Thoughts (Gaming)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Saturday, November 23, 2019, 18:44 (306 days ago) @ Cody Miller
edited by Cody Miller, Saturday, November 23, 2019, 18:49

It's ironic that a game coming from Jaime Griesemer - who is known for impeccable design, contains design decisions that are ultimately damning to the game.

I got over the motion sickness. I was able to play and control without getting sick, which is a feat very few games that let you move in 3D space manage. I know some people are criticizing the control scheme, but for me it was literally the only thing that has worked for me so far. So from the perspective of making a VR title that actually works and lets you freely move around, Highwire has accomplished something special. Keep in mind though, that VR makes me sick vey easily, so it's possible other control schemes are okay for other folks but not for me. Is this the case? Anyone here who DOESN'T get sick chime in.

There are no waypoints or indicators. You have to explore, and orient yourself with landmarks. It's a welcome change of pace for a game to just trust you to navigate.

The combat is extremely limited and binary. It's like a series of quicktime events where you do what you are told. Block, block, block, attack. Instead of pushing a button you move your hand. You can only attack when you complete the series of blocks, and only in the area that is highlighted for you. You can't sneak in a hit, evade a whiff and punish the enemy, or otherwise direct the flow of the fight at all. It's all reactionary.

So what ultimately did the game in? There is one checkpoint, and you lose everything when you die.

You get masks that act as keycards allowing you to open doors and continue to new areas. You get a mask by defeating a golem wearing it. You defeat the golem, and pick up the mask. But you can't put it on. You have to go back to the workshop, which is outside the city, freshly equip all new items, then you spawn at the single checkpoint. Now go find the door and open it.

But oops! You died on the way. Guess what? Everything you were wearing is now gone. So now you have to respawn, find and kill the golem with the mask you need, pick it up. Go back to the workshop, equip it, spawn back in the checkpoint, and make your way to the door again. It's maddening. If you die again? Do it all over.

This is a problem because all the deaths feel unfair. You never feel like you just straight up messed up. It's always some bullshit with the game tracking your sword right or not registering a block. I don't know if it was that or if it WAS me, but it never FELT like me. So going over areas over and over never feels good, and instead seems like unfair punishment. By the end, I was just running past golems and not fighting them for this very reason.

The game manages to impress a sense of size upon you that would not be possible outside of VR. Big things are big, and you feel like a child, looking up at adults who are bigger than you when you aren't controlling your golem. The animation is good and smooth.

But this kind of backfires because movement doesn't feel real. You float along. As a big hulking golem you have no weight. Go up stairs and you glide effortlessly along an incline. Brush the enemy with your sword and they stagger back as if hit with a mighty swing.

So the world looks real, but doesn't feel real.

Lastly, the combat is outrageously underdeveloped. There are only two enemies in the game. Once you've fought them both, you've done everything you will do. Future enemies just get faster. You never have to learn anything else or apply your skills in unexpected ways. Just do it faster.

It's such a bummer, because I feel like if the inventory or checkpoint issues were fixed the game would be pretty neat for everyone.

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