Video Game Genres – Story

Most games have a story, but some games are better defined as stories rather than anything else. They’re visual novels, character pieces, texts focused on vignettes and dialogue. They’re the best.

Sunless Sea: Knowledge and Memory

2009’s Echo Bazaar was where I first fell in love with video games. It’s a text-based RPG that you play in your browser – I think now it’s titled Fallen London. The game is set in an underground London (underground because it was stolen by bats); the whole thing is drenched in Victorian Gothic, in […]

Lake: On Change and Loss

Holidays, huh. A time to rest and relax, and play a bunch of video games. It’s nice to get away from the office, have a bit of time switched off from it all. I’ve started playing Lake, actually – a 2021 game about delivering the mail in a small rural town. It opens with main […]

Plague Tale Innocence: On Fire

The villain song in the 1996 Hunchback of Notre Dame uses the motif of fire as a connective tissue for Frollo’s developing train of thought. Titled ‘Hellfire‘, the song starts with a reference to Esmerelda’s “smoldering eyes,” which “scorch” Frollo’s soul. The chorus connects the flame of desire with the fires of hell: “Like fire, […]

Coteries of New York: On Choice

We’re pretty familiar by now with the idea of a text-based adventure with branching narrative paths. We know what that is, we know how it works – all the shocking newness of this narrative form has faded into a comfortable familiarity. And that familiarity allows us to pick up on nuance that we might not […]

Eastshade: When NPCs Read

There’s a fairly famous quest near the start of The Witcher 3 where a dwarvish blacksmith has had his forge burned down. You can track down the vandal and turn him over to the authorities, and if you do, he’s immediately executed. He’s hung from a nearby tree. It’s a grim quest that tells you […]

Eastshade: On Inspiration

Inspiration originally was one of those religious words – people don’t often know this, but it stems from the Latin spiro, meaning ‘to breathe’. That’s where we get similar words like ‘respiratory’, as in the respiratory system, and ‘spirit’. Our common words for breath and the soul derive from the same source – and historically, […]

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