RE:BIND

Browsing category: Overviews

(CW: Implied Cannibalism, Themes of Animal Cruelty)

It is astoundingly rare that I find a gameplay loop this compelling in any title, commercial or otherwise, yet Dan Mullins has managed to deliver something so mouth-wateringly enticing that it’s impossible to resist.

Known for Pony Island, Mullins is an experimental game designer that produces juicy Ludum Dare entries that push the boundaries of presentation and remind us what Game Jams should strive to accomplish.

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When I was younger there was a strange atmosphere to exploring the internet, the heady sensation of an explorer standing on the edge of the world. You could find the most fascinating places to delve into and map out through obscure web forums, conversations with friends who would drop mysterious locations that they had discovered themselves in your lap, or even a spiraling web of Wikipedia notations.

It was on one of these early web-dives that I, entirely by chance, came across Knytt Stories, a seemingly little known game series by Swedish developer Nicklas Nygren (@Nifflas on twitter). The series had multiple fantastic main entries with countless pages of fan-made content that I spent the next month playing through, one after another.

Knytt Stories, or geocities? You decide.

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At first glance, Spirits of Xanadu isn’t quite the same as Good Morning, Commander‘s previous entry, King Of The Wood which built a functional allegory for the premise of Bladerunner. It was an insightful, simplified meditation on taking a synthetic life as an impactful moment for the player, as well as a stylistic bedrock for Spirits Of Xanadu to build upon.

As a spiritual successor, Xanadu may come across as a clumsy shooter, but this is an intentional, stylistic choice. The clunky combat incites a sense of dread, serving both to set it apart from the genre of walking simulator and to maintain a healthy level of tension.

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Intruder doesn’t really strike me as well-known despite the warm reception it has gotten from developers. It’s not often you ever see it mentioned or cropping up on twitter, which is a shame considering how forward thinking it is from a design perspective.

We’re a big fan of Immersive Sims at Rebind (I can’t think of many critical analysis sites for games that aren’t) but the genre is very under-represented in the multiplayer department. Because of this, it’s easy to think of Intruder as a Counter-Strike or SWAT variant.

SuperBoss has put in a lot fore-thought into the balance of their game through unconventional gadgets and mechanics like security cameras, mirrors, and the ability to be knocked off balance. If anything, the game has a lineage more in line with early rainbow six entries’ emphasis on finite tactical considerations, or games like Due Process and Project Reality spin-off SQUAD.

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In our previous Weekend Roundup, we mentioned that @tall_shrimp‘s Philosophy Game Jam had just finalized entrants for the voting round. As promised, we ponder the most troubling dilemmas this side of the trolley problem:

(Content Warning: Given the heavy themes of self-harm, nihilism, and death in some of these titles, please proceed with caution if you don’t have an appetite for such themes. We will provide individual content warnings per title, as some are not as heavy.)

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