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The Playlist What to play now

Acclaimed electronic musician Moiré releases glitchy hellscape alongside album

The most experimental and daring (read: LIT) indie music artists have been flirting with videogames for a while now. Grimes headlined Moogfest with a Microsoft Kinect-powered interactive installation last year; the bassist from the noise-rock band Lighting Bolt, Brian Gibson, recently created the VR-favorite rhythm hell game Thumper; and Björk literally cannot even right now with how much she loves VR. Today, architect/electronic musician Moiré joined the digital revolution, forgoing the usual music video to instead release a browser glitch art game in conjunction with his newest album, No Future. Created with interactive experience designer Isaac Cohen (AKA Cabbibo), MONOLITH consists of large, glitchy, empty spaces populated by a smattering of human avatars,…


Creator from Alto’s Adventure releases trailer for new coming-of-age adventure

When you’re young, everything can feel like the end of the world. Your crush doesn’t like you back, or you didn’t get selected for the varsity soccer team, or mom embarrassed you in front of everyone at Career Day. The universe seems to collapse under you, the tenuous building blocks that made up your life snapping under their own weight. That’s the basic concept behind Where Cards Fall, a narrative-driven puzzle game by the makers of Alto’s Adventure and and an ex Giant Sparrow designer. The newest trailer sets the release for this fall on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, and PC. As a coming of age story, it explores…


Hidden Folks, released today, offers a delightfully handmade iOS experience

Hidden Folks, which Kill Screen‘s Kathryn Madden originally covered last year, can best be described as an interactive Where’s Waldo? overflowing with personality. With little to no focus on goals, points, or challenge, players simply explore intricate landscapes in search of specific “targets” (or “folks”)  hidden throughout each scene. So much of the digital toy’s charm derives from its handmade feel, with illustrator Sylvain Tegroeg’s heavily inked art style creating lively scenes that feel populated without seeming overly busy. Indeed, the unusual joy of Hidden Folks is just how human and authored it feels, especially when most games (particularly in the free-to-play saturated app marketplace) tend to come…


Study finds female players may not be into guns, but are still into killing

The Quantic Lab, a survey data-based social science research project investigating the psychology of gaming, recently published interesting findings on players and their motivations. A portion of their research explores difference across gender, diving deeper into stereotypical assumptions about female players. For example, some might point to Quantic Lab’s finding that, out of all the genres, women are least likely to play tactical shooters as proof that female player don’t like violent games. But another recent survey found that, upon further investigation, it’s safer to assume that women just find guns kinda boring and prefer to murder virtual people through other methods. According to the Lab’s blog, by…

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Issue 10

Issue 10 is out now!

Kill Screen Issue 10 has arrived! Inside you’ll find features on Vlambeer’s globetrotting Rami Ismail, gay sex game designer Robert Yang, and more, as well as a field guide to appreciating modern pixel art, a deep dive into the player-game relationship, and an extensive reevaluation of the much-maligned Wii Music. Also: the definitive ranking of videogame dogs, the legacy of Lisa Frank, and a look at Gaspar Noe’s cinema of excess.

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A VR short film has been nominated for an Academy Award

While last year the Emmy’s recognized the Oculus Story Studio short film Henry, this year another awards ceremony is taking notice of virtual reality—the Academy Awards. Pearl, a VR short from Google, has been nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards for Best Animated Short Film. Pearl, released in 2016, stands out among the 360-degree, mobile VR, and room-scale VR tales told by Google’s Spotlight Stories. The short is directed by Patrick Osborne, the same of the Oscar-winning short Feast, which screened before the Disney film Big Hero 6 in theaters. But Pearl is a different beast than Feast, because it plops the viewer directly…


Nothing like a 2-bit beach, 8-bit sounds, and real sand to get in your shoes

I’m not a beach person. I don’t like when sand gets in my shoes. And I don’t like wearing sandals to avoid that very problem either. I live in San Francisco, where the beaches are notoriously windy and cold, not sun-kissed and surf-ready. When I think of beaches, I often wish I were thinking of something else. But Virtua Walker ‘87, a virtual reality game borne from last weekend’s Global Game Jam, imagines a different kind of beach—one that I might even fancy walking along. The 2-bit color limited Virtua Walker ‘87 was developed by the Scotland-based Robin Sloan, Paul…

Chocolate - Still 3

Chrome-tinged cats come to life in this colorful VR music video

Most virtual reality music videos feel the same. They’re all impressive on a technical level, rotating 360-degrees so viewers can take in all their surroundings. Yet little of them inject the most integral feature: interactivity. That is, except for Tyler Hurd, an animator known for injecting life into those typically stagnant virtual reality music videos and making them colorful, fun, and most of all—somewhat playable like a game. At the Tribeca Film Festival last year, the animator unleashed “Old Friend,” a zany, psychedelic dance party where the player shimmied alongside a cartoonish conductor. In Hurd’s follow-up, a collaboration with Viacom NEXT, interactivity roots…


Explore Norse mythology in a captivating snow globe-bound puzzle game

From January 20th to the 22nd, the annual Global Game Jam blanketed the entire world as developers from every corner of every country quickly devised games. In total, 7217 games saw completion—which according to Global Game Jam, accounts to about 60 percent of Steam’s entire library. Some games were about knife-wielding crabs, others were calming vignettes, but every project found itself carefully crafted in accordance to a single theme: waves. In Australia-based developers Jennifer Scheurle, Gerard Delaney, and Emri Can Deniz’s entry, waves took shape in a familiar place: Norse mythology. The Serpent Cycle is a game of vignettes, taking place entirely within…


An old, controversial science-fiction film is being reimagined for VR

Who asked for this? We’ll probably never know. But anyways: the “cult classic” science fiction film The Lawnmower Man is coming to virtual reality. Beyond the VR world already in the film, to actual VR. The 1992 film is being resurrected by the VR distribution company Jaunt, according to an announcement made at the Sundance Film Festival. “The original movie was a film of unsurpassed imagination and creativity with its ground-breaking use of VR back in 1992,” said Jim Howell, a rights holder for the project, in a press release. So far no director, cast, or other information has been announced,…


Playdead teases new title with mysterious image

Earlier today, the Twitter account of Playdead, creator of Kill Screen’s #1 game of 2016, emerged from its slumber to drop something special on this day of days. Thanks for your warm reception of INSIDE. Since release, Playdead founder Arnt Jensen and the team have been working on the next adventure. — Playdead (@Playdead) January 20, 2017 And away we go! So short, so sweet. Let the speculation commence. Although one fan has already named it: @Playdead "Outside" — Devon Wiersma (@Devon_Wiersma) January 20, 2017 We’ll reach out to Playdead for more info.


Rubi’s Room tests what it’s like to solve a life-sized Rubik’s Cube in VR

Rubi’s Room wasn’t always in virtual reality, but gazing at its perfectly dizzying human Rubik’s Cube antics, it wouldn’t be surprising to think it was. The game was borne during the latest Ludum Dare game jam, but in a much simpler 2D state. But for Germany-based developer David Hagemann, the idea of reworking the project for VR was on his mind all along. “The immersion and the natural interaction [of VR] are the most compelling factors for me, it is not comparable to what you’re used to with playing games the regular way,” wrote Hagemann over email. “This brings a…

diesel power

Diesel Power drives back to the golden age of arcade racers

We’ve seen so many games in virtual reality: shooters, simulators, hotdog crossbow slingers, among dozens more. Though one genre, at least for the most part, has been notably absent from the technology that boasts ‘immersion’ and ‘innovation’: the arcade game. Whether they’re the ones people would lose quarters on continues over at a local pizzeria cabinet, or the modern variety—like the retry-prone Trials or even Turbomania. Yet developer MimiMe is trying to change that, by bringing an arcade racer to VR. Diesel Power is a neon-hued ode to the F-Zero-esque arcade racers of yesteryear. Its description bids that the game…


In Fractal, art is a weapon

Art is a weapon. A weapon against the patriarchy, against the status quo, against hate, against The Man. But in Fractal, a new virtual reality game from Phosphene Designs, art is a different kind of weapon: it’s a literal one. In Fractal, the player wields a paintbrush as their instrument of choice in VR—a brush that’s akin to the popular art and sculpting tools of late. “The concept of Fractal actually came from Tilt Brush, funny you should mention that,” wrote Bo Scott Pu, 3D artist, animator, and self-proclaimed “decider-of-what-to-eat-for-lunch-everyday” at Phosphene Designs over email. The brush itself, Pu tells me, is…