Don't Kill Her

Don’t Kill Her turns murder mystery into a hand-drawn delight

Call him Wuthrer, call him Wuthrer Cuany—call him any name you like. Just don’t call him conventional or compromising. The Swiss artist’s latest project, Don’t Kill Her, is an ostensibly two-dimensional adventure game drawn entirely in pencil. The title is up for vote on Steam Greenlight and is currently seeking funds on Indiegogo. Driven by a central murder mystery in which the player character is said to be the killer, an unnamed victim narrates the dreamlike story as you make your way through Wuthrer’s sketchbook-esque world. While the artist is coy on specifics (“Don’t judge a game by its cover,” his website urges), there’s plenty to admire on the surface.…

ratchet and clank header

In Defense of the 3D Platformer

Let me say it up front: the new Ratchet and Clank remake is magnificent. It also feels extremely strange, as though it hails from a parallel universe that isn’t quite our own. In this universe, the 3D platformer is ascendant. Good games are defined by everything it has in abundance: by the quality of their move upgrades; the length of their long jumps; the theming of their worlds; the cackling of their villains. Every game is legally required to have a fire level. Every game conveys the same set of values—duty, honor, the heroism of the ordinary, the sacrifice of…

Gebub's Adventure

Upcoming game uses MS Paint-style art to evoke peacefulness

Gebub’s Adventure forces players to look past the origins of the creature they have been given control of, instead looking forward at the game’s world and secrets. Created by John Wallie, Gebub’s Adventure is a “peaceful adventure game” that will send the titular Gebub on an exploratory journey through a strange world, meeting its characters and creatures along the way. The game’s simple, minimalist art style is something Wallie referred to me as “MS Paint method,” inspired by the game Seiklus (2003), and a style he has iterated on heavily in the past. “Experimentation is what has led me to develop the…


Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Bros. folds in on itself

There’s something strange—maybe even broken—about fetishizing materiality in a digital world the way Mario & Luigi Paper Jam Bros does, though it’s not the first game to do this. I first noticed this in another Nintendo game from last year, Yoshi’s Wooly World, which trades on a contradiction. It’s a game about adorable dinosaurs in adorable environments made out of yarn and glue. Aesthetically, it’s “crafty,” which we value precisely because of its irreproducibility. Flaws aren’t flaws in this context; they’re signs of the hands that made it. And yet videogames are bits—0s and 1s—all the way down: data perfectly,…


Unravel wants to help us mourn, but doesn’t know how

Unravel begins with a letter from its creators that thanks you for purchasing the game. It explains to you the power of the medium, the senses of love and loneliness about to be explored, and how long they as a team have been pouring their hearts into it. The font and spacing makes it resemble the prelude to Thriller (1983), where Michael Jackson promises that he does not worship the devil. A game that signals its own history and globe of emotions as active parts, Unravel began for audiences last year when Coldwood Interactive’s creative director Martin Sahlin was called to the…


Burn in hell, Yarny

A videogame called Unravel will be released tomorrow. It may be a good game, and it is certainly a good-looking one, with a soft focus and hazy depth of field; tree leaves rustle convincingly and thick snowflakes pile up as the camera pans ever right-ward. It appears to make use of this tactile world for a series of physics-based puzzles, like moving rocks to get up on ledges and creating makeshift vines with which to soar across little ponds. These may be very clever puzzles, building toward a resolution that is very satisfying, but I will never know, because I will never…


The aliens in Somerville definitely don’t come in peace

“If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the American Indians.” That quote belongs, unfortunately, to one of the greatest minds of our age, Stephen Hawking. It’s not an uncommon sentiment, of course; popular entertainment has been driving home this idea since Orson Welles’ famous War of the Worlds (1938) broadcast. And it’s Welles that has clear influence on the visuals of Somerville, an upcoming sci-fi game: huge black monoliths loom over a rural community, spitting out all manner of neon terrors…

Le Petit Architecte

Celebrate Swiss architect Le Corbusier by defacing one of his masterpieces

What better way to celebrate it being 50 years since influential Swiss architect Le Corbusier’s death than redesigning his famous Villa Savoye? Oh, not actually, of course. We couldn’t possibly bear to spoil what is considered by many to be one of the keystones of modern architecture (and also an official French historical monument). We’re talking videogames here. Yes, it’s their easily-reset worlds that allow us to enjoy reckless fantasies without consequence (usually), so why not employ them to deface a prestigious villa that sits on the edge of Paris? This is the concept of a new project by Greek-born Theo Triantafyllidis, who…


A beautiful 3D platformer to celebrate our worship of coffee

It’s almost surprising that there isn’t a giant Starbucks logo to be found among the pastel-colored environments of Caffeine shown in its first trailer. If it were made back in the ’90s, during the height of the genre it belongs to—the 3D platformer collect-a-thon—it would likely have some form of corporate backing. Like that Zool platformer I played on my DOS computer; the Chupa Chups logo shining like a flowery beacon next to the candy cane meadows and green jello mountains. I was four, maybe five, and highly impressionable. I licked a lot of lollipops that summer. But Caffeine isn’t from that…