At some point, while playing Tango GameworksThe Evil Within, you will eventually find some corpses that aren’t quite as dead as they look. They are actually not dead enough, so you – a very good Samaritan – need to help them to stay put. Some of them will try and get up again and again (and again), as all good zombies do. Because they refuse to surrender, always trying to evade death (like this blog of mine, for example).

It feels like it’s time for me to do my thing – writing – again, in any possible way. In the last few weeks I typed lots of words one after the other so that they made sense, forming stories. But I missed writing about games, and here we are once again.

Contain your enthusiasm, mate

So. The Evil Within.

I’ve been waiting to play this game since it was announced, but [things] happened and I was able to get my hands on it just lately. At first it reminded me the old Resident Evil games: its third-person gameplay with vintage mechanics quickly got me excited. However, as I adventured deeper into this hallucinating (and very well written) horror, I started to swear a lot. Not surprising anyone here, but this game is very hard sometimes. Very hard.

Not just because designers were able to put challenges into it, no: it appears that there are some buggy mechanics, or design flaws, intentionally left there to increase the game’s difficulty. For example, aiming with a pistol could be really frustrating due to the fact that a shot could miss the target even if it was perfectly centered in the HUD’s gunsight. Then you have boss fights: in order to understand what to do, or just do it right, sometimes you need to play a long session four, five, or six times in a row before finally advancing. Not to mention glitches, buggy hitboxes and all the kind of stuff. Result: hours and hours of frustrating gameplay.

This kind of approach to game design just makes me sad. Seriously devs, don’t be like this. I want to play your game, which i like very much, so let me just learn from my errors and get better (> INB4 GIT GUD FAM), do not frustrate me with ruthless enemies, rusty mechanics or frustrating bugs.

Ok? Thanks.


Uncharted: a rant’s end

A few days ago I posted a rant about the Uncharted series and how it, imho, is a little overrated due to certain serious issues. But probably “overrated” isn’t even the right word for this…let’s just say that sometimes critics, media and gamers have double standards. Some close an eye, or both, pretending to not see very annoying stuff (like when The Last Guardian was being universally acclaimed, for example), and I fail to tolerate this attitude.

It is implicit in my bad temper to deal in absolutes (like a true Sith Lord), however academia taught me to accept new points of view and change my thoughts when facing new evidence. Long story short, I went through the last chapter of Naughty Dog‘s adventurous saga and completed Uncharted 4 as well. Changing my perspective on the whole topic. A bit.

Let’s jump to the brave statements: I think that Uncharted 4 is great. It represents, more or less, the approach I was dreaming of in my last post. Aside its inner “more of the same” core, it indeed covers a lot of the nonsensical issues seen in the past.

Me, leaping to conclusions

The random armies of enemies are still there, better contextualized in the environment and plausible within the narrative scheme. Gunfights can be kinda avoided by a proper stealth approach, there are no more odd spawnings and the overall experience doesn’t necessarily stall due to shootings. Hitboxes are still an issue, as many among the tougher foes seem scripted to go down only after a defined amount of damage – ok, but when I hit a guy with an RPG missle and he loses his helmet it really rustles my jimmies. Then there’s also that detail of the protagonist being a mass murderer for hypothetical self defense, but I don’t wanna go too deep into thoughts today.

Staying on the surface, I can say  that exploration has a greater impact in the game, thanks to wider areas, better designed levels, etc. Almost all from start to finish tickled my sense of wonder, and not just because the goal this time was about pirates. Probably the recent graphics helped, probably I just submitted myself to a “stronger” suspension of disbelief (pls academia forgive me for I sinned). Dunno why, the whole experience was more intense to me than the sum of the previous three entries.

Also: [SPOILERS] when villains capture the protagonist they actually try to kill him. HALLELUJAH.

Level design, characterization, scripted narrative and gameplay are also the best to date in the series. Especially Neil Druckmann’s story is well implemented in the game and has a very good flow, bringing no real fresh air to the genre, but stimulating emotive responses in the player with great animations, dialogue, and interactions between the characters. As a scriptwriter/narrative designer wannabe, this sets for me an excellent example of “doing things well”.

Oh, and the soundtrack! The sfx’s! The Italian voice acting! I loved the whole audiovisual experience, with an emphasis on the “audio” part of it. What more can I say? “A thief’s end” amazed me in so many ways, and probably it is clear as day if you read my post until now. Unlike the first three chapters it didn’t make me feel as I “had to” progress, I just wanted to. That’s the difference I was talking about in my rant.

So yeah, probably we don’t need more Uncharted (especially like 1, 2 or 3). But I’d look forward to the next Naughty Dog games nevertheless.

They aren’t *that* bad at this gamedev thing.