Night Lights

Night Lights hides a whole other world behind its shadows

“Things are different at night.” A game based on this small sentence could go in any direction, really, but the most obvious path is probably towards horror. Not for Moscow-based game maker Artem Cheranev. He went with making a 2D puzzle game that uses light and shadow so you can move between different dimensions. Called Night Lights, each level in Cheranev’s upcoming game contains one or more spotlights that illuminate a small area in golden rays. Everything else is in darkness; a contrasting blue to the light’s beam. Sometimes you can use levers or pressure switches to turn the lights off, at…


The Outlast 2 demo made me scream in front of my dad

Red Barrels Studio decided to suddenly release a demo for its upcoming survival-horror game Outlast 2 yesterday. It’s available now, for free, via Steam and the Xbox One and PlayStation Stores. And it’s scary as shit. Outlast 2—as you might have guessed by the name—is the sequel to the relatively successful Outlast (2013). It puts you in the role of Blake Langermann, a cameraman who, after wrecking with his wife Lynn in the Arizona desert, finds himself frantically evading a twisted religious cult. This sequel is set in the same universe as the first game, and still keeps its found footage-style of presentation (i.e. you’re…


YIIK’s demo probably has everything you love about 1990s JRPGs

To say the Japanese role-playing game is a prominent genre is an understatement—it has influenced videogames tremendously over the years. From Final Fantasy VII (1997) to Earthbound (1994), Dragon’s Quest (1986) to Persona (1996), JRPGs introduced expansive stories and memorable characters that still live on in popularity today. Not to mention, the JRPG is a genre that’s constantly reinventing itself, exploring new problems, themes, and design styles. You can look at the overlapping cartoon realities of Kingdom Hearts and the World War II narrative of the Valkyria Chronicles series for a taste. Ackk Studios’s upcoming game YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is not only interested in…

Power Drill Massacre

Power Drill Massacre brings grindhouse horror to videogames

From It Follows (2015) to Netflix’s Stranger Things, the themes and style of ’80s horror are slowly but surely making a comeback. So perhaps it’s no surprise that such inspirations are appearing among games as well, with the once-colossal genre of slasher movies influencing titles like Lakeview Cabin Collection, Until Dawn (2015), Dead Till Daylight, and the upcoming Friday the 13th. The works of developer Puppet Combo wears such inspirations on its sleeve. I recently had the pleasure of enjoying the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) for the first time last week, and realized what made the movie such a…

The Station

The Station brings urban legends to life with cute pixel art

One of my favorite urban legends as a child centered on the sewers of New York City. As the story goes, it suddenly became popular in New York to have an alligator as a pet. The giant lizards were kept in fish tanks and then in bathtubs, until owners were horrified to discover that an alligator outgrows even a bathtub, at which point some great number of alligators were sneaked to the sewers, where they now live. the unknown realms behind storm drains As the world gradually demonstrates that monsters and wizards are much harder to come by than you…


oOku, an interactive music album about navigating dreams

Dreams aren’t particularly easy to capture in any medium. Sometimes I’ll wake up convinced I just had a dream that I’ve actually had several times but never remembered before, and at the same time, I couldn’t tell you what happened in it. Given the complicated way memories of dreams work, and the uniqueness of those emotions, it’s not surprising that a lot of work tries to negotiate that uncanny space. the line between inside and outside of the game gets blurred Set in a sequence of your friend’s dreams, oOku doesn’t end up replicating the feeling you knew something but…


The horror of living under martial law in 1960s Taiwan, now coming to videogames

Like a lot of the clashes between capitalist and communist factions in the early days of the Cold War, the Chinese Civil War was complex and multi-faceted. Even today, Taiwan calls itself the Republic of China, and China calls itself the People’s Republic of China. When they attend the same international events, Taiwan goes by the deliberately ambiguous title of “Chinese Taipei.” The Civil War led to a violent ideological divide, and not long after it started, Taiwan was placed under martial law mandated by the “Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of Communist Rebellion,” which lasted from 1947 until…

Death's Life

Make murder look like an accident in Death’s Life

If you were to rap your knuckles across Death’s wooden door you might expect a black hooded cloak wielding a scythe to welcome you in. This is the most well-known image of Death over here in the contemporary west. But the personification of our greatest fear has a rich history and comes in many forms. In Slavic mythology, a female demon called Marzanna is known to bring death, winter, and nightmares. In East Asian mythology, Yama is the wrathful male god that judges the dead and oversees hell (Spelunky players will be familiar with this). In Latin America, festivals are held to…


A videogame tribute to the action-comedy of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill

Bud Spencer and Terence Hill, the Italian movie stars known for three decades of action-comedy, always deserved a videogame. A classic Spencer and Hill scenario is a mass brawl, the pair squaring off against a jittering hive of incompetent opponents, each punch over-exaggerated in gesture and sound effect. Smacks landed with mouth-sounds: a “THWIP,” a “BOOM,” a “KERR-ASH”. Each opponent was another stunt, another gag, another way to combine goofy violence with prop comedy. flipping an entire person at the end of his hooks  It’s everything an arcade beat ’em up ever was sans the pixels. And, yes, to be…