Browsing posts from: Catherine Brinegar

One thing I really like about outlandish games is seeing how far I can push their boundaries. As an interactive art form, games are uniquely in their ability to react to impulsive desires. For instance, in The World is Your Weapon from Japanese developer kagaya (@qqrypwqy), you are thrust into the world as Weaco, a young girl who works as a Weapons Merchant. Here, everything is a possible bludgeon for you to wield against monsters. It’s incredibly silly to pick up a full-sized tree over your head and slap about some slimes with it. It’s even sillier to have that tree break mid-battle, so you pick up one of the slimes, and use them to beat down the rest of their compatriots.

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Darting between overhangs, I’m desperate to put distance between myself and the security drone on the other side of the road. Raining, again, but I need space. My battery is running low already, but I can see batteries just one more building away. Not wanting to risk it draining while waiting for the rain to subside, I choose to sprint from this dilapidated sanctuary to the next. The rain proves too corrosive, however, and spells my end. I collapse in the street before my vision goes dark. Time to try again.

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Warning: The following contains spoilers for Can Androids Pray and features discussions of derealization and suicide.

Across the war-torn battlefield, mechanized corpses lay smoking, holding bodies inside like metal sarcophagi. Craters scar the wastes, reminders of the convulsions of humanity sparring for unnamed ideations. In a pocket at the edges, two Venusian Confederacy fighters lie locked up and damaged. Servos burnt out, they stare at each other alongside the wreckage of a Mercury Protectorate soldier, a reminder of who caused their downfall. Here, in their last moments, a momentary rest is found between these two in their solitude.

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Be warned, we’re getting into spoiler territory here from the outset. Turn back now if you’ve yet to finish the game.

For you can tie me up if you wish,

but there is nothing more useless than an organ.

When you will have him a body without organs,

then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions

and restored him to his true freedom

To Have Done with the Judgment of God, Antonin Artaud

LUCAH: Born of a Dream, from gamedev collective melessthanthree, thrusts you head-first into a world beyond any sense of logic or understanding. Everything around you coalesces into an undulating mass of incomprehensible action; the only thing that makes sense anymore is fighting. Some of the first words that greet you in this world: ”You can’t help but feel you’ve been here before. You can’t help but feel they only want to hurt you. But you know you must move forward. You must fight.” And fight you do, pushing back against the ever encroaching Darkness that blankets the land.

This Darkness exists as an extension of the world, to a degree, leading you to press ever-forward, unable to turn back. In it, we move toward a cyclical process in which this place eventually dies, destroyed one way or another, only to return once again to its original state of being. It’s an endless feedback loop; one that seemingly betrays no signs of stopping. You find yourself trapped in this place, fighting through loop after loop, attempting to enact change to no fruition. LUCAH’s world is one destined to fall, only to rise from the ashes again and again, a dark, undying phoenix. Decay holds no permanence here.

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The yawning void stares at you. An infinite murk, resting beneath a cloud-tumbled sky. In the distance, a tower reaches out into the heavens above, a light atop it blinking. You sit beside Christian, another soul lost in the ether, like you. You call yourself Lucah, at least, now you do. The Marked One. A cursed child tossed into this realm of madness, damned to fight a Sisyphean battle against the twisting horrors that await your ever deeper plunge into this beckoning unknown.

Christian decides time is up for this moment of peace. Your heart-to-heart finishes abruptly, and they demand a fight from you. Death is the only true peace in this world, so far as they can tell. And they desperately want to be at rest, finally, entirely; to find an escape from this world is to find hope and love once again.

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When it comes to long-standing franchises, especially in the realm of blockbusters, it’s never much of a surprise when some fresh excitement is injected by a different franchise. The crossover is a process/marketing trick older than the medium of video games, time-honored and tried in every variety: in the history of cinema, you can’t take two steps without tripping over an Aliens v. Predators or even something more esoteric like Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo. Godzilla has endless fights with characters from other kaiju material. Even the modern zeitgeist of the Cinematic Universe is a dedicated extension of the crossover, fostering the Ultimate Crossover Experience by building up a series of one-offs to culminate in a climatic finale.

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EA girl sits alone in a room, her door locked. She glances toward her bed, but isn’t tired enough to sleep. Instead, her focus turns to the TV and her game console. As she boots it up, time dissolves and gives way to a series of vignettes exploring the continually deteriorating state of the village she lives in. Death begins to form an iron grip around the village’s throat, piling bodies higher and higher as the townspeople work tirelessly through the night to fill the graveyard with the corpses. An entity haunts the woods, creeping, stalking. Dust falls eternal and chokes the air. Unknowable horror lurks beneath the dark eaves of a thatched cottage.

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From the developers at Analgesic Productions, Sean Han Tani and Marina Ayano Kittaka, comes a sequel to 2013’s Anodyne, titled Anodyne 2: Return to Dust. I had a chance to pour over a preview beta build of the game, and I’m head over heels.

Presented in a lo-fi, late 90’s aesthetic, you play as Nova, a Nano Cleaner tasked with the seemingly overwhelming goal of tackling a malaise plaguing the world of New Theland. Nano Dust has spread far and wide over this place, infecting anyone unfortunate enough to become host to this particulate assassin. Once inside, it spreads rapidly and exacerbates all the worst things one can imagine: rage, sickness, gluttony, pain, and so on. By shrinking to microscopic size, Nova is able to enter the minds and bodies of those afflicted and take on the infestation with her trusty vacuum.

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Made for Isolation Jam 2019 in Iceland, Svartkolla from Joon Van Hove & Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir is a very small, modest game about returning your lost sheep to their pasture. By interacting with specific items wherever you find yourself — in your house, your shed, your boat — you manufacture a way to get the poor sheep, Svartkolla, back where they belong. It’s very straightforward in its design, not necessarily a head-scratcher in terms of figuring out puzzle solutions, but more so an exercise in form.

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