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New videogame thriller takes its cues from The Twilight Zone

“You had a good life. But things changed,” explains the narrator of Asemblance as you begin your descent into a world of reconstructed memories. The machine asks how much of your past life you remember, then: “Are you sure you want to remember?” Last year, Niles Sankey founded Nilo Studios out of a desire to tell new kinds of stories within videogames. An ex-Bungie employee who lent his creative vision to Halo: Reach (2010) and conceptualized the E3 2013 Destiny reveal, Sankey saw untapped potential in the anthology format of storytelling. Asemblance is the first episode in a new, ongoing series of experiences that takes its…


Play a dating sim about hooking up with erotic architecture

It’s very likely that I fucked a building last night. Now, hold up, I don’t know if I did. We hooked up and then I’m not sure what happened. Unfortunately, the erotic architecture dating sim Tectr doesn’t go beyond depicting your conversation with hot local masonry on a Tinder-style app, and into the awkward realm of human-building coitus. That is an idea for a sequel, though… What this means is I told a horny panopticon that I would push my naked body against a dirty suburb window so it could watch, it then accepted, and I opened “Maps” to find the…

limp body beat

Limp Body Beat makes a musical instrument out of weird fleshy men

Playing artists Sam Rolfe’s and Lars Berg’s “fleshy music game” Limp Body Beat will probably be the closest I’ll ever get to attending one of those Body World exhibits. I hate the physical look of muscles. I cringe at the sight of gore that includes flesh-slicing. I’m not into it. Flesh and anything flesh-related is not my thing. Yet, Rolfe and Berg’s browser-based rhythmic experiment for Adult Swim Games, featuring the horrifying sight of ungodly corpuscular beings, is somehow entrancing. absurd head sizes and lumpish body shapes While the ever-travelling Body Worlds exhibition is an anatomical exploration of preserved bodies, Limp…

Tesla Model S

In-app purchases are coming for your car

Who among us hasn’t looked at a car and thought, “What if this complicated mechanical device operated a little bit more like the bestselling game, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (2014)?” A version of this thought may have passed through the minds of Elon Musk and the people of Tesla, who announced on Thursday that their Model S would be able to unlock five additional kilowatt-hours from its standard battery pack for $3,000. It’s like in-game purchases, but the game is your car. This is not really a story about videogames getting there first. As with Ray J songs, that sort of parochialism is…

Recent News

Issue 8: Virtual Reality

Check out the most recent issue of Kill Screen’s print magazine!

Virtual Reality wasn’t a new idea when Palmer Luckey emerged from his garage with the Oculus Rift. In our newest print issue, we chose to take the long view and look at where VR came from and where it’s going: from battery-powered Victorian era gloves, to the films of David Cronenberg, to the impending backlash from parents and lawmakers, and beyond.

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You can visit an historically accurate 1920s Berlin in Second Life

In 2007, Jo Yardely visited Second Life (2003) for the first time. She looked around, took in the view, and left immediately. “[Second Life] was a place where weird people spent all their time chatting about uninteresting things,” she said on her blog, “pretending they were having virtual hanky panky or spending real money on virtual rubbish.” You risked being griefed. Most of the simulations looked “horrendous.” Everyone’s fashion sense was terrible. Nine years later, Yardley runs one of the most successful historical simulations in Second Life. Her version of 1920s Berlin has over 100 tenants and regularly hosts events that…


Koi brings the tranquility of a Chinese lotus pond to your PS4

Chinese studio Dotoyou recently released its game Koi on the PlayStation 4, making it the first game from its native country to be released on the PlayStation 4 in the West. Koi stars a koi fish facing dangers beneath the surface of its resident lotus pond, such as predator fish and spiked barriers. By causing flowers to bloom, the titular koi can “purify” the pond, turning the predators into friends and cleaning the waters. DAQ, Dotoyou’s lead designer, told me the idea for the game originally came from the team’s love of animals and their respect for their environment. “We combined…


Deal With It bot lets you put a pair of virtual shades on anyone

Is there anything cooler than sunglasses? Yes. Leather jackets. That one sword move from Shinobi. Anything but vaping. But sunglasses are still pretty high up there. Inspired by the meme of the same name, the Deal With It bot is a simple web application that takes any photo of one or more faces and animates a pair of sunglasses coming from top of frame to cover their eyes, followed by text that says “DEAL WITH IT.” It works with both solo and group shots, but is unfortunately limited to pictures of real, human people, meaning that cartoon characters like Kermit…

Hatsune Miku

Looking back at the Met Gala’s evening of technology-age fashion

Fashion, like everything else in the age of technology, is about fear—fear of what is coming next; fear of looking silly in the long run; fear of trying something new. How else to explain the often-underwhelming interpretations of “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” theme for last night’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Technology is complicated, and a little scary. To be fair, dodging the theme is a Met Gala tradition. Like a Top Chef contestant who can turn any prompt into a crudo, designers will always find ways to subvert the event’s…

Great Cascade

Great Cascade addresses the problems plaguing open-world games

Open-world games nearly always have choices—where to go, what to do, what side of the law to fall on. In one of Bethesda’s sprawling ones, like Fallout 4 (2015), you practically have the freedom to do whatever you want, by which you quickly learn means that you can kill whoever you want. In the highly-scripted, morality-questioning Red Dead Redemption (2010), while you can ride horseback across dusty horizons, some of its missions hurriedly devolve from this into frustrating plights of killing decent people. This is the open-world taint. Hence, game maker Brett Johnson, of the one-man Seattle-based game development studio Seamount Games, seeks to…


Surreal Google Earth images break the illusion of digital mapping

Postcards from Google Earth, a project by Brooklyn-based artist, Clement Valla, which started in 2010, is a collection of warped Google Earth screenshots. As eerie and uncanny as they appear it can be easy to dismiss the images as nothing more than odd screenshots, but by touching on these visual mishaps, Valla wants to pull back the curtain on Google’s processes for us to consider. With the photorealism of Google Earth its easy to take its visual representations as accurate. Postcards from Google Earth is a reminder that all representations are approximates, no matter how convincing they may seem. It is…

The Mind's Eclipse

A grungy machine-age videogame prioritizes storytelling over difficulty

In The Mind’s Eclipse, players will take on the role of Jonathan Campbell, a scientist who wakes up to find that he’s seemingly the only person left alive in the ruins of a fallen utopia known as the CORE. His only companion is an AI known as L, who is just as mysterious as her single-lettered name suggests. Jonathan must rely on her as he explores the world he finds himself in, in an attempt to find his loved ones. The game is a visual novel that touts emotional and intense narrative moments. As team lead Donald Campbell explains, the story told by The…


How Japan shaped nostalgia in games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For Shigeru Miyamoto, the inspiration for The Legend of Zelda (1986) series lay in the natural beauty of his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. As a young boy, the Nintendo designer behind Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin would take hikes around nearby forests, rivers, and old Sonobe Castle ruins. It was on one such hike that Miyamoto happened upon a cave that fascinated him. He returned to it a few days later, shook off his nerves, and, armed with a homemade lantern, journeyed into its mysterious depths. It was this feeling of discovery and…


The many faces of grief in Fragments of Him

Content warning: Death, PTSD, graphic imagery I don’t have many memories from when I was eight-years-old. It feels so long ago, and if I try to think back on them now, they tend to blend together. But there’s one night I’ll never forget, even in the smallest details. We had pizza that evening. I got an A+ on my class project that day. My mom had the news on when I got home, and was staring at a routine story about a car accident with the kind of concentration usually reserved for medical breakthroughs and presidential scandals. It was the…

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Go on a virtual tour of Don Draper’s apartment

Don Draper, John Hamm’s suave protagonist in the dearly departed series Mad Men (2007-2015), didn’t so much as work in advertising as embody the field. At an instinctive level, he understood that aspirations wrapped up in objects need to be made tangible, and that advertising is a means to that end. The Draper home, then, was a central part of the man’s riddle. It wasn’t a showroom—no home ever is. Carpets don’t stay white forever. But if it wasn’t simply there to sell its contents, it was still there to sell an idea or a lifestyle or—failing all that—the man himself. That…