A Big Thing with videogames these days is difficulty. Difficulty is an especially poorly explored topic, because most videogame critics and designers+ suck at videogames++, and ESPECIALLY at videogames that have Actual Difficulty. Actual Difficulty is a unique beast; it doesn’t rely on memorization, or on setting you back far from where you were+++. It relies on intricate patterns, robust interactions, and strong knowledge of the underlying system mechanics. Actual Difficulty arises solely from strong design, constant testing, and the type of genius that only years of experience can create.
God Hand has more Actual Difficulty in the first level than most designers can fit into their entire game, and all of it comes from constantly varied scenarios that require a mastery of the absurdly robust combat engine Clover Studios birthed.
A Big Thing with videogames these days is maturity. Maturity is an especially poorly explored topic, because most videogame critics and designers+ are hilariously immature. Is it any wonder that some of the most beloved games these days hold your hand (Portal, Assassin’s Creed)? Is it really any shock that a game as childish as Bioshock++++ was awarded so much praise? And does the fact that a game’s maturity is measured by its narrative themes even need to be laughed at+++++?
God Hand has more maturity in the first minute than most games can fit into their entire 10 minute – 10 hour wastes of time. It does this by treating me like an actual fucking adult; giving me the game, the whole game, and nothing but the game. And then never wasting my time with fucking tutorials or ‘red key blue key’ bullshit ever again.
A Big Thing with videogames these days is connecting with the game characters. This is because most videogame designers and critics+ have terminal cases of narrative-envy. All kinds of fast ones are pulled over us in the name of plucking our heartstrings. Game characters follow us around, they find us treasure, they have gorgeous facial animations, they have appealing butts; anything and everything to get us to love them, to be attentive to them, to just care a LITTLE BIT IS THAT SO MUCH TO ASK JUST A LITTLE BIT.
God Hand has a more character development in a recurring boss than most games can fit into a 24/7 sidekick. When you defeat that fat, bald, Mexican, demonic Elvis impersonator, it’s a truly sad thing. If he wasn’t a demon, you could have been friends.
A Big Thing with videogames these days is nostalgia. This is because most gamers+++++. are childish people. It’s all around us. From a new Mario, to a new Zelda, to a new Street Fighter, the past is alive and well. It hangs us around us constantly, never dying, never passing on, never letting us out of it’s shadow. Who needs the future, when history is already here?
God Hand has more respect for the past+++++++ in its left-hand side of the screen than most games can fit into an entire cutscene. It does this by reaching into that past, realizing what went wrong, and fixing that, and realising what went right, and keeping that. A game informed by the past, but not beholden to it.
So to return to my first thought; God Hand is the reason I stopped liking videogames.
God Hand is the reason I started loving them.
+ ie., people who talk about and make videogames
++ Put simply, this is the reason I stopped liking most games criticism
+++ Both of which do little but enforce mindless repetition.
++++ I lock you in a room, with one way out. You take that way out. I HAVE NOW CONTROLLED YOUR MIND GIVE ME A GAME OF THE YEAR AWARD.
+++++ Yes. Yes it does.
++++++ ie., the people who create the games industry
+++++++ Nostalgia sucks. Respect for the past rocks.
Editor’s Note: The premiere entry in Let’s Try to Understand is a tricky one. Adam, acting like Chow Yun-fat in Hard Boiled and refusing to play by the rules, has written about a relatively obscure game with complex mechanics and a cult following from the perspective of someone who has already figured it out. Not every entry will be like this — in fact, most of them will be made up of our writers trying to figure out a game that they see as impenetrable.
Adam Burch was put on this Earth to play God Hand and chew bubble gum . . . and HE’S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM! He programs robots and videogames and is ruining esports. He wants to start a game studio one day, release a spiritual sequel to God Hand and live the rest of his days bitter that it didn’t make him filthy rich. Read his blog Thus Spoke Pi or follow him on Twitter @roughly22over7.