Friday, July 18

A New Error

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People respond to pain in different ways.

Some drink it away. Some lash out, hurting the ones they love or people that only want to help. I retreat. I retreat and surround myself with anything that could possibly illicit feelings of nostalgia. The familiar brings the pain to the surface and usually ends in a few fits of good, hard sobbing. After this I usually feel better, or better enough.

The last few weeks have been pretty bloody painful. After returning from 5 weeks in Europe, the best 5 weeks of my life, I got back to some pretty hard truths. I quarreled with people I love. I lost a lot of sleep. I still don't know if my dad will get better. I feel useless.

Cue video games. Cue games like Deus Ex: Human Revolution that empower you with superhuman abilities whilst also forcing you to reflect on the frailty of our bodies and the notion of what it is to be human.

I hadn't played Human Revolution since I started my second, ultimately futile ghost run (read: finish the game without being seen) on the highest difficulty in the dying days of 2011. I've since traded up to the Director's Cut version and am now playing on the Wii U. Off TV play has allowed for me to steal a few hours before bed and Carly's renewed hunger for real estate reality shows hasn't slowed my progress either.

The striking use of yellow remains my favourite element of the game's visual design. Whether it's the golden highlight of all items that can be interacted with or spaces like The Hive, there's a sleazy warmth to Detroit and Hengsha. The locations need to emanate this lived-in feeling as most of the NPCs look as though they're ill-handled marionettes.

Despite some truly awkward character animation that looks even worse with age, the costume design still holds up. The impossible prismatic design of David Sarif's vest, the beautiful embellishment on the shoulders of Jensen's trench coat, the Victorian necklines of Megan's jacket: there is so much drama in the clothes each character wears.

The gunplay is still woeful, but the loading up with powerful and visually-stunning abilities more than makes up for this shortcoming. There's nothing quite as satisfying as sneaking away from enemy pursuit fully cloaked, or busting through a brick wall and snapping the neck of the poor schmuck on the other side.

Best of all, still, is Elias Toufexis growling voicework. As Adam Jensen, he manages to sound three parts dreamy lead and one part Batman. He is as instantly likeable now as he was back in 2011. For the last few days it's been like hanging out with an old, heavily-augmented friend. I don't feel great right now, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution has provided that little pang of nostalgia that I needed to start feeling better.

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