My House Was On Fire

Even having switched to one post weekly, my queue has run empty so I need to write something up. Problem is, I’ve been extremely busy in January trying to pivot away from 5e as fast as possible, so I haven’t played that many video games. Turns out I needn’t have bothered, everything just kinda worked out, but I did bother so now my blogging queue is empty.

I’m less than halfway through Far Cry 3, I’ve played a little bit of Moonlighter but not quite gotten past the first dungeon of five, and I still haven’t quite wrapped up the last side quest I want to bag in Hades before calling it finished. And when I have been playing video games, it’s usually been in a state of absolute exhaustion, a point where I realize I can’t do any more work so the smart thing to do is recover so that I can work at a reasonable pace later – and that’s not a great place to be in when trying to figure out if Moonlighter is any good. I’m kind of generous on games in the first place, but in that state of mind any game will hold my attention for 1-2 hours and then immediately lose it as I feel able to get back to writing and panicky about reaching my deadline.

So these blog updates might end up being a 2022 thing? I dunno, we’ll see how things go.

Glass Onion Was Disappointing

“Maybe Elon Musk is dumb actually” is an idea that is certainly having a moment, as Musk has been live-tweeting his mid-life crisis for the past several years. I wonder when Glass Onion was written, that it happened to come out just as that wave seems to be cresting (but hey, maybe Musk has even more spectacular failures in the queue). Certainly, the fact that “the Elon Musk-alike is very stupid” is meant to be the movie’s twist ending has been kinda spoiled by the fact that this is now a common opinion and one you would expect Rian Johnson in particular to have.

Very early on they set up “maybe the Elon Musk-alike is the killer” and then dismiss it with “no, his motive is too obvious and whoever the killer was struck in-person, and he’s too smart to take such a bone-headed risk.” And the problem is that I immediately realize this is not a thing Rian Johnson believes and so right off the bat I know that yeah, of course he’s the killer, he is absolutely stupid enough to have done it, doubly so since, with him ruled out, the entire middle of the movie is spent detective-ing four other potential culprits instead. I don’t even consider it worth being a spoiler alert. If you saw Glass Onion and you didn’t instantly realize the Musk-alike is the killer as soon as the line dismissing him was spoken, then you weren’t here for the mystery anyway. Two years ago we all might’ve bought that Rian Johnson was actually going for “Musk-alike as corrupt genius,” but not in 2022 (or very early 2023, when I saw it).

But then it falls apart in the ending, because Benoit Blanc is supposed to have this takedown at the end where he lays out how stupid the Musk-alike’s murders were…and, uh, they actually reveal a strong ability to improvise, poisoning his second victim with his own glass by using their pineapple allergy, thus creating a drink that he can drink from with impunity but which the target will die from, thus making it seem like he was the one being targeted and removing himself from suspicion as the culprit. We don’t see his first murder clearly (it’s the inciting incident, already accomplished as the story begins), but apparently he managed to poison the victim’s drink without her noticing. His third murder was simple, straightforward, and except for a stroke of pure dumb luck, effective. Benoit Blanc even praises it as having “panache” before he realizes that the killer was riffing off of an idea that Blanc himself had planted in his head – but if turning off the lights and shooting the target works, it works, regardless of who gave him the idea. If the third victim didn’t happen to have her sister’s diary in her coat pocket to intercept the bullet, the Musk-alike would’ve just won.

The method of his downfall is pretty dumb, anyway. His whole getaway mansion is powered by some new energy source that floods the place with hydrogen gas. It’s supposed to be a “billionaire self-proclaimed genius inventor’s idea is actually disastrously stupid” thing, but it takes serious effort to get the place to catch on fire. Firearms are discharged, a crucial piece of evidence is lit on fire, the lighter used to do it is playfully flicked on and off a couple of different times throughout the movie, and the protagonist (Andy/Helen, not Blanc – he ties the series together, but as a recurring supporting character, not the protagonist) has to get a bonfire going pretty high indoors to set off the chain reaction. Which then fails to inflict meaningful harm on any of the people at ground zero for the explosion. While making homes hyper-vulnerable to arson is certainly a drawback of the technology, it demonstrably isn’t turning homes into deathtraps, because the trap gets sprung and no death ensues. You definitely wouldn’t want this energy powering urban centers where a fire in one building could cause an explosion that chains into other buildings and causes a city-spanning blaze, but vastly reduced energy prices at the tradeoff that someone intentionally setting your house on fire will be able to get the whole house burning in thirty seconds sounds like a pretty good deal to me, on account of the scarcity of mad arsonists.

Not to mention the ending relies on the protagonist engaging in the exact same kind of improvised crime that Blanc just finished calling the Musk-alike an idiot for. There’s definitely a moral distinction to be drawn between arson for the sake of avenging your murdered sister versus murder for the sake of personal gain, but intellectually speaking, “use the materials at hand to accomplish a crime” is pretty much the same.

The “billionaire ‘genius’ is actually stupid” theme gets carried really well earlier. Early on in the movie, the Musk-alike sets up a murder mystery themed party, and brags to Blanc, a professional detective considered the best in the world, that it’s going to be “next level.” Blanc solves it before the “murder” scene even happens, and we later learn that 1) the mystery was written by someone else who 2) did not know Blanc would be at the party, expecting only the Musk-alike’s other “disruptor” friends, none of whom have any kind of background in solving puzzles or mysteries. So, y’know, this mystery writer set up a mystery for some randos and of course Blance walks right through it effortlessly, he’s a professional at the top of his field tackling a mystery designed to be solvable by ordinary people. If the Musk-alike had designed these puzzles and mysteries himself, he would know how hideously mismatched the difficulty of the puzzle was to Blanc’s skills, but since he’s just taking credit for other people’s work, he blithely assumes that since he got a renowned person to design the mystery, it’s probably a fair match for the renowned person who’s showed up to solve it (not to mention, a renowned mystery writer is not the same thing as a highly effective actual criminal, although it’s not clear to me whether or not Rian Johnson, a renowned mystery writer, is copping to this).

The parlor scene for the fake murder was pretty enjoyable, but the parlor scene at the end is a flop. Maybe this could’ve worked, if the Musk-alike had been set up with a sense of real menace, a sense of being an evil genius looming over the gathering with the power to snuff out anyone at any time he chooses, someone removed from suspicion because he projects an aura of such power that if he were the killer, things would surely be much, much worse. When he confronts Benoit Blanc in the glass onion after his murder mystery is ruined, the audience should feel like Blanc is in danger. When he positions Blanc between himself and his “friends” after Duke’s death, it should come across as an act of ruthless calculation, unconcerned with the lives of others, not panicky cowardice. Give Blanc lines about how the Musk-alike has been living here for months, in a building he built, on an island he owns. He could’ve had an entire platoon of security on site if he wanted, could’ve filled the place with cameras, could’ve rigged it up with death traps if he wanted to, using the same design skills that went into the puzzle boxes. The only reason, Blanc muses early on, to have left the island so unsecured is if he knew that none of the guests would dare to try and kill him. After the Musk-alike is seemingly targeted, Blanc starts trying to figure out why the Musk-alike’s predictions were wrong, what information he didn’t know about could’ve changed the situation.

Then he can be revealed at the end to be a moderately clever improviser who stumbled into power by blind luck. The reason why the island isn’t a fortress ready to protect him from a murderer isn’t because he assessed no such precautions were necessary, but because he was too stupid to realize he was in danger until it was too late. I can imagine a version of the ending scene where the big reveal is that, if you ignore his aura of menace and self-aggrandizing narrative, the thing he holds over everyone’s heads to keep them in line isn’t genius. It’s money. He didn’t design his own puzzle boxes or his own mystery, and his murders are accomplished not with elaborate traps or brilliant misdirection, but slightly clever improvisation with a glass of pineapple juice. The “he just used pineapple juice” reveal is supposed to be obviously stupid, but the problem is that it’s cleverer than most people could come up with on short notice. But if it’s bringing him down from “sinister criminal mastermind” to “exactly one clever idea” then it works.

You could even do a thing with the puzzle box where the Chess puzzle is presented as more important than the others, getting an entire layer of the box to itself, the “final boss” puzzle before getting to the invitation. And on the surface the Musk-alike can sell that as “Chess puzzles were always my favorites, I’m a Chess master, bwahaha,” but the actual puzzle (as it is in the movie we get) is mate-in-one. An earlygame mate-in-one where you can recognize which piece is your queen and which is the opponent’s king even though they’re unlabeled. It might even literally be the Scholar’s Mate, I didn’t look closely enough to check. It’s Chess, a game where you famously have to think more moves ahead than your opponent to get an advantage, and the Musk-alike thinks the best way to show off his genius is a mate-in-one puzzle. He didn’t even design the box, of course, so really all he did was say “oh, and make the final puzzle a Chess puzzle because that’s my brand” to the guy who actually made them.

Instead, the movie is a glass onion. An illusion of complexity, sure, but you can see the center clearly from the beginning. And I think Rian Johnson was too busy taking potshots at his Musk-alike character to sell that illusion.

Hades Is Good And You Should Play It

I struggle to find anything to say about Hades that hasn’t already been said, but I want it on record that it is a good game that you should play. If you have any interest in Roguelikes or in Greek mythology, you should give it a go, because it does a very good job with both of them. I feel like I should probably go into more detail, it’s not like I’ve ever been averse to spending 1500 words just to rephrase what other people have said because I came to similar conclusions, but for some reason it feels like this time that wouldn’t be any fun to write. I guess probably because I was aware of the conversation around Hades before I played it, so there was never an article growing inside me during gameplay that I wanted to get out of my system even if a post-game scan of reviews and analyses revealed that everything I had to say had been said already. This time around, I’d read/listened to the reviews before I played, which, I guess, switched off the part of me that tries to turn opinions into blog posts.

Blue Fire

Blue Fire is one of those games where you can tell they were heavily inspired by a specific game from their childhood, and in this case that specific game is the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or maybe Majora’s Mask, because this is an emo action adventure jump-y slice-y puzzle-y kind of game. I hesitate to lump it in with things like Minoria and Morbid: The Seven Acolytes as an apprentice-level game in which the creator mostly copies an existing game with their own creativity being clearly present but also not fully developed, because even though the first two hours seem like that, I was already very bored of it by then and will not be playing it any further. It turns out I don’t much like these jump-y slice-y puzzle-y kinds of games. Sure, Ocarina of Time still has some hooks in me, but that’s clearly because I played it when I was eight.

So Blue Fire is going into Regrets, although in this case it’s mostly that I regret I couldn’t give this game a fair shake. Turns out it’s like a racing game or a fighting game, beaten before it began because I just don’t like its genre.

Console Shooters Are Bad

The hottest take of twenty years ago.

I bring it up, though, because Far Cry 3 is one of those games released in the early 2010s that won’t run on my computer even though games both newer and older will. This is probably at least in part due to the bizarre processor/graphics card min/maxing I’ve done, where I bought a really garbage graphics card because I was buying my current PC before the blockchain crash so graphics cards were expensive, and balanced it out with a really beastly processor. That processor has been able to carry quite a few games (for example, Far Cry 2 runs fine, and that’s also a PS3 game), but for some reason it struggles with 2012’s Far Cry 3 where it doesn’t with 2015’s Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. I suspect multicore processors are involved somehow, like, sufficiently old games can run on just one core of my processor, sufficiently new games are optimized for multicore, but at just the right age we get games that one core of my processor can’t handle without backup from a better graphics card, but which can’t use multicore properly. That’s a blind guess, though, I have no idea if Far Cry 3 does or doesn’t take advantage of multicore processors.

Anyway, I solved this problem by finding a used copy of Far Cry 3&4 collection for PS3 and dusting off my console. And man, putting first person shooters on a console is really not a good idea. I’ll still probably get through it, but unfortunately my opinion of the series’ star title will undoubtedly be affected by the fact that I am playing it on a vastly inferior platform. I don’t generally buy into the whole “PC master race” thing, but for first person shooters there really is no competition, here.

You Play The Sidekick In Bloodstained

Video game plots sometimes have a problem, and Bloodstained, despite some early promise, walked right into it. There are two main characters directly working to defeat the demons in Bloodstained, and Miriam, the player character and alleged protagonist, is not one of them. The first of the real protagonists is Zangetsu, a samurai warrior that the creator is clearly very enamored with. They made a 2D sidescroller game in the style of the pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevanias called Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon that starred Zangetsu – maybe by putting their actual favorite character in the protagonist role, they were able to tell a better story.

Zangetsu and Miriam seem like they’re co-protagonists for most of the game. They’re both working for Dominique, the nun who is totes not evil, and they both have a personal connection with the two co-villains. Zangetsu is on a vengeance quest across the world to kill Gremory, and Miriam is on a quest to save the soul of fellow shardbinder (result of a demonic alchemical experiment that gives you protagonist powers, unfortunately I can’t think of a broadly recognizable word that conveys the concept effectively) and former friend Gebel, who has been corrupted by Gremory. Zangetsu provides you clues as to how to advance throughout the game, and near the end you have a second boss fight with him after which he gives you his special sword, which is the only thing that can break Gremory’s hold on Gebel and kill her.

This would all work, except that the game goes out of its way to establish explicitly in the aftermath of the second boss fight against Zangetsu that you have not surpassed him, that indeed, he could kill you easily and is really just testing your abilities. He thinks Gremory will abandon her current evil scheme and flee to scheme another day if he catches up with her, so he gives the special Gremory-killing sword to Miriam, confident Miriam is strong enough to kill Gremory with it, but believing Gremory will underestimate her. Miriam is very explicitly Zangetsu’s inferior in ability and spends the entire plot following his clues to pick up all the powerups that unlock new areas of the castle until the moment he dies, which is maybe an hour before the end of this twenty hour game. Though initially presented as co-protagonists, the conclusion of Zangetsu’s arc really cannot wait to hammer home how much cooler and more important he is than Miriam.

This might work as a protagonist hand-off if Zangetsu were some legacy character whose shadow Miriam needs to get out of to carry the series, but this is the first full game in the series. Zangetsu is the protagonist of a stretch goal game, and while that was technically the first game released in the series, Ritual of the Night is the game that actually got Kickstarted, Curse of the Moon was always presented as a side project.

The second real protagonist of the game is Alfred. Alfred is one of the alchemists that summoned all the demons in the first place ten years ago as part of the shardbinder experiments. His apprentice Johannes left the order in the aftermath and helped Miriam (and I think also Gebel?) recover from what the alchemists had done to them. Turns out Alfred is also on a redemption quest, inscribing glyphs in Enochian script throughout the castle in order to banish it back to Hell. We learn this after the final boss, when Johannes picks up his book and is like “aha, this is what Alfred was up to all this time!” While Alfred’s emotional investment is lesser than Miriam’s (his personal connection is not with a specific antagonist but just that his foolish mistakes of ten years ago led to the present situation in general), he’s clearly the protagonist of the gameplay. He’s the one for whom going to each part of the castle and defeating all the bosses (or, I guess, evading them, since they’re all still around when Miriam shows up) is actually accomplishing something.

Miriam does it because it’s a Metroidvania game and what else are you gonna do? At first she’s specifically there to find Gebel, but then you find Gebel halfway through and after defeating him get what is clearly a bad ending, so you reload a save before the fight and just start exploring the castle blindly to find more movement upgrades to explore more of the castle, accomplishing nothing besides eventually unlocking all the movement upgrades needed to get to the part of the castle where Zangetsu explains that he’s been the real protagonist the whole time but is too cool to bring it home and needs someone less badass to avoid scaring the villains off before they can be defeated.

The gameplay would make much more sense if Johannes were the one running around inscribing Enochian script in various boss locations (the game says they’re scattered throughout the castle but not exactly where, but the boss chambers is obviously where you put them), and Miriam had to clear the bosses out so he could do so. Then, instead of clearing the game (especially its second half) as purely an exercise in gameplay, I might’ve been able to actually get invested in the story. It’s not an amazing story or anything, but it’s got a few decent enough hooks that I could’ve got on board with it if it didn’t abandon any effort to provide an in-character motivation for completing the game past the point when you can get the bad ending (skipping half the game in doing so).

It’s pretty weak as a Metroidvania, as well. It’s no worse than Symphony of the Night, but Symphony of the Night was a genre-founder who’s since been pretty cleanly surpassed. It has the Symphony of the Night problem where there’s only ever one real way forward, but you often have to backtrack to find it. Movement powers unlock hidden alcoves with extra treasure, which is good, but never provide shortcuts or alternate entrances into areas that tie the castle together. As long as you retained the ability to fast travel between them, little would be lost if you presented each area in the game as proceeding left to right in fixed order.

It’s hard to fault Ritual of the Night too much for this. Symphony of the Night had similar flaws, and it pitched itself as “Symphony of the Night, but again.” On the one hand, there’s definitely no reason to play Ritual of the Night unless you really want there to be another Castlevania game, and specifically Castlevania, not Metroidvania in general. On the other hand, that’s exactly what it advertised itself as, so I don’t know what I was expecting.

Bloodstained Cooking

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has a cooking system. You can bring ingredients to the alchemist Johannes and he can make them into food. Eating food heals you, and if it’s the first time you’ve had that kind of food, you get a permanent stat boost. Cooking ingredients sometimes drop from enemies and also can be purchased from the store. This is a fun way to get some extra healing (you can also buy potions, but there’s a fairly low cap on how many of those you can have), but the execution is unfortunately pretty botched.

There are intermediate ingredients, so for example you combine milk and halite into butter, but butter can’t be consumed by itself, you have to bake it into other things. You can create just plain “cookies” and those are edible, but you can also use cookies as an intermediate step to specifically making chocolate cookies or cinnamon cookies. That gives the system a bit of depth and charm in a good way, but the UI only lists which ingredients you do or don’t have, without indicating which ingredients you’re missing but which can be made from ingredients you have, i.e. if you’re missing butter but you have the milk and halite needed to cook some butter, the game won’t tell you. You have to flip between the recipe cards to check for yourself.

Worse, the shop is down the hall from Johannes, which means if all you’re missing is a bunch of common ingredients like milk, eggs, and sugar that you can buy from the store, you can’t flip over to another tab and stock up immediately. You have to leave Johannes’ workshop, go to the store, buy those ingredients, and come back. That’s not so bad to do once, but if you’ve got a bunch of rare ingredients like beast milk and dragon eggs and you’re trying to cook a bunch of new recipes all at once, it’s easy to end up making a half-dozen trips back and forth between the workshop and the store as you work your way through all the recipes you can make with nothing but what you have and storebought ingredients, one at a time. Pretty quickly I realize that what I actually need is a list counting up how much I need of every single ingredient needed to bake all my rare ingredients into mid- or high-tier food, but if the store for the common ingredients was in a different tab of the cooking menu instead of down the hall, I wouldn’t need to make grocery lists to play a gothic action video game.

Bloodstained Is Easy

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night feels very much like a precursor to Hollow Knight in the indie Metroidvania scene, despite having been released two years later. It was a Kickstarted game whose main selling point is that a bunch of the people who worked on Symphony of the Night were back making Metroidvanias again, and the Kickstarter launched in 2015, so the game would’ve been at least two years into development when Hollow Knight dropped in 2017, and plus, I’m not sure that the guy who made Symphony of the Night felt the need to be looking around the Metroidvania scene to see what the new developments were when the game he made was one of the two founding titles and namesakes of the genre.

That hubris hasn’t paid off, because Bloodstained certainly feels more like a nostalgia trip than it does a new game. It’s a good nostalgia trip, with the soundtrack kicking in on the first stage really feeling like I’ve been dropped right back into the era of peak Castlevania, and I’m having fun with it. More recent games that are actually building on what Castlevania did well are better, though. No one who follows this blog is going to be surprised to hear me bring up Hollow Knight in regards to that, but also Blasphemous and Ori and the Blind Forest (which does suffer from being early on in the process, a stepping stone that the genre has largely moved past – but less so than Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained).

I don’t think the leveling system in Bloodstained is automatically a bad idea. In fact, I appreciate that there is the option to take a trip or two through the castle smacking mooks for a few more levels to help get past a difficult boss. But I think something Bloodstained lacks that its Kickstarter contemporaries have embraced is that the game, and especially the boss fights, are much more satisfying if they are a desperate struggle rather than a formality, that if you don’t grind you should have to learn a bosses’ pattern in order to defeat them (especially since Bloodstained is good about putting save points near boss chambers, so it’s not like it’s a huge imposition to try again).

And I can’t imagine I’m overleveled in this game, even though that happens in other games because of my thorough playstyle, because it’s very hard to be any more thorough than a main-plot-only playthrough in this game. There’s side quests, but they’re all to either acquire and then give away certain items or to kill X amount of Y monster, and in both cases they’ve been easy to accomplish in the course of normal play. I have occasionally had to farm a monster for a couple of minutes, but enemies respawn as soon as you leave a room and re-enter, so it’s not like I was reclearing entire areas of the game. This farming probably accounts for less than 1% of the XP I’ve acquired.

In fairness, Bloodstained has difficulty modes and from what I’ve read online, hard mode is genuinely difficult. Still, the first time I had to make any attempt to learn a bosses’ pattern on normal mode was fighting the Elizabeth Bathory-themed vampire boss halfway through the game. And that’s technically optional content, since you can go fight the final(?) boss before her (he’s very easy), although the game makes it really clear that this is a bad ending and the start menu stats show I’d explored about 45% of the castle at the time, so this is clearly a Symphony of the Night situation where the final boss isn’t really and there’s a whole second half of the game you have to play to get the real ending. No sign that this second half of the game is the first half but upside down, which is a relief.

While I’m glad that Bloodstained offers an easy mode and it does look like the game gets respectably challenging on normal mode once you reach the second half, past the fakeout ending where you go to the final boss as soon as he’s unlocked, I wish the first half of the game had the same challenge, at least once you get past the introduction and into the demon castle where 90% of the game takes place. This is especially true because the game as it is probably has the difficulty curve I want, but has split it up between modes. It’s hard to tell since you can’t change difficulty modes mid-playthrough and I don’t want to run an entire second playthrough to check, but from what I can tell the first half of the game would’ve been more fun on Hard while the second half is better on Normal. That means I ultimately made the right choice, I’d rather blitz through an easy first half than get frustrated on an overly difficult second half, but if there was an option to increase or decrease difficulty midway through, or if they’d just made the difficulty modes with the philosophy that if someone wants a certain level of challenge then that is probably the level of challenge they want for the entire game and there shouldn’t be any major difficulty spikes, then I could’ve had an optimal experience the whole way through.

It’s still a fun game (although bear in mind I really like Metroidvanias, so it’s hard for any reasonably competent Metroidvania not to entertain me), but it’s somewhat annoying that the resources to make the perfect difficulty curve for me were poured into this game, but then structured in such a way that I can’t actually use them.

Bloodstained: So Dominique Is Evil, Right?

I haven’t gotten very far into Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but there’s a conversation with Dominique that immediately leapt out at me as signposting that Dominique is evil when it’s supposed to be, like, subtle foreshadowing. The basic premise of Bloodstained is that the Alchemists’ Guild were falling out of favor as the Enlightenment marched on, so they summoned an army of demons. The Catholic Church was not a fan of this move. Dominique is affiliated with the Catholic Church, but provided shelter to a rogue alchemist who fled the guild after the whole demon-summoning thing along with the victim of alchemical human experimentation (the latter being Miriam, the main character of the game, who has alchemical demon-fighting superpowers as a result of the experiment).

So Dominique is already under suspicion because she’s Catholic in a Japanese game, and Catholics or Catholic analogues are usually evil in Japanese games. But also, the main character Miriam has a conversation with the rogue alchemist Johannes early on in which Johannes says Dominique provided shelter to a fleeing alchemist and an alchemically enhanced supersoldier fleeing the crumbling Alchemists’ Guild against the will of the greater Catholic Church for reasons unknown.

So, like, she’s evil, right? She wants the power of the demons for herself and she provided shelter to an expert on demons in order to keep a route to that power open. Now that the demons are making their move, she’s pointing her pet alchemist and his supersoldier waifu at them in order to get her hands on the Necronomicon knock-off. She’s even buying all the spare demon shards off of Miriam (as an alchemical experiment, Miriam can use these shards as magic spells, but you can only have so many of them equipped and about 80% of them are going to end up as vendor trash even on spell-heavy builds), allegedly to dispose of them in some kind of nun-approved manner, but, y’know, we only have her word for it that she isn’t grinding them up into powder and cutting them with cocaine to sell to children in minority neighborhoods.

Hades: If Only I Had Some Kind Of Estus Flask

Zagreus, the protagonist of Hades, has a line early on in your first run when you get about under half health. It’s hard to find an exact script for this game because so many of the lines are triggered randomly, but the gist of it is “if only I had some kind of magic red drink that could heal me.” This line is a small detail, but I really liked it. It made me feel like me and Zagreus were in the same place, as indeed I was thinking to myself “oh, no, I’m going to die, I wonder if this game has some kind of healing I can find.” Particularly in a game like Hades that has a lot of random generation poured into it, lines like this help reassure me that the system is working as intended, that the devs anticipated this experience and it’s what they wanted me to be feeling right now, which inspires confidence that the game is going to be well-paced despite its randomization (and indeed, Hades does go on to be a very well-paced game, quite an achievement for a Roguelike, though it’s by no means the first one to pull it off).