Scanner Sombre

Scanner Sombre finds the mystery in laser-based surveying technology

After working on one thing for an extended period of time, sometimes the best thing to do is to step away from that particular project and work on something else for a while, if only to get the creative juices flowing again. This is what happened to Introversion, the studio behind Prison Architect (2015), a game in which players act as both the warden and the titular architect, as they manage and expand their very own prison. Last year, the team decided to take a month off from Prison Architect and create two prototype games. They became Scanner Sombre and Wrong Wire. Introversion’s lead…


The Art of Escape

This article was funded with support from Longreads members. * * * No one wore stripes that spring and summer in Leavenworth. Stripes were for rule breakers, and no one was breaking the rules. “Baseball As A Corrective” read the front page of the New York Times that May. It was 1912 and “the magic of baseball” had “wrought a wonderful change in the United States Penitentiary.” For the first time in Leavenworth’s history, for months at a time, everyone behaved, because everyone wanted to play or watch the baseball games. “Chronic trouble makers began to be so good that the…


Big Pharma combines pretty pastel color scheme with withering cynicism

British Developer Twice Encircled has announced Big Pharma, a game which puts you in the deeply conflicted shoes of a c-level suit at a pharmaceutical conglomerate. It follows the Tycoon playbook: soft, twee visual design over top a game of space and resource management. As in the canonical Kairosoft and Tycoon games, you’ll tirelessly work to minimize some numbers and maximize others, tweaking an optimal profit with nary a thought to the souls you employ. Big Pharma, obviously, takes it one step further: you’re not building railroads or videogames here but pills, which might cure diseases, make people happier, or give them back…


Factorio gives the middle finger to SimCity’s vision of industrial utopia

SimCity is about building a flourishing biome where citizens can live without dying of smog. Factorio, contrarily, says screw that. It is a game about wrecking the environment by building sprawling, Rube-Goldbergian, obscene, waste-shitting factories out of conveyer belts and tens of thousands of claw arms.  Judging from the new trailer, it loosely fits alongside games like Papers, Please and Prison Architect inside the very trendy space of legitimately good games making a statement for a social cause by having you make awful choices to win. And the cause here I suspect is pollution, as you can see in the…