QuickPans: 2017 Humble Spring Sale Edition

I had a lot of good finds this time, so let’s get the crappy games out of the way first!

Inside: Amphora, Lumini, ecotone

Amphora
Point-and-Click

Amphora was a mind-numbing point-and-click with one type of puzzle you do over and over, and the only difficulty comes from the absolutely infuriating timing elements. It has to be one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever played. The only thing it had going for it was, shocker, its art gimmick, which was a shadowbox-style thing that was never really used in any interesting way. There was no narration, barely a story, barely music, barely any gameplay, and once more: if you want to make a pretty picture, make a pretty picture, don’t turn it into a damned video game for no reason. It wasn’t even trying to tell an interesting story, it was some asinine trite romance where a woman attempts suicide when her husband dies, because being single: the worst thing that can happen to women. I paid $3.50 for it and that was highway robbery. This thing retails for $14. FOURTEEN. It was two hours! And only then because of the fucking timing elements being such a nightmare! This was like a forty-five minute game if you could get everything on your first try. FOURTEEN. DOLLARS. This was everything I hate about indie games condensed into one nightmare.

Also, people who don’t know how to tell stories need to stop trying to do it without words. There’s nothing 3deep5me about no words. We have words for a reason. Use them.

Lumini
Adventure

Lumini is a more mediocre kind of bad. It’s a game that dares to ask the question: What if Pikmin were really, really monotonous?

Lumini has some nice elements — the visuals are evocative, the story was told with mild competency — but it, once again, fails as a game. The entire game consists of moving to the right through tunnels and sometimes opening doors. The door puzzles start simple and stay simple, even as you power up your Pikmin-sperm. After you upgrade the red ones twice, you can 1HKO any enemy, and the puzzles are never more complex than pushing buttons and twisting valves. At the end, sometimes you have to push a few buttons in a row; this is the game’s idea of a challenge. The ‘secrets’ are all hidden in plain sight, and in some cases it’s not even clear what certain pickups do — what was the point of collecting those crystals? of the green orbs? I also found the lack of control explanation really annoying. Again, not explaining the game to me isn’t clever, it’s just bad game design. The most irritating was that I only realized halfway through that the upgrade orbs weren’t set — that is, if you switched your active color Pikmin-sperm, the cube color would change. I passed a bunch of them because they were all red and it was only when I started to wonder when I’d run into the other color upgrades and started fooling around with the controls that I realized it was based on your active color.

Relatedly, I thought the game used its own mechanics poorly. You could split your Pikmin-sperm into two teams, one controlled by WASD and one the arrow keys. But the only way the game could come up with to utilize this was to have you press two switches at once. And it wasn’t even like, you had to guide the two groups through two separate mazes or anything — the switches were always right next to each other. There is so much cool stuff that you could do with that mechanic, and they opted to do next to nothing. I actually get the sense that the dev couldn’t decide if it wanted an ABZU-style experiential thing — which, frankly, could have worked here — or a puzzle game, and so kind of ended up settling for neither, the worst of both worlds.

Also, while I found the story cute, it really doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. Why did the Chozo-thing die so far away from their home base? Why not bring the lumini directly to the central one instead of forcing them to make this absurd journey there? Why not forgo the lumini and have the save-the-planet system self-activate? What kind of culture can create an elaborate system to revitalize their entire planet but can’t just fix a drought directly? Why did they wait until they were all almost dead to set the lumini into motion anyway?

Ultimately, this was just a game that promised a lot more than it delivered, and felt like it lacked the confidence to go all-in on any of its aspects.

ecotone
Platformer

My god I hated this game. Almost disproportionately? Like it was definitely head-bangingly unfun to the max, but it made me so much angrier than even that. Maybe because it was just so stupid on top of it.

Ecotone was the most emo game I’ve ever played. Each level is prefaced by a whiny line about how put upon the PC is and how badly they want to shrivel up like dust in the wind while someone plays a song on a tiny violin. The worst part, though, is that the game tried to make the story snippets correspond to the structure of the level, and as a result they don’t make any sense as a whole, and so there’s basically no story, just a dude running around being emo and the game clearly thinks it’s being incredibly Deep. Mr. Act and I just sat there reading all the lines and laughing at how melodramatic they were, which I presume was not the intent.

The gameplay is awful. It’s the worst kind of platformer, with discrete, unforgiving timing mechanisms, vague indicators of what to do next, and no checkpoints. I should not be looking up how to beat the third level because the instructions are so unclear and the level design so bad. Basically every level was spent getting halfway through, dying, and then doing the first part over and over and over as I got a little further and died anew every time. This is why we have checkpoints. The last level was the absolute worst about this; it was a long, high-speed timing nightmare with no checkpoints, so each time I would get to a new area and die by the poorly-indicated obstacle I hadn’t seen before, I would need to start over the from the beginning, no matter how far a long I was, and this included a long section that required no input from the player. I probably spent a half an hour literally watching the game play itself because it didn’t bother to put in a fucking checkpoint.

Smallyoungerbrother, watching over my shoulder, also made a very good point: one of the reasons the game was so frustrating was that there was no build. Each level introduced completely new mechanics that had nothing to do with anything that came before or after. Instead of saying, “We want a platformer where the central mechanic is X,” the game said, “We want a platformer that uses every mechanic we can possibly come up with all at once and then you never see them again.” This is just bad game design, straight up. Gameplay should have a central thesis that it slowly but surely builds on, whether it’s a portal gun or Mario jumping on baddies’ heads. You can’t just keep throwing random shit at players and expect the game to feel like a cohesive whole, because it’s not. Part of a game being properly challenging involved giving you the tools and training you need to overcome it. New mechanics should be introduced after old ones are properly taught, and even then the new ones should follow logically from the old. Ecotone gave no fucks about that and was a nightmare to play as a result.

This game was basically the opposite of Talewind.

26 Comments

  1. Roarke says:

    Mmm, delicious mediocrity. Having sunk all of my free time for the last week in an absolutely glorious game (Fire Emblem: Echoes for the 3DS, go play it everyone!), all I can say is: can’t relate!

    The bare mechanic of timing itself is honestly one of my favorite puzzle elements ever, so it hurts every day to know how badly people with limited understanding and vision will screw it up. Those games you described sound like the very worst: an overflow of meaningless timing elements that become grueling and monotonous in execution.

    Timing puzzles/mechanics are one of those things that affect me on a weirdly deep level, now that I think about it. There’s a delightful tension in waiting, focusing, and then executing at just the right moment. Like, in fighting and action games, I’ll gravitate towards the defensive abilities that require perfect timing (Dark Souls parry, Devil May Cry Royal Guard style) no matter how bad an idea it is at my given skill level. I remember in DMC3 specifically, since the NA release was coded to be one level of difficulty higher than Japan’s, picking Royal Guard as my starting style was a huge mistake at the level of difficulty involved.

    1. CrazyEd says:
      With that said, I can’t help but wonder how you feel about stealth games or the danmaku genre. Both are timing focused but in very different ways.
      1. Roarke says:

        No idea what a danmaku is (or maybe I do but I don’t recognize the term), but I loooooove stealth games, with the caveat that I like stealth games and not stealth elements. To me, stealth does not work as a side dish. It needs to be one of the central mechanics, not a one-off thing for one level.

        Like, LoZ: Wind Waker is something I’d hold up as one of the best games ever, but that early stealth section really hurt the pacing, no matter how relatively well-executed it actually was.

        Stealth is timing that focuses on patience and memorization. You hang out somewhere, observe the enemies, and plan out how to defeat their rotation. It’s delightful. That said, stealth elements and gameplay are among the hardest to design and understand, I feel. There’s so much that can go wrong in terms of balancing the player’s powers with the level design and enemy placement.

        I recently played an indie game called RONIN which was a nice little 2D stealth/action/platformer that manages to avoid dropping into a lot of the fake difficulty pitfalls while still being relatively challenging.

        1. CrazyEd says:
          Uh… danmaku is… it’s one of those things… I can’t really describe its characteristics but…

          Can I just say it’s like the Touhou games? Because it’s like the Touhou games.

          1. Roarke says:

            Bullet hell? Top-down shooter? Basically the kind that fills the screen with death except for tiny pockets of safety you need to navigate?

            Yeah, I’m down with those, but I don’t play them much or seek them out.

            1. CrazyEd says:
              Yeah, bullet hell is the non-moonspeak way of saying it. The term literally translates to “bullet curtain”, but we usually call it bullet hell in the west, unless you’re a turbonerd like me who just calls it danmaku. I honestly don’t really know too much of the genre outside of the touhou games. I know Metal Gear Solid like the back of my hand, but what I know about bullet hell games really is “uh that game about the frilly youkai girls in hats with an amazing amount of story-gameplay integration?”

              And that’s about my interaction with the stealth and bullet hell genres.

              Reply
            2. Roarke says:

              It’s actually difficult for me to think of a good stealth game other than the MGS series offhand.

              Oh, wait, no, Syphon Filter was pretty decent mechanically, it was just boring as crap story-wise. Though comparing it to MGS is just unfair to it.

              The Far Cry series has major stealth elements, too. Problem with them is that they’re painfully repetitive and have nothing going for them but stealth and exploration. Still, it’s fun for a few hours.

              Bethesda releases RPGs which have Stealth/Sneak as a stat that you can improve for theoretical benefits, but I would hold those up as terrible integration of stealth elements. You can tell by the level design and enemy placement that stealth was really only included in the game as an afterthought. It’s there so the designers can say “look at all the options we give you to bypass obstacles/enemies! Open world! Player choice!” Typically, all stealth gets you in those games is a free critical hit before the actual fight.

              Earlier RPGs were actually better about this, possibly because they weren’t first-person dungeon crawls disguised as RPGs. Pacifist stealth runs in the original Deus Ex runs were every bit as viable as the murder rampage. There’s a whole series called Thief that I’ve never personally played, but is held up as some of the best stealth gameplay ever. I dunno. There’s a lot of the stuff out there.

              Reply
            3. CrazyEd says:
              Thief’s stealth is a lot less arcade-y than MGS, and focused more on using light and the environment (sort of like what Splinter Cell would try later), but I personally like the very arcade-y stealth of Metal Gear even if it is sort of like a version of Pac Man with way more aggressive ghosts that can actively hunt you down.

              Oh, but I actually did like the stealth elements in the Uncharted series (at least from 2 or 3 on). That game has a lot of elements that just feel like it was designed by someone who only thinks they know how a shooter or platformer is supposed to play (like how Drake’s jumping capability fluctuates wildly based on how far the designers want him to be able to jump at any given time), but it actually manages to make sneaking around taking out as many people as possible a viable option, especially in the third and fourth game (which has a really forgiving way of getting back into stealth instakill mode even though the guards know you’re there so long as the guards don’t know where you are).

              The enemies are just MGS-y enough to map out patterns and find the best places to take them out to thin the herd and find the most advantageous spot to start the gunfight (but overall they work pretty much identical to Far Cry 3, especially in 4, where they even have that weird meter based way of noticing you).

              I think the reason the stealth elements work so much better than in a lot of games is because you’re never really punished for the lack of stealth. Stealth is just a supplemental tool to use before you decide to go loud. The mandatory stealth sections are few, story mandated, and extremely easy. I think that the only one that you automatically fail for getting spotted is the museum heist at the start of Uncharted 2 (which is basically just there to be the stealth mechanic tutorial and has checkpoints like every five feet). In the normal game, using stealth is only one option you can take to make the firefights easier on you. I don’t think I’ve ever reloaded in frustration from failing a stealth element.

              The lack of this was one of my biggest complaints about Red Faction: Guerilla. I get that the game is about demolishing every vertical structure on Mars with your hammer, but still. It’d be nice if the guards didn’t automatically assume I was up to no good while I was skulking around trying to find the best place to attach remote charges to their little outpost building, or if I had any means of surprise attack with a more stealthly opening move than driving a dump truck through their barracks.

              Reply
            4. Roarke says:

              From what I remember, the best series at balancing its stealth and action elements is Batman. It hits that sweet spot where there is just enough stealth and action paced together so the game wouldn’t feel complete without either. It’s possibly one of the most mechanically clean games I’ve ever played.

              Still, one thing that irks me about that game, Uncharted, MGS (on lower difficulties), and the other games we’ve mentioned, is that the stealth ultimately isn’t that mandatory except in special sections. That really hurts the tension (like you said, you never felt punished for failing at stealth – I don’t like that).

              The games are really few and far between that go for mandatory stealth in earnest as a core design goal. It is always, ultimately, a choice. Sure, you can pick European Extreme (I love that they call it that) in MGS, but that’s your choice. All the other difficulties let you forgo stealth. Yeah, Hitman games have a very stringent ranking system, and if you want that sweet, sweet Silent Professional ranking, you need to be flawless, but there’s still nothing stopping you from putting on a chef’s suit and murdering everyone in the level with a butcher’s knife. 

              I think game designers feel, deep down, that they can’t reach a wide enough audience with just stealth gameplay. I understand that, though it bothers me. Gamers show way too much appreciation for the rush and violence to inspire confidence in a mechanic that is fundamentally slow and deliberate.

              Reply
            5. CrazyEd says:
              While the inability of video gamers to accept that sometimes you’re not supposed to be able to win is definitely a thing, and why there will never be a good Call of Cthulhu game, I don’t think that’s really why. Due to the limitations of video games, you’ll often be caught in ways that are impossible to avoid through skill. MGS2 had a room designed specifically to be terribly difficult to move through due to the horrendous camera. Often, you’ll be spotted by a guard who is far off the game’s screen, but who would be easily spotted if you were in a first person POV (which isn’t to say that first person view is the way to go, at least not until video games invent peripheral vision).

              The ability to somehow respond to being caught, usually through violence, is the game’s way of giving you an out if you need one because of the limitations of controller hardware. Hell, Metal Gear was inspired by game hardware limitations in the first place. No one would’ve finished Metal Gear if the game yanked the controller away from you and made you restart every time a guard caught a glimpse of you. That’s why EE difficulty is only played by people who have pretty much perfectly memorized the guard patterns to begin with and don’t actually need to see them to know where they are. The stealth genre wouldn’t exist if EE was the default difficulty.

              The reason I never felt punished for a lack of stealth is because the decision to use stealth was a tactical decision I made and not something the game told me I had to do. It was often advantageous, and failing to succeed at stealth would make the resulting firefight harder, but that wasn’t the objective. You used stealth to maneuver into the best starting point for the firefight before making the decision to go loud. Using stealth was a tactical decision to make or decide to not make. There was no arbitrary punishment tacked onto the punishment of failing to implement your chosen tactic.

              On the other hand, when I felt punished for a lack of stealth in SWAT 4, it was because stealth would’ve been the most prudent option at the time. But it’s not the only option. I managed to complete about half the game on its highest difficulty flawlessly without my team and armed with a pepperball gun through overwhelming force. And that game has absolutely punishing difficulty.

              In fact, the stealth itself often feels more like a punishment, because its often required to give you time to maneuver your braindead AI squadmates into position and give them commands so they don’t get their dumb asses shot up. When you kick in a door, you’re supposed to kick in the door and just fucking swarm in on everything and overpower it through decisive speed. They’re fodder to throw flashbang grenades and send into a hail of bullets their AI is too slow to react to so you don’t have to limp through the level at half speed because you got shot in the leg.

              That’s why the lone pepperball gunman strategy works (at least until every enemy starts getting SWAT-level armour, when you really need to switch to the beanbag shotgun). Because it’s just you, you can rush into a room and pepperball everything before it has a chance to respond with your human reflexes. Overwhelming force actually does have its own special place in remaining unknown to your enemy targets. Aggressive stealth is still stealth.

              Reply
            6. Roarke says:

              MGS2 had a room designed specifically to be terribly difficult to move through due to the horrendous camera.

              Bad level/game design is not an argument against stealth.

              The reason I never felt punished for a lack of stealth is because the decision to use stealth was a tactical decision I made and not something the game told me I had to do.

              Then it’s not a stealth game. It’s a game with optional stealth elements, mostly as a prelude to combat. That’s what I wish stealth games would move past.

              I kind of think we’re talking past each other here. I said in the beginning that I wished stealth in games was more than a simple prelude to combat, at least in games that bill themselves as stealth titles. Yet your whole argument here is basically “I like it best when stealth is solely an optional prelude to combat”. All I can say is, like, well and good, I respect your preference, but that doesn’t add anything I didn’t already know.

              Reply
            7. CrazyEd says:
              But it was intentionally designed that way to show the inherent failings of the sort of pure stealth genre you’re looking for. Actually, come to think of it, European Extreme was first introduced in the European release of MGS2. Which was designed from the ground up to be A Terrible Stealth Game. It was never meant for people to find it fun (which is why it was only in the European release of MGS2, and why it’s called European Extreme in US releases).

              And yet, even MGS2 (on the difficulty levels its actually intended to be played on) wasn’t designed to be so terrible the game ended when you got caught.

              Reply
            8. Roarke says:

              Can I get a source on that intentional bad design? I’m not incredulous, because I’d believe anything from Kojima, but it stretches the imagination. And even if it was, the series corrected itself later, given MGS3 and MGS4.

              Either way, using a (intentionally or otherwise) badly designed game as proof that ‘pure’ stealth is fundamentally unworkable is silly. Like, I hope you can recognize that. Just improve the design and you’re golden. Now, whether or not a majority of folks will like that is a different question. You obviously don’t. That’s a statement of preference, not viability.

              And yet, even MGS2 (on the difficulty levels its actually intended to be played on) wasn’t designed to be so terrible the game ended when you got caught.

              Here’s our disconnect: you think it would be terrible that the game ends when you’re caught. That’s not a problem for me at all. It’s an acceptable losing condition for a game that has ‘don’t get caught’ as a premise, just as dropping to 0 health is an acceptable losing condition for ‘kill everyone and don’t die’. All they need to do is adjust what you’d call unfair in the level design to create an appropriate challenge.

              Reply
            9. Act says:

              I’m totally jumping in without reading the whole thing, but I love pure stealth games where detection is a losing condition, personally. Assassin’s Creed and Dishonored immediately come to mind as examples.

              That said, it’s definitely a niche.

              Reply
            10. CrazyEd says:
              Uh, I can’t provide a source for any specific examples like that individual room (the horseshoe shaped one that blocks Soliton Radar), but the source for MGS2 being designed as one big fuck you is basically “literally anything Hideo Kojima has ever said about the game”. He was pretty much forced into making MGS2 after the success of MGS1; which is why he made a game about how much people who wanted to be Solid Snake sucked, and tricked people into playing a game which was basically identical to MGS1 in overall game beats, except people hated it.

              Like… this isn’t exactly a secret about the game or anything. Dude’s been trying to kill the franchise since 1999. MGS2 only got a sequel because people wanted him to explain the intentionally unanswerable questions the end of the game raised… so he made a totally unconnected game that answered absolutely nothing about MGS2. MGS3 was basically Kojima being made to apologize for MGS2 and MGS4 was forcing him to actually make a sequel to MGS2.

              As for MGS4… well, that’s where Kojima really went to the wall with trying to kill the franchise. The game was nothing but a long excuse to absolutely destroy Solid Snake. Remember how he started the game as a frail old man, was microwaved during the course of the game, and how the actual Kojima-produced ending involves him swallowing the barrel of his .45 because allowing him to continue living would release a plague that would erradicate humanity? He’s probably unbelievably happy that MGS is for pachinko now.

              dropping to zero health is an acceptable losing condition

              The equivalent to a game that automatically ends when you get caught is a game where your health drops to zero because there’s a random chance the enemy will just decide to airstrike the entire map. At best, it’d be a Press X to Not Die QTE, but that doesn’t acurately represent being spotted from across the map by a guard you can’t see because of the camera. When you drop to zero health, it’s always because you did something wrong to result in that condition.

              The intentionally bad design of MGS2 was designed to highlight the inherent problems with trying to make the kind of game you’re describing in a medium where you have the level of control you have over a video game avatar. If you or I, as real people, had to sneak through that one bullshit room, it wouldn’t be nearly as hard even without Raiden’s skills. It’s difficult because we lack the ability to acquire visual information in video games as easily as just looking at things in real life.

              Reply
            11. CrazyEd says:
              Um, but detection most definitely is not an automatic losing condition in Assassin’s Creed. Guards forget about seeing you even more easily than they do in MGS.
              Reply
            12. Act says:

              On major story missions it often is — not in the overworld.

              Reply
            13. Roarke says:

              Wow, this is really the beauty of the internet or what have you. Two random people can just get completely different stories about something as famous as Metal Gear Solid’s history and philosophy. So here’s my take:

              First off, MGS is not a fuck-you to the stealth genre. It’s a fuck-you to the kids that played MGS1 and hooted about how awesome it was to be Solid Snake and gun down hordes of mooks in a stealth game. If anything, it’s a fuck-you to shooters. That’s why Raiden was a child soldier, trained by VR to be an experimental mass-produced Snake.

              MGS as a series is extremely anti-war, which is why the game rewards you with bonus gear and secret items for being stealthy and not killing anyone, and does what it can to punish you for just gunning through the levels (mostly by withholding those rewards). Like, there’s a fight in MGS3 that specifically gets harder and harder the more people you kill.

              MGS2 had huge rewards for stealth in the dog tag system. You couldn’t get those on alert or in combat. You had to go through carefully to collect them. The rewards? Infinite ammo, infinite stamina, the Stealth Camo… none of which you get by shooting people.

              Kojima has been trying to kill his own franchise, but his favorite game within that franchise is MGS3, the game about how much it sucks to be a soldier no matter how much of a patriot you are.

              Trust me, the stealth element of MGS is not what Kojima hated about it and wanted to stop.

              Reply
            14. Roarke says:

              @Act Yeah I definitely should still play Dishonored, which I have (and I think also Dishonored 2) but never installed.

              I’m sitting here complaining and haven’t even played everything I own, haha.

              Reply
            15. CrazyEd says:
              But the only reward you get that can help you with shooting runs is the infinite ammo (and I’ve never had problems with ammo in MGS games to begin with), and you don’t even need the rest if you don’t bother trying to sneak through the game.

              Sure, the game might be easier with the active camo device, but shooting through the game is easier than doing what you need to do to get the active camo in the first place. That’s why the rewards are for stealth. It’s the harder way to play the game. Besides, in MGS3, you get the stealth camo for shooting all the kerotans. Because that’s a difficult thing to do. Hell, in MGS4, you can just buy the infinite ammo headband with drebin points.

              Also, the Pain’s fight doesn’t actually get any harder. It just gets longer. There’s still really no difficulty in it. It’s just a slog.

              Besides, MGS has always had a lot of mixed messages, even before the game that simultaneously decried nuclear war while exalting a man who only didn’t go to nuclear war with America because he lacked nukes. MGS’s anti-war message is almost as muddied as Gundam’s (and pretty much every other War But With Superpowers series except Fullmetal Alchemist). It took Big Boss like thirty years to realize The Boss meant that you should metaphorically fight for peace, and literally fighting for it actually seemed to be working out for him all thigns considered.

              Reply
            16. Roarke says:

              but shooting through the game is easier than doing what you need to do to get the active camo in the first place. That’s why the rewards are for stealth. It’s the harder way to play the game.

              So I feel like you are conflating “easy” with “intended,” and I’m sure you’re wrong about that.

              You’re essentially saying that, in a game that affords you two options: shooting and stealth, the game’s philosophy must be biased towards shooting, because it’s the easier one, despite the greater rewards and sense of accomplishment being for stealth.

              The attitude that stealth is a bother and you should just shoot dudes is basically the attitude that Kojima decried in MGS2.

              Besides, MGS has always had a lot of mixed messages

              On this, we agree. It’s kind of a clusterfuck, because there’s all these people that are objectively pretty horrible, but folks end up glorifying them anyway. Still, I really feel that the ultimate message is war/violence = bad, same as Gundam, and it was a really clear message at least by MGS3/4.

              The game bills itself as stealth, rewards you for being stealthy, advises you to avoid conflict/lethal force if possible in early conversations, gives you multiple non-lethal options for when violence is unavoidable, and has an overarching theme that war is bad.

              Then it gives you real guns. Of course people shoot through the game. Of course they do. It’s almost like MGS was Undertale before Undertale was a thing.

              Reply
            17. Act says:

              I’m just going to keep being tangential:

              One thing I thought was really interesting about dev interviews leading up to Dishonored 2 was that the feedback they got was that people wanted more focus on the stealth elements — the game basically lets you decide if you want to play COD or AC style, but there was a bit more to do via the shoot ’em up path in D1. Apparently almost all the feedback they got was how enthusiastic people were about the AC elements and how much more they should be emphasized.

              It makes you wonder about why the game attracted the kind of audience, since as Roarke pointed out, the prototypical gamer is very much a MURDER EVERYONE REEEEEE style player.

              Reply
            18. CrazyEd says:
              No, I’m saying that the fact you get rewarded for stealth has nothing to do with any message, anti-war or not. It’s solely because doing a stealth run is more difficult than just shooting everything up. They’re not going to give you all the special rewards for taking the easier path. The harder path has all the goodies at the end to encourage you to take it in the first place.

              the ultimate message is war/violence = bad

              I’m not saying this wasn’t the intention, but that this message rarely works in a narrative that not only glorifies the wars we fight in the real world but makes them infinitely cooler with superpowers. It’s kinda like how Sylvester Stallone went on that anti-gun platform in the middle of marketing a movie literally titled Bullet To The Head. Which was it? Guns are bad, or guns are the coolest thing ever and you should give me a lot of money to make movies where I use a lot of guns?

              I think the only reason FMA is one of the few things to avoid this was because it never actually directly showed you the war, it only showed people fucked up from all the unique types of war crimes they were able to commit thanks to the superpowers.

              It’s almost like Undertale was a thing before Undertale was a thing.

              I have absolutely no clue what this is supposed to mean.

              Reply
            19. CrazyEd says:
              Gamers also love an arbitrary self-imposed challenge increased difficulty run. I complained about the lack of stealth options in Red Faction: Guerilla because of a self-imposed challenge (basically limiting myself to remote charges and a pistol and other sneaky-as-that-game’s-weapons-got weapons) I did when I got bored of playing the game as intended (and also because the game has “guerilla” right in the title). And that’s to say nothing of The Boss or European Extreme difficulty in MGS or pokemon nuzlocke runs… The average touhou player plays the games on a difficulty level literally titled “Lunatic”, with the description “For weird people”.

              Perhaps it was because there wasn’t a balance between shooty and sneaky or there were some points where you needed to go shooty or sneaky regardless of whether you’d already picked sneaky or shooty? Deus Ex: Human Revolution kind of fucked over everyone who tried to go non-lethal with its boss fights, and I remember one of the most common complaints about V:tM Bloodlines was how the social skills which could get you through the first half of the game without a single fight became mostly worthless about halfway through because the game became about shooting fleshcrafter abominations.

              Reply
            20. Heatth says:

              So, you guys are only talking about action 3d stealth games. Maybe because I never liked these types of games, stealth or not, but my favorite stealth games have vastly different gameplay.

              Mark of the Ninja is a really fun 2D plataformer stealth game. You would expect it wouldn’t work thanks to the limited space of a 2D game, but your ninja mobility is so good vertically that you actually have a lot of room to play with. It is really interesting to play.

              Other games I love to death are Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive and Shadow Tactics: Blade of the Shogun. They are a real-time tactical stealth games, which works way better than it sounds. You control multiple units from a isometric view and it is really fun.

              All in all, I really like stealth games, but my avertion to 3D action games prevent me from enjoying the most mainstream ones.

              Reply
            21. SpoonyViking says:

              There’s the “Tenchu” series as well.

              Reply

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