only play once, other than the obvious desire to try something new. There can be good reasons to seek out a more complete experience of a game too, don’t get me wrong, but I'm not sure everyone respects what this risks leaving behind.
I have a complicated relationship with Dishonored.
I was so excited at first, as I snuck up on the first few prison guards and quietly choked them out, thinking how much it felt like Thief.
I love the grimy corrupt world, and the art style to go with it, like an old oil painting. Everything looks slightly washed out but sharp at the same time. Carving deep lines into faces, and making decadent clothes and furnishings look garish next to the rubbish and sickness on the streets.
I love the Art Nouveau posters and scrawled graffiti.
I love the Heart, an ugly mix of flesh and clockwork. She whispers dark secrets about people and places. A voice of fear, pain and compassion versus the opaque motivations and emotions of silent protagonist Corvo.
This post is part of the Blogs of the Round Table at Critical Distance, on the topic of "Fear and Loathing in Game Spaces".
Just being in the world and around other people is scary and exhausting for me. I forget sometimes, because to me it's completely normal. I've learnt to distance myself from the stronger emotions, leaving behind a constant, dull anxiety. But still, no-one would mistake it for anything but fear. I'm not shy, but still perpetually skittish and closed off from the people around me.