Destiny Rise of Iron

Destiny: Rise of Iron has learned nothing

I was at E3 when Destiny was first shown to the world in 2013. I remember being shepherded into a theater, the outside marked with huge printed artwork, among a group of whispering journalists. In that theater, we would be taken through the opening to the game: the wall, the breach, the first areas of the Cosmodrome. The person demonstrating the game spawned at what I now know—after hundreds of hours in Destiny’s world—to be the hard edge of the map. But back then I had no idea where this sprawling landscape ended, where its invisible walls lay. So as…

Shin Godzilla

All bow down before the mighty Shin Godzilla

At one point in Shin Godzilla, Toho’s 29th entry in this ancient series, a character calls Godzilla a “perfect organism.” This might sound familiar to anyone who’s watched Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979): it’s how the devious android Ash describes the xenomorph. Godzilla movies don’t typically reach outside the big guy’s cultural bubble, the occasional crossover with King Kong notwithstanding. They exist within a cloistered half-century of constant reinvention; there are whole eras of Godzilla named for whoever was emperor of Japan at that time, all refracting and, frankly, diluting the original premise into a repeatable formula that yielded enjoyable-but-inessential riffs on everything…

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor

Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor is a treasure among the trash

There is a sense, in videogames particularly, that the greatest science fiction is that with the budget to match its ideas. Most sci-fi games seem engaged in a kind of arms race, a process of trying to out-tech and out-spectacle each other with increasing elaborate retellings of the “save the galaxy” narrative. Yet, in many ways this is the realm of the blockbuster, not of science fiction as a genre. The most impactful sci-fi of the past was not that which hammered the most fancy widgets onto a five-act quest structure, but that which abstracted, twisted, and expanded the struggles…


Arrival is an alien-contact movie that’ll speak to you

I did not expect a new Denis Villeneuve movie to make me cry. The man behind Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), and Sicario (2015) is not known for his delicate touch, but his new sci-fi drama Arrival makes a staggering case for looking at Villeneuve with fresh eyes. The logy, intellectually bankrupt posturing of Prisoners and Sicario has been jettisoned, leaving only the good bits: razor-sharp cinematography, perfectly-pitched scores, and strong performances. Here, those are courtesy of Bradford Young (Selma), Jóhann Jóhannsson (also Sicario, Prisoners), and Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Since his US debut with Prisoners, Villenueve has yet to direct one…

Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies promises a gloriously Victorian sci-fi tale

Rejoice! The stars are right! The stars are right because they are being murdered. Sunless Sea (2015) introduced players to the lonely madness and terror of an underground sea. Its expansion pack, Zubmariner, is set to take players to the claustrophobic depths of that ocean on October 11. Now, the sequel to Sunless Sea has been announced—named Sunless Skies—and promises to take its blend of well-written prose and pensive cosmic horror out into the actual cosmos. Fallen London is going to space. Sunless Sea begins with an epigraph from Joseph Conrad, expressing the central theme of the game: “The Sea…


One last tour of Destiny’s Cosmodrome

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by writer and artist Gareth Damian Martin. /// There’s a set of stairs in my childhood house that I still climb like I was eight years old. It’s not something I do on purpose; it’s something ingrained, so that the moment I step on the first step my hands come instinctively down and I scramble up the carpeted ledges like a dog. It’s as if, through repetition, the space has ceased to be something true, objective, and has transformed into a series of emotional and psychological triggers, arranged in the precise configuration to…


Expect to gather round Djur’s bonfire for a sci-fi fable

The campfire story has been resurrected in videogames recently. A rush of independent games have taken their own spin on the sit-around-and-talker, and the idea of making a game out of a fable is currently being tested by upcoming games like Forest of Sleep. The recently-announced game Djur expands this area of thinking, and aims to combine the quiet calm of fantasy worlds with sci-fi, and explore the meaning of myth and humanity through folk tales. it attracts the uncanny So far we don’t know much about Djur besides the unusual moniker of “sci-fi fable.” But that’s okay, because the little…


The challenging design of Event[0]’s insecure AI

One of the big games coming out this week is Event[0]—available for Windows and Mac on September 14th. It’s a sci-fi game set in an alternate retrofuture reality in which humanity built a starship in 1985 and has since embraced artificial intelligence even more than we have now. The events depicted in the game take place in 2012, on board a starship, where you, the player, are left alone with an insecure AI known as Kaizen. The idea is to explore the ship (which requires completing some hacking puzzles) in order to gather items and information. With this, you can then talk…


There’s more Tacoma footage and it just keeps getting better

IGN has released the first 15 minutes Fullbright’s next game Tacoma, and it’s looking astonishingly good. We’d already gotten glimpses of its ship as Amy, the protagonist, slipped around in zero-gravity, transferring from surface to surface to navigate the empty ship, and we’d seen the first echoes of those that used to inhabit it: colorful human-shaped holograms, going about their lives on loop as Amy stayed quiet and watched. we watch them converse and lament, joke and flirt and worry But with this new footage we get an even closer look at the AR ghosts that drive Tacoma’s plot—we watch them…