Terraria – by Re-Logic

I have a confession to make: I have never ever, ever played Terraria, not even once! But at the behest of Mx. Medea I will shortly embark on squints Journey’s End, the presumably final DLC now that the game has been around nearly as long as Minecraft.

But how come I’ve never played Terraria? It’s a good question. Back in it’s heyday my entire steam friends list was packed with nearly everyone I knew taking a dive into it, and whatever stragglers remained were quickly mopped up by the release of Don’t Starve. For me, it was hard not to see it as simply ‘what if minecraft… but 2D??‘ a notion that immediately made for a non-starter, an anti-hook if you will, given my notoriously picky tastes when it comes to games.

Read the rest of this article »

RUST – by Facepunch Studios

RUST is a game that manages to continually evolve mechanically where others would simply settle for a new character or class. Every update continues to dream big and boldly go where few survival games have gone before, seemingly running uphill on its way to the summit of Immersive Sim mountain rather than settling for the comfortable plateau of competent PVP and crafting mechanics.

After receiving multiple updates adding vehicles like hot air balloons, boats, horses, and eventually a set of aircraft, the dev team has finally shifted into full gear with a modular car update now being roadtested on the staging branch. Where RUST was once a quirky Age Of Conan-meets-Fallout, it now seems dead set on pushing the pedal to the metal and achieving Mad Max-esque scenarios while leaving competitors like Fallout ’76 in the dust.

Read the rest of this article »

For you, the day graced your screen was the most important day of your life.
But for me, it was Tuesday.
Street Fighter (1994) – Capcom / Universal Pictures

Video game movie adaptations often struggle with multiple compounding issues: what’s the best way to translate the free-form experiential nature of games and their memorable moments to the big screen, how important is the story? How can you even condense whatever story there is, regardless of it’s quality, into a one hour 40 minute run-time? Does any of this even make sense to a new audience (the people dragged to the cinema by the fans) to justify its sizable budget? Where do you make compromises? How many Bison Dollars will this film cost?

The 90s struggled with a series of ‘failed’ video game movie ventures, a fact that those who remember it so we don’t have to will never let us forget. Alongside Street Fighter there was Mortal Kombat, Super Mario Brothers, and later in the 2000s, spoiled as we were, we got gems like Silent Hill. Critically panned and usually met with lukewarm reception at best, the most these films could hope for was the long-term embrace of nostalgic fans looking for a cult classic. Street Fighter in particular is regarded as somehow tragic for the fact that it was the last film in the career of the late Raul Julia, despite him clearly having plenty of fun with his character and being the highlight of the entire production.

Read the rest of this article »

In Somnio – by Jan ‘Jam’ Malitschek

There’s something really exciting about experimental titles in the indie scene that pull on lessons from film, even as it becomes increasingly difficult to classify their genre in terms of gameplay. Most would probably consider a release like In Somnio to fall under the ‘walking simulator’ or exploratory adventure category, but simplistic vernacular that reduces an experience to such crude classification fails the artistic significance of the work.

In few other mediums do we define their genre by their basic building blocks the way we do with games, it would be absurd to refer to the notion of ‘moviefeel’ or to ground our expectations of a radio show’s content by the particular microphone they used. There are exceptions to this, the found footage genre brings to mind handheld cameras or go-pros as a storytelling method, but this is comparable to how we would think about a painting: is it a watercolor, oil based? Both of these examples serve as framing for the audience, but we judge the artwork itself by its thematic substance and stylistic intent. In Somnio is an example of a game that continues to push the edges of the medium, blurring the line between interactive media and film-making, leaving us in critical territory where we find ourselves unprepared despite years of traditional games analysis.

Read the rest of this article »

Wide Ocean Big Jacket – by Turnfollow & published by Tender Claws

I like demos, especially when they’re self-contained narrative slices that compliment the core game. Wide Ocean Big Jacket takes more of an excerpt approach with theirs, an appropriate choice given the narrative oriented gameplay. It’s not quite a visual novel, nor is it an adventure game, or even a walking simulator, in fact it feels more like chatting with an old friend on a nice stroll through the woods, and it has some of the more believable writing I’ve come across in an indie game lately.

So let’s step out and enjoy the nice weather with Meryl & Alan, shall we?

Read the rest of this article »

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

Read the rest of this article »

Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service / CC BY 3.0 US (

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?

Read the rest of this article »