I Shouldn’t Feel Bad for Liking: Devil Daggers

I didn’t grow up on the first wave of first-person shooters, of the likes of Quake, Doom, or even Half-Life. But I think I, along with other people in my generation, have a certain amount of fascination and reverence for them. The reverence is held in a similar way to how people can respect the classic rock bands they never grew up with and understand the impact that those groups had. Those bands established trends, motifs, and cliches that reverberated through generations. It’d be difficult to deny that the team behind Devil Daggers has picked up on the same kind of trends that were established by the early first-person shooters, and it would be practically impossible to deny that they’ve done this exceptionally well.

This game consumes me. I had an issue of my eyes watering up to the point of tears when I was playing early on. I eventually realized I wasn’t blinking during rounds. Devil Daggers demands your complete attention, but even more so than other fast round-based games. I currently have about 8 hours logged in-game, which may as well be an eternity. The premise and goal of the game is simple: you’re dropped into a featureless arena floating in the abyss and must survive an endless army of demons thrown at you. Survive. The enemies are increasingly difficult to kill, and just as you learn how to deal with one new enemy type and survive another 15 seconds, you see a new type that makes your jaw drop and say “How the fuck am I supposed to deal with that?”.

This touches on one of Devil Daggers best qualities: it is dripping in atmosphere. The  game uses 3D audio, making headphones necessary as a means of locating new enemy spawns. The enemy design makes you wince and wonder what kind of nightmares the artist on this team must be having. The gameplay isn’t the only thing that takes inspiration from early first-person shooters. The fidelity and graphics are intentionally lacking aliasing and work well to recall early 3D engines. This lower fidelity in combination with the dark atmosphere and aesthetic make it feel exactly like the kind of demonic, Satan-spawned games that politicians feared in the ’90s. Everything about this game has clicked for me. It’s intensely difficult and frustrating, but rewarding for every small step of progress you make. Every extra second you stay alive is a middle-finger to the game and everything it’s doing to try and stop you. I really didn’t need to write this much to convince anyone to get this game. It’s $4.99, just buy it.

Advertisements

The West Wing’s Nauseating Positivity is Exactly What I need Right Now

I’ve recently committed a number of hours to The West Wing – Aaron Sorkin’s political drama following White House staff and leadership through the years of the fictional Bartlet administration. I did not expect to blaze through the first season as quickly as I did, as Sorkin’s works have generally irritated me. His characters are clever and quick-witted to the point of being know-it-alls, the agenda behind a scene is immediately apparent, and by the end you can practically hear Sorkin patting himself on the back while a rousing but still on-the-nose monologue is delivered with the heaviest hand.

The West Wing has many of the same trappings as Sorkin’s past work, but has become obsessively watchable for me. The White House Staffers are naive and optimistic, qualities you would expect beaten out of someone after career in politics and years of campaigning. Excessive sentimentality is reinforced with grand, impromptu speeches given by President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) whenever they decide to take a bold stance on gun control or have to face the aftermath of botched military operation. The good intentions of the White House are portrayed in such a nauseatingly positive light, it’s not too surprising that I can’t help but completely fall for it at this moment. The first season of The West Wing has become absolute comfort food for me.

But this isn’t a meal to feel guilty over. While it deals with some more archaic issues, the inner-workings of the White House are still relevant today, and it lets the show feel like more than just pure escapism. And during a time when incompetence and distrust plagues the view of American leadership, it’s beyond refreshing to indulge in a fantasy of government with compassion and resolve. The qualities exhibited by the characters in the show are such a far cry from those of the current administration that it’s easy to forget this was, and is, a possible interpretation of government.

Also Toby Ziegler is great.