Masquerada is about as enjoyable as a dictionary

Delivered in the middle of Big Game season, Masquerada looks at first like a welcome relief from war, VR, and Watch Dogs 2’s emoji mask. The masks in its world are a different kind of grotesque. They separate the haves and the have-nots in a rigidly stratified sorta-Venetian society, granting elemental powers to elites who dress like every day is carnival. The conceit feels fresh, and the city of Ombre is boldly drawn, with heavy black borders around tents and troops to set off freehand suggestions of grass blades and thin ruled lines of stone. The protagonist, Cicero Gavar, dashes…


Inside the idiot-party bubble of Lucio

We love Overwatch. So we assembled 22 of our best writers and set them to work—a writer to jump into the skin (or robotic shell) of each character. The result is 22 odes. You can use the “Overwatch odes” tag to leaf through them all, or use the handy list at the bottom of this post. /// “Look at this team! We’re gonna do great,” Lúcio says, before his team gets crushed at the first point for five minutes straight. “This payload is bumpin’!” Lúcio says, before he’s yanked off the payload and mauled by a giant wearing a gas…


Necropolis couldn’t entertain the dead

How’d dungeons get so big, anyway? Before fantasy games, dungeons were modest medieval cells or imprisonment-themed sex rooms. But in today’s post-D&D RPGs the dungeon might as well be the cornerstone of the universe. Any tough mazey place becomes a dungeon: labyrinths, catacombs, mines, caves, mansions, factories, and even spaceships are called dungeons if there’s someone with three health bars and a pot of gold inside. It’s understood that the Forest Temple in Ocarina of Time (1998) is a dungeon, Rise’s mind in Persona 4 (2008) is a dungeon, and Karazhan in World of Warcraft (2004) is a dungeon, though none of them…

Shadow Hearts

The immortal weirdness of Shadow Hearts

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  This article contains spoilers for Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and World War I. /// Several famously grim prophecies were recorded in the run-up to World War I. “The lamps are going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our life-time,” said Sir Edward Grey, turning a phrase better remembered now than his own role in the disaster. On the first day of the war, Henry James wrote privately of “the plunge of…

dark souls iii promotional image

Dark Souls III: Super Dark Souls World

Spoilers for a few Dark Souls III bosses below. /// The hardest Souls game, people say, is the one you played first. That’s where you learned the language, starting with the common nouns: the grunting Hollows who bust through wooden barricades, the poison swamp, the dragon who toasts the same spot forever like a puzzle in an adventure game, the giant whose feet must be pummeled until he loses his balance, the soul-lovin’ lady who has suggestive level-up conversations with you, and so on. But internalizing the games’ finicky grammar is the difficulty. A fluent Souls player follows dozens of…


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…


Fallout 4: Return to Junktown

For more in-depth game writing, back our Kickstarter! Here comes the trashman! He’s strutting down the highway in his scrap metal suit, tin cans rattling up and down its legs, soda bottles and glue dispensers falling out the cracks between its plates, cereal boxes bobbling on the tips of his metal fingers. He’s blasting “The Wanderer” with no headphones on and waking the mole rats up. He’s bounding downtown like he owns the world. He intends to put all of it into his pockets. He works fastest indoors: his vision jumps from floor to desk to shelf, hunting for the…