Firewatch: Come for the beauty, stay for the eeriness

Firewatch gets it. Beauty alone isn’t enough to carry an experience. There needs to be some grit, a bit of dirt, conflict even, to elevate a videogame (hell, any piece of art) from the whimsical to something more. I have a problem with 2009’s Flower and 2013’s Proteus precisely because there isn’t anything to offset that serene beauty, their new-age hokum. But in Firewatch, no matter how gorgeous that sunset or night sky is, there’s always a thick sense of dread. Something to unsettle you. Something to make you tense up. I’m not talking bump-in-the-night, Blair-Witch, voodoo nonsense either. Forget…

Rez Infinite

Rez Infinite gives a 2001 music shooter another shot at entrancing you

Despite being a child of ’90s clubbing and music television, the 2001 rail shooter Rez didn’t quite resonate with its majority audience as its visionary creators had hoped it would. A small niche of players got it—no, they really got it—but it didn’t have the impact of, say, a killer DJ set sending ripples across the dance floor. And make no mistake: that is what director Jun Kobayashi and producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi were hoping for. Kobayashi has explained that the title Rez is a shortened form of “resolute,” which may be a Japanese-English misappropriation, but the important part is that he understands…

Gone Home

Gone Home heads to consoles on January 12th with behind-the-scenes commentary

It’s fair to say that we’re quite fond of Gone Home. It was our Game of the Year when it came out for PC back in 2013. And its mark has been left not only on our own minds, but in those of other creators, with Gone Home‘s intimate exploration of household objects manifesting in various game narratives over the past two years. Of course, there’s more to it than that; the moment of genuine terror it manufactures, the homage to the 1990s and teen angst, its housing of one of gaming’s prominent queer relationships, exploring themes of aging and growing…


Push Me Pull You is the grossest couch co-op game, and I can’t wait

Delightfully repulsive couch co-op game Push Me Pull You is headed to PlayStation 4 and PC, Mac, and Linux early next year. The game pits two teams of two players each in a literal head-to-head duel, where team members control their own side of a stretchy, noodle-like body conjoined at the midsection. Both players in a team have the power to extend and contract their side of the body at will, helping to coil, twist, and worm their way around an arena (and their opponent) for control of a ball. It’s gross, hilarious, and unlike any other local multiplayer game…


Future Unfolding will let us play with the animals on PS4, and so it should

“Come, bunnies,” I announced to the empty room behind me. “Follow me, your glorious leader!” In Future Unfolding, you run around a forest that has the florid appearance of spilled paint, and you can talk to the animals. As if some glorified Pied Piper, you stride with great bounds across flower patches, painting blue streaks as you sprint between the shadows of leafy trees, a fleet of fluffy animals in tow.  When I started playing Future Unfolding, my controller was disconnected, and so I was left to use either my mouse or my keyboard. “Nah,” I said, and got up…


These new GNOG screens are so beautiful they’ll swallow you whole

If you’re still anxiously awaiting the hungry jaws of the big monster heads in GNOG, you’ll have to keep waiting until its 2016 release date. But, in the meantime, feel free to get swallowed up by the latest screens released by Ko-Op Mode. The screens highlight GNOG‘s polished yet playful art style, with a deep, pleasing color palette that makes you feel like you could just dive into each shot. Of course, diving into different inner worlds is exactly what the game is all about. Lead artist Sam Boucher has explained to Kill Screen that in GNOG, “Each head is kind…


This week’s Playlist pick finds beauty in the end of the world

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (PS4)  BY The Chinese Room and SCE Sonta Monica Studio The reclaiming of the term “walking simulator” is a great example of a community turning something derogatory into something positive. The label, given to games that focus on environmental storytelling like Dear Esther, was meant to deride interactive experiences that lack high scores and point systems. Walking is boring, the joke assumes, and thus any game that merely simulates this mundane activity is not worth anyone’s time. Creators like…


Back to Bed’s creators on bringing surrealist architecture to videogames

From the melting clock to the overgrown green apples, the paint-chipped fingerprints of René Magritte and the flamboyant moustache of Salvador Dali are all over the topsy-turvy dreamscapes of Back to Bed. This puzzle game about escorting a somnambulist named Bob back to his duvet using the physical manifestation of his subconscious—a green dog-like creature called SuBob—is essentially every famous surrealist painting mashed together and made virtual. The other recognizable influence are the conceptual drawings of impossible structures by noted graphic artist M. C. Escher. These aren’t necessarily recreated in Back to Bed as the surrealists’ works are, but are alluded…


Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon will update Gothic castles for the videogame age

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon has a title that would probably be accepted as part of the Castlevania series (which includes Legacy of Darkness, Circle of the Moon, and Curse of Darkness for starters). This is probably not a mistake. Consider that Rite of the Shrouded Moon, as often with Castlevania, is about navigating and surviving a mysterious Gothic abode. Instead of Dracula’s castle, it is the Blackbird Estate that you explore, it said to contain equal parts insanity, secret passages, and coded messages.  a mansion that feels alive  Vital to setting the tone in and around the enormous stony-walled…