On Walkthroughs

It’s been a weird week.  That’s a vague statement, and I’m not really in a position to elaborate, so just trust me when I say it’s been a weird week, and we’ll leave it at that.  And on that note:

Let’s talk about walkthroughs.

I am weird when it comes to walkthroughs.  I mean, I’m weird about a lot of things game-related, as I’m discovering, but I’ve got very weird and specific and deep shame issues when it comes to using them – even if I’m looking at it simply to see how far along I am.

And yet I’m also not shy about using them compulsively, depending on the game.  Like, for example, L.A. Noire.  While I had no problem with the crime scenes or the combat, every interrogation scene was played with a walkthrough.  I was fanatically obsessive about acing every single question; and because the game’s interrogation system was kinda broken, I kinda felt justified in cheating.  Perhaps it ruined the spirit of the game, but I didn’t care.

[TANGENT:  Funny that L.A. Noire comes up, as I’ve been wanting to go back and play it again lately, for some reason, and maybe writing about it.  If I do, I promise to do it without a walkthrough.  (Well, I’ll try, at any rate.  It’s been long enough at this point that I can’t necessarily remember all the right answers.)]

Similarly, I’ve not been shy about using walkthroughs for the Professor Layton games, and I’m very much aware that using a walkthrough for a puzzle game specifically defeats the purpose of playing the game in the first place.  Honestly, though?  Some of the puzzles aren’t clear in their design or their purpose (or, alternately, the graphical fidelity of the DS/3DS screen obscures the illustrations).

Point is, I use them.  I don’t like it when I do (because I’d rather solve the damned thing on my own) but I do (because I’d rather finish the game, if I’m enjoying it).  I’m too old and socially withdrawn at this point to care what the outside world thinks of me, but it doesn’t matter – I beat myself up about it plenty.

(And since I’ve already gone on record about my feelings regarding god mode, this shouldn’t necessarily come as much of a surprise.)

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because over the last 2 days I’ve been very happily grinding along in Bravely Default.

(And can I just say, again, how much I appreciate the game’s willingness to let me “break” it if I want to power-level for an hour or two?  For example: yesterday I decided to go on a sidequest tear.  So I unlocked every available job, and then I went to the highest-level dungeon I could find, set the random encounter rate to 100%, set battle speed to 4x, hit “Auto”, and just went nuts bringing every job up to level 8 or 9 or so.  I’ve got tons of gold, my party is near level 60, and I felt like I actually accomplished something.)

(But on that same note, it also raises one of the game’s weird gameplay peculiarities; the regular battles are over in two turns at the absolute worst, but the boss battles are often 10-15 minute slog fests that require completely different kinds of strategy.  It’s almost like I’m playing two different games.) 

ANYWAY.  I happened to look at a walkthrough for Bravely Default a little while ago – really just to see how far along I was – and then, because I saw how much more was left (I’m apparently at the end of Chapter 3), I was curious, and so I took a peek at what happens next, and I suddenly got really, really bummed out.

****SPOILER ALERT*****

It appears that once you awaken the fourth crystal, which is what I’m about to do, [something] happens, and then you have to re-awaken all 4 crystals again.  And then, after you do that, you have to do it a third time.

*****END SPOILER ALERT****

I’ve spent almost 25 hours playing this game, and I’ve had a good time with it so far, but that. fucking. sucks.  That is lazy game design.  That’s bullshit, and in a weird way I’m kinda glad I know already so that I don’t have to experience being disappointed when it finally happens.

[I have more to say on this topic, but I must cut this post short.]

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