Fibrillation is an experiment created by Egor Rezenov. It tells a simple and straightforward story but uses that simple framework as justification for the various nightmare scenarios it puts you through.
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Metrolith is a Twine text adventure by Porpentine, a popular and proficient Twine author, in which you guide various characters into an ancient derelict city. It’s hard not to draw comparisons between Metrolith and The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft as both stories capture the eeriness and wonder of exploring a mystery so vast you can never understand it. Metrolith is never outright scary but it’s consistently unsettling, which is the more impressive feat in my opinion.
It’s Indie Horror Month once again here at Moving Pixels! Last year I dedicated October to highlighting “clever, unique, and most importantly scary independent horror game[s] that might otherwise slip under your radar.” That crop of games included The 4th Wall, Paranormal, Home, and Lone Survivor (it’s worth mentioning that Paranormal recently became available on Steam Early Access, so now it’s much easier to get a hold of). This year I’m back with even more esoteric horror games, starting with a translation of a Japanese RPG Maker-made game.
Games are often criticized when their gameplay doesn’t reinforce the themes of or characters in their story. This interplay between systems and stories is what fascinates me most about games, but even I have to admit that it’s a rather odd criticism when you think about it. I’m not really criticizing the story: not the narrative, the themes, or the presentation of such, nor the pacing, the dialogue, or character development. I’m also not really criticizing the gameplay: not the controls, the difficulty, the balancing, nor the entertainment value. Instead, I’m criticizing how all those things interact with each other. It’s not really a criticism of art or craft but of form, a meta quality that seeks to judge how well a video game is at being a video game (and which—unfortunately—can lead to distracting discussions about the definition of “video game”).
Here, at this formal level, when we start dissecting the meta elements of a game we risk descending into an endless spiral of cynical deconstruction. At this level, there are always a plethora of logical issues with gameplay and story because at this level you start deconstructing the abstract shortcuts that all storytelling requires. You start deconstructing your own suspension of disbelief, and no medium can survive that.
Joel and Ellie of the The Last of Us each experience some unusual character arcs despite the fact that neither of them change that much over the course of the game. Who they are at the end of the game is very similar to who they are at the beginning. They do a lot, a lot happens to them, and their attitudes toward each other change dramatically, but even the most significant events produce only minor changes in their defining characteristics and worldviews. This is not a bad thing. People don’t change easily, and the final conversation of the game is a great piece of writing because it shows two characters struggling with that fact.
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"Knee Deep's elaborate stage isn't meant to convey a sense of spatial reality, it's really just a mechanism for cool scene transitions. And boy are they cool.READ the article