There’s a famous Wittgenstein quote that says, “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” His point wasn’t that people should remain quiet on matters they’re unqualified to speak about, but that silence can be its own form of expression. Silence can paint a picture in vivid detail in ways that speech isn’t equipped for. To illustrate this point, let’s consider a negative example: the 2013 remake (more a light re-imagining than a strict remake) of Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse.
Broadly speaking, the original game tended to leave things unstated because it didn’t have the tools to speak at length about them. It was an approach that worked well for what the designers had in mind. The remake, on the other hand, has those tools at its disposal and is determined to make its voice heard. The problem is that this Castle of Illusion doesn’t know how it should express that voice but feels compelled to express it anyway. It overspeaks; it overexplains; it fills previously quiet moments with activity. What you end up with is a game that, while technically sound, leaves too little to the imagination while adding little to our understanding of the experience.
I find Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner an odd game, as far as video game sequels go. Not for what it does; that part’s all too familiar. The game takes what its forerunner did, and adds onto it, refines it, improves it, etc. I’m more curious about what all that does to the game as a whole. Although both the story and the gameplay find themselves bigger and better than before, they do so on separate terms. This creates a weird tension between narrative and gameplay, as they find themselves unable to reconcile their own terms. So while both elements are strong on their own, they never come together to realize 2nd Runner’s full potential.
Our current (or, according to some critics, aged) understanding of video games tells us that Metal Gear Rising should be a good game. A damn fine one, in fact. If you engage it only for its audacious spectacle, then Rising works wonders. If you engage it as a game to be played, it works wonders. Continue reading