Over the holidays, my husband and I were able to spend a little more time with each other doing something we both enjoy: playing couch co-operative video games.
We played a few games here and there over the years – Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, a side scrolling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dead Nation, Alien Nation, and Rock Band’s various iterations. These we only played occasionally, though, and often with company.
One day I was sitting on the couch, probably reading or using Pinterest. He said, “Man, I wish I had someone to play Gauntlet with, but everyone is busy right now. It’s more fun with at least two people.”
I said, “I’ll play with you.” That was really the start of the two of us playing games regularly.
Over the holidays we finally finished Nine Parchments. We’ve been working on it for a while, baby allowing (as in true brief interludes where she is asleep yet I don’t have to pump).
This game follows students of a wizard academy trying to recover Nine Parchments that spread through the realm after a tower exploded throwing to the wind and spreading them through the realm. The graphics are pretty and there are tiny details that make it more nuanced than I expected- like birds flying in the distance, variations among the foliage and characters. We started on normal but bumped up the difficulty shortly after starting it to make the fights less predictable.
Here’s why I love Nine Parchments:
1 – Couch Co-op
Image Source: PS4 Screenshot from Me Wherein My Many, Many Deaths Are Featured
While many games offer online multiplayer, far less offer couch co-op. Yes, technically, we have two PS4s, but they’re in different rooms. It’s a lot more fun to me sitting next to each other, and having two TVs next to each other doesn’t really seem practical.
My husband is immensely better than me. After all, he’s been playing video games since before I was born, by a few months but still I didn’t start until my early twenties really, so it’s decades more than me. I might not be great, but we have fun.
2 – No Need for Memorization
This may seem like a strange thing to mention, but when we played Magicka, I had to make a cheat sheet for remembering the spells in between gaming sessions. While Magicka allows any wizard to use any spell and Nine Parchments limits spells based off the character to a very finite list, this was far less hassle.
3 – Replay Value
Playing through the first time, we somehow missed that collecting every single quill was necessary. We collected all but two, so we do want to go back and collect those.
Playing through, we unlocked more characters. The characters’ differences aren’t just skins: even if characters collect the same spells, those with an affinity for a particular element are more successful with the spell – at least that’s what the on screen tips said.
I didn’t realize this at first. As the secondary character, I was limited to being a healer (I failed kinda as I had only one healing spell). Player One was supposed to be well rounded and not tied to a particular element, which suited my husband well. I’m more of a meat shield kind of player. I like to be able to take and deal out significant damage. For my healer, I mostly collected ice spells, which worked out okay. Too late in the game I realized I wouldn’t be able to meet a certain goal, though. I’d like to play as the cat (death) next time, or maybe the real ice mage.
There’s a whole type of magic we haven’t unlocked yet: box magic. It will need particular items for the replay to achieve. This sounds very intriguing. I can’t wait to see what it is.
4 – Diverse Characters (Eventually)
It starts out with a white boy and white girl, but you later unlock a female ice wizard with a dark complexion, an old man, a cat, and a mechanical owl. There are other characters too, but we haven’t unlocked them yet despite finishing the 30+ levels. I think it was 32.
This game is available on these platforms: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. It’s made by Frozenbyte. Find out more here.
Why I Really Love About the Game
Often it’s who we’re with, and not what we’re doing that dictates if we’re having a good time or not. At the same time, certain things are much more enjoyable with someone who is excellent company. If I were playing these games with someone else, they wouldn’t be as enjoyable.
Connecting in these higher tech times can be a challenge. It seems like a lot of younger adults have difficulty making and keeping friends and romantic partners.
I personally think loneliness has always been part of the human condition, it’s just been exacerbated by technology induced isolation. There are so many people who struggle with loneliness. The Scottish Government is even considering appointing a minister of loneliness.
If my husband hadn’t asked me out (very respectfully and with no pressure), we wouldn’t be here today. Sometimes we have to take risks to make progress in our lives.
Romance isn’t the only aspect of human interaction that causes loneliness though. Here’s an article from Psychology Today listing seven different causes for it.
I hope in 2019 that we will cultivate hearts that reach out.