sagesaria: (gamer)
[personal profile] sagesaria
So today I found Achievement Hunter's Let's Play of a game called Until Dawn. It's a game I only recently really heard of but it's an interesting enough idea. The premise is that you play a band of teenagers in a cabin in the woods and - you guessed it - end up smack dab in the middle of a slasher film. And the pushing point of the game is its overarching theme of the butterfly effect; throughout the game you're prompted to make choices about what to do and those choices influence the story. Which in and of itself is an idea that sounds really awesome, but here's the thing. The game is basically an interactive choose-your-own adventure book.

And that's not INHERENTLY a bad thing. It's an interesting premise, there are relationship meters between all the characters that are affected by your actions and those will influence what happens, who dies, all that good stuff. I'm curious to see what choices the Achievement Hunter gang will make and how it'll turn out. But here's my gripe; the game's entire selling point, its entire core, is about choice. And at the end of the day, what are your choices, really? "What button do you press when you're prompted?"

Take for example one particular puzzle that I just watched in the Let's Play. The gang reaches the cabin, but the front door is frozen shut from weather and disuse. Two of the boys find a window to the basement that one of them squeezes through, the other hands him a lighter and tells him to go find a can of aerosol to use as a blowtorch to get the front door open. Okay, that's what HIS idea is...but this game is all about choice. So what shall we do from here?

Can we go up to the front door and tell the others that the window is open and they can get in that way? Nope.

Are we on any sort of timer to hurry up before the lighter runs out of fuel or our cabinmates freeze to death? Nope.

Can we light some of the candles and oil lamps around the place so we can at least have some visibility? Nope.

Can we look around the basement for a crowbar or something else to get the door open that won't risk injury or death, especially when the game-supplied clues warned about somebody potentially getting set on fire? Nope.

You are basically handcuffed to the objective of finding that damn aerosol can. But then we get to control how pissy we get with each other when everybody's inside, hurray!

Now if there's something that I missed about this puzzle because I'm not playing, I'll retract my comments, but literally every logical thing AH tried to do while looking for that spraycan was not coded into the game. I don't even know what the warning about catching on fire was about now, everything went just fine. And this was in the part I watched just tonight, so if it gets better later I don't know yet.

And again, I'm not saying this makes it a bad game necessarily, or that the mechanics are bad. They're interesting and I'm intrigued enough to keep watching and maybe someday play it myself. All I'm saying is, game designers, if you advertise your game as having a ton of important decision-making, really give us some choices. This game is on the Playstation 4, there's no reason not to have that kind of attention to detail.

June 2017

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