Arrogant Gamer

play what I tell you to

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Fade to Black

Tim & Adrien Soret had one hell of a #cyberpunkjam entry. The Last Night stole gold overall and in the “aesthetics” department, and was highly ranked in every other category. I was 100% sold on this experience right up until the end.

"Jim Guthrie, eat your heart out."

Spoilers, alright? You blast your way past the cyborg bouncers, push through a crowd of neon and black leather, take out the bouncer, and shoot the target. The target stumbles backwards out the window, with a crash. At this point the game takes control, and walks you outside.

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe."

You stand on the balcony, the fat antagonist leans heavily against the railing. No words are exchanged.

Then the game does that thing: you can’t move, all you can do is draw your weapon. All you can do is assassinate the target. The game knows this, and you know this… but it forces you to pull the trigger. This can be an incredibly compelling technique! It hits that “resonance” everyone talks about, and really puts you in the moment.

But I didn’t pull the trigger.

My usual response to these “semi-cutscenes” is to turn the game off. My ending is usually better: more subtle, more nuanced, more left to the imagination. Especially considering that I could have shot the poor dude. Why did I hesitate? What’s the business here, between me and the old dude? He stands there, cold and bleeding, hand raised meaninglessly against the pistol. The music played on and on, and for me… everything faded to black.

Moreover, pulling the trigger wouldn’t have been cyberpunk! That’s not grim, that’s not gritty: that’s arcade. That’s a video game. Cyberpunk is Roy Batty crying in the rain. Ideally, the game should have detected the lack of input, and then just gradually faded to black. Putting the player in the driver’s seat and making them pull the trigger is great, I love that, but don’t undo yourself by making that the only choice. Allowing the player the out of choosing ambiguity would have been thrilling.

It is totally rad to think that we are going to get to play a feature length action platformer from these brothers. I’m looking forward to Behind Nowhere, and putting it on my playlist right next to Hyper Light Drifter.