Emer: The Actual Best

Games Played: Tales From the Borderlands, Castaway Paradise, Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Sims 4
Games Finished: Tales From the Borderlands

My favorite games are the ones that are absorbing to the point of obsession. I get absorbed into things, focused on them to the exclusion of any other interests. After all, I had 2 complete and one half playthroughs of Dragon Age Inquisition, logging 183 hours in that game. And we don’t talk about how much time I spent in WoW; I fear doing /played on my priest. I really would rather not know.

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Anyway, Tales from the Borderlands is pretty much the only thing I played for over a week. It’s not a long game — five chapters. But it was so good. The storytelling was tight, clever, merciless. It didn’t let you feel like a hero free from consequences — the choices you made (and you have very little time to make them) have real aftershocks. It was funny in the way that all Borderlands games are. I mean, look, you get to have an absolute EPIC shootout with Hyperion’s accounting department…using finger guns. (If you fail at any point in the battle, the enraged accountant will tell you you are making a mockery of the fine hyperion finger gun tradition before actually killing you). The graphics were perfect Borderlands graphics, down to the slow motion, epic music title sequences. And it had so much heart.

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This game was — I actually think it was 10/10, the Actual Best. I suspect this is the only time I’ll say that about a game all year long, but there was no part of it that felt like a letdown, no part that felt like they had made bad choices.

Also played this week: FFRK, Sims 4, Castaway Paradise. Three of a kind. It’s been a long few weeks. I’m tired, sore, I’ve fallen on ice and wrenched my shoulder and bruised myself in separate instances, I’ve been sad and laid low by a song, it’s been lousy. So I needed something light and easy. Castaway Paradise was a long ago impulse purchase — it’s basically animal crossing monetized for the mac— and it’s sweet. There’s a real comfort in this kind of game for me, no matter how many ‘real’ games I play. Sometimes I want to just bask in a life that’s going RIGHT for once, and watch someone have happiness shoveled on them without a pause. Games are about escapism, and I can’t imagine a finer escape. I haven’t decided what will make this game “finished”; probably collecting every item in a set or something. We’ll see.

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Sims 4 is — well, I’ve played the sims since the very first (someone recently posted the Sims building music and it was like being transported to my best friends basement, huddled in front of her computer and outfitting a house with fancy white paneling, elegant couches, candelabras — all the things I thought were cool when I was 12). The thing is, the Sims games get boring quickly, and the other thing is, EA has their hooks in me like an expert angler. I buy ‘em, play them for a few hours, and then get bored. The sole exception was in the Sims 3: there was a playable architect career that gave you the ability to completely redesign other sim’s houses. I played the hell out of that because building and decorating are 100% the best part of the Sims. I’ll fight you. Anyway, I wondered what would constitute “wining” the sims — it’s open ended, after all. I decided to do a challenge — 10 generations, with the first generation poor and houseless. It’s a bootstraps challenge!

And Final Fantasy Record Keeper is going to be a bit of a puzzler. It’s one of a series of dungeon games that have come out on iOS — pixel fights with monsters from the final fantasy universe, bringing in some friends from various games. It’s alright, but I’m kicking myself for making it an impulse download so long ago and not deleting it from my iPad long before I even thought of this challenge. Oh well. 80 levels, let’s do this.

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I’m still hungry for an extra immersive game. Skyrim? Mass Effect? We’ll see. If I can break out of this funk, I’ll be hungry for something that can keep my attention and give me just that burst of escapism.

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