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WSIB – Nuzlocke Style Game – Challenge, Emotional Investment, and Embracing Party Death

Content of the article: "WSIB – Nuzlocke Style Game – Challenge, Emotional Investment, and Embracing Party Death"

Hey everyone, I'm looking for a game (or variant set of rules) that captures the essence of the Pokemon Nuzlocke Challenge experience. Platforms I play on PC, Switch, and PS4.

For those unfamiliar, a pokemon nuzlocke run is a self imposed challenge which is very flexible but has a few key rules, and they are:

  1. You may only capture the first pokemon you encounter in a route.
  2. You must nickname each pokemon you capture.
  3. If a pokemon faints it is considered dead and must be released into the wild.

The first rule serves to force randomization onto your team and encourages using pokemon and strategies you otherwise would likely overlook. The second creates an emotional attachment, which makes the release of pokemon upon death even more devastating. And lastly the death rule adds significantly more stakes to any given encounter and encourages smarter play.

I've really enjoyed these challenges over the years but honestly I am tired of having to work so hard to make such an easy game interesting to myself. I'd love to play more games that replicate the magic of a good nuzlocke run that are built from the ground up to do so. Some aspects I am looking for include:

-Managing a team of diverse members with varying strategical utility that are interchangeable and not too punishing if a member dies or I choose to enforce my own death rules

-Strategic depth that encourages mastery and clean play but also is not overly punishing such that it is hard to resist impulses to save scum. Embracing emotional and memorable deaths is really important.

Read:  People who think the game price increase to $70 was "long-overdue" aren't seeing the big picture as to why that's not necessarily true.

-A game with minimal grinding or at least has factors that can mitigate my compulsive grinding tendencies.

Some examples of games that has captured the nuzlocke experience well for me include:

-XCOM: Enemy Within and XCOM 2

-Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 (with the help of my own ruleset and a random number generator for team selection)

-Skyrim (creating a new character upon death and not allowing mid combat healing, great for roleplay and taking in game threats more seriously)

Some examples of games which were poor nuzlocke experiences for one reason or another:

-Fire Emblem Three Houses (I feel mechanically and narratively over punished when trying to accept mistakes and embrace character death)

-Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 (way too much grinding to make whole cast playable and auto rezzes at checkpoints break immersion)

Games I am currently considering exploring to get my next fix:

-Wasteland 3

-Darkest Dungeon

-Misc roguelike games

Looking forward to hearing suggestions I might not have heard of as well!


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