Latest Blog Posts

by Eric Swain

12 May 2015


The common refrain is that video games are played for their challenge. For a long time feeling the sense of accomplishment from beating a game is why many players would say that they played video games and that creating a challenge for the player is a game’s purpose. This is, of course, not true, and challenge should only be included when it is useful for the game’s own goals and what experience that it wishes to craft. Adventure games, for example, don’t test the reflexes or a player’s management skills, as other genres that might typically be seen as challenging do. What is challenge in an adventure game?

Typically, it is arriving at that “aha” moment. Reaching that moment requires the act of applying non-traditional keys to non-traditional doors. It may be attempting to apply an item to the environment or trying to give another character an item and receiving something in return. The challenge is in solving logic puzzles, most of which come in the form of environmental riddles. Traditionally, the problem with this approach to challenge has been in trying to balance these puzzles, both in terms of making them difficult enough to deliver that “aha” moment and also in not creating puzzles that are absurd enough to stall the player or make the player quit the game entirely.

by G. Christopher Williams

11 May 2015


It’s a style. It’s interactive comedy. It’s a game.

Maybe?

Even after playing it, it’s hard to even begin to describe Jazzpunk.

by Nick Dinicola

8 May 2015


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.

by Jorge Albor

7 May 2015


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.

by Mark Filipowich

6 May 2015


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.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Wanted' Is a Spaghetti Western That Will Leave You Wanting

// Short Ends and Leader

"The charisma of Giuliano Gemma and some stellar action sequences can't save this sub-par spaghetti western.

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