This is the second time that I have recently played a game in a horror series that has ended without an ending, the second time that the final chapter has been more prologue than conclusion, the second time that I’ve been left feeling confused, annoyed, a little ripped off, but also a little impressed.
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The strongest moment in Never Alone doesn’t occur while playing. Instead it comes during one of the puzzle-platformer’s numerous documentary shorts, which are called “Cultural Insights.” In it, members of the Iñupiat Alaskan indigenous tribe describe the act of storytelling. Like many oral traditions from around the world, their stories impart unique cultural wisdom. They speak to the context of their lives, of their history, and of their future. “We all live in stories,” one interview describes, “And they need to be told. They need to be heard.”
There is a sort of melancholy plea in the speaker’s voice as he says this last line, and as these vignettes of Cultural Insight continue, peppered throughout the game, the weight of desire becomes evident. Look around games, books, films, whatever. The stories of marginalized communities are told too rarely. They are stories meant to be shared, but in many real ways, they are dying. I want to make very clear the respect Upper One Games deserves for making a game with an all too rare perspective before I say this, but Never Alone is a failure in storytelling.
Herald, developed by Dutch designers Wispfire and currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, is, in the developers’ words, “an interactive period drama about colonialism”. Herald is an adventure game, one of the few video game genres that might appropriately convey the complexities of the colonial identity. The demo, now available for potential kickstarter backers to try before pledging their support, takes only a few minutes to play but lays out its ambitions fairly honestly.
In the second and third parts of The Charnel House Trilogy, the screen effectively gets black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. The effect conforms the field of view to match that of the train car by highlighting the length of the place and it’s enclosed nature. In doing so, the game creates a portal by which we look at the action through, highlighting how everything is framed as a performance to whomever is looking through that portal. Which is true of any game, really.
Action is most often the word that one expects to hear when talking about console games released by big publishers.
Square Enix’s effort to release a game focused on investigation rather than on gunplay resulted in what is generally considered a failure, the ghost detective game Murdered: Soul Suspect. This week we consider what went right and went wrong in the resulting product.
// Sound Affects
"The newest Between the Grooves series tackles Lowercase's Kill the Lights, a great marriage of slowcore and post-punk: raw, angry, sullen, and very much alive almost 20 years later.READ the article