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Review

Bravely Second: End Layer turns play into labor

Bravely Second is as unfortunate a title for a sequel as Bravely Default was for its predecessor. Where the phrase “Bravely Default” seemed to suggest that it would somehow be valiant for you to keep doing whatever you would have ordinarily done anyway, “Bravely Second” is poised to become a snowclone to tag onto any sequel that boldly exists in spite of the fact that no one especially wanted it. Horrible Bosses 2: Bravely Second. Or, a slight tweak on the form, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Bravely Eighth. Of course, the title isn’t as bad as it seems…

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Review

Fire Emblem Fates isn’t afraid of big, bold choices

Videogames operate on a timescale that we don’t expect from any other medium. Poetry and music often take minutes; novels and films hours. The day is not an uncommon unit of measure for the time we spend with games, and for games like Destiny (2014) or World of Warcraft (2005), weeks can be the operative unit. To me, “play” seems like a reductive way of describing a relationship of that length. You watch a movie, read a book, play a game; those verbs seem to describe fairly casual relationships. “Rewatch” and “reread” suggest a higher degree of focus or devotion,…

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News

The peculiar future of videogame history

The history of videogames maps directly onto the history of computation. At least, that’s how speakers cast it at GDC this year. Chelsea Howe, Chris Crawford, Dave Jones, Graeme Devine, Ken Lobb, Lori Cole, Luke Muscat, Palmer Luckey, Phil Harrison, Raph Koster, Seth Killian, and Tim Schafer (phew) each talked about one aspect of videogame history in which they were personally involved. The keynote was both an homage to GDC, the event, and to GDC’s prime mover, that repugnant, beautiful monstrosity known as ‘the videogame industry’. At the 30th iteration of an event that has become one focal point for…

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Review

Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Bros. folds in on itself

There’s something strange—maybe even broken—about fetishizing materiality in a digital world the way Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Bros does, though it’s not the first game to do this. I first noticed this in another Nintendo game from last year, Yoshi’s Wooly World, which trades on a contradiction. It’s a game about adorable dinosaurs in adorable environments made out of yarn and glue. Aesthetically, it’s “crafty,” which we value precisely because of its irreproducibility. Flaws aren’t flaws in this context; they’re signs of the hands that made it. And yet videogames are bits—0s and 1s—all the way down: data perfectly,…

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Review

The Legend of Zelda, now 75% less interesting

For more about Kill Screen’s ratings system and review policy, click here. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds was the best Zelda game in a decade. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes takes the engine from Between Worlds, contorts it into a multiplayer game, and does a disservice to its forebears in the process. Tri Force Heroes (2015) works in the spirit of Four Swords Adventures (2004), but is of an entirely different moment in gaming culture. Four Swords was about sitting on the couch, fending off enemies and solving puzzles in person. But two things happened…