There’s one topic I’ve found myself meditating on quite often as of late: exposure. Specifically I found myself asking what the value of exposure actually is, and whether or not the returns we expect are necessarily the ones we get. Of course, one can find countless discussions of the issues with exposure-centered approaches to artistic endeavors scattered across the internet, but there’s one particular project that I believe frames this dilemma perfectly for our purposes, meditations.games.
If you have a few minutes, you should go take a look at it for yourself. We will be indulging in many spoilers past the cut.
It’s a humble meditation on the destructive nature of thoughtless clumsiness, a reflective analysis of what it means to grow self-aware of one’s flaws and how to come to terms with the unintentional disruption we visit upon our environment.
Theaters are a strange place, with more trace amounts of bodily fluids than you’d care to imagine and an extensive residue of human suffering from years of poor treatment of staffers. If psychic impressions were a petri dish for the metaphysical, then it makes one wonder what grows on the sugary, artificial butter-coated sticky floors and cracked plaster behind the foggy glass of the popcorn machine.
Throw in the high intensity of the countless emotions felt across the entire spectrum during showings, and theaters turn into a putrid spiritual cauldron of the psyche, the perfect place to manifest something from another world; a portal into the realm of the subconscious.
Be warned, we’re getting into spoiler territory here from the outset. Turn back now if you’ve yet to finish the game.
For you can tie me up if you wish,
but there is nothing more useless than an organ.
When you will have him a body without organs,
then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
and restored him to his true freedom
To Have Done with the Judgment of God, Antonin Artaud
LUCAH: Born of a Dream, from gamedev collective melessthanthree, thrusts you head-first into a world beyond any sense of logic or understanding. Everything around you coalesces into an undulating mass of incomprehensible action; the only thing that makes sense anymore is fighting. Some of the first words that greet you in this world: ”You can’t help but feel you’ve been here before. You can’t help but feel they only want to hurt you. But you know you must move forward. You must fight.” And fight you do, pushing back against the ever encroaching Darkness that blankets the land.
This Darkness exists as an extension of the world, to a degree, leading you to press ever-forward, unable to turn back. In it, we move toward a cyclical process in which this place eventually dies, destroyed one way or another, only to return once again to its original state of being. It’s an endless feedback loop; one that seemingly betrays no signs of stopping. You find yourself trapped in this place, fighting through loop after loop, attempting to enact change to no fruition. LUCAH’s world is one destined to fall, only to rise from the ashes again and again, a dark, undying phoenix. Decay holds no permanence here.
The yawning void stares at you. An infinite murk, resting beneath a cloud-tumbled sky. In the distance, a tower reaches out into the heavens above, a light atop it blinking. You sit beside Christian, another soul lost in the ether, like you. You call yourself Lucah, at least, now you do. The Marked One. A cursed child tossed into this realm of madness, damned to fight a Sisyphean battle against the twisting horrors that await your ever deeper plunge into this beckoning unknown.
Christian decides time is up for this moment of peace. Your heart-to-heart finishes abruptly, and they demand a fight from you. Death is the only true peace in this world, so far as they can tell. And they desperately want to be at rest, finally, entirely; to find an escape from this world is to find hope and love once again.
Dissolving (known in Russian as Исчезая) is a pleasant little bilingual visual novel by studio Flying Whale. Inspired by internet folk tales and post-digital-utopian cyber fiction of the early 2000s, Dissolving is a healthy dose of metaphysical skepticism.
As our zeitgeist trends towards cynicism of, and disbelief in, technological progress as a shared social project, more and more people begin to question if anyone, or anything, is at the wheel of this thing; Dissolving plants its thesis firmly in this knowledge gap, enticing you to learn more, at horrific cost.
When it comes to long-standing franchises, especially in the realm of blockbusters, it’s never much of a surprise when some fresh excitement is injected by a different franchise. The crossover is a process/marketing trick older than the medium of video games, time-honored and tried in every variety: in the history of cinema, you can’t take two steps without tripping over an Aliens v. Predators or even something more esoteric like Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo. Godzilla has endless fights with characters from other kaiju material. Even the modern zeitgeist of the Cinematic Universe is a dedicated extension of the crossover, fostering the Ultimate Crossover Experience by building up a series of one-offs to culminate in a climatic finale.
The crunch of autumn leaves underfoot, a campfire, a lonely tent- it’s the makings of either a good time or a horrific experience depending on where one dares to make camp.
Created for the PS1 Haunted Halloween Game Jam of 2018 (known for the infamous Siren Head tribute piece by Modus Interactive, who we’ve covered before here and here) by Breogán Hackett, Perennial is a deep dive into an open world forest that holds many secrets close to its naturalistic bosom, beckoning you to cautiously explore and discover them.
Chile is known for many things, great wine, great food, being extremely and ridiculously long, and a thriving indie developer scene. After ACE Team put them on the map with Rock Of Ages, new-indie-on-the-block Octeto Studios comes up with a unique take on the squad management genre through a self-described tech-noir lens: CyberOps
Delightfully wearing it’s influences on it’s sleeves,
CyberOps takes heavy inspiration from Yoji Shinkawa’s work in the late 90s playstation era. Octeto has done great work in characterizing a near-future scenario, injecting it with plenty of virtual reality (as we knew it in the 90s) flavor, such as the gorgeous overworld map that evokes the design of beloved doomsday simulator Defcon and other influential PC titles.