For wont of a tutorial, the cyborg was lost
If Revengeance has a major failing it's that it doesn't really want you to play. At least, that's the conclusion I drew after fighting the second boss for over half an hour, getting my curiously sculpted cyborg butt handed to me every time. The controls in Revengeance are nearly as inscrutable as the story. They're not hard, per se. The game just doesn't tell you anything.
Sure, sure, Metal Gear Rising fan — I hear you. "All the key bindings are in the help menu, idiot. You should've looked there!" And indeed I did, eventually. That's bad design in this day and age, though; the game does a poor job conveying important information to the player.
Let's return to parrying attacks as an example, because it's probably the single most important action in the entire game. Parrying is introduced in a short tutorial segment before the game starts, alongside a few other attack actions. In the tutorial, however, you perform it once and move on. (And I did it purely by accident!) Then you play the entire first level, full of fodder enemies and the aforementioned hulking, missile-slinging robot, without parrying once.
And then you hit the second boss, Blade Wolf — a cybernetic wolf with a chainsaw tail. Without parry, Blade Wolf is basically impossible. Even with your own cyborg-enhanced legs, Blade Wolf is so fast it's like Usain Bolt racing against a geriatric with a walker. I watched Raiden die over and over again, each time hearing my handler give the same pathetic cry. "Raiden, what happened? Raiden! Noooooooo!"
Eventually I turned to the collective power of the Internet. "Don't forget to parry," said the Internet. And I thought to myself, "Wait, I can parry?"
Another glaring example: By pulling the left trigger, Raiden triggers "Blade Mode" — time slows down, and Raiden can swing his sword more accurately. This allows Raiden to, for whatever reason, chop out people's spines and eat them to repair his own decrepit cyborg body.
But I didn't know until the final boss, that in Blade Mode the right analog stick controls the swing of the sword. Why did I find out during the final boss fight? Because for whatever reason, the game requires that you know this knowledge for the first time during that last encounter. It doesn't teach you that, though. I had to go to the Internet once again to figure out why the fight was seemingly impossible to beat.
It's this opaque design that grated on me more than anything else in Revengeance. New weapons, new moves, basics like locking onto enemies or simply creating a hard save — nothing crucial is explained in-game.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.