If you don’t know about Bokida yet, it’s not too late

I have bizarrely fond memories of playing around with Bokida when it was first released back in 2013. Bizarre because, at the time, the game was only a limited prototype. But there was something about its openness and the toy-like expressions its world allowed. It gave you a vast white landscape with only a few landmarks to break it up—a trench and a temple-like structure, if I recall—but you could place colorful cubes, cut them up, and push the slices around to create a right old mess. It was like a properly physics-based take on Minecraft (2011) that invited you to delight in…


Mafia III is a postcard tour of the American South

Tell about the South. What’s it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all. —William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! (1936) One of the currents running through Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, and indeed the Southern literary tradition at large, is the difficulty of telling about the South. In the quote above, Quentin Compson relates a story from his home in Yoknapatwpha County, Mississippi to his Harvard roommate Shreve. As Quentin attempts to untangle a web of hearsay, gossip, legend, and myth, he ruminates on his tired apostleship about “Southernness” as if it can…

And thus

Making a survival horror game without all the clichés

Narayana Walters, a computer science student at Appalachian State University, is fed up with seeing the same old designs in horror and survival games. But rather than sticking to moaning about it, Walters is doing the admirable thing of making his own: a non-linear, open-world survival horror game called and thus. While it may be a little much to call and thus a reinvention of the survival horror template it does strike you at first glance. From what he has outlined on the game’s TIGSource thread so far, there are no zombies, no guns, none of the usual sights that might immediately turn you…

Thousand Threads

Great Cascade gets a new name, still looking to fix open-world games

Upcoming open-world game Great Cascade has been renamed Thousand Threads. The reason for the title change is due to a copyrighted game having a similar name. And so, in order to avoid confusion, Seamount Games changed the name, which is inspired by a quotation from Herman Melville. “Ye cannot live for yourselves; a thousand fibres connect you with your fellow-men, and along those fibres, as along sympathetic threads, run your actions as causes, and return to you as effects.” The title Thousand Threads, then, is perhaps even better suited to the nature of the game. While it’s an open-world game like many others, where…

Grand Theft Auto 3

The false legacy of Grand Theft Auto 3

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  /// Up until Grand Theft Auto III (2001), it was standard to classify videogames by their central mechanics. There were stealth games, platformers, shooters, racing games, action-RPGs, turn-based RPGs, fighters, puzzle games, action-adventure games—and the expectation was that every game would feature a whole range of genre-informing actions and rules, typically interspersed with sections devoted to “story.” The problem is that this naming structure was a presupposition in itself: what if you wanted to do all of these things…


Umberto Eco and his legacy in open-world games

At the very end of his playful Postscript to The Name of the Rose (1980), Umberto Eco made a casually sibylline gesture toward the future of interactive fiction. “It seems,” Eco wrote, “that the Parisian Oulipo group has recently constructed a matrix of all possible murder-story situations and has found that there is still to be written a book in which the murderer is the reader.” And a few lines later, with a wink: “Any true detection should reveal that we are the guilty party.” The text either ends or begins here, depending on your interpretation. OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature…


The perverse ideology of The Division

In the first few hours of The Division, you will be bombarded with phone recordings, resources and consumables, an overwhelming litany of damage numbers and weapon mods. It puts you in such a constant state of information overload that after a while it’s easier to ignore everything but the essentials. You come to assume that, as long as you are shooting, progress is being made. Stalking the cold streets of an abandoned New York City, running missions to collect supplies for upgrades, assaulting strongholds and rescuing hostages, the rhythm of the game is a familiar one. It’s one that has…


Eastshade will let you paint its idyllic landscapes as you explore

Hark, another open world, first-person game in which you traverse picturesque natural environments! That is both slightly unfair to Eastshade, a PC game that is currently in the making, and factually beyond reproach. Eastshade, as with many games before it, is all of those things, but it is also endearingly meta. You play as a painter who wanders through natural vistas in search of inspiration. That shouldn’t be too hard to come by, as the game offers stunning visuals, but there is still the not insignificant matter of framing. As you go about your business, you can stop to paint…


Playing Paris like a game

I have never been to Paris. In my provincial life I’ve never even left the United States. Despite or, perhaps, due to my localism, I was beguiled by the vision of the city given by Luc Sante in his 2015 book The Other Paris. Sante provides an underground history of the city, of its crime and prostitution, its low-wage work and lowbrow entertainments, its intoxications and insurrections. As fluent as he is with tales of murderous gangsters and wayward streetwalkers, what really comes across in The Other Paris is Sante’s deep mourning for the lost topography of the city. The…