I don’t have much to say about this part of the game that didn’t end up in the episode, so let me back up and talk about the section from last week when I was absent.
The section where Lara is caught in the rapids and has to dodge the hazards in the water was really hard for me. I just couldn’t see the obstacles mixed in with all the foaming water. By the time I spotted threats it was too late to avoid them. I kind of had to brute-force it by just memorizing a particular line. I think it took me five tries to get through it.
I have to hand it to the game for being really authentic for just how confusing it would be to find yourself in that kind of predicament, although it didn’t make for very interesting or fun gameplay.
Also, the debate about whether the death animations are appropriate or needlessly gruesome is kind of interesting to me. The first time I saw Lara get spiked by rusty metal I was shocked and nauseated. But I figured that was probably the response the designers intended. But the fifth time I saw it I began wondering just what the hell was wrong with the designers. The shock value was gone and replaced with a general sense of disgust for the work itself.
A movie can get away with having a single gory death. But if they repeat the same gory death over and over from different camera angles and in slow-motion, then suddenly our perception of the gore changes. Suddenly it feels like the story is just an excuse to put nasty stuff onscreen to satisfy the filmmaker’s sick fetish for the macabre. Repetition carries meaning and we respond to it.
But in the context of this game, the player can experience that sort of unsavory repetition through failure. I think it would be good for the designer to keep this in mind when designing these deaths. If anything, we should have been spared the full gore show for subsequent failures, maybe with a slam cut to black just before impact. The player will remember the earlier death and will probably flinch at the memory without needing to show them the full scene again.
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