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Cuteness Vector

january 11, 2015

Pie and I have briefly started playing Shovel Knight recently and it did not take long at all for us to agree that Propeller Rat is probably our favorite thing about the game. I mean, don't get me wrong, Trouple King is really great too, but I mean, come on. Propeller Rat. The whole game should be about him! Oh, the game is a pretty fun little retro experience, so I guess there's that too.

One of the most impressionable things about the original Tomb Raider was the sense of exploration and mystery it conveyed. As you delved tombs, the idea of the settings you were exploring being connected to or referencing real life mythos, even if loosely, was exciting. When that simple and beautiful theme music cued in, I couldn't help but feel awestruck, losing myself to the immersion of uncovering a tomb forgotten by time.

Around the holiday, we got to sink our teeth into the Tomb Raider reboot since it was finally priced around what we were willing to pay for it. Since the original was one of my favorite games for the PS1, I had been very curious about it. However, everything I saw on the reboot made me skeptical it would capture the essence of the original, seeming to cater more toward the action heavy shooter crowd. Thankfully, the Steam sale gave that justification that, "Well, if we don't like it, at least we didn't spend much."

In the first several hours in the reboot, Pie and I were impressed and quite pleasantly surprised. The setting was interesting and a lot of attention was paid to arousing your curiosity about the mystery surrounding the island. It struck a nice balance between combat and exploring and I got a Metroid "return with the proper power up" vibe that I was enjoying. The combat was fun and I was dying to get to my first serious tomb or mysterious area.

Finally arriving at the first tomb in the game was rather exciting, but as we had progressed further, the tombs weren't adding up to much. The game had captivated us so well that I didn't think much of a small tomb with a single simple puzzle and no real rewards or narrative. But as each tomb boiled down to pretty much the same concept, it started sapping my enthusiasm.

When we got to the Chasm Monastery, I was so stoked that we had finally reached the real tomb. Here was this sprawling interesting monastery carved into the wind-whipped chasm; certainly it would be brimming with secrets and lore. Sadly, all this setup and anticipation that ended up boiling down to just a couple rooms and one bit of lore discovered in the main chamber.

It didn't take long after leaving the Chasm Monastary that my fears were starting to be realized as we were bombarded with combat that spiraled out of control in hilarious fashion. The amount of danger and spectacle that is thrown at Lara henceforth had us laughing at how absurd it was. Maybe that's the point of it though? At least it's entertaining, right?

Although we aren't through it yet, I can't help but have mixed feeling on the reboot. The combat is great and fun and they do so many things right in direction and setting. I'm happy that they brought Lara back and finally did something decent with the series after years of disappointing sequels. The game is great and I think for people new to the series, there's a lot to love. I just hope that they expand upon more of the solemn experience of exploration and puzzle solving that seems to have been lost like so many of the tombs I once fell in love with.

Cuteness Vector

january 11, 2015

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