Each week Rise and Shiny asks you to download and try a different free-to-play, indie or unusual game, chosen by me, Beau Hindman. Some of the games will be far out of your gaming comfort zone, and some will pleasantly surprise you. We will meet each Tuesday and Friday night at 9 p.m. EDT (8 p.m. CDT), followed by this column the Sunday after. I welcome any suggestions for games, either in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter me @Beau_Hindman.
It's hard for a game to strike a perfect balance of fun and challenge. In fact, I'd say it's the result of otherworldly forces as much as it is the hard work of the developer. Many of the greatest games I have ever played are a conglomerate of many factors that were beyond the control of the artists, writers and producers who first crafted the world. Sometimes, the crew must simply hope that its ship floats, and that it happens to set her to sail just as the weather is perfect.
Then a game like ChangYou's Zentia
comes along, a game that has all the wonderful qualities I am looking for -- as the result of some very smart, specific
design choices made by some very creative people. Sure, I discovered the game on accident (I wasn't actively looking for a game the day Zentia
fell into my lap), but the game has obviously been crafted with precision and care.
If you'd like to read up on some of the details of the game, you can check out our E3 coverage here
, or read an article of mine here
. Also, you can get your closed beta key here
. Otherwise, see me after the break, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section!
I know it will sound like I am gushing in this article, because I am. The more games I find to play, the harder it is for one to really stick with me. Don't get me wrong -- I can have a good time within a cardboard box -- but it isn't often that a game not only stays on my hard drive but makes me purely happy. Mabinogi
has that effect on me. Free Realms
, Earth Eternal
and a few others -- they're all games that have a dent-shaped in my heart that looks just like they do.
For me, the point of playing an online video game is to experience something outside of what I would normally experience in real life. I don't log in to grind away as though I had just clocked in at the local mill. I certainly don't log in to compete with other players for some kind of invisible prize. This might sound horrible, but I don't really log in for much of a challenge. In fact, once something becomes too challenging, I don't tell myself "let's try 32 more times!
" I had a roomate once who did that, and the sessions would generally end with his throwing his PlayStation
controller across the room or smashing his keyboard.
I want a game that is a balance of life skills, adventure, lore and the toy factor
The toy factor is what you experience with a game that can run on many PC configurations, makes you feel happy without being cheesy, and gives you an experience that is simple to understand. Zentia
features the toy factor in spades. Some games tinge your playtime with frustrations or linear hand-holding. That's not what a toy
does. A toy excites you and throws open the doors on a huge, open world that is filled with places to discover. Zentia
is a kaleidoscope of creatures from under your bed, beautiful scenery, and dollhouse clothing options.