Choose your own adventure
Nathan Drake leaps across a chasm, his arms at full stretch, his fingers finding a handhold. His grip is sound, but rock crumbles away, and the game cues in an audio file from the day Nolan North spent in a sound booth yelling ‘Holy crap!’ over and over. Drake falls away, arms scrabbling against thin air. He catches a ledge a few yards below, and we’re back on our way.
Uncharted 4 (p104) has a Trophy called Ludonarrative Dissonance. It’s a send-up of the well-worn complaint about the happy-go-lucky, cheeky-chappy adventurer who turns into a psychopath when bad guys show up. But there’s another disconnect at the Uncharted series’ core. These games make you feel like there’s so much at stake, when in fact there’s nothing at all. Mess up a jump and you’ll respawn on the previous platform. Fall in combat and you’ll lose a couple of minutes of pg progress. And handholds won’t crumble into nothing unless there’s something below for Drake to automatically grab onto. This is no bad thing: if you’ve been playing as much Dark
Souls III as we have, it’s actually a welcome change of pace. But if it’s consequence you’re after, there’s plenty this month to keep you occupied. The Banner Saga 2 (p116) is a game of making tough decisions and suffering through their inevitably bleak outcomes. Fire Emblem Fates (p114) puts a real price on your choices, since they dictate which one of three games you’ll actually play.
There’s no purer an expression of choice and consequence than a puzzle game, and there are few finer than this month’s surprise package. Stephen’s Sausage Roll (p120) is a punishing game of grilled pork by-products that greets a single error with a failure screen, and gives you no help at all, just the chance to learn from your many mistakes. Unlike its subject matter, it’s certainly an acquired taste.