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.

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 […]

A Hand With Many Fingers

Alright, this one – this one’s a pleasure. Released in 2020, A Hand With Many Fingers is a Cold War conspiracy thriller set entirely in an archive. It consists of you lugging boxes up and down the stairs and cross-referencing files using a card indexing system – which is super interesting, for a bunch of […]

Black The Fall: Communism in Romania

In 1962, Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published his first novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. The novel focused on life in the gulag, of which Solzhenitsyn had first-hand experience. When I first read Denisovich, I’d heard about Solzhenitsyn, and I knew a little about the horrors of the Soviet labour camps – […]

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