The TWRM GOTY 2018 Collab has begun! This special event consists of multiple writers making their best cases for their picks for GOTY 2018. Check out each article posted daily from the 1st through the 15th and listen to their points, then on January 16th you will have the opportunity to vote on which game you think should be crowned TWRM GOTY of 2018!
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Developer: Toys for Bob
Release Date: 13th November 2018
Platform/Console: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
“The following is a contributor post by the Purple Prose Mage.”
IN THE WORLD OF DRAGONS…
There is a reason that Spyro the Dragon is the PlayStation mascot character. Some of that’s because of his own appeal as a character, and some of it’s the game that introduced him to the world.
The first is because of that original Spyro game. I’ve been aware of Spyro the Dragon since I’ve been aware. Playing it is one of my earliest memories (if not the earliest, it’s probably impossible to date exactly which is, or to know that I haven’t constructed it post facto), and even then I can remember that there were grown ups in Grown Up World playing it. It’s a game that somehow managed to have perfect appeal to everyone. From what little I do remember, it perfectly balanced the learning curve by throwing in an even amount of difficult bosses and puzzles with weak cannon fodder and imagination. It was often tough, but I kept wanting to play. Not a bad way to introduce a guy to gaming.
Then there’s Spyro himself. He became an instant hit with players simply because of how cool he is. He’s a small, purple dragon that breathes fire and goes on adventures. He’s sarcastic in a way that somehow makes him irresistible, but has a good sense of humour and an even better heart. He’s got that smirk that shows he doesn’t take things too seriously but still cares about you. How can you not want to go to Stone Hill and hang out with Spyro, frolicking in the long grass?
There’s a reason that Spyro is the PlayStation mascot, and they’re reasons that were made even more apparent when the trilogy of games developed by original Spyro creators Insomniac were remastered together in Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES…
Every reason that Spyro was already popular is amplified here by the extra levels of detail that are included. For instance, when Spyro is stood at a ledge, he’ll look down and take in his surroundings. If left idle for long enough, he’ll start grooming himself. When walking, he trots along like a cat that thinks it owns the place. All of these things make the character more real, like a virtual pet, which only makes him more desirable as a companion. I find myself wanting to play Spyro Reignited Trilogy sometimes just because we haven’t seen each other since the previous day. He’s a friend that knows how to have a good time. Everything else in the game is an extension of him, an opportunity or an excuse to show off the character and what he can do.
One of the great things about the game is that it remembers something forgotten far too often by modern games: games are a service. They can be great works of art, but more than anything else, games are first and foremost produced for entertainment, and different gamers derive entertainment in different ways. Some like to dip into a game for maybe 20 minutes like a lunch break. Others like to book out a whole evening to make progress. Spyro Reignited Trilogy is constructed in such a way that entering it and exiting it is seamless. You can play this game exactly how you want and get just as much out of it.
You can pursue the main goal of freeing the trapped dragons from across the Dragon Worlds, or – if you’re a completionist – you can scour each level searching for those few remaining unfound treasures or finding a way to get to the little man in blue who’s stolen a dragon egg. You can even just mess around in Artisans if you want to, gliding off platforms or incinerating innocent, defenceless sheep like the psycho you are. You decide what game this is, but it’s still the same game for everyone.
Yet, while there’s a lot of things to do, it never feels overwhelming and I think that’s because I was never pressured into collecting everything. What too many games confuse for “content”, Spyro Reignited Trilogy identifies for what they are: options. At first, you might feel bombarded with boxes to tick but pretty much straight away it becomes clear that those statistics are only there to help you measure your own progress, whatever that may mean to you. That can mean going straight after 100%-ing it all, but it doesn’t have to. There’s a lot of game to get through, but that’s so everyone can be happy based on their own personal ways of playing.
What’s most pleasing is the same thing that made a lot of us hold our breath: the difficulty. It’s just the same that it was then. It’s amazing to think about, but for everything that’s different here, the one thing that’s exactly the same is the psychological process that goes into playing it. I’m in the exact situation that it was in all those years ago. I’m regularly stumped or finding myself struggling with a certain level mechanic, and yet I keep going because I’m so full of wonder for the world I’m in that I don’t really care, I’m just thrilled to be there. It made me think about how other games in my life compare to Spyro the Dragon and almost none of them do in terms of difficulty. Most of them either make a difficult puzzle based on lateral thinking easy to solve by literally explaining it to you or make it less difficult, therefore eliminating the payoff. Isn’t it great when a game actually lets us play it instead of doing it all for us?
The learning curve is consistent with what it was 20 years ago, yet here I am, still enjoying it just as much. Therefore, it stands to reason that someone who’s as old as I was all that time ago will have the same experience now.
The combat is another thing that’s been done really well, which is partially because of the non-linearity of it. If you’re more interested in finding hidden treasures, you won’t have to worry too much about enemies, because they’re pretty evenly spread over each level. Inversely, if combat is the main reason you’re playing, there are enough enemies to keep you interested without overpowering you or giving you no space to move around.
The music should be highlighted not just for how it sounds but because of what it does. The compositions themselves are Stewart Copeland’s original score but when they were first used, Insomniac weren’t able to achieve his vision entirely. What he really wanted was for the sound of the music to react to what the player was doing. Now, 20 years later, they’ve finally done it and it sounds more than just like music. When running, a baseline will kick in, or, when inside, the music starts echoing. Not only is this the fulfilment of an artistic vision 20 years after it appeared to not be happening, but it brings a whole new level of dynamism. Music transcends words to represent emotion in ways that sometimes we can’t describe. We know this. That’s why the music of Spyro Reignited Trilogy takes the feeling of playing the original games – the way we interpret primitive graphics into something fantastic – and adds to it. All the years we’ve accumulated since then, coming back to Spyro was inevitably going to be like taking a deep, penetrating dive into our own, personal history, bringing with us more complexity than was originally there. It’s not just a fitting soundtrack for a remaster – it musicalises the feeling of returning to the original and finding it just the same as we left it, the upgraded graphics being like a software update for it to still be compatible with a mind that’s become that bit less imaginative and less able to see all that wonderousness on its own.
Lastly, very briefly:
The save points are very organic. After freeing a dragon, in its place is a save point that autosaves every time you come near it. It just really helps with the flow of the game and maintains the illusion.
There’s no complicated inventory to be taking care off, stripping away a form of baggage far too common in modern games and allowing you to remain focused without being distracted.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a game that will never bore you. It lets you play it how you want. There’s so much to do in its world. Anyone can pick it up and start playing it. There’s a perfect balance of difficulty. You’re allowed to figure things out for yourself. The music reacts to how you’re playing. The gameplay flows without interruption. You don’t need to check the menu every time you do something. And all of this because of a small, purple dragon that could’ve come and gone 20 years ago. It may be called a remaster, but it was developed otherwise from the ground up. This is legitimately its own game. It’s an epic. It’s full of joy. And it’s the definitive version of who is to a certain generation the most beloved character ever created.
+ Balances every play style
+ Equates difficulty with fun
+ Respects the player
– Flight controls can’t be inverted
– Physical copies require extra levels to be downloaded
– Voice acting is mostly forgettable
Looks like I’ve got some things to do,
– the Purple Prose Mage
The Purple Prose Mage is the author of the Racing Game of the Week column and is currently working on a documentary about the Driver series for its 20th anniversary on 25th June.
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