I noticed Diabolical didn’t really have a discussion thread, so I decided to create one. I’ll start:
I really enjoyed most of the game. I liked that it was just about exactly as silly or as serious as I wanted to be, and when I wanted it to be silly, it was creatively silly (using a microwave gun to turn a corn maze into popcorn with the tourists inside never gets old). I further enjoyed playing it multiple times to see how, for example, playing as a technical genius gives the story a different “feel” than it does as a minion master. I also felt that the romance options were quite satisfactorily characterized, given that this seems to historically be a bit of a weak point.
The ending, though. Wow, the ending was disappointing. A strong contender for my least favorite ending of any CoG I’ve played yet.
First of all, my mind rebelled at being forced into the traditional role of the hero who battles the sinister villain to save the Earth. I paid money to play a game that was specifically pitched as allowing me to be the sinister villain. If I’d wanted to be the hero, CoG has no shortage of options that cater to that desire.
Second, it had all the trappings of what the folks at TV Tropes call a Gainax Ending. Dr. Arachnus is an alien king! My sidekick betrays me for no reason! All my friends die! There’s a device that gives the user godlike powers (which the bad guy, for some reason, couldn’t use to squash me like a bug)! There are such things as foreshadowing and buildup, and this ending lacked them.
Finally, the fact that each of the multiple endings could only be accessed with certain stat builds which are not necessarily immediately obvious does not mesh well with the lack of a save point system, especially since the only other part of the story that branches even a little bit is the sidekick selection. Playing basically the exact same game three or more times for each ending gets old pretty quick, which is one of the reasons I’ve owned the game for several weeks now and still haven’t seen all of them. I think a page could have been taken from Choice of Robots and Choice of the Deathless, each of which also have endings that depend on stats to achieve…but which make it clear which endings you qualify for and (in the case of Robots) specifically spell out what those stats are so you have a clear target to shoot for next time.
So, yeah…the ending kind of got under my skin.
Excellent use of humor, nice effort to give each villain “specialty” its own mark on the narrative, good romance options, no branching, terribly disappointing ending. I rate it 7/10.