Gaming Round-Up: The Reject Pile

I’ve been having trouble finding anything I’m passionate about to play lately. I’ve tried a lot of different things, but none have stuck. Let’s work our way down the list, shall we?

Combat in the anime MMORPG SoulworkerSoulworker:

I started by continuing my tradition of trying new MMOs whenever I’m bored. First up was Korean import Soulworker, an instanced grinder in the vein of Vindictus.

Of all the games in this post, Soulworker impressed me the most. It’s actually got a lot going for it. The cel-shaded graphics, for instance, are gorgeous. Screenshots absolutely do not do justice to how vibrant the colours are, nor how fluid and full of personality the animations can be.

The combat’s great, too, and I found a character I quite enjoyed: a pale-haired, sword-wielding girl who bore a certain resemblance to my heroine from the Soulcleaver novels.

Most surprisingly, there’s clearly a lot of effort put into the story in Soulworker. The meta-plot is pretty rich and elaborate — if decidedly quirky in the way one would expect from an Eastern game — and the quest NPCs actually have a fair bit of personality. Each playable character also has their own backstory and style of conversation that influences the feel of the game.

However, Soulworker is crippled by two severe flaws.

One is that the people who cared about the story are the ones who wrote it back in Korea, not the ones who translated it into English. The voice-overs haven’t been translated at all, and the subtitles are incredibly awkward. You can still understand what’s going on, but the style of speech is so unnatural it rips you right out of the story.

My character in the anime MMORPG SoulworkerThe other is that it is incredibly grindy. I expected that to be the case going in, but even so, I was shocked by how little time it took for me to reach a point where I couldn’t even progress the story without repeating the same dungeons multiple times in order to level up. It stops being a game and starts becoming a chore very quickly.

It’s a shame. With a few rough edges smoothed out, this could have been a pretty good game.

Closers:

Next up was another action-heavy Eastern grinder, Closers.

Not gonna lie, guys, I managed maybe twenty minutes in this game before I couldn’t take it anymore.

Somehow I completely missed the fact going in that Closers is a side-scroller. Like, what the hell. I know side-scrolling MMOs aren’t unheard of, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

The controls are spectacularly awkward, too. I managed to rebind everything into something semi-normal, but it never felt quite right.

Dat UI, doe.Add to that more sloppy translations and one of the most unbearably obnoxious interfaces I’ve ever seen in a game, and you get a recipe for endless frustration.

I very rarely say things like this, but stay away from this game. Life is too short.

Getting what I paid for:

A few months ago, Ubisoft gave away a bunch of games — Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and World in Conflict — and it took me until now to play them all.

I was underwhelmed by them all. Watch_Dogs had something approaching an interesting story, and I enjoyed the music and ship piloting mechanics in Black Flag, but both suffered from an over-reliance on stealth, clunky controls, and a general feeling of dullness.

This was my first time playing an Assassin’s Creed game. I can’t say I was particularly encouraged to play more. Though in fairness I’ve never liked pirates in fiction. I don’t understand what people find so compelling about a bunch of rapey, scurvy-ridden sea-muggers.

A shot from Assassin's Creed IV: Black FlagAs for World in Conflict, it was just kind of dull. There didn’t seem to be a lot need for micro, and there wasn’t much macro, either, and the story didn’t attract me at all. I’d love a good RTS, but I don’t think this is it.

Overwatch PvE:

Finally, Overwatch recently had another free weekend, and it coincided with a repeat of the two events that comprise all of the game’s story content to date: Uprising and Retribution. Naturally, I was eager to try that.

It was fun, but I’m still left a bit baffled as to Blizzard’s thought process here.

The thing is, these are basically two missions extracted from a campaign that doesn’t exist. Without that context, they can’t achieve much in terms of story-telling, but they’re also far too linear to make much sense as repeatable content. They’re not enough to fill the gap of story content, but they don’t work as grindable events, either.

Sometimes I really don’t understand why Overwatch is so successful.

* * *

I’m just glad Vampyr isn’t far off now.

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