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Upcoming mass surveillance game asks if you’d really pull a Snowden

What would you do with the national security (read: espionage) apparatus at your fingertips: Would you defend civil liberties or use the reams of information collected each day to satisfy your own ends? Need to Know, the debut title from Australian developers Monomyth Games which is raising funds on Kickstarter as of today, is in large part concerned with this question. You play as a worker in an intelligence agency and your decision to prioritize either the greater good or your own shapes the game’s narrative structure. The game, however, is not really about you, the intelligence worker. It is…

Portal 2
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Portal 2 experiment results in beautiful wormhole art

Dear Chell, Where have you gone? This is your fault. You chose this path. The Aperture Science testing environment has been proven entirely safe for each test subject. Yet your typical violent behavior towards the equipment has proven that false. I’d just like to point out that you were given every opportunity to succeed. There was even going to be a party for you. There was going to be cake. Are you dead? I told you: When you’re dead I will be still alive. I said that. Remember? I warned you. I did. It was not a lie. Now you…

Firewatch
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Firewatch: Come for the beauty, stay for the eeriness

Firewatch gets it. Beauty alone isn’t enough to carry an experience. There needs to be some grit, a bit of dirt, conflict even, to elevate a videogame (hell, any piece of art) from the whimsical to something more. I have a problem with 2009’s Flower and 2013’s Proteus precisely because there isn’t anything to offset that serene beauty, their new-age hokum. But in Firewatch, no matter how gorgeous that sunset or night sky is, there’s always a thick sense of dread. Something to unsettle you. Something to make you tense up. I’m not talking bump-in-the-night, Blair-Witch, voodoo nonsense either. Forget…

Eastshade
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Eastshade will let you paint its idyllic landscapes as you explore

Hark, another open world, first-person game in which you traverse picturesque natural environments! That is both slightly unfair to Eastshade, a PC game that is currently in the making, and factually beyond reproach. Eastshade, as with many games before it, is all of those things, but it is also endearingly meta. You play as a painter who wanders through natural vistas in search of inspiration. That shouldn’t be too hard to come by, as the game offers stunning visuals, but there is still the not insignificant matter of framing. As you go about your business, you can stop to paint…


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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Videogame memory
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The bot that dreams of forgotten videogames

Memory and videogames is a complicated crossroads. Not least because there’s a minimum of three types of memory meeting at this particular intersection. The most obvious one is personal memory: we remember the games we played over the years and attach emotions, physical locations, the music we were listening to at the time, and more to them. The second might be called technical or virtual memory, referring to the memory that videogames themselves contain. This is the RAM (random-access memory), the ROM (read-only memory), the immaterial saved data on hard drives and memory cards of old. Third is the cultural…

radiouniverse2016
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Radio the Universe gets a few pixels closer to completion

Don’t worry: Radio the Universe still exists. The intensely intimate, meticulously detailed cornucopia of beatific pixels which first surfaced circa 2012 is still progressing, slowly but surely, with a planned release sometime later this year (fingers crossed). In a recent update, the game’s creator, 6e6e6e, discussed the array of challenges associated with building up and refining Radio the Universe’s environments. Visual progress like the kind reported last November might look straightforward enough, but it doesn’t come cheaply. “I was busy constructing an imaginary transport line while a coastline froze over,” 6e6e6 wrote on the game’s Kickstarter page late last month.…

Jalopy
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Jalopy will take you on a ramshackle road trip through the Eastern bloc

If the “racing game” is about the ticking clock, the turn rate, the time it takes to get from 0 to 60, maybe the “driving game” is about the little things—losing track of time on a long trip, deciding to stop at the next hotel, turning on your windshield wipers instead of your turn signal. Greg Pryjmachuk used to work with the folks who make more traditional racing games like DiRT (2007) and GRID (2008) and the F1 games, but now he’s making Jalopy (previously called Hac), which doesn’t look particularly “traditional” at all. The physicality of maintaining the car…

hazy days
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A videogame that humanizes China’s smog problem

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Hazy Days (PC, Mac) MIKE REN Mike Ren has been living in Shanghai, China for over a year now. “The city is great,” he says, but the air pollution, well, that isn’t so great. The smog of China is a matter that has reached global news. It even went viral in 2013 due to a photograph that could have been mistaken for a still from the 1982 movie Blade Runner. But Ren isn’t happy with this coverage in the media and has sought to humanize the issue through…

The Playground Project
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Your favorite playground is actually a work of art, apparently

A Swiss art exhibition center finds sophistication and the potential for modern art in a most seemingly ordinary place: children’s playgrounds. The Kunsthalle Zürich, a center known for seeking to break boundaries in art by redefining its concepts, has begun crowdfunding The Playground Project, a book that will explore the history of playgrounds and exhibit photographs of what the center deems the most beautiful playgrounds in the world. The project for the book was conceived after the center began planning an exhibition where it would transform several spaces into playgrounds; the accompanying book is an attempt to immortalize those spaces…

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 1.03.40 AM
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What’s to be done with Britain’s weird sea forts?

In 1942, two years after the Battle of Britain, the question of how to deter or fend off future German attacks on the British Isles remained urgent. How else to account for the Maunsell Forts, a series of structures in the Thames and Mersey estuaries that sat atop pylons and served as platforms for guns to shoot down German warplanes. Some of the forts look like what you’d get if the Walkers from the original Star Wars films tried to walk on water. What is to be done with these forts, which sit in various states of disrepair and were…

nekointellead
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Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

Knights and Bikes
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Knights and Bikes weaves a tale of childhood, medieval legends, and geese

It’s strange to me that Knights and Bikes is set in the 1980s on a remote (fictional) island off the cold coast of Cornwall, UK. It’s a place where I spent some of my childhood, exploring damp sea caves when the tide was out and mostly being terrified of the pulsating purple jellyfish all around. There are the legends, too: the Beast of Bodmin Moor is the one that haunted me, a supposed wild cat that roams the Cornish grasslands, always conveniently out-of-sight so that cameras only capture a black shape with piercing eyes. There’s also a history of druids and…

tormentlead
Article

Advice from Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera is, in its own words, “chewy and full of strangeness.” The game’s beta sets players down in the city of Sagus Cliffs, where weird humans and alien “visitants” live in squalor beside buried spaceships. You meet citizens who can’t stop sprouting extra toes, others who drink and brood about psychic wars, and one who’s trying hard to stop a robot from having babies. They toil in the shadow of countless dead civilizations, as well as the shadow of the monumental Planescape: Torment (1999), whose themes, protagonist, and aversion to short sentences have been carried over intact…

SUPERHOT
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SUPERHOT is so close it’s burning our skin

The wait for SUPERHOT is over. Almost. With a newly announced release date of February 25th, the high-contrast, low-poly fever dreams of the Poland-based Superhot Team are only a few weeks away. A teaser trailer that accompanied the announcement shows these highly-stylized bullet hallucinations in action. While the “time only moves when you do” mechanic gives SUPERHOT the complexion of a puzzle game, it’s the frenzied, John Woo-inspired combat that’s center stage in the new trailer. But behind the brief and seamless action of this last look before launch lies a longer road to development. What was originally born of a…