Categories
Computer Games Gaming

The Park

‘Tis the season to be jump-scared, fa-lalalala, lala la la.

One of the possible ways to review this game is a content warning list, thus: Content warning for jump-scares, player-gaslighting, violence to children, dolls (dismembered), discussion of obsolete (and violent) treatments for mental health.

As someone who loves the world and stories set in The Secret World, the reveal of The Park – a single player experience set in the universe of that game – is something I am massively in favour of. The Park doesn’t need you to have played TSW to play it, though if you have done the mission set centred around the same park location in the game, the setup and some of the backstory will be familiar to you. (It’s not *necessary*, or even a plot point, to know that the park is built on a Indian Burial Ground and influenced by the Illuminati, but it does explain a lot). It’s a slow paced horror game, kind of, based around a woman – Laura – who has lost her child. The interactions in the world are move, toggle run, left click to interact, right click to shout for your son. Shouting – which gets more intense as the game gets on – results in a sonic clue as to which direction to aim for, and a visual bubble like a lens over the next interactive object. There’s no combat, no puzzles, and the closest thing to a failure state is three achievements (out of 14) that require specific action (finding an object, etc.) rather than following the game.

The story is interesting, and disturbing. It uses the medium well, but if you don’t like your pacing slow, your tension high, and your ability to shoot things limited to screenshots, it’s not going to be your thing.

It ends in a very dark place (probably. The ending isn’t… conclusive, but it’s not nice), and the journey to get there is winding, but it clocks in at between 70-90 minutes playtime. None of that’s filler, though. There’s no going back and forth with objects, no reloads for combat retries, no arbitrary game-over screens; it sets out to tell you a story though an interactive diorama, and it succeeds – in my opinion – very well.

There’s a long list of people I’d not recommend this game to – anyone who uses the word “walking simulator” as a┬ápejorative; anyone who flinches at anything in the content warning – but if any of the above sounds like Your Thing, it’s about 8 quid for an experience that I’d recommend.

(Plus, anything that keeps Funcom afloat at the moment is good for my long term ability to play The Secret World…)

Buy The Park on SteamFind the lowest price for The Park on Is There Any Deal

Categories
Computer Games Gaming

The beginner’s guide, a review thing

The beginner’s guide is a game in the style of the author’s previous game (for which he was part of a team), The Stanley Parable. It’s similar in that the mechanics are you walk though and experience it more than you play it, the game is in the narrative.

It’s presented as a compilation of one-shot games by a developer named Coda, that Davey wants to present to the world.

The game is dark, and deep, and what you see at the bottom may depend on who is looking.

It is the dark mirror of the Stanley Parable, and exactly as explicable. I love that it exists. I love the game. I will now delete it from my hard-drive and never be tempted to launch it again.

The rest of this article contains spoilers, and you shouldn’t read beyond this unless you’re pretty sure you’re not going to play it by the above.

The dark mirror within

Towards the end, it becomes clear that by imposing his need for more games that *he* would enjoy, the narrator has driven his muse to stop producing games at all. In fact, Coda – the developer – begins to feel trapped in his own outlet, games he made for himself, for his own entertainment, for his own personal expression have been hijacked and analysed and then “fixed” by the narrator, and then the narrator – a fictionalised version of the game developer, Davey – has bundled them together for release in order to “encourage” or, to put a better way, pressurize Coda into developing more games for him, Davey. Coda becomes the only way Davey can look at himself, and placed high on that pedestal, cannot deal with being someone else’s idol.

“Davey”, in turn, uses Coda’s games – shops them around to friends, and eventually puts this up on Steam – to feel part of them, to feel like they were his in some way, and presents his public over-analysis of Coda’s game designs as depression, as shutting himself away, when it’s actually Davey’s appropriation of his games, and Davey’s own unresolved problems, that’s making it hard to produce. On Coda’s side there’s a lot in there about pressure, about having to explain everything as a psychological basis, about being in public, about opening yourself up for evaluation.

On Davey’s side there’s a lot about the need for external validation, and the escalating need for more. About the perils of relying on other people as perfect templates, and the pressure it puts on them and on you.

So it wasn’t a comfortable game for me to play. As the metanarrative became clear, the revealing of the narrator as antagonist, the clear metaphors of unsolvable puzzles and being held responsible for someone else’s happiness…

Plus, Coda and Davey are the same person, possibly. One interpretation is that it’s Davey before his games got popular (supported by something he wrote a little while after The Stanley Parable went supernova, and some other stuff). My personal theory is that the narrative of the game is of two people, but the reason for the game is that they’re both the same person, and I’m doing that thing, and I should stop.

Yeah, 1am on a sunday night wasn’t the best time for me and this game, it’s going to be a long player in the background of my head. My relationship with feedback’s never been especially healthy, and it’s been a bad few months for creative works for me in part due to that.

Categories
Piracy Inc Work

Week 35 – Sofa, So Good

This week, we moved in.

Okay, so we moved into this house a month ago, getting on for two, but up until this week most of the front room was still taken up by boxes. This weekend, I turned it into a pile of emptiness:2015-10-10 11.07.19 HDR

And then turned it into a sofa:

And then, eventually, the same with my new desk:

2015-10-11 19.06.50

Work

Coming to the end of my current contract, and not sure how I feel about it. I always knew I wasn’t going to be able to tie everything off with a neat ribbon, but I keep cutting things I want to finish just to be able to get *some* things done. No new place confirmed – current best hope was at the AWS conference all last week, which delayed the process a bit – so it might get a bit fraught.

Play

Spent some of the weekend in Sims, attempting to arrange lives where my own is messy, but some of it in the new Battlefront Beta, which reminds me a lot of early Battlefield games. It’s a lot more mass combat, a lot less Call of Duty, and quite a bit more fun. I found I wasn’t hitting anything as a Stormtrooper, but that the rebels got overwhelmed a lot, so it’s pretty true to the universe.

Rest

Brewed some beer, got the stuff to lay down some mead later in the week (Looks like one of my demijohns didn’t survive the move, so I’ve ordered a new one). Between that and actually getting the sofa and desk up, it’s been a productive while.

I’ve been working on the Pirate game too, there’s an early beta up, but it doesn’t do very much yet.