Video Game Genres – Puzzle

From the side-scrolling small child running through the dark (INSIDE, Monochroma, Black the Fall) to first-person games about shifting blocks and pushing buttons (Portal, QUBE, The Talos Principle). I’ve also put the Hitman games here, and I do not feel bad about it.

Dorfromantik: On City Builders

I feel like a lot of my opinions about games are built around the fact that I don’t like SimCity. I don’t enjoy the flat, affectless terrain; I don’t like being given a field and being told to go build something. I feel similarly about Cities: Skylines – all those sandbox creation games, really. I […]

Call of the Sea: On Lovecraft

H. P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a story about the horrors of interracial breeding. It’s about some people in a small town in America who start breeding with fish-people and end up worshipping the Old Ones, as so often happens. The whole thing is clearly a metaphor for Lovecraft’s disgust at interracial relationships […]

White Night: Can a Game be Noir?

There’s a common trope in mysteries or detective stories where the investigator stops for a drink. It serves as a lull in the case, a quiet moment – it creates some contrast in the tone, and allows us to watch the investigator reflect, without the distractions of new information or testimony. It’s often private and […]

The Signifier: On Sex and Realism

So I’m playing Per Aspera at the moment – it’s a 2020 base-building simulator where you’re an AI terraforming Mars. It’s a pretty long-form game – I’ve been playing about fifteen hours, and I’m just starting to introduce plants and lichen and so on. I could’ve been quicker, of course – there’s a time slider […]

Carto: Maps and Reality

In Borges’ one-paragraph story ‘The Exactitude of Science’, a nation develops increasingly complex and detailed maps, eventually mapping their entire empire on a perfect one-to-one scale. This final map records every detail perfectly, but it’s also – you know, one-to-one scale – so it’s a map of the empire that’s the size of the empire. […]

Superliminal: How To Shift Moods

Superliminal is a 2019 surreal puzzle game from Pillow Castle. Following in the footsteps of Demruth’s 2013 Antichamber, it features puzzles based around forced-perspective. The story’s got kind of a Portal thing going, too – you’re a dreamer who’s accidentally stumbled into a sleep therapy dream, and nobody totally knows where you are or how […]

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