Monday, August 6, 2018

It's a Cruel, Cruel Dungeon

This is a genre I just don't get.  Maybe, I'm not the gamer I thought I was but I truly do not see the appeal of this.

My first taste was with Lords of the Fallen.  I'd heard about the Dark Souls "thing" and how difficult it was and LotF was free with Games With Gold, so why not take a gander?  I thought the mechanics were clumsy and the environments overdone, but those were minor complaints when it came to the gameplay itself.  It seemed that the general buzz was negative and, well, I agreed with them.

I decided to give the genre another try with Ni-Oh.  It was different than the still as-yet untried Dark Souls and maybe I had judged the genre unfairly.  The mechanics were smoother and better flowing, the visuals and the monster design much better but the same frustrating repetition was there.  I managed to get to the second boss this time before packing it in - although I'm always kinda promising myself I'll get back to it one day.

So, I'll give Dark Souls a try.  Maybe doing so may help me master the other two.  Nope.  Almost the same experience, you get to a certain point, fight legions of baddies to get to a boss who curb-stomps you in two seconds and - shazaam! - you have to go through the same legions again to maybe last 3 seconds this time.

I'd almost given up, but I'm stubborn like that so when PS+ offered Bloodbourne for free, I decided to give it one last shot (I'm stubborn and cheap - a deadly combination).  All the same shit.  The painful repetition, the Dodge and Block "suggestions" (since they never seem to work when I need them I don't think "command" is the right word - and yes I know about stamina), more painful repetition and even more painful, painful repetition.

But it was here that I had my revelation and knew why I didn't like the Cruel Dungeon.  It's basically Donkey Kong.  It is a platformer or old-school arcade game brought to increasingly better graphical life but it's that same grinding repetition that you found it the arcades.  Fight bravely towards the boss, make one stupid mistake and boom - you have to do the whole fucking thing again just to get to that point.

It reminds me of what made me steer clear of consoles and remain part of the PC Gaming Master Race.  I'll make no bones about what some call "save-scumming" (and I happen to think that that's properly defined a lot narrower than is used commonly, but that's another post).  Platformers are frustratingly full of the forced repetition and hey, if I've just beaten most of a level with no more than %15 health at any given time, I'd really hate to have that performance go to waste, to say nothing of having to take it from the top.

But the cruel dungeon has the spirit of the arcade platformer in all it's tricked-out 3D glory and it can keep it, as far as I'm concerned.

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