May 222012
 
A Night on Valak Mountain

The almost universally laudatory critical reaction to Xenoblade Chronicles has heaped ambitious praise on the project. Not content to appreciate Xenoblade‘s design on its own merits, many critics have asserted that it points the way towards “saving” the JRPG. There are good reasons to be dubious of this assertion. For the moment, though, I want to focus on something Xenoblade gets right, and the best way to do it is by focusing on something it gets very wrong: Valak Mountain. I haven’t reached the end of Xenoblade yet, but I find it hard to imagine that it contains a worse [Read more...]

Jan 112012
 
The Alduin/Dagon Dichotomy

I have a lot to say about Skyrim, and indeed I’ve already said some of it. Some of it has been said for me, for instance in Shamus Young’s takedown of the Thieves’ Guild quests, which after a promising start became too intolerable for me to bother completing. Uneven writing quality is almost a certainty in a game this large, though, and perhaps it was the Thieves’ Guild’s time, after being one of the best sidequests in Oblivion. Of course, in Oblivion the faction quests benefited by comparison to the famously limp main quest. The broad consensus seems to be [Read more...]