RE:BIND

Starstruck: Prologue – by Createdelic

I’m not sure what I just played, but it’s brilliant.

We try to avoid doing comparative analysis, yet it seems impossible to pull Starstruck apart from it’s obvious influences: Part Earthbound, part Little Big Planet, part Scott Pilgrim, with an added dash of…….. Gitaroo man?? Katamari?? Truly a sublime cocktail of inspiration. It’s rare to see a game bold enough to dive head first into the experimental spirit that defined both the Dreamcast and the late PS2 era, let alone one that does so with such finesse.

Come down to earth with us as we explore the wonderful world of… Neighborhood.exe

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Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service / CC BY 3.0 US (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/deed.en)

The Majestic Douglas Fir, the most underrated video game character of all time. For all the memes and jokes out there about how people who enjoy games don’t go outside, we seemingly fixate on them endlessly. The grand Pacific Northwest with all its ancient growth forests has anchored itself as the 21st century bespoke pastoral fantasy for the soothing and the weird.

Horror games? Mystery games? Relaxing games? Time and time again we revisit the green underbrush of the temperate rainforest locales native to the western states of America and Canada.

But why? Is it simply our fascination with holiday ornaments, or maybe something far more evergreen that keeps our mind’s gaze locked on these richly verdant year-long landscapes?

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Half-Life: Opposing Force (1999) – by Valve Software and Gearbox Software

If Gordon Freeman was the emblematic poster child for the Silent Protagonist, then for a time his foil, Adrian Shephard, became the iconic parallel for the faceless ones. Gordon’s robust Gen-X “nerd turned combatant” archetype was intended as an answer to the typical grunting brawn-over-brain space marine motif we have come to endlessly celebrate in every perennial iteration of DOOM, subverting the expectant trope audiences had grown accustomed to over the years.

Gordon had a ponytail, he didn’t speak in one liners or at all, and the player’s perception of who he is was built up entirely from in-world clues and inferring meaning through NPC commentary. A theoretical physicist seemed like an unlikely protagonist for 1998’s hit action game blockbuster, so when it came time for Gearbox to approach Valve to make an expansion pack, they had to come up with a character that not only built upon this framework, but also made a powerfully distinct protagonist. Thus, Adrian Shephard was born and swiftly embedded into the adolescent imagination of thousands of gamers.

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Through The Fragmentation (Demo)Máté Pribelszky

A mysterious note, a stranger in a car park, and an insidious disk with dark secrets. Oh yeah, right, and everyone is some kind of bird.

Fragmentation exists at the fascinating intersection of adventure games and immersive sims. So get those gears turning and ready up for some intuitive sleuthing, you’re going to need to keep your head straight if you want a clean way out of this tangled web of conspiratorial intrigue.

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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (2003) – By LucasArts, Raven Software
(video credit: Michal Kuban)

It’s late at night and you’ve been chomping on some generic corn chips and store-brand soda, you got off work 5 hours ago and it’s the weekend. A lot of your friends are into games that you find a little too stressful like Operation Flashpoint or Starcraft 1v1s, you think those games are fun but only when you don’t take them seriously. You love star wars though, and when you found a cheap copy of Jedi Academy at the local game store it seemed like a fun buy. Once you made your way through the singleplayer campaign and got a feel for the combat, you dived into some multiplayer.

Sometimes you just wanna unwind, and dueling servers have a calm vibe where you can catch up with your pals while flexing new technique. Who wants to play something that just feels like work right after getting off a shift at the local grocery store? Not you! It’s time to jump in and catch some hang time.

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Content Warning: Discussions of COVID-19 and social isolation.

Whether we like it or not, we now live in a video game world. Locked doors, empty streets, vehicles with owners nowhere to be seen and wide open cityscapes that go nowhere. There’s stores but no commerce, there’s restaurants but no patrons.

Increasingly, our reality has turned into a skybox or the aesthetic backdrop for a multiplayer power struggle where the server is empty yet the player remains. But there’s still signs of life, diegetic worldbuilding that hints at a larger narrative.

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Eden – By The Missing Mountain Team

Somewhere hidden within the depths of every writer’s imagination is a place, far beyond the perception of human eyes and the grasp of their meager arms. It is a place someone cannot touch, cannot hear nor taste, yet a creative man can see it, feel it, somehow impossibly know it.

Once you have been to this place, to show anyone else is to perform an oblique ritual, to tread a dark and winding foggy path that goes far beyond the confines of your comfort, to transform yourself into a doorway through which unknown things can reach our world. You must ask yourself if this queer drive, this strange muse, this siren song, serves you or only itself, a question with an answer granted only to those willing to complete the journey. [Some spoilers follow]

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