Man, Alex was not kidding about the backtracking...

#1 Edited by BBAlpert (1475 posts) -

I really want to like this game, and some of the humor is pretty good... But the placement of items and puzzles honestly seems like it was designed intentionally to put stuff as far apart as possible. And a lot of the backtracking wouldn't even be necessary if the characters could each carry more than 1 item at a time, but instead you're stuck making multiple trips from one corner of a map section to the opposite corner.

I'm going to at least play through the game this first time, but I'm starting to have second thoughts about going back through with the other characters. And that's a real bummer.

*Edit: This is a (very) rough run through of one of the levels (I won't say which or give too many specifics, but you might recognize it if you've played through this part).

  1. Starting from A (or B actually, now that I think about it), you go down to C
  2. Person at C tells you to talk to someone
  3. From C, your path is D -> A -> E -> F
  4. Person at F tells you to get something
  5. F -> E -> G
  6. You can see the item in the closed off room between G and I, but something is keeping you from entering from the left side of the room
  7. G -> H -> I
  8. From this side, the obstacle in your way from point G isn't a problem, but there's a locked door
  9. I -> J
  10. Get key
  11. J -> I
  12. Unlock door, get thing
  13. I -> J -> K
  14. Get item
  15. K -> F -> E -> A -> B (because D is a 1 way passage that only lets you go from left to right) -> C
  16. There's another problem that you need to investigate
  17. C -> D -> A -> E -> G -> L
  18. There's the problem, but the item you need is back at J (and you couldn't have picked it up when you were there, since you were carrying something else)
  19. L -> G -> H -> I -> J
  20. Get item
  21. J -> I -> H-> G-> L
  22. Use item
  23. L -> G -> E -> A -> B -> C
#2 Posted by ReCkLeSs_X (460 posts) -

This may have just been my go at the game (to which I've played several times now), but even though there was some definite backtracking, I didn't feel as though it was detrimental as there are efficient ways of handling each situation. I can definitely see how some parts would seem like a chore if handled differently though. What part are you referencing here? Maybe I can try to shed some light on my solution?

#3 Posted by BeachThunder (11942 posts) -

;__; yes, sadly this is what's caused me to stop playing the game (I suppose I'll get back to it sooner or later...) The worst part is that sometimes you have to backtrack through areas three times, i.e. backtracking with each character. Also, the character movement is very slow (ladders and ropes feel especially frustrating).

Online
#4 Posted by TheHT (11284 posts) -

Oof, that looks rough.

#5 Edited by BBAlpert (1475 posts) -

@ReCkLeSs_X said:

This may have just been my go at the game (to which I've played several times now), but even though there was some definite backtracking, I didn't feel as though it was detrimental as there are efficient ways of handling each situation. I can definitely see how some parts would seem like a chore if handled differently though. What part are you referencing here? Maybe I can try to shed some light on my solution?

I did just notice a mistake on the map, specifically that I believe you can cut across from E to somewhere between I and J. But the level I was describing was the

Knight's level. B is the place where you drop down through the fire with your shield ability, C is the King, F is the Princess' balcony, G and H are the front and back gates to the dragon's lair, J is the key to the dragon's lair, the dynamite is somewhere around K, and L is the catacombs where you need to place the dynamite to loosen the rocks enough to pull the sword from the stone.

You are right that there are more efficient ways to optimize your route through a level, but the methods I've seen generally seem to require prior knowledge of what you're going to need where (such as skipping the King, the Princess, and the front entrance to the dragon's lair and just going straight up to J for the key). A spot that would take a huge chunk of the backtracking out would be if you didn't need to run all the way back to the tower to pick up the dynamite. But I think you need to, since every other time you're in that area, you've got your hands full (with the key, the gold coin, or the locket).
#6 Posted by ProfessorEss (7376 posts) -

I was pretty excited for the release of The Cave but then I saw the quicklook and what you're saying is the exact impression that the quicklook gave me.

The puzzles seemed to be little more than go get this, then go get that, then go back and get this and take it back there.

#7 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

I love Double Fine, but I detest playing this game. Everything about 'playing it' is a chore. Double Fine has such a spectacular writers, artists and animators, but holy fuck... they need some good designers.

@BeachThunder said:

;__; yes, sadly this is what's caused me to stop playing the game (I suppose I'll get back to it sooner or later...) The worst part is that sometimes you have to backtrack through areas three times, i.e. backtracking with each character. Also, the character movement is very slow (ladders and ropes feel especially frustrating).

I could not agree more. Not only is there so much unnecessary movement through the environment, but navigating space should be a fun experience regardless of genre.

#8 Posted by BisonHero (6532 posts) -

@ProfessorEss said:

The puzzles seemed to be little more than go get this, then go get that, then go back and get this and take it back there.

So you're saying it's an adventure game.

#9 Edited by paulwade1984 (478 posts) -

But but... but... Ron Gilbert came in to show it... and he had little figurines... and Ryan and Patrick hung on every single word he said... and... and everybody laughed... but the game looked like little big planet... only shit.

#10 Posted by buft (3317 posts) -

@paulwade1984 said:

But but... but... Ron Gilbert came in to show it... and he had little figurines... and Ryan and Patrick hung on every single word he said... and... and everybody laughed... but the game looked like little big planet... only shit.

I genuinely laughed out loud at your statement then had a "hold on" moment as my brain caught up with your logic. touche

#11 Posted by paulwade1984 (478 posts) -

@buft said:

@paulwade1984 said:

But but... but... Ron Gilbert came in to show it... and he had little figurines... and Ryan and Patrick hung on every single word he said... and... and everybody laughed... but the game looked like little big planet... only shit.

I genuinely laughed out loud at your statement then had a "hold on" moment as my brain caught up with your logic. touche

I fucked up a little bit cos little big planet is a bit shit as well.

#12 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

@BisonHero said:

@ProfessorEss said:

The puzzles seemed to be little more than go get this, then go get that, then go back and get this and take it back there.

So you're saying it's an adventure game.

No, because the majority of the puzzles are so straight-forward that the 'effort' and 'challenge' is the monotonous movement through the environment rather than the experimentation and prodding at the puzzle.

#13 Posted by BisonHero (6532 posts) -

@project343 said:

@BisonHero said:

@ProfessorEss said:

The puzzles seemed to be little more than go get this, then go get that, then go back and get this and take it back there.

So you're saying it's an adventure game.

No, because the majority of the puzzles are so straight-forward that the 'effort' and 'challenge' is the monotonous movement through the environment rather than the experimentation and prodding at the puzzle.

Ahhh, from what he said, it wasn't clear whether the purpose of those items is obvious or not. Adventure games have always been "get item, use item on thing", but yes, it's preferable that you have to exert a modicum of thought in figuring out which items to use on which things.

#14 Edited by project343 (2827 posts) -

@BisonHero: No. It's always stupidly simple. Nearly every puzzle requires you to slog items back and forth, up ladders, down ropes, and back again just to proceed through a simple door. You figure it out within 3 seconds, then have to spend an unnecessary 5-10 minutes just performing it. Hell, the first puzzle in the game forces you to repeat a back-and-forth trudge four times if you happen to miss the timing on the execution.

It all comes down to three fundamental flaws:

  • You have to move 3 characters individually through the spaces (like, move one dude through 3 minutes of platforming, then the next, then the final)
  • Held objects are central to the puzzle solving, and a character can only hold one object at a time (there is no inventory)
  • The movement is slow, loose, and vertical movement (ladders, ropes) can be incredibly janky/unpredictable

The result is a lot of unnecessary and outright painful movement through space. I think this would be less of an issue if it had a Braid-like puzzle philosophy: one 'screen', one puzzle. But a lot of the puzzles span great lengths of space, and have several components in so many different rooms that can be minutes of platforming apart.

More than that, the humour is about as miss-or-miss as Quantum Conundrum. You don't have a compelling 'character' guiding you through the experience, the narrative that he spins is so disjointed and irrelevant that it just feels like flavour-text, and the one-liners are rarely worth smiling at.

I really want to like this game. I really do. I adored Stacking, Psychonauts and Iron Brigade (formerly known as 'Trenched'), and had a good time with Brutal Legend and Costume Quest. But honestly, this is their worst effort. Honestly, Alex's 3/5 was a generous score. I'd probably give it a 2/5, and almost solely for the spectacular visuals/style.

#15 Posted by Levio (1784 posts) -

They could immediately semi-solve these issues if they just patched in double movement speed and triple rope-climbing/edge-climbing speed. It's a shame they probably won't.

#16 Posted by Animasta (14692 posts) -

@project343 said:

I love Double Fine, but I detest playing this game. Everything about 'playing it' is a chore. Double Fine has such a spectacular writers, artists and animators, but holy fuck... they need some good designers.

they have good designers

(aka brad muir)

#17 Posted by project343 (2827 posts) -

@Animasta said:

@project343 said:

I love Double Fine, but I detest playing this game. Everything about 'playing it' is a chore. Double Fine has such a spectacular writers, artists and animators, but holy fuck... they need some good designers.

they have good designers

(aka brad muir)

Well, Trenched is arguably their best 'playing' game. Top-to-bottom, that game is a blast to play. So kudos to him.

#18 Posted by CornBREDX (5303 posts) -

Ya the major down side is the back tracking (mainly only because you have to switch to each character to move them- forward tracking- which makes it a chore sometimes). 
I loved the games style, writing, and the last area. So it didn't bother me that much, and anyone that likes old Lucas Arts games will probably still love it, but it's definitely got its down sides.

#19 Edited by ReCkLeSs_X (460 posts) -

@BBAlpert: I definitely have to admit a bias to this level since it was shown in the quick look (and my mind optimized to one of the faster routes). I can definitely see what you're saying with the backtracking, especially with a party not including the Monk. I will say though that since it's more clearly a 3D space, I think the backtracking is a more conscious relevancy as opposed to something in the Secret of Monkey Island, where you would have a similar type of backtracking, but since you click and the character moves, you simply accept the time it takes, rather than you pushing your thumbstick to the right or left and feeling like it's slower paced.

By no means am I saying that it's not an issue though, I think the game could've been tightened up in some specific areas, and one of my personal wishes was for the character abilities to have more significance but I do feel as though some of the complaints were addressed by Double Fine. For instance, a huge complaint is having to control all 3 characters through the same levels. I'd say this was a larger issue during

BUT, I don't think a lot of people realized that you can push your character forward through many sections (at least the ones connecting the puzzles) and they do magically appear behind you.

Specifically on the level you pointed out...

I know it's not a fair example, but with at least some foresight, I was able to manage blowing the rocks up much earlier in the level. Additionally, there was an instance where I snatched the coin without ever needing to get the key (with the monk), which saved a lot of time as well.

I do think the criticism is little harsh since the movement aspect being directly tied to the player input, however, a sprint button and a "all characters gather here" button would have been appreciated. Then again, you think about a button that gathers everybody, then you think about what kinds of frustrations would come from accidentally hitting that button - I'm sure this was a deliberate choice rather than a complete oversight, but the option would be nice. I think the game would have benefitted mostly from faster movement and climbing speed for certain. I also believe that the game could have been approached with a slower mindset though. I think the need to complete things as fast as possible (whether it be a puzzle or not) is an underlying factor, for better or for worse.

#20 Posted by BisonHero (6532 posts) -

@Levio said:

They could immediately semi-solve these issues if they just patched in double movement speed and triple rope-climbing/edge-climbing speed. It's a shame they probably won't.

Oh man, the number of games that would've been fixed by doing that.

I'm looking at you, PAINFULLY HUGE OVERWORLD in Zelda: Phantom Hourglass and Zelda: Spirit Tracks.

#21 Posted by SSully (4189 posts) -

Yeah I just finished the part they demoed and I am already annoyed by how you have to control 3 damn characters. It's a damn shame because even after my short time of play the game has a great art style. The animations are great and it's just charming as hell.

#22 Posted by Ares42 (2669 posts) -

I've played through the game twice and you don't really need to backtrack much if you play efficiently. However many of the puzzle-areas are quite big, making it laborious to do any puzzling. The problem isn't really the 3 characters or the platforming, but just how spread out things are. The mine cart level is a great example of how it should've been done, with each of those 3 rooms being more or less contained puzzles. But then again if you pick the "right" characters you can cut your travelling time quite drastically.

#23 Posted by BisonHero (6532 posts) -

@Ares42 said:

I've played through the game twice and you don't really need to backtrack much if you play efficiently. However many of the puzzle-areas are quite big, making it laborious to do any puzzling. The problem isn't really the 3 characters or the platforming, but just how spread out things are. The mine cart level is a great example of how it should've been done, with each of those 3 rooms being more or less contained puzzles. But then again if you pick the "right" characters you can cut your travelling time quite drastically.

What are the "right" characters? Based on this thread and reviews, this game is drastically slipping from "buy release week" to "wait 5 months until Steam sale", and is slipping from "play multiple times to see how it plays out with the different characters" to "play once, MAYBE twice".

#24 Edited by Ares42 (2669 posts) -

@BisonHero: The knight allows you to jump down places instead of climbing, time traveler allows you to travel without hindrance and can do some otherwise impossible jumps and the adventurer makes a lot of jumping and climbing puzzles much quicker.

All of the characters will ofc save you time in some way or another, but I found the knight and time traveler specifically to have utility outside of just puzzles.

#25 Posted by BBAlpert (1475 posts) -

@BisonHero said:

@project343 said:

@BisonHero said:

@ProfessorEss said:

The puzzles seemed to be little more than go get this, then go get that, then go back and get this and take it back there.

So you're saying it's an adventure game.

No, because the majority of the puzzles are so straight-forward that the 'effort' and 'challenge' is the monotonous movement through the environment rather than the experimentation and prodding at the puzzle.

Ahhh, from what he said, it wasn't clear whether the purpose of those items is obvious or not. Adventure games have always been "get item, use item on thing", but yes, it's preferable that you have to exert a modicum of thought in figuring out which items to use on which things.

There are some instances where it's not super obvious (though still not extremely difficult), and I think those more traditional adventure game "let's try each item on each place" moments actually make the amount of traversal that much worse.

#26 Edited by Christoffer (1823 posts) -

Of course Alex were right. It was a review (from a finished run trough) and not a Quick Look (from a 30 minute shoulder shrug).

Quick Looks are NOT definitive. Never. Ever.

#27 Edited by Akyho (1651 posts) -

Me and a friend completed a run earlier today. We felt a little cheated about the levels specific are dotted around the game, and its up to you to figure out if its a general area any character set can do or just one.

We then found out that when you are in one of these areas.....it turns into a single player game with ALL that back tracking and ups and downs, then you end being forced to push something at a snails pace. I event commented saying "They could have sped this push speed up.....ugh its such a chore." At one part you can even fuck up and need to push three things a good distance at a slooooow pace.

I like the idea, however as already said it does feel slower than it should be at points, however when your supposed to be doing some sort of coop, and other characters are locked behind a barrier leaving only 1 person to do 60% of the level. It can get boring.

Also the characters we chose for this run was Scientist, Time Traveller and Adventurer. All their abilities became useless outside of their own levels. I think that's much the same for the rest of the characters.

Another thing that was annoying was 0 AI for none controlled characters, leaving them miles away when you decide you need 3 people. This game was more of a chore with 2 vs 3. HOW MADDENING IT IS WITH JUST 1!!!

My friend was very disappointed after it. However that was because he thought this was the $3.3 million Double fine game, I told him this was just Ron Gilberts one which he did at the same time. That set him at ease over this, and still we expect better come that one.

Pace however is the biggest killer for me.

#28 Posted by YoungFrey (1321 posts) -

@Ares42 said:

I've played through the game twice and you don't really need to backtrack much if you play efficiently. However many of the puzzle-areas are quite big, making it laborious to do any puzzling. The problem isn't really the 3 characters or the platforming, but just how spread out things are. The mine cart level is a great example of how it should've been done, with each of those 3 rooms being more or less contained puzzles. But then again if you pick the "right" characters you can cut your travelling time quite drastically.

I totally disagree, the mine cart area was one I didn't get instantly so I did a ton of back tracking. Super slow with all those ropes and ladders. To the point I was learning exactly when you can and can't jump up and down the ladders to make it a tiny bit quicker.

#29 Posted by Kraznor (1578 posts) -

I really felt many of those issues could have been mitigated if there was some manner of "hold button to run" mechanic. The movement speed of the characters seemed to make it especially noticeable whenever I had to return to an area. Also, skeleton logic. No context, but that had me stuck for at least an hour.

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