Comic related to my cohort’s birthday constitute a kind of sub-genre in the greater body of our “work,” some are more generalized - like today’s, for example - but there are one or two that hint at something like an overarching (underpinning?) mythology.
So, while we managed to escape PAX without an epidemic, the joy beams of that blessed event must have stripped us of our natural defenses because the entire office has been getting sick in overlapping shifts ever since. I took my turn over the weekend, having taken the Plague Baton from Gabriel, I was chasing a spinning coin through what seemed like an infinite, handcrafted maze, and when I finally managed to get the Goddamned thing, it was made of wood. Even in the grip of the vision, I shook my head. I already know that wealth for wealth’s sake is an illusory fucking enterprise! What a crock of shit. I flew away on my gryphon before my roiling mind could offer up any more of its dime-store “lessons.”
Etrian Odyssey III couldn’t have arrived at a better time; I wasn’t able to get out of bed, but my thumbs were in top form. The third entry in a series with callbacks to the PC dungeon crawlers of yore, it marries incredible art (no, really) with a heap of interlocking systems and then tells you to fuck yourself. Not everyone wants that - not everyone wants a game to continually reinforce their unworthiness. But this is all I want now, these mean as hell, spit-in-your-mouth grudgefucker games, and this is certainly that.
In the rounds of Civ V I’ve played (and enjoyed, to be sure) I’ve got a good “feeling” by turn ten how this shit is going to shake out. Real quick, just for the curious among you, it’s going to shake out with me atop a mountain of of bones, crown wobbling dangerously to one side as I really go nuts on a femur. Maybe I should turn up the difficulty? Which one is the right one, which is the one where it starts to cheat? Etrian Odyssey III only has one difficulty, and that difficulty is motherfucker. There is a cat you might see five, maybe six minutes into the first level of the dungeon that will wipe out your entire party. TPK. Get past him, and there’s another one waiting in a tree. Your time, your wealth, and your optimistic young adventurers bleeding optimistically on the forest floor.
You can write a paean to this game, give it the best part of yourself, but it will never love you. It will instruct you, and with a firm hand; that might be the best you can hope for. You might decide that braving the Yggdrasil Labyrinth is a fool’s errand, and take your place as a functionary in your father’s shipping concern, supplying adventurers braver than yourself. You’ll mend nets. You never wonder what it might have been like, that other life. You never wonder, except when you do.