My greatest preoccupation? Games. I play games always. My opinion changes monthly, even daily, on whether games stand on their own as literature, or as social dialogue, or as true escape from the drudgery of life. After all, games can tell the most interactive and compelling stories (though they usually don’t), they can inspire people to understand one another (though they usually don’t), and they can transport someone away from their typical trudge through an unending barrage of tasks and demands from outdated systems (though they usually don’t).
I present here a list of games I played in the month of December, and what they held for me.
- Pillars of Eternity – A throwback to the party-driven, turn-based dungeon crawls that revolutionized gameplay in my college years, PoE echoes some of the best writing of games like Planescape: Torment and the Baldur’s Gate series, while updating the game to play a little more like modern work. A mix of story and tactics, with lots of optional reading, and enough voice acting to keep it from becoming stale.
- Kid Icarus – A NES classic which I rented several times but could never decipher. In this era of increasing difficulty, it actually plays like a primitive Dark Souls, with equal levels of frustration. I want to defeat it, and the simplicity of the gameplay deceives me into thinking it will happen.
- Unepic – A Metroidvania-style platformer of surprising depth, Unepic also has a Dark Souls feel, but with a cornball, nerdy sense of humor. The criticism that the protagonist is unlikable is apt, but the game has surprised me many times, and that happens so rarely, that I have boosted this game’s rating in my mind to an A+.
- Mistfall – This board game throttles me regularly. I can play solo — and I had to, just to learn the rules — but even with my considerable abilities in dungeon crawling, I have yet to succeed even once on its tutorial level. I still come back for more punishment, a credit to the game’s designers.
- Guillotine – I have to hand it to this game’s designers: everyone likes this game. I have grown weary of it, having had to play it with so many people in this last month. While it has remarkable depth for its simple mechanics — and I truly admire that — it simply holds no real challenge for me. I can’t tell whether the randomness deadens the fun, or whether I just can’t cope with people who can’t see all their options within a few seconds, or who hold winning in such high regard that they plan for too long in a game that demands so little.
- Mansions of Madness, Second Edition – I have so much to say about this, not because the game itself inspires verbosity, but because it is the first game I have played which utilizes what I think will be the only game play in the future, and I have mixed feelings about it. Should a board game be a video game? I honestly don’t know.
- Invisible, Inc. – This reminds me of the Shadowrun game for the Sega Genesis, which I always loved; however, I think I will get tired of the procedural generation of it. I love rogue-likes and rogue-lites, but the game started with such an awesome story, and gave me X-Com in a more appealing style for my tastes, that I want the meat to be cooked a little more carefully, rather than simply McDonald’s-style churning out of missions. Is replayability more important than first-play?
I’ve played some other things, too, but they all sort of fall into the headings above, so I’m going to go shower now.