I don’t play a lot of video games for one reason: it’s bad for me when I find a good one.
Frankly, that’s rare. With most games, it’s pretty at first, with some fun puzzles and an interesting setup. Maybe there will be a couple of easy fights (I don’t have a lot of patience with frantic, complicated fights) and the suggestion of a fun story.
Then shit starts to turn into a grind and I lose interest.
An exception was FREEDOM FORCE, and old squad-level superhero game, which had a sense of humor about it and let you pause the action to give the characters instructions. You fought giant ants, dinosaurs, alien invaders, minotaurs, the whole deal. I really enjoyed that game, and my poor wife saw nothing but the back of my head for two weeks. Not much writing got done, either. I finally had to delete the thing and put it away for good.
But I still own games and occasionally buy new ones. I keep hoping I’ll find a big name game that will really hook me, even though they all seem to grind.
Anyway, as a reward for finishing The Great Way, I bought myself the video game version of Sentinels of the Multiverse. We own the card game but never play it because a) it’s hard to read the text on those cards and b) the game has a simple structure but can become really complex. The video game version solved all that, because the cards were huge on the screen and the program kept track of all the little bullshit: how many plusses to damage, now many negatives, how many cards to play, etc.
When I say the structure is simple, I mean it. It’s a cooperative superhero-themed game, and each hero, villain, and environment has its own deck. The villain goes first, then each hero in turn, then the environment, then back to the villain again.
When playing a hero, you play a card from your hand, then use that hero’s power, then draw a new card. The villain and environment, in their turn, just play a card. That’s it. That’s how complicated it is.
However, some cards have an effect and go away, some stay around. Some take damage. Some let you play more cards, or draw more, or use extra powers.
In that sense, like M:TG, the cards are about breaking the games rules.
And I really, really liked playing it. It was absorbing as hell, with a lot of interesting complexity. The video game version turned a cooperative game into a solo one, but whatever, my wife and son didn’t like the game anyway.
When I played, I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t in pain. I just had flow. It was so great that I bought a year-long season pass to get all the new heroes, villains, and environments.
On Tuesday, I played one more game against
Lex Luthor Baron Blade, and took him out with The Flash Tachyon, then deleted the game from my wife’s iPad. I lose all the characters and all the variants I’d unlocked, but the truth is I was becoming obsessive about it. I was falling behind on things (not writing this time, but other stuff) and even though each game was not very long–mainly because I know the cards so well I don’t have to think about strategy too much–I kept returning to them again and again. Yeah, it made me forget my numerous discomforts for a short while, but it was also drawing me in in a way I could no longer allow.
So, it’s gone. For now. When the next update is released, I’ll probably download it again to try out the new characters and face the villains, but until then it’ll feel good to recapture some of that time. The older I get, the more precious it is.
It’s a great game, though. If Steam would toss it into the Summer Sale, I’d recommend it to everyone.