Saturday, June 29, 2013

Scattered Musings Of A Level 10 Thaumaturge: FFXIV:ARR

Played some more of the FFXIV: A Realm Reborn beta this morning. Had a great time. Really enjoying it a lot.  Last time I mentioned the idiosyncratic dialogue, the incredibly comfortable UI, the superlative art design, the relaxing gameplay. In much the same vein...



It stands for something, I forget what. FATEs are FFXIV's answer to Rifts, Dynamic Events, Public Quests and all the other all-pile-on rumbles of recent years. Flash mobs of beer-crazed ratmen? Check. Some guy that stands around with a bucket while you fill it up with monster bits and do his job for him? Check. Unfeasibly robust jerk with planet-sized ego strutting about challenging all-comers to knock him down? Check. All the rides you enjoyed last year and the year before that, back for the new season with a fresh coat of paint. Brilliant!

FATEs appear bright pinky-purple on the mini-map. Mouse over the splodge to see the level and nature of the problem. Get in range and a handy cut-out-and-keep "What's Going On" guide pops up complete with timers and progress bars. It's all very clear and organized. Unlike the players.

FATEs are a scrum, a ruck, a rolling maul. Getting close you'll see Lalafell, Hyur, Miquo'te and the rest running in from all directions, heading towards what looks like a small fireworks factory on fire. Random tab targeting and collateral damage are the order of the day. If only this was PvP with friendly fire enabled. Oh how we'd laugh. 

It's probably a beta thing (and it'll be a just-after-launch thing too). Rifts were like that once. Hard to believe now, I know. It'll calm down. Presumably FATEs scale. They'll probably even work better with fewer people like most GW2 dynamic events turned out to do. For now FATEs are crazy fun. As soon as I see one pop - and they pop like corn on a skillet (as if I'd ever seen a skillet or could pick one out of a line-up at Kitchens) - I drop whatever I'm doing and charge! And so does everybody else.


Last time I observed how traditional these are and also how unusual and well-written the dialog is. That observation is borne out by further investigation. The writing is consistently top-notch and often very odd. Really very odd. So odd that I was frequently so discombobulated by the bizarre things NPCs were saying that I forgot to take screenshots. The examples I have are bland by comparison to some of the stuff I missed. Must try harder. Moreover I take back some of my ennui concerning the content. If everything ever written has to get by on seven basic plots it's a bit much to expect constant originality from quests in a video-game. Stuff novelty, let's talk quality!

There's a Main Quest line of course. Final Fantasy is famous for those, apparently. My sum experience of the franchise is about three-quarters of FFVII back in the 90s, three weeks of FFXI about eight years ago and the two iterations of FFXIV. Not enough to place the ARR main sequence in much of a context but it impressed the hell out of me. The flow is consummately arranged. Several times I found myself progressing the main arc without realizing I'd looped back into it. Everything weaves together.

I like cut scenes in quests, when they're well done, which is a good thing  because they're rife here. If The Secret World is the benchmark this stands up. Different tone, different techniques, just as impressive, with an interesting variant on the Silent Protagonist that I like a lot. Sometimes my character reacts without appearing to speak and the NPC replies to what she must have said. Really works well.

I think even at this early stage it's apparent What Is Going On with the big plot. It feels like we know where it's all heading. If so, I really want to be on that ride. If things get turned on their heads, better yet.

Then there are the myriad bread and butter quests. That underplays them. All of them are at least solid, most are more than that. A surprising number I found...affecting. An example, full of spoilers:

The Silver Bazaar

At the extreme Western tip of Western Thanalan itself lies a trading post that has seen better days. It's called The Silver Bazaar. Once it was the premier market outside the great desert city of Ul'Dah for traders heading to and from the seaports of La Noscea. Those days are over. Trade is poor, dust blows through the marketplace, even the buildings are beginning to crumble under the relentless onslaught of wind and sun.

I arrived there with a letter from someone in the city. Didn't pay it much heed. People are always giving me letters to pass on as I travel The roads are dangerous, people are busy, they have lives. I'm an adventurer. This is what we do.

Mostly the people I deliver mail to are pleased to get it. They give me tips. Kikupu's reaction was...unexpected.

Next thing I know I'm involved in an escalating conflict between the Mistress of The Silver Bazaar and some nefarious property developer determined to have her out of her home. First I'm putting doubt into the minds of the scuzzy layabouts he's sent to bring down property values, giving them good reason to think twice and find easier leaning-posts elsewhere. Then I'm tearing down his seizure notices, beating up his hired thugs and eventually confronting the bastard face to face. Kikupu stiffens my resolve with several genuinely moving speeches, effectively invoking my own memories with her own.
In the end we've both made a bitter enemy and a firm friendship and yes, I was genuinely moved. It's quite rare in my experience for the content of MMOs to evoke the same kind of emotional response that would be commonplace for a film or a short story. Most of the emotional resonance tends to come from interactions with other players not NPCs. That was reversed in The Secret World and I felt it again here. It's about the strength and quality of the writing, supported by the skill and feel of the artists and animators. I suspect this is the kind of thing that people play offline cRPGs for and for people familiar with those this may seem humdrum, but I don't play those games so this is newish territory for me and it's very welcome indeed.

Day/Night Cycle 

It gets really dark at night. Not just "ooh pretty lights!" dark, although that happens too. No, this is "can't see what I'm doing properly" dark. Okay, it's not Everquest c.1999 where I once had to wait the full night cycle (what was that, 20 minutes? Seemed easily that) inside a hut (which, little did I know it at the time, provided no protection at all against creatures that could stroll through walls at will) because I'd fought and killed something outside without ever seeing it or knowing what it was (turned out to be a very small black bear) and having barely escaped with my life didn't dare move until daylight.

Not sure I want anything to be quite that dark ever again. EQ itself hasn't been that dark for years. I do like a real, discernible difference between night and day, though; one that's more than just a bluish overlay. Here in the desert night comes in satisfyingly deep with a hundred million stars and day burns hard. I hear other places actually have weather.


 Bit early to say, what with only being level ten and all, but you get a feel for these things. This is the kind of content that's built to be repeated. The kills are quick, the mechanics are slick, nothing really niggles. Good, clean fun. Like the hinterlands of Freeport and Qeynos or The Shire, these small country settlements with their human-sized problems, their nuisance wildlife and cantankerous semi-sentient neighbors, make for amiable, enjoyable, ambling play that goes down smoothly as cool lemonade on a hot summer's day. I could do this over and over and most probably will.

Three starting areas is better than average in the world of modern MMOs and then there are the jobs. I'm not a fan of having all classes on the same character, far from it, but for some reason I can't yet define I feel sanguine about it here. FFXIV has a deep and complex class system (it's a bit like that where I live...) with a basic 18 classes: five War, two Magic, three Land and eight Hand. That's fighters, mages, gatherers and crafters to the uninitiated. It's all a bit fuzzy in my head but I think those split into further specialisms, any character can theoretically max all of them and at any given time you can use a mix-and-match patchwork cobbled together finely crafted from all the skills you've learned.

That sounds like enough complexity to be going on with and then some. And then some more on top, from my point of view. I'm a simple Class-based player; I don't hold with these new-fangled builds. Nevertheless, that lot is indubitably going to lead to some serious variety of gameplay even for those who limit themselves to a single character.

I feel more positive about the long-term possibilities of FFXIV: ARR every time I play. I am certain it's an MMO I could play long-term with consistent and persistent pleasure. Other opinions are available, as Mark Kermode would say. Whether I do end up playing FFXIV:ARR for any length of time depends more on what else is going on in the MMO world than on any shortcomings of FFXIV itself. It's a very competitive market out there for MMOs right now; there's a lot of good stuff around. I will definitely be buying it, that's for certain.

The bit I have to put in so I don't get in trouble

Copyright (C) 2010 - 2013 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. (US Version - I'm on a US server)

FINAL FANTASY XIV (C) 2010 - 2013 Square Enix Co., Ltd. FINAL FANTASY is a registered trademark of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. All material used under license. (EU version - that's where I live).

Friday, June 28, 2013

When They Said The Subscription MMO Was Dead...

...clearly they hadn't seen The Hammers End.  Neither had I until I stumbled across it  by  chance while visiting looking for something else entirely.

Lemme guess. A goblin stole your pants, right?
The Hammer's End is a new MMO that seems to have sprung fully formed from the void. Developers Adventure World Studios eschew the traditional route to market. Not for them the seemingly-endless PR campaign building up to a series of limited-access events ending in an "open beta" that goes on and on. No weeks, months, years drip-feeding content reveals in "exclusive" interviews. No competitions or giveways with counters ticking down the limited number of precious keys.

Pretty flowers, elegant UI
None of that. They just made an MMO and launched it. They put up a one-page website with a description you could fit on a postcard, threw in a Download button and bingo! Take it or leave it.

What is it then? F2P, cash shop, all that jazz?

Nope. It's free to download but if you want to play it it's $14.95 a month.


Ok, at least tell me it has a free trial!

Sure it does. It lasts an hour. One hour and then whatever you happen to be doing, you're done. Game over, out you go. Want to finish that starter quest? Better pony up that $14.95.

Pickable flowers means Gathering's in. Crafting? I have no idea.
And y'know what the weirdest thing of all is? I probably will. If there wasn't so much going on in MMOland right now, what with the FFXIV beta, that interesting low-level Rift event, the Aetherblades over at GW2, Greenskins reaching City of Steam and FireFall going live in just over a week I'd have paid my $14.95 already.

That's my pet. He's a...I'll get back to you on that...
It really does look like an interesting MMO. I can say that with authority because I spent a whole hour playing it. It has a very pleasant old-school vibe, gameplay and graphics both. Apparently they built their own in-house engine and they've used it to make a very atmospheric, attractive world. Well, a forest. That's as much as I saw, but it was a really foresty forest.

The art design seemed convincing and coherent. Most importantly, THE  passed that most crucial test; it felt like a proper place.

The controls all worked, the UI was minimal and elegant, the whole thing felt...professional. From comments on the thread there are 50 levels followed by an AA system, it has a number of non-instanced dungeons and the world is sizeable. I'd also second the comment that claims "You can definitely feel the "Everquesty" influence" . I could, in spades.
Have mallet, will travel.

Oh, and as you probably already figured out from the screenshots, you can play a weasel. Or is it a beaver? Don't fancy that? Try a Brownie then (they look more like bixies who got dressed in a hurry to me) or a frog or a lizard. It's a woodland animal MMO.

If there was one thing that could possibly make this Everquest-influenced, cartoon-animal populated, $14.95 a month retro-graphic MMO more commercially viable, what do you think it might be? Go on, take a guess.

Yep, that's right - non-consensual open-world PvP!

Cheese and springwater? Why, yes we do!
Get to level seven and it's every weasel for himself. If you ever meet someone of the other faction, that is. (It's Brownies and Weasels vs Frogs and Lizards, in case you're laying odds). With current populations estimated in low single figures by a couple of commenters on that thread you're probably safe for now. If you're still nervous maybe best wait until they turn on the other three servers I saw listed when I made my weasel - another PvP server and two flagged PvE. Nothing like being prepared.

Still and all, I'm going to play this thing. If it had some kind of F2P model or a normal free trial (a week would be the minimum you'd expect) it'd be in my rotation right now. I'm willing to give it $14.95, one time at least. But if I'm paying I probably should be sure I have at least a few hours to play  and this, as I mentioned, is a busy time.
There's no place like Bind. There's no place like Bind.

So I'll have to get back to The Hammers End when I have a suitable lull. I just hope it's still there when I'm ready for it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dragon Bash Report Card : GW2

  • Decorations. Just superb. The burgeoning tradition of giving Lion's Arch a cosmetic makeover for high days and holidays is much to be encouraged. Wandering through the city taking in the new sights and sounds, snapping shots and chatting about what had changed was the highlight of the whole event for me. The Forge should stay the way it is now. It looks far more in keeping with the rest of the city than the harsh blue utilitarian bucket we have to put up with for the rest of the year.

We have a winner!

  • Achievements. Good, on the whole, but occasionally demonstrating that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Letting off fireworks is a lot of fun when you start but long before the hundredth time it gets hard to raise another "Oooooh!" As for smashing 150 dragon pinatas to get nothing but one toffee every single time, well I wouldn't let the person who designed that organize a five-year old's birthday party, that's for sure.

Better late than never

  • Achievement Rewards Once I realized we only needed eight Achievements for the meta I slacked off on the grindier ones. It was very nice to be able to pick and choose which ones appealed and still be able to collect the reward. Not that the reward itself was particularly appealing. Another fanciful back item that looks ridiculous on most characters. I'm still using my Toymaker's Bag from Wintersday because at least it looks like a backpack. Now if those wings could actually fly...

Really? You don't say!

  • The Big Boom. Events that gather a big crowd in the Plaza are always welcome. The anticipatory buzz and the communal atmosphere are exhilarating. One of the best parts of playing MMOs. The events themselves when they arrive are often anticlimaxes. This one had a bit of an "Is that it?" response at first because the firework display was almost impossible to see from the Plaza itself, at least the first time it happened. Later on that seemed to have been fixed but still the best view by far was from further away. When you could actually see the fireworks it was a great show. I watched it several times.

It's the Algonquin Round Table all over again.

  • Skins. Possibly one of the better sets of skins so far but that's really not saying all that much. The skin aesthetic in GW2 just doesn't work for me. Baroque, overblown, garish, flashy and above all unsubtle. This lot wasn't as bad as, say, the Molten Alliance set, where there was nothing I'd wear or wield even on a bet but still not appealing enough to make an effort to get. The good part is that unless they start coming up with some more understated, 'realistic' skins I can remain smugly aloof from the "must get lockboxes" frenzy.

Why am I laughing?

  • Drops. The lockboxes themselves were fun this time round. Unlike the Southsun Supply Crates the Dragon Coffers dropped often and were tradeable. Mrs Bhagpuss got a Ticket out of one on the first day. I opened hundreds and found nothing better than a couple of Holographic Risen Knights. Fun opening them all though and the food was at least useful.

He's not big, he's just really close. She really is that small though.

  • Activities. Moa racing was amusing in theory. Moas are inherently comical. There didn't seem to be a good place to view the entire race, though, and the message about not leaving the area made people nervous about trying to find a good vantage point. The only reason to place more than a couple of bets for fun seemed to be the lure of the Helmed Moa Racer mini, which apparently ends up costing 28 gold on average. Minis do nothing for me so that was an easy pass. As for Dragon Ball, I didn't try it.

Sport of the future, sir.

  • Story.  Good, on the whole. The film noir pastiche worked surprisingly well although I'm not entirely sure it was so good we needed a permanent replay to carry around with us for ever more. The Living Story seems to be developing quite a strong cast of characters, what with Rox and Braham, Inspector Kiel, Lady Kasmeer and Lord Faren and now Marjory Delaqua. Whether this is a healthy trend I'm not entirely sure. GW2 seems to be establishing a pattern in which the primary role of player characters is to assist significant NPCs rather than to initiate. We may get called Heroes but we're more Bucky than Captain America. Also, both Kiel and Delaqua are rubbish at their jobs. Every single player knew who the villain was long before they worked it out. I bet Lady Kasmeer knew all along, though. She's deep, that one.

Playing a long game, Marjory? Oh...

  • Overall. Good. Better than The Secret of Southsun, which wasn't too bad either. There's a lot of room for improvement but the Living Story is shaping up to be a better framework for regular content drops than it looked like it would a few months back. The content itself risks becoming formulaic but at the moment there's enough variation to keep things interesting. Of course, unlike all the other Living Story events so far, Dragon Bash could return next year, without the uninvited guests. Unless the Aetherblades win the next round, that is...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

To The Lighthouse : GW2

Just after Christmas last year I reported on the construction being undertaken by the Ships' Council (or was it The Lionguard?) on the new Lion's Arch Lighthouse. At the time I was somewhat concerned about the health and safety risk caused by the slow updating of the Tyrian GPS (Grimoire Positioning Service) which at the time was directing travelers over a sheer cliff, and also about the fate of the brave lighthouse guards who could still be seen milling around inside the broken-off stump.

The sight last night of a majestic, fully-functioning lighthouse over in the alternate dimension of Eorzea made me think perhaps I'd better go check what progress had been made. The good news is that the map no longer directs you to your death and that the stranded lionguards appear to have been rescued, although possibly they just ate all their supplies and then each other before the traumatized survivors climbed down and fled to live feral in the mangrove swamps of nearby Bloodtide Coast. There were Charr in there after all...

Work on the new lighthouse is proceeding, albeit slowly. A couple more storeys have been added but the thing still looks a long way off casting a beam. What with all the refugees pouring in from the Molten Alliance raids and then the preparations for and disastrous disruption of the Dragon Bash festival I suppose the authorities have had their hands full, but even so. We do need that lighthouse!

Also available here

I took it upon myself, at great personal risk, to undertake an inspection of the remains of the old tower and I can report that it seems architecturally sound and solid. If building a complete new Lighthouse is proving too difficult or expensive I'm pretty sure the old one could be renovated.

And I'm pleased to say I didn't find any evidence of half-eaten Asura or Sylvari splinters used as toothpicks.

FFXIV: Early Impressions

Another FFXIV beta weekend crept up on the blindside but I caught it out of the corner of my eye and managed to get a few hours in on Saturday evening. As Keen points out any MMO can be fun early on so it's far too soon to make any meaningful noises about how FFXIV might stack up as a long-term prospect. All I can really say with conviction is that so far I've enjoyed it enormously.

I'm actually doing a FATE here not a quest but let's not quibble
Down in the dirt of the early levels FFXIV is a very traditional MMO indeed. Plenty of quests and very familiar they all are too. You'll be asked to kill exact numbers of specific creatures, sometimes to cull the herd or reduce an imminent threat, other times to collect precise quantities of particular body-parts and bring them back to whoever gave you the job. Occasionally these will need to be carried forward to a confederate at a new location, where the delivery will act as an introduction to another bunch of Gil-rich, time-poor employers of casual labor. Kill Ten Rats and FedEx quests out of quest hubs, in other words.
Oh I don't know, don't you sometimes feel we're all just fish on the end of a line?

Now and again the dialog dabbles with the post-modern, undercutting these well-worn tropes with self-referential irony, a trope that's becoming somewhat worn itself these days. I've been round the block on this and come back to meet myself where I started. I'm over being bored with traditional MMO questing. I embrace the Kill Ten Rats quest. I'll don the FedEx cap with pride. No need to apologize for offering them. A classic is a classic. Although a bit of post-modern irony always slips down smoothly with me as well so I'm winning either way.

Hold on, isn't this Scarlet Desert?
Inbetween sundry deliveries of late orders, returns of mislaid items and miscellaneous fetch-and-carries, you make your way through the most gorgeous of landscapes, exploring a charming, evocative and, let's admit it, peculiar world in grain-deep detail. All my deliveries take twice as long as they should because of the time I spend gawping at the scenery and taking screenshots. It's a wonder I get any word-of-mouth recommendations at all.

The quests themselves may be from stock but the dialog that accompanies them is fresh. Well, let me re-phrase that. It appears fresh. There's probably little about the dialog that isn't stock either if you take a step back and consider it critically but it's written with such elan and verve that any familiarity passes unnoticed in the flurry of conversation.

Aye, 'appen as 'ow 'e will an' all.
In part this is tonal. In both Gridania and Ul'Dah there seems to be a perpetual undertone of irony, even cynicism. For nations rebuilding only a few years after a major cataclysm (yes, another one) the populaces seem remarkably chipper (and the landscape remarkably undevastated, come to think of it). At times it feels a little like living inside an arch and brittle 1930s comedy. Except it's hard to imagine Katherine Hepburn saying "arse".

And that's another thing. No matter how familiar the content, quest dialog does tend to feel different when spattered with authentic, if archaic, regional British vernacular. Whoever wrote this stuff must have watched a lot of Coronation Street, that's all I'm saying. And it's really quite sweary too, in a broad, end-of-the-pier inoffensive style.

The last piece of the puzzle, the trick that's turning old rope into silk ribbon, is the quest UI itself. Again, there's nothing mold-breaking about it, just the opposite. A plain dialog panel along the bottom waits for you to click before turning. I just love that. Being left to take things at my own pace. Perfect. The quest summary, clear and often amusingly phrased, appears in a separate window at the end of the conversation, requirements and rewards clearly displayed.

Did he really say that out loud?
Quest items are auto-collected at the kill but when the time comes to hand them over a neat little box appears on-screen from which you select the relevant icon and mouse it over to its match in a waiting box popped up by the person waiting to receive it. I find it all both elegant and satisfying, a real pleasure to use.

Less of a pleasure is the visual pollution common to all MMOs. Square have really gone to town on the overhead iconography for FFXIV and when you first log in and wander through one of the stunning cities the experience is spoiled by a forest canopy of hanging names and quest markers. Fortunately you can turn any and all of this off to tune things to your particular tastes. I left the unfeasibly large quest markers on for now but turned off all names, which lets me both know where I am going and see what I'm looking at at the same time.

First Tony Warren, then Becket.
We often read that it's shallow to care too much about graphics in MMOs, that it's gameplay that matters. I might even have expressed that opinion myself on occasion. I'd argue it differently now. Great graphics are great gameplay. This really struck home to me last night as I was toddling through my baby quests (the terminology's almost unavoidable when you play a Lalafell).

One FedEx quest required me to deliver something for a merchant who'd just arrived from a long journey and was too exhausted to take a package across town. His well-written dialog did some of the persuading but the real emotional blackmail came from the way he was leaning against a railing, pretending to be too tired but clearly sizing me up for gullibility.

Excuse me, is this 17th Century Holland?
FFXIV NPCs lounge, sprawl, perch and squat while they opportune you. In the background others move crates around or take packages from shelves. These postures, caught in peripheral vision, work almost subliminally on whatever part of the brain it is that decides what's real and what's not. Good graphics, and these are very good graphics indeed, enhance gameplay by making the meniscus that separates the real from the imagined just that little bit more permeable.

So far it's looking good. I have some concerns over the potential size of the world. It doesn't look very big. I went exploring last night and hit the furthest reaches of Northern Ul'Dah, where everything was in the mid-40s, in, well, not very long at all. Whether a smallish world is a problem depends on pacing, though and my feeling is that FFXIV: ARR will be relatively slow-paced, something akin to mid-period EQ2. I hope so.
Thus far and no further

Assuming next week is a beta weekend as well maybe I'll get back up to the giddy heights of double-figures that I reached in the last phase. If so I might have something to say about the relative pleasures or pains of playing a caster compared to an archer. Oh wait, no I can't. The first rule of Phase 2 is you don't talk about Phase 2. Never mind, I'm sure I'll think of something.

The bit I have to put in so I don't get in trouble

Copyright (C) 2010 - 2013 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved. (US Version - I'm on a US server)

FINAL FANTASY XIV (C) 2010 - 2013 Square Enix Co., Ltd. FINAL FANTASY is a registered trademark of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. All material used under license. (EU version - that's where I live).

Friday, June 21, 2013

When They Say Dead End... GW2

If I have time over the weekend I might go into the whole Dragon Bash episode in full post mortem detail but just in case that doesn't happen I wanted to be sure to mention the unadvertised coda. It's very easy to miss.

Spoilers incoming...

There's no achievement to point you towards this. When you finish the No More Secrets instance there's one of those Winterfest baubles hanging in the air reminding you someone wants to speak to you but both times I saw it it appeared to be hanging over Inspector Kiel's head not over Marjory Delaqua.  When I spoke to Kiel the bauble went away so I'm guessing it really was attached to her.

Whether that's intentional or not, Kiel has nothing new to say, but Marjory does if you're persistent and thick-skinned enough to opportune her anyway.

Well, that sounds like an invitation worth following up, even if you're a walking shrub or a raggedy-eared two-foot tall gremlin. I mean, a drink's a drink after all.

A short hop from Lion's Arch and a stroll through the impossibly picturesque backstreets of Divinity's Reach brings you the Dead End.

Behind the barred gate, in the warm firelight glow, you'll find not only Marjory but also the enigmatic Lady Kasmeer, currently going by her given name of Kasmeer Meade, like that's going to fool anyone. She's turning out to be a heck of a lot more interesting than she appeared back in Southsun, that's for sure.

As we probably already figured, she has some history with Marjory Delaqua and now both of them have some history with you, too.

Marjory herself is waiting across the room. Just kind of standing there. It would be impolite to remind her about that drink, wouldn't it? And anyway it appears you have other things on your mind.


Was it? Apparently it was. I confess I didn't see him at all. I'm pretty darn sure he wasn't there.  You might almost think this was a flashback to a conversation that happened right after the your first visit to the Dead End. Logan was there then alright. But then what Kasmeer said would make no sense, would it? Oh wait, maybe she means back at the Crime Scene. I didn't see him there either! I'm so confused.

And that's your lot. You never even get that drink.

As an homage to 1940s film noir it couldn't be more appropriate. It's brooding, inchoate and mystifying. You get the strong impression that you aren't the only one who's lost track of what's going on.

I really liked it. Don't miss it.

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