So many of my memories within Kingdom (developed by Thomas van den Berg) linger on the small silence of a fiefdom functioning smoothly, of escorting lost pilgrims into the shelter of my barricades and enlisting them into breathless confrontation. Luring the wilderness into the waiting embrace of my archers, and seeking out conscious points of deforestation to construct looming spires and the natural arisal of meadows brimming with rabbits for the slaughter. Of simply resting amongst the soft murmurs of wind-chimes and piano melodies. The moments of stillness that arise in between points of intrigue, as my steed stirs breathlessly and each journey is taken in careful consideration of the setting sun. The small practiced meditations of systems so deeply-internalized they feel almost second nature.
Browsing category: Overviews
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?
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.
In many ways, Dark Dreams: RHN is a flamboyantly terrifying fever dream, an inception-like slough through the underbelly of the psyche smattered with viscera and pulsating tiles.
As a fan of the macabre, the obvious echoes of Giger and Zdzisław Beksiński’s work are not lost on me, a forgotten realm of pseudo-organic papercraft serving as the home to ghostly imprints and hideous dusty visages. Arkhouse demonstrates a sublime grasp of the otherworldly decay that serves as a key element in the genre’s timeless visuals, complimented by the piece’s insightful audio direction. A cryptic codex of visions past, Dark Dreams is a layered piece of work with a vast ambiguity and a haunting presence, a theme that seems to extend deep within the halls of the artist’s overall body of work.
How long does a demo usually stick with you? Sure, one showcasing a game you’re excited about could have you replaying it several times to just take it all in. There are even those rare gems floating around that serve as introductions to the game they’re representing, including content that may not be part of the final release. For instance, Final Fantasy XV’s “Platinum Demo” (now removed from storefronts) featured a standalone experience that showcased the gameplay for the full title, but involved a scenario that was completely tangential to the events of the main game. Resident Evil 7 similarly had a separate demo titled “Kitchen” (part of a demo collection disc for PSVR) that centered on content not featured in the final release.
Unlike those two, however, the notorious “demo” known as P.T. never had a game release on the market alongside the teaser. In fact, for many, P.T. is in and of itself a full-fledged game that stands completely on its own. Which, frankly, isn’t surprising. While meant as a “playable teaser” for the once-in-development Silent Hills, its content is divorced from the main trappings of the franchise; discarding the spooky town and foggy roads in favor of claustrophobic hallways and a non-Euclidean spacial loop all serving an extremely minimal horror experience.
Awakening on the shores of Purgatory, you control Lucifer, hell-bent on tearing down the Archangels that guard the aspects of Heaven. It doesn’t take long for the realization to set in that things aren’t quite right in this place as you come across vile beasts roaming the world, chomping at the bit to tear you apart. Quick wits and perseverance will carry you far on your road to God, a treacherous journey nothing like your previously swift descent.
You bug? Me bug.
Bug. We Bug. Bug. Where Bug Go? What Bug Do..
Open a game, take note of the engine, immediately settle into document an uncannily familiar experience. It’s a routine that, if one isn’t careful, becomes too easy to find yourself in as when critiquing the medium, but every now and then something comes along that challenges your expectations and refuses to be derivative, largely defying classification.
This time that title is Purple Noise Echo.
At the turn of century, humanity began to panic as the future loomed.
Oncoming and unavoidable, the year 2000 was poised to be a time of great change, but much to our chagrin, it was a twist of fate that we had built our lives around such fragile technological marvels that would ultimately prove to be our own downfall. In our relentless pursuit of efficiency, systems built to house information containing dates would only register two numbers: the last two digits of the calendar year. As 2000 rolled in, a sudden fear began to arise that computers for governments or banks would be unable to distinguish between 2000 and 1900, causing irrevocable damage to our infrastructure and usher in an apocalyptic calamity.
These prophetic notions were predominantly held by the fringe of scientific research and society, exacerbated through outlets rapidly cycling through fear-mongering and misinformation. As society questioned the ability of corporations to address the issue in time, the Y2K fervor was the perfect encapsulation of a decade built upon pop culture that pushed hard into a fantastical vision for the future, with contemporary industrial design becoming the turn-of-the-century realization of what sci-fi had promised us in decades prior. Truly, the Y2K Bug is something of our society’s first watershed “cyberpunk” moment, with the misguided and shortsighted actions of the government and faceless corporate entities serving to endanger humanity, alongside an ever-growing online meta-verse, and the push towards a forward thinking “futuristic” visual zeitgeist.
In the swirling darkness of the moonlit night, past the forbidden trees that whistle in the wind, in a forgotten valley is somewhere far beyond your imagination. It has a name shrouded in whispers, leaving a chill on the lips of those who would dare speak it.
Foreboding as this place may be, it is not malevolent.. but nonetheless it worryingly beckons you, weary traveler. Far away on the distant horizon, you will arrive at your destination and find an answer to a question you never wanted to know.
And for the rest of your life, Kestlebrook will haunt you.