Puzzled on a contrary opinion



  • I was talking to a friend recently about a game he'd given me a loan of Horizon - Zero Dawn. I was telling him how I wasn't really feeling it, and he and another friend of mine couldn't believe what they were hearing and immediately started calling me a hipster (I don't blame them I listen to weird music also we're just generally mean to each other as friends). But for some reason, this struck me more than most other times I have a contrary opinion.

    This game looked like it was made for me, big world, exciting creatures, stealthy gameplay and a cool protagonist. However, I started playing, and playing, and playing and eventually I started to hate the game more and more. I played the game for 20 hours and felt like I had gotten nowhere, I felt the game had explained nothing to me. Why where there 7 different bows? Why couldn't one bow be enough with different arrow types, why was there so many different types of armor and weapons, the game told me nothing, it threw me in at the deep end, I hated it. The game boasted cool traversal, walking on ropes silently picking off foes yet whenever you got to a ruin, you couldn't scale any of it, those mechanics were only for anything plastered with a yellow rope.

    To sum it up really the game felt too spread thin, it added 500 things but did none of them exceptionally well, however, this game is being so praised. Every podcast I listen to, every video I watch they're all lauding this games praises but all I see are its shortcomings. I think I'm so riled up about this is because I wanted to love it, yet whenever I give it a go I immediately want to see how far I can frisbee it down my back garden till my dog catches it. Has anyone ever been in a similar situation before? What game? and why did it irk you so much.



  • I've been in this situation a lot. I think it comes down to me having weirdly specific tastes in games, and weirdly specific turn offs in games. They're hard to explain so it's hard to look for games that have what I want and not what I don't. The best example of this for me is Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. I should love this game. I love the art style, I love the writing, I love the characters, I love the music. And In general I love games with unique stories, cool environments, item management, and turn based combat. All things considered, TTYD should be my favorite Mario game. But it isn't. I hate playing it.

    The main thing I don't enjoy about TTYD is it's battle system. I can't say that it's a bad battle system, it's just one that's not for me. Like, why are the damage values so low? Why is my HP 10 at the start? These numbers are so low that there's no real finesse to damage calculation. There's no critical attacks, just stylish ones, and I hate when I have to do things in real time to successfully pull of a move in battle. I play JRPG's because my reflexes are awful, I don't want to fail a battle because my fingers are too slow when my strategy up to that point had been flawless. And on the subject of strategy, there basically is none. There's no move or enemy types, there's no way to exploit weaknesses. The only thing you have to consider is whether or not you can jump on an enemy without hurting yourself and how many enemies you are facing. And on the subject of moves, why do all the characters only have 4? It's not uncommon for JRPG's to have a limit on how many moves a character can use at one time, but not such a hard cap on how many they can learn. The whole thing just bothers me to a degree I know is probably unnecessary.

    As for other things that bother me, just. The world. I know, Rogeuport is awesome, and I love Twilight Town. I thing that Boggly Woods is absolutely beautiful, but that's about it. I'm not very much attached to the rest of the locations because they aren't as aesthetically appealing to me. Usually how a game makes up for generic scenery is through exploration. Lots of secrets, winding pathways, different ways to access areas. But TTYD doesn't really have that. There's one path, and you follow it. I don't usually mind linear game design, in fact I generally prefer it, but even if there's only one way to get to your destination I like for there to be interesting ways to find the path. That's part of the reason I love Super Paper Mario. There's only one path to success most of the time, but how you find that path usually makes you think, try things out, explore the area. Take for example Merlee's Mansion. You're told you need an exorbitant amount of money to pay for the vase you broke in a mansion, and the maid turns out to be a sadistic slave driver who forces you to do manual labor. For 10 minutes or so your're stuck doing menial tasks to try and earn enough money but it's not working out. You hear about a VIP room where you can earn money faster so you go an a quest to find the code that will let you in. You're making money faster now, but still not fast enough, so when another worker tells you of a rumored safe with all the money you need inside, you go on another quest to find the safe and its code. It takes platforming, dimension flipping, puzzle solving, and a new partner to get you to the safe but you do eventually get there and get the money you need. After you pay off your debt things kind of go to hell and a new area of the mansion is unlocked leading to one of the most unsettling boss battles of the game, but that's not the point. The point is, you have to get to that safe so that you can find the money. You can pay off your debt through labor alone, but you can't advance to the next part of the game without the partner you team up with in your search for the vault. Even though your path is basically chosen for you, you don't feel like it is. You genuinely feel like you're working the system to put yourself at an advantage, and even though the path you walk to get to the vault is linear, it isn't a straight line. You're not walking from area to area in order of their appearance, you're back tracking and finding rooms before you would normally encounter them if you went straight, and trying to find how access different parts of rooms that are sealed off. You feel like your really on a quest to find something that's been very deliberately hidden.

    In TTYD, you mainly walk from screen to screen in order. You use paper abilities to clear jumps or squeeze through tight spaces, but the layout of each area isn't that complicated. The underground section where the titular door, is pretty complex, I would compare it to Flipside/Flopside from SPM, but that's about the most complicated TTYD gets.

    And it sucks, because I really want to like TTYD. There are a lot of aspects of the story that I really do enjoy, like the writing and the characters, which I why I really enjoy watching other people play it. But even then I only watch the story beats, because watching battles in that game just irks me.

    There are other games I don't enjoy that are commonly hailed as the greatest games of all time, but that has more to do with how they've aged then my personal preferences. Everyone has a threshold for how far back they can go back in gaming history and still enjoy themselves. This is usually determined by what games they played as a kid. If you grew up with an NES you can probably play most games that came out at that time and after it with no issue. If you played N64 games as a kid you'll be able to enjoy games from that era and beyond. But the issue with this is that games that are very outdated are considered the best that gaming has to offer because they were the best when they came out. The classics are mostly games from the N64 backwards. That's just the nature of classics I guess, something has to have been around for a while to be considered a classic by the people who determine what the classics are. In most other mediums, age isn't as important, so the people who review things and write editorials, and who basically determine what a classic is, can be any age. You don't have to be 50 years old to enjoy Back to the Future, the fashion might be outdated, but the movie looks and sounds fine. With games, there's a real difference in how games look, play, and sound depending on when they came out. And the people who review games and who get to decide which games are GOTY or are considered classics, are all people who were alive when those games came out.

    I'm not a baby, but I'm 20 years old which is a lot younger then a lot of the big movers and shakers in games media. My first console was the PS2, and the first console I played regularly as the original DS. As a result, games from that generation are about as far as I can go back without loosing enjoyment. I look at games like Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time and I just don't understand why people think they're any better then games coming out today. I can appreciate that they were the first 3D entries in their series, I can appreciate that they pushed the boundaries of game design at the time and established a lot of mechanics that are commonplace today, but that doesn't change the fact that they're as old as I am. They look really old. I won't say they look bad because they clearly tried their best with the tools that they had, but there's no question that Super Mario Odyssey is prettier than 64 and that Breath of the Wild looks better than Ocarina of Time. People hype up the controls of games like these, saying that they're just the right amount of responsiveness and that they just feel good to play, but I think most people who played modern 3D platformers first wouldn't agree. When I play SM64 I have real trouble maneuvering Mario, to me the controls feel wonky and it's hard to explain why. In some places it's too responsive, in other places it's too slippery for my tastes. The first 3D platformer I played a lot of was Super Mario Galaxy when I was 10 and ever since Galaxy's controls have been my preference. I'm sure some day I'll be showing games to my children or my nieces and nephews, and they'll have just finished playing Super Mario 2030 or something, and when I show them Galaxy they'll all think it's ugly and the controls are bad. That's the nature of games. Games are constantly getting better and better. Games of the past and the games of today will always be remembered as the foundations of gaming and as important milestones in gaming history, but that doesn't mean no future game will ever top them.

    Sorry, that was a long winded way of me saying I don't like games that came out before the PS2/Game Cube/ Game Boy Advance.


  • Global Moderator

    Funny thing how I was in the same seat. I bought this game, played it for about 11 hours and just couldnt really get it. Sure it had some cool moments and it had nice graphics and stuff, but it just didnt feel like it was for me.

    I put it down for about 2 months and just felt that I should go back to finish it just because. Now I've come back and started to do more side things (hunters lodge, dungeons etc) and all of a sudden im absolutely loving it. Im not sure exactly what it was that grabbed me so suddenly, but using the whole arsenal of weapons on different mobs, shooting of bits and pieces and traps really made me psyked. I just got to Meridian and I feel like I just want more.

    I dont know, but with somegames I think you need to stop "trying to like it", give it some distance and then maybe come back. That said, there are nothing wrong with understanding that the game wasnt for you and move on.

    I do agree that the game isnt very good with explaining things, instead giving you tasks and tutorials to use your tools and kinda explore what fits for your playstyle, but also in this case less is also more. I dont really see the use of having 3 different type of arrows for knocking off containers.