No Man's Sky

Phew, No Man’s Sky has been delayed to August

It’s been tense leading up to the arrival of No Man’s Sky, especially if you follow the game’s lead programmer Sean Murray as he occasionally lifts his head from the milieu of computer code to make appearances around the net. “Anyone been to sleep yet?” asks one of his latest tweets. You can see the sleep deprivation and stress in his eyes as he appears in promotional videos, staring blankly at a TV screen with the game he’s been making for the past few years playing on it; the thousand-yard stare becoming more and more prominent with each video. His beard…

Uncharted 4

Uncharted 4 has no regrets

There’s a brief moment in the first hour of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End where Nathan Drake, a retired treasure hunter, combs through the artifacts from his adventures that he keeps in his attic. The space is ruined with meticulous clutter—each individual relic a callback to some grand excursion—and as I explored this makeshift museum, I found myself falling prey to the same fond memories that overtake the game’s protagonist. Sifting through this digital archive prompts Drake to discover his old holster, now holding a toy gun. Almost instinctively, I make him pick it up, and then I steer him…


Koi brings the tranquility of a Chinese lotus pond to your PS4

Chinese studio Dotoyou recently released its game Koi on the PlayStation 4, making it the first game from its native country to be released on the PlayStation 4 in the West. Koi stars a koi fish facing dangers beneath the surface of its resident lotus pond, such as predator fish and spiked barriers. By causing flowers to bloom, the titular koi can “purify” the pond, turning the predators into friends and cleaning the waters. DAQ, Dotoyou’s lead designer, told me the idea for the game originally came from the team’s love of animals and their respect for their environment. “We combined…


The adorably grotesque world of Push Me Pull You arrives next month

As you can surmise from the title, Push Me Pull You (PMPY) is about the delightful tension between polar opposite forces. Even the world behind this couch co-op game is simultaneously the same and exact opposite of our own world. Because, you see, PMPY is populated by a very similar society with one key difference: people are joined at the waist to one another, turning the populace into a squirming pile of two-headed mutant tube creatures. Despite the body horror this image suggests, PMPY depicts a utopian society built around play, diversity, and a strong sense of community. For all its grotesqueness, this society of skin worms seems endlessly more charming and self-loving than our own. The bond struck between each one—quite literally unbreakable—is…


An upcoming shooter doesn’t let you aim your guns

Seraph is a shooter in which you don’t aim. It’s set to hit Steam Early Access this month and PlayStation 4 at a later date. But if you don’t want to wait until then to find out how it works, here, it’s simple: it’s a 2D side­scrolling shooter that aims and fires your guns for you, leaving you to focus on skillfully dodging enemy attacks with increasingly flashy, acrobatic moves. “The idea came from my love of the movies The Matrix (1999) and Equilibrium (2002). I wanted to deliver a gaming experience that truly delivered on how awesome these films…

Dear Esther

More people will soon be able to play The Chinese Room’s poetic videogames

Very soon, thousands more will have the opportunity to get lonely with a videogame in the most beautiful way. Yes, The Chinese Room is bringing both its poetic narrative games, Dear Esther (2012) and last year’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, to new platforms—the former is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while the latter makes its way to PC. Other than a few pleasant additional touches, like a developer’s commentary for Dear Esther and a few bug fixes, the games will remain essentially unchanged. That means each of these games will, once again, invite you into their virtual…


Synesthesia and vibrators: a history of innovation from Rez

There’s a moment in the demo of Rez’s PlayStation VR inception (retitled as Rez Infinite) where I accidentally transgressed my professional demeanor and said “holy shit.” Not a lone “holy shit this is kinda cool,” as I glanced around the technicolored space of Area 02. Nor a woozy “holy shit I feel nauseous,” as I dizzyingly locked onto rockets flying towards me. But an awe-inspiring “holy shit, this is VR.” VR at its most realized. Rez is VR. And honestly, it kinda always has been. Game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Rez was always on the cutting edge of not just experiencing…


Everything, an open-universe game about the nature of being

Everything is coming exclusively to PlayStation 4 in the near-ish future. Er, that is, Everything, the next game by David O’Reilly. Not, you know, everything. It’s a simple idea with a huge scope: you can embody and play as everything that you see in the game’s universe. Damien DiFede, the game’s programmer, has had to come up with a new way to create and design levels to accommodate this ambition, treating objects more like ecosystems. When O’Reilly says “you [can] be anything you want” he means it. While this promise of being able to become anything does seem to be a…


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…