When I reviewed Risk of Rain 2 in August, I said "I love that the game plays fair with its items"—the whole point of Risk of Rain, an over-the-top action-roguelike, is to accrue more and more items, stacking their powers to outrageous levels, and knowing that they'll keep adding up and adding up. It's great, until Risk of Rain 2 turns that sense of fairness against you and ruthlessly kicks your ass with it.
How could you do this to me, Risk of Rain 2? I thought we were pals.
Here's a wild thing that happened to me in Risk of Rain 2 recently—I had to fight two final bosses. One of these guys is bad enough. Mithrix is fast, has an enormous health pool at higher difficulties, and his giant hammer hits like a giant hammer (a couple smacks and you're dead). Fighting two of them, well, I'm gonna call that a quality troll. I did not live long. But I should've expected it, because Risk of Rain 2 is nothing if not fair.
You have a few options each time you start a new Risk of Rain 2 run. There's difficulty, which affects how quickly the challenge ramps up and how fast your health regenerates. And then there are artifacts, unlockable modifiers you can apply to change how your run plays. A few of these make the game much easier—the Artifact of Command, for example, lets you choose what item you want when you open a chest, instead of getting something random. On a whim, my co-op group started a run using the Artifact of Swarms, which does the following: "Monster spawns are doubled, but monster maximum health is halved."
It's a fun modifier. More chaotic, but generally easier, as the game's tougher, more dangerous enemies are much easier to kill before they get off an attack. That went for the bosses that spawn at the end of each stage, too. These typically have lots of health but don't attack very quickly, so the Artifact of Swarms let us chew through them in seconds. We did not consider, even for a second, that the Artifact of Swarms applied to the final boss.
We didn't even realize what happened at first. When Mithrix and Mithrix drop in they overlap, occupying the same physical space and animating exactly the same until they start charging at you with different targets in mind. Normally, co-op makes fighting Mithrix a bit safer, because he can only chase one player at a time, leaving the others to pelt him in the back. That's a little harder when there's two of him.
I fought Double Mithrix last night, and I lived for 1 minute and 8 seconds. This was on the hardest difficulty with a not-super-great item build, so not my finest hour. But still, fighting two of these guys? Absolutely brutal.
The nerve on this game! The Artifact of Swarms is the epitome of Michael looking in the bag in Arrested Development. We should've known what would happen. It said it right there. But most games make exceptions to their rules for the sake of balance, or treat enemies like the final boss as sacrosanct, untouched by playful modifiers.
Well played, Risk of Rain 2. We'll beat double Mithrix on hard someday.