Part 16: 7 Days, Part 7: Minimum-Security Spaceship
To everyone saying that the first two games should be remade, the latter two games more or less did that. You know how the original Metal Gear games were pretty mediocre and had an absolutely absurd yet mostly nonexistent story? MGS took random events (like fighting Gray Fox in a minefield) and retroactively made them mean something (Gray Fox is Snake's only friend, but they've detached themselves so much that it was possible to fight as hired mercenaries, and Gray Fox's injuries caused him to need an exoskeleton, which ties in with his lack of humanity, which plays into his strained relationship with Naomi, which...). Notes and 6 Days do that also, pretending the first two games were much better than they were, but it's easy to accept since it's so much better than the alternatives.
Speaking of, we're coming right up on that. Let's finish off 7 Days.
7 Days, Part 7: Minimum-Security Spaceship
I do not understand the universal appeal of this dark, walled-off tunnel as a hiding spot. Suggestion for next time: Wall yourself off in Barry's inaccessible room. Or your own also-locked room. Or anywhere that isn't here.
All of my friends are dead. All because we just had to bring that box aboard. The EFS Charisma will be here soon. I'm not sure what will be there to greet them. There must be something I can do. Something other than sitting waiting to be killed.
Speaking in fragments. Little connective semblance. Feeling slightly thirsty.
Unsurprisingly, you have to leave your "hiding place" to be able to move the plot forward anyway. I suppose doing the sensible thing and not wandering around in front of murderers would make for a fairly bland game, but I'd complain marginally less.
Oh my god, what did he do to you?
*cough* He needed eyes.
This is a reference to Event Horizon, when a man on a spaceship betrays the wishes of everyone else, loses everyone around him, and rips out his eyes. It's like how My Fair Lady had a few "references" to Pygmalion.
Then he stabbed me right through...
Where is he?
Looking for more people to kill. I'm so, so sorry, John.
Notice how John DeFoe's motivation has completely changed for no reason. In 5 Days, he was horribly frightened and confused. According to Trilby's armchair psychology, at least, the only reason he killed people was a misguided form of defense, since he associated humans in general with Roderick's cruelty and abuse. In 7 Days, he's a run-of-the-mill bloodthirsty psychopath who actively seeks out people to kill because it's something to pass the time. Nice job undermining one of the few well-done and interesting aspects of the first game there.
You weren't acting under your own direction.
Even so... guess I kind of made a hash of my first posting, huh?
This wasn't your fault, William.
You have to find a way to destroy him, John. Take my stun gun. It's got a few shots left. If you can lure him outside the ship, you could...
William? Rest in peace, Doctor Taylor.
Remember how I kept pointing out that Poor Design Decision #2729 wasn't the low point of the game? That's because this is the low point of the game. We know we have to lure him outside the ship, so there's something, but this game is going to pull out all the stops to make sure we don't come away thinking too positively.
DeFoe will randomly show up in certain rooms from any direction he feels, including the one you just came from. The Special Edition added those warnings, but in the vanilla release you just had to stay away from doors and get lucky. Running away from Barry worked more-or-less the same way, but at least you only had to go two rooms away if you read Yahtzee's mind. This starts out tense but becomes tedious very quickly.
Killing DeFoe requires walking to opposite sides of the ship, as with most puzzles. First, we go up here to lower the radio masts, even though it's been established that Serena's main computer could do that without having to type in a birthday.
(Also, I forgot an easter egg here. Typing in "pasta sauce" turns the screen into a Strong Bad Email asking the boxing glove question. I think I forgot it because it's fairly pointless and dumb. I didn't go back for it because I don't want to play 7 Days again and it was still pointless and dumb).
Then we have to do this for a fourth time. This can throw you off, because DeFoe won't appear out in space unless he was in this room before you left, and he won't randomly appear here unlike every other room on the ship. He will only appear after you've shut the airlock, meaning that you need to make it impossible for him to come in before he can come in. Then you can go outside.
...Where Yahtzee didn't feel like animating DeFoe's movements, so he just stands around and glares at you.
Finally, you have to get DeFoe to chase you around a bit before he gets impaled by magic knife antennae. No part of this scene is plausible, but Space Lessons are boring so I'll pretend you know things.
Also, any mistake during any part of that will kill you. It gets old quickly.
The body was just an avatar. This is John DeFoe. This is his soul. This is what must be destroyed.
Referring to the idol that was on DeFoe, which isn't immediately clear from the screenshots.
Walking back up causes
We then drop the idol, which conveniently falls "down" into the engines that still aren't on.
The Charisma flies in and then stops on a dime. It also has an aerodynamic but volume-inefficient design, even though aerodynamics in space matter about as much as my unbelievably pedantic observations regarding spaceship design in video games. My friends no longer let me watch movies with them.
Charisma1: We thought this ship was a total dead-zone.
You're from the Charisma?
Charisma2: Off-world security. Who're you?
Last game, I made an avatar for the policeman despite the fact that he had two lines. This game, I'm not making avatars for people because I'm sick of this and want to move onto Notes as much as everyone else.
Charisma1: You are Dr. Jonathan Somerset, formerly of the University of Ganymede?
Charisma2: Dr. Jonathan Somerset is 65 years old. More to the point, he's dead. He was killed six months ago by an unknown assailant. We only discovered last week that an individual was using his identity.
I didn't mean any harm.
Yep, this is how the game ends, with one last "Fuck you" to the player.
See, this twist does have some foreshadowing, but it's pretty appallingly implemented. You have the whole "feeling of not belonging" conversation at the beginning, but it seems way more focused on William. There's the incredible incompetence regarding basic procedures, but it's hard to differentiate that from every other instance of incompetence exhibited by every other character. It also doesn't help that every piece of foreshadowing occurs at the very beginning of the game, or that the twist is just a way to undermine everything you've done.
By the way, the implication (which is made explicit in 6 Days) is that "John" was the Malcolm who read the news story at the beginning of the game. Meaning that six months ago Malcolm was inspired to sneak onto a spaceship based on seeing said spaceship already in space. Meaning that it got to another galaxy in six months. Meaning that nobody was informed of this via space-email for six months. Meaning they didn't run any tests or even look at ID to see if this twenty-something looked like the 60-year-old they presumably had worked with at some point. Meaning Yahtzee can't write plot twists.
Charisma1: Take him away, Sergeant.
I didn't mean to hurt him. I've been unemployed for eight years!
Ending a game with your protagonist throwing a temper tantrum is discouraged
Charisma2: Another body in the brig, Lieutenant. Are we pinning them all on Somerset, or whoever he is?
Charisma1: Well, can't see any other conclusion, can you?
Charisma2: What's with the box?
Charisma1: No idea. It's empty.
An orange hand reaches out of the box for literally a frame at the very end. I watched this cutscene three times to try capturing it and then gave up, though it doesn't really matter or make sense. With that, we're anticlimactically mostly done with the bad parts of this series.
Next: The epilogue to the first two games. This will include 5 Days' interview scene, 7 Days' "Birthday" ending and painfully unfunny "outtakes", and the announcement of a retooled contest that will involve more than just drawing me pretty pictures so I can feel better about myself. Over the weekend we'll see the series become good and understand why trudging through those first two games was partially worth it.
I think what it is is that I really don't like happy endings. That is, endings where everything is wrapped up and the survivors go back to normal. I guess maybe 5 Days sort of ends like that but that gets retconned in the next game. Thinking about it, I don't think I've ever ended a game happily. Notes and 6 Days don't, although Trilby gets away with his life (his original one, anyway), 1213 most definitely doesn't end well. Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment had two endings: one in which all life in the universe is absorbed into a single intelligence , and one in which the universe is saved, but Dan never goes home .
I had definitely planned to have that twist from the beginning. Which doesn't excuse it in the slightest, but for what it's worth, y'know. Relevance be damned, I wanted to get one more shock in. Thinking about it, a better way to have handled this would have been to make Malcolm some kind of paranormal exterminator - a sort of militant Gabriel Knight who knew of the box somehow and knew the Mephistopheles was going to intercept it (this would be easier to explain with him being employed by the Man in Red, who would obviously know everything without needing any further explanation ). Various hints could be dropped to this effect, and how he managed to get through the various official procedures without documents or ID. This would fit in quite naturally with him being the only one who keeps his head together and accepts the supernatural explanation.
I remember shortly after 7 Days was released someone on the AGS forums posted a very short joke game called 3 Minutes A Fart, in which a crudely-drawn man bent forward and broke wind for an anomalously long amount of time before saying 'I JUST WANTED TO GO INTO SPAAACE!'
Anyway, thank fuck that's all over with. Before we get our Notes on, I should say that there was a significant period of development for me after 7 Days. I finally made enough money to enter the current console generation of the time, acquiring a Gamecube and a PS2, and was able to play a lot of newer games that expanded my range of influences and game design knowledge. The most notable ones being Silent Hill 2 and Eternal Darkness, which you'll see influencing the next game very, very heavily. Wasn't quite mature enough not to knock off a lot of ideas wholesale, but at least ripping off stuff from various different games and blending them together isn't THAT bad a way to come up with new gameplay concepts.
What I definitely didn't want to do was just rehash the 5 Days story a third time, although I can't say I wasn't tempted to. Two ideas that were considered and almost as rapidly dropped during this period: a game following Trilby as he oversaw the transportation of the locker to America by sea (so that submarine idea wouldn't have been far off), and one dealing with the NASA mission that saw the locker being pushed off into space, so retaining the sci-fi thing but in a more contemporary way. Phew, lucky I didn't make either of those.