Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

26 Jun 2015


During Bethesda’s press conference at the beginning of E3, the company announced a free mobile game that would be available later that very day: Fallout Shelter. Set in the Fallout universe, you oversee one of the vaults meant to save the remnants of humanity from nuclear winter.

It’s a “builder” mobile game. Collect resources, collect people, collect money, and use them all in the right way to create a bigger and more complex shelter. I don’t have too much experience with these kinds of mobile games, but I did get very into Tiny Tower for several months. Both games have a similar structure, but they’re driven by very different design philosophies. Philosophies that, I think, highlight the difference between a “casual” and a “hardcore” game. Or to use less loaded terms, the difference between a typical mobile and a typical console or PC game. It all comes down to fear.

by Nick Dinicola

19 Jun 2015


Dark Echo (RAC7 Games, 2015)

A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come. I’ve
written five times before, and thankfully I have reason to write about them again. Hopefully (and doubtfully), this won’t be the last time.

by Nick Dinicola

12 Jun 2015


It’s hard to talk about “controls” in games. At its most reductive, the word is meant to be a description of movement and the ease with which you can “control” your character. But describing “controls” is about more than describing movement. It’s actually a word that describes a myriad of interacting systems and aesthetics. Controls are affected by art style, animation, sound effects, enemy AI, level design—things that change our physical movement and our perception of that physical movement.

It’s such a vast concept that it’s no wonder that we’ve settled into certain standards. It’s easy to say a game has bad or good controls when you’re just comparing those controls to a predefined standard. I’ve played a lot of games that the act of playing them has become second nature, and many of them have become so standardized in their style of play that I can’t actually remember the last time that I had to learn how to control a game. I don’t just mean learning what button does what or learning the timing of new attack animations, but learning an entirely new scheme of movement.

Until David.

by Nick Dinicola

5 Jun 2015


Chronicles: China is a small game relative to its franchise counterparts. It’s a 2D side-scroller, not an open world adventure, and priced at only $10, it presents itself as an even smaller package than its downloadable peers (China takes a lot of inspiration from Mark of the Ninja and that game is $15). Naturally, changes must be made to the typical Assassin’s Creed formula to fit it into this very different package, and China succeeds in this regarding its mechanics and systems (mainly by mimicking the mechanics and systems from the aforementioned Mark of the Ninja).

Yet, its narrative remains a sprawling adventure, an excuse to travel from historical locale to historical locale. It’s a narrative uniquely unsuited to the 2D side-scroller genre, and it’s interesting to watch the game bend over backwards as it tries to shove as much plot as it can between levels. China is an unfinished product, but only from a story standpoint. Its gameplay systems and art and level design are all quite well-done, but it’s clear that they were the priority. The story remains an outline that never got revised.

by Nick Dinicola

29 May 2015


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.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Ten Great Criterion Titles: What to Watch and Why

// Short Ends and Leader

"As the Criterion Collection's ever-growing roster shows, there are simply too many great pictures out on home video to know what to do with.

READ the article