Gish: The Benefits of Crashing

I’m into the third world of Gish now, “The 7 Planes of Hehenna”. (And yes, that seems to mean that this world has seven levels.) It’s a lava world, and as usual, touching lava will kill you, which is highly unrealistic: in the real world, you’d be roasted alive long before you got within touching distance of lava, if the fumes didn’t get you first. (There’s a name for lava that doesn’t heat the air around it to hundreds of degrees. It’s called stone.) But I suppose things might be different for living tar. The real world doesn’t offer us many data points for that. At the very least, Gish wouldn’t be affected by the fumes: the water sequences prove that he doesn’t need to breathe.

This is around the point where I stopped playing during my first run, back when the game was new. That’s because it’s the point where it becomes really easy to die. The game gives you five lives to start with, and you can occasionally find more, but if you run out, you have to start over at the beginning of the world. Not, thankfully, the beginning of the whole game — it’s not that imitative of NES-era platformers. But there’s no way to save other than the autosave, which kicks in every time you quit. So if you can’t beat an entire world in five lives straight, you can’t progress.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. But, as I said before, this game keeps crashing on me. And when it crashes, it doesn’t autosave. I’ve taken to working around this by quitting whenever I complete a level in order to force an autosave, thereby not losing my progress. But this also means that I’m immune to being kicked back to the beginning of the world. I can lose all my lives, restart the world, crash, and then jump back in at the point of my last autosave.

It’s tantamount to cheating, really. I wasn’t doing it deliberately at first, but now that I know, it’s cheating. In fact, it reminds me a lot of playing old CRPGs and pulling out the floppy disk the moment a character died so that the game couldn’t record it. Which means, I suppose, that cheating like this is in the spirit of the old-school experience that Gish aims to provide.

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