Borrowed taglines and recycled designations irk me. Hades is “The Perfect Roguelike For People Who Don’t Like Roguelikes”, says GameInformer. Polygon quips, “Even roguelike haters love Hades” (and doubles down a few months later with a video called “Hades is a roguelike for roguelike haters”). Vice thinks “‘Hades’ Is the Perfect Roguelite for People Who Don’t Like Roguelites”. (Credit to PC Gamer for putting a spotlight on how widely used the phrase is.)
At this volume it comes off as an echo chamber and a schoolyard consensus. And because I am annoyed I hope to annoy other people by referring to the aphorism as HITRFPWDLR and pronouce it “hitarfeepowdolar”.
After walking through a giant portal that appeared in the desert on a planet in No Man’s Sky, the game presented me with a veiled questionnaire, presented as different reasonings in my character’s inner monologue. Why, my character asked themselves, had they walked through that portal? Or less veiled-ly, Hello Games asked me, the player.
There were three options: To save an NPC? To fight an enemy faction? Or ‘just because I can’?
I’m struggling to find a suitable comparison for the emotional climax of Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons but I’m going to give it a shot. Anyone who has played the game will know what I’m talking about. For anyone who has not, this is the spoiler warning.
Infinifactory is a strange title. The game features a limited amount of scenarios, each requiring a finite amount of output. And without spoilers I can say, that the neverending story this is not. You finish the last puzzle and you get an ending. I get the factory bit, just not the inifini bit. Spacechem is about making chemicals. In space. Granted it’s not exactly an exciting naming convention but at least it delivers on both parts.
Now, I know that it’s a distant relation of Infiniminer which to some may be enough but allow me to speculate: Infinifactory is a progression in Zachlike naming into the self aware stage. Zachlikes – the shorthand for the genre that Zach Barth and Zachtronics spawned – are expressions of the belief in endless growth. You make better and better machines that will continue to convert input into output, steadily and reliably.
I have a PUBG winrate of 0.000. By the unique logic of PUBG maths this puts me in the top 7% of players, rated by winrate. Probably along with all the other 93% schmucks who have yet to earn a single fowlflavoured dinner.
In Hearthstone I have – or rather had – a winrate of probably slightly above 0.5, i.e. averaging a win and a bit for every loss. Although the odds are much more in your favour in a game of Hearthstone (1:1) than in a game of PUBG (1:99) this is still a much better performance.
And yet: While I have yet to savour chicken, PUBG leaves me with a much better taste in my mouth than Hearthstone. In Hearthstone losses linger, while wins evaporate. In PUBG on the other hand, the positive experiences are accentuated.
Hitman (2016) may or may not be a great game but it gets one thing brilliantly, astonishingly right. It is a quest marker game that is playable without quest markers. I would wager that it is in fact designed to be playable with or without quest markers. And for that I want to smother the good people of IO Interactive. With kisses, that is. Not a pillow. Or a bag. Or any other of a thousand possible, inviting murder instruments.
As I was restarting the Mirror’s Edge chapter entitled ‘Heat’ for the umpteenth time, I wondered quietly – possibly not so quietly, possibly out-loud-swearing-ly – at what point the sound director of the game had thought to themselves: What this game needs is more sickening thuds.
Every time you midjusge a distance or gets cheated by the controls and, consequently, plunge to your death, it goes k-chud. The foley artist should be be given an award for Most Absoleutely Vile and Disgusting Sound. I’m thinking it has to be melons but there’s a sense of bone breaking somewhere in there, too.
Mirror’s Edge’s sound design is actually pretty indicative of the game design in general. I found myself asking “To what extent is this game-design-wot-makes-the-player-uncomfortable-for-thematic-reasons and to what extent is it just game-design-wot-is-bad?”