This part is a lot more painful if you don’t know where you’re going. There are some dead-end branches in the underwater hike, so it’s possible for a player to go all the way down a path, then have to turn around and hike all the way back, then get confused which way they were originally headed and end up backtracking even more. I say this from experience.
Also frustrating is that it might take you a couple of tries to get the timing right on the shark-killing emitter. If you hit it too soon – while the shark is still out of range – then it will probably still be on cooldown when the shark reaches you. Maybe then you’ll think you need to wait until the last second, but the game actually triggers the insta-death “eaten by a shark” animation before it actually reaches you.
None of this is all that hard or confusion, but it’s also not entirely clear and if you don’t happen to guess things right on the first try then you could end up repeating parts of what is already a really tedious endeavor.
We spent so much time dumping on how bad this “underwater mosey” gameplay is that we often overlook just how sloppy the RPG stuff is. You finally meet a couple of people who immediately try to kill you because they’re afraid you might try to open a door. They don’t know what the situation is and they don’t know why you’re here. As far as they know, the problem could be is solved and you’re the rescue party.
Yes, some people crack under pressure and behave irrationally. Except, there are two people here and they both seem to have gone the same kind of arbitrary crazy/stupid in the exact same way.
But fine. Two murderously crazy people. I’ll go with it. But then once you open the door your dialog options are: (Comfort) (make peace) and (shout). So far the game has been willing to let you pointlessly murder and extort harmless peasants wherever you go, but then you meet two people who the player might have some justifiable reason to want to kill, and suddenly the game railroads you into a long, mostly-friendly conversation. (Although it does let you turn back into a murderbot at the end.) Yes, this was a dose of much-needed exposition. But maybe the game shouldn’t give you a reason to want to kill essential exposition dispensers. Or at lest allow the player a few lines of dialog to frame this as an interrogation.
And then at the end the big mystery is resolved with a massive info dump from a couple of NPCs we just met.
It’s not like this ruins the game or anything. It’s just a short, kinda dumb scenario at the end of a long boring hike.
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
The Biggest Game Ever
Just how big IS No Man's Sky? What if you made a map of all of its landmass? How big would it be?
The Game That Ruined Me
Be careful what you learn with your muscle-memory, because it will be very hard to un-learn it.
The Best of 2017
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2017.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.