Derik Badman's Journal

2019-11-27 08:59

Death Stranding after more play is still mostly cut scenes and narrative that makes little sense. Your character is... walking across a post-apocalyptic US in order to connect a bunch of bases and cities via some kind of advanced networking technology. But it's not even slightly explained why he is walking rather than driving the all terrain vehicles you see parked at the base he starts from. Nor why he's just one guy doing this mission by himself. The character himself is also sooooo clich├ęd, all reluctant and "leave me alone" and "I don't care about your plan," but then of course he goes along with the plan anyway because... he has some kind of dream.

The whole game is in need of serious editing. One wonders if Kojima, with his own studio, just doesn't let people edit his ideas, or if the people who work for him are incapable of editing him for some reason. Just the screens that show up when you complete a delivery (the protagonist is a porter) are filled with all kinds of text and numbers and charts and calculations and... I have no clue what any of it means, why I care, nor what effect any of it has on actual game play. You seem to be earning "likes" (like in a social network) as experience, but no apparent leveling has revealed itself.

The scale of the game is also super weird. It shows me this map of the US, and in one section about 5 minutes of actual movement in the landscape seemed to be a trip from Washington, DC to Ohio. And that's a human walking. Distance seems completely shrunk down. It's like they wanted to convey scale and distance through the slow process of walking, but then undermine that by exaggerating on the larger scale map how far you went.

Anyway... reread some recent comics from my pile of books. Phases by Rachna Soun (2019) is a collection of four panel comics she did for #30dayscomics last year. I recall learning about her work from that month (she's on instagram as @xorachna) and being impressed. This is a really nice poetic collection of close to 30 comics (I didn't count). They are observational or they are small narrative moments or they are introspective. A limited color palette (she's got a good eye for color) with good use of line and texture and composition. She draws a great cloudy sky with color, no lines. I don't have a lot specific to say, other than I really like these.

I wrote a bit about Kurt Ankeny's previous book before. Pleading with Stars is his new collection from Adhouse Books, and it leaves me much less impressed. There's a lot of nice drawing in here, particular "Between December and March" which is all colored pencil and "Gulls" which appears to be watercolor. But, none of the narratives of these did anything for me. Some of the stories I found obscure and others just too slight to care. This is not an uncommon problem for cartoonists, where the visual skill overtakes narrative skill. You don't often seem the opposite, probably because writers can just write a story rather than make a comic.