Black Friday Aftermath – 2017

Well Black Friday (the month since it’s no longer a 1 day event) is over and it’s time to recount the hopefully many great purchases we all made and appraise how well I/we actually did in terms of my goals going into the joyous event.

I have to say that this was a pretty disappointing Black Friday. The deals were limited and not nearly as drastic as I’ve seen in past years. Certain games barely budged and other ones were/are being way overly valued relative to standard gaming pricing degradation. For example: I bought Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in a Black Friday sale last year (2016) for $20. Having recently just beaten the game, I have to say that it was an excellent game and I have no regrets about the $20 I spent. But let us remember that Uncharted 4 came out in May 2016. So I paid $20 for a six month old highly acclaimed AAA game. That’s fine and fair. No one can objectively complain about that scenario. But why was Uncharted 4 being sold for $20 in Black Friday sales this year? We’re now talking about an 18 month old game that has since then had a “sequel” or spin-off if you prefer. The spinoff, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, was released August 2017 for $40. I was able to buy that, as a standalone physical, during Black Friday this year for $15. That means a newer game from the same series degraded in price by 63% in just three months, while a game that’s been around for literally six times as long has only managed to degrade by only 66%. That’s mathematically ridiculous. Regardless of the quality of Uncharted 4, and again it’s is of the highest level of quality as far as modern games are concerned, it still should have been in the $10 pile for Black Friday 2017. This was the kind of lackluster deals and overvalued games I saw this year. And as such I only made a fraction of the purchases I had wanted to.

Black Friday 2017 with Prices

Here’s what I managed to get and how much I had originally planned to spend based on my shopping list going into Black Friday this year.

  1. Nioh Complete Edition (PS4) – $40 (Originally planned for $50)
    1. I will also note that I actually could have gotten this for a few dollars less on PC but due to the reported issue with the port I settled on the PS4 version.
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn Complete Edition(PS4) – $40 (Originally hoped for $35 but planned for $40)
    1. Made as separate purchases for all content through PSN
  3. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) – $15 (Originally planned for $15)
  4. Knack II (PS4) – $15 (Originally planned for $20)
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Explorer’s Edition (Switch) – $60 (Originally planned for $50)
    1. I am extremely unhappy that I had to pay above my intended value for this but I was worried about not being able to get a copy of this edition later because of Nintendo’s tendency to under produce in demand products.

I also managed to get a few games that weren’t on my list.

  1. Unravel (PS4) – $5
  2. The Surge (PS4) – $20.46 (46 cents higher than my intended price for this game when I decided I’d eventually buy it.)
  3. Yooka-Laylee – $14.21

As you can see, I only managed to grab eight games this year, down from the nine I got last year, and my net savings based on my personal spending goals was only $5, which when you take into account the overpriced sales tax I incur as a resident of California, my savings were basically negligible.

Bad Deal

I was also surprised by a lot of the deals I didn’t see this year. If you look at the items on my original list that I didn’t buy it comes down to a lack of deals. As I said in my original Black Friday 2017 post, there were some games that just weren’t going to hit my desired prices because they were just too new. I didn’t legitimately expect to be getting Injustice 2, Assassin’s Creed Origins, South Park: The Fractured But WholeMiddle-earth: Shadow of War for a good price this Black Friday and I didn’t. But I very much did expect to see the other games on my list at, near, or even below my intended prices this year. I was also very surprised by how disappointing both the Steam and GOG sales were this year. I literally didn’t buy a single PC game for Black Friday this year and that’s very abnormal for me.

I do not understand how Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is still $60 both digital and physical. The game was released in 2014. My only conclusion is that it was published by Activision and as we’ve recently seen with Destiny 2 and their plummeting stock prices, they don’t know shit about running a business in the current gaming industry. I will say pretty much the same thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, also published by Activision, but released in 2016. This year I finally decided to give up and remove both from my shopping lists altogether. They just aren’t going to happen.

Activision Sucks

Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 got a little bit of a discount but I expected better in the wake of Dragon Ball FighterZ coming out soon. Once that game drops DBX2 will essentially be dead in the water so I expected them to try to garner as much sales as possible before the inevitable demise.

Cuphead, Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice all got discounts, but none of them as much as I predicted based on where those games currently stand in the market. So while I didn’t purchase any of them I do believe that I’ll be seeing the discounts I expect(ed) soon enough and will then end up picking them up.

Black Friday 2017 Sucked

Overall it wasn’t a great Black Friday and compared to last year and the year before, shows a trend of the quality of deals steadily declining from year to year. I hope to see this trend reverse in 2018, otherwise the frugal gaming community stands to suffer greatly in the coming years.

How did you do for Black Friday this year? Let me know what you got in the comments and how you felt about the holiday overall compared to last year.

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Star Wars Battlefront II: The People’s Rebellion on Gaming Rebellion

Since I reviewed the Star Wars Battlefront II beta, much shit has gone down with that game. So I wrote an extensive piece on the events and causes leading up to the troubled release which has supposedly led to EA’s stock value plummeting 3 billion dollars. It’s a long, but quite interesting read, if I do say so myself. Here’s the introduction:

stock down

 

I have been tasked with trying to summarize and discuss the controversy surrounding EA DICE’s most recent game, Star Wars Battlefront II. This is no small feat considering the layers upon layers of incidents that have taken place surrounding this game and EA in general around the same time. I enter this endeavor knowing full well that it is impossible to accurately summarize and address the many parts of the shit sandwich that this game has become. But I will do my best. I think the best way to go about this is to try to piece together some semblance of a timeline and discuss specific points of that timeline and why they were/are significant. Then to conclude with some general thoughts and possible predictions as a result of this mess. Here goes nothing.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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Happy Bloggiversary 2017

Today commemorates the fourth anniversary of this blog, which originally started on IGN way back in 2013. So it not only seemed appropriate but necessary to do a post about it. That’s four straight years of never missing a week of posting. No vacation breaks. No missed weeks. No illness breaks. Every week has gotten a post for the last four years.

It has been a good year since I moved from IGN to my own private WordPress. I’m very happy that I made this decision and would never consider returning to that crappy site for hosting. That’s not to imply that IGN is a crappy site in general, but just to comment on the fact that the blogging portion of the site is terrible from a completely technological standpoint. They may have improved since I left, due to technical issues, but I have no interest in going back to find out.

IGN Blog

I don’t want to drag this out with an overly long post about future plans and such like I usually do. This year I just want to say thank you for your continued support over the last four years. I’ve really expanded all the things I’ve been doing since I first started blogging about games back in 2013. I’ve written for multiple sites, published more than a hundred game reviews in various places, grown considerably on Twitter, accomplished a lot on my YouTube channel, and various other things including getting a fulltime job because of my blog, attending multiple live gaming events, and meeting many amazing people. And I finally built a gaming PC, just this year.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this project in some way, even if it’s just as a reader/viewer of my content.

thank you

I plan on continuing this blog and connected channels/accounts and improving my videos and streaming even more than I already have. If you follow me on YouTube then you know that the quality of my content has increased considerably since I built my PC. At the same time, I do have some serious writing projects currently in the works so as I had said in a previous post a few months back, the frequency of posting may drop off a bit. I said this would happen in the aforementioned post but I managed to keep up with weekly posts since then because I wanted to maintain my perfect record for four straight years so I pushed to this bloggiversary. But now I will honestly have to really put a lot more focus on my other writing projects.

I hope that you continue to follow and support my gaming related endeavors in the coming year. I hope to get more comments and engagement and I hope to continue to improve the caliber of content I create.

To end I thought it would nice to quickly show all the games I completed in the last year.

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Games List 2017 Bloggiversary Big

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Visceral Lames (Damn It EA)

I didn’t want to write this post. Honestly I was just going to let this event pass by without mentioning it on my blog. But as I’ve read more articles, talked to more people on Reddit, Twitter, and other forums, and thought about it more I decided I couldn’t just let this go without saying something.

I’m sure most of you are already aware, but in case you didn’t know Visceral Games was closed down by Electronic Arts last week. Visceral Games was the development studio responsible for a very eclectic collection of games including Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2000, Dante’s Inferno, Battlefield Hardline, and the Dead Space franchise. By no means was Visceral Games my favorite developer. I was not interested in most of their games. I did however love Dante’s Inferno and wish they had made a sequel. Even though I wasn’t a fan, they were a studio that I really respected. They were committed to making plot based liner storylines with a focus on interesting core gameplay that ties directly to the game’s narrative. This is the approach that I would like to see all developers take. Obviously not the ones who don’t make real games. I don’t expect EA Sports to deliver the next GOTY experience or anything. But for studios that are making games with plots and campaigns, whether single player, co-op, or shared world, I want to see narrative be the focus of development. I still remember reading an article discussing Visceral Games’ design principles for the first Dead Space. I was so impressed by their mission statement in approaching that game. I knew from the start that I wasn’t going to play it before seeing a single trailer, because it’s not my genre, but I absolutely respected and applauded the studio for the way they viewed and handled that project. EA disagrees with my sentiments about game development.

Dante's Inferno

Visceral Games was in the midst of making a plot focused, linear Star Wars action, adventure game. In other words, they were making exactly the type of game that true Star Wars game fans want to see made. Not some shitty never ending MMO. Not a time sink, loot box, pew pew extravaganza. They were making a proper narrative based Star Wars game tied directly to the lore of the current Star Wars film universe. EA decided that such a game was no longer worth making. In fact they basically implied that single player, plot based games in general are no longer worth making.

“Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe,” EA’s Patrick Söderlund said in a blog post. “In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.”

-Pulled from an article on Kotaku

EA Kills SP

So in honest terms what Patrick Söderlund is saying is basically Visceral Games was making a video game that people wanted to play and then EA decided that because it wasn’t a Games as Service model that they could lace with loot boxes, open world multiplayer, and additional DLC with no real bearing on the plot, they decided to cancel it. This is a big problem. This is basically a declaration that from now on any game that doesn’t play like Star Wars Battlefront II, with its egregious loot box system and paltry 5 – 7 hour campaign, will no longer be made/published by EA. Furthermore, any studios that are trying to make standalone linear plot based games under EA will be shut down.

I don’t need to go into the ethics of this issue. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before about how single player campaigns literally built EA and the rest of the industry and that publishers choosing to blatantly discount the opinions of the consumers that funded the industry in order to trick kids into spending thousands of dollars on loot boxes is wrong. I don’t need to tell you not everyone wants to play crappy console MMOs with no real end game. Or that not everyone in the United States, much less the world, has a good enough internet connection to enjoy shared world games. You’ve heard all that before. I don’t even want to take the time to give one of my grandiose speeches about voting with your wallet and all that because clearly, just like with the United States Presidential Election, your vote doesn’t matter. If one person is going to spend $15,000 on Mass Effect 3 cards, why would EA ever consider the opinions of anyone other than MP addicted whales? $15,000 is 250 $60 vanilla game sales, not including tax. That $15,000 in loot boxes is tax free from the consumer side, meaning EA swallowed the whole amount. If any publisher only has to market to one 250th of the gaming population to turn a higher profit then of course they are not going to make the games the masses want to play anymore. Your lousy $60 and angry tweet is worth shit compared to that one guy who keeps shoveling in money like a gambling addict. I won’t be surprised if one day in the near future we see someone like Steve Wynn enter the gaming industry. It’s gotta be easier and more profitable than running a casino at this point. So there’s just no reason for me to give a rally cry for boycotting.

EA Slot Machine

 

What I think is more important to talk about is what this means for us as single player campaign gamers. I don’t mean that in the philosophical sense about how we’re essentially being pushed out of the industry that we bought and paid for with our hard earned money and that of our parents. I mean in a more literal sense let’s talk about what it means that EA isn’t making single player campaigns anymore today. Electronic Arts is a huge empire of a publisher. They currently own 33 operating development studios around the world. They’ve shut down 28 studios. They’ve almost got a negative studio success rate and it hasn’t affected their bottom line at all. But that’s not even the important part of the discussion. The problem here is all the single player IPs that EA owns the rights to that are now either dead in the water or destined to be bastardized into some shitty multiplayer, microtransaction experience with at best a shitty campaign of no substance. Let’s look at the list of just single player, plot focused games/franchises that I believe are important. I’m sure I’ll leave things out that you think should be included.

  1. Dragon Age
  2. Mass Effect
  3. Knight of the Old Republic and Star Wars in general
  4. Mirror’s Edge
  5. Medal of Honor
  6. James Bond
  7. Crysis
  8. Dead Space
  9. Dante’s Inferno
  10. Wing Commander
KOTOR 3
I used to have hope but now it’s finally gone.

That’s 10 franchises known for single player, plot based experiences. It does not include the many other games/franchises that have a multiplayer component that many people still purchase for the single player experience such as Battlefield, Need for Speed, and I’m going to include Rock Band, but I’m happy to remove it if that offends people. This doesn’t even include the various games they publish for third party developers such as Titanfall, Alice, Bullet Storm, Brutal Legend, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and several others. Some of the greatest single player franchises ever made now belong to EA. That’s a sickening thought in the wake of this news. Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and KOTOR are three of the best Western RPG franchises money has ever been able to buy. Those are gone now. At worst they don’t exist anymore. At best they’re no longer the great story driven gameplay experiences they once were. Either way it’s a terrible prospect for long standing gamers like me. Add that to the fact that me choosing not to buy their shitty future games in protest won’t do anything and that’s a terrible reality to have to look forward to. If anything the best thing we can do is actually buy their games and not purchase any of the microtransactions to make a statement about the way we want to play and pay for games. But that still means giving EA money they don’t deserve and it still doesn’t deal with the greedy whale problem. At this point it’s not just a losing battle, it’s a lost battle. The cause is already defeated. I for one am very depressed by that and don’t actually know what to do moving forward as a traditional gamer of more than 20 years. All we can really do is hope other developers/publishers keep some form of integrity. Japanese studios seem to be better about this overall but even Nintendo has started pulling some real bullshit.

I thought it was appropriate to end this post with a list of single player, plot based games I plan on buying in the next six months.

the witcher 3
You can’t beat the best and we all know single player is the absolute best in gaming.
  1. The Witcher 3
  2. Nioh
  3. Horizon Zero Dawn
  4. The Surge
  5. Cuphead
  6. Assassin’s Creed Origins
  7. South Park: The Fractured But Whole
  8. God of War
  9. Knack II
  10. Yooka Laylee
  11. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  12. Mario Odyssey
  13. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  14. Shadow of War?

Are you as unhappy about this as I am? What single player games are you most worried about?

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Star Wars Battlefront II Beta Review on Gaming Rebellion

Last week EA DICE closed the Star Wars Battlefront II beta. I gave it a try and thought it was appropriate and useful to write a review of my experience. I published this piece on Gaming Rebellion, but here’s an excerpt for a preview:

Paper Mario Color Splash Screenshot 2017-10-11 23-07-24

From the announcement, EA DICE has gone out of its way to promise us that Battlefront II is an objectively better game than I. For starters, it has a single player campaign, and this campaign takes place in an era of Star Wars that current fans of the film franchise actually care about right now. Also, you get to play as the Empire. Something very different from traditional Star Wars games. The multiplayer portion crosses various eras of Star Wars lore, making it fun and relevant to fans of any age group. These are strong selling points, yet not strong enough to convince me to throw away more money on this franchise.

You can read the rest right here. Please check out my Author’s Archive for other articles by me on Gaming Rebellion.

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Rick, Morty, & Cronenberg

This is and will always be a gaming blog, but a few months back I declared that this would no longer be an exclusively gaming blog. I even took the time to change the title of the blog from ‘DJMMT’S Gaming Blog’ to ‘DJMMT’s Gaming (& More) Blog’. But to be honest I really haven’t been true to the “& More” part of the title up until now. So I wanted to take the time to write about something not gaming that is still very much important to many if not most of the members of the gaming community today. I’m talking about Rick & Morty.

I, like any sane human being, love Rick & Morty. It’s an amazing show that’s funny, relatable (in a weird way), somewhat educational in the fact that it gets people thinking about scientific concepts even if not being completely realistic about them, and most importantly, it’s expertly written. It’s one of the only shows I can remember watching and saying it has only gotten better over time. Just about every episode is better than the last one and I don’t think there’s been a single episode that I was genuinely displeased with. Really no other show can make that claim for me. Not even Game of Thrones. I recently re-watched the first three seasons and I was impressed to find that there are really no inconsistencies in the writing. Everything is tied up really nicely and even the continuity of the writing from episode to episode and between dimensions is all pretty much perfect . . . except for one episode, that I noticed.

jessica

In Season 1, Episode 6, named Rick Potion #9, Rick creates a special love potion for Morty that will make Jessica fall in love with him. It works but because she had the flu when the potion was applied, it mutated and spread turning everyone into violent, love crazed maniacs, all trying to pretty much rape Morty to death. This potion is based on vole DNA. To counter this potion, Rick creates another potion based on praying mantis DNA, which then turns everyone into giant praying mantises that still want to rape Morty to death. Then Rick makes a third potion that infuses the DNA of several things (koala, rattlesnake, chimpanzee, cactus, shark, golden retriever) including dinosaurs (which are expressed as a single species rather than naming a specific type of dinosaur) and turns everyone into what are referred to as Cronenbergs.

The name Cronenbergs, in my opinion but not verified by a confirmed source, is in reference to director David Cronenberg, specifically because of his film The Fly (1986) where Jeff Goldblum’s genes are accidentally spliced with a fly, mutating him into a fly man and eventually a giant humanoid fly and then in the end splicing in metal turning him into a monstrosity that Geena Davis ultimately shoots in the head. By the end of the film, Jeff Goldblum is a disgusting amalgamation of parts similar to the mutated people at the end of Rick Potion #9.

cronenbergs

If we assume that I’m right about why the writers chose to refer to these monstrous mutants as Cronenbergs then the assumption is that both Rick and Morty have seen The Fly, which is why they are both comfortable referring to them as Cronenbergs almost instantly. This all makes perfect sense. But at the very end of the episode in the post credits scene something odd happens. In the same way that Rick and Morty escape to a dimension where the world hasn’t been “Cronenberged” (and the Rick and Morty of that dimension have died for unrelated reasons), a Cronenberg version of Rick and Morty portal into the now Cronenberged world of our Rick and Morty. Cronenberg Rick refers to Morty as “Cronenberg Morty”. The two go on to say that they come from a world where everyone started off as Cronenbergs and then Rick accidentally turned them into normal people (but for some unmentioned reason didn’t use the process on themselves). The Cronenberg Rick and Morty decide to stay in the now Cronenberg world and take the place of Rick and Morty C-137 in that dimension.

Cronenberg_Rick

There are two problems I have with this ending. The first is that Cronenberg Rick and Morty use the term “Cronenberg” to refer to mutated people. This makes no sense. The term Cronenberg applies to people who have been mutated to look abnormal like in the film The Fly by David Cronenberg. That’s why the term makes sense. But in a world where everyone was born a mutant, there is no justification for the term. In a world where everyone is a freakish mutant, David Cronenberg would not have made a film about a normal looking man mutating into a monster. If anything the film would be about a freakish monster mutating into a normal looking person, and normal people would be referred to as Cronenbergs. But Cronenberg Rick and Morty ignore this logical conclusion and refer to mutants, including themselves, as Cronenbergs. How and why would this be the case?

the fly
The Fly (1986) by David Cronenberg

Now clearly from the outside, the writers did this for the purposes of reference language already used in the episode in order to keep the viewers comfortable. But as far as writing goes, which again is perfectly sensible and consistent throughout the rest of the show, this is a travesty. It breaks an otherwise perfect show. I even tried to think of a justification for it occurring. The only way I could see Cronenberg Rick and Morty using the term Croneneberg to identify people that look like them is that they may have watched The Fly on interdimensional cable, which doesn’t actually get shown until two episodes after Rick Potion #9 in Rixty Minutes. They still would have had to decide to use the director’s name as an inside joke to refer to themselves, but that almost seems like creating a slur to refer to yourself and others with your mutated condition. They also could have traveled to a dimension with regular looking people, saw the film, and then did the same thing, but it still assumes they would decide to make a slur of sorts to refer to themselves. This seems out of character for Rick and certainly for Morty.

Paper Mario Color Splash Screenshot 2017-10-03 21-30-17

 

My other issue, which falls into the same episode, is that on multiple occasions, both at the end of Rick Potion #9 and in Season 3 Episode 1, The Rickshank Rickdemption, Morty’s original family from dimension C-137 are shown to have survived the Cronenberg outbreak and continued living their lives as post-apocalyptic scavengers. In both of these episodes Beth, Jerry, and Summer have survived but Cronenberg Rick & Morty are nowhere to be seen with them. It seems odd, considering Morty’s temperament, that they never tried to meet up with their alternate dimension family. Now this isn’t an inconsistency like them using the term Cronenberg as much as a peeve because if the creators took the time to show them enter that dimension it seems only logical that they would have referenced them in some way later, especially after taking the time to revisit that version of Earth two seasons later.

Now of course neither of these issues detracts from the show as a whole. It has and I hope will continue to be of the highest caliber of quality comedic writing. But I wanted to point out these two continuity issues, see if anyone else noticed them and has any theories about them, as well as see if anyone else has noticed any other inconsistencies throughout the show. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Game of Groans (The Telltale GoT Experience)

I’m a fairly big fan of TellTale Games. They make excellent games and more importantly they make games that play differently than just about everything else on the mainstream market today. I don’t own all their games, but I own quite a few. Currently I have all the Sam & Max titles, Tales of Monkey Island, Back to the Future: The Game, Jurassic Park: The Game, The Walking Dead Season One, Poker Night 2, The Wolf Among Us, Batman: The TellTale Series, Guardians of the Galaxy: The TellTale Series, and currently I’m playing Game of Thrones. Now I have to admit that I have not yet completed all these games. In fact I’ve only completed a few of them. But I purchased them because I really like the studio and I enjoy their work, for the most part.

The first Telltale Games title I ever played to completion was The Wolf Among Us (TWAU). This is also the game that made this studio memorable to me. Before then it was just a name I may have heard from time to time but never took to heart. TWAU changed all that. That game is spectacular. It’s one of the most memorable point and clicks, if it can be called that, I’ve ever played. In my opinion, it is perfect in every way except for the inconclusive ending, which was intentional according to the studio. I am so glad they are finally making a season two and I will absolutely be buying it.

TWAU

Currently I’m playing Game of Thrones for the first time. I’m only past Episode 3. A few things to note right away are that I don’t love the art style but I’m ok with it. I love the writing, as per usual with modern TellTale Games titles. The story is weaved into the canon of Game of Thrones, the TV show, perfectly. But I am not happy with the way things seem to be playing out overall. There’s always a question of agency in games that let you make decisions. Whether it’s something epic like Mass Effect or Fable or something smaller like titles by TellTale Games, the ability to make choices must be executed properly or the whole experience is destroyed. In fact, I think that’s why so few games let you make decisions. It’s hard to manage the experience when the player gets to take the reins.

With all the TellTale titles I’ve played in the past that offered plot contingent choices, it always felt real. The decisions and their repercussions were executed correctly. Here correctly shall be defined as giving you an outcome that makes sense to the player based on the decisions they made that doesn’t appear to be the only possible outcome. That last bit is extremely important. Many games that have decisions are actually on rails. This is common knowledge. You make decisions and things branch out but ultimately they weave right back into the same path as everyone else’s choices. But the true art of making a game with decisions is making it seem like your choices actually mattered and led to the outcome you got. Mass Effect does this very well. TWAU does an equally good job considering the scale of the game. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much and why I took the time to platinum it, which required multiple (at least two) playthroughs. Game of Thrones however does not have this same effect when it comes to making decisions.

Let's Play Rise of the Tomb Raider Screenshot 2017-09-08 22-36-17

I like playing Game of Thrones but I rarely feel like my choices matter that much in the grand scheme of things. I noticed this at the end of Episode 1. If you haven’t played the game please be aware of spoilers ahead. The game centers on House Forrester. This is a house loyal to the Starks that have been plunged into turmoil after the Red Wedding, which is where the game starts. You play as multiple characters who are all members of House Forrester. One of them is the young Lord Ethon. He becomes Lord of the House after his father and oldest brother die at the Red Wedding. When playing as him you are tasked with making serious decisions about the future of the House and its struggles with House Whitehill, a rival house that been in conflict with House Forrester for generations. The Whitehills have the support of the Boltons so they now get to walk all over House Forrester. You make a number of choices and at the end of the episode Ramsay Bolton murders Ethon with no warning. It’s a shocking moment and was perfectly placed for that classic Game of Thrones shock value. But what I didn’t like was that I felt like I didn’t deserve that outcome. I made very conservative and politically minded decisions. Not the decisions I wanted to make but the ones I believed were the best way to prevent violence from breaking out and House Forrester being driven into a war they couldn’t win at that moment. Even with all my eggshell walking, Ethon still got stabbed in the neck.

Let's Play Rise of the Tomb Raider Screenshot 2017-09-09 17-31-24

I usually don’t look these sorts of things up because I do replay TellTale Games titles when I feel like I could get vastly different outcomes. But in this case, the death felt so undeserved that I had to look it up. To my surprise and disappointment, it turns out you can’t save Ethon. No matter what you do he will be murdered by Ramsay Bolton at that meeting. For a TellTale title that’s a load of crap, and it feels like it. When you play TWAU everything feels authentic. You always feel like bad outcomes are your fault. Even when I played it a second time, making all different decisions, things felt authentic and different. That’s the way it should feel. With each episode of Game of Thrones I have continued to feel like I was trapped within a locked narrative and that my decisions were of little consequence. That’s not how these games are supposed to feel.

Sadly this seems to have become par for the course for TellTale Games in recent years. Upon doing more research, I found out that you get a platinum trophy on PS3/4 just for completing all the episodes in Game of Thrones. The same is apparently true for Batman: The TellTale Series, The Walking Dead: A New Frontier, Tales From the Borderlands, and Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series. In all these games you get a platinum just for reaching the end of the game no matter what you do. This is not the case for TWAU and it leads me to believe that not much difference occurs from playthrough to playthrough. Why else would it be so easy to get a platinum? The only logical explanation is that you won’t gain much or possibly any additional plotlines if you replay these games. That’s a shame and goes directly against why I originally became a TellTale Games fan.

platinum

Now I can understand why things like this might occur. All these titles are based on currently existing film and/or game properties. This means that the story has to follow certain paths in order to stay within the canon of the work. For instance, they could never have a scenario in Game of Thrones where Ramsay Bolton dies at the hands of House Forrester because he dies at the hands of Sansa Stark after the Battle of the Bastards. This is show canon. Now that might excuse the more set in stone plot(s), but it doesn’t excuse the execution of them. Even if my choices don’t really matter, they still need to make me feel like they do. Otherwise this is just an ugly, fairly uneventful as far as gameplay is concerned, rails story game. While that might be fine in a game with great gameplay, it’s not ok in what is for the most part a glorified point and click.

I am very much saddened by what seems to be the current and future state of TellTale Games titles. This is especially disappointing if it ends up ruining The Wolf Among Us Season Two. If this change in style is the result of all these big franchise adaptations then that’s terrible news because that’s basically all the studio is doing these days. I’d like to see a return to true form and I hope that one day in the near future they make authentic stories that don’t feel hollow once again.

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