Gamerly Musings

Where failed pitches go to shine.

Month: October, 2011

A Puzzling Story

I’ve been playing quite a lot of the new Professor Layton recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about the relationship between gameplay and story. Essentially, there is no relationship in Professor Layton, and yet I still enjoy it. This is troubling to me, since I’m typically of the school of thought insisting that gameplay should drive story and vice versa.

Sure, the occassional Professor Layton puzzle will relate to the story action in some cursory way – a door that needs unlocking or a maze puzzle to help some character who got lost on their way to the store – but for the most part the puzzles are complete non sequiturs. This should bother me, but it doesn’t for some reason that I can’t quite place. Perhaps because the puzzles are so short that they don’t detract from the story? Or maybe I”m just being indoctrinated into the delusional madness of puzzle obsession that infects every character in Professor Layton’s world? I’m still not convinced that Layton is not simply locked away in an asylum somewhere, rocking back and forth in his cell quietly chanting “Puzzle, puzzle, puzzle” with these adventures merely projections of his fevered imagination. Especially with this new one supposedly a prequel, I imagine it more as a genuine sequel where he is first locked away, and reminiscing through the distorted puzzle lens of his madness.

The other game that comes to mind when thinking of this disconnect between story and gameplay is Catherine. Though I must admit, I haven’t yet begun to actually play Catherine, but this is in large part because of the puzzles. I played the demo, and the puzzles just didn’t resonate with me in any way, nor did they appear to have any relation to the plot aside from the visual surroundings. I am curious, though, as to how the overall game experience is impacted by there only being one type of repeated non sequitur puzzle in Catherine, compared to the literally hundreds of different puzzle types in Professor Layton. I imagine Catherine wears out its welcome sooner, another reason why I have yet to pick it up. Perhaps I should get it though, just for comparison purposes.

This post isn’t really going anywhere, not yet at least. I haven’t yet finished the latest Layton and haven’t started Catherine. But I felt compelled to get some of my initial thoughts down nonetheless. After all, this blog is meant for my musings. I never promised conclusions.

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Welcome to Gamerly Musings

Hi, I’m Scott Nichols, freelance game journalist/critic/writer-type person extraordinaire.

I have been laser focused on the videogame industry since I was a little kid. I played and read about games constantly, even getting a job at GameStop in high school to be involved in the industry. In college I studied writing and received my BA in English while also starting my first freelance gigs writing for PC World Magazine’s website and GayGamer.net. I still write for GayGamer.net, and over the past three years have expanded to also write freelance news, reviews, and feature articles for GamePro, G4, IGN, Digital Spy, and others across the internet.

As the name of this blog implies, I plan to collect my gamerly musings here. This is where unpublished feature pitches go to shine rather than die, and where I can post thoughts not quite developed enough to pitch but are still worth sharing. I’ll also do a fair amount of linkage to my various freelance articles and reviews in hopes of creating some sort of unified portfolio.

So, welcome. Sit down, grab your favorite beverage of choice, and lets chat about some vidyagames.