Thursday, April 11, 2024

Elm Knight: Nightmare Street

Upon loading up this session I get this message. Just this message, nothing before or after. It doesn't tell me where to go, it just tells me to go somewhere for his older brother's interview. I forget if there was anything at the end of the last session, though where I have to go is probably to Sofia. It's nice that they included a recap mechanic, but shouldn't said recap mechanic tell you what it is you're doing rather than just hoping you can infer it?

Is this game kidding me? Roy and Sofia are having a fiery argument...and the game is playing the goofy music. They're arguing about the goal of the rebel army. Sofia says something about Roy being her father's enemy and that's about as far as I got before the walls of text I don't feel like translating started up. What happened to Rondo? Nothing, he's still there, and Rick even knows he's a spy. Right, who else should I check?

Cook? Nothing. Serena? She threatens Rick with a shotgun and they have a conversation. Nothing terribly interesting, she just questions if Rick is truly part of the rebels, as if he wasn't. Playing around with the game's movement is more interesting. It isn't truly free as I thought, but movement is done in half-steps, which comes off as a nice compromise to me. More talking and a realization as Rick talks to Cam over some strange.
The more you look at this, the worse it gets, probably why it only appears on-screen for 15 seconds or so.
These slice of life sections, in addition to feeling odd to the game in general, feel like they're so completely alien to everything I understand about mecha media that this has to be an intentional artistic choice. If you take live-action, anime or manga, the limiting factor with mecha is money and man hours. You want to have as much action as you can, but you're limited in that, since animating or drawing mecha requires more time than people. So you draw more talking to save the budget for the nicer scenes.

But games have no such restriction. In fact, it's easier to have more combat than it is to make a dialog scene. In fact, the reverse is true, once a mecha is drawn or animated, that's it, you can have one or a trillion, it doesn't matter. Every time you add in a new talking sequence, however, you need to code in a new one, and while you can reuse old sprites, I'm not seeing that at all here. A lot of characters have new animations in their dialog scenes. They are literally spending effort doing the opposite of what most other medias would do as a last ditch effort to save money.

I go around to talking to people a second time, noting that this will possibly result in a completely random conversation in a completely random location. Serena has something interesting to say, apparently the rebels dislike magic users, in context of Roy being a magic user. But the usual conversation continues. I don't care about this at all. Even in the game context that exposing the real spy might be a bad idea, or even with the possibility of Rick actually being a spy, it's not like I care what happens one way or another. Third time, nothing. Fourth time. Oh, good, something's wrong. And I'm not just talking about getting trapped by three NPCs, nothing is happening.

Once again the cook turns out to be the answer. Why must I continually return to this chef despite no indication of anything of value coming from her? Is it just because she's likely the last place anyone would go, thus ensuring they aren't missing anything? Immediately after exiting the cook's place am I greeted by a cutscene. I'm going to point out again that I'm only reading what's happening in this long dialog after the fact.

Another briefing. It's a mission for Rick. Rick is surprised. Cam wants to go to his village and the rebel army will accompany him there. Rick doesn't like this plan, he thinks they'll be eaten. Sofia basically ignores this and explains how Rando intends to get us there. (Probably through the deepest and largest concentration of enemies on the planet) Rick is anxious about something and Sofia's continued attempts at dismissing them are annoying him. He even tries to bring in his brother in his favor. Roy understands, but thinks the risks are worth the potential reward.

This doesn't convince Rick, and he's even trying to get Doug on his side, but he doesn't care that much. Sofia implies that this is an act on Doug's part, he's a bit scared too. This seems to convince Rick. He does ask to speak to Roy after the breathing. Apparently on the subject of Rondo. I guess I understand why they aren't trying to expose him right away, but I doubt there's ever going to be a good time to do so. It's just more pondering of things. Now, the battlefield, but first more talking, to Sofia on a car with Cam in the back. I can see now this is basically explaining the troubles up ahead, but man, this game overplays it's hand when it comes to building up enemies.
Now, to play things again. I don't know what the contents of the cutscene were exactly, but judging by what I picked up quickly glancing over it, something is wrong with Cam. (Which is technically right, I guess) The enemy here is a floating blimp mine, get next to them then run away and they harmlessly explode. A few rounds also works well. Tricky, but interesting. I like the autumnal vibe this area has.
Next area, and...giant frog men? They're slow and only ever really a threat if they get close, which is becoming a problem thanks to me running low on ammo. At least I'm saving up the missiles for the serious foes. It's all entertaining, but I can't help but wonder if that's just because it's in comparison to how much story there is that anything feels great.
I reach a river and a cutscene starts. Lots of more talking. Then they decide that this place is safe and to just sit down. More talking, between Rick and Sofia. I'm not putting in that much effort, but they say it's an unbelievable place a lot. Then Sofia suddenly spots something.
It's a strange giant amoeba attacks. Boss fight? It's something of a lame PvP battle, both of us are strafing and just spamming attacks at the other. Or it would be if the first time I get attacked I don't get another wall of text. Seriously? After killing it, I've had my fun, time for fifty more minutes of dialog.
Back to regular mechas. I found something of an exploit, use afterburner mode, jump around a lot and wow, they can't hit you that much. It feels like something I shouldn't be able to do. Yet it is. This leads to another long and tedious conversation. Or a warning about an enemy, a pterodactyl named Maunto. A talking pterodactyl or "dragon" as the game keeps insisting. Apparently he hates humans because they use him as a machine, so he'll fight against them. Trying isn't worth it anymore, Rick is introducing himself to a talking pterodactyl who introduces himself back.
Now I'm fighting him. Ooookay. This guy's tough because he has the simple trick of jumping up and down, so you can't hit him all the time and you have to shoot missiles in such a way that they hit him without tracking. I'm getting a nasty feeling about this. Anyway, more dialog, from the talking pterodactyl. The dying talking pterodactyl. There seems to be something about a promise to the pterodactyl to do something once they reach the giant village.

Another fighting section? I'm glad the game remembered it was supposed to be a game. Oh, that thing I thought was an exploit? Required to survive this section. I think it was Sofia here, and Serena. I skipped getting any pictures of the fighting here, I was mostly just bored with it all. Now there's a cutscene of a woman showering? WHY!? The game is kind enough to introduce us to her, Rodia Bahamu. She's the second in command of the subjugation force. Also, really vain apparently.

Okay, so Rodia is talking to Katsu, the leader of the subjugation force. He basically tells her where they were detected and to go after them. Their relationship is not a happy one, the two of them are at odds for reasons I don't know about.

That was random. I can explore again...and more dialog. More or less just saying the empire has shown up. So they'll be splitting up, but I guess Serena got lost or something, because we're worried about Serena. Yippee. No enemies or anything in this area. Just a long walk. I eventually reach another area, this time filled with snow. Incidentally, ammo is recharging between stages for some reason. More dialog.

Serena is just here. I'm just walking around to advance the plot, not even fighting. Serena's butthurt because other people think she's a weak girl. Rick comforts her and she more or less recovers from it. I'm glad we had this conversation.

Back to my control. I've just now realized I'm going to be staring at snow. Yippee. I can barely see the target on the mini-map. Why am I not surprised? Bullets, even missiles bounce off the walls and the enemies are what I wanna call VTOLs, but are probably just helicopters with the rotors in the back. The whole respawning mechanic isn't as generous as a first assumed, but between that and the brilliant strategy of running away, I'm still coming out ahead easily.

At the end, they arrive at what I assume is a boss fight, because my view turns to fire, but is instead a village. Okay. Guess this is the giant village. Rick zooms in on a cave, but I'm not sure if that's something they'll be dealing with tomorrow or not, because the next scene is in a building, asleep in their own beds.
I'm stopping here. It's not logical, but it's where I'm stopping. I don't know how much more of this I'm willing to take. The gameplay is losing its luster, while the story is so bland that it's continued importance is bordering on the offensive. Though I note at least, according to the in-game save system, since I started this I've jumped from 6 to 13, which should be good. (It's not a indicator of how many saves I've made, I'm primarily using save states)

This Session: 2 hours 15 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours 05 minutes

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