• Baby Steps: A Reivew of Among The Sleep

    I know that I can really get into horror games, so after my first playthrough I was curious to try out Among the Sleep on some friends. I had ‘em ...

  • Deep Breathing: A Review of 1001 Spikes

    There’s something immensely comforting about 8bit Fanatics’ 1001 Spikes. For all its seemingly arbitrary ‘masocore’ trappings – a genre built on broken controllers and unvarnished obscenities, popularized by stuff like Super ...

  • indiE3 To Highlight Indies Around E3

    Every year the death knell of the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (more commonly known as E3) sounds louder and louder, seemingly proportional to the focus on independent games outside of the ...

RPG Club Plays Golden Sun: Week 1

Reflecting on the road ahead.

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This month, the RPG Club takes a look back to the turn of the century when a small game on a little handheld made a big splash. Mike shares his reservations about revisiting his first RPG love while I vow to make this encounter with Golden Sun a more fruitful one. (more…)

Got In My Head And Shook It Like A Rattle

Baby Steps: A Reivew of Among The Sleep

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I know that I can really get into horror games, so after my first playthrough I was curious to try out Among the Sleep on some friends. I had ‘em over, we set up the projector, and we waited until it was dark. The game doesn’t have enough content to justify a second solo playthrough, but with a room of friends it’s great to watch their reactions, hear their theories, and piece together what those chalk scribbles on the wall can actually mean.

Having played through again and watched my friends play and enjoy the game, I am now confident in saying that it isn’t just me; this is a good game with an interesting premise.

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Sometimes Less Is More

Unnecessary Mountain: A Review of Battle Princess of Arcadias

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Sometimes less is more.

It’s an adage that can be applied to pretty much any creative pursuit, be it writing, cooking, or fashion. Videogames have begrudgingly acknowledged its importance due to technical limitations – the diminutive storage space of old school cartridges and other physical media a silicone vice on their lofty ambitions.

Then came the modern era, and with it games like Grand Theft Auto III and Morrowind, titles that both blew previously held expectations about size and scale out of the water. You see that mountain? You can not only go there, but you can build a summer house there!

Battle Princess of Arcadias got lost on the way up that mountain, trapped in a quagmire of seemingly arbitrary game modes and needlessly complex systems that do little to improve the otherwise solid experience.

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RPG Club Plays Bastion: Week 4

the quiet after the storm

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After going AWOL for a week and a half, the RPG Club is back with some concluding thoughts to offer as we salute Supergiant Games’ first masterpiece and reflect on some of the things that make it so wonderful despite any of its individual flaws. (more…)

Nothing To Lose And Everything To Gain

Deep Breathing: A Review of 1001 Spikes

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There’s something immensely comforting about 8bit Fanatics’ 1001 Spikes.

For all its seemingly arbitrary ‘masocore’ trappings – a genre built on broken controllers and unvarnished obscenities, popularized by stuff like Super Meat Boy and deepcut I Want To Be The Guy – it’s actually an impossibly fair game. Everything works according to a set a very simple rules, rules that are communicated not through blocky white text or cute little mice, but instead through blood, sweat and tears.

Sure, the first time you clear that series of vanishing Heat Man-esque platforms only to land on a spike trap that you couldn’t have predicted, you might want to snap your controller in half like a very expensive Kit-Kat bar. But that’s the beauty of it – next time you’ll remember what those fucking asshole designer dickbags (you might shout if you’re me) have in store for you.

You’ll land, hear that tell-tale click, and leap out of danger…into another spike trap. But that trap? One square closer to the exit. You’re making progress.

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On The Eve Of Replaying Persona 4

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I love Persona 4 like Nicolas Cage loves Pachinko. And I might love Persona 3 more. These two games were the most revolutionary Japanese role playing games to come out of Japan in the last decade; I’m the kind of person who could debate Persona 3 or Persona 4 for hours.

(There is no right answer to that question, by the way. Persona 4 is the better game, but Persona 3 hits you right in the proverbial feels.)

I’ve beaten both of them just once, though I’ve watched people go through both of them with absolute giddiness. There’s reasons I’ve only played them once. For one, they are intensely lengthy affairs: my first playthroughs were ninety hours each, and I’m not the type to stop and smell the roses. With Persona 3, there’s another obstacle: that game is so emotionally exhausting for me that just listening to “Memories of You” from the soundtrack destroys me. Just typing that sent a wave of something through me*.

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RPG Club Plays Bastion: Week 2

Finding solace in a world destroyed.

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Tom Auxier

Having played Transistor so recently, it’s no surprise my thoughts about it were affected by Bastion. Namely: Transistor fails at the thing that Bastion did the best, which was provide the player agency while not removing any from the character. (more…)

It's the system that's broken

Actual Marxism

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“In the midst of winter I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

Actual Sunlight‘s insight into power structures and human nature has mostly gone unrecognized. While the critical focus on the game’s portrayal of depression is warranted, developer Will O’Neill’s story goes beyond the mental illness of protagonist Evan Winter. As suggested by Reid McCarter and Patrick Lindsey, Actual Sunlight has a substantial Marxist reading. This reading compels me to reject the common label of “interactive fiction,” a term that says nothing about the power structure that Actual Sunlight opposes from a standpoint of philosophy and genre. Most importantly, a Marxist reading suggests that O’Neill did not necessarily intend for the game to end in the protagonist’s suicide. (more…)

That crazy Notch!

Notch Releases Follow-Up To Minecraft

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Markus Persson, better known to the world as Notch, the creator of Minecraft, has released his long-awaited follow-up to the bazillion-selling mega hit.

While he has released several browser-based games and a few teaser images of a game called 0X10c, newly-released Cliffhorse has already net the developer 280 000 Dogecoin, making it his first commercial project since the success of Minecraft.

So giddyup on over to the game’s site and get in on the action. Believe it or not, it seems the Dogecoin patronage is not required; the download link is clearly visible, making the game free for all!

 

Explore The Experimental This E3!

indiE3 To Highlight Indies Around E3

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Every year the death knell of the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (more commonly known as E3) sounds louder and louder, seemingly proportional to the focus on independent games outside of the traditional spotlights. The last few years have seen some attempts to focus on this smaller, increasingly prolific community of indie developers, such as HORIZON, which last year highlighted games like Hohokum, Kachina, Tearaway, and Broken Age.

It’s happening again concurrent with the 2014 E3 conference (though it hasn’t been nearly as publicized as last year), but another more grassroots affair is taking shape that could potentially feature hundreds of games and game makers: indiE3.

Organized by TJ Thomas, the event will be conducted online, and according to the indiE3 tumblr will feature the following: “…we’ll have various live panels (we’ve received support from Indie Haven and The Spawn Point), ranging from indie game coverage, design manifestos, to round-table discussions and lightning talks submitted to indiE3 and seen live only at hitbox.tv.”

Also featured will be announcements, trailers, and interviews with developers.

Now, this gathering was conceived on June 5th, literally just days away from E3 proper, so set your expectations accordingly. There is little to no curation, the schedule will be haphazard at best, and the talks will likely be fifteen kinds of awkward at a webcam (expect lots of “ums”). BUT… it’s an idea that shows extraordinary potential, and many people from all walks of life–who are key to support in this burgeoning scene–will potentially have an audience they ordinarily wouldn’t. And, we’re sure to see some games that will truly show the ingenuity of the community.

Dates are tentatively set for most of the happenings, and don’t worry–there will be a game jam (because you can’t fart anymore without knocking one of those over). Since the project’s inception there have already been dozens of contributions announced, so make sure to check in on the indE3 page for all the details, including details on how you could contribute.