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by Nick Dinicola

8 Mar 2013

This post completely spoils the twist ending of Little Inferno.

Little Inferno is a wonderfully uplifting game. Ostensibly, it’s about burning all manner of items in a virtual fireplace, but over the course of a couple hours, the game peels back its own layers to reveal a surprisingly thoughtful narrative. Little Inferno is a game about moving on—that much is unmistakable—but it’s vague on what you’re moving on from and where you’re moving on to. With its colorful cast of characters, its recurring dialogue, and its early-Tim Burton art style, it has that kind of surreal atmosphere that just begs for reinterpretation and turns the game into a kind of Rorschach test. It’s interesting how many different interpretations there are of this game. Christopher Franklin from Errant Signal sees it as a compassionate criticism of casual games (as in, it doesn’t demonize those kinds of games or those who make them). Mike Rougeau from Kotaku sees it as a pre-apocalypse fable. Others in the comments for both articles see it as a metaphor for global warming. I see the Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace as a rather direct metaphor for childhood: A place where we can play, seemingly forever, but that has to end sometime.

by Nick Dinicola

1 Mar 2013

Dead Space has always been interested in machines. This makes sense considering the game’s central hero is an engineer. His main weapon is a mining tool, he acquires a stasis module by jury rigging a surgery machine, and he spends most of his time in every game fixing things. This interest permeates everything in Dead Space 3, from the core of its spectacle all the way down to how its doors work.

by Nick Dinicola

22 Feb 2013

Both Halo and Assassin’s Creed have stories that extend outside the games, and both Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed 3 try to bring some of that outside fiction into the games. In doing so, they both run into problems with narrative structure. It’s hard to transition a story from a book/comic to a video game while still making the game a standalone product. The game is forced to serve two masters. It has to be an effective independent story and an effective sequel. Essentially, the writers are writing two stories that have to parallel each other so closely that they feel like one. Neither Halo 4 or Assassin’s Creed 3 succeed all the way at doing this, but one succeeds more than the other.

by Nick Dinicola

15 Feb 2013

Good characters can enliven even the worst of stories, and the one thing better than watching good characters is watching good characters interact with each other. One of the best things about any BioWare game is the emergent conversations between characters. But that kind of adaptable incidental dialogue seems (to me, at least) solely the domain of the RPG, a genre that’s partly defined by your acquisition of a rotating roster of characters. The action game, on the other hand, seems defined by its linearity—all the way down to your party members. Binary Domain switches things up ever-so-slightly by applying the idea of squad choice to a very traditional cover-based third person shooter and the result is something of a revelation: a linear action game that feels significantly affected by my decisions.

by Nick Dinicola

8 Feb 2013

All games are simulations. They use the cold, pure logic of mechanical systems to create warm emotional connections. It’s all a wonderful kind of manipulation, and when it works, it feels like magic. Journey is a great example of this kind of game, one that works its magic on the player whether we want it or not by reinforcing a certain thought process over and over again until the player unwittingly agrees to go along with it.

When I started Journey I didn’t want a cooperative experience: I actively avoided other people, I got angry at the mere sight of them, I didn’t want them solving my puzzles or showing me the way, yet by the end of the game I found myself chirping frantically for my lost companion, hoping he’d return.

//Mixed media

The Bubblegum Noir of ‘2064: Read Only Memories’

// Moving Pixels

"Read Only Memories is a bubblegum-happy, brooding and brutal noir about kidnapping, murder, corruption, revenge, and corporate conspiracies.

READ the article