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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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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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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Violence and Vitriol: Answering the Call of Duty

'Day 365: Triangular Tea Bag' by emily.laurel504 on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

Pictured here: a subtle metaphor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally written for academic purposes, and is not necessarily directed towards gamers. It has, however, been edited somewhat, as all you motherfuckers know what a camper is and are also capable of reading the word motherfucker.

As much as I’d like to tell you that any preconceptions you had of online gamers were misguided and ill-informed, I regret to say I cannot. Aside from a small handful of genuinely lovely folk, chatting online is tantamount to seating yourself amongst the opposition at a football match: unless you’re an emotional masochist or looking for a violent debate, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The vitriolic rambling of pre-pubescent players in Call of Duty can resemble a domestic argument at best, and hate speech at worst – curse-laden complaints, vehement insults, and acidic accusations of foul-play are enough to scorch the ears of any unsuspecting individual. But why is it so, and does it have to be this way? It does, because Call of Duty lacks any kind of established social-norm and the guise of anonymity shatters any sense of public shame, allowing ill-manners and impoliteness to run rampant.

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Reject Review – Armored Core: For Answer

RRArmoredCore

When From Software set out to make the thirteenth Armored Core title, they hired a creative director with a serious grudge against gamers. I’m not sure what Dudebro McFPS did – murdered his puppy? – but this guy wants revenge like a less emotionally stable Inigo Montoya. His master plan was to create a game the player could never fully grasp, that they struggled to make work, and that they weren’t sure if they were enjoying or not. Whether there were multiple people in on this scheme or whether the mystery director asked his team to make a good game and then pulled a Jason Jones, we’ll never know. All we know is that someone out there is getting sick kicks from knowing people are playing and have played this game, and if he knew that I inflicted this mess of convoluted controls and brown textures on myself for the sake of an eight-hundred word complaint, he would fucking wet himself.

Whilst you may expect a game like this to have a threadbare plot which justifies the shootbanging, it’s far worse. The game is written by somebody who cares. This rookie writer’s desperation for me to appreciate their self-proclaimed work of art is palpable. It leaks through the incessant babble of a ‘future voice’ (with obligatory slightly-robot-but-vaguely-human-tone) trying to establish an expansive backstory and complicated lore. The League of Ruling Companies, The National Dismantlement War, The LYNX War – three events and entities that create Armored Core’s lore, and three events and entities they cannot make me give a shit about.

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Dead Rising 3: Our Artistic Vision Only Comes in Greyscale

There’s a reason The Walking Dead doesn’t let you wear a shark suit.

It’s because The Walking Dead is a serious game with serious consequences and serious characters and a serious message on society. I come back to The Walking Dead each few weeks to see how the characters continue to cope with their situation, to see how the gang of survivors carry on surviving. I’m engaged with its story. That is not Dead Rising.

DeadRisingWoo

Is Dead Rising. Trying to treat B-Movie: The Game as a serious piece of art is like adapting The Very Hungry Caterpillar into a parable about the futility of greed.

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Reject Review – AMY

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AMY is a game that crawled out of the 90s, looting cliches from the surrounding graves of the Survival Horror Cemetery as it shambled its way out and back to market. “Tight corridors? I’ll take that.” “YOU ARE DEAD screen? Eh, it can be adapted.” “Key card puzzles? Great!” Classic Resident Evil’s grave was unrecognisable once it’d finished, despite Capcom’s graffiti still marking the headstone. AMY intended to plunder these graves lovingly, throwing together all its spoils to create the perfect pastiche to the classics of survival horror, but the well-meaning thoughts didn’t co-operate with its half-dead hands. While skipping fences it also managed to stop in the Action Horror Graveyard and grab Dead Space’s back-mounted health-light.

This amalgamation of 90s cliches is presented under the premise of a comet hitting Earth and causing a zombie apocalypse within seconds. I’m unsure as to where they dug up that idea from, maybe it’s their own creation, but it’s stupid. Lana and Amy, the two main characters, are on a train, Amy is given her Christmas present early so it can be used as a mechanic a few hours later, and then a comet hits and everyone is zombies.

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Reject Review – Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII

RRDamageInc

MadCatz are a peripheral company. They make controllers, fightsticks, headphones, and other third party pieces that break way within three months. In 2012, they decided to make a game. MadCatz should not make games.

Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is a flight simulator whose title is longer than it is. You’d have expected it to master the fundamental element of its premise. Nope. Planes control like a wheelie bin with a propellor. Maneuvering my reticle would send my Wildcat into a nose dive, or assault me with the shaky-camera effect. At points I was worried that the sides of the screen would slice my pilot in half and then rattle the bits around the cockpit.

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Reject Review – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City

RRRaccoonEvilIt was dark. Very, very dark. I fiddled with the brightness until the symbol that should “barely be visible” was practically staring me down. But it was still dark. Not the kind of dark where you’re put on edge for fear of something pouncing out of the shadows, but the kind of dark where you can see fuck all and you’re bumping in to the zombies rather than killing them. It’s not helped by all six playable characters being cloaked in black, the weapons are black, it’s always night, and… everything’s black. We complain about Greybrown shooters, yet here I am, asking for a bit o’ brown.

Anyway, Operation Raccoon City – another four-person co-op romp given to the guy without even one friend who’d put themselves through this with him. You’re an Umbrella agent out to recover some research and eventually stop some classic Resident Evil characters you wish you could play as. Obviously your squad gets caught up in a few scraps along the way, but standard and set-piece battles alike are pretty uninteresting.

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