So. Hades by Supergiant Games. What a great game. It’s addictive with that ‘just one more run’ feel to it. It looks great, feels great, and sounds great. And I’m thinking of quitting. Why? I touched about it in my last post about the game and would like to expand on it here.
Side note: It’s going to sound familiar because I had the same issues with Children of Morta by Dead Mage, another great game that I quit cold turkey for similar reasons.
Look. I know balancing a game is hard especially if you’re making a game that is based on difficulty to a certain extent.
(Do NOT mention FromSoft and Souls games. Damn.)
But, my pet peeve in any game is throwing tons of mobs at the player in the name of difficulty. I hate, hate, hate it because I think it’s lazy, boring, and because as someone with terrible reflexes, it’s very stressful. And not in the fun way. I think many of the criticisms for Dark Souls II were overblown, but the one I agree with was that they threw way too many mobs at the player as a way of artificially inflating the difficulty.
What’s more, it’s usually the same enemies over and over again, which makes it boring on top of frustrating. I do not mind the same enemies for the same floor, but this game really overloads the type of enemies for each floor and many of them are ones in which twitch reactions are important. I don’t do twitch reactions, so it’s really frustrating to me.
Last week, I wrote about my year in gaming–which, let’s face it, has mostly been meh. I mentioned two Souls-like games that I played quite a bit and enjoyed until I didn’t, a game that I enjoyed and finished that wasn’t a Souls-like, and a game from the past that I resurrected as my comfort game. Then, of course, there is the one true game of the year, which I’ll get to at the end. If you know anything about me at all, you’ll know what it is, but you’ll have to wait for it, anyway. Let me quickly give the other games (hopefully) amusingly named awards before tackling the big one.
Quick note: In reading my game awards posts from last year in order to write this one, I stumble across this:
I play the hell out of each game I play. I wring every ounce of content out of it, and then I squeeze it some more. I would rather play three games a year that I really like than a couple dozen that I’m meh about.
I still feel that way, and that’s why I’m a bit down about this year in gaming. When I was thinking back on the year, I couldn’t think of many games that gave me dozens of hours of engagement. I’m hoping that 2020 will be different, but I’m skeptical. This post is for the games that hit a spot to a certain extent, but aren’t the One True Game. I have a hunch I won’t get to the big one in this post, but hope springs eternal.
The game I can’t quit no matter how hard I try
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth*
I played the shit out of this game when it first came out. I tried to play the original, but it felt ungainly, and I never got into it. That game was developed by Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl. Edmund (and his wife) went with Nicalis for BoI:R and everything after. I was immediately hooked on BoI:R, much to my surprise, and I played an embarrassing number of hours. I also True Platinum Godded it before the requirements changed, and I’m only missing something on The Keeper, the worst character in the whole game. I forced myself to quit playing it and left it off for about a year. I did play again when Afterbirth+ came out, but then I didn’t. Then, for whatever reason, I installed it on my laptop (the last one). Why? I don’t remember, but I think it’s because it’s small and I can play it with the keyboard and no mouse. I do the daily every day along with a free run (usually Eden), and it’s my comfort game at this point. When I can’t play a new game or feel up to a Souls game (which, while comforting, still takes more energy), I pull up BoI:R and escape for an hour. I’m going to give it up again soon, but until then, I’m enjoying all the weird synergies.
I’ve been cutting back on my Streets of Rogue obsession because of a little game called Children of Morta (which I call Children de la Muerta in my brain) by Dead Mage. It caught my attention while it was in development, and I watched in interest when it was released two weeks ago. I was still in the throes of my Streets of Rogue fervor, so I didn’t buy it yet. Then, I started watching NL play it because it was what he replaced Streets of Rogue with. I was immediately grabbed by the art style and the story, even though the narrator sounds like he’s trying to be Wayne June (the narrator of Darkest Dungeon). I also really like that the family is called Berson, and the individual names are Grandma Margaret, John (father, playable), Mary (mother), Linda (oldest daughter, playable), Kevin (younger son, playable), Mark (older son, playable), and Uncle Ben, the blacksmith. Oh, there is also Lucy, the younger daughter, who is (as far as I know) not playable. The graphics are pixelated and gorgeous, and it’s an epic story of…well, I’m not sure, yet, but it’s fantasy, and then to be playing as Linda Bergson. She’s my favorite, by the way, and I’ll get to that in a minute.
I was hooked from watching NL, and I quit watching so I could play it mostly unspoiled. I bought it yesterday, installed it, and I have to say it didn’t immediately grip me. Not because of the game itself or the story or the combat, but because of the controls. I was using k/m, and Left Shift/Q/R as common buttons felt awkward to me. I found out from Ian that you could use controller, which was my impulse in the first place, but I hadn’t seen any keyboard remapping so I erroneously assumed it wasn’t possible. Dark Souls has done this to me, and I’m not entirely displeased with it. By ‘this’ I mean being a console grrl and a PC gamer.
The controller felt much better, but with two weird things. One, the dodge/evade button is A. I tried it as B (forever the roll/dodge button in my brain), but it didn’t work because of weird thing number two. As Linda, you can use the right stick to shoot while you’re moving. In that case, hitting B to dodge is inopportune. I eventually settled on A (the original button), but I don’t necessarily like it.
Either way, I started over with controller, and I played two hours straight. I made it to the first boss and beat it in five or six tries. I came really close on my second try, but then I fucked it up. At no time did I feel as if the boss was undoable, and it’s in part because I saw NL fight it (and beat it on the second try). I did give John, the melee character a go, but he’s very vanilla and boring. Linda is ranged with a bow and arrow, and I like raining different arrows down upon my enemies.
I have an obsessive nature that if I don’t rein in, can run rampant throughout my life. It’s especially apparent when it comes to pop culture. I don’t like much, but when I do like something, I suck the blood out of it. Which is apt because I played as a Supervampire yesterday and died in the Mayor’s Village to a bullshit situation. I was trying to use an item, and then when I went back to actually playing, either my fingers were off or the keyboard wasn’t properly responding. Or, what is more likely, it somehow reverted back to Dvorak. Any rate, the Supercops killed me before I could figure out what went wrong.
What game am I talking about? Streets of Rogue, of course. The game I was going to quit before, several times, but then get sucked back in when I win a run. That high is almost comparable to beating a Dark Souls boss, but not quite because there is more RNG at work than in beating a DS boss. Yes, there is some RNG there, but it’s instances, not whole floors. In SoR, I often feel whether I win a run or not is based on items I get, traits I get, and which missions I get on which floor. Also, which character I play. Cop is the easiest (Supercop is cruise mode) with Soldier being a close second. (I would argue Supersoldier is easier than Supercop, especially with Infinite Ammo.) Assassin, once I got the hang of her, was super fun, and Vampire was fairly chill as well once I fully embraced her nature–and was able to chomp on people even when I was fully healed. It still surprises me that I won as the Shopkeeper, but I basically played her kitted out with as many guns as possible. And, since she got great deals on everything, I had enough money to buy ammo every floor.
So far, I have won with Soldier, Cop, Shopkeeper, Vampire, Assassin, and Doctor. I finished the Big Quest with the Slum Dweller, but got ripped apart in the Mayor Village.
Side Note: I’ve seen a recent spike of people using ‘apart’ to mean ‘a part’, and it makes me rage every time. One of my personal pet peeves (in English).
When you finish the Big Quest of the Slum Dweller, you become an Upper-Cruster. The other Super Special Abilities versions of the characters are way overpowered. This one seems like a joke because the only two positives I can see to her is that she starts with a tidy sum of money and she can use the alarm buttons during the later levels to summon a Supercop. This I know by reading about it because I have not made it very far as the Upper-Cruster. With the other souped up characters, I sailed through the game. Either I’m doing something wrong with the Upper-Cruster or she really is just a joke character (a poke at wealthy people being useless). Oh, Upper-Crusters run from conflict so having friends of your own class is not helpful in this situation.
Side Note 2: Teleport-Happy is god tier as a Trait. I didn’t value it much at first, even when Norrtherlion mentioned people telling him it was god tier. You can transport anywhere anytime as long as no immediate danger is president. Why is that a big deal? I’ll tell you why. Because you can avoid much of the mayhem on the Floor 3s, and you can transport to the Exit from wherever (with a few small exceptions). You can also teleport from indoors which you can’t do without it, which means once you finish the last quest, you can just teleport to the Exit. It’s fucking amazing, and it’s the reason I got at least two of my wins.