I did finally find a helm for Eder down in Durgan's Battery, piecing it together over a multi-part quest until all its stats were in order. Seemed to fit him. But he barely got a chance to wear it before the game ended and the narrator began teasing White March—Part 2. I hope it's still there when I get back.
Comparison to The Witcher 3 would embarrass almost any RPG. It excels at everything most games suck at, from comic timing to narrative follow-through. It has the most expressive faces, the best drunken banter, the funniest throwaway gags, the most casual sex, and the deftest camera movements. But its best trick is to mold narrative from the materials that games have lately used as a sort of flavorless stuffing. In almost every side-quest and monster-hunting contract you undertake, there are telltale signs of someone at CD Projekt Red actually giving a s***.
DSII remains a skilled, often clever impersonation of the game everyone wanted. But I can't see the point of teasing out its journey with ever more kings, dragons, and Havels. The more DSII overlaps with its predecessors, the less reason there is to play it at all.
I'm not sure Original Sin has a clue what it's about, beyond "feeling like an old game." It gets more strung out as you go along, introducing towns that feel curiously bereft of quests and dungeons padded out with tedious switch hunts. There's no strong character to center it, no perspective to ground it, no consistent challenge to weight it. It's an impressive novelty, but it fades fast.
Turning into a machine is both the game's nightmare and its surreptitious fantasy. Isn't every FPS player a brain transplanted into a living weapon? Stuck in stiff undying bodies, gun-arms akimbo, we savor a stretched and distorted and rewound moment of carnage that is never allowed to end. Narrative justifications are appreciated rather than felt. What Blazkowicz really stands for is that mechanical satisfaction that keeps returning for its own sake. In the next Wolfenstein, he might not be human at all. As the philosopher said: he who fights Mecha-Hitlers must take care not to become one.
The moment when Banner Saga starts to make sense is basically the last minute of the game. It gathers its meandering thoughts into a forceful statement at last, but that message doesn't redeem all the wasted breath before it. The game winds up in a neat place, but it's a shame about the road you take to get there.
Risk of Rain winds up feeling as insubstantial as its pursuing Wisps and free-floating Jellyfish. It looks small to me not because it takes such a wide view, but because I was given such a minor stake in it. The tiny figure of my Bandit character doesn't stand in for the sum of my decisions, or my engagement with rewarding systems of movement and attack. He doesn't begin to represent anything. He's a piece of the landscape, not part of a game.