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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Butch:

I have nothing.

Well, nothing from my game. Finished up Episode 2 of King’s Quest, which is fun. Gave Jr. Batman: Arkham City for Xmas for the WiiU. Why? Because it came with the system four years ago and he wasn’t old enough and I’ve been saving it. It’s his first “real” game. Lots of jumping and shimmying and punching. Like Uncharted with Catwoman. They grow up so fast.

The WiiU controller pad thingy really, really sucks. I can see why this system had issues. That’s my take for today.

But I did not go to the Rapture. I’m gonna try when Baby McP goes to school. And tonight for sure.

And you’re probably halfway through Day of the Tentacle, right?

Feminina:

I am sad that you have nothing, because now I can’t talk about…stuff.

I finished with the Rapture, which was pretty good. Maybe 8-10 hours total? Not incredibly long, but a good block of game. Definitely worth playing and a winner in the PS+ free games department. Creepy, thoughtful, beautifully done…effective music that even I noticed… Good call!

I’m less enthralled with Day of the Tentacle, although I only got maybe an hour into it. It’s kind of funny, but also kind of clunky. I think maybe I’m just too spoiled by slick modern games to have the patience for these interesting old-school interfaces. I’m sitting there thinking “I would have totally played this on the computer in college and thought it was great, but right now it’s sort of annoying.”

Also part of my problem with Grim Fandango, I think. That and the fact that there was no way to sprint, of course. (I think there actually IS no way to sprint in Tentacle, but there’s not really anywhere to sprint to, so it’s not a big deal.)

Apparently I’m kids these days, with no appreciation for how hard people used to have to work to play games.

I’ll give it another shot, it’s not that I hate it with a fiery passion, but it hasn’t grabbed me right off.

Dude: Arkham City! They do grow up fast. I think Mr. O’ played that. I recall very AC/Uncharted-ish gameplay. Good practice for all the climbing and jumping that he’ll need to do in many, many games to come.

Butch:

I played just now!

Indeed, good free find. Am enjoying. More that I’m done with Jeremy.

Well, we gotta play something. If you don’t like Tentacle, you could buy the Witness. You could. That would grab you.

Yup, Arkham City. Though my style of “press L forward, steer with the R” is just plain wrong. He’s all doing it right and stuff cuz Minecraft. Though, the thing he’s not getting is the whole “look around” bit. He can run, and jump, and shimmy, but that camera is proving tricky. We shall work on it.

Ok….back to our game. Finished up with Jeremy. Or, I got the weird church scene and a walk with candles in the night up to where Wendy is.

So the fuck was THAT? When he was all “you got them all….you’re still here? Of course you are.” Was he talking to me? Or was that all ghostly memory, too? Cuz I sort of had the sense he was talking to me. Which is different. If it’s what happened.

And then I did some Wendy. Saw a couple of her bits, found a junked up place and a radio that seems to be this Frank fellow you mentioned, but all it was was arguing over a pint and mentioning the sky, found a treehouse with kids drawing (I HATE kids’ drawings), one of which was the church, the butterflies and the fireball. Hmm. Followed the ghosts chasing their dog, found Wendy telling a married woman to have a drink with someone else, called it a day. Until later.

I think it picks up some once you’re past the exposition of Jeremy and you can now compare and contrast how these people are and how they’re dealing with stuff. That and the end of Jeremy was really well done and has ME asking questions.

So progress!

So, since you left and came back…..how did that whole “End of Jeremy” bit play out? Cuz that felt very much like “This is the end of a chapter, ok?” to me.

Feminina:

Yay! Playing! Talking!

I think we got exactly the same ending to Jeremy’s chapter, I just got it later…after I got Wendy’s and was like “oh, hey, I guess there should be definite endings to these.”

But I went back, went to the church with him, and yes, got the more-sorrowful-than-ecstatic “you’re all here, of course” stuff. I don’t think we can really alter the outcome of anything that happens, only determine how much of it we witness.

And man…I don’t know about you, but that ending, his sort of stifled “Oh God,” and then it was all dark, and the little lights, and the soaring choir, and you’re pacing back down the aisle in what could be a processional (a funeral march? a very somber celebration?)…it was damn effective. I felt like there was something huge and mysterious going on (and yet I still didn’t know WHAT, which is probably as it should be at this point in the story). Well done, I thought.

On that ‘pacing back down the aisle,’ I came to think that the lack of a true ‘sprint’ option is very intentional, and while I sometimes rather badly WANTED to move faster, the game purposefully makes you move slowly because that better suits the mood it’s going for. It would not have been the same if we’d be able to just race out of that church at that point: “that was great so long thanks Jeremy on to the next thing!”

A lot of games limit you this way a bit, by not letting you run indoors or whatever, and it seems like this one just really wanted to impose that mood of more contemplation than action pretty much through the whole thing.

I felt that there were times when holding the ‘sprint’ button (which I did almost all the time out of habit or something) almost worked, where it did make you go a LITTLE faster, and I think those were times where there wasn’t something important going on: the game allows you to move a little faster if there’s nothing it wants you to pay attention to, but it’s not going to let you wreck the solemn mood by haring off out of some intense scene. (Now, whether you wreck the solemn mood by swearing at the game for making you go so slowly…that they can’t control, but I suppose they figure if you hate the speed that much, you might not be appreciating what they want to do here anyway.)

From a storytelling standpoint, they seem to really want you to experience it a certain way, and that way is NOT at breakneck speed, and I felt that the whole design focused around that.

As for him talking to you/the player…yeah, I think maybe. I think…I’m not sure I can say much about this without spoiling anything, but…yeah.

OK, so the Witness. You said it’s all puzzles, and puzzles tend to be hit or miss for me. If you had to categorize it, would you say it’s puzzles more in the vein of Portal 2, which I loved, or Grim Fandango, which I kind of hated? (Partly because I couldn’t figure out how to sprint, but also, I confess, because I found its puzzles more annoying than enjoyable even before I became irritated by the slowness. Like I said, I’m probably just too lazy and spoiled to handle old-school games.)

I guess I like a reasonably self-contained puzzle (like, you know, ‘there’s a tomb and you have to figure out how to get into it’), not so much one where you have to wander VERY SLOWLY all over creation looking for the pieces.

Basically, is this a slick modern game that a spoiled and distractable semi-newbie (by purist standards) player would enjoy? Your kids enjoy it, which is promising, but reassure me.

Butch:

HA! “Oh….oops. Missed….the point….end of the chapter…”

So did you read it as him talking to us in real time? Or not? Because the vagueness of that was cool.

And I agree it was very well done. Flanked by, first the creepy candles, then the rather comforting little votive candles outside, only to be met by the fireball who is patiently waiting for you.

And yes, the music, really all the sound design in this game, is really, really good. Did you catch that the hymn there was the one he was quoting? You hear him quote it, almost crying, THEN the soaring choir.

(Dude you’re gonna love the Witness. I digress, sorta. You’ll see.)

Before we get to sprinting, I’m gonna take the opportunity to talk about sound, because this may never happen again.

Very cool that we get soaring beautiful music at certain points (this, entering a new area, etc.) but the things that attract you to the recordings, the “facts,” are very much the opposite soundwise. It’s either annoying beeping phones or static/numbers. It’s dissonant and ugly, whereas the “spiritual” stuff isn’t.

I’ve noticed that, too, about the pacing. The “sprint” button seems to be more of a “move at the pace of the game” button, which is pretty amazing. Especially in this game, where the pace is not always obvious. I’m just now starting to get a sense of what is worth exploring and what isn’t, when things are likely to happen and when they aren’t, etc. So I may start moving a little faster through the story.

The Witness: Portal 2. Easy. And it has the same progression of teaching you the mechanics. Indeed, learning the mechanics is a vital part of it….AIEE! I want to talk about it!

Portal 2. Even in the simplicity, because there’s really only one mechanic, like portal 2, that gets used in all sorts of new ways. Which, when you take it with the theme….AIEE!

Just…..PLAY IT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! Love of God…you know….that’s really AIEEAIEEAIEE!

Dude…. so self contained.

Be reassured.

Feminina:

Yeah, it was about like that. “Oh, so you mean there was…like…a conclusion to that story? Imagine that!”

But I was just wandering around, and I ended up wandering on my own up the road that, if you do it in the proper order, the fireflies/fireball leads you up to get to Wendy. And I didn’t know!–I was just like “oh, well, maybe this is about Wendy now and then Jeremy will come back later?”

No. Do not think that. If you don’t go back to Jeremy, you will just never get the end of Jeremy’s chapter. (ALTHOUGH…I think maybe the fireball would keep trying to lead back there? That seemed to happen at one point later on. But Jeremy and/or information will not follow you around the map, is the thing: if you walk away from it, you leave it behind.)

And you are free to head on through without getting the end of Jeremy’s chapter, I get the sense that you COULD just march through the whole thing barely glancing at the information if you wanted (perhaps if you’re replaying for trophy purposes), but…you’d miss most of the story, so why would you?

Unless it was about trophies, and I’ll just say that I actually glanced at the trophies on this, and even got a couple of them, but they felt really awkwardly inserted into the game and totally contrary to the moody, immersive spirit of the game overall, so I don’t really recommend them. I mean, trophies usually do fit awkwardly into the flow of games, unless they’re the totally integrated “reach this point in the story” ones, but with this particular game it FELT especially egregious. Like, I don’t really WANT this experience interrupted by the mood-breaking pause while I move backwards for 50 seconds just to get a ‘bing!’ interrupt telling me I won a random trophy with a silly name. I’m kind of sorry I did it, to be honest. It was an “I don’t want to do much because I might not reach another save point and I have to quit soon but I can still play for a few minutes, so I’ll just check out the trophies” thing, but it really didn’t add anything to my satisfaction. This game could better have just skipped trophies entirely.

That’s an interesting point, about all the ‘information alert’ type noises being unpleasant and technological, in contrast to the choral music of the ‘big personal moments’ and the nice nature sounds when you’re just walking around.

Maybe we could say there are three types of sound: technological (scientific, dry, technical and frightening information, produced by people), natural (bird songs, wind in the leaves, ambient noise, indifferent to people), and spiritual (human voices, song, information about human emotion and soul). Hm. Representing the world, and humans’ place in the world from both a scientific and a religious standpoint?

Butch:

Games don’t DO ending, right?

Silly fireball. Always being silly.

I saw you got a trophy for moving backwards! The fuck is that?

I think games like this, they do do it to be cheeky. There must be some bullshit that says that games HAVE to have trophies, so dudes look at their games and say “Ok, you want trophies….here. The stupidest ones we could find!”

As for sound design… Place, and quality? I have to say, I haven’t figured out what we’re supposed to think is “good” and “bad” here. Usually in science vs. religion stories (if that is what this is), there’s one we’re supposed to think is good and one we’re supposed to think is bad. Usually, science gets the short straw. Here….I can’t tell. People don’t seem to like the Observatory, or Dr. Collins, and, no doubt, the “secular sound” is unpleasant. But God and church aren’t exactly being portrayed in a nice way, either.

Interesting you bring up bird songs. Wendy is an avid bird watcher, after all, and her birds are dying. Even if birds are indifferent to people, they seem to be being dragged into this mess as well, whether they want to be or not.

Feminina:

You’re probably right about the trophies. “Some people will complain if there aren’t any, so let’s give them some, but make them really stupid so they’ll have to acknowledge what a silly idea the whole thing is.”

There are only 20, plus platinum, so if someone REALLY cares about trophies they’ll be pleased because this will theoretically be easy to get platinum in, but some of them are so annoying (one requires you to go through the whole game and listen to all the radios before you do anything else…so, you not only have to make sure you don’t accidentally overhear some light-people talking, you have to know where all the radios are…no thanks) that almost no one who actually cares about the game will even bother.

It’s a good question, which side is meant to be ‘good’ and which ‘bad’ here. Because you’re right, everyone’s suspicious of the observatory and the outsider scientist, but religion doesn’t seem to have comforted Jeremy all that much in the end either.

Maybe the idea is that they’re both just attempts by humans to understand and explain the larger natural world, and neither is objectively good or bad?

Butch:

I think that was it, with the trophies. I mean, this isn’t a game that’s going to cater to folks who care about gamer scores or levels or whatever the fuck PS has. People who want to rack up bragging rights and all that are probably playing other things. So why bother?

Now I have to go look to see what percentage of people are actually winning them. Probably pretty low.

Good and bad…Indeed, if this really is the rapture (don’t spoil), then all this is a bigassed act of God. So this is past “it didn’t comfort him,” this is “It pretty much killed everyone, after scaring the shit out of them and giving them terrible headaches.”

That isn’t good, now is it?

See, you know shit I do not yet know. I shall tread lightly.

I’ll play more tonight. I hope. I really wish the kids weren’t terrified of this.

Feminina:

The percentage on all the trophies, even the easy “walk backwards” one, is REALLY low. So, yeah, most people who play games like this don’t really care about them, as we might suspect.

Although the one trophy I expect you will get is “ending the game,” which only pops up after the credits–the fact that it is also very rare shows that most people do not let the credits play all the way through.

It IS unfortunate that you can’t play this with the kids around. So much potential time! And it seems like such an obvious option on the surface. No violent action, very limited bad language, nice, soothing scenery…what could go wrong? Except for the sense of creepy doom hanging over everything…

Butch:

Figures. This is not a trophy hunters game.

But then, “finish the game” is usually only 30% or so. Seriously. In every game. I don’t get that, either.

I didn’t think the kids were with it enough to get the doom, but I guess so. Go figure. Gotta give them more credit.

Feminina:

Yeah, you’d think a lot of the sense of doom would go over kids’ heads! But no, they’re more perceptive than we think, and/or this game does a really fantastic job of setting that spooky mood.

I mean, kids do respond to ghost stories around the campfire and stuff–this kind of taps into that sense of unease and something being wrong or about to go wrong even though everything looks fine at first glance.

Also, speaking of games, I failed to respond to your Witness-related reassurances, but I am indeed reassured. I’ll give Tentacle another shot, to be fair, but honestly, our time is precious…if it doesn’t grow on me quickly, I’ll abandon it (the glories of free!) and order the Witness and play that instead. You can see if you like Tentacle any better, and if it turns out to be awesome 20 minutes past where I stopped, you can let me know. (Or it’ll turn awesome in 20 minutes and I’ll let you know.)

In another note on games, did you see the “PS2 on PS4” section? Nice thought, to rework old games for the new platform. As a part-time archivist, I approve of making things more easily accessible. I didn’t see anything on the list that I felt I desperately needed to play, although I heard Bully was thought-provoking and interesting. I so want them to do Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, that co-op game I played with another friend a million years ago but never finished because he took his PS2 and went home!–but I didn’t see it there. Perhaps in the future!

Although given my complaints about only being able to tolerate slick modern games, I suppose this enthusiasm for two-generations-ago material is a bit self-contradictory. Whatever. I contain multitudes, etc.

Butch:

Kids are perceptive they are.

I feel terrible. Freaked them out.

I shall look into the Tentacle. And, if you play the Witness, we won’t lack of shit to discuss.

I WILL say, give the Witness some time. It starts out interesting, then gets good, then gets mind blowing. But you need to get into it. Give it a good amount of time.

No, where is this PS2 on PS4? I know about PS NOW where you pay to play old PS3 games, which doesn’t interest me in the least, but PS2? Where’s that?

You do contain multitudes. But then, all that adds is stuff to play, and we don’t have time for what we have.

Feminina:

If you go to the PS store, one of the links in the left side column is “PS2 on PS4.” It’s not free stuff, you have to pay for it, but sort of medium level prices: the original GTA trilogy is $35, and a lot of the games are $15, so not terrible if you just kind of always meant to play such-and-such game but didn’t get around to it and then your friend took his PS2 home…ahem.

But you’re right, we don’t have time for the current-generation games we want to play, never mind the old ones. Still, I like that they’re there, even if I never play any of them. You had a comment not that long ago about gaming history and stuff–keeping old games alive by transferring them to current platforms is good for that.

Butch:

Indeed. Keep things alive.

But that has the potential to turn into what all PC gamers have: A steam library backlog. Steam is always selling shit as bundles. You want GTA5? That’ll be 60 bucks. Or ALL FIVE FOR 55!

I read somewhere that 40% of all games purchased on Steam remain unplayed. People never start them. I have a couple.

This smells like that. ALL THREE GTA GAMES CHEAP! Which you will buy and never play cuz you’re playing Horizon and ME.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah, true–this has precisely that potential!

I too could now own 200 games I bought in a fit of optimism because they were soooooo cheap, and then never play them because I cannot also buy free time!

Still, I suppose it’s only fair that console players have what PC players have. You wouldn’t want us to be deprived of the glorious opportunity to build up a huge backlog of forgotten titles in our accounts, would you?

Butch:

Nature of things. You finally get a great new companion, they turn into your ex.

Though if they ported CIv 6, I’d be ok with that.

Feminina:

At least they’re still not demanding all the expensive upgrades all the time. I mean, you could totally have not gotten the Pro without missing out on anything at all except an optimal experience with some games, plus all the stuff that’s eventually going to be Pro-only…completely your choice.

Butch:

You’re so right it’s scary.

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