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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Some of you may know that I do my best work on a tight schedule. Nevermind the fact that this statement is applied to roughly 99% of the free world, and the intellectual checkmate that you put yourself in when someone mentions that 700 years ago everyone knew the earth was flat. No, quite the opposite. I do fuck all when I’m pressed for time. That’s why I’ve gone six months without anything resembling an update, or a reason for lack thereof, when this was supposed to be a weekly article.

But screw you if you think I’m admitting guilt on this one. As long as being on this retainer is as functional a job as scribbling on bathroom stalls you can forget about riding my ass about it. Here’s some more my figurative nervousness while edging towards an asymtote like I’m an advanced math student at last call.  

Kingdom of Loathing. If you’re lucky enough to be a part of the Hivemind, and I need hardly reiterate here that you most likely aren’t, then you may recall a discussion or two about who’s going to tackle this one first. Well, Helepolis seems to be around as pre-occupied as I’ve been, but without the luxury of not having to deal with people directly, and he can take a crack at whatever bits I will invariably miss. The point that I’m labourously trying to make is that I’m reviewing a game again, and KoL is its moniker.

Right from the title, you can tell that this game is less than pleasant. It’s a browser-based RPG where stick-figures and other cartoonish characters quest for nearly innumerable items, each more ludicrous than the last, and strung together by a design-team that often flies by the seat of their collective pants, and a company owner that professes himself to be unoffendable. His handle is Jick, and if you feel this reminds you of a racial epithet, then you’re likely the kind of person for which the targeted humour hits home. By no means is this game vulgar for its own sake, as it forgoes the use of the F bomb and other all-too-easy method of comedy entirely. In fact, their spin on toilet humour is having an adventurer stare into it until the repeated flushing hypnotizes them.

AND. I. MUST. SAY. THAT. THIS. GAME. IS. WONDERFUL.

I know that somewhat dulls the credibility spear that I so like to brandish online as I hoist myself up above the Hoi Polloi of the gaming world and the people who don’t instinctively know the proper use of the term Hoi Polloi. But fuck you if you don’t like this game.

Seriously. Go play it now, prove to me that you aren’t a slack-jawed moron that can’t take a fantasy world that pokes fun at everything under the sun. (The only things that they stay away from are politics and religion, because let’s be honest. Nobody comes out of that debate smelling any fresher than they did before it.) I’ll even wait for you to try it out. Each day you get a certain number of adventures, which you can extent remarkably by crafting and consuming food, booze, and potions. After that, the main adventuring is done for the day, but check out one of the many chat channels and forums that are surprisingly helpful to newbies. And moderated, thank fuck.

The game is free to start playing once you’ve signed up (which is also free, loophole-lover), and the company runs just on donations alone. Every month they crank out one or two specialty items that you can get when you donate which are often very powerful, and always retain the bizarre wit and humour that has sustained the game for upwards of six years now as a business. But the real joy of this game is not in the donation content, but in the effort that the staff has put into writing and polishing a game that never locks you out of content if you aren’t opening your wallet. I find that refreshing.

Another great thing is the free radio station that’s operated by long-time players of the game. Mostly this takes the form of dj slots every hour or two, but twice a week, the actual owners come on the air for two hours at a time to chew the fat and take questions from anyone that bothers to send them in. Yeah, you heard that right. There’s no ivory tower, no secret war room, or whathaveyou. Just Jick, and whatever combination of Mr. Skullhead, Riff, Hotstuff, Nyghtmare, and their devteam buddies chatting up the airwaves. It’s something like 32 days of audio that they’ve amassed so far, and also a level of respect for the  player base that is seldom seen in the gaming industry.

The 4700-odd items in the game are uniquely Loathing in that you’ll not find another well made game that employs a fly swatter or a glob of cheese as a weapon. Nor will you delve the strange mazes of the Bat Hole or Hobopolis (lit. city of hobos) in any other game. Yes there are times when the game can feel like it’s up its own ass in terms of self-assured cleverness, but it never disappears completely. For all the ironic hipster vibe that the game might give off, it’s not afraid to rip on those douchebags either.

I could go on for days about the thrill of collecting preposterous amount of meat that the game uses as currency, or the item descriptions that are always brimming with puns and nods to pop-culture, or the numerous puzzles that scale from brain-tingingly pleasant to complete all the way up to “Holy fuck I am seriously considering autocannibalism as a means of ending this puzzle right now”. But I’m going to take a page from Helepolis’ book and cut it short with a naughty analogy.

Kingdom of Loathing is like an orgasm. It’s better experienced than simply talked about, and there’s a refractory period before you can do it again effectively.

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