Torgo's Best Geek Moments of 2013
Best of lists. They are everywhere. Best games of… Best films of… Best Anal…. EVERYWHERE! So why add another to the long, drawn out list of lists? Because geekdom is special to me. And it is the broadest category of “To each their own” there ever was. The best part of these lists when you find the thing that escaped you. That one thing that becomes the beginning of your best of next years list. So here are a few of the things that made my 2013 great in the geekiest possible sense in hopes that it helps to make your 2014 even better.
1. The Pathfinder Card game
This one makes the list because it introduces a concept rarely found in physical games outside of RPG’s; persistence. In most card/board games, you have your piece, you reach your goal(or don’t) and when you finish, you start over from scratch. Pathfinder turns this on it’s ear by giving your character a deck that slowly builds over time and gives that character the opportunity to upgrade it’s stats as well. Again, this is not an RPG. It is a card game. A card game with randomized dungeons and real risk for your character, as their death means the loss of all stats built. Decisions mean something. Risks have rewards and punishments. Challenging and fun. Character building is addicting.
Just when the guys at Re-Logic was thought to abandon their 2D Minecraft Clone, they not only give it a major update but make it available to every platform. Some interfaces are better than others, but all offer the same thing; gamer Zen. Minecrafters know the beautiful calm that comes with mining sessions. They know the excitement of exploring new computer-crafted worlds, and the chilling sound of an impending monster. Terraria is my true Minecraft experience. The new update adds so much atmosphere with much more promised in the future. There are other companies taking their cue from Re-Logic and building upon the premise (Starbound, Edge of Space) but until they get out of their alpha states, Terraria keeps pulling me back. And with Steam sales usually putting the cost of entry at under three dollars, this has easily been the best return on investment. Dig. Build. Dream.
3. David Cage Made Me Cry
I know a lot of gamers have issues with David Cage games (Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls). Some argue that they aren’t games at all. I can possibly agree to that somewhat, but Beyond: Two Souls did one thing that no other game did. It made me cry. There is one beautiful moment in the middle of the game that is performed and written so well, that it hit me hard in the feels. Not sad tears; beautiful happy ones. The basic premise of the game is that your character, Jodi, has a guardian spirit that makes her the focus of some nice (and not so nice people). The story is told in chapters that jump into various times in Jodi’s life. One chapter finds her homeless. No piece of art has ever made me truly feel what it is like to be homeless like this. The Humiliation, dejection, and small victories are felt through your trials and the characters you meet in this part of the story. The entire game is a treatise on loss. It was a surprisingly deep experience. Ignore the haters. If you can, play it through once. It will make you think. And if you are open to it, it will make you feel. A rarity.
4. Gone Home Changes What I Want in a Game
The PC only, first person Gone Home was a new experience. A game with no combat, all exploration, and a great unfolding story. The less you know about this game before going in, the better. Every now and then, a movie just makes you want to sit and think about and process what you saw. This is that in game form. I’ve been violently destroying my enemies in video games since my first Atari 2600 in the late 70’s and still love it. But this is new. This feels like the independent movie revolution of the mid 90’s. It immerses you in it’s world until it decides to let you go. The whole thing was a beautiful experience. How rare to say such a thing about a 3 hour game. I want more like it.
5. “Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh” makes a jaded horror lover tense again
When you have been loving horror films as long as I have, the fear… just goes away. You are jaded to it. You know the jump scare tricks. The gore is gross, but just that. It’s rare to find a film that can fill you with that same sense of dread that you had when you a kid, watching from underneath the cover. Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh finally brought all that back. It is a slow burning, beautiful film that is a testament to the building of tension and dread. I gave it a random shot on Netflix instant and bought it immediately afterward. It is directed by Rodrigo Gudiño (editor of Rue Morgue magazine), and with religion estrangement as a theme, it hit me where I wanted it to.
6. Deck Building Ain’t What I Thought It Was.
For the longest time, when I read “Deck Building Card Game” on the box, I assumed it meant it was like Magic: The Gathering without the collectability. I figured you were given a set amount of time to construct decks from the included cards and proceeded to punch your friends (metaphorically speaking). Oh, how wrong I was. What they should be called is “Procedurally Deck Builders” because the building happens one to two cards in a turn, slowly creating a strategy in which to punch your friends (metaphorically speaking) which makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. This has now become my favorite style of table top game. Some games are easier to pick up than others, but each one I have played has it’s own merits. In the past, I tried to shy away from card games in preference to monstrous board games. In 2013, this flipped on it’s head due to the mechanics of these games. Start With DC Comics or Lord of The Rings deckbuilders and see what I mean. Then move on to Star Trek and say good bye to free time.