3 years can be a very long time. It can also be the shortest intermede in a very eventful period of one’s life. Things have been rather crazy and hectic. Both work and life have been about constant changes, new situations, challenge after challenge and every new paradigm shift required so much adaptation…
Since last I actually wrote anything here: 2 kids and marriage, not necessarily in that order or even in the reverse. At one point, gaming and all other nerdiness, as some would put it, kept me going and became a lifeline, a tether to hold on while crossing the torrents of the fast-paced events of the past years. But now, it all seems to be settling somewhat. The strange effect is that with more time on my hands to actually BE doing such activities as gaming, reading and the such, I am doing them far less.
Two of the most notable mentions for that period: Dragon Age Inquisition and The Witcher 3 (including all DLC). Dragon Age came first, as soon as it was released it was in my hands (Thank you Amazon Release Date Delivery!). It solidified for me what I rather expected from this third installment. The first Dragon Age was amazing, novel and especially difficult for it required some concrete tactical thinking. The sequel was all flash, flair, and aesthetics, appealed to a greater number of non-hardcore PC owner and to console gamers. For me, though it was far too “lite” and lacked the grit and intelligence I felt in Origins. Dragon Age Inquisition did very well to merge many of its predecessors’ strengths to appeal to…everyone? In-depth looks and reviews about the game can be found elsewhere. Suffice to say that it was a welcome pit to sink into in the afternoons and evenings after work where all my problems remained at the door and I stepped into the shoes (or boots) of my characters.
The Witcher 3 came quite a while after. I actually only started it around the time that Hearts of Stone Story DLC came out. Many loved the Blood and Wine DLC the most. It’s easy to understand: it was beautiful, colorful, different, fresh. but HoS, in my opinion, had the better story. I enjoyed the dark humor of that story, and I certainly rooted for the flawed immortal man that Geralt could either save or doom. I, of course, chose to save the bloke. Fantasy stories with a deep heart set in a form of reality are very appealing. The dragons, the wraith, griffins, and others serve as an anchor to the suspension of disbelief. The true core of the narrative remains very human and relatable. It reminds us of our own fragility, our own humanity, and actually gives hope for a moment that no matter how bad things may be, they could be worse. And no matter how much worse it keeps getting, somehow we must never back down and despair. As a friend of mine liked to repeat: “If you get to it you can get through it”.
More recently, I have started playing Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It has been a very divisive game apparently, some people with negative opinions about it do seem right though. When it is not in combat, Hellbalde does feel like a walking simulator where you can die, and the permadeath system sounds really annoying. BUT, as an artistic whole, I think it’s a great achievement by an independent studio. It has gorgeous graphics, it figures a smart and different take on the subject at hand and horrendous hidden object type puzzles. This to say that, despite all the highs in anything, nothing is without some kind of imperfection. Flaws can actually be what defines some forms of art and it is what defines Senua’s Sacrifice. it is a game about psychosis!! Though it may never truly convey what it feels like or how it is REALLY to have such a condition, it gives an idea. And that cringing when looking for that latest blasted pattern? That boredom with the simplistic combat? That headache after inadvertently plunging into that first pit? Well, I guess they DID succeed in their objective…is this a glimpse of what a descent into insanity feels like?
Much like the Cherek ships in the Belgariad, sometimes you must go through, plunge in, nearer to the abyss, into the mouth of the maelstrom and use its own force to slingshot yourself out of it all, not run away from the darkness but cross the depths to reach the light once again…