The Binding of Isaac/The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Remember how cool Legend of Zelda was when you were just a dumb little babby? And how scary basements were? Then if you grew up in a Christian household, you’ve got quite a background for The Binding of Isaac to flashback at you. The combat takes some getting used to, but eventually you can get the hang of it, and with some good item drops, become a true monster to be feared.
If you missed Zelda, were scared of nothing, and weren’t exposed to religion growing up, Isaac is a respectable place to work back from should you want to experience something close to an interesting, flavorful life.
Dungeons of Dredmor
If the jokes in Dungeons of Dredmor don’t first slay you, the monsters surely will. No kidding, Dungeons is funny and incredibly difficult, but the RPG system is good and the turn-based combat gives you just enough hope to think that maybe, one day, you can kill all those monsters on the screen that were behind the door you just lock-picked.
Of Diablo 3 (D3), many things can be said. The game is fun, especially with friends. The production value is pretty decent and the game is gorgeous to behold. The character classes all have something different to offer the player, and the hot-swappable skill-system is just as interesting and fun as it was in Guild Wars. Hardcore mode is thrilling, and nothing else feels quite like seeing your hero perma-dead due to negligence or flat-out greed. [Let's not discuss the narrative or all the pointless lines of voiced dialog, which sounded great but said nothing at all.] What D3 doesn’t do, however, is respect or trust the player.
These qualities, taken for granted it now seems, are missing thanks to core design choices that went into the final product of D3. The most egregious error is the default Normal mode, which should be an insult to anyone who even has just a basic familiarity of video games, let alone actual gamers. The instances where the player is actually trusted with real challenges to overcome can be counted on the fingers illustrated on a Left 4 Dead poster. The absolute worst part is that Normal mode cannot be skipped – the only feasible way to do so is to be run through by higher-level characters or to hit up the in-game, ever-present auction house to twink your budding character with the best gear gold (soon real money!) can buy. Keep this last point in mind.
When I wasn’t ganking blood elf warlocks with toydonut before they could chain-fear us to death in World of Warcraft (WoW), one of the most fun things I did was get rich crafting elixirs of minor agility. The irony is that I could probably talk to some real heavy-duty WoW players and they wouldn’t have any idea of what I’d be talking about.
I played WoW pretty much around the time it launched, retired my wise-cracking-never-raiding 60 rogue in Iron Forge when Guild Wars came out, and then returned to play with toydonut on a new (to me) server after The Burning Crusade expansion came out. Due to toydonut’s busy schedule we weren’t leveling all that quickly, giving me ample time to do something I neglected with my first character: play the economics game of WoW. It turned out there was an interesting demand that wasn’t being met by the hardcore raiders and other players, and that was mid-level alchemy.