Finished my first play-through today, and I’ve got some thoughts:
So overall, I really enjoyed the game and I can see the love and attention that went into it. I played on my couch through steam, and I was surprised at how well TWP actually played with a controller. I really enjoyed the first few acts in particular, but as the game went on, my fun level did go down. For me, as with a lot of modern games I play, TWP was just a bit too long. Probably half of all SP games these days overstay their welcome for me, either by a little or a lot. Be that Uncharted 4 or Bloodborne or Persona 5, or whatever game you want to name. At my age (33), I don’t have the time to devote to a lot of these games, there are too many things I need to do, and too many games and hobbies for my limited free time. In addition to TWP’s length, the ever increasing number of characters and items to manage also became tiresome for me.
I know Ron has said that the time and money needed to make another TWP-style adventure game are keeping him from wanting to make another, but what if he scaled back the next game a bit? I know I would have been just as satisfied with TWP being a 10 hr experience, instead of a 16 hr one. Even a 6 to 8 hr playtime would be more than fine for me. I’d also be quite happy just controlling one or two characters instead of 5! Surely a shorter game, with less characters, would take less time and money to develop, especially with an engine all ready in place. I don’t think a shorter game has to mean a lower quality one.
Maybe that’s why some of my favorite adventure games are Gabriel Knight and Star Trek 25th Ann/Judgement Rites. Specifically with ST, I like that the game is episodic in nature, so you’re not carrying around the same items the whole game, and they don’t pile up. And being episodic, the puzzles/situations just feel more manageable on the whole. I know TWP has Acts, but the gamestate and items are still mostly preserved, and the locations mostly stay the same as well. I also like that even though you control 3 characters in the ST adv. games, you all move from scene to scene in a group, so that means that you don’t have to keep switching characters just to keep everyone together. You do still have to figure out which character is best-suited to which task, but since you’re all together you don’t need to switch items or move people around in order to figure things out.
One big positive that TWP and the ST adv. games share, is that there aren’t really any fail-states, other than the “don’t go through that door/push that button” variety. I like that quite a bit. One final note about ST that I think was a nice touch, and that could be used in other adventure games, is that there aren’t a lot of “game stopping” puzzles in those games. A lot of puzzles in ST25/JR can be solved in a number of ways, its just that some ways are harder to figure out than others, and usually the more complicated or thoughtful solution will reward a player with a better end of mission score/review.
But enough about the Star Trek games, I only mentioned them because I think they represent a really nice example of multi-act, multi-character adventure games. What do you guys think? Would a Ron Gilbert game be just as good with only one or two player characters, or with a shorter playtime? Anyone else feel the same as me?
PS. I also wouldn’t mind a more “conventional” story, while we’re at it, but that’s only a minor quibble and up for debate!