The Merciful End is Nigh

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for chapters near the end of Heavy Rain

Butch:

Kids were batshit today. Performance week at camp, so they’ve been out till ten last two nights. Total. Crazy.

I’m gonna walk a few miles to chill. Then I’ll play.

Feminina:

See: exercise! Who knew it could provide mental as well as physical health benefits? Walk. Chill.

If it helps, the most egregious material is out of the way…there’s no more unpleasant nudity (and those are two words we don’t like to have to use together). Unless I’ve managed to suppress it, or it happened in a scene I didn’t get because I didn’t take a shower.

Butch:

Who indeed! Well, besides the entire medical community. But what do they know?

I sincerely hope we never use “unpleasant” and “nudity” together again.

But you know what we can use? “Laughably implausible sex.” I mean….what? Way to take some narrative shortcut. (I could ask how on earth he managed to get that bra off with one good hand, but I guess I’m just good at QTEs). And then the “I hate you!” “But I love you!” “Well…ok then…I guess I love you” bit that things do.

This is getting silly. Or gotten silly.

Which is too bad cuz that chase scene was really good.

But on to the next chapter.

Feminina:

Yes! With the one hand! How! I also wondered.

I also noted the contrast in how relatively tastefully and discreetly the scene was handled, limiting the amount of visible skin. (Though I kind of winced at the thought of them on the no-doubt dingy and unappealing motel room carpet, because ew. Especially with all those burns, man! There’s a bed RIGHT THERE, you know?)

Women: get naked at gunpoint, or when someone is leering at you in the shower, but conceal yourself modestly during sex! Or something.

I mean, not that I WANTED to watch a graphic sex scene, necessarily, but isn’t it interesting that consensual nudity is apparently not worth looking at, but voyeuristic or forced nudity is? There’s some weird subconscious moralistic nonsense or something going on here, David Cage. You might want to get that looked at.

Anyway! Romance! Sort of.

You know, when I was encouraging you to play this game, and I was all “I laughed! It has romance!” I was THIS CLOSE to adding “sort of.” But I didn’t, because I didn’t want to be discouraging in case, I don’t know, maybe your romance somehow worked out to be more believable than mine.

Apparently that was not the case. And now we know.

Butch:

Ah, good. I was thinking, as a woman, you would mock me about the bra.

Yes! Tastefully conceal the sex! Cuz…uh….something something.

Maybe David Cage doesn’t get out much.

But, gotta say, he did get away from the nudity in Beyond. Yes, two showers, but each were very discreet.

But maybe that was Ellen Page.

Cage: “So Ellen now you-“
Page: “No.”
Cage: “But-“
Page: “No.”
Cage: “Please?”
Page: “You want a real movie star in this or not?”

Maybe they read our blog and patched it just yesterday. Ha.

Now we know. But I would have charged blindly on anyway. I mean, I paid for it and…..shit.

But charged blindly ahead even more! Cuz exercise means energy!

What’d I do….Hmmm….

Saved Lauren. I like Lauren. How do you not save Lauren?

Shot a bunch of dudes. Liked that scene. About time someone was badass instead of mopey/druggie. Go Shelby go! And let asshole die cuz of the “no one will miss him” crack. And don’t say “But he was just caring for his son” cuz no. Asshole. I will kill all other fathers who cares video game.

And then did the old lady bit. Why do old ladies whisper JUST when the audience wants to hear? Cuz games.

So I have two rather burning questions.

1) Why don’t the police seem to give a shit about Madison? You’d think SOMEONE would have noticed her stuff. Or the receptionist or SOMETHING. At the very least they’d question her, right? But there she is. Zooming along, not a care in the world.

2) Ok, so Gordi killed a kid. But if it was just an accident, why’d he do the origami and the flower and stuff? Was there some kid who didn’t have all that? I mean, if you kill someone by accident, is “Hey, let’s make this look like a serial killer did it so we’re linked to five other murders that the whole world is caring about?” Or….not? Who was the kid he killed?

I sense inconsistencies in narrative.

Even to the point where the old lady said “I wanted a TV but I didn’t have the money” as I was standing right in front of a TV.

Sums the game up nicely.

Feminina:

I thought that the “I don’t have a TV” while the TV is right there was intentional, designed to sort of cast doubt on everything the old lady said. She’s obviously entirely out of it, how can we trust whatever she says? Maybe what she whispered to Madison was a lie!

Nice work with Shelby there…this was a scene where I just could NOT get the QTEs. I kept getting shot, couldn’t hit anyone, and wound up passing out and missing the entire confrontation with Kramer (which I had to read about later when I was trying to figure out why the hell he was leaving flowers on that kid’s grave).

How do you let Lauren die…with regret, and because of your own poor reflexes. I can’t even blame the false sense of urgency, I was totally going to stay down there and try to save her even if it killed me, but when I went to move in her direction I hit the stick the wrong way, or something, and instead of being able to try to free her, I just zipped right out the window and swam away.

I was like, “Shelby, dude, go back!” but it was a cutscene by then. So my Lauren is dead, sadly.

On your burning questions:

My take on why the police don’t care about Madison is that they’re just fixating on Ethan as the killer and ignoring everything else, in a flamboyant display of bad police work. Which is all very well for Blake, but Jayden did say “what’s a journalist doing here?” when he found her DNA at Paco’s murder site, and then he just never follows up with it. And HE’S not fixated on Ethan as the killer, so I don’t know what his excuse is. I mean, he can maybe rule out that she killed Paco because Paco’s presumed killer was still there when he arrived, and was not a physical match for the description that was probably in ARI’s database, but it would still make sense for him to wonder why she was there and maybe find her and ASK her about it.

I suppose we could generously assume that he MEANT to talk to her but the cops weren’t able to find her by the time the story ends. She hasn’t been at her apartment, after all.

But other than generously reading between the lines, I have no explanation.

On Kramer and the kid, though…no comment. That may actually make more sense at the end.

Speaking of the chase scene at the motel, did you escape? My Ethan got caught and stuck in jail there. I missed the whole final origami-killer trial because he was locked up!

That’s totally the only reason I finished before you.

Butch:

Yeah, man! Cuz I’m PLAYING here! Playing scenes you DIDN’T DO! Again!

Fair point. The old lady is a little out of it.

Ah, so what DID you figure out?

And did your Kramer live? Cuz mine totally died.

Oh dude! I thought you said everyone in your game got out alive!

So what did poor Shelby do? Or is that a spoiler?

And we can’t blame false urgency because I guess there IS urgency in this game. Cuz people can actually die! Like your Lauren. You monster.

Yeah, you’re stretching with that explanation on Madison. Jayden even knew her name and everything cuz ARI knows all.

At the very least she had clues. At worse, she’s a criminal because she’s helping someone they think is a serial killer.

Sheesh.

Ah, ok. Plot point with Kramer! So how did you GET that plot point?

Yeah I escaped jail! I thought you said you were dialed in on this game!

I’ll tell you all about the next trial. I’m sure there’s a group hug.

Feminina:

Yeah, well, you missed two intense combat scenes earlier, in which both Madison and Norman could have died, so we’re even.

When I said “all of mine lived,” I was referring to the four playable characters. Obviously, a good number of my side characters ended up dead who survived in your game: the religious muttering guy Jayden shot, the creepy doctor Madison killed with a drill, Mad Jack (tragically crushed by a car transporter)…and Lauren. I didn’t do it on purpose!

As for how I learned that plot point when I didn’t confront Kramer: I read about it in the wiki. There was otherwise no explanation whatsoever within the game itself, which was an interesting choice. I don’t know, I suppose it encourages replaying (or reading on the internet).

And yes, my Kramer survived. I never even saw him after the whole sunken car episode, and never made any decisions about whether or not to give him his heart medication.

Butch:

Well, not for lack of trying. You were just slow on the draw! My Shelby is Bad. Assed.

It is a cool decision to just have you miss key plot. Hmm.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I was still able to wrap things up, but I was left thinking “wait, why…and what…?”

My first thought was that it was just a glaring loose plot thread, but once I read about it I saw that it does have an explanation. It was just an interesting decision to leave it as a potential glaring loose thread if the player isn’t motivated enough to look it up.

I guess arguably if you don’t care enough to look it up, it must not bother you/maybe you didn’t even notice, so there’s no reason to worry about somehow cramming that information in if you missed the scene.

Plus, screw you for missing the scene, loser! That was our favorite scene in the whole game! We spent hundreds of hours getting it JUST RIGHT!

Anyway…I kind of forgot where I was going with that.

There is still one glaring loose thread that is not resolved at all except via a rumor on the internet about a previous version of the story. See if you can spot it! When you get to the end, I mean.

You’re close! You’re very close!

Butch:

Spot it? Great. Just great.

But the case IS solveable, right?

Cuz if I don’t know who it is I’m gonna barf.

Feminina:

Oh no, you’re good. You won’t get to the end without figuring out who did it. You might not like it, but you’ll know it.

I just meant “spot the clue from early on that is left completely unexplained and forgotten even once everything else is neatly wrapped up.”

No worries. The truth will be revealed.

Butch:

Oh come now, I like everything else about this game.

Ha.

But there would be more loose ends if you failed more. For example, the whole “She’s a journalist!” thing would’ve gotten lost if the doctor had killed Madison, and you’d be left thinking she was just there for the boobs (cuz she is).

Hey….on Madison…..

So how did she check into THAT hotel? Mighty lucky that she was just six doors down from the guy that….well…lucky. And what’s with her dreams?

This doesn’t get answered, does it?

Feminina:

Well, if Madison had been killed by the doctor she wouldn’t have been in Paco’s office in the first place, so no loose ends there. I mean, I ASSUME the game is smart enough not to include a comment about her DNA when she was never there. I can’t be sure, since I’m not going to play it again and let her die just to check, but it seems like a relatively straightforward bit of coding.

Her nightmares are indeed another thing that is never really resolved, but at least they haven’t been presented as an important clue or anything. Nightmares/insomnia is basically just the reason she sometimes checks into that motel, and she just happened to be there when Ethan checked in this time, and hey, didn’t that work out great for everyone!

Lucky indeed. But coincidence is the hinge of many a narrative, both true and fictional, so I don’t object to this particular aspect of the story that strongly. Certainly there are many more objectionable aspects to complain about first.

Butch:

Well, that’s my point. If she had died, we’d be all “Well, she was just there for boobs.” We wouldn’t know she was a journalist.

HA! We’re giving things a pass cuz there’s more stupid things.

Hide your flaws under bigger flaws!

T SHIRT!!!!!

In other news, Butch’s fitness rant of the day:

You know what else has no respect for stay at home parents? Fitbits. Whilst blogging, I dusted the fuck out of my house AND made kid dinner.

It credited me with ONE ACTIVE MINUTE!!!!!

Fitbit, you know how hard this oh never mind. I’m used to it.

Feminina:

COMPLAIN TO THE COMPANY! Fitbit OWES you more active minutes!

Oh I see…you mean if she’d died we’d never have known Madison had a semi-legitimate reason to get involved, and her whole incomprehensible “I just like to bandage wounded child-murderers” storyline would stand unchallenged.

Good point. Very good point.

I think we can just agree that basically everything this game does with Madison is terrible.

And it didn’t even start that badly with regard to women, you know? I actually thought, when we first met Lauren, “hey, they DIDN’T use the fact that she’s a prostitute to show her hanging out in skimpy lingerie or naked! How refreshing!”

But apparently that moment of restraint allowed them–or him, if it’s all on David Cage–to feel justified in not doing a single non-skeevy thing with the character of Madison (the one we can actually play).

“Hey, I treated a prostitute like a human being that time. What more do you want?” (Actually, come to think of it the game continues to do reasonably well by Lauren. She wears clothes, expresses opinions, has good ideas about the investigation. And she’s not the one we get to play.)

Butch:

Seriously! Fit bit gotta get with the times.

While I give you Lauren (save her first scene and the gratuitous bathrobe), know who they blew before Lauren? Grace. Where’s grace? Father fights for kid. Mother gets emotional at police station then vanished from the narrative. What do mothers do except get emotional? They sure as hell don’t matter to a narrative.

Unless she’s the killer, punishing Ethan for losing Jason. But I doubt it. No way this game gives a woman enough credit to plan all this. That and, like, a twin brother.

Would be a great twist. But that would be a woman outwitting everyone. Some games would do that. Not this one.

And yes, Lauren does come up with a key discovery. That the player had nothing to do with. Except eggs.

Feminina:

It’s true…Grace does pretty much nothing except cast a little suspicion on Ethan. Which is legitimate, I will say–if my ex-husband has been acting weird, and my kid has vanished, I’m going to tell the police.

Ninety percent of the time it would be him, after all. Or me. One of the parents, anyway.

The point is, I don’t blame her for casting suspicion, but she does basically vanish after that. She could have been a playable character investigating on her own! Would have made as much sense as an insomniac journalist.

Her turning out to be the killer would have been an interesting twist, but it would have made me angry precisely BECAUSE she just vanished from the story. Also, “I’ll punish you for losing one kid by taking the other one away too” is logical vengeance, but only for someone who does not, herself, give a damn about the kids as people, which is possible for her character (because we know almost nothing about her) but is not something I would immediately leap to.

But no spoilers! You could be right! I won’t rain on your speculation parade. Maybe I was secretly substituting “it DID make me angry!” for “would have” in that sentence up there!

Butch:

True. It’s usually one of the parents. But the jump to “serial killer” is quite the jump.

And yeah, but without the insomniac journalist, where are the boobs? It would have been even more tasteless to have Shaun’s mother do all the stuff Madison did. And let’s face it: this game was gonna have boobs whether we wanted it or not.

Nah, it ain’t Grace.

But Shelby is still on my list. The age is right, he has a typewriter, there’s too much we don’t know about him, and when a game puts little subtle things (typewriter….he was a cop….) then it’s likely.

Though how’d he kill Manfred….hmm.

I wish you hadn’t finished. Speculation is fun.

Feminina:

Speculation IS fun! We get more into it when we’re playing things that are 100 hours long.

We’ll do that again! Sometime.

Butch:

We certainly will.

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We Didn’t Want to Have to Say This

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Madison and Norman in the nightclub, in Heavy Rain

Butch:

I got nothing new as our blrhythm (I’m sticking with the damn term!) is still messed up. Have you started LiS and spent the 17 bucks? If so, can I play it if kids are around and get back to normal?

Or Mafia III? Ha.

Don’t worry. I’ll delve into what will undoubtedly be a feminist manifesto later.

Feminina:

Oh, it’s going to be great. I heard Gloria Steinem was a consultant on this next scene. A key plot point turns out to hinge on an intense, QTE-filled discussion of equal pay.

I haven’t started anything, so I’ve got nothing either. But you’re about, oh, 3/4 done with this, and the chapters can go quickly (especially if you miss some scenes) so there’s not too much more.

Butch:

Did this game just have a PC say “Time to play the sexy girl” before a series of QTEs in which she tore her clothes and put on make up?

Did it?

Really?

Do I want to know what comes next?

Feminina:

It did. IT DID.

You want to know what comes next. It gets even better.

You’re gonna love it.

Butch:

Good. Lord. Above.

Like….game. We gotta talk. We REALLY gotta talk.

So….Did that just make a PC do a striptease at gun point to get information? It did, didn’t it? Did that just do the “Well, I was pretty much sexually assaulted and humiliated at gun point, but now I’m really empowered cuz I hit him with the lamp” thing? It did, didn’t it? Did that game just have the PC get the information by touching his groin? It did, didn’t it?

AND! AND!

Did that game follow up that chapter with the MALE PC getting the same information by kicking a guy’s ass and then using technology to think it through?

It did, didn’t it?

It did.

Rarely in this blog am I at a loss for words, but I am at a loss for words.

You talk on it a while. Cuz Good. Lord. Above.

Feminina:

Yes.

That scene was so amazing, wasn’t it?

There were SO MANY things I enjoyed about it. Not least, the fact that after getting up there, she shows a little hesitancy, and the dude just INSTANTANEOUSLY whips out a gun to demand a striptease. Like, that’s plan A. No, “fine, just have a drink, we’ll chat, maybe I’ll convince you to strip LATER,” nothing. Just “no? gun.”

Ugh. And yeah, did you hit him with the lamp in time to get the trophy for “pride saved”? Apparently that comes with not taking off too many articles of clothing. Because lord knows when you’re forced to strip at gunpoint the main thing you should be concerned about is the loss of PRIDE, not the potential for violent assault. And if you manage NOT to strip, yay, so proud! I saved my virtue or some damn thing!

I mean, not that I’m saying we should have been proud OF stripping, or that being forced to take your clothes off is not extremely humiliating, but something about it being a source of pride to have avoided taking off clothes, as if having done it would have demonstrated a weakness of character or something, was annoying to me.

Gross, man. And wow could I have done without the testicle-squeezing. I mean…I get that it’s trying to be all “she’s turning his male power fantasy against him by attacking the genitalia that apparently provides his sole motivation for acknowledging that women exist!” but…nah. It was more unpleasant for me than for him, OK?

And then Jayden comes in all smart and thoughtful, as you say, just to show what a MALE perspective can do with an investigation…though did you catch that little fact he noted about Madison? That she’s actually a journalist, not a photographer as she told Ethan?

That was about the only part of this that I appreciated, in the sense that it made the story make a bit more sense. Her being some random woman who happens to enjoy bandaging wounded men, perhaps especially when they’re suspected child-murderers, never held together very well, but if she’s an investigative journalist on the trail of a story, I can at least somewhat buy that she feels it’s worth it to get involved with this whole situation.

So that was what I got out of this. Ugh, ugh, ugh, oh, she’s a journalist, that’s interesting.

Ugh.

Butch:

Good. Lord. Above.

As for the gun, what do you expect from a character so stereotypical that he would be the most offensive thing in perhaps ANY OTHER SCENE OF ANY OTHER GAME EVER? It says something that “Paco,” in his rings on every finger, his open shirt, his tattoos, his bad teeth, and his accent that sounds like someone on an offensive radio show imitating a Mexican in the offensive way possible is somehow NOT the most offensive thing in the scene. Of COURSE Paco would do that, because Paco is an offensive stereotype, and we have been distracted from that fact by the rest of the whole scene.

I did not get that trophy, but not for lack of trying. I screwed it all up.

“Pride” saved? Jesus. No words.

And ironic in that they created a female character so one dimensional that HER only plan was “Time to be the sexy girl.” Like, that was it. Here we have this one dimensional, at times pointless, character, and the thing she gets to be proud of is not stripping?

Game, we gotta talk.

As for the…squeezing…Yes! Just…this was what a female power fantasy looks like through the eyes of a horribly sexist man. Sheesh.

I did catch that about her being a journalist….interesting. A twist!

But, well…..wait. Even that is still kinda ugh. Cuz that means that the way women get ahead in life is a) lying, b) taking off their clothes, or, more accurately, c) both.

Yeah, we find out she’s not just some random woman, she has some depth, yeah, ok, fine, in THIS SCENE when she’s doing…ALL THAT to get what she wants professionally.

The next chapter isn’t going to make me feel any better, is it?

Feminina:

Yes! It’s true! Paco as a character is incredibly offensive, which I noted in the first thirty seconds and which was then completely removed from my mind by everything else in that entire scene!

So you took off all your clothes? Because let’s not forget that that’s another extremely objectionable aspect of this whole thing. Your only playable female character is leered at in the shower AND can be made to strip to her underpants at gunpoint, meaning that all of her nudity is either unwitting in a way that is creepy given the context of the scene (the later implication being that she was being spied on in her dream by men who later murdered her), or completely forced on her. You know, for the enjoyment of the player.

As for the next chapter making you feel better…uh…how do you feel about implausible romance?

Butch:

I would say “Hey, don’t spoil!” if I hadn’t been seeing that coming since….well, when did Madison show up?

And makes perfect sense. Cuz what gets you in the mood more than your kid getting kidnapped, getting your arms messed up, cutting off your finger and killing a guy? Except perhaps being demeaned by a stereotypical nightclub owner?

Whatever do you mean implausible?

Please tell me this game is almost over.

Yes! I did the same with Paco! I was like “Oh dude, really? That’s just fucking racist and THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?”

I did take off my clothes, but not because I wanted to. I just thought “Attack” was really dumb, as he was armed and I was in my underwear. And now that I know permadeath is a thing, I gave the whole matter too much thought.

I have never enjoyed nudity less in a game. Or anything else, really.

Feminina:

You’re getting close. Definitely close.

Interestingly, you know what would make the game shorter? Having some characters killed off–that means their later scenes get skipped. Maybe permadeath isn’t such a bad consequence after all.

Butch:

True, true. But I figure I’ve spent all this time keeping them alive, might as well stick with it.

Though I guess you couldn’t die as Madison, there anyway, cuz I attacked and he didn’t shoot.

Maybe “Game makes you strip then kills you” would’ve been bad press, too.

This game sure came close to a lot of lines. And crossed more than a few.

Feminina:

Yeah, it does turn out that she couldn’t die there. Though I believe Jayden could die in the next scene.

That’s probably how they justified it. “Sure, we make her strip at gunpoint, but HE can die!”

Butch:

Wait, what? Cuz, ok, fight, but the fight ends with Jayden on the ground. He even says “He could have killed me there, but didn’t….”

What, the killer was all “Well, I WAS gonna kill you, but nice job on those QTEs there. Respect. Guess I’ll let you live. Game on?”

I don’t get some things in this game.

Anyway, you didn’t say, did you get that Pride trophy?

Feminina:

No, you could totally die in that fight (according to the internet). If you failed too many of the QTEs, apparently the killer would whack you with that katana and that’s it for Norman Jayden. Maybe he meant “he could have killed me” not in a “but he showed mercy and didn’t!” way, but in a “but didn’t because I fended him off” way.

And yes, I got the Pride trophy. I hit that dude with the lamp as soon as I got my shirt unbuttoned, man. The “see option to do thing, instantly do thing” impulse working in my favor (unlike with the eggs or when Jayden semi-accidentally shot that religious dude).

Lamp? Smack!

Butch:

Not sure how you kept everyone alive.

Did you still have to shake the controller to shake your ass to distract him?

I hope I never type that again.

And I hope I never whip the controller sideways to rip a skirt.

Sheesh this game.

Feminina:

I don’t think so? Or else I’ve blocked it out. I don’t specifically remember it, at least. I mean, it was pretty much just “OK, start dancing awkwardly while undoing shirt buttons, oh there’s a lamp, smack him with the lamp.”

I have faith in you. You’ll keep them all alive too! Probably.

Although…oh man, I think I do remember physically cringing while shaking the controller, so yeah, I think I did do that before smacking him with the lamp. Thanks for bringing back that memory I had successfully repressed until just now.

Shudder.

Butch:

Yeah. She had to, like, shimmy over to cover the lamp. Ass and all.

I’d rather make eggs.

Feminina:

Yes, yes, there it is. Siiiigh.

I had so blissfully blocked out that memory.

The eggs were better in every conceivable way. Even raw.

Butch:

Well, at the very least, we got bloggage out of it.

It’s one of the many good things about ol’ Play First, Talk Later. We used to just be sad when we played bad things. Now, at the very least, we get bloggage.

Silver linings.

Sometimes It’s Exactly What You Think It Is

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Sizable spoilers for Heavy Rain chapters: Shelby in the typewriter store, Madison with the creepy doctor, Jayden with Mad Jack, Ethan with the fourth trial

Butch:

Finally, the weather has cooperated and given me a reason to play today. And play I shall. This is not a plan, this is a promise.

But I did play a little last night! I did the bit in the typewriter store and the fourth trial. Now I’m Madison outside a skanky doctor’s office and what could POSSIBLY go wrong?

THOUGHTS!

On the Manfred Chapter: Well, guess Shelby isn’t the killer, huh? Pretty clear. A theory bites the dust. And once I learned Shelby’s legit, I got to thinking: This game should be Shelby’s. Like, the whole game. This chapter was good. Good tension, having to think through where the fingerprints were and use your memory, good way to imply the past with Manfred and the cop afterwards, and I thought the scene in the rain with Lauren was the best scene of human connection and friendship so far in the whole game. I LIKE Shelby. The game is at its most fun when you are Shelby. Games can usually be judged by how much you want to be the main character, and, by far, the character I like being in this thing is Shelby.

So why not give him a whole game? Why not stop fucking around with this whole family bullshit that doesn’t work (more on that in a second) and make a good, solid mystery game? With a protagonist like Shelby and a good mystery, this could’ve been the game that I hoped LA Noire was going to be, only to have my hopes dashed.

It’s never good when a game can’t decide what it is and ruins itself by trying to be too many things. It’s downright infuriating when ONE of those things would’ve been really awesome if the game was just that.

Ah, well.

THE FOURTH TRIAL: Killed the guy. You? I just couldn’t get into the whole “I’m a father” thing after he tried to kill me repeatedly. He wasn’t so much into his kids that he didn’t a) become a sleazy drug dealer and b) shoot up his kids’ apartment with a shotgun. Even if you say “Yes, but how good are SHAWN’S parents,” Grace seems fine.

See up there when I said “More in a second?” Here’s the more. This game fancies itself to be a game about human interactions and feelings, and yet when it tries to BE that, it feels forced, manufactured and awkward. And some of that is because it’s trying to be too much:

(GAME: Ok, do QTES!
ME: Why?
G: Uh…this is a trial. We need some.
ME: Ok. Sure.
G: You have a gun, so he will, too, ok?
ME: Sure, why not?
G: Ok, now HE’S A DAD! CARE!
ME: What?
G: I said CARE!
ME: Kinda don’t.
G: But I told you to CARE!
ME: Doesn’t work like that.
G: CAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRE!
ME: Look, if you wanted me to care, why’d we do the QTEs?
G: I told you. It’s a trial!)

and some of it is because it pulls its punches. You know what WOULD have worked? Instead of making the target a sleaze, don’t. Make him an accountant who never hurt anyone in his life AND HAS KIDS. Or, double down: make HER a mother who never hurt anyone in HER life! Make the player choose between saving their own kid or depriving another kid of an innocent parent. Make the player choose between fixing his broken family by breaking a family that looked like Ethan’s before Jason died.

That would have been harrowing as hell, would’ve made the choice have some gravity with the player. But they didn’t do that. Maybe they were worried about the press, and the headlines like “Game encourages you to kill crying, pleading, innocent mother!” But, all the same, if you’re gonna make a mystery with a PI (or ARI or whatever), fine. If you want an upsetting game with harrowing, upsetting choices, fine. But this game tries to do both.

And does neither.

Whoo! That was a lot for two chapters. I have too much bloggage built up cuz of this damn fitness. This week’s activity was a hike. Mrs. McP got us slightly lost. This led Mrs. McP (Yes, Mrs. McP) to give us one of our all time best T SHIRTS!!!!!

“It’s easy to get lost with your body when you’re always lost in your mind.”

Hall of Fame T SHIRT!!!!

Feminina:

That’s…that’s DEEP, man. That T-shirt is PROFOUND.

Good playing! Good bloggage! Good exercise! Success in life!

As for Madison and the doctor: NOTHING. Nothing could possibly go wrong. Everything is going to be great. Not creepy at all.

I did enjoy the tension of running around as Shelby trying to get all the fingerprints. I had gone to the bathroom, because why not, you’re waiting around, and then I was hurrying in there to wipe off the faucet thinking “why, why did I go to the bathroom?!” And having to remember that Lauren picked up that figurine, and answered the phone, and all that.

I actually didn’t get them all, because I forgot that in addition to answering the phone behind the desk, Lauren picked up the phone in the office to call 9-1-1 before Shelby stopped her. So I wound up at the police station in spite of all the fingerprints I wiped off, but as we know Shelby is a former cop and everyone seemed to know him and they accepted his explanation and said “OK, next time maybe just don’t try to hide the fact that you were at a murder scene.”

Which I guess is good advice if the cops know you and trust you, although I’m not sure I could universally endorse it. Though trying to cover it up does just make it seem more suspicious.

The scene with Lauren in the rain…you mean when she got out of the car in a fury when you tried to tell her she couldn’t help anymore?

That was pretty good, although I spent so long deliberating over what to say that it started to seem a little weird that she was just standing there stock still in the street waiting for me to get out and go talk to her. But generally good, yes. There was some human emotion there.

As for that trial…I did not kill the guy. He certainly gave me every incentive to kill him, what with the trying to kill me with a shotgun and all (though not without reason, obviously), but we were there in his kids’ bedroom, and I was like, man, I am not going to murder some guy in his kids’ room surrounded by toys and pink bedspreads while he pleads and holds up this picture of them.

Probably he’s a terrible father and they’d be better off without him, I don’t know, but I didn’t do it. So my Ethan said “I’m a father too…but what I’m not is a killer.” And he turned and walked out.

Which means I didn’t get any more letters of the address, and things aren’t looking great for young Shaun if he’s counting on dad to save him. Good thing several other people are also looking into it.

You’re certainly right that the game didn’t really go out of its way to make this a wrenchingly difficult moral choice. “Yeah, you gotta become a murderer, but look, it’s a really deserving murder victim! He’s a sleazy drug dealer, he tries to kill YOU…except for the kids, we’ll throw in kids to make it tough.”

I think…and this might be giving too much credit, but bear with me: I think it was sort of a middle-of-the-road moral challenge. I mean, he’s a drug dealer, but not, as far as we know, a child pornographer or something, so he’s a criminal but–depending on your views on drugs–possibly not a really BAD criminal. I mean, he’s no Junior from The Witcher 3, we can say that.

And he has kids, who he apparently sees often enough that they have their own, nicely decorated room in his place, and he has a picture of them right on hand. For all we know, he’s a loving father whose only business is selling weed to college kids!

Although the fact that he has a shotgun right there by the door does suggest that he’s a bit deeper in the drug trade than that. And he does try to kill you, although not until you pull a gun on him, which is certainly self-defense and therefore totally legitimate. I mean, what was he supposed to do, just stand there politely and say “yes, I’ve sold drugs, I deserve to die”?

So thinking about it, I wonder if he’s not actually rather cleverly drawn to be just murky enough that players can rationalize whatever decision they make.

“He’s a criminal and he tried to kill me! My son’s life is way more important!”

“He’s a caring father and I tried to kill him first! What right do I have to prevent my own loss by inflicting loss on his children?”

And the murkiness and allowed rationalization could absolutely be a cop-out (“whichever way you want to play it, that’s fine, you can feel good about your decision!”), or it could be a way to put the choice back on the player, not in a “will you do a bad thing or not” way, but in a “how much of your morality will you sacrifice” way.

Because certainly, as you say, it could have been a lot more clear-cut as a BAD thing you had to do, if you’d been ordered to shoot a more sympathetic parent, or a parent right in front of their child, or something obviously horrible.

But probably a lot more people would then refuse to do it, and maybe they (or he, since David Cage is the acknowledged responsible party for everything about this game) WANTED it to be pretty much as easy to become a murderer as to cut off your own finger, so that the choice is NOT “does this FEEL wrong to me” (the way it would feel wrong to kill another child, or an attractive young mother clutching a baby, or something), but “IS this wrong to me” (regardless of the sympathetic nature of the victim).

It’s easy for me to have someone in a game cut off his finger, and it also FEELS like the right decision. Obviously, you sacrifice a finger to save your child.

It’s also easy for me to have someone murder someone else in a game (even easier, in fact!–I’ve done a lot more murdering than finger-cutting, that’s for damn sure), but it doesn’t FEEL as right. We talk about that all the time. It’s one of the central tensions of enjoying combat-related games while attempting to be thoughtful about them.

So the game (or, keeping it inside the narrative, the killer — I think we can assume that the killer kind of wants the father to successfully complete each trial, if only for the entertainment value of watching the suspense rise as he moves on to the next one), intentionally makes it an easier choice, so that it doesn’t feel as wrong, and so that the player/character is more likely to ‘succeed.’

And that leaves the actual moral decision in our laps: it doesn’t FEEL wrong, but it is by normal moral standards. Will you sacrifice your sense of what’s right as easily as you sacrificed your finger?

Because it’s easy! This guy’s a sleazebag! Probably a terrible father, so killing him to prove yourself a worthy father is totally legitimate!

Will you go ahead and do it, as you are totally, totally justified in doing by his sleaziness and probable terrible fatherly qualities? Or are you going to choke at the last minute, stalled by some outdated moral belief that murder is wrong and even drug dealers and bad parents don’t deserve to be summarily shot?

Your call!

I don’t know anything about David Cage other than these two games I’ve played, so I have no idea if assuming that amount of subtlety gives him too much credit (possibly? there’s not a WHOLE lot of subtlety elsewhere in the games that I noticed?), but it’s a thought.

Butch:

I like that about “how much morality.” Cuz two of the other trials sorta had “player limits.” Did you cut your finger off right away or drink the whiskey to dull the pain, knowing you could pass out (or suspect it)? Note, the “coward” door was AFTER you crawled through glass. It wasn’t “Do you want to suffer? It was “Ok, you’ve suffered some….is it too much?”

Hmm.

Moving on. Played more!

I missed something. I know I did.

I went in, didn’t drink wine cuz never drink wine a creepy guy gives you. He left, I figured “Well, can’t be a clue in here cuz too obvious,” opened a door, it zoomed in on a bedside table, I went to said table, picked up a card that said Paco, picked some option that was like “I should get out of here,” figured that meant I had the plot point, booked it out of there, rode off.

Got a trophy that said “Smart Girl.”

So….yeah. There was exciting music, so I guess had I not been smart stuff would have happened….but….

So…yeah.

Ironic that the chapter I thought would go horribly wrong was…whatever.

What’d I miss?

Gonna go play more.

[Later]

Still going!

Damn, I took triptocaine. But the guy was gonna kill me! Is this another “Where are your limits?” thing? I tried so hard not to take it. Ah, well.

Paco again, huh? Cuz that’s what was on the card Madison found. I dare say we’re gonna find Paco.

You know….at the start of the next scene….Shelby has an old typewriter….

Hm.

Feminina:

Ooh, that WAS smart! Because yeah, if you didn’t book it in time (which I didn’t, I was still looking around for more clues) the creepy doctor comes back, sneaks up and whacks you over the head (I guess if you drink the wine, you pass out and he doesn’t have to whack you, but not drinking something some creepy guy gives you, especially when he’s so eager for you to drink it, seemed like the best option), and you wake up in his basement, tied to a table.

There’s a bloody corpse in the corner, and he tells you he misses the cutting-people-up aspects of his surgical practice, so he likes to keep in practice with passing nosy strangers, and he’s sure you won’t mind that he doesn’t have the standard equipment any more. Then he goes to cut up Madison with a power drill. So, horror movie stuff, with a bit of icky sexualized overtones, as he seems to be kind of into touching her body while also preparing to dismember her.

There are a lot of QTEs while she fights him off. Pretty tense. You can either fail, or end up killing him with his own drill and staggering out. I chose option B.

Perhaps an intentional contrast to the murder in the last trial? I mean, this was a Junior-level bad person I didn’t feel remotely concerned about killing, AND it was in self-defense. This is the least morally ambiguous death so far.

Hm…we’ve seen three of the major characters in a potential-murder situation now: Jayden could shoot the religious guy (and if he does, it’s almost an accident, and he feels bad about it–though that’s partly the way I played it, and it might have been possible to just shoot him right off the bat instead of trying to calm him down, and to express no remorse). So that was a pretty bad deed, though without visible repercussions: the guy was NOT actually a threat, and did not deserve to die, and further, there was no reason for him to die other than Jayden’s nerves: his death serves no greater good.

Ethan could kill the drug dealer, as we just saw, and there’s a moral element to it, but arguably he was a threat to someone (who knows how many kids you might have saved from addiction?…if he were the only person in the city with drugs). Maybe he deserved to die, and in any case there was certainly a reason for him to die, since that would help save Shaun. His death, deserved or not, still serves a greater good.

Madison could kill the doctor, and he both deserved to die (he was a drug dealer AND he murdered a bunch of people for his own amusement), and there’s basically zero reason not to (since he would otherwise kill her): his death definitely serves a greater good (saving Madison and perhaps helping save Shaun).

So we’ve had this progression of murder from least justifiable to most justifiable. Hm.

Moving on! You took triptocaine! I tried to take it in that scene, but I failed the QTE and passed out and wound up tied up in my car as it headed for the crusher!

What did you do? Take it and just defeat Mad Jack or whatever his name was and leave?

I had a very exciting QTE-fest escaping the car and then fighting Jack some more. Good times. Very tense scene.

You missed some tense scenes, man.

Oh, and speaking of triptocaine, I think at one point you said something about how it’s not even clear why this guy is an addict, and it’s just a weird, meaningless addition to the character–I tend to agree, but the internet says that triptocaine helps you use ARI, and that’s why he started using it. I don’t know where the internet got that information, because I never saw it mentioned in the game, but it does sort of explain it.

Weird new technology interfaces directly with your brain or whatever, you have to get your brain into the right condition to assimilate it or something…mumble mumble technogabble, I’ll allow it.

Would maybe have made sense to know that while I was actually playing the game, though. Maybe we both missed the part where they explained that?

Butch:

Ooooooffffffff course you wind up tied up in a basement.

What happens if you fail?

I….guess that was an unambiguous death? Or we’re being too kind and they (David Cage) just wanted gratuitous woman tied up and tortured with sexual overtones cuz Eww. He already had a gratuitous naked women who is then terrorized and killed scene. She isn’t tied up naked, is she? Cuz….no.

Hm, indeed. But then, if it was really a “tied up tortured woman” scene, are we giving the whole thing too much credit?

Well, Blake does mention “The kid in the park,” which is suggestive of something icky, even though the guy denies…whatever.

On the triptocaine, pretty much just defeated him, yeah. Recovered, arrested him and….scene.

You’ll allow that explanation?

Bah. Useless story trope. Makes it so they don’t have to introduce some backstory. For a major character. That would flesh out the major character. Cuz if he has a past that led to drugs that’s backstory. For a major character.

At least make it so you have to choose between taking it (and being an addict) and using ARI in the first place. That would be something.

But no.

So many missed opportunities.

As for missing scenes…Meh. I need to catch up.

And I did! Just went to a graveyard and had a flashback and now Madison is in a dumb place AGAIN that suggests there’s gonna be gratuitous nudity AGAIN.

Sigh.

So besides the totally pointless cleavage bathrobe, I’m annoyed.

Why? Cuz first, this kid is a kid we haven’t met, and doing a “Oh yeah…it’s a stranger and he has issues” trick sorta undermines the whole WILD INTERNET SPECULATION fun. Just a “Nope. Wrong. All wrong. It’s this random dude.”

That pisses me off in any mystery. The WILD SPECULATION is the fun part!

The OTHER fun part is figuring stuff out on your own, or, at least, being able to try to do so. This? Shelby and Lauren kind of do it in a montage. The “I have made a breakthrough!” moment should have come in a chapter where the player did more than cook eggs. I cooked eggs. Sure. Fun. But you have to hand the PLAYER that “I have made a breakthrough!” moment. This would be like making a healing poultice (mine would be made of tasty eggs) then watching the final boss fight in a cutscene.

So this last 45 minutes really took a lot of what makes a mystery (and a mystery game) fun right away from the player.

I’ll continue to bull through this, but mostly so I can complain on the internet.

Feminina:

She wasn’t naked on the table (thank goodness for small mercies). She had her same clothes on from when she came in. But yeah, it was pretty tropey “woman in gruesome yet sexualized peril.”

And I will just note that yep, you’re not wrong to foresee some…stuff…with Madison in the next chapter in the nightclub! Enjoy!

Making the eggs was kind of hilarious. I put them in the pan and then saw the option to ‘put on a plate’ or whatever, and I thought “they don’t look done, but whatever, it’s giving me the option to serve them,” so I did.

Then Lauren, with remarkable aplomb, says “I should have mentioned…I don’t eat raw eggs.”

Oops. My bad! I just assumed everyone enjoyed a raw egg on a plate!

I did enjoy the way this game plays with expectations sometimes. A lot of games, if you were cooking eggs at all, you wouldn’t have any option to take them off the stove until they were done, so we just sort of assume “if I can do the thing, and there’s no obvious plot-consequential choice involved, it must be the right thing to do.”

But no! “You COULD do this right now…but maybe that’s the wrong call!” Player judgement applies to some very odd things, and that is sometimes entertaining. I laughed. I like this game best when it’s being a little offbeat in unexpected ways. Not as much when it’s doing exactly what you think it’s going to do with its scantily-clad female characters.

Along those lines, I totally see what you’re saying about having Lauren and Shelby solve the mystery in a cutscene, though on the other hand, I kind of enjoyed that scene. Researching montage! It was entertaining. I haven’t seen it a million times before in a game.

But yeah, one might well feel that perhaps being able to actually participate in the solution would be more satisfying, given that it IS a game and all.

Butch:

Great. Just….great.

So I googled….she can die there. Like, permanently die. Which, had that happened, her ENTIRE story arc would have been:

Get naked.
Be terrorized.
Be killed in a dream.
Nurse man back to health.
Help man escape (which, ok, but hardly a major piece of the narrative).
Nurse man back to health AGAIN.
Mention she’s a fashion photographer (cuz of course)
Die a sexualized death.

I miss anything? I don’t think so.

That’s precious little. Well, precious little that isn’t there to be weird peril torture porn.

We’ve been lucky in that we’ve played a lot of games that aren’t all that sexist. Games that empower their women characters.

This ain’t one of them.

I did the same thing with the eggs! Dude, I stirred them twice. How long do eggs take to cook?

Still…I SHOULD have been solving the fucking case.

And I’m sure in a production meeting someone suggested that Madison be naked in the scene I didn’t see. Maybe she was at some point, but calmer, saner heads prevailed.

And yeah, it’s a game. Researching montage might have worked in a movie, but this is not a movie. It’s not that it was a bad scene, per se, but in a game you have to be choosy about what you take away from a player and what you don’t. Sometimes, taking things away is appropriate as it would be tedious, or makes a point (the death of Sam in TLOU, for example, and the helpless you feel). But this was not one of those times.

Feminina:

Ah, you Googled. Yeah, I didn’t want to say in case it was a kind of spoiler (about, I don’t know, the severity of potential consequences or something), but yeah, if you failed to fight off the doctor, he killed her. And then, based on the descriptions, caressed her dead thighs in a creepy fashion. Nice. Very nice. Thanks for that, game.

Jayden could also be killed in the fight with Mad Jack. I was struggling to escape the car while it was falling into the crusher, and it was feeling pretty tense but I did it without THAT much trouble, so I thought “oh, it probably would have given me as much time as I needed, and this is that false urgency that Beyond did so well”–but no. If I failed enough of those QTEs, he would have been crushed to death inside the car. (Although I am 100% certain that at least Mad Jack would not have caressed his dead thighs in a creepy fashion.)

And there are other points where various characters can die, which we won’t get into.

So I give the game some props, I guess, for having serious consequences in the absence of a reload mechanic. (And this kind of explains why there are multiple playable characters…players are not likely to get them ALL killed off.) But I think it could totally have had these serious consequences without being gross and obnoxious towards the female characters.

Butch:

Damn, dead main characters in back to back scenes? Wow. Yeah, gutsy. And surprising considering the false urgency in Beyond, I’m with you there.

That’s half the playable characters. You sure yours lived? Cuz that would explain you finishing so quickly.

Ha.

DAMN. Game’s not fucking around.

Game’ll probably put Madison in even more gross, sexual peril.

It would be kinda cool if the game could end WAY before the “end” end if everyone died. Like “That’s it. You blew it.”

Maybe it can.

In other news, regarding our recent post about food, the finale of that cooking show featured….wait for it….cow palates. Palates. As in the top of a cow’s mouth. The top.

If I had to pick that or eyeballs, I might go eyeballs.

See? As shitty as our current times are, at least they’re not the 17th century.

I think.

Feminina:

Palates. Eeeeewwwwwwwww. I personally would probably take palate over eyeball, though. Both disgusting, one potentially less slimy and…fluid-filled. Ugh.

And yeah, it must have been something to be playing that game and be really bad at QTEs and have Madison and Jayden both killed off one after the other. Props for consequences.

I think there is an ending for “everyone dies.” There’s a trophy called “perfect crime” which I think means everyone who can die, dies. That’s got to be a cheery finale.

Mine all lived, though! I got it together for the QTEs when it counted.

Butch:

Gotta hand it to the game. Usually, perma death doesn’t happen unless it’s a predetermined plot point or some kind of known choice, like “do x and so and so dies, or don’t and they don’t.” I can’t think of a game where a main character can flat out die (save for a cutscene, like, say, ME 3), let alone a game that says “fail and that’s it.” We fail all the time. It’s what saves are for.

Though there was a way for Jody to fail if the player blew enough qtes, but also cage.

There was a way shepherd could die at the end of ME2, but you had to fuck up to the extent that you gave no fucks whatsoever through the whole game. You had to try to fuck it up that badly. So doesn’t count.

And, as for the food stuff, I never thought I’d say this, but keep your fucking castles.

Though maybe just Irish castles. Maybe if they do this show in French castles, it would be more appealing.

Or not. I almost, accidentally, ordered lamb lung in Belgium once. In the 21st century.

Feminina:

Yeah, I have to respect that this game was willing to go there.

Failed to win a fight? You’re dead. Move along. I mean, sometimes that happens, if you’re in a line of work where you have run-ins with murderous people. Chance you take!

Too bad, Shaun.

And, again, that can work here because there are other playable characters on whom you can fall back to carry the story to its conclusion. Simply not being able to die until the very end was really the only way that Jodie’s story could have worked, since she was the main character, but in this game’s narrative, it is possible to keep going even if you lose one or more people.

So that’s an interesting thing that you don’t usually see, and maybe that was part of the reason people were impressed by this game. It’s able to do stuff with the story that is unusual and therefore interesting.

As for food…I feel like I ordered something for a light meal in Belgium that was cheap (when I was still eating meat) that turned out to have an odd sort of texture and that I decided not to figure out the translation for. Might have been lung. Or stomach. Or sweetbreads.

I don’t know, and I don’t want to know, and I intentionally forgot the French term, so I shall never know. Better that way.

I ate it, and it clearly didn’t kill me, but that’s all I’ll say on the matter.

Butch:

About time we said something positive about this game.

But hey, live or die, Shaun’s gonna be eight ways of messed up.

I’m curious to go back and read some of the glowing reviews, to see what people thought in 2010. See what, exactly, they were gushing over. But I’m not gonna do that cuz I don’t want it to color my perceptions of the rest of the game.

But maybe after I’m done.

Gotta say, I do like sweetbreads. That one I’ll own. That and the oysters.

Maybe you thought you were ordering sweet bread. Common error. A terrible, terrible error, but a common one.

Feminina:

It’s such a cruelly deceptive term. Especially for people who love and particularly desire pastries at the time they’re reading the menu. People like me, at any given moment.

Yeah, I also didn’t look at any reviews. More interesting to go in blind. (Charge blindly ahead!) About all I knew was from the description in the PS store: “you play four characters trying to solve a mystery and save a child” or whatever.

I stand by finding it highly engaging as a beach game (ha–I like the image of sitting out in the sand with your TV and PS4, that’s my kind of vacation). And there are some things I enjoyed and thought were worth props.

There were also a number of things I wasn’t very impressed with, as we’ve discussed. A mixed bag, really. Worth playing, I think, but a mixed bag.

Butch:

Really, ‘sweetbreads ‘ is just a trap for vegetarians. Cruel.

I didn’t look at reviews per se. I just knew it was a mystery and supposed to be this amazing, important masterpiece. WHY it was supposed to be that, I didn’t know.

And still don’t.

Hey, I’m off to the beach soon! For vacation! (I WILL finish this by then. Right? I must be close. Ish. Right? I felt like I made good progress today, plot wise.) I may take my PS4, just cuz that would be awesome.

Either way, it’ll be our annual “Travel blog with Butch.” Because in order to counter balance our brilliance about games, we must be fairly terrible travel bloggers (and downright terrible fitness bloggers. Though the fitness thing did lead to that T SHIRT so it’s not all bad).

I can’t tell if we’re good food bloggers. On one hand, we are pretty smart. On the other hand, we’ve been pretty disgusting.

Agreed about this game. Though I think there were more bad things in this bag than there were in Beyond (which also had its share of flaws). Though I’m kind of ready to just say “Ok, who did it? We done? Good. Onward.” Kinda glad I did a you and missed two big sequences.

Progress!

Games We Will Play Someday

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

No spoilers

Butch:

Mmm. That was good quinoa the other night. Tasty, tasty quinoa.

(It added insult to injury that the recipe was in a magazine that had, on the cover, a smoky cheddar cheeseburger with chipotle ketchup.)

I mean TASTY TASTY oh who am I kidding?

I’m also wearing a fit bit. This is worse. I HATE having things on like this. I’ve never worn a watch cuz I hate how it feels.

But I’ll get more steps than Mrs. McP and get her all flustered, so there’s that.

I’ll get a couple chapters in. Hopefully, the next game I’ll be able to go back to the “play at night cuz the kids can see at least some of it” schedule.

But I have to paint the front steps (now that the wood is nice and oiled). And I have to walk. Cuz steps.

All. About. The. Steps.

Help.

Feminina:

Must. Crush. Mrs. McP.

I mean, must INSPIRE her, through healthy competition and a shared love of fitness! That sounds better.

Crush her.

I didn’t do anything either, but am contemplating downloading LiS Before the Storm. $17 on the PS store! I just need to get around to clearing space on the hard drive again. Or I’ll just play Mafia III. Depending on my mood.

But you’re moving right along on this, you’ll be done soon and we can both get to some teenage angst. But lighter, more cheerful teenage angst! Maybe.

At least in a lighter COLOR pallette, we can probably say that with confidence.

Butch:

No, you were right the first time.

I shall crush her.

Ooo! Is LiS on sale? Want.

You know, here’s where I remind you that a new Pro has both a quiet fan and twice the hard drive.

Just saying.

I’m not getting any angst in today. Home ownership takes a bite out of game time just like fitness and kids. But I have lovely white steps! Yay. Right? Yay. We’ll go with yay.

And now I’m off to the track to crush Mrs. McP. Or something.

And angst, yes. But you know? I’m not finding this game to be so soul crushingly depressing. I think to really be depressing you have to have either a) something that makes you ponder depressing shit in your life/real life (which this doesn’t cuz no themes) or b) characters you care about so much that you’re sad when something bad happens to them (and none of these folks fit the bill).

Mystery? Yes. Grim? Sure. Dark? Yeah. Depressing? Not so much.

Feminina:

Not on sale, just normal pricing that I’m faintly tempted by.

I felt kind of bad about the kids?

But I guess otherwise, true, I wasn’t so much deeply engaged with the characters as I was eager to know what happened next. As you said recently, it’s kind of a thrilling beach read type thing.

Am I very interested in charging ahead to get to the resolution? Yes. I am! I couldn’t stop playing it!

Am I personally empathizing at a deep level with the well-developed characters and their trials and tribulations? Enh…

CRUSH. HER.

I’m going to go eat some candy.

I mean quinoa.

No, wait, I meant candy.

Butch:

Go fuck yourself.

I wonder if that would count as “active minutes….”

Well, yeah, I felt bad about the kids, but we’ve felt worse in games.

And yeah, I’m with you. I wanna know who did it, all that, as one does with a mystery. But….

Nope. Not engaged at a deep level. Which goes back to beach read. Some of those mysteries out there are pretty grim and violent and stuff, but they’re not “depressing” or “soul crushing.” They have excitement and eww and gratuitous sex. But no depressing.

Feminina:

You’re the one with the Fitbit. Experiment!

Uh…I’m not sure what we’re talking about, and maybe we should just leave it there.

So, beach reads! They’re great, especially in the summer when one is busy and what-not!

Do we really CARE about their stories or characters in the long run? Nah.

I’ll still play the next thing. Maybe he’ll get better on characters. And women. And women characters.

Butch:

Had this thing less than 24 hours and already I’m making dirty jokes about it.

Though it is kinda relevant to a game blog! I got….a badge. Which is kinda like a trophy! It even has a dumb name and a little logo like trophies do (trust me). It’s all gamified! So weird!

I’d rather be playing real games.

Or making inappropriate jokes.

As for Cage, remember we’re playing them out of order. Beyond came after Heavy Rain, and I do think that he got better in terms of characters. He didn’t QUITE get the memo on women, but lordy knows Jody has Madison beat in every possible way characterwise. And the story was more compelling.

I always think you should look at whether a studio is improving. If the arc is positive, stay interested, and Heavy Rain to Beyond is a positive quality arc.

Feminina:

Agreed. I mean, Heavy Rain has stuff going for it. It was intense and engaging. It kept me playing. Occasionally I laughed (at its random QTEs, rather than with it, but whatever). It’s a good fast beach read of a game.

I don’t know if it’s much more than that, even if it was heralded as a ground-breaking masterpiece (I suppose making a good fast beach read of a game, if it hasn’t been done before, IS in fact ground-breaking), but taken purely on those terms, it works.

And like similar, thematically-slight mystery thriller narratives, it has all kinds of issues with character, story, etc. that we can either gripe about (obviously I’m all for this, it’s what we do) or shrug off as part of the landscape of this type of story (if we get bored).

Butch:

Yeah. I still don’t know why it got the reviews it did (Still sits at a whopping 91 on metacritic). I guess console games, 2010, that sort of thing.

I still don’t buy that, cuz other games, but whatever.

Despite metacritic, Beyond was a better game narrativewise. And probably gameplaywise, too. So progress.

I’ll play Detroit.

At some point. I’m kinda David Caged out. Let’s play other shit for a while.

Feminina:

Yeah, I don’t need to play it right this minute. We can take a break for Mafia and Life is Strange PLAYING AS CHLOE (ha!). And then, I don’t know, whatever appeals.

But I do have it on my list for sometime, because curious now. And if nothing else, it could be a good beach read when we have nothing else going on.

As for why it got such good reviews, maybe it was more story-intensive in a shorter space than a lot of other story-heavy games? I mean, we’re all about things we have to play for 150 hours, but if you’re maybe less into that, or playing fast to get to where you can write a review, maybe you’re more likely to be blown away by the fact that OMG, this game is SHORT but it has FAST-PACED, ENGAGING STORY, and I can get right into it without having to play it for ages!!!!

I dunno, it’s a thought.

Butch:

I think it’s the one we’ll have to go with. And Detroit will eventually be free–we can play it then.

Ooo! Nice callback on CHLOE!

Well, this summer is whipping by. LiS is three episodes, so that’s a good chunk of time. And in September, we have TR on preorder and LiS 2 (don’t call Before the Storm 2) comes out in September as well.

We don’t want for things to play.

As for that vs. Mafia III, LiS 2 coming out in September so there’s a good chance that Sony will save you 17 bucks there on Before the Storm. After all, they gave something away to advertise. They gave away David Cage’s stuff to hype Detroit. I bet we get Before the Storm free next month. And, likely, RotTR, but we’ve played that.

Feminina:

Good thought! I’ll wait.

Mafia III it is! When I finish catching up on my reading. So that’s a few hours too.

Butch:

In other news. Kids. Went. Nuts. Today.

Not sure why Ethan wasn’t all “well…I mean…I’ll get to saving Shawn at some point, but what’s the rush? Maybe I’ll take a walk, play some games, take Madison out…it’s so quiet….”

Feminina:

It’s all about what you’re used to. He gets lots of time to himself for games and walks, since Shaun’s mom seems to have him most of the time, so he’s all “I miss the chaos of kids SO MUCH!”

Not that Shaun was very energetic in the time we spent with him. Although he perked up a bit in the playground, at least until Ethan entered a fugue state and he disappeared.

Butch:

True. Though I might not get tired of games.

Walks? Yes. Planning for date night, which means screw the diet and steak and wine and chocolate so I set personal best at the track (21 Laps. And I ran, actually ran, the middle part).

I hurt. A lot.

But whatever. Too busy to miss game time and I’m always hesitant to play things with hideous violence or nudity with her around cuz awkward. She doesn’t understand like your spouse does. And this game? Ya never know when nudity or hideous violence will crop up.

Feminina:

Play through the pain!

Just like the athlete you’re becoming. Running! Impressive.

Violence and hideous nudity will be there later.

Butch:

MWHAHAHAHAHAHA! Athlete. Ah, you’re funny. Kind, but funny.

I mentioned the hurt, right?

You were supposed to make sure I paced myself! Dude!

I will play tonight. Can’t risk insanity.

Feminina:

Oh, right. That was my job.

Take it easy, man! Don’t let the glee of your silk-bathrobe exercise wear go to your head!

Now as to video games, knock yourself out there.

Butch:

That’s better! Don’t encourage the pain, man!

Anyway, this is a temporary thing. I hope. Once I get down to an appropriate weight, then I’m just maintaining. That shouldn’t be hard. Right? I don’t want to be an athlete. I’m a video gamer.

Ooo! I got a fitbit achievement! Trophy! Badge! Whatever!

Help.

Feminina:

Oh man, trophies…I’m not sure I can.

I’m the one who’s been collecting Pokemon Go trophies for two years. And that’s a game that largely involves walking.

It’s very hard to resist the lure of getting trophies for things you were doing anyway.

Butch:

They EMAIL you when you get one.

Shit, if PlayStation emailed you every time you got a trophy, you’d platinum everything cuz you’re you.

Probably for the best you never notice trophies. Cuz you’re you.

Feminina:

They EMAIL you? Hm. I might find that as annoying as it was inspirational. But who can say? PS doesn’t know my email address.

Butch:

PS knows mine. They email me all the receipts. They do this even for the PS+ freebies, and they say “Thank you for your purchase.” After all these many years, I get an email, it says “Thank you for your purchase,” I think “I didn’t purchase anything” (cuz you don’t associate “free” with “purchase”) and I have this moment of “KIDS! It was the KIDS! Must kill the KIDS!” and then I open the email and it’s the freebie and I feel guilty for mentally blaming the kids.

Every time.

The fitbit thing’s gonna get annoying quickly. On many, many levels.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, that’s right, they email Mr. O’ all the receipts.

So I can never sneakily get a game without him knowing, because it will tell him instantly “thank you for your purchase of Romantic Mystery of the Nude Fancy Dress Group Hug Heistfest!”

Not that he wouldn’t also want to play that, because duh.

Butch:

Dude it is now my life goal to play that.

I’d even skip walking to play that.

Feminina:

I’d skip Pokemon Go to play that. Make that game, game-makers!

Origami is Creepy (Apparently)

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the lizard trial in Heavy Rain

Butch:

I got nothing new. I’ll likely play later. Gotta exercise and all.

But here’s something I’ve been pondering a while. David Cage sure likes faces. The load screens, the credits, the menu screen in Beyond. You think he’s trying to say something? Or do you think it’s just something he did as a load screen and kept it up in Beyond as a signature, like Fallout using “Please Stand By” and all that?

Feminina:

It is a good signature. And it kind of stresses the fact that the games are about PEOPLE. It also, on the load screen, tells you something about the chapter you’re about to see: in Heavy Rain, we see the person we’re going to be playing, and in Beyond we see the age of the Jodie we’re going to be playing, so it’s slightly informational.

But yeah, it may also be partly that he’s showing off his highly realistic facial animations. Admire the motion capture! ADMIRE IT.

Butch:

Probably the latter.

BUTCH’S FITNESS TIP OF THE DAY: Do NOT lose track of time!

I’m gonna go try to at least do the damn third trial before I get Meatball.

This healthy shit takes too much time.

T SHIRT!!!!

[Later]

Well. That was yucky.

I dunno, man. That seemed gruesome for gruesome’s sake. More on that in a bit.

Then ran away from the cops, which was a very cool scene, I thought. Doing it in split screen like that was a nice touch. And making a “good guy” that you’ve played be the “bad guy” in that was really cool. One of the best scenes so far. More on that in a bit.

Then did Jayden’s bit where WHAT HEY LOOK a random clue! Where’d that come from? I HATE that in mysteries! “We have to move the plot along so CLUE just because why not?” And managed to not take drugs by taking a shower. Here we go again with showers. Rain imagery. Ethan’s ordeal starts with him in the shower (remember the man ass? Sure you do.) If you played it my way, Madison’s ordeal starts with her in the shower. And now, we have suffering Norman in the shower. Showers. That resemble rain. But in Norman’s case, the shower/rain is HELPFUL. Keeps him OUT of trouble. It’s not a harbinger of badness. I have to mull that.

And I especially have to mull that cuz I said more on that in a bit and it’s been a bit so here’s my thoughts.

We’ve talked about the things this game does well in terms of mood and narrative and is it a good mystery and all that. We’ve talked about the things this game does badly. But you know what we haven’t talked about? Themes. There’s, like, NO themeage. I must be at least halfway through the game, and one would think that if there as gonna be themeage there would have been themeage already. And I don’t see any.

And we can find themes anywhere. Dragon Age. ROBOT DINOSAURS. Fucking Tomb Raider. There’s not a theme we can’t spot, and, given very little raw materials we can invent themes. But this? It’s….there’s nothing there. It’s just a mystery. The kind of fluff you read at the beach.

And…not that there’s anything wrong with that, I like a good beach read on a hot summer day. But this was supposed to be a masterpiece of video game narrative and…I hesitate to call anything a masterpiece of any narrative if even we see no themes.

If, this late, shower imagery is the best I can do…..

So we talk about “Eww, gruesome” and “Yay, exciting,” but that’s it.

Hardly the stuff of a masterpiece.

Feminina:

Yeah, that was gruesome all right. And exciting! Just like you said.

Did you escape? I–as Madison–was trying to help Ethan, but we were too slow and he got caught by the cops, though I was able to get away while they were arresting him.

Nice to know I’m willing to help a possible murderer, but only to a point.

I agree, the game is light on themes. It plays very effectively as a fast-paced mystery, but doesn’t necessarily reward a lot of deeper thought.

Uh…water, rather than washing away sin, is the means to sin? Water, like other things in life, can be used for good or evil? Origami is creepy?

There’s an obvious fatherhood thing we could tease at, but it’s not obvious exactly what it’s saying beyond “fathers are important.”

Fathers should save their sons? (But not their daughters, since all the victims are boys?) Fathers should make any sacrifice? Or, maybe, fathers should NOT make every possible sacrifice, because some things are too much?

On that, the tagline bit, “how far would you go to save someone you love” is another possibility–it’s tropey but legitimate to explore what a person would do, compared to what a person ‘should’ do (for various legal/moral values of should), when faced with an extreme situation.

And it feels sometimes as if the game’s story doesn’t actually explore that question in any great depth, more just poses the question and moves on, but given that it is possible to fail the trials, it might be possible to consider that failure from an intentional/thematic viewpoint…I mean, I tried saying “no, I won’t drive the wrong way on the highway” and it didn’t let me, but there might not have been anything preventing me from simply driving off the road and refusing to actively participate in the challenge, if I’d wanted to.

And I cut off my finger, but there was a time limit on it, so one could obviously fail to do so in time, and that ‘failure’ could just as well have been the player saying “nope” as the player actively trying to do it, but not managing the QTEs or whatever (probably more likely, since this one didn’t involve 19 fingers on buttons at one time…although the deep breaths in preparation were weirdly difficult).

Also, I failed the Butterfly challenge because I didn’t have enough fingers, but it was also an option to go out through the coward door before you even tried the wires. “Screw this! I’m out!”

So perhaps it’s possible to talk more than we have been about the question of whether there are things we’re just not willing to do.

Butch:

I did escape! Cut across the train tracks, very tense!

What happened if you got caught? Cuz after that scene, I find myself in my hotel room, the news is on, all “The Origami killer is Ethan Mars….police are closing in on this lunatic” and Madison is there just, like, unpacking groceries. Like, Madison…uh… and they chat and she just casually asks “So are you the Origami killer?” in much the same way you’d be meeting someone new and be all like “So, you like jazz?”

I mean, that’s generally how I break the ice. “So, you like games? Booze? Serial killing?”

Like…even Ethan is all “You don’t know me.” Yes, true, Madison, you do not. And yet, here you are, in his room, just making small talk about the possibility that he is a dangerous, serial killing lunatic. Cuz why not? I mean, if you can’t sleep, what else is there to do but hang out with potential serial killers, right?

So yeah, she’s very keen on helping a murderer.

No. No it does not reward deeper thought.

On origami, I think it’s that last one. Did you ever play LA Noire in the pre blog days? Cuz there was creepy origami in that, too! Killers just LOVE origami!

Like, wasn’t there a gum ad a while back….wait, I’ll find it.

I can’t tell if the daughter should run like hell, or the father should run like hell cuz she saved them all. I sure know I’d be running like hell from that whole family.

And, well, fathers are important. Especially when they make origami out of gum wrappers………

I’m at the “Kill a dude” trial. Which is kinda hmm. Yes, you want your son back, but if you kill a dude then you’ll likely go to prison and what good would that do your son?

And yes, one could say “Well, games put you in the situation where you’re feeling all emotional and have to ask yourself why you did what you did,” but that only works if you are, in fact, emotional about the situation. I didn’t know Ethan or Shaun well enough, so this is really “Care cuz it sure sucks for this guy.” I don’t feel connected with him, so I can just sit there reasoning and thinking unlike, say, killing the doctors in TLOU cuz in that game I was in the moment. I’m not in the moment here, so it’s not really a vehicle that leads to pondering.

I think, in that sense, the game hurt itself with multiple protagonists. Just when you’re starting to get into the head of Ethan POOF you’re someone else and the moment is gone. See also “OMG OMG I’M A DRUG ADDICT MUST RESIST never mind I’m the old guy.”

I think you could just go to the door and say screw this at the lizard trial, too.

But why would you? It’s a game. There’s no reason NOT to do it.

Which….we speak of twists and fake outs. Part of me is thinking that I SHOULDN’T do the trials. That the game is playing with a game player’s sense of “Well, there it is, I should at least try to do it” (as one does) when the “reward” is something misleading or whatever. Part of me is thinking that the way to really get to Shaun is to do what no gamer would do, which is to say “fuck it” to anything challenging.

That would be cool.

Don’t spoil.

And I think it would be ok to ask the question of whether there are things we’re not willing to do, if the game was good enough to put us in the character better than it has for me. Good games make you think “Why did I do that.” I. As in I, the player. This, I’m doing stuff cuz fuck it, it’s not my finger. I want the clue. Who cares?

Which is the game’s fault.

Really, now that I think on it, if you’re EVER doing something in a game cuz fuck it, who cares, that’s a bad thing.

I don’t type “fuck it, who cares” very often. That’s rather damning.

Feminina:

That is damning.

But yeah, the ‘kill a guy’ challenge did make me think “OK, should I actually do this?”

I mean, yeah, I’ll cut off my finger, I’d have to be some kind of monster if I won’t sacrifice a finger to save my own dying kid. But killing another person? That’s a much bigger moral decision, and I did actually think about it. Though, as you say, I didn’t think about it so much AS ETHAN, because who knows what he’d do, I don’t know him that well, so I was only able to think about it from my own perspective.

Which…maybe…is intentional in that it stresses the “how far would YOU go” aspect of the question — maybe it’s deliberately putting that choice back in YOUR lap as the player by not letting you get too into any of the characters’ heads so you can’t pretend you’re just making the decision the character would make.

I dunno.

I won’t spoil as to what I wound up doing.

Butch:

Well, if Ethan ALREADY thinks he’s a killer…

See, my escaped Ethan said “once I save Shaun, I’ll turn myself in.” So if you’re already going down for murder, whatever. So why does HE care?

And if he doesn’t, why should I?

Feminina:

Yeah, yeah, sure…that’s a way to look at it.

But another way is, maybe I’m a murderer while I’m in a blacked out state that I can’t remember, but does that mean I (either I-Ethan or I-the-player) want to consciously choose to be a murderer right now?

Maybe! I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember. Maybe it does.

Oh, and I forgot to say yeah, I agree that Madison’s behavior seems very weird. Just for a person in general, and also considering her history of bad dreams.

“Given my traumatic nightmares about being murdered by dudes, there’s nothing I find more relaxing than hanging out with a dude who may well be a murderer.”

I dunno, maybe she’s confronting her fears.

Butch:

Madison is not the most fleshed out character I’ve seen in a game. No, no she is not.

But you know, maybe the reason this gets remembered as such a narrative video game great is that it came out in 2010. 2010! That is some time ago. Video games were not as fleshed out as narrative devices in 2010. Maybe we should cut it a wee bit of slack.

Or not. After all, DAO and FO3 and TW2 are older…..

Feminina:

Well, as you pointed out, NONE of them are very fleshed out.

What do we actually know about any of them? We could sum each of them up in a sentence:

Father with history of blackouts;
PI stuck in the 1930s;
FBI agent with drug problem;
Woman with insomnia.

We know the most about Ethan, since we’ve known him longest and at least we have some backstory with Jason’s death and his time with Shaun before Shaun disappeared; he feels like the ‘main’ character even if the others all get about as much screen time after the opening sequences.

The other three all spring fully formed into the narrative, and we learn a few things about them as we go, but not a lot.

Though at least the two guys get to spring in with stuff that actually had something to DO with the narrative. Not holding onto objections about that scene or anything.

Wait, I meant to say definitely holding onto objections about that scene.

Butch:

I think we’re ok holding on to objections.

Man. Never thought I’d EVER object to nudity.

The fuck is with me? Exercising. Objecting to nudity. I’m eating fucking quinoa for dinner tonight.

Help.

We don’t learn a whole hell of a lot about anyone, no. Ex cop. That I know. But they don’t explain even how Jayden became a drug addict, or why. Here’s this chill guy with some cool shades and he seems ok, so…what? What’s in his past?

It’s a missed opportunity. Even “ex-cop.” Why’d he quit? There could have been more cool there.

And yes, at least we know why Ethan’s messed up. We were there. We pressed X to Jason.

Feminina:

Yeah…who ARE you, anyway?

Are you really even Butch anymore?

Just don’t lose interest in video games. You must cling to that shred of your former identity.

Butch:

I shall cling. Yes, yes I shall.

And fear not: there’s still booze.

Fitness Tip: Avoid Crawling Through Broken Glass

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the butterfly trial and chapters following it in Heavy Rain

Butch:

I have nothing new. But it looks like the weather will keep me off the track today.

BUTCH’S FITNESS TIP OF THE DAY: Nothing undoes all the positive effects of a workout like getting struck by lightning.

So I’ll hopefully have time to play.

By the way, have you started/finished a game or three this week?

Feminina:

Yes, getting struck by lightning does tend to set back one’s fitness goals. Cardiac arrest and all.

I have not started anything new. I’ve just been doing some reading instead of video games. It’s a relaxing change of pace.

Until the insanity sets in.

Going to start Mafia III (free this month!) in a bit. Gotta finish a few books first.

Butch:

I’m very impressed that you’ve kept the insanity at bay.

T SHIRT!!!!!

So I got back from the store, ready to play, and it’s still fucking sunny so I best go exercise. But Nana is taking Meatball so depression ahoy!

Feminina:

Yeah, the rumored storms haven’t materialized yet. To the exercise! Depression isn’t going anywhere.

Butch:

No, no it is not.

It’s hot out. I’m sore. But I’m dropping Meaty off. Depression soon.

And maybe a shower.

Feminina:

Sure, take a shower. Drop off the kid.

Depression is patient. Depression can wait.

Butch:

It can, and it did.

Ok, crawled through glass, questioned a guy, talked to Grace, the cop beat up the shrink, played golf, etc. Decided to stop before the next trial cuz time.

So….

That trial was more annoying than tense. The first trial, the car chase, that was good. That was tense. This was just crawl, match, crawl crawl, hold down buttons, yeah yeah enough already.

“Are you ready to be bored to save your son?”

Couldn’t get into it.

I guess they were going for the “have to go slow” thing to make it MORE tense (“Be careful player!”) but a) didn’t work on me and b) (you missed this) the MUSIC was fast and loud and sounded like a chase scene.

Couldn’t get into it.

Then more nurse stuff. Again. Why is Madison here?

I also must beef: Mysteries are good if they keep you guessing about who the baddie is. They are. And the whole “The cops are focusing in on this guy and you really believe it’s this guy and NOPE” is a trick as old as time cuz it works over and over. It does! If it’s done right.

You know how you DON’T do it right? Every two chapters you have the cops say “IT’S CERTAINLY THIS GUY!” about a different guy. First, TELLING the audience/reader/player “FOCUS ON THIS GUY” is too blunt. Good mysteries let the audience/reader/player come up with shit on their own, play with facts in their own minds, try to out detective the detective. This isn’t doing that. Second, by switching this “Him! No, HIM! No, really this time HIM!” all the time, you never really get into one theory, so when that one theory is debunked it’s hard to care. It’s also hard to get behind this “Ethan is CERTAINLY the killer” thing I’m supposed to be all excited about because they’ve been wrong so many times you just want to say “What….like the last guy? Or the guy before that? Or the guy before that? Whatever.”

So grumble. This part was pretty flat.

Feminina:

The crawling through glass was a bit tense because I kept thinking “what if the whole screen goes red? will I die?” so I was crawling carefully and kind of wincing in sympathy even though, obviously, I did not actually feel any cuts.

The crawling through electric wires was…I thought it was OK, but also weirdly difficult. I didn’t actually manage it, I got shocked too many times and wound up having to leave through the ‘coward’ door. Which was annoying because I was like “hey, I’m not a coward, I’m willing to stay and get shocked a lot more!” but noooooo, the game kicked me out.

Which I guess is a decent mechanical alternative to death. We haven’t really talked yet about how this game, like Beyond, doesn’t have a mechanic for dying and reloading, so failure, if there’s failure, has to be handled in other ways. I thought this way worked OK. And it has genuine consequences since I missed out on the clue associated with that trial, and didn’t get more letters in the address.

I was still allowed to continue on to later trials, though, so failure at this point isn’t total failure. I do think the game’s approach to failure and the options available for solving the crime/puzzle are interestingly assembled.

But yeah, I never really got into any of the “it’s totally this guy!” misdirections either. At this point in the game, I do remain open to the possibility that it could be Ethan, because he has those blackouts and his shrink told us about his origami habits and dreams of drowning bodies, so he might be the killer without knowing it (and they’re telling us so thoroughly that he might be, that you kind of assume he isn’t and it’s a fake-out, but what if it’s a double-fake-out and he really IS?), but those other guys? Meh. Never knew or cared enough about them to remotely buy that they could have been the actual culprit.

Clearly, the cops know nothing! Except maybe they stumbled on the truth by accident and are right about Ethan, because you NEVER KNOW and what a twist if he’s turning his murderous impulses on his own son in a desperate attempt to stop himself, or something….

Butch:

Yeah, it was pretty nasty.

How’d he get all that glass IN there?

Coward? Man, that’s cold! Dude.

It was weirdly difficult mostly because they expected you to have about 19 fingers on your right hand. How am I gonna push all those buttons in that order? Unfair, game.

But yeah, it is a nice “fail” mechanic. Cuz it is punishing you, in a way, not getting the clue. And that would really FEEL like failure. If you don’t get the clue, you let your kid down! Tough.

A better mechanic than Beyond in that regard. Cuz what was the penalty in that? You missed some….scenes. Big whoop. You didn’t even know what you were missing! Here, you do know what you didn’t get, you know what you didn’t get is important, and you know you didn’t get it cuz you failed.

I also think that the whole “You got one chance cuz the game saves” makes things much more tense than dying a million times.

There. Nice thing I said.

It COULD be a double fake out, but I highly doubt it. It feels like a “Believe this….cuz we told you to so we can fake you out later!” deal. Which is not a good deal.

Now Shelby…..I remain open to Shelby…..

Feminina:

YES! How many fingers do they think I have, anyway?!

I was using both hands to hold buttons at some points, which, again, I will say is an interesting use of the controller and I kind of liked it because it’s fun to see people do different things with the same machinery. But also, it was sometimes frustrating.

Butch:

Just remember the warning that comes with every PS controller (Seriously):

For use only with the hands.

And we bookend today with that FITNESS TIP FROM BUTCH.

Perhaps This Was the Newest Automobile He Could Afford

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for scenes from Heavy Rain

Butch:

Ok, also did the creepy religious guy (didn’t shoot him, nice, creepy scene) which makes me think he binge watched The Cell, Saw, Ransom and Seven all at once, and did the weird scene where I took care of the baby. Then got to a scene that seems important and I was tired so I stopped.

So….

Did you notice Shelby drives a car from, like, 1939? Seriously. I took a screenshot. So there, again, we have anachronisms. Which piss me off.

I don’t mind something that’s a mash up of times. That’s fine. Would be a cool little world. But if you’re gonna do that, don’t ROOT it in time by saying 2011. Either makes something “timeless” or don’t. I don’t need to know this is in 2011, and saying 2011 makes the car and ARI just plain weird.

Another thought!

You know what REALLLLLLLLY sucks about you being done and me not being done? I really want some WILD INTERNET SPECULATION about who the killer is, as I have thoughts, but you can’t WILDLY INTERNET SPECULATE with me cuz you know and you’ll just be all “I can neither confirm nor deny your WILD INTERNET SPECULATION” which kind of takes the fun out of it.

That said, I have thoughts.

Feminina:

I know, Shelby is really weird like that. Since it’s been made so clear that this is 2011, I can only conclude that he drives a car from 1939 or whatever on purpose. So he’s intentionally going for that hard-bitten noire private eye thing…whether it’s a persona he identifies with, or it’s what he thinks other people expect to see…I don’t know.

I actually thought the part with the baby was kind of fun. Some of the weird QTE bits were entertaining for me. Something about “pressing buttons to change a baby/cook eggs/do math/whatever” as opposed to the more customary “press buttons to attack people” is enjoyable for me. So I guess that’s one of the things I like about David Cage games. Doing stuff I don’t normally do in a game.

Although I would certainly get very tired of a game that was nothing BUT QTE baby-changing/cooking/math tests. It’s a fun change of pace, but would be hard to stretch out to a full game.

Then again, I don’t know, I guess it just depends on how good the story was.

At the eye doctor for a check up, yay!

Butch:

Eyes are important! Need them to play games!

Game does odd things with time. Very odd things.

It was. I’m with you: it’s nice to have a little change of pace. Even one that isn’t a puzzle, which is what breaks usually are. Just, change a baby. Rather tranquil. And suggestive that things won’t be tranquil for long.

Ok, gonna go play.

Feminina:

Yeah, peacefully changing a baby does give one the ominous sense that something not at all peaceful is coming right up.

But it was kind of nice to see Shelby doing something that didn’t involve getting into a fistfight. He gets in a lot of fights, that dude.

Oh, and I did shoot the creepy religious guy, and then felt bad about it. I was being all calming and trying to defuse the situation, trying to choose the soothing dialogue option as fast as I could, and then it popped up ‘R1’ and I hit R1 without even thinking about it.

Which I thought was actually fairly effective in terms of gameplay…it simulated the tension and the anxiety and the “oops, damn it” of making the wrong call because you’re tense and in a hurry.

And I did feel bad about it, and so did Jayden, but Blake said “don’t worry, it [killing people] gets easier,” which is another cue that Blake is pretty much a jerk.

Butch:

Ah. I said “You can’t solve everything with a gun, Carter!” and he said “Yeah…but it sure helps.”

Ok, played a little more.

Did the car chase, which was pretty great, gotta say. For a QTE fest, that is. Got through it, got the chip.

How’d the killer get the card in the car without being seen? Is the garage guy the killer?????? Speculation.

(Though my speculation is still that it’s Shelby. WILD!)

Then dressed wounds. Now we can add “nurse to hurt man” to the list of “women things” in this game, next to “Hooker, secretary, emotional wife, sex object and victim.” Finally learned Madison’s name.

Then beat a guy up in a meat locker, had them say “Now we have the Origami killer” to which I said “Hmmm, not likely.” Then had Shelby meet Lauren, had him say “Old typewriter” while sitting next to an old typewriter (!), and then went to a party and beat guys up.

That confession was WAY too easy. No way it’s that guy. Nope. And if it is, I’ll be pissed cuz there’s nothing worse in a mystery than the whole “Stumble into room, have guy confess for no reason” way of “solving” a mystery.

I also point out it’s been a goddam LONG time since we used ARI, despite setting it up as a mechanic. Somehow didn’t in Nathaniel’s room, or the meat locker. Have we forgotten about it?

C’mon, game.

Feminina:

Ah, the car chase. Did you try to get out of it? I hit ‘refuse’ at one point, because he said “what gives me the right to put all these other peoples’ lives at risk?” and I thought “good point.”

But it didn’t let me actually refuse. So nice fake there, game.

It was a pretty exciting car bit. I don’t generally like driving in games, but in this case, as a QTE-fest, it was mechanically no different from a bunch of other stuff I’ve done, and it was all right.

You DO have to wonder how the killer got the chip into the car, sometime very recently, without being noticed, but hey…maybe he had a key to the garage. Or was the garage guy!

Like you, I really wondered why Jayden didn’t break out ARI at any point during that whole process of seeking out those two suspects. You introduced this, you made a big deal about it, now he just forgot it existed…? I guess?

And yeah, nursing random wounded dudes is a nice addition to the female skill set in this game.

It gets better! Not really.

I have to say the nursing WAS one of the weird QTEs I actually kind of enjoyed (again, tending wounds just a fun change of pace from causing them), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bit obnoxious. Siiiiiiigh.

Butch:

Nice fake, indeed.

Oh, dude. When I saw “car” my heart sank. You know how much I love driving in games. I kinda said to the world “Well, Shawn, you’re kinda fucked cuz I can’t drive.” I’ve never been more relieved to have QTEs.

The garage guy! MAYBE! He looked sketchy! VERY SKETCHY!

We find out, right? Like, this mystery gets solved? You can spoil THAT, right?

One would think that searching a suspect’s apartment might just be the whole reason that ARI was invented, wouldn’t you? If all it does is store files and play weird ball games, then…well, now that I think on it, that treehouse is kinda nice. BUT STILL! If it’s an investigative tool, shouldn’t he bust it out WHEN INVESTIGATING?

The nursing made no sense, either. “I have been haunted by dreams of male strangers trying to kill me oh hey, a male stranger who is hurt and doesn’t want to go to the doctor so is probably a criminal! I’ll go into his room! Cuz I’m not scared of male strangers at all! Dreams or no!”

It would be like she had dreams about dogs chasing her and the next scene was her saying “Ooo hey! The dog show’s in town! Maybe I’ll go judge it.”

Yeah, not expecting better.

Was kinda obnoxious. That it was.

Feminina:

So true!

“You know what I have a good feeling towards? Strange dudes with mysterious wounds suggesting they engage in physical violence on a regular basis. That makes me feel all safe and snuggly and I just want to heal them right up so they can go back to murdering me in my dreams.”

Butch:

This game does make some interesting narrative choices.

And by interesting I mean rather confusing and/or lazy.

Feminina:

I will note in its defense that some of them do make more sense later. And yes, in response to an earlier question, we do find out who the killer is, so the mystery does get solved mostly satisfactorily. It would be extremely annoying otherwise, wouldn’t it?

And you’re about halfway through already, so it won’t be long before we can discuss this!

Charge blindly on!

Butch:

Halfway! ONWARD!

Yeah, I’d be very pissed if we never knew.

But it’s the kind of thing this game would do.

I cann’t charge on today, though, as kid is here, and I think we’re past the “can play with kid around” phase.

If there ever was such a phase.

Anyway, I’m shopping for a Fitbit.

Feminina:

Fitbit, nice, charging blindly onward into exercise! Wearing your silken bathrobe-like workout clothing! I agree with a previous comment: workout clothing is a very specific uniform that I can only imagine feels unlike something to wear in public (like you, I do not normally wear it, so I don’t know), but…just think of it as involving a special out-in-public dispensation for exercise purposes. Is it at least more comfortable and less sweaty? Because if not, you might as well go back to jeans.

Good luck finding the Fitbit!

And yeah…there are some chapters full of dark and violent content coming up. Although also a couple of short, harmless ones, so it just depends. But probably better safe than sorry. You just finished the party, as Shelby? Hm. Some iffy bits ahead, then.

Butch:

Expensive silken clothing.

These dudes who just wear this shit are weird dude.

But yes, it does seem to “work.” Mrs. McP said “You’re not as disgusting” after my walk yesterday. High praise, indeed.

Feminina:

“Now not as disgusting!” is the advertising term I primarily look for in all my purchasing decisions.

Butch:

When you’re a man about to hit 42, “Now not as disgusting” is beating time.

There’s Good Naked and Bad Naked

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for introduction of Madison and some Shelby stuff in Heavy Rain

Butch:

OK, I’m mad at the game.

A while back, Kotaku wrote an article called “David Cage has to Stop Treating Women Like Shit.” I didn’t read it cuz spoilers, but I’m starting to agree.

And we’re two for two in why you missed the ambient rage I feel about how Cage treats women. Remember in the last game there when you missed the bar scene? The whole “Girl breaks girl rules and dresses sexy in bad place and gets raped and has to be saved and serves her right she won’t do that again?” That. And here, you missed the nudity. And the nudity, I think, changed the scene. For the worse.

So YOUR scene was basically a scary, chased by baddies scene. Or you could read it that way. MY scene went like this: A long, leering, totally gratuitous shower scene. Like, totally pointless except to have boobs. Much like the prostitute scenes in the witcher, but here, it’s different. Why?

Because with the nudity, here’s how the scene went: “Here’s a new character! She’s pretty and female! Don’t believe me? Here’s long, leering shots of her naked! Ok? Well, now she’s gonna get chased through her bedroom and all that in her underwear by masked guys who keep trying to pin her down. Now she’s getting killed in the same bathroom where we saw her naked! AND SHE HASN’T SAID A WORD!”

So here we have a main character (I think, as she’s playable), who’s ENTIRE first scene is “Sex object, sexualized victim, graphically killed.” That’s IT. She doesn’t even have a line of dialog! We don’t know who she even is!

And I think the nude scene, the long, leering nude scene, changes the tenor of the scene. The very, VERY first thing I got was “Sex object.” Nude before she SPEAKS! And, when you get that kind of context, it colors the WHOLE rest of everything.

And in an ugly way. “Isn’t she sexy? Now let’s see her get scared. Now let’s see her get beat up. Now let’s see her die. NEXT CHAPTER!”

Like……There’s something very off putting about all of that. When I meet whoever this is next, it’ll be all “Ah yes, the naked, mute victim.” Which isn’t a great way to introduce a female character. Especially when the only other women in the game are a) a hooker, b) a secretary, and c) a wife who was there to be pretty (Ethan even grabs her and is all “she’s prettier every day”) and then to abandon her husband when it gets tough.

How are you not having issues with all this?

Anyway, did that. Got the shoebox after the weird train station bit. Said “Wow, Cage binge watched The Cell, Saw and Ransom in one weekend, didn’t he?” (It’s gonna be that sort of deal, huh?) Did the bit where the “old school” cop doesn’t like the fancy new guy. Now I’m about to knock on Nathaniel’s door.

Here we go again. This game is either really, really good or I’m angry at it. And its reliance on tropes just to rely on them makes me think Beyond was not challenging tropes as much as we thought.

These two games are like being in a toxic relationship. They do something awful, offensive even, but then, the next time you see them, they do something really, really nice, give you game chocolates and game flowers and you forgive them, all “I guess they ARE great after all…..” until they burn you again.

Watch: Something great’ll happen that I love and I’ll forget this anger. Until I get mad again.

Feminina:

Hm…I don’t recall ever saying I didn’t have any issues with this game.

I hadn’t specifically talked about this particular issue because I didn’t want to spoil, but yeah…even though I missed part of it, I definitely noticed that the only female playable character spends her introductory scene entirely in her underwear (or worse, nude, though I missed that), struggles vainly before being murdered, and then wakes up…making that entire scene MEANINGLESS in the plot of the game and therefore letting us know it existed ONLY to let us look at a woman in her underwear and feel her terror. While she struggles vainly and then is murdered. Yeeeeeeeeeeeah. I noticed that, dude. I definitely noticed.

I mean, seriously, NOTHING in that entire scene has anything to do with anything else in the plot. Narratively, the only significant thing we learned was: there is a female character, and she has nightmares.

Could that information have been presented to us in a slightly less unpleasant way? I think perhaps so!

Maybe, just throwing ideas around, there could have been a 30-second montage of her waking up over and over, and then there could have been, I don’t know, something to do with the plot!

Maybe, if they really wanted the murder scene, they could have at least had her wear some damn clothes! It’s freaking October and it’s raining like hell and her apartment is a giant drafty warehouse…you can’t tell me she has to sleep in her underwear because it’s just so hot out.

But no. We had 20 minutes of a woman in her underwear wandering around, and then getting chased around and murdered. For no narrative reason.

Yeah, I noticed that. I’m glad you reached this part, so we can finally rant about it! And I guess I’m glad I missed the nudity, because I would have been even more unhappy then.

Oh, and don’t think this is the last questionable treatment of women we’re going to see, although it’s arguably the worst because it’s so. Damn. Pointless.

Butch:

Ok, just did three miles in my fancy “wicking” workout gear, so before that video game stuff it’s time for FITNESS TIPS FROM BUTCH! I got two of ’em:

1) Wicking gear is VERY expensive. Like….shit. Well, shouldn’t say that. If you don’t mind the stuff that is, like, day glo orange with red stripes and no sleeves that’ll make you look like an 80s porn star, it’s rather cheap. If you want some semblance of self respect, then it’s not. Self respect leads me to

2) I am modest. I don’t even like going out in public wearing shorts (seriously). Not only does this get up include shorts, which would be bad enough, the fabric just feels like it’s not there. I know that’s the point, but I feel like I’m out wearing barely a satin bathrobe. The whole time I’m thinking “I am not dressed appropriately for being in public. I am going to get arrested.” This exercise shit is fucking WEIRD man.

Ok, back to games.

Fair point about you not having said you had no issues. I just assumed that, as you adored it, there wouldn’t be something as glaring as this. Usually, offensive precludes your adoration. Usually.

(Insert Mr. O joke here.)

But yeah, pretty much this was awful. And the nudity….it’s wasn’t just “Oh, nudity.” It was a long, lingering, featured close up panning shots that lingered, etc. And totally pointless.

I mean, shit. I don’t know her NAME.

You certainly would have been more unhappy with the nudity. As you know, I generally do not have problems with game nudity. But this, WITHOUT the rest of the scene, was even more gratuitous and leering than the hooker parts of TW3. Then you ADD the rest of the scene….eww.

And you thought all that frowny stuff without the nudity.

Oh, I figure that this game isn’t gonna see the feminist light any time soon. That’s a safe assumption.

I’m surprised you still dug this game as much as you did.

Feminina:

Hm. Yes, I GUESS I dug it. I don’t know if that’s the word I’d use, but…

I know I said “I couldn’t stop playing it!” which was true. Also, “I definitely want to play the next one,” which is also true. Mostly. Also, “it’s intense,” which I again stand by.

None of those things meant to say that I loved every minute of it, or even enjoyed every minute of it, because that would not be true. I’m pretty sure I never said I adored it. I also may have subconsciously not gotten around to mentioning the fact that I didn’t entirely love it, because I didn’t want to discourage you from playing it so we could talk about it. Sorry for the deception.

Here’s what I’ll say now that you’re stuck playing it: it sucked me in, but good. I am extremely curious to see what Detroit is like based on the experience, because whatever else it was, Heavy Rain was engaging as hell. Whether or not I LIKED it…I actually don’t even know.

I enjoyed parts of it, I found parts of it very tense, parts very well done, parts just weird, and some parts objectionable. It was worth playing, despite some flaws. I will play his next game. Probably.

Saying “I’m David Cage’s biggest fan” was, however, hyperbole for the sake of drama. I didn’t mean that seriously, and I apologize if it gave the wrong impression.

Butch:

That did mislead somewhat. I should have known hyperbole.

Hmm. It sucked me in, but I’m not sure I liked it seems to be a theme with me and David Cage. Especially “I’m not sure I liked it.” I’m still going round and round about my feelings re Beyond, and I likely will for a while.

But I’m not sure if my doubts on this are because it has many flaws (it certainly has a few) or just that it’s not fun in the sense of fun. You started by telling me it’s grim. It is that. Gotta agree. And grim does affect “Like,” but not necessarily “good,” and those two can blur with games.

It does suck one in. That it does.

Feminina:

Oh, and speaking of women’s roles, did you get Lauren’s help at that party, getting upstairs to see the dude with the suspicious confession?

Using feminine wiles as distraction while man undertakes important action: check. I guess at least she just faked an overdose, instead of taking her clothes off. Small mercies.

Butch:

I did seek Lauren’s help. And regretted it, as I was certain that her help would include sexual favors to the guards cuz this game.

And that plot point was also kind of thrown away. We see Shelby kind of walking off, and I have no idea how Lauren got out of that. Those dudes didn’t seem like the kind of dudes who would be ok with her just springing up all “just kidding! Bye!”

So what happened?

C’mon, game.

Feminina:

Yeah, seriously. Did she just fake coming around all woozy and they tossed her out and she was left to get home on her own because Shelby was gone? Did he lurk in the underbrush waiting for her? (Not likely, because in my game I lost the fight with the kid’s goons and they knocked me out and presumably threw me into the street. Unclear.)

“Enh, whatever, it’s fine, they got back somehow, let’s move on.”

Ooooookay. Let’s, I guess. Sure, unimportant details of people moving from one place to another can be skipped, but we need the full 20 minutes of then-nameless Madison in her underwear!

Priorities.

Butch:

Priorities, indeed.

Indeed.

Real Life Romance Tips!

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Minor, vague spoilers for early in Heavy Rain

Butch:

You know what sucks? Being on a diet. You know what REALLY sucks? Going through cookbooks looking for a good recipe for date night when you’re on a diet.

The books. They mock you.

The books are evil.

Anyway, didn’t play last night after all. Mrs. McP was home far earlier than one would have thought.

Hopefully this morning. But this morning, so far, sucks.

Feminina:

You just need to amp the other romantic aspects of the evening way up to compensate.

Like, hundreds of tiny candles, rose petals everywhere, dining out on the new deck, under the stars…while the heart-catching strains of a blindfolded string quartet sound from the living room…with all that going on, neither of you will notice dinner is a nothing but a pile of cleverly seasoned brown rice on a kale leaf.

You especially won’t notice after the hundreds of tiny candles tip over in the gentle breeze and threaten to burn up the new deck.

I’ve got your back, man.

Helpful tips from the worst romance and fitness blog on the internet!

Butch:

Thanks. Thanks for that.

Almost forgot I have to report back to the doctor about my fitness.

This will hurt playing time.

As will this walk. I’ll be back in a few miles.

I almost went “walk, liquor store, doctor” but decided that would be too ironic. So I’m going to the liquor store AFTER the doctor.

More fitness tips from butch and femmy.

Feminina:

Good plan, good plan. Get health report, THEN pick up the liquor.

All according to the Play First, Talk Later Principles of Fine Living.

Butch:

We need more Principles of Fine Living.

Lately we’re generating all SORTS of new tags! That are only marginally appropriate to our expertise!

Ok, here’s the deal. I want to play. Badly. But if I’m gonna play tonight, gonna have to be in front of the kids. I’m in Hassan’s shop. If I play that chapter, maybe the next one, I gonna do them permanent harm?

Feminina:

Well, as I may have spoiled, there’s at least the potential for a fight in the shop (Shelby does a lot of fighting). It’s similar in action and general violence to the fight he did in Lauren’s room, and with no even marginally scantily clad woman involved, so if you would have let them watch that, then this one is probably also fine.

The chapter after that…eeeeeeeee, no. I’m going to say no.

Butch:

No in the sense of violence, sexiness, or upsetting?

You can at least spoil the nature of no.

Feminina:

Violence and apparently (I just saw this online while refreshing my memory of the scene) there’s also possible nudity. I missed the nudity!

So now you have a mission: don’t be like me. Find the nudity in the chapter after Hassan’s shop!

But also, there is creepy horror atmosphere and violence. I would not show it to children, even before I knew about the nudity.

Speaking of Hassan’s shop…it looks like there is also a potential fatal ending to the fight. I didn’t get the death, but that’s something to be aware of, considering the style that this particular game would be likely to present a death in.

Sorry I don’t have better news for your playing time.

At least you know there’s nudity!

Butch:

I MUST FIND THE NUDITY!!!!!

How’d you miss it? Give me hints!

Wait….female nudity or more male ass? Cuz you can keep the male ass.

Only possible nudity! And possible male nudity! This is not good enough!

Ooo, yeah, they don’t do well with creepy horror atmosphere.

Fuck, I’m never gonna finish. At least I don’t have any doctor appointments next week. And it’s probably not 21 hours long. I’ll catch you. Soon. Promise.

I at least want ONE chapter today!

I’ll just miss a couple QTEs like you did. Ha.

Feminina:

Could be female nudity…just saying…

Butch:

HINTS! NEED HINTS!

Unless you’re tricking me and it’s man ass.

Feminina:

You don’t know, do you?

But take a shower anyway, just in case.

In the game, I mean. I don’t care if you shower or not in real life, that’s between you and Mrs. McP.

Butch:

Shower! Yes. Usually nudity in there.

I’ve already SEEN man ass shower though. Don’t need more of that.

Feminina:

Enjoy that man ass when you finally get a chance to play.

Or woman ass! You don’t know.

Technically, neither do I since I didn’t actually see it myself.

Butch:

Fair. But you DID read about it on the internet, and if there’s anything the internet knows, it’s nudity.

Feminina:

Yeah, I’m trusting the internet on this one.

Butch:

As one should.

It’s just man ass, isn’t it?

Feminina:

[Maddening silence]

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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the introduction of Jayden in Heavy Rain

Butch:

Got nothing for now, but I’m doing my walk in the afternoon, so I should have a good chunk of time this morning to grimly face awfulness in the rain.

Fun.

Feminina:

FACE IT.

It will give you the energy you need to walk in the afternoon! Walking for your health will seem like a blissful escape!

But remember to pace yourself exactly the way I don’t in video games. You don’t want to sprain something.

Butch:

Yeah why am I asking you for pacing advice? You’re terrible at pacing.

I’m doomed.

Feminina:

You are doomed. Hahahahahahaha!!!!! Good luck out there!

But I CAN serve as a cautionary example. Just think to yourself, “WWFD?” And then don’t do that.

Butch:

Probably wise, that.

Of course, it could go either way, health wise. I could say “Femmy would not pace herself” and not hurt myself. Conversely, I could say “Femmy would not order the two pound bacon cheeseburger” and do significant damage.

All is relative. Even Femmy.

Frankly, I like the one where I get the burger a lot better.

Feminina:

Well, that IS the thing I wouldn’t do, sooo…maybe the system works!

Besides, what are you doing all this walking FOR, if not to enable you to eat burgers?

Butch:

To lose weight and lower my blood pressure!

But that is the temptation.

“Hey, I burned 1000 calories walking! I can TOTALLY eat 1000 more calories today!”

I don’t think it works like that, though.

Feminina:

Weeeellll…maybe just 500 more calories! That’s still a net decrease!

Have the 1-pound bacon burger instead of the 2-pound. You can still feel virtuous.

Man, I’m a terrible fitness ally.

“Come on, you’ve earned it, have a stick of butter!”

Butch:

I’m doomed.

Good thing I played!

Ok, did…what. Crime scene, lost Shaun (What a twist THAT was!), watched a press conference, tricked out my office (I went with nature), reported Shaun missing. Now I just entered Hassan’s shop and I think there’s gonna be a fight cuz spoiler.

So thoughts!

I like a good mystery as much as the next guy. Probably more than the next guy. I loved the tracking scenes in TW3, I even liked them in LA Noire, which wasn’t even a good game. Buuuut….

What exactly the fuck is that weird terminator matrix iron man shit doing in THIS game? This was a realistic game, right down to microwaving pizza for your kid. This was a gritty game, right down to the gravelly voiced PI in a hooker’s apartment. And now this shit?

And, it’s cool! I’d love to play a game where I did this shit. I LIKE ARI. But here? And making up a drug called “Tripto?” (which I didn’t take.)

See, I sort of a have a problem when something goes out of its way to be realistic, goes out of its way to plant something in time (I hear 2011 all the time in this game), and then does something that a) isn’t real and b) is totally out of whack for the time period they intentionally picked.

There’s suspending disbelief, and there’s calling out a game for not playing by its own rules. This is the latter.

Which is annoying cuz ARI is COOL, man! I like the mechanic! Now maybe we can make a futuristic detective story where it’ll fit.

See also the weird clip on MRI. Cool, seeing his emotions up there during the conversation, but still. What?

Second thought!

If you’re gonna make multiple playable characters, you gotta make them equally cool. This is especially true in games, where the “time you spend” with each character is more intimate than a movie, say. I like Shelby. Being a gritty PI is cool. I like Jayden. Being a techie detective is cool. I’m not so keen on being Ethan. There’s a big “fun gap” there. And do you really want the player to not want to be the MAJOR character?

Hmm.

So here we go again. Much like Beyond, there’s a lot I really, really like, and a lot that really, really annoys me.

Cuz also like Beyond, there’s some tropey shit. Shaun went missing! There’s a profiler who is flawed! Gritty PI!

But when this game is good, it’s very, very good.

I am anticipating feeling the same with Detroit.

Which I hope you will wait for me to play. I’m catching up!

Feminina:

I completely agree about the weird shift in tone. Shelby is this gritty detective story, almost noire, and then Jayden is a weird sci-fi story. And Ethan is…sadness and tragedy, I guess. I like the different aspects, but they fit together oddly. And, as you say, for the time period ARI feels way too high tech.

Shelby is like the noire 1940s, and Jayden is the sci-fi future? I don’t know. It was weird.

Butch:

It WAS weird. Especially as it seems ARI is off even in the game world. Did you waste a little time waiting for the cop there? The weird little “Bounce a virtual ball against a virtual wall” game? Cuz I did, and got weird, WEIRD looks from the other cops. So it’s like other COPS don’t know what this thing is (and you’d think they’d know). They’re not all “Oh, great, some fed with his fancy expensive ARI thing” (and you’d think they would be). They’re like “What IS that” [law enforcement tool that would probably be talked about all over the place if it really existed and we assume it does in the game world cuz there it is].

And I don’t know if Shelby is the past, per se. Sure, the whole gumshoe thing is very noir, but it’s not like they did something precious like put all those scenes in black and white (though I’ll bet a donut someone suggested that in production meetings) or had him be all “Hey, toots, you’re too nice a broad to be trapped in a dump like this…why don’t ya take a tip and go straight before you [of fuck it I don’t know what the slang was].”

They could have done that if they wanted it to be such an overt contrast. Cuz lord knows they embraced the future.

Feminina:

No, no, I don’t think that Shelby is LITERALLY in the past. Although that would be an interesting twist. I think he’s definitely operating in the same game-present 2011 as the other characters.

I just meant that his scenes evoke that kind of mood, where Jayden’s evoke a futuristic one.

And yeah, I did the ball-bouncing thing too, and got VERY weird looks from the cops, and yeah, throwing a made-up drug into the mix (plus, “triptocaine”? really? that’s your drug name? “highasakiteamine” was taken, eh?) is also odd.

Maybe it’s just meant to contrast two different ways to approach the problem…old-fashioned detective work walking around talking to people, and high-tech augmented reality scanning DNA? And Ethan, the panicked parent, represents the human in the middle?

I don’t know. It’s a very definite use of familiar, contrasting cinema types…for some reason. Maybe David Cage just thought it would be cool.

Also, what happened in the press conference? I paused to think about it, proposed all these possible courses of action for myself (I’m thirsty, maybe I’ll find the water cooler…I should check out the conference…maybe I’ll go find my office…) and then I got turned around with the camera angles, couldn’t find the press conference, and the first thing I saw that I recognized was the secretary so I just got straight to work in my office instead.

I wondered if I missed something by not attending the conference, or if I would miss something by not going to the water cooler even (maybe I would have talked to someone there who said something interesting?) but enh.

My Jayden gets right down to business. He’s dedicated like that.

Butch:

I’ll see how I feel about it going forward. Shit, I don’t even yet know who hired Shelby.

But I’m on it! Only did three miles so I don’t hurt that much.

Highasakiteamine needs to be a drug. If we ever branch out from lingerie and brandy, consider that trademarked by us.

Or something.

Press conference was a lot about the MO and history of the killer, the implication that the mayor is meddling in the investigation, etc. and that the captain is an asshole and a bumbler, but shit, you got that from him asking you to tie his tie.

Weird, weird qte.

Did you take the drug?

Feminina:

That was SUCH a weird QTE. As we discussed with Beyond, sometimes it’s like they thought “this is a game, better put some stuff in for the player to do. Like…maybe they can tie his tie for him!” Because why not?

I don’t know, I guess it could be kind of a character development moment, like, is Jayden any good at tying ties, or does he make a mess of it? (I did it very smoothly, thank you.) Maybe the dude eventually swears at you and walks away if you fumble too many times, or something? Maybe he even says “stay the hell out of my press conference, loser!” and you miss out on some options? I don’t know.

I wasn’t going to take the drug! I wanted him to get clean! But then after a while the wavering walls got to me and I did it. I thought “maybe there’s no other option, maybe I just have to take it to move on.”

But I should have just waited it out?

Butch:

I didn’t take it. I got out, had to do qtes to keep my shaking hands hidden, got to the bathroom, said “no one can see…” and it cut to Ethan.

I, too, tie good ties.

What happened if you took the drug?

Feminina:

Nothing, really. Things steadied out again and…end scene. It was rather anticlimactic.

Butch:

Oh that’s weird.

Wonder why he needs it. He wants weirdness, put on the glasses.

The treehouse is lovely.

Feminina:

I went with the Mars-like setting. Figured the open spaces would help me concentrate.

Butch:

How stark.

I was torn between trees and island. Underwater was just weird.

Feminina:

Yeah, I couldn’t see trying to work while apparently underwater. Especially not when the case I’m working on involves drowning.

I mean…maybe it could give one a sense of control over the danger…or something…but no.

Butch:

Ooooo good point. Creepy. Very creepy.