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by Nick Dinicola

24 May 2013


The Assassins from Assassin's Creed III's multiplayer mode.

I think there’s a right way to play a game, a way of approaching the game that the developers intended for and designed around. Unfortunately, the word “right” carries certain connotations of value that I don’t think are appropriate when talking about games. If you want to play a game other than how the developer intended, you’re not wrong for doing so. You can play however you like, but you also have to admit that some games don’t cater to some play styles. 

Sadly, it seems to be getting harder and harder to play some games the “right way,” especially when the “right way” involves other people. What if none of my friends have the game or want to play it? Thankfully, a game like Left 4 Dead advertises its emphasis on cooperative play, so if I suspect I won’t get the best experience because no one else I know will be playing it, I just won’t buy that game. But it’s getting harder and harder to tell, ahead of time, whether I’m going to get the best experience out of a game or not. It’s trendy to integrate social features into ostensibly single-player games, which is fine in theory, but it becomes a problem when single-player games suddenly include so many social features that it ceases to be a solo experience.

by Nick Dinicola

17 May 2013


There’s an old Ikea commercial about a woman getting a new lamp. She gets rid of the old lamp, placing it out on the sidewalk with the garbage in the rain, and from outside, we watch through a window as the woman turns on her new lamp and sad music swells. Then a guy steps into frame and says, “Many of you feel bad for this lamp. That is because you crazy. It has no feelings, and the new one is much better.”

It’s a funny commercial that makes us consider the emotional efficacy of the tools of cinema: shot placement, setting, lighting, music, etc. When these tools are used correctly, we can be manipulated into feeling sad for an inanimate lamp.

Games have their own unique tools of storytelling, and Thomas Was Alone uses all those tools to a similar effect as it crafts a shockingly moving story about a bunch of rectangles.

by Nick Dinicola

10 May 2013


Dead Island is a game I appreciate all the more in retrospect, now that I’ve played its lesser sequel. While it dragged on in its latter half, its first half contains an interesting subtext concerning class warfare that’s only apparent now after playing the subtext-fee Riptide. The first game also subverts the typical zombie origin story as well and again does so in a way that’s only apparent after playing Riptide, which falls back on clichés.

by Nick Dinicola

3 May 2013


I’ve come to believe that when it comes to gaming, “difficulty” comes in two forms. The difficulty can stem from the design of a level or from the opponents that we face within that level. Personally, I much prefer to play a game where the difficulty stems from the design of the level as opposed to the enemies that occupy it. It has to do with a perceived sense of fairness. The level doesn’t change. Therefore, any failure would naturally be my fault, but in a game in which the difficulty stems from the enemies themselves, my failure can come from any number of random elements inherent in combat. One form of difficulty is predictable, the other is not.

Guacamelee encapsulates this dichotomy. It’s a 2D Metroidvania game that evokes both types of difficulty and the stark contrast between them.

by Nick Dinicola

26 Apr 2013


This post contains spoilers for Bioshock Infinite.

Bioshock Infinite is a game about a lot of things: Racism, sexism, nationalism, religion, and how all those things interact and influence each other. But in actuality, all those –isms are just window dressing to help establish the setting. Bioshock Infinite isn’t about Columbia the same way that Bioshock is about Rapture. Infinite is really a character-driven story about Booker Dewitt and Elizabeth. It’s about how guilt and forgiveness can influence our lives and change who we are. Unfortunately, the game spends more time telling the story of Columbia than the story of Booker and Elizabeth, even though the latter is clearly what this game is actually about. The characters, or rather Booker specifically, gets the narrative short shrift compared to the city, and as a result, the game’s final moments suffer.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Fire Emblem Heroes' Is a Bad Crossover

// Moving Pixels

"Fire Emblem Heroes desperately and shamelessly wants to monetize our love for these characters, yet it has no idea why we came to love them in the first place.

READ the article