The irresistible appeal of roguelike storytelling

A 20-something girl stands in an elevator. There’s an eye patch on her face, a shotgun on her back, and a pistol in her right hand. The door opens, and she hits the ground running into a room full of drones. They hover over her, firing red lasers completely bent on killing her. After all, why wouldn’t they be? Molly Pop is the head of the Zero Sum Gang, and she’s on a mission to topple the Fero corporation by raiding their bunkers one-by-one. She wastes no time, shooting down the flying robots in seconds, then travelling down a hallway…

Nova Alea

Nova Alea has a go at criticizing the state of urban housing

Molleindustria’s Nova Alea is a parable in search of a game. It is the story of real estate speculation, housing bubbles, and capitalism run amok. The story takes place on a chessboard—that or a graveyard for skyscrapers. Maybe both. “For its masters,” the gentle-voiced narrator intones, “the city was a matrix of financial abstractions.” Note the use of the past tense: that’s the first sign you’re inside a parable. The powers of finance are represented by a tilted pink cube—think Tony Rosenthal’s “Alamo,” but cuter—that floats above the city. More accurately, it looms, dropping capital in underdeveloped neighborhoods and hopefully…


Virtual reality showrooms turn your living room into a universal storefront

How much are you willing to pay to be a loyal customer? For me, it’s $100. I pay Amazon $100 a year so that I can buy things from them without feeling guilty about paying for shipping at checkout. I haven’t actually taken the time to do the math and figure out if this is saving me money in the long run—I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t like the answer—but it makes me feel better about using their service. If a Prime membership cost $700 instead of $100, though, I’d be having second thoughts. Which is to say,…


Suits: A Business RPG asks how easily you’ll give in to a corporation

The enemy here is capitalism. Isn’t it always? Suits: A Business RPG is an expedition into the morass that is modern capitalism. Note that it is not a journey through this world. That would presuppose the existence of an escape, and Suits is not that sort of game. The action takes place in a black-and-white corporate dystopia, though the extent to which this world differs from ours is very much up for debate. “Corporations,” the game’s documentation explains, “control the entire global government.” What’s new? You play as a businessman. You are not the worst of people, but you’re also…


Wrangle produce and fight off corporate greed in Chesto

In the United States, we tend to get wrapped up in our own abhorrent capitalist practices because, well, we’re the best at it. But we forget that ruthless capitalism is a world-wide disease, infesting the planet with hypocrisy and Marxist nightmares. Tesco, a supermarket chain ranked as the 2nd largest retailers in the world, encapsulate the evils of capitalism in the UK, with humanitarian issues ranging from selling their customers horse meat to failing to pay their workers minimum wage that gets subsidized by tax payers (costing them an estimated £364million last year). Tesco has been at the the center of the…


Unsolicited shows us the begrudging lives behind junk mail

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Unsolicited (PC, Mac, Linux)  BY Lucas Pope Given the vacuity of the junk mail that mailboxes regularly puke onto entrance mats, you’d be forgiven to think there wasn’t a single soul behind it. In one respect, you’re right, as the souls of the people who are paid to produce junk mail probably died a long time ago. Such is the nature of the job. This is something you’ll discover as you play Lucas Pope’s latest game, Unsolicited. Similar to Pope’s celebrated solo debut Papers, Please, Unsolicited has you sorting…


Actual Sunlight creator announces new game about our impending financial doom

According to researchers, the year 2031 will bring with it a shift in the economy that might render this country unrecognizable. They’re calling it the “inheritance bubble,” a product of ultra-wealthy baby boomers leaving behind sizable chunks (over 35% of America’s total net worth) for their children to spend and squander. the United States might look a little more like aristocratic Europe  Though there’s been lots of talk of the inheritance bubble, researchers still anxiously await its pop, uncertain about what America will look like afterward. But the New York Times reported on some predictions, warning us to “get ready for…