Hacked In Two

In recent years, I’ve become fiercely loyal to the shooter genre, probably because it provides a lot “In-Your-Face” fast paced action with enough of a storyline to compel me to complete it, but this past year, I’ve devoted a significant portion of my gaming time to the “Hack-n-Slash” style of action/adventure games. Surprisingly this genre has given me quite the satisfaction as well as enough frustration for the remainder of the year.

As I’ve stated on previous episodes of Open Forum Radio, I decided to go back to the game that laid the groundwork for this genre in current incarnations: “God of War.” The game holds up to current standards and does a lot of things well. If you haven’t played “GoW”, you can find it paired with the sequel on the PS3, and they have been re-mastered for HD gaming. The game does plenty of things well leaving little to be desired.

All of this was done to get me ready for the much speculated and near marketing implosion that was “Dante’s Inferno.” While in development, “Dante’s” was frequently referred to as a God of War-clone, meaning Electronic Arts took the mechanics and formula that made God of War a successful and compelling game and placed it in the medieval era and setting of the same titled epic tome. I personally had more fun playing “Dante’s” than I did “GoW”; and I attribute that to the favorable setting, environments and the periphery experience, those being varied and stylized cut-scenes and music. EA poured a lot of resources into the development of “Dante’s Inferno” while leaving the opportunity to continue the story into a sequel. Often medium adaptations utterly lay siege to the source material, however, “DI” is made in such a way that it’s compelling enough to want players to find the source material and have a better understanding of the original work.

This experience had led me to the bizarre and best example of a Japanese game – “Bayonetta.” You play as the Umbran Witch Bayonetta as she searches to reclaim her lost memories and dish out revenge to the religious institution that has wronged you and kept you prisoner for 500 years. After about 10 minutes of game play, I had thrown out the story and realized that my hand was beginning to cramp due to the rapid successions of seemingly random button presses, combos, and grinding quick-time events that the mechanic employs. I realized I “wasn’t in Kansas anymore.” Who would seek enjoyment from going through the agony that was this up-scaled button masher? Bayonetta became a frustrating experience, though after about halfway through, I was able to discover the nuances and style that has made similar titles so popular – such as the “Devil May Cry” and “Ninja Gaiden” games.

Either out of frustration or dispersed interest, I put “Bayonetta” in the corner until I just got sick of not having a completed the storyline. I enjoyed my six month hiatus and was re-learned the style and intricacies and am better served for finishing it. Finishing makes me realize that I’m more of a story driven player rather than senseless slashing and gore. “Bayonetta” isn’t a bad game by any means, though I believe, like the divide within the Role Playing Game community, you either like JRPGs (Japanese RPG) or you prefer Western RPGs. Both are done well respectively though are driven by different forces: Western – storyline and climatic combat, Japanese – reflexive combat with quick-twitch-combos and a lot of enemies on screen. As far as I’m concerned, I’ll be sticking with Western based hack-n-slashers in the future, that is if they can pull me away long enought from my snipers scope.