One-Sided Interaction: Yup. Lovin’ DIshonored and XCOM

There’s some cliche about lightning striking twice that implies a rarity of occurrence, so understand that I don’t lightly recycle such a phrase. Dishonored and XCOM unlocking at the same in my Steam library was not only like lightning striking twice, it was like lightning hitting a g-spot twice and causing simultaneous orgasms that rent our fragile reality in two. In one reality, I was thrust into a steampunk world filled with political intrigue and the freedom to stumble my way through a story as I saw fit, while in the other, it was up to me to manage the war against an alien invasion.

I really love them, both of them, and not in a ‘geez, Bill and Eric, just gangbang Sookie and get it over with’ kind of way. It’s real.

Dishonored, honestly, is a beautifully crafted game that doesn’t feel compromised by marketing and PR. While, yes, I am a jaded twat in many ways, my pretension is utterly smothered by the completeness of design in this game. My tendency in games is to try to break them. I’m always testing boundaries early on in a game because I like to ask myself what I would’ve done differently from a design and story standpoint, and in this, I fucked around a little at the beginning, but then just dove in. I don’t see many ‘AAA’ games that haven’t been focus-tested into a bland, dudebro-friendly ‘something awesome happens every time you press a button’ mess, but dude, something awesome happens every time you press a button in this game. My hands fluttered over the keyboard and mouse in a very natural way (after I fixed the awkward reversal of L&R mouse buttons and tweaked my display settings), and I don’t think I snickered or rolled my eyes even once. I explored, read, made choices, and then paused and considered every so often. I love that. I was using my brain, and I was being challenged to do so. And I was actually feeling something.

What’s most interesting about Dishonored is that it pulls from some very obvious (to me, at least) influences and isn’t afraid to iterate and execute. As I play through it, I see hints of Half Life 2, Deus Ex, Fallout 3, Metal Gear Solid, Assassin’s Creed, BioShock, Mass Effect, and many others, and it just works. This game seems to be a passion project made by people who love games, but who are also smart enough to know how to iterate on good ideas.

XCOM is equally fantastic and tickles a whole other part of my mental g-spot.

So, Joel tried really hard to get me to play the original XCOM a few years ago. He was so hell-bent on it that he drove over to my house, sat me down at my computer, then walked me through a few missions. It was cool, but … OLD. I dig old stuff, but damn … those games are old. Like Danny Glover old.

The new one, though … I gotta say, his enthusiasm was infectious. I kept finding little XCOM tidbits that I’d fling his way, since I knew he was crazy pumped, but I’d dig into them myself before I passed them along, and, well, I kinda fell in love with his girl, too. I didn’t queue up a Steam version for myself until just a few days ago, and it really wasn’t until he mentioned that he was prepping an Excel spreadsheet for the game that my ears perked up.

I wondered if that was really necessary. I mean, could a modern game really be so awesome that it would require a spreadsheet? I’ve only used a spreadsheet in one modern series, and that was Mass Effect, so that I could track all my disparate choices in each run through the trilogy, so it wasn’t even for anything realy awesome, like resource management.

I decided that it couldn’t be left to chance. I needed to know. Had my long-lost ‘Excel: The Game’ finally been reborn?

Well, I haven’t broken out Excel for it yet, but I’m still really early, and totally enamored. The battles alone could carry a modern game. The back-at-base stuff seems great so far, and few things get me hard like a tech tree.

Also, they’re doing something interesting with the men and women that make up your squad. I had a sergeant that was the lone survivor from the first mission, and when he was mauled by some weird skinny dude alien, I got really upset. I really cared. He was my squad leader. He was my boy. He was my (insert vaguely hispanic name that I can’t remember.) He was dead, and that was it. I had to promote someone else up, and I’m really having concerns for whether (insert another vaguely hispanic name that I can’t remember) is ready, but he’s going to have to be. The fate of the world is up to us.

Buy both of these games right now. I promise you won’t regret it.

This Just In

Man, and there’s a new ‘The Walking Dead’ episode in the Telltale game series, and a Mass Effect multiplayer update that I wouldn’t care about except it’s fucking VOLUS, and the Borderlands 2 Mechromancer class is up. AND I still got Guild Wars 2 and SWTOR whispering to me. Yeah, this is the peak of my gaming holiday season, for sure. I’m gonna snag Forza Horizon in a few weeks, and then I’m settling in while nature commits its annual bed-shitting.

It’s been amazing watching Twitter the last few days. It seems like every other tweet has been gushing about either Dishonored or XCOM. That really makes me happy. I like seeing developers take chances on games that aren’t annual franchise refreshes, and it’s great to see so many different people, from so many different walks of life all enjoying these two games. Hopefully, that translates to publishers being willing to fund games that aren’t mega-franchises.

I still want to do a piece on Kickstarter. I’m excited about Project Eternity and Shaker, and want to explore the Kickstarter phenomenon more.

Thanks for reading!


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  1. llamawrangler reblogged this from galaxynextdoor
  2. theomeganerd said: Dishonored is Great! Luvin’ it as well.
  3. galaxynextdoor posted this
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