PS I love you
At the bequest at an unnamed person, I had a look at Post Script over the past few days. This is partly because I felt guilty about the fact that it’s been sitting in my Steam games for the past 3 weeks and I still hadn’t played it, and partly because I felt guilty that someone had told me to look at something and I hadn’t. I’m sorry world, I have a conscience. Now that I’m done beating myself up about it, here’s what I thought.
Post Script is a ‘Episodic Narrative’ mod (Of which only the first episode is currently available), which means that it isn’t a chance for any mindless killing. Or any killing for that matter. The premise involves you in a post apocalyptic environment. Very little details are available about what happened, or will happen for that matter. You aren’t even told what the event is. At first I was a bit apprehensive about that idea. The creator cites that he wants the players to all get in a big group and make theories. If I were a cynic (which I am) then I would say that this would be so he could write the rest of the game around that. I doubt that though.
The opening scene was an interesting one. I wish I’d remembered to hit F5 so I could use it, but it just was a black scene. With a nice white ‘Fuck you’ in the top left corner. I was taken aback. What had I done? Even worse, it hangs on that for about 10 seconds. An interesting experience. I’d never been told by a game directly ‘Fuck you’. I’m used to being told by NPCs that I’m a [insert insult here] and I should [insult words here]. Of course, it turns out that it is just someone who you can’t see and is in your head. But still. It was unnerving, and I wasn’t expecting it. The mind tricks that I then received was also unexpected. That nearly did it for me. I nearly ran screaming and exorcised my hard drive. I have to confess, I’m a wuss. I can’t deal with horror, and really can’t deal with the idea of not knowing what just ripped my arm off.
On the subject of not knowing, I actually didn’t know what to do. At no point does the game tell you what you’re supposed to do, or where to go. This ties in with the idea that you are supposed to explore the place. Considering its just a shanty town, with nobody in it, there really isn’t much to see. You can have a walk around, and an invisible person twitters on in your ear. You’re told that you looking round this town is a punishment for causing what happened (Which from now on, will be called ‘The Event’ because it sounds mysterious enough to be right), so you can see what was built up afterwards, and it’s hinted that this rebuilding was dangerous and cost lives. The little you know of The Event is a very powerful tool, and after a play through I thought it worked out.
The game really freaked me out, but without having a monster rip me to shreds. That above image was terrifying. The fact that the little shanty town is deserted was disturbing. The music, which was just a violin playing open strings with occasional changed notes and some synthesised instruments, was basic, yet chilling. My only gripe was that Celeste, while being a great tool, was perfect for nudging you in the right direction, but never did. She never tells you that you missed something. I solved 2 puzzles (After playing I had a look around the mod site. There are actually only 2 puzzles). I actually was stuck at the beginning because I was sure that I wasn’t supposed to do what I did.
The problem is that it uses a lot of the gameplay hindering mechanics that other games use (Like barbed wire, warning signs and suchlike to tell you that this is somewhere you can’t get to), but the first problem has you climbing over a fence, which has a ladder on the other side. Since this was a game, I assumed that I would visit that fence via another route, and that ladder would signify me being able to return to the beginning to move to the next area. I didn’t know that I was actually supposed to climb over it, and I find that to be poor game design on the creator’s part. What really didn’t help was a gate being next to it as well, which I couldn’t open (Or climb over). It was only a minute detail, but it wasn’t a good design choice.
Another bad decision is how small this release actually is. I felt sure that I’d missed something when I reached the end, especially when the two puzzles were so cheap and solvable by a small child. Again, this is all ‘solved’ by the creator saying ‘You can finish the game really quickly, but you should really look around’. I’m not so happy about this. Yes, this is a first release, and yes, this is a debut release. But more should have been done to tell the player in-game to have a look around. I wouldn’t have liked to have been forced to look at everything. But a warning that I was missing things would have been nice, and would’ve been fitted in easily. A line he can feel free to use is “What’s the matter cherub? Aren’t you going to stay and look around? We don’t want you to miss out”.
I don’t pretend to be a script writer (I’m just a lowly blogger after all), but little touches just like that could have really made this mod into an essential one, but it just happens to be a good story with a not-so-good game. However, for a first start, I have to commend it, and I notice that the creator himself recognises that there are issues, and he says he’ll be looking at updating the first episode before moving on. I find my interest to be piqued, not only to discover what the Event was, but who I play as, who Celeste is, and what the hell happened. If you can see past the rather small game, and enjoy an engaging story, then really give this game a go. The mod can be downloaded from here, and requires Half Life 2: Episode 2. If you wish to keep up to date with it, then feel free to have a look at his blog.