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In Calm Down Stalin, great vodka comes with great responsibility

The Cold War was as much a war of personality as it was a war between nations. For more than 60 years, everyday tensions for U.S. and Soviet leaders risked boiling over into nuclear war. It took hordes of advisors on both sides to talk down leaders like Reagan and Gorbachev when faulty intel or empty threats threatened to wipe humanity off the map. In hindsight, it was as much coddling as it was diplomacy. Calm Down, Stalin is a darkly humorous look at just how close humanity can get to offing itself. Quite literally, your only job is to…

Virginia
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At last, the Lynchian detective drama Virginia has a release date

You could be forgiven for not hearing of Virginia before now. The first-person detective game—described by many as a mix of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Brendon Chung’s Thirty Flights of Loving (2012)—is something you probably want to be focusing your attention on right now, especially as it’s arrival is right around the corner. Here’s the deets: Virginia is coming to Windows, Mac, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on September 22nd. That’s less than a month away. Maybe it’s time to get up to speed. a love letter to TV shows that mix the wonderful and the mundane You can…

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The many faces of grief in Fragments of Him

Content warning: Death, PTSD, graphic imagery I don’t have many memories from when I was eight-years-old. It feels so long ago, and if I try to think back on them now, they tend to blend together. But there’s one night I’ll never forget, even in the smallest details. We had pizza that evening. I got an A+ on my class project that day. My mom had the news on when I got home, and was staring at a routine story about a car accident with the kind of concentration usually reserved for medical breakthroughs and presidential scandals. It was the…

Pony Island
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The greatest trick the devil ever pulled might be this videogame

What do you see when told to imagine a videogame titled “Pony Island”? Verdant fields of grazing horses, foals nestling by their mothers, others leaping on spindly legs? Sorry, but I have to break this to you now—a game called Pony Island exists and it is nothing like that. The title is deliberately misleading. It’s a game that’s made to build up your jolly expectations and then crumble them, nastily, right in front of your face. As horrendous as that sounds, stick with it. The creator of Pony Island compares it to 2012’s Frog Fractions which, if you’ve played it…

Uriel's Chasm 2
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Why the creator of one of Steam’s most hated games made a sequel

“The sequel no one asked for,” begins one user review of Uriel’s Chasm 2: את on Steam. It’s a solid thumbs-down verdict and it sums up the general sentiment surrounding the sequel to one of Steam’s most hated games. Uriel’s Chasm has around 2,500 user reviews and not even a fifth of them are positive (that is, giving the game a thumbs-up). This leaves it with a rare “Overwhelmingly Negative” verdict. In the Steam forums for Uriel’s Chasm 2 one person asks its creator, straight up, “what in the world would possess you to create a part 2?” It’s a…

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New game about sketches mirrors a classic Looney Tunes episode

Have you ever been watching a cartoon when suddenly the screen goes white, the main character is standing there alone, and the animator’s pencil drops down into screen to mess with the world? It’s a classic fourth-wall-breaking gag that’s all over the place in animation—from the classic Looney Tunes short Duck Amuck to the more recent Animator vs Animation series of viral videos—and now it’s coming to games. an unfinished sketch looking to discover what it was meant to be  Usually, this trope is played for comedy, but new 3D platforming game Unfinished – An Artist’s Lament seeks to use…

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When a ten-second journey through the apocalypse feels like a lifetime

If you’ve ever fallen before, you know firsthand that time is relative. You could be looking at your watch one minute—the second hand ticking onward in steady calculation—and then, in the next, you could be bending time and space as your limbs fly through the air. When you lose control of your body, the wind blowing back your hair as your rush to meet the floor, you begin to question the certainty of that clock’s hand. Falling shouldn’t take more than a couple seconds, right? After all, your buddy gravity is there to ensure it ends quickly and painfully. you…

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Riot – Civil Unrest, the videogame riot simulator, gets more relevant by the day

There are sad nights on Twitter, nights where one scene of senseless repression bleeds into the next. There have been plenty of these nights in recent years: Tahrir Square, London, Bahrain, Ferguson. Last night, it was Baltimore. Soon it will be somewhere else. For brief moments, the phenomenon of watching riots feels like an expression of shared humanity: the whole world is witnessing an historic moment. Then reality sets in. You are not the one whose bones are being crushed by a policeman’s truncheon. Tomorrow you will get on with your life. You will move on to the next riot…