Note: This post was previously published as a column in McPherson Weekly News (www.mcphersonweeklynews.com)
If there’s one major fault with a lot of newer video games it’s that many of them are too easy. Does anyone remember games like Battletoads and Mega Man? These games from the past were excruciatingly difficult, with only the most patient and determined coming out victorious. Some say video games contribute to the dumbing down of society. I argue that easy, brainless video games are the leading contributor.
Not the case with newer Roguelike retro throwbacks such as Faster Than Light (FTL) or Darkest Dungeon. Rogue-Like is a term that gamers 25 years ago might laugh at. Before game saves, there were save codes. I’ll explain “save codes” for your kids because most of them probably have no idea what I’m talking about. You see, there was this feature in old video games that forced you to write down a code. When reentered, that code would load your saved game. Kids today would just snap a picture with their cell phone but back then (I can say that because I turned 30 this year) we had to find a piece of paper to write down the code. Then your mom would clean up the basement and unknowingly throw your paper away, making you almost want to cry because you were super close to almost beating the final boss. Or your dog would eat the piece of paper and you would wait patiently until you got the piece of paper back and had to clean it up a little to read it. Just kidding- that never happened to me but you get the idea. But even before save codes there were games with no save feature at whatsoever. When your character died or you lost, you simply lost and had to start all over. You didn’t mind your mom telling you to get off the gaming system because you were just horrifically eaten by crocodiles because you didn’t time your jumps right. You were so frustrated that you wanted to quit…for now. You’ll be back later and next time you’ll make that crocodile jump.
Fortunately for masochistic gamers like myself, there are modern Roguelikes. Recently I began playing Darkest Dungeon (DSD). DSD is a turn-based RPG in which, you guessed it, go into dungeons and kill monsters and nap loot. Not an incredibly unique them, I know, but what makes DSD unique is the high difficulty and the inability to load your game to go back in time and prevent a party member from being killed. Granted, more party members come to your hamlet on a stage coach every week that can be recruited. But once a character dies, they’re dead permanently. Fans of Final Fantasy or Paper Mario will feel right at home with the tactical, turn-based strategy and Role-Playing Game elements, but Dark Souls aficionados will appreciate the unforgiving, brutal nature of Darkest Dungeon. If you’ve got an extra $25 lying around in your Paypal account, I highly recommend picking it up on Steam or the Playstation Store. Check out my first video of DSD gameplay below: