Thursday, September 30, 2010

Video Game Day 2010

Today I am taking the day off work to play video games. This is not a lazy shirking of my duties, but an attempt to expel that nagging feeling of regret I experience when I see a game on the shelf at work that I was so excited about, read so much about, but never played. I’ve borrowed four games that I have been wanting to play for as much as a year but have not had the chance. I plan to play each game for about an hour and a half, so what’s recorded here are merely first impressions.


I immediately like the art and cinematic direction; it seems straight out of comics and graphic novels. This is like an animated Image Comics title (I haven’t read comics in over ten years, so that may be way off base). Some of the frames look hand drawn, and I expect to see text bubbles any second.

I’m struggling a bit with the combat mechanics. I think I’m doing okay... Until three deaths at the first miniboss. Combat has a different pacing then I’m used to; I’m trying to play as if the game had the even-tempered free flow of Batman: Arkham’s combat, or the measured, slow precision of Demon's Souls.

I have much more success when I stop being a wuss and don't hang back and wait for an opening. Instead I powerslide in and start wailing on the guy, and when I see his attack animation, I powerslide back out for a second, and then back in more some more wailing. It’s less interactive, but it feels more bad-ass, and fits better with the game.

I’ve reached my first hub-like zone and got a power to unlock one of the areas. This seems much more familiar, and I understand the associations I’ve heard made with Zelda and Metroid. This seems like a game I could really get into.

I've played a few of the challenge rooms and have unlocked some of the ability upgrades and a new weapon - a scythe - and can definitely see where this game is going. The combat has clicked with me and seems very intuitive now. I don't really play a lot of combo based fighting games like this, so maybe this is something I should check out some more.

Red Faction: Guerrilla

I was super excited about this series for a long time, but never played them, for whatever reason. Aside with the grappling hook arm of Bionic Commando, I can’t think of another more exciting game mechanic than destructible buildings with full physics.

I’m surprised by how quickly the game gets the story out of way, gives me a sledgehammer, and tells me to go wreck a building. Okay! Toppling buildings feels very good to me; it’s just complex enough that I have to think about destroying supporting beams and avoid being hit by the building as it falls, but I can still just go in there, start swinging, and have fun.

Shooting is very easy, and unexciting. It's almost a matter of pointing and clicking, and lacks punch to the experience. Demolition is much more fun, so much so that I regret having to slow down and shoot guys. Throwing charges at them and laying traps for their vehicles is a lot more fun, and I forget I even have a gun. There’s an ambush mission that I failed a few times until I used explosives to drop a bridge on the invading convoy. Awesome.

This was a solid two hours of fun. I finished the first zone. There were different kinds of missions with just enough variation to keep me interested, but never too overwhelming. I would like to play some multiplayer matches with friends or at a LAN party; flanking the enemy by bashing in the rear of their building and tossing in a few charges to flush them out is priceless.


Pressing start was awesome! What a way to begin a game. I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it. That moment is enough to get me excited about the unfolding narrative and dive right in.

After a slower moving game like Red Faction, this game feels really fast. The player moves and turns much faster, and the standard electronic bolt shot pops right off, with a high firing rate. I spend more than a few minutes running around and blasting cars, which feels very satisfactory.

I’m not as annoyed by the moral choice moments that stop the game and ask you to make a decision. It gives me a chance to stop and think about how to role play my character, or just what reactions I want to see from the NPC’s. There’s a scene where I’m helping a dude try to escape across a bridge that really builds some tension and makes me feel like I’m caught up in an event. It seems like both types of pacing are represented.

Uncharted 2

I’ve gone through my hour and a half without stopping to write. I guess that speaks to the pacing and flow of this game. If you had asked me before if I wanted to play through an interactive Indiana Jones video game, I would’ve said, “no,” and instead pulled out my copy of Shadow of the Colossus. But I really like the story of Uncharted 2 despite that I don’t think I should. I think this is a sign of craft over genre winning me over.

It also has some gamey elements. I was captured about ten times in the beginning of the level where I had to sneak past some palace guards; that was annoying and felt somewhat like I was playing a plat former, trying to find the exactly correct path through a maze.

It doesn't seem very open to different playstyles, but small increments of progression are very rewarding with all the in-game dialog, camera angles, and art, so the challenge of figuring out what they want me to do doesn't ever become annoying.

The next level has become a cover-based firefight, and this is where I start to lose interest. I haven’t given the game enough time to discover the right rhythm of combat, like how much I can run-and-gun and how much I have to sit and cover and take pot shots. A few times I was flanked and felt like guys were spawning in behind me. But throughout, I can tell there is a lot of attention to creating a very particular experience, and I really appreciate that in a game. I think if this game were more to my esthetic liking, I’d be all over it, but for everything it does well, it doesn’t have the mechanics gimmicks to draw me in (which totally says more about me than the game).

This has been Video Game Day 2010.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Board Gaming on the iPad

I'm primarily a video gamer, but I play my share of board games. I would rather play Settlers with than talk to people at parties, I have stress dreams about Arkham Horror, and I've recently started teaching and running board games at a local yearly convention, Templecon. While friends and co-workers often provide enough of an outlet for board gaming, I often find myself wanting to have a similar experience in a more solitaire or smaller scale.

Apple marketed the iPad as being a magical, revolutionary device. While most people will be a little critical of that statement, I can wholeheartedly agree that it has opened up a new form of board gaming. With several implementations of popular board games, offering simpler set up and single player modes for a few of my favorites, the iPad has the potential to at least be a small revolution in board gaming.

SmallWorld is a great, fun game that is generally accessible and appealing to new gamers, yet deep enough to have legs for veterans. But with over a hundred tiles and tokens to maintain, it can be a little unwieldily. Anybody ever ask you if you want to play a quick game of SmallWorld? It's not really possible. While experienced players can complete a game in 20 or 30 minutes, the setup, teardown, and tile pushing during turns extends that a significant amount. The iPad version, while limited to two player games only, makes a strong case for digital board gaming. Setup is instant, stacks of tiles are a breeze to manipulate, and the medium suits the game perfectly because SmallWorld doesn't have cards, and therefore doesn't require closed hands. The device can sit in between two players and emulate all the good parts of the real world experience. The art really shines on the iPad, and the display's high resolution faithfully represents the board and pieces.

Settlers of Catan for the iPhone and iPad fares less well. The problem here is that hands are secret, so there's a lot of dialog boxes like, "please hand over to player 2." When it comes time to trade resources, each trade requires multiple handing back and forth of the device. However, as a solo experience against AI, it's great; I can finally play Catan when I want, where I want, and with a bunch of dumbass opponents who I can usually beat. The creators did a good job with this version, but if they could solve the problem of hidden hands, maybe like how Scrabble has done by allowing iPhones and iPods to act as peripherals to view your tiles privately, this would be a fantastic iPad game. The same developers are working on an iPad version, so we'll see.

I picked up the tile-placing game Ingenious on the iPhone without having played it in board format, and after seeing the digital version, I don't think I ever want to. The game requires tactics that live up to its name, but I can only imagine that scoring by hand is Infuriating. Here's an example of computers doing what they do best; calculating numbers. I love the game, but I would never want to have to count all the points each player is getting every turn. There are a few other Reiner Knizia card games out there which fare as well.

I've also been logging a lot of time in the solitaire version of Carcassone for the iPhone, which has the player placing gorgeously rendered tiles to build roads and castles in a particular order. The multiplayer version is as good. At some point in every game, though, I just wish the screen were bigger; as the game progresses, the board's play space only gets larger, and a device like the iPad can only be surpassed by one with a larger screen. Please port this to the iPad! Perhaps Apple can start thinking about a table-sized device like Microsoft's?

As much disdain as you might have for the explosion of casual games on the iPhone and iPad platform, there are some really great ports of board games coming out, made by developers with obvious love for the games. If anybody knows of any others, please share! Until then, I'm waiting patiently for an iPad version of Arkham Horror.

PC Gaming

I've been a Mac user since 1990. I saw SimCity in a store, and was captivated by the colors, the menu system, and the iconography. I demanded that the next family computer be a Macintosh LC. I bought a Mac Classic with my own money on which to run a BBS. In the late 90's I installed MkLinux on a Powertower 180. Gaming without a discrete graphics card, BBS server on an all-in-one, and Linux on a closed platform; for a very long time I have been using the right platform for the wrong reasons. Ironically, the advent of Steam for Mac finally inspired me to build a gaming PC.

My current computer is an iMac from 2007. It has a huge, beautiful 24" screen that looks just as good as the day it arrived. I originally bought it to placate my World of Warcraft gaming, but soon after gave up the game. Since then it's been a fantastic machine for all that other stuff that you use computers for, like spreadsheets and Flash games. And when Steam came out, I thought I'd finally get to play some real games on it. I downloaded Portal (which I had played years earlier on Xbox, don't worry), booted it up... and found out that my video card was too old. What do iMac owners do when faced with such a problem? They have to buy brand new computers.

That's just wrong, right? I want a gaming computer, but one that I can plug into my TV and use from the couch. After looking at new Mac prices, considering the underpowered 2010 Mini, and doing some research, I found that I can build a machine that will play everything I wanted to play on the PC right now for $800, while a comparable Mac would cost twice as much or require me to sit at a desk. Apple just isn't interested in making a gaming computer for me.

What Steam for Mac really did was make me realize how much I was missing by not being able to play PC games, and by offering me some of that, it made me want the whole thing. So come this fall, probably with the release of Cataclysm (which I just want to check out, just a little, I promise), I will be building a gaming PC.

Batman Arkham Asylum

I picked up a copy of Batman: Arkham Asylum based solely on reviews, despite having no interest in the subject matter. The podcast Gamers With Jobs, whose tastes generally fall in line with mine, raved about it when it came out, but it took the accolades of co-workers before I gave it a chance. I mainly picked it up because it was cheap and reportedly had a fantastic melee fighting system, but before I knew it I was totally engrossed.

Engrossed--despite the subject matter. I don't really like the old DC Golden Age treatment; I think the heroes and villains have goofy names and look dumb, but I think the game walks a good line by making Batman and Joker interesting characters. But the animation and character art of Batman totally sold me. I still find myself using Batman's door opening animation on the bathroom door at work, pulling it open as I whip my cape around and hurl myself through the doorway. I set myself up to only like only the combat mechanics, but ended up loving the character treatments and animation.

I honestly didn't really get the game at first. I played an hour or two and was confused by the scope. I wasn't sure where the game was going to take me and how big or small it would be. Then I picked it up when I was home with a cold and played it for three days straight. Batman has exactly what I like about Zelda and Metroid games: overworlds and repeated trips through content that is opened up with new items. It has a perfect mix of size and variability that rewards exploration, yet I could pick up the game in the middle and instantly know where to go and what to do next with solid level design and a good map system. It's rare for a game to leave that kind of impression on me, especially when I wasn't really looking for it.

In fact, I kind of hope that the new Zelda learns a little bit from Batman. I really appreciated that the combat and item use mechanics in Batman built up evenly through the entire game, and that all boss battles up to the final one used skills you had learned throughout the game. It never switched things up and introduced a new mini game you just had to pound through to kill a boss; every boss battle had me feeling prepared and confident, yet still challenged me and left me feeling accomplished. The combat permeated the entire game, and it was simple, elegant, deep, and satisfying, and reminded me that a game franchise doesn't have to break new ground to be just right.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mass Effect 2

Due to my spotty gaming history and never having owned a Playstation 2 or Xbox in their heyday, there are few current gaming franchises to which I feel very connected in that I have expectations of their sequels. However, in my job as a game developer, the first Mass Effect was my life for almost two years, so it was excitement and trepidation that I sat down to play Mass Effect 2. This article is about my impressions of how the game has changed in this sequel.

The biggest problem of making improvements to a game like Mass Effect 1 is that they bring to light all the shortcomings of the first game. For all its flaws, ME1 was a triumphant lovechild of action and story. ME2 is that child all grown up. In story, gameplay, and characters, ME2 does almost everything better than the first go around.

As a whole, the story of ME2 simply comes together better and makes more sense than the first. It’s more immersive, paced better, and makes a better game. In ME1 you're told to rush out and save the galaxy, but are presented with seemingly inconsequential side quests. While we all know this is standard RPG fare, it lessens the urgency of your main objective; enjoying the game content is in opposition of the fiction of the story. In ME2, the side quests are reasonable to pursue because the main fiction is that you're on a suicide mission, and any new crew members and ship upgrades increase your survivability. Not only that, but by making your crew members loyal to you by helping them out with personal issues, they contribute to your overall success, and present you with additional abilities. At a few points, characters even argue over whether you should do more side quests to build up your forces or rush into the final battle. Rather than ask the player to accept the necessities of the game mechanics, it turns them into an interesting conflict and choice. The game would not have been less fun without these touches, but they do much to make the story and game structure support each other.

The mechanics of character interactions in a BioWare game, while old hat to old school gamers, can be a bit tricky to grasp to newcomers. It’s not clear when new conversation options will become available. Yeoman Chambers addresses this problem. She is your in-game notification system that there is interesting NPC content to be had. As we now can't imagine playing an RPG without a journal that keeps tracks of our current quests and where we should go next, soon we won't accept anything less than our own personal Yeoman Chambers telling us which NPC's have new conversation options. I missed a lot of the teammate interaction in the first game simply because I didn't know when I should go try talking to them again, but I feel like I hit them all in ME 2, thanks to the Yeoman.

The shooting mechanics are greatly improved over ME1. The cover system works a lot better, and shooting areas are provide enough cover to make using it fun. Weapon selection is simplified, and there's no need to enter an inventory screen to switch ammunition types. I still felt a few rough spots. I found myself popping out of cover unintentionally, and playing a infiltrator, I used my sniper rifle often, and found myself stuck in or unable to get into zoomed mode after using the powers menu. This inconsistent behavior made the combat get in the way just a tad too often. Otherwise, the combat was pleasant, to the point of feeling too easy; I played on veteran and hardly ever had any trouble. Similarly, I never felt like I had to use squad commands to give me an edge in combat, with a single exception (the final battle when you pick up Grunt). On one hand, that could be a testament to good AI, but on the other hand, it never left me with the feeling that my squad just barely survived. All in all, my complaints are few and minor, and what I take away from the game are memories of good action sequences and some interesting combat scenarios.

Side missions feel a lot better in this version. They almost all have some individuality and relate strongly to the plot. They also almost always have battle situations, so if you're ever bored of talking to people, just go scan planets until you find a side mission. They are good breaks from the plot and usually digestible in short gaming sessions. And often, these side missions will eventually result in you getting an email regarding the outcome of the missions, which gives them a nice bit of resonance.

The game's lore is expanded from the first game. I found the story of the krogan genophage to be some of the most interesting and compelling writing of the game, and brought the other races into a different light, challenging me to make tough choices about where to put my support. Beyond just trying to guess which choice would take me down the Renegade or Paragon path I thought I wanted to follow, ME2 made me think about how I wanted to affect the world and progress the story. On the other hand, while we find out more about the previously mysterious and faceless bad guy geth race, it only serves to make them a more familiar science fiction archetype. The universe of Mass Effect is getting wider and deeper and continues to be comfortably familiar as well as surprising at times.

Shepard feels much more like a leader and commander in this game. In ME1, and in many other games that put the player in a role of leadership, I never really felt like a commander. Sure, I got to pick my squad and make some inspiring speeches, but I never felt like the character deserved the role the game told me was mine to play. The decisions Shepard has to make in the sequel are a lot tougher, and challenge the player to think like a leader. Some times it seems like there are no right answers to avoid crew casualties (though I guess there actually are, and I just didn’t find them). He isn’t just a player avatar that you can make good or bad by choosing the right dialog options; he is a character that you have to actually have to become, and in doing so, build a level of empathy that is absent in too many games.

And yet, there are problems. While ME2 omits long Mako safaris across barren planets, there is the planet scanning mini-game. There is an awkward and contrived plot device near the end of the game that exists solely to allow a dramatic confrontation. There are side quests that feel like they got tacked on at the end of the project. But whatever, they’ll probably fix them all in the next game.

All in all, ME2 is a wild success, not just compared to other games, but compared to itself in ME1.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mass Effect 2, on the best mini-game ever

I’m finishing two articles on Mass Effect 2, and this little item didn’t fit into either, but I don’t want to let it die. It’s about the planet scanning mini-game.

To acquire mineral resources that purchase upgrades, you need to find planets and scan them to find mineral deposits. Each planet has, maybe, twenty or more deposits to find. The interface for this has you use a thumbstick to move a reticle over a spherical model, like a cursor with a radius. When you hold down one trigger, the reticle moves slower, painfully slower, but you are able to detect deposits. A display on the right tells you if you’ve detected any resources and to what degree; you can find deposits with a range of amounts of one or more elements. When you’ve found a node, you can make smaller adjustments to find the local maximum, honing in on the greatest payout. When you’re ready, you hit the other trigger to fire a probe that magically scoops up your loot.

Yeah, we all hated it. It is simply a time filler. That said, the implementation is incredibly pleasing; when you hit a deposit, you receive graphical, physical, and audible feedback that indicate the presence and amount of minerals. For each of the four different mineral types, there is a distinctively different type of vibration and sound. The rumble feedback varies from a slow, pulsing throb, to a fast jackhammer. The graphical display is a series of squiggly lines, like an EEG, that spike at different points according to what mineral you’ve found. Maximizing your take involves moving the scanning reticle very small distances to make the line the biggest and the vibration the strongest. It’s captivating.

Yet, it goes over the top; I'm not sure why the screen shakes and there's an explosive shooting sound when a probe is launched, as if I'm firing a torpedo from a submarine instead of the most advance spaceship in the galaxy. And really, don't I have a science officer? Should I really be spending my time scanning for minerals? Furthermore, the game doesn’t let you know when you have ‘enough’. I ended the game with over 100,000 units in three categories of minerals; even after buying every upgrade I kept going as I thought there might be something more to do with them. I wish Yeoman Chambers would've leaned over and been, like, "Hey Shepard, I think you may have a problem. Put down the probes."

It’s a charming, annoying, captivating, and completely interesting little piece of this massive game. For what could’ve been a forgettable mini-game, with the amount of player feedback it gives, it’s the most polished and pleasing mini-game ever, and I’m still not sure if I love it or hate it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, on making horror scary again

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is the game I've wanted to make ever since I played my first survival horror game and was left excited by the idea but utterly let down by the implementation. Sure, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Fatal Frame were scarier than any games I've ever played, but they all boiled down to combat, at which point they elicited the same emotions as the FPS games to which I was more accustomed. There was a comfort zone there, even if I was so frustrated by the experience that I threw down the controller and never played the game again (which happened with pretty much all survival horror games I played before RE 4 on the Wii), and that comfort zone drew me out of fear and dread that the games created. I wanted to see a game that was different, that turned into gameplay the main thing that comes into my mind when I think of "survival" and "horror": running like hell.

I love the concept of this game. Flashlights, ghosts, psychological elements that change the game according to your answers, and "combat" that consists only of running away from enemies. And Silent Hill to boot! It should be perfect. But as close as SH:SM gets to my ideal, it fails in such a major way that the game is only of academic interest to me at this point. Its fatal flaw is that it is completely modal: you are either safely exploring, or running from danger, and the transition is clearly delineated in cutscenes. You are never in any danger while exploring, and there is no risk of attack. As creepy as the environments are, there is absolutely no danger, and therefore no scariness.

I've long wondered how to make a game about running away from enemies, and SH:SM is as good as I could have imagined. First, to anybody who plays this game, I have one piece of advice: when it's time to run away, turn off your flashlight. If you don't, you will attract so many enemies that the running sequences become unbearable (the first version of this article was a scathing condemnation of this mode). However, if you turn it off, and use the couple of neat game mechanics intelligently -- knocking over objects behind you to impede pursuers, hiding in cupboards, and letting your attackers catch up to you and grab you just in time for you to throw them off into walls -- it's not too bad. I'm sure there are many people who will reject this type of gameplay outright, but I think it deserves a lot of credit for its efforts.

Despite the problems I have with the modality of the game, although I'm only five hours in, I've been excited by the psychological profiling elements, the gimmicky but cool puzzles, and just the overall ambiance of the game. This is breath of fresh air and a great new direction for the franchise, and I really hope they get the change to really nail it in a sequel.

Demon's Souls, on difficulty

Demon's Souls has a multiplayer gameplay mechanic that lets a dead player join a live player's game to either help or hurt them. In the helping case, you use a blue sigil to offer yourself to be summoned by another player, and the two of you can play a level or boss cooperatively. In the hurting case, you use a red sigil to invade another player's world; the game finds somebody of a suitably close level, lets them know you're invading, and the hunt is on. Going to another player's world to help takes you there as a Phantom, while invading takes you there as a Black Phantom. If you successfully kill a boss while a Phantom in another person's world, you regain your life. If you kill the player you're invading as a Black Phantom, you also regain your life (if you don't, you lose a level).

So I was at the last level in the Tower of Latria. I had just killed the previous boss and died on the way to the last boss, so I figured I'd help another player defeat the boss I had just killed to regain my life and have a better chance at the next boss. I ran back to the area just outside the boss's door and threw down my blue sigil. After a minute, the game gave me the message that I was being summoned to another player's world, but it was as a Black Phantom, not a regular one. Thinking I had encountered some weird bug, I was surprised to see the screen fade into a cutscene depicting a magician summoning a Black Phantom, and then adoring its head with its own headscarf, before dying and turning black. Then the game faded back in... and I found that I was the Black Phantom that was just summoned. I was the final boss of this world. Sure enough, in a few minutes I heard the sounds of the last guardian on the stairwell outside die, and a player rushed into the room. I saw a boss health bar pop up on the bottom of the screen with the name of the world boss, but it was linked to my own health bar. I defeated the player with the help of some magic missiles undoubtedly bestowed upon me by my now-blackened summoner and benefactor, and a message congratulating me for killing a hero, as I regained my life.

Demon's Souls is a hard game. Every review seems to relish this point, but it's interesting to examine why it's a hard game, or more precisely, why everybody thinks it's so hard. The action-RPG combat gameplay is challenging; each enemy offers a different method of attack that must be analyzed and countered. There's no rushing in to a group and mashing the attack button. When you first meet an enemy, it can generally kill you in one to three hits, depending on your armor and what kind of attacks it has, so there's a sense of urgency to learn the enemy's attacks as quickly as possible. The threat of unknown imminent death is challenging.

But there's also a sense that death has a penalty. The main currency in the game for buying weapons, upgrading them, and raising stats, is the same: souls that you earn by defeating enemies. So you can be making your way through a level, earning souls and doing well, when you slip up and don't block just so, and you die and lose all your progress. That is, unless you can make your way back to the same point and reclaim your body, Diablo-style. But only your last corpse counts, so if you die on the way to reclaim that corpse that has five thousand souls on it, those souls are gone for good. The threat of losing your stuff is challenging.

But the death penalty is not really hard to avoid; souls are easily invested in levels, repair bills, and consumables. If you're just short of a stat increase and don't want to risk losing it by entering a new zone, you can easily return to an old zone and farm for a bit to make up the deficit. It's not difficult to avoid the death penalty with some forethought. Once you have 0 souls earned -- that is, you've spent them all -- there's really no risk of jumping into a new zone.

And really, while the combat action gameplay are well-balanced and elegant, it's nothing new; there's blocking, attacking, countering, and dodging, and as long as you're good at recognizing animations, you can predict them well enough. I'm sure any skilled or experienced gamer can figure out this stuff pretty quickly, especially with a little experience.

So what's the big deal?

The challenge is that the game demands mastery in order to progress. Most games you can kind of eke your way through; your first run through a level leaves with not enough health packs for the boss, so you restart a save and redo it, and then you have a good three shots at the boss, and you're through. Demon's Souls difficulty is due to a lack of save points. It's also a beautifully bleak world; there are no bright colors, no balanced gamuts, and not even any music. It's dark and scary and lonely. Progression towards bosses becomes a trial in and of itself. You might have to slog through hordes of enemies just to get a chance at a boss, and the first couple times you face one, it will probably kill you within seconds. We've gotten used to games being 'fair' and giving us save points right before a boss, but Demon's Souls does no such thing; you must master a level simply out of the necessity of getting through it in an efficient amount of time to have a chance at a boss.

Demon's Souls is challenging because it requires you to work. You can't play this game drunk, and you're not going to enjoy losing yourself in it after a long day at work. I've found myself taking weeks off this game to play more fun and regularly rewarding games like Borderlands, Dragon Age, and even Silent Hill: Shattered Dreams. But like a job undone, Demon's Souls keeps pulling me back. I'm fine with giving up on games and not finishing them because they're too hard or not fun enough. But even though Demon's Souls has been both things at various times, I feel the effort I've invested in the game demands justification. I'm driven to finish it, and that's making it a challenging game to put down.