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Friday, Feb 6, 2015
In this mansion, even when you're fine, you still feel like you’re dying.

Returning to Resident Evil has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve come away with a better appreciation for the game’s design and pacing, but also, unexpectedly, its writing. Resident Evil is a better written game than people remember or give it credit for. That might be an odd compliment to give a game that’s mostly remembered as a cheesy B-movie at best, what with its classic lines like, “You were almost a Jill Sandwich” and “Here’s a lockpick, it might be handy if you, the master of unlocking, take it with you.”  I’ll admit that dialogue has never been its strong suit, but I’m not talking about the dialogue. What impresses me is the text descriptions that pop up when you examine things in the game’s environments.


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Thursday, Feb 5, 2015
Oops! I accidentally became a mass murderer, slaver, and a dark lord.

Sauron and I don’t know each other very well, so I don’t know if he plays video games. If he does, I bet he is pleasantly surprised by Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. The game basically turned me into a Nazgûl. To be fair, I was able to escape its influence (for how long, I don’t know), so maybe I’m more of a Gollum than a ring wraith. Whatever the case, I think the game does a better job of promoting the The Dark Lord’s power than it does arguing against it.


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Wednesday, Feb 4, 2015
Recently stumbling onto the tower defense game, Witch Hunt, feels to me like stumbling back into the arcade era.

Stumbling onto Witch Hunt over at NewGrounds felt like stumbling back into the arcade era. Though I felt the sense that I was playing something from that era almost immediately, it was initially difficult for me to put a finger on why.


Witch Hunt is at its core a tower defense game, a genre of video game that I associate with the last ten years or so, not the video games of the 1980s. Instead, I see the tower defense game as appearing with the arrival of Flash games and iOS as a gaming platform. The tower defense game typically asks the player to be responsible for creating defenses against an encroaching horde of “creeps.” An army of creatures will advance to destroy a central base, and your job is to manage the battlefield by strategically placing towers of various sorts (some may fire quickly and do a bit of damage, some may fire slowly but cause a great deal of damage, some might simply slow the oncoming creeps, etc.) to stop them. Destroying creeps provides money that allows you to purchase more towers or to upgrade towers. Your business is as a field commander managing the economics of a battle.


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Tuesday, Feb 3, 2015
80 Days reminds the player that not all worlds are truly open, and that limitations are necessary for there to be true enjoyment.

I said in my PopMatters review of 80 Days that the titular 80 days of the bet that inspired this trip around the world in the first place is a macguffin. The real core of the game is the act and art of traveling through the foreign locales. The sights, the people, and the adventures are what matters. They matter far more than making the trip in an arbitrary number of days. Whereas Phileas Fogg is content enough with his cabin and his newspaper, we play as Passepartout, and he is out and about finding information about travel routes, making trades and getting into mischief.


That much I still believe about the game. 80 Days is the artful worldbuilding and allowing the player to explore it that matters. Given that the 80 days may seem like an extraneous challenge for those who have already explored the world, it is nonetheless an important component even to those who wish to experience the title as interactive fiction and not a challenge.


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Monday, Feb 2, 2015
This week's podcast attempts to puzzle out the many stories of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

This week we discuss the much hyped and very pretty 2014 release, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.


This is a puzzle game about storytelling, and we consider whether the sum of the game’s stories is worth more than its parts.


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