Finished Brütal Legend yesterday. I've already talked about it at length here on the blog, so I will wrap it up with two final comments:
1. At no point past the opening tutorial demo did the game ever deliver in a well-rounded and satisfying way. The story was a raggedy mess, the group RTS combat needed work, the solo character combat needed work, and the majority of the experience existed in a perpetual limbo state of "I'm almost really, really. really cool… but I'm not."
2. After completing the game, there were several pictures of the development team on screen as the credits rolled. The people on view all looked like nice, upstanding, hard-working citizens of the game dev community. They looked happy. Friendly. Like good people.
As these snapshots appeared, I felt an intense wave of something approximating some kind of bizarre guilt because actually having faces attached to the game made Brütal Legend's failure somehow more tangible. More terrible. Nothing would've made me happier than to be able to say "thank you, Double Fine, for your hard work and effort in crafting this superb piece of software." But instead, all I can do is shake my head and wonder how such a promising project went so wrong.
I don't wish ill on anyone, but the possibility of seeing those happy, smiling faces in an unemployment line, or hunched over a PC sending out massive numbers of resumes thanks to Double Fine's failure to thrive is incredibly depressing.
A couple of the people I follow on Twitter reminded me that PixelJunk Shooter is now available on PSN, and having my calendar clear, it seemed a perfect opportunity to download it and give it a spin.
Essentially, the game puts the player in control of a small spacecraft that navigates through an underground cave system. There are diamonds to be found and people in need of rescue, but the real hook to the game is the way the developers have included a fluid physics engine. While flying through the caves, most of the challenges encountered revolve around things like channeling hot lava away from an area that you need to visit, or maneuvering water to a certain place in order to be frozen, and so on.
It's a short game and not particularly difficult, quite unlike the last few PixelJunk efforts. After only two brief sessions, I'm almost at the end, although I don't see that as a bad thing. Short, sweet, and to the point—just like I like 'em. Each level is a puzzle unto itself, and the game really does capitalize on its fluid elements. The controls are tight, the art design is solid, and it's one of those instantly-intuitive games where you only need to play it for a minute before your brain completely clicks with what it's trying to do. A lot of dev teams really struggle to capture that element and fail, but Q-Games nails it dead-on.
Out of PixelJunk Monsters, Eden and Shooter (never tried Racer) I can certainly say that Shooter is my favorite. I'm not a very big fan of Tower Defense so Monsters didn't do much for me, and although Eden was inspired at times, there were certain decisions made in the design that soured me from it pretty quickly. Shooter doesn't have any downsides that I can see, so I'm going to call this elegant little beauty a winner. was inspired at times, there were certain decisions made in the design that soured me from it pretty quickly. Recommended!
One last note: Atlus wants fans to know that every copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey will come packed with a soundtrack CD of music composed by Shoji Meguro.
The game is released March 23, 2010, so you've got plenty of time to go and get a pre-order in… just don't forget. You know how those Atlus games vanish.
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