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12:49pm on Saturday, 23rd July, 2005:



I bought Seal of Evil on Thursday. It's a Chinese Baldur's Gate lookalike, set in ancient China at the end of the Warring States period. It was on special offer at GAME, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I played it Thursday and Friday, but no more.

I can stand the bad voice acting. I can stand the bad Scooby Doo style ground-moves-at-different-speed-to-characters animation. I can stand having to download a walkthrough just so I could find the main character's bedroom. I can just about stand the non-recording of most of the quests in the quest log. What I can't stand, however — what I really can't stand — is making me play through cut scenes. Never, never again.

I do mean playing through cuts scenes. It goes to "15 years ago", and you have to click on the character to start the conversation. Thhey tell you to go somewhere as fast as you can, and whern you eventually find it there's someone else there to click on to make them talk. Then you go to the combat, which it's impossible to lose because the bad guys don't do any damage to you. All you can do is invoke a conversation, move about and fight unloseable battles. There's no other interaction, it's just one step to the next.

Games with a narrative have a game part and a narrative part. There's a reason for this: the game is the fun part, the narrative adds context to the game part. It is not fun to have to click your way through a flashback. It's not a game, it's narrative; if you treat it as a game, you get the most boring game imaginable — one where you have no ability to change the outcome whatsoever. When it takes maybe 15 minutes to play it, too, that's it, that's enough. I thought Seal of Evilreferred to the content, not the program.

Never again.

Referenced by Those Karazhan Moments.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).