I’m nearly done with my second playthrough of Elden Ring. That’s a joke because during my first playthrough, I was convinced that Leyndell Capital was the last area of the game. No idea why, but I was. So when I reached it, I was thinking I was in the end game. This was a bit over 100 hours into the game and it took me another hundred to finish it, by the way. I could go into Leyndell Capital now if I wanted, but I’m not sure I do want. Leyndell Capital was by far the hardest area of the game (for where it is), and it made me rage. Being one-shot by an enemy is NOT fun at all. Being one-shot by an enemy that late in the game? Infuriating. And yes it’s partly my fault that I had such little health (in fact, that’s why I put 12 points into vigor just to get to 30), but it’s not fun to have mobs of enemies who each one-shot you. Hopefully, I’ll be able to withstand it better now, but I’m not ready to go there yet. Mentally, I mean.
I need a game that I can chill out to at my laptop. I have Game Pass, which is a great deal, even with the hike up to $14.99 per month. Bunch of free games that you can play. Just like that. I played Boyfriend Dungeon (Kitfox Games) on Game Pass, for example. There are two games I have installed that I want to try. One is Tunic by Andrew Shouldice. It’s a Soulslike, Zeldalike game with an adorable fox as a protagonist. I tried the demo, thinking it should be right up my alley, but it was not. My spatial difficulties caused me frustrations plus the difficulty spike was not fun. There is a way to turn off the difficulty in the real game and supposedly, the difficulty doesn’t ramp up so drastically in the real game. I really want to like the game so I’m going to give it the old college try.
The other is a game called NORCO by Geography of Robots. It’s set in Norco, a real town in Louisiana. It’s called Southern Gothic and is a point-and-click mystery game, but it doesn’t have the inane mashing together a bunch of disparate items to make a key bullshit that the genre still stubbornly maintains is a good thing. Kay is the protagonist and her mother has died, so she goes back home to Norco. Her brother is missing as well. The town is going to ruins in part because of the oil company crushing out the life of the town. That’s my basic take on the story and the pixel art is lush. I’ve included the release trailer with this post.
It seems like it should be my jam a la Night in the Woods (Infinite Fall). Gritty and sad tale of a rusty belt town going to ruins while something bigger is going on. There’s more than a touch of Kathy Rain (Clifftop Games), which I adored until the third act. It was a noire point-and-click with a tough-as-nails motorcycle-riding, cigarette-smoking eighties detective lady with lovely pixel art. It had the ridiculous pixel-hunting, mash a bunch of stuff together to make a lamp bullshit, but I just used a walkthrough to get through the nonsensical puzzles. I loved the protag and the story–until the third act. SPOILER WARNING for a game no one played–it was aliens. Or ghosts. Something out-of-this-world, which was really disappointing. Firewatch (Campo Santo), on the other hand, was a game that upset a lot of people because *SPOILER*, it wasn’t aliens at the end. I liked the ending because it felt more organic to me, but many people felt misled.
Here’s the thing. I don’t like sci-fi so I rarely want it to be aliens. In fact, I’m trying to think of a game that I enjoyed that had aliens or was sci-fi. Night in the Woods also had a *SPOILER* (again) big supernatural baddy that didn’t add anything to the story. I really got into the desolation of a dying rust belt town, which hit me in the feels. But the big baddy? Eh. Didn’t like it.
I want NORCO to be good. I really, really, really want it to be good. I keep thinking that point-and-clicks should be my thing because many of them are mysteries. Lots of dialogue, carefully-crafted graphics, so many interesting areas to explore. I usually love the environments and the visuals, but oh. my. god. Let’s talk about the negatives, shall we? The biggest one is the nonsensical combination of things to make another thing bullshit. Now, if it was just ‘pick up a candle, a rake, and a rose, then combine them to make a key’, I could put up with that as long as there were clear indications that you had to pick up each item. Except, there often isn’t. To make it worse, you can only pick certain things up at certain times. So you might walk by an item you KNOW you’ll need at some point, but you can’t pick it up when you first walk by it. So you either have to write down what it is and where you found it or just hope you’ll remember.
Something akin to that is pixel hunting. That’s when you usually know where you need to find something, but you can’t get whatever it is you need. So you move your mouse millimeter by millimeter, clicking as you go–hoping you’ll find that magic spot that will allow you to pick something up.
The first time I tried one of these games ‘recently’ (roughly a decade ago) was The Blackwell Legacy (Wadjet Eye Games). WEG is the premier company when it comes to point-and-clicks, and, quite frankly, they have a lot to answer for because all the bullshit is on them. I should have loved this game. It’s about a young woman who finds out that she inherits a wise-cracking detective ghost when her….mother? Aunt? Wiki tells me aunt dies after being in a coma for a long time.
This sounds right up my alley! She’s a writer in NY, too, which is groovy. I liked Rosa, the main character. Joey, the spirit, I could take or leave, but whatever. It was the frustration of never knowing what to do next that turned me off the game. I tried so hard to like it, but it just… was not my thing at all. I had to use a walkthrough to get past the first area and it never stopped. I made it about four or five hours into the game before giving up.
Over the years, I have tried so many point-and-clicks. SO MANY. Each one with the hope that this would be the one to change my mind. I have tried dozen of games that just did not do it for me. The closest was Kathy Rain and I’m so sad that it won’t get a sequel.
Is NORCO going to be the one? I don’t know, but I certainly hope so.