Looking Back at 2015: Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

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We’re only a month away from the endless onslaught of Game of the Year awards. In a month, me and plenty of my friends and colleagues will be drafting up lists of our favourite games of the year, while also thinking ever so slightly less of the many people who don’t agree with us.

Before that happens though, I wanted to take a look back at some of the games I didn’t get the chance to talk about at the time for whatever reason.

These are not reviews, some of the games I haven’t played for months. They’re also not necessarily my Game of the Year™. They’re simply the games I found interesting (for better or for worse), but never really discussed when they came out.

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This year’s been an utterly fantastic one for fascinating stories in games. Undertale, Life is Strange, The Beginner’s Guide, The Charnel House Trilogy, Emily is Away, the list goes on and on and on of stories I’ve really enjoyed. Notably, this year is finally the year where the quote-unquote ‘walking simulator’ genre finally clicked for mem and became something I can enjoyably play.

This is where The Chinese Room’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture comes in. Set in a Shropshire village after the end of the world, when it came out I remember the gaming industry react incredibly weirdly to it. There were plenty of complaints about it being a slow, plodding game with a difficult to follow narrative, and, as a result, it was unfortunately left by the wayside as other games came out. I heavily, heavily disagree with almost every single complaint I’ve seen levied at Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.

I’m from the Midlands in the UK, so not all that far from Shropshire; seeing how the area is represented in Rapture was incredibly interesting. I’ve walked through woodland and farms that looked identical to places in Rapture, and I even found furniture that looked surprisingly similar to things that are in my house right now. Exploring a setting that is often so close to my own environment was a weirdly memorable experience, and I’d argue that Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is the closest thing you can get to actually exploring the British countryside in a game.

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Maybe this is why I never had a problem with Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’s pacing. Some argue that the game was too long (roughly six hours), and a lot of time was spent slowly ambling from plot point to plot point. However, I simply enjoyed the wandering too much for it to bother me. The freedom of really having a sometimes very personal and invasive around a village that looks very similar to ones just down the road from me was fascinating. Being able to see how the people really around me might be living and working succeeded in keeping me engages through the slower portions.

That experience was made all the better by the game’s overall presentation. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of the most hauntingly beautiful games I’ve played in a long, long time. Watching as the sun quickly sets over the church, or watching how the plants in the fields sway in the wind were very subtle effects that really made wandering through the game a pleasure.

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That’s not even mentioning Jessica Curry’s stellar soundtrack (which I’ve pre-ordered the vinyl release for, that’s how good it is). Watching lights fly through the sky while a choir sings in the background sent shivers down my spine. Seriously one of the prettiest games of the year in every possible way.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is your usual soap opera, and all the small-scale domestic conflicts they’re known for, wrapped up in an apocalyptic science-fiction story. It manages to dive seamlessly between an unknown and potentially alien threat wiping out the valley to dealing with more relatable problems like religion and euthanasia in a way that doesn’t feel disrespectful or limiting to either narrative. I found myself enjoying Lizzie’s romantic problems just as much as I did Stephen’s more frantic race against time, and I equally cared about each of the different plot threads The Chinese Room juggled.

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Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is one of those games that I wish had a bit more time in the limelight. While the game does sometimes veer more into being about that vague cultural concept of “Britishness” than actual realism, Rapture manages to handle effortlessly a large amount of plot threads worth discussing at greater length. Threads such as the religious debates present in Jeremy’s chapter, or how the game portrays a disabled character without ever actually physically showing them in Lizzie’s.

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a game that’s stuck with me in a massive way in the weeks since playing it, and I’m incredibly glad I took a chance on it.

Looking Back at 2015: Bloodborne

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We’re only a month away from the endless onslaught of Game of the Year awards. In a month, me and plenty of my friends and colleagues will be drafting up lists of our favourite games of the year, while also thinking ever so slightly less of the many people who don’t agree with us.

Before that happens though, I wanted to take a look back at some of the games I didn’t get the chance to talk about at the time for whatever reason.

These are not reviews, some of the games I haven’t played for months. They’re also not necessarily my Game of the Year™. They’re simply the games I found interesting (for better or for worse), but never really discussed when they came out.

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My least favourite videogame of all time is Dark Souls. I hate almost everything about it, from the massive lack of checkpoints and the clunky as all hell combat, to the obtuse stats system and the often unfairly punishing level design; everything came together and resulted in the game being an experience I can’t describe in any other way than complete and total loathing. I utterly, utterly detest Dark Souls.

Going into Bloodborne, I expected to feel much the same way about it that I do Dark Souls. I was totally prepared to hate the lack of a pause function, and find an endless stream of numbers that make no sense, or wind up being killed simply because Bloodborne is still fundamentally a Souls game. What I found turned out to be the most fun I’ve had with a From Software game ever, and one of the biggest surprises I had this year in gaming.

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Bloodborne differed from its Souls cousin in a few slight yet important ways. It was a much, much faster game than Souls, letting you dart all over the place more readily and get your attacks in more frequently. Weirdly, this speed made Bloodborne feel like a more forgiving game. Panicking, flailing, and thinking on the fly (often unsuccessfully) were a part of every encounter and the game expected you to make some input errors every now and then.

Where Souls needed laser-precise tactical thinking, Bloodborne was much more of a ‘go with your gut’ sort of game, and that alone made it a more enjoyable experience for me.

Another problem I had with Souls was the ridiculous distances you often had to go between a checkpoint and a boss encounter. Having to trek for minutes through hordes of difficult enemies, only to be killed by a boss a few seconds into the encounter and have to start that segment all over again, felt like an obnoxious and almost disrespectful waste of my time.

While Bloodborne did sometimes run into those same problems (the lead-up to the Cleric Beast early on in the game being a particularly annoying example that I remember), I noticed it was also more liberal with giving you interesting shortcuts that weren’t hidden in the arse end of nowhere.

This tighter level design compared to Souls meant having to fight your way back to a boss felt like it had a purpose, with exploration between point A and point B being more readily rewarded. Regaining ground lost in Dark Souls felt like being repeatedly kicked in the teeth, whereas in Bloodborne it felt like being encouraged to look at things from a different perspective.

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One of the few things Souls did well was teasing the player with a deep, often hidden lore through character designs and the setting’s architecture, rather than through any of the game’s immediate events.

Bloodborne was a bit more direct in its storytelling, but that doesn’t mean the fantastic visual and enemy designs that tell their own story weren’t still present. Just stopping a moment to take a look around, or studying how the various bosses link into each other’s stories was incredibly rewarding to me.

Bloodborne’s Gothic Lovecraftian setting was used to great effect. Yharnam felt like a real place, with bands of hunters marching down the streets with torches and pitchforks, and terrified citizens cowering in their houses. This was a massive improvement over Dark Souls’ Lordran, which while great at telling a story did also sometimes feel a bit game-y, with enemies placed into the world like pieces on a chess board, just waiting for me to be killed repeatedly by them.

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Ultimately, what I took away from Bloodborne was a realisation that the template From Software has used for their games since Demon Souls can work in a way that’s fun, challenging and rewarding, without being unfair or frustrating to play. Dark Souls was a bad game, but Bloodborne proved to me that it didn’t have to be a bad game. That’s a really reassuring thought with the “Soulsborne” series seemingly becoming an annual occurrence.

I could still do with a basic pause feature though. Playing for more than 20 minutes is murder on my wonky hands.

Looking Back at 2015: Grow Home

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We’re only a month away from the endless onslaught of Game of the Year awards. In a month, me and plenty of my friends and colleagues will be drafting up lists of our favourite games of the year, while also thinking ever so slightly less of the many people who don’t agree with us.

Before that happens though, I wanted to take a look back at some of the games I didn’t get the chance to talk about at the time for whatever reason.

These are not reviews, some of the games I haven’t played for months. They’re also not necessarily my Game of the Year™. They’re simply the games I found interesting (for better or for worse), but never really discussed when they came out.

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Back when I was managing editor for Indie Haven, a common discussion we had revolved around trying to figure out which games were and were not suitable for coverage. We know the likes of Call of Duty would certainly never count as “indie”, but what about things like Life is Strange or Telltale’s games?

Because of that debate, we had a simple litmus test that I explained as “indie games are like porn, you know it when you see it.” If a game felt indie in some way and wasn’t a blatant major AAA release, and it was a game worth sharing with the audience, then we’d allow it.

But then games like Grow Home burst onto the scene back in February and really challenged my oh-so-conclusive test as what is and what isn’t indie.

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Developed and published by AAA powerhouse Ubisoft, Grow Home is still one of the most indie-spirited games to happen this year. Beginning life as a fun little experimental project to be shared internally at Ubisoft, it eventually got developed into a larger title made for public release.

Grow Home has the player try and climb to the top of the world while also growing a huge plant taller and taller. Climbing is heavily physics-based, with the controls sometimes feeling a bit clunky. Playing as a clunky little robot called B.U.D. completely recontextualised the frustration brought by those controls, and managed to turn them into something incredibly enjoyable while also fairly challenging at times.

There isn’t all that much to Grow Home. If you’re not climbing a mountain, you’re climbing a plant, or climbing around a cave, or climbing on a bull or just climbing something at some point in time for some reason. But those simple mechanics are used to great effect when the world you’re given to use them in is as expansive and fun to explore as Grow Home’s is. Kilometres of floating islands, dark caves and waterfalls, all littered with wildlife, were realised in a wonderfully clean low-poly style. Grow Home is definitely one of the prettiest games of the year both in the architecture of its space and in its visuals, that’s for sure.

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Grow Home is an important game to remember from this year for a number of reasons. Even if it is another Ubisoft game about climbing, it’s an example that hulking AAA publishers can and should take time out to produce smaller experimental titles such as this.

It also shows that in a year where we’ve had games like The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V raising the bar on both graphical fidelity and mechanical depth, a good art style and simple mechanics are still all you really need to make a memorable game.

Good job, Grow Home. You’re a game produced by a groaning, AAA company, yet you also managed  be one of the most delightfully indie games of the year.

Review – Fallout 4

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Fun, Yet Cynical

I’m a pretty massive Fallout fan. I absorb the game’s lore and fan wiki like an obsessive sponge, and just love exploring the retrofuturistic wastelands Interplay and Bethesda have given us. The series’ black humour that never verges into over-the-top grimdark edginess, the incredibly creative locations and groups of people you come to meet; I just can’t help but love everything about the Fallout series. That’s why it pains me to say that I am somewhat disappointed by more than a few elements of Fallout 4.

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There are plenty of things to like about Fallout 4.

Fallout 4 takes place in and around Boston, Massachusetts; an area known in the Fallout universe as the technologically advanced Commonwealth. For the most part, Bethesda has managed to deliver on giving us a world worth exploring that totally lives up to the interest built during certain quest lines in Rivet City from Fallout 3.

It feels like a real place where people are surviving and thriving, unlike Fallout 3’s Capital wasteland, while also not feeling as sparse and monotonous as New Vegas’ Mojave. There’s plenty of stuff to find, and a great mix of rural and urban areas to delve into.

Fallout 3 and New Vegas were RPGs first, and shooters second. While on the whole this was the best way to go (what with the series being dubbed the “Post-Nuclear Role Playing Game” and all), it did mean that shooting in the previous games felt incredibly flat and pretty unsatisfying.

Fallout 4 took inspiration from popular shooter Destiny, and as a result massively improves on the gunplay from its predecessors. Shooting feels meaty and enemies respond to your shots, and damaging limbs has become a really viable strategy as opposed to just aiming for the head previous. It’s the combat that feels like the biggest improvement over the previous games, and dang is it fun.

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Another massive change is how one of the most ubiquitously Fallout things, the Power Armour, functions. Previously, you would simply require training to use it, and once you had acquired a suit you would be able to trudge along the Wasteland with it at all times. The armour has its own power supply, and when it runs out of juice, you can either refill it or abandon it and continue on foot. As a bonus, you take massively less damage when wearing it.

It’s a nice system, as I’ve never liked using Power Armour in the past due to the bulk of it slowing me down while doing quests. Now it serves as more of a vehicle to get you safely from point A to point B, protecting you from ambushes from the less friendly Commonwealth inhabitants.

One of the best new additions Fallout 4 is also the thing I’ve been most pleasantly surprised about: base building. I expected it to be more of a pointless, shallow little side-feature that I’d only do if a quest required me to, but oh how wrong I was. Scavenging the land to find the best materials to make my dream home in the post-apocalypse took up a hell of a lot more time than I was expecting.

My houses in Megaton or The Strip in previous games were something I used only to sleep in if I needed to, and never really felt like a home to me. I never bothered putting up ornaments or storing my items when I knew I’d have a pack-mule of a companion to do all the work for me. But my little settlements across the Commonwealth were mine. I’d put the work into making them habitable and safe, and I was going to make damn sure they succeeded. It was a really nice palette cleanser after utterly annihilating a band of raiders, or climbing around a Super Mutant camp.

What it does well, Fallout 4 does really well. It makes it all the more disappointing that there are some pretty huge issues with it too.

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One of the most interesting things Bethesda teased us with up to launch was the inclusion of a pre-war segment. The world of Fallout before the bombs dropped has always had an air of mystery and curiosity around it, so having the ability to see it for myself was incredibly exciting.

So imagine my disappointment when the entire pre-war segment amounted to not much more than choosing your character and getting to the underground Vault. I had no sense of attachment or loss once I’d moved on through to long after the bombs simply because I wasn’t given any time to be invested in it or the family that would revolve around much of the main plotline.

It served as a neat narrative purpose for players new to Fallout by making the playable character just as unaware of the workings of the Commonwealth as we are, but it also felt like a big kick in the teeth for those of us who have been invested in the series for a number of years.

Fallout 4’s habit of skipping past what makes Fallout so special pervades the entire game. From the 15 or so hours I’ve spent on it, a lot of the dark humour that the previous games had is long gone. Fallout 4 feels like it’s been designed by Bethesda’s marketing department to be as sellable and “safe” as possible: there’s Nuka-Cola, there’s Super Mutants, and there are Vaults, but they’re all icons that can be easily pressed into memorabilia. There hasn’t been anything or anyone who felt as special to me as Megaton’s Moira Brown or Freeside’s The King, nor locations like Oasis, the Sierra Madre or Little Lamplight. It’s just been sad people in the post-apocalypse surviving the post-apocalypse while being sad, and not much else.

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Fallout has never had particularly well-designed menus: if it isn’t Fallout 3 and New Vegas’ clunky Pip-Boy, it’s Fallout’s weirdly unresponsive metal shutters, and Fallout 4 is no exception to this. The Pip-Boy has returned, and probably through some dark arcane magic they’ve managed to make it even more fiddly and difficult to use than before. I have yet to find a decent way flipping between submenus and have had to jump quickly between using my keyboard and the mouse depending on what information I want to look at. It just feels utterly awkward to use, and that’s before you consider how unhelpful the new equipment system is.

One of the big changes from Fallout 3 and New Vegas is that armour can now be equipped on individual body parts: a leather left arm, a metal right leg, that sort of thing. It may give some ideal opportunities to cosplay as bloody Edward Elric if you want, but when you’re just trying to get the best out of what you have in a pinch, it can be a massive, massive pain in the arse. It also means playing dress-up with outfits is often not worth the hassle of remembering exactly which boiled leather left big toe you had equipped when heading back out on the road.

Weaponry isn’t much easier to control either. The new hot bar would, in theory, function the exact same as previous games: weapons are assigned to number keys that will equip and unequip them as you press the number. In practice, the icons that represent each item are vague and totally unhelpful when organising which gun goes where, and so often I found myself just hopping into the Pip-Boy and equipping them that way rather than risk accidentally pulling out a teeny-tiny little stick when going up against a Super Mutant.

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Previously I mentioned that the last few Fallout games had a bit of an imbalance between their shooter and RPG elements. While Fallout 4 has drastically improved its shooter elements, it hasn’t necessarily balanced the scales as the reworked RPG mechanics fall completely flat.

The new stat system revolves itself heavily around the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system for absolutely everything. Whereas before S.P.E.C.I.A.L. worked as a baseline for your character to grow from, now they define exactly who you play as at all times. Gone are the days of levelling up your speech, now you have to put points into your charisma instead.

This feels like a simplification too far, as it can be difficult at times to know which skills you want to improve are related to which stat. Whereas before I could just improve my lockpicking skill directly, now I have to improve my perception enough to unlock the perk that lets me pick more complicated locks. Spreading one skill out over multiple points feels totally unnecessary to me while also making the entire affair pretty shallow as you just can’t level up essential skills are quickly.

Had Fallout 4 come out under any other name, I would’ve absolutely and vocally recommended it. The gunplay is solid, the world is well-designed, the new base-building system is deeply involving, and the entire thing is just fun to play. However, the magic of New Vegas and Fallout 3 seems to have all been washed away with the increased popularity of a post-Skyrim Bethesda and all the possibilities for memorabilia that entails. It just doesn’t feel like a Fallout game to me. It’s just a few cutesy robots and a godawful UI.

Review – Minecraft: Story Mode – Episode One

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When it was first announced, I had the same reaction to Minecraft: Story Mode a lot of people had. I was cynical that Telltale could give a game with no story that is based heavily on player creativity something that’d keep me engaged for an entire series. I love The Wolf Among Us and have enjoyed what I have played of Tales of the Borderlands, but I just couldn’t see how they could manage something as absolutely huge as Minecraft.

Well at last the first episode has come out, and I can safely say all of my concerns have been well and truly unneeded. Coming out of episode one, the first episode proves that Telltale have a really in-depth understanding of what made their previous series so successful, and they have continued to improve and refine on what they’ve made before.

Let’s be completely honest: the engine Telltale use for their games is a bit creaky. The animations, in particular, haven’t always been of the highest quality – especially the lip-syncing. When applied to realistic characters like Bigby Wolf or Clementine, they can look janky and unpolished, but it fits perfectly in the low-res world of Minecraft. Telltale have managed to use one of their most consistent criticisms as a strength in the presentation of Story Mode, and that is something to be applauded.

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However, it’s not as though Telltale hasn’t made any refinements on their core mechanics since their previous series either. The biggest thing Story Mode introduces is the addition of real-time combat. At certain points in the game, you’re given free control of the player character. You’re able to move backwards and forwards, select targets, and swing your sword whenever you like.

The first time this happened, I felt strangely overwhelmed by the relative amount of freedom Telltale had just given me, and I struggled with the controls slightly. Once I was acclimatised to it, I realised it’s simulating more or less exactly how combat in Minecraft works: just swing your sword and hope for the best.

There is something special about how Telltale utilised its combat in Story Mode. Had they tried to introduce this sort of combat into something like Game of Thrones, it would’ve felt clunky. But when the combat in Minecraft is already so simplistic, it felt like a nice addition that helped tie Story Mode into its source material even more. In a similar way, the game includes small puzzles that require you to craft items in the exact same way as is done in Minecraft. This recreation of mechanics is a cool way of showing Story Mode is more than just an unrelated story using Minecraft as a canvas.

Building an interesting and believable world based on Minecraft must have been incredibly difficult. Bar some weird afterthought of an ending that no one ever sees, Minecraft has virtually no pre-established lore. If Telltale had added too much backstory, it would’ve felt like they were ignoring the source material, and too little would’ve been difficult to keep interesting for five episodes. It was potentially an incredibly difficult position to be in, but it’s safe to say what Telltale have done with such an IP is incredibly impressive.

As it is, there’s a lovely balance struck between the game undeniably being about Minecraft, while still also telling its own story. There isn’t a single Minecraft Steve in sight. Appearances from staples like Creepers are very few and far between, but Story Mode maintains that core feeling of exploration and creativity which so many people found appealing with Minecraft.

The characters’ creations and the world itself for the most part strictly adhere to Minecraft’s own logic. Items and blocks interact with each other in Story Mode in the same way they would in Minecraft, and the recipes for crafting items remains unchanged. It was strange just how familiar Story Mode felt to me because of my time playing Minecraft, despite Story Mode being something we’ve never seen done with the IP before, but that familiarity in and of itself is impressive.

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The first episode introduces us to Jesse, the character we control, and their (you can choose the gender and appearance of Jesse, which is neat) friends. The gang aren’t known for being the best builders in the world, but after winning a building competition are swept up into a battle to save the entire Minecraft world. Not only that, but a team of legendary builders must be found if there is any chance of succeeding. To solve the few light puzzles in Story Mode, Jesse and the team just master building structures and crafting items.

It’s apparent the decisions I’ve made now will actually have major ramifications over the course of the series. My bad decisions have already impacted on Jesse’s friends in some bad ways, and very minor decisions I made at the start of the episode didn’t have any impact until right at the end.

Not only that, but episode two seems to mark a major branching path with wildly different content depending on the decisions you made in episode one. Story Mode seems to be the point which Telltale have balanced both long-term and short-term effects, and I am looking forward to seeing how this carries across multiple episodes.

The writing in this first episode can feel a bit hit-or-miss at times though. With Minecraft being so incredibly popular with children, it was to be expected that Story Mode would be a much more child-friendly affair than The Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead. The problem is that premise sometimes feels like it’s verging too close to LEGO Movie territory. At the end of episode one, there’s  still not enough change to convince me it won’t just go down a similar route LEGO Movie did.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing: the differences between LEGO and Minecraft mean Story Mode is a lot more based in a single world than LEGO’s insistence on forcing Batman into everything just because. It works well for the most part, but can feel contrived and retreading already explored territory at times.

Premise aside, some of the characters are also fairly one-dimensional. Axel is immediately defined as the asshole friend who we’re meant to like for some reason, while we’re meant to initially dislike Lukas, despite him being nothing but nice to the player character at the start of the game. Story Mode has a habit of just assuming we’re on board with certain characterisations, instead of convincing us through the dialogue to come to our own conclusion about them.

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This is only episode one though, and despite these concerns I do think this will be a great series. The episode is incredibly well paced, with a decent balance between exploration and action.  Characters like Jesse and Petra are likeable enough to make up for some of the less well-written ones (and all of them are expertly voiced), and despite being a family-friendly game it still managed to get a few laughs out of me.

Overall, I’m impressed with Minecraft: Story Mode. It’s the first time I’ve felt like Telltale were comfortable with their own format; the Telltale gameplay we’re used to is well polished, and the new mechanics added fit in well with both the toolset they’ve established in their previous games and with the Minecraft IP in general. Very little in Story Mode felt out of place to me.

There were some stumbling blocks in the first episode in regards to the writing itself, but they’re things that I feel that will sort themselves out over the course of the series. Pnce we get to know the cast a bit better, those problems should clear up.

Story Mode is something very special, and if you’ve ever enjoyed Minecraft, you owe it to yourself to play the first episode.

Disclosure: I was given a review key by Telltale. I also used to work with the current community manager of Telltale during my time at Indie Haven. We have not worked together since he took on his new role, and our connection had zero impact on my thoughts on the game.

How Pokemon is a Great Metaphor for Chronic Pain

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I’ve done a lot of walking today. It was for a good cause, and I had a nice day, but nonetheless I did a lot of walking.

For most people, that’d just mean having a lazy evening sat chilling, but for me and my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, it means for the next couple of days I’ll be in quite a bit of pain. Random twinges in my calf muscles and both kneecaps feeling like they’re trying to secede from the rest of my body are just some of the fun things I’ve got in store.

This experience got me thinking about there not being very many games that really emulate the feeling I have right now. Plenty of games have stamina meters (including the frankly excellent Us which I wrote about for Indie Haven), but few manage to link the very act of moving to a real punishment in the same was as living with something like EDS.

And then it hit me: Pokemon is one of the best games about disability, and it isn’t even about disability.

Introduced in the first generation of Pokemon games, the Safari Zone is an area that was always incredibly exciting to me as a small child. There wasn’t the annoying battle system, I just got to stroll through a pretty zone and catch rad Pokemon like Kangaskhan and Scyther. But there was a caveat to the entire Safari Zone: every step I took, a timer would count down. Once it hit zero that was it. Fun’s over, no more Scythers for me.

The Safari Zone is a pretty decent parallel to explain what my day has been like. I enjoyed it, much like I did on my little Gameboy Safari trip, but it’s something I was also actively punished for doing. I had to sum up whether going a little bit further was worth it, or whether it’d just push me to the point I could do no more.

Having that threat of punishment, of not being able to do anything else if you take too many steps, also helps show the mind-set of people like me in day-to-day life. In the first generation of games, you are rewarded with a HM called “Surf” if you reach the centre of the zone. This lets you sail across the water and continue progressing through the game. Getting to the centre of the Safari Zone absolutely requires you to cut out any superfluous steps, as even with the most efficient route you get dangerously close to the limit.

Getting surf is about struggling against your own limited mobility, and it requires you to see the obstacles ahead of you in a very different way. Cutting corners, avoiding long grass, making sure you don’t get turned around and lost. That streamlining of movement mirrors things I have to tackle in everyday life. Can I really get to that shop, or are my legs already too bad? Will going out for fun now make it more difficult for me to do the things I absolutely need to do later on? I’m sure anybody familiar with chronic fatigue or pain would have asked themselves very similar questions.

It’s just interesting that I have been playing Pokemon for as long as I can remember, and yet it’s taken me now being sat in pain after shopping to realise just why my favourite bit of them really is my favourite.

Good job, Safari Zone. You may not have meant to be a good analogy for chronic pain, but god damn it you are.

What it’s like gaming with chronic pain, and why I fear the future

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I wrote for Polygon again! This time, about chronic pain and how that impacts my gaming.

EDS has throws obstacles between me and my enjoyment of games. The ever-shifting trends in game design, and the introduction of new hardware, constantly threaten to push me out of a hobby I love. I want to both shed some light on the problems I face, and also share resources of those aiming to improve mine and others’ gaming experience.

You can read the full article here.