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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Eversion's most unsettling moments are when it changes its rules and mechanics without telling you.

“I promise this isn’t a troll entry. But saying anything about this game borders on spoiling the experience. There is a free version available to try.”


That’s the review of Eversion by the Steam group “Rely on Horror” that intrigued me enough to buy and play the game. It’s an accurate review. You should play Eversion before reading further. It’s available via Steam for $5.00, or you can download it for free from the Zaratustra Productions website. It’s only 20 minutes long at most.


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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
P.T. and The Shining engender obsession not by chance, not by contrivance, but by carefully and expertly placing the building blocks for our own self-constructed labyrinth, our playful search for meaning in art.

I love the scene in The Shining when Jack Torrance at his absolute craziest is outside the door where his wife and son are hiding. Right before he slams his axe into the door and before the iconic line “Here’s Johnny” is spoken, he plays the role of the Big Bad Wolf: “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin? Well then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” He is about to murder his family in a terrible fashion, and his big terrifying taunt is a line from a classic children’s story. It’s a freakish manifestation of fatherly behavior, calling upon a classic bedtime story to chill you to the bone in a film drenched in father-son psychosis.


The Shining begs for this level of minute theorycrafting and analysis. It is packed to the brim with weird inconsistencies, impossible machinations, and bizarre references. At one point during the film, Jack reads a magazine in a hotel lobby, and if you look closely, it’s an issue of Playgirl, a pornographic magazine. Exploring the minutiae of the film and its various themes is like exploring the labyrinth of hedges just outside the Overlook Hotel. The search for meaning in art is itself engaging and inherently playful.


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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
by Marshall Sandoval
"Human nature might be augmented and highly channeled by technology, but human nature stays the same. And that tech might actually amplify all the worst things about us too."

Cyberpunk has seen a recent resurgence in video games. Seemingly every game developer working today has a William Gibson book tucked under their arm or follows @swiftonsecurity (a satirical Twitter account that imagines a Taylor Swift consumed with cyber security). Cyberpunk video games are pervasive, including cyberpunk game jam projects on itch.io, Twine games, indie titles, and major AAA releases. All of these projects embrace cyberpunk themes and aesthetics. Observers credit the current trend to a number of cyclical and cultural factors. After talking to the indie developers behind a number of exciting cyberpunk titles at the center of this resurgence, I believe that the creators of these games are overwhelmingly inspired by the headlines in today’s newspapers.


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Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Combine an already confusing maze of level design with the shifting planes and shifting angles of the game world, and Claire feels like it's purposefully trying to confuse you. Because it is.

Claire looks a lot like Lone Survivor. The aesthetic similarities (a 3D world presented as a series of 2D, side-scrolling screens with detailed yet vague pixel art) are enough for one to immediately start comparing the two, but this would be a mistake. Claire is a very different game, and going into it expecting a gender-swapped Lone Survivor is bound to leave one confused and frustrated. Whereas Lone Survivor was very much about the survival aspect of survival-horror, including a crafting system that had you cooking food and keeping pets, Claire is primarily interested in storytelling over survival. Though even in that regard, Claire is a more abstract and metaphorical game than the already heavily symbolic Lone Survivor.


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Thursday, Oct 16, 2014
Who knew that golden, verdant fields of wildflowers and ancient gods of unspeakable evil were so complementary?

The following post contains spoilers for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.


In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you play as Paul Prospero, a hardboiled detective who arrives in Red Creek Valley to search for the eponymous missing boy. It’s a game inspired by “weird fiction” (think Lovecraft and the like) which means that Prospero has a few tools most detectives don’t. The dead, for example, can send him messages which allows him to view the exact circumstances of their demise. The game is full of supernatural moments, but they exist within a world that the developers have, nevertheless, made an effort to make still familiar to us. When seemingly benign actions lead to spectacular situations, it makes even the smallest decisions feel important.


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