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…


Save the colors of Quur’s painterly world from disappearing

The students that made Quur say it’s a game about the impact of violence. But it’s not full of blood sloshing around the dirty concrete of some decrepit virtual city. Quur has the look of a game so innocent that you’d think it doesn’t even know what violence is outside of a kid stealing its lunch money. It’s a pretty little thing but don’t discredit it for its looks. Sure, Quur doesn’t have the dynamism of say, Dishonored (2012) and Undertale (2015)—which also offer the choice of violence and non-violence, and change their worlds in huge ways depending on the approach you take—but…


A daddy-daughter stealth game about escaping a war-torn city

It goes without saying that sensationalized military conflict has long been a staple of the videogame landscape. From Contra (1987) to Halo 2 (2004), Modern Warfare (2007) to Bad Company (2008), the variety of titles that allow players to occupy the boots of a laconic lone shooter on foreign territory are innumerable. The number of games centered on the lives of bystanders caught in the crossfire? Not so many. Recent titles such as This War of Mine (2014) and Papers Please (2013) are a notable couple, panning the focus away from the bombs and bullets to ruminate on the human…


Practice your improv in this videogame theater

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Commedia dell’Arte (PC, Mac) A COLLABORATION BETWEEN STUDENTS AT THE ENJMIN AND EMCA SCHOOLS Surprisingly, improv is about more than Amy Poehler making fart jokes. At the heart of great improv is a sense of play. Though it’s controlled and focused, emergent play defines improv as much as it defines games like The Sims, where players (or actors) are encouraged to go to town within the confines of a defined possibility space. Commedia dell’Arte: Masks, Masters and Servants marries the play of improv with the play of videogames into…


Dig into the brilliant, quiet death of DYG

A faceless figure stands in a field. The shovel tight in grip, its body rises up and down in exhaustion. It lifts the shovel, attempting to dig a hole beneath its feet. The figure is successful and sinks slowly into the earth. But then it fails: the loud ding of the shovel hitting the hard ground rings out. The shovel didn’t cut the soil quite right, not this time, at least. The sun quickly sets behind them, promising only to bury this figure in darkness… and then what? Such is the brief, bite-sized browser-based project DYG; an aesthetically pleasing game…


Make a living as a 1930s barber in this male grooming videogame

Have you ever seen one of those gross “girly” beauty games? They’re getting pretty extreme these days. It used to be that you gave a princess a pleasant makeover: some blusher, a layer of foundation, perhaps a new lippy. But now you can pull Snow White’s teeth out, shave Barbie’s beard (I kid you not) and pull all the snot and hairs out of Princess Elza’s nostrils. Yeah.  Disgusting stuff, sure, but isn’t this perhaps a little closer to what maintaining our looks is like? You have to take the zit-popping with the lash curling after all. That’s just how…