Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Freaks!: Fantasy Kitchen Sink

So far this game has been a real hidden gem. Excellent, clever level design, original atmosphere, and a plot, that while an excuse, is delightful. Its also the most epic in scope of any shooter...scratch that almost any game made. Starting in a creation myth setting and now, the far future. But...can it keep that quality up? The first episode made it by on a combination of tiny puzzlesque levels and dumb melee enemies. The closest thing the level had to a final boss was broken, although he did little damage to the player by himself. Can the commercial episodes continue to succeed where the shareware episode shined?

A new song starts up, I have a new gun...and oh...no...the new song uses the harmonic guitar soundbank as part of its melody. If you don't know, midis have these various soundbanks that are intended to imitate a certain sound. There are two acoustic guitars, three "clean" electric guitars, and three "distorted" electric guitars. I believe the Doom soundtrack made extensive use of two of the distorted ones, and you can probably recognize one a mile off. The third one, is a harmonic guitar. I don't think I've heard anything close to it in a real song, probably because its a harsh, sharp sound.

You can hear it used well here, in fact, this is the only good that's ever come of it. Its the short high pitched notes. Although now that I think of it, it could just be a really high piano note. I can't tell...its not helping the soundtrack here.
Oh, crap, the problem is continuing here. As you might recall from last time, the enemy near enough to be called the boss of the shareware episode was glitched, at least I think that was the case. Whenever I hit him, I actually did damage to myself. This continues here, but they have less health than the boss. I still lose nearly half my health. I get an item, but that's not really helpful if I die quickly. I must be doing something wrong. Nothing in the manual, but it does say to be careful and leave. Interesting
Then I find a little side level a few levels down. Its completely black. Even the enemies are black. Spinal Tap's favorite video game level. Curiously, all the previous enemies didn't show up on the radar, but these ones I can't see do. Figuring I'm treating this wrong, I restart. Okay, that does work...so the game has changed from being a FPS to a quasi-stealth game. Its not the kind of stealth game I suck at, so that's a plus.
It turns out, the only thing I was doing wrong was shooting the enemies. Is this intentional or accidental? There are four patches and a remake, I'd think the guy would notice if this was a glitch, but it just feels weird. Anyway, the air duct is something I'm supposed to be able to see, its just a very dark grey against black. My monitor shows that as complete black with my default brightness settings, and because I'm using Ubuntu I have to fiddle around in a terminal to see. The monsters are fortunately not hitscanners, good for me, and not very interesting here.
This leads me to another level, with the next key. A few more ranged enemies, and I'm back at the start, but that's okay, I know which way is out. It deposits me in what I hope is the center of the rest of the episode, if not...well that's going to suck for me. There are three doors, excluding the one I came out of, and two of them are locked.
I didn't really understand what this section was going for at first with its weird design. I walk in a door, but walking back in and its locked. But walking into a different door and it returns me to the previous level. Oh, its an elevator. I end up getting stuck quite a bit on the third floor.
So, I go as low as the game will let me...to the cellar...on a space station. Two things of interest, when the elevator is really at the end of the line, it just doesn't do anything, so I can go further up, and this is the first time I've seen a recolored enemy. Which is interesting, in a certain sense, because this is just a robot.
The way out of the basement is strange. Its just an ordinary lift out, but it seems to be in a different direction than the rest of the lifts. Takes me to a different room and everything. Confused the hell out of me. I'm not really fond of that here, because from experience, its just a short trip from confusing to going around in circles.
Despite having a lot of ranged enemies, the puzzle-like gameplay that I enjoyed hasn't changed. However, because I have to dodge enemies, rather than fight them, and the AI is still...uh...stupid, this leads to the game getting on my nerves. This is all for nought. The door past this particular room is locked at the moment. This leaves the other two doors back at the hub.
Malloks, these just look like a generic platformer enemy. They're melee and this section feels like a shallow attempt at returning to the gameplay of the first episode...at first. The second and third levels are more interesting than that. The second involves a circle with 8 hallways leading out, each one containing the Mallok. It also has an incomprehensible name. The third is The Vortex, which centers around doors, with the usual door teleporting puzzle. These give me access to the reactor that was locked earlier and then I can go to the other door at the hub.
This section starts unassumingly enough. Its got a few clever tricks up its sleeve though. The first, an empty room containing a keycard. If this were Doom, it would obviously be a trap, but this game isn't that clever...except it is a trap. The other is a level containing nearly dead ranged enemies. They don't shoot damage back at you, so its easy to take out. The rest of this section ends with the last key card and what I assume was a maze. Its a very easy maze, which I'm grateful for. Its a bit of an anti-climax though. Whatever, onward to the boss.
The "Biocomputer" is such an anti-climax. Its just dodging the same enemies I've been dodging enemies for the past 2 hours. I literally just walk into the "Core" of it like any other door. The end text crawl tells me that the next episode is technically going to be where I began? Hmm, interesting.

This Session: 1.5 hours

Total Time: 6.5 hours

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