firewatch
News

Play Firewatch for a breath of fresh air

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Firewatch (PS4, PC, Mac, Linux) CAMPO SANTO People say they go to videogames to escape. And they say they go to the wilderness for basically the same reason. To get lost in something bigger—something outside themselves. But wanting to be lost is one side of wanting to find another answer. Firewatch throws players into the existential crisis of protagonist Henry, a middle-aged man looking to restart his life as a park ranger in a national forest. Through lonely exploration and dialogue choices, the player shapes Henry. With only…

hazy days
News

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…

darkest dungeon
News

Darkest Dungeon knows your weak point

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Darkest Dungeon (PC, Mac) RED HOOK STUDIOS We’re all pretty fragile, aren’t we? Never mind being mauled by fang and claw, merely being in the dark for a short time can deteriorate our defensive capacity. We grow paranoid and mad. Authors have long known this and picked at it with their words. Lewis Carroll used the language of nonsense to invent an unknowable monster, the Jabberwocky. The unknown is scary to us. And it’s this that H.P. Lovecraft so brilliantly exploited with his vast, unimaginable…

oxenfree
News

Visit the ghost of high school past in Oxenfree

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Oxenfree (PC, Mac, Xbox One) NIGHT SCHOOL STUDIO Ghosts haunt all high school kids. Whether its that publicly humiliating story you can’t shake from your preteen years, or the apparition of “what might’ve been” if you’d asked your crush out; adolescence is a haunting experience. So maybe that’s why we keep torturing our teens in horror movies, games, and novels. The branching narrative game Oxenfree explores the more existential questions of teen horror: rather than a pure whodunit, the game keeps you enticed through clever writing and…

that dragon, cancer
News

The game of grief

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. That Dragon, Cancer (PC, Mac) NUMINOUS GAMES Many people pretend to know how you should grieve. Endless self-help books and articles give instructions on what’s “normal” and “healthy” and “expected.” But in an actual experience of grief, you learn something much more terrifying: there are no rules for losing a loved one. No one knows how to get through it. That agonizing uncertainty is about the only commonality. Whether you scream or stay silent, feel numb or like you’re on fire—everyone grieves differently, each experience…

Doug Trumbull 1
Announcement

Introducing Versions, the first-ever VR festival focused on creativity

Though virtual reality has existed in some form since the 1960s, and in the realm of science fiction for much longer, 2016 promises to be a breakthrough year for the technology, with high-profile product launches and major releases in games and film. With that in mind we are thrilled to announce our new conference Versions, organized in partnership with NEW INC, the incubator program at The New Museum. Versions aims to shift the conversation around VR from one focused on tools and gadgets to a dynamic interdisciplinary discussion that will examine how this technology is being shaped and defined through…

inruins2
News

A love letter to the stony architecture of Ico

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. In Ruins (PC, Mac) TOM BETTS The craggy, mysterious ruins of Ico’s fortress-like castle are known for their wind-blown eeriness. Tom Betts has taken that game’s architecture and used its melancholy character as a model for one of his experiments into procedural generation. The idea, he says, is to interpret the work of Romantic landscape painters, such as Thomas Cole and Caspar David Friedrich, as a sublime videogame. The result is an island of broken ramparts, cold beaches, and overgrown pathways that lead to crumbling…

ks_goty2015_header_opt1
Article

High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2015

Header image and artwork by Caty McCarthy 25. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base) Neon cuteness belying hardened spacefaring carnage. A manic platformer disguised as a cheerful shoot-em-up. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a lot of things, and all of those things are descending on you at the exact same time. With the evil forces of anti-love surrounding you as you save imprisoned space bunnies, Lovers works best with two players sitting side-by-side, working together against near-impossible odds. An AI-controlled dog or cat can accompany you on your suicide mission, but facing down increasing waves of enemies next to…

Secret of Mana
News

Here, have a free mixtape of JRPG music on us

You know what we like? Yes, videogames, but apart from those. No? Music, silly. Yes, we like music, and we especially like game music. You probably do too. Why does this matter right now? Well, we have a little gift for you. If you didn’t back our Kickstarter to reinvent our print magazine then you wouldn’t have received the special mixtape that we gave out on December 4th. It’s called “Run 2 The End of the World, Vol 1” and it was put together by freelance film and TV composer Julian Wass for us. The whole mixtape is a love letter…