Shoot out


Ad­ver­sity is a key el­e­ment of many good yarns. But too many devel­op­ers still reach for a sim­plis­tic short­hand, let­ting vi­o­lence stand in for some­thing more nu­anced where it’s not re­quired. It can even hap­pen in a game, it turns out, whose devel­op­ers have made a con­certed ef­fort to re­move gun­play.

DICE’s Mir­ror’s Edge Cat­a­lyst (p108) trades on agility and mo­men­tum, never plac­ing a weapon in your hand or forc­ing you into cover, and even help­ing you avoid af­fray al­to­gether. But this other­wise pro­gres­sive de­sign still forces play­ers to en­dure the game’s un­der­cooked, awk­ward hand-to-hand com­bat in pro­gresshalt­ing arena en­coun­ters. A des­per­ate scrap to clear the way makes sense, but these walled-in mo­ments add noth­ing to our un­der­stand­ing of Faith’s strug­gle.

At least DICE’s mis­step can be blamed on genre hang­overs – RedL­ynx has a great deal more ex­plain­ing to do af­ter crow­bar­ring some truly abysmal gun­play into Tri­als Of The Blood Dragon (p123). There’s shonky plat­form­ing and an as­sort­ment of other poorly judged ad­di­tions, too, but it’s heart­break­ing to see a team so ca­pa­ble of meld­ing ad­ver­sity with sat­is­fac­tion serve up a bul­let-driven de­ba­cle.

Even games built around guns can make a mess of things, as Cap­com proves with Um­brella Corps (p114). Though in this case, it’s ac­tu­ally a se­lec­tion of other el­e­ments that serve to un­der­mine what could have other­wise been an in­of­fen­sive tac­ti­cal shooter. Per­haps the real prob­lem here is a mar­ket-led fear of let­ting a good idea stand un­sup­ported.

Thank good­ness, then, for In­side (p120), a mes­meris­ing ad­ven­ture that nei­ther wa­vers from its fo­cused vi­sion nor re­sorts to vi­o­lence as a nar­ra­tive crutch. In­stead, stripped en­tirely of fat, it con­jures its hor­ror from the light­est of touches, and it’s all the bet­ter for its clar­ity of vi­sion.

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