Is it time to stop using the term “walking simulator”?

The history of the term “walking simulator” is short but heated. It’s only seen wide usage over the past few years and is often applied frivolously. There’s a lot of uncertainties around it but the one thing that’s for sure it it’s a divisive term. Some people see it as a useful way to bunch together a group of games with similar interests—typically slower games, ones about exploration and contemplation. While others abhor it and wish it would go away. But it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, at least, not any time soon. “Walking simulator” seemed to come into popularity around the…


Everything we know about The Chinese Room’s next game so far

There’s a terrible pun here about The Chinese Room leaving us totally in the dark about their new game, Total Dark, but I’m trying to be better than that. Maybe. Anyway… It’s been a few months now since Everybody’s Gone to Rapture (2015) emerged, triumphant, on the PlayStation 4, and so it’s fair to ask what’s next for the Brighton-based studio. The answer three months ago was the self-funded RPG Total Dark, an isometric adventure game that “took inspiration from those old paper-based RPG systems of the late 80s and early 90s.” However, in a blog post on the studio’s site yesterday, The…


Find angst and beauty in 35MM’s post-apocalyptic Russia

In 35MM, post-apocalyptic Russia plays you. You are one of a pair of friends walking across deserted Russian villages and forests. It’s not entirely clear what befell the world, but it was bad. The people are gone, and so too are most signs of life. More to the point: most signs of life as you commonly understand them are gone. The earth is adaptable and has moved on to new challenges since whatever foul event occurred. It is changing, and you can’t be exactly sure why or how. If you are to survive, you, too, must change. That’s sort of…

Everybody's Gone to the Capture

The English melancholia of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

This article is part of our lead-up to Kill Screen Festival where Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture artist Alex Grahame will be speaking. /// “These are the dark November days when the English hang themselves!” – Voltaire /// The English are known for a number of bred-in-the-bone traits but chief among them is a certain melancholia. There is nothing uniquely English about being a bit sad but history has latched it to us as part of our national character. Perhaps it is our artists who are to blame for this. John Dowland, the Elizabethan bard, is remembered for his motto: “Semper…

Dear Esther

More people will soon be able to play The Chinese Room’s poetic videogames

Very soon, thousands more will have the opportunity to get lonely with a videogame in the most beautiful way. Yes, The Chinese Room is bringing both its poetic narrative games, Dear Esther (2012) and last year’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, to new platforms—the former is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while the latter makes its way to PC. Other than a few pleasant additional touches, like a developer’s commentary for Dear Esther and a few bug fixes, the games will remain essentially unchanged. That means each of these games will, once again, invite you into their virtual…


Shut Up, Gaming Positivity

This article is part of a series called Shut Up, Videogames, in which critic Ed Smith invites games old and new to pipe down, or otherwise. In this edition, he looks at today’s atmosphere of “gaming positivity” in games criticism. Rather than challenged by the emergence of different games and different creative voices, I feel like the culture of blithe acceptance in the gaming industry has simply widened. Old reviews of shooters and sequels, scaffolded by a checklist of “graphics, gameplay, replay value,” are today lampooned even by the big sites—I think anyone with the sense to not leave comments on things…


High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2015

Header image and artwork by Caty McCarthy 25. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base) Neon cuteness belying hardened spacefaring carnage. A manic platformer disguised as a cheerful shoot-em-up. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a lot of things, and all of those things are descending on you at the exact same time. With the evil forces of anti-love surrounding you as you save imprisoned space bunnies, Lovers works best with two players sitting side-by-side, working together against near-impossible odds. An AI-controlled dog or cat can accompany you on your suicide mission, but facing down increasing waves of enemies next to…


Against child protagonists

Videogames don’t like people. Of that, the overwhelming amount of fantasy, war and sci-fi games, the ones set around goblins, androids and super-soldiers—the ones patently uninterested in real human beings—are proof enough. But even when games profess an interest in personhood and human experience they avoid substantive fiction. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seems to focus on a village in England, and the relationships between the people that live there, but the people are all dead and instead of seeing them and how they interact with one another you find, merely, their ghosts and some recordings of their voices. Gone…