Timruk Screen shot

Timruk explores the layers of historic violence beneath its beauty

Pages contain bodies and blood both literal and metaphorical. Illustrations and text occupy a confined world of disarray, littered with skulls. Among this is the beauty of rain falling and of bright wallpaper colors. A world where your hands are not your own. This is a world of contrasts, the world of Timruk, the world of Somewhere. Studio Oleomingus is simultaneously in the business of beauty and violence. Its latest game is called Timruk, which is a fragment of the larger upcoming videogame project Somewhere, following on from the studio’s previous off-shoot, Rituals. All these games have in common a thematic basis in colonial India but Timruk…


Firewatch: Come for the beauty, stay for the eeriness

Firewatch gets it. Beauty alone isn’t enough to carry an experience. There needs to be some grit, a bit of dirt, conflict even, to elevate a videogame (hell, any piece of art) from the whimsical to something more. I have a problem with 2009’s Flower and 2013’s Proteus precisely because there isn’t anything to offset that serene beauty, their new-age hokum. But in Firewatch, no matter how gorgeous that sunset or night sky is, there’s always a thick sense of dread. Something to unsettle you. Something to make you tense up. I’m not talking bump-in-the-night, Blair-Witch, voodoo nonsense either. Forget…


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…


Now this is a videogame worthy of Beksinski’s haunting paintings

If you look upon the mournful, decaying figure sat atop that webbed plinth above and don’t immediately think of Zdzisław Beksiński then you aren’t familiar with his work. And if that’s the case then you might not fully realize the appeal of Scorn, the videogame that this concept art informs. Time to change that. What Beksiński did with bone haunts. He was a Polish artist, best known for his many paintings, especially the gothic fantasy that dripped from his brush during the 1970s and 1980s. But Beksiński’s gothic fantasy isn’t like any other: forget about crows, full moons, and vampires. He rarely spoke…


Californium brings Philip K. Dick’s vision of the world to life

“Life in Anaheim, California, was a commercial for itself, endlessly replayed. Nothing changed; it just spread out farther and farther in the form of neon ooze. What there was always more of had been congealed into permanence long ago, as if the automatic factory that cranked out these objects had jammed in the on position.” —Philip K. Dick,  A Scanner Darkly, 1977. /// Dimensions merge in Californium like pools of spilled ink on paper. Each one is given a predominant color so that they easily contrast—it makes the strange effect lucid if not any easier to get your head around. A cold, austere blue…

Mansion Maniac

Explore dreamlike remixes of New York City’s early 20th century apartments

The idea of the New York City apartment as we know it had yet to be established at the end of the 19th century. The inhabitants of huge multi-occupant living spaces were mostly low-income immigrant families, isolated physically and culturally. The change began with Jacob Riis’s 1890 book How the Other Half Lives, which shocked upper and middle class New Yorkers with descriptions and photographs of the abject poverty of the slums. As the 20th century began, improvements to tenement living, changes to laws mandating building height, and the new subway lines paved the way for the apartment to become…


Speak Up, Off-Peak

Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Mad Max. Fallout 4. Star Wars Battlefront. In a year of stunning videogame landscapes—or at least landscapes that are mildly pleasing, so long as you enjoy dull, pretty pictures—Off-Peak, by Cosmo D, is exceptional. Its train station cum art gallery is an evocation of art versus functionality, of a world and an industry where talented creators are trained to become commodities. Musicians are gathered here. Artwork and posters adorn the walls. Above you hangs a life size sculpture of a blue whale. Around you, people of all shapes, sizes and skin colours sip coffee and…

Way To The Woods

Way To The Woods, a beautiful upcoming videogame about two deer

When I was 16-years-old I think I was hiding bottles of whiskey in a make-shift compartment I’d fashioned out of a flat-pack desk in my bedroom. My ambitions involved finishing school and getting drunk. I was probably considered a hopeless if academically successful wreck. This is only confirmed by seeing what other 16-year-olds get up to. Specifically, the 16-year-old Melbourne-based artist Anthony Tan who is making a beautiful videogame called Way To The Woods by himself. This is flabbergasting. Way To The Woods is described as a third-person adventure that follows a mother deer and her fawn as they travel through…

A Place for the Unwilling

A videogame in which the city is the protagonist

The city in A Place for the Unwilling is alive. It may even be possible for it to die. The streets and buildings make up its physical form as bones and muscles and arteries do ours. The population is its life force; rushing like a bloodstream through the alleys and avenues, occasionally stopping for conversation next to a monument or under a streetlamp. The city hears them whispering each other’s names, it feels them moving around inside of it, and more recently it has felt something darker and twisted lurking within it. The idea in this upcoming narrative adventure is to explore…