August 28, 2011 - Mixtapes
I was pretty busy this week (also hurricane), but I got a few steps forward in the backlog. One odd thing about this week is that I played two games in a row that prominently used the term “gormless.” I have never encountered that word before, so that weirded me out. It also coincided with my listening to Paul Simon’s Graceland for the first time in a while. So what I’m getting at is that for the past week I’ve had this song stuck in my head that goes, “Gormless, gormless, moonlight slaking on a midnight lake…”
I’m sorry you had to hear all that, but sometimes having a blog is about making strangers deal with the weird shit in your brain. So here’s what I’ve been playing this week!
Alone in the Park
Right on the heels of my recent ramblings about game comedy, here’s a game with genuinely funny writing. Katharine Neil’s short adventure mostly has you running around collecting things for an array of weird characters. Not a lot of depth to the gameplay, but your interactions with the characters are a blast. I’d love to see more from this developer, but it looks like this is all she’s made so far.
Chance of a Lifetime
The next two are from the May Experimental Gameplay Project (theme: Zoom!). First up is another from Steve Gargolinski, whose Hero Test I reviewed previously. A cool concept, but much overexplained. The use of extensive voice-over to explain the game’s theme and mechanics was also a feature of Hero Test, but there it worked as part of the joke.
This strategy is a less natural fit for the tone of Chance of a Lifetime, which is about a young man out hunting for UFOs. In this case, the constant voice-over drains the setting of its mystery and tension. Since the voice-over in this game is the protagonist’s internal monologue, it also blocks the player’s identification with their avatar. This is not an automatically bad thing, but I don’t see how it contributes to the themes in Chance. Rather, I think the use of an internal monologue instead of, say, displaying tutorial text is meant to increase immersion. That it did the opposite in my case is interesting.
Well, this one ran long and eventually turned into my Robot Geek post for this week. I’d try to wrap this up more gracefully, but I need to get this stuff sorted before the power goes out. HOLLIS OUT