Hardcore Henry and the problem with immersion

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// A fight scene is a dance: not just between the characters in conflict, but between stunt people and the effects crew, between the cinematographer and choreographer, between the editor and sound designer, all of them moving together at once. The best fight scenes have a narrative arc, however slight or implied. Think of Bruce Lee adapting to and punishing Chuck Norris’s brute power in Lee’s 1972 The Way of the Dragon, or the feral, hallucinatory slaughter that ends Kihachi Okamoto’s…

Haunting Ground

Heart attacks and doggy treats: the PS2’s most bizarre horror game

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// On the US release of Dario Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, New York film critic John Simon panned it as “a horror of a movie, where no one or nothing makes sense: not one plot element, psychological reaction, minor character, piece of dialogue, or ambience.” I used to agree, but I’ve seen Suspiria a lot since then. It’s true that the film’s rather twisted internal logic requires a degree of good faith on the part of the audience;…


The King of the Monsters is f*cking back

Remember all the times America has tried to remake and refashion Godzilla (1954)? Cool! Neither do I, because this teaser for the upcoming Godzilla Resurgence (or Shin Gojira, which delightfully could mean anything from True Godzilla to God Godzilla) is so much better than any of those movies or cartoons in their entirety. I would trade a hundred Hank Azaria cabbies, a thousand sobbing Bryan Cranstons, for what we’re being gifted with here. Take a look: I don’t need to belabor the point, do I? True: the early trailers for Gareth Edwards’s 2014 Godzilla promised a similar level of gravitas and awe, but the final product didn’t deliver…

The Division

People are forming orderly queues in The Division, a game about chaos

Military-minded author Tom Clancy has his work adapted into games all the time; his blend of nitty-gritty technical detail and completely absurd US-against-the-world plotlines is perfect for shooters of all kinds. However, despite his dedication to apocalyptic terror scenarios, one thing Clancy never anticipated was … the queues. Luckily, Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division was released yesterday, and it has all the white-knuckle waiting action you can stand. Taking place in a disease-ravaged NYC with absolutely zero parallels to 9/11, The Division taps into the same “but what if society fell APART, man?” paranoia of AMC’s The Walking Dead. It’s a license to be the all-American badass who lays…

Kentucky Route Zero

Prepare for something new from Kentucky Route Zero soon

We really like Kentucky Route Zero. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the Ideal Kill Screen Game: aesthetically surefooted, poetic, funny, surreal, and melancholy. (The other pole of this is, like, last year’s Bloodborne, or something.) So when designers Cardboard Computer tease more Kentucky Route Zero in their inimitable, coy way, we jump all over it: That image is all Cardboard Computer tweeted out. Since their customary pre-episode interlude has already been released (2014’s delightful Here and There Along the Echo) I can only assume this is from Act IV proper. I’m sure I’ll wake up in three weeks or so and a elderly,…


Firewatch shows off some Twin Peaks vibes ahead of its release

Twin Peaks. We all know it! We all love it! Even if we haven’t seen it, we know it’s a big deal! David Lynch and Mark Frost’s 1990-91 TV series has been a huge influence on videogames, from the obvious (2010’s Deadly Premonition) to … the fractionally less obvious (2015’s Life Is Strange). There’s so much to the show, so many veins to draw from: the unsettling surrealism, the amusing surrealism, the romantic swooning, the whole “dead girl” A-plot, the mystical Pacific Northwest vibe…it goes on and on. But the lattermost is what Campo Santo’s upcoming Firewatch is cheekily nodding to with this brief, gentle…


Here comes another horror game contender for the P.T. throne

One of the primary pleasures of European horror from the 70s is the sheer amount of wandering that takes place. In France you had erotica auteur Jean Rollin and his undead ingenues padding barefoot around mist-shrouded moors; in Italy, the more overtly perverse Dario Argento was stalking actresses through baroque ballet schools and haunted apartment complexes. Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) is full of luscious landscape photography and endless strolls through the wilderness.  Don’t Look Now, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Psychic—there’s simply no end to the interminable, dreamy walks to nowhere that dominate these movies. Part of this is simply the nature of tension-building; for there…


Resident Evil Zero is where monster movies go to die

2002’s Resident Evil for the GameCube was a luxurious, Gothic remake of the 1996 PlayStation original. It came out a year after Fatal Frame and Silent Hill 2, slotting perfectly into their bleak new visions of horror: unrelentingly dark, art-directed to the nines, and tense as shit. Resident Evil is creepy despite its ludicrous premise: you poke around a huge, dark mansion while fending off zombies and various oversized snakes, spiders, and sharks. Central to the game’s success is its atmosphere: the vivid, lush pre-rendered backgrounds buzz with animated touches, like flies around a lamp or lightning flashing through a…


On Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece of misogyny, The Hateful Eight

What you make of Quentin Tarantino’s latest genre genuflection The Hateful Eight will really come down to one thing: how many times can you tolerate a woman getting hit in the face? The gauntlet is thrown down early: Kurt Russell’s ursine bounty hunter John Ruth smashes his captive, Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Daisy Domergue, full in the face when she speaks out of turn. She gets a lingering close-up courtesy of Tarantino’s vaunted “glorious 70mm” frame, seething with fury through the blood. I lost count of how many times Domergue gets slapped, thumped, and punched, but I’m comfortable with saying it was…