Previous: Lords of Shadow EP11: Sweet Jesus
We return with a more regular update of Full House. This time I do battle against gremlin arse and murderous camerawork, Grant eggs us on from the stands, Euthanasia scores a 7.5 for his landing on the Olympic window-smash, Azalius pumps up his Light Magic and Dark Magic with plenty of Neutralites, and Malphas is boarding now for a trans-arctic flight to Donkey Kong Country
Apologies again for the sound quality of anyone that isn’t me – this is the last bit of footage with the issue, so expect it to be fixed next episode.
This entire episode does a pretty good job of highlighting exactly the kind of behaviour Lords of Shadow’s use of secrets engenders in the player. The fixed camera and hidden character upgrades mean you’re strongly incentivized to jam your face into any corner that could possibly contain a powerup, because missing them means coming back to play the exact same level all over again. As you may have noticed, cutscenes are TERRIFYING in this context, because they often cut you off from your exploration with no warning.
But even assuming you ignore the secrets, (as I plan to do on-camera from now on) at best you only defer the slog until you find yourself outmatched by common enemies… then you go back and trawl all the levels you played through naturally for their upgrades. In LoS, soulless backtracking is power. Hell, the game has the audacity to come out and tell you that it’s impossible to reach its most plainly obvious loot until later! Now that’s just rude!
Again, Metroid games and post-Symphony of the Night Castlevanias do this because they have open worlds and organic systems of play. Yes, you’ll find obstacles in your way and powerups you can’t immediately reach without upgrades, but these almost invariably unlock whole new areas of the game when surpassed, and returning to them once you have the power is simultaneously quick, fun, simple, and different.
Backtracking through a nonlinear open world to smash open that wall as Soma or Alucard with a battery of new powers and weapons is fun! Backtracking as Gabriel in a heavily scripted linear brawler is just repeating the exact same thing you already did, only this time you get the shiny halfway through.