What do you do when you feel beaten down by a game?

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I kept playing through the same sequence in Ori and the Blind Forest the other night. There were times where I would make significant progress; there were times were I would explode in a ball of light instantly. No matter what though, I couldn’t make it through this particular sequence.

So I did the thing that I had long fought against doing, I lowered the game’s difficulty from normal to easy. Filled with stupid shame, I battered my platforming skills against Mount Horu once more. But changing the difficulty only made the enemies easier! The platforming was still stinking hard! I felt mad. I felt angry. I felt ashamed for lowering the difficulty. Someone with my level of video game experience, at this stage in my life, shouldn’t have issues like this.

In my discouragement, I realized that I was super tired. I could feel the wave of emotions wash over me from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. So much uncertainty… no one sure of what is going to happen next. I tweeted out asking:

What do you do when you feel beaten down by a game?

No answers. But I know the answer to this question: You Quit. You put the controller down. You try again another day.

I played Ori some more the next night. I breezed through the section that had been giving me trouble. My skills were intact! Weird to have a video game discourage me enough to confront my emotions. Thankful for the reminder that sometimes we need to quit, rest, and tackle things again another day. I will beat this game. We will get through this crazy virus situation, toilet paper shortages and all.

Thoughts on The Witness

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Myst Island: Round 2

Jonathan Blow’s The Witness has me intrigued. A Myst game for the modern era.

I tend to forget how hard Myst was. Sure, the game was beautiful in it’s time. But Myst required coordination with other players. Writing down clues, puzzles,and code. The ultimate water cooler game.

Polygon — 8/10

“But The Witness throws endless puzzles at the player while almost never recognizing their accomplishments, which creates something of an antagonistic relationship between player and creator. I fear that will send players running to walkthroughs faster than they would have in a more rewarding environment.” — Justin McElroy [Review]

USgamer — 2/5

“And that’s the overlying problem: The Witness doesn’t care if you’re having fun—for the most part, it relishes in how clever it can be. There’s some joy to discovery, sure, but once that’s over with, you’re just scraping against the few things in your way. I appreciate Blow’s lack of presence in his world, but it’s a blessing as much as a curse. Of course, I understand what he’s doing: The Witness is very much a modern-day update of Myst, and meant to be played as if we were back in 1993. Ultimately, it feels like something designed to be chipped away at over weeks or months—not an experience to cruise through over a handful of afternoons.” — Bob Mackey [Review]

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I have read several reviews that liken The Witness to Dark Souls or even the more recent Bloodborne. Games that demand skill, patience, and an almost sharing of secrets. My more recent foray into Bloodborne had me consulting with friends for both strategy and encouragement.

The modern era has us all on our individual technological islands. What if certain types of games force us off of them? Forcing us to bridge the virtual gap, to talk in person, to somehow experience humanity again. Yes, that sounds dramatic. But you understand where I am going. Gaming has become a much more isolated experience, despite the internet. I am all for games that force us to connect with one another. Even if that connection is forged over progress and survival.

Are you playing The Witness? Tell me about your experience in the comments below.