By MajorMitch 1 Comments
This week was a little all over the place. Diablo III remains the primary focus, and we’ve ventured forth into Hell difficulty. As of now my Witch Doctor is level 57 and we’re near the end of Act II on Hell. It’s nice to finally be challenged; Normal and Nightmare were both way too easy. It’s kind of ridiculous to be forced to play through a game twice just to get a decent challenge. Then again, the Diablo franchise is built on repetition, so it makes some kind of sense. That doesn’t mean I like it, and my biggest complaint about the entire game is how repetitive and grindy it can be. I expected that going in, and I’ve been good about pacing myself and not burning out, but I still wonder if it will get to the point where it’s just too much. If I have to grind for 20+ hours just to get decent gear for Inferno, after having played through the game three times already, that would probably be the breaking point. I’ll take it as I go though.
Anyway, Hell can be quite the challenge. Regular mobs and bosses are still pretty easy, but the elite mobs can occasionally be kind of brutal. In addition to the standard damage and health buffs, they also now get three different modifiers. They’re randomized from a wide variety of abilities, such as reflecting damage, teleporting or dropping pools of fire on the ground. Some combinations of these can be rough; restricting your movement while placing hazards under you is particularly nasty. Most of my play group has had to fiddle with our builds to account for the increased difficulty. I’ve become attached to two skills in particular: Zombie Bears and Spirit Walk. Zombie Bears is pretty much what it sounds like, and just deals tons of damage to a tightly packed group. Spirit Walk, on the other hand, is a great “get out of jail” card. I can use it to evade a lot of attacks and moves that would restrict my movement, and I can’t count the number of times it’s saved my life. It’s invaluable as far as I’m concerned.
So Diablo III keeps rolling, and I’m still really enjoying it. Otherwise I’ve been playing a haphazard selection of other games, including finishing both Magicka and Trials Evolution. “Finished” might be a bit of a stretch for Trials. I’ve done as much as I’m going to do, which involves unlocking the Extreme tier of tracks (which required getting a whopping 135 medals) and beating the first of those tracks. It only took me 292 faults too! I had stayed pretty reasonable with my fault count until then (almost always single digits), but that tier is a big step up. I was actually really disappointed when I hit 250 faults and it told me I only had 250 faults remaining. Even if it's a high number, why would they limit the number of faults you’re allowed at all? That’s just lame. Finishing the track is hard enough, and if (like me) you don’t care about your score, why should you be cut off after X number of deaths? That was a bummer, and a little frustrating seeing as at least 100 of those faults were burned on literally the last jump of the track. I wouldn’t have been a happy camper if I had been forced to redo the entire track again at that point.
Fortunately I got it done, and promptly decided that was enough Trials for me. I don’t really know what to make of it overall. I can kind of see the appeal, but I also just don’t think it’s as good as other similarly tough games such as N or Super Meat Boy. Maybe it’s just a personal taste thing, but as I described last week the learning curve, pacing and level design just didn’t sit right with me. It does control well though, so I do give it props there. I also don’t really know what to make of Magicka either, which we finally finished after weeks of it being on the backburner (mainly thanks to Diablo III). It was a fun game for a while, but got really tedious near the end. The joy of fiddling with the different elements and combining spells wore off about halfway through for me, and the later levels were a drag. The movement and spellcasting aren’t quite snappy or responsive enough to provide the control you really want in sticky situations, which the last few levels made abundantly clear. I felt like we snuck though a handful of spots by basically cheesing the game, which is never the most satisfying feeling.
Still, Magicka isn’t terrible, and is an okay co-op game if for no other reason than the sheer insanity of it. It has some neat ideas, but it doesn’t do the best job at keeping them interesting for the entire game; it just lost steam. Finally, to top it all off I played Botanicula in its entirety yesterday. That’s a cool little game, all three or so hours of it. I really appreciated the length actually, especially since it came with an appropriate $10 price tag. It’s a pretty simple point-and-click adventure, a genre that I tend to run hot and cold with, and Botanicula is one of the good guys. It’s absolutely bursting with charm and personality, is paced well and has some clever puzzles. It expertly rewards poking around and interacting with stuff, and the puzzles never quite get so obscure to be frustrating (though a few got dangerously close).
Botanicula also looks and sounds great. I love its funky style, and the sounds effects crack me up. Most of them sound like the developers just reeled off a bunch of silly noises and stuck them in the game. It’s a big part of the game’s goofy charm. It turns out I’m a fan of goofy, so I really liked the game, and would recommend it to anyone in the market for a fun three hour point-and-click adventure game. Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough. Next week will surely involve more Diablo III, and I should finally start on The Walking Dead. I’ve been tempted to just put that off until all five episodes are out, but I think I’ll go ahead and do them one at a time. And that’s going to be all for now, until next time!
Currently playing: Diablo III, The Walking Dead