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Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012
The mechanics and dynamics of the interactions in Papo & Yo work to foster a sort of paradoxically needy, yet toxic relationship between the boy and the monster. Everything works well together to create the artist’s singular vision of this very personal story. And it is because of all of that I feel like a complete ass when I say the game made me feel nothing at all.

Papo & Yo was a critical darling that got a lot of attention in the past couple of months. It is the autobiographical story of the lead designer and how he survived the monster that lived inside his father. All of it is told through the allegorical lens of a child’s fantasy as he hides from his alcoholic father, which is here represented by a larger orange behemoth.


In addition to the more artistic aspirations of the game, there is a pretty solid game beneath these ideas. The mechanics and dynamics of the interactions work to foster a sort of paradoxically needy, yet toxic relationship between the boy and the monster. Everything works well together to create the artist’s singular vision of this very personal story. And it is because of all of that I feel like a complete ass when I say the game made me feel nothing at all.


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Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012
Despite having reached the end of each journey, after the nomad shoots into the sky and lands back in the desert to begin anew, players are somehow still willing to pick up their controllers and travel across the familiar landscapes again.

Journey is a game about discovery, but there isn’t a whole lot to discover in the game. When we think of games about exploration and discovery we generally think of large open world games or deep, procedural system-based games. Journey is neither of those. It is a linear platformer. Yet, the very ethos of the game is based around discovery.


The game in its cutscenes and in a few key moments does hint at a theme of spiritual discovery. The journey up the mountain to the bright light is as strong a symbol of enlightenment as possible, but the majority of the game is spent dealing with the visual spectacle of environments that you’re traveling through at any given moment. It is only during moments of reflection that the larger implications and meaning of the game filter through. There is a spatial component to the sense of discovery that allows players to replay the game with a continued sense of wonder.


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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Oct 31, 2012
I stared into a void. My eyes just could not comprehend the nothingness. Had someone walked up to me for whatever reason, I think that might have been it for my nerves. And I wasn't even playing Silent Hill 2 anymore.

Silent Hill 2 is regarded as one of the greatest games of all time. And until recently, it has been one of the gold stars on my pile of shame. What better time to play it than the end of October, the month of horror and dread? But then what can I say about the game that has not already been said.


Silent Hill 2 is one of the most picked over games in history. Everyone knows the themes, the meaning, and the more unnerving moments of the title. Likewise, the tenets of design are so well known that even people that haven’t experienced the game first hand can sing along. This was no more obvious than in Konami’s recent HD Silent Hill 2 and 3 collection in which they removed the fog. Nary a word of explanation had to be said before everyone scrunched their eyebrows together, tilted their head, and mouthed “what the hell?” However, to know is one thing, to understand first hand is another.


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Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012
Dead Space is too normal in video game design terms to remain scary.

I was a bit surprised when I looked into PopMatters archives and found nothing written on the horror of Dead Space. Then I played the game and found out why. Dead Space is a scary game, and it isn’t. It has its moments of truly terrifying brilliance, but that is all they are—moments.


Dead Space is ultimately crushed under the weight of it’s own design. It tries to do something new and terrifying but falls into the trap sticking to close to the typical video game formula. It tries to straddle the line between horror and action, but eventually one will subsume the other.


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Tuesday, Oct 16, 2012
It’s well known that horror works exploit the unexpected and unknown. The Cthulhu mythos thrives on that very premise. But where most horror stories try to conceal and hide their monster as much as possible to drive tension up. Cthulhu stories thrive on different methods.

It’s well known that horror works exploit the unexpected and unknown. The Cthulhu mythos thrives on that very premise. But where most horror stories try to conceal and hide their monster as much as possible to drive tension up. Cthulhu stories thrive on different methods.


Given that, I would like to quote the opening warning you get after booting up Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth: “Cthulhu will occasionally manipulate graphics, sound, and controls in an unusual way. This is perfectly normal, and it is unlikely to be a problem with either your game disc or your sanity.”


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