A Normal Lost Phone
News

A Normal Lost Phone aims to find the personal stories in our digital lives

If you’re trying to reach as many people as possible with a game it makes sense that you use an interface they’re already familiar with. Rather than requiring players to learn the ins-and-outs of a new interface it’s probably easier to use one that already exists in their daily life. This is part of the reasoning why Accidental Queens, a three-woman team based in France, chose to give players a convincing recreation of a smartphone to interact with their story in A Normal Lost Phone. The idea in the game is to explore a teenager’s life through their mobile phone, digging through the secrets left…

Night Call
News

Night Call will bring you stylish French noir from the back of a taxi

Night Call‘s shade of noir-infused drama seems to be one part Drive (2011) and two parts Taxi Driver (1976). Upcoming for PC, iOS, and Android, Night Call will have you playing as a Parisian taxi driver who hopes to find the killer who has orchestrated a number of recent murders around the city. But you don’t do this in the usual videogame way—shootouts in industrial wastelands, chasing a black figure across a rooftop—the whole game takes place inside your taxi. the game uses a real city map for you to drive around Monkey Moon and BlackMuffin Studio, the two French…

a ghost in the static
News

A theatrical game about the difficult art of conversation

A Ghost in the Static doesn’t tell you anything. All you know is that you’re a figurine constructed out of some sort of wire and are left to explore a dark, mysterious room. Then you encounter another character in the room with you, and that’s when something unique happens. Much of A Ghost in the Static focuses on narrative development through dialogue. What’s interesting about it is that you control both sides of the conversation—kinda like you do in Kentucky Route Zero. This allows for a number of different paths in each conversation. Some exchanges might be about the planet…

The Coup
Feature

In praise of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s most unusual level

On the Level is a series that closely analyzes individual videogame sections, examining how small moments in games can resonate throughout—and beyond—the games themselves. /// Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare‘s (2007) writers understand brevity. Each loading screen provides a satellite image of the upcoming mission, accompanied by a terse overview. “Good news first,” explains SAS operative Gaz, before the opening level. “We’ve got a civil war in Russia … 15,000 nukes at stake.” It’s graceful. Like a soldier, on standby for mission go, while the player waits for action, she sits through an intelligence briefing. It’s economical, too. If…

The Banner Saga 2 header
Review

The Banner Saga 2 still goes at it hard

The world is breaking. This is what you’re told at the outset of The Banner Saga 2. It’s delivered in a sigh, an exhale, and carries with it the weight of responsibility you bear—not all of those entrusted to your care will make it through the ordeal. There’s an inevitable doom to the proceedings but your choices will give those that follow you a chance, at least. Those choices are there in the dialogue, in the small esoteric details of conversation, in the events that unfold, and in the combat that ensues. Decision-making is woven into the tapestry of play…

rainy day
News

Rainy Day is a powerful and sobering look at anxiety

Rainy Day, a recent interactive narrative by Thais Weiller, is a quick and impactful glimpse of the paralyzing power of anxiety. It was born out of creative frustration when she moved from a design role to production, where she often stayed quiet about her own creative ideas so as not to disrupt the flow of her team. “I remember feeling as if I was silenced,” she said, “as if something was missing and I couldn’t say exactly what. Feeling that bad wasn’t particularly new to me a year back […] but feeling silenced was new.” She decided to try to…

The First Tree
News

The First Tree looks foxy (and tragic) in its first trailer

The last time that we talked to David Wehle about his upcoming game The First Tree, it wasn’t much more than a few screenshots of a fox and his earnest desire to tell a story about the nature of life and death. It aims to weave two stories together—a fox searching for her lost kits and a human couple undergoing a tragedy—to bring beauty and meaning to the exploration genre. The recently-released teaser trailer shows just how poignant these tales can be. It follows the familiar fox through a forest as a young man and woman talk about dreams. She…

overwatch_header
Feature

Overwatch and the pleasure of transmedia narratives

Before Winston, a glasses-clad gorilla scientist, was leaping across maps to crush his enemies in the chaotic multiplayer battles of Overwatch, he was merely a young ape with big aspirations and an affinity for peanut butter. But you wouldn’t know that from merely playing the game. You’ll find no calculated, story-driven campaign in Blizzard’s competitive team-based multiplayer shooter. Overwatch’s character-driven narrative is instead trickled elsewhere: in genuinely endearing animated shorts, character-focused one-off webcomics, and short website-bound character biographies. The latter-most isn’t uncommon within videogames, the second less so, and the first is the most uncommon of them all, the three…

Fitz Packerton
News

Fitz Packerton turns packing your bags into a theatrical videogame

The first note of suspicion arises in two boxes sat next to each other on a desk. The label on these boxes is blurred beyond detail by the low-resolution—it’s possible to make out that it depicts a cylindrical instrument, white and red in color. I told myself it must be batteries for the nearby handheld radios. But I think I knew it was shotgun shells. /// “You hold your gun up when in waist-high water. You push away tall grass. Button just for Adrian Brody voicing how much ammo you have left.” These are a few of the features of…