Mafia III is a postcard tour of the American South

Tell about the South. What’s it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all. —William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936) One of the currents running through Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, and indeed the Southern literary tradition at large, is the difficulty of telling about the South. In the quote above, Quentin Compson relates a story from his home in Yoknapatwpha County, Mississippi to his Harvard roommate Shreve. As Quentin attempts to untangle a web of hearsay, gossip, legend, and myth, he ruminates on his tired apostleship about “Southernness” as if it can…


Pavilion and the maze as metaphor

When I was younger, I got lost in the works of Jorge Luis Borges. In my hubris, I assumed I “got” him in a way that would let me use the tools of literary study to recognize patterns, symbols, and themes. His hermetic prose held secrets that I thought I had unlocked in my sophomoric self-satisfaction. I assured myself that knowing Borges’ favorite subjects, like mazes and infinite libraries, are actually metaphors for the text itself was a revelation that only I and a few select others could hold dear. I was wrong, of course. Not about the obvious readings,…


The “New Weird” In Videogames

Defining a genre is a troubled process the moment a discussion of its elements begin. Those nebulous divisions that separate detective and gothic fiction, science fiction and horror, adventure and fantasy; all seem built on shaky foundations as tropes and archetypes bleed into each other. More often than not, studying the progression and evolution of genres begins with the understanding that such genres are seldom fixed, codified strictures. Such was the case in 2003 when a group of writers began an online conversation about a genre known as the “New Weird.” Though the New Weird, like almost every other genre,…

Near Death - interior

Near Death is a little too numb

Near Death begins when a woman crashes at the abandoned Sutro Station in the Marie Byrd Land region of Antarctica. There is no ceremonious setup, only the bare-bones facts of her situation: the temperature, the location, the condition of polar night, and the wind chill. She fumbles through the dark with the dim glow of a flashlight before finding one of the buildings of Sutro Station and uses a small personal heater to circulate warmth. Her situation only worsens as her contact cannot extract her in extreme conditions, and she resolves to find some way to survive or escape before…


A series of limericks about Tracer, because why not

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. /// I’m sure numerous articles are written ‘Bout Overwatch’s most lovable Briton. But this one’s in verse, Though I’ll keep it quite terse So it doesn’t come across weird and smitten.   Tracer’s story begins when a technical complication Caused her to suffer a…

Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4 has no regrets

There’s a brief moment in the first hour of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End where Nathan Drake, a retired treasure hunter, combs through the artifacts from his adventures that he keeps in his attic. The space is ruined with meticulous clutter—each individual relic a callback to some grand excursion—and as I explored this makeshift museum, I found myself falling prey to the same fond memories that overtake the game’s protagonist. Sifting through this digital archive prompts Drake to discover his old holster, now holding a toy gun. Almost instinctively, I make him pick it up, and then I steer him…

Indigo Prophecy

The joys of taking a shower and sipping coffee in Indigo Prophecy

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// In the men’s restroom of a New York diner, a dazed man stands over a corpse. He knows he killed the person but insists, to no one other than himself, that someone else was controlling him, that a moment of temporary possession had caused him to murder the restroom’s other occupant. Panicking, he struggles to hide the body in a stall, grabs a nearby mop to clean the red off the floor, washes the blood from the…


Samorost 3 is the best adventure game in years

In a cabin near Walker’s Lake, in Mississippi, there’s a piece of driftwood that looks almost like a wolf’s head. From another angle, it appears as some bizarre sailing vessel, and from another still, it has the look of an alien weapon—perhaps a hybrid of a gun and a club. I remember turning it over in my hands as a child, curious as to why anyone would place an oddly-shaped piece of wood on a table as a decorative object. I hadn’t thought of that bit of ornamental flotsam for years, but it suddenly appeared in my mind when I…


The Flame in the Flood floats comfortably in the shallows

I can think of few landmarks more American than the Mississippi River. It carves a slow, muddy path through the states, branching out as various smaller systems and tributaries that form the vessels of the country. The Mississippi carries with it the stories of Mark Twain and William Faulkner, the verse of Langston Hughes, the sounds of the Delta blues, the steady rhythms of riverboat paddle wheels, and the ghosts of those claimed by its waters. Perhaps my own Southern heritage has colored my perception of the river to an overly-romantic degree. But there is a mythic current that carries…