I want to be evil but not too evil

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the idea of summoners and necromancers. Skeletons are cute and the idea of resurrecting fallen (potentially enemy) warriors to fight by your side is a great idea and I love the whole thematic around it. However, when it comes to games, I feel like there aren’t enough games that let you do something that is so immoral. In a way, reviving corpses is desecration, after all, right?

Similarly, I love it when games let you perform choices that are immoral in a way, even when I myself in real life (at least the human that I pretend to be) would never do anything like that. In Fable, for instance, you can decide if you want to be an angelic hero of justice… or you just slaughter people, rob the poor, take bribes, and sacrifice people to the Chapel of Skorm in order to gain your lovely devil horns and your demonic aura.

And I know, I know… Being bad is… bad. Obviously. I’d never kill anyone in real life or I’d perform robbery… but the aspect of being this character that you could never embody in real life is actually quite intriguing and I feel like there are not enough games that let you do. Of course, you have these few titles with two different endings that let you be “bad” or “good” and it influences your ending which then… blablabla… Bioshock 1 and 2 did that btw where you could show mercy on people and rescue the Little Sisters or you could kill them and harvest the little brats and it would give you a different ending… but I feel like those games aren’t going far enough. You basically just have two choices: Right or wrong. Good or evil. But there are a lot of things beyond good and evil (great game btw) that let can’t just be seen as inherently evil or good. Robbing people would be bad but what if you redistribute the money you rob to the poor to enable them to live, for instance? Or what if you have to kill someone to save someone else (like with the Trolley problem)?

Games often try to make you believe that there are only two choices and that you can’t be in the middle or go even further… it’s a bit of a habit that some companies have to make it easier for themselves, and I find it somewhat lazy.

Catherine Classic does a great job by letting you achieve one of nine endings ranging from “very evil” to “very good” and it has some neutral endings in the middle… but the problem with that game is that it still abides the traditional values of “good” (aka marrying, only having sex to reproduce, no fetishes, etc.) and “evil” (aka Lust, hedonism, cheating, fetishes, etc.). You have to answer some questions and based on your answer it (sometimes rather randomly) assigns a value to your Karma that basically influences your ending. Your texts with either Katherine or Catherine also influence your ending… and generally, the game wants you to think that going for Catherine is bad and that going for Katherine is good… despite there being plenty of things that are wrong with Katherine. Just a hot take, I guess.

Overlord does a great job of letting you chose what to do. You get to become an “evil” Overlord and either save towns and be celebrated or enslave them and be hated and feared. You’re not just some bad guy but you’re actually THE Overlord that rules Hell itself… or at least your dark domain. The game lets you perform whatever choice you want to perform as you’re kind of the hero of your own story. The heroes that are in the game that oppose you, more often than not, seem to be twisted themselves and resemble caricatures of hero tropes, which is a great take, in my opinion. Dungeon Keeper lets you experience the story of some sort of evil being that is creating the living space for the undead, the monsters and the other evil beings that get threatened by those pesky humans. Fable lets you be a devil. In Skyrim, you can be an outlaw.

My point is that these games don’t judge you for being bad but they don’t condone it. When you perform an evil deed, you’ll notice and the characters will treat you differently. Fable has this weird thing where you get booed and insulted by everyone if you go for an evil playthrough, even though everyone is afraid of you… which is kind of silly in a way. In Overlord, you actually receive rewards for being the good guy and saving people and stuff. In Skyrim, you can murder bandits and nobody will judge you, even when murder is bad… and you can join a creed of assassins… which is quite cool, y’know? In Carrion, you’re the monster that is escaping a research facility… and you murder everyone… and that’s cool. The game WANTS you to be evil and I love that!

But how far can you take this? I feel like there are boundaries that you shouldn’t cross, I’d just love it if we could still move more freely into this chaotic evil kind of playstyle in games where you’re the villain and do bad things but don’t take it too far. I feel like it should be possible for you to be the bad guy in games without getting judged for it by the developers and without the game putting you at a disadvantage. I’d love it if games would more often get into that mindset of this evil lich or other villaineous beings that try to conquer the world. I’d love it if you could play as a skeleton (like in Skul or Osteoblasts) more often instead of this scrawny Prince Charming that saves the day yet again.

Obviously, games shouldn’t take things too far. I don’t think that you need to show how someone slowly thrusts a knife into someone’s throat (talking about The Last Of Us 2 btw) or how your character tortures someone by pulling out their fingernails or by breaking their fingers one by one (like in GTA V)… I also don’t think that you need to murder children (I’d never do that in Bioshock btw) or that you need to r*pe women in games to be “evil”. You don’t need to kick puppies or burn people alive in order to be able to play out that fantasy. I think games don’t need to go that far but they still should allow some sort of freedom. They should restrict the player when it comes to things like the points mentioned above but also allow you some freedom of choice when it comes to “do you want to be evil or good or somewhere in-between?” and I feel like I haven’t seen too many games that pulled that off well. Beholder has some interesting mechanics and ways of letting you do things that aren’t ethical to potentially save people… and it also allows you to do similar things to do bad things or punish people or frame them. Meanwhile Catherine Classic was quite obvious when it came to what choices the game wants us to make to achieve certain endings.

So, frankly, I’d love to be the villain in more games. I’d love it if I could be that demonic character that conquers the world or that heroes want to defeat… I’d love it if I could play games with characters like that more often and I’d love it if games would let me have that choice without pushing me onto some sort of path that is rather obvious.

I feel like that could be great. I feel like that’s something that I’d enjoy and that other people could potentially enjoy playing as well and that games need to explore more often. Obviously, we don’t need a game where you just assault people and r*** them and whatever. I think that certain boundaries are obvious to anyone.

Edit: I’ve added the example of Carrion to one of the paragraphs as I love that game and I forgot to mention it despite intending to. #fixed

What do you think? Do you know any games that do this quite well? Let me know!

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Late to the Party #5 – Bioshock 2

During the Spooktober of last year, I played through the first Bioshock game on Twitch. I loved it. I loved the universe, the soundtrack, the combat and the way the whole world is fleshed out. You can read about all of that in my post on it from November 28th. Alas, I recently got into the second game on Stream as well and we managed to play through it just a little over a week ago. Alas, it’s time for another LttP post!

Note: There may be minor to small spoilers for the game. I didn’t talk about certain things to not spoil them or ruin the effect on you… but I guess you wouldn’t read this if you didn’t know already that there could be spoilers. In any case, you’ve been warned about potential spoilers. Enjoy the post!

First things first, I’d like to say that the Bioshock games are somewhat old already. Alas, I played the Remastered version of the second game as it’s just a bit more pleasing on the eyes. There are also fewer bugs in it and the sound doesn’t have as many hiccups as the original version, which is great. I guess you could argue that it’s not the same as playing the actual Bioshock 2 game but honestly, I don’t see the point in differentiating between the two games. The Remastered version did perform better on my newer PC, alas I just played that. 

While we were playing as some sort of agent that infiltrated Rapture in the first game, the second game lets us play as one of the most iconic denizens of Rapture, the Big Daddy. We explore through the decrepit and beautiful fallen city, chasing an unseen foe named Lamb, in search for answers. Our little sister was taken away from us as we were asked if we would kindly shoot ourselves. Somehow, though, we survived and got revived in a vita chamber in Rapture, which is where our story begins.

From the getgo, I was in awe. I love Rapture and the Bioshock universe but in this game… it’s just more rotten and devastated. The sunken city is incredibly pretty, especially when we get to explore the underwater world in our Big Daddy suit. I loved the new perspective on things as we hear the ground trembling as we stomp through the areas. While we’re somewhat slow, the game equipped us with a powerful drill as well as a bunch of different weapons and powers to add to our arsenal. 

Just like in the first game, you’re able to sling spells, so-called “Plasmids” at our foes and opponents, all in order to survive. If that’s not your style, you still have the option of using guns or melee attacks. What surprised me was that while I wasn’t unsatisfied with combat in the first game, I really enjoyed the changes to combat in the second game. For instance, we’re able to use plasmids and weapons at the same time, resulting in some cool interactions. Our drill is powerful but requires fuel, which adds a new type of ammunition to the game. If you’re out of it, you won’t be able to use your drill’s charge attack but you can still wack enemies rather well, smashing their faces and breaking their spirits. Apart from that, the camera that you use to find out about enemy weaknesses now doesn’t require ammunition anymore.

On top of that, you now have a hacking tool to remote-hack turrets, cameras and doors, which is lovely. Even the hacking tool, however, can be used as a weapon to place down miniature turrets that deal a good amount of damage.

Hacking in the first game was kind of janky in a way. Often, you’d rely on luck rather than skill as you were pressured by the time running out and as you needed to guide water through a circuit board, which didn’t typically make sense. The mini-game was fun but kind of unlogical in a way. Meanwhile, in this game, you’re able to hack enemies while in combat and you actually have to prove your skill as you hit certain areas in a smaller sized mini-game. It obviously isn’t the best solution but it is one that exists and that doesn’t utilize water, which is a good thing. 

Overall, the second game offers a lot of quality of life changes that improve combat and hacking. The soundtrack is still amazing. The game looks stunning.

But the issue with Bioshock 2 is that you don’t really have an enemy of sorts for most of the game. You hear about Lamb here and there but you never really know who that’s supposed to be. In the same manner, you’ve got Sinclair who just stops by and suddenly starts to help you but I couldn’t just get attached to him as a help, especially as our helper in the first game ended up betraying us. By the end of the game, I felt a bit let down as Sinclair didn’t betray us at all… that’s a shame? I guess? Or not? I don’t know.

The world-building is well-done and the game feels immersive. Characters have an actual backstory and their own motivations and ideals but in the end, the story overall feels somewhat lacking in a way especially as you go through the first few areas with little to no clue about who you are, who Lamb is and what your goal is. You need to free your little sister but that’s about it, I guess? Why do you go that far and what makes you special from other Big Daddies? 

Another nice addition is that, after defeating Big Daddies, you get to adopt (or harvest) their Little Sisters. You then get to harvest bodies for Adam while defending your Little Sister in order to attain more of that scarce resource that you need for your upgrades. Lovely! 

Just like in the first game, you have a good and a bad ending. Harvesting the little sisters ends up giving you the bad ending while adopting and rescuing them gives you a good ending. On top of that, you have these scenarios in the game where you can kill the leaders of the different areas or you spare them. Each of these decisions also influences your ending a little bit. In one of the early areas, I had the option of killing an unarmed black woman. She put us through hell but I decided to walk away. She then realised that I wasn’t some sort of baby-snatcher and monster but rather more than that: A human being.

Alas, she provided us with some support and she got to live. I would have liked it if we would have heard more of her later on… but in the end, that didn’t happen. No idea what happened to her. 

So, the story feels a bit weaker but in the final hours, it got rather emotional and nearly brought me to tears. The additions and improvements to the game felt great. The new spells and mechanics are interesting. The story, while at first somewhat weaker, made me feel… things. On top of that, we finally were able to see through the eyes of a Big Daddy (and more, wink wink). And all in all, I really enjoyed this game. I hope that I get to play Bioshock Infinite soon. I’d also like to play the Bioshock 2 DLC “Minerva’s Den” eventually… but that will have to wait until it goes on sale. 

For now, this just means that there is another game that I played through (in a time of nearly 10 hours with 27/53 achievements completed) and I really enjoyed it. The backlog ended up shrinking a little and hopefully, I get to have more fun with other titles in the future again.

Nice.

What about you? Did you play Bioshock 2 and if so, did you enjoy it? Let me know! Also, are there any other titles that you’d like to see featured here that I may not have played yet? I’d love to get into the Fallout Games eventually and maybe write something about Borderlands 3 (as I still haven’t played that game in the franchise) or about NieR Replicant which is coming out soon. But that will have to wait until I get to it and until I have a bit more time. 

Cheers!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Late to the Party #4 – Bioshock 1

So, it’s been a while since I last posted anything related to the Late to the Party series. The main reason for that is the fact that I’ve been busy playing games that aren’t that old On-Stream while not playing as many games Off-Stream.

Either way, in March, I started playing Bioshock 1 (Remastered) for the very first time during a 24-hour-stream (the kind that I don’t do anymore) and I really enjoyed playing it for about six hours. After that, we didn’t touch it again for quite a while since I soft-locked myself. It’s a rough time when your save file is soft-locked, no matter which save-file you’re trying to load. But more on that later.

So, what is Bioshock? Why did I want to play it? Why haven’t I played it yet?

Bioshock 1 is an Atmospheric Horror-Action-FPS game by 2K Boston in which you’re playing a man named Jack in the 1960s that is exploring the world of Rapture, an underground city, trying to find out what conspired there. You have a wide range of weapons available to you but you’re also forced to modify your DNA to become an even deadlier weapon, slinging fireballs and summoning bees and doing that kind of stuff.

But first things first, after a plane crash, we get to swim to safety to an island with a light tower where a capsule of sorts leads us deep into the sea. Once we arrive in the destroyed city of Rapture, we get to meet our first Slicers, enemies that are going crazy to receive more Adam (which is the stuff you pump into yourself to get stronger) and they attack anything and anyone. While you make your way through the world of Rapture you find out about Andrew Ryan, a businessman and objectivist, that wanted to create a utopia for society’s elite to exist outside of the government’s control and limits. Through several audio clips and tapes found in the world, we learn more about the world, while acquiring more powers (through Adam) and trying to progress further and further into the game, intending to eliminate the mastermind behind all of this!

What I really liked about the game in the first six hours of my playtime was that you were able to see that something obviously wasn’t going great with Ryan’s plan. This place called Rapture was supposed to be a utopia but ended up in ruins with flooded and destroyed areas as well as corruption, elitism, and a lot of danger. We find out more about the source of Adam, the science and research behind it, the world and what happened, as well as how the few sane people in the world are managing to come by. We go on errands, completing missions, and we can do so however we want.

I loved it.

We were able to be stealthy or more like Rambo. We can shoot our way through the game or play a spell slinger of sorts. The game gives you a lot of freedom which eventually transitions into the choices as well. Jack is trying to find a way to escape Rapture and obviously, needs to get his hands on more Adam. To do so, we need to defeat the iconic Big Daddies (that even I knew about) and either harvest or rescue the Little Sisters. Harvesting gives you more but it will kill the Little Sisters. Saving the Little Sisters grants them a life free of Adam and risks but you’ll end up with less Adam, though you may get some other rewards. This whole thing is completely optional most of the time and the morality behind it influences the ending.

But then I got stuck and didn’t play it again until October the 7th and October the 8th where I played through the game during a Spooktober stream.

The whole dark and gritty aesthetic that Rapture presents to you is just lovely and scary. I got goosebumps from some of the score’s tracks alone, while the enemies are beautifully gruesome, scary and just creative. The Big Daddies, for instance, are bio-engineered humans in diver suits while Spider Slicers jump and crawl away, shooting you from the ceiling. Overall, enemies like that seemed super fun to me and I really enjoyed battling them in most of the scenarios while using these 60s weapons, magical powers, and using a water puzzle of sorts to hack turrets, vending machines and other objects.

Now, the issue I had with Bioshock was that there’s a postal office of sorts with a hotel and stuff where I was supposed to photograph one of the Spider Slicers… but that Slicer was stuck in the ceiling, so I didn’t have the chance to take a snap from it. Alas, I needed to restart the last save file – a file from over an hour ago.

And then I didn’t play it again until the beginning of October… but when I reloaded and made sure that I’d take a few snapshots of the enemies that I needed, I actually was able to progress smoothly with only one crash or two in total. The story progresses quite nicely and while a lot of the “missions” felt like errands, I did actually enjoy the game a fair bit.

Ammunition and EVE (your mana) are limited, so you cannot always just fight everyone and everything. This made the game rather fun, especially as I was able to customize perks and skills to fit my needs!

Honestly, I wish I had played Bioshock earlier. I’m looking forward to playing the second game eventually! Bioshock is a great game and 2K really outdid themselves with it!

What has your experience been with the Bioshock franchise and the first game? Did you play the games/this game? Did you like it? Can you recommend the franchise as a whole or maybe just certain titles? Let me know!

Cheers!