SUPERHOT isn’t the first reconsideration of the first person shooter, but its slow motion violence and methodical approach to murder certainly has made an impression.
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Tomb Raider Go is a mobile game that ignores all the blockbuster action of its console cousins in favor of clever puzzles. The Lara Croft in Tomb Raider Go is not a survivor or warrior, she’s… well… a tomb raider. It’s a wonderful alternative to the console game and received quite a bit of praise upon its release. Uncharted: Fortune Hunter is a similar game with a similar goal, but it hasn’t received anywhere near the amount of acclaim as Lara’s game. Part of this is likely due to its nature as a tie-in game with the recently released Uncharted 4, whereas Tomb Raider Go stood confidently as its own game. However, it’s also likely that Fortune Hunter has gotten less notice because the puzzles in it feel very different.
Tomb Raider Go is arguably the better designed puzzle game, but Fortune Hunter better captures the tone of Uncharted—a spirit of improvisation and adventure—that is missing from Lara’s game. It’s all about the puzzles.
The last time that I wrote about One Finger Death Punch, I wrote about it from a purely mechanical perspective—about how its deceptively simple premise hid a wealth of excellent design decisions that all work in perfect harmony with each other. I also talked about its mechanics, but from a philosophical point of view more than anything else.
Going back to the game in preparation for a Moving Pixels podcast, I’ve been reminded how excellent it still is, but also that that excellence stems from more than just mechanical harmony. There’s a purity of focus to the game. It’s the only action game that I’d think to describe as zen, but why? What makes this game from such a “disreputable developer” so much more immersive than every other action game ever made?
I’m about level 40, and I just beat High Lord Wolnir. And by “beat”, I mean watch two sun bros slash the boss to death. I actually sat down and admired the cunning of my fellow players—from afar of course. To my credit, I did cheer for them when the Dark Souls III skeleton boss was finally vanquished, pulled to his dark grave. My phantom allies must have known what they were getting into the moment that they saw my dual-shield wielding hero. After all, his name is Pacifist Pete.
Now, I did complete Dark Souls III like a normal person first. But when the last lord finally sat his throne, instead of going into New Game Plus, I opted instead to roleplay my way through the game as a pacifist. Save for the single boss that you must kill in order to progress, I promised myself that I would wield no sword and intentionally kill no enemy—at least by my own hands. I would be a pacifist, the peacenik of Lothric. As a result, I hoped that I would appreciate the game in a new way.
Two recent games, The Average Everyday Adventures of Samantha Browne and Raik, attempt to capture the paralyzing spiral of anxiety disorder. Both feature young women as protagonists, and both are short and largely experiential (in other words, interactivity usually boils down to advancing the narrative and picking A or B). Despite the similar subject matter, the two games take different approaches to portraying mental illness with different results.
The Average Everyday Adventures of Samantha Browne is the “gamier” of the two. The titular protagonist is an American student attending college (or university, as they call it) in the UK. Samantha is hungry, and it is the player’s job to make some oatmeal for dinner. At the top of the screen is a hunger meter, and if it fills up, the player loses. Seriously, that’s it: open the door, walk down the hall, enter the kitchen, make some oatmeal, and walk back.