...Or how to have fun when you don’t have many friends…
I often find myself in a bit of quandary when it comes to gaming: I generally – and I do say generally, before you all spit out your tea - prefer multiplayer to singleplayer, but, alas and alack, I don’t have a huge social circle (feel free to spit out your tea now if that's a shock - which I highly doubt).
I know what some of you are thinking; ‘multiplayer is full of flamers and snarky teenagers! The only valid experience is through the awesome plotlines and massive open worlds of contemporary singleplayer games!’ And I agree, in part.
A great many singleplayer games are awesome, rightly considered in some cases as an art form (Witcher 3, anyone?). But frankly, there’s nothing like the sheer rush of completely annihilating a foe in multiplayer, and then realising you’ve just outsmarted another human being. On your own and everything. I know, crazy stuff.
That sweet, sweet feeling of victory is even better, though, when you’re playing with someone you know. A friend, if you will.
Hence, in my usually long-winded manner, I have drawn up a small list of games I tend to play with an old uni pal. He’s naturally better than me at gaming, which is annoying, and he’s from the North, so it’s a bit like being beaten by a frost-resistant grizzly bear wielding a barm cake. It’s ok, he’s probably not reading this.
I’ll put this out there now: more fighting games should have guns that shoot snakes. I’m not talking about little piddly things either. No, the snakes in Stick Fight are massive, sometimes have wings, and throw your stick-man character around like a horse eating an apple. Nothing is more terrifying than several of the critters bounding towards you from the barrel of a snake-shotgun. Brrr.
If that hasn’t persuaded you to immediately buy this game then probably nothing will, but I should say it also features more conventional weaponry other than sneks, an array of strange and terrifying levels, and the opportunity for one player to become a boss in a boss-fight. I rarely ever get to be the boss. Just sayin’.
Ducks! Guns! Ducks with guns blowing shiz up! Is this the stuff of some sort of
substance-based nightmare? Possibly, but if it is it’s a damn good one.
You get one life per round, and a crazy assortment of one-hit-kill weapons to play with on a variety of levels. Chaos and hilarity are the watchwords here, as your duck skids on a banana skin and slides onto a carefully placed explosive mine like some post-apocalyptic Laurel and Hardy.
The concept of this game is very much in the title; if you stay still too long, you explode. Doesn’t sound too hard, but it is surprisingly difficult to actually remember to move around whilst concentrating on winning the game mode (which can be anything from catching a corporeal hat, to painting the level in your team colour). It’s quick, fun and, most importantly of all, looks rather adorable.
It can often be the case that RPGs that attempt to be 'co-operative' often just try to shoehorn one player into a game driven by another - meaning that the dominant player gets to make all the important decisions, and (shamefully often, in my case) skip cutscenes. Thankfully, the developers of Divinity have solved this problem by introducing that age-old classic, Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Don't think your partner should have saved the giant clam king? Initiate that deadly triumvirate and fight for your right to sell his pearls to a jewellers. Really like pissing NPCs off for no reason? Take the rock to their scissors and annoy the hell out of everyone. It's a great way to make the game feel like a joint adventure and, crucially, makes us bicker in exactly the way we would were we really on a quest to save the world.
Which probably doesn't bode well if I do turn out to be a superhero...