Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Combine an already confusing maze of level design with the shifting planes and shifting angles of the game world, and Claire feels like it's purposefully trying to confuse you. Because it is.

Claire looks a lot like Lone Survivor. The aesthetic similarities (a 3D world presented as a series of 2D, side-scrolling screens with detailed yet vague pixel art) are enough for one to immediately start comparing the two, but this would be a mistake. Claire is a very different game, and going into it expecting a gender-swapped Lone Survivor is bound to leave one confused and frustrated. Whereas Lone Survivor was very much about the survival aspect of survival-horror, including a crafting system that had you cooking food and keeping pets, Claire is primarily interested in storytelling over survival. Though even in that regard, Claire is a more abstract and metaphorical game than the already heavily symbolic Lone Survivor.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 16, 2014
Who knew that golden, verdant fields of wildflowers and ancient gods of unspeakable evil were so complementary?

The following post contains spoilers for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.


In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, you play as Paul Prospero, a hardboiled detective who arrives in Red Creek Valley to search for the eponymous missing boy. It’s a game inspired by “weird fiction” (think Lovecraft and the like) which means that Prospero has a few tools most detectives don’t. The dead, for example, can send him messages which allows him to view the exact circumstances of their demise. The game is full of supernatural moments, but they exist within a world that the developers have, nevertheless, made an effort to make still familiar to us. When seemingly benign actions lead to spectacular situations, it makes even the smallest decisions feel important.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014
Spec Ops: The Line isn't a criticism of mediocre shooters, but of the romanticism that has so often gone hand-in-hand with the modern shooter genre.

Since its release, quite a few people have described Spec Ops: The Line as a horror game. It’s easy to see why one would describe it that way after playing it. The hallucinations, the harsh treatment of the player, and the symbolic imagery of hell would be enough for a player to come to that conclusion regardless of anything else that the game might be doing. If one was to call Spec Ops: The Line a horror game, it wouldn’t be monster horror or gothic horror, but the strange twisted nightmare of psychological horror. The kind of horror that makes one look inward at an obstacle course of torture of one’s own making.


I can see the argument for it, and yet, I don’t know if I could fully subscribe to it. Instead I want to focus on a design technique. Spec Ops: The Line seemingly borrows from horror games, particularly early survival horror games like Resident Evil. The early Resident Evil games managed to cultivate a terrifying game with static camera angles and difficult to maneuver tank controls and other design choices that weren’t optimal in the traditional sense. These design choices were born of technical limitations, but as we saw over the years as the developers added better player control that the games lost what made them effective horror games. Spec Ops: The Line isn’t quite this extreme, as much of it still functions like a traditional third-person shooter, and instead operates under the same ethos but with a more subtle approach to sub-optimal design.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014
by Brian Crecente (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)
Star Wars Battle Pod is a single-player flight combat game that uses an array of high-tech gadgets packed into a gaming pod to drop players into the action of some of Star Wars’ key space fight moments.

Long gone is the golden age of arcades, two decades that saw some of the best coin-op games in history not only take over game rooms, but turn into massive pop culture icons. It was the era, for better or worse, that gave us Pac-Man Fever, a slew of Space Invaders songs and cemented the ubiquity of Donkey Kong.


While arcades games may never return to that former glory, they remain a sort of gaming mainstay across America. You can find them still in bowling alleys, trucks stops, niche arcades and, of course, entertainment complexes like Dave and Buster’s.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Oct 13, 2014
This week we discuss the simple and basic approach to the hardboiled genre in 2013's cult favorite, Gunpoint.

The hardboiled detective genre is not known for its subtlety or complication. A good hardboiled tale simply hits you like a right to the jaw.


This week we discuss how Gunpoint presents a hardboiled fiction through simple, straightforward puzzle mechanics and with surprisingly little gunplay.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.