Funny To A Point – The Dreaded Question: Vol. II

A little over a year ago (good lord, has this column lasted that
long?), I
what has become something of a tradition in my house when it comes
to video games: My wife sees me playing a new game, asks me what it’s about,
and then I spend a few minutes bumbling my way through a plot summary that I
don’t fully understand myself because my brain stops working as soon as I get a
weapon in my hand. Her follow-up questions invariably tear apart my explanation
like a dumb-as-rocks criminal under cross-examination, but I still appreciate
the exchanges; not only do they offer us an opening to discuss video games (other than the stupid Bubble Witch game she’s obsessed with), they also help me parse my own thoughts about what I’m playing.

I’ve played a lot of games since my last
, and despite having never been able to muster an adequate plot
synopsis, my wife still asks for one every time I start a new game. My ultimate
takeaway from the previous collection was that I need to pay more attention to
narratives while I’m playing – but have I actually followed through with that revelation over the
past year? Of course not Let’s find out!

Note: This column may
or may not contain spoilers for some recent games. I’m not really sure.

Horizon Zero Dawn: The
Frozen Wilds

What’s it about?: “Aloy is investigating a mountain in this
new region of the world because more machin– OH SH** IT’S A ROBOT BEAR!”
I actually reviewed
The Frozen Wilds
, and as such I was paying special attention to the plot
and taking notes during my playthrough. Not that the extra incentive was
necessary; Horizon’s intriguing mysteries kept me engaged with the plot
regardless, and I had no problem keeping my wife up to speed as I played
the main game
. What took a little more explanation, however, was how The
Frozen Wilds is incorporated into the main story, which went something like

“It’s not really a
 it’s the same game as before, but now there’s a new area and some
other stuff. I DID beat the game, yes, but it takes you back to before the
final mission so you can do the new storyline, which ties into the old story
kind of. No, I don’t have to beat the main game again, I already did that 
mean, technically now I haven’t done it, but I know what would happen if I did
do it again, which I don’t need
 hold on, another friggin’ bear is eating me.”

Makes perfect sense, right? I don’t know why she was confused…

Assassin’s Creed

What’s it about?: “You’re a guy in Egypt who is almost
certainly going to become an assassin, and it sounds like his son is dead? He’s
probably going to kill whoever murdered his son, if he really was murdered. I’m
guessing pharaohs. Or Cleopatra 
 no wait, that would be stupid. It’s gotta be
Hoo boy, how about that intro to Origins? Nothing like getting thrown
straight into…what exactly? Flashbacks and flashforwards and combat and – why
is he carving up his own arm with an arrow?!

Origins basically starts out like Memento, only YOU are the Memento
guy, and not even tattooing CliffsNotes all over your body will keep everything straight. Literary experts call this storytelling device “in media
res,” which is Latin for “I don’t know how to start this thing; f*** it, lets
jump straight to the middle.”

My wife is vaguely familiar with the premise of Assassin’s
Creed, so my explanation more or less sufficed. It’s a good thing, because I
still don’t know anything beyond that. Oh, I know you have a pet hawk, because
I fell asleep the first night I was playing and when I woke up it was perched
on my arm. That was pretty cool.

What’s it about?: “I’m a cup who lost
a bet to the devil and now I have to collect the contracts of other cartoons,
if I can ever get past this F***ING DRAGON!”
Here’s a hot news scoop I’m sure you haven’t heard before: Cuphead is
stupid hard. And I love stupid hard games! I gave Super
Meat Boy a 9
! And Spelunky
an 8
! I don’t love Cuphead though, and it was two follow-up questions from
my wife that made me realize why.

“Wake me up in an hour?” was the first question, which she
asked because she had been studying all night for an exam while I was playing, and
needed a quick nap. “You’re still on this level?” was the second question,
which she asked after I woke her up. And I sure was! Nothing like spending an
hour and a half on the same two-minute segment against a cheap-ass dragon and
his totally random cloud platforms to make you second-guess what the hell you’re
doing with your life. Friggin’ dragon.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath
of the Wild

What’s it about?: “It’s the new
My wife isn’t a big gamer, but even she has been conditioned to not expect story
from a Zelda game. Link, Zelda, Master Sword – we get it. I’m still only a
couple hours into the game, but if she had asked for further explanation, my
synopsis would’ve gone something like this:

“Link woke up in a
tipped-over refrigerator in his underwear, and now he’s scouring Hyrule for a blacksmith
who’s worth a damn because every weapon he picks up shatters after a few
whacks. Oh wait, and now it’s raining, so I’m just going to sit at the bottom
of this wall like a lump of Deku poop and wait for it to stop so I can
climb it.”
10 out of 10!

Hidden Agenda
What’s it about?: “Remember Until
Dawn, that horror game you were worried about me playing because I kept on jumping so much? It’s from the same developer, only
with detectives this time. No, I’m not going to start jumping again.”
Beyond her trademark question, my wife didn’t need a plot synopsis for
Hidden Agenda – she was sitting next to me on the couch while I played through
the entire thing. Instead she just refused my pleas for advice during the hard
decisions, and then would mutter, “You shouldn’t have done that,” immediately
after I made a choice. Talk about backseat adventure-game driver!

South Park: The
Fractured But Whole

What’s it about? What the heck are you doing?:
My wife is familiar enough with South
that she didn’t need/care for a plot synopsis going into The Fractured
But Whole (though she did concede that the name was pretty funny). Instead,
she asked the above question about a dozen times while she was studying with
her back to the television. My answer was always, “I’m farting on people.” Come
to think of it, that also aptly sums up what the game is about…    

Coming Up Next: More incredibly succinct and insightful summaries of 2017’s hottest games…

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