Express News Service
CHENNAI: Everyone wants to be the tenacious gamer, persisting despite a thousand defeats. Why? Maybe we believe that in-game failures make us tolerant of those IRL. We invested in the game for too long for us to let it go right now, that even a sliver of hope of a win keeps us going. I am joking. It’s not that deep. It is because we are bored, and videogames give us trophies and level-ups.
The elements required to become the indefatigable gamer are minimal. All you have to do is choose the right game. There are a few complex terms to digest, but that is what I am here to help you with anyway. First, you choose a game that is not a roguelike. A typical roguelike game moves you from dungeon to dungeon. And it is a horrifying ‘What’s behind the door’ game, where every time you open the same door, there lies another challenge. Roguelikes also have permadeath.
It means that if you die in the game, you restart — from the start. You may not be surprised to hear that games with permadeath can cause ‘Rage Quit’. ‘Rage Quits’ are the bane of wannabe-indefatigable gamers. Anger is not our friend. Now that the complex jargon is underway, I introduce the exception. It is this game called ‘Hades’. Despite checking the roguelike and permadeath boxes, and being situated in Hell itself, Hades is very fun. We play as Zagreus, the son of Hades.
Zagreus is in a rebellious phase, fighting with the monsters of his father’s kingdom, so he can leave home. Along the way, he meets several of the Olympians, who lend him their powers to defeat the monsters in each room. The lack of skill requirements makes the game playable by all. The artwork is fresh, and the music is lively. The dialogues are uncharacteristically droll for a videogame featuring the Underworld. There are many different ways in which you can build Zagreus’ skills.
The very easy controls and the colourful combat makes you want to try it repeatedly so that you live (or remain in the Underworld) long enough to see the story unravel. So you see, becoming the Indefatigable Gamer after playing Hades is inevitable. Hades came out of Early Access last month is available for the PC and Nintendo Switch. I give the game a full 12/12 Olympians because, in addition to the fun combat, I can also pet Cerberus the dog. Descriptions of bite-sized games on itch.io (the YouTube of videogame content), recommendations of ad-filled free games on your smartphone stores, and strictures on non-usage of PUBG Mobile are now expected of this column.
It is rare to see an Indian Indie game reach the forefront, or you would be reading more of that here. I recently played the very generous demo released for ‘Raji: An Ancient Epic’. If you have your ear to the ground on gaming in the country, you may be one of the few people who have been anticipating its release for years. The game is finally available for the Nintendo Switch, Steam store (for PC), and soon to be available for the PS4 and Xbox too! The story introduces us to Raji, a young girl who is quick to learn to jump and run about in the picturesque, and architecturally beautiful terrain of the town. Her brother is kidnapped, and she sets out to rescue him.
The game blurs the lines between metaphor and fantasy. Is she really wielding a weapon? Do the demons even exist? The narration of the game is calming, like a children’s cartoon. The art makes both the combat and the environmental puzzles seem effortless. But they gradually increase in complexity. They almost immediately introduced multiple combat combinations, which means that it is fair to expect more options in the full version.
These combinations would have to be used to Raji’s advantage — depending on which grotesque monster she encounters next. I liked the game mainly because the developers were nice enough to release a demo that lasted longer than 5 minutes. While they have teased out what seems to be an interesting larger storyline, the cut-scenes are still skippable. The gameplay itself is delicious enough to keep you playing. I particularly like how the design elements have played into the culture that the game depicts. Raji’s health bar, for example, resembles a rangoli/mandala.
The game also made me realise how refreshing it is to see even a semblance of representation in videogames (I play as a girl? An Indian girl? Wow). 10 nods to Nodding Heads’ latest game. Will nod more if they release an online version also soon.
Anusha Ganapathi @quaffle_waffle (This economics graduate spends her leisure time preparing for the zombie apocalypse)