Soft Body helps you find serenity among chaos

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Soft Body (PC, PlayStation 4) BY ZEKE VIRANT The words “bullet-hell” may not immediately call calm and tranquility to mind. But meditative app/game Soft Body is here to fix that. Combining the difficulty of Super Meat Boy (2010) with the serenity of a zen sandbox, Soft Body challenges you to overcome obstacles with a meditative approach. Requiring players to split their attention between controlling two “snakes,” operated by opposite hands, the game helps mind and body focus on accomplishing tasks in tandem. Featuring various color palettes and diverse maps, players…

Kentucky Route Zero

Meditating on Kentucky Route Zero

The first moment that Kentucky Route Zero (2013) throws a surreal curveball at you feels like a wake-up call. A character you’ve just met has finished fixing a TV, which doesn’t focus the picture on the screen as you expect, but somehow switches the barn outside the nearby window for a cave entrance. The transition is hard to grasp—a sleight of hand trick that holds up under scrutiny. As the camera zooms in, the edges of the entrance smudge against the landscape, unconnected to anything, like a hole has been painted into the scenery. A truck pulls in front of…


The biofeedback games made to improve our well-being

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. When Space Invaders dropped into Japanese arcades, the alien shooting gallery was such a phenomenon that the 100 yen piece, the equivalent of an American quarter, became a rarity. The game’s action was straightforward and exacting, and the narrative spoke to everyone’s inner xenophobe. Ultimately, however, it was the stellar soundtrack — a simple pulsing heartbeat that accelerated with each passing minute —that made each playthrough a thrill. Videogames have always had the ability to affect a player’’s biorhythms but now games are being created to pull those physiological reactions into…