Sunday, January 17, 2010

Playing Bayonetta first makes Darksiders less enjoyable, and vice-versa.

As many of you know, my preferred place to virtually chill is the Games & Technology forum at Penny Arcade. Lately I've been spending most of my time there with the thread concerned with Darksiders (you're shocked, I know!), and I've noticed this weird trend.

From what I've read of other people's reactions (and my own experience), even though the games are entirely different - they are different genres with different styles and wholly different gameplay - people tend to have a more positive experience with the first one they play, be that Bayonetta or Darksiders. Or perhaps a better way to put it - playing one prior to the other seems to have a direct, negative impact on how much you enjoy the other.

It's not so much comparing the two as it is about how experiencing one informs your experience of the other.

Folks who've put a lot of time into Bayonetta, and then try Darksiders find Darksiders' combat unwieldly. The whole thing feels clunky - as if the game doesn't want them to enjoy themselves. They do not have the same experience as someone who went straight into Darksiders. (Well duh - Darksiders is everything and the kitchen sink - of course its combat won't be perfect.)

For myself, who beat Darksiders and then went into Bayonetta, I found I had a hard time getting engaged in Bayonetta, because in Bayonetta there is only one thing to do - combat. The experience felt a little... I want to say "small," because I wanted more puzzles, more exploration, more character development (and better-looking cutscenes).

Well duh - Bayonetta is the new queen of combat action. She couldn't care less about offering a broader selection of gameplay because her whole deal is doing one thing perfectly.

It makes no logical sense - again, they're entirely different, and expecting Bayonetta to provide me with the same breadth of mechanics that Darksiders does is as stupid as expecting Darksiders to offer the silky-smooth combat of Bayonetta - but try telling that to my internal Fun-O-Meter.

* * *

Of course, one could just argue that folks like the game they played first more simply because it was - obviously - the game they wanted to play most. It's only natural that they would be less impressed with the game that falls under the Second Choice definition.

...though that doesn't explain my position. I played Darksiders first because I was convinced it may end up sucking and I wanted to investigate, while I felt confident in Bayonetta's excessive measure of awesome.


  1. This happens to me all the time. I start making mental comparisons to other games and then it makes some experiences feel rather empty.

  2. Yeah it's weird. Bayonetta was one of my most anticipated titles for around the past two years, and now that I've got my hands on it I can't bring myself to play more than one chapter in a sitting.

    I feel like I've somehow managed to get into the wrong headspace for enjoying it, and thereby screwed myself a little.