Need a break from the world? Chill out on a virtual island

Don’t you ever wish you could escape to a remote island just to get away from it all, even for five or 10 minutes? If so, check out ROM, a “short experimental experience” created by HTW Berlin students Paul Schnepf, Rainer Windolph, and Friedemann Allmenröder. Created as part of the Game Design BA curriculum, ROM allows you to explore a desolate island and take control of its environment. Revive its ancient machines to alter the weather and bring the island back to life. Activating one machine causes snow to cover the land; another brings on a sudden driving rainstorm accompanied by…


Close, an upcoming exploration game about finding out your purpose

Tobias Zarges wants to experiment with the videogame form and its capacity to be art. This comes natural to him as a student of fine art, design, and music at Kunsthochschule Kassel in Germany. To this end, he’s working with programmer Moritz Eberl on Close, an upcoming game about exploration and existentialism. It starts you off as a character wrapped up warm in a pink coat and hat, sat on a log in a snow-covered expanse. Press a button and the character will stand up and from there you can wander off in any direction to a dreamy, downbeat electronic tune. At no…


Dear Esther: Landmark Edition is a delicate, embalmed object

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by artist and writer Gareth Damian Martin. /// Videogames have always had something of a preference for islands. These closed spaces, limited by a shoreline, are the perfect conceit for creating an enclosed simulation—an isolated section of “reality” split off from the world. Despite this, thematically, games rarely have anything to say about their own predisposition towards landscapes of isolation, separation, and abandonment. For Dear Esther, these are central themes. It’s easy to imagine that Dan Pinchbeck’s choice of an island setting for the original 2008 Half-Life 2 mod, built…


Meadow will let you and friends survive as a pack of animals

Might and Delight, the creator of the Shelter games, has announced its next project, and yes, it too has cute animal families trying to survive the wilderness. Called Meadow, it’s meant to improve upon some of the ideas explored in the two previous Shelter games, as well as add online multiplayer. It’s due out for PC on October 26th. Shelter 2 (2015) put you in the paws of a powerful lynx mother, letting you explore an open landscapes during various weather conditions. You had to find food, give birth to adorable cubs, raise them, and protect them from vicious predators. Might and Delight wanted…

The Wild Eternal

The Wild Eternal wants to explore what it means to be lost

An elderly woman stands upon a tall cliff overlooking a foggy wilderness. The fog is so thick that only the tops of the tallest trees can pierce through it. There are also buildings, strange landmarks that dot the foggy valley below. They seem ancient and forgotten. This is where players will begin The Wild Eternal, standing on a cliff, looking out at a world that might just hold the key to ending the loop of rebirth. The Wild Eternal is being developed by a small team, just three people in fact. Two of these people are brothers: Casey and Scott…


Fear not, Pokémon will save the planet

Pokémon has a complex relationship with nature. It’s among the most explicit and enthusiastic depictions of natural history in kid-oriented pop culture, but environmental educators begrudge its popularity. The series gains species while our planet loses them, and that somehow feels like a bad trade—it leaves a sour taste, though it’s far from obvious that it’s a trade at all. In a sense, Pokémon’s value as an environmentalist work is something we can only see now. Climate change has touched every part of the planet, and economic development in some of the most biodiverse regions of the world is inevitable.…

The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

An iconic anime permeates The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) is a story of learning to live in harmony with nature—without destroying it. It’s whimsical and heartfelt, an unmatched adventure fantasy unlike any other animated film of its time. Nausicaä predated the continued magic that animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli (co-founded by Miyazaki) has produced over the years, including Miyazaki’s consistent environmentalist-focused fantasies and the low-key realism of Isao Takahata works. It stands as one of the single-most influential animated films of all-time. In the first full-trailer and gameplay footage of Nintendo’s highly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of…


It’s time to tell the forest to f*ck off

It’s a quiet day next to a peaceful river, the sun has set. A steady rain falls. It’s time to tell the forest to fuck off. TELL THE FOREST TO FUCK OFF is a small downloadable game for Windows and Mac, created by Tak. Short and to the point, TELL THE FOREST TO FUCK OFF is exactly what you’d imagine based on the title. You, a small bipedal stick figure with a irregularly shaped head, shake with the kind of penciled-in rage of a mid-level bureaucrat, and then let it all out in an enraged yell, knocking down a nearby…

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…