Time Poorly Spent
Gamers like to talk about their favorite games. We love to share the experiences of wonderful plot moments, incredible gameplay, and incredible fun matches with friends. We talk about moments in games, or around games, that we’ll never forget. These shared experiences of happy memories bolster our relationships with fellow gamers, give us a shared community and history. For these moments alone, all the time we have spent playing games is worth it.
And even when the games are bad, as they so often are, as gamers we have the shared experience of mockery and derision. We can point at a game and say “Oh, you played that too? Wasn’t it awful?” and that common bond lets us feel like our precious time and money weren’t wasted on a truly awful game.
But sometimes that isn’t the case.
Sometimes a game, for whatever reason, is so beyond the pale that shared experiences can’t overcome how utterly garbage a game is. The joy of a shared experience is ruined by these games, the memories of your time spent playing the miserable pile of code makes you want to invent a time machine just so you can stab yourself before you play that game. Nothing redeems these games, nothing makes them fun, nothing even makes them worth hate-playing or fun to mock.
There should be a classification for these games: time poorly spent.
Games so awful, so broken, so incompetently made you can’t decide if you should laugh, cry, or vomit. We’ve seen a couple of these games recently, Star Trek: the Videogame, Aliens: Colonial Marines. It surely isn’t a coincidence that god blindingly bad video games are also based of licensed properties, but they’re far from the only offenders. Oh, we could be so lucky.
When I think of games where my time was poorly spent so many come to mind, but only one floats its way to the top of my list of contempt. One game always manages to make me say “those hours of my life I will never get back, you stole this time from me and I have less than nothing to show for it. I am, in fact, a worse person for it.” One game. One singular, terrible, rage-inducingly awful game has given me more extistensial ennui than any thing else in existence.
There’s no need to belabor the points so many other reviewers have made before me. Just looking at the metaranking of the game is more than enough to give you a clue of just how awful this game is. No, I won’t go over how awful the enemy AI is or how impossibly hard the game is. How ridiculous the premise of the game is, and how infantile the gameplay is, are points best left to someone else.
I want to tell you how it makes you feel.
Incompetent: Vampire Rain so poorly explains its systems, that you aren’t even sure what you’re supposed to be doing. Then you’re dead, and you get to start all over and hope you can figure it the fuck out this time. You know that the game wants you to do something but you just aren’t sure what.
Irrelevant: When the game can dispatch you so fast that in the time it takes you to blink you can have been engaged and killed by an enemy, you feel like the game doesn’t really care if a human is playing it at all. You somehow get the sneaking suspicion that the game would prefer if you weren’t here, human, because the AI could (and does) do a better job of reacting than us mere mortals ever could.
Bored: In a game about vampires attacking you from the shadows, it’s surprising just how boring Vampire Rain can be. But the inevitability of being spotted from across half a map and eaten before one can even fire so much as a single bullet rapidly goes from tedious and frustrating to boring. “Oh, yay, I got eaten again. Time to restart from the last, poorly placed, checkpoint. I wonder if I will spawn on top of a vampire this time.” Swatting flies was less boring than this game.
Mocked: Vampire Rain gives you a gun. But it might as well give you a rubber ducky, because at least a rubber ducky makes cute noises and I’d rather hear that before I die than the crushing fangs of a vampire attack. It’s not like the gun will stop the vampire anyway. Some might argue that this subversion of power is commentary on video games, the player with the gun is weak in the face of the enemies of the games whoa subversion!, but it comes across as little more than the developers saying “Oh, you want a choice in this game? No. You’re going to sneak around. Want to use the gun? Haha, okay, sure, see how that goes for you. Why’d we give it to you if it’s completely useless? Just to piss you off.”
After turning off my 360 and processing Vampire Rain for a few minutes, I realized it was the first game I truly regretted playing. It was time that I lost to the pit of the vile code, and it is time whose loss I mourn to this day. Please, never play Vampire Rain.
Now that you know of the dark game that ruthlessly stole hours of my life and gave nothing in return, what is your Vampire Rain?