“Lost Constellation” Review
After going through the short – yet – sweet experience of NITW: Longest Night, I felt ready to experience what all the fuss was about with the main game. After playing through this experience, I’m having second thoughts. In fact, I have no thoughts. I came into this game thinking nothing, and I left it thinking nothing. The same as I feel, and the same as I am inspired — I don’t, and I’m not. It did not do a thing for me… I would have liked not to play it.
What is art good for? I defined it a few times before: to make you think, feel, or do. When I see an excellent scene in a cartoon, I am inspired, and want to replicate that for my own work. When I read good poetry, I feel things that I never do, mostly uncomfortable, though a necessary discomfort. And if I see something extraordinary, something that changes the course of my life, I want to become a better person to match. To think, feel, or do, is the core of art. The best of the best demands you do all.
This game doesn’t. It is a game based on writing but the writing was only slightly better than miserable. It is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike the script for a decent one. You can tell the writers threw their souls into it. They tried to imbue personalities into their characters, but it never evolves past surface – level. The story has some intrigue, but its construction is all wrong, and the climax comes out of thin air. We are given no reason to care. The game says as much: “What is this story about?” asks little Mae. “It’s about whatever you want it to be,” says Granddad.
Well Granddad, I didn’t download this copyrighted content so that you could tell me to make what I want out of it. I did it to have a story told to me — a good story, not whatever you’re swilling. A story with a protagonist I can get behind, events that are interesting, a plot that keeps me going, and characters that are enticing and interesting. This isn’t any of that. It is instead a pretty – looking series of events that have only the most barebones of connections to each other, and none of them are interesting.
How am I supposed to go on? I didn’t hate it. If I hated it, I would have at least something to go off of. I could pop off like a mad lad and tell you about how awful, really awful, our society is, to have such awful work be made. But this isn’t that, and it isn’t fun. It’s plain old, wishy – washy mediocrity through and through, and I can only assume all its five – star ratings are from people who don’t know any better.
The premise is that you’re out finding a lost star, but you’re not told that until you find it. So you have no motivation to keep playing. There’s a bit where you have to meet the Forest God, but her gatekeeper tells you she’s having a bad day, so all the effort spend reaching her was for nothing. You have to burn an arm to progress, for reasons not fully explained. You just gotta do it. At the end you meet a ghost friend which was never discussed and leaves in a minute. That was supposedly the climax; the game ends after.
This is a series of events that could not carry a Mad TV skit let alone a 90 – minute game. As for the “gameplay,” I hope you enjoy walking. Echoing yesterday’s game loops, the loop for this game is walk – and – talk. The walking isn’t exciting and neither is the talking, so one wonders what the bother is. Perhaps you can leech enjoyment out of the graphics, like blood from a stone. I thought we evolved past giving games high ratings because of the graphics. I wouldn’t even say they were amazing; they’re not über – functional like in Quake Live, and they don’t make me pause and absorb the beauty like in Explorers of Sky or Bioshock Infinite. They’re just there.
So what is it good for? It’s boring and barely – sensicle and actually made me less interested in the thing it was selling. Perhaps it’s good for testing your patience — I was in a dull throbbing mood the whole time, skipping dialogue just to get to the end. This is supposed to be a dialogue – driven game, right? It seems like I should, you know, want to read the dialogue. But, no. Even if it was extraordinarily funny, the dark tone would be at odds with the casual talking, and it would still create a conflict of some discomfort.
As a pragmatist, I realise this game is successful. I realise Night in the Woods is successful. I will not attempt to define why that is; I have lost interest in it. But success does not equal quality. So to aspiring writers, I will leave with you three simple lessons:
One, give the audience a reason to care about your story. “Things that happen” is the flimsiest of plots, and only works if everything that happens is a topic of some interest, like a hilarious comedy. Two, if you have bad writing, put in good gameplay — and if you have bad gameplay, put in good writing. Undertale is decent because of the former and Mass Effect is great for the latter. Three, make your characters somebody we want to be around. They should ooze interest and have an instantly – recognisable personality, though never to the point of caricature, and you must sustain that initial interest by making them feel human.
The one thing this game is good for? An example of how not to write.