Jumpstarting the modern understanding of survival horror, 1996’s Resident Evil set the standard for what could be achieved with the right mixture of tension, tight item management, and puzzles. A breath of fresh air amongst the unending torrent of platformers and JRPGs, Resident Evil would quickly find itself subject to the commodity machine that is the blockbuster video game market. Beyond countless sequels over the subsequent years, the true legacy of Resident Evil is in its copycats, however stripped they may be of director Shinji Mikami’s deliberate pacing, use of lavish pre-rendered backgrounds, and spot-on attention to crafting tension. Stripping away Mikami’s direction left the core of the experience: the nail-biting agony of clunky controls and piss-poor item management.
Browsing category: Retrofit
Monolith is a classic developer that you may or may not have heard of, whose library includes more well-known titles like FEAR and Condemned. They’re also very well known for one of the most expansive list of titles available on the PC to date, having produced a ridiculous amount of memorable titles often powered by their in-house engine. LithTech was powerful and gorgeous, often rivaling at times games like Quake with their visually impressive graphics and implementation of cutting edge animation technology. Today we’ll take a glimpse into an era when engines like Unity didn’t even exist, and Unreal wasn’t quite so ubiquitous or dominant.
Unfairly considered a disasterpiece upon release, Arkane Studios’s Dark Messiah Of Might And Magic was actually the result of a contract negotiation gone wrong that cost the studio their chance at making a follow up to their cult classic, Arx Fatalis.
In retrospect, Arkane isn’t given enough credit for managing to lure Ubisoft into publishing an incredibly innovative Immersive Fantasy Sim with an emphasis on melee. Dark Messiah had an extremely intuitive combat system with finely tuned camera inertia which instilled a strong sense of positional awareness and visceral momentum behind every cut and thrust of the sword. It’s hard to pidgeonhole Dark Messiah into the same genre as its stealthier slow-paced peers, feeling much more akin to a swashbuckling simulator.
Thief, Thief! What a great set of games that so many of us are familiar with. But I’m not here to talk about the immersive gameplay, the thoughtful stealth mechanics or the incredible level design of any of the entries.
No, I’m here to discuss something often neglected at the hands of critical analysis. The narrative. I largely regard Thief as a franchise to have one of the most thematically satisfying arcs in any game trilogy I have ever played. Everyone loves Garrett, the titular Master Thief, but few talk about the game’s amazing cast of villains and antagonistic factions.
The City in Thief is a living, breathing environment that is both timeless yet clearly present. An anachronistic city-state bubble in a medieval flavored era, it presents an atmosphere not too far off from the tech-fantasy realm portrayed in The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind.
The hand of The Builder is in the smallest nail, the tiniest gear, if they be worked well. The hand of The Builder is in the tallest tower, the grandest bridge, if they be worked well.
– Hammerite Scripture
Sven Co-op is almost old enough to drink in the US, having recently hit it’s 20th anniversary this past week.
Sven has a special place in my heart, it was the core bonding ritual of myself and many others during our younger days. Friends from other gaming communities would meet together in a plethora of maps, stretching from banal puzzle solving dungeon crawlers to absurd scenario based maps. Sven was outlandish and highly pulpy, at times coming off as a cross between Mixed Media and Video Games. Whatever tools and assets a level designer had at their disposal were fair use, and it was open season on the most exaggerated, cartoonish elements of the Half-Life mod universe.