Sundays are for looking at a week of half-term ahead of you and wondering what you’re going to do with yourself. Interact with the child? Mm. Let’s think about it while reading some of the week’s best writing about videogames.
Brendan Caldwell, RPS in peace, wrote about his experiences being dog piled by Final Fantasy fans. That was for an article he wrote while here, by the way. I still think it’s a great article, and the new piece is a snapshot, for those interested, of what it can be like to write about videogames.
Within a week, my defining memorial association with Final Fantasy XIV had become the dog pile, the hate tweets, the froth, the suicide encouragement. The most unsettling mal-tweeter surfaced in my Twitter DMs like a rat from a toilet bowl and said they won’t be surprised when I am someday arrested for paedophilia. I reported all of this. I’m not sure what effect it had. I discovered someone had posted a Reddit thread about me two days after my article’s publication. Two days after that, a YouTuber had made a video about me. If I were to define the resulting mass of communications on the Saffir-Simpson scale, I would judge it a category 2 tropical cyclone of hate. Weatherable, unpleasant.
I’ve never played Snake Eater, but I’ve watched the video of its protagonist (I think his name is Barry Snake Eater) climbing a ladder several times. I enjoyed Ash Parrish’s article for Kotaku about tracking down Cynthia Harrell, who sang the song.
After defeating The End boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, the player needs to make the protagonist Naked Snake ascend a very tall ladder for three minutes. Nothing else happens for those three minutes. The game is quiet save the soft ping of Snake’s feet on the ladder’s rungs. In a game that’s part spy-thriller, part-gut wrenching family drama, it is a moment curiously devoid of any action or dialogue.
Then you hear Harrell’s unaccompanied voice slowly waft in as if blown on a breeze. It echoes faintly in the cavernous concrete shaft, slowly building in volume the higher Snake climbs before tapering off into quiet again when he reaches the top.
Everybody is still obsessed with Hades. For Gamespot, Aron Garst wrote about how the game changes what it means to be a Roguelike, by rewarding failure and working to ensure player progress. The term “Roguelike” feels like it’s stretched to breaking point, if it covers everything from Hades to Noita to Crown Trick.
Roguelikes are historically difficult. Games like FTL, The Binding of Isaac, and Spelunky popularized a genre where players would need to spend dozens of hours just to get good enough to to finish a run that can be completed in one sitting. Kasavin wanted players to spend dozens of hours playing Hades, but he wanted to reward them during that time.
We don’t do a good enough job of explaining what’s happening in PC gaming to an audience that’s not following along post by post. I therefore appreciated Evan Lahti’s article on PC Gamer covering the recent unpredictability within the space, including the sudden and unlikely successes of games like Among Us and Phasmophobia and Fall Guys.
I think viewers were excited to have two significant political figures lend their hobby some legitimacy. But this memorable event couldn’t have happened without PC gaming’s propensity to produce massive hits out of nowhere. If you’d told me in January that Rep. Ilhan Omar would be slaying streamers in an indie game designed by three people, I would’ve called it weird progressive fan fiction.
The Marvel’s Avengers game seemed to make a blip upon release, and then disappear, but I was happy to read more about it. For Kotaku, Kevin Wong wrote about how much better the game becomes once you’ve “fully powered up”.
None of this would have been possible without hours of grinding, which meant these characters only felt the most fun to play at the end. The characters in their initial, non-upgraded forms didn’t just feel weak; they felt incomplete, as if the developers had stripped away some of their inherent abilities to give the grind some incentive and purpose.
A lot of the music I listen to is designed to help me work, and for certain tasks I want instrumentals. Music this week is German duo Kollektiv Turmstrasse’s Schwindelig, which has been on my playlist for most of 2020.