31 March 2015

D&D vs Otome

I've played far more D&D based games than otome games (otome is a Japanese term for 'girl').  The majority of otome games I've run across are variations on visual novels, where you mostly endlessly click Next, with very occasional decision moments.  There are also massive amounts of games in Japan that have no official English language release and which I'm far too unmotivated to try and play.  Some of these seem to be quite dark.

The otome games I have liked tend to be a combination of "life simulation" (where you raise skills) and some kind of fantasy or SFF plot (like God Save the Queen).

So, anyway, last weekend I downloaded on Steam both a D&D game, and an otome game...and the otome game was better.

The D&D was Pillars of Eternity, a kickstarted revisit to a classic period of D&D gaming - if you played Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale you'll have met this sort of game before - you control a little party, running around various maps, killing stuff, exploring dungeons.  These games were a precursor to what we have with Dragon Age today - an early level of party banter and epic plotting, but without quite the level of detail.

Pillars of Eternity was neither brilliant nor entirely bad. But along with the things that were really good about this period of games, it also features some of the more frustrating problems - boring trots slowly across the map, giving the gameplay a feeling of crawling through mud, and combat that simply isn't fun.  I don't entirely dislike games with tough combat, but PoE requires a level of micromanagement to survive even minor battles on the easiest setting and, yeah, maybe I'll grind my way through this game eventually. Maybe I won't.  Hopefully the other game of this type I backed on kickstarter, Torment: Tides of Numenera, will balance all this more on the side of 'fun'.

On the other hand, the otome game turned out to be a lot of fun.  With the rather unwieldy name of 1931 Scheherazade at the Library of Pergamum, this offers the usual harem of bishounen for our intrepid heroine to stumble across (yes, including a mummy), but is just as strongly focused on Scheherazade (or Sadie) carving an Indiana Jones-esque path through a half-dozen historical locations in between studying at university in 1931.

The archaeology and mythology aspects are remarkably detailed (though with a rather hilarious trip to Australia to track down Mary McKillop's relatives), and the dialogue is often rather amusing.  The skill management, once I figured out how it worked, was challenging, but not impossible and it even makes me interested in doing more than one play-through (with judicious fast-forwarding), to see through some of the other character plotlines.

So, yes, still not doing much writing - in part because there is so much I want to write - short stories, Tangleways, and the siren call of my Singularity SF series.  Pyramids has had a rather quiet launch, but one of the true strengths of self-publishing is that I can keep writing what I want to write, without any pressure to kill myself jumping through promo hoops out of fear that the series will be dropped.

4 comments:

  1. Pillars of Eternity is my reward-for-finishing-the-manuscript game. If it turns out I don't like it I still have Sunless Sea and the entire second module of Shadowrun to play through.

    ALSO: I got my copy of Pyramids in the mail yesterday. Thank you! That cover is *way* more beautiful in the flesh than on my B&W kindle ;)

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    1. That matte cover is tremendously pretty. :)

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  2. We're glad you like Scheherazade and thank you for the kind words :)
    Cheers!
    -The Black Chicken

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  3. Sheherezade sounds cool, but I shall resist for now because I have lots more on than normal.

    jenny e

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