Hackmud brings back the hacker fantasy of the ’90s

A handful of plucky AIs are looking to escape their virtual prison. They start by making a run on a couple of vaults. They’re not really recruiting, but the player stumbles onto their team. Hackmud is a heist game, but the characters are all teenaged computers. It’s wrapped up in cyberpunk ideas and computer culture of the ’90s—the first place the gang goes for advice is “Faythe’s Fountain,” where an oracle-like AI speaks in twisted riddles. Meanwhile they fear and hate an AI that goes by the name “Mallory the Malicious.” Although it’s missing a finger-wagging Wayne Knight, the code-wrangling of Hackmud feels…


Inside’s puzzle designer has an experimental music game out next month

Some visual styles become particularly entrenched in games. The continual quest for photorealism drives graphics technology towards lots of different ways to light scenes and throw particles all over the place. Different engines and art teams end up producing something like house styles—DICE’s Frostbite engine means the upcoming Battlefield 1 is lit a lot like Battlefield 4 (2013), CryEngine’s lush environments look pretty similar in Far Cry 3 (2012) and Far Cry 4 (2014), and in games more far afield like Monster Hunter Online (2013). THOTH suggests that the arcade resembles a gallery Even in games that come out of much smaller studios, certain lo-fi looks…

The Final Station

The Final Station finds the rare beauty of zombie fiction

If we understand the “zombie movie” as a particular set of plot beats and characters, George A. Romero’s films are what brought that to the mainstream. There’s a mysterious disease, followed by lots of killing and running from zombies, then—in Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), at least—some number of our heroes escape by helicopter. Valve’s Left 4 Dead series ends up making this into a bit of a joke—each campaign is advertised with a movie poster, and ends with the players making their way to a vehicular rescue before they’re dropped into the next…


Hey, perhaps don’t set your game in “fantasy primitive africa”

Where and when is the “fantasy primitive africa” of upcoming survival game Voodoo? “You will be one of the founders of civilization,” says Brain in the Box, the Italian studio behind it. Bear in mind that the first humans popped up in East Africa around 250,000 thousand years ago, and civilization has its roots in Mesopotamia and Egypt around 14,000 years ago—not much fantasy there. The trailer for the game also includes the bow and arrow, metal tools, and tribal masks. Having these all in the same place is a collapsing of time that we haven’t had written history long enough to…

The Only Shadow That The Desert Knows

Work this new roguelike out and you can be a time-travelling historian

After wandering around for a few years in the wilderness of The Only Shadow That The Desert Knows, I stumbled into a city. ASCII characters, caves, and poison toads led me to believe that the creator of the game, Jeremiah Reid, had made a fairly traditional roguelike for 7DRL 2016. But when I stepped into Hiast for the first time, I was handed a pile of books—biographies, histories, maps—and a list of lost works. My favorite part of Dwarf Fortress (2006) has always been generating a world to look through its histories, following heroes and their descendants through wars, or famines,…

Deus Ex GO

You can Play Deus Ex GO while you wait for Mankind Divided

Even though the board is bared to both players, chess is a kind of stealth game. Each piece is moved in plain sight, but a successful chess player is hiding her intentions from her opponent. That opponent understands that her goal is to force a checkmate, but spends the game trying to deduce and block the path she plans to take to accomplish that. Similarly, games like those in the Deus Ex series open up multiple paths forward to the player and introduces obstacles along them to encourage her to think about the state of the playspace now, 30 seconds from now,…


Don’t play fair, play Pharah, exclusively

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. /// At the end of a round of your fave shooter, you are blessed with a wall of stats to pore through and analyze. If you’re a Very Serious Player, maybe you bought a Very Serious Mouse to improve your “accuracy percentage.” But what…


Wobbledogs is even more ridiculous than it sounds

My favorite Dwarf Fortress (2006) update briefly describes the elimination of a bug wherein cats were ”dying of alcohol poisoning after walking over damp tavern floors and cleaning themselves.” The causal logic that leads to an issue like that is both immediately understandable and completely ridiculous. These sorts of unintended consequences are at the core of games that rely on random interactions to tell stories and create characters. The generating algorithms have to be precise and functional to produce readable results, but if there’s just enough noise, things get weird and funny with it. Tom Astle is working on a…

Codex Silenda

A wooden book filled with puzzles is the coolest new toy

The Codex Silenda is a set of intricate wooden puzzles that quickly reached its funding goal on Kickstarter many times over. It’s the kind of object you’d expect to be hand-carved by a slightly eccentric artisan, but it’s laser-cut, and one of the reward tiers gets you the pieces, which you would then assemble into the puzzle yourself. As it turns out, the laser-cutter can do for the mechanical wooden toy what the printing press did for books. There were books before the printing press: painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts with margins full of knights jousting snails, but hand-written and hand-bound books…