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by G. Christopher Williams

27 Jul 2011


Skinny may be a direct follow up to Thomas Brush’s haunting little flash game, Coma.  At least, the game is sprinkled with some secret items that allude to the previous title in the form of an empty bird cage, a fishing hook, and a gravestone. 

A direct relationship between the odd adventure of a seemingly comatose boy named Pete whose effort to free his sister from the basement (which comprises the majority of the plot of Coma) and the adventure of a skinny robot tasked with retrieving batteries to sustain human beings that have been jacked into some sort of hallucinatory subsystem by an AI called “Mama” is never made exactly clear in the new game.

And despite the probable near incoherence of the previous summary of the premise of the two games, nevertheless, there are some rather clear thematic parallels between both games, as well as a clear consistency in Brush’s aesthetic more generally.

by Kris Ligman

26 Jul 2011


Note: Mild spoilers ahead.

I seem to be seeing cowboys everywhere.

As I continue to go through Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series (now up to book four, Wizard and Glass), I’m beginning to draw parallels everywhere I look. On that front, it’s difficult to look at Bastion, the latest XBLA darling to join the ranks of Braid and Limbo, and not feel some resonance with the rustic, science-fantasy setting of Dark Tower. Both couch themselves in the mythic post-western of Sergio Leone. Both depict a world that has physically as well as metaphysically come apart at the seams. And both address the inexorable fate of their protagonists.

My full review is still forthcoming, but in the mean time, I’d like to spend today talking a bit about what many would consider the most distinctive part of Bastion—its “dynamic narrator,” Rucks.

by Mark Filipowich

25 Jul 2011


The most ostensibly distinct feature of games over other forms of art is the heavy reliance on interactivity. Where the audience of any other artistic work is only symbolically connected to a piece through interpretation or discussion, a game can only progress when the player has their hands on the controller and literally moves the story along. To move the story along, the golden rule is that the protagonist must be somebody that the player would want to be. As a result, most heroes are flawless action stars against a legitimate and unambiguously evil threat (Marcus Fenix of Gears of War), morally neutral until the player makes their decisions for them (Commander Shepard of Mass Effect), or completely silent (Link of The Legend of Zelda). In any case, the purpose is to limit character development or hand developmental authority to the player. But L.A. Noire shows that a more sophisticated character arc can be drawn when authorship of a character is taken away from the player and gamers are forced to play as someone that they wouldn’t want to be.

There is a critical moment in L.A. Noire that seems to divide those that enjoyed the game and those that hated it. At the end of the second chapter, when Cole Phelps is promoted from traffic to homicide, Roy Earle—a sleazy vice detective—takes Phelps out for a congratulatory drink. At this point the player knows that Phelps is a stickler for the rules and that he is an effective and dedicated police officer. His morals are agreeable and his methods are efficient—he is who a player would want to be. But when Earle pushes around and berates a black maitre d’, walks into a drug nest, and assaults a woman, Phelps does nothing.

by G. Christopher Williams

25 Jul 2011


Following last week’s discussion of madness in the newest iteration of Alice, it only seemed fitting that we would consider the other “mad release” this summer, Suda51 and Shinji Mikami’s Shadows of the Damned.

Between its juvenile humor and interesting shooting mechanics based on darkness and light lies a strange but compelling critique of classic video game tropes.  Our discussion attempts to touch on as much of the madness as we can reasonably (or unreasonably) consider.

by Nick Dinicola

22 Jul 2011


Child of Eden is a conflicted game. Stuck in a No Man’s Land between “shooter” and “spectacle,” it can’t decide which one it wants to be. The shooting distracts from the spectacle and the spectacle distracts from the shooting, making for a very schizophrenic experience. Granted, I’ve only played with a controller, and based on the writings of others, it seems like I’d get a very different experience playing with a Kinect. But the one thing that I can’t parse from all the praise is what difficulty people played on. It’s hard to believe that people had the wonderful experiences that they write about while playing on the Normal difficulty. The only other mode is the Feel Eden difficulty, which is essentially “god mode.” It makes sense that Child of Eden would be more fun with “god mode” but that also speaks to its most serious flaw: it’s a game best played when you can ignore everything that makes it a game.

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Moving Pixels Podcast: Highbrow, Middle Brow, and Lowbrow in Free-to-Play Gaming

// Moving Pixels

"From the charmingly trashy to the more artistically inclined, there is a wide variety of gaming options in the free-to-play market.

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