The Backlog - Dying Light and The Talos Principle

 I was busy a few weeks ago, finding that I finally checked off a lot of games I was busy playing and then it hit me, oh boy there are so many more I never even got a chance to play! So I went off in search of games I desperately wanted to play but never got to. And to be original, I've named it The Backlog.

Dying Light 

Aim for the head! But not with guns, with sick ass parkour skillz instead cuz guns are mega lame and climbing entire buildings is super kool
Dying Light was a game where I had this... weird preconceived notion about. It came out, I saw some gameplay of it, it looked okay. But in the back of my head I thought "Man, this game sucks". I don't know why. I really have no fathomable idea how that came to be. Looking up on the reaction the game got, it seemed like people were really into it aside from some weird design choices that they ended up squaring away by the time I got my hands on it.

So while I was surprised about how great it was, it dawned on me that I didn't know what the fuck I was even thinking about to begin with.

Right off the bat I was impressed. The gameplay was interesting. It was like Dead Island, but, you know... fun. I thought the setting was really unique and added a sense of flavor in the locals. Oh, and the soundtrack has just the right amount of synth. I had no idea the soundtrack would be so fucking rad.

The game was pretty cool up until the point you get the grappling hook, and then it fucking skyrocketed into super badass awesome shit holy fuck it's like SPIDER-MAN BUT WITH ZOMBIES. I mean, damn. As fun as the parkour mechanics are, being able to zip around the world and immediately climb to the top of a building and just keep cruising along, wow. That's fun in it's own right. I don't even need objectives when I have shit like the grappling hook, I was having plenty fun just goofing off.

A downside I found within the game, even though I think it was a minor one, was the weapon degradation system. I felt like, with the variety of weapons in the game and how some could look super cool instead of just regular ass weapons, it added some additional tension that I thought it just personally did not need. The tension was running around at night, knowing how stupid you are when you can just hang out and wait for day time. The tension was seeing those crazy parkour zombies right on your heels with no clear plan on how to get away, other than "just keep running". I felt like making the weapons break, especially with how fast they break, didn't really add much to it. It was less "Oh shit, my sword's about to break WHAT IS MY PLAN WHEN THAT HAPPENS" and more "But... but it looks like TRON! Don't take my TRON sickle!!"

Unfortunately though the story is pretty weak. I haven't beat it yet, and honestly I feel like I've gotten everything I wanted from the game, so I have no real desire to play it anymore. It's a curse I've been under for the last few years. Getting hands on so many cool games and then just not feeling like playing them anymore, randomly.

Regardless though - curse or no curse - my weird misconceived notions kept me from a game that was actually pretty goshdarn good. No other game gives you the same feeling you get from dropkicking a zombie off of the roof of a building while wielding a tron sickle. I mean fuck yeah that's kind of cool.

The Talos Principle

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This game is incredible. Simply put. I thought I was getting a cute little puzzle game where you align lasers and shit, and while that's kind of what you end up doing, the narrative that gets laid upon that foundation is something so, so unique. Unique, thought provoking, interesting.

I was about, I don't know 10 minutes into it before I fell in love. I'll be honest, the soundtrack did more for me in the early game than the gameplay was doing. I mean, it was good, don't get me wrong. It was about what you'd expect from a puzzle game, but whoa. The soundtrack was this really unique blend of orchestral hymns and synthetic techno beats underneath it. Which I guess, now having put that thought into words, is pretty much what the narrative is as well.

In The Talos Principle, you play as a robot in this search to solve all of these puzzles, obeying your God along the way and ignoring what they call "the serpent", an analog to The Devil who has these deep, metaphorical discussions about life, what it means to be human, and any other such existential topics. You have a variety of dialog options to choose from so you can accurately say what you'd like, though no matter what, this serpent will bend your words and meanings and call you out as being hypocritical in your ideals.

Honestly, I was so fucking hooked. Again, here's this cute little puzzle game I can play to flex my brain muscles(Though, isn't the brain a muscle anyway?) and feel smort. Instead I was reading text files about the Roman philosophers idea of death, life, humanity and contents of the soul. What is life. Trees are alive. But so are frogs. What makes you better than a frog? Conscience? What makes one lifeform better than another?

It takes an already well established trope, sentient robots discerning the so far indiscernible quantities about humanity, the soul, life after death. What it truly means to die, or even live. It could sound kind of pretentious to people who only hear about the game, but the way it's presented is a fresh take on that oh-so-familiar trope.

The way the game works, for the most part, is something like this: You go to a new level, where there are a series of puzzles to solve. You solve them, get puzzle pieces in the form of tetriminos that you can use to unlock new tools which will then be found in puzzles so you can actually complete them. Then, upon leaving, there's most likely a computer terminal in the area where you can learn about the world through a series of text logs. Sometimes the serpent will be there instead, where you can have all kinds of fascinating discussions about philosophies. You complete all the puzzles in the area, then go back to the overworld and continue into the next level.

It doesn't sound especially interesting, or I don't know maybe it does. But believe me before the game was over I was basically fighting through the puzzles just so I could get to the next terminal, just so I could argue with this damn argumentative serpent and give him a verbal(Or, I guess, written-text) what-for!

By the end of the game, I was completely enthralled. And personally, even though I only saw one of the many endings, I thought it was absolutely amazing. It felt like it delivered on everything the game had been setting up and boy, let me tell you, it certainly surprised me in how it all went down. By the time I saw credits, I felt completely satisfied. Which isn't usual that I'm so moved by the ending of a video game, because to be blunt, they usually suck.

The only downside to both the base game and the DLC, Road To Gehenna, it just seemed to go on a little too long. I felt like by the time I beat both the game and DLC, it could have been a few puzzles lighter. Just the tiniest bit long in the tooth, length wise. But the DLC had a leg up on the game by introducing a completely new narrative that doesn't even attempt to retread the waters the base game did, instead choosing to go a new, original direction that was quite interesting. Dare I say, even more so than the base game. Also it featured Jeff Goldblum fan fiction where he fights raptors on motorcycles so how could you hate that?

You can't.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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