Video Games Represented by Metal Sub-Genres

I think by now it’s pretty obvious to everyone that I like video games. I mean, I spend a pretty exhausting amount of time writing about them, so hope that isn’t a surprises to anyone. But depending on how long you’ve been following my work, what you may not know is that I also like Heavy Metal. If it wasn’t for my complete and utter lack of knowledge of music theory, I’d probably spend an equally exhausting amount of time writing about that as well. The other day, as I looked over my game collection listening to my Spoitify Thrash Metal Mix I noticed that games can be pretty metal, even when they’re not trying to be. So today I decided to look at a few games and talk about the Metal Sub-Genres I think fits them best.

1: Doom (2016)
Metal Genre: Thrash Metal

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While the extreme gore might scream Death Metal and the satanic iconography says Black Metal, neither one of those really fits Doom. Sure it’s fast and brutal, but there’s a playfulness to Doom that just doesn’t fit with the Metals most extreme genres. Music wise bands in these genres just take themselves a little too seriously. That’s not quite as true in Thrash Metal. It’s high energy and brutal, but there’s also a certain je ne sais quoi to the genre that just makes it fun to listen too. Even with bands like Slayer that lean heavily into Satanic and horror imagery, the genre tends to be more “action movie” rather than aiming to truly frighten. It’s music you kick ass too. Kick the establishment’s ass, kick your boss’s ass, kick God’s ass. Now, look at Doom. You alone fights the hoards of Hell, and the demons are scared of you. And all the while, the game never forgets to have a since of humor.
Song that best fits the game: Chainsaw Ripping Death by Hellcannon

2: Dark Souls
Metal Genre: Epic Doom Metal

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Dark Souls is a grand, sweeping game that truly aims to calibrate the victories of it’s players. But it is also a game were you are resigned to fate: you are going to die. This is both true in the game play and the story. If you link the flame you must use your own body as kindling. Even then, it’s only a matter of time before the cycle begins again and someone decides to let the fire die. There is no happy end to the story of Dark Souls. Doom metal is very much the same way. It’s the music of disparate, a genre of heavy metal that aims to really put the “Heavy” back into perspective. Songs like “Devoid of Redemption” by Pallbearer almost literally weigh you down as you listen. However, I picked Epic Doom Meta specifically for Dark Souls for a reason. Not only do bands in the genre tend to use fantasy and mythology based imagery in their lyrics while, but the music is just as grand and sweeping as the journey you go on in Dark Souls. It’s music that can inspire you even though you know the end will soon come. It’s all but certain you’ll lose you’re life in the upcoming battle, but it needs to be fought, and you need to fight it.
Song that best fits the game: Graveyard of Broken Dreams by Altar of Oblivion

3: Spec Ops: The Line
Metal Genre: Grindcore

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Spec Ops: The Line is a game that forces you to look at humanity at it’s worst. It’s a game very much trying to say “isn’t the current state of things kind of fucked up?” It uses sheer brutality as loudly and as violently as passable. You know who else does that? Napalm Death. While not all Grindcore is about making social statements, and it’s not the only genre where doing so is normal, Napalm Death’s “Hardcore Punk by way of Death Metal” approach fits the tone of Spec Ops better than anyone else. While the game might be much longer than the bands record setting “shortest song of all time”, it serves to ask the same question: you suffer, but why?
Song that best fits the game: You Suffer by Napalm Death

4: Batman: Arkham Knight
Metal Genre: National Socialist Black Metal

Look, I like Batman. I even like a lot about this game. But the fact is, Arkham Knight is just one more step towards the Frank Miller-ization of the character than I can’t stand. Scenes like this…

…show that this isn’t a character spread on by personal tragedy to make the world a better place. This is a “might makes right” bully who wants to hurt those he sees fit to hurt. And I can say almost the exact same thing about this nazi bullshit blight on my favorite music genre. I like black metal, and I’m sure there are some good musicians here. But at the end of the day, nazi’s are nazi’s, and Nazi Punks can Fuck off.
Song that best fits the game: None, because I’m not going to activity support nazi’s on my site.

5: Darkest Dungeon
Metal Genre: Depressing Suicidal Black Metal

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Life is cheap in the world of Darkest Dungeon. Extra adventurers is the only thing you get for free in the game, and in order to do the best you can in the game you have to discard them once you break them. This is a world were mental health problems make you a burden and that will force them to leave you behind. And as someone with metal health issues, that feeling is incredibly relateable. I’m not saying it’s right, and neither is the game, but when I start to get depressed, I may try to seek validation from those I care about that they are still my friends, but doing so often frightens me that I’ll annoy them into not wanting to deal with me. Darkest Dungeon forces me to me to treate those who I send out, those whos minds I break, exactly how I fear people will treat me. It validates my worst fears. And so does DSBM. And that’s not a complaint. In fact, Depressing Suicidal Black Metal is probably my favorite form of Black Metal, because it allows me to engage with my self-loathing and depression in a safe environment that says “yes, these feelings are real and you’re not wrong to feel them”. The same is true for DeathDoom metal aswell (which I honestly like more), but as there isn’t an active “nazi death metal” scene that I’m aware of, I decided to show some extra love to the guys in corpse paint.
Song that best fits the game: Slave to Nativity by Forgotten Tomb

Introducing my Saturday Streaming.

Hello everyone!

So, I am very much aware that i’m not as active as i want to be on this site. I was aiming to post at least 1000 words a day, but as time has gone on I’ve found myself less and less inclined to do that. With school and everything, i just needed sometime to myself. It also doesn’t help that i was pushing myself to keep a semi-professional schedule without any of the benefits of doing so. I’m not getting paid and i rarely garner the attention of those i want to work with, so the stress about my time between posts ends up getting the better of my and i kind of just say “fuck it” and stop.  I really don’t like that, and i am going to try an do better from here on out.

On top of simply making an effort to write more, i’ve also decided that i’m going to start doing a Saturday Stream on my twitch channel. This means that at least once a week i’ll be doing something related to the site, while also allowing me to just kind of chill out and take a breather. Now, i’ll be the first to admit that i’m not the best when it comes to live streaming, but it is something i want to get better at. I recently did a charity stream for Indie Gamer Chicks Birthday, and i’ll probably try to do another one next year too. So getting better at this kind of thing would mean a lot to me. So join me at 1:00pm Pacific Time this Saturday and hang out, have a chat. It’ll be fun.

The Challenge of Difficulty

Recently I had a “lovely” conversation with a “gentleman” regarding one of my reviews. This “gentleman” had an issue with the fact that I didn’t complete the game due to finding it needlessly frustrating. To them, the game’s difficulty was a feature and my criticism with it showed a misunderstanding of the game. Obviously I disagree, but the conversation did make me think about difficulty in games and what separates an enjoyable challenge as opposed to rage inducing frustration. In the end it all boiled down to good design, much like everything else when it comes to good games.

I’ve made it pretty clear on my cite that I am a “SoulsSlut”. I love From Software’s Souls series, and the easiest way to get me interested in a game is to tell me “it’s like Dark Souls but….”. Salt and Sanctuary was like Dark Souls meets Castlevania and I loved it, Nioh was like Dark Souls with Samurai and it’s a forerunner for my game of the year. The Serge is like Dark Souls but Sci-fi and it’s the last game for this year I’m truly excited for, even though it’s made by the same people behind Lords of the Fallen, which was like Dark Souls but Crap. And in each and every case, the thing that drew me in to each game, the reason “it’s like Dark Souls” works for me, was the expectation of overcoming the games challenges. Even back in the PS2 era I was a big Devil May Cry fan, which were known for their difficulty back in the day. The funny thing about all of this is: the original Dark Souls, my personal favorite of the bunch, proves my point for both good and ill.

I’m one of those people who hate the idea of Dark Souls having an “easy mode”. Not because I don’t want more people to enjoy the game, but because I don’t think it’s possible. Enemies hit hard in Dark Souls, but their wind up and cool-downs compensate for it. If you change the amount of damage enemies do, the time it takes them to prep and unleash an attack is too unbalanced. If you change the animation times to compensate, then the enemies are doing proportionately the same amount of damage, they’re just faster. The same goes for the player character. If you boost the damage or attack speed you end up breaking the games balance. None of that was to say that there aren’t accessibility issues that From could work on, but for 90% of Dark Souls, the games difficulty proves my point: good design leads to good difficulty. The games systems are connected and balanced in such a way that the easiest way to overcome the game is to have a thorough understanding of these mechanics and systems.

And then there’s Blight Town.

Most fans of the game will tell you this is the worst part, and I am in that camp. (However, Hamish Black from Writing on Games did an excellent video countering this point. But this isn’t about him, fuck off Hamish.) So, why does Blight Town not work: it lags. By this point in the game you should more or less have a firm understanding of the combat. Attack animations are long, and you can’t back out of them, so you have to time your hits. Due to the lag in Blight Town, getting that timing right is much harder than it should be. In fact, I’d even wager that without that lag Blight Town wouldn’t be an issue. The enemies aren’t hard to beat and there’s enough land to avoid getting poisoned. Even the boss is one of the easier ones in the game. The hardest part is navigation, but so long as you keep moving down you’ll be okay. So, here’s the million dollar question: why is Blight Town so lagy? Because some stupid fuck thought it would be a good idea to render the entire area all at once. From the very top, if you look down you can see a clear outline of the poisonous mire down beneath. Rendering all of that takes a toll, and that toll was playing havoc with the games frame rate. As one of the Dan’s from Extra Cridits mentioned in his Lets Play of the game, a Silent Hill like layer of fog to hide some of Blight Town from the player so that not everything had to be rendered at once could have easily fixed this. The one part of the game that was poorly designed lead to the one part of a game that was no longer challenging, but frustrating.

For another example, lets look at the game I’m most in love with right now: Persona 5. I have very few issues with Persona 5 overall, and for the most part the difficulty isn’t one of them. Sure a boss or two have given me a few issues, but in the end I think the game is a little too easy. However, there is one exception to this. In the latter game safe rooms become more and more rare while enemies increasingly have attacks that can instantly kill members of your party. And if that happens to the player character, it’s game over. Where I am now the game even through me into a scenario where I had to fight three mini-bosses back to back with no ability to save between them. The second of which had two separate one hit kill attacks. If I had not been slightly under leveled to create a new persona and not been forced to stick with my main (who could block both attacks) this battle could have lasted hours. Speaking just for myself, out of the 70 hours I put into the game, I think there has been at least one hour per dungeon extra just for the amount of times I got instakilled in the level and had to redo long stretches of it. Thankfully in bigger fights the game gives you the ability to start over from the beginning of that fight, but this doesn’t ease the frustration of losing large amounts of progress when you did nothing wrong.

And yet again, almost all of that was also true for Darkest Dungeon, a game I loved and in which these same things didn’t bother me. Why? Because everything in Darkest Dungeon, from story to tone to game play mechanics, reinforced the idea that the world is a cruel place that does not care about you or your goals.

Good difficulty stems from good design. Good difficulty requires work and dedication by the player in order to overcome, but it does not get in the players way. Good difficulty does not ask a player to brute force their way past the games challenges, but to make smarter use of the games systems. Good difficulty does not laugh at a players failures, but revels in their successes. Good difficulty may ask for a players dedication, but it does not waste the players time.

Ludophile Lab is having an Identity Crisis

I haven’t been posting as much as i would like. Hell, i haven’t been posting much at all. Part of that is just life. School takes up a lot of time and there isn’t always something interesting to talk about. Recently, however, I’ve come up against a new issue. I’ve always been more interested in doing reviews more than anything else, and with my review now being mainly hosted over at IndieGamerTeam.Com, i’m having kind of a hard time coming up with what exactly i want Ludophile Lab to be. Part of me thinks it would be a good idea to try and make this more editorial based, and reviewing Non-Indie Games (like Persona 5 which i am loving and putting way too much time into). However, by the time a topic reaches me bigger and better voices have probably already wrote or made a video on it. I mean really, between Jim Sterling, Writing on Games and Noclip there really isn’t much i can add to most conversations.

So now that you know what’s been going on and where my head is at most of the time, i’d like to ask: what would you like to see? Stuff like the trailer reactions and stuff probably aren’t going away becuase they give me an excuse to talk about games. But other than that, what kind of stuff would you all like to see? Editorials? More personal game related stories? Fucking Top 10 lists? Please, feel free to leave a comment and give some ideas, i’d appreciate it.