It’s kind of hard to cut through the web of what’s actually going on with Hideo Kojima and Konami at this point, because it’s filled with statements, counter-statements, and at one point I think a press conference was held that turned into an unskippable 40-minute cutscene that lost narrative coherency five minutes in. It seems likely that the man himself is no longer with the company, but maybe he is, but maybe he isn’t; who knows, and does it matter?
The answer to that one is both yes and not really at the same time, because we can be sure that new Metal Gear games will still be coming out and we can be sure that they will be a mixed bag at best. But if we’re being honest with ourselves, that was always going to be the case. Making a new game in that franchise is a hard project for a variety of reasons, and it’s only going to get harder.
So. Puzzle Quest. You remember it, right?
It’s been several years since that title hit the market, but for such an odd little title you wouldn’t have expected it to spawn countless imitators. Yet here we are, and here we are with another variant on the concept. Starlaxis Supernova Edition is very much a game that owes a great deal to Puzzle Quest, but this time it’s trying to cross the slow burn of strategic gameplay with the puzzle-matching action you find in, well, puzzle games.
Does it work? After playing the demo for half an hour, I’m not altogether sure. Certainly it’s an interesting take, and certainly it’s not a bad game. But unlike some of the more successful genre blends I’ve covered for this feature in the past, the combination is not more than the sum of its parts. It’s just.. the sum of its parts, and while in some places that makes it a bit more engaging, in others it’s more off-putting. I feel like the whole thing is a net zero, in other words.
My Hellion is about to die.
This isn’t the dramatic climax to her story. This is not the point when I realize that all of her character development was leading to this moment, that her braggadocio was a front for a long-standing inner weakness. There will be no scene in which she declares that even a coward can be brave, when she needs to be, ramming her glaive into the throat of some howling beast before it slices her crippled body to ribbons. No, in a turn or two she will just die, unless my other team members can save her in time, because that’s the nature of Darkest Dungeon.
And I’m seventeen again, standing outside of my girlfriend’s dorm, my mother standing there and explaining to me in completely alien calm that my father is dead, that the last time I had spoken to him was the last time I would say a word to him, that I had no control over that, either. Which is why Darkest Dungeon can at once be brilliant and horrid at equal turns, the sort of game that I would recommend to almost anyone but with several rather strict caveats despite how much I enjoy it.
The downside of taking breaks between installments of this game is that when you have a game so thoroughly built upon making an extended project out of your characters, you occasionally… forget what you were doing with your characters. Luckily, it usually just takes a few minutes of glancing at abilities to figure out what I was doing again with character abilities.
With the plot? Not so much, since we have unfortunately slipped into a mire wherein we are going in a seemingly random direction for no reason beyond the fact that there’s stuff in that direction or something and I guess we can go that way or something? We seem to have nicely stepped away from our ostensible goal of finding the Earth Crystal, that’s not great. So it’s off to the Desert of Shifting Sands, because that’s close on the map and we haven’t been there yet, so why not?