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I’m between games at the moment. I’ve finished NIER (as much as I can really play) and for some reason I’m not in the mood for Mass Effect 2. I’m in the middle of re-doing that game for a couple of reasons, and as good as it is it’s still a little annoying going through it twice. Having to repeat a game over and over because you feel you have to isn’t really the best motivation: it was one of the reasons I couldn’t get into Fallout 3.

So my eye is wandering over my game collection, wondering if I should replay one of my old games or finish one of the games I’ve yet to complete. My eye lands on Baroque, a game for the PS2, and I wonder exactly why.

Baroque (not related to the classic musical movement) is a very dark post-apocalyptic roguelike game that’s been remade a ton of times: it first came out for the Sega Saturn, and later for the Playstation, Playstation 2 and Wii. As a roguelike, it has randomly generated levels, a lot of level grinding and a very high difficulty level. Baroque is particularly cruel in that you are required to die at certain points, throwing you back down to Lv.1 and stripping you of all but a handful of items. The last time I played it- months ago- I managed to get about five hours into it before the game defeated me. It’s an incredibly punishing experience.

So what is it about these kinds of games that keep drawing people in? Why do they keep drawing me in? Is it just the raw challenge involved? Or is it sometimes people just feel like random, pointless level grinding? Could be a mixture of everything involved.

There’s lots of different reasons that someone can play a game, just like there are plenty of reasons one can read a book or watch a movie. Sometimes you just want something that doesn’t really make you think, but is just there to occupy your time. Junk food, essentially. Maybe that’s why Baroque has been calling to me: it might not be a masterpiece but it fills a need.

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