It took years for Dark Souls trilogy to finally click with me. I have been enamored with its setting and aesthetic since the very release of Prepare to Die Edition on PC. The port was poor, though, and it scared me away. By the time when modders fixed it, the ‘difficulty discourse’ caught up on me, and I didn’t bother. I didn’t want to ‘git good’ to enjoy the game and didn’t want to suffer—why should I waste time on that if there are plenty of instantly enjoyable games?
Then the dark times came. I was pretty depressed, and for some unexplainable reason, suffering through some hardcore unfair videogame became a far more acceptable idea. 2017 was the year when I finished Dark Souls I. It was accompanied by lots of suffering, cursing, panicking, and dying. Even with the ‘tank’ build—focus on strength and HP, Havel armor, etc. I still didn’t get it. I’ve tried playing Dark Souls II several times for the next five years—every time dropping the game out of pure frustration. A couple of Dark Souls III test runs ended with the same result. Something has changed since then. I killed Aldia, Scholar of the First Sin couple of weeks ago and now getting through Dark Souls III twenty hours in. Some of dying here and there, a little bit of cursing, almost no panicking. Zero suffering. I’m enjoying every second. It took me ten years to finally stop worrying and enjoy the fucking game.
I have somewhat ambivalent feelings about Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds. On the one hand, I’ve enjoyed it overall: it has some good writing and beautiful bright-colored aesthetic. On the other hand, there was a constant feeling of déjà vu throughout my play-through. Rarely it was a warm nostalgic breeze: most of the time, it was a suffocating swelter of banality. In the first half-hour of the game, The Outer Worlds had reminded me of Bioshock with its retro-stylistic propaganda posters, of Borderlands with its crazy space colony frontier atmosphere, of Douglas Adams’ books with its over the top satire, and expectedly Fallout: New Vegas with its… well, everything else. New Vegas’ spirit is omnipresent in The Outer Worlds, and it is not a good thing, as it seems to be. The reason is that Fallout: New Vegas is, in fact, a much better game.
Might & Magic series entered the new millennium with a limp. The Day of the Destroyer, the eighth game in the series has shown severe signs of stagnation and was met rather coldly by the public, which expected a rise to a new quality level from the beloved franchise. Furthermore, the Heroes series were also walking in circles, being caught in a loop of trying to stretch further the massive success of Heroes of Might & Magic III. In the light of the tough financial situation of the franchise’s publisher 3DO, the next game just had to be successful. So much was at the stake, that New World Computing’s two separate teams had been working simultaneously on both of franchises.
Again I will start an article with a spoiler alert: it all ended pretty bad.
The first five games of glorious Might & Magic franchise have received all the love and praise they deserved. But in the mid-’90s, New World Computing decided to put the series on hiatus. Sheltem’s story has ended on an epic note, and all the roleplaying juices seemed to dry out. Might & Magic became strategic: Heroes of Might & Magic has been released in 1995 and became the world’s most loved turned-based mind boggler almost instantly. But that’s the story for another time.
Might & Magic returned in 1998 after the years of constant technological advancements and evolution of RPG as a genre. It would be a grave mistake to not keep those environmental changes in mind, so NWC had to put their hand on the pulse of time. I am going to spoil you the ending: the return of Might & Magic into the roleplaying genre was phenomenal.
Behold that fabulous world of roleplaying games! Vibrant and beautiful, it floats through the vast space of escapist entertainment, enchanting the hearts and empowering the minds. There are three pillars this world is based upon—Ultima, Wizardry, and Might & Magic. Each of them had an overwhelming influence on the shape, feel, and direction that the genre of CRPG has taken while forming itself.
I’ve decided to turn my retro-gaze onto the youngest one of the three. Join me in remembering the wonderful worlds of Might & Magic and reminding once again the pure joy of virtual roleplaying escapism.