I started off this week with some good ol’ sickness. I at first thought it was strep. I rarely get sick at is it, and when I do, I tend to make it count. But, alas, just your typical summer cold filled with bad sleep, and an amount of tissue that looks as if you’re trying to make the space around you a cloud simulation science experiment. A gross one.
I decided that the best way to handle this was to WFH so I didn’t have to dress up for work. Or worry about the mounds of tissue and mingling with others while I felt like shit. It was also the best because as soon as I logged off of work, I could immediately play video games and/or read and/or finish off Netflix series. Because you don’t really feel like accomplishing anything while hacking up a lunch, dealing with sinus pressure, and overall just being sleepy.
I did my usual MK8, finished up a particularly good South Korean dramedy A Gentleman’s Dignity (which held a few surprises–all South Korean dramedies are the same except for how they get to their goals, really), re-read some manga, and after finding out that crying could help with sinus pressure, immediately played through Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (which I am not linking to anything because it would ruin the experience of the game; just take my word for it and download it on whatever platform you have to play). It magically helped.
However, I decided to play through another free game from Xbox Gold and have just been…disappointed.
Deadlight has apparently been given a lot of praise. I didn’t realize this until I began researching it because the first 15-20 seconds of the game show a man talking to a very scared woman laying on the ground in a weird way, much like a serial killer, and shooting her in the head with crazed eyes. I was in, “What the actual fuck is going on right now — am I taking this guy down or am I this guy?” mode.
You then find out in a quick transition that this is the main character, they are in the middle of a zombie-like apocalypse, and he’s actually concerned for the group of people he is with as well as finding his wife and daughter. Basically, the woman died for no reason, per usual gaming standards.
I also found out that the IDs I kept finding were names of serial killers? Which makes kind of sense due to the fact that the game quickly changes to a Saw-like noir-mixed-with-horror thriller game that is so frustrating at some points I finally stopped playing and just looked up the ending so I’d stop wasting my time.
***Start Spoiler Alert And Rant***
Yup. Randall, your main character, is a serial killer, although it is never clear as to why (maybe because, as I guessed while playing on a whim because it is so common in these types of games/films, he was begged to kill his wife and daughter? Or were they fabricated? Because the original ending is much clearer than the alternate one, where they seemed dream-like.), but you only find this out after playing on Nightmare mode. This means that the game as an entirety only truly makes sense if you can get through it on their toughest setting. You get about a zillion hints that conclude up to nothing, hints that just kept leaving me frustrated and confused. I can’t imagine my reaction if I’d gotten to the end and found out nothing correlated. But if you complete the game the way the team wanted you to (which is my assumption since this is literally the only way the game makes an iota of sense), you find out that he’s killed everyone on his team one by one, rather than the cut scenes you had where you tried to save them from The New Law. The true ending is then him “coming to terms” with who he really is.
What we’ve got here is a case of the Unreliable Narrator (your only hints throughout the game to him being this are the IDs you pick up off of random dead people?), which I absolutely despise when used lazily. I hated Heavy Rain for many reasons, but a major rage I had was their convenient plot twist that meant you couldn’t trust your narrator — the ONE moment that I still refuse to accept as okay. And your one moment for this game is right away in the beginning, when I thought to myself, “Dude, this is serial killer talk. What the actual fuck kind of game am I going to be playing?” that I only would have gained the satisfaction of being right had I played the way Tequila Works wanted me to all the way through. Even if I had played it through, the only other hints were the style of the game, the really weird diary entries (I guess a hint not to trust his voice there when he started describing cannibalism but it turned out to be his dog), and the character’s complete ambivalence to The Rat’s treatment. Maybe the monologues he keeps having are also hints, but they got so preachy that I didn’t pay attention.
The fact is, this only makes sense in the alternate ending. The two apparent options for the surrounding elements to the game are he considers himself a serial killer because of what he had to do to his family or that he actually just is a serial killer.
Bad Unreliable Narrator comes from sloppy writing, and just plain undermines the experience — as well as means you’ve assumed your audience is stupid. There are times when this has been done well (i.e. Fight Club, Catcher in the Rye, The Usual Suspects…some would argue all narratives are unreliable, and, to be fair, it is all arguable depending on tastes), and in those times, I have no qualms. But you have to play the cards right if your audience needs to be tricked in order for your story to be told. Hints, like maybe being angry at the people who died last, saying they deserved it or something, when you’re gasping for breath due to low stamina, less telling and more showing… Heavy Rain did none of this, so at least there was something to work off of for Deadlight. I wouldn’t have been happy playing a serial killer game (proooooooooobably would have made me feel sick to my stomach by the end), but at least it would have made sense as to what this character was going through. Especially if he is just as shocked at this revelation.
But GODS do I fucking hate Heavy Rain. Seriously. Fuck that game.
***End Spoiler Alert And Rant***
The main reason I stopped playing the game, however, were the mechanics. So often was I trying to bounce off of the walls like Mario that didn’t really work, fall into water to immediately sink and drown (because THAT makes sense…?) due to misplacement of boxes, and feeling as if I can never truly find that exact spot to exactly grab a ledge… Which didn’t really come into play too much until the labyrinth of doom with The Rat. Hell, the moment I got the revolver, they said, “Shoot the can” and I kept trying to figure out why it wouldn’t work with the trigger finger. And that was after they told you what button to use in order to reload the gun, and plenty of other instructions on how to work any other action in the game.
Ugh, I honestly didn’t mean to get this into depth in the game.
And since I’ve been completely Negative Ned about the whole thing, I will say that I enjoyed the look of the game while playing. 2.5D side-scroller mixed with Limbo-like effects? Pretty cool. The zombies called Shadows, and playing upon the effect? Nice touch. And even though zombies are everywhere, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t intrigued (after the whole 15-20 second serial killer part in the beginning). There were parts of the game I found beautiful looking. The soundtrack was spot on.
Like most things, I’m frustrated because there was potential for a better gaming experience. It was obviously worked on very hard, and isn’t the worst game in all the land. It just dredged up a lot of memories from when I played Heavy Rain.
To clear your mind of this, I’ll talk to you about my experience with The Flower Shop: Winter if Fairbrook. For the record, the last time I played a dating sim, it was for a gaming podcast, and it was to figure out which ninja would be my destiny. This time, my friend was drinking alone, I was sad because the only other dating game I wanted to play, Hatoful Boyfriend, literally the best plot to anything ever, isn’t coming out until September 4, so I grabbed a bottle of wine and we decided to go through the game together while doing a Google Hangout.
After drawing ridiculous things on each other through the drawing App, we began playing through…and quickly found that we were only reading and clicking on things. We swapped each page to read, and, since we were already tipsy, we somehow found ourselves editing out things for the word penis to make it more interesting.
Some of my more favorite ending results:
- “Oh wow! Penis smells fantastic!”
- “You’re quite the Penisman!”
- “Don’t worry. Steve is very Penis-going.”
- “Hey, it’s not that big of a penis. It’s just a penis, isn’t it?”
- “I think the world needs more penis!”
- “I’m sure the two of you would really get a penis.”
Why, yes, I am 27-years-old and single. Why do you ask?
I’d also like to point out that not only is this dating sim difficult, but I noticed that you can get an Alone Achievement. Which means you don’t end up with anyone. And when I checked up on that, I found that the guys you don’t end up with end up dating other women. Women they talk to you about because they originally liked them. And since you basically meet them all, you’re kind of ruining their relationships. And you have to spend time doing a lot of things you probably don’t want to do. And you’re unsure if every answer you make will have them liking you better or not — and whether you should lie, just in case.
It’s like real dating. OMFG.
Actually, now that I think about it, I’d love to make my own dating simulation game. And I want to make it as complicated and realistic as possible. To the point where people are wondering why they aren’t just dating since they’re putting in enough work as it is.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve just witnessed what will be happening in the future. My future. And yours. Be on the lookout for the best thing of your lives, coming to a computer near you.
Also, you’ll learn how to sword fight, and you’ll build your own business that prints ironic shirts.
It’s going to be awesome.