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Update: Leifthrasir is an ambitious remaster of a PS2 gem, and it’s now one of the titles I’ve played to 100% completion.
I want to clarify this right away: I’m not an achievement or trophy junkie. I don’t care how many I have, and I don’t get an adrenaline rush from the distinctive sounds the play when they unlock. Given those facts, it may seem strange that I sometimes go to absurd lengths to hit 100 percent in certain games by unlocking every trophy or achievement. Here’s the reason I do it: I’m always looking for fresh goals and objectives that will give me an excuse to spend more time with games I love. Getting a platinum trophy or racking up 1000 achievement points is mainly of symbolic importance; it means I’ve seen the parts of the experience that the developer thought were important. I don’t do this with every game I play (that would be a chore), so the members of my 100% Club are the standouts that inspired such obsessive loyalty from me that I was compelled to explore their every nook and cranny. This list runs down all the games I’ve gotten 100 percent in (according to trophies and achievements), with updates when a new title is added to the club.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (Update 6/30/16)
I played (and reviewed) Odin Sphere when it originally released on PS2, but I always told myself that I’d go back and revisit it someday. I never did, which is why Leifthrasir is a perfect opportunity; this remaster has all of the stuff I loved about the original Odin Sphere, but fixes practically everything that bothered me. Because I was reviewing this game before it officially came out, I couldn’t connect to the servers and check out the trophies early. When they were finally available, I saw I had already obtained a lot of them through the course of my normal playthrough (since many of them are story and exploration-based). With most of the hard work already done, I decided to dive back in for a few hours for some trophy clean-up. The biggest pain is making sure you eat all of the recipes in the traveling restaurant – don’t even try for that one until you beat the game and are able to share items among all the characters. Plus, the recipes you have eaten aren’t tracked well, which also complicates getting the trophy. Another tricky feat is getting the best ending, which requires you to play through the final encounters multiple times using multiple characters; since no trophies are difficulty-dependent, I just dialed it down to easy for this portion of the game. I did the same thing to get the trophy for beating the lengthy boss gauntlet area that opens up after you finish the game. I always enjoy when a good game provides you with reasons to keep playing, and Leifthrasir’s selection of compelling (but not overwhelming) post-game tasks felt like a perfect fit.
Final Fantasy VII (Update 5/10/16)
I’ve put a ridiculous amount of time into Final Fantasy VII over the years, but I picked it up again for two reasons: for our GI Game Club, and to prepare myself for the Final Fantasy VII Remake. Because of the exhaustively thorough effort I put into previous playthroughs, I didn’t have any qualms about using the PS4 version’s built-in cheats to help me earn the platinum trophy. Sure, certain battles didn’t convey the same satisfaction, but the trophies provided me with other interesting challenges. For instance, one of the trophies involves going on the Gold Saucer date with Barret – something that requires a surprising amount of effort to pull off. You need to do specific things and choose unconventional dialogue options that snub Aeris and/or Tifa in order to tip the affection scales in his favor. The payoff isn’t really worth it, but it’s a fun little part of the game I hadn’t seen before. Trophies for feats like amassing 100 million gil and reaching level 99 require a lot of grinding, and that’s where cheat codes are most handy – especially speeding up time. The cheats also enabled me to bypass chocobo breeding this playthrough; despite its bad reputation, I actually love that side activity, but I just didn’t want to invest the necessary time. Plus, it breaks up the late-game momentum, and I was eager to see the ending again – and it was just as cool as I remembered.
The Witness (Update 5/10/16)
With one exception, all of the trophies for The Witness are straightforward. They revolve around solving increasingly difficult puzzles to activate lasers at the end of the 11 different areas. Each zone you complete earns a trophy, and then you get another one for finishing the game. The process isn’t exactly easy, but you do play a game like this unless you enjoy the difficulty. However, the one outlier trophy takes that difficulty and ratchets it up several more notches. To obtain it, you need to complete a timed challenge that involves a solving series of randomly generated puzzles. Normally, the puzzles and solutions in The Witness don’t change, so every player is solving the same puzzles – but that isn’t the case for this part. The puzzles change for each attempt at the challenge, and that means that you couldn’t cheat your way to the trophy even if you wanted to since you can’t search for solutions online. So, that leaves you frantically assessing puzzles and looking for solutions while a piece of Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” plays in the background. Once the music is done, your time is up, which leaves you with very little room for thought and error – only about seven minutes. The tension got ridiculous in the thunderous final seconds of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” as I was desperately drawing a line across a column, only to succeed miraculously as the final notes played. Encouraging players to act quickly without thinking about the puzzles isn’t really what The Witness is about, which makes this final challenge feel out of place in the context of the larger game. Regardless, finishing this gauntlet is one of my proudest gaming moments.
Dragon Age: Inquisition (Update 3/16/15)
When Inquisition first came out, I couldn't stop playing it. I did a full playthrough for my review, and then another one once it actually released. I was obsessively thorough on that second run, completing every area and performing every companion quest. This led to me getting most of the trophies as a matter of course. However, I didn't play on a high difficulty, so I decided to revisit Game Informers 2014 game of the year while playing on Nightmare, the hardest setting. For me, the most interesting thing about this playthrough was the lopsided way the challenge was balanced. The early fights – from the first Pride demon to the incidental encounters around the Hinterlands – were brutal. Low-level characters don't have a lot of options in combat, and I loved the thrill of surviving every fight by the skin of my teeth. I was even forced to use the tactical view to manage my characters' positions and abilities, something that was never necessary on lower settings. However, the further I got, the easier things became. Once you earn more abilities and invest in some high-quality weapon and armor schematics, battle doesn't have the same lethal edge. Later, once I had my specialization class, even my fights against dragons and the final boss were downright trivial; I actually had to check the menus to make sure the difficulty hadn't dropped somehow. While I enjoyed the punishing nature of those early hours, I wasn't too disappointed when the challenge was less severe. I love this game for many reasons, but the way it pushes my skills as a gamer is not one of them. As a side note, this is actually my first platinum trophy! I hadn't intentionally avoided them up until now, but I tended to play multi-platform titles on 360 last generation. This generation, I'm leaning toward PS4, so hopefully this is just the first of several platinum trophies.
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