It’s midnight. The final part of the final day of the final week of the Four in February challenge. The month had me (and not many others) set out on the unrelenting task to burn through 4 of the games occupying a back catalog of virtual escapes. Did I manage the task? Nope! Do I really care? Not at all!
If you’ve been keeping up with my tireless ranting and unapologetic dissection of a certain “top of my hit list” game – thanks! If not – why?! You can catch up on them here, here and around about… here. It’s been a month of discovery, if anything. A month that’s taught me the reason why my catalog has increased so much over recent years ranging between “This game sucks” to “It was cheap” to my all time favorite – “I think I’m actually going to leave the house.”
I kicked off the challege with Alice: Madness Returns - A game I learned to be a bitter disappointment and one of the worst games I’ve played in recent memory. Alice took a swift boot to her British behind from atop my mountain of other – hopefully more promising – titles before I moved on to the next – Alan Wake – A game I played a little a few months back and enjoyed immensely. Trust the guys behind Max Payne to keep me engrossed in a game by not by its gameplay, but by its storytelling and strong voice acting. Alas, 2 hours in, my playing was cut short. This is where I started to realize my attention span was far too lacking to put up with fairly repetitive gameplay. Either that or I just wasn’t in the mood.
My chances were certainly looking grim. 3 weeks in and not a single title down I decided to swap out my 4th choice – The Last Remnant – for a game I had actually finished at the start of the month but didn’t count – Ninja Theory’s DMC: Devil May Cry. With 1 game in the bag I began to really understand the extent of the challenge. You could pick any 4 titles from your list and soon find you hate them all. Suddenly it wasn’t about finishing a game but really understanding how engrossing a game is when you’re having to play it with what is essentially a time limit. If £40 disc can’t keep you entertained for even less than the hour a day it would take to complete over the month, then what kind of game is it, really?
With having enjoyed DMC: Devil May Cry more than any game since Max Payne 3, it seemed only logical to replace another title with once of Dante’s earlier outings. Alan Wake stepped into a dark corner while Dante somersaulted through a window in Devil May Cry 3. While this may pain the die-hard fans of the series, I threw Dante’s Awakening aside after around an hour. Whether the game aged incredibly quickly or the PC port was really as bad as many said is beyond me – but in the end, DMC3 stood out as a vastly inferior product to Ninja Theory’s take on the franchise so much so that I questioned how the games took off in the first place.
In between the social events like the Manchester Furmeet, Telford MCM Expo and other site work, the challenge was doomed from the start. This final week had me conducting the review of Richard & Alice – a game that made me realize again, how a game needs to grab you in order to be worth your time. This simple point and click adventure game told such a deep tale that I played it from start to finish in a single sitting without noticing. How long that sitting was, I don’t know. That’s just how well crafted that ambitious part-time indie project turned out. Unknowingly, that game turned the challenge clock forward by not very long indeed while marking my second completion of the month. 2 down and 2 to go. The scales were even!
And that’s certainly where they’re staying.
The conclusion to the final week isn’t anything to really call out on. Over the past few days I’ve managed around 5 hours of Final Fantasy XIII-2 (the third game of my list) and it stays there as one I’m adamant to keep playing. The challenge ended with me only finishing 2 out of the 4 games required to pass the challenge of no prizes. It’s certainly been an interesting month nonetheless what with the meets, cosplaying and tolerance of Call of Duty turning into a proud K/D count - it just wasn’t the one built to see a pile fall 4 games smaller.
I wonder if this little test could become an annual event?