Birthplace of Ossian
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Birthplace of Ossian explores the artificiality of videogame landscapes

The mountainous terrain in Connor Sherlock’s exploration game Birthplace of Ossian isn’t of this world. I don’t mean that rather than being real, it is virtual—its disconnection has many more layers than that. For starters, its colossal landscape is based on Glen Coe in Scotland, a place that Sherlock has never been but feels connected to through media like Highlander (1986)—he’s actually named after the main character, Connor MacLeod. Sherlock wanted his recreation of Glen Coe to reflect his physical distance from it. “I wanted the space to be as distant an echo of the real thing as I could make it, like…

Dishonored 2
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The secrets of Dishonored 2’s mongrel city

I first noticed it in the windows: their subtle, curving mullions that rise and fall like waves. Those curves lend a romantic lightness to the architecture they are set into. You might not notice them when you first set foot in Dishonored 2’s Karnaca, but you’ll surely feel them. Like a thousand other details that litter the streets of this imagined city, Karnaca’s arches, windows, and alcoves conspire to create a distinct sense of place. They gather to form a visual map imprinted piece-by-piece in the player’s mind, as they turn the camera this way and that, down back alleys…

Frog Fractions 2
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Frog Fractions 2 and the difficult art of mystery making

How do you follow up a game like Frog Fractions (2012)? That’s the question its creator Jim Crawford had promised an answer to for two years. On December 27th, 2016, he delivered with the release of Frog Fractions 2, which he had hidden away inside a fairy-themed city builder called Glittermitten Grove. The problem with making a sequel to Frog Fractions is that it’s a game that relies on the unexpected. The original starts off pretending to teach you about fractions with a simple bug-eating game, but then takes a sudden turn and sends you on a wild adventure, riding a dragon across…

Walking Simulator
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Photography project inspires a videogame about mountains

LA-based digital artist and photographer Carson Lynn is aware of the stigma behind the term “walking simulator.” It’s no coincidence that it’s the title of his latest project and also one of the most divisive terms in videogames. He knows that a lot of people shrug the walking simulator genre off as being games that are simply about walking—as if they were pointless, not even games at all. “I often get the same reaction when someone views my artwork since it’s abstract nature,” Lynn tells me. “Many people don’t want to stop and reflect and think about an artwork, they…

A House of Many Doors
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Weird fiction continues to invade videogames with A House of Many Doors

It was going fine until the Gangleman came. He arrived in the total darkness that my crew and I had been plunged into after the Heartlight had gone out. As Captain, I had made the decision to not sacrifice my own heart nor that of any of my crew to restore the light, and so we made haste towards the City of Keys, the closest refuge to our desperate position. That’s when he came, to the tune of “Gangleman, Gangleman,” a portentous poem written across the ages about his infamous acts of terror. And with that he stole one of my men…

Forgotten
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In Forgotten, you’re the horror inside the computer

“It’s now safe to turn off your computer.” Anyone who owned a PC in the ’90s should be familiar with this strange statement. It only appeared once you’d instructed the computer to shut down. But now it also serves as the ending to Sophia Park‘s new Twine game, Forgotten. It’s a fitting closure given that you spend your time inside an old computer with a nearly exhausted hard drive. When you leave you have destroyed the last remnants of a virtual world and the inhabitants that had spent years dwelling within. That final statement suggests that, after your cleansing (or destructive) act,…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 4 to 1

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 4. Anatomy If Kitty Horrorshow is the new mistress of videogame horror, then right now Anatomy is her masterpiece. It’s as unsettling as it is smart. You’re tasked with collecting cassette tapes around a dark, silent house. As you listen to them, a monologue suggests the house is alive. One line that sticks: “There is even a fair number of comparisons to be drawn between those organs of the house and those of the…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 8 to 5

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 8. Hitman What have I done? I accidentally killed this golf instructor in Sapienza—automatically a huge knock on my final score—and I feel terrible. This dude wasn’t my intended target. I just wanted his outfit. As I don this mystery man’s uniform, I wonder; what was this man’s life like before I threw a knife into his head? Before I, the ever-bald and temporarily golf-loving Agent 47, placed an exploding ball onto an isolated…

High Scores 2016
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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2016 – 12 to 9

This is part of Kill Screen’s list of the best videogames of 2016. To see the rest of the list, check out all the other parts. /// 12. The Last Guardian You don’t mind when Trico delays the journey to splash in a puddle. This large mythic fusion of cat, bird, and dog is the most lovable videogame companion yet—both daft and majestic. Tasked with escaping a megastructure made of carved stone and rickety wooden plinths, the boy and Trico learn to cooperate, but also to care for one another. They climb up high and fall back down, over and over,…