A bit late again this week (I actually intended to write this last Friday), but I was pretty busy. Unfortunately I wasn’t busy playing games, at least not for the most part.
Rockpapershotgun’s “The Sunday Papers” linked to my post on European Truck Simulator 2, which was very cool. The release of American Truck Simulator has been teasing me, but I might cheat and go back and play the previous game. As much as I enjoyed it, I really only scratched the surface. I, too, dream of building a trucking empire from Sheffield to Rotterdam.
The latest Humble Monthly Bundle came out and it was pretty good. I, yet again, already owned the “big” game (Alien: Isolation) but yet again I still feel comfortable I got a good deal out of the bundle. I’m going to stick with it despite already owning the next game they are advertising as the “big” one (Ark: Survival Evolved).
This month’s bundle was a very cool assortment of games that I am very happy to own but might never have bought by myself (Broken Age, Dropsy, Penarium, Titan Souls, Volume). Increasingly, that’s what this bundle does for me, it beefs up my collection in a way that bends it away from my own esoteric fusion of the occasional Triple A title, indie games and anything involving space. Broken Age and Titan Souls in particular make me happy, and Dropsy got a great write-up by Jennegatron on Haywire Magazine, so I’m pleased overall.
As has been typical with my Humble Monthly Bundles, I haven’t got into those games straight away though. Instead I’ve been playing…
Heroes of the Storm
At some point in my life I will write the post I want to write about HoTS being a fantastic dad game. Until then, I’ll stop myself from repeating all the reasons I like the game for fitting into my life; let me instead talk about how I’ve actually been enjoying the game. Like other MOBAs I prefer to play support but unlike other MOBAs I’m happy to try on a different role, especially if it brings me that sweet, sweet imaginary currency that I refuse to spend. My hoarding of said currency is getting a bit silly at this point but that won’t deter me. It may be that I have completely misunderstood, on a fundamental level, how this whole thing works and that I am now taking the in-game balance as a sign of my worth when it… well, when it really isn’t any such thing. As Ian Bogost pointed out on Twitter yesterday, repetition offers a clear paradox at the centre of what makes games tick. My little increasing balance is right on the edge of that paradox, I feel.
The paradox of games: repetition makes games time-consuming and wretched, but repetition is the fundamental aesthetic and pleasure of games.
— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) February 9, 2016
Or maybe I’m just caught between spending a small amount of my fake currency on an anthropomorphic bull with an electric guitar and a wizard.
I didn’t play a lot of this game this week! Much to my own surprise. Else Heart.Break() falls into the same problem so many games I like do: I really, really want to be able to put aside some time to just enjoy the game but that time doesn’t currently exist. I can play HoTS for half an hour or maybe an hour and turn it off to do the dishes but I want to not have to worry about any of that when I play this game. It’s the same problem you face when you can’t commit two hours of your evening to a film but you watch four hours’ worth of television episodes instead.
I’ll have to break it, because this game… I fell in love with it quite quickly. It does something very difficult, which is to appear effortless in its fluent lo-fi aesthetic and storytelling. Going to a bar and talking to a girl, being ignored in a coffee shop; it’s difficult to make these kinds of interactions compelling but this game manages it rather well. In part this is because the protagonist clearly has a mind of his own but it rather reticent in providing it, his shyness preparing a canvass on which the player can sketch what s/he wants but remaining salient enough to clearly affect what colors must be used. Thus the interaction with a girl named Pixie is charming and touching when it could so easily have been cloying or just plain silly. I haven’t played this game in days because I’m due to meet her and her friends for a party at 6pm the next day and I want to make sure I can see where this goes in one play session.
The game also does a fantastic job of teasing out what I already know to be the game’s core mechanic. Meanwhile I get to put floppy disks into old computers and generally enjoy the fetishization of my childhood with little to no shame.