Mother Russia Bleeds is a little groggy

VHS cassettes were the ideal vessel for horror. The seams between fiction and reality were somehow hazier, hidden behind scanlines and stretched tape, allowing my imagination to magnify the terror of Gremlins (1984) and the murderous doll in Child’s Play (1988). A film like Ringu (1998), in which those horrors literally came out of the TV to kill you, was inevitable. As VHS tapes warp and degrade they sully the story contained within, but also gain individual character. No two copies of the same film play exactly the same on VHS, especially as time lurches on. Eventually, the horror that…


Death Road to Canada is not sorry about eating you

The only things moldier than a zombie’s jeans are complaints about the ubiquity of zombie-themed media. And yet, like a skeleton draped with liquified cold cuts wandering through the chapped streets of Any City, USA, here I shamble. The zombie—a thinly-veiled metaphor for the monstrosity of humanity, and even more translucent excuse to commit acts of violence on human-shaped targets “guilt-free”—is worn past the point of darning. The subtlety of any pertinent commentary on race, morality, or the depths and heights of the human spirit in the face of such an insurmountable threat has long ago been cast aside. The…


Praise be to Zenyatta, then chill the heck out

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. /// For real, the Overwatch stable of dudes is stocked with tryhards and fuccbois—whether they’re chomping on cigars like a pre-senile Clint Eastwood, or floating across the stage wishing they were at a Type O Negative concert. Comparatively, the two playable Omnic characters are…


Slain! is a disappointing death growl

Heavy metal is the musical and theatrical manifestation of mankind’s lizard brain. It’s an auditory siege that rifles through our ancient and violent nature that was once necessary to survive. This music transmutes those base emotions through myth, metaphor, and performance through modern instrumentation, impossible without electrical amplification. The costumes vary from latex to bullet belts, corpse paint to standard issue black, and on the stage the lights are kept low or flashing. Every note and image is calculated and well-rehearsed, because metal thrives in the extremes and requires complete attention to maintain the shared illusion for everyone at the…

Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

Failure and rebirth in Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter

Star Trek’s cavalcade of hit-or-miss conceits includes a fair share of philosophical thought experiments, and chief among them is the “Kobayashi Maru.” This name refers to a wargame for Star Fleet military cadets used to evaluate how officers-in-training would react in an impossible-to-win scenario. The crew being examined receives a distress call from a fellow ship called the Kobayashi Maru, a wounded bird floating defenseless in the void, and upon reaching it two Klingon vessels emerge and attack. The captain must decide whether to leave the Kobayashi Maru to certain destruction or engage the firing ships, though the cadets are…

Hyper Light Drifter

Hyper Light Drifter cuts through the noise

Silence is difficult for most of us. It’s not just screens that prevent it, the ubiquity of entertainment and distraction, or the pace of modern life—though, that and more contributes to the difficulty of easing through the din. The chaff of life is a billowy recliner, keeping us cozy against the chaos in our minds. But there is something to gain in sitting in silence on a bare floor and using the low-cycle hum around you to pluck the signal from among scattered thoughts. Hyper Light Drifter merges a sense of silence with what eventually becomes instinctive action. It’s a…


American Truck Simulator is here for the long haul

I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 19 years old. This is rare in my home state of Wyoming, where most kids learn to drive manual before the first day of high school—I had to make every effort to avoid the attendant responsibilities of vehicular ownership. But the mountainous west is colossal, grandiose, and requires a car to accomplish literally everything, so of course I capitulated. Every vehicle I drove was “pre-owned” and equal parts charming and dilapidated. They had nicknames, lost mirrors in bank drive-thru lanes, played Local H and Suicide Machines tapes, stranded me on the…


In praise of Mega Man X

Going fast is easy—the challenge is in reacting to the unwritten near-future while maintaining environmental awareness to avoid running into shit. For all the risks to life and limb, the human brain and body craves the thrill of speed. As such, even relatively primitive virtualized acceleration titillates. In the 16-bit era, games like Sonic the Hedgehog and F-Zero managed to create a placebo of velocity; my muscles tingled at every near-miss and last-second pass, or more often my ears throbbed with the rage of repetitive crashes. A lack of larger peripheral vision is what held back the otherwise stylish and…