… At the beginning of this year I made a decision to write only positive things in my reflections, this was more of a reaction to the general climate in games writing than anything else. Not that serious games writing has any flaws regarding this, but there are plenty of hobbyists and entertainers who create their fame by being angry or overly negative in general. Not that I don’t find it entertaining – I do like Zero Punctuation etc but all of it creates a very negative tone where the audience is expected to be downright hostile or at the very best indifferent to the games. What I wanted to do was focus on the positive sides and bring up those without it sounding like marketing, as an experiment – to some extent this worked, but mostly it just removed the point of what I’m doing here in the first place. That is, reflecting on my personal experience in playing a game. With Destiny, I’m going to abandon this process – not because I think it is without redeeming qualities, quite the contrary. It is easily my favorite game so far this year and I have played it more than any other game since I don’t know when.

In many areas, Destiny has a really solid structure but lacking presentation. The basic gameplay is fantastic, as good as any Halo if not better, but the best parts of it are victims of optimization sickness as grinding the easier, less interesting parts make you progress faster. The lore is great with tons of interesting places, characters and mysteries ripe with narrative hooks, but the story as presented in the game is a butchered by painfully bad writing and wooden performances. Destiny says and does too much when it should just be leaving the player alone, and is strangely silent and withholding of information when you are in need of it.

Destiny, like any game with persistence, has a lot of grind. But it is the good kind of grind, because the fundamental running-shooting-jumping gameplay is so incredibly pleasant. Single-player is enjoyable, but the multiplayer strikes are what really opens the game up – bad experiences aside, I constantly end up in teams that intuitively form strategies on the fly and come up with new and daring ways to overcome opposition. The higher-level content is even better, the Vault of Glass being one of the stronger gameplay experiences I’ve had in many years. I never got into the MMORPG wave, but Destiny has made me understand the appeal of raiding as a group.

It takes a while to get to the really good part of Destiny, and Bungie could certainly make the journey a lot better, but it is incredibly rewarding when you get there.

Also, Hack ‘n’ Slash, another game published by Double Fine. It is the kind of puzzle game that gives the player an enormous amount of alternatives and invites them to be creative in solving the puzzles rather than force them to figure out a logic chain. Doesn’t always work – especially when intuitive solutions are prohibited to maintain a high difficulty level – but it is a bold experimental venture and I’d much rather play something fresh that sometimes doesn’t work than something functional but ultimately boring.

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Posted on Oct 14/14 by Saint and filed under Reflections | No Comments »