Can you handle Rise of the Triad’s dumb eternal recurrence?

, | Games


Update: As Dave Oshry, from Rise of the Triad developer Interceptor, points out in the comments section, the dumbness that’s forcing me to replay levels — read on for the specifics — is partly a matter of my own dumbness for me not realizing there’s an option in the menus to go to any previously reached checkpoint.

I can’t help but enjoy the aggressively retro dumbness of the Rise of the Triad remake out this week. It captures the unhinged creativity and unabashed idiocy of the Duke Nukem era. It also demonstrates that a game can be big and dumb without being insultingly bad, Duke Nukem Forever style. However, if there’s one kind of dumb I can’t abide, it’s the sort of dumb that means I will probably never make any progress in Rise of the Triad.

After the jump, how many times am I supposed to play each level?

Rise of the Triad is based on a checkpoint system. Fair enough. This is a score-based game, and I’m totally on board with having to earn my score rather than save-scum it. Although it’s a bit puzzling that I can’t replay a level I want if I want to try for a better score. Why introduce a system like this but then force me to play the game as if it were a linear story? But even that kind of dumb won’t kill Rise of the Triad for me.

The kind of dumb that is killing this game is that unique brand of oblivious dumb that I can’t believe no one noticed before the game was released. When I die in Rise of the Triad, which I do a lot since I’ve been trying to play on “hard” and there’s no way to adjust the difficulty once you’ve started, I get a menu that gives me two options. Here is that menu:


It appears very quickly, sometimes before I even realize I’ve died. Rise of the Triad isn’t very good with feedback about where shots come from or how close you are to dying. So suddenly here’s the screen. Oh, I’m dead. Okay. I just click on “retry last checkpoint”. Pretty simple.

Except that sometimes when I die, I’m frantically clicking to fire at the guy who will kill me. So sometimes when I die, I don’t even get the chance to click on “retry last checkpoint”. Sometimes when I die, I’ve clicked on the option without even realizing it. That’s not so bad. I’m instantly headed back to the last checkpoint, which is where I wanted to go anyway. What’s bad is when I’m frantically clicking to fire at some point slightly lower, which means I’ve clicked on the option to “restart map”. There goes all my progress. I am reset as many as three or four checkpoints ago. I have made it to the third map in Rise of the Triad. I have yet to play one of the maps without, at some point, accidentally clicking on “restart map” and losing all my progress. All of it. I have spent far more time replaying content in this game than I ever intended.

And that’s why I’m done with Rise of the Triad. Some kinds of dumb are fine. The belching and the farting and the blood spurting from leg stumps and the chick character’s nail polish and Doug declaring that he’s going to fuck some shit up. And this, for instance:


Other kinds of dumb aren’t fine. Popping up a “restart map” option in the middle of the screen where killed players will be clicking frantically is the latter kind of dumb.