Storytelling in Dark Souls: Ambiguity or Arrested Adolescence?

DARK SOULS BABY

DARK. DARK like my SO- oh, wait, that’s just redundant.

I love Dark Souls. I’d have to – I’ve invested over 100 hours and I don’t plan on stopping. It’s a great series and well deserving of most of the excessive praise it gets.

Most of, because a ton of that praise focuses on the game’s approach to its story; something I struggle to understand since it doesn’t have one.

You see fanboys throwing around statements like…

‘You just have to work to get it.’

Well yes and no, because you work like fuck to get it and what you get is fuck all. Dark Souls tells its story in tiny scraps which don’t ever piece together into a big picture.

Some details can be found by chance, but these are infrequent, easily missable, and invariably insubstantial. Weapon descriptions and snippets of character dialogue may hide the backstories of bosses or some small fragment of overarching story, but more often than not these things simply go unexplained. And even if you go to the bother of collecting them, these hidden details barely add to the story. They’re snippets of a nonexistent whole.

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Time to Dust Off the Ol’ Blog

And by nights I mean months.

And by nights, I mean months.

God, I have just completely ignored this thing, haven’t I?

There’s two reasons. 1: Life fell over on my head a bit – unlike the other two on here, who are just lazy bastards1 – and 2: I was doing some writing stuff for BT, and completely forgot that I had a blog.

It’s not much of an excuse. It wasn’t even much writing. But it’s my excuse and I’m clinging like a barnacle. If you want to see the stuff I wrote, there’s links below the cut. Frivolous (but what’s wrong with frivolity?) stuff, for the most part, but I do still quite like the review of Thief 4.

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Between a Rock, Paper, Shotgun and a Hard Place

The Rock, Paper, Shotgun community is terrifyingly hostile to women and there’s nothing RPS can do to fix it.

Yeah, we’re gonna start this on a downer and work our way up. There’s a light at the end of this. Well, thoughts about a light, at least. There’s visualisations of a desk lamp at the end of this.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fuck out of RPS. It’s the only gaming site I visit regularly. When I see one of their contributors elsewhere, I perk up a bit and check out the piece. But you can’t say their vocal reader base is…without its issues.

In the comments for yesterday’s Blizzard interview, a cool dude calling himself Wulf summed the problem up nicely:

This is why you don’t get many women posting on sites like this. Even if some of the articles are supportive, the comments are anywhere between misogynistic and sociopathic.

But don’t be surprised if there are women out there who talk in places you don’t visit in rather disappointed tones about you. Exactly you. Shaking their head, at you, because they can’t help but see you as a little bit sad.

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Reject Review – Doritos Crash Course 2

RRDoritos

There are few games built around advertising that don’t force their product down players’ throats, and Doritos Crash Course was one of those precious few. Think Total Wipeout minus Richard Hammond’s lack of comedic delivery and you’re about there.

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GTA V is a Casual Game

GTACasual

GTA V is a casual game because it is played by casual gamers. It is also played by guys who keep the fridge by the sofa and piss into empty bottles to avoid putting down the controller, and a whole bunch of people inbetween.

But the biggest market, the ones who are going to really be driving the sales, are people who like to play something brainless when there’s nothing good on and the pub seems too far away.

Like my neighbour: a gym bunny who plays local league footie and only turns on the Xbox when both those pursuits are off. Or if the salmon fishing has been cancelled this weekend. And he will be playing GTA V, because he chooses games by walking into GAME and walking out with whatever looks brainless and shooty. His current way of wiling away the half-hours is Sniper Elite V2.

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Evony 2: Electric Boobaloo

MyOwnRisk

‘Men Only’, it says. Because there is nothing more heterosexual than a group of guys isolated from the opposite sex and basking in the glow of each other’s horniness. It’s why the Royal Navy has always been so famously straight.

Wartune is a browser-based RPG. My brief glances at its website haven’t revealed anything that might keep a person busy for weeks, but I admit tits are not my area of expertise. Maybe the game is full of them. Maybe it is full to bursting point with barely-covered knockers. Maybe it is actually set on a single, mountainous breast.

Like I said, tits aren’t exactly my area of expertise.

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Kojima’s Financial Focus Creates Shoddy Characters

When you gaze into the cleavage, the cleavage also gazes into at you.

When you gaze into the cleavage, the cleavage also gazes into you.

With Corporal Wonderbra being shoved in your face, it’s difficult to notice pretty much anything else accompanying the awfulness. One thing seems to have been overlooked, though: Kojima said he designs characters with the primary intent “to make u [sic] want to do cosplay or its figurine to sell well”.

At first I wasn’t sure if he was serious as, up until now, I understood that the man was valued as a fantastic – if overcomplicated – storyteller who could create rich and interesting characters. But then I saw the accompanying woman who could fit all of her clothing into the holster of her gun and wondered how rich and interesting fishnet-wrapped thighs could be.

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Reject Review – Dead Island: Riptide

RRDeadIsland

Dead Island was a glitch-ridden shitload of fun and Riptide could have advanced that loveable formula. But it added the one thing that undid everything: Water. It added fucking water.

A trivial addition, it may first seem. A harmless new terrain packed with pockets of splash-happy fun with your friends. There’s boats, too, for zipping around the swamplands and flattening the undead. How we laughed as their bodies ground against the hull! How we cackled as their armless remains flailed in our wave trail! We felt unstoppable.

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Fallen London is a Lousy Sandwich

'BLT Sandwich + Fries' by punctuated on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Fallen London is a lousy sandwich.

For years I resisted playing it, knowing from the barest descriptions that this game would hook me like cocaine. But last night, in a moment of weakness, I gave in, hid my wallet, and signed up.

It’s…not been the addictive marathon I was dreading.

I understand the theory1 behind the dragged-out, drip-fed mechanics: to stop players from gorging themselves sick. To show them this perfect sandwich, where the bacon is just the right side of crunchy and the lettuce is crisp and the tomatoes, oh, the tomatoes, and to allow them one scrumptious, savoury bite and then to take it away. The anticipation will make the bread softer, the mayonnaise…marginally less disgusting, and the whole experience will just be one of delicately delayed bliss.

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Reject Review – Command & Conquer: Renegade

RRC&CRenegade

It starts off as comically bad and ends as some kind of punishment from god. He has looked upon gaming and he has seen our endless parade of FPSs, our fetishisation of macho caricatures, and he has delivered this unto us. Look upon his judgement, mortals, and weep for your salvation.

This is Command & Conquer: Renegade, and it slew Westwood Studios just as it has slain your belief in a just and decent world.

Back in 2002, Westwood Studios were riding high. Their little strategy game had blossomed into a megahit with a star sequel, and a veritable chorus of voices were crying out for an FPS set in the universe. Sadly, every single soprano, tenor and baritone came from a studio executive, because this game fucking bombed.

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