A lot of murder.
June 12, 2020 2:37 PM   Subscribe

The Last of Us Part II Is Uncomfortable and Exhausting, But That's What Makes It Great [The Verge] “The Last of Us Part II is a sequel to the acclaimed PS3 game, which transformed developer Naughty Dog — then known primarily for lighter fare like the Uncharted series — into a studio able to tackle more serious and resonant stories. On the surface, the two games are similar. The original starred Joel, a haunted man who latches on to 14-year-old Ellie as a daughter figure, in a quest that sees them traverse a post-apocalyptic America in search of safety. It ends with him making a devastating choice to protect someone he cares about. The sequel is centered on Ellie, now 19 and settled in a relatively safe community in Wyoming. She has work, friends, a love interest. She struggles with Joel’s overprotective nature. Aside from the regular patrols to clear out infected monsters, it’s almost idyllic. But a few hours into the game — for reasons I won’t spoil — she sets off for Seattle with vengeance on her mind.” via: [Official Cinematic Trailer][Launch Trailer][Warning: trailers/reviews contain graphic descriptions of violence, murder, animal-abuse, & torture.] [*Discussion also contains spoilers*]

• The Last of Us Part II Isn't Just Naught Dog's Most Ambitious Game — It's The Most Accessible, Too [The Verge]
“The Last of Us Part II is arguably the most ambitious title to come out of Naughty Dog. It takes place in a massive post-apocalyptic world, including a staggeringly detailed rendition of Seattle, with much more involved stealth-based combat and elaborate cutscenes. It’s the kind of huge and detailed game you’d expect from the studio’s swan song on the PlayStation 4. But one of the most impressive things about the game is how large and varied its accessibility options are. You can now navigate the world largely by sound, or zoom in on the screen as if you were using a smartphone. There’s an astonishing array of things to choose from. According to Schatz, while the accessibility options in the game are varied, they all point toward the same goal: keeping players from hitting those sticking points, whether it’s a difficult QTE or something else entirely. “Accessibility for us is about removing barriers that are keeping players from completing a game,” she says. “It’s not about dumbing down a game or making a game easy. What do our players need in order to play the game in parity with everyone else?” There are around 60 different accessibility options in the game’s menu, covering things like controls, visual aids, audio clues, navigation and traversal, and combat. Some are fairly standard features, like being able to make the UI larger or tweak the subtitles for color blind users.”
• The Last of Us Part 2: The Best of Us [IGN]
“The Last of Us is one of the rare beloved games of the past decade that not only didn’t demand a sequel, but actively seemed to resist the idea of one. Its story is largely poignant because of how self-contained it is: not knowing what happened between Joel and Ellie after his fateful, final decision burned a mark into the brains of many who played it, and that open-ended question has lingered for years. But with The Last of Us Part 2, developer Naughty Dog rises to that challenge with not only a complex, profound story that gives it a reason to exist, but also deep and satisfying evolutions to the original’s third-person action/stealth gameplay. [...] One of Part 2’s biggest achievements is how it knowingly handles the weighted expectations that a sequel to one of the most heralded game stories of all time will inevitably carry with fans. It starts out seemingly simple, taking place about four years after the end of the original and setting an older, angrier, but still-immune Ellie on a quest for revenge that also hones in on the cycles of violence that can plague humanity as much as any infection. It knowingly leans into the tropes of the genre, such as guilt by association and the inevitable escalation of matching an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But those cliches are often subverted, playing into the expansive and not-so-straightforward path ahead.”
• Misery Simulator [Kotaku]
“As suggested by interviews with its creators and its own marketing, The Last of Us 2 is meant to feel very, very bad. Director Neil Druckmann has touted the game, as he described in one video, as “a commentary about the cycle of violence” and a game that asks “philosophical questions” about revenge and consequences. Pre-release marketing made it clear the game would be a divisively violent, difficult experience. Going in, I wasn’t sure I wanted a game that asked me questions about the consequences of my actions, since I live in the world we all find ourselves in now, where I’m hyper-aware of the fact that a careless cough in the grocery store could kill someone I’ve never met. I knew it would be hard to play, especially now. I knew I probably wouldn’t enjoy it in any traditional sense. My playthrough of The Last of Us 2 felt terrible to experience. Over the course of my 27 hours with the game, it grew to the point of feeling nearly unbearable. This wasn’t because it asked me hard questions about my own capacity for harm or revenge, or pulled some Spec Ops: The Line-style moralizing about video game violence. Despite Druckmann’s promised “philosophical questions,” I never felt like the game asked me anything. Instead, it told me “brutality,” repeatedly and louder, until by the end I couldn’t hear what it was trying to say at all. Characters make hideous, irredeemable choices, over and over. Everybody suffers, physically and emotionally, in graphic detail. This is all intended to prove a point, but the only point I got from the game was simply to be required to stare at violence, and play through violence, and then do that again, and more, and again, and more.”
• The Last of Us Part 2: We’re better than this [Polygon]
“The Last of Us Part 2 depicts the future, yet it fails to escape its own past. The sequel feels like a time capsule from 2013, the year the first game was released in real life and the year of the fictional in-game zombie outbreak. The Last of Us Part 2 seems doomed to walk in a well-worn circle, unable to break out of the ever-thickening carapace forming along its skin, just like the victims of the Cordyceps fungus that you fight throughout the game. That is the game’s central problem, and what makes so much of it such a challenge to get through: This is a story about characters who seem unable to learn or grow, and more specifically, unable to consider the humanity of the people they kill. If you already think violence isn’t the answer to many of the world’s problems, the repeated lesson that killing is bad makes the game almost maddening. [...] Part 2 is a game about not rising above revenge or violent urges in general. It’s filled with characters dedicated to never seeing the bigger picture beyond themselves. Although the game’s backdrop is a global pandemic, and although it reaches toward the idea of larger injustices by depicting two warring human factions — the cult of the Seraphites, and the militaristic Washington Liberation Front — it is really just a story about a teen girl, her damage, and her apparent belief that the only way to get over that trauma is murder.”
• 'The Last of Us Part II' Is a Grim and Bloody Spectacle, but a Poor Sequel [Vice Gaming]
“Even before it begins trying to humanize the people you are busy killing, The Last of Us 2 is a game of squalid cruelty. It’s not just the fact that you torture and kill people even as they plead with you to spare them, or the incredibly detailed destruction of faces and bodies that happens with shocking regularity throughout this game. It is also the growing lack of justification. Nobody ever reconsiders their quest for vengeance. Everyone acts under a kind of vindictive compulsion that goes little remarked and unexamined. Anger and grief are understandable motivations at the start of a revenge quest, but The Last of Us 2 never follows-through on the work of exploring what sustains them past reason and scruple. That’s why it falls short of its ambitions of being a work of tragedy, despite roundly excellent performances by the cast. The characters’ motivations are easy enough to understand, but they’re also increasingly less compelling as the game drags on and the losses mount. It’s little wonder that some of the game’s best moments come during a major subplot that gives us respite from the vendettas—and characters—that drive most of the game’s action. The things that serve as the catalyst for a story aren’t always interesting reasons for its continuation, but that doesn’t stop The Last of Us 2 from revisiting the same traumas every time it needs to justify the next bloodbath, and hoping that the screams and gurgles of the dying will give it meaning.”
• The Last of Us Part 2: A less confident, less focused sequel [Ars Technica]
“From a narrative perspective, there’s no real need for The Last of Us Part 2 to exist. The gripping, tightly paced, very human tale told by the first game is an almost perfect example of self-contained video game storytelling. That game’s ending—where the “hero” condemns the world to continuing disaster out of love for a companion he has slowly grown to love like a daughter, all while betraying her wishes and shielding her from the truth—is a deeply affecting and thought-provoking moment that has resonated with gamers for seven years now. The idea of adding anything to that quietly confident, freestanding narrative package feels superfluous at best and gratuitous at worst. But the difference between a happy ending and a sad one often depends on when you decide to stop telling the story. And it would admittedly be something of a waste to condemn The Last of Us’ top-notch world building to a single short game. Thus, we now have The Last of Us Part 2, a game that can't seem to decide if it wants to continue the core story of the first game or pull the camera back to provide a wider view of a fallen world still ravaged by the threat of the zombie-like Infected.”
• The Last Of Us Part 2 Review (Spoiler-Free) [Gamespot]
“At the beginning of The Last of Us Part II, you get a glimpse of Ellie's life in idyllic Jackson, Wyoming. If it weren't for the walls surrounding the town, you could almost forget that the world is crawling with infectious monsters that would kill everyone in sight; its main road, blanketed in snow, is a charming row of old buildings with decks for sidewalks, more Old West town than post-apocalypse settlement. Its residents grow food, care for horses, tend bars, and even have dances and movie nights. Four years after Joel saved (kidnapped?) Ellie from the Firefly hospital, this is the life he wanted for her. The Last of Us Part II grapples with Joel's decision not through Joel, but through Ellie. This life is clearly not enough for her; she's distant and brooding, obviously conflicted about something. She's changed a lot. And when everything falls apart and she sets out in search of vengeance, you see her pain in its rawest, most brutal form. It's a devastating, gruesome story of revenge in which the purpose of violence gets muddied by its intensity. But as a character study, The Last of Us Part II is beautiful and haunting, and I found myself completely overwhelmed by the emotional weight of it. In some ways, I mean that literally. The game gave me stress nightmares, not because you kill a lot of people per se, but because playing as Ellie felt more like being dragged by my hair than being immersed in her mission. From the very beginning, I wanted to reach out and shake Ellie, as her proxy in all this, and get her to do anything other than what we were about to do. I knew her revenge quest was bad news before the killing and maiming really began.”
posted by Fizz (94 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Note: the game will be officially released on June 19th, next Friday. But the review embargo just dropped earlier today.
posted by Fizz at 2:38 PM on June 12


The series is still a PlayStation exclusive, correct?
posted by Frayed Knot at 2:53 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Correct.
posted by Fizz at 3:01 PM on June 12


I was 100% here for the original, for a single playthrough. It was just too fucking horrible to play again, though I absolutely loved the characters, the story, and the way it was told. Really everything about the game was almost perfect -- except for its black, black soul. I was really happy to hear they were working on a sequel until that footage came out a couple(?) years ago of Ellie basically trapped in the same kill or be killed (or worse) situations and I'm just ... I literally cannot go there again. If there would be a way to play through the game in, like, low chaos mode, without killing anyone (ala Dishonoured) I would be willing to have a go. But I just do not want to play a modern day alternate timeline murder simulator. I don't know if I would even watch a playthrough. Just remembering the god damn pre-title sequence of TLoU makes me cringe, I don't want to see that again, either. It just hurts too much.

I dunno.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:06 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


I posted a comment about the morality of Joel’s actions in the final stretch of the first game here. Spoilers are obscured via the details tag but if you expand that...they are in fact major spoilers. Regardless, his actions aren’t quite as bad as people who didn’t pay super close attention to every bit of ingame lore might think, but they’re still not great.
posted by Ryvar at 3:07 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


yikes, can't wait to never play this game.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:11 PM on June 12 [25 favorites]


I haven't been much of a videogamer since the Quake era, but I don't understand how you can talk about the "plot" of a game. Are they all just totally on rails now? If there's no player agency, what's the purpose of playing? Come to think of it, I think the last game I really played was Return to Castle Wolfenstein and that was why I stopped playing.
posted by rikschell at 3:18 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


It depends on the game, rikschell. For games like this, the narrative is generally on rails, and the game part comes in defeating the challenges and puzzle of individual levels. I mean, Super Mario Bros.' plot is also "on rails," you know?
posted by Scattercat at 3:33 PM on June 12 [11 favorites]


The coupling of relentless misery with the same trite mechanics this series and Uncharted have had forever... pass from me ta.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:39 PM on June 12


I adored the first game, and I'm excited to play this one (it's set in my home town! I'm dying to play as Ellie!). But I am not quite as excited as I was a year ago. Somehow society descending into shitty vicious tribal factions after a global zombie pandemic isn't as compelling a setting as it was before... No idea why that could be.

Now, Horizon Forbidden West, on the other hand...
posted by lovecrafty at 3:48 PM on June 12 [15 favorites]


> I haven't been much of a videogamer since the Quake era, but I don't understand how you can talk about the "plot" of a game. Are they all just totally on rails now? If there's no player agency, what's the purpose of playing?

For me, it's the roleplaying, even in single player games. It seems obvious now that I'm writing it out, but it's a bit like being an actor in a play – the story is set, but there's still skill and freedom of expression in reading the lines.
posted by lucidium at 3:58 PM on June 12 [11 favorites]


I really want to play a TLoU game set in a painstakingly-realized Seattle. Really really bad. Thought I was going to be doing that later this month, until today.
posted by gurple at 4:11 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Personally I am very, very excited about this game. Everything in the trailers we've seen thus far indicates that we're seeing how someone like Ellie in the original becomes someone like Tess in the original. Tess remains, hands down, my favorite Naughty Dog character across all their games: "we're shitty people, Joel" (spoilers, obviously).
posted by Ryvar at 4:34 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


I was already on the fence when the trailer came out but still optimistic that it's all going to mean something (and maybe won't actually be that bad...) but now that we're in the middle of a pandemic and also dealing with renewed hate, ignorance, and violence, it feels like really bad timing.

This is like the exact opposite of everyone suddenly finding themselves stuck at home, and holy crap Animal Crossing is released almost magically to ease people's frayed nerves.

And yet I still have this preordered. And it's coming out soon so I kind of have to make a decision about how much I'm actually going to engage with it.
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:48 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


How much bleaker can TLOUS get? None more bleak.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:49 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I have no patience left for art created to make me feel terrible. When all we can envision is futures of humans ripping each other to shreds in the face of adversity, it’s hard to believe other futures (or presents...) are possible. This is where games like Disco Elysium, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Night in the Woods shine. They don’t pretend the world isn’t shit, but they’ve got glimmers of hope at their cores.

I know this is partially an issue of TLOU2’s timing, but it bothered me about the first game too. Unrelenting despair gets boring. But more important to me is the fixation on dystopias in general. How can we make the world better if we can’t even imagine a better world?
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 6:22 PM on June 12 [27 favorites]


(also tbh I am not ready to witness whatever horrible fate befalls gaming’s first bisexual Jewish female character)
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 6:27 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


It's hard for me to say which has disappointed the folks on my game forums more: the lowest-common denominator design decisions that went into TLOU2, or the poor quality of the critical discourse surrounding those decisions.

Like, I agree that the whole "can you pet the dog?!" preciousness has depleted its novelty, but that doesn't mean I want to play a game in which any attempt to avoid hurting dogs will eventually be foiled in a cutscene, after which you'll be subjected to proxy guilt as the protagonist flashes back to earlier, kinder interactions with the same animal. It's "Spec Ops: the Line" all over again, this time with girls and dogs, and it is frustrating to see so much effort, so much crunch, so much skilled craft expended in service of such a crude and manipulative agenda, which so much of the gaming press is nevertheless determined to extol as gaming's virtuoso exemplar. This is my one moment of objection; I will not further amplify the discussion around this title by further engaging with it. I have to go celebrate the wonder of a title like Outer Wilds to cleanse my palate.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 6:50 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


(also tbh I am not ready to witness whatever horrible fate befalls gaming’s first bisexual Jewish female character)
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 9:27 PM on June 12

If that milestone belongs to anyone other than Meryl Silverburgh from the Metal Gear Solid games then I will eat a damn snake.
posted by ZaphodB at 7:03 PM on June 12 [7 favorites]


I have no patience left for art created to make me feel terrible.

RIGHT why would i want 30-40h of grimdark horrible human suffering set to absolute max when i could instead be playing a game starring a cat in a backpack
posted by poffin boffin at 7:04 PM on June 12 [25 favorites]


Because your favorite thing sucks and my favorite thing is awesome, duh.
posted by Ryvar at 7:07 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]




This is my one moment of objection; I will not further amplify the discussion around this title by further engaging with it. I have to go celebrate the wonder of a title like Outer Wilds to cleanse my palate.

Have you played it? I’m confused because it sounds from your comment like you and/or the people on your game forums have played it, but it’s not out yet.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:27 PM on June 12


If that milestone belongs to anyone other than Meryl Silverburgh

(well that’s reason enough for me to play a Metal Gear game)
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 7:43 PM on June 12


I don't understand how you can talk about the "plot" of a game. Are they all just totally on rails now?

I'm not sure if I'm totally misunderstanding your point, but do you also think it's weird when people talk about the plots of books or movies? Because those are on the rails, too.

Otherwise, sorta bummed by these reviews. I was looking forward to playing it because of the representation of queer women, but my stomach isn't here for the brutality.

Edit: Also, wow, that anecdote about how the game makes you kill a dog and then flashes back to the moment when you played with the dog as a puppy is a real part of the game! I thought it was satire. Oof.
posted by Emily's Fist at 7:54 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Duh, nevermind, I did totally misunderstand your point. Please disregard the first part of that comment.
posted by Emily's Fist at 8:00 PM on June 12


Wow at that dog bit. Not everything needs a sequel, game industry.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:26 PM on June 12


Ugh this "cycle of violence" and "two factions with opposing ideologies" stuff sounds awful.
posted by fleacircus at 8:33 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


“A game of ‘squalid cruelty’? Eh, I’d be happier *with* the eighty dollars.”
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:34 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


I grant that I may be basing too much of my opinion on a review of the game before enduring it myself, but the Polygon review has me not wanting to interact with this at all. I finished the first one and didn't feel great about it, and especially now after having just finished Red Dead Redemption 2 with all of my catastrophically unemployed free time, I don't think I have any more space left for being forced to wallow in the misery of the human condition as a hobby. At least RDR2, for all its many faults, presents goodness as a matter of agency, however limited the scope of that goodness might be in the context of a life spent perpetrating evil. I can't think of anything cheaper or easier, or more hypocritical at this point than enacting evil in your own narrative and then attempting to implicate the audience for participating in it.
posted by invitapriore at 8:54 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


This is where games like Disco Elysium, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Night in the Woods shine. They don’t pretend the world isn’t shit, but they’ve got glimmers of hope at their cores

I won't be able to play this game regardless because I only have a PC, but I really do agree with this. I've definitely enjoyed zombie fiction but these days I prefer stuff that reflects what I see as human nature, which is much more varied than post-apocalyptic fiction has generally shown.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:03 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


For me, BioShock Infinite pulled the curtain back on the whole high-concept AAA video game epic by juxtaposing a meticulously detailed setting and philosophical musings on Important Topics with fuck yeah let’s shoot some dudes in the face, brah *high five*. I mean, I’ve been playing violent video games for like 15 years, don’t get me wrong, but that game just made it weird.

TLOU2 sounds like a novel/movie I’d love, or maybe an RPG of some sort, but...eh. Ludonarratove dissonance is something I just can’t un-see.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 9:20 PM on June 12 [6 favorites]


I thought I was a big fan of violent video games, until a few years ago when I realized I’m actually a big fan of violent cartoon video games.

I don’t want Sub-Zero to have kids who are orphaned when I tear out his spine. Why the fuck would I? Although I actually like the idea that he’s a family man, but I tear out his spine and he turns me into icy gibbets and then we both go home to our families and fight again tomorrow, because it’s a video game and it’s supposed to be fun.
posted by bjrubble at 9:41 PM on June 12 [8 favorites]


I mean, there is room in games for regret over your actions, but like ten years ago there was a trend for games that judged you for playing them in the only way the designer allowed - Spec Ops: The Line, Hotline Miami, Prince of Persia - and it wasn't at all persuasive, because 'stop playing' is not a meaningful choice, and if players aren't complicit in the choice to be violent, they dissociate from it. Realising this led designers in the 2010s to think much more carefully about the room for expression players are given - Nier Automata, for instance, touches on a lot of the same themes, but it is much more adept at encouraging player complicity, and it's also got a lot more to say than 'violence bad, aren't you a bad person (for interacting with this game in the only way it allows)'. You can offer choices that have no gameplay purpose but let players express themselves, and you can suggest branching paths where none exist by showing the other choice but not letting players choose it, at least at first.
posted by Merus at 10:50 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


As someone pointed out on Twitter, what TLoU2 claims to be accomplishing, transcending the zombie genre and being a gritty meditation on loss, was already done by Dark Souls.
posted by fleacircus at 10:58 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


snrk
posted by ominous_paws at 11:01 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


I find their approach to accessibility customization to be really outstanding, and hope that those options find their way more broadly into video games so that players can have even more options than one of the most grimly violent. I'd like to see that mindset extended to content too, such as a "no dogs" mode.

Modern Warfare 2 gave players the option to skip the notorious No Russian mission, without penalty, even. Blood toggles, though often included for legal/localization reasons, can also serve this purpose. These are accessibility options. For many players not wanting to witness or pretend to participate in a particular act is enough of a turn-off to stop playing a game.
posted by subocoyne at 11:26 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


I find it hilarious that games, movies, books and TV can be as brutally violent as they want to be, human-to-human... but add in a dog and that's where people shut off.

I couldn't finish the first one because stealth games are my least favorite genre. "Movie" games are my second least-favorite genre. And TLoU1's actual gameplay was really lacking. The mechanical aspects of moving around, sneaking, shooting, fighting was just not done well.

Similarly, Naughty Dog's Uncharted 4. I tried playing it twice. There's scenes where you are climbing walls and towers like a tireless, hyperactive superhero squirrel monkey, leaping impossible distances and scrambling up a vertical brick wall with the tips of your fingers... then you are running through a castle, mowing down literally dozens anonymous thug-guards with a machine gun and pistols and knives... But Then!... it cuts to a "heartfelt" scene where that same mass-murderer is having serious pangs of guilt because he just had to tell a fib to his beloved, realistic wife over the phone about being involved again in an underground art theft scheme.

Be a movie or be a game. The "silly action game parts" work. The "heartfelt human story" parts work. But they don't work together, strung together over and over. Be an actual human experience or be a superhuman Monkey Murder Machine. Trying to mash the two together just doesn't work for me.
posted by SoberHighland at 5:57 AM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I haven't been much of a videogamer since the Quake era, but I don't understand how you can talk about the "plot" of a game. Are they all just totally on rails now? If there's no player agency, what's the purpose of playing? Come to think of it, I think the last game I really played was Return to Castle Wolfenstein and that was why I stopped playing.

Many games now have literally tens of hours of plot, and branching plot lines with multiple possible outcomes with plenty of opportunities for exploration and agency.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:18 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


It's not that they make you kill a dog. It's that they try to make it more painful for the player by making you view Ellie's memories of the dog. That's just gratuitous, the way the rest of the violence in this game seems to be.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:19 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I dunno... seems like having a character with a connection to a dog have to KILL that same dog makes the violence less gratuitous, or at least more meaningful. Versus just having to kill A dog, you are forced to kill THAT dog. Makes you think about what the character is doing, or is forced to do. Certainly it's a manipulative thing for the game to do... but that's part and parcel of these movie-games.

But again: movie games are not my favorite genre for the "ludonarrative dissonance" reason mentioned above.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:28 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Maybe it’s because I played TLOU2 as stealthily as possible, but I never became comfortable with the way Ellie would grab victims from behind, tell them to be quiet, and then stab them in the throat. It felt close and personal in a way I didn’t like, despite seeing it happen dozens, possibly hundreds, of times over the course of the game.

Ugh, flashbacks to when I was playing Dishonored 2 and the tutorial had me sneak up on the main character’s father, take him down, and stop just short of slitting his throat, with his entire face filling the screen. Then of course he congratulated me for being a good super-assassin pupil and we went on to the next bit of Dishonored 101. But that was when I decided there was no way in hell I was doing anything but a pacifist playthrough because I did not want to repeatedly see some anonymous guard’s face fill the screen as I slit his throat.

These reviews make this game sound like a lot of torture porn with a thin “isn’t this all bad, don’t you feel terrible for doing this, tut tut tut” wrapper. I wonder how many of the people who worked on it have some low-key PTSD from having to spend months on end lovingly crafting and polishing all this misery, I distinctly remember reports of that being a serious problem with the hyper-realistic gore of one of the latest Mortal Kombats. (Although apparently Naughty Dog’s institutional culture of obsessive perma-crunch is probably a serious source of burnout already...)
posted by egypturnash at 6:50 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I hope this game loses a shit ton of money.
posted by glonous keming at 6:56 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


Okay, so I guess there are some games with player agency and branching paths, and some “movie games” which are basically killing/sneaking and cutscenes without any agency, which still seems weird to me because Mario is fun and all, but I don’t think it would be improved by having to watch a bunch of cutscenes (damn you, Ms Pac-Man, for starting that trend), and Dragons Lair proved quickly how unfun “quicktime actions” are. But who am I to tell other people what’s fun? I guess if you like wallowing in viscera and killing dogs that’s a valid lifestyle choice now. Maybe I should apologize to Tipper Gore after all.
posted by rikschell at 7:00 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Hey, riskchell, did you mean to sound like a condescending jerk just then? Yes, there are many kinds of video games. Many kinds of stories can be told with the many kinds of video games available. The Last of Us 2 is one of them. We are currently discussing The Last of Us 2, which is one game among many games, most of which aren't even made by the people who made TLoU1&2.

It's cool that you prefer games with player agency, although that is in and of itself a complicated idea because end of the day there's only so much the devs can possible account for; a lot of "player choice" games are actually "player illusion of choice" where you are mainly making aesthetic decisions - see the infamous "red green blue" choice at the end of Mass Effect 3.

That being said, there's no need to get smarmy and conflate the genre and type of game TLoU is with the actual content of the game, TLoU. You could do a linear puzzle game about baking cookies with grandma just as easily. It is unfair, disingenuous, and inaccurate to say that people who like linear puzzle games also like "wallowing in viscera and killing dogs." Particularly when a lot of the controversy over TLoU is that... people specifically don't like that aspect of the game.

And, brief moment of hypocrisy incoming: the games you're name-checking make me wonder, have you actually played any game made in the past twenty years? Because if not, it's even weirder that you would feel so comfortable making sweeping statements about what modern video games Are and Are Not, or whatever you were trying to say there.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 8:46 AM on June 13 [25 favorites]


The Last Of Us is the greatest, most emotionally-involved game that I will probably never play again. It has some flaws, but to me, it is still a masterpiece. I didn't play it until very late, as a PS4 "Greatest Hits" release, mostly because it took me a while to work up the courage to give it a go based on what friends had told me about their experience.

There are few games that get me as emotionally invested in the characters as TLOU did. Life Is Strange certianly did, especially the "Farewell" chapter from Before The Storm. (That chapter absolutely wrecked me, and I am grateful for the experience.) The Last Of Us was a similar experience, in that there are elements from my own youth and life that made the game strongly resonate with me. The violence in the game was, for me, a bit much at times, but if anything it cemented the tragic parts of the story and lended to the impact. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more without all the violence, perhaps less; I will never know because I honestly don't think I could go through it again.

I have watched the trailers for TLOU2 with both interest and trepidation. I am eager to continue Ellie's story, but man, especially with how emotionally drained I already am with all this going on... I just don't think it's a healthy option for me. (Yet.)
posted by xedrik at 8:59 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


It is unfair, disingenuous, and inaccurate to say that people who like linear puzzle games also like "wallowing in viscera and killing dogs."

As an example of the inverse - Disco Elysium is, plotwise, the most on-rails game I've ever played, but it's still very rewarding to play due to the range of choices you have within "the plot" as it exists external to your character. And part of why I liked it so much is that it allows the player moral agency within those constraints.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:59 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


I'm a gamer who generally plays games for the story and landscapes/visuals, enduring the action and fighting as a necessary price of entry. I typically play without gore when I can, and on the easiest/most casual mode possible.

I really enjoyed TLoU1 for the story about Joel and Ellie and their growing father/daughterish relationship, and since I was just muddling through the fighting, I pretty much motored that part. (The puzzles were often fun, though - I liked that, too.)

I've been really looking forward to TLoU2, up till now - but given what I've read here and in the links from here, I'm thinking I probably don't need to see the end of this story. I liked where the first one ended well enough. I'll just invest my $ into Outer Wilds instead unless someone does a really good job of convincing me otherwise.
posted by invincible summer at 9:35 AM on June 13


i can understand why this is maaaaaybe not everyone's cup of tea (especially right now), but super keen to play this, all the more so after reading those reviews - squalid tragedy? hideous irredeemable choices? sign me up!

I guess if you like wallowing in viscera and killing dogs that’s a valid lifestyle choice now

i don't know why but this has really tickled me
posted by inire at 9:38 AM on June 13 [8 favorites]


I mean, Super Mario Bros.' plot is also "on rails," you know?

I dunno, in my last passthrough, I managed to become Goomba Jesus, accruing an ever larger horde of mushrooms in each kingdom. I lead the masses in open revolt against the tyrant Bowser, throwing off the chains of subjugation.

(Ok, really I just tried not to stomp on any mushroom friends and pretended they were following me as they ambled mindlessly towards me. Keep your hands off my headcannon.)
posted by kaibutsu at 9:50 AM on June 13 [2 favorites]


The Last of Us 2 sounds like an awful time; I won't be playing it. I'm irked at any notion that the developers have made any sort of brave decision by packing a game with more tedious ultra violence - the safest choice possible in AAA game development. A sequel that was about healing the trauma of the first game, relearning trust between people, and rebuilding the devastated world? That would have been truly bold and brave. That would have been a followup worth spilling all this ink over. Another game about splattering skulls, and in lurid detail? I'm full-up on those and will be for the foreseeable future, thank you.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:00 AM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Okay, sorry for being a dick. I'm just sick of murder as an art form, whether it's action movies or cop shows or podcasts, or whatever. Should have skipped the thread.
posted by rikschell at 11:03 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


I don't have a ps4, so never played the original game, but the reviews and discussion here reminded me of another game, which while post-apocalyptic, is otherwise completely unlike this: Frostpunk. Which I managed to get through exactly two playthroughs of. Because even if you make the right choices, horrible things still happen. The game eventually becomes one long trolley problem. My wife looked up a review of the game and it was called a misery simulator on that review. Which is kind of true.

Anyway, this sounds like another misery simulator. I've played a few and gotten something out of them at the time, but given the current reality, I don't need the catharsis of one of these games. Give me big and stupid (I related the Saints Row games) or hopeful and introspective, or abstracted enough that even terrible things are funny (paradox games, most notably crusader kings).

Not owning a PS4 makes this is a skip anyway, but frostpunk has been uninstalled for a while now. They're unnecessary.
posted by Hactar at 11:10 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


It's a misery simulator directed by a shitty manbaby from a studio with labor practices that are questionable, to say the least, and yet we must endure another cycle of games writers desperate to pretend to significance praising its storytelling. The more things change etc. etc.
posted by sinfony at 11:22 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]




I'm just sick of murder as an art form, whether it's action movies or cop shows or podcasts, or whatever.

This is an absolutely reasonable objection to have to games, and to gaming culture. There are definitely games out there were you can make a different choice than murder, and where the experience is definitely not on rails. They do not tend to have the same budgets or get the same mass media push that titles like The Last of Us do.

You might find free form spaceship games like Elite: Dangerous or the X series interesting, for instance. Blasting people out of the stars is one career choice, but so is the path of the explorer or the noble space trucker. Minecraft and its many, many (many, many, many) imitators are also out there, where you spend way more time building and exploring than you do smashing and killing. And of course there's the wave of wholesome games the led up to and followed from the smash success of Stardew Valley. I'll admit my farmer did build a bit of his fortune fighting slimes and ghosts down in the mines early in his career, but these days he mostly goes fishing and plays with his kids while letting his wines and cheeses age in the cellar.

Ultimately, I agree with Maddy Myers on games like The Last of Us 2. We're better than this. If developers know enough about the corrosive effects of ultra violence to wag their fingers at us while we play through their scenarios, they know enough to develop scenarios that will provide opportunities to subvert and set aside that violence. It's not even that new an idea. For all of its many problematic aspects, the Metal Gear series has always reserved its highest praise and best rewards for players who cleared its scenarios without hurting a single opponent.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:37 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


I do feel like people are having a more judgmentally negative reaction to a bleak video game than you typically see people react to other kinds of bleak stories? There are plenty of films and books that are nihilistic and depict the world in bleak and horrifying ways, and a lot of those are very good stories and works of art that say something interesting about the human condition, just as a bleak but well-made video game can do. For example, Papers Please.

Personally I don't engage with a lot of them, because I find the content too disturbing, but it's not like I think it's a bad thing to create those works or that the creators deserve to lose money for making them. What is it about a bleak video game that provokes such a reaction, is it just that the player is forced to engage with the bleakness more directly?

The way that reviewers are giving TLOU2 hugely positive reviews while also expressing how hard it was to play reminds me of like .. . Hereditary, or The Road, or any other work that is masterfully done but difficult to engage with. I think I get "I don't want to play this game," but I don't get the sentiment that the creators should feel bad for making it or it's inherently a bad thing to exist.
posted by Emily's Fist at 12:44 PM on June 13 [6 favorites]


an interesting point of comparison is Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, a game that is a) deliberately meant to be unpleasant and frustrating but b) gets there without violence or other stock-standard "don't you feel bad" qualities, all while trying to convey something both novel and specific to the act of play itself. it's a much more honest, less manipulative way to use this particular medium to communicate something beyond its base pleasures

games like TLOU, Bioshock: Infinite, etc always hit me the way Myers explains her feelings about TLOU2: a game giving me a stern lecture about doing something horrible it both wanted me to do and also forced me to do. it's silly, and I think often comes off as a fight against the current of the fundamental emotional experience of playing video games for the sake of making a not very compelling moral point with which I already agreed
posted by Kybard at 1:19 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


The way that reviewers are giving TLOU2 hugely positive reviews while also expressing how hard it was to play reminds me of like .. . Hereditary, or The Road, or any other work that is masterfully done but difficult to engage with.

I would actually say the same thing about The Road. Compared to, say, Station Eleven, it has what I feel is a very blinkered view of what would really happen in a post-apocalyptic scenario.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:23 PM on June 13 [5 favorites]


I don't think it's because it's a video game and not some other, allegedly more "legitimate" form of art; the reviewers, and most of the people in this thread, are likely predisposed to think of video games as a legit art form.

I think for me anyway, my reaction to the reviews is coming from the fact that real life in the world has felt plenty bleak, nihilistic and difficult to engage with this year. I'm definitely not looking for more of the same in my escapism this summer.

I would not be at all surprised to see a similar sentiment reflected in sales for a lot of different varieties of long-runway art that just did not see this year coming. But really, who could have?
posted by invincible summer at 1:54 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


Video games have often seemed desperate to prove how "adult" they are with generous portions of violence. But what was excusable as the growing pains of a new medium is less tolerable now that that medium is pushing forty years old. "Cycles of violence" and "cost of revenge" are ideas out of a high-school book report, and I think people are becoming increasingly annoyed at the praise heaped onto games that show such little thematic depth.
posted by Pyry at 2:04 PM on June 13 [10 favorites]


Compared to, say, Station Eleven, it has what I feel is a very blinkered view of what would really happen in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

this is correct, as far as it goes, but i think it would be a mistake to view either of these as being focused on plausibility or ‘what would really happen’ after an apocalypse - they both pick out a scenario from the spectrum of possibilities (more or less from opposite ends) and work with it for their aesthetic / moral purposes, the road doing so in a much more focused / blinkered way - i liked them both very much, but for very very different reasons

What is it about a bleak video game that provokes such a reaction, is it just that the player is forced to engage with the bleakness more directly?

partly that, partly that people’s complaints are more about the violence than the bleakness per se (and direct engagement emphasises the impact of violence to a greater degree than it does the impact of non-specific bleakness, to my mind), and partly just that a lot of mefites are not all that keen on unleavened bleakness, violence and despair in their art (which i can understand) and react strongly to it, per this thread
posted by inire at 2:27 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I mean, there is room in games for regret over your actions, but like ten years ago there was a trend for games that judged you for playing them in the only way the designer allowed - Spec Ops: The Line, Hotline Miami, Prince of Persia - and it wasn't at all persuasive, because 'stop playing' is not a meaningful choice, and if players aren't complicit in the choice to be violent, they dissociate from it.

Compare to Papers, Please, which puts you in a bad situation with constrained choices and sits back and wait to see what you do. Complicity feels so much worse there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:19 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


I'm just sick of murder as an art form, whether it's action movies or cop shows or podcasts, or whatever.

I get it, for sure! But here's the funny thing about games (and I've made this point here before), all games are about killing. Even checkers. The pieces not on the board anymore? Those are dead. Death in games, as in tarot, can be more of a 'transformation' but it is always there. There's a reason it shares the name with game that you hunt. It was when Noby Noby Boy came out that I realized this...nothing dies or is defeated in any way. It is not so much a 'game' as it is a 'toy'. Various 'creative' modes out there (like say minecraft) change the game to a toy.

I think for me anyway, my reaction to the reviews is coming from the fact that real life in the world has felt plenty bleak, nihilistic and difficult to engage with this year. I'm definitely not looking for more of the same in my escapism this summer.

But yeah soooo much this. I had a real problem engaging with games at the beginning of the pandemic because I straight up didn't want to kill anything. Then I tried some totally non-violent games and found them mostly aiming for some sort of twee-ass wanna-be zen bullshit. Srsly, do NOT try to relax by playing 'flower' where you drift like a petal on the breeze (gag). It's got some kind of non-linear controls involving the sticks and waving the controller around that will leave you with sore shoulders and a bad disposition. lol...just awful.
Then I figured it out. Kids games. There's still blowing stuff up but it's all poofy and low-stakes. Been getting into lego marvel and lego harry potter. And animal crossing pocket camp which is a whole other dollhouse hooked up to a slot machine, but I have been having some very subversive fun with it. But I'm also playing CONTROL now so :/
This game tho? Yeah, bad timing for sure. Like many, I played the first one once...and never again, and I would rather just sit in a chair and stare at a blank wall until Horizon:Forbidden West comes out than play this sequel.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:48 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


sexyrobot: I think that's a pretty narrow view. There are lots of games that are competitive or have an objective you can succeed or fail at, but are not about killing. In the case of video games, sports games (with a few exceptions), The Sims, Myst, dating sims (and indeed most other simulation games), most puzzle games ... Non-video games: Monopoly might be the most obvious example.

You're kind of handwaving it by saying "nothing dies or is defeated in any way", but you're assuming "defeated" means "killed", which is a pretty narrow view. Just as in real life, you can "win" or "lose" in games in many ways that do not involve killing or bodily harm.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 5:46 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


I played the first The Last of Us. I haven't and won't play Part II, partly because I don't own a PS4, but primarily because I learned my lesson with the first one.

I thought TLoU sucked. Spec Ops: The Line has been name-dropped a couple of times and I completely agree with that reference, because I thought Spec Ops also sucked and for the same reasons. They were both wildly lauded, with huge numbers of words dedicated to how they were introducing new subjects into games, and video game storytelling was being reinvented, etc. etc. I love games that take the opportunity to tell a full and real story, and I applaud those who give it a shot. But man, did those games disappoint.

TLoU and Spec Ops told their stories with the subtlety of an exploding human head. They knew the emotional arc they wanted their player to feel and they were going to hammer you with every. single. narrative cliche they could find until you got there. (Of course you have to shoot Old Yeller in the new game. Of course you do.) I don't recall a single twist or plot development that wasn't a re-tread of some existing trope. Indeed, for a hilarious and utterly unscientific illustration, check out the TV Tropes pages for the games: Spec Ops: The Line; The Last of Us. If you don't want to click to avoid spoilers, rest assured that the pages are absurdly and comically long. The Last of Us has more listed tropes than the page for the Star Wars series.

And man, the cost/benefit ratio was terrible. The price charged for these developments was making you wade through hours and hours of grotesque violence and body horror, because that was also part of the point, and they approached that subject with exactly the same amount of taste and tactfulness as they did everything else. When you finished, there were no great insights waiting at the end of the painbow. Spec Ops was fundamentally a shitty, violent, pencil sketch of Heart of Darkness & Apocalypse Now, and to learn and think about everything meaningful that TLoU had to say just take an hour and a half and watch George Romero's The Crazies.

I read an article years ago - that, naturally, I can't find now - that talked about a similar trend in mainstream award-bait movies, with Million Dollar Baby being the central example. I felt like I could stomach those movies at the time, but these days life is providing all the emotional exhaustion a lot of people can handle. These games aren't just torture porn, they're emotional torture porn, and it just ain't worth it.
posted by ZaphodB at 6:32 PM on June 13 [4 favorites]


Misery porn /= "powerful storytelling. This sounds like The Painted Bird done as a video game.
posted by Ndwright at 7:45 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


ZaphodB - if you agree that a significant number of the dramas released by Hollywood are emotional torture porn, then I kind of agree with you. But I thought the writing was better than most. Its the story of a dad who is hardened by the loss of his daughter, and slowly opens up through his experiences with Elle. The acting was pretty good - superb for a videogame - and earned its twist ending, I thought, honestly. Once Joel opens up again to love, he is so unwilling to betray it that he would rather doom the entire human race. Even the coda, where he and Elle are far more awkward with one another after her rescue felt solid.

It wasn't terribly lighthearted, though the giraffe scene does jump to mind, but at least it isn't all negative. Joel and elle's relationship is developed positively In the end, Joel does not betray Elle and continues to take care of her. The repercussions of his taking care are addressed to a minor extent by the distance it puts between them, but the game does not bottom out into the effect of her know what happened will have.

(I am a bad commenter because I have not read any of the linked articles because I do not want to to be spoiled for LoU2. Hopefully they can address some of this with the same narrative skills.)

Its a story that could work as a movie or as a short story. (I would have enjoyed it if it showed up in one of Ellen Datlow's yearly collections) The story did not need to be 12 hours long, nor did it require the firing of weapons 100,000 times, but that is the way of AAA video games and would have been hard to avoid. They should have more clout this time around, but we will see.
posted by rtimmel at 7:47 PM on June 13


Video games have often seemed desperate to prove how "adult" they are with generous portions of violence. But what was excusable as the growing pains of a new medium is less tolerable now that that medium is pushing forty years old.

The next big escalation is VR, man, it's really making me rethink the whole "video games like GTA don't make you a psychopath", especially because in VR you're performing the actions with your own hands rather than clicking buttons (somewhat disturbing gameplay video, from Blade and Sorcery).

But here's the funny thing about games (and I've made this point here before), all games are about killing.

Many of my most loved genres don't include killing: I play racing car games, city building games and other simulators. You can play Civilization 6 in a totally peaceful manner and win via a culture or diplomacy victory without resorting to pillaging and stealing from other civs, in fact it's more interesting than the "kill them all" gameplay.
posted by xdvesper at 8:53 PM on June 13


part of the enjoyment i got out of games like this, including last of us 1, is that because our society is suffused with extreme violence, it is nice sometimes to see it practiced by characters i like and respect instead of the bad guys-- including the tough decisions about when to use violence and when not to. for some people, the antidote to being surrounded by violent culture isnt creating art about peace and fellow-feeling, but art in which your team gets a crack too. this doesnt mean you're pro-violence in the real world. it's just a cathartic emotional release. is this the most evolved, humanistic, emotionally mature response? no. but even though art is hard to define, part of it must be entertainment.
posted by wibari at 9:57 PM on June 13 [3 favorites]


yet we must endure another cycle of games writers desperate to pretend to significance praising its storytelling

I suspect, like Bioshock Infinite, that reviews will not reflect critical consensus. Game reviews still have a problem where they review expectations rather than being able to examine the game as a whole work, but having major publications like Kotaku and Polygon sound notes of dissent in their official reviews is earlier than usual.
posted by Merus at 8:00 AM on June 14


I'm less interested in the cycle of violence this game is trying to hamfist down our throats than I am in the cycle of incredibly well-crafted AAA games with horrible fucking narrative design. We live in the timeline that includes Undertale, people. Most game designers have played it or at least heard of it, and it came out five years ago.

Not only is it possible to make a game where you don't kill dogs, it's possible to make a game where you don't kill anything! Sure maybe that option is very, very difficult for the player to pull off, but that is 100% what makes the game powerful-- you have to choose between difficulty and expediency.

Can you imagine a LoU2 where Elle goes on a revenge quest, but ends up confronting her antagonist verbally, having never killed anybody? That would cost, what, another hundred thousand dollars in cut scenes? They have the budget, they just don't care, because at the core of a game like this you have hundreds of incredibly talented artists, voice actors, and coders... and a room full of teenage boys whose literary education stopped with Lord of the Flies trying to sell us on a simple moral message by forcing us to watch all the gruesome murders they cooked up in the margins of their spiral notebooks.
posted by a_curious_koala at 8:27 AM on June 14 [8 favorites]


My thing about this, is I am not eager to kill video game dogs. I'll kill video game humans all day long, but not dogs. Allegedly you can get through without having to kill dogs, but if you kill their handlers you upset the dogs, so I dunno. I guess it will be a tricky playthrough.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:59 PM on June 14 [1 favorite]


Not only is it possible to make a game where you don't kill dogs, it's possible to make a game where you don't kill anything! Sure maybe that option is very, very difficult for the player to pull off, but that is 100% what makes the game powerful-- you have to choose between difficulty and expediency.

Sure. For example, Dishonoured is an AAA game series where you're not required to kill anyone. You can if you want, but it's not the only way to play. And it's still grimdark and narrative driven.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:32 PM on June 14 [2 favorites]


Can you imagine a LoU2 where Elle goes on a revenge quest, but ends up confronting her antagonist verbally, having never killed anybody? That would cost, what, another hundred thousand dollars in cut scenes?

We don't have to imagine. There are narrative driven games that do this. Say, Life is Strange. More akin to a visual novel or interactive movie, effectively Choose Your Own Adventure branching story trees. But, Life is Strange demonstrates that this style of game can still be emotionally affecting - they can still have meaning.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:35 PM on June 14


Oh, never mind, I see from this thread and elsewhere that there is essentially a cutscene in which your agency is removed, and you have to kill a dog. Yeah, I'll give this one a miss. Thankfully there's so much other great stuff to play at the moment - I'll definitely give The Outer Wilds a go, and then I've still got to play CONTROL once I'm done with Warhammer Inquisitor.

Seems to me like Naughty Dog has made the one game quite a few times now (the Uncharteds, and the first Last), so mechanically I'm not going to be missing anything, and I can watch a YouTube playthrough if I really want to.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:47 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


TD, you may be interested in the games Twitter Can You Pet the Dog.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:52 PM on June 14 [3 favorites]


Perfect!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:55 PM on June 14


There's a scene early in Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 2 where you have to kill a dog and it's extremely violent. I have never quit, uninstalled and sent a tart email to the developer faster in my life. As I get older I get further and further away from seeing the value in grimdark edgelord horsepucky that rubs the viewer's face in murder, rape and torture. When I was sixteen and none of that was real to me, violent TV shows and movies were the coolest thing in the world. Now that I'm 31 I'll stick to Animal Crossing.

Of course, I don't want to be an absolutist and say that there's no value in any story that deals with dark themes, but that requires a level of tastefulness that I have yet to find in a triple-A game. Indie games do a better job with this material IME, Disco Elysium or Papers, Please being excellent examples.
posted by zeusianfog at 2:43 PM on June 15 [2 favorites]


I endure the grim dark bleakness for the giraffe moments.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:12 PM on June 15


There's a scene early in Telltale's The Walking Dead Season 2 where you have to kill a dog and it's extremely violent. I have never quit, uninstalled and sent a tart email to the developer faster in my life.

Considering what the rest of that game was like, you would not have enjoyed it at all. But it's a Walking Dead game - it was always going to be a cavalcade of misery.

I mean, you were apparently all signed up for a game where you knew everyone was going to die horribly (based on Season 1), but you drew the line at a dog?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:12 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


There's a big difference between random human NPCs and a cute doggy! I suppose I might have been just as mad about climactic events in the first game if I were a parent. But I'm not--I'm a dog owner, and they're clearly just trying to push people's buttons by violently killing a dog (just like they were trying to push buttons with That Moment in Season 1). I don't want my buttons pushed, I just want to play a fun and interesting game. There are plenty of zombie games out there that don't force the player to mercy-kill a hungry dog that's been impaled on rebar. I'm sorry, but that's edgelord nonsense.
posted by zeusianfog at 6:47 PM on June 16 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I am 100% comfortable saying that while I don't enjoy killing people in games, either, I absolutely draw the line at hurting dogs. Even reading about the dog bits in TLOU2 and TWD2 bothered me far more than is probably rational. No doubt that says all sorts of Big Things About Society but there we are. I will not engage with "entertainment" that has me killing a dog.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:40 PM on June 16 [3 favorites]


The next big escalation is VR, man, it's really making me rethink the whole "video games like GTA don't make you a psychopath", especially because in VR you're performing the actions with your own hands rather than clicking buttons (somewhat disturbing gameplay video, from Blade and Sorcery).

It might comfort you to know that we've absolutely reached the limit in terms of how violent games can get - reports out of the developer of the most recent Mortal Kombat was that artists were getting PTSD from what they were making, and it's well-known that the threshhold of what people can take in VR is much lower than on a screen, while games like Tetris Effect are much more effective in VR. That shifts what people are willing to do - if your cool violence and scary kills are nauseating in VR, and some chill falling blocks and exploding colours is way more engaging in VR, you'll see developers try and cater to what actually works.

(That's assuming VR is going to be more than just a fad for enthusiasts, which, well, the evidence isn't compelling.)
posted by Merus at 9:40 PM on June 16


My copy is on its way to my home. I'll be playing around 6ish tonight. I cannot wait. So psyched for this game.
posted by Fizz at 11:08 AM on June 19


Loving this game so far!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:10 PM on June 19


It's brutal as fuck and I feel bad about the things I do. But man is it an engrossing experience.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:36 PM on June 20


As someone who loves From Software games I say death to all dogs that have no pet prompt.
posted by Dumsnill at 3:58 PM on June 20 [2 favorites]


Oh no. I pet a dog earlier in this game and I fear this story will become as dark as I’ve imagined it will become.

(Why do I still fall for this trope? Why is it still even a thing?)
posted by iamkimiam at 4:06 PM on June 20


That was a good boy, but yeah.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:15 PM on June 20


If this game had a tourist mode where you could just freely wander around post-apocalyptic Seattle without playing through the combat/etc., I would be totally into it.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:38 PM on June 20


interesting coda: the game is being review bombed (by gamergaters?) on metacritic.com. reviewers: 9.5, users: 3.5.
posted by bruceo at 5:31 PM on June 20


Well, I watched a 10hr cutscene playthrough of this over the weekend, and yeah I am not super impressed to be honest. I think it was narratively very sloppy and cheap.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:05 PM on June 21


Postscript: I finished it yesterday and, contrary to my above reservations, quite enjoyed it. It’s not a perfect game, but it was absorbing and gave me a lot to think about. Ultimately I saw it as a good example of a well-done genre piece. This author in The Guardian is more articulate than I.
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 10:29 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


« Older What feeble nightbird of misfortune is this at my...   |   The Mad Magazine Fold-In Effect in CSS Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments