For a moment I was very confused because I remembered an ongoing conversation about the game on the other thread which seemingly disappeared and I had no idea what’s going on with that until I found this thread. Very fitting to find it here, given what the game is actually about…
I saw a couple of posts I found interesting and wanted to reply to some of them.
Funbil When I read your first post and your suspicions about what direction the narrative might take I was going to suggest that, while a degree of skepticism is generally healthy with regards to any piece of media, if you lean too heavily on that it may end up becoming a type of distrust that could end up depriving the game from the space it requires to surprise or broadly please you, effectively poisoning your own enjoyment of the thing. But given that you also said that neither are you enjoying the puzzles and the general mechanics/flow of the game perhaps you’ve reached a level of negativity towards the game that makes it very hard for it to be successful, so maybe taking a break or doing something else that helps you changing your mindset helps? Maybe even putting the game down entirely, I don’t know.
Not that I think Void Stranger is that special or deserves any kind of special treatment, but rather that I think it’s very hard for any creative thing/piece of media to do anything for you if you don’t have a level of interest/faith it’s going to be worth your time. If you feel like you have lost that the two only things that have worked out for me in the past are leaving it for good or recovering that interest somehow. On that second scenario one thing that has also worked out for me (other than taking a break) is having a friend helping change my perspective a bit, so here’s hoping that this interaction has that effect!
Speaking of the levels and puzzle design
Bbtone Funbil My first playthrough took me around 8-10 hours, by the later half of that I was also starting to lose interest, even ended up risking the spoilers by checking out some guides, same as you did. I have some mixed feelings in this regard because one big criticism I’ve always had with popular subversive games like Undertale is that there isn’t enough meat on the bone game-wise. The “subversion” happens too soon and it loses a lot of impact because there wasn’t enough to subvert to begin with other than a general sense of “classic turn-based RPG”. Inscryption works better in this regard but the subversion ends up being dumb and detrimental to the experience, but they did put the effort of creating an interesting enough game in its own merit before they start recontextualizing it.
With Void Stranger there’s also the aspect (that you’ll end up figuring out if you keep playing) that all of the rooms and puzzles have to accommodate mechanics and nuances in movement that are not available from the beginning. So you end up with puzzles that may look like either too simple or overly complicated but that have to serve purposes that are not immediately apparent, and I can imagine that it must have been a nightmare to balance out, so I feel like cutting them some slack on that regard.
Nature of the first run
I feel like the first playthrough wants to find a balance between clearly acting as tease, cluing the player on what may be hidden, while also having enough substance on its own, and it may not be entirely successful in that regard. But at least at the point where I’m at I kind of get it and, as I said, I’m lenient given the scope of what the game is trying to achieve. Also once you find some of the hidden mechanics and secret means of traversal you can massively trivialize most of the rooms, which leads to a sense of satisfaction and achievement that wouldn’t have been the same if the game didn’t put that level of resistance the first way through. That said, I do agree that the game could have benefited from trimming like 15% of the least interesting rooms.
Either way I think it’s balance I find massively hard to strike, and at least imo they did a commendable job even while I find there is space for improvement in some regards.
Comparison with Inscryption
whatsarobot yeso Thankfully this has nothing to do with Inscryption (so far). I haven’t 100% finished the game yet but at the point I’m at it seems less about the game being a game and more “in universe” in a similar way to what for example Nier does by presenting a fantasy setting that ends up including some sci-fi aspects.
The reason why I’m liking it
Contrary to @Funbil the reason why I’m interested/invested (disinterested in his case) has less to do with the actual narrative which so far I would classify as enjoyable videogame nonsense, and more with the way the game captures the spark of the pre-internet era games such as Zelda 2, Tower of Druaga or Simon’s Quest. That unfiltered sense of mystery and discovery, the feeling of doing stuff that manages to feel cryptic and unintented by the game design rules, but that in truth is very much intended, and kind of the whole point of the experience.