Last night I reconnected with my old gamer self. I finally sat down and played the start of Brütal legend. It sucked me in immediately with its atmosphere, charm and total love of metal and roadies. It is a masterpiece, a work of art of the kind we can never get too many of. Everyone deserves games like this.
At the same time, it is such a beautifully niche creation that it is no wonder it sold as (relatively) little as it did. This connects to a discussion I remember John Siracusa going into ever-excellent detail about, on how games are a demanding sort of art. To fully appreciate a given game, a certain level of mastery is required. Brütal legend is full of game-isms, and right from the start it throws key combinations, options and ideas at you. My left hand was already resting on the WASD cross when the opening ended, but I too was a bit overwhelmed by all the things being introduced and left wondering whether I was missing anything important.
And this is just the beginning. I am prepared for the game to take its turn toward realtime strategy later on, but I can imagine people either never making it that far, or getting there and giving up. I never really like when games change gameplay too much, I want to know what I am in for and I want the game to be about doing its core thing well. I am looking forward to the realtime strategy and feel the connection between that and the beginning I have just played, but apparently marketing failed to explain this back when the game was released.
Such a pity. I want things marketed for what they are. I want more pure masterpieces, for players of all skill levels.
And I definitely think a polished version of Brütal legend is the natural thing to release along with Metal. Are you listening, Apple?