|Image from Dyadgame.com|
My recent review of Dyad got me thinking about the popular opinion around high profile games. I ended up liking it quite a bit, but I was initially a bit worried: I had made the mistake of reading some of the pre-release hype and felt like I was missing something. A preview in Kill Screen made the game sound like a religious experience:
In short, McGrath has brought the life-affirming sensation of looking at a great painting, watching an incredible film, witnessing a rare performance; having your understanding of the world violently reinvented; whatever, they are all the one thing called art, into the acts of moving a stick and pressing a button. Videogames have made profound observations and statements, but as things for anyone to simply behold in wonder, they have faltered. This is a first for videogames.The notoriously picky Tim Rogers starred in a promotional video that, while comedic, was a clear endorsement of the game. My Twitter feed was full of designers and writers singing Dyad's praises. I was having a good time (and I think Dyad is an excellent game), but I wasn't having the existential revelation that others seemed to be having. Amusingly enough, my review ended up being a fairly typical one: the general review consensus seems to have settled into a similar "great, but not earth-shattering" mindset.
For a minute there, I thought I might be entering "Tom Chick on Journey" territory. It wouldn't be the first time I missed the bandwagon on a popular game. For example, I found Limbo underwhelming. A more controversial example might be my opinion on pretty much every Sonic game I've ever played: I find them to be average (at best). Last year I revisited Sonic CD and came away with the same question: why do people like these games so much? Maybe it was just playing them in the right place, at the right time. Or maybe I'm still missing something, some key to unlocking their appeal?
Despite the risk of self-indulgent navel gazing, I think asking these types of questions is necessary from time to time. No one lives in a vacuum, so we might as well be aware of our influences and biases. What about you all? Do you bother insulating yourselves from chatter about games you intend to play? What games do you have a hard time "getting?"