Zero Punctuation: Firewatch & Layers of Fear

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Firewatch & Layers of Fear

This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Firewatch & Layers of Fear.

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I had forgotten how much I enjoy these comparison videos.

I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

Alright! Nothing brightens up my day like seeing Yahtzee tear apart walking simulators, as interesting as Firewatchs dialogue is, the walking part is still tedious and not being able to run and hold your map at the time reeks of bad design, this is the type of game i'd rather watch someone else play then actually suffer through all the tedious walking bits myself just to get to the good bits.

Layers of Fear? Sounds more like layers of shite, at least Evil Within changed things up enough to stay interesting all the way through, this game just sounds boring as fuck.

Can't wait to see Yahtzee review Far Cry Primal next week, I can see him absolutely hating it for how much it removed from previous games in the series, it looks like one of the most boring games of all time.

So Yathzee isn't being invited to my house anytime soon, because I like it spider-free and unburnt down.

And what he said is pretty much what everyone is saying about Layers of Fear, that it's pretty shit.

I haven't played Layers of Fear, but to me the Firewatch stuff was more or less on point. It's a good game for about two and a half hours, then a bit of an anticlimax, before a pretty OK denouement. Really, if the grand reveal of the central mystery had been almost anything else, it would have been a great game. As it stands I dunno if I'd give it an unqualified recommendation to friends.

wallstaples:
I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

I guess it's because of the hype these games get.

You know "OMG, it's so amazing, you must try it".

As an analogy.

Let's say that "Walking Simulator" is equal to a Renault Twizy.


Now the Twizy isn't a bad car. It's actually a fairly great, little electric city-runabout.

The problem arises when it gets introduced to petrolheads with the explanations of "Oh it's so great, you must try it".
Petrolheads like cars, but the cars they like generally tend to be fun cars like the Renault Megane R.S. 265.

So most petrolhead will probably end up thinking "What's the fuzz about the Twizy?!? I mean it's not that good. It's slow, not that agile and has a low range".

So Firewatch = Meh, Layers of Fear = Feh. Sounds about right from what I've been hearing/seeing about them.

Love that sly Mitchell and Webb Look reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZTiRdcURuI

The biggest disappointment of Firewatch was the mystery reveal. Like it was just a straight up let down. It had such a great build up and then just fizzed. The rest of the game was pretty good and the dialogue was a lot of fun.

I actually don't understand. Layers of Fear is bad because it never lets up and keeps its heavy handed atmosphere building fog machine on the entire time.
Silent Hill 2 is great because its Japanese heavy handed atmosphere building fog machine is on the entire time.

Like just in terms of atmosphere, discounting plot, story, writing, gameplay, setting, and all that other malarkey, atmosphere only the games seem incredibly similar. Its always slightly spooky until its really spooky, then it goes back to being slightly spooky, all the while talking about the murdered wife with heavy handed and insanely easy to interpret metaphors.

And like Layers of Fear, a lot of SH2 horrors comes from signs reading "Hey look, isn't that sack of reddish brown lumpy liquids scary? Being even scarier if you walked up to it." at which point I never did.

MrFalconfly:

wallstaples:
I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

I guess it's because of the hype these games get.

You know "OMG, it's so amazing, you must try it".

As an analogy.

Let's say that "Walking Simulator" is equal to a Renault Twizy.


Now the Twizy isn't a bad car. It's actually a fairly great, little electric city-runabout.

The problem arises when it gets introduced to petrolheads with the explanations of "Oh it's so great, you must try it".
Petrolheads like cars, but the cars they like generally tend to be fun cars like the Renault Megane R.S. 265.

So most petrolhead will probably end up thinking "What's the fuzz about the Twizy?!? I mean it's not that good. It's slow, not that agile and has a low range".

It also doesn't help matters that a fair number of these games and their devs are regularly high off of their own farts. Really, just look at sunset and it's dev team for a fine example of that.

Firewatch is the most amazing forgettable game I think I've ever played. It reaches unbelieveable heights at its, well... high point, but then wastes all that accumulated goodwill on the limpest of limp reveals.

Also those cartoony visuals kind of miss their mark when all you're looking at are trees and rocks.

Pescetarian:
Love that sly Mitchell and Webb Look reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZTiRdcURuI

Yeah, I was just gonna comment on that myself.

wallstaples:
I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

Why does it bother you just cause people dislike games you like? Seems like you need thicker skin, I get why people like Firewatch, but for me it's a game that's more fun to watch(no pun intended) someone else play on Youtube rather then play myself, as I can skip past all the tedious walking and straight to the dialogue. Having watched the ending I agree with Yahtzee 100% on it, I don't buy the whole "it's supposed to disappointing" excuse for it, dosen't make it any less disappointing.

This isn't a Firewatch specific forum, so your analogy is illogical, this is a forum specifically for ZP, so people are free to hate on games he reviews if they want to.

Silentpony:
I actually don't understand. Layers of Fear is bad because it never lets up and keeps its heavy handed atmosphere building fog machine on the entire time.
Silent Hill 2 is great because its Japanese heavy handed atmosphere building fog machine is on the entire time.

Like just in terms of atmosphere, discounting plot, story, writing, gameplay, setting, and all that other malarkey, atmosphere only the games seem incredibly similar. Its always slightly spooky until its really spooky, then it goes back to being slightly spooky, all the while talking about the murdered wife with heavy handed and insanely easy to interpret metaphors.

And like Layers of Fear, a lot of SH2 horrors comes from signs reading "Hey look, isn't that sack of reddish brown lumpy liquids scary? Being even scarier if you walked up to it." at which point I never did.

Silent Hill 2 was nowhere near as relentless with jump scares in every single fucking room like Layers of Fear does, SH2's pacing was subtle, so that when jump scares actually did happen they actually accomplished something, but they become comical if you use them all the time(which is one of the reasons why American remakes of Japanese horror films are so terrible, they load them up with tons of cheap jump scares to the point where the film becomes a laugh riot).

Michael Prymula:
Silent Hill 2 was nowhere near as relentless with jump scares in every single fucking room like Layers of Fear does, SH2's pacing was subtle, so that when jump scares actually did happen they actually accomplished something, but they become comical if you use them all the time(which is one of the reasons why American remakes of Japanese horror films are so terrible, they load them up with tons of cheap jump scares to the point where the film becomes a laugh riot).

There were jump scares? I don't really remember any. I haven't been startled once in any of the first four Silent Hill games.

Metalix Knightmare:

MrFalconfly:

wallstaples:
I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

I guess it's because of the hype these games get.

You know "OMG, it's so amazing, you must try it".

As an analogy.

Let's say that "Walking Simulator" is equal to a Renault Twizy.


Now the Twizy isn't a bad car. It's actually a fairly great, little electric city-runabout.

The problem arises when it gets introduced to petrolheads with the explanations of "Oh it's so great, you must try it".
Petrolheads like cars, but the cars they like generally tend to be fun cars like the Renault Megane R.S. 265.

So most petrolhead will probably end up thinking "What's the fuzz about the Twizy?!? I mean it's not that good. It's slow, not that agile and has a low range".

It also doesn't help matters that a fair number of these games and their devs are regularly high off of their own farts. Really, just look at sunset and it's dev team for a fine example of that.

Based on that logic, they live in the South Park version of San Francisco, and their kids cope with it by dropping acid.

wallstaples:
I'm really, really tired of all the hate these kind of games get. They're niche. Most people won't like them. If you don't like them, fine, but don't burst down the clubhouse door and demand that they accommodate you. I don't like MOBAs, but I'm not going to go to the comments for everything MOBA-related and say they're stupid. I understand that different people have different tastes, and that DOTA and LoL are very well-made for their target audience. No one is forcing you to play walking simulators. If you know you don't like them, just don't.

What really gets my goat is how some idiots call games like these two "SJW games". Layers of Fear isn't harping on about complex social issues in need of being exposed, and Firewatch isn't much more than a cute little discourse on what happens when you drop a normal human in an environment where one's imagination gets to do all the spooky work.

Ever camped out in the forest? I have. Nevermind how safe I was, the encroaching darkness and seeing the goddamn stars for the first time in years made me feel all small, vulnerable and wibbly. If that qualifies for an "SJW" experience, then something's wrong.

But of course, there's a subset of the gaming population that snobs anything that's not overproduced, packed with recognizable gameplay features or geared towards the competitive sector.

The best bit of this was the scary going-to-be-president lurking behind one of the walls. Excellent stuff.

Yahtzee:
This video brought to you by the spider marketing board

Nice to see the Australian Tourism industry sponsoring gaming content these days.

I've heard Firewatch's ending is so bad it ruins the entire experience. So I'm definitely not paying full price for that. Maybe just watch this one.

IamLEAM1983:

But of course, there's a subset of the gaming population that snobs anything that's not overproduced, packed with recognizable gameplay features or geared towards the competitive sector.

Cod. You meant cod. It's ALWAYS cod. If someone does not like a walking sim, it is always immediately assumed that's because he can only play cod. There's no way someone can be disappointed by anything else about a walking sim. Only that it isn't cod.

slo:

IamLEAM1983:

But of course, there's a subset of the gaming population that snobs anything that's not overproduced, packed with recognizable gameplay features or geared towards the competitive sector.

Cod. You meant cod. It's ALWAYS cod. If someone does not like a walking sim, it is always immediately assumed that's because he can only play cod. There's no way someone can be disappointed by anything else about a walking sim. Only that it isn't cod.

I know you're joking, but a lot of the "Eeeeuugh, Ess Jay Dubya Gaemz, blaaah!" nonsense I see on Steam tend to come out of close relatives of the Common CoD Player, mostly the DotA Fans and CS:GO players. That said, now that time's passed since the game's release, most of the negative reviews are more coherent. The excellent story delivery is noted, the art design is praised - but folks seem to rather uniformly have trouble digesting the idea of a story where *nothing* happens, despite outwards appearances to the contrary.

We're at a point where shows about nothing warrant postgrad theses (see Seinfeld) whereas games about nothing (which Firewatch seems to be) are decried for not giving the player some of the old agency-preserving devices like a tangible threat or an outwardly perceptible reason to care. I'd chalk that to the medium and to its consumers both still being fairly young, so there's still a lot of folks who think that Walking Simulators aren't games because there's no guns, no XP system, no movement or traversal mechanics or no competitive pull.

Keep in mind, film has been around for over a century. Literature's had thousands of years and visual art's had a few hundred thousand more, if you go by the Lascaux cave paintings. Video games, on the other hand?

Thirty years if you go by the post-crash recovery and the release of the NES, sixty to seventy if you go by the research leading to Pong's development. That's nothing, a drop of water in the ocean. We'll be able to tolerate really daring and artistic approaches to the medium some day, but there's a lot of research and general education of the masses to take care of until then.

Try debating Gone Home's worth to someone who's still stuck at "Super Mario Bros."-levels of game design exposure. You'll be at it a long damn time.

I think the one niggle that i wish i never knew, going into Layers of Fear kind of ruined any fear it could've been capable of giving me...

I'll wait for Firewatch to go down in price before trying it, a sale mayhaps.

"I'll be fun, they said... You'll meat a lot of people, they said... How was I suppose to know that they were making a euphemism?"
"That's great and all... But, what about the fence?"

Other than that, how many layers of fire were out there in that forest of a mansion?

Layers of fear could have been so much better than it is. It is a really interesting idea that is just never realized. I would have liked it if instead of just finding random documents that chronicle the characters gradual loss of sanity you saw it happen in real time. It gets so tedious after awhile when the rooms start blending together and switching around continuously.

Honestly I found the paintings and furniture more interesting than the game itself.

So what I learned from this video is that a Johnny in Australia is slang for condom.

Since I started watching Let's Drown Out and had a ton of fun with the Half-Life series, I realized I much prefer them to ZP. Which is sad because Gabe is too fat to fit in Yahtzee's carry-on.

He is certainly right about one thing. The Village Green Preservation Society is the best Kinks album.

I wonder if your supervisor guy is the Forest Watcher guy from The Red Green Show.

That's a disturbing amount of words for such a simple topic.

IamLEAM1983:
I'd chalk that to the medium and to its consumers both still being fairly young, so there's still a lot of folks who think that Walking Simulators aren't games because there's no guns, no XP system, no movement or traversal mechanics or no competitive pull.

That's because they aren't and often don't signify this clearly enough. Not just because they aren't games. When they get flak for that it's because they should, there's nothing wrong with it.

IamLEAM1983:

folks seem to rather uniformly have trouble digesting the idea of a story where *nothing* happens, despite outwards appearances to the contrary

You would have trouble digesting a bowl of piss that isn't apple juice despite outwards appearances to the contrary. So that's pretty justified too.
See?

so I says to Lucy I says

Oh dear, I nearly choked.

slo:
That's a disturbing amount of words for such a simple topic.

Really? Yahtzee's videos run for longer than it took me to write this, and I'd consider them succinct. Then again, brevity varies from person to person.

slo:
Not just because they aren't games. When they get flak for that it's because they should, there's nothing wrong with it.

So by your logic, all the games that don't use experience point systems or gunplay mechanics, to name only a couple of the standard systems, deserve criticism. Okay, then - I'll have to politely disagree. If a dev uses what he needs and uses it well, he doesn't need to fish into the standards of industry more than he already has. Does Dear Esther need a set of guns to be interesting? Granted, if you go into this expecting a "game", you'll be disappointed. Dear Esther's an interactive experience, but it isn't focused on giving you a sense of empowerment, nor on giving you a clear set of tasks.

slo:
You would have trouble digesting a bowl of piss that isn't apple juice despite outwards appearances to the contrary. So that's pretty justified too.

That's... not very encouraging. Again, following your logic, a game like Firewatch is equatable to a bowl of piss masquerading as apple juice. If anything, you're just proving my point. Expecting traditional game mechanics out of Firewatch is a moot point, as is the idea of expecting a traditional ending.

Consider certain famous playwrights like Samuel Beckett. "Waiting for Godot" is a play that starts with nothing, talks about nothing and ends with, arguably, also nothing. Two hobos are waiting for a third at the train station, they exchange banter to pass the time, and their buddy never shows up. They leave the way they came. Does that make a poor play out of it? Not if you ask the audience, and not if you consider that one of the latest Broadway tours of the play involved Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the lead roles.

Is "Waiting for Godot" an inferior experience because it doesn't pack all the requirements of a traditionally engaging story? Is Firewatch inferior because its ending doesn't stick to its conspiracy theory-inspired buildup?

There's an audience for everything. If gamers can spare some elbow room for the football jocks and the audience for oddly specific German forklift simulators, then they can also spare some room for games that want to break the mold, even if that involves leaving what defines them as games to begin with. Nobody's forcing you to play either Firewatch or Layers of Fear.

IamLEAM1983:

slo:
That's a disturbing amount of words for such a simple topic.

Really? Yahtzee's videos run for longer than it took me to write this, and I'd consider them succinct. Then again, brevity varies from person to person.

slo:
Not just because they aren't games. When they get flak for that it's because they should, there's nothing wrong with it.

So by your logic, all the games that don't use experience point systems or gunplay mechanics, to name only a couple of the standard systems, deserve criticism. Okay, then - I'll have to politely disagree. If a dev uses what he needs and uses it well, he doesn't need to fish into the standards of industry more than he already has. Does Dear Esther need a set of guns to be interesting? Granted, if you go into this expecting a "game", you'll be disappointed. Dear Esther's an interactive experience, but it isn't focused on giving you a sense of empowerment, nor on giving you a clear set of tasks.

slo:
You would have trouble digesting a bowl of piss that isn't apple juice despite outwards appearances to the contrary. So that's pretty justified too.

That's... not very encouraging. Again, following your logic, a game like Firewatch is equatable to a bowl of piss masquerading as apple juice. If anything, you're just proving my point. Expecting traditional game mechanics out of Firewatch is a moot point, as is the idea of expecting a traditional ending.

Consider certain famous playwrights like Samuel Beckett. "Waiting for Godot" is a play that starts with nothing, talks about nothing and ends with, arguably, also nothing. Two hobos are waiting for a third at the train station, they exchange banter to pass the time, and their buddy never shows up. They leave the way they came. Does that make a poor play out of it? Not if you ask the audience, and not if you consider that one of the latest Broadway tours of the play involved Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in the lead roles.

Is "Waiting for Godot" an inferior experience because it doesn't pack all the requirements of a traditionally engaging story? Is Firewatch inferior because its ending doesn't stick to its conspiracy theory-inspired buildup?

There's an audience for everything. If gamers can spare some elbow room for the football jocks and the audience for oddly specific German forklift simulators, then they can also spare some room for games that want to break the mold, even if that involves leaving what defines them as games to begin with. Nobody's forcing you to play either Firewatch or Layers of Fear.

Guns guns guns. Guns. I told you it's always cod. It always is. Might be stemming from the fact that most of the folks who adore walking sims have little to no experience with games and poor understanding of the medium. It's never Myst or something.
No they're not games, they have no gameplay. You cannot succeed or fail or lead the story or an encounter to a more desired outcome.
But that does not really matter. Seen anyone raging on about how visual novels are real games and everyone should accept that lately? No one cares. They're visual novels, we know what it means and they are all clearly labelled. Who the hell cares if they're games or not. No one expects a visual novel to be a tank racing simulator. Same with walking sims, mark them properly and there will be less disappointment and less downvotes and less bad reviews. It might help to specify the length too.
And come to think of it, walking sims ARE visual novels, just very poor ones, since they can't be of decent length or render any characters.

Setting wrong expectations is a pretty valid approach, and shit given to that is a pretty valid shit. Do I really need to elaborate?
Market "Waiting for Godot" as a murder mystery and you will receive shit for that. If that was your goal - con-fucking-grats.

And no, Dear Esther does not need a set of guns to be interesting. It won't help. Nothing will save Dear Ester, not even dinosaurs and jetpacks. It's that bad.

Things that walking is more interesting than:

-Shooting a bunch of people/monsters/animals for hours on end.
-Running around like a headless chicken collecting XP to level up
-Fetch quests
-"Stealth" rubbish
-Tedious and repetitive swordplay against a (insert scary foe)
-Watching cutscenes of meaningless dialogue
-QTEs
-Collecting 50 bear skins to make a bearskin armour

There you go. I think I've covered most of modern gaming there.

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