A creativity blog - including reviews, photographs and discussion on a variety of things; such as dragons and other things almost but not quite completely entirely unlike tea.

Monday, 7 March 2016

The games I play(ed)

For some reason or another, when it comes to such hobbies as reading and playing videogames, I have a tendency to torture myself. If I have, on my shelf, waiting, something that I just know will be a great, mind altering, neck jamming and soul enlightening experience - I tend to put it off.

I'll just finish all these others that I've started. This is shorter, I'll look into this first. This one is lame, I'll go with this first, because there's no way I'll be able to enjoy it the tiniest bit if the previous one has in no small way redefined my entire existence with its sensibility, nuances and the Way it speaks to me.

Such was when I had read Partrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and had Wise Man's Fear just biding its time on the shelf - I read at least four other books in between, teasing myself that I'll get there eventually, that after this one and this one and maybe that one... And then, when I finally allow myself to cross that line, the sweet enjoyment is enhanced by the knowledge that I may or may not have suffered some before the bliss.

Such is my madness. It is mine and it shall keep me, and vice versa.

Such a thing happened with some of the video games I have played in the recent year (at least) as well - while I have finished others and started new ones, I've had that One Game (or maybe two, present collection included) that I've been savouring as though a forbidden fruit, not nearly ripe enough for picking, less yet for devouring.

In the mean time I've played games such as New Little King's Story, which was pleasantly amusing and had an enjoyable combat system, but which failed to carry the play all through the ending. (Also, my Playstation Plus membership expired, which had its own effect on the unfinished state of the game.)

I've played Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which, if truth be told, was enjoyed much more for its level preludes by Sir Patrick Stewart than its gameplay. Or most of its gameplay at least, some bits managed to pull their weight better than others. The real downside of this one is the structure where the story progresses mainly in the cut scenes and pauses between levels than through your actual playing of the game, which is mainly a feast of acrobatics and combo juggling of ghastly enemies - the Chubachabras having been a delightful pain-in-the-ass relief from the most basic applications of the genre. While the game was beautiful both in terms of sight and sound, it really is not my kind of orange juice if the story assumes to take itself too seriously.

Might also been that this particular player has been rather spoiled by such as DMC and Bayonetta alike...

I've played the White Knight Chronicles, twice, I might add, as I found a save game with no recollections whatsoever of the dilemma the party found itself in, let alone of how to fight those pesky lizards in a way that didn't see the dungeon wiped with my characters. Thus, a new game and a quick run back to where we left off and 'lo, understanding and lizards were both painted bloody. Sadly, the running around and fighting in order to run around and fight some more left this role player vying to quench her thirst for Story and Meaningfulness in some other way.

Also, that Level-5 logo jingle in the beginning was just too much after Rogue Galaxy...

Which I also deem finished, as I see that two attempts at an altogether silly final boss, with way too many stages and no way to save in between and all my hard earned weapons out of use as the Story kicks the Over-compensator of the Ages into our brave hero's hands... And besides, the final battle wasn't pretty, which was the main sales point for the whole game from the beginning, so there.

I have also been genuinely surprised with titles such as Legends of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, which in the current player's humble opinion didn't handle sky travel in such an extent as to warrant its subtitling... While the game was a sales purchase after a recommendation by a friend and sat cheerfully there while I hung my head with other titles, the shock of the old school graphics faded quick as the Story started rolling and rather figuratively and spectacularly swept the rug from under my feet. The second part has made its existence known as well, but for now, it has been left to simmer. Good experiences should in any case be left alone for a while, on low heat, so that their aroma is not spoiled by the next dish in line.

Old school having been mentioned, I also managed to finally run through Tartarus in Persona 3 - first few tries of the boss battle left me, if not humble, then at least determined, to run the stories a bit more in search of them elusive experience points, after which the boss-tree fell without so much of a fuss as to leave me wondering if four levels really make that big of a difference or if I just had a luckier run than before.. All in all though, it was a real treat. There is also definitely some re-playing value there, as my Knowledge hath thus been widened and there's So-Much-More that could be done - or at least, I could try that one thing differently and see if it all goes the same. Anyways...

At some point I decided I needed a break and found another sales purchase that I had completely forgotten on the download list: Murdered: Soul Suspect. With a sort of film-noir, search the pixels and a not-so-scary mystery solving, my brain was rejuvenised and I managed to get myself quite hooked on the thing in the end. Didn't bother searching for all of the hidden content as the main story played out so nicely, even though the main character's swaggering through gates was so enjoyable that I visited the cemetery at least once without needing to, just to look at that delightful hip swing again. The only downside with the game in my opinion was the whole demon-thing - I mean, why bother with them? For me the mood was already scary enough (even if they did bring some more suspense into it, sure) and it's not like the initial scare wasn't a bit watered down by the annoyance of not being able to proceed immediately, dammit, with some silly spooks on the way. Other than that, the game was fun, pretty and grim, just the way it should have been. I deleted the file after The End.

Apart from these, I've also tried my hand with several smaller entities, such as Dokuro, Medievil and Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams demo, which fail to entertain me after a while in the nature common of most platformers: they just get too freaking hard after a while. I have played through the beginning in Silent Hill: Book of Memories, but should find the enthusiasm to actually play it, in the grown-ups kind of way. I started Atelier Ayesha with great endeavour to enjoy it to the fullest, but found myself growing restless with the balance of the impeding doom (i.e. the clock), which is like a square peg in the round hole of sandbox-like freedom otherwise available to you in the game. I also have enjoyed to beginning part of Fairy Fencer, but the second part of "hey, let's make a time loop and play all the same levels again, so we don't have to design new ones" got old with me wa-ay back when; you know, like in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but without the typical Square Enix prettiness and megalomania that excuses most of it.

So there I was, with several games finished, unfinished, in progress or not-yet-started, having lost my sense of self and reason of existence, when I just as an afterthought remembered that I have Persona 4 Golden sitting on my shelf just when I was about to leave to the countryside for a few days in the beginning of winter holidays...

If you don't know the feeling you get when you open up an astonishingly great new book, which you know to be great even before laying your eyes on the first pages, ready to be, not convinced but affirmed in your belief in its greatness, then you must be sad and I pity you.

And if you don't know the way a piece a fiction can realign your soul in a way that makes it seem whole and pure and splendid in it own right, then it might be that you have never been alive.

Alive. That is what I feel as I now, on my vacation from teaching, return to school and remember that the most important things in life are, after all, improving your social life in order to fight another day and to survive the pop quizzes and weird-ass lectures as a typical Japanese high-schooler. It is an amazing thing to have your sense of purpose handed to you by a video game - it affects after all not only your inner self but also the environs around you, such as it does now in the form of this blog post.

Profound words they may be, but profound is also the happiness I feel inside.

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