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Why Five Bucks Will Drive You Insane

by Leeman Kessler

In my almost three decades of being alive, I have played a lot of videogames on the computer, the entertainment system, and the Tiger Handheld Console. In that time, I shudder to think how much I have spent on games and how casually I did so. I once splurged on a brand new video card for my mom’s computer with no idea how it would work or if it would work – solely so I could play the much maligned Star Wars Galaxies MMORPG. Now, I don’t make games my entire life and I’m sure there are many who have spent a lot more time/money/tears on games but still, I have been seduced enough times by the clarion call of sweet sweet pixels that I think I can speak with something approaching authority.

So imagine my surprise when I hear of a game called Dungeons of Dredmor and have it compared not only with Rogue which I played a ton of on my brother’s refurbished IBM in 1993 but also Monkey Island which I burned hours of my life playing (and yelling out all the dialogue in a host of silly voices) on our improbable MacTV around the same time. Punching into my Steam account which I had set up a while back to play Portal, I found the game for Five bucks and thought I’d give it a whirl.

Since that time, I have not been able to play anything else. I bought Portal 2 and gave it a whirl for a bit but when it came time to put my mouse pointer on what game to play, I have consistently pressed Dungeons of Dredmor with its cheeky Guybrush-esque hero smiling back at me. It’s not just that it’s a Rogue game (stripped down Diablo/Neverwinter Nights for the uninitiated) or that it has a decisively whimsical sense of humour that matches my own. It’s that when I die for the 395th time, I simply shrug it off and start over.

Now, as a kid who used to bite his forearm in rage everytime the Zulu took one of my cities in Sid Meier’s Civilization, not getting bent out of shape about dying and losing all progress is a big deal. Because playing this game with a save function and going back after dying is robbing yourself of the true experience. The game’s beauty is in being able to mix and match abilities to create unique little heroes who, despite all looking the same, play completely differently. Do I went to fling fireballs or baseballs? Do I want to be a plate-mail wearing sumbitch with an axe in each hand or a guy who makes mushrooms and is accompanied by a Moustache golem? The opportunities are endless and death is just an opportunity to try something new.

But then, I look back and realize that I have gotten more enjoyment out of those five dollars than out of anything else in my life. Hour per dollar, this thing beats out everything and it makes me feel like I’ve wasted all this time and money when I should have just been holding out for this gem, this marvel. So be very careful if you decide to jump into this crazy world where evil penguins give you diseases, carrots try to eat you, and a peculiar creature called “Thrusty” does exactly what his name implies. I cannot recommend this game enough despite the evils it has done to me.

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One Response to Why Five Bucks Will Drive You Insane

  1. D.J. says:

    I posted this for Leeman, of course – but I wanted to chime in as myself as well. For I, too, was seduced by the siren song of silly dungeon-crawling adventure for only five Canadian dollars – and I too spent many hours of my life exploring room after pixelated room until my girlfriend seriously questioned my sanity. (To be fair, she does that most weekday nights regardless.)

    The game manages to combine a wacky sense of humour with fairly solid (if not overly exciting) gameplay – and proves again that having some wit and literary ability can make a world of difference in your game. Check it out – but only if you can set aside a few weeks of your free time (not because it’s incredibly long, but because playing it once will only make you want to play it again, and again).

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