Closers



  • I have a friend who is very particular about games, such that it's near impossible to find a game that we both like. However, finally, said friend found this sufficiently interesting game and suggested I try it. Given that there aren't any good titles coming out that would pique my interest, I figured I'd give it a fair shot.

    The World

    Closers takes place in New Seoul, where interdimensional portals have opened and are busy spilling out monsters all over Gangnam that you have to clean up. How and why these portals are opening is only briefly touched upon, but we can only assume that the portals open Gangnam-style.

    The Premise

    What the player ends up with is a side-scroller beat-em-up reminiscent of similar Korean side-scroller beat-em-ups, like Rusty Hearts from a few years back. Perhaps not surprisingly, it has much of the same appeal (cycling between your cooldown skills, stacking combos, and not getting hit) along with many of the same flaws (the gameplay gets repetitive quickly). Even the fonts used by the game look eerily familiar.

    The Gameplay

    Your character's regular skills might have a cooldown of about 5-10 seconds, while their special moves will have cooldowns of 30-60 seconds, so you have to develop a rhythm for cycling your cooldowns so that you can use your specials in a timely fashion. To make things more complicatedinteresting, there are damage bonuses from attacking in midair, from behind the enemy, etc.
    The level design is broken up into segments that are strictly linear. Some levels are designed so that the pathways twist and turn, though. At the same time, if a corner is coming up and you are using an ability that goes in a straight line, it will not follow the corner, which is irritating, especially since you can only aim strictly left or right, apart from moving your character in the usual four directions.

    Designing difficulty is difficult (part 1)

    The main story missions are super-easy. So easy that button-mashing will be a viable strategy much longer than it should be. Pretty much any attack will flinch the enemy, including most bosses (more on that later), and some characters have invincibility frames during many of their abilities, or take reduced damage during certain other abilities. For a large part of the game, completing a mission and taking zero hits from it isn't particularly difficult.

    Given the way the story missions are structured, you will find yourself playing the same linear map over and over again, at different "difficulty" levels with different objectives. It should be noted that map difficulty only changes how long each map is, and the "hardest" difficulty, Assault, still only takes a few minutes to clear, if that.

    Designing difficulty is difficult (part 2)

    Once you've completed most or all of the storyline, you're allowed to go to an end-game region called Planar Gate. This, I feel, should have either been introduced far earlier in the game, because this is where a few new mechanics come into play and things start to get interesting.

    The bosses in Planar Gate have abilities that will one-hit you, unless you move into a special safe zone, which is not always intuitive and you will probably have to die several times before you figure out the pattern for each boss. Fortunately, if you have Elite status (something purchasable in the cash shop) the game gives you an abundance of Resurrection Capsules, which let you respawn without penalty. Amusingly, this also resets the hit counter such that you might get a better rating from being hit fewer times! So for perhaps the first time in the game, you're encountering opponents that can one-hit you, but if you die, it's no big deal because respawning is cheap and easy provided you don't die on every map!

    Getting one-hit may seem like a problem, but there are abilities like Cancel (which breaks you out of stunlock and gives you up to three seconds of invincibility at max level). You could also use one of your invincible or reduced-damage abilities and completely neutralize the issue.

    Planar Gate bosses also don't flinch the same way every other monster does, so all the combos and techniques you've been honing for the entire game are now mostly worthless. It would have been nice if about halfway through the game, they introduced this change of mechanics so players would at least know to EXPECT it, rather than pull it out of a hat for the endgame.

    We have to stop people from playing our game too much!

    Yes, there is rate-limiting. Probably some of the most aggressive rate-limiting I've ever seen. You can only go into each Planar Gate map 2 (or 3, if you have Elite status) times per day, in addition to eating the cost of materials to craft items that give you access to that map! There are other special maps which also have limited entry counts. Heck, there are even limits on THE NUMBER OF TIMES YOU CAN USE A CRAFTING RECIPE PER DAY. Should you manage to overcome the tedium of playing each map to exhaust its entry count, your character AND YOUR ACCOUNT also have "fatigue" meters. I realize that this game comes out of a country where people have been known to play themselves to heart failure, but come on.

    Economics, schmeckonomics.

    I get the feeling that the designers of this game at one point played an MMO that was full of Kerbleckistani gold farmers, and immediately decided that this was the most evil thing that humanity had ever faced. The thing is, there will always be gold farmers and game designers should work around this uncomfortable truth rather than create systems which only annoy the entire playerbase.

    You can probably guess which option of that dichotomy the designers chose. There are game-imposed PRICE CEILINGS and PRICE FLOORS for items that you put on the trade shop! In many cases, these are arbitrary values which may exceed the means of players to cough up, and sellers cannot drop the price until someone buys the item. To add insult to injury, rather than market fees being a percentage of the sale like in every other sane MMO, your market fees depend on how much you sell. If you make a big profit by selling items one day, you might find an increasing portion of your revenue being eaten up by market fees. There are also rate limits on the amounts you can trade each day, to keep those evil Kerbleckistanis from their farming.

    I might be more forgiving of these mechanics if it were easy to farm credits (the game currency), but there are so many "outs" for credits between crafting and upkeep that your character's reserves will pretty much hover around the same number no matter what you do. Selling off drops might only give you a thousand credits each, when a crafting recipe for Planar Gate gear will cost you two million! Perhaps as a lazy solution to this problem, the designers gave us...

    Farmville!

    Okay, I'm playing a beat-em-up game. Why the hell is there a garden area where I can grow plants which give me items every hour/day? And why am I decorating a house? Supposedly this adds a check on character/account fatigue so that someone playing the same tedious maps over and over again can do so for a little longer. It seems very out-of-place given the theme of the rest of the game, and makes me question what the designers hoped their target audience would be.

    In spite of this litany of poor decisions, there are some things I have to give them credit for.

    The production values are surprisingly high. Not only is there voice acting for the NPCs (albeit in Korean), but the subtitles look like they were done by actual English speakers. It would be nice if they had English voice acting as well, but I can forgive that as the game is technically in open beta.

    It seems like they're using actual soft-body dynamics for character animation (if you catch my drift), and not the cheap, simple method that's so easy that I was able to implement it myself in my own project in a couple of evenings. So far, there have also been frequent content updates. In the month or so I've been on the game, they've added a new character, a new zone, and I hear the level cap is going to be rising soon as well. This is a breath of fresh air after playing some other games which had their last major content updates three or four years ago.

    Also, as much as I've criticized their design choices, I can't really say anything in response to this:

    0_1516587330829_closersconcession.png


  • area_can

    I originally thought this was going to be a game about selling cars or something. Microtransactions and in-game currency seem really skeezy. Is it free-to-play?



  • @bb36e said in Closers:

    Microtransactions and in-game currency seem really skeezy. Is it free-to-play?

    It's about as free to play as every other free to play game I've played. I bought one of the founders' packs before it went live, which gave me some cash shop currency, but I haven't really found a compelling reason to give them much more money. We'll see what happens when my Elite status expires.

    I'm not sure if it's pay-to-win - haven't really explored the PvP side of the game, but the best gear is account-bound.



  • @groaner But why does every game have to be anime.


  • Notification Spam Recipient

    @blakeyrat Make a better one.



  • Always Be Closing!

    0_1516598101053_f3372d8b-0aa8-4445-b6f6-b083d724958d-image.png



  • @groaner said in Closers:

    I realize that this game comes out of a country where people have been known to play themselves to heart failure, but come on.

    0_1516624801278_f0a2377e-110e-4642-94d3-bfbbfb321da9-image.png

    Yeah... it's not that the developers care about the players' well being.



  • If I want a free, Korean, hyper-technical grindfest, I have Vindictus. And if I actually want to do nothing but grind, and not enjoy gameplay, I have Black Desert. Why should this game interest me?


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @groaner said in Closers:

    Planar Gate bosses also don't flinch the same way every other monster does, so all the combos and techniques you've been honing for the entire game are now mostly worthless. It would have been nice if about halfway through the game, they introduced this change of mechanics so players would at least know to EXPECT it, rather than pull it out of a hat for the endgame.

    Ugh, I hate when games do this. What comes before should prepare you for what comes next. Games that violate this principle bug the heck out of me.



  • @masonwheeler Vindictus did it a little bit too. All through the game until Season 3, which you don't start until level 90, you rely heavily on invincibility frames on dashes and blocking. There is even a character with a shield, who I main, who specializes in counter attacks. When you reach the first Season 3 boss, he sometimes uses attacks where he glows red, and then does an attack that ignores block and invincibility. Which sucks for characters with slow dodges, who were designed to block, but it's not every attack.

    And then I reached Braha, a boss who you have to fight as two teams of players on opposite sides of an arena, and whose attacks are 90% the kind you just have to know how to avoid.

    Still doable, but I missed my counter attacks so much: they're the way I deal damage 😞

    And yet it's still a great game.



  • @blakeyrat said in Closers:

    @groaner But why does every game have to be anime.

    Korea, man. It's kinda their thing. Occasionally though, you'll get something like the Dark Souls franchise, which looks so western that people forget it's a JRPG.



  • @groaner Dark Souls isn't a JRPG. It's far closer to Oblivion than it is to Final Fantasy. (And not just in art style.)

    EDIT: JRPG being the genre, not merely meaning "an RPG from Japan".

    Elminage Gothic, for example, is an RPG made in Japan but it's not a JRPG-- it's strongly based on the Wizardry series of CRPGs.



  • @magus said in Closers:

    If I want a free, Korean, hyper-technical grindfest, I have Vindictus. And if I actually want to do nothing but grind, and not enjoy gameplay, I have Black Desert. Why should this game interest me?

    That would be an excellent question to pose to the game's developers. My role here is to complain about the irritating design choices they made and yet concede that it has captured my interest enough to fill in gaps here and there between a much more overt Korean pay-to-win MMO that deserves its own thread (which I will get to at some point).



  • @blakeyrat said in Closers:

    @groaner Dark Souls isn't a JRPG. It's far closer to Oblivion than it is to Final Fantasy. (And not just in art style.)

    EDIT: JRPG being the genre, not merely meaning "an RPG from Japan".

    Elminage Gothic, for example, is an RPG made in Japan but it's not a JRPG-- it's strongly based on the Wizardry series of CRPGs.

    I would agree with you, but I keep seeing it pop up in "Top 25 JRPGs of All Time™" lists, so perhaps the rest of the world needs to get the memo about a more precise definition.



  • @groaner said in Closers:

    I would agree with you, but I keep seeing it pop up in "Top 25 JRPGs of All Time™" lists,

    1. Those lists are made stupid on purpose so people bicker about the selections, as it draws in more viewers and comments.

    2. Those lists are always a waste of your time.



  • @groaner Definitely sounds like you should try Vindictus. It's on an ancient version of the Source engine, and has physics as a result, though the importance of that rapidly decreases after the first zone, especially after they made progression easier. It's somewhere between Dark Souls and Devil May Cry in terms of gameplay.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to What the Daily WTF? was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.