I am in here, in a room of myself. Bare walls, bad carpeting, used furniture. Two open windows through which no breeze blows. No air conditioning, either. The box fan’s droning on at full speed. My screen’s aglow and my hands grip the controller. Primary colors and vector graphics. Skittering drums and chiptune synths. I’m playing Flywrench, and I’m dying a lot. My chair’s shedding dandruff-like flakes of pleather. I’m sweating and twitching and staring. I’m dying and retrying and dying in the hopes that I can make it to the next level and do it all again. It’s more the humidity than the heat. I am in here.
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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.
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.
// Moving Pixels
"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.READ the article