Another week, another Playlist! Colin’s under the weather, so I’ll be taking the reins for the day. I wish him the best of luck and hope he has a speedy recovery! Now, onto the games…. -Ben
Traditionally, roguelikes and I don’t mix. I certainly appreciate games like The Binding of Isaac and Paranautical Activity, but the fragility of my characters and easily-dashed progress often discourage me from pumping more than an hour into the latest bitter blend. I had the same negative reaction to the freeware version of Spelunky years ago, and didn’t dare venture back into the caves until the high-definition remake invaded every modern platform imaginable. The sheer volume of praise convinced me to take a second look and see if I hadn’t missed the point before.
After losing a significant amount of time inside its never-ending caves, I’m convinced that Spelunky shines the brightest on a handheld. Playing on the small screen of the Vita instead of my sizable PC monitor completely changed the way I approached it; instead of hunkering down for a life-or-death struggle to the bottom of the world, I focused on making rapid-fire runs, and casually jumping into the next try in between other tasks. Playing at a more relaxed pace made it easier to observe the do’s and don’ts from my failures, and as I brushed myself off and tried again, I found it easier to avoid the many hazards in the caves.
I’ve probably approached roguelikes with the wrong mindset for years! Instead of fretting over life preservation and playing it safe, I’ll only improve if I accept death as an inevitability and learn from my mistakes instead of letting them frustrate and control me. I’m tempted to give Binding of Isaac and its other siblings a second shake, but for now, I’m too busy playing Spelunky.
Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
YouTube scream queens and jump scare aficionados might want to have a seat; A Machine for Pigs has fewer overbearing scares than its predecessor, The Dark Descent. The Chinese Room have also stripped out sanity, health and lantern oil, slimming the adventure down to an electric lantern and your ability to observe or hide from the disgusting reality.
Rather than weakening the game, this streamlined take on a horror classic wants to toss you inside a grotesque tale of monstrous ambition and swallow the key. Slowly learning the truth about the infernal machine is psychological horror at its finest. In fact, I’m halfway finished and almost wish the monsters would disappear entirely in order to place my full attention on the haunting prose and cold copper of the mansion.
No, I’m not talking about the new console version; I’m referring to the Diablo III that came out last year, the Diablo III that sent people up in arms when the servers broke and the auction house ruined the hunt for loot. I decided to boot the PC launcher for old time’s sake, and immediately remembered why I stopped playing in the first place.
The PC version relies on cloud servers for crucial data like enemy placement and damage, and the latency is as high as it was one year ago. I can’t play for more than five minutes before the netcode starts to stumble and I’m murdered because the servers couldn’t keep up with my swords and spells. When I lose to my own mistakes, I eagerly dust myself off and try again. When I lose to a server that refused to cooperate with my clicks, I’m tempted to throw my desktop through the window and be done with it.
Fans seem to be enthused with the changes made for the console versions, so there’s a chance that I might give the PS3 version a try. However, it’ll be a cold day in hell before Diablo III finds its way onto my PC again.