• Slightly drunken review of The Longest Journey

    12 avr. 2006, 5h51m

    Today was one of those days where I was just able to sit down with some coffee and relax. My big school projects are in, and I'm in limbo until my take-home final essays are due (incidentally, tonight was my very last class as an undergrad at Concordia's a CELEBRATION, BITCHES!).

    That being the case, I took the time to finally finish off The Longest Journey (PC). Here's my $0.01744592 USD.

    I'll be honest. I grew up on adventure games. My fondest memories involve playing King's Quest III when I was 7 and learning the difference in spelling between "kitchen" and "chicken" ("feed chickens" and "sweep kitchen", specifically). When I heard the hype surrounding TLJ I was amped. Finally, this long-neglected genre was getting the attention it deserved.

    And indeed, TLJ did not disappoint. I can't in all fairness go on about the graphics or other technical achievements, having only played the game 6 years after its original release. What I will say is that I was incredibly happy to see that at least *some*one out there is keeping this struggling genre up to date.

    That said, I felt i was able, not being distracted by the fancy but somewhat dated light show, to appreciate the story a lot more. And, of course, that's where this game delivers.

    Ragnar Tornquist did a number on this game. It positively reeks of a lived universe. Every single fucking screen drips with purpose. Every single one is part of a functional world(s); every locale is wonderfully imbued with history, character, and life -- from the market stalls of Mercuria (in a town square outside the Temple -- typical medieval urban planning, btw) to the abandoned junkyards on the docks outside Burns Flipper's hacker studio. The artists made wonderful use of long shots, balancing sparse landscapes and crowded metropoles, to give you a sense of scope in this universe (be it Stark or Arcadia), of the teeming life of every single scene, and of the feeling of being overwhelmed by society in either world, which surely formed a part of April's character. Then of course these are contrasted with scenes of remarkable intimacy: the Bandu Spirit Hut, the closeness of April and Charlie in the cafe, even just the hallway outside April's room at the Border House. So I'm ranting about whether the camera was close to, or far away from the protagonist. Whatever. It's a small artistic touch...and it's nice to see that it's being used to such wonderful effect in a video game.

    The characters too are infused with the same sense of...well...character. Their dialogue is crafted in such a way that, game cliches aside, you can understand an individual's personality just by talking to them. Abnaxus may be able to see through/at/in any point in time (past, present, or future), but he still retains some amount of familiarity; his language is alien and native at the same time, as can be said of any one of the characters. I can identify with them, no matter how outlandish they may seem.

    Alright, so, joygasm aside. It's not all perfect. I did have a few minor complaints. For instance, I'll be honest and say that I grew a little tired of a favorite pattern in the game: meet magical people; be mistrusted by them; do something to prove your worth; ask for sacred stone; do second thing to prove your extra worth; become named the "Promised One" from prophecy and get the stone. Sure it could happen once...who am I to question the norms of a culture in a parallel, magical universe?? To happen three, four times? It starts to reek of a contrived plot.

    Secondly, I could do without April's Valley Girl-ish attitude. Reading April's diary (I'll admit, this damn thing came in handy when i had no idea what to do next) often started to sound like a MySpace site: "Oh em gee, they just totally shot <X> in the stomach. And like, wow, I'm bummed. And I'm like, the Chosen One or something, totally." Granted, you have to make this girl believable...she's not just going to accept the insane train of events life has been throwing at her with a straight face. But please, make sure to balance this against the character becoming a complete fucking ditz.

    Anyway, I've ranted for long enough, and I'm fucking cold. TLJ has been a trip. Once you get pulled into the worlds of Stark and Arcadia, you won't be able to pull away. This is a lively and original story with problems (they're more than simple puzzles) that just demand to be solved. This is one of those games that you'll be thinking about before, during, and after the actual playing.

    The adventure genre is not dead or dying. TLJ is proof of that. There are those who will always love the art of storytelling, whether as Teller or Listener, and TLJ serves as an inspiration to both.

  • Hello and good evening

    1 avr. 2006, 17h08m

    Hello Internet. I guess this is my first blog post of any sorts ever. Somehow it feels less cathartic than I was led to believe.

    So, to start things off right, I figure I might as well post this quote from my HUD in Deus Ex 2: The Invisible War (XBOX), which I finally beat all of 20 minutes ago. It sums up everything I am as a person, and who I hope to be in the future.

    Goal Received: Defeat Everyone.

    Nice to meet you, The Webs. Let's be friends.