We continue on our holiday march!
Hello Dear Reader! It’s that time of y- Decade, again, just checked my watch- Again?? It’s OUR FIRST RE:BIND HOLIDAY SEASON. What a wild ride it’s been since we started in January!(This Decade In Gaming: Community Pt. 1)
Her Lullaby/Afterward — two games that make up one story. not exactly innovative as a work of fiction, but reflexive and critical toward the prominent (and typically careless) subgenre of visual novel murder mysteries. very grounded and very queer
The Pear Game — chronicles dev fatigue and loneliness in extremely relevant in evocative ways. a good emotional representation of the deader period of indie coverage from 2016 to early 2019
50 Short Games — often venerated as a “best of” jumping point for Stephen “thecatamites”‘s oeuvre, it’s better viewed as a love letter to and an encapsulation of works on the margins of game development (demoscene, shareware, rpgmaker doodles, trainwrecks). the bite behind the “game critical” games found in the collection argues coherently that existing in this category is inherently a resistance to capitalist realism
Oἶκoςpiel Book I — a champion of game dev and the most pointed critique of labor conditions in the game industry, mired in necessary contradictions. beside cheesey hope and curdled platitudes. face the triumphs and breakdowns of the game bubble in a way that’s rightfully hilarious and alienating
UpSolom — the best, or just my favorite, “walking sim” where the player is just in brutalist no-fucking-where. a very aggressive, expansive, and most importantly, overwhelming, summary of architectural experimentation of the decade
Beeswing – just flat out head and shoulders above novels trying to do the literary fiction thing in the past ten years, nevermind games that can barely conceive of themes. very conscious of the materials used in game creation to hit peaks of corruptible love and ennui
Extreme Meatpunks Forever — badass queer visual novel that acknowledges common, relatable ways we’ve all been fucked over, but is about pushing forward, overcoming, even destroying the stuff in the way of our happiness, instead of (stereotypically) wallowing in it. I’ve played too many games about wallowing in it
Zeno Clash II — one of the most coherent and least disagreeable political stories in a conventional-ish videogame probably in the whole god damn decade. ghat says fuck cops and fuck colonists
VIDEOPULP: Super Carty™’s Dread — probably the only game that’s aware of the differential between bedroom devs and the asshole in red n blue. enjoyable enough that it could likely touch converted nintendo-lifers
And their picks for influential AAA games:
DJ Max Respect — huge all-out celebration of animation and electronic music subcultures in south korea and the most in-depth, complicated, player-game conversational rhythm game ever period, ranging from hilarious in-jokes to one-of-a-kind mount everest-esque challenges
Resonance of Fate — surreal & compelling meditations on power structures, gun violence, radical forgiveness, european mysticism, death and grief, and of course gun fu. strategically robust as an iconoclastic tactical rpg besides
Devil Daggers – The endless undying nature of high score focused games driven to their logical, nihilistic conclusion.
Hyper Light Drifter A game about conquering, evading, destroying death that ultimately forces you to face it. The kind of nostalgia project that genuinely confronts its inspirations and builds something fractured and personal out of them.
Anodyne – The least mature of Analgesic studio’s output, but nevertheless the one that had the most impact on me. The only “meta” game I have played that offers real, re-conciliatory empathy, not vague, hollow condemnation or ardent praise. It’s an important contrast to things like Undertale.
Cibele -It rips my heart out every time. A monument to the slow, careful loss of everyday relationships and the joy and sense of self they can bring, even as they die. Small autobiographies can have incredible power.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine – Too easily dismissed as tedious, wtwtlw is a poetic testament to the power of slow, measured time. A journey across hearts and space that actually feels like one. It feels so much bigger than nearly any open world game I have ever played.
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor – An infinite portrait of drudgery and joy. A game that depicts dysphoria and mental illness through abstraction rather than blanket duplication and thus gains a thorough and bright resonance.
Deity Driving – I am so glad I found this game by Graceless Games (@gracelessgames). It is unique. It is beautiful. It is funny. It is true art. I want to see more of this so much!
Proteus – I feel very overwhelmed thinking how many wonderful and truly influential games have been created just in the last couple of years – this period of time is what really matters to me, and games by marginalized creators that are being created now is what people should really look into. But still, I couldn’t not mention “Proteus” by Ed Key and David Kanaga. I only played it last year for the first time and it made me cry.
one night, hot springs Games – by kc (@npckc) is the healing many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community often need. “One night, hot springs” series is especially important for me, because it portrays relatable real life problems while also leaving players with a warm and reassuring feeling.
Butterfly Soup – I hope everybody has played “Butterfly Soup” by Brianna Lei (@Brii_U) at least twice already. This game has opened to me the world of visual novels and I never want to leave it now.
ELECTRIC ZINE MAKER – All Nathalie Lawhead’s (@alienmelon) games are “must plays”, but ELECTRIC ZINE MAKER is especially important – amazing powerful zine making tool that not only helps this extremely important DIY culture to thrive, but also reminds how fun and creative the software UIs can be.
Heaven Will Be Mine You – won’t miss anything by deciding not to watch Evangelion, but you simply have no right to miss this extremely powerful and gay mecha video game by Worst Girls (@worstgirlsgames). Just like their previous game “We Know The Devil” reflected on finding inner peace, this game’s protagonists seek for the outer peace in the world that refuses to accept them.
EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER “EXTREME MEATPUNKS FOREVER” by Heather Flowers (@HTHRFLWRS) is a tornado of emotions. I feel like we need this game now more than ever. I also want to hug its gay disaster protagonists.
Lionkiller I will always be amazed by the scope and epicness of “Lionkiller” by Sisi Jiang (@six6jiang). It became one of the most important narrative experiences for me. I’m so happy Twine exists!
As for what they think of AAA releases this year..
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – Somehow this game became very unpopular, but I must say that it’s simply one of the best Zelda games ever created. Of course, people might not like it for many reasons, but *everyone* who enjoys Zelda games should at least try to experience it. Its art direction is amazing: it’s so colourful, and vibrant, and detailed. Its story is touching. Its motion controlled gameplay is FUN. Its dungeons are breathtaking (which, in my experience, almost never happens). To me it feels like the grandest Zelda game of the past. It also feels like the coolest PS1 Harry Potter game.
ARMS – ARMS might be my favourite fighting game ever and it’s quite sad to see it not gaining enough popularity to sustain itself. This game is important for showing that fighting games may have very different design and still be very fun and competitive. Participating in the official local ARMS tournament and getting to quarterfinals was a great time.
Much gratitude to everyone who shared their best picks with us this year! Join us in Part Three soon!
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice