My Band of Bloggers prompt this month is all about unfinished business, and boy do I have a wide backlog of games that I’ve started or put a few hours into, but never actually finished playing. By ‘finish’ what I mean isn’t 100% completion, I’m referring to the end of the story or at least progressing through a game until I make it to a credits scene. Anyway, here’s a brief list of games that are haunting me due to their being unfinished business:
A Hat in Time, Batman: Arkham Knight, Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet, Ducktales Remastered, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Final Fantasy VIII, God of War (the first and fourth), Hollow, Ironcast, Jazzpunk, Knights of Pen & Paper, Layers of Fear, Metroid Prime 2, Nioh, Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey, Penumbra, Quake III, Rusty Lake: Roots, Shadow Warrior Classic, Turok, Untitled Goose Game, Volgarr the Viking, The Witcher, XIII, Yakuza 3, Zack & Wiki.
For this month’s prompt I fully planned to take the easy way out and talk about the first chapter of the latest King’s Quest, which I finished up on the second or third day of the month. It would have followed the letter of my prompt though maybe not the spirit (woo pun). Luckily, at the same time I was enjoying King’s Quest, I was also obsessively playing Deadbolt, which I finished up on the 6th or 7th of the month. Deadbolt was a wild ride from the beginning to the end: it’s a 2D, side-scrolling game that usually takes place on one screen and your usual goal is to kill all of the enemies on that screen. There are sometimes other objectives like destroying things or finding intel, but you’re usually going to end up killing all or most of the enemies in each stage before you leave.
(This game is all about knocking politely on doors)
Deadbolt is unforgiving, as soon as you’re seen enemy NPCs either rush at you or start shooting you, and all it takes is one hit to kill you. You can take cover behind certain objects, but melee based enemies can get around that. There are also some weapons that can get past cover, but if you can make it into a vent you’re safe and that usually confuses enemies too. As I played through Deadbolt though and worked on getting better times, and scores, on certain stages I was reminded of something: Deadbolt is essentially a horror themed Gunpoint.
Years ago, when I used to play games on a laptop and wanted to try PC gaming, I would pick games off of Steam that looked like they would run on an NES. Deadbolt was likely on my list, but Gunpoint was a game I bought, played, and put down years ago but I don’t recall why I stopped playing it. Like Deadbolt, Gunpoint presents itself in a 2D, side-scrolling style, but unlike Deadbolt, there’s a greater emphasis on stealth gameplay in Gunpoint. You can’t actually get a gun in Gunpoint until you’ve made a thousand dollars, and using it activates a countdown timer that killed me multiple times. Where Deadbolt has a horror-action theme, Gunpoint is a comedy-spy game where you can chose to work for a CEO, a Police Chief, or another CEO. Most stages require you to break into a building or two, hack a specific computer, and/or steal an item of interest.
(This logo is essentially an end-game spoiler)
The main thing that attracted me to Gunpoint at first was the gameplay. You get around stages by leaping incredibly far, incredibly high, and with no fall damage because you have a special pair of pants. You can also cling to walls and ceilings like some kind of web-spinning insect. Combat is usually just flinging yourself at guards and punching them once to knock them out, or punching them multiple times because the sound effect is a funny ‘Pap!’ noise. You’re able to hack into building systems too: basically you’re crossing wires from things like switches, camera, and motion trackers to make them open security doors or trap guards in small rooms. I think what made me stop playing originally was how crucial timing can be in this game. Like I said, if you’re spotted in a lit room by a guard (or by a more elite guard in any light condition), you’re killed in a single shot. As for the writing in Gunpoint, you get the story beats between missions and while comedy is absolutely subjective, it hit me just right when multiple-choice responses include things like, “I wasn’t paying attention to what you said, I just want to get paid.” If you really don’t care about the plot, it’s presented to you as text message exchanges that you can opt out of by ending the call whenever you feel like.
Gunpoint has a free demo if you’re curious and it’s usually $10 on Steam. Deadbolt has no demo, but it’s also $10 on Steam and the trailer tells you everything you need to know. King’s Quest IX is called King’s Quest, the first chapter is free to play and took me about 4 hours to get through. I didn’t talk about it too much, I know, but I absolutely recommend that too. I still have a lot of unfinished business, but I think that’s just the way it goes with gaming. There are more games available than most of us will ever actually play, with more being developed and released every day. Even the best games can’t stop real life from getting in the way of you finishing them off. If nothing else, at least I was able to break a small piece off of my backlog.