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Browsing posts from: Emily Rose

Parallax Software’s DESCENT (Interplay, 1994)

“And here I thought indentured servitude ended in the 21st century”

Material Defender, DESCENT II

Parallax Software’s Descent was one of the first games pioneering a different kind of flight sim- ‘6DOF’ or ‘Six Degrees Of Freedom’ was the central gimmick employed to garner hype and attention towards the ‘mine-sweeping’ shooter epic. But how free really are you when confined to tight corridors packed full of prowling killer drones, ready to rip your ship in half? Descent dropped us deep within the confines of not just the cavernous guts of dense mining operations, but the very inner workings of inequality itself.

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AI Dungeon 2 – By Nick Walton

This article was written using AI Dungeon 2, a procedural generated natural language narrative generator, prior to it going offline. Stitched together from multiple playsessions, it seemed appropriate to use the game to talk about itself as an experiment.

You are Emily Rose, a detective living in Chicago. You have a pistol and a police badge. You enter the forest where you believe the criminal you’re searching for fled to. Suddenly, you hear a gunshot behind yo

move to Seattle

You turn around and see that the man who shot at you is still there. He’s standing right behind you with his gun drawn.

“I’m sorry,” he says. “It was an accident”.

visit seattle

You walk into the city of Seattle and find that it has changed since you last saw it. The buildings are taller, and people are more active than they were when you left. There are even signs of violence here. A few bullet holes can be seen on the walls of some buildings

rent an apartment

You go to the rental office and ask for an apartment. They tell you that they don’t accept new applicants until tomorrow morning. You decide to wait until then. After all, you’re going to need your sleep

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Bleakstead – By Valerie Dusk

It has becoming increasingly clear that there’s a sort of sub-genre brewing within microindie horror; The Norwood Suite, Bleakstead, Definition Of A Ghuest, and The Space Between all represent an undercurrent manifesting as a new subgenre. These pieces rely on their environments to relay tension instead of leaning on terrifying enemies or a tense narrative. This dream-like quality cultivated through queasy nightmarish vibes can render these games jarringly off-putting for many, both seemingly too acerbic for the gentle palette of most audiences, and at the same time too subtle for the adrenaline thirsty thrill-seekers.

Bleakstead’s outstanding presence finally gives some clarity to what makes this blossoming movement so special.

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The dudes big on discourse.
(Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Troika Games, 2014)

Just what is a Thin-Blood, anyway? According to some in the lore of Bloodlines, they’re fledgling kindred with a tenuous connection to their forebears, earlier generations of the clans aren’t just more powerful but necessarily more in tune with their origins and the primal energy that drives them. Bloodlines has it’s own in-universe equivalent stand in for the apocalypse for all kindred- the belief that the grand ancestors of yore will once again rise from their slumber only to consume their descendants as the blood runs so thin as to be impotent and dry.

Exhaustive repetition of a concept, once-unique traits with diminishing returns, the newest members inducted into invisible, involuntary social pacts with unwritten etiquette that has visible and harsh consequences for failing to correctly guess them, a paranoid fear of the end times, the belief that the most affected fledglings somehow portend such an ever-present, overshadowing threat. Petty politics, presumed loyalty to an unelected prince, anarchs running rampant, violent sabbat overthrowing all around them to establish furious fiefdoms. Is any of this sounding familiar? If not, it should- in a sense, we’re living it right now.

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The 3rd Night – By Asteristic Game Studio

While there is no shortage of games inspired by playstation era horror titles like Silent Hill or Resident evil, there is a shortage of games that know how to do it well. It goes far beyond simple graphical pastiches, or emulating the quirky flaws of the technical limitations of the time, one has to dive deeply within to the production values instilled in a generation of game developers long past in our rear view mirrors. We can easily recognize as an audience that films done in 16mm require a vastly different technical implementation than contemporary digital cameras used today.

The 3rd Night takes a different approach than most of its contemporaries, instead diving more deeply into the nuanced production values that put those classic titles on the map in the first place.

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The kind of game that hurts to play for all the right reasons. (Homesickened 2015 – by Snapman)

Is home a physical space or a state of mind? Then again, maybe it’s the feeling of booting up a long-forgotten machine, comforting clicking churrs audible as an ancient magnetic platter spins to life. This is, in my experience, the real homeland for many of our generation, a world locked within the shifting grains of decaying binary, digits, and bits left to erode like so many distant ancestral abodes.

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Writer’s Note: This is an older piece from earlier in the year we found rummaging around in the archives, a piece from a different time with a little different style, enjoy!

Half-Life 2: Episode One is one of the most competent VR experiences I have ever played, surprisingly so for a game that was never built for it.

Something a lot of people struggle with in Virtual Reality is how there’s a sense of presence that people find hard to articulate. Using the Oculus Rift felt very underwhelming until, out of the dark rubble of City 17, Dog’s hands smashed through to pull a piece of rubble blocking my sight.

Moments later, I found myself standing under Dog. A faithful robot companion I had spent many years fighting alongside in the troubled setting of Half-Life 2. But there I was, truly standing underneath Dog, towering over me like a giant! Any person I put inside of that headset to experience that opening scene was as shocked as I found myself in that moment.

And that was just the beginning of seeing Gordon Freeman’s exploration of the ruins in a whole new perspective.

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LISA: The Painful – Dignaling

CONTENT CAUTION: This article deals with themes of trauma and other sensitive topics.

There is a current debate taking place in the discourse on the meaningful weight behind design decisions around the portrayal of trauma and melancholia, both about whether or not it’s an appropriate story to tell and how to tell it. Most of us have known someone who’s been in a struggle against their inner demons, and sometimes writers can take the exploration of these stories a little too far.

Many games have arguably tried, and at times succeeded to varying degrees in tackling this heavy topic, so without further adieu, let’s get into the thick of it.

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Nyoka from The Outer Worlds (Obsidian, 2019) voiced by Mara Junot

CONTENT WARNING: Substance abuse, loss of friends, emotional subjects

While written with care to avoid spoilers when possible: the following piece examines parts of The Outer Worlds that may reveal minor plot elements and some key story points of companion characters. Proceed with caution if you’d prefer to experience the game completely on your own.

The Outer Worlds is an oddity in that while it comes from a long pedigree of Open World RPGs, it stands deeply in contrast to trends set by them in the past by inverting certain tropes that Obsidian had a hand in establishing. Prior to release, they revealed that none of the companions within The Outer Worlds would have any romantic storylines, a bold design decision in a genre notorious for developing ever-increasing ways to placate and enable audiences who wish to indulge themselves in romantic roleplaying. While we have gotten better at generating thought-provoking simulations in the medium, we struggle with justifying how the narratives that drive them revolve solely around the most player-centric design lens. After all, you’re the hero… right?

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Death Stranding (2019) – Kojima Productions

This article is a slight deviation from the norm for us here at Rebind, the few times we’ve written about ‘AAA’ games we’ve generally done so through a retrospective lens, there’s a reason for this: a lot of mainstream cutting edge releases get enough attention as is. With that said, I’ve observed a trend in contemporary discourse to converge on a handful of common narrative focal points- we have more to say about these titles through a critical lens, but still get stuck on the same key points in our collective analysis.

The Discourse, you see, is like a rocky riverbed where we have a tendency to lose our best small thoughts along the way, foregoing them in pursuit of retrieving our most valuable ontological cargo: our core thesis.

So wade into the thick of it with me, dear reader, as we examine the unusual things recent releases have to say.

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