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.
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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.
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.
There have been a lot of people writing about the violence in Bioshock Infinite. Some say there’s too much of it and thst it detracts from the story. Others say its fine and that it adds to the game’s themes. I’m inclined to agree and disagree with both sides.
Yes, the level of violence is extreme at times, and yes, that violence is important to understanding the themes and characters, but I also don’t think that there’s enough extreme violence to properly express the themes that the game is trying to present. Bioshock Infinite should be more violent, or at the very least, its violence should be treated with more gravitas. Either way, there shouldn’t be less violence, but there should be less combat.
Tomb Raider is ostensibly an action game, but it’s filled with an unusual amount of very specific horror imagery for an action game. It’s smart about how and when it uses these visual cues, and it’s clear that the developers understand how this kind of imagery affects us as gamers and people and even what such imagery represents within the greater context of the horror genre.
// Notes from the Road
"Philip Glass, the artistic director of the Tibet House benefits, celebrated his 80th birthday at this year's annual benefit with performances from Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Brittany Howard, Sufjan Stevens and more.READ the article