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Text:AAA
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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Text:AAA
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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Text:AAA
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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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014
Spec Ops: The Line isn't a criticism of mediocre shooters, but of the romanticism that has so often gone hand-in-hand with the modern shooter genre.

Since its release, quite a few people have described Spec Ops: The Line as a horror game. It’s easy to see why one would describe it that way after playing it. The hallucinations, the harsh treatment of the player, and the symbolic imagery of hell would be enough for a player to come to that conclusion regardless of anything else that the game might be doing. If one was to call Spec Ops: The Line a horror game, it wouldn’t be monster horror or gothic horror, but the strange twisted nightmare of psychological horror. The kind of horror that makes one look inward at an obstacle course of torture of one’s own making.


I can see the argument for it, and yet, I don’t know if I could fully subscribe to it. Instead I want to focus on a design technique. Spec Ops: The Line seemingly borrows from horror games, particularly early survival horror games like Resident Evil. The early Resident Evil games managed to cultivate a terrifying game with static camera angles and difficult to maneuver tank controls and other design choices that weren’t optimal in the traditional sense. These design choices were born of technical limitations, but as we saw over the years as the developers added better player control that the games lost what made them effective horror games. Spec Ops: The Line isn’t quite this extreme, as much of it still functions like a traditional third-person shooter, and instead operates under the same ethos but with a more subtle approach to sub-optimal design.


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Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014
by Brian Crecente (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)
Star Wars Battle Pod is a single-player flight combat game that uses an array of high-tech gadgets packed into a gaming pod to drop players into the action of some of Star Wars’ key space fight moments.

Long gone is the golden age of arcades, two decades that saw some of the best coin-op games in history not only take over game rooms, but turn into massive pop culture icons. It was the era, for better or worse, that gave us Pac-Man Fever, a slew of Space Invaders songs and cemented the ubiquity of Donkey Kong.


While arcades games may never return to that former glory, they remain a sort of gaming mainstay across America. You can find them still in bowling alleys, trucks stops, niche arcades and, of course, entertainment complexes like Dave and Buster’s.


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