Painting has never been something I’ve had much skill with. My attempts have always hedged towards embarrassing, with shaky brushstrokes and deeply flawed translations of the image I have in mind to the canvas in front of me. Nonetheless, I understand the merits of the craft and can appreciate the dedication even a single painting requires of its creator. Every colour carefully chosen to resonate with those around it, shapes drawn just so, layers of iteration and happy accidents synthesizing into one cohesive piece that blooms in front of the viewer; a collage of abstractions that coalesce into beauty.
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Wandering a closed loop of an island, a hidden quest lays scattered about the surreal sights of this lonely mass. Your only choice: poke and prod the surrounds until something happens. Slowly, knowledge is amassed, and a eureka moment strikes! A flurry of activity as disparate elements click together, finally approaching new heights… And plateau. A new challenge lay before you, the culmination of all your epiphanies revealing further unknowns. Will you ever find an escape from this place?
Beneath the gaze of the luminescent orb, Moralia Mooncharmer fixated on its glow. Amongst the entities moving about this glade, sculptures grew massive underfoot. A dance played out here; one of celebration and sorrow, a mournful jubilee for the celestial sphere. Here, in this momentary sliver of life, a peace echos distant across the plains, a cry for Luna.
It’s become something of an in-joke within the greater games community that Nintendo is not an entity to be trifled with. Between DMCA notices against ROM sites and fangames utilizing their IPs, attempting to tango with the corporate monstrosity has a predictable end. It makes sense from a business perspective: Nintendo doesn’t want anyone marring the oh-so-marketable franchises they’ve produced over the years, and they certainly don’t want anyone accessing their creations without paying for them, regardless of the ability people have to legally play them.
Enter the bootleg. Where demand was not met by the official channels of distribution, pirate groups took it upon themselves to fill the niche. Creating their own cartridges with ripped games implanted, these groups would sell their wares on a black market at a far more affordable price and with a greater selection than typically available in these areas. Naturally, the companies these pirates were profiting off of were none too pleased with their actions.
I feel sick. It’s my third time in this room, and I still can’t stomach the way it stretches in and out, walls pulsating, music thumping. The drink in my hand is going stale; despite my body’s best efforts to refuse, I down the rest of the swill and push through the crowd of gyrating rats. I think I’m gonna puke. I overhear one passerby shouting to a friend, “A game? A downloadable game?”
“My entire life I suppose. How old am I now? God, like it even matters anymore, what’s the point of keeping track when you’re just running down the clock? I can hear them scrabbling about out there, in the mist, the damned impenetrable mist, I can always hear them. I can’t get that note out of my head. Is it even worth the risk of trying to get to the top of the Solar Cathedral? … Fuck it, maybe for once in my life I can finally know what it’s like to not be alone.”
How has it come to this? As far as I can see from my apartment, lofted high above the deserted streets — save a car or two — there’s nothing. Nothing but property management companies and liquor stores. A never-ending sprawl of grey, lifeless, dead nothing. Why bother? Another rejection letter from another application to another company. The bills pile high, high, higher and I drown. The rain outside trickles through the cracks in the walls. I check the fridge for a bite, decide against it. But, even after walking away from the kitchen, the hunger in my stomach bares knots that demand something be put in there. I go back, take another look: empty. Ah. Right.
A dying world gasps, echoing into the void. Eventually, a still nothingness, but prior, a harbinger skips across the fractured remains still clinging to this realm. A pocket full of starseeds provides company, food for the fish they’re incubating beneath the orb hanging atop The Garden. The hand extending from the wall, the Numen, beckons further coloured varieties of fish with the promise of a treasure to come. Anahel stands stoic outside, desperate to meet with the Numen but a curse restraining them from passing the threshold.
Far from Monolith’s first foray into the grungy underbelly of urban exploration with a violent twist, Condemned: Criminal Origins served up a sampler platter of game mechanics notorious for being utterly disastrous and loathed by players across the globe. First person melee, weapon durability, and exceptionally dark environments seems like a recipe for failure- yet wound up becoming one of the most coveted unique horror experiences of the early 00s.
When I played it for the first time, I encountered the game through a vastly different lens from my fellow fans- I was unable to figure out how the taser worked. In any other game, this would be a relatively minor oversight that would hardly alter the experience beyond inconvenience, but nothing could prepare me for how much this would alter the experience, turning it into a claustrophobic ballet of internalized cruelty.