Dishonored 2
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The secrets of Dishonored 2’s mongrel city

I first noticed it in the windows: their subtle, curving mullions that rise and fall like waves. Those curves lend a romantic lightness to the architecture they are set into. You might not notice them when you first set foot in Dishonored 2’s Karnaca, but you’ll surely feel them. Like a thousand other details that litter the streets of this imagined city, Karnaca’s arches, windows, and alcoves conspire to create a distinct sense of place. They gather to form a visual map imprinted piece-by-piece in the player’s mind, as they turn the camera this way and that, down back alleys…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 4 to 1

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 4. Anatomy If Kitty Horrorshow is the new mistress of videogame horror, then right now Anatomy is her masterpiece. It’s as unsettling as it is smart. You’re tasked with collecting cassette tapes around a dark, silent house. As you listen to them, a monologue suggests the house is alive. One line that sticks: “There is even a fair number of comparisons to be drawn between those organs of the house and those of the…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 8 to 5

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 8. Hitman What have I done? I accidentally killed this golf instructor in Sapienza—automatically a huge knock on my final score—and I feel terrible. This dude wasn’t my intended target. I just wanted his outfit. As I don this mystery man’s uniform, I wonder; what was this man’s life like before I threw a knife into his head? Before I, the ever-bald and temporarily golf-loving Agent 47, placed an exploding ball onto an isolated…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 12 to 9

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 12. The Last Guardian You don’t mind when Trico delays the journey to splash in a puddle. This large mythic fusion of cat, bird, and dog is the most lovable videogame companion yet—both daft and majestic. Tasked with escaping a megastructure made of carved stone and rickety wooden plinths, the boy and Trico learn to cooperate, but also to care for one another. They climb up high and fall back down, over and over,…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 16 to 13

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 16. Abzû Abzû is an underwater opera about the precious cadence of ecosystems. Its ocean world feels like a fantasy as you swim downstream with dolphins and weave between the tropical leaves of aquatic plants. But for the most part it is not. The game only takes what beauty already exists (or once did) in the seas and attaches a full-blown orchestra to it. In a year when scientists have announced the human impact…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 20 to 17

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 20. Darkest Dungeon Darkest Dungeon will punish you. The “dungeon,” a dusty and generic RPG fixture, is twisted into a locus of psychological torment and trauma. Relentlessly grim voiceover and inky Mike Mignola-esque art drive home the game’s hammer-blunt central message: violence takes its toll. There is no happy ending, no glory as you sentence yet another band of recruits to the serpentine catacombs coiling beneath your ancestral estate. They return—if they return at…

Final Fantasy XV
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Final Fantasy XV wants to be the next great road trip but can’t shut up

There are five central characters in Final Fantasy XV. The first four are young men with impeccable hairdos and absurd names: Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto. The fifth is a sleek black convertible stately enough to be named the Regalia. Like every other Final Fantasy game, XV is about a long, dangerous journey across a fantastic landscape. Unlike the rest of the series, though, it doesn’t hang its story on the stuffy conventions of a Lord of the Rings-style cross-country wilderness hike, but through a road trip. The car, in Final Fantasy XV, is a central character. The Regalia is…

watch-dogs-3
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Watch Dogs 2 is a love letter to a San Francisco I no longer recognize

I’m playing as Marcus Holloway in Watch Dogs 2, traipsing around a digital recreation of San Francisco. Angry at the system, Marcus has embarked on a romanticized hacking-heavy quest for revenge on nefarious corporations. In Watch Dogs 2, they’re evil personified within the Blume Corporation and ctOS 2.0, the operating system that runs the city. As Marcus awakens in a hungover daze across the bay in Marin County near the start of the game, he finds himself overlooking San Francisco, no signature Karl The Fog in sight. It’s a beautiful city, if a bit unrealistic. There’s always fog, and maybe…