Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tides of Tentaclera

It feels like I'm doing a lot of complaining about Torment:Tides of Numenera, which may seem unfair given how well it works as an immersive interactive experience. Many of its artistic or thematic elements however, writing, music, character models, backgrounds, while meticulously and expertly laid out, feel just a little bit too restrained, afraid to get too creative for fear of drifting too far from the lowest common denominator.
Those two smaller monsters are minions of two major cosmic forces. At one point in the game you're caught between them, the proverbial rock and hard place, both closing in on you. Conceptually, this would make for a very dramatic titanic juxtaposition... except it mainly serves to illustrate their points of redundancy.

Granted I've only encountered flumphs before as a running gag in The Order of the Stick, but they don't seem that eye-catching to me.

If you're going to set up some sort of hammer-and-anvil bad guy dichotomy, or even if you just have two major forces in play, then for the love of all that's dramatic make them thematically distinctive. If one's a writhing mass of tentacles, the other should be a monolithic, angular juggernaut. If one spits fire, the other should condense rainclouds. If one's black and red the other should be white and green. If one's theme music's a funeral march, the other's should be a dissonant carnival calliope.

What you don't need is two different breeds of tentacle monster, or two teleportation / telepathy themed enemies, especially when they're the two main sources of non-human scenery in your story. As far as I can tell this isn't even the usual case of game developers cutting corners by re-skinning the same character model. Both had some work put into them. They just went for the trite-and-true overdone generic black slimy tentacle beast routine... twice, because anything worth overdoing is worth over-overdoing.

Is despising and insulting your audience's intelligence really so crucial to game design?

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