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Re(9):RANDOM GAMES #37: Eternal Blasphemy
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[QUOTE]Given that the focus is ultimately on suffering and atonement, is the act of penance something the player actively performs while playing the game, or is it just something your character deals with on his own during cutscenes?[/QUOTE] Ah. That's a good point... I would say that the penance performed by the main character is not so much in cutscenes and rather the game itself. I wouldn't call the game "punishing" for the player, it's certainly easier than G&G or some old Castlevanias. It is, however, an extremely unpleasant experience for the character. I think it's something I've never considered: however entertaining it was to move Arthur or Belmont or even Rockman in their games, it was entertaining for me, not for the character being thrown into spikes, or lava, or medusa heads and then spikes. What Blasphemous does is that it highlights the fact the experience, from the point of view of the character, is not a happy adventure in the world of jelly beans, but a gruesome and excruciating pentathlon. Other games were brushing that on the side, explaining the desire for the character to go forward as a natural heroism that sets Arthur and the others aside from other men and robots. They're (literally for Arthur) knights in shining armors, and they don't need to have any emotion besides having innocents to save. Because the character of Blasphemous has neither name, past nor enemies, and is nothing but "The Penitent One", it's hard to call him a heroic character. He is his penitence. He [i]does [/i]things, some of which are unquestionably good, some which are more strange, or even simply difficult to understand. Yet, this nothingness is not laziness on the part of the devs (the way you'd feel in some games where the developers haven't spent much thought on the MC and he's basically a stand-in for you, the player). The Penitent One is a character for sure, different from the player that controls him, and he's also deliberately "almost nothing". What remains, thus, is just the unpleasantness of the jumps and murders and spikes. From the point of view of the player, though, it is not more or less unpleasant than any G&G or Rockman. It's definitely a more pleasant time than the worse moments of Dark Souls, be it a particularly difficult boss you're struggling to beat, or a depressing passage like Blightown (or a shitty moment like Bed of Chaos). I wonder if there has been a discussion on that point between the developers about whether they'd thought of extending the penance to the player. But then, why would you spend years to develop a game that's a pain to play on purpose? Pathologic 2 just did that, and that is a beautiful and uncompromising vision: making a world so horrible that exploring it is a terrible and painful experience. I love that it exists, and I love that I can read the experiences of the masochists (penitents?) who have played it through. But do I want to experience it myself? Absolutely not! If there is a hard weakness to Blasphemous though, it's definitely here. The game didn't have the guts to go where Pathologic 2 went. With the themes it explores, it's a shame. But as someone who enjoyed playing what I did, it was for the better.
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