But there are a few titles that keep coming up in the rotation over and over again that I’m never able to make any progress on whatsoever. Right now the worst two offenders are Rule of Rose and Cold Fear. Both of these are terrible games, and actually, they both have similar problems: the game play is so broken that progression is either extremely frustrating or downright impossible. I recently complained about Rule of Rose, so now it’s Cold Fear’s turn.
OK, developers, here’s the deal: any time you have a source of infinite damage, you need to match it with a source of infinite health. For example, Cold Fear contains enemies that respawn every time you enter certain rooms. Respawning in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it means that the player can be exposed to a potentially unlimited source of damage. If you do not pair respawning enemies with respawning health and ammo, the player can eventually get into a situation where they have no means to defend or heal themselves and yet are required to progress. At this point the player has little recourse other than starting the game over from scratch, as there is really no way to play any sort of game that only punishes and never rewards. Now, I know that in Cold Fear, you guys at Darkworks made it so that some enemies drop ammo and health, especially if it looks like the player needs it. But it’s not enough; if I’ve run out of ammo shooting the same goddamn respawning monster for the nth time, there’s very little chance that I’ll survive my next encounter long enough to actually kill the thing and search it for more ammo. And the problem is compounded by the rocking of the boat (which makes it harder to aim than in any other game in this genre), the need to shoot guys in the head, and the lack of a map; you might know where the rear deck storage hold is, but I sure the fuck don’t, and every time I backtrack through certain rooms looking for the one unlocked door, you spawn another zombie. Do you see where I am going with this? The game play has me wondering around a ship, trying not to run out of ammo or health against an infinite number of zombies, who by the way can kill me from off the screen before I realize they are there.
I got to a point in Rule of Rose where my options are to a) start over from scratch, or b) never play the game again. Progression is impossible given the amount of life I have left and where I managed to save. I’m not quite at that point in Cold Fear yet, but I am close: I played the same section over and over again about 15 times this evening, sometimes dying after 10 minutes of play, sometimes in the first 30 seconds. It’s not that the game is hard that frustrates me, it’s that it is unfair and arbitrary. Everything else about the game is actually sort of all right, but the whole experience is utterly ruined by a few fatal flaws in its design.