Every time I find an interesting article online (mostly about digital games, game theory, analysis, etc.), and I don’t have the time to read it, I put it in a bookmarks folder named “Readings”. Once in a while I open that folder and start catching up with nice stuff, discovering new games or theories. This time, a review by Rock Paper Shotgun captured my attention; it’s an article about Unexplored, a roguelike that brings procedural generation to another level. Technical considerations aside, I am amazed by the way this game allows the player to build alterbiographies – i.e. the stories that players generate from their interaction with the game.

Procedurally generated games tend to facilitate the creation of stories by the players’ experiences; emergent narratives are in their DNA, so to speak. However, Unexplored has the ability to add consistency to those stories. It happens thanks to (relatively) simple exploits, like randomizing backstories – Character X has been slain by Monster Y – and involving a crafting/enchanting system that allows to mix, experiment, and create meaning by playing. The combination of equipment, enemies, level design, and randomly generated backstories produces always different results.

So far, I have been through a good dozen of games. All of them were exciting and intriguing.

In a playthrough my mage discovered so many powerful magic items that he became almost unstoppable, but a foolish mistake – disabling a switch I mistook for a trap – prevented his progression through the dungeon, as it became impossible to open a door. I had to jump over a cliff to go deeper into a cave, in order to find another path. This move resulted in a high risk / high reward situation, as I reached the lair of a dormant dragon. Sneaking around, I could find some diaries that told me where to find key objects, and hidden treasures.

Another playthrough went south when my rogue found a magic bow, equipped it, and discovered that it was cursed (so it was impossible to remove it). Plus, the bow had a major malus: every arrow shot with it didn’t quite reach the target, swinging around randomly. I had to progress by throwing unknown potions at enemies, hoping they were explosives, and avoiding conflict until I found a scroll – three levels later – that removed the bow’s curse. Unfortunately, my character died in the next room, because I forgot how to properly swing a sword while struggling with that useless bow.

Yesterday I played as an adventurer which was so lucky to find a lot of potions of strength on the first level: by drinking them, he became able to use two huge poleaxes, and the playthrough evolved very aggressively from there. Obviously. He was a death machine, blinded by rage and blood lust, always searching for bigger opponents to slain. Too bad he encountered, as a random boss fight, an alchemist. He could nothing against his fire, and died miserably.

These stories make for a great example of what Unexplored can do: generate experiences that can be told as independent narratives, with different backgrounds and a very little setup by the developers – except for that huge work that PCG requires “behind the scenes”. It works so well that at some point you could find yourself playing Unexplored to build a story, rather than progressing into the dungeon or achieving some impressive feat. And I think this is awesome.

I know, I know; it’s a lazy title. Didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about it.

Anyway, yesterday I completed Destiny 2’s main campaign (the game was free for PS Plus subscribers a few months ago), and I feel the urge to write some words in regards to a game that could have been among my recent favorites, but is not.

For those of you who don’t know me, a specification: I am a Bungie fanboy. I loved their works since Halo:CE, and became a great fan of the whole franchise as long as they were in charge. Therefore, the first Destiny instantly got my attention; it felt like the Halo-est thing I could play on my PS4 (until Apex Legends), with a looter-shooter / MMO twist that encouraged me to buy a season pass for the first time. All things considered, I don’t regret that decision. However, since they announced a second iteration in the series, my hype has completely vanished.

It was too soon, for an MMO such as Destiny, to have a sequel; a game such as these can endure a longer lifespan, in the matter of years or even decades. Just look at World of Warcraft, League of Legends, DoTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress, Overwatch, to name some. Their model seems way more sustainable and acceptable, especially by the players, than releasing a new game after a few years. However, this argument could have been quickly disregarded if Bungie released a completely new, enhanced, bigger game.

Problem is: Destiny and Destiny 2 are the same game.

Same mechanics, same gameplay, almost the same assets (textures, 3D models, UI, animations, sounds, etc.), and the lack of emotional stimulation/connection that emerges since the beginning of the game. So I find it infuriating, and frustrating, as a customer, that a company asks me to spend 60-120 euros in what basically is an expansion of their previous title. I reckon there’s a lot of work behind Destiny 2’s maps, and resources (Titan, for example, is beautiful), I just think it isn’t enough to justify that cost.

Let me be clearer:

    • buying the “vanilla” game costs around 60€ at launch, 40-20€ afterwards; this version looks like a big tutorial that brings the player up to a level cap (20) full of endgame activities;
    • a few months pass, and here’s the first expansion, Curse of Osiris (17€), that raises the level cap to 30 and consequentially depopulates the previous endgame stuff;
    • more time passes, another expansion: Warmind (20€), same logic as before;
    • Forsaken expansion (40€) brings the level cap to 50, keeps destroying precedent endgame-situations.

In all this, it must be noted that the season pass (approx 40€) covers just the first two expansions, and gives no advantage at all to those who pre-paid to have (at the time of the transaction) access to unknown content. I’m not a genius at math, but it looks like the game costs 140€ – as I write, but expect the price to grow as new expansions are released – to be fully enjoyed.

Again, not a fan of this business model. Sorry, not sorry.

Aside this rant, let me have some random considerations.

Destiny 2 felt disturbingly empty. There was no reason, no motive behind the game, as if it had – pass me the expression here – no soul. Except for a few inspired missions, it looked like that every aspect of the game took a step back. If not technically, at least from a design perspective. Main, and side quests, are designed so that the player just wastes time shooting at endless hordes of enemies without the minimum reasoning. I mean, at least in the first Destiny there was a soft puzzle-solving set of tasks that relieved the player from all the redundant action. This second iteration of the franchise is easier, but feels way longer to complete, and plot-things happen just “because”. There are bad guys, and good guys. Like in the original Star Wars trilogy, which is a good inspiration, but was written more than 30 years ago. It’s all so shallow and naive that at some point it becomes senseless to play.

With regards to this, I also noticed some unsettling dynamics. For example, the player often runs into the Hive (some of the bad guys-monsters) soldiers while they are praying. Kneeling down, worshiping idols, and all of that. What better time to shoot them all dead in name of your light-beats-darkness holy crusade? How creepy is it, as a portrayal of religious war? How disturbing can it be? Isn’t it unethical? I understand that the argument could quickly shift to “Why should we simulate shooting, in the first place?” – but there are grades of acceptance, and this goes way deeper for me.

Speaking of religious representation, what about the elitist chaste that are the Guardians? Chosen by a not-better-specified “light god”, given the power to transmigrate their souls and body (i.e. – immortality) in order to protect (?), and guard (?) common – inferior – people. Almighty heroes that don’t really care about saving anyone, if it doesn’t involve massacring random enemies. That’s cool, but if you stop and think about it, it starts becoming full of disturbing implications. For example, while playing today I was wondering: what if the player is actually the Ghost? As if it hosts the mind and controls the body, which is an empty vessel, recreating it when it’s destroyed (hence, the respawn mechanic, which is justified by generic reasons in-game).

I don’t know, it just occurred to me that some games are deeper than you, or their developers, thought in the first place. And I wanted to share my thoughts, as usual.

Last night I had some troubles falling asleep, so I reprised my experiment with Android unknown games.

To be quite honest, this time I didn’t last long (zing!): luckily enough, sleep caught me after half an hour of play. In that short time, I got the chance to play Dino Park, a business simulation game mixed with swiping (?) mechanics, that allows the player to build his own Jurassic Park with more PEGI T-rated, and kid-friendly, dinosaurs.

Dino Park is a simple game, as in: after playing for a little while you probably already have seen it all, or most of it.

It starts with a short tutorial in which the player has no freedom at all, being forced to tap on specific icons on the screen in quick succession with very few explanations. Tap here to open your park, tap there to find your first dinosaur, etc. Now that I’ve played some recent Android games, I noticed that this trend is really popular among mobile game devs. The more a game is complex, the longer it takes to complete this “holding hand” kind of tutorial. The player doesn’t discover anything on his own, every crucial information is automatically provided by the game on a silver, shining plate. I started to wonder why this happens. Probably the huge amount of games that saturate the market force developers to shoot infos at players in the minimum time given, in order to allow them to play as soon as possible, and stay on the game. Or maybe is just a matter of audience, and platform: due the short time to play, you want to learn all the rules quick. Or something connected to the interface – or all these reasons together, plus more. Nevertheless, it’s intriguing.

The gameplay has nothing to reflect about that I didn’t already write: it’s a path from zero to hero paved with capitalistic dynamics, and portrayal of animal conviction (stretching a little here, but stay with me) as a legitimate form of profit.

There’s a mechanic, however, that I enjoyed for some reason. In order to obtain new dinosaurs, you have to dig – more excavation-related imaginary, yay! – and uncover fossils. To physically do so, the player has to swipe on the screen, removing some dirt, and then combine pieces of fossil puzzles. On the other hand, I felt like there was a severe discrepancy between the resources given to the player to complete the task, time, and outcome. Unlocking an excavation site has a price, which increases after every attempt, forcing the player to be more efficient – or to wait until the in-game earnings are enough to open the app again, and give it a new try. Plus, it requires too many pieces to fully complete some fossils, and those pieces are often hidden under rocks: to destroy rocks, the player has to use a pickaxe (having 3 of them at the beginning of each excavation) but they rarely are enough. So, the choice: spend a rare in-game resource to obtain 3 more pickaxes, or watch a 30-seconds ad. I found myself watching way too many ads in the first ten minute of play, with a disproportion between playtime and advertisingtime.

That’s all, an uninteresting post for an uninteresting game I guess. Next time I will try to find some more particular title on the store, for sure.

There are poor name choices, and then there are VERY poor name choices.

Drilla‘s title falls into the second category, hands down.

In my second straight sleep-less night (yay!) I decided to keep observing how mines are depicted in public imagination, taking mobile games as a starting point. So, after Pocket Mine 3, the choice was Drilla: an endless idle crafting game in which the player has to turn on, and then watch working, a mechanic drill. Excitement went over the rooftop here, didn’t it?

yep, that’s a watermelon

The gameplay is quite essential: after turning on the drill, the player should tap on the screen to gather materials while the machine keeps digging in a (truly) endless vertical descent. If the drill runs out of fuel, a few taps on the screen are enough to solve the problem. If the player gathers too many materials, it is sufficient to upgrade the storage part. This is where Drilla becomes odd to me: all you have to do is tap every now and then, sometimes very fast, then upgrade the machinery in a engineering-like interface, and go back to endless tapping on the screen. While the dynamic here is the same as Pocket Mine 3 (gather, obtain money, buy upgrade, repeat), Drilla’s progression is just too straightforward to present any type of uncertainty nor contest to the player.

Plus, there are some design choices that elude me. The minimal interface doesn’t help in creating atmosphere, and tends to create distance between the player and the game. Sometimes UI elements are right in the active section of the screen, being a disturbance for the gameplay. On the other hand, I found the upgrade menu very neat, with a touch of engineering and blueprinting that fascinates me. However, I wonder: what’s the meaning of the pistols, bones, and other unrecognizable stuff that appears in the background after the drill digs towards the center of earth? What’s their purpose? What should they represent? I don’t know, maybe they are meant as comic relief. After all, there is also a level in which the machine digs through a watermelon for some reason.

As I anticipated, I can see no challenge at all in Drilla, except for the required patience that the player should invest in the game to keep going, reaching new levels and upgrading the drill with fancy (?) stuff. The player becomes almost a passive observer with no influence at all on the overall experience, except for those few moments in which he/she should upgrade the machine. It feels like the game is trying to show, through procedural rhetoric, how maintenance works. How human work is increasingly being replaced by automation, and the man’s intervention is required just to upgrade, repair, or turn on some machine. This dynamic is exasperated, as Drilla keeps working even if you leave the game in the background: while I changed tab on my smartphone, in order to take some notes for this post, it kept digging. I left it at 12.927 and resumed at 15.411. Automation at its best.

Anyway, what’s interesting for me to notice is how mines are depicted in media such as videogames: always with the same palette, items, and designs. Verticality is a prevalent, if not needed, element. Horizontal excavation has been limited to a supporting role, mostly. This brings a sense of vertigo in mining games, a feeling of entering the unknown, representing that exploration of darkness that obsesses humankind since the dawn of time – and that we see depicted in every media.

My nights have become extensions of my days, as in: I’m struggling with insomnia.

In order to fill the blank between “staying voluntarily awake” and “finally being able to sleep for a couple of hours” I’ve tried to: read, watch Netflix, browse the internet, write, listen to music, and – last but not least – play games. Yesterday I decided to make the most out of that (wasted) time by trying any interesting game in the Android store, and write a post on it the day after. So here we are.

The rules are simple: I choose a random game without reading its description nor looking at screenshots, download it, and play it until I enter snooze city.

For the first entry in this series I picked Pocket Mine 3: a roguelike, dungeon crawler, endless scroller, idle game (che alla fiera mio padre comprò).

Pocket Mine 3 in action

Pocket Mine 3 captured my attention for its title, as lately I’ve been working on some projects that involve mines, their depiction in media, and their representation in the collective imagination. It was fun to see how certain tropes found place in a well crafted gameplay, that revolves around simple mechanics and minimal input by the player: all you have to do to play Pocket Mine 3 is tapping on squares, so that your little miner can destroy said squares/blocks of terrain, digging deeper into a procedurally generated mine until you reach the bottom (or your pickaxe expires, monsters kill the miner, or the edge of the screen touches him/her). It’s interesting to notice that the player knows, since the beginning of each level, how deep he/she should dig to complete it; this is a key element that helps to manage resources – namely, the pickaxe durability or special abilities – adding a bit of tactics to the gameplay.

There are a lot of different blocks in the game: normal terrain, minerals, explosives, treasures, monsters, and unbreakable ones too. Each category gives a specific feedback, and costs a different amount of pickaxe durability to be mined, but almost everything is drawn from mine’s collective imagination. There are, as you could expect, a lot of minerals to collect in order to gain money (isn’t mining all about capitalism, and profit?); the crates contain mostly explosives, or gas, that should facilitate the progression through the mine; there are treasures, such as rare mushrooms, herbs, or antiquities, to exchange with useful goods. The rhetoric is always the same: dig, gain, get better equipment, dig more lucrative stuff, gain more money, get even better equipment, etc. Destruction brings money, money brings more tools, better tools bring more destruction.

While Pocket Mine 3 drawns from the collective mine’s imagination, it must be noted that mostly of its aesthetic choices come from western culture: the TNT dynamite, bombs, and characters meet the common depiction (already seen in Spelunky, for example) of such imagination. Aesthetics are quite pleasant to look at (even for tired eyes), and the palette is the one you would expect from a game inspired by mines: brown, gold, red, and metallic colors mixed with some pastel dyes.

What amazed me the most about Pocket Mine 3 is its well-made combination of elements: for a roguelike such as this, it was impossible not to insert a series of randomizing elements (diverse characters, equipment, etc.). Developers did it in a way that winks at gatcha games, with booster packs, collectible cards/heroes, multiple elements that involve level-up mechanics. There are even daily, weekly, and monthly challenges to unlock special equipment (so there must be a team always producing new content behind this game: cool!). All wrapped up by a veil of microtransactions, of course; however I noticed that the player can obtain certain boosts and benefits by watching short advertising videos, which is a nice compromise.

As expected by a game like this, it becomes addictive soon: a simple gameplay (with a basically flat learning curve), plus endless possibilities given by PGC tend to create a winning mix, especially for me. Nevertheless, if tonight insomnia strikes again, my partner will be another game.

There are things, in our world, that you must like. If you don’t, you are a moron.

I can list some: The Queen, Tarantino’s movies, Guardiola’s Barcelona, pizza, dogs.

Anyone can have an opinion on everything. However, certain things can be addressed by personal taste, and personal taste alone. Some topics have a technical backbone instead, where arguing is allowed if done properly.

Here’s my argument for today: Persona 5 sucks.

Now that I have your attention (and rage, and hate), follow me. Please.

Persona 5 is a game that bored me to the bone and, while I recognize some of its amazing design choices, I truly can’t understand why people went crazy about this game.

Let’s start from the pro’s: incredible art and visual style. Seriously, Persona 5 has…personality. Character. It doesn’t go unnoticed. Sometimes it reminded me of Jet Set Radio, with that incredible attention to detail and boldness. It just appears and sounds great.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack is simply amazing. SFX are also perfect, and while the English dub is a stab to the ears, I found intriguing that the team allowed users to download Japanese original voice over for free.

I also recognize that mechanics and dynamics work as they should – the game is polished, it is complex, deep and interesting to some extent. However, I can’t see any reason why this game should be a positive experience.

no further comment required

Simply put, Persona 5 is a simulation of Japanese adolescent life, mixed with a gatcha-style system that forces the player to collect, breed, and train monsters to fight with. That’s it. Nothing extremely new, nor exciting. In between long and redundant dialogues, there is a lot of grinding (as expected from a JRPG), dating (?), and collecting stuff.

The first dynamic – the Japanese adolescent life simulator – mixes interesting mechanics with long, dead times, and lots of planning. For the equivalent of a whole year (or so) the player is forced to plan every daily activity according to a schedule that is partially forced by the game’s events, resulting in an everlasting work life simulator. Frustrating, to say the least, for those adults that already have to plan their week outside of a digital game. If I turn on my PS4 I would like to engage in a different set of activities than those I face on a daily basis.

Let alone the planning: what about reading redundant dialogues for hours, with characters repeating the very same concepts for three, or four times? I tried to fast-forward some dialogues, timing them. It takes several minutes for the player to even skip parts of uninteresting plot discussion. For a time-consuming JRPG this should not be a surprise, but in Persona 5 it still feels as “too much”. Too much of the player’s time wasted in reading endless lines of text.

Not to mention the repetitive sessions of lectures where the player has to answer a question, and take note of what the teacher says in order to pass some tests afterwards. Sure, you can learn something from this. But be aware not to call Persona 5 a game for learning.

Then we have the pocket-monsters system: I am familiar with Persona’s gameplay, so this was the best aspect I found in the downsides of the game. While the personas are intriguing, and well characterized, the excitement fades after a few minutes of play: as frustration ensues, the player realizes that the very same feeling of growth, and breeding, can be achieved with any gatcha on Apple or Google Store, for example. Which, again, would eliminate the frustration of a GoogleCalendar-meets-dating-sim gameplay.

At some point I wondered: is it me? Am I too much critical with things I don’t like? Perhaps. I searched for negative Persona 5 reviews, and didn’t find one. Metacritic is a praising party. The best I could find is this post on Gamasutra Blogs, but it still doesn’t sound like a genuine critic to this game.

So yes: maybe I am a moron, a contrarian, a grouchy type, the only person in the world who didn’t like Persona 5. Amen to that. I prefer it this way, than praising something just because the rest of the world did.

Never criticize something until you try it: this is the main reason that encouraged me to play Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Other than that, there was an ember of hope in my heart, a glimpse of possible redemption for a game that received mostly negative feedback from both critics and players.

Now that I have finished it, I can have my say on a game that probably should not have existed.

The face you make when you play Andromeda: a mix of anguish and surprise

Let’s start from the premises: despite a controversial ending for the original trilogy, Mass Effect was still a big thing, an IP that could not go wasted. It would have been a mistake to let it die without further exploring its potential, from both narrative and gameplay perspectives. I agree on this, and in fact the Andromeda project got me hyped. At first.

As long as the development (and the huge marketing campaign) continued, I started to doubt a lot about its quality. It’s a thing I have: if you need to overpublicize a product, in my mind I start seeing it as a possible failure. “Any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king” (sic.), so to say. That’s why I didn’t buy the game at day one. Thankfully enough.

The outraged reactions that Andromeda generated served as confirmation that my money had to stay in my wallet, very far away from this new Mass Effect game. Technical issues, huge bugs, design flaws scourged this title since its release, apparently.

For a long time I ignored it existence, until a friend gifted me with a physical copy, saying – more or less – “Keep it, it’s garbage.”

A free game is a free game, I say.

So I played it – for practical exercise and, why not?, curiosity. With that hope I mentioned, to see something in a game that was probably underrated. Plus, I enjoyed the original trilogy (ending included). There was a lot involved, but my expectations were low. Yet, I was still too optimistic.

My very first reaction to Andromeda has been: “Are you kidding me?”

No, seriously. As soon as the game started I had the feeling that something was wrong. The character editor was awkward, like some textures were missing and props were copied directly from some game of 15 years ago. Menus and interface reminded me of the first Knights of the Old Republic. Actually, the whole experience was similar to that: it felt like retro gaming, except it wasn’t supposed to be.

In Andromeda every character, including the main cast, is poorly animated. They look like plastic dolls moved by the goofy hands of a toddler. Their facial expressions are unnatural, as in “hard to believe”, and they often seem ill or broken. Hair, eyes, textures look like they were put together by chance, or in a rush. Which is probably what happened, but I will get to it later.

Advancing through the game there was a lot that made me thumb my nose: staying on the characters, they felt like (bad) copies of something already seen, especially from the previous installments of the Mass Effect franchise, but also borrowed from Dragon Age. They made me revalue Inquisition characters, which are an awful lot.

Dialogues and conversations are a fair of triviality, poorly written or extracted from 90’s movies. A problem which extends its ramifications to the whole narrative: every branch of plot, or sub-plot, is contaminated by a lack of originality. Everything happens in a straight line, and the player always can predict what will come next. There are no blind corners to turn, just a series of (unfortunate) events that feel as “already seen”.

Speaking of which, the whole game recalls many other titles of the past for a lot of reasons. There is a lot of redundancy with the original Mass Effect trilogy, plus some recycled cliches (and scenes) from the Dragon Age franchise – nothing tragic, I imagine that there was a huge influence by the designers’ previous works – but I have seen also some resemblances with many other games: Halo, Gears of War, Horizon: Zero Dawn, etc.

Creating something of completely original might be utopia, I reckon. However, mixing ideas together and taking inspirations are practices that have been done better in the past.

So I wonder: why? Why a studio with that huge budget and great talent was forced to release a product so flawed? Time? Resources? Pressure from the publisher and from the media? I cannot find an answer, but it is just sad because there was much potential, in Andromeda, that went wasted.

Take the setting for example: a brand new galaxy, full of unknown species and planets to discover. In my mind I imagined it completely different from the Milky Way, with alien races involved in different political conflicts than those already seen in the Citadel. But I also figured the possibility of life forms not yet evolved enough to travel through space. From a certain point of view Andromeda meets these expectations of mine, as Relictum, Kett and Angara fit the context and forge a believable weave. Planets are a pleasure for the eyes, but soon they become boring. There is no charisma flowing through Andromeda, no sense of wonder. It is far away from the feeling of exploring new worlds given by No Man’s Sky, despite its slow (and boring, to many) gameplay. I would add that the lack of “known” places/names deprives the player of the gratification that comes from stepping on Mars, on Jupiter, or reaching Alpha Centauri. Defending Hyperion and reclaiming Heleus is not the same thing as protecting Earth, the emotional link is nearly not-existing.

Same goes for the protagonist’s story (and background): Pathfinder Ryder has nearly no charm, his/her personality is a bunch of banalities held together by the shadow of Commander Shepard. He/She is a poor copy, moved by trivial motivations and bound to predictable actions. A mere puppet in SAM’s hands, which is a strange excuse to make him/her special, as every other Pathfinder met in the game (Salarian, Turian, and Asari) should have the same connections or potential. Except the protagonist is Alec Ryder’s son/daughter, hence has some special link to the original SAM. Probably acceptable. Surely lame.

This lack of charisma tends to hold characters far away from each other. Even when the circumstances should point towards a comical relief, all sounds forced and awkward. Interactions with crew members are just odd, romances included: I had the feeling that they were there “just because”, as if they were a mandatory assignment to put in the game. Not a thoughtful design choice, nor a natural consequence of well made character design.

I know that my criticism often tends to be too negative, but I cannot stand this kind of shallowness coming from such great designers and programmers. Because Andromeda also includes elements of excellence, in my opinion: details and features that surprised me a lot.

First and most important, the combat system. I did not engage the multiplayer action, but enjoyed the feeling of mobility and multi-dimensionality during firefights against the AI. Profiles are also a great idea, and they work exceptionally well in certain situations were switching equipment is crucial for a quick turn of tables. The whole combat system entertains, without becoming boring, except in the last part of the main narrative arc where it tends to bee kinda redundant. But that’s just because the Meridian quest is redundant by itself.

Then, there are the details or the features: scanning stuff with SAM can be quite satisfying, and I mentioned planets as a bright side of Andromeda’s design. In particular, there is an attention to detail that sometimes is too much – an example is the new Krogan homeworld, a desert where heat is obviously dangerous, but damage could be prevented by…just staying in the shadows. I mean, dude, you were able to make THIS and yet the main character moves like he has some serious neurological issue? Come on.

Some scripted cinematics are also very inspired, like in the old Mass Effect’s they draw on the cinematographic language to deliver specific messages. And they work well, most of the times, acting as a good interlude between boring plot cliches (or including them, but in a fancy way).

Last but not least, I would spend some words on the ending. It is shallow, predictable, and it leaves a sour taste. Mostly because of its lack of emotional attachment, which is not properly built during the many hours of gameplay, but also because it winks to a (predictable, again) bigger picture for a sequel that will never come, as the studio that created Andromeda has been shut down and the IP is probably dead.

It might sound harsh, but probably this is for the better. I mean, I hope that the guys behind the game have found new jobs and are working on some spectacular new projects. Seriously. But I also strongly believe that certain stories, or projects, should be closed when they need to be closed. Trying to shear the sheep too much could be counterproductive, or dangerous. And Mass Effect: Andromeda is the proof of this.