The nuclear power of Fallout’s wartime kitsch

This article is part of a collaboration between Kill Screen and Art of the Title, celebrating videogame title sequences and the artists who made them happen. “FALLOUT.” One word in block letters, set against a black background. The crackle of a needle dropping on a vinyl record starts up; a black-and-white animation emerges from the wavering void of an analog TV signal. We see propaganda broadcasts rendering the apocalypse in determinedly cheery tones. Then the camera pulls back, the TV still going, to reveal the blasted-out husk of an American metropolis. The record starts to skip on the word “maybe”…


Fear of a videogame dystopia

Some weeks ago, a piece of news shook my world. It wasn’t the primary election results, nor was it Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali’s passing—even though that one was really, really sad. Nope, it was a parrot. CBS reported on June 10th that Bud, an African grey parrot who kept repeating the phrase ‘don’t fucking shoot’ after his owner was murdered, could become a witness in trial. We all read bizarre stories online every day, but this one instantly reminded me of a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001) case, where a parrot testifies in court—and there’s more to the parallel too,…

Bethesda glitch

In defense of Bethesda’s notorious videogame glitches

Glitches and bugs have become the hallmark of Bethesda Softworks’ renowned 3D RPGs. Their releases are riddled with them: Fallout 3 (2008) regularly sent robots and Deathclaws flying through the air, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) had an arrow duplication glitch that led to the greatest YouTube videos in the world, and characters fell through the map in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011), like, all the time. Any upcoming Bethesda game is met with excitement, and then a caveat: you’ll have a great time… if you can make it through without glitching. Some are little, like characters clipping…

“A Different Kind of Dreamer”

Videogames and the end of sleep

In 2005, following the public outrage over the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the research group Gallup organized a survey to gauge Americans’ attitudes towards the “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by intelligence services in the War on Terror. When presented with descriptions of such methods, including waterboarding, mock executions, religious violation, and the threat of attack dogs, the overwhelming majority of those polled rejected them as morally impermissible torture. But a single practice, sleep deprivation, was deemed acceptable by half of all respondents on the basis that it doesn’t constitute torture, per se, but “psychological persuasion.”…

Investigations no truce

No Truce With The Furies is the isometric RPG to look out for

A revolution-wrecked port city. An enthusiastic policeman out of his depth. “Neither fantasy, history, nor any kind of -punk.” Helmed by a “chronically success-impaired” science-fiction writer and describing itself as a combination of Planescape: Torment (1999), Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and Kentucky Route Zero (2013), it’s a game about “being a total failure.” The first question on the developer’s FAQ is, “Is this a joke?” “No, it’s not,” says Estonian developer Fortress Occident. “It’s a real game. We’re making it.” And for the debut project of a studio that’s only been around since October, No Truce With The Furies…


Why Fallout 4’s 1950s satire falls flat

War may never change, but Kill Screen does. Back our Kickstarter to help support our print relaunch! Fallout 4 takes us back. Back to the beginning. Back before the bombs fell, and before the world of the Fallout series took on its mutated, feral, apocalyptic form. But what did that world look like? The Fallout series has, since its inception, hinted at a world before nuclear annihilation that resembled, in its culture and its design, the 1950s, rather than the 2070s, which is the decade in which Fallout’s “Great War,” a two-hour series of nuclear blasts that decimated the planet,…


Fallout 4: Return to Junktown

For more in-depth game writing, back our Kickstarter! Here comes the trashman! He’s strutting down the highway in his scrap metal suit, tin cans rattling up and down its legs, soda bottles and glue dispensers falling out the cracks between its plates, cereal boxes bobbling on the tips of his metal fingers. He’s blasting “The Wanderer” with no headphones on and waking the mole rats up. He’s bounding downtown like he owns the world. He intends to put all of it into his pockets. He works fastest indoors: his vision jumps from floor to desk to shelf, hunting for the…