Happy Weekend TAY!
I had another wonderful week of new toys that landed in my lap and required a couple nights of setup. A new iPhone SE which is much snappier than my aging iPhone 5 and my first portable hi-res music player; a FiiO X1. The iPhone setup took most of my free time one day and I’m uploading my music to the X1 as I type this, after updating the firmware (it’s only going to take 4.5 hours to move the music). Between all that and the majority of last week being filled with fundraisers for my kid’s school and other school events, there was little time for ole Datacide to play.
Thankfully I finished off Betrayer last weekend before my busy week.
Amazing, creepy, tense, and somewhat relaxing are the words I would use to describe Betrayer. I know some of those words sound like they don’t belong together but hear me out.
Amazing because it was so much fun. For an indie title this was extremely polished and quite unique in both presentation and gameplay. I loved everything they did. People who don’t like game music and yet put a high value on the other sounds in a game are definitely in for a treat. The minimal use of sounds completes the stark monochromatic presentation of the visuals. Betrayer was just a sensory treat for me because it was in what was missing that added so much to the experience.
Creepy because the game has a wonderful sense of dread about it. Much like a Silent Hill or Fatal Frame, Betrayer spends a good amount of time making you feel unnerved. You can tell these developers worked on the first F.E.A.R. game, it has that same sense of uneasiness about it that F.E.A.R. often evoked. The art and sound direction also has a great deal to do with the creepiness, as does the story. Revealed through notes and conversations, there are disturbing tales told by disturbed people. The conversations are done through text only, and while I’m generally one who would rather voice as opposed to text, the text and the silence created by the absence of voice overs only serves to heighten the weirdness of it all.
Tense because the game is tough and the enemies feel intelligent. They are great at hearing and seeing you and they are exceptionally adaptive at fighting you with different tactics. They also unhinge you with their appearance and the strange sounds that emanate from them. Even later on when the game shifted substantially and I suddenly found myself much less desperate for resources and weaponry, Betrayer still managed to kill me a lot on Hard. I rarely felt like I had the upper hand in combat and once combat began, my heartrate always began to rise.
And relaxing. Yeah I know, after all that I just wrote I still found this weird sense of zen to it all. This is a game for those who like walking around in the woods. I loved that aspect to The Elder Scrolls series and in the Far Cry series as well. It is for those who like to take their time and look around. Yes, you are often being hunted and yes, you have to be on your toes, but the prey can still appreciate their surroundings. Having no musical score, your time in the forest is filled with the sounds of nature and I found the whole game a weird contradiction of calm and panic.
Betrayer is about $5 on Steam and took me 14 hours to finish on Hard. If anything I wrote intrigues you, I’d highly recommend checking it out. It has its odd quirks here and there and it might not appeal to the masses, but I can’t wait to see what Blackpowder Games does next.
With Betrayer finished, I decided to move on to Mad Max.
I was a big fan of the original Mad Max movies but Miller’s latest movie, Fury Road, is simply incredible. Thankfully the game holds up the look and feel of Fury Road and of the whole Mad Max universe in general; though not without some noticeable missteps.
The biggest problem is that, so far at least, the game is too easy. It draws a lot of parallels to the issues I have with another WB game, Shadow Of Mordor. Without adjustable difficulty settings you lose that sense of survival and the accompanying desperation. Anyone who’s watched the Mad Max movies, especially the early films, knows how hard fuel, food, ammo, and water are to come by. So far in the game, these things aren’t hard to come by at all. I’ve never been wanting for anything, there is just tons of everything lying around the world. This feels off from the themes presented in the movies where Max was desperately throwing pans and hubcaps under a wrecked car to save every drop of leaking fuel he could.
The other problem is that I seem to be advancing my character very rapidly given the lack of serious challenge in the game. I have a ridiculous amount of upgrades already, and I’ve barely started.
I also can’t do much about it being too easy. I’m not good at self imposed restrictions like refusing to apply upgrade points since getting new things and abilities is exciting. It would be like getting gifts and then not opening them. I also can’t shut off the combat indicators like I could in Shadow Of Mordor. In Mordor I was at least able to up the combat challenge by removing the combat hints that tell you when to dodge, parry, etc. No such options exist in Mad Max.
The only thing I found that increased the difficulty somewhat is driving in first person. I definitely prefer first person when driving in games and do it whenever the option is available. Obviously in games with combat involved in the driving, this can make things tough since you have to look around while driving to get a sense of what’s around you. Mad Max in particular uses a lateral dashing move that allows you to smash into surrounding cars. This is obviously easy while in third person as you get to see all around your car. In first person this is much tougher since you hardly have any peripheral vision unless you move the camera. Moving the camera while driving means you are no longer watching where you are going and, with the rapid clip the game goes by in Mad Max, this is often disastrous. I look forward to VR fixing this issue in games by allowing me to drive in first person while being able to realistically glance to my side.
All complaining aside, I’m having a grand time with the game. It comes together extremely well and is pleasant to control, though Max on foot can feel a little clunky at times. Still though, Avalanche has expertly captured the look and feel of the films in the game. I’m definitely looking forward to much more of it. It is definitely an open world game that is fun to tool around in.
Hopefully this weekend will see more Mad Max for me and whatever else my wife would like to do. Happy (early) Mother’s Day to her and all the other wonderful mom’s out there.
So, what are you playing this weekend?