It is only in our decisions that we are important.
Every time I've replayed this game, I've noticed something new. The way the levels start high and descend. The Fontaine-brand water. Idle chatter in the enemy ranks if you wait before attacking them. The enemy heavies probably don't exist. It's what Six Days in Fallujah
wanted to be. It's a Silent Hill
game in all but name. It's Metal Gear Solid
with a less meta kind of lunacy. There aren't many games, let alone Unreal Engine 3 games, that put half as much effort into the protagonist's eyes.
There's a fair amount of subtlety in The Line,
more so than it often gets credit for.
Of course, a lot of it isn't subtle at all. I don't see this as a negative; subtle writing can be pretentious nonsense just as easily as unsubtle writing can be dumb and bland. I think the approach The Line
takes is a good one; once it becomes clear that something weird is going on, the game doesn't waste time being coy about it, it becomes more and more upfront, using its runtime to keep going instead of wasting it trying to fool the player.
Then we come to the plot, and that one moment that foregoes even the illusion of choice, never mind the ultimate futility of the choices that are available. The devs get a lot of shit for saying "Oh there's totally a choice, you can choose to turn the game off." I think many players misjudge this, maybe because many players giving the game a spin because they've at least heard that it's only masquerading as a Call of Duty
clone. The problem is, if you're going into this game aware of and eager for the deconstruction and criticism, the game is preaching to the choir. If you already know
what its trying to say, it's going to seem preachy and hostile. Rather, I see it as a tool crafted specifically for a player who's expecting the COD clone. It's a tool to get someone who's never
thought about how cookie-cutter and absurd the military shooter genre is to actually think about it. Even I, as someone who likes it, know it's not perfect. Some things like the death quotes and that admittedly memorable fourth wall-breaking moment are just too much. Still, I think the pros outweigh the cons.
If you don't like it, you don't like it, and that's fine. If you haven't played it, though, you should. Even if you end up not liking it, you'll probably at least like that they tried.