Forward Instinct‘s Midnight Ultra is a wonderful concept piece, the kind of game that looks like it just jumped off a Xerox with a loving, fresh coat of toner. It’s the sort of stylings you’d expect to find buried in the pages of a zine stapled to a power pole next to a back alley, and it bleeds character.
DUSK was an exceptionally lovable game with some fancy footwork, the kind of game that sets the bar very high and makes it hard to welcome the next thing down the list with open arms. After grabbing a zappy trident and giving the game a fair shake, I have nothing to say about New Blood’s new publication, Amid Evil, other than how much I utterly, unapologetically love every minute of it.
The whoop-whoop-bing of running down a skewed line of powerups, the beloved ice-scepter… mace… thing that’s effectively the closest you’ll find to a spear shotgun… Amid Evil just asks that you lay waste to baddies as effectively as possible in some of the most vividly colorful environments I’ve seen in a long time. Is it a game? No, it’s absolutely a work of art that leverages every second of abstract geometry and offensively perplexing pathfinding while you plow through exceptionally creative enemy designs and some of the most satisfying tools of destruction this side of Maximum Action.
Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines is an interesting game with a lot of… quirks. Something overlooked is how the game’s style rapidly pivots between the weirdly cartoonish and the plausibly realistic. One can expect to see Dishonored-style facial composition one moment; nigh-photographic portrayals of characters the next. The environments, too, are no exception. From a design perspective, the levels give some real insight on how to capture the zeitgeist and feeling of a place, weaving a visual buffet where only a few things are tactically edible. So, let’s craft some hauntology, shall we?
As I continue my first playthrough (yes, shameful, having had the game for ages yet hardly taking the time to fully sit down with it at length past the beginning Santa Monica drudge) I will be doing a few short writeups on my thoughts and experiences throughout.
HELLO FRIENDS, PERHAPS YOU CAME HERE TO LEARN HOW TO TYPE. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE HOME ROW, AS IT WERE, BECAUSE THIS GAME SURE DID HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK….. ! WELCOME TO DAVID LYNCH TEACHES TYPING! BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE FINE FOLKS AT RHINO STEW (@StewRhino).
AND BY HIT IT OUT OF THE PARK, I MEAN I CANNOT REMEMBER THE PAST TEN MINUTES, AND THE SIDE OF MY HEAD FEELS SORE. I AM FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT SOMEONE USED A WOODEN BASEBALL BAT TO GENTLY MASSAGE MY TYPOGRAPHY NICE AND DEEP. NO PROBLEM, HOWEVER! IT’S ALL REALLY BEAUTIFUL, JUST LIKE THIS GORGEOUS WEATHER IN SUNNY LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
“And when we tell ourselves we have reached the paroxysm of horror, blood and flouted laws, of poetry which consecrates revolt, we are obliged to advance still further into an endless vertigo.” – The Theater and its Double (Antonin Artaud, 1958).
I wish to swiftly dispose of the formalities, preferably via the edge of the knife, if not the tip of the pen, and thus we begin.
Much has been said of video games and art, are they art, aren’t they art, how can one deny they are so, when do we get our Citizen Kane, when will the medium finally be reified through this endless endeavor to replicate the extrapolative force of The Good Piece of Art that we have decided is all that lends credence to a medium’s creative practices? But let us present an alternative, to eschew the respectability of The Good Piece of Art and instead pursue The Art That Which is Art, to hear the cries for the Citizen Kane and rebuff them with a cry for The Holy Mountain and the Pink Flamingos.
From the developers at Analgesic Productions, Sean Han Tani and Marina Ayano Kittaka, comes a sequel to 2013’s Anodyne, titled Anodyne 2: Return to Dust. I had a chance to pour over a preview beta build of the game, and I’m head over heels.
Presented in a lo-fi, late 90’s aesthetic, you play as Nova, a Nano Cleaner tasked with the seemingly overwhelming goal of tackling a malaise plaguing the world of New Theland. Nano Dust has spread far and wide over this place, infecting anyone unfortunate enough to become host to this particulate assassin. Once inside, it spreads rapidly and exacerbates all the worst things one can imagine: rage, sickness, gluttony, pain, and so on. By shrinking to microscopic size, Nova is able to enter the minds and bodies of those afflicted and take on the infestation with her trusty vacuum.
The story goes like this; any old bad trip up the strip leaves your head dizzy, wobbling to and fro like a ball on a wire stuck to an old tennis racket. Neon signs fly by, bad hangovers, and regret filled nights flash in your mind as you’re trying to sweat the liquor out of your veins; one more bad trip down the rabbit hole. Here comes a pop, and not the top of the pops, but a bang- The big one, the biggest bang, the shot heard ’round the universe.
This little number is Genesis Noir– It’s a doozy of a love story with legs like you wouldn’t believe, and you better put em to use on this gumshoe walkabout, searching in a vivid whiskey haze of questions until you find some answers.
Made for Isolation Jam 2019 in Iceland, Svartkolla from Joon Van Hove & Marín Björt Valtýsdóttir is a very small, modest game about returning your lost sheep to their pasture. By interacting with specific items wherever you find yourself — in your house, your shed, your boat — you manufacture a way to get the poor sheep, Svartkolla, back where they belong. It’s very straightforward in its design, not necessarily a head-scratcher in terms of figuring out puzzle solutions, but more so an exercise in form.