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w/e 2024-02-26

I’ve been at my parents’ in Essex for a long weekend. Last time I travelled to London the trains both ways were fine and I thought I might have to revise my estimate that these days 50% of my long distance rail journeys were delayed. But this time they were delayed both ways so we’re still, er, on track.

I only managed a quick fix of London time in each direction, but enough for a lunch with Tom, a couple of coffee shops, and a coincidental browse of second hand books at St Giles Cripplegate’s Book Fair while a man entertained a small audience with information about Shakespeare while playing a lute.

§ A photo of a combined pedestrian and cycle path that disappears under a big pool of still water, in which a clear sky and winter trees are reflected.
The River Walk in Witham, Essex, flooded

§ Flo on her NTS Breakfast Show quite often plays tunes by John Makin which kind of get under your skin after a while.

John Makin & Friends - S.A.D. on YouTube

That one going out to Mary 😘

§ I’d been pondering giving Death Stranding a whirl for ages but my impression of it being a lot of grim trudging across gloomy, threatening landscapes didn’t fit my gaming desire for a nice place to spend time.

But then [a friend on Mastodon posting privately] reminisced about how much they’d enjoyed it as a positive experience of collaborating to rebuild society and, coupled with it being on sale, I took the plunge.

I’ve only played a few hours and while I was right that it’s been gloomy and depressing, it’s not been for the reasons I expected.

The trudging across landscapes has been the nicest part of the experience, even though I have no idea what to do when the destructive rain starts, or how to really avoid the invisible, fatal whatever-they-ares.

Also, many aspects of the world are weird and spectacular which is great. It’s nice to play something that is often just really, really strange.

But, but… so far a large part of the game involves watching long cut scenes of men explaining things to me. Even when cut scenes are good, I find them a disappointment, like a failure of the medium of “games”. There’s nothing to play in watching a man explain the backstory to you. Everyone consider a game a failure if you frequently had to put down the controller to spend 15 minutes reading some poorly-written fiction before you could continue playing, but a poorly-scripted, poorly-performed, uninteresting bit of movie? Sure! That’s fine!

So dull. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were good and interesting bits of movie but they’re overly-long, clunky, poorly-written, badly-performed exposition that would be cut right down if they were in an actual movie.

You get the point. I can’t face much more of having the world explained to me, and my other Death Stranding correspondent says the cut scenes continue through the game. I could skip them, but even having watched them I barely understand what’s going on or what any of the stupid words mean. I may have to leave it here. Death Mansplaining.

§ I wasn’t sure whether to watch One Day or not but I could just hear Mary watching something in the other room, the music catching my attention. A few minutes in, by the time I heard House of Love, I had to go and ask what she was watching. And that’s how the nostalgia machine hooked me.

It was enjoyable. I didn’t feel especially connected to or invested in the characters – it was only at the end that I really felt much. Almost like there was something too… smooth? about it all. I don’t know. But it was pretty fun, I do like stories that take place over a long time like that, and Ambika Mod especially was great to watch.

The music was odd, in its too-perfect-ness. Each song was so ideally suited to its moment that it often faded out after only a few lines, the lyrics having already demonstrated why it was The Perfect Song For Just This Moment. They were all so perfect that the show could easily have been a musical, with the characters bursting unnaturally into song with “These are finest times of my life” or “Oh my life is changing every day”. Presumably it will be a West End jukebox musical before long.

§ We also watched The Killer (David Fincher, 2023) which was good. Not much else to say other than that the use of The Smiths felt like a last-minute whim with no relation to anything else whatsoever. Almost like the opposite of One Day’s soundtrack, you could probably replace The Smiths’ tunes with those of Napalm Death or Five Star or literally any other randomly picked band and chances are they’d be just as good/bad a fit and affect the rest of the character and plot just as little.

§ That’s all. Finally back in Herefordshire, GWR having just about managed to get me here.

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1 comment

  1. Yes to Death Stranding! I mean I haven’t played it, but there’s a reason. I played Metal Gear Solid IV (another Hideo Kojima game) all the way through and I’ve regretted it ever since. Cut scene after cut scene. Some would run 30+ minutes. And they were also complete nonsense. This was super frustrating when I was trying to limit my gaming time to, say, an hour in the evening. Yuck!