The following is a guest post by Mike Gajeski. You can find his game stream at Heythere Kupo, on YouTube
I was sitting there, grinding my teeth together as I died again and again. Over and over my attempts to overcome adversity failed and a pit of spikes was the only reprieve my character could find. “WHY CAN’T I USE THE DAMN D-PAD?” I found myself yelling. I could tell my pleas were getting more animated as my cats started patting me on the shoulder as if they were saying, “It’s all good buddy you can make it.” But I could hear the truth behind their mewing, “LOL GIT GUD NEWB.”
The game just didn’t explain what to do. It trusted that the intelligence of the player would shine through and figure it out. But I had failed and brought shame upon my ancestors.
At least I could groove to some good music. It was your usual synthwave 80s stylized jams but, it was fun and kept me focused on the challenges ahead for my character, the music pulsing through me, edging me onward.
The controller leaves my hands and I put as much space between me and the computer as I can without getting out of my chair. If I were a comic book character I’m sure a whoosh! would have appeared in Technicolor, blotting me out.
I thought back to the hour or so earlier when I first started up this game. Oh, did I rejoice at the awesome wall jumping skills! The art felt so animated and lively it was like the whole screen was moving. The characters could cast spells that weren’t bewildering but still made me feel powerful as a player.
How did I go from such good vibes to this? Why would a game designer ramp up the difficulty so quickly? Was I really so oblivious to game tells that I couldn’t figure out how to get through this gauntlet of seed shooters without losing all my life?
I stand up, pull my body in all directions to clean out any areas that may have gotten creaky or tense from gameplay, and sit back down to play more of this game.
Was it worth it? Did I finally beat this stage and move on to something more productive game-wise? Yes. But I didn’t really FEEL the sense of victory because right after I got through the level, another one appeared, even more difficult. There was no reprieve, no solace for my weary fingers; only more danger and difficulty.
You may be wondering at this point if you should even pick up Mystic Melee and as someone who normally plays turn based RPGs or turn based strategy games a puzzle platformer was a bit tricky for me.
I’m used to taking my time and almost neurotically overthinking my decisions so a game like this where you need agility and quick decision making threw me off. I wish I could have gotten the multiplayer going as it seemed like a 36-bit version of Super Smash Bros. If the game’s on a sale for a few sheckles then I say go for it. The art design is simple but beautiful and the learning curve keeps you right on the cusp of believing you’ll succeed next time, even as you fail again and again, but expect some tricky platforming without a god damn D-pad.
Mystic Melee was developed by Hypothetical Games and is available on Steam for $14.99. If you enjoy platformers and punishment, it’s worth the price tag.