Monthly Archives: November 2014

Navel Gazing in Limbo

Hey, you know what game I’m still trying to finish? Limbo.

It’s great. It’s atmospheric and pretty and challenging and interesting, but let me backtrack a minute there and repeat the challenging bit. It’s really, really hard. The puzzle solutions aren’t too bad, not for people who like puzzlers, but the execution of them is head bangingly frustrating. They require timing and steady hands and after about 20 minutes I have to take a breather.


Take this little puzzle here. On the lower left is a switch that turns that slope into a magnet. So, you turn that off, push the box up, let it slide back down halfway, turn the switch back on so it sticks, jump up onto the box and onto the shelf, hit the door switch, jump back onto the box, and then from the box onto the ladder and through the door before it closes.

Jumping is very very hard. Getting the timing right is very very hard. I figured out what I was supposed to do very quickly, but I still haven’t DONE it.

It’s fun, though, when its not frustrating. When I execute something right, it reminds me of the feeling I had killing a really hard level of SMB (like, you know, the underwater levels F YOU UNDERWATER LEVELS). It’s an accomplishment.

Still, when I see people complaining that games are too easy these days, I want to knock their heads against something. I was listening to an interview by Irrational Games’ Ken Levine talking about this — pointing out that early games were so hard because they were arcade games and dying meant you put another quarter in. The difficulty of a game doesn’t reflect its quality.

The Stanley Parable was one of my favorite games last year. Gone Home was my absolute favorite. Neither was difficult. Gone Home required some thinking to find backstory, but otherwise you were just walking through a house, picking things up and putting them down. Not hard, but amazing. Games don’t fall into a traditional definition anymore, so you get to do a whole lot out of the box and still have a great game.

Which isn’t to say harder games are bad. Some midlevel games, and I guess I’d put Portal and Braid into this category, are a little difficult and still outstanding. And I think Limbo is amazing, a beautiful frustrating game. I hear Dark Souls is quite like that, although that’s not my style of game.

I’m up to chapter 17. I am going to finish this. Then I can move on to all the other games that have been mouldering away — amazing ones like Year Walk and Monument and The World Ends With You.

Oh hey.

Oh hey.

Oh hey it’s November!


Well, these things happen (these things being the passage of time and also the fact that I didn’t blog for ever and also that I barely played games all month and these things actually can mean pretty much anything so substitute your own things there ok).

November came in all roaring screaming wind and lashes of rain and it was glorious. Man how I love November. And October. It’s goodwill that lasts me right through till Black Friday when I go back to hating pretty much all of the world, combined.

So anyway. Things! More things happening!


I finished Borderlands: The Presequel and ok I get why borderlands purists may not have liked it but fuck ‘em, I loved this game. Borderlands is satisfying in the same way that Diablo satisfies me — it’s a lot of button mashing, it’s forgiving of idiotic mistakes (especially in multiplayer) and it’s funny. Diablo — wasn’t that funny but it had its moments.

There’s a pretty great moment early in the game when Torque asks Athena out for a date and she turns him down — as she’s retelling, he breaks in to explain that while at the time he yelled FRIENDZONED he now realizes what a stupid thing that was to say and friend zoning is a sexist idea and also he’s grown a lot he was just in a bad place then OK?

Gaming’s in a tough place right now, a depressing one, and sometimes it feels good to see that devs maybe get it. A little bit.


(Also, a bit later you get a quest to avenge a man’s death — after killing his enemies, you walk up to the very last one and call him a dick. In a superb piece of scene chewing, he falls to his knees and yells NOOOoooooo while shaking his fists at the sky. You can later go back and collect posters that spell out the word dick and completely enrage him to fight, but I like the original version better. It’s my favorite part of the whole game thus far).

I’m still chipping away at Shadow of Mordor because I get distracted by wanting to get every single thing on a map. Also because I enjoy skulking around, listening to baddies make up stories about the times they bested me in battle. Also, taking on huge groups and parrying my way through killing them all. It’s a good game is what I’m saying.



Things are going ok these days. I’ve been tearing through books. Just finished What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund which was lovely and made me wish I had better graphic design skills because holy moly that man is super talented. Also, I have often thought about the fact that no matter how much I love a book, I never really have a vivid picture of any part of it. The exception is some of the children’s books I read when I was little, but even then it was just little pieces — a golden telescope case, a glowing orb, a ring of jade. And so I felt comforted by the book, and also intrigued, as it talks about how we interact with books.

It’s now the season where I can’t walk with the dog after work, or at least not in the woods.  In theory, I could walk Crowes Pasture which doesn’t close till 9 pm, but I just am not that brave about after dark wood walks. The beach, maybe. The woods, no. Less because of creepy crawlies and more because of creeping tree roots trying to break my ankles. I fall in the DAYLIGHT.

I also chopped off all my hair. Well, not all of it, because I have a lot of hair and even this extreme chop left me with a shoulder length bob, but still. Hair! Gone! I like it. I keep using far too much shampoo.


And that’s it. More regular postings to come. I swear.IMG_1036



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