Nice one. And while I usually stick to "never argue with the critic", I have to do so here.
I agree with most of what you say, however:
Quote: "Fathers Island would be a dozen times better if it where not such a drown out to walk this huge island. If Homegrown decided to go with smaller, better designed levels rather than this huge walk-a-ton I bet the game would be something odd for the ages and way more entertaining. "
Nope, it wouldn't. It may be your personal opinion, and perhaps that would work out better for YOU, but not for (let's estimate in your favor) 6500 out of 6600 current steam owners. and certainly not for the overall appreciation the game receives. From a psychological point of view, the reflection in the long "walking" parts is a key part of the experience - and that works for 9 / 10 of the players.
Doing something like, let's say
Quote: "If I had designed this game I'd have put stark focus on grapics and aesthetics as well as having it divided in several levels. Events and key places would be closer together and while I'd not completely remove wandering the woods, I'd keep that to a minimum. "
would have killed the mood, the pace of storytelling and in the end, the game. And Homegrown Games don't work with your idea of storytelling and narration
Without any form of accusation or judging A against B, this is the difference between your approach of what a game should be like and mine. And if I remember right, we had that discussion 10 years ago.
Your focus on graphics and aesthetics is well-known and despite my living in the AAA world, I don't know ANY designer who can make better coherent scenes than you do. If, for sure, can't!
The bad news is, however, in the end it doesn't matter that much.
Quote: "You'll find that many different models don't complement each other at all and especially shacks or buildings end up looking like a thrown together mess. There is a lot of "chaos" on the screen."
I know that, I see it, you see it, many GG users see it - but the perception outside our GG and design bubble is a different one. If you read the reviews or watch the Let's play videos from HarshlyCritical or GameTube, you will read and hear "All fits perfectly together" or "Es wirkt wie aus einem Guss".
Of course I cringe there, because I know it's not true. But it's perceived so.
And regarding the pacing and the long walks without any action - these are intentional here, and they work out fine, at least for the overwhelming majority of the players. It's not like Into the Dark, where a lot of action and information and events are packed toegether in small levels, it's an experience where you have an encounter, a piece of information, a part of storytelling - and then quite some time to reflect on that, accompanied by music and a "walk in the park". Many reviewers stated that they enjoyed especially this part, and you know that some wrote actually "thank god there are now enemies, guns or jump scares". Fine with me.
So, while I personally like the Into the Dark approach more, I have to admit that Father's Islands pacing works actually better for most players out there, at least for the ones who bought the game. Maybe, because you can't miss the story. This one is a storyteller, and the story is told and whole and complete, no matter where you run and go, if you reached one of the three endings AFTER Kammlers house, you have the feeling that you experienced a complete storyline and didn't miss something crucial.
Quote: "I'd try to add more exploration to it (being able to browse through lockers and having the character comment on items and so forth.)"
Agreed. There are side-stories consisting exactly of that (5 letters and one encounter regarding "Aunt Alicia", the black-magic part consisting of 3 books you have to read and then you can control the "leaves tornado" to get to the lighthouses, the background story of poor Marc, but that could have been more extensive. There should have been more of that, however, nothing crucial for the game itself. If you hide content this way and this content is important for either completing or UNDERSTANDING the story and its characters, it's not clever, it's bad game design. It's like one of those mindf*ck movies where 90% of the audience is frustrated or confused and some smart ass says "Oh, if you had looked at the reflection in the mirror at 15:23 really carefully, you would totally understand all of the flic!"
So, yes, that's your review, and you can write and say whatever floats your boat.
Even more, I can agree to almost all you say on a personal level, like on a "what I expect from a game I would love to play" level. (Except the pacing stuff).
But no matter how much we can agree, keep in mind, especially for your own creations, that the view of a designer or a storyteller is ALWAYS quite different from the players, even if you design for a certain niche.
That's the reason we have plenty of testers who don't know anything about game creation or GameGuru
Overall, thanks a lot for the review, the assets and the inspiration. I can totally live with your liking Into the Dark more than Father's Island, it's the same for me, now let's see what Into the Ice will be...
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