Proteus
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Is it time to stop using the term “walking simulator”?

The history of the term “walking simulator” is short but heated. It’s only seen wide usage over the past few years and is often applied frivolously. There’s a lot of uncertainties around it but the one thing that’s for sure it it’s a divisive term. Some people see it as a useful way to bunch together a group of games with similar interests—typically slower games, ones about exploration and contemplation. While others abhor it and wish it would go away. But it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, at least, not any time soon. “Walking simulator” seemed to come into popularity around the…

Nidhogg 2
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Nidhogg 2 is going to eat you alive

Remember Nidhogg (2014)? Before its release there was whispers of it as the 2D fencing game that people just couldn’t stop playing. After its long-awaited arrival it made its way to other platforms, until it seemed to become nearly ubiquitous—its pixels once only glanced at now brash and animated in everyone’s face. It was a cult hit, but a cult hit you could play on nearly anything, as long as you had two people. The opposing fencers were rendered in bright colors of orange and yellow, blood spurting neon in their signature shades as the battle raged on. Now, Nidhogg 2 is…

Atrocity Exhibition
Feature

Danny Brown will die for this shit

“On death row, feel like I am…” For Danny Brown, all is lost. Atrocity Exhibition is the most heartbreaking record in a minute. It begins, quite literally and awash in scuzz, with the “Downward Spiral,” an ongoing theme in Danny’s work since 2011’s seminal XXX. Herein: Danny, on a coke binge, contracting STDs, allowing his own exploitation, in a clown car, a circus show, the atrocity exhibition; this idea that Ballard and then Curtis put forth years ago, and Brown somehow has the intuition to put back in the forefront of our minds at this present time. The freak show that…

bothy
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Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is a delicate, embalmed object

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by artist and writer Gareth Damian Martin. /// Videogames have always had something of a preference for islands. These closed spaces, limited by a shoreline, are the perfect conceit for creating an enclosed simulation—an isolated section of “reality” split off from the world. Despite this, thematically, games rarely have anything to say about their own predisposition towards landscapes of isolation, separation, and abandonment. For Dear Esther, these are central themes. It’s easy to imagine that Dan Pinchbeck’s choice of an island setting for the original 2008 Half-Life 2 mod, built…

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Growbot gets its adorable look from children’s books of the past

Children’s books used to have a more strange, haunting quality; think Wayne Anderson’s Ratsmagic (1976) and The Magic Circus (1978). Books had a sense of darkness, and not every tale was meant to be safe and moralizing. Growbot, an upcoming 2D point-and-click puzzle adventure, is a game that evokes the strangeness of Anderson‘s classics. Created by illustrator Lisa Evans, it’s a game that draws from classic children’s book through its art and narrative. “These kinds of narratives are rarer in the [children’s book] industry these days, because in order to get in front of an audience you need to go through the gatekeepers of the publishing…

Honey Rose
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Honey Rose is the most relatable schoolgirl luchador out there

I relate a lot to Honey Rose. Or, at least I did back when I was a scrappy university student. While Honey moonlights as a masked luchador fighter in addition to being a college student by day, I juggled school, a job to pay the bills, and a far more time-consuming job that paid zero bills (campus publication editor gigs will do that to you). Like Honey, not everything went right. Sometimes I did poorly on tests because a deadline was approaching for the magazine I was art director for. Other times I’d slack off in one of those two,…

05
Feature

Play Kentucky Route Zero now, before it’s too late

“More mysteries. They do pile up, over time, as people forget the details.”         -Shannon Marquez, Kentucky Route Zero Act IV Kentucky Route Zero is defined by its voids. From its haunting, shadowy landscapes to its characters’ featureless faces, the meditative, five-part digital stage play offers players plenty of empty spaces to fill in or leave blank at their discretion. The increasingly large gaps between the releases of each new chapter of the still-in-development story are another kind of void. We only just got Act IV after an 18-month wait, which means that at the current exponential rate, the final…

playstations-santa-monica-studio-is-giving-girl-scouts-a-video-game-workshop-696x392
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Girl Scouts can earn videogame design patches now

It’s hard to turn down a Girl Scout, and that’s no accident—I should know, I am one. From the start, we learn valuable business and communication skills through selling cookies (that are, objectively, pretty damn good). Community service often has an emphasis on sustainability and environmental justice, meaning our projects will continue to have an impact long after they’re over. Workshops and field trips allow us to explore new interests in a safe, encouraging environment. We do all this hand-in-hand with our own girl gang. The end result? Girl Scouts are fearless. With the encouragement of STEM programs, they’ll be…

Explojan Horse
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Just what the Trojan War needed: a huge, explosive gun

The Trojan War is a comedy and a tragedy, a series of deaths that history will remember by its errors rather its feats. When they teach the Trojan War, they talk about a beautiful woman whose face was enough for an armada to be launched and a large wooden horse that defeated an impregnable city. When Atlanta-based game maker cottontrek talks about the Trojan War, they do so in a series of explosions. Explojan Horse is not a game of subtlety. Constructed over a weekend for the latest incarnation of the Ludum Dare game jam, Explojan Horse is a cross…