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O.C.D. (Xbox 360) artwork

O.C.D. (Xbox 360) review

"With O.C.D., you grind so you can grind more; you gain skills so you can grind more quickly; you harvest goods to make items and equipment so you can grind even more quickly. The grinding isn't a means to an end, it's the beginning, middle and end!"

I'm not sure exactly how to look at O.C.D.. By reading its description on Live Arcade, you'll see that it is an RPG that focuses completely on grinding and character building while leaving out things like plot, lengthy cutscenes and all those other things that get in the way of me passing hours building party members into gods among men.

In theory, this is a great idea. I'd guess I'm not alone among old-school gamers in loving a good dungeon crawl. I remember playing the NES port of Wizardry. After my party killed the evil wizard at the bottom of the dungeon, did I put the game up? Hell no -- I proceeded to build up that party to insane levels. Every day, I'd go to the bottom floor and do laps around it to gain experience and items. Occasionally, I'd find an item that would improve a character, but most of the time, I just gained a level or two. This kept me going for about a month before I finally got bored and moved to another game. The thought of being able to immerse myself in something like that again excited me.

Except O.C.D. doesn't quite work that way. I guess I can't complain too much, as this creation of PouncingKitten Games is exactly what it says: pure grinding without anything else. I just was expecting something a bit different.

You start out by creating a character from a handful of classes, which determines your initial scores in strength, magic and other standard stats. And then the "gaming" begins. To grind for levels, skill points and magic points, you repeatedly play a stripped-down version of Bejeweled, matching like-colored symbols in groups of three (or more) to gain experience. To harvest stuff like food and loot, you play a different kind of mini-game. Now, you have a bunch of items of different colors collected on the screen and you want to find large groups of one color together to "collect" them. Finding a group of five yellow objects will only count as one move, but if you clicked on a smaller group of two, it would cost multiple moves.

The number of moves you have, whether you're grinding or harvesting, is determined by those stat numbers you got when you picked your class. The more health you have, the longer you can grind for experience; while your stamina determines how many harvesting turns you have. As you gain levels, you can allocate points to those stats, while skill and magic points also can be converted into abilities. The skill points seem to be the more useful of the two, as there are a ton of skills you can purchase that boost your grinding abilities.

So, the more you play, the longer your turns will be. I can get behind that. I remember the good ol' days when I played Dragon Warrior for the first time. I started out near the first town and did nothing but run in circles to fight slimes and drakees before running to the safety of that town's inn. I'd gradually get stronger and be able to stay out longer until I got to the point where I could make it to nearby towns or caves to adventure a bit more seriously. In other words, that early-game grinding was a prelude to something a bit more substantial.

You won't find that substance in O.C.D., though. Unless you consider trading in your harvested goods for components that can then be used in crafting weapons and armor to be substance. While that's a nice touch, as it gives a purpose to harvesting, all it does is improve your attack and defense -- which are just two more numbers that help determine how effective your grinding is.

O.C.D. is what it says it is -- an exercise in grinding. It also lives up to its name, as a person would have to suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder to get much more out of it than the dollar it costs to download. The first night I played it, I had a good time. The tasks were repetitive, but simple, and I gained a number of levels while crafting some items. But as I kept playing, I realized that I'd just be doing those same simple, repetitive things over and over again with no purpose other than to be able to play those mini-games for longer periods of time before having to start them over to grind more. With no real purpose, I stopped having fun and, as a result, stopped playing.

That's the problem -- I like grinding, but I like for there to be a purpose in doing so. When I was grinding in Dragon Warrior, it was because I needed to in order to progress through the game. When I was grinding AFTER beating Wizardry, it was because I wanted to see how powerful I could make my party -- which included getting certain really rare pieces of equipment after winning battles. I still am a bit miffed that I never got that one dagger that could have turned my thief into a superior ninja. You know there was a purpose to your actions when you're still annoyed about a failure roughly 20 years after the fact.

With O.C.D., you grind so you can grind more; you gain skills so you can grind more quickly; you harvest goods to make items and equipment so you can grind even more quickly. The grinding isn't a means to an end, it's the beginning, middle and end! Which is, as I've stated, the purpose of the game. Maybe the fault is mine for expecting there to be something more than simply grinding for the sake of grinding. But even then…doing all of this via simple mini-games? Replace those with simple mazes loaded with monsters and I'd be playing every night while loving how buff my character is getting. Instead, I only lasted a handful of days before my patience for the mini-games ran low and I realized that I needed more to be entertained. O.C.D. was an interesting diversion for a little while (and for only $1, I can't complain about that), but didn't have enough to it to keep my interest longer than that.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (June 15, 2012)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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zippdementia posted June 16, 2012:

Good coverage of the title, Rob. Good little look at power-grinding and whether it has a purpose. I agree with all you've stated.

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