Derik Badman's Journal

2019-09-22 17:32

Finished Greedfall yesterday. In the end, an enjoyable game, but not one that was particularly innovative or unique. While it plays up the idea of factions and diplomacy, it seemed too easy to actually get along with everyone. Someone how I managed to stay on everyone's good side, except for one time towards where I made a choice that I knew would make one of the factions angry but seemed like the right choice. Had I not done that I probably would have managed to gather all five factions for the big fight at the end (though I am not clear what difference it actually makes in gameplay). I appreciated that there were always ways to handle most quests with different methods: fighting, sneaking, talking. But I also feel like those options were never very hard to pick. Unless I were just like "bah, I'm going to fight everyone" I don't see how there it was really that hard a choice. The end of the game offered some narration showing all the various companions and factions along with some line or two of denouement. It's a strike against the writing that for each companion they work in something about going back to visit their friend (i.e. your character) in a way that was just too simplistic and pandering. I'm actually curious what you would have to do to get a bad ending in the game, besides just willfully making bad decisions. One thing Dragon Age (and Mass Effect too actually) did well was having decision points where it was hard to choose between options, where you wanted to take all the options but couldn't. I don't feel this game every managed to get me in that type of tough quandary.

Somehow I ended up trying out the trial version of Code Vein today. It's like an anime Dark Souls and trying very hard to be like the latter. While there are added elements, the core mechanics are basically direct lifting from Dark Souls (with it's equivalent of souls and bonfires and the same death/resurrection mechanic). That said, for at least the trial part, I did not find the game as... onerous to play. While I died a few times, I also did get through the first boss fight without too much trouble. The game is not, to that point, as dark and suspenseful as Dark Souls. It helps that for much of the trial at least, you have an NPC companion running around with you, which helps with distracting opponents (especially the boss) and makes the settings seem less lonely and quiet. The mechanics are a bit involved as is the back story, but I think I'll pick up the full version when it comes out (this week or next I think). Seems like it will offer some of the same fun of Dark Souls but hopefully without quite the same high level of difficulty/frustration. One way that seems to be mitigated is that it offers a way to dynamically switch classes, which should help with issues I've had in Dark Souls where because of whatever type of character I decided to play certain bosses would be ridiculously hard.

And I just finished a viewing of Ozu's The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice which is the latest Criterion release. It's a mid-career Ozu, so still black and white, and not as austere as his later works. This one also focuses more on a marriage than a parent/child relationship. In that sense it's probably a better companion to Early Spring. Compared to the later movies, you can see a variety of directorial choices that Ozu seemed to have mostly given up. There are more outdoor and crowd scenes, more camera movement too. One really unusual scene has the wife riding a train as she (temporarily) leaves her husband. She is shown sitting on the train and the audio is someone announcing stops and times. When the announcement stops, the sound of the train running over the tracks shifts from background noise to foregound noise and becames almost an aural assault as the shot cuts to a view out the back of the train, looking through the window as the train passes through bridge, with all the beams moving into the distance in a harsh one-point perspective. After a period of this, the film cuts to the husband's office, as the camera dollies forward toward his desk. It's a really fascinating and unusual scene, especially for Ozu who does not usually make sound such a prominent feature (that I have noticed at least).