Finished Dex, a 2D side-scrolling cyberpunk RPG that clearly takes a lot of inspiration from Deus Ex. It was really fun! Just controlling your character is fun in and of itself, and there’s a lot of fun characters to talk with. It’s also ridiculously beautiful, with a fully orchestrated score. I’m not so wild about a few small writing choices, particularly how it frames prostitution, and the endings just sort of stop. In fact, there’s barely any actual main story missions to speak of, the majority of the game is side questing.
But it starts becoming clear why that is when you look at a memorial hologram in the high rise (or the area near it). The game’s original lead designer apparently passed away during development, and he was also a main writer for the game, so that probably caused some issues. The fact they managed to put out something this polished and just fun to play despite those setbacks is worthy of some praise. I’d recommend it.
I finished the remake of The 25th Ward before that. It might be the best written thing Grasshopper Manufacture has ever made. Tokio from The Silver Case and Flower Sun and Rain gets some finality, with that final Yuki chapter really sending the turtle guy off in the most satisfying way possible. The Matchmaker story line feels incomplete but has some neat worldbuilding and gives the most traditional character arc of all three chapter collections. Tsuki and Osato are just a load of fun.
But SUDA 51’s Correctness chapters are definitely the star. It’s drenched in political and social commentary, and it’s shockingly on point in a lot of ways. My favorite bits deal with the postal service, this murderous government body that kills people for mundane slights like not organizing their recycling right. When you find out people are marked for death by neighbors sending complaints to the postal service and are fully aware of what that complaint will bring about, I was really surprised by how much twisted sense that made. Arguing that modern society and its suffocating, dehumanizing culture of conformity inspires the worst in us was so brilliantly on point.
But that’s a footnote in what is basically a six chapter Lynchian fever dream that questions the entire purpose of an audience surrogate in videogames that slowly breaks down the barrier between textual continuity, player interpretation, and awareness of the real to make a story that makes no logical sense yet says far more about its themes than any traditionally written tale ever possibly could.
Oh and the Black Out chapter they added for this version is amazing. You get to choose from 100 different text endings, most of which are complete nonsense, and getting all of them nets you a secret message where the player avatar talks to you and asks you for about 50,000 yen for his start up project. That may be the most SUDA 51 thing of all time.
Also started Parasite Eve 2, it is insanely pretty even by today’s standards and may very well be the only example of good tank controls in existence.