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Wednesday, Apr 15, 2015
Titan Souls requires of its player only one thing: perfection.

The premise of Titan Souls, while unusual, is not entirely unique as anyone familiar with the 2005 cult classic Shadow of the Colossus should know.


While both Shadow of the Colossus and Titan Souls take place in fantasy-inspired universes, composed of magic, monsters, and men, a la Legend of Zelda and countless other games that have come in its wake, the actual living population of the worlds belonging to the aforementioned games, though, is much more sparse than that of a Zelda game.


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Wednesday, Apr 8, 2015
In Risk of Rain the presentation of space and size is a constant reminder of the vulnerability and limitations of the player in a vast, unforgiving universe.

To be honest, I just don’t think that Risk of Rain is much to look at. Screenshots simply don’t do the game’s aesthetics any kind of justice (hence, my decision to go with fanart for the splash image above that captures the scale of the game, if not it’s exact look). The graphics in the game are pixelated, muddy, and old fashioned, featuring a tiny little spaceman in a great big, ugly world.


However, that doesn’t mean that the choices made in the art design for this game are mistakes, though. What Risk of Rain gains at the expense of slick, stylish visuals is a sense of scale, and scale is probably the most important visual quality in conveying the game’s mood, tone, and interest to the player.


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Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015
If games are based on systems of rules, they seem the least likely of mediums for the anarchic sensibilities of punk. In PUNKSNOTDEAD, you punch until you die. That's the game.

A synopsis of the content of PUNKSNOTDEAD, an indie game made in 12 hours in 2013, is explained by mooosh, the game’s developer: “12HOURS/1979/GET PUNCHED/PUNKS NOT DEAD/EAT SHIT.“ To which, I can only respond that if punk’s not dead, then, well, fair enough. I hear you.


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Wednesday, Mar 25, 2015
I'm not especially bothered by violence in media, but the rich-on-poor violence seen in American Psycho and suggested by White Night seem exceptionally detestable.

I’m not especially bothered by violence in media. I’m a huge fan of the films of Quentin Tarantino. I play a lot of video games. Hell, I teach a course every few years called “Violence in Literature & Film.”


However, I find watching the movie American Psycho uncomfortable. There’s something I find upsetting about Christian Bale’s performance of the psychotic yuppie killer Patrick Bateman .I think it has to do with the posing and preening that he does when in contact with his victims. The way that he fawns over himself while taking advantage of his underprivileged victims makes the violence that he perpetrates against them seem all the more detestable.


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Wednesday, Mar 18, 2015
In White Night, it is not a shotgun, but light itself, that is your only ally, and light in in this game is in terrifyingly short supply.

White Night is not the only horror game of recent years to use light and darkness as inspiration for its game mechanics. Both Shadows of the Damned (an action-horror game with more emphasis on the action portion of the equation) and Alan Wake (also probably more of an action-horror game, though probably with more emphasis on provoking scares than on pure combat) used light and darkness to drive their combat mechanics.


Since both games concern confronting supernatural horrors, it seems reasonable to associate darkness, and the terror that it presents by making things unknowable and obscure, with evil, and light, with its ability to make knowable and to clarify, as a means to combat evil. In both instances, darkness within the environment signals a lack of safety and security in the world, and darkness is also intrinsic to the nature of the enemies in the game—along with the need to purge that darkness with some form of light before making those enemies vulnerable to mundane weapons. In other words, light needs to make the dark things into something that can be combated with things we know and understand, firearms and ammunition.


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