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Played in 2023
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I feel like this game should tick all the boxes for me - fast paced precision platformer where you can get creative with combat and frame perfect execution sounds like heaven to me.
Unfortunately, more often than not the satisfaction I expected was frustration instead. I really like the speed and the physics here (except for the grappling hook which is way too slow when compared to the other things), but the level design didn't really take advantage of it and I never really understood if I was going through it correctly. Although there are tons of secrets, I rarely bothered to go after them, never felt compelled to explore.
Double jump is essential and is just taking up a slot, although I understand the appeal of trying to beat the game without it. Damage on contact makes sense in this type of game, but I still don't like it here, especially in such a fast paced game. It makes enemies way more boring - without it, they could have a more varied move set.
Still, when everything clicks and you are chaining kills on top combos and throwing bad guys at each other the game is one of the best in its genre, I just wish that that happened more often. Maybe I just need to git good™, but the game never really bothered to teach me how and it's not that fun to figure it out on your own.
I really wanted to love this, and I truly did the first 4h or so. Part of that was that the mechanics clicked together perfectly and the introduction to the world was truly interesting, even though the prose is nothing to write home about. After those 4h I was already thinking about how I would shape my next playthrough. Well, I didn't need to do that, since the game becomes so easy after you upgrade 4 or 5 times that you can pretty much achieve anything you want during your first playthrough.
It's a shame those mechanics fell apart about midway through my run. The further you advance in the story, the storylines, the daily actions you take and how they relate to the themes of the game grow further apart, making the actions feel empty and what started as a tense resource management game became a boring (but kinda cozy) slog.
Anyway, the exploration of it's main themes is pretty on the nose, which is fine (it is also very on the nose in Disco Elysium, since everyone is comparing these too), but here it's so much more shallow. If it wasn't, I don't think I would have minded the cozyness, it would be a great reward, even.
The game needed more work on ironing out these things, because the foundation is pretty good. Hope the sequel learns from these mistakes, although I don't think it will since the game was pretty universally aclaimed.
Too much to say about this one, really, which usually means that it will end up becoming one of my favorite things ever a couple of years from now.
All the style it has - and if there is something that nobody can deny is that this game has style - serves its themes perfectly.
Like a slow cinema police procedural, the amount of thematical twists this manages to pull off is astonishing, particularly when you consider the "gameplay" and how it lulls you a certain flow, giving you agency as quickly as it takes it away from you. You can row, but there's only a single path that river can take.
Masahi Ooka is a genius from writing something so well structured as Placebo.
Now to dust off the trusty DSi with my R4 card to finally understand what the fuck was going on 13 years ago when I triedplaying Flower, Sun and Rain and turned if off after 1 hour.