Goblin Sword Review

Goblin Sword is a game on the iPad in which you play as a small blue haired person who fights various otherworldly creatures in an attempt to rid your realm of their nefarious presence. While I've been willfully avoiding real life for a few days, playing Goblin Sword has been my primary activity. I thought it might be fun to review it. 

The gameplay mechanics of Goblin Sword are simple and satisfying. You can jump, move left and right, and swing a variety of weapons you collect as you advance through the game. In random clay pots throughout the game's many levels, you can find small glowing orb things that let you access your weapon's special abilities for a limited time. These special abilities help you kill the weird shit you encounter, like the pig knights for example, which are literally pigs dressed in medieval armor and are a big pain in the ass. 

Your primary objective in each level is simply to reach the end of it. There are however, other tasks for you to complete. Chief among these additional tasks are 1) finding two treasure chests and 2) three blue crystals in each level. The treasure chests hold money and special items, and the crystals open up secret levels once you've collected all of them in a given world. There are also a bunch of side quests to complete like finishing a level without killing any enemies, or blowing out a bunch of torches that are scattered throughout the game. These side missions are handed out by I guess your in-game grandpa? He stands in your house and doesn't help at all, which is irritating.

Visually, Goblin Sword nails the pixelated style of classic side scrolling action games, which is one of the reasons it's so hard to put down. There is a satisfying nostalgia to the presentation, and playing through the game feels like coming home in some respects. But what actually makes this thing so hard to put down for me? Simple: the illusion of progress. In the last stage I found a secret door guarded by a guy in brown pants who wanted 5000 I guess goblin dollars to get past the door. The room behind the door contained a treasure chest with a bad ass sword named "Katar" in it; its special ability engulfs you in flames so you can kill green goo blobs and spear wielding fox monsters just by running into them. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that collecting this sword was my biggest accomplishment of the past three weeks. It's so fucking cool. 

Maybe you think that's depressing. Maybe you're right. But what's the difference between illusory victories within two different, made-up paradigms? Six of one, half-dozen of the other right? If I were to make $10,000 trading pork futures, my "family" would be "impressed." But express pride in having killed many pork based creatures dressed in chain mail with a cool whip thing you found in the Shadow Temple, and you'll get nothing but derision. That our money is worth anything is just a lie we all agree upon. Will anybody remember my late night heroics against the fire demon in the Ancient Ruins? Will anybody remember the vanity plate on your certified preowned BMW, Kevin? What if my fellow Goblin Sworders and I agree that our Goblin Dollars ARE worth something, if only just to us? I can't hold my Katar in my hand, but that doesn't mean the fullness of spirit it engenders in me is fake. Right? Anyone? 

With tight gameplay mechanics, and a satisfying progression in difficulty, Goblin Sword is a can't miss game for fans of the classic arcade side-scrollers of yesteryear. Its accessible gameplay and spot-on visuals put Goblin Sword amongst the very best iOS games. 4.5/5. 

Sock Anxiety

Today I did something I haven't done in a long time: I bought new socks. Presently, there is an entire portion of my underwear drawer (the entirety of which is a wasteland I've lost any semblance of control over and is a topic unto itself) dedicated to single socks which have lost their counterpart and are essentially useless. There's maybe...ten, fifteen of these solo socks? These are socks I've carried with me from apartment, to house, to house, to house. They complicate my morning, quite literally, every day, as they obscure my view of functional pairs of socks, and prolong what ought to be an easy and mechanical process. Why? That I've held onto these socks is but one expression of an aspect of my personality I'm beginning to understand more clearly. I attach symbolic significance to objects in my life. Maybe that makes me a hoarder? It's almost certainly fertile psychological ground for hoarder-like behavior.  

I also have a collection of obsolete and broken electronic devices I plan to someday mount in a shadow box and hang on a wall. Thought: the samsung flip phone I used throughout high-school and my freshman year of college was as much a part of my life as the journals I wrote in. Why keep one and discard the other just because the phone gets replaced and refreshed in a defined cycle and the journal never will? The socks are the same. Some of these socks were gifts. I have a particular grey sock with pink stripes that I love; I remember precisely where and in what mood I was when I purchased those socks. I now just have the one. Their utility erased, is there not something left in them worth holding onto? My girlfriend says maybe we can make rags out of those single socks, thus extending their lives, wringing the last drops of usefulness from them. Maybe they could be sewn into a sweater and warm me again as they used to? Probably not. 

Why all the fuss? I'm being honest here: I have real anxiety about these socks and socks in general, the chaos of it all. I'm exhausted by the Sisyphean task of maintaining order in the underwear drawer, and weary of placing my faith in new socks only to be disappointed by a stray thread or a weird stitch. 

I'm in awe of people who maintain ruthless control over these aspects of their lives. I daydream about what Jony Ive's closet must look like: black t-shirts, sensible trousers. When one t-shirt gets a bit tattered, it's discarded and replaced with an identical one. Remove the distractions, streamline the activity of getting to the point. 

I've been told, many times, that I'd feel better if I de-cluttered my life. If I were to rid myself of the many useless objects I'm stubbornly attached to, maybe I'd feel better, calmer, and happier in my home. Maybe I'd be more productive? Who knows? If the only thing standing between me and a clean, brushed aluminum life were laziness, I'm confident I'd have overcome that laziness by now. There is something deeper, and perhaps more worrisome at play here. To some degree, I've wrapped bits of myself in these objects - like Voldemort and his Horcruxes - only instead of life essence, I've preserved in these objects tiny access points to memories and feelings. These objects form a sort of messy constellation around me, and by studying that constellation I'm able to locate my past, present, and future. These things keep the ship pointed due north. 

They're just socks you say, it's only a flip phone. Listen, you're right. You're right! I'm growing here. I bought the new socks. I'm throwing out the old ones, or making them into rags, whatever makes more sense. These new socks are great, very comfortable, and I got them for a great price. I folded them into piles and stacked them in the underwear drawer. They immediately fell over. A bead of sweat formed on my brow. The cycle continues.