A Week in Gaming 2nd Quest #19 & 20: 5/8 – 5/14 & 5/15 – 5/21

Oh hey look, the Rapture apparently passed and I’m still here! Either it didn’t happen or every last person on the planet was unworthy, go figure. That nonsense aside, I’ve been incredibly sparse and lacking in my updates lately. Week 19 was my final week of classes, things were wrapping up education-wise, and that Sunday my mind completely veg’d out. Week 20? More vegging, laziness, trying to get adjusted to not having classwork to do, and sudden apathy as a result of lack of structure to my daily routine.

Over Week 19, we had more of the same in Borderlands. I played that game obsessively, to the point where my Siren hit max level and farming Crawmerax became a dull task instead of the intense fight it had been the first time. Every quest was finished, and I completed the main game, the Knoxx DLC, and the Claptrap DLC. That left the matter of the Moxxi’s Underdome DLC…

On paper, it seemed interesting. Fight through expanded versions of the small arenas that the main game had with modular rules and enemies who slowly became stronger. Each round would consist of five waves: Starting, Gun, Horde, Badass, and Boss. Starting would get you into the groove, Gun would spam bandits and Crimson Lance, Horde would be entirely Manaics and melee midgets, and the last two are self-explanatory. You’d get to fight from a selection of ten bosses from across the main game, sidequest or otherwise, and once you finished the three “big” arenas, you’d get a skill point! In addition to that there’d be a bank where you could store your items. This all seemed great.

Then, once you finished the three five-round arenas, the luster would wear off. Each arena would take at least a half hour to forty-five minutes to finish. Moxxi’s cheeky comments became mundane, boring, trite, annoying, like overused memes. Success at hand, you’d turn in the quest to find that there was no reward. Instead, the three larger arenas were unlocked for playing. Five rounds had a long but fair amount of time to get through, even if the rewards were usually mediocre at best. These larger arenas? Twenty rounds, straight through. One hundred waves, back-to-back, without a break. I managed to get up to Round 14, Wave 4, in two and a half hours before I died. At that point, I realized why people hated the Moxxi DLC and nulled it. Two skill points were not worth going through six twenty-round arenas. No. Fucking. Way. Especially when I start back at the beginning if I die, and they take upwards of three to four hours of continuous play to beat just one of them.

Then there was Week 20, where Borderlands play died down to nothing. I burnt out on the game, felt tired with it. Got an idea for a Master run, and attempted to get achievements in the Xbox 360 version but my interest waned and I stopped. Ended up playing through Sonic & Knuckles on XBLA to beat it then moved on to Machinarium on Steam for the first time.

Previously, I had played Amanita Design’s Samorost 2 and loved it. They way they design point and click adventures fits better with my ability to solve the sometimes-bewildering puzzles these games contain. Instead of solutions and items that span the entire game, they instead chop up progression to various screens where only what is on or in that screen is important. A few items carried over from screen to screen in Machinarium, but this was far from, say, a rubber chicken pulley. Segmenting it up allowed me to step back from how overwhelming trying to solve these games is to me and take in a fraction of the game to solve.

There were several points where I still succumbed and used the in-game walkthrough to help me out, though. One thing I noticed about Samorost 2 that didn’t seem as prevalent in Machinarium was whether or not items were actually items or just part of the background. The game gave me help though, and I forced myself to not touch hints or the walkthrough book until I had exhausted my mental capacity trying to figure things out.

Machinarium oozes with an excellent visual aesthetic, and for the most part I enjoyed the music. It wasn’t a soundtrack I’d have in my music library though, since it feels more like one of those audio experiences that only works well in tandem with the game itself. Like the other Amanita Design games, I highly recommend it and consider it amongst my top point and click games.

Thursday night hit. Corvak gifted me Terraria. Welcome to my entire weekend. Eat, sleep, breathe, stretch, move around, and play Terraria. All. Weekend. Thursday night, all day Friday and Saturday. I kinda hate myself for obsessively marathoning the game, but Terraria is just so damn good. I’ll save a review proper for later, but in a nutshell, the game is 2D Minecraft meets Zelda II gameplay, complete with weapons, armor, accessories, NPCs, giant evil bosses and spells, and can be played single or multiplayer. It is addicting, and fully explains why this game got 50,000 sales in its first day without anything for a marketing campaign.

In closing, I apologize that this wasn’t as long as it could have been considering it covered two weeks instead of one. Addictions to nulled games or time sinks aside, I hope to start a “Beat More Summer” marathon of some kind to take myself down to under 100 unfinished games… but we’ll see how well that goes. In any case, thanks for reading and keep on gaming!

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