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Some quick questions. Please answer when you have finished the game
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RE: Some quick questions. Please answer when you have finished the game

Thomas Wrote:Below are some questions that we would like you to answer in order to make our upcoming games as good as possible:

1) What puzzles did you like the best? Why did you like them?

Impossible to choose, the puzzles were some of the best I've seen in a game. The highlights that jump out at me include:

Spoiler below!
Getting into the Cryo-room in the infirmary,
The dark/light areas of the kennel,
Saving yourself from the Dr Eminiss.

What impressed me though was how well balanced all of the puzzles were. As soon as I started to feel frustrated about a problem, the answer would come to me, and it would be so logical I would know it was right. Good job.

Thomas Wrote:2) What puzzles where the hardest to solve? Why where they so hard and what kind of solutions did you try before finding the correct one?
All the puzzles were near-perfectly balanced, the following are extremely minor quibbles:
Spoiler below!

Had much difficulty finding the sulfur for the antidote, perhaps hide only some of the bottles as opposed to most of them.

Dropping the box on the zombie in Research was frustrating because the immersive interactive system made it difficult to turn the wheel quickly, though this was negated by the emotional impact of the subsequent events.

Finally, slightly frustrating to me was the fact that the pipe leaking gas at the beginning of Chemical Storage breaks when hit by a rock but not by a pipe piece or barrel. This makes some logical sense retroactively, but is annoying gameplay-wise in that one can (as I did) "learn" that the pipe is invulnerable to physics damage and so disregard the correct solution .

Thomas Wrote:3) How did you find the pacing in the game? Where there any particularly slow moments or some moments where too many things happened?

The pacing was quite good in general, a step up from Overture (which wasn't bad to begin with). My main concern was that in eliminating much of the combat and action, while solving important concerns with the first episode, made this installment much less terrifying than the first. The creepy atmosphere is still impeccable, but it's now fairly trivial to simply run past enemies, who will often simply have disappeared when coming back to an area, eliminating the heart-pounding-ness we had in Overture. My hypothetical suggestion would be to maintain the general dynamics of this game while interspersing small amounts of panic throughout to jolt the player awake.
Spoiler below!
The hallucinatory dog in the kennels was a great example of this. The zombie at the beginning who you must hide behind a desk from was also good, terrifying the player while putting them in relatively little danger if they keep themselves together.

Thomas Wrote:4) How did you like the variation of events and gameplay elements? Could there have been more diversity or should there be more focus on the gameplay?

hmm, I think I kind of answered this above. I thought the puzzles and gameplay were very well integrated this time. In the future, it would be cool if you could experiment with ways to add more action elements on top of your adventure game frame-work, but the product you have here is already excellent.

Thomas Wrote:5) How did you like the characters in the game? Was their voices fitting? Was the voice acting good? What character did you like best / worst?

Spoiler below!

Glad you asked. I thought Dr. Swanson was a perfect character, a single friendly, guiding voice in the darkness after losing Red. Her lines were believable, I think, the voice actress perfectly conveyed the friendliness Philip so needs. This made what happens in the research lab particularly emotional.

Clarence, on the other hand, I did not like. The voice actor has a very cool voice, but it seemed completely inappropriate for a malevolent demon inside your head, far too comical and human. I think the idea of a consciousness battling for control of your body would have been better pulled off by a more distant, removed and intimidating personality, one that manipulates you more through your hallucinations and actions and less by telling you cheerily that he's tampering with your memory. I know thematically he's supposed to be a fairly human character, but I thought he clashed with the seriousness of the rest of the game. Also, his lines were often obvious and ackward, and the actor did not improve their delivery. Lovecraftian horror I think works better with an ineffable, manipulating malevolence than a strictly human character that has to tell you why he's evil.

As a note, I loved the hallucinations and distortions that Clarence causes you to experience, I thought that was a far more interesting way to "communicate" with him than words, and would have liked more.

Oh, the Turngaiit character was also well done, the acting was good and the effects on her voice were original and unique.

Thomas Wrote:6) How did you like the ending?

Spoiler below!

I thought the ending was quite well done, no enormous revelations or twists but satisfying. I like that we get to discover much of what actually happened at the site, and it is not left as an "ominous mystery" like too many horror stories. I also enjoyed finding explanations for little things, like who the character who removed his tongue in Overture was, and what happened to him. I fully expected this to be something which took place purely for it's dramatic value, without the writer(s) bothering to have it make sense within the greater whole.

The whole ending sequence, from say leaving the Chemical area to destroy Clarence to the credits, was very appropriate. Getting rid of Clarence is of course the emotional/adrenal climax, but the Turngaiit sequence provided an excellent means of slowing down the plot to the close ("falling action" in plot analysis, I think), as well as giving us an opportunity to problems solve a bit more so we feel like we've earned the ending. We also get to a final explanation of much of our questions, and a general sense of finality without alleviating all the tension(just like a good Lovecraft story). And, of course, the final sequence in the computer room is creepy beyond description.

Finally, I like the ambiguity of the ending. Phillip is convinced he is going to die (with good reason), but isn't dead yet. He asked the receivee of the email to kill the Turngaiit; but we don't know what that person will do. More obscurely, we know what happenned to The Shelter and most of its inhabitants; but what about Frisk, the insane guy who was living in the kennels? What about the other survivors mentioned that (may have) got away? Our most pressing questions (what went wrong here? what are these zombies?) are definitively answered, while plenty of details are left to the imagination (or potentially the sequels! ).

Anyways, great job, can't wait to see what you guys do next.
02-20-2008, 06:31 AM

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