what’s the best thing in video games? With a new wholly sensical face-off each week, we’ll surely soon discover the single absolute best thing.
Last time, you decided that blink teleports are better than summoning spectral animals. I’m wholly unsurprised but I am glad that the fleeting beasties still earned a respectable share of science votes. This Halloween week, with eggs drying on your house and Snickers-sweet vomit running in the gutters, let’s consider death. What’s better: ghosts walking through walls, or soulslike bloodstains?
Ghosts walking through walls
Everyone knows two things about ghosts: 1) they’re dead; 2) they can walk through walls. How disappointing that ghosts in video games so often obey human laws of walls and rooms and buildings and doors. Honestly, I think it’s even worse when the ghosts teleport about. So here’s to those games where ghosts move through walls as if they were water!
I apologise for a Dark Souls-heavy week but: I really, really like the ghosts in New Londo Ruins. Off you go into the depths of a drowned city, meeting a bunch of good-time gals who spend their afterlives loitering inside walls and floors. Quite a few games spawn ghosts from inside walls, sure, but then trap then in reality. Not these gals. What a great and horrifying discovering to push overconfidently into their ghost house then try to flee only to realise yes, absolutely they’re going to chase right through walls.
Side-scrolling platformers are often good at wall-ignoring ghosts too, right? Good job, genre.
It’s nice when you’re a ghost, too. In Hot Topic detective game Murdered: Soul Suspect, for example, your dead lad and his chained wallet can walk clean through the walls of the human world. It just feels right. Of course he can; he’s a ghost. Everyone knows that ghosts can walk through walls.
You’ve seen them all over in various forms: some stain or mark which will show you a spectral snippet of another player’s death. You probably don’t see what they’re fighting, but you’ll see their death animation and learn something. Or be bewildered. Or panic. Or laugh. Often you’ll laugh. I really like these bloodstains in several ways.
Bloodstains give a game space to ease up on tutorials on hints and environmental signposting. Bloodstains will naturally congeal in tricky places, and they’re there if you want to get a hint. If you want to find out for yourself, maybe you’ll act a little cautiously but at least you won’t have seen some obnoxious scripted sequence demonstrating an enemy’s capabilities or whatever. And seeing a bloodstain might not help you at all.
Dark Souls loves a good joke, and bloodstains play into this. If you know what killed someone, watching that play out in abstract without the presence of their killer is very silly. Or if you don’t know, seeing a player’s soon-to-be-corpse do something wildly unexpected is very funny too. What the hell happened to hoist them up and send them flying? You have absolutely no clue what’s happening and your anxiety has spiked. And watching a bloodstain ghost flub a jump or stumble over an edge is a classic bit of slapstick.
Some players even pull tricks with bloodstains, like the classic case of folks in Bloodborne (please, please come to PC) sneakily using items to intentionally kill themselves near a seemingly harmless human doll. Unknowing players simply see a huge slop of bloodstains and the final moments of someone teetering over, and are filled with curiosity and dread. A great prank. And isn’t this the time for pranks?
But which is better?
I’m hung up on: which is the better joke? Classic ghosts are very funny. But bloodstains are… bloodstains take it for me. What do you think, reader dear?
Pick your winner, vote in the poll below, and make your case in the comments to convince others. We’ll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.