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Messages - crimsoncantata

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1
Chit Chat! / Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« on: April 08, 2016, 02:30:44 AM »
Just coming across this thread- while there was a certain joy to early adventure games that sometimes seems lacking today, there were plenty of dystopias as well. Just off the the top of my head I can recall classics like Beneath a Steel Sky and Wasteland, Sierra's own Manhunter series, and slightly later hellscapes like Dark Seed or Sanitarium (to say nothing of games drawn from dystopian books - Neuromancer, Snatcher, Circuit's Edge, etc)

There may also be a touch of nostalgia at play. While I do remember being fascinated by Sierra's EGA wonderlands, I also remember dying horribly for things like not having picked up a vital item at the very beginning of the game (Space Quest), walking over a bridge too many times (King's Quest), and opening a door/walking under a chandelier/talking to the wrong person/hassling a parrot/opening a bottle/taking a shower (Colonel's Bequest). Even one of my all time favorite games, Out of this World, is essentially a learn-by-constant-harrowing-death procedural.

But I do think that joy survives, just in different ways. For a time, computing capabilities were so limited that adventure games (and text adventures before them) were the only way for a computer game to really tell a story. But now action-adventure has claimed a lot of that territory. Does Mass Effect, for instance, really have fewer puzzles* or mysteries than The Perils of Rosella? Is there less intrigue and questing in Dragon Age: Inquisition than Quest For Glory: Wages of War? The addition of more actiony elements may move the form away from what many consider 'the classics,' but I don't think that the original virtues have been lost, and especially not when creators like Wadjet Eye keep the early flame alive as well.

As for joy qua joy, I say it's still there too. I'm not as up to date on the latest games as I used to be, but even I find glimmers of it my travels. The chortlesome character humor in Bioware's best efforts, the staggeringly artful plotting of Nintendo's Ghost Trick, and (reaching way back), the television show level of Psychonauts, which is one of the very few videogames levels in which your stated *and actual* goal is to have a nice time. And I keep hearing happy things about Phoenix Wright and Stardew Valley and the like.

The wide-eyed joy you're looking for may be harder to see now that the lil' village of computer gaming has exploded into a bustling metropolis, but I guarantee it's still there to be found.




*It even had the towers of hanoi! How much more classic-gamey can you get?


2
I sided with Danton. On a meta-level I knew it was a mug's choice because whenever a game gives you a choice between side-with-A, side-with-B, and a third way, the right answer is always the third way*, but I just couldn't see Amy murdering an ally in cold blood like that. Er, but I may have talked about this before.

*All time best example: Drowned God
Arguable exception: Fallout New Vegas

3
Shardlight / Re: Commentary mode
« on: March 31, 2016, 10:23:45 PM »
I couldn't agree with OP more, I've deeply enjoyed the commentaries for this and past games, particularly the Blackwell series. It's fun to hear all the development stories and learn about the game's background and paths-not-taken. It also makes the game itself more replayable- giving a solid reason to go back through, and an appreciation of things you might have only glanced at or even missed the first time.

There's also a wry pleasure in being able to then spot the in-jokes for other games- like when I finally got around to playing The Rebirth, and noticed the decanter  :)

4
Shardlight / Re: Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 31, 2016, 10:07:14 PM »
The Styx imagery I got the first time around, but I didn't make the pennies-of-the-dead connection until I listened to the commentary. I admit, my first thought was more toward those peephole paintings in Scooby-Do (something about the portrait's sly expression just suggests mischief...).

5
Shardlight / Re: How can I access the bonus content in Steam?
« on: March 26, 2016, 07:37:22 PM »
Thank you both!

6
Shardlight / Re: just beat shardlight my thoughts HEAVY SPOLIERS
« on: March 25, 2016, 10:31:49 PM »
I agree with much of what you say, but I feel like I have to stand up a bit for my man Tiberius. While I do wish there was more of him, I still think there's enough in the game to successfully portray a man absolutely driven to maintain order. This doesn't make much impact at first because plenty of villains, both real and fictional, use 'maintaining order' as a cover for self-serving action, but as events progress we see that Tiberius doesn't actually want further riches, or conquest, or the adulation/fear of others- strict order isn't a means to end for him, it's the end itself. When he threatens to have a soldier hung from his balcony for talking back, it's not because his ego is bruised, it's because good order cannot tolerate insubordination. I found it a subtle twist on the more usual cookie cutter villian, and one I respected.

I absolutely agree that much of his power comes from Abe Goldfarb's stellar performance, which makes listening to Tiberius a bit like watching someone expertly twirl a razor-sharp dagger through their fingers- equal parts fascination and danger.

Puzzle-wise I was pretty stunned that a post apocalyptic game starring a mechanic didn't have more repair-type puzzles. Matching gears to pegs, re-rerouting current, loose component jigsaws, etc. I was actually a little disappointed I didn't get a close-up screen where I could fiddle with the mechanical raven guts.

I was also dead certain halfway through the game that I would get the chance to bring the salt flats train to life, but perhaps there was a deleted scene along the lines of-

AMY:...and in the best part of the plan, we drive this train straight into the secret heart of Tiberius' territory, taking him completely unawares!
TRAIN LADY: *silent death glare*
AMY: ....or we could just walk there. Walking's good too....

7
Shardlight / Re: How can I access the bonus content in Steam?
« on: March 25, 2016, 09:42:39 PM »
According to the voice-over video, Gossip Lady 1 has a name- Flora. Though I can't imagine why it should matter to me, I'm dying to know if Gossip Lady 2 has a name as well (Fawna?).

8
Shardlight / Re: Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 16, 2016, 11:31:47 AM »
You should try Bioshock:Infinite! (the first few chapters, at least). It's star may have faded a bit since release, but given how much you enjoyed the aesthetics of Dishonored, I think you'd find a lot of food for thought. Also, now that I think on it, an awful lot of ravens.

Secretwise (or semisecret, at least), there's a very nice visual touch in the DecanterVision where, as the Reaper is revealed to be a doctor, two vines wrap around a distant winged statue to recall a caduceus.

9
Shardlight / Re: Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 14, 2016, 02:50:17 AM »
Whoever drew up the rules for the rebellion in their alleyway HQ seems to have learned a lesson (or two) from Fight Club.

10
Shardlight / Re: Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 07:02:30 PM »
How could I forget this one: The T.N. Juan who authored Nelson's philosophy book is clearly The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment, in a reference so perfect I practically cheered when I came across it.

11
Shardlight / Secrets and Connections (spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 02:33:32 PM »
It's not unusual for a game to have a few hidden jokes, or callouts and references to other games and movies. While I was too swept up in the story to notice many in my first playthrough, maybe sharper-eyed players can help me fill out this list. 

*Grim Fandango- I wonder if Aquino's collapsible scythe wasn't a tip of the hat to Manny Calaveras, another Reaper with a need for portable harvestware. Could just be a case of convergent evolution, of course.

*Bioshock Infinite- Probably not intentional, but the eighteenth century icongraphy combined with the social stratification theme and Daisy Fitzroyish Danton put me in mind of this game more than once when playing.

12
Shardlight / Re: Final Choices (Endgame Spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 02:18:55 PM »
      I really appreciate the response- it's always fascinating to get a glimpse of how these things come to be. Still, we might be destined to disagree here. Danton's line about cutting down all opposition is clearly the most damning evidence against her, but it doesn't come until after the final choice has been made.

       Before that- well, the decapitation is just a little bit outré, but Amy has to know that part of storming the tower is going to involve killing guards. After all, Danton only beheads the guy after Amy's shot him- I don't know that the one form of execution is really more monstrous than the other. Both are probably less painful then having your body crushed beneath an HVAC unit, which Amy spends little time regretting. Indeed, as they make their way up the tower, Amy seems to rack up at least as high a kill count as Danton. Nor is Danton so bloodthirsty as to immediately slay noncombatants (she only does that if you tell her to).

     Danton's plans to replace Tiberius are a little weird, but on the other hand, she is saying these things while fighting for her life, so she might not be thinking as clearly as normal. In similar straits, for instance, Amy face-stabbed a man to death, gouging out his eyes with a needle. Danton might also just be trying to demoralize Tiberius*, but even in this when T asks her how much blood she plans to spill, the answer isn't 'As much as it takes!' or 'Enough to wipe the Aristocracy from the Earth!', but 'Less than you.'  Perhaps her grim tone is cause for concern, but I still think it calls more for some persuasive conversation and perhaps a few of Nelson's books on political history or ethics, than death. Clearly I can't speak for anyone else, but that's just how the story struck me. In particular, during the ending conversation if you allow Danton to live, Aquino's grim chidings about all the violence that will be done didn't strike me as 'This is indeed a rough path I have chosen,' but more 'Where are you getting this from?"

       Things that might have put me in the proper frame of mind (and again, I'm only speaking for me) would have been some rumours of the Resistance's bloodier past (eg Danton assumed control by killing the previous leadership, or Gus doesn't sell to the Aristocracy because he'sscared of crossing the Resistance- the last family to do so just... disappeared) and even more of Danton's callous side being revealed during the tower ascent. Like in dealing with the Soothsayer, if Amy chooses to spare him-

      DANTON: Bad answer, Wellard [stabs Soothsayer]. All enemies of the people will have to be put down Amy. I'm beginning to wonder if you really understand what that means.



Anyway, that's my take- clearly I wouldn't have spent so much time thinking about it if I didn't care about the characters & story, and I hope my thoughts provide a bit of illumination or interest.

Notes: You're completely right about the sword, of course. I didn't see it get knocked from her hand initially, and mistook the scabbard for the sword itself.

*It would make sense that this is a ploy. After all, the first think Danton does is nail Tiberius' head to a wall for all to see- this would make tricky to then seamlessly replace him. 

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Shardlight / Final Choices (Endgame Spoilers)
« on: March 13, 2016, 01:42:19 AM »
Soothslayer

       Does sparing or stabbing the soothsayer affect anything beyond your own peace of mind? Even if you let Tiberius live, it doesn't seem to make his rule any more/less delusional, and nobody else brings it up though (admittedly, the narrative does move quickly on).

Free Will Ending

       I really couldn't believe Amy Wellard was even capable of murdering Danton like that. Just a few minutes before it was only Danton's blade between Amy and another bayonet through the ribs. It's only Danton's bravery and willingness to risk the lives of her own people on Amy's word that's gotten Amy in this far in the first place. When Amy's face was posted on every wall in the city, Danton offered her a safe a place to hide. Even from the beginning, when Amy first falls in with the Resistance, does Danton order her to steal, assassinate, or sabotage? No, she says 'these people are hurting- help them.'

       Perhaps what kills me most is, as their mission begins, Amy and Danton trust each other enough to exchange last wishes. But even after cutting down her erstwhile companion in cold blood, Amy can't even be bothered to honor that last request, and pickup Danton's bloodstained hat.

       Pragmatically, of course, there's also the issue of how the Resistance is going to react to Amy's "Hey guys, thanks for laying down your lives for me, you should know that I just killed the leader who kept you safe and effective for years and years, but the good news is that I'm in charge now!" but it's the character thing that hits me the most. Well that, and the way the game strongly implies that this treachery is the most moral choice you can make.

       I just keeping thinking back to Danton's final moments- plenty of time to run Amy through as she reloads, draws, and aims the crossbow, but Danton doesn't, because it's simply unthinkable that Amy Wellard, who she's trusted with her life, would do a thing like that.

But, hey now, doesn't Danton become a bloody mass murderer if you DON'T kill her?

       Apparently, but I have to admit that doesn't really ring true to me. I know it's supposed to echo the Reign of Terror, but none of the events of the game leading up this moment make it seem likely, or even particularly plausible. But even if Amy does somehow detect this hidden potential for tyranny in her companion, it seems she might have spent at least a minute or two trying to talk things out. If Amy's response to people who disagree with her policy views is 'instant execution,' it's hard to see how her rule will be less bloody than Danton's or Julian's.

       I, er, still really liked the game, but this bit just stuck in my craw. Memories of Bioshock:Infinite, where Comstock and Fitzroy are made out to be morally indistinguishable.

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Technobabylon / Re: Love It!
« on: June 05, 2015, 05:00:07 PM »
Of course! Of course.

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Technobabylon / Re: Love It!
« on: June 05, 2015, 11:20:06 AM »
Quote
Well no, there is never even a point where they mention he's gay.

Not as such, but if Regis tries to find his off switch during the restaurant scene, he does seem awfully pleased and enthused about the sudden invasion of personal space. Perhaps he's just generally excitable...

ETA: The dialogue in question (after using the CI-Splitter on Stepford)

Stepford[startled]: Oh my, Dr Regis! How forward!!
Stepford[sly smile]: I had no idea you felt this way.
Regis[perplexed]: Uh...
Stepford[still smiling]:We must discuss this later in private.
Regis[awkwardly]: ...I'm... just going to..go..uh...
Stepford[conspiratorially]: Of course! Of course.

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