on Mar 3, 2013
Of all the problems with the game in the opening act, the shortcomings of The Outsider are the most painful. The entire concept of this story is excellent. Emily, the conspiracy, the outsider, Slackjaw, Daud, the strife in the city… this is great worldbuilding. We’ve got politics, intrigue, characters to care about, rivals to worry about, short and long-term goals, large and small-scale threats, justifications for magical powers that don’t immediately fall apart into “Why don’t they just use magic?” as a solution to every problem. All of this could have been fantastic if it had just been given a little room to develop before it was time to start shanking dudes.
But the outsider. The outsider needed a re-write and re-design. He sounds boring. His clothes are unremarkable. His haircut is boring. His goals don’t seem particularly ambitious. His face is ordinary. THIS IS A TRICKSTER GOD, NOT BLOODY MARTIN SMITH FROM CROYDON. We should be afraid of this guy. We should feel like he’s got us backed into a corner and we have no choice but to accept his “gift” and worry about what consequences there will be down the line. We should spend the game fearing an inevitable betrayal that never happens.
Instead The Outsider is somehow even more boring and flat than our silent protagonist. Tragic. What a missed opportunity.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.