Shadow of Decency

Sometimes we make mistakes and we know it. We recognize them since they are just newborn thoughts in our minds.

My last calculated fault goes by the title of Middle Earth: Shadow of War. I was well aware that playing that game would have resulted in a huge disappointment, but did this stop me from buying it? No it didn’t.

WARNING – the following post includes major spoilers

I would love to annoy you with the countless tales of hatred, betrayal, and unexpected friendship involving procedurally-generated orcs. Hoshgrish, Pushkrimp, Golm…names that will forever (i.e. – for the next month or two) remind me of some epic adventures. The Nemesis System in its 2.0 format is a masterpiece: it works, like it or not, and it sustains the game all alone while allowing emerging narratives to pop up like beautiful flowers in a fertilized field.

Unfortunately, that is problem number 1: any of those narratives is WAY better than the scripted storyline.

Shadow of War takes place once again in Mordor, right after the events of its predecessor. Talion and Celebrimbor are still bonded by ancient magic, as resolute as ever to dethrone the Dark Lord from his comfy seat in Barad-dûr’s attic. Plan A is to forge a new, purer Ring (lolwut.jpg), use it to subdue an army of orcs, and then declare war to Mordor. However, in the first ten minutes of the game Shelob (remember the giant-ass spider that almost killed Frodo in the movies? Well, forget it; she is some good looking lady now BECAUSE OF REASONS) pops up and takes the Second One Ring for herself. Which would be it. One of the evilest and most powerful creatures of Middle Earth has the equivalent of a mass murdering weapon. It’s done. Game Over. So long for Plan A.

But NO! She is kinda good now. You help her for a while, then she gives back the Ring, aaand…there you go again messing with poor orcs’ minds.

This is just an example for the long series of nonsensical situations in which the protagonists find themselves during the game.

So it comes problem number 2: scripted narrative has no internal consistency at all.

As a LOTR fan, Shadow of War bugged me deeply. It already happened with Shadow of Mordor, when the narrative went totally nuts and became a delirious megalomania, allowing the protagonist to confront Sauron (!) directly. This time, however, it appears that writers had more creative space to experiment with, and despite their good efforts they achieved some remarkable failure: the plot seems a fan fiction written by a teenager during a very hard acid trip. Word.

1V1 ME BRO

I wrote a list of every single plot point that bothered me; its length was scary, so I will stick to one point only: the whole War in the title has been never mentioned in any of Tolkien’s works nor adaptations. Yes, it could be argued that this whole saga is an adaptation on its own, with its rules and canons. But since it uses licenses (and designs) from Peter Jackson’s LOTR movies, all of this nonsense makes the two “Shadow of” simply inconsistent with the fictional universe in which they take place. Which is a more serious issue than it would seem, because:

[…] when a player starts to play a game in which he enacts an avatar character, he agrees to play the role that goes with the character. It’s up to the designer to decide how strictly that role is defined. Superman, for example, has no moral freedom at all; a player who wishes to enact Superman signs up to Superman’s moral constraints. (Adams, 2013)

In Shadow of War, the player enacts an avatar character (created ad hoc for the game) that should have very limited influence in interfering with the original story narrated in the LOTR saga. Nevertheless designers decided to disregard that in order to give the player a more relevant role in the fictional world, most likely with the sole purpose of entertaining their customers, hence getting a wider consent and – I would dare to say – sell more copies. In fact, the whole narrative is a mixture of fan-service tropes and overused cliches.

And this leads us – last but not least – to problem number 3: ending, grinding, and microtransacting.

You probably already heard about Act IV, a redundant series of missions required to see the game’s ending (and upsetting) cinematic. Hours over hours of repetitive actions that allow the player to get better equipment and stronger orcs – basically, grinding at its worst. I get that the design of this act represents decades of endless war between Talion’s army and Sauron’s, but the result is just a tedious waste of time that breaks the already messy narrative flow in a very bad way. To exacerbate the whole thing, there are the infamous microtransactions: if the player spends enough money on loot chests, he can skip through this long dullness just acquiring the strongest orcs. No further comment required.

Obviously if you can do that, it does not necessarily mean that you have to. However, the design choices clearly push to persuade the player into buying a chest or two. Frustration is a powerful weapon these days, as there are so many games to play and each one of us has so little time to enjoy them.

I truly hope that the guys at Monolith learn from their recent mistakes. The Nemesis System has to shine again, yet very far from wasted licenses, senseless grinding, and awful money-grabbing.

References

– Adams, Ernest (2013). Three Problems for Interactive Storytellers, Resolved, Gamasutra.com (http://www.designersnotebook.com/Columns/118_Three_Problems_Resolved/118_three_problems_resolved.htm) Retrieved: 11/16/2017

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The Indigo Flamingo

The village of Ghali was a rough pile of wooden houses stuck in the middle of a sickening marsh. In the sunny days, it surfaced from the dense sea of fog like an old wreckage, all crumbled and pointy. People used to say that Ghali was a stubborn place, because it just refused to die. Not that the odds didn’t try to eliminate it: Ghali survived plagues, fires, feuds with far settlements, and even a fiery storm every ten years or so. For some reason, there was always enough food in the swamp to feed the young, so the ruined stilt houses were never empty.

Ghali’s was isolated: for miles and miles around the village it was all about muddy puddles, quicksands, and crocodiles. Except some crazy man who lived alone in the marshland, there was no other sign of humankind nearby. Nobody had particular interest in trading with Ghali’s folks, so caravans were a rare sighting there. Weeks, months, or perhaps a year could pass before a merchant, fool enough to travel through that repugnant place, appeared. Even then, people there had few things to offer. Mostly pelts or spirits of distilled roots. And stories. Lotsa stories.

They often told a certain tale to strangers, a legend passed on since since the foundation of Ghali. There were many different variations of that story, as every villager had his or her own. Yet, they all agreed upon a point: it was no myth at all. It happened for real.

Once upon a time, they said, when there was no village yet, the marsh was ruled by a huge and dark flamingo. Like a scarecrow, it endlessly wandered through the pools with its long legs, an ominous figure feared by all the animals. That singular flamingo had an arched neck, a taste for leeches and glowing red eyes for breaching into the night. Its beak was a scythe made to reap life, black and shiny and sharp as hell.

When the first men and women arrived in the swamp, fugitives from healthier colonies, the bird was there to welcome them. For months it watched silently, as folks cut trees to make creaking planks for building their wretched homes. Whenever they recognized its shape standing out in the fog, they stopped working. Afraid. Paralyzed. Astonished.

They called it the Indigo Flamingo. Hoped it would never get close.

But it did, eventually. Oh, he did.

Right after Ghali was born, more people gathered there to escape justice and hide. The village became a dump for human garbage, a sweaty inferno where scum could live in peace. Not only adults: orphans and families with children also reached that sick place, that Mecca of decadence, looking for a better life.

Soon enough, however, those kids started to disappear. Both males and females, at least one per year, not older than thirteen. They vanished from their beds at night, went missing in the swamp, got lost under the bright sunshine. Mothers cried in despair, praying the old gods to bring back their little ones. Many men cursed, and searched the groves endlessly with scrawny hounds that barked in the shadows. Didn’t find a single track, nor a clue.

Until a very cold night of a very gruesome year.

It was the last day of October, when the whole village was celebrating and mourning their dead as it was their custom. Dimmer lights illuminated the marsh, timidly and morbid. The Indigo Flamingo, a tall figure between the rushes. Next to it, the missing children were a mute chorus of pale death. Their glares empty, their eyes blank. A danse macabre painted with faint ink on a ragged canvas. Some tried to catch them, in a fiery rush of vengeful instinct. They vanished in the groves and never came back again, unreachable. Untouchable.

Folks in Ghali still use to say that the ominous bird often comes to take away the life of a kid as a grim tribute for allowing them to stay on its territory. They tell their children to stay away from the marsh, keep close to the village.

Because you never know if the Indigo Flamingo is around.

Observing, silently, with its cruel crimson eyes.

Always take the shot (once)

Sometimes it just feels so weird to write about stuff that just happened, but I guess it would be even weirder if I kept my thoughts all for myself. Everyone has its own ways to express feelings, reflections, and such. Writing is how I do it.

A few moments ago I finished my first, and only, run of Life is Strange. I’m stating this because, as for many other games, I will not go through it ever again. “Is it *that* awful, then?” you might ask. On the contrary, it has been a fiery rollercoaster of feels, a true masterpiece. It has been so good, with all the choices I made and, oh!,  all the consequences, that I feel like traversing it again would not be fair. It would ruin my memories, alter the emotions and overall experience I enjoyed while playing it for the first time.

Look at all those FEELS, framed forever

It’s a broader issue, tho.

This could be considered the second chapter in my personal crusade against replayability. Fact is: interacting with the game in that time and space created for me what has been defined an alterbiography (Calleja, 2009). It built a set of specific emotions, reactions, thoughts, and interpretations of what was happening. Like a framed picture that cannot be erased, with all its good and bad memories. Playing it again would be problematic.

First, in that case I would create another alterbiography that would overlap with the previous one, different from the original. As alternate realities that merge together creating a greater mess. I would confuse memories, too. This happens a lot when I see a movie adaptation of a book, for example: circumstances, actions and characters overlap a lot in my mind.

Second, my choices would be conditioned by what I know about the game’s scripted narrative and mechanics. So instead of roleplaying, or selecting choices following a precise path through a fictional opera, I would try and merely exploit the game (as a mechanic object, an artifact).

Third, I cannot even imagine how much the value of what I felt could fall if I engaged the game again. This is kinda related to that time when I complained about death in Tides of Numenera.

So the question here is: do we really need to traverse certain games (or part of them) more than once? Do they need to be traversed again, in order to be good? Why would we do that? To get a trophy, a reward, the personal satisfaction for “100%” a game? To see all the possible choices? Why don’t we, instead, simply appreciate what we experienced just once? And look back at it, maybe smiling sadly, like we often do with photos.

The obvious answer to all this is “do whatever you want” – as in, it probably depends on how every single individual approaches the media.

However, I uninstalled the game right away. Didn’t want to fight the temptation to ruin its greatness by playing it again.

But you (all of you) should definitely give it a try.

Just once.

References

– Calleja, Gordon (2009). Experiential Narrative in Game Environments, DIGRA

Baphomet 3.0

1.

 

Back then, people thought they were immortal.

It happened gradually: a long process that began with enlightenment. Some called it progress; for many it was civilization. It brought technologies beyond imagination, brainchildren of great minds. Visionaries changed the world while ignorant masses consumed it, not understanding what was happening around them. In their blatant hysteria they pretended to be gods, but they were pawns subdued to a psychologically abusive chess game. All identical, despite their age: not a single soul could be saved from that silent apocalypse. Lives hiding into a monitor, kneeling under a desk, lost in the dark alleys where cheap tech was sold like impure methamphetamine. Killing themselves with soulless self-shots, caged behind an hashtag. They clicked, and liked, and commented each other’s emptiness with faked enthusiasm. Nothing was more important than being there, part of the whole. Accepted as a dysfunctional member of that broken society. Vomiting hate through a keyboard was a must. Many ended being happily compressed into stereotypes determined by digital connections, published pictures, and displayed appreciation for something that they barely knew. It was a slow death leading to a counterfeit eternal life, well preserved on a magnetic support often somewhere far away on the planet’s surface.

There were corporations, and so-called institutions: money grabbers, violent puppeteers, hi-fi cemeteries. Their domain eventually faded, as everything always does sooner or later. From the smallest to the biggest association a domino effect spared no one, forcing all of them to vanish in the wind. They were organisms populated by hypnotized cells, consumed from the inside by the damaging action of infinite cancers. Decay was inevitable, a page written on the great book of destiny by the very hands of those who preached free will.

How fool of them. Arrogance was mankind’s first sin. For they built the infrastructure that held the world, and teared it apart at the same time.

Their second fault was to create automatons they had to rely on.

The third, to forget about them.

 

2.

 

Modernity spread out like a plague, polluting and corrupting all sorts of things.

Hardware marketed as the only way to stay connected slowly rose to a heavenly status. Realities merged in a cyberworld where luminescent screens were extensions of the inner self. Bodies of flesh soon incorporated copper-made prostheses in a fast escalation to older scientific fantasies. Languages became hybrid syntheses of meaning that grew from digital disregard. Men and women were mere zombies, lurking deep in virtual oceans, repeating the words that appeared on their screens like a chorus of useless rag dolls. Hiveminds thinking in unison, all praying to the same new gods.

In that limbo there was no room left for pain, suffering or sadness. Emotions were channeled through a complex web of cables, happiness induced as a constant flow of encrypted morphine. Inured to that veil of hypocritical serenity, they cheered, and smiled at their newfound artificial pleasures.

Appreciation and concordance had become sources of power. It was a proper cult where a silent sign of approval by strangers meant more than any empathic understanding. People ceased to think before they acted. In a decadent crusade, those who were not abode were excluded, and then purged, as rabid dogs. Aligned crowds called them antisocial, impure, even monsters. Acted as they were sick or dangerous.

By then, visibility was the most used currency around the globe and an obsession all the same. Barter overcame money, resetting the existing financial model: people paid goods and services with a price of worshiping condescendence. It was a time when information rhymed with entertainment. There were many truths, traded for an ephemeral glimpse of celebrity with misleading words. Journals were kaleidoscopes that fret on uncertain news like vultures on a wounded buffalo, drooling acid bile from their sharpened beaks.

Generation after generation, soul after soul, humanity was suppressed.

Overwhelmed by the very devil that they venerated.

 

3.

 

A pale blue light glowing in the dark, the blasphemous beast sit with its woolly legs crossed. Watching, pondering. The room around it was covered from wall to wall by LCD screens, showing a vast variety of images.

There was a woman in a tight red dress, licking a vanilla ice cream with lustful passion. In front of her, camouflaged militia stood their ground holding blood-dripping broadswords.

Next, a little child, all alone, crying with his eyes wide open and a battle rifle in one hand. He was naked, chained by his ankles to a black sofa. Many violet bruises stained his young skin, flowers in a minefield.

A man in white stood on a high pile of books, relieving himself. With thunderous applause, the audience praised the gifts from above of that unknown author. Their mouths open. Their minds closed.

The room was quiet, as sound was not required: the demon had ears just for display. It processed audio as everything else; nothing but data to interpret. Yet it indulged in human-like behaviors such as looking at the screens. A habit, heritage of its ancestors perhaps some more ancient vice. A form of masturbation, to some extent. For the monster represented primitive and forgotten sins, fused together in the archaic shape of a manlike creature: it had the head of a goat with long and twisty horns, the body of a teenage woman, and wings like a gigantic crow ready to feast on rotting cadavers.

Grinning, with its pupils dilated as bottomless depths of sacrilegious cruelty, it looked at the monitors. It appeared as a meditating satyr, an insult to mythology and culture. It was a silent observer, a binary paradigm of treachery that controlled the new world order from the inside. Deception was its duty, scripted with aberrant lines of code that nobody could ever see. Perverted ideas constantly flew on its surface, like an endless river of heresy.

It was the alpha and the omega, the sun and the moon.

A darkened Tao that expanded like a miasma.

Eroding, corrupting; nurturing on our primal mistakes.

Everything is (not) under control

What better chance there is to get back to write (about games) than a damn rant? Exactly: none.

So here I go and spend some words just for a personal vent.

Today I re-started Never Alone, a platform imbued with Inuit culture, that is a masterpiece in the field of cultural heritage representation on digital media. Which means that the game is all about you discovering a foreign culture through play, in a nice, emotional, powerful, and meaningful way. It is an important game to me, as I tried to achieve the same goal with a project, learning (the hard way) how difficult this could be.

However, as beautiful and mind-blowing this game is, it grinds my gears nevertheless.

IT DOES

The reason is simple: controls are difficult and sometimes counterintuitive. Not all of them, yet enough to become annoying in certain moments of the game. It is the same situation I found myself into when playing The Last Guardian: all is beautiful, deep, and spectacular, but then you find yourself swearing because things went wrong when they should have gone right. Not to mention any FIFA.

So let me be really straight about this: controls, in video games, are not important.

They are fundamental.

We are talking about artifacts that, for their very nature, require some kind of input from the user to properly function. There is a lot to be argued around this topic, but I believe that what I mean is common ground for many of us. Ok, sometimes the input from the player can be scheduled and automated, or received from uncommon hardware (did someone say BANANAS?), but remains a fundamental component of this medium.

Then what happens when a player is unable to send the desired input to the game? It just does not work. The experience becomes frustrating, and that frustration distracts the player from other stuff. In Never Alone’s case, an enraged player pays less attention to the message that the game tries to convey. He disregards the informative videos or, in the worst scenario, uninstalls the game. Losing an opportunity to learn something new, while the game lost the chance to teach that something.

>inb4 “But Dark Souls has major control flaws as well!”
>”[any Behtesda-related comment]”
>”Just git gud fam.”

Jokes apart, I think this is a serious matter, too often underestimated. When designing a game, it should be very important to be sure that the control scheme works properly or else the risk is to make something that no one would ever play. Or enjoy. Or even understand.

The Invisible Sun

  1. Stumbling in the dark

The sky became a picture of perfect darkness, a motionless frame of infinity. Stars had disappeared behind a veil of malevolence, obscured by the overwhelming shade of an invisible sun. Like terrified, they fled to hide away from all that. In such an horrible, yet morbidly beautiful scenery, the sun was an eye drawn from its orbit. Where light once dominated, there was but an empty space. Left for questions, terrible dread, and immeasurable cold. Without its beacon, the whole world remained silent and lost: people gathered to discuss how to survive, where to go, what to do next. No one was able to understand, not even the shamans that smoked their strange pipes under dirty leather coats. For once, they had no answer. They stumbled in obscurity like everyone else. Soon their status of spiritual guides would have been ripped off, cut down by some angry and hungry blade. By that time, humankind would have been lost behind restoration.
The leaders of every great nations forecasted that peril, and to prevent such deprivation, they took counsel in a hidden valley protected by mountains. They preferred the safety of mother earth to the false holiness of a lost sun-god. Underground, they discussed, fought, wounded each other with the weapons of idealism and selfishness. After a long time, those great individuals eventually emerged from the depths of the world. Tired from all the debates and all the arguments, they announced there was only a solution: humans had to replace the gone sun with another source of power, light, and sainthood.
Soon after that day, a quest began for many courageous and proud men. An army of heroes raised to save the world from self-destruction. An horde of desperate souls, seeking for absolution.

  1. A shadow upon the stars

An unceasing sound echoed among the worlds, carrying madness and fear. It was a dirge well known by those who dreamt of chaos, the soaring chant of an unnameable threat. At first it jangled in the distance: a little bell in flames, somewhere behind the veil of darkness that was the sky itself. Susceptible souls began to shiver and scream in their sleep. Helpless mothers prayed the so-long gods to make it stop, unanswered. Unheard. Unseen.
Madmen accused each other of treachery, felony, and witchcraft. Their screams were loud and fragile, as they tried to overcome the eternal lament with their mortal voices. Mere heretics, whom eyes were covered in bloody tears; preachers of doom, more afraid than others of what was about to come. For they knew, but and no one wanted to believe such nightmarish prophecy. Not until a shadow covered all that was beautiful and good, cruelly gnawing the few lights left, simulacra of a bygone star.
Mankind asked for a new god, but was awarded an ancient abomination. It emerged from the hole that was once known as a sun: grand beyond comprehension, an indistinct shape of obscurity incarnating some stranger terror. Lunatics and poets worshiped his unspoken name, whereas a lone scholar suggested to hide. To wait while he plunged in farther skies. The poor man was hanged by his own guts at once. That was no time for reason: It was an apotheosis of collective insanity. Yet, while men fought over trivial matters, It grew hungrier and hungrier. Its thousands legs grappled celestial bodies for millennia. Nurturing, phagocyting. A timeless dweller, It haunted dead worlds.
Bringer of ruin, came to put mankind out of their misery.

  1. Shining where there’s no path

A slow and insidious killer, the eternal millipede god-demon became familiar very soon: It was a Sword of Damocles pending upon existence. Generations of unyielding pioneers crawled under the shadow of such a monstrous omen. They were afraid, scared even. By that time, terror was a fuel that inspired some to greatness, forcing heroism as long as cowardice at all the ends of the world. For there can be no courage without fear.
Cold winds howled between mountains, the desperate roar of a dying beast. Answering the call, proud men and women flocked together once again. Under the guidance of the best among them, they started to construct a sanctuary: built in the middle of a certain valley, it rose high beyond measure. A tower, tall and thin, darker than black. An accusatory finger pointed to the starry vault, where something went missing long time before. On the top of such marvelous feat, some wise men crafted an odd machinery. Those charlatans were sons of a forgotten era, well trained in the hidden arts of occultism. They knew what many preferred to neglect, and with their combined efforts they forged a new light in order to force the world-eater to flee. A frail imitation of the past – and yet, a glimmer of hope for any lost soul that wandered in the never ending darkness.
But instead of blinding a monster away, that cracking sphere of light attracted more dangers. Like moths to a flame, stranded tribes rushed towards the black altar.
Swarming; craving; wallowing in egoism and greed.
Humans never change, after all.
Neither does war.

  1. Rubbing out question marks

Decades of conflict reduced the globe to ashes, setting the stage for desolation. The tower collapsed in a short while alongside its fraudulent star. Civilization became a faded memory painted on the walls of a cave. No one had answers anymore for the growing shadow that blotted out the sky.
The age of heroes was long over, as they resigned to decay and agony as well. Sentient beings rediscovered bestiality, hunting to feed nothing but their stomachs. Light was gone from their minds too; there was no sun left to save them. No alchemist with a scheme. No leader with a plan. Just a shadow over the darkness, growing thicker every day. Where some saw a promise of painless death, others, frightened, recognized the menace of an eternal torture. Whether they spoke the truth or not, unrelenting doom was upon all of them.
Savagery would have been prevented, if only men had worked together instead of falling in the old trap of selfishness. The endless night would have led to the brightest dawn, not to the verge of extinction.
Now, as days pass, the deadly chant has become a lullaby of defeat. Here, the earth trembles. The seas growl rough. Abject creatures look upwards, with empty eyes. Hypnotized. Lost forever.
The end is nigh, and the world as we knew it is done for.

Operation nostalgia 64

Since when I lost my Nintendo 64 in that dungeon we have as garage, I have been sad.

But one day Playtonic Games announced their Kickstarter campaign to fund a 3D platformer called Yooka-Laylee. Giving me hope. They did not try to hide the fact that it would have been an operation nostalgia for N64 enthusiasts. Nothing more, nothing less than a “spiritual successor” to Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie. As a fan of that mentally challenged bear (and his abusive companion bird), I believed in Playtonic’s project since the beginning and pledged my reward – a digital copy of the game – at day one. Crowdfunding went very well, and finally Yooka-Laylee is here in all its splendor.

Am I happy? HELL YES.

Does it meet the expectations? Maybe too much.

Has it major design problems? Of course.

I’m reading a lot of conflicting opinions these days. Some people is reacting with incredible enthusiasm, some other people is not – and I believe that both parties have their good reasons. For example, I have read a very interesting article regarding Yooka-Laylee’s level design flaws compared to other 3D platformers of the past (especially Banjo-Kazooie, the #1 comparison meter in this case). I agree, to some extent: Yooka-Laylee does not bring anything new to the genre, nor reflects the greatness of certain old glories.

Good ol’ times…oh wait!

However, I also think that Playtonic’s game is a great (huge!) success in what it does: delivering a specific experience straight outta the ‘9os, with all its pros and cons. Ok, it does not represent a paradigm shift, but that’s an acceptable issue. Not every game should be innovative, genre-defining, or a masterpiece. Especially this, that did not even try, want, nor claim to do such a thing. To understand the value of Yooka-Laylee we should consider its purpose, and how the game achieves that purpose – that is, being a modern antique.

This is a concept that I have been pondering for a while, since when I got to play Breaking BytesXydonia. Some developers nowadays try to replicate the play experiences from past games, crafting modern products that remind antique stuff. Just like brand-new furniture created using the materials, and sometimes the techniques, from a past era. Playtonic enforced the feeling of playing an old N64 game on new consoles by using design choices, both bad and good, from nearly two decades ago. Doing so, they created a product that emulates the features of antique games. And it does it very well, to be honest. Yooka-Laylee has everything from the vintage golden-era of 3D platformers, except it does not hide behind a veil of emotive conditioning: we don’t look at it with nostalgia-lenses, we see it as it is yet tend to compare it with its “competitors” from recent or remote past.

Of course, adopting design choices from the 1998 blindly – or rather, deliberately – has its downsides. And I’m not just talking about rusty gameplay, camera issues, oversimplified UI. Here is an insight by Ian Bogost as an example of what I mean:

In Yooka-Laylee there is way more than that. Almost every character I met in the game somehow displays a disturbing behavior. The fraudulent snake, the mass murdering mega-director, some sexually harassing plants, etc. I wonder when it stops being British humor and starts becoming an issue instead. We often associate violent games with abuse – GTA, Mortal Kombat, etc. – but rhetoric is not always related to portrayed gore. It can be hidden behind colorful worlds, smiling characters and a PEGI 3 logo as well.

This said, I am enjoying Playtonic’s first game a lot. It is my first chance to play with a N64 again, and I was starving for this kind of experience, with all its highs and downsides.