Gareth Damian Martin
Delicate moments that point towards the optimism at the heart of Spaceport Janitor. By bridging the gap between our daily struggles and the daydreams that surround them, it suggests that the one space we truly own is our imagination.
As I became more familiar with its systems, as I began to master the repeating frames of its world, they began to fall away. Mastery brought with it an openness that was dizzying in its freedom. I had a ship I liked, enough units to get by, and an inventory that served my purpose. Unshackled from the grind, I suddenly realized I could wander.
There is some integrity in its detail, its precision, its distance. It manages to reach the epic mode, the grand narrative, to evoke a mythical journey now lost to us. But it also fails to escape the easy orientalism of that same myth, the simplicity of bloodless violence.
My eightsix hovered between control and chaos, ready to spin out on every oversteer. The atmosphere was there, the game was there, the history was there, in that moment. Yet in Need for Speed the handling, the fun, the art, all of this, they are so stacked under layer after layer of meaninglessness, multi-faceted surfaces that gesture at everything and deliver nothing.
It is, by turns, silly and brutal—evoking both hand-slams of irritation and chuckles of defeat. The unexpected handful of boss fights in particular have an entertainingly wobbly randomness to them, like a battle in inflatable sumo-suits that were filled to the seams with helium. But it's also hard to love a game that, in its final stages, asks for a precision that you have little control of. What is easy to love about Mushroom 11 is its odd nihilistic bent.
It's always been easy to be optimistic with Destiny; the game almost enforces it. But this side of two expansions, it's difficult to know what we are looking forward to. There's plenty to suggest that the formula is set, the slow trickle of content constant. The arrogance of Destiny has been to assume that it is already an extended universe, already a franchise before it has earned that right.
With this in mind, if Dark Souls is medieval gothic—its dichotomies of heaven and hell gestured at by pointed arches, supporting both a true spirituality and a belief in the divine—then Bloodborne is the epitome of gothic revival—where subjectivity replaces spirituality, and man strives to plumb the depths of human experience.
The Dark Below, and Destiny in a wider sense, specifically exploits the player's relationship to its systems. Like the processes of neo-liberalism that have clearly, through intentional design or not, been the inspiration for its various systems, Destiny asks one thing of players—that they are more productive. Through both reward and limitation, the game is constantly encouraging the player to commit more work and time to its processes, demanding constant attention.