Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Friday, Nov 14, 2014
No one really likes being scared. The fun of being scared never comes from the actual act of being scared. This pleasure comes afterwards when we can look back and laugh.

A few weeks ago, Scott Juster asked why it’s so hard to find fear in video games. It’s a question that immediately struck me as odd because I’ve never had a problem finding fear in video games, but while reading his post, it became clear why our experiences with horror have been so different. The post also highlights one of the most difficult paradoxes facing the horror genre and gaming especially: the problem of audience participation.

Bookmark and Share
Friday, Nov 7, 2014
Shadow of Mordor has created an emergent gameplay system that allows the game to explore a single theme in depth, the nature of revenge.

I just got the Brand ability, which allows me to take over the mind of an orc and have it fight for me. I can do this easily mid-combat, so I can very quickly turn a horde of enemies against itself, then stand back and watch the battle. I also got the Shadow Kill ability, which allows me to teleport to any orc and instantly kill it. Or I can use my flaming arrows or my “infinite executions.” These are all late-game abilities in Shadow of Mordor that make it easy to slaughter countless orcs. The horde that once frightened me, that I once ran from on a regular basis because it was too much to handle, is now my playground of death and decapitations, made even more fun by the fact that reinforcements just keep showing up, so my genocide never has to end.

Bookmark and Share
Friday, Oct 31, 2014
The Last Door is Lovecraftian in every way that a story can be. It captures the mood, the intellectual curiosity, and the slow burn escalation of dread that typifies the best of Lovecraft.

Usually, when someone uses the term “Lovecraftian” to describe a work of horror, it’s meant to describe the antagonistic presence that drives the story. It’s shorthand for “ancient unknown evil.” But there’s more to Lovecraft than Cthullu, and The Last Door, a point-and-click adventure game by Spanish developer The Game Kitchen, is Lovecraftian in every way that a story can be. It captures the mood, the intellectual curiosity, and the slow burn escalation of dread that typifies the best of Lovecraft.

Tagged as: the last door
Bookmark and Share
Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Eversion's most unsettling moments are when it changes its rules and mechanics without telling you.

“I promise this isn’t a troll entry. But saying anything about this game borders on spoiling the experience. There is a free version available to try.”

That’s the review of Eversion by the Steam group “Rely on Horror” that intrigued me enough to buy and play the game. It’s an accurate review. You should play Eversion before reading further. It’s available via Steam for $5.00, or you can download it for free from the Zaratustra Productions website. It’s only 20 minutes long at most.

Bookmark and Share
Friday, Oct 17, 2014
Combine an already confusing maze of level design with the shifting planes and shifting angles of the game world, and Claire feels like it's purposefully trying to confuse you. Because it is.

Claire looks a lot like Lone Survivor. The aesthetic similarities (a 3D world presented as a series of 2D, side-scrolling screens with detailed yet vague pixel art) are enough for one to immediately start comparing the two, but this would be a mistake. Claire is a very different game, and going into it expecting a gender-swapped Lone Survivor is bound to leave one confused and frustrated. Whereas Lone Survivor was very much about the survival aspect of survival-horror, including a crafting system that had you cooking food and keeping pets, Claire is primarily interested in storytelling over survival. Though even in that regard, Claire is a more abstract and metaphorical game than the already heavily symbolic Lone Survivor.

Now on PopMatters
PM Picks

© 1999-2015 All rights reserved.™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.