Browsing posts from: April 2019

Every now and then I sift through the catalog and find a little gem that reminds me how sublime game design can be. It isn’t that the games are always spectacular or particularly innovative; rather, some have a nice finish like a perfectly brewed cup of tea.

Out Of Darkness is one of those games, brought to us by micro-indie @oldmanofthefire (I highly advise you give the game a go).

As of late in games criticism, there’s a lot of discourse around accessibility, without really ever defining what that means. A lot of that debate is beyond the scope of this article, but something I find sorely overlooked in the discussion is how accessibility also matters with regard to reaching a broader audience, and how a good UI can make or break game feel.

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There’s a lot to be said about the Fallout series, and almost all of it has long-since been said. However there’s one aspect of the series, particularly its first 2 entries, that has been playing on my mind.

War….war never changes.

Far from a cool slogan, this phrase, though oft-misunderstood, helps to frame a larger discussion of games from a critic and developer perspective.

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Part 1 can be found here.

Persistence is key when it comes to deconstructing the mysteries placed before us by a piece such as The Space Between. Plunging the depths of a work comes not just from consuming it, but savoring it, allowing it to overtake the palette and linger on the tongue. It needs a delicate touch to work through it, to parse the meaning between the walls. These endless constructions must be torn down for us to get to a deeper understanding of what it is that Christoph Frey wants to convey to us.

Continuing from Part 1, today we take a closer look at the themes underlying and supporting the stage on which Martin’s narrative is set. Within this Hell, hopefully we can uncover some greater truth to the game, and pick apart its architecture.

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All artists bring themselves around to the same question time and again: why do I create? For some, it’s to express a greater emotion, one that can’t be tackled head-on, nor conveyed through ordinary conversation. For others, it’s the simple production of a commodity. One way or another, the artist puts themselves through the creative process and, typically, uncovers some greater truth about themselves. Whether that inherently becomes part of the work, who can say. But, time and again, coming out on the other side brings growth.

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A requiem for the unique and the whimsical.

Throughout the personal computer revolution, the landscape was awash with architectures. Z80. 68000. PowerPC. SPARC. MIPS. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie, and innovation looked radically different across the board. By the turn of the century, however, the market had collectively settled on Intel’s x86. At a stretch, one may buy an Intel machine distinguished by, one: having a picture of a fruit on it, and two: the ability to run an operating system with a picture of a fruit on it.

It was inevitable that game consoles would meet the same fate.

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As the guitar solo kicks in, the landscape in front of you shifts. Barren crags of rock erupt into fluttering red ribbons, ascending to the heavens. Your trio pushes forward nonetheless, unabated by the explosion of colors. In a few moments, the track comes to an end, and you’re whisked away to another landscape. Words fade in and out overhead, or trail behind as footprints, a song of solitude pressed against a new backdrop of kaleidoscopic gems and whirring panels.

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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.

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