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High Scores: The Best Videogames of 2015

Header image and artwork by Caty McCarthy 25. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Asteroid Base) Neon cuteness belying hardened spacefaring carnage. A manic platformer disguised as a cheerful shoot-em-up. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a lot of things, and all of those things are descending on you at the exact same time. With the evil forces of anti-love surrounding you as you save imprisoned space bunnies, Lovers works best with two players sitting side-by-side, working together against near-impossible odds. An AI-controlled dog or cat can accompany you on your suicide mission, but facing down increasing waves of enemies next to…

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A creator of SOMA on the surprising merit of Until Dawn

Sometimes, a big budget game comes along that, despite an almost Duke Nukem Forever-esque level of development redos and challenges, finally reaches your videogame system only to impress rather than disappoint. It’s so rare that it almost feels like magic when it happens. But the question is: how come a game like Until Dawn—originally created for the PS3 and with the expressed intent of tricking you into believing Playstation Move wasn’t useless—transforms into a beautiful butterfly while games like Duke Nukem Forever turn into steaming piles of shit? It must be those fickle videogame gods at it again, arbitrarily deciding who goes to heaven and who is Duke Nukem Forever. Of course that isn’t…

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Sci-fi horror game SOMA’s newest trailer will leave you feeling alone and afraid

Sci-fi survival horror game SOMA wants to mess with your head in every way imaginable. Set in a remote underwater research facility doing some wacky shit with robots and artificial intelligence, the player must survive the aftermath of its collapse into chaos. While recalling visuals from BioShock‘s Rapture—the gold standard in underwater disaster settings for videogames—the tone of SOMA appears more subdued. Underlying every horrifyingly dark corner in this research facility is the distinct impression that you are not wholly in control of your own mind. Some heavy hints from development team Frictional Games (creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent) indicate that…

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Prepare to question unreality with SOMA’s machine-horror on September 22nd

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K. Dick Humanity’s centuries-old attempt to understand our own consciousness, from philosophy to biology, can basically be summed up by one single image: a dog trying to chase its own tail. From Descartes’s declaration that, if nothing else, “I think, therefore I am,” to the modern philosophers of the mind who now doubt the absolute truth of that statement, time seems only to get us further away from any definite answers on the matter. But, if it’s any comfort at all, I don’t think you…

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SOMA’s creepy tendrils threaten to reach out with reality-questioning horror soon

Frictional Games, creator of 2010’s infamous horror hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent, has announced that its latest title SOMA has hit beta—it looks and plays near-exactly as it will in its final version, in other words. All that’s left between now and a release date is waiting for Frictional to gather feedback from its 40-or-so testers and get to work on the finishing touches. The first-person sci-fi horror game takes place in and around an underwater research facility called PATHOS-2. You play as Simon, a man who is mysteriously stranded in this derelict installation as the world around him is transformed…

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Horror games should be intentionally un-fun, says horror game designer

Videogames are stuffed to the brim with “fun” little feedback loops, like level-maxing and crossbow upgrades and loot-a-thons. But according to Thomas Grip, author of some of the most hair-raising horror games around, such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the anticipated SOMA, those delicious systems just get in the way when trying to scare the bejesus out of us.  In an interesting slice of academia over at Gamasutra, Grip explains that all those game designer tricks to make games more fun will kill the scares. “The gameplay mechanic is almost sort of a side thing,” he says. I imagine…

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Amnesia’s Thomas Grip: "Right now we’re sort of in the slasher horror genre in games."

Horror games are currently in a rut with their slasher film mentality says Thomas Grip, designer of games that chickens like me stay far, far away from. Speaking with Rock, Paper, Shotgun about his upcoming title SOMA, he explained that scary games have yet to evolve from gory, cheap scares into a more psychological and terrifying type of horror. His words precisely:  Right now we’re sort of in the slasher horror genre in games. You’re just running from evil dudes or evil monsters. It’d be nice to move away from that and get into something more like Omen or Exorcist…