- October 16th, 2011
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PART 1: WHERE’S GORDON, I NEED A CROWBAR FACIAL
A friend of mine knows how much I like playing painfully frippy adventure games so he is always mentioning these wacky HALF-LIFE 2 mods that focus more on navel-gazing than circle-strafing. I say “mentioning” as opposed to “recommending” because he knows many of them are terrible. He just likes winding me up!
Dutifully I played an assortment of these mods and assigned each one a Frip Rating ranging from 1 (pure twaddle such as THE PATH) and 10 (sexy sexy funtimes such as PATHOLOGIC).
Not a single goddamned clue what the Hell this mod is about. AND YET I DON’T EVEN CARE! That’s some Frip Magic right there. Dear Esther comes highly acclaimed and I can see why. It has a carefully-crafted game world, the music is appropriately moody, the voice acting is exceptional, the gameplay is stunningly boring and the ending is totally fucking incomprehensible. That pretty much ticks off all the Art Game checkboxes! Speaking of ticked off, I can’t say I came away enjoying the game. It consists entirely of walking around, triggering odd voiceovers addressing the eponymous Esther. Actually it’s about 98% walking, 1% swimming and 1% falling down a really long hole. At first the voiceover seems to be the same man, but now I am not so sure as the save games change from donnelley(sic) to Jakobson to other characters/names. Who knows! Also I went for a walk on the beach and the game made me start over because I guess I wasn’t supposed to walk on the goddamned beach. The game said Come baaack ostensibly when I went somewhere I wasn’t supposed to go, except not really as it said that all the time. It said it when I left the first shack I saw when the game started. Also I wish the designer had used a name other than Esther, all can think of is Redd Foxx from Sanford & Son.
In short, Dear Esther is literally hours of walking interspersed with English twats espousing ennui until the climax which is exactly fuck-all. The game doesn’t even roll any end credits. You are left staring into a black abyss until you hit the Escape key. I can’t believe Tale of Tales didn’t make this mod. Frip Rating: 1
I honestly can’t decide if I hate this mod or love it the most. Its story and theme is rather inspired, that of a gay couple coming to terms with each other in therapy replete with some very poignant flashbacks. There’s a palpable bittersweet sentiment evident, not so easily accomplished in a game. And there’s actual gamey-type gameplay, as opposed to the astoundingly dull and uninspired tripe the other mods attempt to pawn off as gameplay. So good marks for all that. HOWEVER.
It is so far divided into 2 chapters or parts. Part 1 is painfully dull, consisting entirely of finding constellations in the night sky by clicking on them, then wandering off in the direction of Polaris although the game gives little indication that that is what you are supposed to do at that point. This might have been a neat concept and learning experience but literally the only constellations the game asks you to find are Orion and The Big Dipper, which even a complete imbecile could find.
Part 2 is where the party is. Part 2 is an obtuse puzzle game which is actually pretty cool and thought-provoking, but HOLY HOT FUCK BETWEEN TWO SLICES OF MOTHERFUCKER is it frustratingly hard. Hey, I can stack boxes like a champ, but boxes that explode if they are dropped? Or even nudged a little too brusquely? And the game ends if I break too many boxes? Holy hairy balls, man. Also I am fairly certain your lover dies of AIDS if you fail. That’s some fucked up shit.
And to top it all off, the game has the most annoying sound loop throughout the entire thing. So, as if delicately stacking boxes with hair triggers and then climbing on them isn’t enough, a Mobius Strip conversation between your gay lover and your therapist blares at you.
“TELL US, WHY DON’T YOU COMMUNICATE?” “IT’S HARD TO COMMUNICATE WHEN NO ONE IS LISTENING.” “TELL US, WHY DO YOU THINK NO ONE IS LISTENING?” “BECAUSE THIS GODDAMNED SOUND LOOP IS MAKING MY EARDRUMS SPONTANEOUSLY HEMORRHAGE.” “TELL US, WHY ARE YOU HITTING ME WITH A TIRE IRON?”
You get the point. Anyway the puzzle aspect of the mod is, as I mentioned, pretty inspired and mentally challenging (despite me cussing at my monitor like it stole my penis and sold it to gypsies), so I have to give the game credit for that and I plan to check out further installments. Frip Rating: 6
The Stanley Parable
Another mod that comes with modest critical praise, The Stanley Parable is so frippy it should have been released only in Sweden and taken three years to get properly translated to English. Like most Arty McArtson games, The Stanley Parable has no other gameplay assets beyond walking and listening to a voiceover. Alas. Well on the plus side, the voice work in the game is top notch and easily the best among the mods I played. It has humor and a modicum of pathos in places, but the humor is the best part. It offers an intriguing take on certain gaming tropes but since it’s an art game, it doesn’t do shit with them and the game just sort of ends in a rather frustrating manner. Actually the game ends a lot and has a variety of endings but none of them stand out, so who knows what the “right” one is. In fact I am pretty sure there is no right ending because it’s an art game mod and we all know you can’t have a satisfying ending in an art game. Or God kills a street mime, I have no idea.
Still it’s cute and short and amusing, so there are far worse crimes committed in the name of art mod gaming. Frip Rating: 3
What a complete shitburger of a mod. I hope whoever wrote it gets hit by a truck carrying clown shoes and he dies with a size 30 blue and orange wingtip lodged in his rectum. I know, I know, it’s called “tedium” so what should I expect. MOD DELIVERS AS TITLE PROMISES. Jesus Christ on a Kaiser roll is it boring. I’d rather watch two bugs fuck on my ceiling than play this mod again. The mod is literally you throwing large colored alphabet letters into color-corresponding chutes, hoping that if you do it enough a locked door will open. It never does. There is nothing else to do. The creator thought it’d be funny to make a mod where you bore yourself to death. Fuck you.
PS whoever wrote this, kill yourself before attempting to create another mod. Frip Rating: -100 And Immolate Yourself With a Burning Truck Tire You Insufferable Dick
That’s all for now sexybutts. Expect at least one more installment once I get the taste of tedium out of my colon and delve once again into the wacky wild world of HALF LIFE 2 fripmodding. Ciao!