Adam and Dan complete their journey into the Uncharted series. After wrapping up The Nathan Drake collection a month ago, the duo was eager to get into the newest and latest from the team at Naughty Dog. Listen to their … Continue reading
In this week’s Main Event, Adam and Dan glide across the latest Arkham installment. Tune in for our in-depth review of the game, including our favorite moments and where we want to see Rocksteady go next. Plus, Mike joins the … Continue reading
Bert steps in this week to join Dan and Adam in a review of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. This game received a TNP Award for “Best game we haven’t played yet” and has been on our queued games list ever … Continue reading
Review written by: Adam Matthew Ink
Edited by: Dan Duyser
Our ancestors have shared cultural stories through various forms for centuries — oral tradition, artwork, text and other mediums. So, why not video games? The idea seems odd at first, with AAA first person shooters, unruly players online and the constant desire for sex and violence; Video games doesn’t seem like a viable space for this kind of storytelling. Studio, Upper One Games, decided to change that.
Developed in close partnership with the native Alaskan Community, Never Alone has a unique appeal of heartfelt genuineness. Utilizing ancestral spirits and cultural scrimshaw, Upper One presents a stand-out puzzle platformer taking place across the harsh arctic terrain. The story is a ride of despair and whimsy inside the adventure. In a time where online only gameplay fuels the new generation of gaming, it felt great to play couch co-op with my fiancée, traversing the beautifully designed levels with an adorable little eskimo girl, Nuna accompanied by a cute arctic fox.
About halfway through the game the plot took an unexpected turn, which abruptly changed the gameplay — in my opinion for the worse (albeit emotionally powerful from a story perspective). Never the less, the ending was well worth the drive we gave it.
Never Alone is a great emotional indie game with amazing storytelling, beautiful cultural insights directly from the natives, and a couch co-op experience as good as any other. Upper One set out to create a fun and innovative story true to ancestral folktales and the Alaskan culture, they were able to hit their mark and make a fun game to boot. For only $15 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam, we recommend picking this one up!
The Monotony of Destiny: After 100 hours of gameplay.
An article written by: Adam Matthew Ink
Initially I was going to write a story about the “Five Things Wrong With Destiny”, but, only after starting, I realized all of my topics surrounded the lack of variety during my 100 hours of gameplay. Ultimately, I was writing a story about the “Monotony of Destiny” in its current illfitting structure. This article isn’t necessarily my review; I have a lot of positive things to say about Destiny, but frustration is currently overpowering my joy for the game, so I thought to exercise those thoughts first.
Stale Crackers Anyone?
For any great game, the player has to feel engaged not just initially but throughout the game. Destiny has varying experiences but the regimen of killing enemies does not differ greatly between missions, story mode or even between the enemies themselves. When you first dive into the game, discovering new enemies between planetary objects is a blast, but once their differentiating characteristics are exploited, it becomes somewhat yawninducing, as you crank out missions in hopes to level up or discover some exotic loot. Loot drops (i.e. guns or armor) rare or otherwise are infrequent, making you replay a mission ten times in a week just to advance through the game. Bungie has listened to it’s community and fixed the frequency of these drops but playing 100 hours and receiving 1-2 legendary drops is absolutely crazy (yes that is personal experience).
Even with an emotionless story (more about that later), a game can pass on gameplay and adventure alone. Destiny does not lend itself to that principle. Almost every no, every mission in the game is plainly laid out: go here, have your ghost scan something, defend, go there, have your ghost scan something, defend, and go over there…you get the point. The ‘rinse and repeat’ mantra of Destiny is surprising because Bungie was never known for this type of mission design. Going into launch, I don’t think anyone imagined that this capable developer would deliver a collection of experiences as bland as stale matzo. Having little variety in campaign missions is incredibly disappointing by itself, but again, the fact that you need to replay these over and over again to advance in the game only weighs on these stale experiences more! Bosses are unimaginative and Strike missions center around flavorless bullet sponges. Opportunities of freshness are consistently crushed as Destiny disappoints throughout all different gameplay modes.
Destiny, as shipped, has revealed itself to be underwhelming in the truest sense of the word. Kotaku exploited a bug showing more than ten missions that were built into the game but not given to gamers right away (see Episode 52 of The Nerdgasm Podcast to hear our thoughts on DLC). Timed events have started to come into the light with a whisper of ‘newness’ only to have you replay the Cosmodrone Strike mission six times in one week to get some more ‘rep’ points at a new Tower dealer. I don’t think I have ever met a developer that’s more excited to have players become sick and tired of their game quite like Bungie.
Who Needs Emotion When You Have No Characters?
After playing thirty or more hours without breaking the story, I thought to myself that it was about time I figured out what Destiny was really about. I was determined to get down to the bedrock of the plot that Bungie had laid down for this greatly anticipated title. As a fan of Bungie’s first venture, I was anticipating a campaign I could fall in love with, but what I found were unanswered questions, stale missions, and a hint of character wrapped up in zero emotion. The nonsensical story is built on a promise of more to come, whether that is to be paid or not is unclear, but the focus of the game seems vague and unanswered. Banal combat, stale voice over, zero character development, and minimal cut scenes leave the player likely to throw a controller across the room as they finish the story confused and full of animosity saying. “Is that it?!” It is. While you were waiting for the story to “open up” and get interesting, Bungie has been hard at work delivering it to you in timely DLC.
Bungie attempts to haphazardly throw an impression of a lived-in universe with the introduction of Grimoire cards. These nonsensical cards urge players to take a few extra steps to read through the myth and narrative that has been evacuated from the disc. I’m sorry, this is just way too lazy! They are literally taking their notes from world-building and making the audience READ THEM THEMSELVES!!! These would be great if it wasn’t missing from the game to start off with.
Recently, we’ve might have learned, through a series of leaks and rumors, why the story in Destiny is as light as it is. Last year September, lead writer Joseph Staten left Bungie for what could only be assumed as greener pastures. This, along with friction between composer Marty O’Donnell, hints at turmoil during the development of Destiny. A game tester posted on a reddit forum about a version of Destiny he played close to a year ago. He commented on different enemies and story elements that have seemingly been cut from the shipped product. Is this to be released as future DLC? Did Staton’s departure also push Bungie to remove his contributions to the story? Did Bungie do that to eliminate any monetary responsibility to Staton once the game launched? The questions are numerous and answers are limited, but all I can say is I hope we get some more variety and story in the game before I lose interest in the monotonous gameplay and missions enveloped in zero narrative.
Can You Reach That Over There?:
No, Destiny doesn’t need to be more like Halo: Reach but the game does seem to have a problem of reach within their environments. In a game filled with beautiful landscapes and skyboxes full of artfully dramatic lighting and textures, Destiny feels somewhat small. Within the first thirty hours of gameplay, I have experienced a number of different enemies on multiple planets and moons, but where that scope can be admired in the initial missions seems to be wrought with stagnation. Now almost one hundred hours in, I see Bungie hasn’t expanded at all. Each location is roughly the same size, with the same amount of enemies, and the same number of collectables scattered throughout. On top of that, a lack of a map functionality is missing, making it incredibly hard to communicate specific locations to other players.
Coming from a world of Assassin’s Creed and Grand Theft Auto, I expected more of an open world game, or just something more in line with what Bungie was promising us a year ago: abilities to travel from one planet to another in an adventurebased first person shooter. Instead, what they delivered was a patchwork environment with bland fighting mechanics and low variety to back it up.
Patrol missions might have made up for the dullness of story missions, but ultimately they are a lowlyrewarded devolved version of the original boring missions. Redemption could come in the form of later updates with greater rewards or more frequent allplayer events to spawn into the worlds, but I hope this day comes before I drop off.
Interspecies Weaponry & Vehicles:
Remember killing a Jackal in Halo and picking up his Carbine or Needle Rifle? How about just barely killing a Brute and being rewarded with a Gravity Hammer? Halo’s dynamic weaponry fueled my desire to kill the enemies by varying gameplay and mechanics inside the enveloping FPS. During the anticipation of Halo 4, players were looking forward to not only battles with the Promethean’s but the prospect of handling the new enemies weaponry after a kill. The idea of being able to pick up an enemies’ weapon innovated shooter mechanics and brought compelling gameplay to the Halo franchise.
As Destiny stands now, the numbers of guns aren’t more than ten different types: Auto Rifle, Scout Rifle, Pulse Rifle, Hand Cannon, Shotgun, Sniper Rifle, Fusion Rifle, Machine Gun and Rocket Launchers. From there, they only differ in terms of damage outputs, upgrades, and attributes, just like Borderlands. There is the illusion of a large arsenal in the game, but that’s quickly debunked after investing a minimal amount of time in Destiny.
Only after one hundred hours of gameplay do you even hear of mystical exotic weaponry, but again, when you get ahold of one, it is only slightly different in appearance and attributes. I find it odd to alienate casual gamers or beginners to that diversity of shooter mechanics and fighting style, especially since the campaign could greatly benefit from such distinguishing factors. Why lock off parts of the game from large swatches of the consoleplaying audience?
Again, I am lending comparison to Bungie’s first franchise, Halo, because in this topic, which game delivers more? Halo had the greatest amount of useable vehicles, spanning multiple species/origins and usability. Some of my favorites include: the Warthog, an all‐purpose hog cruising the plains of the invaded terrain; or the solo act of the Ghost mowing down enemies while shooting a constant stream of plasma; or perhaps a Banshee barrel rolling through the sky dodging enemy missiles while dramatically placing your own; or how about the tanks the Wraith and the Scorpion…I could go on and on.
You would think Bungie would take these mechanics and only expand on their impact for a new title. Sadly, no. Vehicles in Destiny are incredibly limited in use and about as adrenaline inducing as biting into a plum. Your ship is only loading screen décor, which you can throw away thousands of Glimmer on to only get a new view. The Sparrow, however handy, only serves to save you time getting from one mission to the next, also it lacks guns or fun maneuverability to dodge enemy fire. The enemy ships total up to a whopping two; CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?! In Fallen territory on the moon, we have our first, and basically only, interaction with the Pike, a Fallen speeder with standard automatic weaponry. It accomplishes its feat of making me wish my Sparrow had some guns on it. On Mars, we are briefly introduced to the Inceptor, a Cabal interpretation on a smaller Wraith. The vehicles are all too little, too late in a game that so desperately needs…more. Bungie delivers these drivable vehicles as more of an afterthought than actual integration into missions or overall gameplay.
Where Does This Leave Me?
The game has since kept me in a roller coaster of frustration, anger (especially with their lack of correcting updates to core gamplay experiences), excitement and disinterest through my 100 hours of gameplay. I am itching for some new-ness through updates or DLC – The Dark Below launches on December 9th but again, Bungie disappoints, as it is only a fraction of what PS4 players are getting (my chosen console is the Xbox One). Gameplay after 100 hours is a monotonous rinse and repeat of bounties and collectables – I can’t tell you how many times I have killed a Fallen Walker or Sepiks Prime. I have yet to attempt the egregious “Vault Of Glass”- I only recently became a formidable candidate at level 27, but disinterest might get the best of me before then as I’m feeling that it’s more of a chore than a pleasure. Ultimately, Bungie has failed the players through unforeseen turmoil inside their own company and delivering short on their original promise during the years leading up to this title. My hope is Bungie corrects these deeply ridden flaws before their next big release, they have a lot of goodwill to win back.
Thanks for reading! A new comic will be posted tomorrow for Halloween!
Keep it here at The Nerdgasm Podcast for all of your geekiness and as always: Throw Down & Level Up!