Epic Doom and Gloom

Been playing a lot of Mass Effect 2 of late and finding it achingly devoid of interesting things to write in a high-minded critical manner about. So, I grabbed the demo for the latest Castlevania in the hopes that there’d be something interesting in there. I haven’t played any of the other games from the series (pretty serious omission, perhaps), so I was interested to see what the deal was.

The deal was pretty much a fighty-fighty game in the mould of God of War more or less, complete with a long chain-oriented weapon which I was quickly beating up werewolves with. Beat beat beat. All well and good, and the environments were as impressively lavish as I’d been led to believe, so that’s pretty nice too. Still, in general, I’m not the biggest fan of that particular genre.

The one thing that did strike me, though, was the crazy slew of narration that opened and, I suppose, motivated the game. It managed to represent a bunch of stuff I just think is a ridiculous view of life by gearing up with: “The struggle for supremacy is eternal. Inevitable.” If you say so, video game. And then, even better: “Victory is the natural objective of every creature on this world.” Uh-huh, tell me more. “They will kill and die for their kind to dominate.” Okey-doke. “Some call this eternal struggle ‘equilibrium’ – the balance between light and darkness.” Woah.

Okay, so it’s pretty standard “holy shit this is intense!” speak. But really, it’s so absurd and so interestingly tuned toward the world inside a game specifically, particularly this notion of “victory” as some kind of core value. How manly. And even better, out of nowhere, this crazy fight-fest of life is known as “equilibrium”. I just don’t think I follow.

The deep and sonorous voice continues on with an outright paradox that I’m sure sounded alright when they wrote it down: “Men of faith claim [these dark-ass times are] a test from God to strengthen our spirit … if it is true, darkness has come to engulf once-proud humanity and we are witnessing the end of mankind.” So, what you’re saying is that God is testing us to strengthen our spirit… and the test is the end of mankind altogether. That’s quite a test. Sounds like a tough one to get a passing grade on.

Now obviously we could tease a lot of game writing, perhaps most of it, but this stuff just stuck out at me for some reason. I suppose it was the epic tone that was trying to cajole me into “this is extreme!” mode and yet which was saying a bunch of not-quite-right stuff. That kind of mismatch, that almost-achieved fever pitch deflated by poor reasoning, catches like a burr.

Maybe if it’d just been completely inane I wouldn’t have noticed.

3 November 2010
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