There's nothing wrong with skill or making informed decisions. My favorite genres are RPG and turn-based strategy, so I spend a lot of time pondering ideal moves (and getting them completely wrong). I also enjoy plenty of action games that challenge my ability to react efficiently in shifting circumstances.
But sometimes I just want to zone out and see what happens when my inner moron takes over. It's surprisingly rare for games to allow that, and even more rare for them to encourage it.
Enter two dumbass-friendly games that came out this month.
How do I describe this battledome of botched lunges... Okay, I think I've got it. There are these monster muppet people with googly eyes. They stumble around and poke each other with swords until one explodes in goopy gibs. Then the reincarnated ghost of the loser employs a flurry of frenzied stabbing to keep its opponent from jumping into the maw of a nightmare worm.
Pretty straightforward stuff.
Oh, and occasionally both opponents stall the match as long as possible so they can hear the background music track in its entirety.
In any other game, a player holding a bow really only has a few options. Shoot the bow at an enemy. Shoot the bow at a red barrel. Collect enough bow shards to upgrade the bow.
Nidhogg 2 presents another, dumber option: Why not throw the whole dang bow at your enemy? It will sail through the air more slowly than an arrow. It will do less damage. But you know what? It will feel great, and if your opponent hesitates you might just be able to jump over their head and run away.
At its heart, Nidhogg 2 is about frantically trying to outthink and outmaneuver your enemy, then jumping directly into a meat grinder. If you're not spending half of every match regretting a move then laughing at its outcome, you're playing it wrong.
West of Loathing
Before starting any RPG I spend hours researching the classes, squinting at competing Wikis to read up on every talent, skill, and build. I read up on the armor options available to my chosen class to find out if my fashion options will be acceptable. I try to imagine what the playstyle of each class feels like, and whether it will start off fun or only come into its own as I approach the endgame.
In West of Loathing I just started the game and picked the Beanslinger class, because bean magic sounded sort of goofy. And I haven't had a moment of regret.
This is a deceptively laid back game. Every corner of West of Loathing is crammed with silly jokes, yet nothing feels forced. Most quest solutions feel like natural extensions of your doofus character's personality. You can simply make selfish decisions based on little to no consideration and everything will work out, more or less.
Even the simple act of walking around can be dumb as heck. I have made it my mission to step directly into every single cactus and pile of dung in my path, and have been presented with dozens of appropriately distraught exclamations for my efforts. As in real life, I shove my hand in every suspicious hole I find. Sometimes this pays off in the form of hidden loot. Sometimes it pays off in the form of a self-questioning inner monologue that's more rewarding than any magical ring.
Well, maybe not the Nasty Ring. It's... pretty nasty.
While buying both Nidhogg 2 and West of Loathing for a combined $25 is technically a very smart move on your part, I promise that you'll be able to turn off your brain as soon as they're installed.
The path to victory is paved in the neon blood of my enemy and also my own blood... okay, mostly my blood. 8/10
West of Loathing
The horse with crazy eyes is better-written than anyone in Mass Effect Andromeda. 8/10
Agents of Mayhem
Not quite Saints Row, not a multiplayer game as it appeared to be, and somehow not as bad or good as you'd think. 6/10
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Really my only gripe is that Claudia Black doesn't portray every character in the game. 8/10
Madden NFL 18
The story mode is a pleasant surprise, but the Telltale-style "Concussed player won't remember that" messages struck me as being in poor taste. 7/10
With eight movies fighting for Oscar gold, which one will win? I don't know! But you don't either.
Any forum poster worth their salt will gladly inform you (without being asked) that genre fiction is, in fact, garbage for children. You are not reading a real book unless it is difficult and mildly unpleasant. Test your READING MACHISMO with these truly challenging works.
Saving a village of khaki Rastafarians from the confetti geyser. AGAIN.
The cutting edge of video game articles.