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Discussion in 'General Gaming and Hardware Forum' started by Brother None, Oct 22, 2009.
you should get fired from Gamebanshee for not having played Grim Fandago.
Also, update now please?
This article pretty much sums up my problem with most adventure games, it's not true for all of them but it is for enough of them that it can be hard to get motivated to try a new one out. I think it's something of a syndrome of what the players wanted/needed to be done for the games to become challenging again. Adventure games get a lot easier the more of them you've played because you learn about the type of shenanigans required to move on. In doing so, the more reasonable puzzles can become too easy. I think it's a lousy excuse but I think it's probably the excuse that many of the more outrageous puzzles would make.
I plan to get around to playing most of the Lucas Arts adventure games because I like what I've played and have heard nothing but good things about them.
Oh, every great adventure game have their moments of... bad design
Like this DUMB moment in Full Throttle where you must activate a secret stone on a ... stone wall, that even with the damn game playtrough, takes hours to find.
And here's one way to distinguish a bad adventure game from a good one - does it utilize new types of puzzles, or some sort of different mechanics to make adventure games interesting/challenging again?
A good example would be the outlandish designs that transcend common settings, new mechanics (like the paint collection/mixing/usage in Turgor), or new types of puzzles (like the ones based on sounds rather than visuals in Sublustrum).
Ah convoluted puzzles in adventure games, don't get me started how frustrating those sometimes can be.
I remember puzzles from games that were so seriously pissing me off, I wondered if the designer had sadistic glee on his face when he thought that solution out for a problem.
One of the biggest annoyances was "Monkey Combat" in Escape from Monkey Island, it was so infuriating as it barely made sense to me that it made me quit the game and remove it.
To this day its the only Monkey Island game I have never finished and I never will.
Often puzzles in adventure games are collect item and give them to someone else, or use them in some situation.
Just a suggestion but perhaps puzzles could rather use materials at hand around the puzzle in which the player has to work out the best combination or use.
This will haunt you.
gog.com is doing a special sale on Psychonauts btw.
Good point about the crazy puzzles in adventure games. That's another reason I couldn't take Grim Fandango for too long. Some puzzles were just too out there.
There was a moment where I had to remove some burning monster, to cross a bridge. I figured that I needed to blast it with a extinguisher but it just would not work, even though there was no reason for it not to. Apparently, I had to stand in a specific place to do it. That just made me quit the game and I haven't returned since.
All adventure games seem to have such moments.
Still, Neverhood remains an excellent example on how to do puzzles properly. They don't make any sense whatsoever outside the game world.
BTW, Neverhood is in my top 3 list. With Fallout and Diablo.
This list sucks, BN. It's also fairly pointless to make such a list when you've obviously not played nearly enough games to be a reliable judge.
'But this is my list of preferences, it's personal and highly subjective...'
Then maybe you should mind your egotripping logic:
Says who? Says you?
A guy who puts goddamn Earthworm Jim in his list of favourites?
Someone who never played Day Of The Tentacle or Full Throttle?
Nice buzzkill alec. Go pout in some other thread.
9. Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura - Troika Studios (Windows, 2001)
I've delayed writing on #9 because it's such a hard title to write on. Like many gamers, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with most of Troika's work, including Arcanum.
Arcanum...well...let's first just state outright that Arcanum tries to do everything you could reasonably want in an RPG. It has a complex character system, non-class based and with a freedom that ranges not just from choice in stats and skills but also in magical and technological alignment, made even better by the freedom to choose race and background. It has a unique world based on the dichotomy of (steampunk) technology and magic, which is well worked out in political factions and history as well.
Its gameplay is based on an open world with total freedom to screw up, as choice and consequence rules more supreme than in its declining Noughties counterparts. And its NPCs, quest and a chunk of its main plot are well thoughtout and deep. I always like it when games throw me for a loop and twist expectations, and Arcanum's opening - with you receiving a ring for "the boy" before meeting up with a man who pretty much declares you the chosen one - is wonderful both in bending genre expectations and putting you on the wrong foot initially, which is where you should be.
And then it just keeps heaping on whatever elements you can name as requisite of RPGs. Complex, branching dialogue. Turn-based and real-time combat. NPCs responsive to your actions and race. Stupid-PC dialogue. A good-sized party with NPCs with their own motives. Processive party interaction. Quests available for every skill-path you choose. True evil-or-good options and paths throughout the game. Varied enemies. Recipe-based crafting, both in alchemy and smithing. Living cities, including a newspaper that would cover events you yourself witnessed or can influence. All NPCs are killable without breaking the main plot.
An extra shout-out here should go to the soundtrack. I haven't mentioned soundtracks so far and got some flak for it, but honestly I don't find them worth mentioning unless they're really, really special. And Arcanum's is, it's a pitch-perfect, setting-appropriate, atmospheric soundtrack that is good enough to stand on its own as a musical piece.
Let me pause to catch my breath.
I mean WOW. Sounds like everything you could possibly want in an RPG doesn't it? Niggles and tastes aside, it pretty much does.
And boy does it fall flat on its face.
Arcanum is easily amongst the most ambitious games ever made, and not in the "let's promise a lot and then find out we have to cut back about 80% of our promised features later on"-style of "ambition" modern flagship titles are good at, but true, unrelenting ambition. It wanted to do everything, give the player everything we've been craving for from cRPGs since the genre was born, and in doing so clearly was not willing to give up on any of its requisite parts.
And that's exactly why it's so easy to hate. It does so much, and because it does so much, it does so much wrong. The overarching plot is trite and predictable. The combat is an uncoordinated mess. The technical state of the game was a disaster on release (but that's true for a lot of the games on my top list, a consequence of being RPG-centric). The ending area feels rushed and the game as a whole unfinished. The game balance is way off, and while the game is easy for any properly-built character, tech or otherwise, it's a breeze for smart magic users.
And - probably my biggest personal annoyance - it insists on tossing you into long, combat-and-trap intensive dungeon crawls. Dungeon crawls aren't my thing, but they're a part of RPG and cRPG's core and I understand why so many developers feel they're needed. But when your combat system is utter shite, it might be best to avoid it. Instead, it's just grit your teeth and be patient until it's over. That does not a fun gameplay experience make.
Does any of that make Arcanum a bad game? Not to me, but like I said, it is an easy game to hate. However, in concept Arcanum is the closest cRPGs ever got to being perfected. It's a missed shot, but it's hard not to love it for trying, and the marks it does hit, it hits very well.
I always thought that Arcanum's faults could all be fixed with just ONE decent mod and ONE final Patch.
That mod never appeared, and the patch was full of holes.
Agreed, a good mod could probably make Arcanum almost perfect. It was a great game already but definitely unfinished and unpolished.
I want to agree with you, but subjectively speaking is such a thing really possible?
Consider this. Gaming is by far my favorite past-time/hobby/joy-creating behavior. My favorite category of games are RPG's. Thus I should spend a larger amount of my free time playing games and those games being more often RPG's than not.
Well for every two RPG's I want to play I only end up having the time for one. Also for every two I want to play there are two others I don't want to play due to being low-quality. So in fact I play one of every four potential games I can play. Playing only 1/4 and trying to judge one by comparing them all doesn't seem like a good way to compare, but how could I possibly play the rest of the games I want to let alone the games I don't want to play?
Also Brother Nones Arcanum description is excellently superb. Yes it needs two adjectives to describe it.
The Vault Dweller
I think alec is on to something here, because these threads just wouldn't be the same without people saying they suck.
they did for mine
You're honestly surprised? I could tell you before even starting this list that alec would complain somewhere in this thread regardless of what games I pick, in what order and with what reasoning, because he's alec. His incessant whining has long since become so predictable that it is essentially just background noise. Easy to ignore if you can just tune out the frequency.
Not much of a special since it's been available at the same price-point from Steam for ages (albeit Steam I got it before Steam switched to the $=€ metric).
Earthworm Jim anthology (1, 2, 3D) has also been added to Steam. For a pretty hefty 20 bucks.
Guess my countdown inspires 'em.
But GB doesn't do adventure games.
Yes. That example is infamous, and even though it's an extreme, convoluted logic reigns supreme for adventure games. It's not for me, though I don't even mind that much to take a walkthrough or hint guide and play it through like that. The pixel-hunting and illogical necessary actions means the gameplay just isn't that attractive.
Not really. Some of the flaws are dug in way too deep. Especially in the combat system.
^ Well, it's true that it'd be pretty impossible to completely fix the combat in Arcanum. Although, if you never EVER turn the real-time option on, it works pretty much just like Fallout. Not stellar but workable. Troika definitely improved heaps on the TB combat in TOEE as compared to Arcanum.
BN, good review, although personally I'd place Arcanum closer to the top if it were MY list. I like it lots better than both Fallouts, or any of Bioware titles, some of which are bound to show up on your list somewhere. But I know, opinions and all. That said, you did very well identify all that's good and bad with pretty much all Troika titles. Despite all flaws, they're easily my favourite RPG developers in history - and look at the solid, devoted fanbases their games have generated.
Also, a not to anyone who's interested: the fanpatch (Unofficial Arcanum Patch) does a lot to solve the many problems with the game and restores some content, and with the high resolution/HQ textures pack makes the gaming experience a lot more pleasant.
I never really used RT in Arcanum. However, the mere existence of both combat modes meant that either one would have to be heavily imbalanced, or they both are, really. Simplicity doesn't help. Overall, I liked it a lot less than Fallout's combat, which is far from perfect itself.
That said, the top 9 or so is absolutely cemented. The lower bits were more interchangeable and debatable, but from here on out it's not stuff I'd put up for discussion - keeping mind of course that it's my personal list bla bla bla.
I'm going to get a lot of shit for some of the games that pushed these established, predictable titles out of the top 5, but hey, it is what it is.
Heh. How cute.
It's still a stewpit list, though.