Tuesday, 5 April 2011

"Hey guy! you gotta try amnesia!"

Okay, Okay, so i keep getting emails to try games, in particular spammed to no end to try Amnesia: the dark descent. Honestly i've put it off because the trailers just made it look like someone took penumbra and reskinned it with the tile set from oblivion and thats sort of a one trick pony for me.
I realize the irony of saying that after playing a dozen or so resident evil games but what can i say, im a fickle hypocrite like that about my entertainment.

Anyway. I've tried that demo and honestly? its okay. However i feel i have to post because i feel like the developers have shot themselves in the foot with the mechanics. To put one point up to cite as reasoning i would blame the sanity effects from removing me from any immersion the game builds up.

My experience whent something like this:

-walk into dark room.
-see monster.
-get creeped out.
-start to hide.
-suddenly get shakeycam/jellyvision 'insane' effect.
-remember its just a game and death is nothing but a respawn with no time or data lost.
-previous event loses all impact and ambient fear imbibing in the player.

Now this could very well just be me but when my guy could see clearly and i was walking around with nothing creepy actually happening i was more open to scares than when the walls are bloody and the screens spazzing out. It felt almost farcical in nature to me. It utterly ruined every moment in this horror game that should have scared me. Which at best renders it a grimdark adventure game with irritating sanity effects which are not needed in any fashion but an artificial way to attempt to instil fear and a sense of urgency in the player. Which, once you realise this in the first 15 minutes, you are constantly aware of the artificial nature. that it is all fake and nothing can hurt you.

In filmmaking terms this is what we call a huge no-no. Rule number 1 is to create a world that draws your audience in. If you are constantly reminding them- intentionally or not- that this is all make believe they distance themselves from the piece and are far more likely to notice the unpolished bits and pieces as they play and all the more decrease how much they enjoy your product.

Basically through their own attempts to make the game scarier they made the game no longer scary for me and in doing so defeated the point of their own creation.

Sometimes games developers need to remember they are not a board game dungeon master attempting to paint a scene and impress emotions on their player about events they cannot actually see and explore. They are closer today to theatre directors, assembling the parts on the digital stage for the player to take the primary role in a story of their own production. You dont need to set up a system to make them feel. just allow them to feel it on there own as they explore the world.
Amnesia had a scary world, but in an effort to make an already scary world scary they make it no longer scary and in doing so the game i experienced was a failed product.

Not to say i dont recommend it but gameplay and story must go hand in hand but we are for more forgiving of story errors than gameplay ones. Heavy rain has plenty of plot holes, but the gameplay experience keeps you engrossed. This is a case of the opposite where they story keeps trying to engross you, but the gamelpay mechanics rip you right back out of it and its a shame that this happens but its just like the spamming of jump scares as you quickly alter your directional view in F.E.A.R. Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice?...

No comments: