Monday, January 20, 2014

Me gusta

I don't have much else to say about Painkiller Hell & Damnation. There were lots of monsters. I shot them. This happened many, many times. There was catharsis followed by shame at the loss of $15 for two evenings of play time. Just another day in the basement.

...

I am a huge sucker for lists of anything. Put 'Top 5' in front of an article and I will probably read it. The frequent appearances of Cracked.com in my browser history can attest to this. They just feel so organized and finite. Game Informer has for the last several years put out a list of their top fifty games of the year. I am not going to argue with any of their choices but I do like to take out a red pen and put a little check mark next to the ones that I have played. My previous average was around thirty which is pretty good for not owning any hand helds, a gaming PC or any Nintendo console. This year my total was only twenty one and there were two glaring omissions that I could have played and didn't, not including GTA V which I played a little of and just didn't like.

Guacamelee and The Stanley Project. There is plenty of time to fix this before the end of February.

Chance liked Guacamelee which is reason enough for me to give it a try. It took me a bit to find it in the store and then right after I bought it I remembered that I had $10 of PSN cash that I didn't use and that it was coming out for the big boy consoles in the Spring. Too late now. Thirty minutes in and I was confident that I had might the right decision to play it now.

If Metroidvania is a genre (because saying 2D side scrolling adventure game takes too long) then Guacamelee is Metroidvania-light. It isn't very big, secrets are not hidden, backtracking is easy, the joy in the combat comes not from difficulty but in finding interesting ways to throw enemies into one another. It has all the polish of a big time release but the content of a downloadable one. I do not mean this as a slight - the game knows exactly what it is and excels within its limitations.

In other words, it's fun.

It is not difficult to tell if a development team 'gets it' or not. Is this a labor of love or a labor of crunch time and impending layoffs? Drinkbox Studios, at least with Guacamelee, gets it. They knew what they were doing, stuck to it, and put out a game that stands on its own. If I must level a complaint, and this is a stretch, I think the constant references to other games is unnecessary. The story here is sparse but it does not require referential filler and the game play can pull its own weight as well.

Still, I would be lying if the 'me gusta' signs didn't make me laugh ever single time I see them.


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