Monday, November 3, 2008

brick shitting games.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (recommended by Cosmico, who happens to be a serial dog rapist) is surprisingly fun for a "dark and gritty" FPS, but it's certainly not without its share of flaws which I COULD ignore, but choose not to since writing about good things just isn't as fun as bitching endlessly. For example, its free-roaming aspect feels a bit fake and dumbed down sometimes. Eventually I told the main story to go fuck itself and went for a more appealing assassination side quest instead. After spending half an hour tracking down my victim, it turned out his area was guarded by the military and the only way of reaching my target without throwing my life away (AKA trying to take on legions of highly trained guards with my noobish weapons and skill) was advancing the main storyline. This, by the way, required backtracking to the very beginning. Mind you, I DID try to go around the fenced area to look for a different route, but I was literally greeted with the END OF THE GAME'S WORLD. The developers didn't even bother setting up some half-assed boundary or at least an invisible wall to signify that I couldn't go further - the map literally just ends and you're left gazing into a white abyss of nothingness. I honestly couldn't think of a worse immersion killer, except maybe Okami's Issun suddenly spouting bullshit about PS2 memory card space just as soon as I started getting into the game's universe.

Then there's the whole horror aspect; to many people including myself, anything that tries to be creepy and shocking in an over-the-top manner is about as scary as a 10 year old boy's Halloween costume. So far, this definitely applies to Stalker. Instead of trying to be subtle and clever in its creepiness, this game abounds in cheap scares by crapping out as many grotesque radiation-influenced mutations at you as possible. Hideously mutated and highly aggressive animals? Check. Slow-moving anthropomorphic... things with deformed faces which can control your mind, but only at an insane range which pretty much renders them harmless? Yep. Zoidberg clones who can become invisible, block your path, suddenly pop up and squeal while doing insane scratching motions? Check. I'm half-expecting zombies to pop up later on in the game.

I know this makes me sound like a massive weeaboo, indie "games = art" faggot, but I wish every horror-themed game developer gave Yume Nikki a try. It's a perfect example of a truly scary game that doesn't need hideous creatures, a dark color scheme or even polygonal visuals to create an inherently unnerving, often disturbing atmosphere. Yume Nikki is entirely based on the fear of the unknown; there's very few actual exposition. You play as a girl who's bound to her bedroom and you have dreams. Any attempts to leave the room are met with a strange head-shaking motion from the girl. That's all there is to it; everything in-between is for you to discover. All the disturbingly surreal things you encounter only have one explanation: the girl's descent into madness which ultimately leads to a fairly predictable ending. In fact, the finale is my only real gripe with the game. You'll never encounter any creepy music, hideously grotesque creatures or cheap scares, and the game's only attempt at a screamer is just too well done and memorable to hate. As a whole, Yume Nikki oozes with creativity and subtlety and is what all horror-themed games should strive to be like.


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