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Thread: What are you playing? (2024 Edition)

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2001
    Location: the Sheeple Pen

    What are you playing? (2024 Edition)

    Hey everyone, it's 2024! And time for a new thread, of course! If you feel like digging in the archives, the older threads can be found here: 2020 / 2021 / 2022 / 2023

    I started this year by finishing Red Dead Redemption 2 at last. It's a decent game and I loved the story (even if it was quite predictable), but I found the actual gameplay a bit disappointing. The whole thing took me around 100 hours, and I'm sure that I spent about half of that just trying to find something interesting to do. The gunfights aren't much fun, the controls feel quite sluggish at times, and the random encounters and activities start repeating themselves at some point. I wish it had been more of a cowboy imm-sim, but it turned out to be more "GTA w/ horses" than I first thought. Especially the story missions. My favourite part of the game was the epilogue with John Marston, and I wish that there had been more things to do after the main story ended.

    I uninstalled RDR2 to free space for other games, and decided to buy EA Sports WRC after all. I'm not regretting the purchase, but the performance issues are really starting to annoy me. I feel that there's a lot of potential in this new game, but they've still got quite a bit of fixing to do. Also, I hope that the WRC series doesn't become yet another annual release/milking cow for EA.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    I picked up Elden Ring in the Steam sale despite being somewhat intimidated by soulslikes these days, but so far having a blast. It's certainly a lot more immediately accessible than previous From Software games - the open world does a great job of softening the inevitable brick walls of bosses you get stuck on, because you can just bugger off and explore and do something else and come back later. Also going into it knowing full well I'll probably never finish it, but that's ok, is undoubtedly helping me enjoy it.
    Only problem I'm having is that using LB and LT on an xbox controller is starting to give me serious tendon pain in my left hand.

  3. #3
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well I just finished off Cocoon. Sulph has already given it a good little write-up.

    I think if you want to play it, you should play it first and then come back to this or any review. I think it's good to play it fresh without really knowing what you're getting into.

    It was from the Inside people (Geometric Interactive), Inside was a really special game to me, and reading that it had some magic to it made me think it'd have some of the same magic as Inside. So that was some of my motivation to play it. Long story short, I don't think it has the same kind of magic as Inside, at least for me for the sessions I played it. I mean Inside came with a story that the environment told that built up to a thing. Cocoon does in a way too, but different; I guess the scales of the stories are different, and that changed their alchemy.

    But never mind anyway because what Cocoon has in spades is a really great concept to build a game around, and it builds it with this surreal packaging that has its own kind of wonder. I guess the feature it carries over from the past games were the puzzles, which were never too difficult, the "rules" were really well developed over a series of increasingly imaginative sequences, and figuring one out made me feel good and really in touch with the game's vibe. I guess that's something it does share with Inside. But really, the core concept is mind bending and has such great potential by itself, where the game levels are objects of the game itself that do stuff... kind of like Baba is You if you squint enough. I got really into it like I got into a good Baba is You puzzle, and it built up to some really inspired concepts in a very satisfying way.

    So it was a different brand of magic, but still a pretty compelling game. The aesthetics and surreal wonder were still really top notch too.

  4. #4
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I'm finishing off WH40K Rogue Trader, while also playing Jedi Survivor as a palate-cleanser when the former's endless combat encounters become a bit much.

    For the most part, Rogue Trader has been really enjoyable, and has a lot smoother difficulty curve than Owlcat's previous Pathfinder games. I think that's partly because the core classes are quite well designed, and all, to some extent, provide passive support options. It took me a while to adjust, but I've ended up really enjoying the mechanics.
    There are a few characters in the roster that get a lot less use than others, purely because they don't bring as much utility to the fight, and Cassia, even after being "nerfed" is still massively overpowered when compared to every other character, with possibly the exception of Argenta.

    But it's REALLY. FUCKING. LONG.

    My playthrough is currently sitting at around 160 hours. I mean, yes, I tend to try and explore everything when playing an RPG like this, but this still feels unecessarily long.
    It also suffers from a rather irritating Chapter 3 which has a massive focus on probably my least favourite 40K faction, the Dark Eldar or "Drukhari".
    In the history of RPGs, tabletop and CRPG alike, I don't think there's ever been a race that's ever been quite so edge-lordy as the Dark Eldar. And a whole chapter dedicated to them just gets wearing real quick.
    The Dark Eldar companion didn't last past our first warp jump with him on board.
    I've been playing pure Iconoclast, which is the closest to a "Good" playthrough you can get when you're essentially a Space Nazi, but even I wasn't going to put up with his shit after that event.
    So the Inquisitor companion got a chance to purge the xeno.

    And I think that's one of the problems with the game; look, we all know that WH40K's Imperium of Man is supposed to be a satire of fascism; but I'm not sure Owlcat fully get that, and as a consequence, they rarely play it for laughs, meaning the overall narrative comes across a bit... distasteful.

    That there's not a single Ork to be seen anywhere in the campaign doesn't help.
    Orks are very much the anarchic, comedic foil to the Imperium, and subsequently their absence removes a lot of the opportunity to point out just how obnoxious the space fascists are.
    Instead, you are left with the alternatives to the Imperium being Eldar (po-faced blue-rinse conservative racists), Dark Eldar (sado-masochistic racists whose existence depends on torturing others) and Chaos (WIBBLE WIBBLE KILL EVERYTHING BLART!)

    I think it also suffers from Owlcat trying to force their Classic Bioware Era template onto a game world that doesn't really support it. So you've got romance options, the ability to recruit a party member from every represented faction and all sorts of other little touches that while they fit in a less polarised RPG setting, stick out like a sore thumb by their very presence in WH40K.

    So, I have really enjoyed my time with it, but I'll be glad when it's all over. I'm hoping that they use DLC to fix some of the more glaring problems with their interpretation of 40K.



    As noted, Jedi Survivor has been doing sterling service as the perfect palate-cleanser for when Rogue Trader gets a bit too much.
    There are still some signs of instability (such as the second planet crashing the game unless you turn off RT or download a fan-made fix), and some other infrequent CTDs.
    It's also got that really fucking irritating "Feature" of contemporary games where unless you're paying attention, it's going to super-sample and render the game at 4K by default even though you're playing on a lower resolution, and that can REALLY impact performance.
    Why the fuck triple-A games keep doing this is beyond me, and I really wish they'd stop.

    But gripes aside, this is a fantastic refinement of the formula introduced with Fallen Order.
    It's a nice composite of Souls-lite and Arkham Asylum-style Metroidvania. The collectibles have mostly been dialled back to cosmetics that don't affect gameplay, and progression is very smooth, with even short sessions leaving you with a feeling of accomplishment.

    Respawn's expertise in movement is also front and centre, with further additions to how Cal traverses the world. Wall running, double jumps and air dashes are all present and all serve to create a very satisfying loop so that traversal never ends up feeling dull.

    There's also a lot of humour in the game, mostly in the various low-power mooks you face off against. The conversations between B1 and B2 droids are a great early example, with Stormtroopers later adding to the comedic cast. Rick the Door Technician in particular had me howling with laughter.

    I'm glad I waited to get this on sale once a lot of its more egregious problems had been resolved.
    Much like Fallen Order, I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I've been enjoying it. And unlike Fallen Order, the difficulty spikes are nowhere near as spikey.

    The over-arching story doesn't really light my world on fire and is a generic nothing-burger. But it serves its purpose, and the narrative is well-delivered.
    And after giving him long hair and a beard, my Cal is a lot more agreeable to look at and doesn't trigger my uncanny valley reflex as much as he did in Fallen Order.

    Edit: Oh, there's also a really cool minigame a la Gwent in Survivor's Holotactics. It's basically the game that you should let the wookie win, and you get to field a side based on enemies you've defeated and scanned.
    It feels like there's less player agency than in Gwent, as it's basically an auto-battler, but it's still really cool and a neat way of implementing some lore into gameplay.
    Last edited by Malf; 2nd Jan 2024 at 06:28.

  5. #5
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I've been playing Jedi Survivor a bit too, and it looks great, but I get the same feeling I did with Fallen Order - something's missing, and I can't quite put my finger on it.

    My guess is it has something to do with that the game exists only because Sekiro and Dark Souls do, and the structure doesn't suit the experience it's trying to be. In the Souls games, at least, enemies respawning kinda makes sense - they're all monsters, demons, spirits, and you're some hollowed husk trying to end a blight that's causing them. That doesn't really work when it's storm troopers and droids, for starters. But the real issue is for a game about being a Jedi on the run, taking the time to fuck around and bisect animals with a light saber and kit out yourself with ponchos and learn light saber combat and stances through what I presume is force osmosis via encounters just causes a large and immediate disconnect between what you're supposed to be doing and what you are doing. Another thing is that it's all just a bit by the numbers. Like there's a checklist of Star Wars bric-a-brac being quietly ticked off with every place you go to.

    All of that together makes it seem a bit conflicted - does it want be Jedi Knight Sekiro, or does it want to be a Force Unleashed 3-style adventure? Because trying to be both at the same time means it's not really great at either. It's a competent game (PC port aside), it's graphically quite pretty, there's some good ol' prequel droid humour, and the story seems interesting, but it's still hitting 7/10 vibes because I get the feeling that it's not sure what it wants to be.

  6. #6
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Yeah, graphically it's right up there with the prettiest games available at the moment, but I agree, it's a very 7/10 game.
    I'm getting relatively near the end I suspect (I think I have one more power to unlock), and I'll be glad when it's done.


    In Rogue Trader, I'm in the final chapter, but I'm really struggling (not difficulty-wise). Exploration has dropped off a cliff and just consists of single maps with single encounters, and all against the dull auditors of the 40K universe, the Necrons (I would compare them to Vogons, but Vogons are at the very least inadvertently funny. Necrons aren't.)
    Having to kill enemies twice in a row is _never_ an enjoyable mechanic.
    And if there's a strong through-line to the narrative, I'm struggling to find it. It's been very bitty all the way through.

    There's still a lot to like about the game, but it could do with being at least 2/3rds the size, especially as so much just seems to be unconnected filler.
    And I'm still not convinced Owlcat get 40K.

  7. #7
    Still playing Against the Storm, at the 4th seal now and the difficulty has certainly increased. It's still my pick for 2023 GotY over the alternatives I've played, despite Remnant 2 being a close second.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I've been playing the demo for Dreamcore, which sounds like a TikTok shovelware game but is actually an interesting and immersive walking sim with pretty stunning visuals. I knew about liminal spaces, but I had no idea there was a whole community devoted to them, with a wiki that describes hundreds of fictional liminal locations. One of the more popular levels is the poolrooms, a series of interconnected tiled rooms with pools of water, and that's the environment for this demo. It's maze-like and arbitrary, with an odd tonal balance of tranquility and unease. It immediately struck a chord with me because I have dreamt about places like this in the past; I just never knew other people have as well. The game has a heavy camcorder filter that, combined with the surprisingly detailed lighting (I guess it's Unreal 5) gives it a very realistic look that makes exploration more compelling. There are some minimal interactions and there was an end goal in the old version I played, but the demo was recently updated, so I'm not sure what's changed. Anyway, it's free, so I highly recommend it to a certain subset of this forum who enjoys weird nongames.

    Here are some lo-res screenshots. It looks better in motion and on my small screen, but you get the idea.



  9. #9
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    That does look great, Aja. Guess I gotta give it a play.

    Finished Wolfenstein Youngblood. And y'know what? It was good! I liked the stealth gameplay in it. Normally having X-ray vision and invisibility cloak would make a stealth game too easy, but that combined with no quicksave/load (due to it's co-op focused nature) balanced it out nicely. I was able to slip through several areas undetected towards the end. The final bossfight was tough. Almost too tough to be fun, and I kinda feel like I just beat it cause the boss eventually kinda glitched and got stuck in one section of the level. The game is light on story, with most of the cutscenes being relegated to the start and end of the game, but what story is there is good. MachineGames Wolfenstein games have always had good character writing, and this is no different. In my ranking of the MachineGames series I'd place this ahead of The Old Blood, which I didn't even finish, and The New Colossus, which I barely remember. Is it better than New Order? Hmm... kinda think I need to replay that one.

  10. #10
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Jesh and I played Youngblood in co-op. It's... all right. There's nothing about it that's particularly standout, and I'm including the story in that assessment. It's fun though, a decent enough romp to kill some time in, even if it gets heavily repetitive and in the end is sort of forgettable, and this is keeping in mind that co-op usually makes a dull game better. Pretty much would have left it halfway in single-player, I'd think.

    Edit: oh yeah, the Dreamcore demo. I saw those screenies on Steam, and I have all those hot bytes of data waiting to be spun up. Eventually. Might play it today even. I like the idea of liminal spaces, though I slightly dislike the zeitgeisty-ness of them because they follow on from the SCP craze, and it's not a very new idea. But as an experience mining the uncanny on its own terms, why not.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 6th Jan 2024 at 07:38.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2006
    Location: On the tip of your tongue.
    Well whaddya know - changed to using a Switch Pro Controller instead of an XBox controller and now my hand is no longer cramping and seizing up. Having a lot of fun with Elden Ring, not got into a souls game like this since original Dark Souls.

  12. #12
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Jesh and I played Youngblood in co-op. It's... all right. There's nothing about it that's particularly standout, and I'm including the story in that assessment. It's fun though, a decent enough romp to kill some time in, even if it gets heavily repetitive and in the end is sort of forgettable, and this is keeping in mind that co-op usually makes a dull game better. Pretty much would have left it halfway in single-player, I'd think.
    Did you have much success playing stealthily? I often find that harder in co-op, even with folks who are into stealth games. There's this jittery energy added by playing with someone, making it harder to take it slow.

    Dreamcore demo was a cool, unsettling experience btw.

  13. #13
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    I've been playing my Xmas presents. I got El Paso, Elsewhere from Thirith and Shadows of Doubt from Malf. Thanks!

    El Paso, Elsewhere
    Just finished this last night. It plays like Max Payne but with mummies and werewolves and ghouls, the storytelling is poetic, the music is badass. It's all very cool. And too long, frankly. At 8 hours and 50 levels, both the gameplay and narrative outstays its welcome a bit. This is one of those games that could do with a Director's Cut or whatever to cut out the filler levels, get it down to ~35 levels and it'd be a better experience. Still an enjoyable journey tho.

    Shadows of Doubt
    I've only played 2 hours of the starting mission yet, haven't solved the case. It's a very impressive technical achievement, unprecedented freedom and openness. But it's also kinda... hmm... indifferent? With so much proc gen I don't feel like the game really cares much if I solve the case or not. And I don't care. All there's left to play for is for the joy of the gameplay, which there isn't much of. The game's still in EA, and it'll be interesting to see how it develops, but for now it's not really grabbing me.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I suspect I'd react pretty much the same to Shadows of Doubt. In abstract terms, I like the potential of procedural generation, but in practical terms I don't enjoy it for games that aim at creating a coherent, interesting world. I can imagine a combination of proc gen and more authored (or at least curated) design working better, but on the whole proc gen worlds have felt disappointingly flat to me.

    Meanwhile, I'm greatly enjoying The 7th Guest VR for its haunted house atmosphere and fun puzzles (they're unlikely to stump puzzle pros, but for me they're ideal), but I think I'll be done with it soon, as it's just turned midnight and the only unsolved room available to me is the attic. If the devs ever did a VR remake of the sequel, I'd definitely be there for that. I don't think I would play the game in non-VR, because in the end it's still a pretty standard puzzle book turned into a game, but the atmosphere and the sense of a real, coherent place are fantastic.

    I'm also playing Cocoon, but while I'm enjoying it, I'm not loving it. The aesthetics of the game are great, I very much like the look and sound and feel of the world it creates, but so far I've not had any of those endorphin rushes that many of the reviews speak of. I'm a couple of hours in, and I've got three of the spheres, so perhaps I'm simply not far enough into the good bits - or perhaps I'm just not on the same frequency as the game. I don't regret buying and playing it, but I don't think it'll stay with me the way it obviously has with a couple of TTLGers.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Thirith View Post
    I suspect I'd react pretty much the same to Shadows of Doubt. In abstract terms, I like the potential of procedural generation, but in practical terms I don't enjoy it for games that aim at creating a coherent, interesting world. I can imagine a combination of proc gen and more authored (or at least curated) design working better, but on the whole proc gen worlds have felt disappointingly flat to me.
    In my experience procedural generation works best when there's some sort of instanced loop, where the moment to moment gameplay is the focus and the proc gen is there to provide variety. And you need some sort of curation in how the procedural generation works, even if it's just "Don't place the boss in the entrance room on level 1". Without any type of curation you can easily get unsolveable instances. Some games lean much more on curation, like Torchlight which uses pregenerated rooms that are linked together with exits lining up. The disadvantage of this type of curation is the risk of shattering the illusion of random generation, once players start recognizing tiles and layout structutes, what was supposed to be constantly fresh may become as stale as if it was fixed layouts for everything.

  16. #16
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    Did you have much success playing stealthily? I often find that harder in co-op, even with folks who are into stealth games. There's this jittery energy added by playing with someone, making it harder to take it slow.
    Well, I usually play stealthy when I'm in an isolated space. When I'm playing with other people... well, imma quote Jesh's answer to your question: 'Even disregarding [everything henke said], playing stealth with Sulphur is not a recipe for success.'

    And there you have it!

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    remember how we did a secret santa thing, once upon ago?
    that was cool, but I think it wouldn't work these days as the community isn't as close knit as it once was.

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    I finally started playing Cyberpunk 2077. Firstly, the graphics are fantastic and the world feels lush and full of detail. I heard complaints how the game feels dead and fake but I don't see it. I think it's executed really well, even if it is a veneer. Nothing particularly exciting happened yet 4hrs in, but I appreciate the detail in interactions, meeting Jessie for lunch, sitting down on a couch to have a conversation, etc. Good job with the storytelling even if the story isn't anything special just yet.

    That being said, I find combat really cumbersome so far. Mostly because I can't tell where the enemies are or what they're doing. The high level of clutter just makes it hard to tell what is a security camera, what is an enemy, what is a something else entirely. I'm constantly relying on my cyber scanner to make sense of the environment. And are my settings fucked or is it dark as hell? I just finished the mission to get the flathead with a shootout in dark warehouses and I just couldn't even tell where the enemies were without the little red triangles. Wtf?

    Then on the drive back I got randomly attacked by another car and the vehicle combat felt cumboersome as hell. The tutorial prompt said the game auto-targets by default but I still had a reticle so I felt I had to aim? Do I aim at the dudes inside, or the car itself? I ended up driving forward and back in a straight line because it feels impossible to aim and drive at the same time. Then I got out and bunch of people sprinted after me including some super quick ninja dude I barely blasted with a shotgun before running out of health.

    It felt kind of realistic and intense, but not in a good way...

  19. #19
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I was playing up both Shadows of Doubt and Cocoon earlier, but I'll admit the gameplay in SoD is still in disarray, and Cocoon has some cool puzzles, and they do get into really cool territory towards the endgame, but it doesn't have any of the magic that Inside had.

    I played a good amount of Cyberpunk 2077 over the break as well. I'm not sure where I stand on it just yet. I think it doesn't stand well in its own field... It can't stand with GTAV on the open world side. It doesn't stand with Control as an semi-open form shooter. It doesn't stand with Pray on the RPG side. It's still pretty unique with the extended urban cyberpunk setting and characters, which I appreciate, although it's not all that extended. I like it; I wouldn't say I'm alienated from it like I worried I might be. It still functions as a working open world mission based shooter. There is something kind of clunky and forced about it, but I'm still playing it. I don't want to give too definitive of an opinion before I've gotten far into the game though.

    ------

    I also just finished off This Bed We Made, which I really liked. I'd lump it into the field of a walking sim in the guise of an investigation game, where the investigation isn't as important or well baked as the slice of life that the procedures of the investigation walk you through. In that respect, it's like Fire Watch or True Detective season 1, which I think both had the same profile, great slice of life, anti-climactic investigation, or anyway the investigation was in service of the slice of life.

    I don't know if it quite reached the high points of either of those, but the world it was bringing to life was maybe the best realized. As a slice of life game it's fantastic in putting you into the world of the 1950s, the setting, the characters, the social dynamics, etc. And the pitch, being a maid in a hotel that likes to browse through people's stuff, is such a good hook to explore the hidden nooks and crannies of that time and place. In that way, the investigation gives you a direction to go that worked, although it started to get overburdened with too many strands going in too many directions as it went on.

    It could also be labeled an "agenda" game. I'm on board with the agenda and all, but I did think, just in design terms, it undermined the investigation and gameplay side of it, since I think it was orchestrating actions and evidence more in service of the point it was making than authentic human motivations and action, which made searching for evidence seem sometimes more like I was going through motions to unlock the story than how I'd logically approach a situation like that in real life. My basic philosophy is agendas are things where it's good that characters in a world have & push them them, to give color and dynamics to the game world, but it's better if the agenda isn't baked into the world itself. I still have my imm-sim bias that I like when the world doesn't care about the player or us petty humans and our need for events to make sense as a story, but that's for another post.

    My basic point is that This Bed We Made is still worth playing as a slice of life game, and you should appreciate it if you go into it looking for that. I think Fire Watch is the bellwether; if you liked or didn't like that, that's a really good indication if you'll like or not like this.

  20. #20
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I was playing up both Shadows of Doubt and Cocoon earlier, but I'll admit the gameplay in SoD is still in disarray, and Cocoon has some cool puzzles, and they do get into really cool territory towards the endgame, but it doesn't have any of the magic that Inside had.
    Cocoon is going to live or die by how much its puzzles tickle your brain, along with its aesthetic. While it's from a former Playdead designer, it has nothing to do with Inside's bleak environmental storytelling (or Limbo for that matter), and what story there is is about as papery thin as a moth wing. I think the aesthetic and the extremely tight puzzle design combine to make it something akin to a game designer's game, a sort of pure and streamlined platonic ideal with no fluff, just constant progress - but that also means it loses out in terms of relatable personality and any sort of emotional anchor. I'll admit that for such a chill game, I was hoping there would be more in the realm of negative space, where you could just soak up the atmosphere and get a bit of world detailing in between puzzles. No such luck, but I wouldn't ding it too hard for that, personally, as its joys were worth the journey. And gosh, it's so tactile - it's palpable stuff, your brain's more often than not going 'this feels right' in the background, and that's a rare thing for a game's art design to accomplish.

    As for Shadows of Doubt, I doubt (oh ho) that it's going to get what we'd call an interesting narrative or a consistently deep world, because its procgen nature means you're going to get templatised responses and over-arching mission design informed by its morass of interlocking systems, and you're basically a scalpel cutting through all of those to get to your goal. As far as I can tell, it's the gameplay that's going to make or break it. Either the design and the process of cracking a case gives it all the magic it's going to get, or it falls down on how much it errs on easy/obtuse for each element.
    Last edited by Sulphur; 7th Jan 2024 at 21:09.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Every time someone mentions Cocoon, I get disappointed that it's not a tie-in to the Ron Howard movie.

  22. #22
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I think I last saw that, and its sequel, when I was 12. I have good memories of the first one - might be time to dig out those nostalgia goggles and have myself a rewatch.

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I very much see what you mean about "negative space", Sulphur. To some extent, there's a tension for me between the wonderfully tactile look and feel and the extreme 'gameyness'. I constantly feel like there's a puzzle designer standing next to me, nodding their head approvingly at their design, which is at odds with the wonderful tactile quality of the game's aesthetics. I kinda wish they'd placed these puzzles in a more Zelda-style world, letting you just explore and enjoy the vibe - the way that, say, Tunic and Hob did it, but that's very much not what the game does in terms of game design, added to which quite a few people praised it exactly for the way the game doesn't let you wonder around all confused but guides you throughout.

  24. #24
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    That's an interesting POV. I don't think I've felt the tension between the design and the tactility, but that's possibly because I don't see the gameworld as something with much in the way of either explicit or implicit stories to tell apart from just... existing, as it is, as an alien space. The tactility collapses to a function of playful immersiveness in my perspective, a sort of added fillip to the experience of navigating it.

    I see what you're saying about feeling like the designer's hand is guiding you whether you want it to or not - and I've thought about it a bit, but I in the end I'd say they went with the right choice. As the puzzle variables keep expanding, the stuff you have to keep track of and various permutations possible to experiment with would quickly get out of hand, and you'd run afoul of a whole host of dead ends before you figured out the right path/pattern/worlds to use. I can't think of a way to keep the design as non-frustrating as it currently is while allowing the experience to be more free-form. The confusion, I posit, would not be worth that freedom.

    Maybe there's a different game it could have been that tells a story through a hub and spoke design as a puzzle metroidvania, but we had that with Prince of Persia 2008, but that has its own issues with a linear story trying to be jigsawed across a non-linear framework. PoP 2008 was also a terrible game, in general, but that's neither here nor there.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Oh, I'd definitely agree they made the right decision for Cocoon, but it's also a decision that some (like me) may find somewhat alienating because of its perfectly polished artifice. This kind of thing works better for me with games that posit an in-game puzzle maker, an 'intelligent designer' of sorts, as is the case with The Witness or even The 7th Guest with its hoary old puzzles (everything but Towers of Hanoi...), or obviously with Portal. Cocoon's aesthetic makes it seem like a strange (mostly) organic world, but its design is the opposite of organic, and I find myself wishing they'd done something with that discrepancy. But most likely it would've lost something in the process that makes it work so well as the thing it is.

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