Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

28 Aug 2015


Grow Home (Ubisoft, 2015)

I was never a very outdoorsy kid. I didn’t climb trees or jungle gyms. The one time that I tried to jump from the top of a tall slide, I landed in such a way that my knee hit my jaw, and I burst into tears. The one time that I tried to jump from a swing, my shirt got caught in the chain and tore as I leapt away. Yeah, I wasn’t a very outdoorsy kid.

I bring this up because it seems the most natural explanation for why I’m so fascinated by climbing in video games. I love climbing in games. It’s part of why I always enjoyed Prince of Persia as a kid, and it’s one of the central reasons that I fell in love with Assassin’s Creed.

by Nick Dinicola

21 Aug 2015


I purposefully put off playing Life is Strange for a long time. The premise sounded interesting, but I was skeptical of how developer Dontnod would integrate a sci-fi story about time travel with a high school girl’s coming-of-age story. It seemed to me at first like a cheap way to make a more grounded and mundane story appealing to the gamer nerd crowd. Then I played episode one. There’s a scene early on that justifies this genre mixing, a scene that uses the sci-fi time travel elements to complement and support the coming-of-age story. Every first episode of an episodic series should have a scene like this, one that confidently establishes the game’s tone and its protagonist.

by Nick Dinicola

14 Aug 2015


Lifeline is an intriguing high-concept game for mobile devices (even including the Apple Watch). You receive a distress text from the survivor of a crashed spaceship, and over the next few days in real-time, you must help him survive and escape the desolate moon by providing advice and support.

Her Story is a similarly high-concept game: You use a virtual search engine to find police interview clips of a woman who is a suspect in the disappearance of her husband. Watch the clips and piece together the story at your pace, in your own order.

by Nick Dinicola

7 Aug 2015


I remember when any system of progression (leveling up, gaining new abilities, stat points, etc) was referred to as an “RPG element” because those systems primarily existed in RPGs. Now, every game has a progression system. Such systems have become so common that we’ve stopped calling them “RPG elements,” which is for the best. It’s not hard to see why these systems have become so prevalent in video games. They play into our desire for growth. We learn more, and we get stronger. These metrics of self-improvement are considered inherently good, things worth striving for.

But the downside to this obsessive self-improvement is that it makes us arrogant and selfish. After all, if some NPC isn’t going to give me a quest, why should I bother talking to him?

by Nick Dinicola

31 Jul 2015


People have said that it’s hard to make a Superman game because he’s just too strong. How do you make fun combat or create any tension or excitement when your hero is literally invincible? In many of the reviews for the recent Godzilla game, I’ve been surprised by the assumption that making a Godzilla game should be easy. Fight a giant monster here, blow up a building there, and presto. Fun! Right?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Double Take: The African Queen (1951)

// Short Ends and Leader

"What a time they had, Charlie and Rosie. They'll never lack for stories to tell their grandchildren. And what a time we had at Double Take discussing the spiritual and romantic journey of the African Queen.

READ the article