Why Are Games So Depressing Lately?

The other day I was feeling kind of down–nothing major, just normal stressful life stuff–so I thought I’d jump on a few MMOs to escape reality for a bit. First I got on LotRO. I’m in Mordor and, well, it’s not exactly a cheery place, so that didn’t last long. So I logged off of that and thought I’d try Guild Wars 2. The character I’ve been running through the story on is just starting Orr… land of zombies, ruins, and undead dragon corruption. Not much better. The Elder Scrolls Online offered me a quest that involved a daughter murdering her father because he betrayed and murdered his son. Diablo III… well, everything’s depressing in Diablo, isn’t it?

I’m not looking for Rainbow Puppy Fun Times Online, but why does everything have to be so dark? There are even some games, like Secret World or Path of Exile, that I avoid completely because, while the gameplay sounds fun, one look at a screenshot or video is enough to tell me that I won’t last long because of the setting. So why do games get so depressing? I know I’m not the only one who has gotten burnt out on a game because they went from a starting zone that was colorful and cheery to one that was Fifty Shades of Brown. I think the idea is for the location to create a sense of desperate struggle against evil, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion has done a great job of telling a story of a desperate struggle in a place that is absolutely freaking beautiful. I used to log into Marvel Heroes at times like this. It was light and fun without involving much thought. But now that that’s gone I haven’t found anything else to fill that gap.

So what gives, game devs? Life is depressing enough as it is! Why do games have to bring me down too?


Fashionably Late to the Diablo III Party

First off, sorry that it’s been so long since I posted. I feel like I should just declare December a no-blog month from now on, because it seems like I always think I’m going to get lots of time for gaming, but then it doesn’t end up happening. And when gaming doesn’t happen, I don’t have much to blog about, and even less time to write about it.

Anyways, what little gaming I did do in December was unexpectedly dominated by Diablo III. I know, it’s over five years old, but I gave up on being cutting edge a long time ago. I really like the Diablo-like gameplay style, but I’ve never been very attracted to the grimdark, apocalyptic, demon-themed setting of actual Diablo games. I’d rather play lighter derivatives like, say, Marvel Heroes. Except that I can’t play that anymore, can I? (Yes, I’m still bitter) I recently saw the base Diablo III box on clearance for $5 at my local Walmart, so I thought I’d give it a shot, and hopefully ease the sting of Marvel Heroes’ passing.

I have to say, the gameplay is really addicting. It’s one of those games that doesn’t involve a ton of thought, but provides an experience that’s best described as “satisfying.” I have heard it compared, on more than one occasion, to popping bubble wrap. My first character was a monk, and I’ve been really surprised by how much fun he is. I figured he’d be a boring, single-target melee class that I could learn the ropes with, then move on to more interesting things (after all, as I’ve mentioned before, my fist MMO character is almost always doomed to be abandoned as the urge to alt sets in). I bought the necromancer DLC while it was on sale because I love summoners in any RPG, but I’ve barely touched it because the monk has been so much fun. He has a surprising amount of AoE, with spinning kicks and exploding bleeds and all. I’m sure I’ll go back and try the other classes–I played Torchlight II at least most of the way through on two of the original classes and a few fan-made mod classes–but I think I’m going to try to finish with my monk first.

As for the story it’s… meh. But that’s just what I’ve come to expect from ARPGs. Marvel Heroes’ story felt like a weak excuse to send you from zone to zone (I don’t think I ever even finished the post-Doom stories). Torchlight and Torchlight II… probably had stories, but I really don’t remember them. Diablo III at least has some good voice-over work, but it still seems like it can be summed up as “demons are bad and want to kill everybody, and you should probably stop them. Oh, and angels are basically Diablo elves who are super powerful but don’t care about the plight of humans.”

If I had to pick between Diablo III and Torchlight II, I’d probably go with Torchlight II. Honestly, they’re both great, solid games, but they’re basically the same game. The things that sway me in Torchlight’s direction are that the graphics are more appealing to me (sort of WoW-ish colorful and cartoony stylization), and, given that Diablo III is always online, it can’t support mods or player created maps, which really extended the life of Torchlight II for me.

I’m about half way through Act III of Diablo III, and I’m hoping to finish before the end of January so I can try that retro Diablo anniversary event.