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by Scott Juster

6 Sep 2012


Pay attention to the video game scene for long enough, and you start to notice cycles.  Certain genres, art styles, and mechanics gain popularity, fade away, and then re-emerge.  We’ve all seen examples of this: fighting games, cel shading, experience point systems, etc.  More difficult to see are the cycles that happen in our own lives. Everything from personal milestones, to work schedules, and even your day-to-day mindset ebb and flow along with the video game landscape, thereby influencing the kinds of games that grab you.

This subject has been on my mind recently thanks to a renewed interest in a genre I nearly abandoned: the JRPG.

by Jorge Albor

30 Aug 2012


Unmanned begins with an immediate divide: on the left, the game’s title screen, and on the right, a man standing in an empty field, mouth agape. The latest game from Molleindustria, released earlier this year, is just as political and subversive as any of the studio’s previous work. While the game’s central metaphor may seem blunt at first, its sublety surpasses much of Molleindustria’s previous work. Self-proclaimed creators of “homeopathic remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment”, Molleindustria has firmly established itself as a purveyor of critical games. While Phone Story might be their most famed work, Unmanned might be the best from the studio.

Playing Unmanned is an exercise in splitting one’s attention. The game follows Kirk, a military drone pilot over two days as he runs through the tedium of his life. In the first moments of the game, the left title screen fades to a shot of Kirk sleeping. The right, then. is his dreamscape. An arabic man chases him through a field, followed by a woman in a burqa, and a child. If players manage to avoid the family, Kirk spreads his arms and turns into a drone, just before waking. Only in dreams are the player’s points of interest isolated to just one screen.

by Scott Juster

23 Aug 2012


This post contains spoilers relating to the ending of Demon’s Souls.

A few months ago, when I thought Demon’s Souls multiplayer was going offline, I wrote up some of my experiences with the game’s unusual multiplayer elements.  I was burning through the game as quickly as possible (which wasn’t all that fast), but it looked like I wouldn’t be able to finish the game in its original form.  Naturally, only a week after my article was posted, Atlas announced that the multiplayer servers would remain active!  My grueling trek to the end would remain filled with the questionable hints, hilarious death scenes, and downright terrifying hostile PvP invasions.

Several weeks ago, after many deaths and thousands of lost souls, I finally finished the game.  Now that the initial sense of numb disbelief has worn off, I wanted to return with a few more thoughts on Demon’s Souls and its conclusion.

by Jorge Albor

16 Aug 2012


Day Z (Dean "Rocket " Hall, 2012)

In 1996, non-fiction writer John Krakauer joined a group of eight clients in an attempt to climb Mt. Everest. On the evening of May 10th, a storm made traversing the mountain nearly impossible. Of the five team members that reached the summit, four lost their lives on the frigid peak. Eight climbers total from four different expeditions died during the event, and seven more would follow before the season was over.

A year later, Krakauer published Into Thin Air, his personal account of the story. The work is a haunting attempt to uncover the truth about what happened, to gain some glimmer of understanding about these events. There is no value to be found in the deaths of those climbers, only revelations about human systems on the raggedy edge of survival.

by Scott Juster

9 Aug 2012


I’m spending some time going through my video game backlog this summer, which is why I’ve been playing Metroid: Other M.  I understand why it wasn’t particularly well-received.  I think the game’s systems are actually pretty interesting, but I can definitely see why the third/first-person view switching and motion controls would irritate some people.  I’m much more sympathetic to criticisms of the game’s story and writing.  Abbie Heppe’s review sums up my feelings on it.  Other M is marred by a hackneyed, unimaginative script and a portrayal of Samus that characterizes her as scared and subservient.  It’s truly disheartening to see one of video games’s most competent female protagonists reduced to a child-like state of obedience.

I actually think these weaknesses are symptoms of a larger problem with the game, though.  Other M suffers because it tries to emulate some of the series’s traditions without understanding why they are important (or even if they are important at all).  The blind devotion to the accumulated lore of the Metroid saga stifles the game.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

The Specter of Multiplayer Hangs Over 'Door Kickers'

// Moving Pixels

"Door Kickers is not a multiplayer game, but for a while there, I couldn’t tell the difference.

READ the article