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Style Savvy is a much-needed dose of beauty therapy

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Style Savvy (Nintendo 3DS) BY SYN SOPHIA What if I told you that a magical place existed where the makeovers flow like wine, and boutique shopping lives in a world where strip malls don’t exist. The place is Beaumonde City, and the game is the latest installment of Nintendo’s 3DS fashion sim, Style Savvy. Like past titles, you are a boutique manager helping every customer who walks through the door find exactly what she needs to put her best fashion foot forward. Aside from a…

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Magic Wand captures what it’s like to play RPGs as a kid

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Magic Wand (Windows, Mac, Linux) By thecatamites Stephen Murphy, aka thecatamites, is perhaps best known for his parody game Space Funeral (2010). In it, he deconstructs the JRPG by taking the nonsense logic of their fetch quests and oddly single-purpose characters to new extremes. He proves it doesn’t take much for the JRPG to go from a fiction we can accept to an absurd cadaver of meaning. You can tell Murphy has fostered a love for JRPGs, but it’s a love for their encapsulated stupidity, their…

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Become the god of your own topography

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Mu Cartographer (Windows, Mac) BY TITOUAN MILLET Much like David OReilly’s Mountain (2014), Mu Cartographer is a visual toy about exploring a planet from a distance. Unlike Mountain, however, Mu Cartographer allows you to interact with the landscape itself through a strange machine. In the game, you are a treasure hunter and, by jiggering the knobs at your disposal, you see different layers of the topography. Through experimentation and close attention to detail, you peel back the landscape’s colorful secrets, like pyramids and temples.…

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Get dazzled by the watery depths of Abzû

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Abzû (Windows, PlayStation 4) BY GIANT SQUID Abzû is the next game by Matt Nava, who was previously the art director at thatgamecompany, most notably on Journey (2012). Nava and team trade desert sands for oceans and the many creatures that populate them in Abzû. It all started with a dreamy vision of scuba diving, and has since flowed into an underwater journey full of orchestrated highs and lows, of unknown depths and dangers, where you learn to admire and respect the fish all around you.…

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Sit down and hack into the analog world of Quadrilateral Cowboy

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. QUADRILATERAL COWBOY (Windows) BY BLENDO GAMES From the maker of Gravity Bone (2008) and Thirty Flights of Loving (2012), Quadrilateral Cowboy (affectionately nicknamed Quad Cow) is the latest vignette game from Brendon Chung of Blendo Games. A story told in the same world as Thirty Flights of Loving, this one focuses on the effects of technology in our experience of culture, careers, relationships, and privacy. Combining the aesthetics and mentality of Y2K with the badass heists of Oceans Eleven, Quadrilateral Cowboy invites players to…

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Go on a Kafkaesque adventure in The Real Texas

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. THE REAL TEXAS (Windows, Mac) BY KITTY LAMBDA GAMES Sam is a real cowboy. He’s bored. So he goes on vacation to the land of castles and dragons—England. Once he arrives, Sam is soon sucked into a spinning portal where, on the other side, a purgatory awaits him. The place is called Strange, Texas, and it’s where he embarks on a series of problem-solving antics, punctuated by gunshots and fumbling conversation with the town’s kooky residents. The Real Texas came out in 2012…

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The new, silliest sport is Giraffe Volleyball

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. GIRAFFES VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 (Windows, Mac) BY SANDWICH PUISSANT The problem with many sports is that they’re taken too seriously. Competition is king in the land of sports. It drives violent rivalries, absurdly detailed post-match breakdowns, discussions of people as integers as if they were made in a factory to dispense sporting performance. For a long time this stern-faced attitude dominated sports videogames, but more recently, the genre has found its silly side. Giraffes Volleyball Championship 2016 is the latest sports game to…

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Inside dares you to escape

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Inside (PC, Xbox One) BY PLAYDEAD Playdead appears to have taken some lessons from Limbo and the many emulators that came after it. Focusing on atmosphere and a mounting sense of dread, Inside is a journey into the grayness of the human condition under surveillance. You are a boy, you are hunted, you are observed, you are sacrificed, again and again. While more mechanically forgiving than its predecessor, Inside is cruel to its players in a way few other games have ever dared to…

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Play a day in the life of a dystopian bartender

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. VA-11 Hall-A (Windows, Mac, Linux) BY SUKEBAN GAMES If you want to get to know the character of a city quickly, check out its bar scene. There, you’ll find all the community’s hopes and issues under the same roof, sharing a stiff drink. That’s the idea behind VA-11 Hall-A, a dystopian “drink-em-up” where players serve the bar regulars and listen to their personal stories. By developing relationships with your patrons, you learn about the everyday struggles of a consumerist surveillance state. While light on mechanics, VA-11 Hall-A allows you to…