In gaming, as in any other franchise, iconic is good. It’s symbolic, if not outright semiotic, of a clear message to the player/viewer/reader of a singular concept and the implication of a specific type of guaranteed experience. It could be Iron Man’s suit or Jamie’s beret, but the image that equals a hallmark is worth more than platinum in a globalized market. Why use a thousand words or more when that single precious image will suffice?
Well, sometimes…because it just doesn’t work. And the image is incongruous. And in its incongruity, it becomes distracting. And being distracting, it becomes almost all you see, until you look up and realize that you can’t pay any attention to the franchise the image was supposed to herald in the first place.
SPOILERS. Be warned.
The space bar doubles as an emery board!
I swear to Talos that this will be my last post on Dishonored, at least for a while. Consider it a credit to Arkane’s spectacular ambition that I can’t let this shit go, despite my teeth- grinding problems with the mechanics and narrative.
Becky Chambers wrote this commentary about women in Dishonored over at the always-insightful TheMarySue. In it, she asserts that the deep division between men and women in Dunwall is handled in a “justifiable” manner, one that shows consideration regarding the overt misogyny and ‘Silent Scream’ dying dreams of a subjugated gender. Most of this, Chambers argues, is through the use of The Heart, a…well, a heart, used as a kind of metal detector and all-purpose confessional, likely cut from the dying Empress’s body and wielded by Corvo as he avenges his way through the city.
After the last article I figured that gender politics aside, there was still plenty left unsaid about Dishonored. No matter how much caulking (heh) I do, it’s always pretty drafty with SPOILERS in here, so grab a toasty mug of something and join me!
Like a dominatrix, Dishonored loves to reward and punish, often arbitrarily. Marketed as both a stealth and an action game, weapons, buffs and powers favor the deadly. Little can be bought or redeemed by a stealthy, noble Corvo that aids him in lowering detection or humanely incapacitating opponents.
I’m not done furrowing my brow over Dishonored; more on that later this week. In the meantime, check out what the fine lads at RPS have to say on the matter.
In fact, nor am I done with the fine lads at RPS. This article by Jim Rossignol has kept me furrow-ing for the last few days as well, and so I ask a question to anyone who might be out there, in the void, reading this blood-stained blog:
…did anyone ever finish Too Human?
Put your favorite hoodie on; it’s about to get cold and kind of icky in here. Also SPOILERY.
Rich in lore. Crammed with goodies like teleportation and summoned rat swarms. Haunting art and NPCs with superhuman hearing. Scary masks and dead whales. What more could you want in a pseudo-mystical-speculative-fiction-alternate-world-not-quite-steampunk-political-stealth-thriller?
How about one single empowered significant female character who’s not a sex worker, maid, caretaker, mistress, kidnapped, or dead?
Papo & Yo comes out next week, as an exclusive download for the PSN. The “fantasy-adventure-puzzle-platformer” from Montreal-based Minority Games looks amazing and is attracting a ton of industry attention due to inventive gameplay and setting: a South American favela, complete with authentic regional graffiti. Creator Vander Caballero has stated that the premise is a fantastical representation of his childhood relationship with his father, who suffered from issues with addiction and unfolds in an environment markedly affected by poverty.
There’s no reason it shouldn’t be a day 1 success, and I can’t wait to play it, or watch someone else play it, given my attitude towards platformers.
Now the uncomfortable part.
NPC examines sentient, unplayable characters that add depth, pivotal experiences or tactical challenges to games. This time, we’re considering the Fable enigmas known as Demon Doors; specifically, the one located just outside of Albion’s port city of Bloodstone. Turn on the AC; it’s getting kind of SPOILERY in here.
Game/Series: Fable II
Level/Quest: Just outside of Wraithmarsh, on the outskirts of Bloodstone.
Name: Never revealed.
Age: Potentially centuries old; exact date unknown.
Gender: Identifies male—as much as a door possibly can identify with a gender, I guess.
QUEST is a series that looks at questing. Hence the name. This time, we’re visiting the second game of the Mass Effect series. In Part 1, we nitpicked zombies, and discussed the bait-and-switch tactic of setting out to rescue individuals who end up as enemies OH NO THE HORROR! Also, as always, SPOILERS follow.
In order to accomplish their periodic cycle of mega-destruction while minimizing loss to their forces, the Reapers employ a sophisticated technical process of systematic brainwashing known as ‘Indoctrination.’ The in-game informational Codex has this to say on the topic:
(QUEST is a series that looks at questing. Hence the name. This time, we’re visiting the second game of the Mass Effect series. I hope you like SPOILERS, because it’s what’s for dinner!)
“When I buy a new book, I read the last page first. That way, in case I die before I finish, I know how it ends. That, my friend, is a dark side.” –When Harry Met Sally
Um…wait. What the fuck is this? Roses? Are you giving me a shoulder massage? I told you I hate to be touched unless it’s naughty time! I just wanted to know how Cabin in the Woods ends! Gah! Now I need to look it up.
SPOILERS follow about games you might care about. Or not.
“The professor asked if anyone had read Camus. I, of course, had read L’Etranger in the original French, and raised my hand. I mentioned the protagonist who doesn’t care about his mother’s death. Then I said I often washed dishes with my mom. When she’d hand me a knife to dry, I would have the fleeting thought that it would be pretty easy to kill her if I wanted. I should mention that I usually sat in the back, so when I said this about a hundred heads whipped around to stare at me. What I should have said was, “But I don’t want to kill her!” What I actually said was, “Oh, like you never thought about killing your mom.”
-Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot
Why do I play?
Do you want the short answer or the long one?
Does it even matter if both are pretty much the same?