You know what the best thing about playing Portal was? It was the fact that every time I managed to solve a particularly hard level, I felt like an Einstein level genius. I usually do not like puzzle type games, mainly because I tend to suck at them. Actually, let me rephrase that. I do not have the patience for them. On the rare occasions that I do decide to give them time, I do end up solving them just fine. Still, having a limited amount of play time means I tend to get irritated if a solution does not seem readily apparent to me.
This is interesting because I remember a phase when I’d spend ridiculous amounts of time looking for solutions to puzzles in Half Life 2 or Tomb Raider. Some of them would take me well over 15 to 20 minutes before I understood what I had to do but even so, I enjoyed them immensely. Somewhere down the line however, my patience for stuff like this began to wane. It did not help that the new crop of games that showed up on the shelves were the sort that constantly told me where to go and what to do. Shooters like Call of Duty and its ilk were by far the biggest culprits but by no means the only ones. It just became a matter of course for me to look for a “pointer” or a blip on my map to show me which direction I needed to be facing.
Fast forward 6 years and its come to the point where not being led by the nose feels odd. That’s pretty depressing when you think about it. it’s a sentiment that was made apparent in an excellent interview by Tim Colwill with Arkane Studio’s Julien Roby. For those who do not know, Arkane is developing the extremely promising “Dishonored”, the game which to me at least, looks like it might outdo the original Deus Ex in terms of player choice and freedom. In other words, there’s not going to be any glowy pointers here.
(I’m quoting Julien directly from the interview, the entirety of which you can read over at games.on.net)
“We try not to lead the player by the nose, but at some point we found that if we don’t give a little information, people just get lost and don’t know what to do. It’s just overwhelming. So we tried to add this element that gave just a hint, to help a little. But we try to do it as little as possible.”
On the one hand this is a little sad. On the other, not knowing what exactly it is they are planning, it’s a little premature to be critical. Honestly, having the option of some sort of guide/pointer would be fine. As long as it is an option and not forced down my throat. The best example I can think of is the raven called “Dust” as employed by Darksiders 2 (which I am currently in the process of reviewing). It’s a nifty little system and one which the player can (sort of) control.
I do not know what this “element” in Dishonored is, but I do hope there is a way of turning it off. I wouldn’t mind having that hand off my nose for a bit.