Normally I would do reviews on my website, but considering the fact I’m out of the country and don’t have access to the main site as a whole, talking about the game on here for now will have to do. A proper review will appear on my website at a later date.
So then, Okami. Originally released on the PS2 in 2006, published by Capcom and developed by Clover Studios, and then re-released on the Wii in 2008 (because who doesn’t want to use the Wiimote to draw lines and circles?) … and then released on the PS3 in 2012 and then released again on the PS4, the PC and the Xbox in the ass end of 2017, you could say that this game has seen a lot of releases.
More impressive still is that the game was developed by Clover Studios, who went defunct in 2007 and were dissolved into Capcom overall. So the developing studio wasn’t even around to re-release their game as many times as it was released, or at least, not in their original form as developers. So how does a game – whose developers went under – see so many releases over a span of eleven years?
Probably because it’s a damn good game.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Dear Esther, the landmark “walking simulator” that had humble beginnings as a free-to-download Half Life mod and eventually saw a full release. In fact it even warranted itself a “Landmark Edition” some years after that release, featuring small but pleasantly updated graphics, director commentary and some additional audio.
While many did – and continue to – question the game’s validity as a video game at all, due to the lack of interacting with pretty much anything in the game, I’ve always felt that Dear Esther did two things incredibly well. The first: it stood to prove that a “walking simulator” is still just as valid a piece of media as any other average game, and can still offer an experience to the people playing it without needing to rely on the usual trappings of most games. The second, and more important: it was a fantastic narrative on video gamers, the very people playing all of these many thousands of games.
I warned you that I’d do it. I warned you I’d wind up writing more about Final Fantasy XIV because I’m just in love with the game and I am so excited for the Stormblood expansion (and maybe I’ve devoted too many hours of my life into trying to grind my main class’ best weapon, the Anima weapon.)
But it’s that same love of the game that I’m here to talk about: why do I love this game so much? What about this game keeps me logging in and playing it, despite a plethora of other games I could pick up and play at any point in time? It’s a worthwhile discussion to have, I feel, especially because the reality of online video games in particular is they’re always trying to keep us playing them. Looking at why a game does well or why a game fails at this task helps us assess why we even play the games at all and what we expect them to do to keep our interest.
Online video games have a very unique problem regardless of their genre, developer or funding. They suffer a crisis that single player games, quite literally, cannot struggle with. Online video games need to work out how to keep players… well, playing.
In the last post, we looked at a brief but telling example of a game’s direction changing, and in so doing alienating a portion of the playerbase to the point they claimed the game was going to die. And thus, we reached a conclusion: the most likely culprit to boldly state the believed fate of a game is in fact a veteran player.
But the question does remain, then, why do the veteran players so often make this call? Failing that, why do people who have never even played a game at all chime in with the same chorus of “game’s dead” when the first veteran makes the statement? Why do new players never seem to fall into this trap? And, of course…
Do games die as a result?
The short answer is:
I hate the term “game is dead.”
If you play any MMORPG or have ever played any MMORPG for any period of time, you are almost guaranteed to have heard the phrase at one point or another. I’ve heard it every single game I’ve ever played, apart from Final Fantasy XIV ironically (though I’m sure it’s still been said by some.) I hate the term, because games don’t fundamentally die without outright shutting down. In fact, even when games go really sour at the core, they often somehow seem to survive as long as the company sticks rigidly to whatever game plan it seems to have… sometimes seemingly for the worst.