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Pixelled dicks? Not so horrible to me now after playing Dooms 4.
- 07/08/2010 09:14 AM
- 3848 views
"Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer" certainly got some attention on this site and elsewhere. When you open the game, you are greeted with a somber music and a title screen of a person with glowing eyes (instantly reminding me of the nightmare fuel gas attendant of Sin City called Kevin) and then I realize... wait, that's a fucking edited picture from a photograph taken at Abu Ghraib! I didn't feel that cool at all! The plot opens with a conversation between two people on a rooftop that overlooks a dull city skyline. The first is Verge. This is your character. Verge is a depressed, lonely fellow whose face portrait somewhat resembles Elijah Wood... who played the aforementioned Kevin in Sin City. Did Calunio have Sin City on his mind when he was making this? Probably it's just me. The second character, Daily, a pretty-boy model who reminds me of Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance (god, I need to stop tossing around these comparisons!) discusses the activity of "dungeoneering" with you and you have the choice to watch a cutscene of an old man's monologue during some sort of 'dungeoneer seminar'. This sets the mood of the rest of the game quite nicely. The concept of torture is explained to you, followed by the idea of a "beautiful escape", where you must leave the victim battered within inches of his life and still allow him to escape. You have to break them. But not kill them. Give them hope. Then take it away. At this point, I was intrigued. But also cautious. There were two other RPG games I played that toyed with the horror concept. The first was The Longing Ribbon, an immense experience for me about how one can make even pixels and RTP make me be on the edge of my seat. The second, unfortunately, was Mister Big T's gross-out guro behemoth, Dooms 4... one of the worst games I have ever played.
Yeah...? Naw... it's just me.
But I still kept the hope. I welcome any RM project that dares to stray from the usual sword and sorcerer routes. I soon learnt that Verge is utterly in love with Daily. A feeling that is not reciprocated. The conversations between Verge and Daily remind me of a Chuck Palahniuk or Bret Easton Ellis novel. Invisible Monsters meets American Psycho, I guess. So now Verge wishes to impress his crush by capturing and torturing a few people on the streets, video-taping the act and uploading it on a website you can log on to at your house. You can only view the front page and scroll down to see the review of your last video and any e-mails you may have gotten. It also advertised a contest but I never figured out if it could be won or not. When I finally gain control of Verge, I notice his slow walking speed. Goddamnit! is my first thought. Same thought when I finally got to control my character in Grave Spirit. Well, I thought, I traversed an entire kingdom in Grave Spirit with this walking speed... I hope I don't have to walk across an entire city with it now. Thankfully, I didn't. But somehow it felt just as frustrating. There are few areas where I actually have to do some walking. The first is making my rounds through "Grafton Street", which I will come to later. The second is to lay down traps in my dungeon, which requires a lot of walking back and forth! And the third is at this fire station. The fire station is awful. I have to walk around the ENTIRE map just to talk to the one dude in it! This wouldn't be bad if I didn't have to do it multiple times!
But I'm still intrigued by the game. I keep hope. I keep walking. I must first collect supplies from a dungeoneering fan called Lorry. I think he gave me a Water Tank, a couple of Razors, some Rope and a Drill. When I get to Grafton Street, I am caught totally off-guard by "Mad World" by Gary Jules. I love this song. And it's a very nice fit for the mood. The song plays as colourless people zoom by on the busy night streets, back and forth, back and forth, and as Verge delivers a monologue I can barely remember. When Verge appears, I half-expect the people to slow down as I begin trudging. But they keep zooming past, right through me. It's like I was in a world of phantoms on speed. But it was still a nice touch. I noticed there are several people who just wander about on the streets. These are in colour. These are the "sobbers", potential victims you must befriend to take back to your dungeon. The 'befriending' takes place in the style of a Dating Sim. A blurb will appear giving certain details about this person and using this, you must then choose from a number of dialogue branches in your conversations with them. You say the right things and a bar gets filled. The more this bar is filled, the higher your chances of getting them to come home with you. You say the wrong things, the bar depletes and a gauge below it shifts to the left. The further left it is, the more likely they are to just leave you hanging. No biggie. You can just exit the opposite side of the street and come back to try again. But you may actually do this about five or six or MORE times for some of the sobbers. Coupled with the slow walking speed, this can get quite tiring. But I want to see the torture game, damnit! So I kept hope and ended up bringing home some drunk sleaze with me.
I soon found myself in a dungeon with the sleaze shackled to a wall. I wasn't really sure what to do! There were some flashing tiles on the floor that I soon learnt were my torture devices. Okay... Where is the explanation? No optional tutorial even? So I just lay down everything randomly and go out the door. The guy begins walking. He walks into my Strip tile and suddenly I am looking at a pixelated dick swinging on my monitor. Then he steps on a Drill tile and suddenly I am prompted to alternate between pressing 1 and 2. What the frick! By the time I even figure out what to do, time's up! Someone could've gave me a tip! There is a timer at the corner of the screen and I'm not really sure, even until now, what it's for. Maybe the "torture" is better if it lasts the full minute allotted to the countdown. So, basically, because I didn't get proper instructions, my victim escaped mildly unscathed. And I get a Game Over! That means I have to go seduce that sleaze ALL OVER AGAIN! But I guess now I'm aware of what to do. But due to absent-mindedness, I get a Game Over again! So I have to do it allllllll over a second time. This time, I succeed in killing the bastard. And then I go on my computer at home and log onto the Dungeoneer's website. What?! 1.5 star review, after all of that! I then realize there's some tactic to it. I must give the sobber HOPE before I chainsaw his ass. And I must not kill him. I must give him the "beautiful escape". Gameplay might be a wee more interesting now.
So I go back on Grafton Street and seduce some woman. I make sure to give this one the Strip tile. Unfortunately, a lot more work went into the pixelled dick than the female genitalia. Not impressed.
Boobs could've been better. I mean, isn't that why we watch horror movies? Naked chicks with big ta-tas.
I do better on this kill. I'm getting the hang of this, I begin to think! But then it hits me. This girl was okay. She wasn't unlikeable or anything. I compared this game to a Bret Easton Ellis novel previously in this review. Ellis' most famous character would be Patrick Bateman of American Psycho, who has a pretty disgusting personality. Not all of his victims are abhorrent. Some of them quite innocent, like this girl I just stripped, razor bladed and almost drowned in a water tank. The difference between Verge and Patrick Bateman is that Verge is just a pussy-boy hung up getting the attention of a model obsessed who looks like Gerard Way. This is why Verge kills. Bateman is more "likeable" because he kills because he is mean, and bored and flexes his muscles while he has sex with women. While I play as Verge murdering my next few victims, I feel kind of bad. I feel like I'm feeding a very pathetic hopeless unhealthy relationship. The game also gets sorta boring sorta fast. But at least it seems to know that, because I only had to kill about five victims in all to finish it.
And it concludes on a note I half-expected. On a note I hoped for. The only note that could have salvaged this story and actually make it good. And you know, I really didn't feel this was a good game. But there are things about it that I enjoyed, such as the music (shout out to Ravi Shankar and Norah Jones), the atmosphere and, although I bitched about Verge and Daily, the characters. It is NOT something I would play twice but if you asked me if I regret playing it... I'd say no. This game could've been a lot worse given the premise. And I'm glad I kept some hope while playing it. I enjoyed the introduction a lot and I enjoyed the end. Though the characters might not stick with me, there is an interesting story in here. If I had to give Calunio any advice, I'd tell him kick the walking speed up a notch, give the player a save option before he goes into the torture room so he won't have to repeat the tedious 'seduction' stage, and add a tutorial on how to do the dungeon scenes. My original score for this would be a 2 because of the horrible gameplay but I am a softie for projects that really try to do something different. And Calunio really achieved something... different here. This may not have been my cup of tea but if he were to make another game of a less gory nature, less pixel penises and with better gameplay that doesn't include a big bald guy raping a dude, I wouldn't hesitate to play it.
By the way,
rape>call event "eurotrash"
Btw, you should definitely add a SPOILER warning.
I played the first two DOOMS games. The first one actually disturbed me greatly.
Hmmm... I actually tried not to spoil anything. I don't think I gave away anything in the story. Did you mean the rape picture?
Was just viewing this over. I changed my score to a 3/5.