I’ll admit right off the bat that it was not my intention to play the 2016 reboot of Ratchet and Clank as my third game for these Game Logs. However, due to a series of technical difficulties, I found myself rummaging through a friend’s game collection looking for an alternative to Shadow of the Colossus. I stumbled upon Ratchet and … Continue reading Game Log #8 (Ratchet and Clank): Developer Cynicism →
I’ll admit right off the bat that it was not my intention to play the 2016 reboot of Ratchet and Clank as my third game for these Game Logs. However, due to a series of technical difficulties, I found myself rummaging through a friend’s game collection looking for an alternative to Shadow of the Colossus. I stumbled upon Ratchet and Clank, and decided to go for it. I had heard of Ratchet and Clank previously and knew it to be a Playstation classic, though my only experience playing it came from a brief stint trying out one of the series’ spin-offs on a PSP many years ago. I figured playing through a reboot of a classic series could give me some unique points to consider.
My first impression of Ratchet and Clank was one that really surprised me: it seems to be a game that sort of detests its own existence. The game is rife with a sense of cynicism, constantly referencing the fact that it is retreading old material. Characters that have appeared in previous installments state phrases like “oh, you look familiar,” or “see you in the next reboot,” while other bits of dialogue express a detest for pre-order content, a practice that has recently become a big-budget game staple.
While I would have thought that the game’s developers would have been happy to create an edition of Ratchet and Clank fit for a new age of consoles, the game is full of a sense of angst toward the need to start everything from the beginning. The quips appear to be directed against the corporate interests that demanded Ratchet and Clank start its story over, with the game’s main villain being a disdainful corporate industrialist that cares little for the people that consume his products. The nature of the game to reflect a distain for itself causes me to think that the developers were annoyed at the idea of tossing out the relationship between Ratchet and Clank that they have developed over the course of the series’ numerous installments. I can understand how having to scrap everything and start from the beginning could be a trying experience for a veteran game studio like Insomniac that has spent years building the Ratchet and Clank story.
There is also a chance that I am misinterpreting interpreting Ratchet and Clank’s sarcasm for angry cynicism. Perhaps the game’s tendency to reference its reboot nature comes from a sense of self assuredness that Insomniac has developed over the years as an experienced game studio. My reading of the game’s attitude, however, is one that I had never experienced playing a game before. Never before have I felt like a game was constantly trying to tell me about its feelings on the manner in which it was made, and the result left me feeling somewhat uncomfortable.
A game log about the video game, Portal Before taking this FMS class, I had never even heard of Portal before. The concept took a while to understand: imagine having the ability to transport through walls. That’s what defines Portal as a new video game genre which converts 3D spaces into puzzles. Although this was my first time playing Portal, I found myself frustrated with its “appearance […]
A game log about the video game, Portal
Before taking this FMS class, I had never even heard of Portal before. The concept took a while to understand: imagine having the ability to transport through walls. That’s what defines Portal as a new video game genre which converts 3D spaces into puzzles.
Although this was my first time playing Portal, I found myself frustrated with its “appearance of choice.” In this conext, I define this term as the illusion that provokes immersion and a sense of agency over Chell, the character. Yet, when the player may believe that they are discovering a new way to solve the puzzle, it’s the opposite because almost every move has already been strategically placed by the game designer. If each player were to draw out the game maps and the moves necessary to advance in the game, I wouldn’t expect them to look much different from the game designers’. The game lacks alea, the term coined by Roger Callois for chance (Man, Play, and Game). Although this may not be seen as a bad thing, the game does not convince me to replay it.
The story of Portal is interesting, but not as thought-provoking as I would have liked it to be. After having advanced 19 stages of puzzles and destroying the AI, Gladys, the player is awarded with cake. Solving the puzzles was a more rewarding experience than earning cake. The ending is rather sarcastic and almost confirms how Chell, did all of this for nothing nor can it be labeled as a heroine’s odyssey in Henry Jenkins’ terms (“Game Design as Narrative Architecture,” page 6). Although Portal embeds narrative elements within the mise-en-scene, it would be wrong to expect more plot development than spatial exploration from a video game like this. Because there was not much plot in the game, I found it hard to relate to my life. Maybe that’s the point; maybe Portal is meant to only survive in its own magic circle.
Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”
Roger Caillois, Man, Play, and Games, 1961.