Friday 23 March, 2012
Ha, finished it in (almost) one sitting (I had to get up for dinner...)! That's a first.
It's hard to think about the game without being somehow influenced by everyone else gushing about the game. Is it gush-worthy? Yes, I guess. I definitely recommend it and I intend to play it again, and maybe even watch someone else play it. For now, I'll just comment on a few things I thought were interesting...
So, when I first started it up I spent some time wandering around figuring things out. I was curious to see how "constrained" or open the environment was. Could I simply walk away from mountain and head in a completely different direction? Not really. (I only tried twice) You either get blown back by a strong gust of wind or you reach a tall dune you can't climb up. It's actually done in a nice, friendly way that's quite subtle. You don't feel like you've hit an invisible wall (ok, I actually did at one point...but anyways).
I had wandered around for a while when suddenly I noticed there was someone else! I was sort of waiting for it, but I wasn't sure when or how it would happen, so it took me by surprise. All of a sudden, there was someone else...a short way away. I felt like I had spotted a friend and immediately wondered if they had played before, if they knew what to do, and so on. And then, almost as suddenly he/she was gone. That made me sad, and made me wonder, how does it happen? Were we too far away? Did they move on to the next area without me? Did they just log out of the game?
It wasn't until much later that I was able to see someone disappear in front of my eyes. The other player sat down all of a sudden and then slowly dematerialized. It was strange. I wonder what they saw.
I made it all the way to the end (with several different companions) when we reached a snowy slope. By that time my scarf was reasonably long (I felt) and there was an air shark (a "bad guy" that I assume that has some other name I'm sure, but I really don't want to look online...I like the mystery better that way.). It's patrolling and suddenly, WHAM-O. And my scarf is shorter! That was a real shocker (and a disappointment, I was kind of proud of my scarf). Could it be, that I could actually lose/die? It hadn't occurred to me until that moment, to be honest. I encountered the air shark earlier in the game, but I was under the impression that it was more of scary element rather than a real danger. I still don't know if you can die or not, I guess I'll have to try it out the next time I play.
Anyways... my companion and I kept on going together, huddled in the snow. I did feel quite connected and had to keep on chirping all the time so as not to lose him/her AND to make sure it was the same person. The companions are switched in and out so seamlessly (according to what I had experienced) that I was really hoping not to be the victim of a switcheroo at the end. That would have been a real disappointment because I felt like I wanted to stick it out with the same companion all the way to the end. I even considered quitting the game if I got someone different...
I won't describe the ending, or the buildup, or any of that, except to highlight how emotional it actually is. It feels a bit stupid to write it up like that, but I was really quite engaged and invested despite the limited agency. I went from sadness and melancholia all the way to exhilaration and joy (partly because my companion and I made it through together).
And then, he or she was gone. There was no good bye, no see you later, no thanks, no hugs. He/she just wasn't there any more. I don't know if it's because they logged out of the game or not. Once you finish, you're essentially whisked back to the beginning...and I thought that he/she would be there and we could chill a bit or something. No such luck.
I did play a bit more out of curiosity to see if the game was any different...and yes! There were some differences. I'm not sure if it's because I just took a different path, so I'll have to explore some more, but it was definitely not the same thing!
Finally...I'm curious about the ring of symbols along the bottom of your character's robe. I ran into companions that had more symbols and I think that I had more symbols after playing through once. I could be wrong, but I'll have to explore. I was also surprised to see that my chirp-symbol changed when I started over. This makes a certain amount of sense, but still...