These days, no game is a static object, with updates and patches optimizing or fixing different features, or overhauling the gameplay in radical ways. Because of this, a review written at the launch of a game might not apply a year down the road. Old complaints or praise might need to be readdressed as a result of tweaks or changes.
This is most certainly the case with Dead Cells, a game I initially reviewed positively, but which has lost a lot of enjoyment with each new update since it has come out of early access. What started out as a fun platformer suitable for all levels of gamer has now catered itself almost exclusively to the hardcore fans while abandoning everyone else.
During early access, it was clear that certain weapons and skills were just preferable. For instance, the Sinew Slicer and Double Arrow Trap both had short cooldowns and a steady rate of fire, making them damned handy in every boss fight. Grenades, on the other hand, had crap damage and a ridiculously long cooldown rate. To counter this kind of dependence, the game makers nerfed the useful traps and put a limit of only one trap of any kind. Sounds good in theory, except the grenades are still garbage and have a stupidly long cooldown, so they still aren’t an option. Continue reading
In theory, Slay the Spire should be a perfect game for me. It’s a rogue-like card game climbing three randomly generated towers to battle monsters and bosses with one of four unique protagonists. In practice, however, my enjoyment of the game quickly evaporated because it crosses off every checkbox of bad indie rogue-like design: dully repetitive opening levels, a lack of enemy diversity, a stingy in-game economy combined with overpriced shops, and a slew of items meant specifically to fuck you over, and over, and over again.
Let’s start with the initial positives. You start playing as The Ironclad, a typical video game warrior carrying a giant orcish longsword, armed with a deck of the most basic stuff. You can lay out a Defend card to block five damage for one energy (out of three, though later cards and items may grant you addition energy units per turn), Strike for one, or use a Bash card that consumes two energy and applies a Vulnerable status on the enemy, making the next attack cause more damage. At first, sorting out a strategy amounts to deciding how much damage you want to dish out versus how much health you want to lose. So you could deal more damage by not blocking at all, or cast two Defend cards and only take one or two lost health points while dealing 6 damage. But either way, you will be losing some health in every fight.
Beating each monster offers a reward of three cards to choose from, which—again, in theory—should help move you toward a better strategy than just tanking hits to trade blows. Some rooms have a merchant offering other cards for sell, as well as relics that grant buffs or debuffs for the duration of the run, and potions that usually grant an effect only for the current turn. (Some might give you a card that will last throughout the current fight, but will vanish before your next fight.) Beating the boss of the tower offers up a choice of three boss relics, most of which offer a benefit combined with a negative caveat. Continue reading
Obviously I don’t have to explain what’s been going on for most of this year. There’s a lockdown in effect, and with the hubbers working from home, our slow ass internet connection won’t allow me to be online at the same time he’s working. But I was actually off the net for a couple months before that and the reasons may shock you. Or not.
In February, I went out to the plot of land set aside by our landlord for a garden and started digging up weed roots. This took me the better part of four months. For one thing, with the land not being used in years, the top layer of soil was close to 80% roots. I’m not exaggerating, either. On a daily basis, I loaded a wheelbarrow with roots and carted them away, always thinking, “Surely, I’m getting close to the end.” And every day, I dug a bit more and found more damned roots.
There were days when I ignored aches and pains because I thought, “Oh, one more meter won’t hurt.” Then that night, I’d get full body shakes and end up stuck in bed for anywhere between two and six days. I thought because I had MS, this was a job a healthy person could easily do in a week. But then my neighbor, inspired by my work, started in on her own garden, and after turning over one row in a two day flurry, she too ended up confined to bed for two days. She’s a teacher and a soccer coach who still plays with her friends, and this wrecked her. So it shouldn’t be a shock that it took me so long to clear three rows measuring one meter by five. Continue reading