Holiday Weekend Recap: Killing isn’t very Christmas-y

Another Christmas has come and gone. This time of the year always feels a little melancholy to me, not so much because of the holiday itself, but because of the calendar. I love that chunk of the year between Labor Day and New Year’s Eve, and I hate January-May. That’s just the dead-zone part of the year with the only notable event being paying taxes. Blech. So when Christmas arrives it always reminds me that we’re about to enter the dark months.

Christmas also makes me remember being a kid and having parents and grandparents and a live Christmas tree surrounded by lots of presents and very little responsibility (at least for me, I’m sure my parents didn’t feel nearly as carefree when they looked at that tree). Kids don’t know how good they have it!

My way of keeping Christmas is pretty simple: I read A Christmas Carol to try to remember the spirit of Christmas. I’m not at all religious so the holiday, to me, has nothing to do with Christ. But it has to do with a time of year when people used to be generous, forgiving and kind to each other. If fear of some higher-power was what caused them to be like that, then fine. I never cared WHY it was like that, I just appreciated that it was.

Then I watch A Christmas Story because it reminds me of the few Christmases I got to enjoy with my father, who I remember being as gruff and blustery as the Old Man in the movie. Now mind you I wasn’t a kid in the 40s (when the movie takes place), I’m not THAT old, but the 40s are closer to the 60s than the 60s are to today, and I was a kid in the 60s.

Anyway, on to the recap, such that it is. I didn’t really play too much. It just feels a little weird playing a game where you’re trying to stealth kill 25 dudes with a combat knife (one of the Tomb Raider trophies I’ve been trying for) on Christmas. 🙂 I did download and enjoy demos of both Gravity Rush 2 and NieR: Automata, both on PS4.

NieR in particular surprised me. It’s basically a hack & slasher where you’re fighting robots, but it goes from a 3D game to a 2d side-scroller to and overhead brawler and back again, constantly changing, but doing so seamlessly so you kind of run in and out of dimensions as you play. I was really enjoying myself until I got to a boss battle; the combat up to then felt fluid and impactful and very satisfying. Then the boss battle just kind of frustrated me, as boss battles are designed to do. I tell you what, if the demo had stopped before that boss battle I probably would’ve pre-ordered it, so I’m glad it didn’t.

I also bought a bundle of a bunch of Telltale Walking Dead games and 7 Days to Die. Thanks to the holiday sale the bundle was $12 or $13. I started Episode 1 of The Walking Dead, which I’ve done many times on many systems. I made it farther than I usually do but adventure games just piss me off. In this one I got to a point where I needed to get past a locked door to get some medicine for a character who is dying. So, y’know, it’s kind of urgent. The only way to get through this door is to find a key. “Sorry dying dude, yes I could kick this door open but y’know, that wouldn’t be proper. Keep dying while I find the key.” So dumb.

I finally googled how to get the key after I’d spent 10 minutes growing more and more frustrated and irritated looking around and around the environment. Turns out there’s like 5 steps you have to do to get the key and they involve leaving the building (and the dying dude) to go rescue someone else and then running hither and yon and finally you get the key far from where the door is.

I don’t know how you’d figure out this puzzle. No, correction. The way to “solve” this puzzle is to suspend your sense of reason and logic. You accept that this is a video game and the dying guy will not actually die, so you just ignore him and forge on with what the game wants you to do, because this isn’t real, it’s a game. You need to apply game logic because you’re playing a game and games are inherently stupid.

And that was the end of my time with The Walking Dead. I hate when a game forces you to act like a gamer instead of letting you kind of exist inside the fiction of the game world. I don’t want to be constantly reminded that this isn’t real, it’s a video game. I don’t know why, as an artist, you’d create a game that screams “It’s just a stupid game” at the player.

My friend Tipa says she doesn’t play single player games anymore because (I’m paraphrasing and hopefully won’t twist her words too much) the only point of them is to press the buttons that the developer wants you to press when they want you to press them. I never really got that until right now. Don’t think about solving the puzzle. Think about what the game designer wants you to do.

Anyway enough hating on The Walking Dead since I know a ton of people love it. I actually was enjoying the dialog stuff and had it been basically a ‘choose your own adventure’ non-game I probably would’ve enjoyed it. Like Firewatch, for example.

Anyway, other than the above I keep on picking away at Rise of the Tomb Raider trophies. I got the 100% trophy finally (finish the story, do all the sidequests and challenges, find all the collectibles) and now I’m working on odd stuff like the Bacon trophy (kill a boar with a molotov cocktail) and cheerful holiday tasks like taking out 5 enemies with one poison gas arrow. 🙂

I think today I may go back to Far Cry Primal. Or maybe give FF XV another try. We’ll see.