Let’s get roguey!

I love videogames; those of you who have been paying attention probably know this already, but I’m always happy to profess my enjoyment of gaming. Unfortunately, these days and for fairly obvious reasons I tend to be able to play games only while having dinner, just before bed or at the weekends. My gaming time is therefore fairly limited, and the types of game that I like to play has been affected somewhat.

I love strong narrative in games, and games that allow a great depth of freedom to explore. The temptation with these games is to sink hours and hours into the experience; I’ve done this many a time with the Metros, STALKERS, and Elder Scrolls of the world, sometimes to the detriment of my art time (and most definitely to the detriment of my sleeping time). These games are now the ones that I tend to play only at the weekends, for fear of compromising my fairly strict artistic schedule.

Recently, though, I’ve found a couple of games that fit my weekday pattern like a glove. Over dinner, where I get about an hour or so, I’ve been playing Rogue Legacy. Rogue Legacy is a dungeon-crawling platformer, where there is some sort of overall objective (I’m sure). Much of the fun comes from getting as far as you can with your initially woefully underequipped and underlevelled hero, dying horribly (and hilariously), and starting over with your old character’s offspring. Who has a random selection of natural traits which may or may not help their quest. I love this game, because it’s very easy to pick up and put down. I say easy to put down, not because you don’t invest a lot of care in the game, it’s just easy to not invest TOO much care in your character like you might in another game. The inevitable death of your adventurer neatly divides the game up into sections, so it’s very straightforward for me to go ‘right, I’m dead, I’ll spend the treasure when I next play it.’ I do recommend it for the sheer fun of the gameplay, as well; you’ll never have so much fun while fleeing enemies and screaming “RUN AWAAAAAAY!”

Just before bed, most people read a book. I am, of course, weirder than most people, and I tend to play games on my 3DS. I used to play a lot of picross (a picture crossword puzzle game), which was fantastic at letting me drift off while gently mulling over numbers. Following last month’s payday, though, I’ve been playing Etrian Oddysey IV, a first-person roguelike game. It has lush graphics, pleasing music (by Koshiro Yuuzo, composer extraordinaire), and a somewhat hypnotising delve through labyrinths of various shapes and sizes. It doesn’t (so far) require a massive amount of thought, but has enough in the way of surprises to keep it interesting and entertaining while it gently pushes me off towards the land of nod. Unlike Rogue Legacy, it’s not necessarily a game I would recommend to everyone; tabletop game players, particularly of the more traditional D&D archetype, will probably enjoy this. I, myself am particularly enamoured of the Dungeon-Master-like descriptions and narratives.

These two have actually gotten me more interested in playing more roguelike games. I have, of course, delved into the realms of ye olde Nethack, but I’m sure there’s a raft of entertaining options out there! Any recommendations?

M.