In Which I Discover I Subconciously Hate Myself

Friday, June 21, 2013
There has to be something seriously wrong with me. The current games I'm playing are a perfect suicidal trifecta. A shortcut to terminal depression and trauma. These three games are finely crafted all, but perfectly suited to munching on my withered shell after they've destroyed me.

What trio of horrors do I speak of? What three games could combine in such a way that they could lead a man down a dark path? Is Superman 64 among them? No, it isn't, though I will not deny that games ability to crush a soul in mere minutes. 

I am currently playing Dark Souls, The Walking Dead and The Last of Us. Together. If I am too tired or burnt out on one, I will play another. I'm like an addict trying to kick his habit by using different crack pipes. It's all still crack, and it's still fucking me up, but I just don't know any better.  

This all started after I was given a copy of Dark Souls for my birthday. It's a punishing game made more so due to a long stint without using my PS3. My initial ineptitude with the controller cost me a lot of time, though I feel like I'm finally starting to get the hang of it. Once I realized that the only way I can really lose is by not playing, accepting my inevitable multiple gruesome demises was easy. It's the backtracking to recover my corpse that is the most grueling part of the experience. Especially considering that all the enemies respawn after I rest at a bonfire.

Overcoming the difficulty inherent in Dark Souls was probably the easiest of all the issues raised by my recent sessions. The Walking Dead has been far more difficult to deal with on the whole. At least in Dark Souls it was my death that I dealt with over and over again. In any given episode of The Walking Dead, I'm sure to have to decide between someone, somewhere. And the person I don't side with will either die or hate me forever. 

I remember talking to one of the developers of The Walking Dead at PAX around the release of episode three. When I asked him if he had any advice for playing that episode, he told me "drink. There are no happy endings this time." And my god, was he ever right. 

Of the three games, The Last of Us has made porridge of my insides more that either Dark Souls or The Walking Dead. Mostly in that I feel incredibly vulnerable all the time. On the advice of an article from Kotaku, I've been playing the game on Hard rather than normal. It's certainly punishing me for it, but the experience is really unlike any other game in recent memory. 

The atmosphere in The Last of Us (aided by the incredible, brilliant, beautiful musical talent of Gustavo Santaolalla) has made me feel small and helpless constantly. I am no match for most for the beasties out there, and when I have supplies and ammo I still try to save them. The Last of Us has forced me to understand the seriousness of limited resources. I'm delighted most times to just have a brick. 

I expect to be reduced to a quivering mass by the  time I've completed these games. I don't think this will be over soon, in fact I know it won't. The Walking Dead is hard to play for long stretches of time, mostly due to having children running around the house (same goes for The Last of Us) and Dark Souls stifles my spirit so effectively that I can usually only play for about an hour or two at most. 

Wish me luck, and expect a darker man than I to emerge on the other side of this. When you see that dead look in my eyes, read this and remember. I was once like you.

Endure and Survive.