White Night is a striking game to look at. It’s all black and white with hard shadows to give shapes definition, like a Sin City panel come to life. At first, the game seems to contain the perfect combination of art and story.White Night is a tale in the tradition of noir, but about a haunted house. Its hard shadows hide the violent ghosts of an angry mother, and its light streams from the protective ghost of an innocent lover. It’s a beautiful and haunting game to look at, but it’s a rather annoying game to play. And it’s annoying largely due to its beautiful and haunting art.
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In Dark Souls, you always knew when a boss was coming. The big bad was always behind a “fog door”, a wall of smoke that separated the boss arena from the rest of the level. It would automatically close behind you, locking you in, forcing you to fight or die. Fog doors became intimidating; they were warnings demanding your attention and respect, shouting at us “This way lies death!” Passing through the fog was not a decision to be taken lightly. Passing through the fog meant you were ready for a fight.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 looks a lot like an action game similar to its predecessors, but these looks are deceptive. The game goes beyond the typical ammo rationing of action-horror (giving you bullets when things are calm so that you can use them all at once in a big fight) to reach for something more subtle and interesting than that. This is a game that evokes fear through contrast.
This is the second time that I have recently played a game in a horror series that has ended without an ending, the second time that the final chapter has been more prologue than conclusion, the second time that I’ve been left feeling confused, annoyed, a little ripped off, but also a little impressed.
Much has been written about silent protagonists in games, and whether or not their silence really aids in our immersion. However, regardless of what you think of them, they almost always share a certain important personality trait. They’re followers. From Gordon Freeman to Link to the amnesiac hero of Bioshock, the silent protagonist is one who takes orders. They’re told what to do and how to do it. This makes perfect sense. If we can’t talk, we certainly can’t give orders, so we may as well be the one taking them instead.
Battlefield 4 breaks this mold, giving us a silent protagonist that others often turn to for advice. It’s awkward, bizarre, and unintentionally funny, but also kind of fascinating when you try to piece together what exactly makes it so awkward and bizarre and unintentionally funny.