But at that point, the game just ends up feeling like wish fulfillment without any real conflict. Thus, all of the suspense, intrigue, and creepiness is merely contrived manipulation by the developers who aren't confident for this story to stand alone.
Why is it ok for pretty much every Book and Movie with a romantic theme to build in tension and false dread? Why is it suddenly a bad thing when a game makes you nervous of every new room you explore and then be pleasantly surprised by love and hope winning out? Using the very medium, and the typical tropes of that medium to keep you in suspense until the last possible moment? If it was all obvious and straightforward then the whole experience would be nowhere near as engaging. Anyway you're getting ragged on enough already, sorry.
Jesus that Oscar stuff is great/awful, when I got to the room behind the servants quarters, and saw the child's height markings and the toy horse in the dark room I had step away for a bit while all those little bits and pieces of that side story came together. I didn't get the Kennedy connection but it makes a lot of sense, Layering in so much depth and complexity in a side story is a hell of a thing. The marriage troubles, his drinking getting worse in the new home, his fall back job as a Tech Writer going downhill, his reaction to Sam's sexuality, it all fits together so damn well.
Hell even the fact that Sam and Terrence liked the same porn was a weird funny little touch.
The dread, tension, and suspense that I am referring to is of the thriller or horror variety. I don't think it's fair for the developers to utilize horror/thriller tropes to sell a story that has NOTHING to do with the horror or thriller genres. There can certainly be tension and suspense in romantic stories or family dramas. Even dread. Movies like Ordinary People and American Beauty utilized those wonderfully. But never in a million years would you ever place either of those films in the horror or thriller category.
I think it's disingenuous for Fullbright to lure gamers in with a dark experience which results in a story that warrants very little of that darkness. It comes across to me as them not having the confidence to tell a romantic, dramatic story, and feeling they need to dress it up as horror or suspense for it to work or to interest gamers.
And maybe they're right to be concerned in some way. I mean, despite the quality of the writing and the voice-acting being truly exceptional, the story of Sam and Lonnie is VERY slight. They get together, Lonnie might go into the Army, she doesn't, they run away together. And that's it. That's a very basic, uneventful story for us to be piecing together. Yes, we get interesting info about the activities of the other family members, but it's still not much. For me, personally, I did not feel like I received a full experience, if that makes sense to you. It's like I spent the whole game piecing together the first act, the storytellers forgot to create the rest of the story, and rushed to the end in the best way they thought they should.
That's my take, at least. Looking through the reviews and at the various forums, I seem to be in the minority on this one.