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

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Friday, Nov 8, 2013
Payday 2 does everything it can to make stealth unintuitive and unattractive.

Payday 2 is a first-person shooter cooperative heist game. You and three other crooks break into banks or malls, steal money or jewelry, and then shoot through waves of cops to your escape vehicle. But that latter part is not a given. You can actually do most robberies without setting off an alarm or even firing a bullet. The mere existence of the possibility of a silent robbery is important because it gives us something to strive for other than mowing down an entire city’s police force. As a possible goal, it encourages us to delay shooting for as long as possible, but in practice, the game is completely uninterested in this alternative. Payday 2 feigns interest at first merely by acknowledging that, yes, stealth is possible, but then it does everything it can to trick new players into shooting first and asking questions later. The unfortunate truth is that Payday2 doesn’t actually want you to be stealthy.

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Friday, Nov 1, 2013
The catachresis is a natural tool for horror since that kind of overwrought paradoxical language is often used when trying to describe something indescribable.

It may be November. but it’s still the week of Halloween. So, Indie Horror Month will end today with the funniest and most nihilistic game so far.

Catachresis, a free browser-based game by Cameron Kunzelman, is a lot like Cabin in the Woods. Both are rather funny takes on Lovecraftian horror that eventually reveal themselves to be smart deconstructions of the genre itself. The only difference is that while Cabin in the Woods took on the entirety of the horror genre, Catachresis is mainly interested in examining a single concept: the catachresis.

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Friday, Oct 25, 2013
Homesick achieves something universal because it forces you to experience the inherent terror and tragedy of even the most clichéd of horror clichés. Sometimes you’re the Final Girl, and sometimes you’re just another victim.

Homesick is a superb bit of a home-invasion horror by Chloe Sagal.

Right off the bat, on the main menu, the game hits you with a creepy, sparse piano melody reminiscent of Halloween. It plays very much like Slender in that you have to explore a dark environment looking for random objects while being hunted by an antagonist that can appear at any second. You have no means of fighting back. All you can do is run.

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Friday, Oct 18, 2013
Fibrillation is the stuff of dreams and nightmares.

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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Friday, Oct 11, 2013
You will never know the metrolith.

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.

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