Tag Archives: grain of salt

#7: Grain of Salt Vol. 5 – The Faltering Handheld

I wrote a five-part series of articles called “Grain of Salt” a few years ago on a website called NerdRepository.com. It used to be a mixed bag of gaming and film news and opinion editorials, but since then it’s made film news its primary focus and the gaming editorials have been removed. I want them to remain published somewhere on the internet, so I’ve reposted them here as blog entries for your reading pleasure. Originally published on March 17, 2011, this is Grain of Salt Volume 5: The Faltering Handheld.

 

Lee’s journal – February 14, 2012: Old DS Lite sitting on headboard. No game in its lately unloved slot. This DS is mocking me. I’ve felt its guilting stares. The screens are extensions of each other, and the bottom one is full of scratches, and when the screen is finally covered, all the games will look terrible. The accumulated filth of all my touching and tapping will build up about the touch screen, and all the games I didn’t play very much will look up and shout, “Play us!” And I’ll whisper, “No.”

As I grow older, I find myself caring less and less about handheld gaming systems. I play less frequently with the ones I own, and I feel no excitement or anticipation for those on the horizon. With the release of Nintendo’s 3DS and more recently, Sony’s Playstation Vita, my own apathy has surprised me. Just a few years ago I would’ve been stoked about some of these fancy new gaming devices, yet suddenly I just can’t bring myself to care. I figure there must be others out there who feel the same, and not necessarily just adults. What might the reason be for such an attitude change about handheld gaming when it used to be such a cultural phenomenon? The truth is, there could be several reasons handhelds are losing the hold they once had on our hands.

The first possible reason that comes to mind is the host of lackluster libraries the past few handhelds have boasted. The DSi has very few exclusive titles that take advantage of its added features, making the system more of a glorified iPod with gaming capabilities than a truly new game system. The 3DS debuted with a few lame new releases like Steel Diver, one solid title in Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle, and a slew of games we’ve already bought and played before, the only difference being its fancy 3D technology. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I really don’t care to be bent over and boned from behind by game companies who think I want to buy yet ANOTHER release of Ocarina of Time or Street Fighter IV. A year has passed since release and the system still lacks a decent library of games, with only a small few great titles.

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I was never very impressed with the original PSP in the first place, and while the Vita has some impressive launch titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, not to mention a new Killzone in the works (and I suppose some people may care about the special Vita incarnation of Call of Duty, too… but not yours truly), I’m still simply not excited. If the games DO end up being decent at launch and I still don’t care, then what else could be the problem?

While I can’t speak for people under 18, as an adult I find it increasingly difficult to find time to play my handhelds. When I was a kid being carted around on my parents’ errands and being driven everywhere, often to places I didn’t care to be (like get-togethers with their friends, or grandma’s house), I tended to have a lot of time sitting around being bored and wishing I was home playing video games. Handheld systems are perfect for kids because they’re not directly involved in a lot of the stuff they’re toted around for, and they don’t have to pay attention to anything when they’re in the car. Once I was old enough to drive and I got to go where I wanted to go and do what I wanted to do, I didn’t find myself with as much time being bored. Then, once I moved out, got my own place, and started working for a living, I had limited time for friends, family, or even myself, and when I do find some time to relax at home the last thing I want to do is sit around playing on a tiny screen.

When I get time to myself I’d much rather be in front of on my big HDTV on my big-boy consoles playing my big-boy games with loud volume, being totally immersed aurally and visually in the experience as a means of escape from my busy adult life. I don’t want to sit around playing time-wasters like Rhythm Heaven or Pokemon anymore, I want to be involved in something epic like God of War, or Batman: Arkham City, something deep in gameplay and story with a scenario I care about. When I try to sit down with my handheld at home, it doesn’t take long for me to start to feel like I should be doing something more engrossing with my time, and that whatever I’m playing is more of a distraction than an experience.

Then again, some adults still do enjoy their distraction games. However, evolving cell phone technology has led the charge with distraction gaming for adults. Titles like Angry Birds and Words with Friends are easily accessible because they don’t require a special machine primarily meant for gaming, and they don’t embarrass folks who normally wouldn’t be caught dead playing the modern equivalent of a Game Boy because they think of such machines as children’s toys. Cell phone gaming has given adults a sophisticated, convenient replacement for the handheld systems they grew up with. Personally, I still choose to use an old Motorola brick of a phone (which doesn’t even have picture capabilities or a flip feature) because I love its reliability and simplicity, so while the world of modern cell phone gaming is largely lost on me, I have played some of the games on other people’s phones and can appreciate them. Yet for me, cell phone gaming didn’t replace handheld gaming. Handheld gaming simply became obsolete in my busy life and was replaced in times of relaxation by bigger, more impressive gaming.

Perhaps you have shared my recent apathy for handheld systems yourself, whether your reason is like my own busy adult life, your cell phone has replaced those handheld systems, or perhaps both reasons apply to you. Maybe it’s the largely uninteresting libraries of recent handhelds at fault. Then again, you may very well still be in love with your handheld systems and are enjoying your shiny new PS Vita, and if that’s the case, take this with a grain of salt. To each his own, and while I don’t foresee handheld gaming dying off altogether, I can finally say it’s dead to me. Rest in peace, dear old handhelds, and may you never come back as Stupid Zombies…wait…DAMN IT.

#6: Grain of Salt Vol. 4 – The Internet IS Serious Business

I wrote a five-part series of articles called “Grain of Salt” a few years ago on a website called NerdRepository.com. It used to be a mixed bag of gaming and film news and opinion editorials, but since then it’s made film news its primary focus and the gaming editorials have been removed. I want them to remain published somewhere on the internet, so I’m going to repost them here as blog entries for your reading pleasure. Originally published on October 31, 2011, this is Grain of Salt Volume 4: The Internet IS Serious Business.

 

Have you ever seen somebody tear into another person on the internet, then when the victim retorts with upset, the attacker uses some sort of condescending remark like “the internet is srs bsns,” or “quit getting mad at people on the internet,” in an attempt to make the victim look bad for taking offense? Have you possibly ever done that yourself to some unwitting net noobie? I have. This is a wake-up call I think we all need in order to grow up and move forward as a collective; a bold admission, if you will, that takes some humility and maturity from all of us, the users of the internet, to accept.

The mindset that the internet is some kind of rule-free playground where the bullies are the untouchable top of the food chain is detrimental to the internet in general, and how people act while using it. The more new users see this kind of activity, the more they’ll think it’s normal, and the worse the problem will get.

I’ve never understood why anybody thinks of the internet on different terms than, say, a phone conversation, or even talking face to face. The internet is modern man’s most utilized form of communication. Much of our social interaction is done on the internet. We conduct business on the internet. We have debates on the internet. It’s used for a myriad of things, but it’s all communication. It’s all words on a screen. But just because the words are read rather than heard (via phone or in person) doesn’t mean they don’t hold weight. Without words, we’d just be another ape, no different from our primate brothers and sisters. Words allow us to express, to understand, to learn. They allow us to emote, to empathize, and to connect. What good are words if one is to pretend that they should be taken with a grain of salt based simply on the medium being used to express those words? What disservice does that attitude do to the importance of communication and language? The internet isn’t just some new toy, it’s a valuable tool that can make or break people based on how they act or how they’re treated. It’s as much a weapon as it is a toy. The only difference is in how it’s used.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the internet that gives people this false sense of entitlement, this attitude that makes them think they can do and say whatever they want while nobody should be bothered by it. People have died over disrespectful internet use. As much as I dislike the term, “cyber bullying” has been the cause of death in a number of suicide cases around the world. It’s torn apart reputations and relationships, therein tearing apart people’s lives. When you start thinking about how much our internet interactions can affect life outside of cyberspace, it’s not nearly as funny anymore. It stops becoming a joke when people start dying, or losing jobs, or losing relationships and friendships, all because some jackass behind a screen and keyboard thought he was a clever, sharp wit. In reality the “cyber bully” is just a tool with a superiority complex who needs to make people feel small so he can feel big. Be the bigger man by not trying to be the bigger man.

Words, language, and communication are man’s greatest inventions, and the internet is the greatest vehicle for communication. We have a powerful thing at our fingertips, something that can tear someone’s world apart with a few clicks of mice and clacks of keys. However, unlike the most powerful of man’s inventions, the atomic bomb, this tool can and should be used for good. The internet has made billions of people laugh, has made people cry tears of joy, has gotten people new opportunities they wouldn’t have happened into without this worldwide communication tool, and it’s changed people’s lives for the better. As a fellow internet user to another, don’t let your online actions change people’s lives for the worse. Even something as small as one condescending comment can make a person feel bad about him-or-herself, start them on the path of discouragement, and lead to a world of problems if it gets deep enough into their heads.

We’ve all got the power now, through the wonder of the internet, to change someone’s world. Try to change someone’s world for the better today. Give a compliment on somebody’s picture. Share your thoughts on something they post. If you must say something negative, do so constructively rather than destructively. Build people up, don’t beat people down. Remember times in your life you’ve been bullied and how it made you feel. Being good to one another isn’t hard, we just need to relearn the way we speak through text and remember how much power you have over someone’s world with something as small as a handful of words. Many of us are guilty. All of us should keep this in mind.

This time around, the grain of salt should be taken with the fact that I am not a psychology or sociology major. I am speaking simply from the things I’ve observed, and admittedly, the things I’ve done and said to people when I let the power of the internet go to my head and cloud my judgment. On occasion, it’s corrupted me and turned me into a nasty kind of person that I don’t like and don’t want to be. If I feel this way, assuredly many more people must feel the same. Today I hope that others feel what I’m saying and see its relevance to their own lives. Don’t take the internet with a grain of salt – its business deserves to be taken seriously.

#5: Grain of Salt Vol. 3 – Learning Financial Stability from Video Games

I wrote a five-part series of articles called “Grain of Salt” a few years ago on a website called NerdRepository.com. It used to be a mixed bag of gaming and film news and opinion editorials, but since then it’s made film news its primary focus and the gaming editorials have been removed. I want them to remain published somewhere on the internet, so I’m going to repost them here as blog entries for your reading pleasure. Originally published on September 21, 2011, this is Grain of Salt Volume 3: Learning Financial Stability from Video Games.

 

If practice makes perfect and one plays video games with systems of economy at work within the gameplay, might one begin to learn the value of saving money? Or perhaps, does saving money in the real world make you better at video games with economic systems involved? Is it possible that both of these could be true? Today we’ll explore the possibility of a connection between playing certain video games and learning how to be smart (or smarter, at least) with one’s money.

The immediate irony that comes to mind here and needs to be addressed is the steep price of most video games. I’ve heard people often cry that video games are getting too expensive, but NES games were often roughly $50 a pop during the prime of the 8-bit era, the true beginning of serious home console gaming. Games have always had a high price mark, but I’m a firm believer in the concepts of self control and pre-purchase research, and such steep pricing can be seen as a double-edged sword. A smart consumer will employ these concepts of willpower and research before making lofty entertainment purchases, using a mixture of personal judgment, word of mouth, and industry reviews to choose games they’re quite sure will be quality experiences in order to avoid wasting one’s time and money. It teaches one to use his money wisely and to educate one’s self about the intended product before buying, as well as to limit one’s spending. Immediately, this renders moot the argument that with such steep pricing, the very purchase of video games is wasteful. “So much money thrown away on silly games,” I’ve heard from people who consider gaming to be a hobby without merit. “You’re rotting your brain! Save your money for something substantial!” Hardly… especially since one is forced to think carefully before even buying a video game thanks to their pricing. It’s somewhat of a blessing in disguise. Especially in a difficult economy, luxuries like games are not easy purchases to make, but it makes us think harder about what we buy, if we choose to buy at all.

When I was young and first started working, I was quite wasteful with my money. My parents forced me to put little by little into a savings account, but every little bit that I got to keep, I spent as soon as I got the check. I never got a big allowance growing up, and since I was finally in control of more money than I was used to, I took advantage of it and blew as much as I could on things like games and CD’s. I was forced to save, but it made me more rebellious and wasteful with the money I was allotted. Eventually I grew up and started being handed responsibility for my own cost of living, for which I wasn’t very prepared. The forced saving didn’t help much because as soon as I gained access to my savings, I dipped into it often and soon much of it was gone. I even needed help from my folks from time to time because I wasn’t financially responsible. I wasn’t learning my lesson, but that would change thanks to my frivolous spending.

Games have become more complicated as time has moved forward. With the increasing depth in single player adventures like Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, and Bioshock, money is sometimes difficult to come by and there are a lot of things to buy in the game’s world. From fun but useless bonuses like costume alterations to important necessities like extra health or new weapons, in the world of the modern adventure game, finances are becoming ever more important to keep an eye on. RPG’s have always used some sort of economy system to get necessary gear, but modern games are taking it to another level. In Assassin’s Creed 2 for example, the player often needs to choose whether to purchase something which will bring him more money (in this game’s case, things like renovations to a city or paintings to bring up the worth of your mansion), or something which will make his character stronger (the obvious, like armor and weapons). The game also assigns risk to certain forms of monetary gain, as pickpocketing raises your notoriety and makes the game more difficult, and many treasure chests are surrounded with armed guards. In Bioshock the player must choose whether to buy fun little add-ons or major upgrades using the limited, special form of currency called ADAM, which can greatly vary one’s chances in upcoming fights. Therefore, the very expensive games I was blowing all my money on were slowly teaching me how to be smarter with my money. Buying video games certainly wasn’t a waste of money, but I was buying too many of them with the limited funds I had. I needed to find a middle ground.

Over time, in games like the ones mentioned above, without thinking about it I began to set myself a financial limit that I wouldn’t allow myself to fall below, the amount of which varied depending on my general in-game income, and the general cost of in-game items, just in case I ran into anything important I might need to buy in a pinch, like if I got in over my head in a big boss fight and needed a better, expensive weapon or piece of armor. I was doing this on a subconscious level and it began to change the way I handled my money in the real world. I started to not allow myself to fall below a certain amount of money in my bank account in case of emergencies, only buying what I need, paying bills, and throwing in an occasional flippant purchase for recreation. I’m now in solid financial standing and quite independent with no debts, and the artificial limit I don’t allow myself to fall below actually increases over time, as I bring in more money than I generally spend. The way I gamed had transitioned to the way I lived, all without even thinking about it, and now that I’ve noticed the correlation it’s made a big improvement on my life.

As a nice topping to this sweet sundae, I’ve actually improved as a gamer because of this cycle of learning. While my gaming improved my finances, my finances have improved my gaming. Since I’m better with my money in the real world now, I’m also better with my money in games, and I never find myself stuck up a creek against a tough opponent because I always have money to fall back on if I need upgrades.

I wouldn’t recommend going about this the way I did and accidentally finding a lesson through idiotic monetary abuse, but if you play your video games the right way, it’s possible you could learn a thing or two about how to live a smarter life.

Then again, I’m talking about learning lessons from a game centered around assassinations. You might just want to take this with a grain of salt.

#4: Grain of Salt Vol. 2 – The Zombification of the Horror Genre

I wrote a five-part series of articles called “Grain of Salt” a few years ago on a website called NerdRepository.com. It used to be a mixed bag of gaming and film news and opinion editorials, but since then it’s made film news its primary focus and the gaming editorials have been removed. I want them to remain published somewhere on the internet, so I’m going to repost them here as blog entries for your reading pleasure. Originally published on September 5, 2011, this is Grain of Salt Volume 2: The Zombification of the Horror Genre.

[Note: since this was first written, zombie obsession has significantly dwindled. Thus, this doesn’t apply so much today as when it was first published, but at the time it was very relevant. That said, my thoughts here still do apply to the horror genre in general, and my challenge to people who make horror stories to be original in their monster designs still stands.]

 

Working on something scary, but it just lacks that “wow” factor? Making a video game or movie and it’s just not grabbing your testers by the testes? Put a zombie in it! Works every time, the masses eat it up like the walking dead on brains! It takes no thought and little effort! Originality is a thing of the past! Put zombies in it today! Sold all over the world in various media near you.

Zombies are everywhere. They’ve been a part of lore and pop culture for a long time, but they’re spreading. Like some kind of damned virus, they’re spreading across the world, infecting everything they come near with their rotten stench, dropping their decrepit body parts everywhere as their peeling skin wafts all over like a fine layer of dead snow. And I don’t take kindly to rotting flesh all up in my shit.

Zombies have permeated pop culture in nearly every facet. Within the last few years, video games, TV, movies, books, and comics have begun to cram zombies in everywhere they can, video games being the worst offenders. I feel hard pressed to name off 10 high end, big budget productions of games released within the last handful of years that haven’t incorporated zombies in some fashion. Zombie seems to have become the new mark of cool. If you don’t have zombies in your series/franchise, you’re square! At least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from current media.

Recent, major video games/series guilty of zombification I can name off the top of my head:

  • Red Dead Redemption
  • Call of Duty
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Dead Island
  • Dead Rising
  • Dead Space
  • Stupid Zombies
  • Plants vs Zombies
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  • Postal 2 (the expansion pack centers on zombies)
  • Uncharted (technicality of them being “cursed but alive” notwithstanding, as they’re essentially zombies with quick feet)
  • Bioshock (again, though technically not “zombies,” they look just like zombies and they’re hardly human anymore).

Recent, major movies guilty of the same:

  • Zombieland
  • 28 Days/Weeks Later
  • Resident Evil (not counting the games because they’ve been around since the 90’s)
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Quarantine
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Planet Terror
  • Slither

Even TV, books, and comics are getting in on the hot zombie action with Walking Dead, World War Z, and The Zombie Survival Guide. I’m sure readers can name off a bunch more than what is named here.

I can’t be the only one noticing and growing annoyed with this trend. I may have a bias because I’ve never personally found zombies even remotely interesting, but even some people I’ve talked to who like zombies are growing tired of their overuse, most notoriously in major video games. I’ve talked to tattoo artists who are sick of so many people asking for zombie tattoos recently. My girlfriend met a couple who were seriously considering naming their soon-to-be-born daughter “Zombi”. People are falling over themselves for the zombie craze, and I simply don’t get it.

I understand the argument that there’s little to no moral questionability in killing zombies off by the numbers in media while killing just about anything else could have “foul” cried over it, but what’s ethical and what’s fun aren’t the same thing in my book. You can have ethical fun without stepping on anyone’s sensitive toes of course (Nintendo, I’m looking at you), but zombies can only be done so many ways before it all starts to look the same. There’s not much variety when you limit your ideas to things that can be zombified. It’s just the same as it was alive, but rotting instead. You might as well be killing regular people with a different skin texture in zombie games, it’s often purely aesthetic. Some accolades can be handed out for doing interesting and unique things with zombies, like some of the ideas implemented in the Left 4 Dead series, but for the most part, a zombie is a zombie. It’s a thing that’s dead and still walking. I’d rather be killing new and intriguing enemy types, original creations straight from the art team’s drawing table, than reaching into the old recyclable bin for more zombies to slaughter.

I’d personally like to see media get more creative with its shotgun fodder. Silent Hill is a series that takes this idea of original, monstrous creations to the extreme and produces fantastic results. The creatures are genuinely disturbing and frightening, not just gross, which seems to be the only uncomfortable feeling zombies can instill in an audience. I believe horror in general is more effective and more grabbing when it’s psychological and doesn’t resort to cheap shock value. I therefore challenge the horror genre to crank up the creativity in its monster department and quit zombifying old ideas; they’re dead, they don’t need to live again. I’m also not saying zombie stuff can’t be done well. For example, I really enjoyed Zombieland, but I’d rather see more originality not just in horror’s writing, but in its visual design.

And please don’t replace zombies with vampires for another route of quick cash-in, like so many people riding Twilight‘s coattails. Let dead ideas rest in peace.

If you don’t agree, if you like zombies, if you love the trend or even contribute to it by feeding the zombie fad yourself, I remind you…take this with a grain of salt.

#3: Grain of Salt Vol. 1 – Finding Multiplayer Gold in Single-Player Games

I wrote a five-part series of articles called “Grain of Salt” a few years ago on a website called NerdRepository.com. It used to be a mixed bag of gaming and film news and opinion editorials, but since then it’s made film news its primary focus and the gaming editorials have been removed. I want them to remain published somewhere on the internet, so I’m going to repost them here as blog entries for your reading pleasure. Originally published on August 30, 2011, this is Gain of Salt Volume 1: Finding Multiplayer Gold in Single-Player Games.

 

When I was growing up in the NES era, I played video games alone for the most part. I had a sister three years younger than me who was into Barbie and Mary Kate & Ashley movies. My parents were largely uninterested in gaming, though my dad occasionally enjoyed some Xevious, Tetris, or Super Mario Bros. I didn’t have many friends when I was young, and the few I did have lived rather far away, which made visits few and far between. Therefore, most of my gaming experiences were limited to single player games, or playing multiplayer games by myself.

Like many young boys growing up in the early 90’s, I was a big fan of shows like Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This got me interested in martial arts and the idea of fighting for fun at a pretty young age, and I’d always fantasized about taking martial arts classes. Unfortunately our family couldn’t afford such things, so I lived out those fantasies with my action figures, beat-em-up games, and fighting games, such as the TMNT and Double Dragon series on the NES and that one-off TMNT Tournament Fighters title. I didn’t mind playing games by myself, but when I started getting more games like these that had a heavier focus on multiplayer I began to wish I had somebody to play them with. Beating the crap out of baddies just wasn’t as much fun by one’s lonesome.

The Gameboy was my next game system, but I didn’t get another one until the original Playstation. I missed the entire 16-bit era of gaming, which had a much higher focus on the multiplayer experience compared to the 8-bit era. Such great multiplayer titles as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby Superstar, and Mario Kart had escaped me, and I envied my friends who played and talked about these games incessantly. Fast forward to today and I’ve since made up for my 16-bit shortcomings by purchasing an SNES, but at the time I had to get my fill from arcade cabinets, a limited luxury for a kid without much money. Games like Primal Rage and The Simpsons had me drooling, and more often than playing them I’d just watch with mouth agape and eyes aglow as other people played or as the cabinet ran through its demos.

Thanks to my experiences as a child I still tend to favor single player games over anything else, but my favorite multiplayer genre is still fighting games. Unfortunately, it seems the popularity of fighting games has died down since the explosion of multiplayer shooters was kicked off by Halo and perpetuated with games like Call of Duty, games in which I have little interest. These days it seems most of the time when you ask a guy what multiplayer games he’s into, the first titles he mentions are shooters.

So multiplayer gaming has largely left me behind with my niche preference for fighting games, made even worse by my preference for the PS3 over the Xbox 360, because most people who have one or the other chose the 360. Finding people who play fighting games and who play them on the PS3 is not an easy task for the everyday gamer, and I hope it’s not just me who has difficulty playing the games I’m used to on a different console’s controller. Switching from the PS3 pad to the 360 pad is like coming up too fast after deep-sea diving: the change is so quick and radical that it leaves you essentially crippled for a short time – the gaming bends, if you will.

My pool of friends consists of a fairly unusual bunch. Not the typical “my friends are soooo weird” fantasy of social nonconformity that lets you entertain the idea that your friends are so much more goofy and interesting than anyone else’s while they really just act as a vicarious outlet for you to pretend your life is exciting through their diverse and wacky personalities. I’m talking about a pool of friends that really don’t have much in common with one another, making it difficult to have large hangouts due to their lack of similar interests. Some of them like racing games, some like shooting games, some like RPG’s, some like PC games, and so on.

Being of college age has me wanting to bring groups of friends together for parties and hang-outs. In the glory days of fighting games, you could have an entire party revolve around them in home-made tournaments of sorts. Today, I’m hard-pressed to find any two friends who enjoy, and are good at, the same fighting game. My racing interests are limited to things like F-Zero and Mario Kart, my shooter interests don’t go far beyond Metroid Prime and Bioshock (which are more like first person adventures in exploration than first person shooters), and beat-em-ups aren’t as popular as they used to be despite such great releases as Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Castle Crashers.

Maybe I’m just a picky bastard, but how is a man with such limited interests as myself to throw a big gaming get-together with other such people with limited interests?

Along came a game called Limbo. It’s been out on the 360’s arcade for a good while, but was finally brought to the PlayStation Store around a month ago. It’s a dark, artsy, single player game with a grizzly film noir vibe and not much in the way of story. It’s a puzzle platformer with simple controls, and you are guaranteed to die a lot when playing it for the first time. It’s a short game, maybe 3-5 hours on your first run depending on how good you are at solving puzzles, and it’s even got secrets and extra content to find if you’re diligent enough. And, dare I say, all of these qualities make it a perfect multiplayer experience and an answer to my difficulty finding a solid common ground for gamers of various interests to come together and work through in tandem.

As a visually striking game, it keeps one’s interest just to see what will happen next. As a dark, creepy game, it makes jokes all the funnier when playing through it with friends. As a game loaded with guaranteed player deaths, it’s perfect for passing around the controller every time somebody dies, which can double as a drinking game (every time you die you drink, or every time anybody dies everyone drinks, either way is a good time) and makes for loads of laughs whenever someone does die in the game. There’s almost no story to get in the way of gameplay and slow things down, which is great for a fast-paced party experience. With simple controls, nobody ever has to bother fumbling around getting used to how the game plays, even while drinking. The estimated time of completion at 3-5 hours is an ideal length for parties; not too short and not too long. Best of all, playing the game with other people helps solve difficult puzzles quicker, as you have numerous minds trying to work through the puzzles rather than relying solely on your own problem solving skills.

I tried this experience myself, and it went over quite well. We didn’t have the idea to turn it into a drinking game at the time, so people gave up after roughly ¾ of the way through the game due to frustration, but I would be willing to bet people have more fun with it and get frustrated less easily when alcohol is involved. This single player game ended up being the unexpected answer to my search for a solid multiplayer experience with people of all sorts of diverse gaming interests, and I’m excited to find more games like this. Perhaps Splosion Man or Super Meat Boy can be my next endeavor. If any of you out there have the same trouble I do in trying to bring your various gamer friends together, perhaps this can be your solution as it was mine. Feel free to share your personal stories of similar experiences in the comment section.

It worked for me! It could work for you! But if it doesn’t and your drunken buddy puts a foot through your wall or a controller through your television… just take this with a grain of salt.