Bioware’s sequels don’t follow the usual path of video game sequels. Rather than going “bigger, better, and more badass” and upping the stakes, both Dragon Age II and Mass Effect 2 lower the stakes of the story, and all the attention that would normally have gone into crafting action scenes goes into crafting characters instead. Bioware’s sequels are inherently character driven, more so than their predecessors, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the climax of Mass Effect 2. The suicide mission is a love letter to the game’s characters, even as it kills them off.
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Child of Eden is a conflicted game. Stuck in a No Man’s Land between “shooter” and “spectacle,” it can’t decide which one it wants to be. The shooting distracts from the spectacle and the spectacle distracts from the shooting, making for a very schizophrenic experience. Granted, I’ve only played with a controller, and based on the writings of others, it seems like I’d get a very different experience playing with a Kinect. But the one thing that I can’t parse from all the praise is what difficulty people played on. It’s hard to believe that people had the wonderful experiences that they write about while playing on the Normal difficulty. The only other mode is the Feel Eden difficulty, which is essentially “god mode.” It makes sense that Child of Eden would be more fun with “god mode” but that also speaks to its most serious flaw: it’s a game best played when you can ignore everything that makes it a game.
Conflict is key to a good story. That’s something I kept in mind as I played through Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 again. Because this time I wasn’t playing as a Player, I was merely seeking to enjoy some futuristic role-play or even as a Character, an idealized version of myself tasked with saving the galaxy. This time, I played as a Writer. It seemed as easy task at first since, as a fan of the franchise, I knew what choices get carried through to the sequel and what actions have what consequences. Over the course of the game, I purposely let bad things happen because that would lead to more conflict, which makes for a more interesting story. But gaming is a process of collaborative storytelling, and as I tried to write conflict into the story, I ran into conflict with my writing partner, Bioware.
Solar 2 is easy to compare to Flow, the PSN game from thatgamecompany because on the surface they look very much alike: You play as an object that flies around a 2D space trying to grow bigger. But this surface comparison ignores the more nuanced mechanics of Solar 2. This is a game that is just as much about creation as it is destruction. The endgame may be a black hole that consumes the entire universe, but to get to that point, you must build and nurture multiple solar systems full of life.
Nier is not a good game. It tries to be too many different types of games at once, but that’s also what makes it so incessantly interesting. It’s clearly an experimental game and wears that label like a badge of honor. Based on its core mechanics you might describe it as an “action RPG,” but its role-playing elements are so poorly thought out that it’s obvious the developers were bored of RPGs and just wanted to get to the bizarre shoot-‘em-up-puzzle-survival-horror-text-adventuring. Sadly, for as interesting as this genre-bending is, it doesn’t add anything to the overall experience. Save for a couple examples, Nier is just being weird for the sake of weird.
// Moving Pixels
"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.READ the article