Friday, 13 March 2009

you should know better by now

Some early visual novels had particularly annoying gameplay features where you had to select EVERY option and sub-option on a menu, sometimes multiple times, before the game would proceed. Often this was in the context of a 'mystery' game, forcing you to examine/think about every possible object in order to be sure you got the clues. You couldn't just go straight to the right clue, oh no.

This is annoying for multiple reasons - it wastes your time asking for a lot of decisions that don't matter ONE. LITTLE. BIT. because you have to read every option before going on (I mean, in most adventure games, it's a rather good idea to read every possible branch of the conversation tree, but they don't usually staple your hands down and make you do it all at once, you can usually walk away and do something else for a bit) And if the menu's options and sub-options are complicated enough, it frustrates you poking around reading the same text multiple times trying to figure out what exactly you haven't selected yet that's holding you back.

Enter Time Hollow, a DS visual novel trying to cross with an adventure game. I've only played a few minutes and already time and time again I am faced with scenes where I get "point and click interaction!" - meaning that I have to find and click on every object in the room and read the text associated with it, no matter how inane, before I am allowed to even leave the room and move to the next frustrating step. This manages to be even WORSE than the pointless menus, because the hotspots aren't at all clear. You can tell that clicking in place X will give you a text box, but you have no way to tell whether place X is part of the Bed object which you've clicked on five times already or something separate.

A few minutes of this makes me want to stab the developer in the eyes with the stylus. It would have been much less frustrating as an actual visual novel, rather than adding all sorts of complicated interfaces and 'interactivity' that just mean pointless fumbling and delay along your linearity. (see also the Flashback system)

I think I'm going to be grabbing a walkthrough quickly not because this game is in any way hard, but because the process of playing it is so intrinsically not fun that removing any attempt at play may improve it.

1 comment:

miruki said...

Actually the game is not that bad, I'm guessing you were talking about the first bit inside your own room where you have to click on EVERYTHING at least TWICE before your mother finally calls you for dinner, gosh yeah, that was a bit.... ugh. But I enjoyed what came after that ALOT, infact I really loved the game, there could have been alot of improvements and the game is really short with it's 8 hours, but I had a hard time leaving the DS for those 8 hours, which is why I finished the game in two days, haha...

I would like another one of those.. :)