Total Games Played
Played in 2023
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Many adventure games are about exploring dead kingdoms. Navigating a once living corpse, roads acting like veins, drained of blood. What makes Hyper Light Drifter unique to me though, is that the wounds feel fresh. Hallownest and Lordran feel long dead, to the point where the actual amount of time that has passed feels irrelevant. The world of Hyper Light Drifter seems so much more violent because of this. We don't see the violence directly, sure, but the corpses still lay on the ground, undisturbed until we desecrate their resting place with more bloodshed. Violence is the natural state for some people, their bodies rebelling against themselves. Malfunctions become self-sabotage when viewed from the first person perspective. How can someone find peace in this cycle? Is it even possible? I don't know, I'm not a philosopher.
I really wanted to be that guy for Solar Ash, the one person who champions a piece of media that received a fairly middling reception. Unfortunately, my feelings for it are much more, well, middling. If you were to take a scan of my brain, and somehow generate a game out of it, Solar Ash wouldn't be very far off. In concept, this game owns, but in practice it needs a lot more work.
The biggest mark against the game is a lack of mechanical progression. I had a moment during the final boss where I wondered whether the platforming I was doing was meaningfully more difficult than the platforming for the first boss. The spectacle has been enhanced, absolutely, but with how the game handles the majority of the steering and pathfinding to compensate for the massive shifting landscape, I don't believe the challenge had been meaningfully heightened.
Solar Ash has many of Hyper Light Drifter's qualities. The visual design is immaculate, same with the soundtrack. The control of your character is fun, responsive, and satisfying. The areas you explore are wonderfully designed, and sized perfectly to encourage exploration, with how fast you move. What Solar Ash lacks in comparison to Hyper Light Drifter, is a solid challenging core. HLD's combat was consistently engaging and challenging, ramped up over the course of the game, and had different ways for the player to express themselves through build options. Solar Ash's platforming doesn't stand up to this standard.
God Amnesia falls off so hard partway through and it makes me actively sad. Trust me, for the first few hours, the atmosphere was killing me, I was in the palm of Frictional Game's hand, and they could do whatever they felt like. For example, the section with the iconic water monster was still extremely tense for me, despite the fact that every person on the internet knows how it works.
Unfortunately, the tension of Amnesia is simply an extremely thin veil. Death has no actual consequence, and when I realized that, the tension drained away as quickly as it was built up. Funnily enough, making the game more mechanically dense also makes it more immersive for me, especially in a horror context.
At the end of the day, skill put into the atmosphere should absolutely be commended, and I think the game is really good outside of the lack of punishment. I really enjoyed managing my light, and would love to see other games that play with the concept. Though, small request, maybe don't make the screen look like vomit whenever a monster comes by, or for any reason really?