Killing Him Loudly: The Finale

Killing Him Loudly: The Finale

By some miracle, I made it through the last two sets of levels of this game, and all of this convoluted murder about killed me.

My issues with execution continued to grow in the last levels. While it only took me approximately eight hours to finish more than half the levels, the last six levels alone took me three hours. It got to the point I would look up a video to try to time everything perfectly, do it all as accurately as possible, and still somehow have a bystander who wasn’t there in the walkthrough suddenly decide it wants to walk right beside my target for the duration of the level. Level 53 took me to separate days and an hour collectively–and that’s excluding the amount of time I spent with my eyes closed trying to quit seeing red.

The game doesn’t do much to add new mechanics to the last twenty levels. It does introduce the bodyguards which are fun–it answers my question of why these notorious people are always alone–but not even half of the last levels utilize this. The point is that you have to take out the guard first or he will alert everyone to your presence. Of course the realism it adds is diminished by how decapitating the bodyguard with a store sign when he is directly behind the bad guy goes unnoticed by his employer. I can tell this was added because having the target on high alert would add an impossible level of difficulty; he never leaves the bad guy’s side unless he is forced to. It would help if they provided more gameplay for luring him away then just choosing to ignore the bad guy-s common sense.

And he does have some. If you place any object in his line of sight that wasn’t there before, he goes on high alert and runs away. So having a tree tied down with a rope twenty yards away freaks him out but not the murder of his only companion doesn’t add up.

The bad guy’s names and origin stories continue to get funny. As the game escalates, you get more pop culture references and people who are only annoying, not evil. There is JustOne Beer who is an irritating teenage singing sensation–remind you of anyone? Even better is when you have to kill Kenny from South Park and Sauron from Middle Earth. Then there is the person who talks too loud on his cell phone while on a train. Granted they pick universal pet peeves when targeting people, so I felt no shame. You swim the backstroke in a crowded pool and smack me in the head, you are dead to me. Literally.

Now this game has a lot of Steam achievements, many of which just encourage you to try the levels over and over because it sets thresholds for how many people to kill, how much blood to spill, etc. The odd ones though seem to hail from its days as a Kickstarted indie startup. You get an achievement for sharing the game on Facebook and streaming on Twitch. The settings has a way to directly export to Twitch right from the menu. I can understand them trying to motivate players to simultaneously promote and play the game since it only got made through intense marketing; they were forced into this mindset from the start. It feels superfluous now. If your game has been out for this long, it should live off of its merit and normal marketing. Granted it isn’t really hurting anyone–it isn’t an in-game objective, thank God. It feels like the epilogue of a Pygmalion movie where the made-over person continues acting out for attention because they are used to going unnoticed.

For me, if a game is painfully difficult for me to finish, I want a payout, a reward. Between each ten levels, there are little pieces of exposition showing that the bad guys are on to you, so must be increasingly more careful. So I expected something similar for endgame. The organization I was working for was taken down. I had succeeded in my genocide of evil doers. But no. Instead I got was a “Congratulations! Keep playing and perfect the levels!” No conclusion to the loose story, and the game even breaks the fourth wall by admitting that was all it was–a game.

Now to start Dragon Age: Origins proper. Fair warning, this is going to be my first undertaking of continuous coverage of a large game, so be prepared. Also it may be broken up by the occasional adventure game because i just bought a pretty great game bundle. Stay tuned.

Killing Him Loudly: Part 2

Killing Him Loudly: Part 2

This game’s difficulty is growing exponentially for me and is making me remember that science has never been my friend.

I grew up with puzzles. I had loads of workbooks and puzzle anthologies that I would sit with for hours. I would connect all of the dots, fill in all of the numbers, and solve all of the word searches–that’s my expertise. What isn’t seems to be real-time execution of solutions. Kill the Bad Guy has made me remember that physics-based puzzles are by no means where my talents lie. The only ones I ever managed to play with any competency were the flash games where the number of solutions were limited, and I usually quit if the mechanics or levels opened up. Also seems like a relevant time to mention that Angry Birds can kiss my ass.

There was one level where the best solution was simple–saw down a tree and wait for the perfect time to push it onto the bad guy. I think I spend a half hour on this level trying to time this perfectly and started to think that maybe I was doing it the wrong way. A video walkthrough just showed me what I had thought I was doing, only a millisecond off. It took a dozen more tries to get it correct. This is a game where hints, cheats, and walkthroughs are useless after a certain point because you still have to be able to execute it perfectly.

It also gets more difficult because after ten levels, stealth becomes more a factor. So much for my “quick and dirty” approach from last week. Here you have to take security cameras, policemen, and innocent bystanders into account. The game will sometimes give you twenty different objects to associate and use for assassination, but only a few can be utilized without detection; even fewer leave civilians unscathed. There’s a machine in some levels that–for reasons that cannot possibly comply with the city’s code–shoot ninja stars at your discretion once it is powered up. More time than I can count has it flown out at top speed, decapitated my target, and then slain a police officer. You’d think the solid impact of a person’s neck would slow it down a little. But then again, me and science don’t always agree.

The riddles have become more obtuse for more reasons than one. A few examples, if you will:

“It’s thanks to him that I got this job. Sent him my full appreciation!”

Here is a secondary objective that I completed but cannot figure out why. I killed him by blowing open a man hole with a geyser, sending him flying. Now that is the only way I saw to kill him, meaning I don’t know why that would be the answer to the puzzle. My only rationalization was that I made him “full” with water, but that contradicts my previous statement. If anyone out there knows about this level, please let me know before I get dizzy from the circles I’m running in over it. This is one that is so vague it is hard to relate it any way to the level’s environment, making it a lucky guess like I did.

And another one:

“That one deserved the electric chair for sleeping with my mom!”

Now this one was obvious after observing the level–there’s a wire and a fire hydrant which means electrocution–but it was next to impossible to kill him this way. The straightforward method was to kill him with a sabotaged parked car. This one is more difficult in another way–easy to figure, hard to complete. You had to reroute him for him to go anywhere near the water and placing the blockade a millimeter too far to the left and he walks around it. It is unpredictable when he will act like a normal human being and when he will act like a Sim. Either he realizes that a dirty dinner plate can never fully block your path or you stand there until you piss yourself and die.

And one last one?

“A real killer doesn’t set himself any limits.”

This example is a whole new kind of objective. These have nothing to do with the murder. It is a separate task that needs to be done in conjunction with setting up the perfect crime. In this level, there were a few blockades around the town that needed to be moved–that’s it. But it took me a few tries to realize that this one had nothing to do with the way of killing.

Now I was planning on finishing this game this weekend, but with the increasingly difficult levels and thirty more to go, it’s going to take me a couple more days to do. Stay tuned!

Killing Him Loudly: Part 1

Killing Him Loudly: Part 1

So my original plan was to start playing and covering Dragon Age: Origins, but then I spent two hours trying to decide on my character. So instead, let’s talk about the best murder simulator since The Sims.

Kill the Bad Guy is a puzzle game where you are tasked with–as you might have guessed from the title–assassinating different bad guys in the world using your environment. I’m not entirely sure who I play, whether it is an invisible ninja who can teleport all over the environment or a god-like creature who gets a kick out of smiting people in Final Destination-style ways; it’s only important that you are all-powerful, the way I like it.

The graphics are simple and entirely white with the exception of the usable objects in the level and the target himself. You click on the various items and figure out which can interact and which can be broken. It starts off simple with you activating a car to go out of control when he walk in front of it, splattering his blood all over the side of a building. As the levels progress though, you are given more ways to kill him with pieces of the city. The most satisfying was when I could bust a gas line and then set it on fire. For the longest time, I only noticed the lighters and could not figure out what I was supposed to do. I’d try to block his path with them, but then he would run away in fear. Then I finally realized I could interact with these pipes crawling up the side of two different buildings. You have to set it alight right as he is walking through so he catches on fire and runs around until he dies.

What makes this the most fun is how the game is all violence with minimal gratuity. I’m not squeamish, but I do tend to feel uneasy with blood in games. Maybe it’s from growing up on cartoon games, but whenever I can turn off blood in the settings, I do. Here the only realistic violence is right when he dies and his blood splatters. It’s so cartoony though, and all of the villains are identical, so it let’s me have fun with the assassinations without feeling sick. I mean, you even get extra points for spilt blood, and I’m still cool with it; that’s a feat in itself.

The scoring system is similar to most puzzle games with self-contained levels where you have so many stars for how well you do except instead of the stars representing a score threshold, each one represents the completion of a different task. You get a star if you finish the level in one day–the equivalent of one try–if you find the passport and the target’s tooth after it goes flying from his body, and if you complete the secondary objective.

But let’s break a few of these down because they are what make the game a little bit more complex. Though it is simple, this is where the different layers come in.

Both finding the passport and the tooth act as a timed hidden object puzzle. You must find the document while simultaneously setting up the environment for the bad guy’s assassination. To get all five stars you also have to do this during the first day. You then have about five seconds after the guy dies to find the tooth. You can see the trajectory as it flies away from his body but are still crunched for time as you hunt all over the barren city sector.

Then the secondary objectives act as a riddle. Each one is vague–almost an oversimplified version of the Riddler’s environmental scan puzzles in the Arkham games–only pushing you in the direction of the way it’s wants the murder to go down. Some are fairly easy to guess after looking the level. I mean, you’d have to go out of your way not to kill them the way you’re asked. For example, one is, “They say water isn’t a good conductor. Let’s see, shall we?” Then there are fire hydrants you can rig and power lines you can cut, making the best way pretty clear from the start. The only time I killed him every other way was when I accidentally cut the wire too early, and it hit him instead of the stream I had made in the street.

You are also rewarded extra points for speed and how much blood there is, encouraging you to play quick and dirty. This is counter-intuitive to how I think of any game with assassination, but for this, it fits.

Now I can’t say if I’ll finish this up over the weekend or if I’ll get a real start to Dragon Age. Right now I’m curling up in bed with Phoenix Wright, and pretending my work week never happened. Stay tuned.