The morality system of Mass Effect has always been a blessing and a curse. It’s just nuanced enough to allow players to create morally murky and interesting characters, but BioWare’s insistence on maintaining a binary morality means it could never be as complex as it wants to be. Last week, fellow Moving Pixels blogger Jorge Albor wrote about the troubles that Mass Effect has always faced with its morality system on a narrative level, but I think BioWare has had just as much trouble simply figuring out a way to present this system to players in a manner that is clear and understandable as a metric.
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For all of its majestic landscapes and dramatic action sequences, Journey is an exceedingly tight experience. Journey‘s environments, art, and even its mechanics stick to the bare necessities in order to communicate the game’s message.
It’s hard to argue with the result. The game feels massive, but not monotonous. Meticulously designed, yet organic. Nothing feels out of place and nothing feels superfluous.
“Is this a sequel to Braid? Or that other game with the kid in the dark?” As I fired up Eyebrow Interactive’s new PSN side-scroller Closure the other day, my girlfriend was a bit confused and with good reason. Despite coming from a new developer, it borrows aesthetically from Limbo, and it plays at least a bit like Braid. To give some background: Closure is a 2D, black and white platformer with a philosophical twist—the only part of the world that exists is the part that you can see—and most of this world is covered in darkness. You move through the game world via small lamps and spotlights that you must manipulate in order to get beyond the clever puzzles.
From my initial impressions of it, it is clear that the folks who made Closure[ have a lot of talent and ambition, both in terms of artistic style and level design. What gets to me a bit, however, is the feeling of utter familiarity. To play Closure is to feel the sensation of playing a thousand games converging on each other simultaneously. It’s not just this one game though. The problems of Closure are emblematic of the stagnant state of 2D indie platformers as a whole.
Having spent last week discussing the manner in which our personal playthoughs have affected our sense of Mass Effect on the whole through the series’s seemingly consequential storytelling, this week we move on to a discussion of Mass Effect 3 more specifically.
We begin at the end by discussing the controversy surrounding the game’s ending and the notion of requesting (or demanding) that some changes might be in order to a game in which player choice has always seemed to be of some importance to the developer. However, we also get into the game as a whole, considering some of the other moments that mattered to us in the trilogy’s concluding 40 hours.
Some people don’t like the ending of Mass Effect 3. I’m not one of those people.
Mass Effect 3 reaches the peak of its climax when it asks Shepard to make one last choice. He has to choose to control the Reapers, destroy the Reapers, or merge all synthetic and organic life together. Of course, there’s more nuance to the choices than that, but it’s important how these choices are presented in their simplest form. They’re ostensibly plot points, and yet the similarity of the final cut scenes implies that the plot is not the most important aspect of this choice. The game seems to say that the consequences are interchangeable.
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