Breaking Down The Backlog VI: genocide, racism & a mother’s sacrifice
In this month’s Breaking Down The Backlog: I committed war-crimes, saved the world on no less than two occasions & learned to be brave
Dust: An Elysian Tale was a game which I came to with few expectations. I remember it being critically acclaimed when it first came out and accused of being a “furry game” by internet douchebags but other than that…I didn’t really know anything about it. It was a nice surprise that it turned out to be a 2D ‘Character Action Game’ in the same vein of Bayonetta, Devil May Cry or God Of War.
Since it was such a contentious issue when the game first came out, I feel I should start by passing judgement on the graphics. Honestly, I found the game to be really nice looking. The art was bright and colourful, with the MVP being the glorious backgrounds. My personal favourite area was the
snowy mountain when you head north. It made such a nice change from the sumptuous forest and the way ice came to the foreground, distorting your character, was brilliant. The blizzards also looked really good. On top of that, Dust has some great music. It makes a change to play an indie game that didn’t have a retro soundtrack thanks to its superb orchestra that evoked mystery, bombast, a rollicking adventure and emotion expertly. The animation is top-notch, at least for Dust – who is smooth as silk – less so for the NPCs and monsters who animate like marionette puppets. Despite this lauding, Dust does have a couple of problems: generic monster design and yes the furry aspect is slightly off-putting at first but honestly, I just accepted it as the art-style for the game and dealt with it.
I was slightly disappointed for find the game-play a bit simple. I mean, I felt powerful, even though I was playing the game on Hard, and I liked the concentration on combos…I just wish it had more depth. I was hoping for unlockable powerful combos but you pretty much input the same combination of buttons for the entire game. Dust has about the same depth as a Dynasty Warriors game, and that is not a good thing. However, the powerful gear and levelling up do a bit to dissuade that feeling disappointment. By the end of the game I was absolutely WRECKING fools 24/7, which was fun.
The story is a fairly typical affair as since it involves, stop me if you have heard this one before, an amnesiac with hidden power trying to discover
who he is. The inclusion of a flying Nimbat, talking sword, genocide and racism certainly spices things up, however. And the twist, the main character Dust having two souls, is cool as hell. It does seem rather po-faced at times – and the attempts at 4th wall breaking humour comes off as really weird as a result – but by the time the game ends I was fully invested in the fate of Dust. A typical story, well told.
Overall, Dust: An Elysian Tale a good ass game; challenging, engaging and fun. I recommend it!
I’m not the biggest first person shooter fan. Don’t miss-understand me, there are few things in video-games more satisfying than shooting a dude in the face from the first person perspective, its just they can feel very samey at times. It is like the genre hasn’t evolved from the standards set by Call of Duty 4, by no means a terrible game, in the 9 or so years (!) since its release. Saying that, Bulletstorm layers just enough unique things upon this formula – the excessive swearing, cool guns, humour and the skill shots – that I had a fun time, even if the game felt like a bit of a slog by the end.
The highlight of this game is the shooting, which doesn’t come as a surprise since the developers of this game made Painkiller; one of the best arcade shooters ever made. Killing just feels so good thanks to the way each gun sounds and looks. There isn’t a gun in the game that doesn’t feel like a cannon going off in your arms – to the point where the actual
cannon you get later in the game doesn’t even feel like that much of an upgrade. What makes this game though is the skillshots. Instead of just running around blindly shooting at dudes until they fall over, the fact that you get points by killing people in creative ways just makes the act of killing feel so much more rewarding. It also forces you to think tactically each time a fight takes place. You start asking yourself questions like: can I pull this dude into a spiked wall and get +100 points or can I pull him towards me, attach an explosive collar to him and kick him into his allies for more points? It sounds totally psychopathic in writing, but they are the questions one asks when facing down hordes of people in Bulletstorm. And you receive a bonus each time you shoot an enemy in the penis, anus or throat, which is always great fun.
It is telling that I have spent a solid paragraph talking about the shooting and have yet to mention the graphics, story or anything else about the game. The game has some cool set pieces like shooting a 10 story tall
spiked wheel that is chasing you or manning a minigun on a helicopter to kill a giant monster. But I never felt I was in danger nor did I care about what was going on as I just wanted to go back to the normal shooting. The characters are quite interesting and they certainly go through some emotional development which doesn’t happen in many first person shooters, especially ones as insane as this. And the excessive swearing is actually really funny (the main character’s confusion at the phrase “dick-tits” was particularly great).
But as the game came to a close, Bulletstorm surprised me. The swearing and the killing metamorphosed into something quite…disgusting. Basically you have to join up with the main villain and he constantly insults you and tells you about the hundreds of people you have murdered throughout the game. I did not expect such a twist. How the game ends disappointed me, however, as in it blatantly sets up for a sequel. It is so annoying, even more so in this case since a sequel was never made. I wish games would end properly and not leave the proper resolution to the story in another game.
Ultimately, Bulletstorm was a fun ride despite its flaws. Yes, the graphics (which I have deliberately not mentioned) aren’t anything to really write home about and the story is insubstantial but it is the game-play where the game truly shines. If you have eight or so hours and can find it cheap, Bulletstorm is well worth it for that alone.
Note: This is a very truncated opinion on Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch as it is a long, slow-paced game and life keeps getting in the way of me playing it which makes it difficult to finish.
- I love how this game looks. It is very Studio Ghibli-esque (who helped produce the game) whilst also retaining its own identity. The monsters are the highlights, they are all dripping with personality and cute-ness whilst the bosses look appropriately menacing.
- I’ve played the game for about 20 hours, which is about half way or so…and the game has only opened up in the last 3 or 4. Which is RIDICULOUS. And even now it is occasionally tutorialising me on things I have known for ages.
- The story is pretty generic, boy must save world, get his mum back and learn to be brave, but the writing can be really good. The groan-worthy puns and the phonetic writing for various characters are highlights.
- The combat varies from really easy to controller snappingly hard thanks to the thick artificial intelligence of your party members. Unless you control them directly or babysit them, not the most fluid of things to do, they will constantly use spells, never block and throw out their familiars seemingly at random. I didn’t mind the real-time combat to begin with, it is relatively simple to grasp when all you have to care about is yourself. But, especially with the boss battles (of which there are several), the A.I. can and will be your downfall. Fuck the A.I. in this game.
- Best thing in this game, 20 hours in? Mr. Drippy. His Welsh accent is sublime. Pitch perfect, in fact. It is a shame there isn’t more voice acting actually. The game has a habit of going on for long stretches with just text and then when voice acting does appear it is only for two or three sentences. I think some budget must have been cut in the V.O. department!
That is all I have to say at the moment. I will update this post with a proper opinion on the game when I finish it.
Next time on Breaking Down the Backlog: Yakuza, Shadows Of The Damned & Vampire Bloodlines: The Masquerade