Ben Abraham’s “Permanent Death” is one of my favorite bits of video game writing. Ben is both doing a design exegesis and a phenomenological account of what it means to play Far Cry 2, and if you haven’t read through it, you are doing yourself a disservice.
Cut to me. I am sitting in my chair, yesterday, and I fire up Dungeons of Dredmor for the first time. Ah, I think, this game is a comedic game and a roguelike. I will die a lot. I will make a parody of Permanent Death on the blog. It will also be funny.
I talk a bit like a caveman in my own head.
If you don’t know what Dungeons of Dredmor is, here is the quick recap: it is a roguelike where you make a character by choosing name, sex, and skills. Then you are off. You click on things to kill them. You craft items. You go deep into the dungeon to kill this Dread Lord named Dredmor. It is remarkably simple, actually, and I thought I was going to rule the game.
I was mistaken.
The short text that follows is a journey through less than ten minutes of Dungeons of Dredmor. In case I don’t get around to saying this later, I liked the game (I am beginning to think that if I play a game for more than ten minutes, I probably like it).
Larry O’Punchy was created to be an unarmed fleshmancer, a guy who would beat enemies to a pulp and then craft that pulp into a cool bro who would follow him around until the end of his days. That was the plan, anyway. I entered the dungeon by stairs, which is a lot more of a friendly entryway than most dungeons. A grate crashed down behind me. I saw some vending machines.
Larry wasn’t scared, I don’t think, and neither was I. We knew what we were up against. Larry was ready to punch things, and I was ready to help by clicking on little monsters. I opened a door and saw a diggle, a weird little pear-shaped creature that spouted off some b-movie science fiction quote from the 1980s. These things can talk? I thought, and then they were wailing on Larry. He was a solid fighter, though, and he wailed back. He accidentally summoned a zombie, too. It was a violent battle, and at the end, Larry O’Punchy had won his first fight.
I wandered south some. I took a screenshot of those wanderings. I found a stairwell leading deeper into the dungeon.
Now, at this point, I might have been having a conversation with someone or I might have been reading something. I don’t quite remember. I do know that I kicked the door open and there were more than two monsters inside. Larry O’Punchy was ready to go, and he went to town, punching the hell out of basically everything.
Then something went weird. It was a turn-based blur. Larry might have been surrounded on all sides. In any case, there was a message that basically said “you’re dead.” I clicked something (a wrong something) and then I had a score screen.
So my game might have lasted five minutes. It was weird, I didn’t understand much of anything, and I didn’t really do much. But I liked it. It was welcoming. Dungeons of Dredmor is the Chewbacca of video games–it seems means, but when you are its buddy, you’re its buddy for life. That is why my third playthrough (the second was much like the first) has been ongoing for about three hours now.
This time Halloweena the fighter is going deep in the dungeon.