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The All Too Prescient Assassin in 'Assassin's Creed: Syndicate'

The world has reached a point where clichéd cartoon depictions of authoritarianism feel like pointed political commentary. When you're living a cliché, those clichés seem less cliché. It’s fucking weird.

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The Bubblegum Noir of 'Read Only Memories'


'999' Evokes the Fun and Menace of a Compelling Conspiracy

It’s a bit easier to understand the flat-earthers and moon-hoaxers after experiencing the madness of 999.


'Resident Evil 7: Biohazard' -- You Like to Watch

In our role of the spooked cameraman, there’s just enough light to highlight our confinement -- but not enough to highlight the dangers.


The Grindhouse Violence of 'Resident Evil 7'

Resident Evil 7 portrays an extreme gap between our capability to handle violence, and the violence that we experience.


We Kill Ourselves with Stories in 'Verde Station'

Verde Station examines how we construct stories, and how those stories then shape our view of the world.


Players Lose Control in ‘Tales from the Borderlands’

This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.


In 'Reigns' It's Only When Our King Dies That We Realize the Full Horror of Our Rule

Reigns uses our gameplay actions to surreptitiously tell tragedies and comedies and all manner of stories that embed us so deeply in the forest that we can only see the trees.


The Medium Supports the Message in 'A Normal Lost Phone'

The game has a specific message it wants to impart, and the medium of a fake smart phone is used in clever ways to support that message.


'Steep' Loves Its Mountains

SSX wanted you to fight its mountains, Steep wants you to love its mountains.


'The Last Guardian' Questions Its Fairy Tale Morality

The Last Guardian shows us the value in questioning our assumptions.


'Sorcery! 2' Encourages Some Narrative Responsibility

In Sorcery! 2 consequences matter. Not in a major way, but just enough to focus your play, which is both good and bad.


'Sorcery!' Frees You from Narrative Responsibility

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is a branching narrative in which the branches are more important than the tree.


'Fire Emblem Heroes' Is a Bad Crossover

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.


Trickle Down Corruption in 'This Is the Police'

In a world of hitmen, snitches, mobsters, murderers, terrorists, rapists, rioters, bombers, thieves, and serial killers, your greatest enemy is your boss.


The Dead Haunt Me in 'Dishonored 2'

Not killing one person doesn't make up for killing another. Life and death don't balance out that easily.


'Infinite Warfare' Had the Best FPS Campaign of 2016

The best shooter campaign came from the game I had the lowest expectations for, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.


The Joy of Missing Out in 'Dishonored 2'

Dishonored 2 wants us to know it’s OK to miss out on things.


We're All Animals in 'Far Cry: Primal'

Primal gives the Far Cry series the thematic link it has always been missing.


The Delicate and Dangerous AI of ‘Event[0]’

Event[0] exposes artificial life as more delicate than our tropes and clichés have led us to believe.


Neat Games I Never Got Around to Writing About: 2016

A short list of the games I’ve shortchanged in 2016.


Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.


'Cube Escape' Is Free, Frustrating, and Weirdly Compelling

The Cube Escape games are awful puzzle games, but they're an addicting descent into madness.


'A Machine for Pigs' and the Failure of Psychological Horror

When a game removes a physical danger, its psychological danger has to be even more effective than before. If not, all horror is lost.


'The Dark Descent' and the Limits of Psychological Horror

Amnesia: The Dark Descent experiments with the limits of psychological horror, but it can't find a way around them.


Indie Horror Month 2016: Executing 'The Deed'

It's just so easy to kill someone in a video game that it's surprising when a game makes murder difficult.


Indie Horror Month 2016: Diving into 'Reveal the Deep'

In Reveal the Deep, the light only makes you more aware of the darkness


In Defense of the Infinite Universe in 'No Man's Sky'

The common cries of disappointment that surround No Man’s Sky stem from the exciting idea of an infinite universe clashing with the harsh reality of an infinite universe.


Action Games Should Go a Little Easy on Us

The best action games go above and beyond their mechanics.


The Vast Indifference of 'No Man's Sky'

No Man's Sky only feels lonely because the universe doesn't revolve around us.


Heroism Is No Excuse for Ignorance 'J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars'

J.U.L.I.A. Among the Stars expects its protagonist to act like an adult.


The Specter of Multiplayer Hangs Over 'Door Kickers'

Door Kickers is not a multiplayer game, but for a while there, I couldn’t tell the difference.


'DarkMaus' Creates a Community of One

DarkMaus mimics the feel of an online community while being an entirely offline game.


What 'Pokemon Go' and 'Skyrim' Have in Common

PokeStops encourage us to look up and notice the little design details around us that we’d praise in a virtual world, but that we often take for granted in the real world.

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