Far Cry 2 was, and still is, an anomaly in the world of shooters: A big-budget franchise shooter power fantasy that undercut its power fantasy with constant reminders that this kind of violence has consequences. Throughout the game your friends die, your friends betray you, and in the end, we team with the central villain to save some refugees before we both kill ourselves; doing something good before we let our violence consume us. It was a world that fought back at us as much as we fought it, and everyone was corrupted by the violence.
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Event is a mystery that revolves around whether or not we can trust an AI. It’s a standard story conceit in sci-fi—the suspicious computer—but event adds its twist to the trope by highlighting the unique tragedy of artificial life. This is one of the few games that acknowledges the ugly implications of a computerized intelligence.
I played a lot of good games in 2016, and while I tried to write about as many of them as possible, some always slip through the cracks. I could wait to write about them next year, but damn it, more games just keep coming out! So here’s a short list of the games I’ve shortchanged in 2016:
Virginia is a neat game. It uses the visual language of cinema, specifically the “cut”, to tell an ambitious story about corruption, identity, and the politics of power. Yet it’s these very cinematic tricks that also handicap the game, limiting the ways in which it can express itself. Rather than work within those limitations to tell its story, Virginia shows us as much as it can within its allotted time, and then cops out with an exposition dump that tries to connect what we’ve already seen to its grander ideas of corruption, identity, and power politics. It’s a flawed game, but fascinatingly flawed.
The Cube Escape games are series of free puzzle games on iOS and Android. I downloaded them all at the same time (because, free), but after getting through the first one, I wanted to delete the rest immediately. Instead, I played a few more of the games, just to see if the puzzle design might improve. After all, maybe that first game was awkward and bad because it was actually someone’s first game. Turns out, they don’t get better, and I kind of hate them all. Yet I kept playing. Eventually I broke down… and played the rest with a walkthrough open beside me. I wasn’t going to try and solve these shitty puzzles on my own. I was just going to get through the games as fast as possible. Because even though I kind of hated them, I was also hooked on them.