I had been looking forward to this game for a while. An action RPG with vampires! I mean, how could you go wrong? The game is certainly beautiful and you can tell a lot of effort went into it. But I'm nine hours in, and I'm bored to tears. Four reasons, I think:
1) The levels are huge
, and not in a good way. They're sparse
. It takes forever to get from one side of a level to the other, and the rooms all look the same. It's a navigational nightmare, in other words, which spells disaster for a game that requires so much backtracking. Beautiful graphics, dull level design.
2) Inventory management is annoying. Maybe this is just my style of play, but I tend to level up until I'm strong enough beat a dungeon without using many health power-ups and so forth. So when I'm traipsing around slaying demons, my inventory is generally stocked to the brim. In LK, though, you can only hold a small number of items (15, I think? 20?) at once, and items don't stack. This means that whenever a creature drops an item, or I come across a chest, I have to throw something out so I can pick up whatever it was I found. Now, I love inventory management as much as the next guy. But don't force me to decide between trivial items (20% energy power-up or 20% health power-up?!) every ten seconds. Not cool!
3) The controls are awkward. Again, this might just be my problem, but I find it impossible to keep the right shoulder button down while continually pressing Y and still keep a firm grip on my DS. This means that I have to prop my DS up against something when I'm playing or risk having the damn thing shoot out of my hands and onto the passenger sitting next to me. Also not cool.
4) I guess once you get further into the game, there are puzzles based on the temperature/humidity/time of day or whatever. But at the beginning of the game, there are no puzzles to speak of at all. Plus, the prospect of having to run back and forth from some deep dungeon door to that creepy scientist's house to play with a paraSOL doesn't really appeal to me.
The game is so boring that I've started to leave my DS at home rather than face yet another boring dungeon on the train. Oh, Kojima, I really tried to like your little RPG, but I think this shit's getting traded in.Myst Online: Uru Live
After reading Andrew Plotkin's thoughtful and enthusiastic review
, and after realizing I was never actually going to get around to cancelling my GameTap membership, I decided to give Uru a try. I'm glad I did, and I'm glad I did it the weekend before my spring break—otherwise, I'd have missed a lot of class over this game.
(Andrew Plotkin, incidentally, is one of the people I want to be when I grow up. That central moment of revelation in Spider and Web
gave me the brilliance chills
. I don't think solving a puzzle has ever made me feel that smart.)
Even though it's called Myst Online
, the bulk of the available content is the single player campaign (or "the journey" as it's called in-game), which has been available in one form or another since 2003 (as Uru: Ages Beyond Myst
). The multiplayer content is largely MIA, but man. So much potential there. Think: an immense online world with a nuanced backstory, an imaginary culture and language, and constantly expanding potential for exploration! It's like my 14-year-old fantasy come true. And there are ARG elements
too! I totally want to be the guy that digs up Robyn Miller's Receda Cube.
So my frame of mind while playing the single player game was this: "I need to finish this so I'm up to speed with the other people playing the game." In this context, it's a compelling game. I feel prepared for the mysteries that await me. I'm not sure, though, how I would have felt about it if I'd played it back when folks thought that Uru Live was cancelled forever.
Here's why. The visual design and the art is impeccable: immersive and beautiful beyond belief. The level design is just laconic enough; it's almost always clear what is intended to be just atmosphere and what is part of a puzzle. The puzzles themselves, though, are hit and miss. Most are fair (the steam vents in Eder Gira, for example). Many are unintuitive (prison cells in Teledahn), and a few have almost arbitrary solutions (everything in Kadish Tolesa). I had one eye on the hints
for practically the whole game.
There are also some fundamental interface problems. The camera, for example. When you're playing in the third person view mode, the camera is completely useless. There's no range of motion. I switched to the third person view only in order to get a second opinion about how far away something was, but otherwise spent the entire game in the first person view. Many have complained about the fact that you have to jump and move stuff around in the game; personally, I like my adventure games with a bit of physical embodiment. Still, it would have been nice to be able to pick up things instead of having to kick them around.
Overall, though, Uru Live is good stuff, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes. Is anyone else hangin' down in the Cavern? Want to take a crack at Eders Delin and Tsogal?