Saturday, July 31, 2010

Follow the Signal about of Limbo. Watch out for Dragons.

Ladies and Gentleman, my nerd cup hath runneth over. There’s been three big things I wanted to take a moment to talk about but life keeps distracting me. So! I’m going to throw together a post here commenting on these three very exciting things.

First comes some new information regarding Dragon Age 2 – more specifically, the protagonist of Hawke. Now, Dragon Age: Origins came as quite the surprise to me. At current, I’ve played through the game in its entirety 4 times, exhausting every possible ending and major decision point and yet I could still pop the game in for another play through. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the game so much were the origins stories themselves: your character’s past ended up playing a huge role in how certain events played out. Not to mention, it helped give your character an additional layer of distinctiveness.

It seems that Bioware has decided to take a different route with the sequel: your character will be a male or female human named Hawke who survived the destruction of Lothering by the Dawkspawn as detailed in the first game. On top of that, Hawke will also have a voice; instead of detailed dialogue options you will select a paraphrased option which Hawke will then speak a more specific version of. If it sounds familiar it’s because you played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Now, while I’m personally pretty disappointed in the lack of real origin stories I am excited for my character to have a voice.

The other news about Dragon Age 2 which has me crazy excited is that the cover story in Game Informer confirmed the return of Morrigan and Flemeth. If you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins, you understand why this is so exciting.

Second, there’s Limbo. Ah yes, Limbo. You’ve probably heard of it by now: the XBLA platformer wherein you play a young boy in search of your sister who is lost somewhere in the eerie underworld. The thing about Limbo is that unless you know the story of the game beforehand, you would have no idea of the story; there is no narrative, no cut scenes, no dialogue at all. You begin the game as a shadow of a little boy and work your way through a series of puzzles to the game’s completion. During your journey you’ll encounter horrifying creatures, devious traps and vicious other children who all want nothing more than to end your life in a surprisingly gruesome manner.

In the background of this madness is a stunningly effective black and white world – Limbo is truly a powerful example of minimalist expression. Its simplicity (there are only 2 buttons, jump and action) is its strength; it effortlessly allows you to become totally immersed in this unique world. Even the lack of story, which you think you would off-putting, is a nonissue. The only negative about the game in fact is that it will cost you $15 bucks from the Xbox Marketplace – for just over 3 hours of gameplay. It’s up to you to decide if 3 hours of entertainment is worth that much but if you’re looking for a truly exceptional experience, I’d say it definitely is.

The final thing I wanted to discuss in this post was the release of the first DLC for Alan Wake, entitled “The Signal”. This downloadable episode picks up right where the game ended, following Mr. Wake on his journey to . . . well, you’ll have to play the game to find out. In fact, there isn’t much I can say about this episode without spoiling the original game but I can say that “The Signal” may very well be the best episode of the entire game. No kidding.

Something interesting about this DLC is that like the original game it uses adaptive technology. Only, unlike the game that adjusts itself based on how well you’re doing, the difficulty in this episode gradually gets harder: you being on normal mode and as Alan moves deeper and deeper into the content things get harder, eventually pitting you against a boss on nightmare difficulty. And let me say this, the game isn’t fuckin’ around. That boss is hard. Like, controller-throwing hard.

Still, it is super satisfying when you finally get him/her/it (I’M NOT SAYING) down and the journey there is truly extraordinary. If you enjoyed Alan Wake, which you better have, you’ll unquestioningly love this addition . . . even if you do have to sit through a horrible Verizon joke.

Now I want to go replay Dragon Age: Origins, Alan Wake, and Limbo.

Being a gamer is hard.


  1. I guess this is kind of a late comment, but I gotta comment on Alan Wake.. The game is brilliant. I love the way the story is told, how the forshadowing with the manuscript is laid out, and too many other great things say without this getting REALLY lengthy.. Alan Wake went from a game I was just kind of digging, to my number 1 game this year, over Heavy Rain, SC2, and dozens of others. I loved it enough that it went from a renter to me scouring the net to get a collector's edition copy. I'm currently replaying it on nightmare difficulty with the game designer's commentary on, very fun way to play the game.

    Also just started getting into Dragon Age, so far so fun.. Love Shale and Alistair.

  2. Justin -

    I feel exactly the same way as you. I loved Alan Wake the first time I played through it but I was in love after I finished Nightmare mode. I'll have to go back and try it again with the commentary. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Also, enjoy Dragon Age! It's officially entered my top 5 games of all time :)

    ~ Cary