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Haunted

A house haunted over three periods in history with the narrative blurring the lines between generations of a family that lived in that house. This is a premise I really liked in the recent Lightfields TV drama.

Could it work as a videogame premise? I’m sure it could but other than the over-ripened horror offerings we get the pleasure of playing in a Silent Hill or Resident Evil, I’ve yet to see an engaging and layered haunted house narrative in a videogame. Maybe there’s just no market for such a genre type or that no developer willing to take such a risk?

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Without

There is a danger in knowing too much. Knowing what is to come or what is expected can curse the appreciation of the present. Going into Bioshock Infinite knowing that Booker must first find Elizabeth before Columbia displays all its glory is a push designed to move the player headlong towards her rescue.

bookeliz

After arriving in Columbia via rocket, little pieces slowly reveal themselves.  The urge to press forward, to forgo solo-Booker is something I didn’t consider before hand. Yet very little of his past is brought about in these early hours of the game. Mainly there are hints of a past that is littered by dark deeds and violence. I’m still unconvinced at this point if Booker has been either a power for good that has lost his way, a mercenary capable of all types of deception or something else entirely.

With so little known about either Elizabeth or Booker in this early part of the game, I’m beginning to wonder if this is not just a story of Elizabeth experiencing Columbia from outside her prison but also the discovery of who exactly Booker is and what, if any, connection he has to her. This has been compounded by a possible spoiler I glimpsed a few days ago and although I have not looked to confirm it or not, it has begun to influence my thoughts.

I, as Booker, have now reached and rescued Elizabeth. Columbia is now playing out as a vivid, often oppressive backdrop to the gameplay. I’ve not come away from any game previous thinking as much as I do than I have with Bioshock Infinite. In the next post I’ll be digging further into the psyche of Booker and Elizabeth as the game allows me.

Next up in this Bioshock Infinite game diary – Lamb.

Lighthouse

lighthouse

One lighthouse to drop you to the depths and one to lift you amongst the clouds.

The lighthouse prologue in both Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite aren’t polar opposites but the mood is distinctly different. Setting up each game with the image of a lighthouse – a beacon in the night, a warning of danger; coastal rocks – has one of those lasting impressions. Both games speak to me, ‘…you have been warned…’ while in one the lighthouse starts as a refuge, the other is a murderous place full of foreboding.

Booker gets to the lighthouse in Bioshock Infinite’s opening upon a small boat with a talkative couple who look to be charged with delivering him there safely.  They talk much but say little about the situation that concerns Booker DeWitt. I hazard that they’ll be involved again at some point but unlike Dishonored, I believe that will be the last Booker will see of the boat.

Some of the dire straights that Booker seems to have got himself into are alluded to from the scenes within the lighthouse and the plain attachment Booker has to those that have left him with a stern and graphic example of what failure will mean.

Just before the rocket-ride to Columbia there is a sequence just after the bell-ringing that reminded me of the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. To limit spoilers as much as I can I’ll omit exactly what happens in that scene but if you have played through that part I’d be curious to know if you felt the same?

Next up in this Bioshock Infinite game diaryWithout.

Daud

In my initial play-through of Dishonored(low chaos), I spared Daud’s life. So it’s fitting that the Knife of Dunwall DLC is Daud’s story of redemption. Unlike Corvo’s story, I cannot see how a low/high chaos approach would work or be a benefit to the gameplay experience. Daud wants to redeem himself and surely the narrative will not allow such a gameplay mechanic to feature? Or will it be a more relaxed feature that will allow more deaths to be dealt, as Daud your are indeed an assassin?

With the first part of this DLC coming in April it does allow me some time to run a high chaos play-through in Dishonored. That being said I’ll leave it until I play the DLC before turning my hand to a game diary.

Berlin

Change of plan.

Rather than be disappointed by yet another retread, I’ve chosen not to do a game diary of the new Gears of War. I’ll wait now on the release of Bioshock Infinite next week and start, as planned, a game diary of that game.

While waiting on next week, the idea to put down my thoughts on Civilization V seemed a worthy makeweight. Indeed this will mean using my Mac for gaming – something I hadn’t intended to do – but also playing a turn-based game rather than the action or adventure that I have grown accustomed to. Back in the late ’90s I would love spending a day playing Dune 2000 over a LAN network but it has also been that long since I’ve played that RTS game.

So that kinda makes me – for use of a better word – a noob, albeit a turn-based one. I’m not ashamed to admit that what turned me onto Civilization V came from listening to the recent Ken Levine in his Bafta Q&A where he mentioned that civilization was one of his favourite games. I also knew I had a copy of Civilization V somewhere around my home that I hadn’t played. Those kind of moments always raise a little smile from me. The unexpected moments that bring to light how random events can seem far from random.

For the first game of Civilization V I let the random factor run its course and began a campaign from the spore of the Germanic Berlin. After 57 turns my eyes have been widen to the depth the game. The pace can be very misleading especially as I’m use to an often frantic pace to my console games. Neglecting a troop movement for just one turn or misjudging the range that a barbarian has with his bow have been wake up calls in these early turns. I can also see where successful negotiations are often important in gaining advantage towards a winning scenario.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting more about my learning curve with the Bismarck. Also unlike the future game diaries to come(which will have a finite run), I’ll keep this game diary as ongoing and open.

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