Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When stories and difficulty curves alike are linear

I'd played Fullmetal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy before, but I'd never gotten quite this far.

Since the game's keeping pace with the show, the best way to put my current position is thusly: I'm right in the middle of episode 36. (Spoilers: so at this point in the game, Ed and Al's dad has returned only to leave again, Al's armour is currently the Philosopher's Stone, and Ed has vowed to destroy the homunculi).

Needless to say, there've been a lot of cutscenes in the last 40 minutes of the game. That's definitely one drawback to making a game with so much story into a beat 'em up. Text becomes the only way to really convey it. Also, because beat 'em ups are a very linear genre, the storytelling becomes the same. And viewers of the show will know that Fullmetal Alchemist is a series that follows more than the adventures of Ed and Al Elric.

Nonetheless, the parts of the story driven by their father will likely get put into the next part of the game. I'm also guessing that that will be the final section.

Both because the game's story is only a few episodes away from finishing off the anime series and because the difficulty has increased substantially. Not so much in the sections where you're beating up troops of enemies, but more so when it comes to bosses.

For the most part, up until the fight with Greed, you'd do fine if you watched for a context-sensitive technique to come up or discovered which of your basic techniques is most effective. But from the fight with the diamond-shielded Greed onward, bosses get tougher. At first because you need to wait for the context-sensitive alchemy to show up rather than simply move to where it is, and then later (in the fight with Wrath, for example) you need to survive long enough to get through the boss's defenses often enough to lower their health to 0.

I can't help but feel worried, though. With the final boss just around the corner will that be the roughest battle yet, or will it feel all the easier after the tough fights that precede it?

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