Some Other Things

I haven’t gone back into Baldur’s Gate 2 yet. I might, but it does seem likely that the specific urge to do so has faded for a fair bit of time.

Part of that is because on the evening of Friday last, which was the start of Thanksgiving weekend, I finally gave Hollow Knight a shot (on PS4, it was a PS Plus game a few months back) and it has sunk its hooks (or nails, I suppose) in deep.

I don’t play a lot of out-and-out metroidvanias. I like a lot of metroidvania conventions and Castlevania was a very important series for me but I haven’t gotten into them deeply in a really long time. I waited for Castlevania 3 for an extremely long time, I bought it brand new and reached Dracula before the end of the weekend. I drew the cover for a Grade 8 art project and still have it around somewhere. It was the best thing I’d done to that point according to my memories so there’s some attachment there.

But I also was deeply disappointed in how quickly I burned through it. I put it aside for a long time after reaching Dracula because I just didn’t want to have finished it that quickly. I don’t specifically recall actually finishing the game but I know I must have. I replayed all my games time and time again growing up and I must have done it with Castlevania as well, but from 30 years distant that aura of disappointment sticks and I think it eventually seeped into my impressions of the genre as a whole.

I was very excited for Metroid Prime, I still have the t-shirt I got when I preordered and it even gets in rotation semi-regularly. But I am pretty sure I didn’t ever get around to finishing it.

Somewhere along the way I’ve stopped enjoying consuming the same media multiple times over. There are books that I could literally read straight through and start right at the beginning again. Movies I would play over and over again, tv reruns were a foundational part of growing up for me. I still love listening to music over and over again of course, sometimes doing that thing where you listen to one track on loop for hours (I have a playlist filled with tracks specifically for this purpose) but even then there is a strong novelty factor required for me, most of the time.

Metroidvanias are about really knowing an environment. Treading the same space over and over again and experiencing it anew. Not entirely of course, quick travel options and the ability to open shortcuts to bypass areas is critical but there are hub areas and certain paths that get travelled over and over and over again. When I think of metroidvanias, I think of that experience.

Hollow Knight, to the point where I’m at (In the last hour or so that I played, I had the Dreamers added to my map but have not sought any out yet) definitely shares that trait. And I don’t entirely love it. But I am getting a lot of satisfaction out of it.

I played too much over Thanksgiving weekend. I’m somewhere around 25 hours I think, definitely over 20. I’ve had at least a couple of points of frustration where I’ve been going from exit to exit in the map, revisiting and trying to figure out where my next opportunities for advancement are, or throwing myself at a significant fight and at least once just grinding around for currency.

But the frustration has all been limited and predictable. I had to grind for currency but I could explore at the same time, revisit some old mini bosses and see how my skills had improved and if I’d been more concientious about recovering my loot after dying I wouldn’t have had to at all. There’s almost always been at least one other thing I can think of to do and ultimately, on Monday, I started a text file to keep track of goals, environs and other details.

There’s a very special place in my world for games that force me to take notes. I haven’t done so in earnest since I last tried to play Ultima 5 a few years back, and this blog is being updated specifically because I’d expected to do so for BG2 as well.

I haven’t played Hollow Knight since Monday (it’s Thursday as I write this) and that has been intentional. For one thing, this is a game that I like to be able to sink into for at least 30 minutes and ideally a few hours.

But more importantly I think, I am taking a break so that whenever I move on to my next task I get to learn some of the environments I traverse again. I have been so deeply enjoying revisiting and relearning some of the environments that when I reached the point where I had pushed too hard and was

so yesterday, So I finally checked it out too. I am intentionally giving myself a few days away from Hollow Knight so I can forget a bunch and explore a little anew which I think is really important for me with played it for the first time too. Harvey bought it on Steam a few days back. I lasted 24 seconds into the daily before dying to spikes, Harvey died to spikes somewhere on 1-3 and Jon didn’t recall the specifics of his death but it was