I’m having a lot of fun in Trove and I didn’t really expect to.
I mean, I sort of did expect to. It’s a colorful little romp of a game that really leans in on just wandering the world, stumbling into points of interest, and blowing up enemies for goodies. It’s got all of the hooks of a good ARPG and all of the color of a fresh box of crayons. When I lay that all out like that, it shouldn’t be shocking that I find Trove to be enjoyable. Yet here I am, surprised. And delightedly so.
There’s an argument to be made about the genre being flooded with too many middling titles — in fact, Eliot’s latest Vague Patch Notes column touched on this quite well — but sometimes those middling titles are a whole lot better than that “middling” descriptor would have one believe.
Maybe it’s just a matter of landing at the right place at the right time, but Trove is making me a big fan in a big hurry. And I recognize that there are probably games that do several things better than Trove does, but right now Trove is astonishingly addictive and unashamed fun in spite of that knowledge. Or at least that assumption.
This has happened to me with more than a few MMOs. Another one that took me by surprise with how good it was was MapleStory 2, which should have been kind of boring and routine but ended up being quite a little obsession. Not an obsession enough for most, of course — the game shut down a while ago — but it was far more fun than I had expected.
Another game that’s surprisingly fun is Craftopia, a game that fills the survival sandbox itch with something far more soft and accessible. Sure, it’s pretty janky, it’s story is… a thing, and the translations still feel like they need a bit more work, but by a large margin this one’s a great little time waster.
I’ve written about how games being OK is fine; how an MMORPG just being middle-ground isn’t exactly terrible. This seems to run counter to Eliot’s excellent points, but that’s not necessarily the purpose of my argument. Eliot’s write-up is practically faultless and he has plenty of evidence to make his point. There are more than a few middle-ground games that I delighted in that have died simply because OK just isn’t good enough in the wealth of choice. I guess my point isn’t necessarily to counter Eliot but to suggest people try these titles out anyway.
I don’t know that I would have fired up Trove were it not for my column simply because there was this overall pervasive sense that it was just alright and nothing special, which means I had played a game of its like before. And while I have certainly played games cut from a similar cloth, something about the way Trove does it is jiving with me now. If I had followed the conventional wisdom, I would be missing out on a good time.
So, sure, OK games are perhaps doomed to die. But only if we let them. I agree with Eliot, but I would simply put one little asterisk to his whole point: Play these things anyway. Take a moment to try them out. You never know how surprised you just might end up being.