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Friday, Sep 12, 2014
Year Walk tells a story that comes alive in its telling, that grows up around the player, out of its display box, and into a forest.

When I was a kid, my mother had me take a wooden mask that we owned outside to destroy it with a hatchet. She said it had haunted her dreams. It was a strange precaution to take in retrospect, but at the time, it made sense. As a child, the dark holds all sorts of ghosts and terrors, and the superstitions and beliefs passed on in family stories become fact when the sun sets.


I can tell you some of the stories I grew up with now—about a pile of cursed clothing or my curandera aunt who could reliably free a house of evil spirits—but they would lose their vigor in the telling. There is a difference between a story about folklore and a folklore story.


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Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014
Time and efficiency are most often the factor that creates tension in a zombie story, which is about when you will be overwhelmed and then if you have enough time to prepare to do something about it. So where is the source of tension in Dead Rising 3?

It’s always a comfort to me after the advent of a zombie apocalypse to know that I can make a quick stop off at home to pick up a fiery scythe or a sawed off shotgun with a machete mounted on it (or both for that matter) to fend off the undead hordes.


Certainly any game that features the ability to light a scythe on fire or strap a light machine gun to a teddy bear to create a cute, portable gun turret is, of course, not one committed in any way to some form of grim and gritty realism. The Dead Rising games do not share the serious tone of another zombie-infused series like The Walking Dead, in which the need for a survivalist philosophy in the face of an overwhelming threat leads to players making difficult moral and sociopolitical decisions. The only “tough” decisions that you will have to make in Dead Rising 3 are things like whether to use that stoplight that you jury rigged to shoot arcs of electricity to destroy the shambling monstrosities that surround you or to instead use the other similarly jury rigged stoplight that you seem to carry around in your back pocket that belches fire—at least this time out.


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Monday, Sep 8, 2014
We discuss Supergiant Games's follow up to what many critics felt was the best game of 2011, considering if Transistor measures up to the legacy of Bastion.

Supergiant Games created an indie sensation with its 2011 game, Bastion. As a result, this year’s follow up, Transistor, had to contend with some big expectations from fans of the first game.


This week we discuss Transistor and how it measures up to its older sibling.


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Friday, Sep 5, 2014
MIND is a clever, beautiful, well designed game that sadly seems to hate itself for being clever, beautiful, and well designed.

MIND: Path to Thalamus is a first-person puzzle game with a lot going for it. The art and environments are gorgeous, the puzzles are great, and the entire game has an air of confidence to it. This is an exceedingly surreal trip through a dream world, but the game works quietly and effectively to break down your defenses until you’re willing to let go of your demand for rationality, until you’re willing to let its mood wash over you without questioning it, until you’re willing to experience it as if it really were a dream. MIND is a clever, beautiful, well designed game that sadly seems to hate itself for being clever, beautiful, and well designed.


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Thursday, Sep 4, 2014
Don’t let the cute characters fool you. Pikmin 3 is horrifying.

This column contains spoilers for Pikmin 3.


I’ve played all of the Pikmin games and have always been slightly uneasy about the message lurking underneath their playful facades. Maybe it’s revisiting the series almost 10 years later or maybe it’s that the latest game more openly embraces its dark side, but Pikmin 3 has put its more disturbing aspects into focus.


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