Starseed Pilgrim Review – Let’s be quitters together

Starseed Pilgrim Review

So I gave up on Starseed Pilgrim. That’s right… I gave up. I figured out the main mechanics of the game, and then after several wasted hours I went on to search teh internetz for the mysterious secrets that I was missing.

At first I found a spoiler free explanation from the Electronic Dance. I was encouraged by Harbour Master’s poetic description of it all. I was re-inflated, emboldened. Make no mistake – I play a crap ton of video games, so I’m thinking “I’ve got this… Round Two, it’s on!

Several more hours wasted… what have I got? Some pretty garden things, planted with Starseeds and watered with the blood and tears of my wasted effort. They could be the most beautiful psychedelic squares I’d ever seen and I’d still be bored and frustrated at this point. Clearly I’m not the only one.

The truth is, I think this is a decent cheap game, and that’s it. South Park has taught us the terrible environmental smug effects of fart-smelling, so I think it’s time we stop exaggerating. Those who would have you believe that you are a video game illiterate if you can’t see the good in Starseed Pilgrim need to take a break from hot boxing so much Indie.

I didn’t get all the stars in Braid, but I still got to enjoy the crap out of playing and beating the game. Surely, it makes me not the hardest of cores – but still I got to be part of the shared experience of it’s greatness, and I got to enjoy it’s puzzles if only in my less extreme way. Maybe 20 years ago I would have risen to the occasion of monotonous grinding to unlock some “must see” ending… but at this point I’ve got much better things to do, and better games to play. Good luck fellow pilgrims, but I’m not that patient.

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  • Yeah, that’s the kind of rejection I was worried about. In the follow-up total spoiler post, I highlighted some of the mechanical mysteries that I felt were… a bit too obscured. Not sure how far you got, of course.

    (And just last week I posted about quitting games before seeing what glory they have to offer!)

    • Perhaps EBongo will drop by and chime in as well, but I’ve found that I can’t really be bothered to deal with a game if it’s going to be obtuse and relentlessly difficult. Potential sources of entertainment are in high supply compared to my ability to experience them.

      I understand I’m probably missing out on some experiences this way, but in my limited gaming time I’d rather do things that are just fun. Sometimes, challenging can be fun, but other times it’s just frustrating.

      When I looked at Starseed Pilgrim and read your article (which was excellent, by the way…) I got the impression that it was probably on the “unrewarding” side of difficult by my estimation, and it would have surprised me if EBongo had stayed around to the end, given what I know about his gaming preferences.

    • EBongo

      Hey Harbour Master! Honored that you stopped by! Your spoiler free article was superb, and it did give me a little more encouragement to persevere. I think you did a very good job of saying just enough to explain a game that ostensibly objects to explanations. I did also read your spoiler article, and even some other info from elsewhere on the web, but it only solidified my resolve to surrender. It’s a little hard to forgive myself for this transgression against an indie puzzler that has been compared to Fez, but for now I’m just going to have to drown my sorrows in some SimCity 4 and try to forget. :)

  • agent86, Ebongo: No one has to apologise for not playing a game. Even though I was one of Cart Life’s biggest supporters, I’m not going chew anyone out for finding it too grindy for their tastes. Also, we all have our own pain/pleasure thresholds. I like my 2D shooters but the bullet hell variety can often leave me cold. Sometimes the challenge clicks with us, sometimes we just have to walk away.

    I will say the “third phase of engagement”, where it becomes this rapid game of tactics, the “post-spoiler” section of the game, is extremely rewarding. There’s a real sense of mastery that comes with it, apart from a two or three levels that drove me insane.

    But to get there, you need to have exhausted mystery and exploration, and there are a few holes where it’s easy to get trapped in before you reach that point.

    Obviously I came here just because of the link =) but I’m always interested in reading contrarian perspectives which are not just being oppositional for the sake of it.

    (Honestly, I never expected to write so many words in that spoiler article, it just sort of demanded it. I’m surprised how many people have persevered through it!)

    • EBongo

      @Harbour Master Well, welcome… and we hope to see more of you in the future. Your article on quitting Teleglitch has me thinking about the whole concept of quitting and how the types of games that exist today, and the quantity of them, has changed a lot since we were kids and felt a terrible need to finish everything (or at least I did). I’m reminded of several other funny quitting anecdotes, and I’ll try and stop by Electron Dance and share a few when I get a minute. Cheers.