I reached a point in Capybara Games' pixelated adventure Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP last night that I couldn't get past. I wasn't stuck on a puzzle or a tough boss fight; those kinds of obstacles are normal and even expected.
Instead, the game has halted my progress by making my next task time-sensitive.
Let me back up: Sword & Sworcery's hero is on a quest to recover the Trigon Trifecta (or "Triforce," if you're old). She can obtain the first Trigon at any time, but the second and third are not reachable unless the moon is in the correct phase.
And by "the moon," I mean our moon.
I just happened to be playing the game on Tuesday, during the full moon, so I could get two pieces right in a row. It was pretty convenient, even if I didn't know that at the time. I can't pick up the final piece of the Trifecta until the day of the new moon. Which, if you don't have a calendar handy, is almost two weeks away as of this writing.
Sword & Sworcery isn't the first game to pull a stunt like this. Polytron's Fez locked some of its collectibles behind the hands of a clock. Each hand moves at a different pace, including one that only unlocks its item once every 48 hours.
In Batman: Arkham City, you can go visit Calendar Man in the basement of the courthouse on one specified holiday per month, and he will creep your ass right out with a story about his various Gregorian exploits.
The Animal Crossing games depend entirely on the date and time with holiday celebrations, seasons, and actual store hours for that bastard Tom Nook. Have I ever rushed home so I could sell some useless furniture before the store closed? I sure have, but that was a dark time in my life.
Here's the difference, though: You can complete both Fez and Arkham City without waiting for the time to be just right. Fez contains enough cubes to finish the game without the clock puzzle, and the Calendar Man content is wholly optional unless you really want the associated Achievement. And if you really want to celebrate Halloween in May, all you have to do is reset your GameCube clock and suffer a talking-to from a cranky mole.
Sword & Sworcery brazenly makes you wait. You're not entirely without options; you can access a room to change the phase of the in-game moon. I don't think it also works on the real moon, but I haven't gotten into that room yet. If it did, the Scandanavians would have to invent a Nobel Prize in Immersion for that shit. You can also just change your clock, like I did to get those Fez cubes and that Calendar Man Achievement because I am largely without pride.
If you change your clock, however, the game will know, and finishing it with this dark stain on your conscience will only get you 99 percent completion.
It's like they know where to hit me.
I'm going to wait, I think. I could try to get into that magic room, but I think I'm willing to meet Sword & Sworcery on its own terms. I can't think of any other game that has strictly forbid me from playing it, and I like Capybara's moxie on this one.